Civics: Google Assets and Free Speech

Tennessee Star:

Google banned a video explaining Christian teaching on same-sex marriage from advertising on YouTube after backlash from upset employees, according to internal Google communications reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The video was flagged in June 2018 in an internal listserv, “Yes at Google,” which is run by Google’s human resources department, according to those communications and other internal documents, which a source shared with TheDCNF on condition of anonymity.

The listserv has more than 30,000 members and is devoted to policing “microaggressions” and “micro-corrections” within the company, according to its official internal description.

The internal backlash to the video grew large enough to merit a response from a Google vice president, who said the video would no longer be eligible to run as an advertisement, the human resources team announced to the listserv.

Christian radio host Michael L. Brown argues in the video that gay people are welcome as Christians but that, like every other person, they are called to follow Christian teachings on sex and marriage.

Brown has spoken out in the past against “homo-hatred” and “ugly rhetoric” directed at gay and lesbian people by fringe groups like the Westboro Baptist Church.

In the video, he describes same-sex relationships as “like other sins, but one that Jesus died for.”

Many taxpayer supported school districts, including Madison, use Google services.

“required them to keep the documents from the public, including their school boards”

Bethany Blankley:

The documents DPI sent to school superintendents are the very documents WILL requested.

DPI also sent school superintendents the final “joint federal notification packets” on ESSA, which also stipulated that the information not be made public before March 5.

As a result, DPI could be applying a federal accountability system to schools and districts without having any state legal authority to do so, WILL argues.

Wisconsin’s DPI unilaterally wrote Wisconsin’s state plan with very little input from the state legislature and governor, WILL argues. WILL’s testimony before the Wisconsin Assembly Education Committee expressed that state law requires DPI, and other state agencies, to follow specific laws before creating regulations.

The Wisconsin DOI was lead by current governor Tony Evers for many years. The DPI has waived thousands of elementary teacher reading content knowledge requirements.

Much more on the foundations of reading, here.

Teaching in America’s prisons has taught me to believe in second chances

Andrea Cantora:

In 2007, I gave someone a second chance. I was in Danbury Federal Correctional Institution recruiting women for a new program for people returning from prison that I was running in New York City.

A woman approached me and handed me her portfolio. It was basically a detailed resume of her accomplishments, skills and goals for the future.

Over a two-year period before this, I had visited at least six female facilities in New York and Connecticut and met hundreds of women looking to enter our program. But when Jamila approached me, something stood out.

She was bold, persistent and confident about her future. Her portfolio showed that she took advantage of every educational program available to her while in prison. When she was released in 2007, I hired her as an administrative assistant intern. Over the next several years she worked her way up to a top management position at the same organization that ran the program.

A decade later I met another person, Chris Wilson, who created a master plan of what he hoped to accomplish in life. He, too, had embraced books, self-education and formal education while incarcerated. Even though he was serving a life sentence, he believed he could get out of prison and persisted until his judge gave him a second chance by reducing his sentence.

Some literary scholars would like to escape politics. But is that even possible?

Bruce Robbins:

On April 7, 2003, less than three weeks into America’s invasion of Iraq, Bruno Latour worried aloud, in a lecture at Stanford, that scholars and intellectuals had themselves become too combative. Under the circumstances, he asked, did it really help to take official accounts of reality as an enemy, aiming to expose the prejudice and ideology hidden behind supposedly objective facts? “Is it really the task of the humanities to add deconstruction to destruction?,” he wondered.

Latour’s name for this project of distrust was “critique.” Critique in his somewhat eccentric, “suspicion of everything” sense was not in fact what most progressive scholars and intellectuals thought of themselves as doing, whether in opposition to the war in Iraq or in general. When Latour’s lecture came out the following year under the title “Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam?,” it was an extremely influential bit of theater. Latour had made his career as a critic of science and purveyor of an all-purpose distrust. “I myself have spent some time in the past trying to show ‘the lack of scientific certainty’ inherent in the construction of facts,” he confessed in the essay. “Is it enough to say that we did not really mean what we said?” A famous intellectual revolutionary now seemed to be renouncing the revolution, and to many it seemed that the revolution itself was over. A number of other scholars came forward to testify that they too had had it up to here with critique. Postcritique was born.

We asked, they answered: Teachers weigh in on how they learned to teach reading

Ann Schimke:

When we invited teachers to respond to a survey on reading instruction, we received nearly 70 responses. We heard from teachers in Colorado and several other states who said their educator preparation program didn’t provide the skills they needed to teach reading. We also learned that most respondents agreed with recent critiques that American schools pay little attention to the science behind reading instruction. Here’s a sampling of responses.

“While methods vary from school to school, on the whole we have neglected explicit, systematic phonics instruction, which has disproportionately affected our students with the highest needs … In [Denver Public Schools], a host of factors, particularly flexibility with curriculum, has led to very inconsistent phonics instruction in the early grades, even when schools have adopted curriculum with a high-quality phonics program.”

Civics: Kentucky legislature passes college free speech bill opposed by ACLU

Morgan Watkins:

Miller cited concerns that certain provisions in HB 254 could be used to prevent speech by counter-protesters on campus. She also emphasized that the ACLU doesn’t believe in censoring speech, even if it is “repulsive.”

“We believe that, first and foremost, the First Amendment does a fine job of protecting free speech and that we should rely on the protections enshrined in our Constitution rather than putting into place these types of state regulations,” she said.

The Kentucky Senate passed HB 254 Thursday afternoon in a 30-7 vote, with many Republicans and a couple of Democrats supporting the measure. State Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, expressed concerns similar to the ACLU’s and voted against it, along with many other Democrats in that chamber.

The state House of Representatives already passed the bill in a 64-33 vote earlier this week, which means it can now head to Gov. Matt Bevin for consideration. (Bevin has the power to sign bills into law or veto them.)

Concerns about protecting people’s right to free speech on college campuses has periodically landed in the national spotlight in recent years.

One flashpoint involved 2017 protests at the University of California, Berkeley, in opposition to a planned appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos, a right-wing personality who has made comments that were decried by many as hate speech.

Civics: Media FOIA Requests to EPA Spiked After Trump Election, Data Reveal

Brent Scher:

The New York Times, for example, made just 13 FOIA requests during the four years of Obama’s second term, sending 3 in 2013, 1 in 2014, 7 in 2015, and 2 in 2016. The number of FOIA requests the Times sent for Obama’s entire second term was nearly quadrupled in the first year of Trump’s presidency alone, when the Times sent 59 FOIA requests to the EPA.

Reporters at the Times have made 100 FOIA requests since Trump took office just over two years ago, a 669 percent increase of the number of FOIA requests it made during the four years of Obama’s second term.

Reporters at the Washington Post sent just a single FOIA request to the EPA during Obama’s entire second term, and have sent 43 FOIA requests to the agency since Trump took office.

The sharp increase in FOIA requests to the EPA was also apparent at Politico (15 requests in Obama’s second term, 198 since Trump took office), The Hill (20 requests in Obama’s second term, 67 since Trump took office), CNN (25 requests in Obama’s second term, 47 since Trump took office), Buzzfeed (18 requests in Obama’s second term, 38 since Trump took office), and ABC News (4 requests in Obama’s second term, 32 since Trump took office).

Database Architecture Blog

Architecture Database:

In a computer program, the database is the heart of handling data. It provides an efficient way of storing and retrieving data fast. Learning Database internal architecture in code level is not that so easy since Database has complex architecture. Looking into a complex database is not that easy because of the complexity. But, SQLite is a nice little compact database that used in millions of devices and operating systems.

Cornell, Harvard Drop GRE for English Ph.D.

Scott Jaschik:

The basic fee for the GRE general test is $205, with additional fees for other tests and services, and fee waivers available for low-income students.

Glenda Carpiom, professor of English and director of graduate studies at Harvard, said via email that in the first year in which the department didn’t require the GRE, applications from underrepresented minority and international students were up. She said that the department was pleased with the results.

ETS has in recent years stressed that while it believes the GRE enhances admissions committees’ decision making, it also believes that departments should not overemphasize scores, or adopt cutoff scores, even informal ones.

Civics: DARPA Is Building a $10 Million, Open Source, Secure Voting System

Kim Zetter:

Switzerland made headlines this month for the transparency of its internet voting system when it launched a public penetration test and bug bounty program to test the resiliency of the system to attack.

But after source code for the software and technical documentation describing its architecture were leaked online last week, critics are already expressing concern about the system’s design and about the transparency around the public test.

Cryptography experts who spent just a few hours examining the leaked code say the system is a poorly constructed and convoluted maze that makes it difficult to follow what’s going on and effectively evaluate whether the cryptography and other security measures deployed in the system are done properly.

“It is simply not the standard we would expect.”

How to Write Original Creative Writing Essays: Complete Guide for Arts Essays

Word Atlas:

The importance of a journal can never be over emphasised. Journals help you build patience, consistency, good observatory skills and an ability to write whether you are inspired or not. Journals also make excellent muses when you need inspiration to write. Reading through past writings can birth ideas that make good foundations for a different story entirely. You don’t have to record day to day experiences, you can record dreams, memories, quotes, phrases and songs that strike deep chords between you. Record moods, feelings, observations and certain bouts of ideas that seem to pop from nowhere. When you write your creative essay and you seem stuck, get out your journal and write anything that comes to mind.

School superintendents to Gov. Kate Brown: No thanks on a 180-day school year

Betsy Hammond & Eder Campuzano:

Gov. Kate Brown is working to make good on her campaign pledge to extend Oregon’s notoriously short school year to the national benchmark of 180 days, the single most expensive item on her list of school upgrades she’d bankroll with a promised $2 billion corporate tax hike.

But a panel composed largely of school district superintendents, assembled at Brown’s request to guide the state in making the switch to a longer school year, came back with a different take: Think long and hard before you force districts to lengthen the school year and, whatever you do, do not mandate 180 days.

Brown’s spokeswoman said Tuesday that the governor is undaunted in her drive to ensure that all Oregon students get a longer school year.

Brown’s takeaway from the work group report, spokeswoman Lisa Morawski said, is that its members feel strongly that extending the school year alone won’t improve results – a position the governor agrees with. That’s why she’s also working to come up with money for more preschool, smaller class sizes, additional career-technical courses and improved teacher effectiveness, Morawski said.

8-year-old living in homeless shelter wins New York chess championship: ‘I want to be the youngest grandmaster’

Ashley May – via a kind reader:

“I want to be the youngest grandmaster,” Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a Nigerian refugee who goes by Tani, told The New York Times.

Tanitoluwa placed first in the New York State Scholastic Championships tournament for kindergarten through third grade — a remarkable win for anyone.

“It’s unheard of for any kid, let alone one in a homeless shelter,” Russell Makofsky, who oversees Manhattan’s P.S. 116 chess program, told USA TODAY.

Nothing funny

Karen Uhlenbeck first woman to win the Abel Prize

The Abel Prize:

Uhlenbeck is a mathematician, but she is also a role model and a strong advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics. As a child, she loved reading and dreamed of becoming a scientist. Today, Uhlenbeck is Visiting Senior Research Scholar at Princeton University as well as Visiting Associate at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). She is one of the founders of the Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI) at IAS, which aims to train young researchers and promote mutual understanding of the interests and challenges in mathematics.

She is also the co-founder of the Institute’s Women and Mathematics program (WAM), created in 1993 to recruit and empower women to lead in mathematics research at all stages of their academic careers.

Commentary on proposed Wisconsin K-12 Tax and spending increases and effectiveness

Bethany Blankley:

Slinger and Hartford school districts spend significantly less than the state average on education but their students’ Forward Exam performances are significantly higher than other districts, the report found. By comparison, White Lake and Bayfield districts have “woeful proficiency rates despite spending far more than the average district,” the report states.

In Evers’ budget address, he said, “more than one million Wisconsinites have raised their own property taxes to support local schools in their communities,” Matt Kittle at the MacIver Institute notes. “But they chose to do so,” Kittle says, “through the mechanism of referendum that offers school districts the ability to set their own priorities and not make taxpayers elsewhere pick up an ever-increasing portion of the tab.”

