Choose Life: ‘No girls born’ for past three months in area of India covering 132 villages

Chris Baynes:

An investigation into suspected sex-selective abortions has been launched by magistrates in a district of northern India after government data showed none of the 216 children born across 132 villages over three months were girls.

Authorities in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand state, said the official birth rate was “alarming” and pointed towards widespread female foeticide,

India outlawed the selective abortion of female foetuses in 1994 but the practice remains commonplace in the country, where parents often see boys as breadwinners and girls as costly liabilities.

Number of deaths resulting from abortions: 1973 – 2014 more

Worldwide abortion data.

Algorithmic Governance and Political Legitimacy

Matthew B. Crawford:

In ever more areas of life, algorithms are coming to substitute for judgment exercised by identifiable human beings who can be held to account. The rationale offered is that automated decision-making will be more reliable. But a further attraction is that it serves to insulate various forms of power from popular pressures.

Our readiness to acquiesce in the conceit of authorless control is surely due in part to our ideal of procedural fairness, which de­mands that individual discretion exercised by those in power should be replaced with rules whenever possible, because authority will inevitably be abused. This is the original core of liberalism, dating from the English Revolution.

Mechanized judgment resembles liberal proceduralism. It relies on our habit of deference to rules, and our suspicion of visible, personified authority. But its effect is to erode precisely those pro­cedural liberties that are the great accomplishment of the liberal tradition, and to place authority beyond scrutiny. I mean “authori­ty” in the broadest sense, including our interactions with outsized commercial entities that play a quasi-governmental role in our lives. That is the first problem. A second problem is that decisions made by algorithm are often not explainable, even by those who wrote the algorithm, and for that reason cannot win rational assent. This is the more fundamental problem posed by mechanized decision-making, as it touches on the basis of political legitimacy in any liberal regime.

I hope that what follows can help explain why so many people feel angry, put-upon, and powerless. And why so many, in expressing their anger, refer to something called “the establishment,” that shadowy and pervasive entity. In this essay I will be critiquing both algorithmic governance and (more controversially) the tenets of pro­gressive governance that make these digital innovations attractive to managers, bureaucrats, and visionaries. What is at stake is the qual­itative character of institutional authority—how we experience it.

Everything I Know: 42 Hours of Buckminster Fuller’s Visionary Lectures Free Online (1975)

Open Culture:

Think of the name Buckminster Fuller, and you may think of a few oddities of mid-twentieth-century design for living: the Dymaxion House, the Dymaxion Car, the geodesic dome. But these artifacts represent only a small fragment of Fuller’s life and work as a self-styled “comprehensive anticipatory design scientist.” In his decades-long project of developing and furthering his worldview — an elaborate humanitarian framework involving resource conservation, applied geometry, and neologisms like “tensegrity,” “ephemeralization,” and “omni-interaccommodative” — the man wrote over 30 books, registered 28 United States patents, and kept a diary documenting his every fifteen minutes. These achievements and others have made Fuller the subject of at least four documentaries and numerous books, articles, and papers, but now you can hear all about his thoughts, acts, experiences, and times straight from the source in the 42-hour lecture series Everything I Know, available to download at the Internet Archive. Though you’d perhaps expect it of someone whose journals stretch to 270 feet of solid paper, he could really talk.

The Future of the City Is Childless America’s urban rebirth is missing something key—actual births.

Derek Thompson:

A few years ago, I lived in a walkup apartment in the East Village of New York. Every so often descending the stairway, I would catch a glimpse of a particular family with young children in its Sisyphean attempts to reach the fourth floor. The mom would fold the stroller to the size of a boogie board, then drag it behind her with her right hand, while cradling the younger and typically crying child in the crook of her left arm. Meanwhile, she would shout hygiene instructions in the direction of the older child, who would slap both hands against every other grimy step to use her little arms as leverage, like an adult negotiating the bolder steps of Machu Picchu. It looked like hell—or, as I once suggested to a roommate, a carefully staged public service announcement against family formation.

Apparently, the public got the message. Last year, for the first time in four decades, something strange happened in New York City. In a non-recession year, it shrank.

We are supposedly living in the golden age of the American metropolis, with the same story playing out across the country. Dirty and violent downtowns typified by the “mean streets” of the 1970s became clean and safe in the 1990s. Young college graduates flocked to brunchable neighborhoods in the 2000s, and rich companies followed them with downtown offices.

The Origins of the ‘Acting White’ Charge

John McWhorter:

Classroom integration wasn’t an entirely positive development for black educational prospects. That argument, completely out of vogue, needs airing amid our reacquaintance with the busing controversy of 50 years ago. When Senator Kamala Harris exposed Vice President Joe Biden’s opposition to federally mandated busing in the early 1970s, progressives congratulated her—and that’s understandable. Busing fostered the integration that many districts resisted even after the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education rejected the “separate but equal” doctrine, which had condemned so many black kids to substandard schooling. Thorough studies have confirmed that busing improved the scholarly performance of countless black kids.

Certainly, the underfunded one-room schoolhouses in the old South had to go. Something else that has to go too, though: the idea that any black student is only being properly served if white kids are studying next to him. That misimpression, fostered by the school-integration movement, has yielded a disturbing by-product: a harmful psychological association between scholastic achievement and whiteness.

America’s Youth Think They Can Save the World and Get Rich

Sophie Alexander:

People have been trying to pigeonhole millennials for years, particularly when it comes to those revered 20th century totems they keep destroying. You know, movie theaters, supermarkets, cars, homeownership—you name it.

But millennials and their younger brethren in Generation Z, who together make up 40% of the U.S. population, have bigger fish to fry than worrying about the disdain of their elders (not that they would, anyway).

It’s true that these generations want a career that makes a difference, even if it doesn’t pay a lot. Piles of surveys say the same thing: Many young Americans believe that, while providing some greater good to society, they can also work less than Generation X does.

The conundrum, of course, is that exploding student debt and the concentration of jobs in outrageously expensive cities make this a bit of a challenge. As they move through college and graduate school and choose a career, where to live, whether to get married or have kids, millions of young adults are demanding everything at a time when they can least afford it.

Much Ado About Data: How America and China Stack Up

Matt Sheehan:

Analysts often cite the amount of data in China as a core advantage of its artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem compared to the United States. That’s true to a certain extent: 1.4 billion people + deep smartphone penetration + 24/7 online and offline data collection = staggering amount of data.

But the reality is far more complex, because data is not a single-dimensional input into AI, something that China simply has “more” of. The relationship between data and AI prowess is analogous to the relationship between labor and the economy. China may have an abundance of workers, but the quality, structure, and mobility of that labor force is just as important to economic development.

Likewise, data is better understood as a key input with five different dimensions—quantity, depth, quality, diversity, and access—all of which affect what data can do for AI systems.

What follows is a framework for analyzing the comparative advantages of countries and companies across the five dimensions, with the aim of bringing more precision to comparisons of how America and China stack up. This is, however, just one framework, and I welcome critiques and suggestions on how to quantitatively measure each of these dimensions.

Why Does Data Matter To AI Systems?

Before getting to the five dimensions, a detour into data’s role in AI systems is in order.

Advances in AI have given computers superhuman pattern-recognition skills: the ability to wade through oceans of digital data, spotting thousands of hidden patterns or correlations between inputs and outcomes. AI systems then use those correlations to make inferences or predictions, “learning” how to perform a task based on the examples it has seen in the data.

STUDY: Faculty diversity at near stand-still despite MILLIONS spent by universities

Ethan Cai:

A new study found that universities have not made much progress on faculty diversity initiatives, despite more attention and money being given to race and inclusivity issues.

The study, published by South Texas College of Law’s Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy, concluded that colleges have not seen substantial growth in the diversity of faculty between 2013 and 2017, according to Inside Higher Ed.

“We really haven’t moved the needle that much” Tweet This
[RELATED: New survey reveals college diversity, inclusion efforts fail miserably]

“We wanted to test this hypothesis — whether we in higher ed were improving diversity in those particular areas,” Julian Vasquez Heilig, one of the study’s authors and the incoming education dean at the University of Kentucky, said, Inside Higher Ed reported. “A lot of times faculty, when we have these discussions, talk like we’re reinventing the wheel. We have these ideas and these gut feelings of what might work. But I think we need to be more empirical and data-driven on diversity.”

Overall, research-intensive schools offering doctorates showed the least progress. From 2013 to 2017 at such institutions, tenured faculty who were Hispanic and Latino only grew 0.65 percent, while African American tenured faculty increased by only 0.1 percent during the study’s time frame. Asian Americans saw only a 1.94 percent increase.

Graduate schools saw similar results, with tenured Hispanic and Latino faculty rising 0.64 percent and African American tenured faculty increasing just 0.07 percent.

K-12 Tax & SPENDING Climate: America’s urban rebirth is missing something key—actual births.

Derek Thompson:

The counties that make up Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia shed a combined 2 million domestic residents from 2010 to 2018. For many years, these cities’ main source of population growth hasn’t been babies or even college graduates; it’s been immigrants. But like an archipelago of Ellis Islands, Manhattan and other wealthy downtown areas have become mere gateways into America and the labor force—“a temporary portal,” in the words of E. J. McMahon, the founder of the Empire Center for Public Policy. “The woman from Slovakia comes to Queens, lives in her second cousin’s basement, gets her feet on the ground, and gets a better apartment in West Orange, New Jersey,” he said. Or a 20-something from North Dakota moves to Chicago after school, works at a consultancy for a few years, finds a partner, and moves to Missoula.

The Madison school board is planning various tax and spending increases referendums. I wonder what the various population forecasts reveal?

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported school districts ($18.5 to 20k per student, depending on the district documents).

Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Suburban Madison area school districts grew substantially from 199-2019. Madison remained largely flat.

The Mathematical Nomad, Paul Erdős

Jørgen Veisdal:

Mathematical truth is immutable; it lies outside physical reality … This is our belief; this is our core motivating force. Yet our attempts to describe this belief to our nonmathematical friends are akin to describing the Almighty to an atheist. Paul embodied this belief in mathematical truth. His enormous talents and energies were given entirely to the Temple of Mathematics. He harbored no doubts about the importance, the absoluteness, of his quest.
This is how American mathematician Joel Spencer remembers the now legendary late Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős (1913–1996). Throughout his life, the nomadic Erdős was known for many things, not least of all his personal eccentricities, unimaginable cognitive abilities and purity of mission.

Born in Austria-Hungary two years before the breakout of World War I, he thought himself mathematics from books and could multiply three-digit numbers in his head before the age of four. Living out of a suitcase traveling from university to university, throughout his life he survived off speaking fees and modest endowments from various universities. As a teenager, he reproved Chebyshev’s theorem before the age of 20. He was awarded a doctorate in mathematics in addition to his undergraduate degree at age 21. In his 83 years of life, he published over 1500 academic papers with more than 500 collaborators, making him the most prolific mathematician in history, comparable only with Leonard Euler.

Here’s to Paul Erdős, who dedicated his life solely to mathematics — and his friends.

Northeastern Wisconsin school districts announce class cancellations amid excessive heat

Samantha West:

Though summer school will remain in session on Thursday and students will remain inside air-conditioned school buildings at all times, parents may choose to keep their children home “if they do not feel it’s in their best interest to attend,” Rozek said.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, the Appleton school district said elementary and middle school summer classes will be canceled Friday due to excessive heat. That closure includes the district’s summer food program, as well as its Walk to the Park programming.

High school credit recovery courses at Appleton East High School will remain in session Friday, according to the post.

The Neenah Joint School District also announced in a Tuesday Facebook post that elementary summer school classes will be canceled Thursday. Free summer lunches will not be available at any elementary school sites, but will still be offered from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Neenah Public Library, 240 E. Wisconsin Ave.

Homesteaders on the margins of America

Ted Conover:

The San Luis Valley in southern Colorado still looks much as it did one hundred, or even two hundred, years ago. Blanca Peak, at 14,345 feet the fourth-highest summit in the Rockies, overlooks a vast openness. Blanca, named for the snow that covers its summit most of the year, is visible from almost everywhere in the valley and is considered sacred by the Navajo. The range that Blanca presides over, the Sangre de Cristo, forms the valley’s eastern side. Nestled up against the range just north of Blanca is Great Sand Dunes National Park. The park is an amazement: winds from the west and southwest lift grains of sand from the grasses and sagebrush of the valley and deposit the finest ones, creating gigantic dunes. You can climb up these dunes and run back down, as I did as a child on a family road trip and I repeated with my own children fifteen years ago. The valley tapers to a close down in New Mexico, a little north of Taos. It is not hard to picture the indigenous people who carved inscriptions into rocks near the rivers, or the Hispanic people who established Colorado’s oldest town, San Luis, and a still-working system of communal irrigation in the southeastern corner, or a pioneer wagon train. (Feral horses still roam, as do pronghorn antelope and the occasional mountain lion.)

Data: The New York Times Says Heat Waves Are Getting Worse. The National Climate Assessment Disagrees.

Ronald Bailey:

Americans east of the Rockies are sweltering as daytime temperatures soar toward 100 degrees or more. It is now customary for journalists covering big weather events to speculate on how man-made climate change may be affecting them, and the current heat wave is no exception. Take this headline in The New York Times: “Heat Waves in the Age of Climate Change: Longer, More Frequent and More Dangerous.”

As evidence, the Times cites the U.S. Global Change Research Program, reporting that “since the 1960s the average number of heat waves—defined as two or more consecutive days where daily lows exceeded historical July and August temperatures—in 50 major American cities has tripled.” That is indeed what the numbers show. But it seems odd to highlight the trend in daily low temperatures rather than daily high temperatures.

As it happens, chapter six of 2017’s Fourth National Climate Assessment reports that heat waves measured as high daily temperatures are becoming less common in the contiguous U.S., not more frequent.

Here, from the report, are the “observed changes in the coldest and warmest daily temperatures (°F) of the year for each National Climate Assessment region in the contiguous United States.” The “changes,” it explains, “are the difference between the average for present-day (1986–2016) and the average for the first half of the last century (1901–1960).”

Gibson’s Bakery awarded over $6.5 million in attorney’s fees and expenses against Oberlin College

William Jacobson:

“Plaintiffs presented evidence of hourly rates for their attorneys and paralegal/support staff that ranged from $675.00 per hour on the high end and $115.00 per hour on the low end, creating an average hourly rate of $395.00 per hour. Defendants’ average hourly rates for attorneys and paralegals/support staff ranged from $400.00 per hour on the high end and $100.00 on the low end, creating an average hourly rate of $250.00 per hour. The Court hereby finds that a reasonable average hourly rate in this community, given the complexity of the issues and experience of the attorneys handling the case, is $290.00 per hour.”

The Judge’s decision does not address how the award of attorney’s fees works as between the Gibsons and their lawyers.

The lawyer’s took the case on a 40% contingent fee, which on the $25 million damages judgment is $10 million.

How this calculation will work? My assumption is that the attorney’s fees awarded by the court are not subject to the contingent fee. So if and when the judgment is collected, and putting aside interest on the judgment, the lawyers get $10 million out of the $25 million, and the Gibson’s get the roughly $6.3 million attorney fee award. So the Gibson’s walk away with $15 million on the judgment and plus the attorney’s fees, totaling between $21-22 million. If I can confirm this, I’ll update.

Rising health insurance deductibles fuel middle-class anger and resentment

Noam Levey:

Denise Wall, a Fresno-area schoolteacher with more than $2,000 in medical bills, was outraged to hear she could get free care if she quit her job and enrolled her family in Medicaid.
Brenda Bartlett, a factory worker in Nebraska, was so angry about $2,500 in medical bills she ran up using the coverage she got at work that she dropped insurance altogether.

“They don’t give a rat’s butt about people like me,” she said.

Sue Andersen, burdened with nearly $10,000 in debt through her family’s high-deductible plan, had to change jobs to find better coverage after learning she and her husband earned too much for government help in Minnesota.

“We are super middle class,” she said. “How are we stuck with everything?”

Health insurance — never a standard protection in the U.S. as it is in other wealthy countries — has long divided Americans, providing generous benefits to some and slim-to-no protections to others.

But a steep run-up in deductibles, which have more than tripled in the last decade, has worsened inequality, fueling anger and resentment and adding to the country’s unsettled politics, a Los Angeles Times analysis shows.

Locally, benefits consumed 25% of taxpayer supported Madison school district spending in 2014.

The plan to mine the world’s research papers

Priyanka Pulla:

Carl Malamud is on a crusade to liberate information locked up behind paywalls — and his campaigns have scored many victories. He has spent decades publishing copyrighted legal documents, from building codes to court records, and then arguing that such texts represent public-domain law that ought to be available to any citizen online. Sometimes, he has won those arguments in court. Now, the 60-year-old American technologist is turning his sights on a new objective: freeing paywalled scientific literature. And he thinks he has a legal way to do it.

Over the past year, Malamud has — without asking publishers — teamed up with Indian researchers to build a gigantic store of text and images extracted from 73 million journal articles dating from 1847 up to the present day. The cache, which is still being created, will be kept on a 576-terabyte storage facility at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi. “This is not every journal article ever written, but it’s a lot,” Malamud says. It’s comparable to the size of the core collection in the Web of Science database, for instance. Malamud and his JNU collaborator, bioinformatician Andrew Lynn, call their facility the JNU data depot.

No one will be allowed to read or download work from the repository, because that would breach publishers’ copyright. Instead, Malamud envisages, researchers could crawl over its text and data with computer software, scanning through the world’s scientific literature to pull out insights without actually reading the text.

Inside China’s top ‘party schools’: Plenty of Communist doctrine on tap

Gerry Shih:

The lecturer stood in an airy hall, clicking through slides showing examples of how governments around the world improve their “environmental civilization” — a concept espoused by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The United States has a vast national park system. Germans collect trash with buckets placed inside sewers, the students are told.

Sixty gathered party members — almost all men in their 40s and 50s in uniformly black slacks, black shoes, black hair — sat quietly, absorbing it all.

It’s another morning at the Central Committee Party School, the exclusive training ground for the elite apparatchiks groomed to govern China.

