California Teachers Association elected a new president. Then, it ousted its powerful executive director. Coincidence?


The California Teachers Association surprised just about everyone in the state’s education arena — including me — last week by abruptly dismissing executive director and longtime political powerhouse Joe Nuñez.

“The California Teachers Association recognizes the accomplishments and legacy of veteran educator and union advocate Joe Nuñez who has been the CTA Executive Director for the last six years. Nuñez is leaving the association following a vote by the Board of Directors to end his relationship with CTA,” reads the union’s July 17 press statement.
The move came a mere two weeks after Toby Boyd assumed the presidency of the 325,000-member union. Boyd was elected in an upset victory over sitting Vice President Theresa Montaño, after receiving an unexpected last-minute endorsement from outgoing President Eric Heins.

Are Boyd’s victory and Nuñez’s departure connected? A source who spoke to Politico’s Jeremy B. White seemed to think so.

The Aesthetic Beauty of Math

Karen Olsson:

In 1939, as the buildup to war in Europe intensified, a brilliant French mathematician named André Weil made a plan to emigrate to the U.S. He was thirty-three and didn’t want to serve in the army; his life’s purpose was math, he felt, not soldiering. His escape turned out to be more difficult than he anticipated, in part because, as he would write in his memoir, “the Americans, who so warmly welcome those who do not need them, are much less hospitable to those who happen to be at their mercy”—as we’ve gone on to prove repeatedly since then.

He was vacationing in Finland when the war broke out, and he tried to lay low in Helsinki but was arrested and returned to France, where he sat in jail during the spring of 1940, awaiting trial for desertion. While there, he took some consolation from the fact that jail allowed him to work undisturbed, as well as to read novels and write letters, in particular letters to his sister, Simone Weil, who was also remarkably talented, a philosopher and spiritual thinker.

Though her brother’s incarceration infuriated her, Simone saw an opportunity. His work in advanced mathematics was to her, as it would be to most of us, esoteric. Since you have some spare time on your hands, she wrote to him, why don’t you explain to me exactly what it is you do?

Stanford CS Education Library


This online library collects education CS material from Stanford courses and distributes them for free. Update 2006 For learning code concepts (Java strings, loops, arrays, …), check out Nick’s experimental server, where you can type in little code puzzles and get immediate feedback.

After the University of Alaska lost 41 percent of its state funding, thousands of students were told Alaska would no longer be providing promised state scholarships.

Ben Kesslen:

Sian Gonzales found out he would no longer be receiving the almost $5,000 he has been awarded annually from the Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS) on July 9 — a month and a half shy of the first day of classes for his junior year at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.

Gonzales, 21, didn’t lose the scholarship money because his grades slipped or because he violated any school rules; instead, Gonzales and 2,500 other students in Alaska lost the scholarship because the state is no longer funding it.

“I’m scared,” Gonzales, a nursing student, told NBC News. Raised in Juneau, Gonzales decided to stay in Alaska for college in large part because of the APS, and even worked toward earning the scholarship during high school.

Parents Are Giving Up Custody of Their Kids to Get Need-Based College Financial Aid

Jodi S. Cohen and Melissa Sanchez:

Dozens of suburban Chicago families, perhaps many more, have been exploiting a legal loophole to win their children need-based college financial aid and scholarships they would not otherwise receive, court records and interviews show.

Coming months after the national “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal, this tactic also appears to involve families attempting to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive and expensive college admissions system.

Parents are giving up legal guardianship of their children during their junior or senior year in high school to someone else — a friend, aunt, cousin or grandparent. The guardianship status then allows the students to declare themselves financially independent of their families so they can qualify for federal, state and university aid, a ProPublica Illinois investigation found.

“It’s a scam,” said Andy Borst, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Wealthy families are manipulating the financial aid process to be eligible for financial aid they would not be otherwise eligible for. They are taking away opportunities from families that really need it.”

The Logic of the Tribe

Victor Davis Hanson:

In some sense, today’s hip new racists have adopted the ideology of Lester Maddox and not Martin Luther King, Jr. Segregation, not integration, is the new racist mantra—by dorm, by theme house, by caucus, by safe space, by graduation ceremony.

True intersectionality is impossible for racists—given that competing tribal agendas can never be reconciled. Far from creating force-multiplying woke ideologies by uniting various “identities”—black, Latino, Asian, LGBTQ, female, and non-American—intersectionality becomes a logical contest among professed victims to acquire preeminent tribal victimhood, and with it, DNA-sanctioned superiority.