Evers’ budget plan calls for a return to the state picking up two-thirds of K-12 funding, but would put more money into the state’s long-failing schools, Kittle notes, “while he looks to punish Wisconsin’s school choice program.”

Locally, Madison spends around $20,000 per student, yet we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“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”.

The admissions-cheating scandal prompts an investigation of other shameful developments, like the rising cost of college and the declining payoff for younger grads

Jack Hough:

New York University charges $6,500 for Calculus I. That’s tuition and fees, not books, residence, and a Vespa scooter. The rules of calculus were laid down more than 300 years ago by two guys in wigs. You can learn everything for free on YouTube. So where does all this pricing power come from? Hold that thought.

It’s not just math, and it’s not just NYU. The sticker price for the average private four-year college is now over $50,000 a year, including room and board. Do you know what else $200,000 in cash can buy a 22-year-old? A $3 million retirement, if the money is invested at about a 6% year return until age 68.

Stanford University let in 4.3% of applicants last year. It ranks among the top U.S. schools. The number of applicants has more than tripled over the past 30 years, but yearly enrollment has barely budged.

Managed Obsolescence: Homelessness in America’s Gilded Cities

Jacob Siegel:

It was last July, somewhere around Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway, when I first noticed the RVs. Miles and miles of vintage cream-colored RVs parked bumper to bumper along the inland shoulder of the PCH. My first thought was that they must have belonged to tourists spending a day at the beach. But they were still there at night, stretching down the shoulder of the highway like a caravan caught in purgatorial gridlock, no closer to entering the city than to escaping it.

I started reading about the homeless camps spreading across the western United States around 2014. My initial impression was that the stories were paranoid allegories about late capitalism and American greed—postscripts of a sort to the rumors of encroaching FEMA camps from the previous decade, not meant to be taken literally. But the reports didn’t go away, and at some point I started to wonder if they could possibly be true, and—if they were true, and dust-bowl-era settlements were cropping up across American cities—how it wasn’t bigger news.

I’d read in one account that it was a crisis of rising housing costs and stagnating wages, and then, in another, that it was a crisis of drug addiction, mental illness, and deinstitutionalization. Were warm weather and welfare benefits drawing homeless people from other states to the West Coast? Had progressive governments, fearful of infringing on the rights of even the most disturbed people on the streets, effectively ceded public spaces to unincorporated settlements? Were business interests and real estate developers to blame, or was this the consequence of family breakdown and social atomization?

I wanted to see for myself, so I went out west.

Civics: Above the Law

Tony Bartelme and Joseph Cranney:

South Carolina sheriffs have embezzled, bribed and dipped into public funds for expensive chauffeurs. They’ve driven drunk and bullied other public officials. They’ve been accused of leveraging their power to sexually assault their female employees.

While many South Carolina sheriffs have strong records of serving the public, others served themselves and their cronies, a five-month Post and Courier investigation found.

In the past decade, no fewer than 11 of South Carolina’s 46 counties have seen their sheriffs accused of breaking laws — nearly one in four.

Like the sheriff in Orangeburg who funneled public funds into bogus credit union accounts to buy a $72,000 motor home. The missing money was discovered only after the sheriff died.

And the sheriff in Chesterfield County who embezzled money, gave weapons to inmates — even let a prisoner host a dinner at the sheriff’s home. A judge sentenced the sheriff to two years.

It is always useful to dive into taxpayer expenditures, particularly those that grow annually.

South Dakota Legislature passes intellectual diversity bill

Graham Piro:

After multiple legislative failures, the South Dakota Legislature has passed a bill to promote intellectual diversity on campus. HB 1087 is on its way to the governor’s desk after the House passed the Senate-amended bill, 51-12, on Tuesday.

“We are thrilled that South Dakota has become the first state in the nation to adopt legislation requiring universities to promote intellectual diversity and not simply be dominated by the left,” Rep. Sue Peterson, a sponsor of the bill, told The College Fix in an email.

She called this leftist domination “a national epidemic which has undermined the education of thousands of students and fueled out-of-control political correctness at the expense of hard-working taxpayers.”

Of the 12 representatives who voted against the bill, nine were Democrats, and three were Republicans. Seven representatives were excused from voting.

A Successful School, a Progressive Target

Allysia Finley:

Monroe College is a higher-education success story. Believe it or not, progressives want to shut it down.

Founded in 1933, it focuses on practical learning: There are no seminars on intersectionality or cultural appropriation, no rock-climbing walls, organic vegetable gardens or ethnic theme houses. In other respects, Monroe is similar to other small colleges. It has dining halls, libraries, student clubs and a Title IX coordinator. “I have 850 athletes, 1,000 people in dormitories, 1,000 foreign students,” says Marc Jerome, Monroe’s president and something of a force of nature, on a recent visit to the Journal’s offices. “We look and feel like a traditional college—an urban college.” Its main campus in the Bronx, on New York City’s northern rim, and it has sites in nearby New Rochelle and the Caribbean nation of Saint Lucia.

Monroe provides training in fields like information technology, nursing and culinary arts, and its student outcomes are exemplary. A Monroe student is 10 times as likely to graduate on time as one who enrolls at a nearby community college, and the college’s 3.9% student-loan default rate is among the lowest in the state. It also ranks among the top three colleges in New York for graduating Latino and black students.

Don’t become success robots

Peggy Noonan:

Here is some­thing I think is part of the story. In the past decade or so I’ve ob­served a par­tic­u­lar par­ent­ing style grow­ing preva­lent among the up­per mid­dle class and wealthy. It is in­tense. They love their kids and want the best for them, they want to be re­spon­si­ble, but there’s a de­gree to which one won­ders if they don’t also see them as nar­cis­sis­tic ex­ten­sions of them­selves. They are hy­per-at­ten­tive, pro­vid­ing metic­u­lous aca­d­e­mic groom­ing—pri­vate schools, pri­vate tu­tors and coaches, pri­vate classes in Chi­nese lan­guage and cello. They don’t want their chil­dren fat—that isn’t healthy, by which they mean at­trac­tive. They com­mu­ni­cate the civ­i­lized opin­ions of the best peo­ple and sig­nal it would be best to hew to them.

They are sta­tus mon­keys cre­at­ing suc­cess robots.

Amazon Pulls 2 Books That Promote Unscientific Autism ‘Cures’

Tiffany Hsu:

Amazon has removed the online listings for two books that claim to contain cures for autism, a move that follows recent efforts by several social media sites to limit the availability of anti-vaccination and other pseudoscientific material.

The books, “Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism” and “Fight Autism and Win,” which had previously been listed for sale in Amazon’s marketplace, were not available on Wednesday. The company confirmed that the listings had been removed, but declined to discuss why or whether similar books would be taken down in the future.

Several such books were still listed on Wednesday. In an article published this week, Wired magazine noted that Amazon is crowded with titles promoting unproven treatments for autism that include “sex, yoga, camel milk, electroconvulsive therapy and veganism.”

Rigor: Many Guidelines For Heart Care Rely On Weak Evidence

Richard Harris:

Doctors turn to professional guidelines to help them identify the latest thinking on appropriate medical treatments, but a study out Friday finds that in the realm of heart disease, most of those guidelines aren’t based on the highest level of evidence.

A paper in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, that was released online ahead of print, finds that less than 10 percent of cardiovascular guidelines are based on the most carefully conducted scientific studies, known as randomized controlled trials. A lot of the rest are based on much weaker evidence.

Renato Lopes, a cardiologist at Duke University and his colleagues decided to dig into the guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. The scientists also reviewed the European Society of Cardiology guidelines, and found a similar pattern.

Colleagues who had done a similar analysis a decade ago came up with a surprising and disappointing observation: Only 12.5 percent of these guidelines are based on the highest level of evidence.

The State of American Trade Schools

Chuck Thompson:

This is a golden time for postsecondary trade and tech schools. Not just because they’re becoming more profitable than ever. But because, at least according to some, they’re finally shaking off the stigma that has dogged their students, instructors, and administrators for so long. Over the past year, media from The Wall Street Journal to PBS have hailed technology schools and programs as harbingers of a new economy and reformers of a postsecondary education system that’s become over-priced, over-valued, and often irrelevant.

Statistics are a big part of the story. Between 1988 and 2018, the cost of a four-year college degree increased by 213 percent at public schools and 129 percent at private schools. Over the same period, wages for most Americans remained stagnant. Meanwhile, unemployment rates among young college graduates have grown from 4.3 percent in 2000 to 5.6 percent in 2017. Young male college graduates have been particularly hard hit. Their unemployment rate spiked from 4.1 percent in 2000 to 7.1 percent in 2017. At the same time, a scarcity of skilled workers has led to a nationwide labor shortage that’s resulted in increased wages for a number of blue-collar occupations. The lesson for many is obvious.

“We are lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist,” says Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe, summing up a widespread viewpoint for Fox News.

The Persistent Economic Advantage of America’s Suburbs

Richard Florida:

The rise of the city and the decline of the suburbs has emerged as a common meme in recent years. The young, the educated, and the affluent have come streaming back to the urban core, driving up rents, driving out the poor, and giving rise to patterns of gentrification. The story goes that the suburbs have lost their long-held position as the premier location, being besieged by poverty, economic decline, and other problems once thought to be the province of the inner city.

The trouble is that this picture does not match reality—not by a long shot, according to a detailed new paper published in the journal Urban Studies. Authored by Whitney Airgood-Obrycki of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, it looks at the change in the economic status of urban and suburban neighborhoods from 1970 to 2010, a period that overlaps with notions of the resurgence of America’s urban centers and the decline of its suburbs.

Airgood-Obrycki’s study classifies neighborhoods according to three categories—urban core, inner-ring suburbs, and outer-ring suburbs—based on their proximity to the urban center and their density. It further breaks out the suburbs into three additional categories based on when they were developed: prewar, postwar, and modern. Airgood-Obrycki defines the economic status of neighborhoods according to a series of key economic and demographic indicators, including income, college education, employment in professional occupations, home values, rents, vacancy rates, older households (60 years of age and over), and female-headed households.

Her data come from the U.S. Census Longitudinal Tract Database for the period 1970 to 2010, and cover roughly 40,000 census tracts across America’s 100 most populous metro areas.

Related: Where have all the students gone?

Only 7 Black Students Got Into N.Y.’s Most Selective High School, Out of 895 Spots

Eliza Shapiro:

Only a tiny number of black students were offered admission to the highly selective public high schools in New York City on Monday, raising the pressure on officials to confront the decades-old challenge of integrating New York’s elite public schools.

At Stuyvesant High School, out of 895 slots in the freshman class, only seven were offered to black students. And the number of black students is shrinking: There were 10 black students admitted into Stuyvesant last year, and 13 the year before.

Another highly selective specialized school, the Bronx High School of Science, made 12 offers to black students this year, down from 25 last year.

These numbers come despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vow to diversify the specialized high schools, which have long been seen as a ticket for low-income and immigrant students to enter the nation’s best colleges and embark on successful careers.

But Mr. de Blasio’s proposal to scrap the entrance exam for the schools and overhaul the admissions process has proved so divisive that the state’s most prominent politicians, from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have mostly avoided taking a definitive position — even as black and Hispanic students are grappling with increasingly steep odds of admission into the city’s eight most selective public schools.

College entrance bribery scandal resonates on Georgia campuses

Jennifer Brett and Ty Tagami:

“A lot of this stems from how narrowly we define success,” she said.

In addition to criminal charges, Operation Varsity Blues has spurred class-action litigation. Students suing Yale University, Georgetown University, Stanford University and other schools caught up in the wide-ranging scheme contend the elite institutions “took the students’ admission application fees while failing to take adequate steps to ensure that their admissions process was fair and free of fraud, bribery, cheating and dishonesty.”

Todd Rose, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, predicts more revelations to come and doubts the charges will put an end to attempts to game the college-admission system.

“Anytime you create a system that has a very singular view of success, this will always happen,” he said. “It sort of guarantees not only cheating and corruption, but really, unhappy kids. As long as we treat higher ed like a designer handbag, it creates these incentives for corruption.”

Rose, who’s also co-founder of the Boston-based think tank Populace, thinks reform could start from the private sector. Top firms that make it clear they hire for ability and work ethic instead of focusing on a certain diploma, he said, could ease the frenzied competition for limited spots at a handful of prestigious colleges and universities.