Since becoming paramount leader in 2012, Xi has sought to position the Communist Party at the heart of society and promulgate its ideology to skeptical young Chinese. He has policed speech on campuses and encouraged Communist Party cells to expand inside private corporations.

UW System has a new state ‘charter czar’ — the 3rd in past year

Kelly Meyerhofer:

Seligman succeeds Latoya Holiday, who took over as director sometime this winter and then left to join the state Department of Public Instruction.

His salary is $103,000, Pitsch said. Twenty-two people applied for the position.

Seligman previously worked as assistant director of the UW Hillel Foundation at UW-Madison. He also practiced commercial and political law at Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. and taught high school Spanish in Washington, D.C.

He is from Madison and graduated from Madison School District. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis, a Master’s in teaching from American University and a law degree from the UW-Madison.

He starts Aug. 1.

“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”.

A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison school board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school. more.

Meeting the Challenges of Early Literacy Phonics Instruction

International Literacy Association:

Learning to read can, at times, seem almost magical. A child sits in front of a book and transforms those squig- gles and lines into sounds, puts those sounds together to make words, and puts those words together to make meaning.

But it’s not magical.

English is an alphabetic language. We have 26 letters.

These letters, in various combinations, represent the 44 sounds in our language. Teaching students the basic letter–sound combina- tions gives them access to sounding out approximately 84% of the words in English print. Of course, equal amounts of time need to be spent on teaching the meanings of these words, but the learning of these basic phonics skills is essential to becom- ing a fluent reader.

Research has shown the power of this early instruction in phonics for young students’ reading and writing development. Government-funded documents have shown that phonics in- struction is helpful for all students, harmful for none, and cru- cial for some. A recent brain research study out of Stanford explained how beginning readers who focus on letter–sound re- lationships, or phonics, instead of trying to learn whole words, increase activity in the area of the brain best wired for reading. And the meta-analysis work has detailed the significant effect size of phonics instruction on students’ early reading growth.

So why is there a debate when the research evidence has been consistent for decades? It’s because how we translate that research into instructional practice varies widely, resulting in practices that are sometimes ineffective or unbalanced and in- structional materials that too often have serious instructional design flaws. Some phonics instruction is random, incomplete, and implicit. Other instruction is overdone and isolated, devoid of the extensive application to authentic reading and writing needed for mastery. Neither is as effective as it needs to be.

Wisconsin Reading Coalitikn, via a kind email:

The International Literacy Association (ILA) has issued a Literacy Leadership Brief titled Meeting the Challenges of Early Phonics Instruction, which is closely aligned with reading science. ILA is the parent organization of the Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA).

Principal author Wiley Blevins and an ILA panel include the following observations:

Phonics is essential to becoming a fluent reader

Basic phonics allows 84% of English words to be decoded

Phonics is helpful for all, crucial to some, and harmful to none

Instruction should be explicit and systematic, with a logical scope and sequence, continuous review, and practice in controlled, decodable text

Phonemic awareness instruction should include blending and segmenting at grades K-1 and phoneme manipulation through grade 3

The main instruction for decoding should be blending of sounds (synthetic phonics)

Dictation of words is essential to building spelling and writing skills

Instruction should be active, engaging, and thought provoking, using techniques such as word building and word sorting

The best teachers need a background in phonics or linguistics, and a positive attitude toward using phonics instructional materials

These ILA recommendations are remarkably similar to “structured literacy,” as outlined by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), raising hopes that a WSRA/IDA team in Wisconsin will be able to agree on the elements of effective instruction in the drafting of a guidebook for dyslexia and related conditions.

Will we soon see the day when syntactic and semantic cues are used to confirm meaning, and not used as guessing substitutes for phonic decoding? This ongoing problem is vividly described in “The three-cueing system and its misuses (or: the biggest problem in reading you’ve never heard of),”by Erica L. Meltzer. Meltzer identifies Regie Routman as an outspoken advocate of the three-cue system of decoding. Given that Routman was brought to Wisconsin in 2014 by the Department of Public Instruction, WI-ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), and CESA’s 2, 5, 6, 12, and brought back by WSRA for a keynote address in 2017, we know that this type of reading instruction is deeply ingrained in our state. Are we on the verge of a new day?

Additional commentary.
Stephen Sawchuk :

“This is why the ILA’s word choice ‘systematic and explicit’ matters so much. In balanced literacy, while there can be a phonics component, it’s often limited or incomplete”

“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”.

Just published: The Rise of China’s Statist Intellectuals: Law, Sovereignty, and “Repoliticization”

Sebastian Veg:

Beginning in the 1990s, a number of elite Chinese intellectuals developed new critiques of liberalism. Within the orbit of Marxism, a group often called the “new left” mainly concentrated on economic liberalism and inequalities of wealth. Some of them also showed an affinity with the views of intellectuals referred to as statists. The statists’ three main ideas can be summarized as the superiority of political sovereignty over the rule of law, a critique of the “judicialization” of politics and the need to “repoliticize” the state, and a critique of universalism and an assertion of Chinese exceptionalism. Some of the legal scholars who developed these ideas are directly influenced by Carl Schmitt (1888–1985), an authoritarian German legal scholar and political theorist. Important texts by the current Chinese group of statist thinkers provide an intellectual background to the recent evolution in Party ideology.

Returning Due Process to Campus

KC Johnson:

Last month, the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a student who sued his school for unfairly finding him guilty of sexual assault. Reversing a lower court’s dismissal of the anonymous student’s claims against Purdue University, Judge Amy Coney Barrett wrote that it was “plausible” that Purdue’s investigation panel “chose to believe Jane [Doe] because she is a woman and to disbelieve John [Doe] because he is a man.” The court held that the university violated the student’s due process rights and engaged in gender discrimination, forbidden by the Title IX statute.

Since 2011, the federal government has enforced Title IX in cases of campus sexual assault, with nearly 500 accused students having filed similar lawsuits. In John Doe v. Purdue University, the plaintiff relied solely on a statement written on the accuser’s behalf by the campus victims’ rights office. Despite scant evidence, the Title IX investigator deemed the accuser the more credible party—without ever speaking to her. In what Judge Barrett called a “perplexing” decision, Purdue found the accused student guilty of sexual assault after a hearing in which the accuser didn’t even appear. Doe suffered life-altering consequences, losing his ROTC scholarship and his dream of serving in the Navy.

As Barrett noted, “Purdue’s process fell short of what even a high school must provide to a student facing a days-long suspension.” Purdue’s investigator declined to speak with Doe’s roommate, who he said would corroborate his version of events. The university then withheld the investigator’s report from Doe, a decision that the court labeled “fundamentally unfair.” Indeed, university officials appeared to have rendered their verdict upon hearing the accusation.

Senator pledges to ‘break up the higher education monopoly’ with new laws

Daniel Payne:

“[W]e have a system that preferences students who want to attend a four-year college over Americans who want to learn a skill,” Hawley stated, claiming that the current system “protects higher education institutions that have been padding their endowments with taxpayer money while they raise tuition.”

Hawley’s two proposed bills would address these purported defects. One would “make more job-training and certification programs, like employer-based apprenticeships and digital boot camps, eligible to receive Pell Grants through an alternative accreditation process.” This policy would “reduce reliance on debt and maximize opportunities for students to pursue their dreams.”

The second, more significant bill would force colleges to foot the bill for students who default on their loans:

[The law] will require institutions of higher education to have skin in the game when it comes to cost and student outcomes by requiring them to repay a portion of the loan balance of students who are unable to repay their debt.

This bill requires colleges and universities to pay off 50 percent of the balance of student loans accrued while attending their institution for students who default, and forbids them from increasing the cost of attendance to offset their liability.

“It’s time to break up the higher education monopoly. It’s time to level the playing field and provide more options for career training,” Hawley said in his press release.

RELATED: Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015). This is equivalent to $120,000 in government monies, subsidies, & special tax treatment per undergraduate student, or $6.93 billion per year.

The death of the working class reporter

Justin Ward:

Back in college, our newswriting class was assigned All Over But the Shoutin’, an autobiography by Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg. His was a Horatio Alger story, the journalist version of the American Dream. Bragg managed to make it all the way to the New York Times without ever completing college. He went straight from his high school paper to covering local sports. He kept swimming upstream to bigger and bigger papers, moving from sports to features, and ultimately he landed an assignment as an international correspondent in Haiti for the Times.

It was supposed to be inspirational for us young journos. If we just stayed on the grind and kept chasing good stories, we too could climb the ladder to the heights of our profession. But the media landscape we inherited was vastly different than the one in which Bragg made his bones.

In the late 20th century, it was possible for a college dropout to go on to be a household name. Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, quit school early for a job in journalism. So did legendary broadcaster Walter Cronkite, who learned his trade at the Daily Texan, just like I. But that kind of career trajectory was unimaginable to us.

The year I graduated was an inauspicious one. With the global financial crisis starting to unfold, 2007 was a bad time for the economy and an even worse time for the news industry.

The Diversity Distortion

John Hasnas:

In 1996, Alan Sokal, a professor of physics, submitted a hoax article to Social Text, a journal of postmodern cultural studies, which published it. Last year, in what became known as the Sokal Squared hoax, James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian created 20 fake papers that they submitted to several cultural studies journals. Seven of them had been selected for publication at the time the hoax became public.

The point of the Sokal Squared hoax was to highlight the lack of rigor in what the authors of the hoax called “grievance studies,” academic programs addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, and identity. But in the uproar over the hoax, a more fundamental question has been overlooked. Why are there so many such programs? What accounts for the rapid proliferation of university departments devoted to the study of minority cultural identity?

Raising this question is not a disguised criticism of the existence of such departments. The cultural changes of the past four decades make African American, feminist, and LGBTQ studies legitimate and important fields of inquiry. The advent of such departments is a natural reaction to interesting new questions that need to be addressed to advance the university’s mission to seek truth and generate understanding. Whether the current programs are doing a good job of addressing these questions may be debated, but the study of cultural identity is a legitimate field of academic inquiry.

Nevertheless, in a time when academic resources are stretched thin and many traditional academic departments are facing retrenchment, it is reasonable to ask whether the continued expansion of these departments is justified. Is there something beyond their inherent academic value that is driving the growth of cultural studies programs at the expense of other departments and, perhaps, the overall health of the university?

The answer is yes. It is the contemporary university’s quest for a diverse faculty.

ADVERTISEMENT Education publisher Pearson to phase out print textbooks

BBC:

It means that next year the firm will only update 100 of its 1,500 titles in print – down from 500 in 2019.

“There will still be [print] textbooks in use for many years to come but I think they will become a progressively smaller part of the learning experience,” Mr Fallon said.

“We learn by engaging and sharing with others, and a digital environment enables you to do that in a much more effective way.”
Digital textbooks can be updated responsively and also incorporate videos and assessments that provide students with feedback.

However, many of Pearson’s digital products are sold on a subscription basis, raising fears that authors will lose out in the way musicians have to music streaming services.

Google and Facebook Are Quietly Tracking You on Sex Websites

Charlie Warzel:

Silicon Valley’s biggest companies are always watching you — even when you’re browsing pornography websites in incognito mode.

Trackers from tech companies like Google and Facebook are logging your most personal browsing details, according to a forthcoming New Media & Society paper, which scanned 22,484 pornography websites. Where that data ultimately goes is not always clear.

“These porn sites need to think more about the data that they hold and how it’s just as sensitive as something like health information,” said Elena Maris, a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft and the study’s lead author. “Protecting this data is crucial to the safety of its visitors. And what we’ve seen suggests that these websites and platforms might not have thought all of this through like they should have.”

The study’s other authors — Jennifer Henrichsen, doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, and Tim Libert, a Carnegie Mellon computer science instructor — found that 93 percent of the pornography websites they scanned sent data to an average of seven third-party domains. The authors used webXray, an open-source software tool, which detects and matches third-party data requests to scan sites. Most of that information (79 percent of websites that transmitted user data) was sent via tracking cookies from outside companies.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google Services, including Madison.

Commentary on temporary madison school board memBer appoIntment, replacing Mary Burke

Logan Wroge:

The temporarily six-person School Board is scheduled to decide Monday who will join the body for a nine-month stint. During that time, the board will hire a permanent superintendent and work on a potentially large November 2020 facilities referendum.

Those interested in the appointment have until 4 p.m. Friday to apply for the vacancy, which was created after Mary Burke resigned earlier this month.

As of Tuesday afternoon, those who have applied are David Aguayo, David Blaska, Carol Carstensen, Ricardo Cruz, Alexis Dean, Steve King, Pamela Klein, Dwight A. Perry, Arlene Silveira, Jeff Spitzer-Resnick and Calista Storck.

Carstensen and Silveira are both former School Board members. Elected six times, Carstensen served between 1990 and 2008. Silveira was on the board between 2006 and 2015.

Former School Board member Ed Hughes has also expressed interested in the position but said he had yet to file his application by Tuesday evening.

Aguayo, 26, is an executive assistant at the state Department of Workforce Development. He also managed the unsuccessful campaign this spring for School Board candidate Kaleem Caire and ran as an independent for a state Legislature seat in 2016.

After losing his race for the School Board in April, Blaska, a former Dane County Board supervisor and conservative blogger, has said he is applying to bring political diversity to the board.

Cruz, 52, a School District employee, is an administrative assistant helping with federal Title 1 funding. He ran for the District 9 seat on the Madison City Council in 2013 and also served on the city’s Equal Opportunities Commission from 2009 to 2011.

Negassi Tesfamichael:

The large field of applicants includes several former School Board members, public education advocates, parents, recent MMSD graduates, Freedom Inc. staff and others looking to serve on the board as it faces critical decisions over the next few months. The board plans to select a new superintendent and prepare for a facilities referendum in 2020.

For the seasoned former board members, their experience on these two tasks were motivation to return to their old gig.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district spends far more than most, however we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Adults Need To Help Students Stay Away From Colleges They Can’t Afford

Helen Raleigh:

Another acceptance was from a good, but not excellent, state college. It offered her a full-ride scholarship that would cover room, board, and tuition, meaning she wouldn’t need to come up with any extra money. In addition, the college would allow her to participate in a work-study program. She would be able to earn her spending money and gain work experience at the same time.

However, this college wasn’t her dream school. It wasn’t even one of her top choices. She only applied for it as a fallback “safety” option and as a last resort.

I knew her heart had been set on that elite college for a long time. I was the one who took her for a campus visit and encouraged her to apply. Since she is the child of a single mother, however, I knew she could only afford college on a full scholarship.

After receiving her initial admission letter from the elite college, my niece appealed for more financial aid but was told no. Some of her classmates were planning on borrowing to attend college. Since I am the financial guru in the family, my niece came to me for advice: should she borrow $50,000 each year for the next four years to attend her dream school?

No Poker Face in Providence

Erika Sanzi:

Angelica Infante-Green, Rhode Island’s new education commissioner, will never be known for her poker face and at a time like the one we currently face in Providence, that is actually a comfort. The pain is real. The failure is real. And it’s important for parents and community members to see disgust, disbelief and determination on the face of the education commissioner as she listens to them talk about the desperation they feel over the system that promised—and failed— to educate their children. The million dollar question is what will that determination look like in terms of action moving forward and will the deeply-entrenched impediments to change finally topple over in favor of the educational needs of children?

Angelica Infante-Green tells the brutal truths about Providence Schools to at the final community forum.
In her opening remarks at the last of eight open community forums, Infante-Green describes feeling physically ill after reading the now notorious Johns Hopkins report about Providence Schools. She cites a 9th grade class using a 4th grade curriculum, refers to testimony of graduates who spent two full years in remedial classes after being handed a high school diploma, and reflects on the many parents who have told her that the Providence schools failed them as students and now they are watching it fail their own children.

“It turns my stomach”, she says.

And if the look on her face during the four plus hours of testimony during that final community conversation is any indication, her stomach is still turning.

“It’s painful to hear that our children are failing. I am an addict in recovery. I want my kids to be able to be educated in Providence but it’s not working,” says one mother. Standing at the microphone in the front of the room, arms wide open as her voice gets louder, she continues: “my daughter doesn’t know her times tables. How did she get passed to the 5th grade? My daughter can’t even read.”

This mother is far from alone. As the 93-page report tells us —and Infante-Green reiterates in her powerpoint at the start of each community forum—only 14 percent of Providence’s students read at grade level. And that number drops to 10 percent when we are talking about math.

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

We Don’t Know Enough About What Happens to Our Data

Susan Fowler:

Most people who take advantage of the services of companies like Google and Facebook are aware that the companies store and use their personal data. It might seem as if the trade-offs are clear and worthwhile — I give up my location data
in exchange for access to Google Maps, for example — but the reality is darker and murkier.

The United States is becoming a surveillance state, perhaps on par with China. But unlike in China, where mass surveillance is a government endeavor, the monitoring in the United States is done in large part by private corporations — and we don’t know enough about those practices. Facebook and Google, for example, have made a killing monetizing the personal data of their users. (Google keeps a record of nearly everything users buy online.) But it’s not clear where most personal data goes and what such companies decide to do with it. Is it being used merely to improve a company’s services? Or is it being used by foreign governments or political consultants to interfere with democratic elections?

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

Civics: MIDDLE EAST DICTATORS BUY SPY TECH FROM COMPANY LINKED TO IBM AND GOOGLE

Ryan Gallagher:

Semptian is collaborating with IBM and leading U.S. chip manufacturer Xilinx to advance a breed of microprocessors that enable computers to analyze vast amounts of data more quickly. The Chinese firm is a member of an American organization called the OpenPower Foundation, which was founded by Google and IBM executives with the aim of trying to “drive innovation.”

Semptian, Google, and Xilinx did not respond to requests for comment. The OpenPower Foundation said in a statement that it “does not become involved, or seek to be informed, about the individual business strategies, goals or activities of its members,” due to antitrust and competition laws. An IBM spokesperson said that his company “has not worked with Semptian on joint technology development,” and refused to answer further questions.