The logic of the tribe leads to sectarian warfare, not harmony. We see just that when Asians revolt against black and Latino preferences in college admissions. Feminists push back against the endemic misogyny of rap music that is given an intersectional pass to demean women and freely employ the n-word. There is sometimes less, not greater, tolerance for unapologetic homosexuality in supposedly hyper-macho Latino culture. Doctrinaire Islam makes few concessions for the Muslim convert to Christianity; he is still an infidel to be shunned, even killed.

Commentary on the utilty of a college degree

Charles Cooke:

The presumptions that underpin our present scramble for diplomas are as follows: that it would be a good thing if more people went to college; that going to college is the best — or perhaps the only — way to get ahead in life, leading, as it supposedly does, to automatic improvement of one’s lot; that, irrespective of what it does to the job market and to productivity, our society is materially improved by having more people with paper degrees in their possession; and that, in consequence of all of these things, it represents a major scandal that people who wish to educate themselves further are obliged to pay to do so. Alongside these presumptions are a set of implications that, while rarely acknowledged openly, are present nevertheless: that those who do not go to college have in some way failed — or that they have been failed; that every time a person declines to attend college, he is making America a little stupider on aggregate; and, by extension, that people who lack college degrees but nevertheless are successful are not demonstrating an alternative way of living their lives so much as muddling through as best they can absent vital instruction from their superiors.

Back in 2015, Howard Dean suggested on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that Scott Walker, a man who at that point was in his second term as governor of Wisconsin, was not qualified to be president because he had not completed his college degree. “I think there are going to be a lot of people who worry about that,” Dean suggested, before explaining that he himself was concerned “about people being president of the United States not knowing much about the world.” That Dean was characterizing as ignorant and unqualified a man who had, by that point, been successfully running a large American state for half a decade was preposterous. But it was also well in line with where we were headed as a society.

Anthony Kronman on the ‘aristocratic ethos’ in higher education

Len Gutkin:

Since stepping down from his 10-year tenure as dean of Yale Law School, Anthony T. Kronman has been thinking a lot about the larger purposes of a humanities education. He’s addressed the topic in two books, Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life (Yale, 2007) and Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan (Yale, 2016), this last a 1,000-page exploration of his personal theology that draws on thinkers from antiquity to Freud to Rawls. (Kronman earned a Ph.D. in philosophy and spent some time undergoing psychoanalysis.) As Joshua Rothman put it in The New Yorker, Kronman “suspects that he might have found the meaning of life.”

His most recent book, The Assault on American Excellence, will be published by Free Press in August. It’s a crisply argued jeremiad about what Kronman sees as the wrong turn taken by elite universities in recent years. Under the guise of concerns for inclusion and a misplaced egalitarianism, Kronman argues, universities have abandoned what should be their core commitments to reasoned argumentation and, more controversially, to the development of an “aristocratic ethos.”

I met with Kronman in his office at the Yale Law School to talk about democracy and aristocracy, campus debates over free speech, affirmative action, and what he calls “the conversational ideal.”

Related: 1. 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.

Commentary on newly Appointed taxpayer supported Madison school board member Savion Castro (no MMSD data in article)

Logan Wroge:

After high school, Castro studied sociology at UW-Madison and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2018. Castro sought out the major as he views the field as a good mix of political science and theory, history, statistics, and methodology.

Castro has also been involved with several Democratic campaigns and liberal organizations. In his senior year at high school, he worked as an organizer for former President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

At the university, Castro was a campus organizer for Burke’s 2014 gubernatorial run, later becoming involved in campaigns for local races, such as former City Council Ald. Denise DeMarb.

“From there, I learned how important local elections and local government are in terms of how it can affect people’s lives,” he said.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts – between $18.5k and 20k per student, depending on the district documents reviewed

U.S. News Pulls Rankings Of UC-Berkeley (#22), Scripps (#30), And 3 Other Colleges For Misreporting Data

Robert Morse, Matt Mason, and Eric Brooks:

FIVE SCHOOLS NOTIFIED U.S. News that they misreported data used to calculate their rankings for the 2019 edition of Best Colleges. The schools are the University of California—Berkeley, Scripps College, Mars Hill University, the University of North Carolina—Pembroke and Johnson & Wales University.

What Does This Mean?

The misreporting by each school resulted in their numerical ranks being higher than they otherwise would have been. Because of the discrepancies, U.S. News has moved the schools to the “Unranked” category, meaning they do not receive numerical ranks.