“If we’re not willing to have the conversation about how we define success, this problem isn’t going away,” he said.

The Disability Gambit

Joanne Jacobs:

Affluent parents are getting their kids extra time on the SATs and ACTs by paying for a disability diagnosis, writes Doree Lewak in the New York Post.

Such accommodations, meant to level the playing field for students with disabilities, have more than doubled since 2003, when testing services stopped telling colleges who gets extra time.

“To get extra time, parents can pay thousands of dollars to have their child evaluated for a learning disorder by a private neuropsychology evaluator, typically a psychologist of some sort,” writes Lombardo.

Candidates wade through complex issues facing the Madison school board

Jenny Peek:

As for charter schools, Blaska says the more the better. “Competition is what made America great,” he says. “My whole pitch is to bring Madison schools back to their former excellence status and we’ve gone the opposite way. We have parents voting with their feet.”

Muldrow supports charter schools — like Nuestro Mundo — that are overseen by the district, because they create an opportunity to develop creative curriculum. She notes that two independent charter schools — Isthmus Montessori Academy, where her daughters go, and One City Schools — would prefer to be part of the district. Both applied but were rejected.

To address the achievement gap, Blaska sees a lack of discipline as the problem and would revise the district’s Behavior Education Plan. Muldrow champions making arts a core part of curriculum. She’d also encourage the district to step back from standardized testing and make schools more inclusive and welcoming.

“Our attachment to ‘sit still, in a desk, fill out a worksheet,’ I don’t think we’re attached to that because it’s a necessity of learning, I think were attached to it because we’re used to it,” Muldrow says. “And I think we’re attached to the achievement gap because we’re used to it. And I think that we need to get used to something else.”

Much more on the 2019 Madison School District election, here.

“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”.

Madisonspends far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, now around $20,000 per student. Yet, we’ve long tolerated disastrous reading results.

The Unstoppable Snowplow Parent

Claire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwich:

So Ms. Eisenberg and others in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., the affluent suburb where she lives, helped him start a charity with friends that raised more than $250,000 over four years.

“The moms — the four or five moms that started it together — we started it, we helped, but we did not do it for them,” Ms. Eisenberg, 49, recalled. “Did we ask for sponsors for them? Yes. Did we ask for money for them? Yes. But they had to do the work.”

She even considered a donation to the college of his choice. “There’s no amount of money we could have paid to have got him in,” Ms. Eisenberg said. “Because, trust me, my father-in-law asked.” (Ms. Eisenberg’s son was admitted to two of the best musical theater programs in the country, she said, along with nine more of the 26 schools he applied to.)

China may overtake the US with the best AI research in just two years

Will Knight:

The most detailed analysis of Chinese AI research papers yet suggests that China is gaining on the US more quickly than previously thought.

China’s vibrant tech scene has come up with a number of recent breakthroughs, and the government has recently launched a major initiative to dominate the development of the technology within a matter of years (see “China’s AI awakening”).

Still, it isn’t easy to measure progress in a broad and complex area of technology like artificial intelligence. Previous studies have shown that China already produces a larger number of research papers mentioning AI terms like “deep learning.” But it has always been difficult to ascertain the quality of that research.

The new study aims to solve that problem. It comes from the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (Ai2), a nonprofit in Seattle created by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen that is focused on fundamental AI research. The institute previously created a tool, called Semantic Scholar, that uses artificial intelligence to make it easier to search and analyze scientific research papers published online.

The Bitter Lesson

Rich Sutton:

The biggest lesson that can be read from 70 years of AI research is that general methods that leverage computation are ultimately the most effective, and by a large margin. The ultimate reason for this is Moore’s law, or rather its generalization of continued exponentially falling cost per unit of computation. Most AI research has been conducted as if the computation available to the agent were constant (in which case leveraging human knowledge would be one of the only ways to improve performance) but, over a slightly longer time than a typical research project, massively more computation inevitably becomes available. Seeking an improvement that makes a difference in the shorter term, researchers seek to leverage their human knowledge of the domain, but the only thing that matters in the long run is the leveraging of computation. These two need not run counter to each other, but in practice they tend to. Time spent on one is time not spent on the other. There are psychological commitments to investment in one approach or the other. And the human-knowledge approach tends to complicate methods in ways that make them less suited to taking advantage of general methods leveraging computation. There were many examples of AI researchers belated learning this bitter lesson, and it is instructive to review some of the most prominent.

In computer chess, the methods that defeated the world champion, Kasparov, in 1997, were based on massive, deep search. At the time, this was looked upon with dismay by the majority of computer-chess researchers who had pursued methods that leveraged human understanding of the special structure of chess. When a simpler, search-based approach with special hardware and software proved vastly more effective, these human-knowledge-based chess researchers were not good losers. They said that “brute force” search may have won this time, but it was not a general strategy, and anyway it was not how people played chess. These researchers wanted methods based on human input to win and were disappointed when they did not.

Radical Change Is Coming To Data Science Jobs

Nate Oostendorp:

The Path Forward For Data Scientists

Over the coming years, I foresee data scientists dividing into at least five types of workers:

1. Generalists: The first group will be data science generalists, who will interpret data and make it usable. These generalists will focus on educating end users, helping users ask questions of the data rather than finding all the answers themselves. This will likely be a transitional role, more common in five years than in ten.

2. Industry specialists: The second and largest group will comprise industry specialists, who will apply data science techniques and tools in specific verticals like manufacturing, medical sciences and finance. This is where I believe the bulk of the jobs will be. However, these won’t be considered data science jobs. This worker won’t be a data scientist who understands manufacturing but rather a manufacturing leader who understands data science. Today’s equivalent is the researcher who is a statistics ace.

3. Deep specialists: The third and smallest group will be deep specialists in specific data science technologies. This is where the remaining pure data science jobs will be. Their role will be pursuing data science in the abstract, improving the performance of algorithms and designing new generalized approaches. They will be like today’s computer scientists, building theoretical foundations rather than solving everyday problems.

IQ is largely a pseudoscientific swindle

Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

Background : “IQ” is a stale test meant to measure mental capacity but in fact mostly measures extreme unintelligence (learning difficulties), as well as, to a lesser extent (with a lot of noise), a form of intelligence, stripped of 2nd order effects. It is via negativa not via positiva. Designed for learning disabilities, and given that it is not too needed there (see argument further down), it ends up selecting for exam-takers, paper shufflers, obedient IYIs (intellectuals yet idiots), ill adapted for “real life”. The concept is poorly thought out mathematically by the field (commits a severe flaw in correlation under fat tails; fails to properly deal with dimensionality; treats the mind as an instrument not a complex system), and seems to be promoted by

racists/eugenists, people bent on showing that some populations have inferior mental abilities based on IQ test=intelligence; those have been upset with me for suddenly robbing them of a “scientific” tool, as evidenced by the bitter reactions to the initial post on twitter/smear campaigns by such mountebanks as Charles Murray. (Something observed by the great Karl Popper, psychologists have a tendency to pathologize people who bust them by tagging them with some type of disorder, or personality flaw such as “childish” , “narcissist”, “egomaniac”, or something similar).
psychometrics peddlers looking for suckers (military, large corporations) buying the “this is the best measure in psychology” argument when it is not even technically a measure — it explains at best between 2 and 13% of the performance in some tasks (those tasks that are similar to the test itself)[see interpretation of .5 correlation further down], minus the data massaging and statistical cherrypicking by psychologists; it doesn’t satisfy the monotonicity and transitivity required to have a measure (at best it is a concave measure). No measure that fails 80–95% of the time should be part of “science” (nor should psychology — owing to its sinister track record — be part of science (rather scientism), but that’s another discussion).

State lawmakers pushing for laxer vaccine rules despite measles outbreaks

Victoria Colliver:

We still get messages that say these diseases are good for you. And that old ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,'” said Oregon state Rep. Mitch Greenlick, who is pushing for stricter vaccination requirements. He has introduced a bill, OR HB3063, to eliminate all vaccine exemptions except for those based on medical grounds.

Greenlick, a retired Kaiser Permanente research executive, said harassing phone calls drove him to send all calls to voicemail after he announced the legislation. He attributed the vitriol to the combination of misinformation online and the state’s strong independent streak.

Vaccine policy isn’t a red-state, blue-state issue. Mississippi and West Virginia — both GOP stalwarts — have the most restrictive policies in the country, for historical reasons, and have staved off legislative and legal efforts to loosen them. Exemptions in both states are allowed only for medical reasons, and even those medical exemptions are subject to review. West Virginia this session is considering a bill, WV SB454, that would add back the religious and personal objection exemptions.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate:

Joseph Stieglitz:

The world’s advanced economies are suffering from a number of deep-seated problems. In the United States, in particular, inequality is at its highest since 1928, and GDP growth remains woefully tepid compared to the decades after World War II.

After promising annual growth of “4, 5, and even 6%,” US President Donald Trump and his congressional Republican enablers have delivered only unprecedented deficits. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s latest projections, the federal budget deficit will reach $900 billion this year, and will surpass the $1 trillion mark every year after 2021. And yet, the sugar high induced by the latest deficit increase is already fading, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting US growth of 2.5% in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020, down from 2.9% in 2018.

Many factors are contributing to the US economy’s low-growth/high-inequality problem. Trump and the Republicans’ poorly designed tax “reform” has exacerbated existing deficiencies in the tax code, funneling even more income to the highest earners. At the same time, globalization continues to be poorly managed, and financial markets continue to be geared toward extracting profits (rent-seeking, in economists’ parlance), rather than providing useful services.

Stanford students file first lawsuit against colleges implicated in admissions scandal

Ellie Bowen and Erin Woo:

Two Stanford students have filed a federal class action lawsuit against Stanford and seven other universities implicated in the admissions bribery scandal, claiming that they and others did not have a fair chance to apply to these schools.

Erica Olsen ’21 and Kalea Woods ’20 alleged that while they both applied with strong applications, they “did not receive what [they] paid for — a fair admissions consideration process.”

Olsen and Woods further alleged that their Stanford degrees are “now not worth as much as [they were] before, because prospective employers may now question whether [they were] admitted to the university on [their] own merits, versus having parents who were willing to bribe school officials.”

Olsen and Woods declined to comment.

In addition to Stanford, Yale, the University of Southern California (USC), UCLA, the University of San Diego, UT Austin, Wake Forest University, and Georgetown University were named in the lawsuit, whose class includes all students who applied to, paid an application fee and were ultimately rejected from these colleges from 2012 to 2018.

William Singer, the Key and the Key Worldwide Foundation — the drivers behind the multimillion-dollar scheme that saw parents pay to artificially inflate their children’s standardized test scores and in some cases bribe athletic directors to position their children as recruits — are included as defendants in the lawsuit.

The College Admissions Scandal Is About More Than Just Bribery

Tyler Cowen:

America’s latest academic scandal has something for anyone who resents or is offended by elitist universities and wealthy celebrities, which is almost everyone. And though their wrongdoing seems obvious, the deeper lessons are mostly about our own hypocrisy — and the rather unflattering view too many Americans hold of higher education.

On Tuesday prosecutors charged dozens of parents for bribing college and test administrators for helping to get their kids into better colleges. The parents paid for their children to receive preferential and indeed illegal privileges, such as inflated test scores and phony athletic credentials. To make the story more salacious, some of those arrested were celebrities, such as Felicity Huffman of “Desperate Housewives,” and the institutions involved were highly prestigious, such as Stanford and Yale.

First, these bribes only mattered because college itself has become too easy, with a few exceptions. If the bribes allowed for the admission of unqualified students, then those students would find it difficult to finish their degrees. Yet most top schools tolerate rampant grade inflation and gently shepherd their students toward graduation. That’s because they realize that today’s students (and their parents) are future donors (and potential complainers on social media). It is easier for professors and administrators not to rock the boat. What does that say about standards at these august institutions of higher learning?

Alternatively, you might think it is rather arbitrary who is admitted to any given university, and that many of those denied admission could get through the program competently, even if classes and grading were made harder. I agree with you. But what does that say about our understanding of these institutions as meritocracies? Parents pay illegal bribes, in part, because many of these institutions just don’t give enough students a fair chance to get in. It is even worse for the many poorer students whose parents are not in a position to offer either bribes or significant donations.