Semptian’s equipment is helping China’s ruling Communist Party regime covertly monitor the internet and cellphone activity of up to 200 million people across the East Asian country, sifting through vast amounts of private data every day.

But the company’s reach extends far beyond China. In recent years, it has been marketing its technologies globally.

After receiving tips from confidential sources about Semptian’s role in mass surveillance, a reporter contacted the company using an assumed name and posing as a potential customer. In emails, a Semptian representative confirmed that the company had provided its surveillance tools to security agencies in the Middle East and North Africa — and said it had fitted a mass surveillance system in an unnamed country, creating a digital dragnet across its entire population.

Civics: class rhetOric – We know best

Daniel Jupp:

Like Jeremy Corbyn or Channel 4’s scrupulously impartial Jon ‘fuck the Tories’ Snow, Attenborough has shown himself to be another elderly, middle-class man suffering under the delusion that he is an 18-year-old student radical. And Glastonbury was not an isolated incident, either. Anything a 16-year-old Swedish girl can do, Sir David has obviously decided, he can do, too. Forget the splendours of nature, huddling down close to a termite mound in South Africa, or watching a crocodile barrel roll its next meal in the Zambezi – Attenborough’s attention is now fixed firmly on the human zoo of politics.

In a recent appearance before parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, he compared changing attitudes to plastic to changing attitudes to slavery. He also complained that air travel was ‘extraordinarily cheap’. He called for prices to be hiked, conceding that this would hit the poor hardest. At the same time, he admitted that he himself travels by air ‘frequently’. The best way to ‘restrict’ air travel would be ‘economically’, he argued. So a man who has clocked up more air miles than the average African dictator is deeply concerned that your once-a-year package holiday to Spain is destroying the planet. If Attenborough had his way, a certain class of people (by coincidence, his class) would be allowed to jet around the world enjoying themselves, while others would be restricted from doing so.

Civics: Why Google’s YouTube Keeps Demonetizing Videos of the Hong Kong Protests

Will Oremus:

Creators of at least two Hong Kong-based YouTube channels covering the demonstrations say that videos, and even whole channels, have been “demonetized” by the tech platform. That means YouTube won’t run ads next to their content, and thus the creators can’t make money from its advertising program.

Demonetization is notably the same step that YouTube took against right-wing comedian Stephen Crowder last month in response to a backlash against his homophobic comments about a gay Vox employee, Carlos Maza. While it isn’t always intended as punishment, it can certainly feel like that to creators who depend on the platform for revenue, and YouTube itself seems to have used it in that way in a June 5 announcement about its plan to tackle hate speech.

Two channels that have been affected, according to their creators, are China Uncensored and Hong Kong Free Press, both of which have been regularly posting videos of the protests, alongside other news coverage and commentary. Both have since had monetization reinstated on some or all of their content, with some of the changes coming shortly after inquiries to YouTube from OneZero.

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

Gov. Whitmer’s next move in Benton Harbor an ‘inflection point’ in Michigan’s fraught history of school takeovers

Koby Levin:

As Whitmer and the board continue negotiating, observers say the outcome could reshape how Michigan approaches struggling school districts far beyond Benton Harbor that are struggling with rising debts, low test scores, and declining enrollment.

“People in Flint are looking at this,” said Eric Scorsone, a former deputy state treasurer and the director of the Center for Local Government Finance & Policy at Michigan State University Extension. “A lot of other communities are looking at this — maybe in Saginaw or suburban Detroit.”

A fierce debate has raged in Michigan for years over the state’s policy of taking over cities and school districts that are in financial or academic ruts. Critics point out that black people are disproportionately affected by the policy — at one point, roughly half of African-Americans in Michigan lived in a city run by a state-appointed emergency manager.

Governors from both parties have advocated for state takeovers, which are allowed under a Michigan law passed in 1990. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, named an emergency manager to oversee the Detroit school district and other municipalities. Rick Snyder, Whitmer’s Republican predecessor, expanded the powers granted to emergency managers and appointed them in several cities and school districts.

To Break Google’s Monopoly on Search, Make Its Index Public

Robert Epstein:

With those basic platforms intact, the three biggest threats that Google and Facebook pose to societies worldwide are barely affected by almost any intervention: the aggressive surveillance, the suppression of content, and the subtle manipulation of the thinking and behavior of more than 2.5 billion people.

Different tech companies pose different kinds of threats. I’m focused here on Google, which I’ve been studying for more than six years through both experimental research and monitoring projects. (Google is well aware of my work and not entirely happy with me. The company did not respond to requests for comment.) Google is especially worrisome because it has maintained an unopposed monopoly on search worldwide for nearly a decade. It controls 92 percent of search, with the next largest competitor, Microsoft’s Bing, drawing only 2.5%.

Fortunately, there is a simple way to end the company’s monopoly without breaking up its search engine, and that is to turn its “index”—the mammoth and ever-growing database it maintains of internet content—into a kind of public commons.

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

What Are Classroom Practices That Support Equity-Based Mathematics Teaching?

nctm:

Current mathematics education research is used to frame equity-based teaching practices through three lenses useful for building one’s teaching: reflecting , noticing , and engaging in community .

Reflecting . Equity-based teaching requires a substantial amount of reflection, which involves not just reflecting on your pedagogy and your classroom norms, but also considering how you identify yourself and how others identify you (Crockett, 2008; Gutiérrez, 2013b; Walshaw, 2010).

Noticing . Noticing generally refers to paying attention to students’ mathematical thinking (Jacobs, Lamb, & Philipp, 2010), yet it is a crucial skill for equity-based teaching; noticing helps teachers pay attention to how students position and identify themselves and each other (Wager, 2014).

Engaging in Community . Community engagement is powerful, in all aspects of teaching. While there are many ways to engage in your multiple communities, we highlight two specific communities here: your classroom and your teaching community.

Commentary.

Related: Madison’s math task force [Report] and the use of reform math curricula.

(2009) What impact do high school mathematics curricula have on college-level mathematics placement? James Wollack
and Michael Fish
:

Major Findings

CORE-Plus students performed significantly less well on math placement test and ACT-M than did traditional students

Change in performance was observed immediately after switch

Score trends throughout CORE-Plus years actually decreased slightly

Inconsistent with a teacher learning-curve hypothesis

CORE-AP students fared much better, but not as well as the traditional-AP students
Both sample sizes were low

2014: 21% of University of Wisconsin System Freshman Require Remedial Math

China’s rising tech scene threatens U.S. brain drain as ‘sea turtles’ return home


Richard Engel and Kennett Werner
:

Between baskets filled with hard drives, memory sticks, LED lights and countless other bits of technology hardware, Jason Gui found what he was looking for: a handful of tiny batteries.

His business partner, Tiantian Zhang, whipped out her phone to pay for them via WeChat, the all-in-one messaging and payments app ubiquitous in China, and transferred about 4 yuan, or $0.60, for each battery.

The bustling wholesale market with its rows of vendors is part of Huaqiangbei, a subdistrict in the Chinese city of Shenzhen that has become known as the “Silicon Valley of hardware.”

For Gui, it’s better than that.

Silicon Valley was “a little bit slow for us,” Gui said over his workstation at Hax, a startup incubator in Shenzhen. “If you were to do this in the U.S., you would just be importing the same materials from China anyway.”

Tulsa Teacher discovers calculus flaw

Tulsa Today:

One of the core concepts of calculus is known as the “derivative”, which is a ratio between two types of changes. For instance, your car’s speedometer gives the you speed in “miles per hour.” This is a derivative—a ratio of the change in distance and the change in time. You can also have a “second derivative,” or a derivative of a derivative. For instance, acceleration is the ratio between the change in speed and the change in time.

However, the notation for the second derivative has always been strange and usually baffles students. In most mathematics textbooks, the notation is presented without explanation for the reasons for why it looks the way it looks. In an effort to provide more background for his students, Jonathan Bartlett decided to pursue the matter further, and figure out why the notation is the way that it is.

The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority

Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

The main idea behind complex systems is that the ensemble behaves in way not predicted by the components. The interactions matter more than the nature of the units. Studying individual ants will never (one can safely say never for most such situations), never give us an idea on how the ant colony operates. For that, one needs to understand an ant colony as an ant colony, no less, no more, not a collection of ants. This is called an “emergent” property of the whole, by which parts and whole differ because what matters is the interactions between such parts. And interactions can obey very simple rules. The rule we discuss in this chapter is the minority rule.

The minority rule will show us how it all it takes is a small number of intolerant virtuous people with skin in the game, in the form of courage, for society to function properly.

Madison School Board floats Tax & Spending INCREASE via another operating referendum

Logan Wroge:

The topic of an operating referendum came out of discussion on a potential 2020 facilities referendum, which could be as high as $280 million.

“I love talking about the facilities referendum, it’s exciting, it’s new stuff,” Carusi said. “But without that operating-to-exceed referendum, we’re looking at a lot of difficult cuts and choices.”

Kelly Ruppel, the district’s chief financial officer, said district officials could put together information on a possible operating referendum for the board to talk about in either August or September.

The School Board also decided to temporarily shelve a guiding long-range facilities plan, which includes recommendations on the potential 2020 referendum and longer-term suggestions such as responding to changes in enrollment and whether to sell the district’s Downtown administration building.

Some board members said they would rather focus on gathering input on and finalizing a capital referendum for next year and avoid confusion on how the long-range facilities plan factors into it.

Negassi Tesfamichael:

To get on the November 2020 ballot, the board would have to approve the language used in the referendum question by May 25. The board discussed its interest on Monday in authorizing the referendum before the May deadline, possibly in March or April.

The referendum could include more than asking taxpayers to fund facilities. An operating referendum approved by Madison voters in 2016 allowed the district to raise more than $25 million over the last several years, but funding from that vote runs out at the end of the upcoming school year.

Not having an operating referendum alongside the facilities question in 2020 could make next year’s budget cycle difficult, as the board might have to decide potential cuts. The board approved a $463 million preliminary budget proposal last month.

“We’ll be faced with a choice this year as to whether we want to offer another operating-to-exceed referendum and we haven’t built that into the dialogue or feedback process thus far,” board vice president Kate Toews said. “We have been very focused on our capital referendum to improve and innovate our facilities.”

The board will likely start having more discussions about a potential operating referendum in the fall now that state funding for the next two years is set.

The board also approved on Monday a transfer of $185,000 from a reserve fund to increase staff compensation.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported school districts ($18.5 to 20k per student, depending on the district documents).

Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Civics: Craigslist’s Craig Newmark: ‘Outrage is profitable. Most online outrage is faked for profit’

David Smith:

“We’re low on bird seed now,” Newmark observes anxiously. “That’s a crisis.”

The scale and scope of the crisis become evident when you understand Newmark’s ornithological obsession. During an hour-long conversation, his eye keeps wandering to the small garden where morning doves, house sparrows, cardinals, blue jays and “a hopefully limited number of pigeons” come and go. Just last night he installed a webcam so he can watch them all remotely. For good measure, there are numerous photos of birds on the walls and a papier-mache model, made by his 11-year-old nephew.

“I love birds for reasons unknown,” Newmark says. “We’re observing that the doves are not that nice to each other and we also see them fighting with the sparrows. The sparrows are much smaller, but the more aggressive sparrows can chase off a much larger dove. So I’ve named them Cersei and Daenerys.”

It may be that Newmark feels more comfortable around feathered friends than the human variety. He is a self-declared “nerd of the old school, 1950s style”, squirrel watcher and sci-fi fan who, sitting in a jacket, trousers and slippers, cheerfully admits he is “simulating” social skills. He is a computer geek who checks email obsessively and in 1995 founded Craigslist – which is, with about 50bn page views a month, one of the world’s most popular websites. Now 66, he is a survivor of the age of internet idealism, before fake news and perpetual outrage cast long shadows.

Marriage and relationship studies

Glenn Stanton:

This is a question many young people ponder. Even if you grow up with a faith or belief system that teaches sex before marriage is wrong, many wonder what real, practical difference engaging in unmarried sex might have beyond the risk of unmarried pregnancy or contracting an infection.

Well, here’s one: New data emerging consistently for decades show that premarital sexual activity seems to be associated with a significant elevated risk of divorce. And, as nearly all people enter marriage desiring it last, this is not a small consideration for teens and young adults.

Let’s look at the handful of leading population-based studies exploring this question and what they find.

Kahn and London, 1991

Data from the National Survey of Family Growth indicate that “women who are sexually active prior to marriage faced considerably higher risk of marital disruption than women who were virgin brides.” These scholars explain that even when controlling for various differentials between virginal and non-virginal groups — such as socio-economics, family background as well as attitudinal and value differences — “non-virgins still face a much higher risk of divorce than virgins.”
1

Laumann, Gagnon, Michael and Michaels, 1994

The massive and highly respected National Health and Social Life Survey, conducted at the University of Chicago, was the first serious, fully reputable study of sexual behavior in America. It found a marked connection between premarital sex and elevated risk of divorce. The authors explain:

“For both genders, we find that virgins have dramatically more stable first marriages…”
2

“The finding confirms the results reported by Kahn and London…those who are virgins at marriage have much lower rates of separation and divorce.”
3

Additionally, “Those who marry as non-virgins are also more likely – all other things being equal – to be unfaithful over the remainder of their life compared with those spouses who do marry as virgins.”
4

This higher prevalence of marital infidelity among the non-virginal is assumed to be an important factor in their higher likelihood of divorce, while “those who are virgins at marriage are those who go to greater lengths to avoid divorce.”
5
Essentially, non-virgins typically appear to do more to harm their marriages and virgins do more to strengthen them.

Heaton, 2002

In a study looking at factors impacting increased marital stability, Brigham Young sociologist Tim Heaton examined how premarital sexual experience, premarital child-bearing, cohabitation and marrying someone of a different religious faith were all associated with greater risk of divorce. Heaton explains, “Dissolution rates are substantially higher among those who initiate sexual activity before marriage.” Heaton asserts that divorce is more likely among the sexually active and cohabitors because they have established their life together on “relatively unstable sexual relationships.”

Departing Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham WORT FM Interview

mp3 audio – Machine Transcript follows [Better transcript, via a kind reader PDF]:

I’m Carousel Baird and we have a fabulous and exciting show lined up today. Such a fabulous guy sitting right across from me right here in the studio. Is Madison metropolitan school district current superintendent? She still here in charge of all the fabulous thing it is. Dr. Jennifer Cheatham.

Hello, Jen. Hey Carousel. Hey everybody. It’s good to be here. Wonderful to have you and I do want to just take it off. You know, you’re leaving at the end of the summer moving on to other Adventures but to say first of all, thank you to your accessibility. We’ve had a lot of conversations. We have you and many of your leaders. They aren’t always easy going conversation there. I believe yeah. But they’re important conversations and your availability to answer questions and be on the show and come and have these conversations is really important to Madison. So thank you. Well, thank you for asking.

It’s been wonderful every time and I’m sure it’ll be wonderful again another great show. That’s right. We’re gonna make it happen. I don’t know I’ll burn down all the bridges really until nothing to lose. All right. Well, let’s sort of start with a I have very few statistics that I brought. Just a few. Okay. It’s a few there’s approximately 27,000 students career and MSD more than 50% or students of color including 18 percent that have self-identified as African-American 21 percent that have identified as lad necks. 32 elementary schools 12 middle schools six high schools. There you go. Those are the stat.

It’s big for Dane County, but it’s not it’s not huge and compared to other big cities. Does that make it more manageable? I can work with those six years ago when you showed up and not that I want to be the superintendent of Madison. Yeah, it felt like a world that you could play a role in no doubt. No doubt. I think you know this Carousel, but I worked in San Diego before coming to Madison where there are 200 schools. Then Chicago we’re at that time there were about 600 schools. And so coming to Madison. It did seem doable to the challenges seemed hard even from the outside, but they seem doable but I always imagined. Wow, I could have all 50 principles in a room together. Right right, and we can just talk real talk and that’s been true. I mean, it’s been wonderful. That way yeah big challenges but doable because of the size and the community that we had 11, so.

First of all, congratulations on your new position you’re moving off to Harvard University that I mean, I think that bodes well for us for that leader is from Madison move on to Harvard University big. So thanks for representing Madison and at Harvard. That’s that’s excellent. No doubt.

I think sometimes when we’re. In our own communities, we lose perspective on them and as much as we have challenges, we have tremendous strength and school districts outside. Of Madison nationally have looked to us right have come to us for guidance and advice for Lessons Learned some of them learn the hard way, right but important lessons that we’ve gleaned.

So I want people to know that not only have we made progress here within our community, but we’ve been already Madison’s been influencing the field of Education Beyond Madison. Is that right when we’re in it? Are we see are the challenges right? Because like okay, here’s another problem. Let’s work on that. Here’s another and you know, that’s the daily job of solving problems, but understand that it is it because we’re at least a community that is willing. To address the challenges instead of trying to ignore them. I think so. I think that’s a part of it. I had a in still have a long time Mentor named Karl Cohen. He was the superintendent in Long Beach many years ago, and I remember my early days working with Carl he called. This work. He describes it as a hard slog right the hard slog of school Improvement, right? It’s not you don’t get to spike the football much right? There’s always another challenge to address right and it’s ultimately about children, right? So it’s like schools and school districts are at the center have Humanity right in all the challenges that come with. With being alive right exist in a school in a classroom in a school district.

So yeah, it’s challenging work. But I to your point, I think that Madison has as a community right of Educators, but of people have been able I think to talk about hard issues together. I’d love to talk to you about that more actually. Okay, I think it’s a it’s a it’s a major asset that we don’t talk about enough our ability to be in dialogue with one another even if we disagree even if we don’t go the route that you know change makers want to go the fact that we’re willing to have those conversations that I do every show on the table. I do I think that that’s a really valid. Let’s talk about.