All five schools’ Unranked status will last until the publication of the next edition of the Best Colleges rankings and until the schools confirm the accuracy of their next data submission in accordance with U.S. News’ requirements. All other schools’ rankings in the 2019 Best Colleges will remain the same on

CommenTary on University of California Recruiting Policies

Dan Walters:

To enforce that dictum, UC also requires applicants for new faculty employment and promotions to submit “diversity statements” that will be scored “with rubrics provided by Academic Affairs and require applicants to achieve a scoring cutoff to be considered.”

The academic affairs department at UC-Davis says that diversity statements from tenure-track faculty applicants should have “an accomplished track record…of teaching, research or service activities addressing the needs of African-American, Latino, Chicano, Hispanic and Native American students or communities.” Their statements must “indicate awareness” of those communities and “the negative consequences of underutilization” and “provide a clearly articulated vision” of how their work at UC-Davis would advance diversity policies.

Jeffrey Flier, former director of the Harvard Medical School, is among the respected academics who see the inherent contradictions and perils in UC’s one-size-fits-all concept of political correctness.

“As a supporter of the original goals of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, my skepticism toward this policy surprised a number of friends and colleagues,” Flier wrote this year in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

‘Anonymised’ data can never be totally anonymous, says study

Alex Hern:

“Anonymised” data lies at the core of everything from modern medical research to personalised recommendations and modern AI techniques. Unfortunately, according to a paper, successfully anonymising data is practically impossible for any complex dataset.

An anonymised dataset is supposed to have had all personally identifiable information removed from it, while retaining a core of useful information for researchers to operate on without fear of invading privacy. For instance, a hospital may remove patients’ names, addresses and dates of birth from a set of health records in the hope researchers may be able to use the large sets of records to uncover hidden links between conditions.

DARPA’s New Brain Device Increases Learning Speed by 40%

Don Galeon:

New research funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has successfully demonstrated how a non-invasive method of stimulating the brain can boost cognitive performance. Working under DARPA’s Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program, scientists from HRL Laboratories in California, McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and Soterix Medical in New York tested their brain device on macaques and observed a substantial increase in the monkeys’ ability to quickly perform certain tasks.

Traveling abroad

Pamela Cotant:

CIEE is an international educational organization based in Portland, Maine. It was founded in 1947 to coordinate the efforts of a number of organizations and institutions that emerged after WWII in the U.S. and abroad to promote peaceful coexistence and respect between nations through student- and teacher-exchange programs.

Its mission has changed somewhat over the years and in the 1960s, the organization became a focal point for strategic and policy discussions on the future direction of intercultural education. In recognition of this strategic shift, the Council on Student Travel changed its name in 1967 to the Council on International Educational Exchange.

Horton, who was a sophomore at West High School last year, was one of 24 students from West who are traveling abroad this summer. There are a total of 36 from the Madison School District and 2,258 nationwide.

The West students traveled to a number of countries, including some in Europe as well as Botswana, India, Japan, Russia and Senegal. Some were on programs to learn the language and culture, while others were learning about subjects such as wildlife conservation, marine science, world government, how to empower girls through health education and mentoring youths. Some programs run for three weeks and others for four, and in some cases students can earn credit.

Madison School District aiming to join resolution calling for retirement of Native AmericAn mascots across Wisconsin By Negassi Tesfamichael

Negassi Tesfamichael:

The Madison School Board is slated to support a resolution on Monday calling for legislation requiring school districts across Wisconsin to stop using Native American mascots.

The resolution, which was started by the Wausau School District, would affect the approximately 31 school districts in the state that currently use a Native American mascot, according to a resolution posted to the Madison School District’s website Friday. There are 421 public school districts in Wisconsin.

The resolution will go to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards’ policymaking committee and could be voted on by all of the state’s school districts at the WASB annual convention in January 2020.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Tulsi Gabbard, Democratic Presidential Candidate, Sues Google for $50 Million

Tulsi Gabbard:

“Google’s arbitrary and capricious treatment of Gabbard’s campaign should raise concerns for policymakers everywhere about the company’s ability to use its dominance to impact political discourse, in a way that interferes with the upcoming 2020 presidential election,” the lawsuit said.

Ms. Gabbard and her campaign are seeking an injunction against Google from further meddling in the election and damages of at least $50 million.