My second worry is that the number of bribery cases suggests that many wealthy Americans perceive higher education to be an ethics-free, law-free zone where the only restraint on your behavior is whatever you can get away with.

3 Great Untruths Universities Push That Ruin Students

Art Carden:

Lukianoff is president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)—a campus free speech advocacy organization originally established by Alan Charles Kors—and author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (2012) and Freedom From Speech (2014). Haidt is a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2006) and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012).

They argue that we are treating students precisely the way we shouldn’t if we are trying to help them become resilient, functioning, and free people and exactly the way we should if we are intent on creating an army of neurotics. They focus on what they call “Three Great Untruths,” which they call “The Untruth of Fragility,” “The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning,” and “The Untruth of Us Versus Them.”

The Untruth of Fragility

So how do these work and how are they Untruths? The first, “The Untruth of Fragility,” mangles Nietzsche’s maxim “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” into “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker.” It counsels avoidance of the unpleasant, the uncomfortable, and the inconvenient and accomplishes precisely the opposite of what real learning should do.

West Salem eighth-grader’s essay wins her spot on Discover Crew European river cruise

Emily Pyrek:

It was the West Salem Middle School eighth-grader’s winning prose and enthusiastic photo that earned her one of 56 spots on the Discover Crew AmaWaterways river cruise, departing March 27 for a weeklong excursion of exploration, education, cultural immersion and local delicacies.

Hosted by AAA, more than 1,000 eighth-graders in 11 states entered the Discover Crew contest, which entailed answering essay questions and snapping a self portrait showcasing their thirst for travel.

Priya was one of five Wisconsin students selected for the trip, her photo depicting her at the water’s edge, traditional wooden clogs on her feet and passport in hand.

“We were amazed by the passionate responses from the many students who expressed their interest in going on this trip,” said Deborah Haas, vice president of travel products and services for AAA. “The winners chosen are different in many ways, but each shares a similar enthusiasm for travel. Soon these students will immerse themselves in different cultures and see what it’s like to be an eighth-grader in two different countries. This truly has the potential to be a life-changing experience.”

Priya will be joined by her mother and fellow student winners and chaperones on the flight to Amsterdam and all-expenses-paid cruise through the North Sea, porting in the Netherlands and Belgium for tours of the Anne Frank House, biking past the Holland windmills and smelling the blooms in the Keukenhof garden, which spans 32 hectares in Lisse.

Along the way, lessons will encompass local history, science, nature, sustainability, art and an immersive classroom experience in each country.

Civics: Facebook, Axios And NBC Paid This Guy To Whitewash Wikipedia Pages

Ashley Feinberg:

Axios had previously hired Sussman to beef up its Wikipedia page (mostly with benign — if largely flattering — stats about Axios’ accomplishments) in February 2018. A week after Swan’s Trump interview aired, Sussman was hard at work on the reporter’s Wikipedia page, arguing that the entry was unfair to Swan and used “sensationalistic language” instead of the “dispassionate voice” Wikipedia requires. To correct the issue, he suggested a total overhaul of the description.

About a month later, Sussman proposed a list of extensive edits to Swan’s page. Some were clearly in service of his original argument about the Trump interview; others, such as his suggestion that Wikipedia editors add an “Awards and Honors” section, seemed focused on promoting Swan himself. He also asked editors to remove a sentence noting that Swan had once incorrectly reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had verbally resigned. Sussman then suggested the following paragraph be placed in its stead:

A Madison youth climate march to the Capitol (no reading result discussion)

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Madison School Board candidate Ali Muldrow also spoke at the rally, saying the nation needs to “walk the walk” on climate change.

“We are going to have to walk the walk. If we want plastic-free schools, city-wide composting, we are going to need new people who have big dreams,” Muldrow said. “And we are going to have to aim for what is best for everyone.”

Many students decried decades of inaction by political leaders to prevent the rapid-moving effects of climate change. They hope the strike helps kickstart conversations and actions about what can and should be done.

“I’m frustrated with myself,” said Ella Roach, a Middleton High School junior and climate strike organizer. “Because when I get frustrated with myself about climate change, I don’t do anything about it. I let my frustration sit inside of me and let me feel helpless. But that’s going to end today. This strike is my turning point — it has to be if we are going to save this planet in 11 years.”

Roach called for schools to revamp their sustainability curricula, saying they don’t go far enough to teach all there is to know about sustainability.

“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”

Some Regulations Deter Private Schools from Participating in Voucher Programs

Corey DeAngelis:

Regulations of school voucher programs can be well-intended. Policymakers may hope to prevent “bad” schools from operating or may limit schools’ ability to be selective in their admissions procedures in the name of establishing equal access to private options. But do top-down regulations of school voucher programs come with any unintended consequences? Our just-released study suggests some do.

We used surveys to randomly assign different regulations commonly found in school choice programs to 4,825 private school leaders in the states of California and New York and asked them whether or not they would participate in a new private school choice program during the following school year. Here’s what we found.

Relative to no additional regulations, open-enrollment mandates – preventing private schools from having specific admissions policies – reduced the likelihood that private school leaders were certain to participate in a hypothetical choice program by 60 percent. State standardized testing requirements reduced the likelihood that private school leaders were certain to participate by 29 percent. However, we found no evidence to suggest that mandating private schools to accept the voucher as full payment or requiring them to administer a nationally norm-referenced test of their own choosing affected the willingness of private school leaders to participate.

These overall results largely mirror what we found in our previous experiment in Florida. Statistically significant overall effects can be found in the figures below.

College no longer a value proposition, why not just learn a trade?

Orange County Register

We continue to encourage our kids to go to awful colleges and load up on stifling student loan debt, resulting in unfulfilled dreams, when many of these kids need to just get a job or learn a trade.

Access to higher education is important for those who truly want to attend, but we send way too many kids away to college who are unsuited and unprepared for it. They party, and come back indoctrinated, not educated. Many become angry, entitled and virtually unemployable.

Talk to some of these “college kids.” Half think Shariah law is a daytime TV show hosted by a no-nonsense African-American lady judge.

A recent study by Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation found that only 36 percent of Americans cannot pass a basic citizenship test (74 percent of those 65 and older could, while only 19 percent of 45 and younger could). Educators note that this is the worst score on the citizenship test since 1916, when this country was founded.

That’s the problem. Kids are getting pie-in-the-sky advice and, judging by obesity rates, they are also eating the pie.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: a planned Madison tax increase for bricks and mortar? Will space utilization and attendance boundaries be addressed first? 1% spent on maintenance

Logan Wroge:

Wiese said the district has an annual maintenance budget of about $5.4 million for 4.5 million square feet of space. The high schools alone have deferred maintenance needs of $154 million, according to a study completed in 2017.

In 2015, district voters overwhelmingly passed a $41 million facilities referendum targeting improvements in 16 school buildings. Those projects, primarily at elementary and middle schools, wrapped up last summer and focused on creating accessible and secure entrances, adding classroom space and putting in elevators.

“There was the potential of a bigger ask coming down the way once we finished those projects,” Wiese said.

To get a referendum on the November 2020 presidential election ballot, the School Board would need to take action by May of next year.

Mr Wroge fails to mention total taxpayer spending for our K-12 school District $518,955,288.

Where did the money go? Unanswered questions on a 2005 maintenance referendum.

the most important thing for parents to know

Philippa Perry:

When I was about 12, one of my parents’ friends asked me whether I was having a happy childhood. I replied that no, I wasn’t having a particularly happy time of it.

My father overheard and was furious. “You have an idyllic childhood. You are very happy. What nonsense!” And because he was my father, my beloved but scary father, I felt I was somehow wrong and bad.

Parents so want their children to be happy that sometimes they try to scold them into it. What my father missed back then, something we can often miss, was an opportunity to connect with his child. After our guest had gone, my father could have asked what I was feeling and decided not to take the answer, whatever it may have been, as an attack on him.

To understand and validate a child’s feelings is invaluable to them. I’m not saying he had to let go of his perspective; after living through the second world war and witnessing terrible things, he would have seen my childhood as idyllic. But that would not preclude his helping me to articulate what I felt and trying to see things from my point of view.

Civics: Google Tracking when Location

Google Executive Will DeVries:

the processing of personal information is necessary to simply operate the service the user requested.” He asserted that “requiring” individuals to control every aspect of data processing “can create a burdensome and complex experience that diverts attention from the most important controls without corresponding benefits,” and therefore a “specific consent or toggle” should not be required for every use of data.

Many taxpayer supported school districts, including Madison, use Google services.

David Rogers, Who Took on New York’s School Board, Dies at 88

Sam Roberts:

“It has an almost unlimited capacity for absorbing protest and externalizing blame, for confusing and dividing the opposition, ‘seeming’ to appear responsive to legitimate protest by issuing sophisticated and progressive policy statements that are poorly implemented, if at all,” Mr. Rogers wrote.

“The system is like a punching bag,” he added. “Protest groups can hit it in one place, and it simply returns to an old equilibrium.”

Even with a Democrat in the governor’s mansion, don’t bet much will change on vouchers

Alan Borsuk:

There was a window from 1995 to 1998 when it wasn’t clear what the future of private school vouchers would be in Wisconsin.

The state Legislature voted in 1995 to increase the number of vouchers available to low-income Milwaukee children and, for the first time, to allow students attending religious schools to take part. A court challenge followed, of course.

I remember a piece of wisdom I heard at that time from Jeanette Mitchell, a former president of the Milwaukee School Board who had connections with people on both sides of the voucher issue. She said it would be very hard to turn on the voucher faucet. But if it was turned on, it would be very hard to turn off.

In 1998, the Wisconsin Supreme Court turned on the faucet, ruling that it was constitutional to allow public money to go to religious schools by way of vouchers. In a historic way, the faucet was opened.

I predict we are about to demonstrate the truth of the second part of Mitchell’s wisdom. Turning off the faucet — or even reducing its flow? Despite Gov. Tony Evers’ proposals to crimp and eventually shrink school choice in Wisconsin, don’t bet on it.

Googling Strangers: One Professor’s Lesson On Privacy In Public Spaces

Time to Put the College Admissions System on a Rocket and Shoot It Into the Sun

Robby Soave:

“I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend,” Olivia Jade, a YouTube star and daughter of Full House actress Lori Loughlin, told her fans just before she moved to the University of Southern California (USC) to begin freshman year. “But I’m gonna go in and talk to my deans and everyone, and hope that I can try and balance it all. But I do want the experience of like game days, partying….I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”

With that attitude, one might have hoped Jade could not earn admission to USC. But her parents paid half a million dollars to a man named William Singer, and Singer bribed all the necessary officials so that Jade’s dream of going to college for the partying could come true.

Now Loughlin is one of 50 people facing federal fraud charges for participating in Singer’s schemes to trick various colleges and universities into admitting wealthy but underqualified applicants. The perpetrators—which include another actress, Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Huffman—gave Singer millions of dollars to guarantee their kids would be admitted to first-choice schools like Yale, Stanford, University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Commentary on “Restorative Justice”

Bob McManus:

The policy is called “restorative justice.” Based on a highly dubious proposition — that black and Hispanic offenders are punished disproportionately to white students engaged in similar behavior — DOE has blinded itself to the impact of schools teeming with aggressive, disruptive students.

There is virtually no evidence that white (or Asian) students are unruly in significant numbers. But there is no question that too many black and Hispanic students are.

But to avoid accusations that black and Hispanic students are disciplined unfairly, increasingly nobody is disciplined. The result, predictably, is chaos.

Lost in all this is the profoundly negative impact on children who come to school to learn. And because black and Hispanic children comprise almost three-quarters of the system’s 1.1 million students, the ill effects of “restorative justice” fall most heavily on them.

The DOE not only permits the dysfunction, it wallows in it, doing everything possible to avoid imposing order. Indeed, Hizzoner brags about having reduced suspensions — a time-tested disciplinary tool — by 50 percent since taking office. No doubt he has. It shows.

Teachers, even United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, have noticed.

