K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Dear districts: These are the glory days. Are you ready for tomorrow’s financial pain?

Marguerite Roza:

Psst, districts! We’ve seen this script before.

Back in 2008, it’s a fair bet that most school systems didn’t know they were in a financial boom before the Great Recession unleashed the bust, filling subsequent years with program cuts, furloughs, school closures, and fights about seniority-based layoffs. Today, signs suggest we’re once again at a peak, with a likely financial stumble headed our way.

Just like the years leading up to 2008, the last few years have yielded stronger growth in funds for schooling. And just like in 2008, there are signs of trouble ahead. For districts, a fiscal downturn can trigger the equivalent of a debilitating migraine: Pain comes from every direction and little seems to quell it.

While we can’t predict how an economic downturn will affect every district, we can anticipate some big-picture trends, and in doing so potentially tweak the script.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts. This, despite tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

3 Ways Economic Freedom Improves Quality of Life

Patrick Tyrrell and Miguel Pontifis:

Economic Freedom Means aGreater Life Expectancy

Life expectancy is an important measure of well–being. The World Health Organization states that the “global average life expectancy increased by 5.5 years between 2000 and 2016, the fastest increase since the 1960s.”

It is not a coincidence that the top five freest economies in the 2019 Index of Economic Freedom have a much greater life expectancy than the bottom five, repressed economies in the index.

Economic freedom promotes improvements in the quality of health care, better access to clean water, better systems to remove waste, and better outcomes for AIDS and mortality incidence.

K-12 Tax & spending climate: Do you really think Bing Crosby and Bob Hope paid 90% of their income to the taxman?

Joe Nocera:

After Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised the idea of a marginal tax rate of 70 percent on income over $10 million, the progressive wing of the Twittersphere began pointing out that in the 1950s and early 1960s 1 , the top marginal tax rate was over 90 percent.

The progressives’ point was that, despite this seemingly onerous level of taxation, the 1950s were a golden age for the U.S. economy, and the rich did just fine, thank you very much. According to records compiled by the Tax Foundation, a single person making $16,000 in 1955 — that’s $150,000 in today’s dollars — had a marginal tax rate of 50 percent; compensation of $50,000 ($470,000 today) moved you into the 75 percent tax bracket; and an income of $200,000 ($1.9 million today) put you in the 91 percent tax bracket. . (Married couples filing jointly hit the 91 percent mark at $400,000.) Which meant that the federal government took 91 cents of every dollar over $200,000. When you added it all up, someone in 1955 who made $1 million a year paid over $800,000 in taxes.

The Man Who Invented Information Theory

Boston Review:

In a video from the early 1950s, Bell Labs scientist Claude Shannon demonstrates one of his new inventions: a toy mouse named Theseus that looks like it could be a wind-up. The gaunt Shannon, looking a bit like Gary Cooper, stands next to a handsomely crafted tabletop maze and explains that Theseus (which Shannon pronounces with two syllables: “THEE-soose”) has been built to solve the maze. Through trial and error, the mouse finds a series of unimpeded openings and records the successful route. On its second attempt, Theseus follows the right path, error-free from start to finish.

Shannon then unveils the secret to Theseus’s success: a dense array of electrical relays, sourced from the Bell System’s trove of phone-switching hardware. It is the 1950s equivalent of a computer chip, but it’s about a thousand times bigger and only a millionth as powerful as today’s hardware.

Claude Shannon’s achievements were at the level of an Einstein or a Feynman, but he has not achieved commensurate fame.

While some scientists and engineers may have recognized Theseus as something important—a tidy and clever example of a thinking machine—many in Shannon’s audience probably dismissed the contraption as a fancy wind-up toy, or maybe a fraudulent automaton in the tradition of the chess-playing Turk.

‘Heroin for middle-class nerds’: how Warhammer conquered gaming

Alex Hern:

Last year saw a bloodbath on the high street. Debenhams closed 50 shops, Toys R Us, Maplin and Poundworld went into administration, and more retail space was lost than in any year since 2008, with 1.9m sq metres closing, according to the property analysts EG. But one retailer beat this trend, reporting profits of £40m in the final six months of the year. In 2017, the same company was the publicly traded British stock that outperformed every other: Games Workshop, a high-street retailer of science fiction and fantasy miniatures, now carries a market capitalisation of more than £1bn.

But how did a company founded 40 years ago with one shop in Hammersmith, west London, become so successful? The answer lies in Warhammer 40,000 – 40k, as it is usually known; a sprawling tabletop conflict game in which two players fight with collectible armies, including the space marines of the fascist human Imperium and the ancient fallen angels of the Eldar, using rules found in a library of 30 or so source books.

If this sounds surprising, it is worth noting that Games Workshop isn’t the only part of nerd culture to experience a recent rush of interest. Dungeons & Dragons, the venerable role-playing game, has had its own resurgence since 2014, thanks to depictions in TV shows such as Community and Stranger Things. The rise in “actual play” podcasts such as the Adventure Zone and Critical Role has also helped, as has a focus on attracting new players for its fifth edition.

Civics: Google, Facebook spend big on U.S. lobbying amid policy battles

Parrish Dave:

Alphabet Inc’s Google disclosed in a quarterly filing on Tuesday that it spent a company-record $21.2 million on lobbying the U.S. government in 2018, topping its previous high of $18.22 million in 2012, as the search engine operator fights wide-ranging scrutiny into its practices.

In its filing to Congress on Tuesday, Facebook Inc disclosed that it also spent more on government lobbying in 2018 than it ever had before at $12.62 million. That was up from $11.51 million a year ago, according to tracking by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Google’s spent $18.04 million on lobbying in 2017, according to the center’s data.

Google and Facebook declined to comment beyond their filings.

U.S. lawmakers and regulators have weighed new privacy and antitrust rules to rein in the power of large internet service providers such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.com Inc. Regulatory backlash in the United States, as well as Europe and Asia, is near the top of the list of concerns for technology investors, according to financial analysts.

Microsoft Corp spent $9.52 million on lobbying in 2018, according to its disclosure on Tuesday, up from $8.5 million in 2017 but below its $10.5 million tab in 2013.

Apple Inc spent $6.62 million last year, compared to its record of $7.15 million in 2017, according to center data going back to 1998.

Across U.S., graduation rates are rising, with little connection to test scores

Matt Barnum:

Until last year, when he became Chicago Public Schools’ chief equity officer, Maurice Swinney was a high school principal pulling out all the stops to keep ninth-graders from failing their classes.

At Tilden Career Community Academy, Swinney made it a priority to connect incoming students to the school community and to have a single person responsible for coordinating efforts to help ninth-graders. He was driven by “Freshmen On-Track,” a data point that Chicago researchers developed after realizing that how students fared in their first year of high school reliably predicted whether they would ultimately graduate — better than their race, gender, family background, and middle school grades and test scores combined.

A new book, “The Make-or-Break Year: Solving the Dropout Crisis One Ninth Grader at a Time,” chronicles the history of Freshmen On-Track, from its serendipitous origins at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, to its rollout as a citywide measure of success, to its unusually successful adoption by educators eager to help their students but weary of being told what to do. You can read an excerpt here.

Author Emily Krone Phillips first learned about the metric while working at the research consortium, where she was communications director at the time. (She now directs communications at the Spencer Foundation, which supports Chalkbeat.) She spent more than a year reporting from Tilden, a high school in Canaryville; John Hancock High School in Gage Park; and across the district to understand Freshmen On-Track’s influence in Chicago.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

Civics: Encryption efforts in Colorado challenge crime reporters, transparency

Jonathan Peters:

Colorado journalists on the crime beat are increasingly in the dark. More than two-dozen law enforcement agencies statewide have encrypted all of their radio communications, not just those related to surveillance or a special or sensitive operation. That means journalists and others can’t listen in using a scanner or smartphone app to learn about routine police calls.

Law enforcement officials say that’s basically the point. Scanner technology has become more accessible through smartphone apps, and encryption has become easier and less expensive. Officials say that encrypting all radio communications is good for police safety and effectiveness, because suspects sometimes use scanners to evade or target officers, and good for the privacy of crime victims, whose personal information and location can go out over the radio. They also cite misinformation as a reason to encrypt. Kevin Klein, the director of the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said people listening to scanner traffic during a 2015 Colorado Springs shooting live-tweeted the incident and, in doing so, spread false information about the shooter’s identity and the police response.

WILL Releases K-12 Education Reform Agenda

Wisconsin Institute of Law Liberty:

The Problem: Wisconsin’s K-12 education system is not working. Reading and math achievement has been stagnant for two decades while the rest of the country has experienced significant growth. About 80% of the students at Milwaukee Public Schools, the biggest district with 77,000 students, are not proficient in English. The results are similar across Wisconsin’s largest cities, including Green Bay, Madison, and Kenosha. Wisconsin has the largest black-white academic achievement gap amongst all 50 states. Rural school districts perform about as poorly as urban ones – though receive less attention. And many of the students who graduate from high school are tragically unprepared for college.

With our work ethic and ingenuity, Wisconsin should have the best school system in the country. It doesn’t – but we’ve created a roadmap to show state lawmakers and Governor Evers how to get there.

The Report: WILL staff have spent more than two years conducting extensive interviews with school leaders, education advocates, and national think tanks in order to come up with serious policy recommendations on how to improve student achievement in Wisconsin. The “Roadmap to Student Achievement” is one of the most comprehensive reform agendas for Wisconsin that is publicly available.

Linear Algebra by Jim Hefferon (free)

Jim Hefferon:

Standard coverage  Linear systems and Gauss’s method, vector spaces, linear maps and matrices, determinants, and eigenvectors and eigenvalues.
Free  The book is Freely available, including its source.

Developmental approach  It covers the requisite material and proves all the results, but it does not start by assuming that students are already able at abstract work. Instead, it proceeds with a great deal of motivation, many computational examples, and exercises that range from routine verifications to a few challenges. The goal is, in the context of developing the material of an undergraduate course, to raise each student’s level of mathematical maturity.

Extensive exercise sets, with worked answers to all exercises  Sometimes material described on the web as a book is really lecture notes. That’s fine but from notes to a book is a long way. That means things like figures and an index, but most importantly means exercises. Each subsection here has many, spanning a range of difficulty. In the Answers book each exercise is covered, completely, including proofs.

Popular  Downloadable for twenty years, this book has been used in hundreds of classes at many schools as well as by thousands of individuals for independent study.
Applications  Each chapter finishes with four or five short supplemental topics. These are good for reading or projects, or for small group work.

Extras  There are beamer slides for classroom presentations, and there is a lab manual using Sage.

Prerequisite  One semester of calculus.

Reviews.  Here are some: the Mathematical Association of America review, the American Institute of Mathematics, the Open Textbook Library (includes a number of reviews), one from a longstanding site for free texts.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Fleecing of Millennials

David Leonhardt:

For Americans under the age of 40, the 21st century has resembled one long recession.

I realize that may sound like an exaggeration, given that the economy has now been growing for almost a decade. But the truth is that younger Americans have not benefited much.

Look at incomes, for starters. People between the ages of 25 and 34 were earning slightly less in 2017 than people in that same age group had been in 2000:

The wealth trends look even worse. Since the century’s start, median net worth has plummeted for every age group under 55:

Economics: John Bogle

Ira Stoll:

ohn Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group who died earlier this month at age 89, got rich by giving his mutual fund customers a better deal.

The obituaries seem to have missed that point, dwelling instead on the theory that if only Bogle had chosen to rip off his customers, he could have been even richer. That claim is highly speculative, and based on a fundamental misperception: a view of capitalism as a racket rather than as a system in which the incentives of entrepreneurs and customers sometimes align with results that are spectacularly rewarding for both.