So you’ve been here for six plus years was talking about the changes that you’ve seen in that six plus years. I think there have been a lot of changes. Okay, and I I mean, of course everyone’s going to think that. But they’re for the better, but I would say it was for the better. I think most of they have been for the better when I started six plus years ago the general sentiment. It was a difficult time in Madison. By the way, the contacts Act 10 had just happened. So the education Community was feeling incredibly demoralizing of astride devastated. I mean, you don’t get over if those feelings actually, I think they’re hard to get over. Yes. What else was happening at that time the right as I was starting the race to equity report was released. So everyone was kind of grappling what the reality is of the disparities between black and white people in our community putting numbers to the communities of color new these challenges all along and no longer could the white communities of Madison deny them when the numbers were boldly in their face, right?

So think about that though. So here we have teachers staff. Educators feeling demoralized because of actin and simultaneously being faced with the reality of these disparities, right? That’s really challenging. What else was happening at that time? Oh and the Urban League proposal for the charter school, right had just been denied why that was a tough. That was a tough moment in Madison, right? It was a tough moment was a very. Conversation tell me about it. It was intense. And so that was the context that I came into welcome. Yeah, right and I’m a parent Lee a very optimistic person. So I thought yeah we can do this. This is hard but. There’s an inflection point here, right? We can come together and find a better way of doing this and I felt like the all the ingredients existed in Madison to do so, so it’s interesting.

I given all that context what came up in those first.

Few months when I was on the job was a desire for just Direction and coherence right? There. Was this feeling that the district at that point in time, which is a point of I think some chaos, right? There’s another chaotic period of. Not knowing what direction to go in knowing that we were facing challenges but not knowing how to move forward everyone just needed and wanted desperately some direction, right and some coherence around the strategies that were being put into play. So I took that and ran with it and I think over these last five or six years we’ve accomplished that meaning we have real Direction. I still get regularly criticized for doing too much. Lunch, right that’s different from not having Direction. It’s hard to do when there’s so many things to do to have I’m sure I desire to fix not everything at once and yet you have to move all the balls forward a little bit at a time. I think that’s true. So my challenge has always been well. Okay, we are going to have to do a lot because there’s urgency right and there are children who need us to make progress now. So I can’t narrow the focus too much. But at least I can make sure that what we’re doing is coherent right that it all holds together and is leading us in a Direction that’s addressing the real problems that we face not the fake problems.

But the real ones and again, I think we’ve accomplished that I really wanted for us to adopt some more discipline ways of working. I wanted us out of the gate to invest in school leadership. Team School Improvement planning data use I just wanted us to be a more discipline organization sense of structure. God have structured of systems and structures and shared leadership structures. That would help the people who work most closely with children. To be empowered to make the best possible decisions. I remember I remember that. Yeah, I remember when you moved here. Yeah. I have a 7th grader so high had just gotten to know. Ms. And Madison Public Schools, right? I was an observer on some level before before you became our superintendent and I and I remember having a conversation with Marj Passman is a mentor and good friend of mine who was a mentor member of the Madison School Board.

Yeah, but I’m talking about how my daughter’s first grade class wasn’t learning the same thing. Add another first grade class across town in still in Madison because that wasn’t the structure that we had and that on some level. There was a lot of teacher freedom, but on another level kids you you couldn’t switch schools and expect to be able to have the same curriculum and you would either be Advanced or behind depending on where you go. Just because you move departments across the city.

Well, that’s an excellent point. It’s not like that anymore. No, and so in addition to creating more discipline in the ways we make decisions and how we measure success and learn from. Our failures and make improvement over time. We insisted on more instructional coherence. So let’s get clear on what we think great teaching looks like in the classroom. Let’s get clear on.

The standards right that we have to teach especially in literacy and Mathematics that has been the major Focus for these past five six years and and we insisted on on teachers not working in isolation, but working in teams, right? So there was a big investment and not just. As a learning community understand how we teach. But knowing a little bit more about what we all need to teach and how we how we need to work together as teams to continually reflect on the effectiveness of our practice. So teachers coming together on a regular basis to talk about what we taught last week. What do we learn from it? Which kids are getting it who isn’t what does that mean for what we’re going to do next week, right? And that sounds simple but it is just essential. I mean that is the core of what. All districts do and I could see if I feel like every time you start a new initiative or change things up. Not you specifically but everyone in general. Yeah, you almost have to go all in okay. This is what we’re doing. And then once you master it, you can pull back out so I could see a lot of challenges and difficulties of teachers that were fabulous teachers. Oh, yeah that. More of course. They taught our kids, of course, they were fabulous qualified teachers, but they weren’t as interested in making sure that their first grader was doing the same as another first grader was doing they had love and nurturing and. They wanted to inspire this these students to love education and not that they have to be I can’t think of the right word come combative with each other but there were definitely teachers that thrived because of the free form that we allowed and here you are now adding adding a structure to it.

Where do you think we are in the process? Do you think there’s a point where we can say? Okay, you’ve mastered the structured and now we can pull back out.

Yeah. Oh my God, that’s such a good question. I think that both the discipline ways of working that I described first. And this work that we’ve done around instructional coherence was. For a while and for some felt really constraining write your point and it would for great principals who felt like they had a leadership structure that was working or you know, like they were principals who were feeling those constraints to and certainly teachers and I’ve talked with enough teachers to know for a fact that that is absolutely true, but I think. Foot I buy what I’ve always believed was that it was a step in the process, right? Which is I think is your point but that’s not the end goal. The end goal is something more important the end goal for those discipline ways of working at the school and District level, especially at the school level related to sit planning. We’re so that at this stage we could even further Empower schools right to make their own decisions because now sit planning, I don’t know.

I’m so. Sorry something and I will Improvement planning which is kind of disciplined way of working. We’ve adopted at the school level for decision making okay and school-level focus areas. We want now that those disciplined ways of working are pretty embedded. Like they’re part of our culture and our way of working. We can actually further Empower schools to do what they think is right for their school Community right and in collaboration with. Our students their staff their their families. We the new strategic framework kind of lays out a strategy for further empowerment of schools. Same thing for the classroom experience. Now that we have more coherence right instructionally as a system. I do think that now we’re at the stage where what we can and should be thinking about is how to ensure that those the teachers have the freedom they need. To ensure that those are not just nurturing environments that build community which is essential but that there’s deep and Rich learning happening in the classroom. Right? It’s not standards alignment isn’t enough. It’s got to be instruction that’s meaningful to the children who are in the classroom, right? It’s got to be content where students can see. Themselves represented in the curriculum I so that they can understand the world around them and interrogate it. Like I just think that we’re at poised to bring instruction to another level and Madison without losing the coherence that we’ve created right we can Empower schools to make decisions for their communities without losing those discipline ways of working that we think are essential this essay about Madison when you inherited it that it really. Didn’t have this structure.

It really was a city that you know again, I’ve only been here for I’ve been here for how long have I been here at around 20 years now. I don’t know some so I certainly don’t know the history of this of the city, but I know the gentleman before you were white men that perhaps didn’t mind that. School a was completely different than school be they didn’t think about the academics because that wasn’t they weren’t I don’t I don’t want to slam these gentlemen at all, but for some reason that wasn’t Madison’s priority, I was sort of surprising. There’s a whole lot to unpack there as their Carousel. But so I don’t know. I know all I know is what I’ve experienced and. Not just me, but the people who have led in Madison the teacher leaders who are on their school based leadership teams, the principles the senior team of Madison. We are hardcore Educators right who have put the educational experience at the center right that the theory that we have adopted for change has been. Guest on improving the experience that students have. With their teachers around content that’s worth learning, right that is that is the hard slog of school Improvement, right?

Yeah, we’re talking with dr. Jennifer Cheatham superintendent of Madison Public Schools. We’d love your questions or comments, please join the conversation the phone call. The phone number is area code 6082562001. You can also send us a tweet at wort talk or a message on our Facebook page. Our page is a public Affair 89.9 FM Madison.

So Jen. Let’s talk about race. Okay, and it seems the intersect with everything that we do big picture is I sir our president is racist. I think our I think our country is racist. It is Madison racist. Yeah. Yeah, I think every individual. I think I’m reason I live in Wisconsin. I live in Wisconsin. I live in the United States.

I’m racist I am to I’m married to a black man and I’m a bi-racial son and I’m racist it is I’ve gotten myself into so much trouble for saying those words Carousel. Really? Yeah, I think you know, it’s funny. I’ve I love saying those words, but that’s a conversation. We were talking about at the beginning. Can we at least. Are there less admit it right? I think I out of all of the challenges that I’ve experienced in Madison being able to lead. For racial Equity to try to be an increasingly anti-racist leader, which means doing my own work, right? It means doing my own inside-out work simultaneously alongside everyone else who’s an educator Madison has that has been the most challenging aspect of this work and the most fulfilling in some ways right the most important the most powerful and the most. Anjing. Yeah. That’s sort of break break it down in so many pieces. Does this fit in with the conversation about the behavior education plan. It does because of The Bravery you say suspend and expel students of color at a tremendously High rate. I didn’t I didn’t pull up the numbers from six years ago. I’m happy I didn’t because I don’t we don’t need the numbers in front of us for you and I. To admit the things that we’ve already admitted and then Along Came the behavior education plan. That was really a challenging new way to look at things. Yeah. Yeah, I think let me let me I want to zoom out before we Zoom back into this because I do think it’s a great example of this work in action. I think in my first five years. We certainly were leading for racial equity and the main approach we were taking was to let me think a couple things. We were we were certainly talking a lot about. What it means for all of us to be culturally responsive Educators, right? How do we build relationships with students of color especially in a district where most of us most educators are white and white females like me and at the central office of the district level. We were very interested in both investing resources and tackling the. Institutional barriers that stood in the way of success for students of color and their families, right? So we’ve been all along, you know working on addressing those systems and structures, you know, we rewrote our strategic framework.

A couple years ago now launched it a year ago and the fall and tried. We thought we were ready and I think we were to take it a whole to a whole nother level and be even more explicit in that commitment. Right? We use the word anti-racism right that we are as Educators obligated to be actively anti-racist. You intentionally had a piece that talked about black Excellence. Yeah. We are focusing on our black. It’s to rise them up. And even though I think there has been criticism from the community of black Excellence. Let’s see it. But that’s the whole point. You’re at least you’re putting it out there. If you never put it out there. I can’t hold herself becoming an old accountable. That’s hey and he can’t measure. Your failure is it’s so the community that wants to tell us were failing. At least we’re saying you’re eight.

We said black excellence and we’re not meeting it at all.

No doubt and both of these simple things are different but half have to happen simultaneously, right? You have to lead for black Excellence, which is I mean, what what what is implied? I hope in those words is that. That black students are already excellent, right and that it is our job to yeah to cultivate that excellence and that we have an obligation simultaneously while we’re cultivating black Excellence to recognize and dismantle. Racism in all of its forms and we’re Educators who were held to a higher standard. This is a really big deal. I think for me the that work that we launched last year. What I wish I would have done better was to kind of preview for everybody what it might feel like. Right that we would feel excited and motivated by the commitment. And then when we started actually doing more of the work and holding ourselves accountable for it every time not just sometimes. That it would create a feeling of like not knowing of disequilibrium. I’m not sure being sure about your next step what I think it’s produced a lot in Madison right now is this feeling of. Of who’s the guy on the good side and who’s on the bad side? Right like yeah, which is really lines are very drawn the very drawn it’s fine because it is a step in the process. We just can’t stay there. Right? Like what we need to do as a community is a okay. Hi, this is this is natural feeling right when you’re faced with our own right racism the racism of the institution that we work for right? Like I have this ambivalent relationship with any school district.

I love it because I’m rooting for it and I hate it because it was. Kind of born out of out of racist ideal too many it right and that’s the rest the whole concept of institutional process what it is, you’re fulfilling your actual intentional institutional design, right which leads to racism. So it is natural to go through this feeling of disequilibrium to worry that you’re not on the good side, right and. And if we stay there things we may actually we will suffer as a result. We have to pull together and how that dialogue that we were talking about earlier in the show. Like we have to not let people leave the table but bring them back in and loving and compassionate ways. I actually think that Madison and the school district. Which is a kind of at the center of Madison will be stronger as a result of this dialogue, right? We’re going to get through it and we are going to be better the hope of the future. Yeah. I have no question about it because there is a movement underway in Madison not just in the school district. I mean our educators are phenomenal people who get it in our working heart to do this Inside Out work. And make our institution a better Institution for every child. I have no doubt but we have to stop pitting ourselves against one another right we have to stop looking for someone to blame and just accept that this is our reality right? It’s not just ours is that affects it? Yeah, and and where the people who are in these seats now right where the. Were the people do or learn leaders leaders do it?

Yeah, we have a question that came in Jen had a question on Facebook. Thank you Jenn for contributing to the conversation and using Facebook. Excellent. It does get related over to me. Ye success technology. She wanted to ask you dr. Cheatham to talk about what carrot parents can do. I almost had carrots. I guess I don’t know why maybe I’m hungry. Okay start over Jen wants to know what parents can do to. Push the school’s forward and to work on race and Equity issues. Oh, excellent. And I also I’m going to put my own little spin on me before of I think they’re different conversations versus white parents parents of color. I know that there’s so much intentional effort and we can talk about the successes there of getting families and communities involved. But we also live in a time where when people say where are the parents which I hear all the time. My answer is I don’t know working three jobs trying to knock it evicted. Taking the bus that doesn’t actually get them to where they’re going. They are just hoping that their kid is safe at school. They don’t have time to meet with the teacher because they don’t have enough time and money. To fight being evicted which is what they’re working on and then those are not I don’t think that’s anecdotal as a tenant rights attorney. I think those are very real lives of many many people. Absolutely. Sorry Jen. I co-opted your question there, but can you help us understand the complexity of wanting parents involved needing parents involved and also acknowledging that parents have. Overwhelming things of basic needs on their plate. Yeah, I parent partnership has been a steady Focus for us as well. I mean it was one of the major priorities in our initial strategic framework.

Shout out to Nichelle Nichols who’s been rocking it in that role. Yeah, one of the greatest thing Madison she is amazing and in our whole Focus there has been on. Parents as partners right as full Partners in the educational process. We have always felt that parents don’t need to be present in the traditional ways, which is what you are kind of getting at a minute ago Carousel to be our partners, but they need great communication. They need to know what’s happening with their child at school so that they can play a part in the ways that they that are possible for them. Meaning sometimes the most important thing a parent can do is just to check in with their kid right to talk about it to encourage them, right? You don’t have to come to the PTO or PTA meeting it on their math tests to say. Hey, how’s school going? Did you do feel safe and I’ll be there? How you challenged? I love you. I know you’re smart. Right? It’s right. Yeah, no question. Every parent of course does every that’s what every loving parent loving parent does absolutely they have a free five minutes at the end of the day, sometimes they don’t all kinds of ways to be partners with teachers and all the I’ve talked to a lot of parents over the years and I’ll tell you that relationship between the parent and the teacher is the one that’s most important to most parents, right? That’s a relationship. They want to have be really strong. I think to the Facebook question. Yes, what I’m reading into that is how beyond the typical parent partnership can parents be involved especially around this work on race and equity and I am and I would encourage. Especially the white parents and Madison to think very carefully about and deeply about this question. How do. White parents, especially parents of privilege unintentionally kind of hold up the systems and structures that need to be disassembled of every child is going to be successful the the wrong idea as a white parent and I live I’m a white parent in a predominantly white neighborhood in a predominantly white school that. We don’t have to talk about racism right don’t talk about it. We’re not racist. So we don’t talk about race, which is actually the wrong response when we live in a racist world, right? Yeah, I mean students need to talk about it, right they need to make sense out of this world around them, especially if they’re going to make it a better place. I think that’s essential but I think I’ve seen some leaders especially PTO and PTA leaders really lead this conversation while over.

Last couple of years I’ve seen PTO and PTA leaders introducing book clubs to read. I like books like Robyn D’Angelo is white fragility right among parents to better understand why they’re having some of the responses that they’re having to our efforts to address racial Equity had on. I mean, I would encourage. Parents be thinking about that. What inside out work do they need to do right? It’s not about what we do in the big ways necessarily the big initiatives. It’s what we do in the small ways our one-on-one conversations with our fellow parents, right how we challenge one another. I think that’s really important. And do you see those changes?

There’s so much to talk about we only had I known manage which is crazy. But do you see these changes? I do happening in Madison by the conversations of of and I think that’s the natural Progressive is to start with anger what we’re not racist. What are you talking about? My kid got a great education. I love Madison schools. Are you attacking Madison School? Yeah, we need to protect our schools, too. Sort of okay. Well, actually here’s a conversation. I just gave a here’s my tangent on this. I just gave a presentation on Criminal Justice Reform to Jewish Social Services and part of a tiny piece of my talk was about police in schools, uh-huh a tiny piece and it was just acknowledging. The school-to-prison pipeline and hey, here’s the percentage of African-American students that get tickets when their police are in our schools and all of a sudden people go. Oh, that’s why you’re mad about police and schools and that people in that room actually said that to me they were ready to say we don’t need police in schools, you know, but at least there was a moment of understanding that hadn’t trickled down to them of why would people only criminals are afraid of the police kind of thing. And I think that’s what you’re getting at. Is that do you see those conversations happening? I do I mean I again, I think there is a powerful.

An exciting movement underway in Madison that more and more people not just our Educators, but madisonians are are getting into this dialogue with one another right in the small moments and in the big ones and I think that bodes well for the future of Madison, we justwe you can’t step out of it. We can’t pity each other or people against one another even the police in schools issue. I mean, it’s such a good example care. Well, I think that bye. Criticizing and raising serious questions about the issue shouldn’t be misread as as being anti-police, but it always ends up sounding that way right and there might be people on that position that are anti-police but that’s not the core of what they’re saying and you and you use the excuse of anti-police to stop listening you what they’re saying. You got it. It’s a really. Easy way to shut down the conversation and what I want us all is to stay in it together, right? Let’s not shut down the conversation. Let’s figure out what is the real problem that we are trying to solve and if we can do that we’re going to be okay and you feel like we’re moving so back to Madison schools were what talk to us about some of the programs and the initiatives that you feel are moving us.