Much more on ”Restorative Justice”, here.

Mainland to improve conditions for Taiwan youth to pursue education, careers


A mainland spokesperson on Wednesday said that continous efforts were ongoing to facilitate young people from Taiwan to realize their education and career dreams on the mainland.
An Fengshan, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, made the remarks at a regular press conference when commenting on Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority’s attempts to prevent compatriots and the youth from Taiwan from coming to the mainland to explore development opportunities.

“The DPP authority will never make itself popular by obstructing normal exchanges and cooperation between the two sides of Taiwan Strait, sabotaging Taiwan youth employment and development opportunities, and creating difficulties for Taiwan compatriots,” An said.

Assessment of Changes in the Geographical Distribution of Opioid-Related Mortality Across the United States by Opioid Type, 1999-2016

Mathew V. Kiang, Sanjay Basu and Jarvis Chen:

Question How has opioid-related mortality changed over time across the United States, and how have the types of opioids associated with these deaths changed?

Findings In this cross-sectional study of 351 564 US residents who died from opioid-related causes, the age-standardized mortality rate from opioids increased more than 2-fold every 2 years in 24 eastern states, reflecting an expansion from lower-income, rural states. The life expectancy lost at age 15 years from opioids is now greater than that lost from deaths due to firearms or motor vehicle crashes in most of the United States.

Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin among 50 indicted in largest-ever case alleging bribery to get kids into colleges

Joey Garrison and Maria Puente:

Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin and nine college coaches are among the 50 people charged Tuesday in what federal officials say is the nation’s largest-ever college admissions bribery case prosecuted by the Justice Department.

The Justice Department charged 33 affluent parents, which include CEOs and television stars, with taking part in an elaborate conspiracy that involved cheating on the SAT and ACT and parents paying coaches “enormous sums” to accept students who fabricated their athletic credentials at elite universities and colleges.

In some cases, coaches agreed to pretend that students applying to their school were highly recruited athletes when, in fact, they didn’t even compete in that particular sport.

Wake Forest University says it has suspended its head volleyball coach Bill Ferguson amid the investigation. Ferguson has been placed on administrative leave after being accused of accepting $100,000 to recruit a student who had been on the North Carolina school wait list.

Others charged included three people who organized the scams, two ACT and SAT exam administrators, one exam proctor, and one college administrator.

At the center of the case, according to federal prosecutors, was an admissions consultant named William Rick Singer, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy charges of racketeering, money laundering, defrauding the United States and obstruction of justice.

Related: Financial Aid Leveraging and Ivy League Subsidies.

A Basketball Star Is Taking 100,000 Shots This Year. She’s in Sixth Grade.

Ben Cohen:

When she started getting serious about basketball last year, it was very clear very quickly that Lanie Grant was a natural. This 11-year-old girl who plays in braided pigtails loved almost everything about the sport. Except for shooting. Lanie was scared to shoot the ball.

“I was awful at it,” she said.

She had no idea how much she was about to improve. Lanie spent the summer before sixth grade in the driveway of her home in the Richmond suburbs taking hundreds and even thousands of shots per day. By the first day of middle school, Lanie was no longer hesitant to shoot. It was the only thing she wanted to do. And she does it a lot.

Lanie Grant has taken nearly 65,000 shots since last summer. She’s now on pace to shoot the ball 100,000 times in one year.

What makes that even more astonishing is that she can watch every single one of those shots. Lanie has a comprehensive history of her own basketball development in the palm of her hand. She is young enough that her parents monitor her Instagram account, but she already has access to shot-tracking technology worthy of NBA teams.

Many Families Aren’t Sending Their Kids to Small Liberal Arts Colleges Anymore. Mine Isn’t, Either. Here’s Why

Laura McKenna:

n January, two small liberal arts colleges, Green Mountain College in Vermont and Hampshire College in Massachusetts, announced that they were going to close or merge with other schools. They joined the ranks of other small schools that have closed in recent years, such as Mount Ida College in Massachusetts, St. Gregory’s University in Oklahoma, and Marygrove College in Detroit. Sweet Briar College in Virginia was flatlining in 2015 before being resuscitated from certain death, thanks to extreme fundraising efforts by alumnae.

Small private schools suffer from a multitude of problems, including endowments that are tangled in strings, a declining interest in liberal arts, a decreasing pool of college-age kids, competition from online education, and growing administrative expenses. But most importantly, they can’t get families like mine to send their kids to their schools. They don’t have enough students who can pay full freight and are interested in the slower pace of a small liberal arts campus.

The Education Marketplace

Corey DeAngelis and Will Flanders:

Despite the fact that improvement to the overall educational marketplace is one of the hallmark arguments of advocates for school choice, few evaluations have focused on the supply and demand within the education marketplace in a school choice environment. Because traditional public schools are not subject to the same level of competitive pressures as private schools, we expect that measures of school quality will be more likely to predict closures for private schools than Milwaukee Public Schools.
We answer this question by performing survival analyses using data from public, private and charter schools in Milwaukee from 2005 to 2016. Data on enrollment trends, demographics, and academic performance from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction was combined with data from other sources on school safety and closure. After controlling for several other factors that are likely to impact rates of school growth and closure, we are able to identify several key findings:

Our survival analyses indicates that enrollment losses drive closure in private schools in the MPCP, charter schools, and Public Schools.

Academic achievement only predicts closure for private schools in our sample.

Private and charter schools are safer than traditional public schools.

Families vote with their feet based on academics across all sectors.

Academics and school safety are correlated, indicating that safer schools also tend to be better at shaping student achievement.

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”

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

Governments have always been vulnerable to forms of political craziness. What’s new is the behavior of big business

Toby Young:

New employees at the British headquarters of Accenture, a global management consultancy, were slightly taken aback during a recent induction morning when the head of human resources encouraged them to wear rainbow-colored lanyards declaring themselves ‘allies’ — not just at the meeting, but permanently. In addition, they were given the option of adding the word ‘ally’ in the same rainbow pattern to the footers of their company email addresses. Anyone confused by HR language — a reference to World War Two perhaps? — was referred to the company website, where the word ‘ally’ was helpfully defined: ‘An ally is someone who takes action to promote an inclusive and accepting culture regardless of their own identity and demonstrates commitment to an inclusive workplace. We currently have allies programs for Mental Health, LGBT and People with Disabilities.’

This use of the term ‘ally’ originated on college campuses as a way for the beneficiaries of racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, and so on (e.g. straight white males) to signal that they’re on the same side as ‘oppressed’ minorities in spite of their ‘white privilege’. In a seminal essay by a Californian consultant called Frances E. Kendall entitled ‘How to Be an Ally If You Are a Person With Privilege’, often cited by diversity and inclusion officers at American universities, allies are advised to preface what they say with, ‘As a white person…’ This is to let others know you’re aware that ‘being white has an impact on how I perceive everything’. A good ally speaks up if there are no ‘women of color’ on a panel and ‘identifying committees, decision-making teams and departments that are “too white”’.

Higher ed labor union AAUP slams Trump’s free speech executive order

Frances Floresca:

“Allowing politicians to interfere in campus policy sets a dangerous precedent” Tweet This
“Given the important role of colleges and universities in debate, dissent, and the free exchange of ideas, the AAUP strongly supports freedom of expression on campus and the rights of faculty and students to invite speakers of their choosing,” the letter says. “We oppose, however, any executive action that interferes with the institutional autonomy of colleges and universities by undermining the role of faculty, administration, and governing board in institutional decision-making and the role of students in the formulation and application of institutional policies affecting student affairs.”

The nonprofit calls on university and college faculty to add their names to the letter to show that they oppose the free speech executive order.

“The AAUP strongly supports freedom of expression on campus,” AAUP Senior Program Officer Gwendolyn Bradley told Campus Reform. “We also support the autonomy of colleges and universities and the roles of college faculty, administration, and governing board in making decisions about their college or university. And we support the role of students in making institutional policies affecting student affairs. Therefore, we oppose legislative and executive interference into college and university governance. Allowing politicians to interfere in campus policy sets a dangerous precedent.”

Search No Further… 7+ Search Engines That Are Worth Checking Out


When it comes to search engines, everyone knows about the old standards like Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL, and so on. In English-speaking countries (where search engines like Baidu and Yandex are largely irrelevant) and on a global scale, Google’s eclipsing dominance has long remained uncontested, and these other examples have fallen into relative obsolescence.

While Google does have offer an extremely helpful smorgasbord of integrated features, such as Gmail, Drive, YouTube, and Google+ (lol) to name a few, Google is ultimately not the most ethical or forward-thinking company out there. And though Google does many things amazingly well, there are some smaller search engines out there that do specific things much better.

Here are seven search engines (and some honorable mentions) that everyone should be aware of.

I Was a College Admissions Officer. This Is What I Saw.


But the longer I read applications, the more holes I saw in the so-called “holistic” process, and the more I discovered how much it came down to money.

Not infrequently, I would pull up a student’s file, see my “Defer” or “Deny” recommendation, and then a second reviewer recommending the same thing, and then a high-ranking admissions staff member would flip the decision to admit. Usually, the justification would be a brief couple of sentences with purposefully vague language, like “Student has struggled with math sequence but should be fine with on campus tutoring resources, ADMIT.” I saw these decisions flipped frequently for students from affluent backgrounds, and rarely for students who’d applied for financial aid. Once, I saw a student who fell far below our clearly outlined admissions requirements admitted — this student was heir to a popular processed-meat company’s fortune.

Although our school advertised our “holistic” review process, our director typically used test scores to screen applicants. His rationale was that these were “riskier” students. The only time he didn’t? If the student could pay full price to attend our institution, or a “full pay” student. He was not coy about this fact, and would frequently make comments about how students from Silicon Valley could “afford” to come here. When I planned my recruitment trip in California, I was given an Excel spreadsheet that listed high schools by average household income.

There were a variety of ways of gleaning if a student was “full pay” from an application. Firstly, on the Common Application, there is a place where students can indicate if they intend to apply for financial aid or not. My director’s instinct was always to see what we could do to admit the students who checked that they were not intending to file for aid, regardless of the student’s academic achievement. I had one student from Northern California who was, by all metrics, an outright deny. I remember vividly that he had several Cs and Ds on his transcript, plus a test score well below our average range, and an essay that consisted of two sentences (really, just two). He visited campus twice, once before applying, and later once he was admitted. He paid full tuition with no aid for four years.

Related: Financial Aid Leveraging

“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: Commentary on using Madison’s facilities, or create more when space exists

Negassi Tesfamichael:

“Whatever recommendations come forward, I want them to include using underutilized space we have in the district,” said School Board member TJ Mertz, Seat 5.

Mertz said that redrawing district boundaries could also help find space without having to build an entirely new building.

“I think that if we want to be good stewards of the investments we’re entrusted with, I think some set of those options need to be on the table,” Mertz said.

Another option that seemed unpopular would be to close a currently operating school in order to make more space available.

A challenge for having just one site is finding a location that is easily accessible via public transportation for all attendance areas. The idea of building a new space when not all district properties are at full capacity also raised concerns.

“We’ve got space and we’re not growing as a district (student-wise), and we need to use our space better,” said Kate Toews, Seat 6.

But for some, having one site provides an opportunity to put the needs of students at Capital High at the forefront.

Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools, despite nearby available space.

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”

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

Zuckerberg’s new privacy essay shows why Facebook needs to be broken up

Konstantinos Kakaes:

By narrowly construing privacy to be almost exclusively about end-to-end encryption that would prevent a would-be eavesdropper from intercepting communications, he manages to avoid having to think about Facebook’s weaknesses and missteps. Privacy is not just about keeping secrets. It’s also about how flows of information shape us as individuals and as a society. What we say to whom and why is a function of context. Social networks change that context, and in so doing they change the nature of privacy, in ways that are both good and bad.

Russian propagandists used Facebook to sway the 2016 American election, perhaps decisively. Myanmarese military leaders used Facebook to incite an anti-Rohingya genocide. These are consequences of the ways in which Facebook has diminished privacy. They are not the result of failures of encryption.