The tone was set with a New York Times obituary. “Vanguard managed its indexed mutual funds at cost, charging investors fees that were far lower than those of virtually all of its rivals,” the Times wrote. “Vanguard’s consistent growth produced riches for Mr. Bogle, but not to the extent that another ownership structure might have done. For example, Edward C. Johnson III, the chairman of Fidelity Investments, has a net worth of $7.4 billion, according to Forbes. Mr. Bogle’s net worth was generally estimated at $80 million last year.”

In case anyone missed the point, the lead headline in Friday’s Times business section read “Jack Bogle was no billionaire.” That ran over an article crediting Bogle with “giving up his chance at great wealth by eschewing ownership of the company,” and describing Bogle’s $80 million as “small change by the standards of money management.”

“Instead of making billions, helping millions,” was the Times inside headline. An accompanying Times article described Bogle as someone “who didn’t care about his own bottom line.”

Why Big Brother Doesn’t Bother Most Chinese

Adam
Minter
:

Who says government can’t innovate? In one Chinese city, the local court system recently launched a smartphone-based map that displays the location and identity of anyone within 500 meters who’s landed on a government creditworthiness blacklist. Worried the person seated next to you at Starbucks might not have paid a court-approved fine? The Deadbeat Map, as it’s known, provides pinpoint confirmation, the ability to share that information via social media and — if so inclined — a reporting function to notify the authorities.

It’s chilling, dystopian — and likely to be quite popular. Chinese have already embraced a whole range of private and government systems that gather, aggregate and distribute records of digital and offline behavior. Depicted outside of China as a creepy digital panopticon, this network of so-called social-credit systems is seen within China as a means to generate something the country sorely lacks: trust. For that, perpetual surveillance and the loss of privacy are a small price to pay.

Colleges Lose a ‘Stunning’ 651 Foreign-Language Programs in 3 Years

Steven Johnson:

Colleges closed more than 650 foreign-language programs in a recent three-year period, according to a forthcoming report from the Modern Language Association.

The new data, which the MLA shared with The Chronicle, suggest that it took several years for the full effect of the recession of 2008 to hit foreign-language programs. Higher education, in aggregate, lost just one such program from 2009 to 2013. From 2013 to 2016, it lost 651, said Dennis Looney, director of programs at the MLA.

Civics: Microsoft’s mobile Edge browser begins issuing fake news warnings

Saqib Shah:

Microsoft’s Edge mobile browser has started flagging fake news sites as part of its latest update for iOS and Android. Previously only available as a desktop plug-in, the feature is powered by news rating company NewsGuard — which makes a point of using journalists, not algorithms, to identify “unreliable” websites. Its eponymous fake news extension is also available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

NewsGuard can be toggled on via Edge’s settings under “news rating.” The description boasts that it’s “evaluated news websites that account for 98% of online media engagements in the United States.” Here’s how it works: once enabled, it provides a rating icon in the address bar (red for unreliable and green for trusted). Tap it and you’ll see a “nutritional label” with more info. For instance, if a site is flagged as untrustworthy, it reads: “Proceed with caution: this website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.” And, if you see a site sans label, you can submit it for review.

According to The Guardian, the tool is flagging the MailOnline as unreliable. In our tests, we also saw that Breitbart carried a warning but fellow conservative news site The Daily Wire was given the all clear, despite the fact that fact-checking website Snopes has called it out for printing falsehoods. But if you expand its NewsGuard label, it clearly states that the controversial site “does not repeatedly publish false content” — though it does note that it “regularly corrects or clarifies errors.” CNN and Fox News were also deemed as safe. Next up, NewsGuard’s creators reportedly want to bring it to more platforms.

The software engineer who refuses to work at Amazon, even though it tried to hire her

Rob Roy:

Let’s face it, we’ve heard a lot about “helicopter parents” over the last few years. And even though it’s hard to admit, most of us have allowed ourselves to become overly protective parents to a great extent. Still, there are many factors out there that contribute to this technology crisis that faces this rising generation. But ultimately, we are in control of what our children are exposed to and what activities they engage in.

As I think back to my childhood (particularly during the summer break), most days my parents had no idea where we were at. I grew up in a small town in northern Arizona that was surrounded by the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the world. There were vast expanses of wilderness directly behind my house. On summer days, my friends and I would get on our dirt bikes and follow miles of game trails all through the forest and up to the base of the volcanic boulder mountain where we would drop our bikes and climb massive rocks and cliffs until sunset. It was glorious!

Were my parents negligent to allow us such freedom? Personally, I don’t think so, based on the fact that most of my friends had parents with similar parenting styles. Many of these adults had been raised with the same type of autonomy when they were kids. They were just patterning their own parent’s parenting styles.

The MPS Carmen saga — a three-act play with a little drama, no love and not much to laugh at

Alan Borsuk:

The Milwaukee School Board’s version of Carmen, which played out over three evenings in the last three weeks, also attracted large audiences. But it was definitely lacking in love. It had some resemblance to a bullfight. I couldn’t find anything comic about it. I’d rate it pretty low for entertainment value. I’d rather spend a night at the opera.

I wouldn’t rate it so high as a good way to make education policy, either. Sigh.

The focus was a set of charter schools known as the Carmen schools. The first opened a dozen years ago in the former Walker Middle School at West Mitchell and South 32nd streets. Authorized to operate by the school board, Carmen hires its own teachers and selects its own program. The school at Walker has been very successful. Serving about 375 Hispanic high school students, it emphasizes science and technology, college readiness and job experience while in high school.

A few years ago, Carmen took over a long-troubled MPS middle and high school on the northwest side. It’s been much harder establishing a strong learning culture there and last year was particularly rocky. The school’s rating on state report cards, which had been pretty decent in prior years, fell to the lowest category. Carmen leaders say they have responded with changes in the program and new leadership.

Are Alabama’s latest high school graduation rates real?

Trisha Powell Crain:

Federal high school graduation rates for the 2016-17 school year are out, and once again, Alabama finds itself at or near the top of the list. This time Alabama touts the highest graduation rate among all states and the District of Columbia for African American students, whose graduation rate has risen nearly 20 percentage points—to 86.5 percent—since 2012.

Hispanic students in Alabama graduated at the second-highest rate—88 percent—in the country.

And Alabama ranked fourth highest for graduation rate overall, with a rate of 89.3 percent.

But don’t celebrate just yet. Alabama’s high graduation rates a few years ago brought federal auditors to the state, resulting in an admission by state officials that rates were artificially inflated because they counted students whose coursework wasn’t aligned with state standards.

So do these latest graduation rates measure up?

One measure Alabama education officials created to determine if graduates are ready for life after high school—college or career—paints a different picture.

While Alabama’s federal graduation rate for black students is 86.5 percent, the percentage of black students who have earned one of the state’s college or career readiness credentials is only 55.6 percent.

A similar but much smaller gap exists for white students: 91 percent graduation rate, college and career readiness rate of 80.4 percent.

So, what’s the difference in the two rates? And does the gap matter?

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My hometown schools are segregated again. I went back to see why.

Stacy Teicher Khadaroo:

In the fall of 1976, I started kindergarten by climbing onto a yellow school bus that wove its way through my tree-lined North Buffalo neighborhood and deposited me downtown near the edge of Lake Erie.

Waterfront Elementary – a new Brutalist-style building made of corrugated concrete – was anything but brutal on the inside. We had a swimming pool, a dance studio, and open classrooms where children from all over our otherwise segregated city came together to learn.

It was the first year of Buffalo’s new magnet-school program – part of the response to a federal court order to desegregate. The “magnets” drew families into schools voluntarily to contribute to racial balancing.

My best friend in elementary school was biracial and lived in the mostly black subsidized apartment complex next to Waterfront. When I visited Sondae Stevens’s place, she’d dare me to climb up with her on the low-slung roof of the school. When she visited mine, she enjoyed the novelty of playing in an attic. Our quirky personalities just clicked.

While we progressed through the grades, the magnet system grew into a national model. Before the desegregation order, 7 out of 10 Buffalo public schools were segregated – meaning more than 80 percent white or 80 percent minority. By the mid-1980s, that was down to 4 out of 10. The peak of school integration nationwide happened around 1988, when I was starting my senior year of high school.

It took less than 25 years for that progress to unravel. By 2012, some 70 percent of Buffalo schools were once again segregated. Courts had lifted many integration orders (including Buffalo’s) in the 1990s. Subsequently, a series of Supreme Court decisions limited the tools school districts could use to racially integrate.

On top of that, City Honors – a school for Grades 5 through 12 that I started attending in ninth grade – had become the centerpiece of a civil rights complaint in 2014, focused on the low rate of African-American students admitted to Buffalo’s selective schools.

When I came across this information as an education reporter, my heart sank. I had been largely out of touch with Buffalo since my parents had relocated in the early 1990s. Had it really so drastically changed?

We Can’t Just Assume that Facebook Will Do Its Best

Von Katarina Barley:

Another important area is the handling of personal data. It is logical that selling user data to advertisers is contrary to company interests, given that one can earn a lot more money selling ads oneself. But what happens when data is leaked anyway? Facebook doesn’t just bear a responsibility to refrain from intentionally sharing data. It must also actively protect that data from third-party access.

External regulation is a sensible way of giving back a sense of security to users of platforms like Facebook. Binding rules must be combined with monitoring to ensure the rules are being observed. But what should such controls look like if they are to establish trust without infringing on user freedom?

As a statistician, I see huge issues with the way science is done in the era of big data

Kai Zhang:

What is causing this big problem? There are many contributing factors. As a statistician, I see huge issues with the way science is done in the era of big data. The reproducibility crisis is driven in part by invalid statistical analyses that are from data-driven hypotheses – the opposite of how things are traditionally done.

Scientific method

In a classical experiment, the statistician and scientist first together frame a hypothesis. Then scientists conduct experiments to collect data, which are subsequently analyzed by statisticians.

A famous example of this process is the “lady tasting tea” story. Back in the 1920s, at a party of academics, a woman claimed to be able to tell the difference in flavor if the tea or milk was added first in a cup. Statistician Ronald Fisher doubted that she had any such talent. He hypothesized that, out of eight cups of tea, prepared such that four cups had milk added first and the other four cups had tea added first, the number of correct guesses would follow a probability model called the hypergeometric distribution.

Such an experiment was done with eight cups of tea sent to the lady in a random order – and, according to legend, she categorized all eight correctly. This was strong evidence against Fisher’s hypothesis. The chances that the lady had achieved all correct answers through random guessing was an extremely low 1.4 percent.

That process – hypothesize, then gather data, then analyze – is rare in the big data era. Today’s technology can collect huge amounts of data, on the order of 2.5 exabytes a day.

Civics: Civility on the Decline — A Crisis in Free Speech and Violence

SG Cheah:

Professor Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist mentioned how males tend to be more skilled than females at civil discourse. He opines the reason behind that was because all face-to-face discussions between males were backed by the underlying threat of violence.

Males tend to be better at logical and controlled debates because males are used to holding back the utterance of ill-advised verbal insults at each other, lest they assume the risk of being met with violence. For instance, an insufferable cis-gender male stupidly running his mouth causing insult to another cis-gender male will likely be met with a fist, whereas women are less likely to retaliate with physical force.

So it wasn’t surprising when I read on USA Today that Professor Glenn Reynolds (of Instapundit) decided it’s time he deleted his Twitter account. He cited the lack of meaningful thought and civil discourse as the principal reason of leaving Twitter.