Google has automated systems that flag unusual activity on advertiser accounts — including large spending changes — to prevent fraud, said Jose Castaneda, a spokesman for the company

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

The Hidden Costs of Automated Thinking

Jonathan Zittrain:

Like many medications, the wakefulness drug modafinil, which is marketed under the trade name Provigil, comes with a small, tightly folded paper pamphlet. For the most part, its contents—lists of instructions and precautions, a diagram of the drug’s molecular structure—make for anodyne reading. The subsection called “Mechanism of Action,” however, contains a sentence that might induce sleeplessness by itself: “The mechanism(s) through which modafinil promotes wakefulness is unknown.”

Provigil isn’t uniquely mysterious. Many drugs receive regulatory approval, and are widely prescribed, even though no one knows exactly how they work. This mystery is built into the process of drug discovery, which often proceeds by trial and error. Each year, any number of new substances are tested in cultured cells or animals; the best and safest of those are tried out in people. In some cases, the success of a drug promptly inspires new research that ends up explaining how it works—but not always. Aspirin was discovered in 1897, and yet no one convincingly explained how it worked until 1995. The same phenomenon exists elsewhere in medicine. Deep-brain stimulation involves the implantation of electrodes in the brains of people who suffer from specific movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease; it’s been in widespread use for more than twenty years, and some think it should be employed for other purposes, including general cognitive enhancement. No one can say how it works.

This approach to discovery—answers first, explanations later—accrues what I call intellectual debt. It’s possible to discover what works without knowing why it works, and then to put that insight to use immediately, assuming that the underlying mechanism will be figured out later. In some cases, we pay off this intellectual debt quickly. But, in others, we let it compound, relying, for decades, on knowledge that’s not fully known.

In the past, intellectual debt has been confined to a few areas amenable to trial-and-error discovery, such as medicine. But that may be changing, as new techniques in artificial intelligence—specifically, machine learning—increase our collective intellectual credit line. Machine-learning systems work by identifying patterns in oceans of data. Using those patterns, they hazard answers to fuzzy, open-ended questions. Provide a neural network with labelled pictures of cats and other, non-feline objects, and it will learn to distinguish cats from everything else; give it access to medical records, and it can attempt to predict a new hospital patient’s likelihood of dying. And yet, most machine-learning systems don’t uncover causal mechanisms. They are statistical-correlation engines. They can’t explain why they think some patients are more likely to die, because they don’t “think” in any colloquial sense of the word—they only answer. As we begin to integrate their insights into our lives, we will, collectively, begin to rack up more and more intellectual debt.

Theory-free advances in pharmaceuticals show us that, in some cases, intellectual debt can be indispensable. Millions of lives have been saved on the basis of interventions that we fundamentally do not understand, and we are the better for it. Few would refuse to take a life-saving drug—or, for that matter, aspirin—simply because no one knows how it works. But the accrual of intellectual debt has downsides. As drugs with unknown mechanisms of action proliferate, the number of tests required to uncover untoward interactions must scale exponentially. (If the principles by which the drugs worked were understood, bad interactions could be predicted in advance.) In practice, therefore, interactions are discovered after new drugs are on the market, contributing to a cycle in which drugs are introduced, then abandoned, with class-action lawsuits in between. In each individual case, accruing the intellectual debt associated with a new drug may be a reasonable idea. But intellectual debts don’t exist in isolation. Answers without theory, found and deployed in different areas, can complicate one another in unpredictable ways.

This Emotional Intelligence Test Was So Accurate It Was Creepy

Rich Bellis:

A few weeks ago, after receiving a 21-page PDF report breaking down my so-called “emotional intelligence,” I did the logical thing and forwarded it to my boyfriend. He glanced at the list of categories on the second page and exclaimed—before reading my results—”Flexibility, uh oh!”

The report was the result of an assessment I’d taken three weeks prior called the EQ-i 2.0, which is based on nearly 20 years of research and has been taken by some 2 million people—and sure enough, it told me I’m about as inflexible as people close to me seem to think I am. Shortly afterward I scheduled a call with its developer, Steven J. Stein, who reviewed my results and offered this suggestion: “I would start looking at how you operate—what your routines are, how you get through a day.”

When I asked him for an example of a routine I might want to shake up, he said, “Like, eat a different breakfast or something.”

I glanced down. It was a Wednesday morning, and at my elbow was a Tupperware containing one of two breakfasts I pack myself pretty much every day. (Today it’s yogurt, some sliced orange, and granola.)

Commentary on Madison (and WiscoNsin’s) long term, disastrous reading Results

Alan Borsuk:

Research has shown “that phonics instruction is helpful for all students, harmful for none, and crucial for some,” the paper says. It says there are other essentials to good reading instruction. But research on the value of phonics is consistent and goes back decades, it says. 