Especially there was a collar and then he got disconnected sorry about that Dan. He had a question about the achievement Gap and I don’t know the details of what his question was but moving forward with how do we raise, you know? Address the racial Equity that exists. Yeah. Well, I think that’s what this new strategic framework is all about. I’m very hopeful board I think is very supportive of continuing to move in this direction and I would hope would find a future leader who’s capable of leading this work. But but yeah, I think we’re poised for really really powerful things what needs to happen to end racial disparities in Madison schools. Oh gosh, I mean this not any one thing right? I mean I think the center of it if I had to pick one thing Carousel it would be to for everything that we do to be ultimately aimed at. Seeing each other’s Humanity it does that sound too fluffy. That’s what we need to do. Right everything. We do the way we. Organized schools right through the school Improvement planning process and our decisions about instructional design if we made all those decisions to make sure that you experience a school day and I deeply humane way right where your sauce seen as a human being that’s seeing the teacher as a full, you know, human beings seeing every student in their full Humanity every parent. I mean, it’s interesting right like what if that were the design principle for every. Fission we made moving forward. What does that look like? They’re I know that there’s conversations about schools have become too academic Focus sometimes.

Yeah, and I don’t know how you deal with this you get it from both directions. We’re not meeting. Our academic needs were not academic focused at all. And we’re to academic Focus can my kid please take a dance class and a Ceramics class and something that makes them feel like a beautiful person. I think that the. Energies, I’m going to make some assumptions about what the caller called about the strategies that have been put into play over the last 20 years to quote unquote close the achievement Gap that term drives me absolutely crazy, by the way.

Why because what we’re talking about is racism. We’re not talking about achievement Gap. Yeah. I don’t think it’s actually describing the actual problem that we’re trying to solve. But I think that the strategies that have been put into play which have been largely about. I being more prescriptive on academics how we teach literacy? How do we teach math about intervention? So giving double and triple doses of literacy and math if it’s a student is struggling. I think that those strategies I mean we need to teach literacy and math. Well, I mean don’t get me wrong. That’s what I wanted to see. I don’t want anyone to misinterpret me here, but the the intense focus on only that has actually I think set us backwards and not. Pushed us forward. I think that if we had and this is where the district is going now building on the coherence that we’ve created if districts were more focused on deep and Rich learning experiences for students if imagine young black students saw themselves in their curriculum right from day one if they were getting access to. Historically accurate depiction right of the world in which they live if they were. How do I say this if they were consistently seen as fully human? Riot too many black students in this country are not are dehumanized on a regular basis. I think we would see those results change much much faster.

So the next level of work in Madison is all about that empowering everyone in a school Community to create a holistic instructional experience investing in teachers as culturally responsive teachers who are actively anti-racist ensuring that The Learning Experience offers one that is deep and Rich right and relevant to the students who attend our schools. I mean that work is already underway in Madison and I feel like that is the key to transformation. So all of these things sound wonderful. I know they cost money.

Yeah, let’s talk about money. Let’s talk about that, Wisconsin the United States but Wisconsin award-winning, Wisconsin, we do not fund our Public Schools know and one of the. From my perspective from what I’ve seen as a parent and someone that cares about these issues from the behavioral education plan for example was that there weren’t enough support for teachers and in our schools because we don’t have enough money to hire. A dozen social workers in every school. I mean people always talk about let’s get it our knees. I want to have social workers sitting around doing nothing because we have we’ve hired so many of them. I mean I dream of that of a school just overflowing with abundance of people ready at any moment, but that is a complete fantasy that is not based in any reality of how we fund schools in Wisconsin.

Yeah. I agree entirely. I mean the scarcity model of it. I don’t know. I’ve been an educator for over 20 years and sometimes you’ve been living in scarcity and for me working and scarcity for so long. You forget what? What’s possible Right like you you might accept it as the me accepted as the norm. I know it’s terrible and we shouldn’t accept it as the norm. I I was thrilled when Tony Evers got elected. I will not I’m not shy about saying that. And I cares about public education. He sure does he gets it. I think the proposal that he put forward was really inspired and inspiring and not and not Fantasyland. I mean he was trying to lay out for all of us. A picture of what it actually looks like to fund education public education appropriately. I was happy to see that we got a little bit of bump in per-pupil aid for next year, which is great. It’s still not enough. No, the problem is is that right if my daughter’s don’t get things in their school. My daughters have piano lesson. My daughter has, you know dance classes among our neighbors daughter has.

My math tutor all of these things that if you can’t get it at school people with money can help supplement our are excellent schools that are starved to death. We can I can supplement it but if that cost thousands of dollars a year that which what I do, so ultimately the disparities get bigger that we get it right they get worse. I think that’s exactly right Carousel. I. I mean, I’m not giving up on what governor eavers is trying to accomplish and I don’t think anyone should we should be funding full day for K in the state of Wisconsin? I mean that is an absolute must we should be funding reimbursement for special ed services. That is an absolute must. Yeah, and we we should be fully funding services for English language Learners, which is not happening. Now. I mean the list goes on and on and on I’ll tell you we make we we do a lot with very little but yeah our kids and our teachers and our parents deserve much more. There’s no doubt about that. What do you what do you hope to see in the next superintendent? What is what is your you know, the team comes together. You don’t really give a saying I don’t the TV were part of got something in it.

You know, what do you think are? The school board should be looking at when they choose. Hopefully they have many qualified applicants to choose from but everyone brings their own unique strengths and weaknesses to the table. One of the strengths you think they should be looking for. Well, I mean this superintendent. We’ll be starting from a fairly strong Foundation. Right? I mean, they’re not going on say so yourself. Yeah, I mean, they’re not going to have to redo their HR systems the budget despite the challenges we just described is. This salad we have got is a lot to work from there. So I’m part of what I just I hope is that they’re looking for someone who can lead this kind of next level of work, right? And that’s got to be someone who has a. Fairly robust vision and deep understanding of the kind of transformational change that we’re trying to make now and we’re trying to make changes in instructional design that are.

That are truly transformed of the Community Schools model, right that is a different way of doing school Pathways at the high school level that’s a different way of doing school. There’s pushback and all of them. Yeah. I’m scared of Pathways and it’s gonna be amazing. Good good. I’m scared of what West High School looks like when my kids get their will because it is a different instructor design, right? I mean, it’s weird. This is a longer conversation, but when you’re trying to change. The way schooling looks and feels for students so that they so that they’re actually thriving in school and truly prepared for post-secondary and I would hope that we would get a leader who can lead that transformational effort. I do think the district and the school board should be looking for someone who can continue to keep racial Equity at the center. I think there are many enough education leaders and superintendents who cannot just talk that talk but but walk it so I’m hopeful that they’ll look for for somebody who can continue that work as well.

Yeah, and I think the last thing I would say is there are a lot of leaders out there who. Don’t understand teaching. This is maybe what you were getting to and you talked about my predecessors a little bit but there but I would hope that they’re looking for someone who has really strong instructional leadership skills. Right who really has a mission to feels like to be in the last past. I think it’s really important. I had always wished that I could have taken a week every year and gotten back into a classroom and co-taught with a teacher. I was never able to quite pull it off. I hope that the next superintendent right to say really grounded for my work that teachers do what is happening. That’s right. That’s right.

And do you think. I know the school board has talked about for referendum, ‘s do you think those are things that we should be moving forward both. I know there’s conversation about building referendums and operational referendum. They’ve been supported in Madison. I’m hopeful I would hope that our school district if they think that’s the right thing to do would go for it. I would hope so. I mean, I we’ve been working on that long range facilities plan for years and we didn’t even talk about some of the other things that we’ve done is we’ve made some facilities improvements already. But but the plan that is shaping up on facilities, which would lead with the for comprehensive high schools the Alternative High School Capital High and address. South Madison some major gaps in learning at the elementary level. I think the package up will Shape Up is going to be powerful. Yeah, and I both the school board and the new superintendent I think needs to leave that work forward, you know, the buildings that we have our old 50 years on average. We need to take good care of them and our students deserve to learn in you know, in spaces that reflect our r value of them that are inspiring. Yeah, that’s about deep learning to. Wonderful to have you want to wish you great success as you move on to your next Adventures, but you’re you’re still here for a couple more weeks.

Oh, yeah Bennett you have I’m thrilled them transition to transition to Jane Bell more as the interim as you know, and will she serve. The goal of the setup is she’ll serve for the duration of the next school year. Yeah. Yeah, uh-huh. That’s right. And she starts August first. She was the interim when I started. So transition with her in those first months with this job she sure is and it’s been a pleasure to transition with her. I think the district will be good and very good hands with Jay next year. Thanks Carousel. Well, that’s that’s good. Maybe well, I’ll put a bug in Jane’s ear and get her on the show to talk about. I’ve been the challenges of being a leader that isn’t a permanent leader. That’s a whole new world of it, but. When do you you head off to Boston? You still have a bit a couple more weeks other anything left that you’re really focusing on that you that you hope to work on in the next few weeks. Well the next couple of weeks. I’m getting the senior team with Jane set for next year. We want to make sure that the group is ready to rock and roll. The big kickoff of the Year happens in the second week of August meaning there are big Leadership Institute, which is really the signal but the school year is starting welcoming back teachers and starting with the administrators and the leadership teams which includes teachers and then a couple weeks later all the teachers. So we’re working on making sure that that welcome back plan is strong that the team is ready to rock and roll. And they will be it said there’s a strong team here in Madison.

I’m leaving but the team that is here both the principles of leadership teams at the school level and at the district level is a very I don’t know. I mean, they’re an impressive group to say the least. So Madison’s in good hands wonderful. Well again, thank you so much. Dr. Jennifer Cheatham Jen Cheatham Madison superintendent for. Six plus years. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for facing the challenges and. And the criticism and the successes and all of that and we wish you great success in Boston things Carousel. Thanks everyone for listening today exciting news. I’m actually filling in for Ali show tomorrow. So you’re going to hear me go get you to my fabulous voice. It’s coming back tomorrow, but thank you to Tim for engineering Michelle for producing. I think Anita and Joe have been working on the phones. Thanks everyone for your great work. Have a great day. Bye.

2013: What will be different, this time? The Jennifer Cheatham Madison experience – 2019.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts ($18.5 to 20K/student, depending on the District documents). Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Momentum Isn’t Magic—Vindicating the Hot Hand with the Mathematics of Streaks

Joshua Miller, Adam Sanjurjo:

In the landmark 1985 paper “The hot hand in basketball: On the misperception of random sequences,” psychologists Thomas Gilovich, Robert Vallone and Amos Tversky (GVT, for short) found that when studying basketball shooting data, the sequences of makes and misses are indistinguishable from the sequences of heads and tails one would expect to see from flipping a coin repeatedly.

Just as a gambler will get an occasional streak when flipping a coin, a basketball player will produce an occasional streak when shooting the ball. GVT concluded that the hot hand is a “cognitive illusion”; people’s tendency to detect patterns in randomness, to see perfectly typical streaks as atypical, led them to believe in an illusory hot hand.

It’s time to admit Diane Ravitch’s troubled crusade derails honest debate about public education

Citizen Stewart:

Ravitch, by contrast, has fallen irreparably into polemics so much that her daily blogs put her in league with Alex Jones’ made-for-YouTube Info Wars.

Along those lines, her blog-fart today ties “the charter industry” to the “infamous pedophile and “super-rich” Jeffrey Epstein.

“In 2013, his foundation issued a press release announcing that he looked forward to the dominance of charter schools in Washington, D.C. and predicted that they would succeed because they were unregulated,” she crows.

Then she offers crude analysis of why people like Epstein would want to privatize schools in D.C.:

People often ask me, “Why do the super-rich cluster to the cause of privatization?” The Answer is not simple because many different motives are at work. Some see giving to charters as a charitable endeavor, and their friends assure them that they are “giving back,” helping poor children escape poverty. Others want to impress their friends in their social strata, their colleagues in the world of high finance. Being a supporter of charter schools is like belonging to the right clubs, going to the right parties, sharing a cause with other very rich people.

If you are reading this you probably know that Ravitch was once a charter school supporter, and that makes it fair to ask which camp of nincompoops she fell into?

Did she see charters as a “charitable endeavor,” or was charter support her attempt to “impress [her] friends in [her] social strata, [and her] colleagues in the world of high finance.”

Only she can say, but as an established scholar of education history (and a player in policy) it’s doubtful her support was so in want of a factual basis.

Why soil is disappearing from farms

Richard Gray:

In Iowa they call it “black gold” – a fertile blanket covering the landlocked Midwestern state. Thousands of years of prairie grass growth, death and decomposition have left a thick layer of dark, organic matter on the vast plains.
When European-American settlers first began ploughing in Iowa, they found the weather and local geology had combined this organic mulch with sand and silt to form a nutrient-rich type of soil called loam. It gave Iowa one of the most fertile soils on the planet and enabled it to become one of the largest producers of corn, soybeans and oats in the United States over the last 160 or so years.
But beneath the feet of Iowa’s farmers, a crisis is unfolding. The average topsoil depth in Iowa decreased from around 14-18 inches (35-45cm) at the start of the 20th Century to 6-8 inches (15-20cm) by its end. Relentless tilling and disturbance from farm vehicles have allowed wind and water to whisk away this priceless resource.

German schools ban Microsoft Office 365 amid privacy concerns

Ravie Lakshmanan:

The heart of the issue concerns the telemetry information sent by Windows 10 operating system and the company’s cloud solution back to the US.

This information can include anything from regular software diagnostic data to user content from Office applications, such as email subject lines and sentences from documents where the company’s translation or spellchecker tools were used.

Collection of such information is a violation of GDPR laws that came into effect last May.

While Microsoft previously provided a version of these applications that stored such information in a German data center, the ruling noted that Microsoft shut down the location as of August 2018 — meaning, the telemetry data was once again being transmitted to US data centers, potentially giving US officials the rights to access it.

Pointing out that the use of cloud applications in itself is not the problem as long as pupils’ consent and the security of the data processing is guaranteed, HBDI’s Michael Ronellenfitsch raised concerns about whether schools can store personal data of children in the cloud.

But since school children cannot provide consent by themselves, the data processing is illegal under GDPR law.

“Public institutions in Germany have a special responsibility regarding the admissibility and traceability of the processing of personal data,” Ronellenfitsch said.

European concerns about data transmitted to the US are not new. In a bid to control its digital sovereignty, France launched its own secure government-only chat app called Tchap earlier this April to prevent officials from using WhatsApp. Even India is said to be exploring something along similar lines.

Ronellenfitsch said the ruling applied to Google and Apple, stating their cloud solutions haven’t been fully transparent either.

Notes from Peter Thiel’s speech at the National Conservatism conference on July 14, 2019

Bonnie Kavoussi:

The lies we should worry about the most are the ones that are so big that no one calls them out.
Michelle Obama lied that there are thousands of good universities and it doesn’t matter where you go — but then she sent her daughter to Harvard. I would have been disturbed if she had sent her daughter to the 1,000th-ranked school instead of a place like Harvard, so it shows that she doesn’t believe that lie herself.
Barack Obama said that just because it’s not a name-brand, fancy school, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to get a great education, but this was actually a double-lie. An education at a low-ranked school is a dunce hat in disguise, and you are not necessarily going to get a great education at a high-ranked school.
The other side deals in these abstractions like “free trade.” We need to disentangle them.
There is the fraud of university education. Student loan debt is not dischargable in bankruptcy. The government can garnish your Social Security payments when you’re 65 to pay off your student loans. I’m very optimistic that this fraud is finally coming to an end.
We should always attack at the strongest point. The universities’ strongest point was how strong their STEM is at Harvard, Stanford, and Yale. But science is technology’s older brother who has fallen on hard times. It is in much worse shape than technological innovation. The only two scientific or technical fields it has made sense to study are computer science or petroleum engineering.

Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture

Yascha Mounk:

On social media, the country seems to divide into two neat camps: Call them the woke and the resentful. Team Resentment is manned—pun very much intended—by people who are predominantly old and almost exclusively white. Team Woke is young, likely to be female, and predominantly black, brown, or Asian (though white “allies” do their dutiful part). These teams are roughly equal in number, and they disagree most vehemently, as well as most routinely, about the catchall known as political correctness.

Reality is nothing like this. As scholars Stephen Hawkins, Daniel Yudkin, Miriam Juan-Torres, and Tim Dixon argue in a report, “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape,” most Americans don’t fit into either of these camps. They also share more common ground than the daily fights on social media might suggest—including a general aversion to PC culture.

The study was written by More in Common, an organization founded in memory of Jo Cox, the British MP who was murdered in the run-up to the Brexit referendum. It is based on a nationally representative poll with 8,000 respondents, 30 one-hour interviews, and six focus groups conducted from December 2017 to September 2018.

If you look at what Americans have to say on issues such as immigration, the extent of white privilege, and the prevalence of sexual harassment, the authors argue, seven distinct clusters emerge: progressive activists, traditional liberals, passive liberals, the politically disengaged, moderates, traditional conservatives, and devoted conservatives.


Civics: Scaling Wokeback Mountain

Maureen Dowd:

Chakrabarti sent shock waves through the Democratic caucus when he posted a tweet about the border bill comparing moderate and Blue Dog Democrats — some of whom are black — to Southern segregationists in the ’40s.

Rahm Emanuel told me Chakrabarti is “a snot-nosed punk” who has no idea about the battle scars Pelosi bears from the liberal fights she has led.

“What votes did you get?” Emanuel said, rhetorically challenging A.O.C.’s chief of staff. “You should only be so lucky to learn from somebody like Nancy who has shown incredible courage and who has twice returned the Democratic Party to power.

“We fought for years to create the majorities to get a Democratic president elected and re-elected, and they’re going to dither it away. They have not decided what’s more important: Do they want to beat Trump or do they want to clear the moderate and centrists out of the party? You really think weakening the speaker is the right strategy to try to get rid of Donald Trump and everything he stands for?”

Civics: Can Unelected Officials Rewrite Federal Law? This Supreme Court Case Will Tell Us

Sarah Kramer:

To that end, Tom does everything necessary to make sure the people that Harris Funeral Homes serves feel welcome. He sweeps the floors, plants flowers, shovels snow, and changes lightbulbs. Many times he will be the one to open the door and greet you with a smile as you walk into the funeral home.