It was clear Professor Reynolds’s frustration with Twitter had reached the boiling point of anger where his violent retaliation was ripe had the stupidity and toxicity he experienced on Twitter spilled over into the real world offline. The latest outrage of the mobs on Twitter hunting down a 16 year old boy for smiling is simply another instance of the vile poison festering on Twitter.

People near Portland aren’t vaccinating babies. Health officials just declared a measles emergency

Ashley May:

People choosing not to vaccinate has emerged into a global health threat in 2019, the the World Health Organization recently reported. The CDC has also recognized that the number of children who aren’t being vaccinated by 24 months old has been gradually increasing.

Some parents opt not to vaccinate because of the discredited belief vaccines are linked to autism. The CDC says that there is no link and that there are no ingredients in vaccines that could cause autism.

Rush to pass ‘backroom’ deal banning charters would be bad for L.A. students — transparency calls should be for all public schools

Seth Litt, Katie Braude and Ben Austin:

Despite the fact that parents and students were on the outside looking in when it came to the high-stakes contract negotiations in Los Angeles, the teacher strike drew much-needed attention to public education and secured small but meaningful steps toward providing schools and teachers with more resources, including academic counselors, librarians, nurses and a small reduction in class sizes. We are hopeful that this will lead to better outcomes for students at Los Angeles Unified schools.

However, in the midst of these negotiations, the district and the teachers union apparently cut a backroom deal resulting in a proposed LAUSD board resolution supporting a quality-blind ban on new non-profit public charter schools. This late-night transaction was made with no transparency, no public debate, and no input from the students and parents it would impact most.
Now the board is rushing to jam through this backroom deal. It may benefit special interests and the district bureaucracy, but could deny educational opportunity to tens of thousands of low-income students and students of color trapped in systemically failing district schools.

We have long spent far more than most taxpayer funded school districts (now nearly $20,000 per student), yet we’ve tolerated disastrous reading results for decades.

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

Local Government Unions Grew Post-Janus — But News Wasn’t So Good For States Or Feds in Just Released Federal Stats

Mike Antonucci:

Unions representing employees of local governments showed gains in membership in 2018, according to the annual report released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This broad category, which includes most public school teachers, police officers and firefighters, saw the number of union members increase by 64,000 over last year. The union share of the total local government workforce rose to 40.3 percent from 40.1 percent.

Though we do not have further disaggregation by job title or month, these figures must be considered a victory for teacher unions in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus ruling last June, which ended the public-sector union practice of charging agency fees to nonmembers.

While local government unions could celebrate, the news was not good for public-sector union membership at the federal and state levels.

Federal government unions added 5,000 new members, but the workforce increased by 55,000 employees, reducing the unionization rate to 26.4 percent.

Geometric Understanding of Deep Learning

Na Lei, Zhongxuan Luo, Shing-Tung Yau, David Xianfeng Gu:

Deep learning is the mainstream technique for many machine learning tasks, including image recognition, machine translation, speech recognition, and so on. It has outperformed conventional methods in various fields and achieved great successes. Unfortunately, the understanding on how it works remains unclear. It has the central importance to lay down the theoretic foundation for deep learning.
In this work, we give a geometric view to understand deep learning: we show that the fundamental principle attributing to the success is the manifold structure in data, namely natural high dimensional data concentrates close to a low-dimensional manifold, deep learning learns the manifold and the probability distribution on it.

We further introduce the concepts of rectified linear complexity for deep neural network measuring its learning capability, rectified linear complexity of an embedding manifold describing the difficulty to be learned. Then we show for any deep neural network with fixed architecture, there exists a manifold that cannot be learned by the network. Finally, we propose to apply optimal mass transportation theory to control the probability distribution in the latent space.

Civics: The Abyss of Hate Versus Hate

Andrew Sullivan:

The boys — stuck waiting for a bus — decided to respond to this assault by performing school chants. Most look a little bewildered, as one might imagine. Some even tried to engage. Here are the spoken words I heard, in response to the abuse: “That’s racist, bro.” “That’s rude.” “Why are you being mean? Why do you call us Klansmen?” “We don’t judge you.” One of them offered to shake hands, and was rebuffed. Another offered some water from a plastic bottle. The response? “You got some Trump water? What does it taste like? Incest?”

Yes, the boys did chant some school riffs; I’m sure some of those joining in the Native American drumming and chanting were doing it partly in mockery, but others may have just been rolling with it. Yes, they should not have been wearing MAGA hats to a pro-life march. They aren’t angels; they’re teenage boys. But they were also subjected for quite a while to a racist, anti-Catholic, homophobic tirade on a loudspeaker, which would be more than most of us urbanites could bear — and they’re adolescents literally off the bus from Kentucky. I heard no slurs back. They stayed there because they were waiting for a bus, not to intimidate anyone.

To put it bluntly: They were 16-year-olds subjected to verbal racist assault by grown men; and then the kids were accused of being bigots. It just beggars belief that the same liberals who fret about “micro-aggressions” for 20-somethings were able to see 16-year-olds absorbing the worst racist garbage from religious bigots … and then express the desire to punch the kids in the face.

How did this grotesque inversion of the truth become the central narrative for what seemed to be the entire class of elite journalists on Twitter? That’s the somewhat terrifying question. Ruth Graham on Slate saw a 16-year-old she’d seen on a tape for a couple of minutes and immediately knew that he was indistinguishable from the “white young men crowding around a single black man at a lunch counter sit-in in Virginia in the 1960s” or other white “high school boys flashing Nazi salutes.” Even after the full context was clear, Graham refused to apologize to the kid, or retract her condemnation: The context didn’t “change the larger story” which, she explained, was bigotry toward Native Americans. She cited Trump’s use of the name “Pocahontas” for Elizabeth Warren as evidence. But using a bullhorn to call Native Americans “savages” and “drunkards at the casino” to their faces a few minutes earlier on the same tape was not worth a mention?

After Living Abroad, Kids Struggle With American Overparenting

Lenore Skenazy:

When Jean Phillipson’s family returned to Fairfax, Virginia, after living in Bolivia, the main thing her 10-year-old son complained about was the bus ride home from school. “He wasn’t allowed to have a pencil out,” says the mom of three, “because it was considered unsafe.”

Welcome back, kid, to the land of the outlandishly cautious.

I asked children and parents who’d lived both abroad and here in the States what struck them as the biggest difference. They all said it was the lack of childhood independence in America.

In Berlin, says Tully Comfort, an 11-year-old living there now, “me and my friends will meet up and go to the market and get something to eat on our own.” But a year ago, when she was living in the U.S., “the parents had to always be around.”

Tully and her family lived in Costa Rica and Mexico for six years before moving back to her mother’s hometown of Montclair, New Jersey, when she was 7. “I enrolled her in public school and right away we came up against this lack of freedom,” says Tully’s mom, Julie Comfort. “They told me my daughter was not allowed to walk to school without an adult until middle school.”

Back when she was her daughter’s age, Julie says, “I used to walk with my friends in this same neighborhood.” But since then, fear of strangers and liability issues have ossified into hard rules. Fed up, the Comforts moved to Berlin, a city Julie picked after vacationing there and seeing “a little kid, maybe 3 years old, riding his bike down the sidewalk, and his parents were way down the street, nonchalant.”

Civics The High School Deplorables

Wall Street Journal:

Only it turns out there was a much longer video, nearly two hours, showing that almost everything first reported about the confrontation was false, or at least much more complicated. The boys had been taunted by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, who shouted racist and homophobic slurs. Far from the boys confronting Mr. Phillips, he confronted them as they were waiting near the Lincoln Memorial for their bus.

It also turns out that Mr. Phillips is not the Vietnam veteran he was reported to be in most stories. On Tuesday the Washington Post offered a correction, noting that while Mr. Phillips served in the Marines from 1972 to 1976, he was “never deployed to Vietnam.”

Some of the students did respond to Mr. Phillips by doing the Tomahawk Chop, and it would have been better had they all walked away. But on the whole these teenagers were calm amid the provocations and far less incendiary than the adults who taunted them and the progressive high priests who denounced them.

The new information has people who had so eagerly cast the first stones hastily deleting their tweets. Still, it is telling that some of the most disgusting tweets were the work of the blue-check elites who pride themselves on their tolerance. More surprising is the rush to judgment by those who might have been expected to consider the boys innocent until proven guilty, or at least until all the evidence is in.

On Saturday the boys’ school issued a joint statement with the Covington Diocese saying they “condemn” the students for their actions and were considering appropriate action “including expulsion.” A post on National Review said the boys might as well have “just spit on the cross.” And the March for Life distanced itself from the “reprehensible behavior” of the marchers from Covington.

Many of these early critics have now apologized or walked back their initial condemnations. But these social injustices perpetrated on social media are not so easily redressed. Covington Catholic was closed Tuesday for security reasons.

Remastered 1964 films show origins of SLAC

Andy Freeberg:

A pair of 1964 films detailing the construction of Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, later renamed SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, were recently remastered and are now available for viewing on YouTube thanks to a partnership between the films’ producer, J. Douglas Allen, and the SLAC Archives, History & Records Office.

The films provide a fascinating look back at the origins of SLAC and the history of particle physics in the United States. At the time of the production, SLAC was the largest civilian basic science project ever undertaken in the United States. The site where it was being built, along Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California, was then largely orchards and pasture. Today the region is known as Silicon Valley and considered an unparalleled cradle of innovation.

Why you should re-read Paradise Lost

BBC:

Milton’s Paradise Lost is rarely read today. But this epic poem, 350 years old this month, remains a work of unparalleled imaginative genius that shapes English literature even now.

In more than 10,000 lines of blank verse, it tells the story of the war for heaven and of man’s expulsion from Eden. Its dozen sections are an ambitious attempt to comprehend the loss of paradise – from the perspectives of the fallen angel Satan and of man, fallen from grace. Even to readers in a secular age, the poem is a powerful meditation on rebellion, longing and the desire for redemption.

Despite being born into prosperity, Milton’s worldview was forged by personal and political struggle. A committed republican, he rose to public prominence in the ferment of England’s bloody civil war: two months after the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Milton became a diplomat for the new republic, with the title of Secretary for Foreign Tongues. (He wrote poetry in English, Greek, Latin and Italian, prose in Dutch, German, French and Spanish, and read Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac).

Milton gained a reputation in Europe for his erudition and rhetorical prowess in defence of England’s radical new regime; at home he came to be regarded as a prolific advocate for the Commonwealth cause. But his deteriorating eyesight limited his diplomatic travels. By 1654, Milton was completely blind. For the final 20 years of his life, he would dictate his poetry, letters and polemical tracts to a series of amanuenses – his daughters, friends and fellow poets.

The Tech Revolt

Cameron Bird, Sean Captain, Elise Craig, Haley Cohen Gilliland, and Joy Shan:

The software engineer who refuses to work at Amazon, even though it tried to hire her

As a software engineer and especially as a woman, I get a ton of recruiting emails. There’s almost no emphasis on, “What is the impact of this company?” Instead they talk about, “We just got funding. Look at this cool tech stack you’ll be working with.” At Stanford, there was only one ethics class that was a requirement for all computer science majors. There was this sense of, “Oh, if you’re going into tech, it’s not evil like investment banking. It’s a more ethically safe route.” Last August, this Amazon Web Services recruiter emails me. I had recently found out that Palantir, which works directly with ICE, was running on Amazon Web Services, and I was talking about it with a friend who was working with a Latinx political organization called Mijente. They had just initiated a campaign to try to cut ICE from the tech that supports it. In my email to the recruiter — it was a spur-of-the-moment thing — I wanted someone to understand that I’m paying attention to what their company is doing, that I’m not just going to sign on because of the cool tech I might get to work with. Palantir doesn’t have a gigantic contract with Amazon Web Services, and it wouldn’t be financially difficult for Amazon to cancel its contract.