“Privacy,” Zuckerberg writes, “gives people the freedom to be themselves.” This is true, but it is also incomplete. The self evolves over time. Privacy is important not simply because it allows us to be, but because it gives us space to become. As Georgetown University law professor Julie Cohen has written: “Conditions of diminished privacy also impair the capacity to innovate … Innovation requires room to tinker, and therefore thrives most fully in an environment that values and preserves spaces for tinkering.” If Facebook is constantly sending you push notifications, it diminishes the mental space you have available for tinkering and coming up with your own ideas. If Facebook bombards the gullible with misinformation, this too is an invasion of privacy. What has happened to privacy in the last couple of decades, and how to value it properly, are questions that are apparently beyond Zuckerberg’s ken.

The dangerous silence in higher education

Samuel Abrams:

It’s well known that the question of who can speak and on what topics has become a flashpoint for controversy on our nation’s college and university campuses.

I experienced intimidation firsthand after publishing an op-ed in the New York Times in which I questioned some of seemingly liberal, lopsided programming at Sarah Lawrence College (one of the most proudly progressive schools, where I am a tenured professor). I suggested that more balance was needed given our polarized times and reiterated my concerns about collegiate ideological echo chambers.

Within hours, my office door and surrounding corridor was vandalized. Pictures of my family were taken and bumper stickers that I had placed on the door to create a welcoming environment for students were stripped off. The vandals covered my door and surrounding hallway area with hateful paraphernalia intended to intimidate me into leaving the school. I received subsequent threats, and an alumna I have never met claims to be actively working on ways to ‘ruin my life’ while many others are demanding that my tenure be stripped all because I wrote a relatively tame article with which they disagree.

Following the defacement of my door, I was disappointed by the lack of a clear stand against violence and intimidation, and the lack of support for academic freedom and diversity of thought I expected from the College administrators. In fact, a note I received from a College official described the act as ‘alleged vandalism.’

There is a culture at Sarah Lawrence College which is regularly reinforced by various students, faculty, and administrators: tacitly regulate what topics are open to debate and identify which questions should simply be overlooked for fear that asking them could lead to significant negative consequences.

This attitude may be widespread.

“America’s Great Immigration System”

Tunku Varadarajan:

‘The comic thing about this drama is that no one is even pretending there is a real emergency.” So says Neeraj Kaushal, 57, a professor of social policy at Columbia who has just published a bracing book on U.S. immigration policy. Her thesis: Far from presenting an emergency, as President Trump contends, America’s immigration system is the best in the world.

“Many European countries just import workers,” Ms. Kaushal tells me in an interview at her office. “They balk at making a long-term commitment to people. America, by contrast, offers immigrants a variety of legal ways in which to come to the country and live permanently.” The legacy of immigration has given rise to “a different ethos in America. The country wants people to come here and be part of the American story. Immigration leads to citizenship.”

The Map to Nowhere: Intellectual denial of service attacks, part 2


This idea first came to me from Nassim Taleb, who reminds us that a bad map is often worse than no map. You wouldn’t use a map of London to try to navigate Beijing, no matter how lost you were. Shane Parrish lays out this idea in his post, “The Map Is Not the Territory,” far more skillfully than I can do here. If you haven’t read his post or come across the idea elsewhere, you’ll enjoy it.

We often wed ourselves to our models of the world. We have a certain finite skillset, an idea we want to be true, or a limited set of data, and we frame everything in those terms. After all, what else have we got? When events overwhelm our capacities, we tend to try to force events into a Procrustean bed (another concept from Taleb) rather than admitting to being lost. We use the wrong map even if it’s not taking us anywhere.

This phenomenon need not be related to individual incapacity, or a sign of incompetence – it may simply be the case that no one can predict the future, or sufficient data doesn’t exist. Then it’s not a question of expertise, but of epistemic humility. Best not to leap confidently into that which you don’t understand. There may be unpredictably dire consequences.

What Google Knows About You

Ina Fried:

For all the many controversies around Facebook’s mishandling of personal data, Google actually knows way more about most of us.

The bottom line: Just how much Google knows depends to some degree on your privacy settings — and to a larger degree on which devices, products and services you use.

Google is the undisputed leader in the tech giants’ race to accumulate user data, thanks to its huge array of services, devices and leading share of the digital ad business (37% to Facebook’s 22%). It likely knows everything you’ve ever typed into your browser’s search bar and every YouTube video you’ve ever watched.

But that’s just the beginning. It may also know where you’ve been, what you’ve bought and who you communicate with.

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

Civics: The College ‘Grass-Roots’ Organizations That Aren’t

Daniel Bring:

If college students are politically conscious and impressionable, they might find themselves pawns of national political nonprofits masquerading as student groups. Such outfits, on both left and right, are expanding rapidly on campuses and recruiting students to advocate for their ideological agendas.

At Dartmouth, where I am a student, the midterm elections convulsed the campus. Student canvassers recruited from the college filled social and study spaces. These progressive “community activists” littered walls with posters and harangued students constantly to sign Democratic Party voting pledges. They knocked on the doors of every dorm room. Their activities, uncoordinated with the College Democrats or local party affiliates, baffled me and many others.

Soon it became clear that they were volunteers for an organization called NextGen Rising. The group’s marketing materials declare: “We’re young, powerful, and progressive, and we’re fighting for positive change—in our communities and on the ballot.” NextGen Rising isn’t the youth-led grass-roots organizing movement it pretends to be. It’s a subsidiary of the NextGen Climate Action Committee, a political-action committee formed by sexagenarian billionaire Tom Steyer.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Finnish Government Collapses Due to Rising Cost of Universal Health Care

Dominic Chopping:

As an increasing number of people live longer in retirement, the cost of providing pension and healthcare benefits can rise. Those increased costs are paid for by taxes collected from of the working-age population – who make up a smaller percentage of the population than in decades past.

In 2018, those aged 65 or over made up 21.4% of Finland’s population, the fourth highest after Germany, Portugal, Greece, and Italy, according to Eurostat.

Finland’s welfare system is also generous in its provisions, making it relatively expensive. Attempts at reform have plagued Finnish governments for years.

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

Bruce Schneier: It’s time for technologists to become lawmakers

Dean Takahashi:

Bruce Schneier, a well-known security guru, called on technologists to become lawmakers and policy makers so countries can deal with issues such as the governance of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

Schneier teaches at the Harvard Kennedy School of government, and he said the place is crawling with economists because they were able to answer many of the questions that arose in the 20th century. But in the 21st century, change is happening faster, and it’s driven by technology.

“The future is coming,” Schneier said, speaking at the RSA security conference in San Francisco. “It’s coming faster than we think. And it’s coming faster than our existing policy tools can deal with. And the only way to fix this is to develop a new set of policy tools. With the help of the technologists, you understand the technologies.”

The issues are a lot larger than just computer security. Schneier wants more public interest technologists in all areas.

Back in the 1950s, tech and policy didn’t really interact, unless it had to do with something like nuclear weapons or the space program. Today, tech and policy are intertwined, Schneier said.

Reading in an Age of Catastrophe

Edward Mendelson:

George Hutchinson’s Facing the Abyss has bracing and revelatory things to say about American culture in the 1940s; also, by contrast and implication, about American culture today. The book brings into focus intellectual and emotional realities of the decade during and after World War II that current historical memory largely occludes behind heroicizing or condescending stereotypes. On the one hand, popular media serve up nostalgia for a “Greatest Generation.” On the other hand, academic dogma rebukes the decade’s aspirations for “universality,” for an inclusive sense of what it means to be human, portraying those hopes as imperialist cudgels designed to impose Western values on a postcolonial world. Hutchinson’s demolitions of these and other recent fantasies typically begin with phrases like “On the contrary” or “This was not the case.”

We Have a National Reading Crisis

Jared Myracle, Brian Kingsley, & Robin McClellan:

If your district isn’t having an “uh oh” moment around reading instruction, it probably should be. Educators across the country are experiencing a collective awakening about literacy instruction, thanks to a recent tsunami of national media attention. Alarm bells are ringing—as they should be—because we’ve gotten some big things wrong: Research has documented what works to get kids to read, yet those evidence-based reading practices appear to be missing from most classrooms.
Systemic failures have left educators overwhelmingly unaware of the research on how kids learn to read. Many teacher-preparation programs lack effective reading training, something educators rightly lament once they get to the classroom. On personal blogs and social media, teachers often write of learning essential reading research years into their careers, with powerful expressions of dismay and betrayal that they weren’t taught sooner. Others express anger.
The lack of knowledge about the science of reading doesn’t just affect teachers. It’s perfectly possible to become a principal or even a district curriculum leader without first learning the key research. In fact, this was true for us.
“If not for those unplanned learning experiences, we’d probably still be ignorant about how kids learn to read.”
We each learned critical reading research only after entering district leadership. Jared learned during school improvement work for a nonprofit, while between district leadership positions. When already a district leader, Brian learned from reading specialists when his district received grant-funded literacy support. Robin learned in her fourth year as a district leader, while doing research to prepare for a curriculum adoption.

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”

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

Best Deep Learning Courses: Updated for 2019


Here it is — the list of the best machine learning & deep learning courses and MOOCs for 2019.

Deep Learning Specialization by Andrew Ng –
Deep Learning For Coders by Jeremy Howard, Rachel Thomas, Sylvain Gugger –
Deep Learning Nanodegree Program by Udacity
CS224n: Natural Language Processing with Deep Learning by Christopher Manning, Abigail See – Stanford
CS231n: Convolutional Neural Networks for Visual Recognition by Stanford
MIT Deep Learning by MIT
Introduction to Reinforcement Learning by David Silver – UCL / DeepMind
Advanced Deep Learning & Reinforcement Learning by Thore Graepel, Hado van Hasselt UCL / DeepMind

Despite social media, Generation Z, Millennials report feeling lonely

Sharon Jayson:

Austin attracts thousands of newcomers with its thriving economy — heavy on tech, startups and entrepreneurs. And with each year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals — a major interactive, music and film festival opening Friday — some of those visitors also move here. Apple is planning a $1 billion expansion that will make Austin the company’s largest hub outside of California. The median age of Austin residents is 32.7.

But Austin also ranks at the top among cities with lonely folks in a national survey by the global health service company Cigna. Nearly half of the 20,000 adults surveyed last year reported sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent). Generation Z (ages 18-22) and millennials (ages 23-37) rated themselves highest on feelings associated with loneliness.

Loneliness, with its well-documented ill effects on health, has been called an epidemic and a public health threat, especially among the elderly. But now experts are finding that the always connected social media mavens in the country’s younger generations report being lonely.

Don’t look now: why you should be worried about machines reading your emotions

Oscar Schwartz:

ould a program detect potential terrorists by reading their facial expressions and behavior? This was the hypothesis put to the test by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in 2003, as it began testing a new surveillance program called the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques program, or Spot for short.

While developing the program, they consulted Paul Ekman, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco. Decades earlier, Ekman had developed a method to identify minute facial expressions and map them on to corresponding emotions. This method was used to train “behavior detection officers” to scan faces for signs of deception.

But when the program was rolled out in 2007, it was beset with problems. Officers were referring passengers for interrogation more or less at random, and the small number of arrests that came about were on charges unrelated to terrorism. Even more concerning was the fact that the program was allegedly used to justify racial profiling.

Ekman tried to distance himself from Spot, claiming his method was being misapplied. But others suggested that the program’s failure was due to an outdated scientific theory that underpinned Ekman’s method; namely, that emotions can be deduced objectively through analysis of the face.

These Are the World’s Healthiest Nations

Lee J Miller and Wei Lu:

Maybe it’s something in the gazpacho or paella, as Spain just surpassed Italy to become the world’s healthiest country.

That’s according to the 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, which ranks 169 economies according to factors that contribute to overall health. Spain placed sixth in the previous gauge, published in 2017.

Four additional European nations were among the top 10 in 2019: Iceland (third place), Switzerland (fifth), Sweden (sixth) and Norway (ninth). Japan was the healthiest Asian nation, jumping three places from the 2017 survey into fourth and replacing Singapore, which dropped to eighth. Australia and Israel rounded out the top 10 at seventh and 10th place.