“Teaching students the basic letter-sound combinations gives them access to sounding out approximately 84% of the words in English print,” the paper says.

Phonics advocates in Wisconsin and elsewhere think this is a big deal. Steve Dykstra, a leader of the pro-phonics Wisconsin Reading Coalition, called the paper “revolutionary.” He said, “I would not go so far as to say this is the end of the reading wars. Maybe it’s the beginning of the end of the reading wars.”

Others are reacting more cautiously. Deborah Cromer, president of the Wisconsin State Reading Association, the main group of Wisconsin reading teachers, said in a statement that the organization supports the use of phonics. But she described other needs, including better staffing of classrooms and better training of teachers.

Why is this urgent in Wisconsin? Because we’re not doing so well. National Assessment of Educational Progress results released in 2017 showed that Wisconsin fourth graders scored overall below the national average, that Wisconsin’s decline in the percentage of proficient students from 2015 to 2017 was one of the largest in the country, and that Wisconsin kids of all races and ethnic groups were proficient at rates below the national average of each group — including that Wisconsin white kids were below white kids nationally.

A couple of decades ago, Wisconsin fourth grade reading ranked among the best in the United States. The state now ranks in the mid-30s

Furthermore, initiatives in Wisconsin in recent years do not seem to be bearing much fruit. They include stronger requirements for getting a license to teach reading to elementary kids and a state requirement (not enforced) that school districts screen kindergartners to spot and respond to reading problems early.

After years of warnings, U.S. finally investigating secret foreign funding of American universities

Alexander Pease:

‘They can no longer expect to ignore the law with impunity’

An academic group that helped expose the reach of Chinese-funded propaganda in American universities has a message for academia: We told you so.

The Department of Education’s new investigation into universities for allegedly hiding foreign funding “is sending a powerful signal to colleges and universities: They can no longer expect to ignore the law with impunity,” Rachelle Peterson, policy director of the National Association of Scholars, told The College Fix.

The probes into Georgetown University and Texas A&M concern university assets from governments and companies in China, Russia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, according to June 13 department letters to the universities obtained by the Associated Press.

The nonprofit Qatar Foundation comprised nearly all the foreign funding reported by Georgetown ($33 million) and all reported by Texas A&M ($6.1 million) last year, according to the AP.

Global Business Professionals in the Developing World Believe that China and India will Surpass the U.S. as the World’s Centers of Tech Innovation by 2035


Bloomberg today released findings of its New Economy global survey, which gathered the views of 2,000 business professionals in 20 markets on what the future will hold as the balance of global power shifts towards new economies. Faced with a series of predictions about the world in 2035, the survey revealed sentiment from business professionals from emerging and developed economies on a range of issues including the role of technology, urbanization and climate change.

Overall, data shows that emerging country business professionals are more optimistic than developed markets about change, and have markedly higher expectations for the role that technology will play in the economy, business and daily life in the decades to come.

“It is noteworthy that emerging economies are more optimistic than developed markets about the power of technology to shape a better world by the year 2035,” said Andrew Browne, editorial director of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum. “Developing countries in general see technology more as an opportunity while the developed world has a greater sense of technology as a threat.”

“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”.

Stretched for time, some households are starting to operate more like businesses

Taylor Lorenz Joe Pinsker:

Children’s free-play time has been on the decline for more than 50 years, and their participation in extracurricular activities has led to more schedule-juggling for parents. Parents are busier too, especially those whose jobs demand ever more attention after hours: 65 percent of parents with a college degree have trouble balancing work and family, a 2015 Pew Research Center report found, compared with about half of those without a college degree. In an effort to cope, some families are turning to software designed for offices. Parents are finding project-management platforms such as Trello, Asana, and Jira, in addition to Slack, a workplace communication tool (its slogan is “Where work happens”), particularly useful in their personal lives. In other words, confronted with relentless busyness, some modern households are starting to run more like offices.

Commentary on Growing University of Wisconsin Student Fees

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The changes would make it difficult to construct buildings funded by student fees, according to a UW-Madison student leader familiar with the approval process, which has attracted scrutiny from Republicans who say the fees are making college less affordable.

UW students will pay between roughly $1,000 and $1,600 in annual fees for bus transportation, student organizations and services such as mental health counseling. A portion of those fees may go to pay for construction of buildings such as student unions or sports recreation centers if a majority of students voting in a referendum approve such a move.