Three weeks later, I get an email from the manager at Amazon that said, “My recruiting partner reached out to you and brought your profile to my attention.” I think my email got pulled up in some filter that says, “Good candidate. Respond to recruiter: yes or no. If they responded, then forward to the manager.” This manager had not seen the email I had written. We spoke on the phone, and it was clear that he thought he was going to be talking to me about working at Amazon. I pretty quickly hijacked the conversation and said, “Did you read the email?” He’s like, “No.” I said, “OK, instead of you trying to sell me, I’m going to tell you why I wouldn’t work for Amazon, and can you tell it to your boss?” He seemed caught off guard and was probably being polite until he could get off the phone.

Commentary on K-12 Governance Diversity

Will Flanders:

The News: January 20-26 marks National School Choice Week, a week-long celebration of the progress made across the country in providing parents with education options. WILL is celebrating National School Choice Week by releasing a short summary of facts about school choice in Wisconsin.

All week we’ll be profiling private schools participating in the school choice programs. Check out our first profile on the innovative new Free Enterprise Academy at Milwaukee Lutheran High School.

Dive Deeper: Wisconsin has a rich history of providing parents and families with education options that best serve their children.

Madison has long practiced non-diverse K-12 governance. A majority of the Madison School board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school.

Cambridge University releases a brain-training app that improves concentration akin to Ritalin

Alan Weedon:

If you’ve ever convinced yourself that your lack of attention needs serious medication, think again: a simple brain-training app from Cambridge University just might be the ticket.

The university’s Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute has developed and tested “Decoder”, an app which activates a frontal-parietal network in the brain that is designed to improve attention and concentration.

In a study published in the scientific journal, Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience, researchers — led by the Department of Psychiatry’s Professor Barbara Sahakian — found that the app’s use on an iPad for eight hours over the course of a month resulted in neurological improvements in healthy trial participants that were comparable to those taking stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) or nicotine.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Too Many Americans Will Never Be Able to Retire

Noah Smith:

Fewer kids means, eventually, fewer young workers to support an increasing population of retirees. This will result in less money being paid into the Social Security and Medicare systems, requiring either cuts in benefits, a higher retirement age or ever-ballooning deficits. Past experience suggests that Americans will be asked to work longer.

The U.S. bounced back from falling fertility once before, in the late 1980s. But as economist Lyman Stone has written, there are reasons why history may not repeat itself. High and increasing costs of housing, child care and education show no sign of reversing. The need for ever-higher levels of education in order to thrive in the U.S. job market is causing families to delay childbirth, which results in fewer children. Stone projects that U.S. fertility rates could fall as low as 1.5 or 1.4 — the levels that prevail in Japan and some European countries.

There is one more source of population growth that the U.S. has traditionally depended on — immigration. Low-skilled immigrants make it easier to raise kids by providing cheap child-care services. High-skilled immigrants earn more and pay a lot of taxes, while using few government services themselves, meaning that their fiscal contribution is enormously positive:

Locally, Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 schools have long spent far more than most, despite tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

Civics: Big Tech is no longer delivering on its value proposition, the co-founder of the secretive data miner says.

Berkeley Lovelace, Jr.:

Karp, whose Palo Alto, California-based company provides services to the Defense Department, CIA and FBI, blasted tech companies that refuse work with the federal government to keep the country safe.

“That is a loser position. It is not intelligible. It is not intelligible to the average person. It’s academically not sustainable. And I am very happy we’re not on that side of the debate,” Karp said in the interview with “Squawk Box” co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Last year, for example, Alphabet’s Google unit decided not to renew its contact for a Defense Department program known as Project Maven after an employee firestorm erupted with a petition urging CEO Sundar Pichai to keep Google out of the “business of war.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has defended such public-private contracts, saying last year his company will continue to do business with government agencies and warned that other tech companies about turning their backs. “If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the U.S. Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble,” Bezos said in October.

Karp also went off on the government shutdown, which entered Day 33 on Wednesday. “It’s damaging for the American brand to have something from the outside that doesn’t seem to make sense.”

Much more on Palantir, here.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Case for Growth

James Pethokoukis:

This is probably pretty obvious to most Americans. Strong economic growth means more jobs and higher wages. Just take a look at the current expansion. It has been only moderate as far as the pace of growth, but it has been sustained. And month after month of a growing economy has brought down the unemployment rate to its lowest level since 1969, even as real wages continue to grow for all income levels. That’s especially true for working-class Americans. The 3.5 percent unemployment rate for Americans with only a high-school diploma is the lowest since 2000. Indeed, despite all the debate about income inequality, earnings have been growing faster for those at the bottom than at the top.

L.A. teacher sues union, saying dues were illegally taken out of her paycheck

Hannah Fry:

A Los Angeles Unified teacher filed a federal class-action lawsuit this week against United Teachers Los Angeles alleging the group continued to take dues out of her paycheck despite a change in law that bars public-sector unions from forcing members to pay.

Irene Seager, who teaches at Porter Ranch Community School, signed a card that authorized the deduction of union dues from her paycheck in April, which was a requirement of her employment at the time. Two months later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that teachers, police officers and other public employees in several states, including California, could not be forced to pay dues or fees to support their unions.

The decision in Janus vs. AFSCME was a sharp defeat for public employee unions, as it overturned a 41-year-old precedent that allowed unions to negotiate contracts requiring all employees to pay a so-called fair share fee to cover the cost of collective bargaining.

After the ruling, Seager notified UTLA that she was resigning as a member and no longer consented to any deductions from her wages. The union denied her request, saying she was past the 30-day period to revoke her consent.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is also named in the lawsuit. The district and UTLA did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday. News of the lawsuit comes as Los Angeles teachers returned to classrooms Wednesday following a strike that lasted six school days over contract issues.

Seager is asking the court as part of the lawsuit to strike down the union’s time-period provision, order officials to stop deducting dues from her wages and require them to refund money that was already taken.

The Secret Power of the Children’s Picture Book

Meghan Fox Gurdon:

Millions of people—perhaps you’re one of them—have watched viral videos of a Scottish granny collapsing in laughter while she reads to a baby. Comfortable on a sofa with her grandson, Janice Clark keeps cracking up as she tries to read “The Wonky Donkey” and, in a second video recorded a few months later, “I Need a New Bum.”

Her raspy burr sounds great, and she’s fun to watch, but the real genius of the scene is what’s happening to the baby. Tucked beside her, he’s totally enthralled by the book in her hands. In the second video especially, because he’s older, you can see his eyes tracking the illustrations, widening in amazement each time that she turns the page. He’s guileless, unaware of the camera. He has eyes only for the pictures in the book.

What’s happening to that baby is both obvious and a secret marvel. A grandmother is weeping with laughter as she reads a story, and her grandson is drinking it all in—that’s obvious. The marvel is hidden inside the child’s developing brain. There, the sound of her voice, the warmth of her nearness and, crucially, the sight of illustrations that stay still and allow him to gaze at will, all have the combined effect of engaging his deep cognitive networks.

Unbeknown to him and invisible to the viewer, there is connection and synchronization among the different domains of his brain: the cerebellum, the coral-shaped place at the base of the skull that’s believed to support skill refinement; the default mode network, which is involved with internally directed processes such as introspection, creativity and self-awareness; the visual imagery network, which involves higher-order visual and memory areas and is the brain’s means of seeing pictures in the mind’s eye; the semantic network, which is how the brain extracts the meaning of language; and the visual perception network, which supports the processing of visual stimuli.

The internet’s “Grammar Girl” on the last decade’s most dramatic change in language

Ephrat Livni:

Pretty much anyone on the internet who has ever had a question about English usage has referred to the work of Mignon Fogarty, whether or not they know her name. Her “Grammar Girl” website and podcast have made her a usage guru for the masses, illuminating everything from misplaced modifiers to proper comma placement with easy-to-understand explanations and examples.

Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network, a popular podcaster, and the author of numerous usage books. Her affection for English is infectious and has won her many fans, probably because—unlike some esteemed grammarians—she’s pretty chill for a linguistic stickler. Still, she says, ”People routinely tell me they’re afraid to send me email messages or tweet at me or even talk to me, which is horrible because I’m one of the least judgmental people you’ll meet, and I think weird language things are pretty cool.”

Big Cities No Longer Deliver for Low-Skill Workers

Noah Smith:

David Autor, a labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has a record of attacking the biggest and most important issues. He has raised alarms about disappearing middle-skilled jobs, pointed to the downsides of trade with China, warned about increasing industrial concentration and attacked the question of whether automation will kill jobs.

In a recent lecture at the American Economic Association meeting in Atlanta, Autor attempted to weave many of those threads together into a single story. Paraphrasing heavily, that story goes something like this: Forty years ago, Americans who didn’t go to college could move to cities and get good jobs in manufacturing or office work. But starting in about 1980, these jobs began to disappear, thanks in part to offshoring and automation. By 2000, manufacturing was in steady retreat:

Antiracist Writing Assessment

Asao Inoue:

This plenary will argue against the use of conventional standards in college courses that grade student writing by single standards. Inoue will discuss the ways that White language supremacy is perpetuated in college classrooms despite the better intentions of faculty, particularly through the practices of grading writing.

College Kids Are Ditching Beer and Binge-Drinking Hard Seltzer

Joseph Longo:

Cait watched her friend take their last gulp, remove the spine of the skeleton-shaped beer bong from their mouth and promptly let out a powerful burp. Realizing she was next, Cait headed to the fridge, grabbed a can from the six-pack and cracked open a fresh one. The oh-so-familiar carbonation rang in her ear, breaking through the loud party. She handed the can to the same friend who would now lead her through the process. Cait crouched, though keeping her neck high. Wrapping her fingers around the vertebrae of the bong, Cait gave a simple nod. On cue, her friend poured the sudsy liquid into the base of the cracked-open skull. Almost immediately, Cait tasted the sting of the carbonation enter her esophagus and free-fall into her stomach. It burned, but ended quickly. Too quickly: “I’m ready to go for another one,” she announced to the room.

An undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Cait knows her way around a college party. But unlike her friends who get drunk on Natty Light or Keystone, Conway sticks exclusively to hard seltzers, even when using a beer bong.

Public school teachers who send their children to private schools – why?

Reddit:

I’m just curious and not being judgmental at all – just looking for some reasoning. I am a public school music teacher in a large district where I travel between two schools, and both of my principals (and several other teachers) send their students to private schools. It just seems odd to me, especially as they are having these conversations about their kids while wearing the “I Public Schools” shirt!

Civics: Facebook’s WhatsApp limits users to five text forwards to curb rumors

:

Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) WhatsApp is limiting worldwide the number of times a user can forward a message to five, starting on Monday, as the popular messaging service looks to fight “misinformation and rumors”, company executives said on Monday.

Previously, a WhatsApp user could forward a message to 20 individuals or groups. The limit of five is in expansion of a measure WhatsApp put in place in India in July after the spread of rumors on social media led to killings and lynching attempts.

“We’re imposing a limit of five messages all over the world as of today,” Victoria Grand, vice president for policy and communications at WhatsApp, said at an event in the Indonesian capital.

Here’s how the L.A. teachers’ strike is part of California unions’ pension preservation plot

Chris Reed:

In August 2009, at a seminar in Sacramento sponsored by the Public Retirement Journal, the chief actuary of the California Public Employees’ Retirement system — who thought he was at a closed event with no media present — made a grim, startling pronouncement that was unlike anything ever said publicly by his bosses at CalPERS. Ed Mendel, founder of the Calpensions blog, was at the event, and broke the story that’s reverberated ever since.