Tom also follows up with each customer, calling to ask how they are doing and if he can help them in any way. And he really means it. At one point, a widow confided in Tom that she had no way to get to the grocery store. Tom promptly sent one of his employees to buy her groceries.

Tom is also continually looking for ways to improve the business and provide the best service possible. This includes everything from the smallest details, such as leaving a rose when a body is removed, to offering a grief counseling program for those who need it. Harris Funeral Homes also hosts an angel tree service every Christmas to honor those who died in the past year – which many families attend.

This level of service is what sets Harris Funeral Homes apart.

In 2011, Harris Funeral Homes was recognized by Preferred Funeral Directors International with the Parker Award for exemplary service. And in 2016, the Harris location in Livonia, Michigan was recognized as the best hometown funeral home in the local newspaper.

The Wisconsin DPI has waived thousands of elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirements. This despite our long term, disastrous reading results.

Why I cringe when someone tells me my child is smart.

Jun Wu:

I come from a “tiger” family. You know the Asian family that worshipped “science” and not god. The one where “grades” is paramount. The one that demands “success” above all. The one that supposedly endowed me with extra genetic gifts that I must live up to.

The idea of the Silicon Valley parent is not new to me. In fact, I was on the verge of becoming one myself as it used to be the only way I knew how to parent.

As an adult, I didn’t really know the definition of anxiety. I didn’t know intrinsically what it felt like. One day, when someone finally described the feeling to me: racing heart, shortness of breath, a pit in my stomach, I realized that I’ve always just lived with this feeling from a very young age. I learned to cope by suppressing this feeling.

As a little girl, I knew fear, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and anger well. Those emotions are more familiar to me than happiness. Those emotions are the ones that I have clung to all my life. Those emotions are familiar. I seek these emotions with a vengeance when I have a negative mindset. It is when I hurt myself with my masochistic tendencies.

Studies Shoot Down Tech’s Harmful Effects on Kids—So Now What?

Jordan Shapiro:

Przybylski and Weinstein’s study—based on data collected from a representative sample of 19,957 parents who reported on their children’s levels of attachment, resilience (or bouncing back quickly from adversity), curiosity, and positive affect—found that young people who engaged in less than the AAP’s recommended limits showed “slightly higher levels of resilience but lower levels of positive affect compared to those who did not.” These differences became insignificant once the authors considered contextual factors like ethnicity, household income, and caregiver’s education level. Surprisingly, they also found “extremely small positive effects” that correlated with digital engagement at a level much higher (“up to 7/hr for both television and computer-based media”) than what’s commonly considered healthy.

That’s not all: A new study in Nature Human Behaviour, which looked at data from more than 350,000 adolescents, also found that digital tech use mattered little to kids’ well-being. The authors, Amy Orben and Przybylski, argue that prior research, which examined the impact of social media on teens and tweens, was based on weak correlations and insufficiently comprehensive methods, and therefore drew false conclusions. When they analyzed the same data, they found that “the association of well-being with regularly eating potatoes was nearly as negative as the association with technology use, and wearing glasses was more negatively associated with well-being.” To put a number on it: Digital tech use explains about 0.4 percent of the variation in well-being, the researchers write. “Taking the broader context of the data into account suggests that these effects are too small to warrant policy change.”

These results don’t suggest we should stop thinking about how to best raise kids to thrive in a connected world. Instead, it suggests we find a different, more useful way of discussing screen media. People usually talk about kids and technology from a medical perspective. We ask: Is it healthy or unhealthy? Even psychologists tend to use a diagnostic approach: Does social media exposure lead to anxiety or depression? Narcissism? Loneliness? Feelings of isolation?

Revealed: This Is Palantir’s Top-Secret User Manual for Cops

Caroline Haskins:

Palantir is one of the most significant and secretive companies in big data analysis. The company acts as an information management service for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, corporations like JP Morgan and Airbus, and dozens of other local, state, and federal agencies. It’s been described by scholars as a “secondary surveillance network,” since it extensively catalogs and maps interpersonal relationships between individuals, even those who aren’t suspected of a crime.

Palantir software is instrumental to the operations of ICE, which is planning one of the largest-ever targeted immigration enforcement raids this weekend on thousands of undocumented families. Activists argue raids of this scale would be impossible without software like Palantir. But few people outside the company and its customers know how its software works or what its specific capabilities and user interfaces are.

Through a public record request, Motherboard has obtained a user manual that gives unprecedented insight into Palantir Gotham (Palantir’s other services, Palantir Foundry, is an enterprise data platform), which is used by law enforcement agencies like the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. The NCRIC serves around 300 communities in northern California and is what is known as a “fusion center,” a Department of Homeland Security intelligence center that aggregates and investigates information from state, local, and federal agencies, as well as some private entities, into large databases that can be searched using software like Palantir.

Fusion centers have become a target of civil liberties groups in part because they collect and aggregate data from so many different public and private entities. The US Department of Justice’s Fusion Center Guidelines list the following as collection targets:

Disintermediating your friends

Michael Rosenfeld, Reuben Thomas and Sonia Hausen:

From the end of World War II until 2013, the most popular way heterosexual Americans met their romantic partners was through the intermediation of friends. One’s close friends and family have, probably since the beginning of time, been the essential network foci that enable connections to other people, i.e. the friends of one’s friends (Feld 1981). More distant ties have the potential to create a bridge to a new, previously unknown network of people and information (Granovetter 1973). Friends, the close and the not‐so‐close, have been historically a crucial source of connections to others. The rise of the Internet has allowed individuals in the dating market to disintermediate their friends, i.e. to meet romantic partners without the personal intermediation of their friends and family.

Rosenfeld and Thomas (2012) with data from 2009 showed that the percentage of heterosexual couples1 who met online had risen from 0% for couples who met before 1995 to about 22% for couples who met in 2009. In the 2009 data, Rosenfeld and Thomas showed that meeting online had grown but was still significantly behind friends as the most prevalent way heterosexual couples met. Furthermore, the 2009 data appeared to show that the rate of meeting online had plateaued for heterosexuals at around 22%. In this paper we present new data from a nationally representative 2017 survey showing that meeting online has continued to grow for heterosexual couples, and meeting through friends has continued its sharp decline. As a result of the continued rise of meeting online and the decline of meeting through friends, online has become the most popular way heterosexual couples in the U.S. meet.

It was not inevitable that the percentage of heterosexual couples who met online would have continued to grow beyond the previously documented 2005‐2009 plateau. Unlike gays and lesbians, heterosexuals can assume that most people they meet are heterosexuals also. Heterosexuals, because they constitute the large majority of adults, are usually in thick dating markets, where several potential partners are identifiable. The theorized advantage of face‐to‐face contact (Turkle 2015) could have limited the growth of online dating.

The traditional system of dating, mediated by friends and family, has long been theorized to be optimal for mate selection. The family system is historically predicated, in part, on catalyzing and promoting the most socially acceptable mating outcomes for the younger generation (Rosenfeld 2007). Meeting through friends and family provided guarantees that any potential partner had been personally vetted and vouched for by trusted alters. Classic work by Bott (1957) found that social closure had benefits in terms of relationship quality and duration.

Thirty Wisconsin students get crime-solving experience through FBI program

Talis Shelbourne:

FLEYA, which originated from New Haven, Conn., has three goals: improving the perception of law enforcement, providing a hands-on experience and illustrating the importance of agency cooperation.

The Milwaukee FBI division’s previous special-agent-in-charge, Justin Tolomeo, brought FLEYA to the city last year in a partnership with Marquette University. Once the program came to Milwaukee, Marquette Police Lt. Jill Weisensel wanted it to be “bigger and better.”

That meant creating the integrated case scenario, where students solve a crime from beginning to end.

On Monday, the students went through a presentation on handwriting analysis, received a 911 call and learned the case was an abduction from witnesses.

On Tuesday, students used a black light to see bodily fluids and a Hemastix to test potential blood evidence.

From Wednesday to Friday, Lee and the other students will attend briefings, go through a use-of-force simulator, tour the Milwaukee Police Department’s Academy on Teutonia Avenue and process evidence from the car.

Students go through a rigorous application process, which includes a GPA requirement, essay submission and panel interview with Marquette University and FBI personnel; at the end of the process, 15 male and 15 female students are chosen to participate.

Lee, who will be a junior at Sheboygan High School next year, said he hopes attending FLEYA will add to his existing law enforcement experience from the Sheboygan Police Explorers.

Civics: soccer verbot en on a soccer field

Emily Hamer:

Last spring, the city’s zoning department issued Edgewood notices of two ordinance violations for hosting games, including a girl’s soccer game. The notices came after zoning administrator Matt Tucker said the school’s master plan prohibits the school from hosting competitions on the field.

Elliott said the school has been continually holding football, soccer, ultimate Frisbee and other competitions on the field since 1927. But during Thursday’s five-hour board meeting, which drew some 170 people, neighbors complained that the number of games played on the field has increased tenfold since the field was upgraded in 2015.

The games have also drawn increased scrutiny after the school in 2017 proposed further upgrades to the facility — including increased seating, lights, a sound system and permanent bathrooms — that would have allowed the school’s varsity football team to play there.

Residents of the surrounding Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood organized against the changes, arguing they would create traffic, noise and environmental problems. School officials subsequently scaled back plans and haven’t made any further improvements.

Thursday’s decision hinged on wording in the school’s 2014 master plan that describes the intended use of the field as being for athletic practices and gym classes — without mentioning competitions.

More: Grand theft auto vs. girls’ soccer.

‘These kids are ticking time bombs’: The threat of youth basketball

Baxter Holmes:

“AND, AGAIN, I understand I shouldn’t use a broad brush to criticize the entire AAU system, because parts of it are excellent. But also parts of it are very broken, especially [as it] relates to injuries in the league. What we’re seeing is a rash of injuries among young players.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is standing before a lectern prior to Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals between the Warriors and Cavaliers. He’s upholding a Finals tradition for the commissioner to field questions on issues facing the league. The seventh question, at first, sounds boilerplate: It focuses on the NBA’s newly branded G League and whether Silver believes it might become a pipeline for NBA hopefuls to skip college. Silver says it’s an issue the league is looking into. But then he takes a detour and begins addressing something else: youth basketball and injuries — almost as if he has something he wants to get off his chest. “What our orthopedics are telling us,” Silver says, “is they’re seeing wear-and-tear issues in young players that they didn’t used to see until players were much older.”

What Silver could not have known was just how steeply injuries — and especially injuries to young players — would impact the NBA the very next season. In 2017-18, the number of NBA games lost to injury or illness surpassed the 5,000 mark for the first time since the league stopped using the injured reserve list prior to the 2005-06 campaign, per certified athletic trainer Jeff Stotts, who has cataloged the careers of more than 1,100 players since that point and is considered the most authoritative public resource for tracking injuries in the NBA. This past season, in 2018-19, the league topped the 5,000 mark again.

In 2017-18, players who had been named to multiple All-Star teams missed an average of 14.63 games due to injury, the second-highest such figure that Stotts had recorded. That figure jumped this past season to 17.02.

Civics: Fr. Jerzy Popieluzsko’s Long Road

Rod Dreher:

The district is so poor that when the priest, who was born just after the Second World War, had to study by candlelight, because there was no electricity. Pawel’s group met Father Jerzy’s brother, who still lives there, and is now an elderly man reluctant to receive pilgrims.

“The village is very ordinary – there’s nothing spiritual there,” said Pawel. “In the home where Father Jerzy lived, there’s one room that has been set apart as a kind of museum, but all the items there are under a thick veil of dust. By the wall is a small table, covered with a kind of plastic sheet. There was a small piece of paper with handwriting on it, written by Father Jerzy’s brother. It said, Every day near the table we were praying with our mother. There was a photo of that mother as an old, tired woman. On the other side of that piece of paper was a reliquary with Father Jerzy’s relics.”

“And that’s the answer,” Pawel concluded, speaking of both stories. “The whole strength of that man, and what we need today for our identity.”

What he meant was that Father Jerzy became a figure of enormous historical significance for the Polish nation and the Catholic Church – and indeed will soon be canonized – but it all started there in a dull village in the middle of nowhere, with a faithful family that prayed every day together.

Pawel said that when he leads tour groups of students through the museum, in the room devoted to Father Jerzy’s youth, he emphasizes that the future saint and national hero was a hard-working student, but did not achieve high marks.

“When he was studying at seminary, he barely passed his exams. He was trying to learn a lot, but he simply wasn’t an intellectual,” said the researcher. “Students start to be interested in the man because he was like many of them. Intellect is not what it’s all about.”

Governance: Priorities and OUtcomes in Madison

Logan Wroge:

Zirbel-Donisch said the plan is to have the condoms paid for by outside-partner organizations.

While most four-year University of Wisconsin System colleges offer free condoms, doing so in Wisconsin high schools remains relatively rare.

The state Department of Public Instruction estimated in 2016 that 6.9% of high schools in the state provided free condoms, based on a weighted survey of high school principals.

The decision for the pilot comes after an increase in sexually transmitted infections among youths nationwide, statewide and at West High School.

Rates of sexually transmitted infections in Wisconsin for people between ages 15 and 19 peaked in 2011 and then tapered off before rising each year between 2014 and 2017, according to data from the state Department of Health Services. Nationwide, rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis infections among that age group also climbed during the same time frame.

According to information Public Health Madison & Dane County provided the school district, the number of instances of sexually transmitted infections at West High School increased from about 40 in 2015 to more than 90 in 2017.

The district said 60% of West High respondents to the 2018 Dane County Youth Assessment survey — which tracks middle school and high school student behaviors and risks every few years — reported having voluntary sexual intercourse at least once compared with 35% of students from all Dane County high schools.

Out of 305 sexually active West High students who responded to the survey, 21% reported never using a condom as a way to prevent a sexually transmitted infection and 28% said they sometimes use one.

Countywide, 15% of high school students who are sexually active said they never use a condom to prevent a sexually transmitted infection and 29% sometimes use one.

March, 2019 Madison West’s ESSA Accountability Report.

Transcript (via a machine learning app – apologies for errors):

I am currently the reading interventionist teacher at (Madison) West High School.

I’ve been there for 4 years. Previous to that I’ve been in the school district as a regular ed teacher for about 20 years. I started in the early 90s.

I have (a) question I want to ask you guys. What district-wide systems are in place as we use our map data to monitor the reading student achievement?

Student by student, not school by school but also school by school and provide support for the school the teachers and the students that need it.

And especially to help students who score in the bottom percentiles who will need an intervention which is significantly different than differentiation.

I was (a) TAG coordinator (talent and gifted coordinator) for 4 years at Hamilton and I have extensive background with the talent and gifted and differentiation training.

( and teaching of teachers). Now I’m in interventionist and they are significantly different we need interventions to serve the lowest scoring kids that we have.

Here’s my data from this year and this is why I’m here:

Of the 65 students plus or minus it kind of changes this year 24 of them are regular ed students.

Another way to say they don’t have an IEP so there is no excuse for that reading intervention in (that group).

12 of those 24 have been enrolled in Madison School since Pre-K kindergarten or kindergarden. 12 students have been in Madison Schools.

They have High attendance. They have been in the same (you know) feeder school they have not had high mobility. There is no excuse for 12 of my students to be reading at the first second or third grade level and that’s where they’re at and I’m angry and I’m not the only one that’s angry.

The teachers are angry because we are being held accountable for things that we didn’t do at the high school level. Of those 24 students, 21 of them have been enrolled in Madison for four or more years.

Of those 24 students one is Caucasian the rest of them identify as some other ethnic group.

I am tired of the district playing what I called whack-a-mole, (in) another words a problem happens at Cherokee boom we bop it down and we we fix it temporarily and then something at Sherman or something at Toki or something at Faulk and we bop it down and its quiet for awhile but it has not been fixed on a system-wide level and that’s what has to change.

Thank you very much.

– Via a kind reader.

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

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Which countries achieved economic growth? And why does it matter?

Max Roser:

The average person in the world is 4.4-times richer than in 1950. But beyond the global average, how did incomes change in countries around the world? And why should we care about the growth of incomes? These are the two questions I answer in this post.

The two charts in this post show the level of GDP per capita for countries around the world between 1950 and 2016.

Related: Recent taxpayer supported Madison K-12 tax and spending history.

Civics: Google admits listening to some smart speaker recordings

Martin Landi:

Google has admitted it gives workers access to some audio recordings from its Google Home smart speakers.

The technology giant said it uses language experts around the world to study a small number of audio “snippets” from users.

Google said this work helps with developing voice recognition and other technology in its Google Assistant artificial intelligence system, which is used in its Google Home smart speakers and Android smartphones.

The assistant understands and responds to voice commands given to it, answering queries about the news and weather as well as being able to control other internet-connected devices around the home.

In a statement, the company said a small number of anonymous recordings were transcribed by its experts, and revealed that an investigation had been launched after some Dutch audio data had been leaked.

“We partner with language experts around the world to improve speech technology by transcribing a small set of queries – this work is critical to developing technology that powers products like the Google Assistant,” Google said.

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

On Education: An institutionalized destruction of virtues

Bianca Banova:

The fragility of our modern industrialized world hangs over our heads like Damocles’ sword, threatening to wake us up from the tranquility of our self-induced illusion of stability. Behind this facade, there are unprecedented tectonic processes taking place — economic, cultural, political, social, and technological transitions the like of which the world has never seen.

The most crucial institution that ought to prepare future generations for these transitions is the least reformed one: the educational institution.

Politicians always incorporate education in their campaign talking points, not with the intentions of doing anything meaningful with it once they get into office, but to make themselves appear more electable. Their views on education begin and end with one thing: money. More funding, better infrastructure, higher teacher salaries, etc., as if the only problem with today’s education is a monetary one. As the old Jewish proverb postulates — a problem that can be solved with money is not a problem, but an expense. If the problem with education were a monetary one, we would have solved it a long time ago, but it’s not.