Starting in the fall, for example, each UW-Madison student will pay an additional $173 to help fund major upgrades to recreational facilities. About 87% of students approved the increase in a 2014 referendum that brought a third of campus to the polls.

Wisconsin judge to rule on school choice intervention request

Bethany Blankley:

Their plight “is symbolic of rural education in Wisconsin (and the Midwest) which lags far behind the suburbs and, in Wisconsin, performs worse academically than urban schools,” CJ Szafir, executive vice president at Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), told The Center Square.

WILL filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of Shepherd’s Watch, the local Christian community group run by Wade Reimer. Reimer attempted to purchase the vacant Mattoon Elementary school building to use it as a community center and eventually a Christian school.

A Shawano County judge will hear WILL’s argument Friday and either decide then, or by the end of August.

“Children in Mattoon deserve a high quality, local school and right now there is nothing,” Szafir said. “Yet the Antigo School District would rather have an empty school building sit empty than sell it to a Christian community group with the hopes of turning it into a private school. We’re asking the judge to allow our client to intervene into the case so their story could be heard.”

To date, the district has closed seven rural schools. All students attending public school must travel to the city of Antigo, some commuting 90 minutes round trip.

It, like other districts, argues the schools are “too expensive to run,” but it won’t sell a vacant building, but it won’t sell it to anyone who wants to open a private school, according to the lawsuit.

“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,” Anthony LoCoco, deputy counsel on the case, told WSAU radio. “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.”

Unified School District of Antigo Superintendent Dr. Julie Sprague told The Center Square she was unable to comment due to the pending litigation.

Last fall, Antigo School District business manager Tim Prunty told the Antigo Daily Journal that opening a private school would make public schools like Antigo receive less federal aid, WJFW News 12 reported.

The world’s top 50 thinkers 2019


Never doubt that thoughtful minds can change the world; they are the only things that ever do. Margaret Mead is thought to have said something like that, which chimes with Keynes, who wrote that the self-styled practical men running the world were unwittingly guided by forgotten academic scribblers. For Victor Hugo, meanwhile, the one thing stronger than all the armies in the world was “an idea whose time had come.”

These reflections on the power of thought are worth unearthing because these are anti-intellectual times—and not only because of the proud ignoramus in the White House. No: the roots of current disdain for educated, “liberal elites” go much deeper, tracing back to well before the financial crisis and populist backlash.

The seeds were planted in the 1970s by the New Right’s Irving Kristol, who saw reactionary potential in rallying mass opposition to the “new class” of university graduates, who had the sort of fancy ideas that would go down badly with those Nigel Farage defines as “real people.” Over the decades since, Rupert Murdoch and the popular press, preferred reflex reactions to rationality, and called them “common sense.” They have derided intellectuals, who rarely rank among the economic elite, as a class apart in ivory towers. Today we have reached the Trumpian point where, for perhaps the first time in free societies since the French Revolution, reason has to be defended as a value.

This context makes it timely to revive the Prospect tradition of identifying the world’s leading thinkers. The urge to rank and measure might itself seem anti-intellectual—more Top Trumps than top scholarship. But the aim is not to chase a chimera still less to deliver the results of some supposedly objective IQ test. Rather it is simply to honour the minds engaging most fruitfully with the questions of the moment.

We go into it aware that any such list will say as much about the people doing the listing as the names that make the grade; indeed, you—the readers—will reveal something about yourselves if and when you vote for the very top thinkers in our online poll.

Education in tech is hard, here’s why.

Calder White:

Technology is a field with tremendous breadth and depth. It spans from AI and cryptocurrencies to apps that deliver meals to your doorstep. You can learn about how to make your first webpage or how a Mosfet transistor works. This incredible span of topics creates a problem when the idea of “learning technology” or “working in technology” is presented.

Determining what range of knowledge is required is a constant problem in technology. On top of this, the word “technology” and the topics it covers are changing rapidly. It’s no longer good enough to teach specific concepts or languages. We need to teach students a whole new way to think. Simplification of problems, isolation of problems, problem solving. These are skills that need to be applied no matter what you are working on.

New Madison school board member defends heckler’s veto

David Blaska:

Just when you thought the Madison School Board couldn’t get worse, it did. The board voted unanimously to add Savion Castro, formerly of One Wisconsin Now and currently a Democratic legislative aide for Rep. Sheila Stubbs (D-Madison). Castro replaces former Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke on the board who resigned earlier this year.