“I don’t want to sugarcoat anything,” [Ron] Seeling said as he neared the end of his comments. “We are facing decades without significant turnarounds in assets, decades of — what I, my personal words, nobody else’s — unsustainable pension costs of between 25 percent of pay for a miscellaneous plan and 40 to 50 percent of pay for a safety plan (police and firefighters) … unsustainable pension costs. We’ve got to find some other solutions.”

Seeling used the same word to describe CalPERS’ pension costs — “unsustainable” — that then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had used to push for dramatic cuts in pension benefits. No one had more credibility than Seeling on CalPERS’ financial health, and 10 years ago, it was clear that he had joined the doomsayers who warned the “pension tsunami” would eventually strike with devastating effect.

Unsurprisingly, with its board dominated by union allies who defended the pension status quo, CalPERS quickly disavowed Seeling’s warning. The next month, it launched a website — calpersresponds.com — that rejected any concerns about CalPERS’ long-term viability. And ever since, public employee unions have mounted campaigns dismissing the idea that a pension crisis is coming — even as local governments eliminate or reduce services because of pension costs.

But union leaders are anything but dumb. The most telling example: Four years before the June 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling saying public employees could opt out of paying union dues, the California Teachers Association had actually concluded the ruling was inevitable and started preparing for a future in which government worker unions would have diminished resources.

Related (2009): The Madison School District as General Motors.

Commentary on the 2019 Madison School Board candidates

Negassi Tesfamichael:

With the Madison School Board primary election less than a month away, a crowded field of nine candidates will make their case to voters in the coming weeks, starting with a forum on Feb. 5.

Here’s a closer look at how candidates are making their case to voters.

Seat 3

Kaleem Caire, an education activist and founder of One City Schools, is calling for a focus on early childhood education. One City Schools, which he heads, is one of Wisconsin’s first 4K and kindergarten charter options authorized by the University of Wisconsin’s Office of Educational Opportunity.

Caire is running nearly eight years after the School Board rejected his proposal for another charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy.

“I would like to see stronger partnerships between MMSD and Madison’s early childhood education community that provide a sensible continuum of learning, growth and development opportunities for children from birth to age 5,” Caire wrote in a questionnaire distributed by Madison Teachers Inc.

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques on Madison’s disastrous reading results:

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.

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

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

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.

Charter School Funding: Inequity in the City

Patrick J. Wolf Larry D. Maloney Jay F. May Corey A. DeAngelis:

One might assume that policymakers moved swiftly to remedy the injustice of charter school funding inequity revealed in the 2005 report. Sadly, that was not the case. We re-examined the charter school funding gap using data from 2006-07 and adding seven more states to our sample. In Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists, we reported that the gap favoring TPS stood at 19.2 percent nationally, only trivially smaller than the original gap of 21.7 percent. Even more concerning, a third study of 2010-11 revenue data identified the gap across an expansive sample of 30 states plus D.C. to average 28.4 percent more funding for TPS than charters, provoking the report title of Charter School Funding: Inequity Expands.11 All three of these charter school revenue studies have concluded that funding gaps are larger in urban areas, due to more local funding and categorical
funding earmarked for districts with disadvantaged students going to TPS than to charters, even though public charter schools enroll a high proportion of low-income students.

This report contributes to the school funding policy literature by taking a deep dive into the realities of charter and TPS funding in major urban areas across the country. We examine funding disparity levels from all possible revenue sources in 15 different metropolitan areas for the 2013-14 school year. We selected the locations based on either a high concentration of charters in the metropolitan area or potential for charter school growth there. Eight of them have been the subject of our prior funding research, allowing us to track their charter school funding gaps over time, as we do in a section of this report. The remaining six locations add greater diversity to our sample, as they are smaller and newer charter school communities. Together, our selected
cities represent a cross-section of the current and projected charter school enrollment across the country. We highlight differences in local, state, and federal public funding, as well as all nonpublic funding for the same locations. This study represents the latest evidence regarding remaining public charter school funding inequities with a focus on where charters are most common: in cities.

Madison spends far more than most taxpayer funded K-12 school districts.

University demands student pay $500 for public records on its Chinese propaganda institute

College Fix:

Under scrutiny from lawmakers of both parties and academic groups, universities have been closing their Chinese government-run centers at a brisk pace.

The University of Kansas has not publicly moved to shutter its Confucius Institute, however, and a KU student wanted to know if administrators had discussed the possibility. He filed a public records request a month ago.

The taxpayer-funded university gave him an answer Thursday: $506.50.

Conner Mitchell set up a crowdfunding page to raise the money demanded by KU to hand over emails from top administrators that include the phrase “Confucius Institute.” He describes himself as a freelance journalist who has previously written for The Kansas City Star, Palm Beach Post and KU’s hometown newspaper, the Lawrence Journal-World.

“I simply don’t have the funds to pay for a request like this, even though I think the results could be of great public interest,” Mitchell wrote, explaining that his interest was piqued by the University of Michigan’s planned closure of its Confucius Institute.

KU’s institute “has caused controversy in the past,” he continued: “So I’m asking for your help, not only to pay for this request, but to show public agencies they can’t make requesters go away simply by charging a high amount for records about public business.”

Public-records expert Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida, denounced the university for requiring payment for records that should be free in the first place.

No, tech companies shouldn’t fund journalism

James Ball:

Yesterday, Facebook announced it would spend $300 million over three years on journalistic content, partnerships, and programs. The announcement commits the social network to match the funding rival tech giant Google said it would spend on such programs—but more importantly increases the already-dangerous co-dependency between big tech and newsrooms.

Journalism, especially local journalism, is certainly in need of new revenue streams, as the industry faces a fundamental challenge to its business model, as print advertising dwindles and publishers’ meagre share of online ad dollars do little to replace it. Meanwhile, the tech companies keep growing, reaping the online ad dollars that publishers are so eager to get.

Both the financial crisis of journalism and the dominance of big technology platforms are important issues, but they are too often conflated; academics and European lawmakers alike have pushed these two separate conversations together over the last few years, suggesting there’s an easy fix in making technology fund journalism. This is a tempting idea, and one gaining a foothold in the US, but in reality would be a serious mistake—especially when it comes to reader trust.

Many rightly see the rise of big tech, and social media in particular, as the root of journalism’s problems. Not only do Google and Facebook dominate the online ad market—the two together make up nearly two-thirds of the market, but the social networks have played a huge role in the spread of online misinformation and the incentivizing of clickbait, which have been large contributors to the crisis of trust in the media. That idea has widespread academic and political support. In July 2018, a UK parliament inquiry into disinformation and fake news warned of social media’s effects on both the information and advertising ecosystems. Likewise, Facebook conceded—while under severe media pressure earlier this year—that the journalistic outlets which provide much of its content are in crisis.

Call It ‘Ed Reform’ or Don’t — the Fight to Make Schools Work for Our Poorest Families Must Go On. To Stop Is to Dishonor King’s Memory

Howard Fuller:

I call on all my fellow warriors not to be deterred by those who believe that the only way to move forward is by returning to the “one best system” and therefore oppose giving poor families the power to choose, a power that so many who oppose it relentlessly use it for their own children. I know there will be those who would accuse people like me of trying to destroy public education because we want poor families to have choice, and in doing so, they continue to act as if the concept of public education is the same as the systems that have been set up to deliver it.

There will continue to be people who oppose charter schools because they don’t “promote integration” or they create all-black or -brown schools. They level these criticisms while comfortably set up in communities that provide a quality education for their children in nonintegrated or white-dominated schools. They somehow conveniently forget that many of these all-black or -brown charter schools bring good schools into communities that have been underserved and neglected for years. These age-old battles will go on while, in the meantime, the pain that defines so many of our children’s existence will continue.

Related:“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Families leaving New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, New York

United Van Lines:

Americans are on the move, relocating to western and southern parts of the country. The results of United Van Lines’ 42nd Annual National Movers Study, which tracks customers’ state-to-state migration patterns over the past year, revealed that more residents moved out of New Jersey than any other state in 2018, with 66.8 percent of New Jersey moves being outbound. The study also found that the state with the highest percentage of inbound migration was Vermont (72.6 percent), with 234 total moves. Oregon, which had 3,346 total moves, experienced the second highest percentage nationally, with 63.8 percent inbound moves.

States in the Mountain West and Pacific West regions, including Oregon, Idaho (62.4 percent), Nevada (61.8 percent), Washington (58.8 percent) and South Dakota (57 percent) continue to increase in popularity for inbound moves. In tune with this trend, Arizona (60.2 percent) joined the list of top 10 inbound states in 2018.

Several southern states also experienced high percentages of inbound migration, such as South Carolina (59.9 percent) and North Carolina (57 percent). United Van Lines determined the top reasons for moving south include job change (46.6 percent) and retirement (22.3 percent).

Related: Outbound Open Enrollment (Madison).

Political Philosophy Isn’t Just for College Students, It’s Making My Students Stronger Readers

Zachary Wright:

Alongside the whiteboard in the front of my 12th-grade English classroom in Philadelphia, there are sentence strips listing the names of the authors we have read thus far this school year. The names read like a syllabus to “Political Philosophy 101”: Hobbes. Locke. Rousseau. Plato. Marx. Hume. Machiavelli. Sun Tzu.

These authors and their writings represent a pointed choice in how I, and the many outstanding English educators I have been privileged to collaborate with, support struggling readers develop the skills and confidence to attack, decode and comprehend complex texts.

It is counterintuitive to be sure. A common choice might be, when trying to design a curriculum to accelerate the reading abilities of students who read below grade level, to modify texts in such a way as to meet the students near where their reading ability happens to be presently.

If a student is not on a 12th-grade reading level, but rather on a fourth-grade reading level, then it would likely feel correct to choose a text closer to the fourth-grade level than not. Often, this is an absolutely effective, appropriate and logical choice. What I’ve found, however, is that there is benefit to tackling a student’s reading struggles from the opposite flank as well.

UW-Madison prof: Anti-bias programs mean well, but there’s no proof they work

Chris Rickert:

UW-Madison researcher Markus Brauer has what he admits is a provocative message at a time when companies, governments and other organizations are heeding calls from social justice activists for training to counter discrimination and build a more equitable society:

It’s far from clear that such training works, and some of it might actually have the opposite of its intended effect.

Brauer, a psychology professor, will speak Tuesday, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on “Approaching MLK’s dream: Scientifically tested methods to reduce racism and promote inclusivity” as part of UW-Madison’s Crossroads of Ideas public lecture series.

His critique resonates with at least one organization that has provided training on multiple occasions to Dane County government employees.

Rachel Godsil, co-founder of the New York City-based Perception Institute and a law professor at Rutgers University, said she shares “some of the same skepticism” Brauer has in particular about implicit bias training. Implicit bias is the notion that we all have subconscious biases about people based on race and other characteristics, and that these biases affect our understanding of the world and the way we treat people.

But she said her organization takes a more comprehensive approach to disrupting bias and is careful to keep up with the latest research and evaluate training effects, and Dane County officials “recognize that none of this is one and done,” she said.

The city’s top students from 2005 to 2007 set out to change the world. But then life happened and many strayed from their dreams

The Boston Globe:

Over the past year, the Globe has tracked down 93 of the 113 valedictorians who appeared in the paper’s first three “Faces of Excellence” features from 2005 to 2007. We wanted to know, more than a decade later, how the stories of Boston’s best and brightest were turning out.

These were the kids who did everything asked of them and more. Some arrived as refugees, their childhoods abbreviated by war and poverty. Others navigated broken homes, foster care, and unspeakable street violence closer to home. Still others charted a clearer course, their academic rise fueled by family expectations and strong support.