Identity politics may win votes but it is hurting black children

David Blaska:

Catch Ali Muldrow at 1:22:06 remaining in the video (it only records time remaining, at bottom right). Blaska responds at 1:18:45 remaining. The transcription:

Ali Muldrow:

“My opponent would like to do all kinds of things to black students: punish them, humiliate them, hurt them, silence them, suspend them, expel them— pretty much anything but teach them. That is theme in Madison: how we blame black children, how we hurt black children, how we get rid of black children, how we do not listen to black children. A lot of people are afraid to have a real conversations about race. We are a society that has always thought black children are unfit for education.”

Blaska responds:

“Ali, I’m sure you can spell, here’s a word for you: ‘hyperbole.’

“This idea that I want black children to fail? How does that help David Blaska? How does that help anyone? I want everyone in town to have a good job, a nice green lawn, kids they can be proud of — healthy, high achievers in sports and academics, that contribute to the community, kids that I would be proud to know. Why would I want anyone to fail? That is such an irresponsible charge.

“What Ali and Ananda are saying is so destructive, so bad because it is why we have a racial achievement gap in the first place. Because your overwhelming message is: ‘son, daughter, you are a victim — a victim and you can’t succeed in this system until we reform it somehow and in some way by electing Ali Muldrow.’

“That kid is going to fail because a victim has no control, no agency, they can’t say ‘we build, we create our own future.’ You’re in middle school — 11, 12, 13 years old. You got your whole life ahead of you. You got something called education and that is the greatest tool of all.

“And yes, if you need a little help, if you got to work a little harder, we will help you. Listen to your teacher, quit making excuses, quit screwing up because no positive behavior coach in the world is going to help you because they have already been thrown under the bus by this school district, by this school board because [of the philosophy] ‘you are a victim and you’re never going to succeed.’

I’m tired of it.”

Much more on the 2019 Madison School Board election, here.

Madison students prep for Youth Climate Strike on Friday

Negassi Tesfamichael:

The group of students is also calling to bring the Green New Deal, a signature piece of legislation proposed nationally by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to Madison. They plan to introduce a resolution to Madison’s Common Council on March 19.

Though the group sees some new hope with the election of Evers, members realize there’s still an uphill battle and work beyond a strike will need to happen before more concrete steps are taken by legislators and the community.

“Young people have made our choice clear,” said Max Prestigiacomo, a senior at Middleton High School who has helped to organize the strike. “Protect our future and listen to the scientists.”

Stephanie Salgado, a junior at Madison Memorial High School, said the strike hopes to highlight that climate change is intersectionally related to other issues such as racial justice and economic inequality.

“Poor communities are being antagonized for trying to speak up … we need to include marginalized groups in the conversation,” Salgado said.

“This is not a one-time thing,” Isabella Spitznagle, a junior at Madison West High School, said. “Climate change will not be fixed after just one strike. This climate strike is to empower youth to tell them to scream from the mountaintops. If we want change, we have to start now.”

“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”.

How “movement capture” shaped the fight for civil rights

Kelsey Piper:

Social movements usually start out on the fringe, without a lot of resources, credibility, or public support. When they get more of any of those, that’s a good thing … right?

Well, yes … and no. When a movement grows in funding and mainstream appeal, it has the chance to achieve more of its goals — but often, the goals themselves are changed by the influx of new people and the preferences of new funders.

Is that part of the natural progress of a social movement from unheeded outsiders to part of a coalition big enough to win important victories? Or is it a tragic loss, where the most important goals get tossed aside in favor of ones more palatable to a mass audience? Are organizations building a coalition — which necessarily entails some compromise — or are they getting steered off course?

A new paper by Megan Ming Francis at the University of Washington explores the power that wealthy funders have to change the direction and the priorities of the organizations they fund. She calls this “movement capture” — the phenomenon where activist groups end up pressured by well-intentioned funders into a change in course.

Judge approves anti-male bias lawsuit against University of Colorado

Ethan Berman:

The University of Colorado-Boulder’s use of “trauma-informed” practices in sexual misconduct investigations are “plausible” evidence of bias against males, a federal court ruled last week.

It denied the taxpayer-funded university’s motion to dismiss Title IX and due process claims by William Norris, who was suspended and banned from campus after two disputed encounters with “Jane Doe” over a lengthy relationship.

Norris claimed the university made numerous procedural errors during its 2016 investigation of Doe’s claims from 2014 and 2015. He also faulted the Title IX officials’ backgrounds in women’s studies and public support of women’s advocacy groups, calling those a “conflict of interest” that prejudiced his investigation.

The officials’ backgrounds do not make them inherently biased, U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock said, but he found other reasons to question the fairness and impartiality of the proceeding against Norris.

The student has provided “at least some relevant information” to demonstrate that his gender-bias claims are plausible, the required standard in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Babcock said. The judge also frowned upon “the timing of the notice” of investigation given to Norris and restrictions on his ability to review the investigation file.

Poverty-stricken Chinese student’s 17-hour study schedule goes viral

Alice Yan:

A 17-year-old student’s gruelling holiday study schedule has won admiration after his teacher shared his timetable on WeChat, China’s popular social media app.
Zhu Zheng, a grade two student from Wuhan No. 11 Middle School in central China, spent almost every waking moment of his 17-hour days studying during the winter holiday.

Zhu won top prize in a national maths competition in September and was put forward by two of his teachers at the end of last year to attend an intensive maths training camp at Beijing’s Tshinghua University.

Commentary on Wisconsin Department of Instruction Superintendent Stanford Taylor

Logan Wroge:

Stanford Taylor said the two-year education spending package is an “equity budget” meant to target Wisconsin’s achievement gaps between races, children with or without disabilities, low-income students and limited-English learners.

“We have to be very intentional about how we’re going to go about making sure that we’re lifting all of those students up, so that there’s a playing field they can compete on,” she said.

Evers is seeking a $606 million boost for special education, $64 million more for mental health programs and $16 million for a new “Urban Excellence Initiative” targeting Wisconsin’s five largest school district, along with changes to the school funding formula that would account for poverty.

Art Rainwater, a former Madison School District superintendent and current UW-Madison professor of educational leadership and policy analysis, said the biggest challenge for a state superintendent, regardless of who is in the position, is financing education, coupled with a large increase in the proportion of low-income students since the start of the millennium. In 2001, 21 percent of Wisconsin school children lived in poverty, according to the Department of Public Instruction. That figure now stands at 41 percent after peaking at 43 percent in 2012.

“Those are the biggest challenges,” Rainwater said. “How do you deal with a changing population, how do you deal with the issues of rural schools and urban schools, and trying to do what’s best for the children.”

Related 2005:

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.

Tufts expelled a student for grade hacking. She claims innocence

Zack Whittaker:

As she sat in the airport with a one-way ticket in her hand, Tiffany Filler wondered how she would pick up the pieces of her life, with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt and nothing to show for it.

A day earlier, she was expelled from Tufts University veterinary school. As a Canadian, her visa was no longer valid and she was told by the school to leave the U.S. “as soon as possible.” That night, her plane departed the U.S. for her native Toronto, leaving any prospect of her becoming a veterinarian behind.

Filler, 24, was accused of an elaborate months-long scheme involving stealing and using university logins to break into the student records system, view answers, and alter her own and other students’ grades.

The case Tufts presented seems compelling, if not entirely believable.

Economic Security as National Security


What I’d love to do for you today is talk about the manufacturing and defense industrial base, and this historic effort that’s gone under the Department of Defense and President Trump. And what I want to do in order to come to that topic is I want to start at the 30,000-foot level and try to offer some perspective on how this particular effort fits into the broader grand strategy of the Trump administration in terms of dealing with both economic and defense issues. So let me start by observing that some of our greatest presidents are best remembered for short, but profound, maxims that both guided their policies and led to some of their greatest successes. If you think about William McKinley, one of President Trump’s favorite presidents, in the 1896 campaign his campaign slogan was: patriotism, protection, and prosperity.

And it was that slogan that led to strong tariffs and sound money policy, and to a profound realignment of the Republican Party under McKinley, as well as what was the catalyst for very strong economic growth. And if that sounds a little bit familiar, you may have been paying attention to what’s been going on the last couple years. And you have of course Teddy Roosevelt, walk softly carry a big stick. We moved in his administration from what was essentially a coast guard into a global naval power. Of course, the gold standard of maxims would be Ronald Reagan, peace through strength. Out of that, came a reversal of the decline in the defense budget, the Star Wars initiative, and basically the demise of the Soviet Union.

And so – and so we come to this great president, Donald J. Trump. In December of 2017, as part of the National Security Strategy, President Trump introduced the maxim that economic security is national security. Economic security is national security. And if you think about everything the Trump administration has been doing in terms of economic and defense policy, you understand that this maxim really is the guiding principle. If you think about, for example, tax cuts – corporate tax cuts, which essentially spur investment and therefore lead to greater innovation, that helps both our economy and our national security. If you think about deregulation under one fine, fine OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, he’s been leading a tremendous effort to reduce the regulations that were put in place by the Obama administration.

It’s Big News That the Schools Development Authority Is at “The Precipice of Disembowelment.” When Will State Leaders Pay Attention to The DOE?

Laura Waters:

Everyone’s talking about the exodus of experienced and qualified staff members at the Schools Development Authority, a product of nepotism directed by Murphy appointee Lizette Delgado-Polanco, who yesterday was accused of making “false statements” about her “restructuring” of the SDA, which oversees facilities renovation and construction in Abbott districts. USAToday reports that, following outrage from legislators, Murphy has “ordered roughly 50 independent authorities to turn over names and payroll information of employees in an effort to root out patronage in state government.” A former SDA staffer said that Delgado-Polanco’s “virtually nonexistent” managerial skills and “utter lack of personal integrity is propelling the SDA toward the precipice of bureaucratic disembowelment.”

The same evisceration of competency is happening right now at New Jersey’s Department of Education and no one says a word.

(Except me. What’s up with that?)

Maybe everyone in the DOE is afraid to speak up. Maybe their CWA union representatives (for staff members who haven’t been replaced with non-union staff) have been too busy negotiating the just-settled contract to take the multiple grievances seriously. Maybe NJEA leaders, who applaud the lowering of standards through the elimination of meaningful assessments for students and teachers and dictate Gov. Murphy and DOE Commissioner Repollet’s education agenda, are untouchable. Or maybe the full impact of the DOE’s dissolution — cancelling of mandated oversight, misallocations of federal funds, racism, privileging of loyalty over competence, mass firings, hiring of unqualified people, like this person who referred to students with disabilities as “morons” — won’t get attention until we start seeing the impact on the state’s 1.3 million students.

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”

Young People Left Behind in China’s Snowbound Rust Belt

Ronghui Chen:

As a sub-zero blizzard raged outside, Ronghui Chen pushed open a glass window to let in a gust of cold air.

He was in Yichun, a faded boomtown in northeastern China, where in December, 2016 he began photographing young people whose isolation he recognized in his own life. “This kind of heating puts people into the most lethargic state, depriving them of the ability to reflect,” he later said in a phone interview. At the same time, he also finds it frightening to become emotionally hardened like ice underfoot in the northeastern regions that made up China’s Rust Belt. “I feel that many people, like the land itself, are making themselves freeze.”

Over three successive winters, he worked on “Freezing Lands,” a collection of large-format photographs that explores contrasts. The cold conveyed the desolation of towns and cities whose populations are shrinking as people leave the region for education and work in bustling cities, just as Mr. Chen had done himself. The young residents spent their winters in warm and brightly painted interiors, uncertain about the future.

“Dysrationalia” Among University Students: The Role of Cognitive Abilities, Different Aspects of Rational Thought and Self-Control in Explaining Epistemically Suspect Beliefs

Nikola Erceg, Zvonimir Galić, Andreja Bubić:

The aim of the study was to investigate the role that cognitive abilities, rational thinking abilities, cognitive styles and self-control play in explaining the endorsement of epistemically suspect beliefs among university students. A total of 159 students participated in the study. We found that different aspects of rational thought (i.e. rational thinking abilities and cognitive styles) and self-control, but not intelligence, significantly predicted the endorsement of epistemically suspect beliefs. Based on these findings, it may be suggested that intelligence and rational thinking, although related, represent two fundamentally different constructs. Thus, deviations from rational thinking could be well described by the term “dysrationalia”, meaning the inability to think rationally despite having adequate intelligence. We discuss the implications of the results, as well as some drawbacks of the study.