Cost of Building Schools in Newark Far Exceeded Limits Set by Legislature

Mark Bonamo:

Over the past decade, the state agency responsible for building schools in 31 former Abbott districts has spent more than $263 million to build five schools in Newark at a cost that far exceeded the limits set by the Legislature.

The Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act, which was enacted in 2000, set a limit of $143 per square foot, which was to include the costs of construction, site development, land acquisition and professional service fees.

But the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA) has spent an average $424 per square foot to build the five schools in Newark, nearly three times the limit set by the Legislature.

As a system programming language, C still deserves learning today

Nan Xiao:

C is a system programming language which is old but with “bad” fame: undefined behavior, notorious memory related bugs, etc. Especially with Go and Rust having gone viral right now, C seems already forgotten by people. Nevertheless, IMHO, C is still a thing which is worth for you spending some time on it.

Whether you are are a C novice or a C veteran,I highly recommend you read Modern C if you haven’t read it before. Then you will find C also evolves stealthily and is not as primitive as you think. E.g., C11 has defined standard thread APIs like C++ has done, which makes C more like a “modern” language, not an outdated thing. You may get a new perspective of C from this book.

Regardless if you are a systems language programmer, DevOps, performance engineer or wear other hats, the more you know about the Operating System, the more you can do your job better. Take all prevailing Unix-like Operating Systems as an example, from kernel to command line tools, they are almost implemented in C. To study related source code can make you delve into Operating System internal deeper. E.g., I knew there is a taskset command which can bind specified process of a dedicated CPU, but I wanted to know the magic behind it, so I went through its code. Then I learned 2 things:
a) There is a “/proc/%pid/task” folder which records thread information of process;
b) taskset actually calls sched_setaffinity and sched_getaffinity APIs to attain its goal.

Kamala (Harris) Is Dead Wrong on Busing And the Milwaukee busing plan was a dramatic example of this.

George Mitchell:

White opposition to forced busing scared Milwaukee’s leaders, who created a very different plan in response to a federal court order to desegregate the schools. The plan launched in 1976 allowed white students to chose integration at magnet schools with specialized programs, while putting the burden of forced busing on black students, as research by Lois Quinn and the Metropolitan Integration Research Center documented a few years later. In the early 1980s Howard Fuller began building opposition to the disruptive and disproportionate burden placed on black families and children with the supposedly “peaceful” desegregation plan implemented in Milwaukee. His later doctoral thesis at Marquette University helped blow a hole in sanitized and misleading reporting by the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel, which supported the busing program. Maps that I included in a study expanding on Quinn’ research showed students from individual neighborhood schools were being bused to as many as 100 separate schools across the city.

Subsequent research by James Kenneth Nelsen, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, offered a clear description of how the system worked:

There was no room in the [Black] school[s] — [they were] usually overcrowded to begin with…Black students had to move to accommodate whites. Some African American parents complained about waiting lists to get into what had been their neighborhood schools… Now that their schools had more desirable programs [for white students], they could no longer attend them.

It was not until the late 1990s that David Bennett, a deputy to former MPS Superintendent Lee McMurrin admitted that the forced busing plan he and McMurrin developed was built around “white benefit,” namely, the goal of reducing “white flight.” Bennett’s stunning confirmation produced exactly one story in the local press, at which point the editors and the rest of Milwaukee’s establishment “moved on.”

While the Boston and Milwaukee busing plans were designed very differently, it’s clear neither worked. So when Kamala Harris visits Milwaukee and Wisconsin, will the Journal Sentinel — or anyone in the media — step up and ask her to reconcile her rose-colored vision of busing with the reality of its experience in Wisconsin?

“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 Murakami Effect: On the Homogenizing Dangers of Easily Translated Literature

Stephen Snyder:

Translation is a kind of traffic, in nearly every sense of the word. There’s the most obvious sense, in that translations cross borders of time, place, and culture, moving from one language into another.

But traffic’s other meaning—that is, the buying and selling of goods—also applies. Translators themselves can be said to traffic in words, sounds, images, and more; whether what is trafficked is tangible or intangible, it’s implied that what is bought, sold, and bartered is in any case commodified. When we think about traffic we also inevitably think about congestion, about impediments to smooth circulation—of vehicles, of course, but also, by extension, of ideas and things. While translations do cross borders, broadening our cultural knowledge as they present one language in the terms of another, they can also become an impediment to free communication. As a translator of contemporary Japanese fiction, I’ve seen both the flow and the congestion, and have witnessed at close range the unintended consequences—and our lack of control as translators—when it comes to the way our texts move or fail to move across borders.

For the past decade or so I’ve been working on what is essentially an ethnography of the publishing industry, primarily in Tokyo and New York, and the way the intersection—and often the collision—of aesthetic and economic considerations influences what gets translated, how it is translated, and how it is marketed and consumed in another literary context. That is, ultimately, how the traffic of translation is subject to the larger economic concerns of the publishing industry, and how these concerns shape a canon of literature in translation that may bear little resemblance to that in the source literature and culture, but that comes to play an important role in the way that culture or nation is perceived in the national imagination of the target culture.

Madison’s school board vacancy

Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick:

Thus, I actively participated when MMSD crafted the Behavior Education Plan (BEP). Indeed, I was the person who suggested that it should carry that name instead of simply MMSD’s Discipline policy, because moving away from zero tolerance also requires MMSD to actively engage in teaching children with challenging behaviors how to behave properly. When the BEP was adopted, I advised the school board that in order to succeed, it would need: 1) adequate training for staff; 2) adequate staff support; and 3) and an ombudsman program to assist students and their parents caught up in the disciplinary process. Unfortunately, to date MMSD has not provided these three critical elements of support, which is why the implementation of the BEP continues to be challenging. I was heartened to see the recommendation for an ombudsman program from the Black Excellence Coalition. Improving the BEPby implementing these recommendations is another issue that I bring special expertise if chosen to fill the empty seat on the board.

Systems change requires analyzing data to quantify the problems I encounter while representing my clients. My data analysis reveals that MMSD has failed to make significant improvements in eliminating the racial disparities our students of color and those with disabilities experience academically, in discipline, and from seclusion and restraint. To eliminate these disparities, MMSD must establish achievable short and long-term goals to improve graduation rates, academic performance and reduce negative disciplinary encounters. It must analyze the data district-wide and on a school-by-school basis in order to learn how to replicate school building success throughout the district and to hold those accountable who are unable or unwilling to make improvements in these critical areas.

Finally, my experience as Chair of the Goose Lake Watershed District has made me fully aware of Open Records and Open Meetings laws, Robert’s Rules of Order and the importance of public input to governmental bodies. This experience will serve me well if I am chosen to serve on the MMSD school board.

More, here

Civics: “Qualified Immunity”

David French:

Here’s perhaps the most astounding fact: The officer fired when the boy was only 18 inches away. What an astonishingly reckless and unreasonable use of a firearm. So the boy’s family sued. They lost. The reason? An unjust doctrine called “qualified immunity.”

Here’s the essential legal background. Since 1871, federal law has allowed citizens to sue public officials for violations of their constitutional rights. The relevant statutory language is clear and unambiguous (emphasis added):

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

Since 1982, however — and thanks to the Supreme Court — the phrase “shall be liable” has been reinterpreted to essentially mean, “may occasionally, in extreme circumstances, be liable.” The court held that public officials could be immune from suit for damages when their “conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”

Again, this language is not in the statute. Moreover, the definition of a “clearly established” right is extraordinarily restrictive. In its practical application, a plaintiff cannot be sure to prevail unless he or she can cite a remarkably similar case, with nearly identical facts, decided by a court of controlling jurisdiction

Is Medicine Overrated?

John Horgan:

For years I have ranted about the flaws of medicine, especially when it comes to mental illness and cancer. But my complaints are mild compared to those of Jacob Stegenga, a philosopher of science at the University of Cambridge.

In Medical Nihilism, published by Oxford University Press, Stegenga presents a devastating critique of medicine. Most treatments, he argues, do not work very well, and many do more harm than good. Therefore we should “have little confidence in medical interventions” and resort to them much more sparingly. This is what Stegenga means by medical nihilism. I learned about Medical Nihilism from economist Russ Roberts, who recently interviewed Stegenga on the popular podcast EconTalk.

Skepticism toward medicine, sometimes called “therapeutic nihilism,” was once widespread, even among physicians, Stegenga notes. In 1860 Oliver Wendell Holmes, dean of Harvard Medical School, wrote that “if the whole materia medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind—and all the worse for the fishes.”

Commentary on Wisconsin DPI “Rule Making” and mulligans

Scott Bellile:

The state superintendent – first Evers, until he was elected governor in 2018, then his successor, Carolyn Stanford Taylor – and the DPI argued the governor’s approval on scopes is unnecessary because no state officer can act as the state superintendent’s superior with regard to the supervision of public instruction.

In last week’s majority opinion, the Supreme Court wrote rulemaking is a legislative power that is delegated to the state superintendent, so the Legislature may limit or take that power away from the superintendent as it chooses.

“We conclude that the gubernatorial approval requirement for rulemaking is constitutional as applied to the (state superintendent) and DPI,” the majority opinion states.

Siding with WILL were the court’s conservative justices: Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, Annette Ziegler, Rebecca Bradley and Daniel Kelly.

Dissenting were two liberal justices, Rebecca Dallet and Ann Bradley. The court’s third liberal justice, Shirley Abrahamson, withdrew from participation.

Notes and links on the Wisconsin DPI’s mulligans: waiving thousands of elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirements.

Why are Arizona schools outperforming their peers nationally? Thank school choice

Robert Robb:

The governing board recently released a short study hailing the fact that the gains of Arizona students on the NAEP test were roughly double the national average from 2005 to 2017. That was true for math in the fourth and eighth grades, and for reading in the same grades.

Now that the trend has been validated, and praised, by a national, mainstream educational organization, maybe it will finally become of some interest here in Arizona.

The question, of course, is why are Arizona students showing so much more improvement than students in other states?

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Efficiency of Our Healthcare Systems

Kyso:

Globally, health expenditure as a percentage of GDP has increased in recent years, so evaluating the health care systems used in different countries is an important tool for identifying best practices and improving inefficient health care systems.

Total health expenditure is the sum of public and private health expenditures as a ratio of total population. It covers the provision of health services (preventive and curative), family planning activities, nutrition activities, and emergency aid designated for health but does not include provision of water and sanitation. Data are in international dollars converted using 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) rates.

“The liberal studies curriculum is a failure,” Tung said. “It is one of the reasons behind the youth problems today.”

Jeffie Lam:

Veteran liberal studies teacher Kwan Chin-ki felt the subject helped raise awareness of societal issues among students but there was not a direct link to young Hongkongers’ participation in politics.

Meanwhile, presidents of three universities called on different parties to resolve the rift through constructive dialogue.
HKU president and vice-chancellor Professor Zhang Xiang said he was disheartened by the violence and condemned the “destructive acts”.
Polytechnic University Professor Teng Jinguang said: “While we are fully aware of the sentiments in our society, we are very concerned about the wellness and well-being of our students.”

City University’s president Professor Way Kuo called on the government to communicate sincerely with different sectors “to avoid the continued outbursts of impatience and dissatisfaction in our society”.

“ They don’t want the competition of a private school”

waow:

If we get this property and we will get it we will start the groundwork for a Christian school,” said Wade Reimer of Shepherd’s Watch.

However, there is confusion over who owns the building.

The confusion over the ownership led to a lawsuit between the Village of Mattoon, Town of Hutchins and The Antigo School District.

“The Antigo School District says they own the building and refuses to sell it unless there is a promise made to not use it for a school,” said Anthony LoCoco a deputy counsel on the case.

“They don’t want the competition of a private school because some children from Mattoon would go to a local elementary school and they would lose funds,” said LoCoco.

LoCoco said the vacant building is costing taxpayers up to $40,000 a year.

The small town is just hopeful the rust on the unused swings disappear and the school playgrounds fill back up with the sound of laughter.

There is a hearing for the lawsuit on July 26th in Shawano County.

News 9 reached out to Antigo School District and they refused to comment pending the litigation.

Related: An emphasis on adult employment.

Positioning and Promotion: A Vacant Taxpayer Supported Madison School Board Seat

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Some observers said the unique vacancy is a chance for a newcomer to serve.

“I would really love to see another black mother on the School Board,” said Sabrina Madison, the founder of the Progress Center for Black Women. “Especially a mom who has been advocating for her kid recently around some of these issues around race and equity.”

Though Madison said she hasn’t had any conversations with people who have said they’ll apply, she has been strategically and privately reaching out to parents of students in MMSD to encourage them to consider it.

Whoever is appointed by the board would serve until an election is held in April 2020 to select someone to finish the last year of Burke’s term, which ends in April 2021.

Notes and links: David Blaska, Kaleem Caire and Ed Hughes. Interestingly, Mr. Hughes was unopposed in his first three school board elections. Mr. Hughes voted against the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

Yet, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, 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”

Our most recent Superintendent – 2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience

Factoring may be easier than you think

MIT:

Factoring integers into prime factors has a reputation as an extraordinarily difficult problem. If you read some popular accounts, you get the impression that humanity has worked hard on this problem for centuries, if not millennia, and that the chances of an efficient algorithm are negligible. If true, that would be great, because some important cryptosystems rely on the difficulty of factoring. Unfortunately, it’s mostly hype based on wishful thinking. Enough people have tried to find efficient factoring algorithms that we can be confident the problem isn’t easy, but there’s no reason to think it’s impossible.

The first thing to realize is that until the advent of public key cryptography in the 1970’s, few people cared about factoring. Some people were interested in it for its intrinsic beauty, but nobody thought it was good for anything, and it certainly wasn’t the notorious unsolved problem it is today. If anything, it was mildly obscure.

Even today, how many researchers have ever seriously tried to find an efficient factoring algorithm? I don’t know, since most people who fail don’t announce their attempts (and who knows how much classified work there has been), but it’s not hard to estimate. Let’s say a serious attempt consists of several months of work by an expert, someone who knows enough number theory to read the literature on this problem. Then the number of people who have seriously tried must be on the order of magnitude of 100. It would be ridiculous to say “100 smart people tried and failed to solve this problem, so it’s clearly impossible,” but that’s what most claims regarding the difficulty of factoring amount to.

A Better Way to Solve the Student Loan Crisis

Andrew Gillen:

I like the notion behind this effort—ensuring that colleges don’t get rich by saddling their students with disastrous financial burdens—but policymakers should also make sure to implement some complimentary policy changes to increase fairness and avoid unintended collateral damage.

Colleges Aren’t Yet in the Game

Skin-in-the-game requires accompanying changes to our financial aid system. Most proposals would have colleges pay a set percentage of any loan that defaults. But under the current system, colleges aren’t yet in the game because they are not a direct party to the loan. Once a college has admitted a student (and keep in mind that many colleges are open admissions, meaning virtually anyone can enroll), they have no say in whether or how much a student borrows.

Civics: NSA Improperly Collected U.S. Phone Records a Second Time

Dustin Volz:

The documents obtained by the ACLU suggest a similar situation, where a telecommunications firm, whose name is redacted, furnished call-data records the NSA hadn’t requested and weren’t approved by orders of the secretive U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The company told the NSA it began delivering those records on Oct. 3, 2018, until that Oct. 12, when the agency asked it investigate the “anomaly.”

The ACLU said the documents also suggest an individual may have been targeted for surveillance as a result of the first overcollection episode, which led to the deletion of the program’s entire database in June 2018. The documents reveal that violation involved “targeting requests” that were approved by the surveillance court.

The revelation of another compliance issue is the latest hurdle for the once-secret surveillance program that began under the George W. Bush administration following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. As initially designed, the program sought to collect the metadata of all domestic calls in the U.S. to hunt for links among potential associates of terrorism suspects.

Why remote work isn’t going away anytime soon

Jessica Stevens (Glassdoor):

The biggest driver of the pivot to a remote workforce that’s currently underway in our market is that remote employees simply produce better results than their traditional counterparts. While many critics of remote working used to assert that letting employees work from home would drain them of their productive spirit, the past few years have produced conclusive evidence that employees who spend a bulk of their working hours outside of the office are vastly happier and more productive.

Recent research from Gallup, for instance, notes that those workers who spend about three to four days of the week working offsite are substantially more engaged in their jobs than traditional counterparts who are stuck behind desks all day. The logic behind this productivity boost is actually quite easy to understand; by giving workers more control over their personal lives and permitting them to schedule their work-life balance accordingly, companies are making them happier and more fulfilled as they enable Average Joes to become workplace superstars.

Measles for the One Percent Vaccines, Waldorf schools, and the problem with liberal Luddites.

Lisa Miller:

On an unseasonably chilly morning in May, three dozen or so plaintiff-parents, most of them from the Green Meadow Waldorf School, showed up at the Rockland County Courthouse, looking, in their draped layers and comfortable shoes, like any PTA from Park Slope or Berkeley. They were virtually vibrating with expectation and stress. For four long months, on behalf of their kids, they had been on the phone, sending off bullet-point emails, arranging meetings, coordinating calendars, and taking time off work, in an endless battle that had so far cost them hours of lost income and created child-care hassles — and made them into national pariahs besides. Today’s proceedings, they hoped, would result in a decision that might enable them to move on with their lives.

When legal arguments began, small smiles appeared on the parents’ faces. The opposition’s lawyer came off as clumsy, like an oversize actor fumbling his lines. Their lawyer, on the other hand, exuded a smooth confidence bordering on arrogance, an attitude that seemed to swell as he approached the lectern. Michael Sussman, 65 years old and educated at Harvard Law, is the most prominent civil-rights crusader in the Hudson Valley, having made his mark at 30, while working for the NAACP, when he helped to desegregate the Yonkers public schools. Now Sussman, who happened to have sent his own seven children and stepchildren to Waldorf schools, was defending his clients against the intrusion of local politicians into their personal decisions and private lives.

Civics: Julian Assange and the Real War on the Free Press

Ted Galen Carpenter:

Trump administration officials were enthusiastic when Ecuador decided to expel Julian Assange from its embassy in London, where he had received sanctuary for nearly seven years. British authorities promptly jailed him for jumping bail on sexual assault charges in Sweden, and U.S. officials began plans to have Assange extradited to face espionage charges in this country. He just turned 48 in prison on July 3.