These photo displays project an unspoken faith that the American dream is alive and well: Nearly 80 percent of the valedictorians we interviewed became the first in their families to go to college, an achievement often crowned by a generous scholarship.

But in an era when social mobility is in sharp decline, many of Boston’s valedictorians struggled after high school, their vaulting ambitions running headlong into a thicket of real-world obstacles — obstacles their wealthier, often white counterparts in the suburbs much more rarely encounter. Theirs are stories of inequality not just in income, but in opportunity.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.

Restorative justice isn’t working, but that’s not what the media is reporting

Max Eden:

Last week, the first randomized control trial study of “restorative justice” in a major urban district, Pittsburgh Public Schools, was published by the RAND Corporation.

The results were curiously mixed. Suspensions went down in elementary but not middle schools. Teachers reported improved school safety, professional environment, and classroom management ability. But students disagreed. They thought their teachers’ classroom management deteriorated, and that students in class were less respectful and supportive of each other; at a lower confidence interval, they reported bullying and more instructional time lost to disruption. And although restorative justice is billed as a way to fight the “school-to-prison pipeline,” it had no impact on student arrests.

The most troubling thing: There were significant and substantial negative effects on math achievement for middle school students, black students, and students in schools that are predominantly black.

What are we to make of these results? For education journalists like U.S. News and World Report’s Lauren Camera, there’s an easy solution: Don’t report the negative findings and write an article titled “Study Contradicts Betsy DeVos’ Reason for Eliminating School Discipline Guidance.”

When asked why she left her readers in the dark regarding the negative effects on black student achievement, Camera said that it “wasn’t intentional,” explaining that “it wasn’t meant to be a deep dive into the study. And we linked to it, so readers who wanted to follow up could.”

Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum is somewhat unique among education journalists for his practice of reading academic studies in full before writing about them. Barnum commented, “Well, I will say that the researchers didn’t do any favors in framing the results for reporters. The negative test for effect for black kids is buried on like page eighty with no mention (that I saw) until then…. [T]he research itself is excellent; their choice in framing is…notable.”

Chinese rich kids caught in rock band drug bust

Alice Yan:

Eleven young men, most of them fuerdai – wealthy second-generation millennials – will face court in southeastern China on drug charges, a Chinese newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Police in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, said men were all members of two rock bands in the city and tested positive for marijuana after a drug bust late last month, the Qianjiang Evening News reported.

Police launched the investigation in September after a tip-off, the report said.

Most of the suspects had studied abroad, had a similar family background and formed bands after returning from overseas, officers were quoted as saying. Police allege the men often kept marijuana at their studios and either possessed or sold the drug.

Among the accused is Huang Xiaoxin, a man in his early 20s and the son of a prominent businessman.

Huang studied at an American university and worked in his father’s company when he returned to China.

Universities Face Increased Pressure from Job Programs That Generate Results, Not Just Debt


Zak Slayback
:

Lambda School, a Y Combinator company that trains students in software engineering in exchange for a slice of their income for a few years, recently raised $30 million from investors in a Series B round. The core differentiator between Lambda School and its competitors is that Lambda operates under the Income Share Agreement (ISA) model.

The ISA model makes sense and is popular among students. They don’t have to pay anything up front, they receive training, and they only pay Lambda School back if they get a job earning more than $50,000/year. And it’s an improvement upon the sometimes-shoddy tuition-based model employed by coding boot camps since the industry started years ago.

University speech bias and suppression commentary

Greg Piper:

George Mason University eliminated its speech codes nearly four years ago, but didn’t adopt a formal statement defending freedom of expression until late last year.

What is more notable: The public university has flipped the script on bias reporting.

On its new “Free Speech at Mason” page, the northern Virginia school features a “Submit a Report” button at the top left. Here’s what it says: “If you believe your right to free speech has been infringed at Mason, you may submit an incident report by clicking on the button below.”

The message is repeated in bold at the bottom of the free-speech statement:

If you believe your freedom of speech or expression has been disrupted, you may report an incident of disruption of constitutionally protected speech by clicking on the “Submit a Report” button on this page.

The button goes to a “Free Speech Reporting Form” that asks users to share details of the alleged infringement, including who was involved, location and the user’s affiliation with the university.

Many universities tell students to report any speech or behavior that might conceivably show “bias” – never mind threats or harassment – and then teams of officials, sometimes including law enforcement, investigate those complaints.

2019 Madison School Board Election: Madison Teachers Union Candidate Questions

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Nearly all current candidates for the Madison School Board have started to make their case to voters and potential endorsers as the primary election heats up. That included answering questions from Madison Teachers Inc., the city’s teachers’ union.

Nine candidates are running for three seats on the seven-person School Board. MTI executive director Doug Keillor said candidates had to send in answers to the questionnaire by Jan. 11. On Wednesday, School Board candidates interviewed with the political action arm of MTI, which is comprised of 13 people who guide the union’s endorsement process during each election cycle.

Candidate Amos Roe, who is running for Seat 5, was the only current candidate who did not submit a questionnaire. Keillor said they reached out to Roe multiple times but did not receive a response. Skylar Croy, who withdrew from the race but whose name will still appear on the Feb. 19 ballot, also did not submit a questionnaire or interview with MTI.

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques on Madison’s disastrous reading results:

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.

Universities Face Increased Pressure from Job Programs That Generate Results, Not Just Debt

Zak Slayback:

Lambda School, a Y Combinator company that trains students in software engineering in exchange for a slice of their income for a few years, recently raised $30 million from investors in a Series B round. The core differentiator between Lambda School and its competitors is that Lambda operates under the Income Share Agreement (ISA) model.

The ISA model makes sense and is popular among students. They don’t have to pay anything up front, they receive training, and they only pay Lambda School back if they get a job earning more than $50,000/year. And it’s an improvement upon the sometimes-shoddy tuition-based model employed by coding boot camps since the industry started years ago.

Civics: Obama and the Limits of ‘Fact-Based’ Foreign Policy

Shadi Hamid:

They were the best and the brightest. But, most of all, they believed they were right. Although the scale of disaster was considerably different, the same that was said of those who oversaw foreign policy under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson could be said of the Obama administration.

These were academics, intellectuals, and technocrats who were not only very smart; they took pride in being practical, grounded in reality, and wedded to facts. After the supposed anti-intellectualism and ideological rigidity of the George W. Bush administration, many of us welcomed the prospect of a president who was cerebral and professorial. Even those sympathetic to President Barack Obama’s foreign-policy instincts, however, will agree that it didn’t quite go as planned.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: What’s driving your state’s growth? Babies or suitcases?

Andy Egbert:

Between mid-year 2017 and 2018, the U.S. population grew by 0.6%, adding more than 2 million residents. America’s new arrivals—both babies and immigrants—were unequally distributed across the map. And despite moving less than in years’ past, more than 1 in 10 Americans changed their addresses, and about 745,000 crossed state lines. Even in a single year, these dynamics resulted in sizable changes to states’ populations.

The reallocation of electoral points and congressional seats that occurs following the 2020 Census count has heightened the interest in state population tallies in the final years of this decade. And labor market tightness has ratcheted up competition for luring workers across state lines and from abroad.

So what’s happening at the state level regarding population change?

At 2.1 percent, Nevada and Idaho led all states in population growth during July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018, according to newly released estimates from the Census Bureau. The other swiftly growing states were Utah (1.9%), Arizona (1.7%), and Florida and Washington (1.5% apiece).

While these states grew the fastest, Texas (+379,100) and Florida (+322,500) added the most people. Next in line, California—the most populous state in the U.S.—added about half as many new residents (+157,700). With a population now exceeding 39.5 million, California is home to nearly 1 in 8 Americans. Arizona (+122,800), North Carolina (+112,800), Washington (+110,200), and Georgia (+106,400) rounded out the top tier of seven states which each added 100,000 or more people.

Racism row: British university apologises to Chinese students for exam cheating warning

Mandy Zuo:

A major British university caught in a racism row has apologised after Chinese students protested over a warning about cheating.

The apology came after the University of Liverpool’s Student Welfare Advice and Guidance office sent an email to all international students on Monday, warning them of serious consequences for breaking exam rules. The email was written in English but contained the Chinese characters for “cheating”.

When Chinese students protested, the office added fuel to the fire by saying: “We find that our Chinese students are usually unfamiliar with the word ‘cheating’ in English, and we therefore provided this translation.”

Commentary on the Los Angeles Teachers Strike

Andrew Moran:

Let’s begin with the makeup of the school district: It boasts a $7.52 billion budget and more than 60,000 employees, including about 26,000 teachers, with the average annual salary being $73,000. While employment has gone up 16% since 2004, enrollment has dropped 10% in the same period.

According to the latest available data, California school funding surged by nearly 10% from 2015 to 2016. If you examine a five-year period (2011 to 2016), school funding in the state is up a whopping 26%. Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has further proposed the “largest ever investment” in the LAUSD.

Unprecedented Milwaukee preschool effort aims to build literacy, curb later problems

Annysa Johnson:

A lowercase “e,” it turns out, can be difficult to master. But Patrick Jagiello is endlessly patient.

“Slide right, then circle around,” Jagiello tells 4-year-old Tarrell Harvey at the sign-in table in Mandy Sluss’ preschool class at Milwaukee’s Next Door Foundation. Tarrell follows his lead, but his “e” looks a little wobbly.

“Here, I’m going to help you,” Jagiello tells him, gently placing his hand over the child’s hand. And together they move the pencil, sliding right, then circling around.

“That’s cool,” Tarrell tells him, obviously pleased with their effort. “Now, I want to try.”

That is exactly the reaction founders of the Washington, D.C.-based Literacy Lab hoped to elicit when they created the Leading Men Fellowship, a 2-year-old program aimed at boosting early childhood literacy skills while exposing young men of color to careers in education.

Betsy DeVos’ bet on boot camps

Michael Stratford:

As Americans look to build the skills they need for the fast-changing job market, a new type of education provider has swept onto the scene: the coding boot camp, an intensive, short-term training program for students trying to land high-tech jobs.

Although they still account for a tiny share of American higher education, they’re growing fast; last year the camps graduated 20,000 students, 20 percent up from the previous year. As more workers sign up, the camps are drawing attention from policymakers as an efficient, job-focused alternative to a costly and complicated higher-education system.

“These nontraditional technology education models are part of the solution to closing the skills gap,’’ Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said when he introduced legislation to promote coding camps for military veterans in 2017.

The appeal is easy to see: Instead of the big, expensive infrastructure of traditional higher ed, boot camps tend to be small, adaptable and infused with the kind of startup mentality that drives much of the high-tech job market. And graduates tend to see quick results: Many get jobs quickly with a salary boost that easily covers the average $12,000 tuition.

As boot camps proliferate, policymakers in Washington have been asking whether the federal government should get behind the idea—specifically, by opening up some of the $130 billion it doles out annually in student loan guarantees and Pell Grants for higher education. Currently, this aid can be used only for accredited schools, which means students can’t use federal grants or loans for coding camps, which are unaccredited and largely operate as for-profit businesses.

Related: Credentialism.

Education and Journalism

Citizen Stewart:

I got an email from an @AP reporter. The subject: “black charter schools debate.” It said: “This is Sally Ho, national education reporter with the Associated Press. I am working on a story about the black charter school debate in light of increasing enrollment in the community.”

When we talked Ho framed the issue as if it were a black civil war where billionaire-funded groups were fighting traditional groups like the NAACP. I told her that there is no war in the black community about charter schools. It’s a divisive manufactured story.