RightWisconsin writes:

Despite the unabashed praise of the Capital Times for Castro’s “new perspective” and the addition of “diversity” to the board, his appointment is not a good sign for a school district that has been plagued by protesters attempting to shut down dissenting opinions at school board meetings. Castro is outspoken opponent of free speech. Castro even testified at the state legislature against protecting free speech on University of Wisconsin System campuses.

In an editorial on May 4, 2017, Castro and One Wisconsin Now were named RightWisconsin’s “Losers of the Day,” with good reason. The editorial is below:

What Were Robespierre’s Pronouns?

Penny Noonan:

It was a revolution largely run by sociopaths. One, Robespierre, the “messianic schoolmaster,” saw it as an opportunity for the moral instruction of the nation. Everything would be politicized, no part of the citizen’s life left untouched. As man was governed by an “empire of images,” in the words of a Jacobin intellectual, the new régime would provide new images to shape new thoughts. There would be pageants, and new names for things. They would change time itself! The first year of the new Republic was no longer 1792, it was Year One. To detach farmers from their superstitions, their Gregorian calendar and its saints’ days, they would rename the months. The first month would be in the fall, named for the harvest. There would be no more weeks, just three 10-day periods each month.

So here is our parallel, our hiccup. I thought of all this this week because I’ve been thinking about the language and behavioral directives that have been coming at us from the social and sexual justice warriors who are renaming things and attempting to control the language in America.

There is the latest speech guide from the academy, the Inclusive Communications Task Force at Colorado State University. Don’t call people “American,” it directs: “This erases other cultures.” Don’t say a person is mad or a lunatic, call him “surprising/wild” or “sad.” “Eskimo,” “freshman” and “illegal alien” are out. “You guys” should be replaced by “all/folks.” Don’t say “male” or “female”; say “man,” “woman” or “gender non-binary.”

In one way it’s the nonsense we’ve all grown used to, but it should be said that there’s an aspect of self-infatuation, of arrogance, in telling people they must reorder the common language to suit your ideological preferences. There is something mad in thinking you should control the names of things. Or perhaps I mean surprising/wild.

I see in it a spirit similar to that of the Terror. There is a tone of, “I am your moral teacher. Because you are incapable of sensitivity, I will help you, dumb farmer. I will start with the language you speak.”

An odd thing is they always insist they’re doing this in the name of kindness and large-spiritedness. And yet, have you ever met them? They’re not individually kind or large-spirited. They’re more like messianic schoolmasters.

Publish or Perish: How China’s Elsevier Made its Fortune

Wang Yiwei:

During a livestreamed Q-and-A session in February, young actor Zhai Tianlin sits in front of a champagne-colored curtain holding a list of questions from his fans. He responds to each one as cutesy visual effects pop up around him, but then he’s stumped. “Is your Ph.D. paper available on Zhiwang?” He reads the question with a puzzled look, then looks straight into the camera: “What is Zhiwang?” He repeats: “What is Zhiwang?”

Known for being a “smart” actor, Zhai had then just received a doctorate degree in film studies at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. But, viewers knew, nobody working on their dissertation in China can avoid using Zhiwang, the country’s largest database of academic papers, more formally known as the China National Knowledge Infrastructure, or CNKI. Clearly, something didn’t add up, and the video went viral. Later, Zhai was found to have plagiarized papers and to have graduated without publishing a dissertation.

Zhai apologized, and his reputation took a hit, but that wasn’t the end of the saga. People in academia noticed the sudden interest in CNKI and seized the opportunity to air their grievances with the website. CNKI abuses its legacy of state ownership to keep the Chinese world of academic publishing in a monopolistic stranglehold, they say, and uses its position to pay writers pittances while forcing universities to accept steep price hikes. All in all, CNKI makes exorbitant profits that are hard to justify, critics argue.

Such objections echo those leveled at academic publishers in the West: Why do universities that employ researchers to write papers have to pay unreasonably high prices to access those papers? For example, Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier, which also runs several online databases, has faced protests from European libraries for maintaining annual profit margins of about 37%. Still, that figure pales in comparison with CNKI’s, which for the past decade has posted an average annual profit margin of nearly 60%.