Last month, the Department of Justice added 17 counts to the one-count indictment that it had filed years earlier. His current imprisonment in Britain and the probability of a lengthy extradition battle have delayed the prospect of a high-profile trial in the United States, but that outcome remains Washington’s goal. The United States reportedly submitted a formal extradition request on June 6.

The issues at stake go far beyond whether Assange is an admirable (or even a reasonably likeable) person. He symbolizes a crucial fight over freedom of the press and the ability of journalists to expose government misconduct without fear of criminal prosecution. Unfortunately, a disturbing number of “establishment” journalists in the United States seem willing—indeed, eager—to throw him to the government wolves.

Transcript of a meeting between Eric Schmidt and Julian Assange.

Commentary on The taxpayer supported Madison School Board’s GoVernance Plans: Replacement member and SuperintendenT search

Negassi Tesfamichael:

“Given that Mary will not be attending any future meetings, I do feel a sense of urgency in getting this filled,” Reyes said. “I don’t want to move forward through some of the important discussions and decisions we’ll have to make … so i think it is going to be imperative that we move through the process pretty rapidly. We can still do a really transparent process and move quickly through it.”

Under board policy, a vacant seat must be filled by appointment within 60 days of a resignation.

Public notice will be posted in the Wisconsin State Journal from July 12 to July 19. Applicants’ submissions will be publicly available on July 19 before the board votes to appoint a new member on July 22.

“I feel like this timeline is really tight,” board member Cris Carusi said, noting the quick turnaround between applications being due and a vote on the candidate three days later. “This feels way too compressed to make a good decision and I would argue for stretching it out even another week.”

Though there was no vote on the timeline, Reyes said that if the board feels it needs more time to review applications it could explore that option later in the month.

Anyone 18 years or older who resides in the Madison School District can apply to be considered by submitting a letter of interest to the district detailing what qualities they can bring to the School Board, a statement on three issues the district faces and how the prospective board member would address them.

Several elections are on the horizon for the seat over the next two years. Though Burke’s term would have lasted until 2021, whoever is appointed would have to decide by late December if they will run in the April 2020 election to finish out the last year of Burke’s term. Terms on the Madison School Board are three years, but whoever is appointed to Seat 2 must run to complete the one-year term before being able to run for a full three years.

Logan Wroge:

Board member Kate Toews said it “would be very beneficial” having an applicant with experience in referendums or hiring a superintendent.

The last time the School Board appointed someone to fill a vacancy was in 1997 when Nancy Mistele resigned because she was moving out of the School District. Sixteen people applied to replace her.

David Blaska, a former Dane County Board member who lost his School Board race this year to Ali Muldrow, said Monday that he will apply to fill the empty seat after saying Friday he would not.

The conservative blogger said he has “no hope of being named.”

“Still, one must fight the good fight,” he said.

Of the other two candidates who ran in the April election and lost, TJ Mertz said he is not interested in applying and Kaleem Caire said Friday he had not had enough time to make a decision. An attempt to reach Caire Monday night was not successful.

Related:

Mary Burke

2013 – 2019: What will be different, this time?

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

Lead by example: If you teach children to disrespect teachers, they will do so

Michael Cummins:

aybe kids are disrespecting their teachers because adults have taught them to. If, as Muldrow asserted during her campaign, the “theme” in Madison education is “how do we blame black children, how do we hurt black children, how do we get rid of black children, how do we not listen to black children,” then it makes perfect sense for black children to behave disrespectfully. You don’t sit and politely listen to someone who wants to hurt you because of your race.
Thing is, sitting and listening is an important part of learning. And far from being the enemy, MMSD teachers are essential to the long-term success of Madison’s children of color. While we can’t see into the minds of individual teachers, equity efforts occupy a prominent place in the district’s latest Strategic Framework, and are amply supported by plans, programs and money. And, unlike their students, MMSD teachers are subject to zero-tolerance disciplinary policies, especially when it comes to anything touching on race.
Verbalizing a racial slur, for instance, will get a teacher yanked from the classroom immediately, regardless of the context. To believe that MMSD tolerates racism in its classrooms, let alone promotes it, requires a narrow set of blinders.

Those who do believe that racism runs riot in MMSD have every right to share that viewpoint with the school board. If you have attended or seen video of a school board meeting lately, you know that that viewpoint is often expressed during public comment. It’s also expressed at inappropriate times, in the form of over-the-top, chaotic theatrics that intimidate those who disagree into silence. Lately, kids have been helping to throw meetings into chaos, having learned that intimidation is a legitimate means to an end.
All this serves to keep MMSD teachers and staff walking on eggshells. And if you think that a timid faculty is good for black students, think again. At a March 2018 board meeting, MMSD Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham discussed a 2012 study on the “failure to warn.” The study’s authors found that white teachers are sometimes reluctant to constructively criticize black students when academic or behavioral problems first emerge, for fear of being labeled racist. This cheats black students out of the opportunity to correct problems before they rise to punishable levels.

Of course grown-ups should encourage kids, through their words and deeds, to stand against injustice. But the style that many Madison equity activists have adopted is causing more injustice than it’s preventing. If we allow our teachers to be disempowered, and their classrooms thrown into chaos, then we have broken our promise to offer every child a sound basic education.

Notes and links

Trump’s Citizenship Question Isn’t Controversial. Obama Deleting It Should’ve Been.

Ian Miles Cheongon:

Obama’s own efforts to not ask the question was limited to the 2010 Census. From 2009 to 2016, the former president’s Census Bureau had no problem asking anyone if they were Americans on all eight of his annual ACSs (American Community Survey), which targeted smaller demographics key to the success of the Democrats in the eight years of his administration.

The ACS even asked the question in both English as well as Spanish.

In the decades prior, administrations from Bush, to Clinton, going all the way back to 1820, had questions on citizenship, nationality, or nativity. The process originated with Thomas Jefferson.

The Summer Read That Predicted the College-Admissions Scandal

Fleming Smith:

Since you spent so much time in this fictional world, how did you feel when you heard about parents acting the same way in the admissions scandal?

One of my initial worries was, oh no; I wanted people to think that the stuff the parents were doing in “The Gifted School” was so crazy and outrageous it couldn’t possibly be plausible. I wanted the novel to have a real satirical edge, so a little bit of me worries that the admissions scandal blunts that a bit.

What do you think people will learn from the admissions scandal and the ideas you’ve explored in your book?

If you think of the college admissions scandal as one of the great cultural parables of our time, I think it can teach us a lot. The novel hopefully will inspire people to look at themselves, at the culture of elitism and privilege, in somewhat more critical ways.

Maybe the novel will be read as a parable in its own way for thinking about issues of economic status and privilege and privilege-hoarding as they affect the lives of many different people in different communities.

Historically Hollow: The Cries of Populism

Bryan Caplin:

History textbooks are full of populist complaints about business: the evils of Standard Oil, the horrors of New York tenements, the human body parts in Chicago meatpacking plants. To be honest, I haven’t taken these complaints seriously since high school. In the absence of abundant evidence to the contrary, I say the backstory behind these populist complaints is just neurotic activists searching for dark linings in the silver clouds of business progress. When business offers new energy, new housing, new food, the wise are grateful to see the world improve, not outraged to see a world that falls short of perfection.

Still, I periodically wonder if my nonchalance is unjustified. Populists rub me the wrong way, but how do I know they didn’t have a point? After all, I have near-zero first-hand knowledge of what life was like in the heyday of Standard Oil, New York tenements, or Chicago meat-packing. What would I have thought if I was there?

If we’re talking about the year 1900, I’m afraid we’ll never really know. Yet what I’ve seen with my own eyes during the last fifteen years has done much to cement my out-of-sample confidence.

During this time, I’ve seen the tech industry dramatically improve human life all over the world.

China issues new guideline to improve compulsory education

Xinhua:

The Communist Party of China Central Committee and State Council Monday published a new guideline for advancing education reform and improving the quality of compulsory education.

The guideline aims to develop an education system that will foster citizens with an all-round moral, intellectual, physical and aesthetic grounding, in addition to a hard-working spirit, according to the document.

Efforts will be made in fostering comprehensive quality with firm faith, patriotism, integrity, broad knowledge and striving spirit, it said.

Moral education and all-round development of students will be priorities and the efforts must cover every student in every school, it added.

According to the guideline, compulsory education should emphasize the effectiveness of moral education with efforts on cultivating ideals and faith, core socialist values, China’s fine traditional culture and mental health.

The University of Wisconsin Madison Loses an Open Records Lawsuit

Kelly Meyerhofer:

A Dane County circuit judge recently ruled that UW-Madison broke the state’s public records and open meetings laws — violations that may cost the university more than $40,000.

UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health failed to turn over records relating to how a committee awarded millions of dollars from an endowment for public health projects, according to the ruling. The committee also failed to properly inform the public why it went behind closed doors in a 2016 meeting.

The judge also noted that “in this grant cycle alone” the committee funded two projects that were not as highly rated as others, and those two projects were associated with committee members.

The June 13 court order requires UW-Madison to pay back the plaintiff’s legal fees or to appeal. University officials said they had not received information on the fees and are still considering whether to appeal.

An attorney for the plaintiff, Christa Westerberg, said legal fees in the more than two years spent litigating the suit will be “north of $40,000.”

Westerberg, of the Madison law firm Pines Bach and co-vice president of the state’s Freedom of Information Council, said UW-Madison “aggressively litigated” the lawsuit in a way she had not seen before.

For UW-Madison, the stakes in the suit are high.

“This is a case about whether or not the university can protect the integrity of research and programs at UW-Madison by maintaining the confidentiality of reviewer comments,” UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas said.

Pines Bach attorneys say the university has until July 29 to file a notice to appeal.

The Ruling (PDF), via Chan Stroman:

In 1999, Blue Cross Blue Shield United of Wisconsin, Inc. (BCBS) petitioned the Office of Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) to permit it to convert from a non-profit corporation to a for-profit corporation. In order to convert to a for-profit corporation, BCBS had to compensate the state for the decades of tax-exempt status it enjoyed, and proposed to do so by giving stock to a foundation, which in tum would sell it and distribute the proceeds to the state’s two medical schools: the University of Wisconsin Medical School and the Medical College of Wisconsin. The funds would be used to promote public health initiatives. The OCI required modifications to establish accountability mechanisms for, and public participation in the governance of, the conversion funds. Among the accountability requirements was that each medical school must create a public and community health oversight and advisory committee to oversee the distribution of the public health-allocated percentage of conversion funds. The OCI required the committees to conduct themselves in accordance with standards consistent with the Wisconsin public meeting and public record laws.

The Oversight and Advisory Committee (OAC) is the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s designated committee to distribute the 35% public health funds associated with the BCBS conversion. The OAC is one of two governance committees that administer the Wisconsin Partnership Program’s (WPP) five grant programs that seek to improve the health and well-being of Wisconsin residents. A different committee, the Partnership Education Research Committee (PERC), administers and oversees the research grants. Andrea Dearlove is the Senior Program Officer for WPP. With her staff and the OAC’s director Eileen Smith, she designed an awards program, known as the Community Impact Grant, to incorporate experience from previous WPP community academic grant programs as well as nationwide best practices to address complex public health issues.
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“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

Dave Zirin:

Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens: He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me, quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning. I trust, however, that mine will not be so considered. Should I seem at ease, my appearance would much misrepresent me. The little experience I have had in addressing public meetings, in country schoolhouses, avails me nothing on the present occasion.

The papers and placards say, that I am to deliver a 4th [of] July oration. This certainly sounds large, and out of the common way, for it is true that I have often had the privilege to speak in this beautiful Hall, and to address many who now honor me with their presence. But neither their familiar faces, nor the perfect gage I think I have of Corinthian Hall, seems to free me from embarrassment.

The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this platform and the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is considerable—and the difficulties to be overcome in getting from the latter to the former, are by no means slight. That I am here to-day is, to me, a matter of astonishment as well as of gratitude. You will not, therefore, be surprised, if in what I have to say. I evince no elaborate preparation, nor grace my speech with any high sounding exordium. With little experience and with less learning, I have been able to throw my thoughts hastily and imperfectly together; and trusting to your patient and generous indulgence, I will proceed to lay them before you.

This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the 4th of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. I am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good old age for a man, is but a mere speck in the life of a nation. Three score years and ten is the allotted time for individual men; but nations number their years by thousands. According to this fact, you are, even now, only in the beginning of your national career, still lingering in the period of childhood. I repeat, I am glad this is so. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. The eye of the reformer is met with angry flashes, portending disastrous times; but his heart may well beat lighter at the thought that America is young, and that she is still in the impressible stage of her existence. May he not hope that high lessons of wisdom, of justice and of truth, will yet give direction to her destiny? Were the nation older, the patriot’s heart might be sadder, and the reformer’s brow heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow. There is consolation in the thought that America is young. Great streams are not easily turned from channels, worn deep in the course of ages. They may sometimes rise in quiet and stately majesty, and inundate the land, refreshing and fertilizing the earth with their mysterious properties. They may also rise in wrath and fury, and bear away, on their angry waves, the accumulated wealth of years of toil and hardship. They, however, gradually flow back to the same old channel, and flow on as serenely as ever. But, while the river may not be turned aside, it may dry up, and leave nothing behind but the withered branch, and the unsightly rock, to howl in the abyss-sweeping wind, the sad tale of departed glory. As with rivers so with nations.

Learn Math, not Mandarin

J Shrager:

Probably mostly true, the joke implies that it’s a bad thing to know only one language. More specifically, it’s poking fun at the fact that most Americans only speak English. But is it such a bad thing to only know English? According to this Wikipedia list of most commonly spoken languages, the most spoken “primary” language (“mother tongue” or “L1 Rank”) is, predictably, Mandarin, followed by Spanish, and then English. So, you’re at least in the top 3 just out of the gate!

But just looking at the number of speakers of their Mother Tongue (L1) is misleading, because when someone does learn a second language, it is almost always English! So instead of looking at the most common “first languages” (L1), you look at the most common languages including second languages , that is, the languages by total number of speakers (L1+L2+…), you get a very different, and somewhat surprising, list (the rightmost column in the WP table, and the main sorting rank of the table). By this measure, English is the most commonly spoken language, with 1.12 Billion speakers (at this writing), followed closely by Mandarin (1.11B), and then by Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, and French. The reason that most people learn English as a second language, if it isn’t their Mother Tongue, is that English is the de facto language of Business, Engineering, Science, and, most influentially, The Internet. Indeed, by the time you get to French, there are fewer speakers of French word-wide than the population of the US! So, really, there are only five global languages: English, Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish, and Arabic. So if you were going to learn a second natural language, you’d do best to learn one of those.

Saving China’s Dialects? There’s an App for That

Qian Zhecheng:

These days, Xu Li doesn’t worry whenever her elderly father takes off on one of his frequent solo trips to Europe. Although the native of provincial capital Hefei speaks little English and has Chinese so heavily infused by his city’s local patois that other Chinese cannot always understand him, Xu trusts that, in case of an emergency, he can communicate using the dialect transcription and translation app on his phone. After all, she helped develop the program.

Xu is a researcher at iFlytek, a Chinese tech firm known for its AI-powered iFlytek Voice Input keyboard app. The app’s voice-to-text function lets users transcribe vocal recordings and dictate written messages. But to win over consumers and succeed in the Chinese market, it needs to do more than just be able to recognize and translate spoken Standard Mandarin, the country’s only official national language — it has to be able to understand and process dialect, too.

That’s where Xu comes in. Despite decades of concerted government effort, tens of millions of Chinese, including Xu’s father, still speak little-to-no Standard Mandarin, instead communicating in one or more of the country’s thousands of distinct regional and local vernaculars. It’s Xu’s job to increase the accuracy of iFlytek’s input method — and the software’s potential scope — by using deep learning techniques to teach the program these dialects.

Raising the American Weakling

Tom Vanderbilt:

Unlike most findings in the sleepy field of occupational therapy, her findings, which were published last year in the Journal of Hand Therapy, touched off a media firestorm, as the revelation seemed to encapsulate any number of smoldering fears in one handy conflagration: The loss of human potential in the face of automation, of our increasing time spent on smartphones and other devices, the erosion of our masculine norms,2 of the fragility and general shiftlessness of millennials. Even taking into account the cautionary statistical notes—that the sample sizes of the 1980s studies were not huge, that Fain’s study was mostly college students—the idea of a loss in human strength, expressed through a statistical measure hardly anyone had previously heard of, seemed to hint at some latter-day version of degeneration.

That message was reinforced by the sheer predictive power of grip strength. In a study published in 2015 in The Lancet, the health outcomes of nearly 140,000 people across 17 countries were tracked over four years, via a variety of measures—including grip strength.3 Grip strength was not only “inversely associated with all-cause mortality”—every 5 kilogram (kg) decrement in grip strength was associated with a 17 percent risk increase—but as the team, led by McMaster University professor of medicine Darryl Leong, noted: “Grip strength was a stronger predictor of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality than systolic blood pressure.”

Exploring American Incarceration

Quinn Norton:

Fighting charges can take years of life, millions of dollars, and a rare resiliency in the face of an adversarial system designed to destroy you. Prosecutors and DAs use the threat of piling on additional charges and harsh mandatory minimums to force people to give in.

As a result, around 96% of defendants accept plea bargains. They go to prison without ever being proven guilty in a court of law. For the disproportionately poor and often black and latino arrestees, the constitutional right to a fair trial is a mocking fiction. As Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy put it in 2012, “it is insufficient simply to point to the guarantee of a fair trial… If there is no trial, there can be no fair trial.”

Even the government admits that up to 8% of those pleading are likely to be completely innocent. That’s at least 176,000 souls trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare. Given the common practice of misapplying charges to edge cases of the law, and the harshness of sentences even in situations where no one got hurt, the number of lost souls ripped from their lives and fed into this terrible machine are undoubtedly much higher.