I told her research constantly tells us black people are among the most reliable supporters of charters and school choice. The majority of black people are clear about their support. If any segment of black “leaders” disagrees, they’re disagreeing with their own people.

Ho’s story, as expected, insinuated that our leading black organizations, including the Urban League, UNCF, 100 Black Men, and so on, are charter school friendly merely because they receive grant funding from the Walton Family Foundation. So disrepctful for an outsider to write.

Here is her insulting and sloppy attempt at a graphic depicting Walton at the center of a black universe. She assigns black agency to white masters. Given the history of these organizations and their missions, she trades in at least accidental millennial hipster racism. Gross.

On the other side, Ho pooh-poohed the idea that the NAACP and Movement For Black Lives are themselves publicly aligned with the teachers’ union campaigns against charters as a fulfillment of their grant funding from the unions. She told me she tired of that framing because….

teachers working through their unions on behalf of their profession isn’t the same things as the outsized role wealthy pro-charter people play in education policy. It’s a huge admission for a “journalist” to make. Facts be damned.

———-

Related: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.

Editorial Mutiny at Elsevier Journal

Lindsay Mckenzie:

The entire editorial board of the Elsevier-owned Journal of Informetrics resigned Thursday in protest over high open-access fees, restricted access to citation data and commercial control of scholarly work.

Today, the same team is launching a new fully open-access journal called Quantitative Science Studies. The journal will be for and by the academic community and will be owned by the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI). It will be published jointly with MIT Press.

The editorial board of the Journal of Informetrics said in a statement that they were unanimous in their decision to quit. They contend that scholarly journals should be owned by the scholarly community rather than by commercial publishers, should be open access under fair principles, and publishers should make citation data freely available.

Elsevier said in a statement that it regretted the board’s decision and that it had tried to address their concerns.

“They are all engineers of ideological conformity and cogs in the revolutionary machine”

John Garnaut:

They are all engineers of ideological conformity and cogs in the revolutionary machine.

Among the many things that China’s modern leaders did – including overseeing the greatest burst of market liberalisation and poverty alleviation the world has ever seen – those who won the internal political battles have retained the totalitarian aspiration of engineering the human soul in order to lead them towards the ever-receding and ever-changing utopian destination.

This is not to say that China could not have turned out differently. Elite politics from Mao’s death to the Tiananmen massacres was a genuine contest of ideas.

But ideology won that contest.

Today the PRC is the only ruling communist party that has never split with Stalin, with the partial exception of North Korea. Stalin’s portrait stood alongside Marx, Engels and Lenin in Tiananmen Square – six metres tall – right up to the early 1980s, at which point the portraits were moved indoors.

For a long time we all took comfort in thinking that this ideological aspiration existed only on paper, an object of lip service, while China’s 1.4 billion citizens got on with the job of building families and communities and seeking knowledge and prosperity.

The Black Achievement Paradox Nobody’s Talking About

Darrel Burnette II:

Why do black students whose parents serve in the military so significantly outperform their peers from black civilian families? This question has for years stumped researchers, but a new data-reporting requirement for military-connected students under the Every Student Succeeds Act could provide some insights for practitioners and policymakers serving America’s increasingly mobile students overall.

Moving just once for any student has the potential to derail the student’s academic trajectory.

And yet black military-connected students, who move on average six to nine times before they graduate high school, consistently perform on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and on state exams not only better than black students from civilian families, who on average rarely transfer schools, but also almost as high as their white civilian- and military-connected peers. That gap has only continued to narrow in recent years.

I first came across this emerging research about seven years ago. It was early on in my career as an education reporter, and I was writing frequently about how Minnesota’s schools—some of the best in the nation—had so dramatically left their black students behind.

In my personal life, I was grappling with the lingering effects of an academically and socially disjointed childhood.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”:

Vincent van Gogh: on the Road to Revolution

Tim Keane:

On December 23, 1888, an agitated 35-five-year-old Dutch man turned up at a brothel in a provincial town in the south of France and presented his severed ear to a prostitute. This gruesome local incident event would be lost in police records had it not been for the fact that the man handing over the body part was Vincent van Gogh, a painter whose art, most of it produced within a single decade, helped created a new language for nearly every 20th century movement in European painting.

Today millions of tourists flock to museums, crowding in front of van Goghs like The Starry Night (1889) and Sunflowers (1888). The art has been reproduced en masse, on posters, prints, calendars, key chains, tote bags, coffee mugs, umbrellas, fabric covers and even bathing suits. Yet the artist’s struggles with mental illness in the last year or so of his life have been magnified into cautionary tales about art, feeding a toxic popular myth that artists are insane, antisocial, and self-destructive. He is a wide-eyed messianic savant in Vicente Milleni’s Lust for Life (1956), an irritable and immature malcontent in Robert Altman’s Vincent and Theo (1990), and an institutionalized and emaciated victim in Maurice Pialat’s Van Gogh (1991). Having exhausted van Gogh’s biography, filmmakers have turned the art-as-madness propaganda campaign on to other artists’ lives, from Mr. Turner (2014) and Pollock (2000) to Basquiat (1996), and Edvard Munch (1974). The message — unfailingly negative and absurdly reductive — is that artists are quasi-mystic misfits whose charming works were the byproduct of sick souls. In addition to further stigmatizing mental illness, these misrepresentations reinforce the lie that such illnesses strike painters in disproportionate numbers compared to the rest of the population. Armed with psychoanalytic theory and cultural studies, curators, critics and academics pile on, framing an artist’s work in spurious speculations about their inner lives and secret agendas. This insulates both academe and mass culture from engaging with art as complex and subversive forms of knowledge. Admire it, get its “messages,” but don’t take art too seriously. In turn, foundational principles from art like “creativity,” “imagination,” and “vision” get emptied of subversive meanings, appropriated for TED Talks and marketing campaigns while bungling inventors and venture capitalists become our modern-day Leonardo da Vincis. If the hijacking of van Gogh’s biography started us down this road, then revisiting van Gogh through the prism of newly published books about his life and aesthetics can chart a new course toward understanding the achievements buried beneath the myth.

After all “geniuses,” like “stars,” come and go with every news cycle. What makes van Gogh great was an ingrained mission he adopted, one that would test whether painting could expand the very phenomenon of experience itself. Judicious, well-read, focused, resourceful and unremitting, he learned and then rejected numerous conventions in order to break down the supposed distinctions between nature and art, between the world as it is and the world as it is painted. To this end, more radically than his equally talented and industrious Post-Impressionist peers, van Gogh undid long held Western assumptions about spatiality, color, and composition. Dispensing with three-dimensionality and chiaroscuro, he remade canvases into allover fields of undiluted, sharply contrasting colors and unpredictable densities of brushwork. Seemingly hurried and unrefined, his paintings helped advance abstraction in art by revealing how an object’s details can stand alone as self-contained exemplifications of the picture’s whole, as if painting itself had harnessed the ocular magic of telescopes, microscopes and zoom lenses. In all these respects, van Gogh discovered and mapped out unknown interrelationships between psychological depth and frank intimacy, audacious color and pure spatiality that guided much of 20th century art, from Pablo Picasso’s flattened planes of Cubism to Pierre Bonnard’s lushly colored interiors and into the art scenes across the Atlantic, from Frida Kahlo’s high-keyed probing self-portraiture to Joan Mitchell’s lyrical Abstract Expressionist evocations of nature.

Oregon proposes mandatory newborn home visits

:

One of the governor’s priorities that he’s most excited about is the beginning investment in a six-year program to create universal home visits for new parents. When the program is complete, every new parent — this includes adoptions — would receive a series of two or three visits by someone like a nurse or other health care practitioner. The visits could include basic health screenings for babies; hooking parents up with primary care physicians; linking them to other services; and coordinating the myriad childhood immunizations that babies need.

“This isn’t something for people in trouble. This is stuff all kids need. Stuff my kids needed,” Allen said.

e’s no stranger to issues related to youths; besides his work at the Health Authority, Allen also sits on the Sherwood School Board.

He said the state sees about 40,000 births per year. The universal home visit program has been piloted in Lincoln County. No other state in the nation offers universal visits for new parents, he said, although North Carolina has been a leader in the effort.

The Health Authority also will spend this year taking the next step in the advancement of Coordinated Care Organizations, or CCOs. They are designed to blend a variety of health services — such as physical health care, addictions and mental health, and dental care — to serve people who receive health care coverage under the Oregon Health Plan, or Medicaid.

Insiders are calling this year’s changes “CCO 2.0.”

Proposed legislation.

Chinese schools scanning children’s brains to see if they are concentrating

Chris Baynes:

Headbands that monitor concentration by reading brain signals have been trialled on thousands of Chinese schoolchildren.

The devices could soon be used on millions of students across China, according to the US tech company which designed them.

Massachusetts-based start-up BrainCo says its Focus 1 headbands can help teachers identify pupils who need extra assistance.

However, neuroscientists have questioned the devices’ effectiveness and the technology has also raised privacy concerns.

The headbands use electroencephalography (EEG) sensors to detect brain activity when the wearer is engaged in a task.

Collective bargaining needs some sunshine

Bob Wickers and Sam Coleman:

These are legitimate questions that none of us can answer. Even though taxpayers will have to fund whatever agreement is ultimately reached, the public knows virtually nothing about the proceedings. They won’t see any details until a final contract is approved, and they will likely never know about the offers and counteroffers along the way.

Transparency in negotiations involving public employee unions is prohibited by law in California, which means voters never know how public officials are performing one of their most important jobs.

It doesn’t have to be this way.
Many states and municipalities have ordinances mandating transparency in collective bargaining. Proposals, counterproposals and independent analyses are posted publicly. and negotiations are live-streamed. This kind of openness encourages adult behavior, good faith and compromise, and it can help avoid disruptive walkouts like the one we’re seeing now in Los Angeles.

Related: Act 10 and $1,570,000 for four Wisconsin State Senators./

Mitochondrial DNA can be inherited from fathers, not just mothers

Thomas G. McWilliams & Anu Suomalainen:

The DNA of eukaryotic organisms (such as animals, plants and fungi) is stored in two cellular compartments: in the nucleus and in organelles called mitochondria, which transform nutrients into energy to allow the cell to function. The nucleus harbours most of our genes, tightly packaged into 46 chromosomes, of which half are inherited from our mother’s egg and half from our father’s sperm. By contrast, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was thought to derive exclusively from maternal egg cells, with no paternal contribution1. Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Luo et al.2 challenge the dogma of strict maternal mtDNA inheritance in humans, and provide compelling evidence that, in rare cases, the father might pass on his mtDNA to the offspring, after all.

Human eggs contain more than 100,000 copies of mtDNA, whereas sperm contain approximately 100 copies3. Early hypotheses suggested that paternal mtDNA molecules became diluted in number relative to maternal mtDNA ones in the fertilized egg, but these ideas were replaced when evidence from various organisms, such as the uni-cellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii4 and medaka fish5, showed that paternal mtDNA is rapidly eliminated after fertilization. For decades, researchers have speculated on why healthy organisms obtain their cellular powerhouses from just one parent and on the possible evolutionary advantages conferred by mitochondrial genes inherited in this fashion.

A healthy individual’s mtDNA molecules are mostly identical. But in people with diseases caused by mtDNA mutations, normal and mutant mtDNA molecules typically coexist in a single cell — a situation termed heteroplasmy6. Disease severity is often associated with the amount of mutant mtDNA in cells, which is in turn determined by events that occurred when the person’s mother was still an embryo7. The developing eggs in the female embryo go through an ‘mtDNA bottle-neck’, in which the number of mtDNA copies is first reduced and then amplified to more than 100,000 copies8,9. Accordingly, variable amounts of mutant and normal mtDNA are present in the mature eggs of an individual woman, and, therefore, in the cells of her offspring. This phenomenon influences the severity of diseases caused by mtDNA mutations, and can lead to very different manifestations between individuals from the same family7.