When academic self-regard becomes an intellectual style

Sam Fallon:

The response from medievalists was swift and withering — not just for the president, but also for his opponents. Calling the wall “medieval” was misleading, wrote Matthew Gabriele, of Virginia Tech, in The Washington Post, “because walls in the actual European Middle Ages simply did not work the way Trump apparently thinks they did.” On, David M. Perry, of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, insisted that “walls are not medieval.” And in Vox, Eric Weiskott, of Boston College, urged readers to “take it from a professor of medieval literature: calling things you don’t like ‘medieval’ is inaccurate and unhelpful.”

Readers who doubted that the moment demanded a defense of the Middle Ages could be forgiven. In a political battle of such high human stakes, the question of whether calling Trump’s proposal “medieval” constituted “an insult to the Middle Ages” (as the Vox headline put it) might seem worryingly beside the point. But the wave of furious responses was entirely predictable. In their parochial, self-serious literalism, they exemplify a style that increasingly pervades public writing by humanities scholars — a style that takes expertise to be authoritative and wields historical facts, however trivial or debatable, as dispositive answers to political questions. Such literalism is bad rhetoric, a way of dissolving argument into trivia. It’s also bad history: At root, it betrays the humanities’ own hard-won explanations of how we have come to know the past.

Civics and “Draining the Administrative State”

Michael Anton:

Marini didn’t coin the term “administrative state”; that was political scientist Dwight Waldo in his 1948 book of the same name. But there can be little doubt that the phrase wouldn’t have escaped Bannon’s lips if not for Marini. No one—certainly not Waldo—has done more to explain what the administrative state is, how it works, and how it came to be. And not just in the historical sense, though Marini does show how the apparatus was built, by whom, and for what purpose. But his far greater contribution is to lay bare its theoretical roots. Plumbing those depths requires both a first-class education as well as practical experience in the swamp, both of which Marini has. In the 1980s, he served as a special assistant to then-Chairman Clarence Thomas at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before returning to academia and writing and editing essential books on the federal budget process and the separation of powers from his perch at the University of Nevada, Reno.

And now, finally, one on the animating interest of his entire career. Unmasking the Administrative State—ably edited and introduced by Ken Masugi, Marini’s friend, fellow student, and former co-worker at the EEOC—is actually a collection of Marini’s writings over 40 years, but its themes, messages and lessons are remarkably consistent. And, to some of us, familiar.

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015, I had already been reading (and listening to) Marini for more than 20 years. His analysis of the insidious ways the administrative state undermines democratic politics prepared me to begin to understand the populist revolt against bipartisan orthodoxy.

* * *

Our opinion-making class, by contrast, thrashed about for explanations. How can this man say these things? Why are so many people listening? What’s the common thread, if any? The term one saw bandied about was “source code,” as in, “We must find the source code of Trumpism.” While most elites insisted that Trump was simply winging it, making things up as he went along, a few intuited that there might be—out there somewhere—a body of ideas (though they were quick to add: not any with which Trump himself was personally familiar!) that could explain the appeal of his candidacy. They were right, but they did not know where to look.

“The second lesson I learnt from the financial crisis, and the years since, is that ignorance of financial affairs is widespread – and dangerous”

Sarah Gordon:

If you took out a mortgage on a house with practically no equity, you took a risk. If you borrowed several times your monthly income on credit cards, you took a risk. If you deposited your savings with a little-known Icelandic bank offering incredible rates, you took a risk.

Such decisions also played a role in the financial crisis. And they were also irresponsible. But in part they were driven by most people’s lack of understanding of financial realities and basic economics. Such ignorance — in modern societies — is inexcusable.

Business journalists such as myself are not exempt. I remember sitting in a very grand boardroom on the top floor of Lehman’s very grand building in Canary Wharf in 2005, with my colleague Gillian Tett, who was handing over to me on Lex before becoming markets editor. Unlike Gillian, I allowed a slew of new vocabulary — slicing and dicing loans, mezzanine financing, subordinated debt, collateralised debt obligations — to wash over me. The increasing complexity and specialisation of the language used to describe financial instruments was one reason most of the press failed to spot the crisis around the corner. But it is not an excuse.

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”

Beware the rural outrage cycle (Not just rural)

Holly Spangler:

Some years ago, our community went through a contentious consolidation vote (that’s redundant, I know). I was talking one day with a man whose kids were in high school, who was a vocal opponent of the consolidation. Mine were still young so I asked him about the top math and science courses offered at the high school. He had no idea. Still, opposed.

That conversation stuck with me. When we can’t gather basic facts of a situation, or when we can’t consider all the facts of the situation, we can’t make an informed decision. We can’t have an intelligent conversation with our elected officials — say, a school board member — when we don’t take time to understand school policy. Sometimes, that policy dictates that a board cannot talk about a particular issue beyond the administration, such as faculty, for example. But too many people sit in a school board meeting and assume if it’s not said to them, it’s not said at all.

Or people don’t understand how it all works. Like when someone decides not to participate in the floral hall because the fair board sold the building. Hint: Your boycott doesn’t affect ownership. It just kills the fair.

Securing Free Speech on Campus, Part II

Keith Whittington:

Yesterday, I suggested that universities have a free speech problem, even if they do not necessarily face a free speech crisis. If the problem is not addressed by universities themselves, then it will be addressed by outside actors who, even if they act with good intentions, may not act in ways that are very helpful.

If universities want to fend off outside intervention and, more importantly, be true to their own mission, they need to be proactive in nurturing a better free speech culture on their own campuses. The task begins with getting clear about the right principles in the first place. University leaders should be capable of articulating and defending the idea that the point of a university is to be a site of sharp-edged disagreements, free inquiry, and unorthodox thinking. If they want to resist the impression that elite universities have become “hedge funds with universities attached,” then they need to be willing to celebrate and defend universities as places where ideas are taken seriously and freely discussed and debated. One attraction of the University of Chicago Statement on Principles of Free Expression is that it offers a pithy articulation of these core commitments. I helped lead the effort to have the faculty at Princeton University adopt that statement in order to show solidarity for what should be a core commitment of university faculty across the country. Adopting such a clear statement of principle reaffirms and clarifies the values of a scholarly community and sends a message to both students and administrators as to what the expectations and priorities of the faculty are. If the faculty of a university cannot manage to agree on such basic principles of intellectual freedom, then that makes a statement of its own and prospective students, faculty, and donors should take notice.

Open the books

Open The Books:

At, we work hard to capture and post all disclosed spending at every level of government – federal, state, and local. We’ve successfully captured nearly 4 billion public expenditures, and we are rapidly growing our data in all 50 states down to the municipal level. We won’t stop until we capture every dime taxed and spent by our government.

As a government watchdog organization, we accept no government funding. is a project of American Transparency – a 501(c)3 nonprofit, nonpartisan charitable organization. All donations are tax deductible for federal or state income tax purposes to the fullest extent of the law.

A Psychologist Explains How to Beat Social Anxiety

Angela Chen:

It is rarely helpful to tell a shy person to “just be yourself!” Riffing on that frustrating exchange, clinical psychologist Ellen Hendriksen has written a book that she hopes will answer the question the anxious person usually asks in return: How?

Hendriksen received her doctorate from UCLA and today works at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. She is the author of How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety, out last week from St. Martin’s Press, which she describes as “a book I wish I had when I was 20.”

Why do poor school kids have to clean up rich commuter’s pollution?

Joe Cortright:

Item: In the past two years, Portland Public Schools has spent nearly $12.5 million of its scarce funds to clean up the air at Harriet Tubman Middle School. This money will buy an expensive state-of-the-art air filtration system that will make the air inside the school safe for students to breathe. Scientists from Portland State University, who conducted an air quality assessment of the site–at a cost of an additional half million dollars–have warned the students against exercising outside because of poor air quality.

And make no mistake, pollution from cars is a threat not just to the health of students, but to their ability to learn as well. A recent study shows that pollution from cars and trucks lowers student performance in schools near highways. Students attending schools located near and downwind from busy highways had lower rates of academic performance, higher absenteeism and higher rates of disciplinary problems than those attending less polluted schools. The more traffic on nearby roads, the larger the decline in scores on state standardized tests.

Tubman School faces a further increase in air pollution from the proposal of the Oregon Department of Transportation to spend a half billion dollars to widen the portion of Interstate 5 that runs right by the school. The freeway-widening project will cut away a portion of the hillside that now separates the freeway from the school, moving the cars and trucks still closer to the building, and also increasing their volume–and the volume of pollution they emit.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: U.S. Credit Card Debt Closed 2018 at a Record $870 Billion

Alexandre Tanzi:

U.S. credit card debt hit $870 billion — the largest amount ever — as of December 2018, according to the data from the Federal Reserve. Credit card balances rose by $26 billion from the prior quarter. “The increase in credit card balances is consistent with seasonal patterns but marks the first time credit card balances re-touched the 2008 nominal peak,” according to the report.

Related: Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district tax and spending history (currently we spend about $20k/student).

Civics & Privacy: Los Angeles is fighting for e-scooter data

Christine Fisher:

At the moment, it looks like a stalemate. LA city officials claim the data would provide insight into scooters as a growing means of transit, let the city see if scooters end up in the LA River and help ensure scooters are available to lower-income residents. Reportedly, the data would not be shared with police without a warrant, would not contain personal identifiers and would not subject to public records requests.

But privacy experts warn that scooter location data could be enough to reveal a person’s movements and private transactions, especially because scooters don’t stop at docking stations. Instead, they take passengers right up to their homes or businesses.

Perhaps the biggest issue here is what this foreshadows. As scooter ridership grows across the country and electric vehicles generate massive amounts of data, it will be interesting to see if that intel remains in the hands of private companies or if they’ll be required to share it. Of course, this is not the first time California and Uber have gone head-to-head or that scooters have been the center of controversy.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Why politicians will talk about anything but our ballooning national debt

Jon Gabriel:

Politicians in Washington always have some drama to distract them.

Over the past week, Michael Cohen called the president a “conman,” and Trump called him a “rat.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez insisted the world would end in a dozen years unless we pass her Green New Deal, while Democrats murmured about Biden and Beto possibly joining the White House race.

While the Beltway class hyperventilates about the buzz du jour, there’s one subject all of them studiously avoid: our $22.1 trillion in debt.

Our debt grows by about $2 billion a day
The U.S. has maintained a federal debt since Herbert Hoover was in office, and it keeps growing. Today, the debt jumps by another million dollars every 41 seconds, or about $2 billion a day. Since it’s an awkward topic, politicians focus on anything else, usually involving more spending. While lawmakers debate free college, free health care and a big, beautiful wall, the debt clock keeps on spinning.

According to the most recent figures, our debt is 4 percent higher than our gross domestic product. Yet if you mention this to most Americans, they’re either confused or indifferent.

Kids with Dyslexia Struggle as Wisconsin Considers First Dyslexia Legislation

Mackenzie Martin:

For literate adults, it might be hard to remember what the process of learning to read felt like. For kids with dyslexia in Wisconsin though, learning how to read can be maddening. Help might be on the way though as two dyslexia bills circulate in Madison.

As part of our We Live Up Here series, Mackenzie Martin talks to a local reading specialist and a Rhinelander High School student with dyslexia.

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability. Kids that have it have a hard time understanding the way that sounds and letters correspond, which makes reading and spelling difficult. It can be really hard getting help, too, because a lot of schools won’t test for dyslexia or even acknowledge it’s a problem, in part because of how expensive it is to treat it.

In February, the Joint Legislative Council in Madison voted to introduce a bill that would employ a dyslexia specialist at the Department of Public Instruction. The vote on whether to introduce a related bill on developing a dyslexia guidebook was deferred until Wednesday, March 6th.

The process is in the preliminary stages right now, but a lot of people are hoping these bills become laws. People like Donna Hejtmanek in Harshaw. In addition to serving on the Dyslexia Study Committee that the bills were drafted for, she’s also a retired reading specialist and special educator of 41 years.

She says the issue is that kids with dyslexia aren’t taught how to read the right way.