The decline in U.S. life expectancy is unlike anything we’ve seen in a century

Sara Chodosh:

For a nation that spends more on healthcare per citizen than almost any other, America isn’t exactly reaping the rewards. Life expectancy has been steadily climbing for decades now, but in the last few years it’s taken a troubling turn in the other direction.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows that a small decrease in life expectancy, from 78.7 to 78.6 years, is part of a continuing trend. Even as we make progress treating cancer, heart disease, and stroke—three of the biggest killers—we’re losing ground on other fronts and have been since 2014. That makes this continuous decline unlike anything we’ve seen since World War I and the Spanish influenza, which both happened between 1915 and 1918.

In its report, the CDC highlighted three things that have contributed to American’s shrinking life expectancy in recent years: drug overdoses, chronic liver disease, and suicide. “Increased death rates for unintentional drug overdoses in particular—a subset of unintentional injuries—contributed to the negative change in life expectancy observed in recent years,” the report reads.

But the changes aren’t affecting everyone equally. Take a look at these charts:

Why US classrooms are starting to resemble arcades

Michael Melia:

It’s 1 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon in Wallingford, Connecticut, and about 20 children are watching a screen at the front of the room as they take turns navigating challenges and collecting virtual currency to unlock powers, outfits and pets for their characters.

The game they’re playing has some similarities to the online battle game “Fortnite.” But the kids aren’t fighting one another — they’re racking up points for participation and good behavior in their classroom at Dag Hammarskjold Middle School, where their teacher is presenting a home economics lesson with help from Classcraft, a fantasy-themed educational program.

“It’s actually a lot of fun,” said 13-year-old Caiden McManus. “The pets — that’s my favorite thing to do. To train the pets, you gain as many gold pieces as possible so you can get the new outfits and stuff.”

Peek inside your average classroom these days, and you’re likely to see teachers using apps, websites and software that borrow elements from video games to connect with students living technology-infused lives. By all accounts, they’re fun to use, and studies have found that some can be effective. But there is also skepticism about how often students who use them are better educated, or just better entertained.

Nicolet, Arrowhead top list of school superintendent salaries in the Milwaukee suburbs

Bob Dohr:

When it comes to superintendent salaries for school districts in the Milwaukee suburbs, the district administrators at Nicolet and Arrowhead are at the head of the class.

Surprisingly, those districts are among the smallest in terms of enrollment for the metropolitan area.

Robert Kobylski, administrator of the Nicolet Union High School District and Fox Point-Bayside, one of its feeder districts, tops the list of the 40 superintendents in the Now News Group coverage area with a salary of $214,172 and an overall compensation — salary plus benefits — of $298,577.

Second is Laura Myrah, superintendent at the Arrowhead Union High School District, with an overall compensation of $275,087. That includes a salary of $190,673 and benefits of $84,414.

Like Nicolet, the Arrowhead district covers high school only, grades 9 through 12.

Neither are huge districts in terms of student population. Arrowhead’s enrollment for 2017-18 was 2,174. The enrollment of Nicolet plus Fox Point-Bayside was 1,916.

That puts them in the bottom half of Milwaukee-area districts in terms of student population and below the average enrollment of 3,260.

Hamilton’s Paul Mielke, Wauwatosa’s Phillip Ertl and Elmbrook’s Mark Hansen comprise the rest of the top five in terms of total compensation, according to salary figures obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction from the 2017-18 school year, the most recent year for which information is available. Enrollment numbers are also from 2017-18.

Another report surfaces of teacher using racial slur in Madison school

Chris Rickert:

For the fifth time this school year, a report has surfaced of a teacher using a racial slur in front of students in the Madison School District.

In an email Tuesday afternoon to West High School families, principal Karen Boran said the incident that was brought to her attention this week “involved a substitute teacher using an inappropriate racial slur in the presence of a student.”

“The investigation has been completed, and the substitute teacher will not be teaching at West or in this district again,” Boran wrote.

District spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said the incident occurred last week and was reported by another staff member on Monday.

It’s the second time an alleged slur at West made news. In November, Boran told West families about a teacher “allegedly using an inappropriate racial slur with an individual student.”

Strauch-Nelson said the teacher in the November incident at West will not be returning to the school. It was unclear whether she would return to the district in any capacity; Strauch-Nelson said final action will be taken when the teacher returns from a leave she requested “for personal reasons.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Another Madison Referendum in the works

Negassi Tesfamichael:

In 2015, Madison voters authorized a $41 million school facility improvement plan that addressed needs in 16 schools across the district.

“I think our schools need (upgrades), but at the same point, I don’t want to force someone out of their home, which I’ve seen happen to some friends in Middleton because they can’t afford the referendum,” School Board member Nicki Vander Meulen said.

Voters in the Middleton-Cross Plains School District approved a referendum last November authorizing $138.9 million for an expansion to its high school and a new intermediate school. Since 2013, eight referendums have been voted on and approved in school districts around Dane County, not including Madison.

“We haven’t made a major capital investment in 50 years,” said School Board member Kate Toews. “Our kids deserve fantastic educational spaces and certainly our families see new buildings going up around them.

Madison has supported a number of maintenance referendums over the years….

The lack of results lead to calls for an audit in 2010 for a 2005 referendum (I’ve not seen a Capital Times followup….)

We have long spent far more than most (now around $20k per student) despite tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’ Review: The New Big Brother

Frank Rose:

According to Google’s Ngram Viewer, which measures the appearance in books of a given phrase over time, the word “surveillance”—from the French sur + veiller, “to watch over”—saw relatively little use until about 1960. At that point, sparked perhaps by the Cold War, it started turning up more and more frequently, a trend that continues to this day. Expect that trend to kick into overdrive now that Shoshana Zuboff’s “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” is out, for hers is the rare volume that puts a name on a problem just as it becomes critical—in this case, the quandary raised by Google and Facebook when they figured…

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

Less than you think: Prevalence and predictors of fake news dissemination on Facebook

Andrew Guess, Jonathan Nagler and Joshua Tucker:

So-called “fake news” has renewed concerns about the prevalence and effects of misinformation in political campaigns. Given the potential for widespread dissemination of this material, we examine the individual-level characteristics associated with sharing false articles during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. To do so, we uniquely link an original survey with respondents’ sharing activity as recorded in Facebook profile data. First and foremost, we find that sharing this content was a relatively rare activity. Conservatives were more likely to share articles from fake news domains, which in 2016 were largely pro-Trump in orientation, than liberals or moderates. We also find a strong age effect, which persists after controlling for partisanship and ideology: On average, users over 65 shared nearly seven times as many articles from fake news domains as the youngest age group.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Massachusetts pension tension: Some payouts hit $350,000

Joe Dwinell:

“These pensions are putting an enormous burden on the state budget,” said Greg Sullivan, a former state inspector general now with the Pioneer Institute. “It’s taking away money we need for roads, bridges and to fix the MBTA.”

Sullivan said the cost of footing the bill for these golden years has “skyrocketed” — forcing the state Legislature to pump $2.4 billion into that budget in 2018. He warned that the tab for this liability will climb to $11 billion by 2033.

“This is such a serious problem,” Sullivan added, “it’s become almost unrealistic.”

The 124,000-plus pension payouts studied by the Herald show former provosts, professors, prosecutors, teachers, social workers, toll collectors and prison guards collecting hefty checks:

Two former UMass Medical junior chancellors pulled down $347,000 and $338,000, respectively, last year. Both retired recently.

Ten retirees were close behind at more than $200,000 each last year, including William “Billy” Bulger, the brother of slain Southie mobster James “Whitey” Bulger. The former UMass president and onetime state Senate president took home $201,656 last year.

One man who retired in 1953 from “state service” was listed as collecting $12,200 last year. Others left state work in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s and are still collecting checks.

Most retired public school teachers were paid about $50,000 last year, but the top earner in this category chalked up $149,000.

School superintendents and teachers from Athol to Wrentham had annual pensions of $209,000 to $400. (That was a teacher on Nantucket.)

Retired toll collectors, who had their jobs eliminated due to electronic tolling, clocked in at $61,000 and $56,000 a year, on the high side, to $9,959 in the slow lane.

Sullivan, who collects a $91,000 annual pension for his stint as an inspector general, said the culprit is the state’s growing payroll.

Digital Libraries Wikibook-Bot – Automatic Generation of a Wikipedia Book

Shahar Admati, Lior Rokach, Bracha Shapira:

A Wikipedia book (known as Wikibook) is a collection of Wikipedia articles on a particular theme that is organized as a book. We propose Wikibook-Bot, a machine-learning based technique for automatically generating high quality Wikibooks based on a concept provided by the user. In order to create the Wikibook we apply machine learning algorithms to the different steps of the proposed technique. Firs, we need to decide whether an article belongs to a specific Wikibook – a classification task. Then, we need to divide the chosen articles into chapters – a clustering task – and finally, we deal with the ordering task which includes two subtasks: order articles within each chapter and order the chapters themselves. We propose a set of structural, text-based and unique Wikipedia features, and we show that by using these features, a machine learning classifier can successfully address the above challenges. The predictive performance of the proposed method is evaluated by comparing the auto-generated books to existing 407 Wikibooks which were manually generated by humans. For all the tasks we were able to obtain high and statistically significant results when comparing the Wikibook-bot books to books that were manually generated by Wikipedia contributors

Should State Adopt Lower Passing Score for the Bar Exam? Current One May Harm Students of Color:

Sawsan Morrar:

A continuing decline in California’s bar exam pass rate is prompting nearly all of the state’s law school deans to call for an overhaul of the exam.

They suggest the state’s minimum passing score of 144 is too high, compared to the national average of 135, and disproportionately keeps African-American and Latino law graduates from entering the profession. They also say that California graduates who perform better than average, and who would have passed the bar in any other state, are failing in California.

The criticisms, included in a letter signed by 19 of the state’s 20 ABA accredited law school deans, follows the most recent July 2018 bar exam that saw scores fall to a 67-year low. Only 40.7 percent of test takers passed the exam, roughly a 9 percent drop since July 2017. California has seen more applicants fail than pass the exam since 2013.

At a time when the legal profession is looking to build diverse teams, the deans say the cut score of 144 — second highest in the nation — is too limiting for all applicants but especially harms minority graduates.

Newly released data, collected after the July 2018 bar exam, shows that if California adopted the national average, the number of African-American law graduates passing the exam would have doubled.

Nearly 24 percent more Latino law graduates would pass the exam if California adopted the national average score.

Civics: The FBI’s Investigation of Trump as a “National Security Threat” is Itself a Serious Danger. But J. Edgar Hoover Pioneered the Tactic

Glenn Greenwald:

The FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump is far from the first time that the FBI has monitored, surveilled and investigated U.S. elected officials who the agency had decided harboerd suspect loyalties and were harming national security. The FBI specialized in such conduct for decades under J. Edgar Hoover, who ran the agency for 48 years and whose name the agency’s Washington headquarters continues to feature in its name.

Perhaps the most notable case was the Hoover-led FBI’s lengthy counterintelligence investigation of the progressive Henry Wallace, both when he served in multiple cabinet positions in the Franklin Roosevelt administration and then as FDR’s elected Vice President. The FBI long suspected that Wallace harbored allegiances to the Kremlin and used his government positions to undermine what the FBI determined were “U.S. interests” for the benefit of Moscow and, as a result, subjected Wallace to extensive investigation and surveillance.

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.