Poetry and Prophecy, Dust and Ashes

Phil Christman:

In the early 1990s, W. W. Norton, that indefatigable supplier of textbooks, invited the literary scholar Robert Alter to assemble a critical edition of Genesis. Alter countered that he’d have to do his own translation, the existing ones being inadequate. Norton agreed. But, Alter tells us in his new treatise The Art of Bible Translation, “I had not gotten halfway through the first chapter of Genesis before I discovered that there were all sorts of things going on in the Hebrew, many having to do with its literary shaping, that had not been discussed in the conventional commentaries and that I wanted to take up.” The scholar-turned-translator thus found himself launched on a third parallel career, as commentator. Alter’s Genesis appeared in 1996 to rapturous reviews, followed by The David Story (both Samuels and a smattering of Kings) a few years later, then the Pentateuch a few years after that. Those of us who came to love Alter soon found ourselves in a position akin to that of Robert Caro’s or George R.R. Martin’s fans. Would he keep going? What if he lost interest, perhaps taking up a less exacting hobby upon his retirement? What if – morbid thought – he died? But twenty-three years after Genesis, Alter has completed his work: a finished Hebrew Bible, three volumes lovingly footnoted; an altogether worthier object of contemplation than some fantasy series, or Lyndon Johnson. And I, who am but dust and ashes, review it.

Ideology crushes teachers’ ability to control classes

Robert Bolton:

The comment comes from education author and commentator Greg Ashman who researches teaching techniques globally.
He was responding to a report from the Centre for Independent Studies that showed students from disadvantaged schools performed poorly in classes where there was a high level of disruption and to the OECD Index of Discipline in schools which shows Australia near the bottom of a list of 67 countries.
Mr Ashman, who is head of research at Ballarat Clarendon College and the author of The Truth about Teaching said teaching faculties at Australian universities subscribed to the philosophy that if kids were disruptive it was the fault of the teacher for not being “interesting enough”.
In reality students misbehave for all sorts of reason which can be external to the classroom and the role of the teacher was not the problem.

Oberlin College ordered to post $36 million bond to delay Gibson’s Bakery collection of Judgment Comments Permalink

William Jacobson:

Judge granted Oberlin College’s motion to stay execution of the judgment, but required the posting of a bond in the amount of the judgment plus three years interest as security.

The compensatory and punitive damages of $25 million (after reduction for tort reform caps), plus the over $6.5 million in attorney’s fees and costs, put Oberlin College almost $32 million in debt to Gibson’s Bakery and its owners.

Absent some judicial action, the next step would have been for the Gibsons to execute on the judgment, meaning start collecting the money through post-judgment remedies, such as seizing bank accounts and physical property.

Oberlin College, which intends to appeal once post-trial motions are over, obviously doesn’t want its bank accounts, computer equipment, and er, Dean of Students’ office furniture, seized just as the freshman class was arriving. So Oberlin College filed a motion for a stay of execution of the judgment until such time as it can appeal and obtain an appeal bond.

We covered the parties’ arguments for and against in our prior post, Gibson’s Bakery: “there is serious concern about [Oberlin College’s] ability to pay this sizeable judgment three years from now”. Gibson’s Bakery devoted much of its opposition to arguing for a bond on the basis that Oberlin College was in poor financial shape:

A stay of judgment execution is not automatic under Ohio law for private litigants. Defendants do not have some absolute right to a stay of execution. Should the Court decide, in its discretion under Civ. R. 62(A), that Defendants are entitled to bond off the execution of the judgment, then Plaintiffs request that the bond be set at $36,356,711.56….

The need for such bond is made clear by the College’s own statements about its dire fmancial straits. If the College is to be believed, there is serious concern about its ability to pay this sizeable judgment three years from now. At trial, and in its recent filing, the College represented that there was only $59.1 million of unrestricted endowment funds available to pay any dollar judgment and that $10 million of those funds had already been committed to pay down the College’s existing debt. [Trial Tr., June 12, 2019 at 95:13-21] There remains $190 million of existing debt on the College’s books. [Id.] The College has also testified that it has a significant operating deficit and that its deficit situation is not sustainable…. [Trial Tr., June 12, 2019 atpp. 86:1-6, 88:1-9]

The College also testified at trial that they have experienced a “significant” and “steady” decline of enrollment from 2014 to 2018. [Trial Tr., June 12, 2019 at 79:4-17] In describing their economic position, the College offered Exhibit N-33 at trial, which is its May 10, 2019 report entitled “One Oberlin: The Academic & Administrative Program Review Final Report.” [Trial Tr., June 12, 2019 at pp. 99-100] In that Report, the College describes its alleged financial hardships and warns about how many other private colleges have had to close due to financial difficulties …[Ex. N-33, pp. 4-5].

Thus, we know that Oberlin College could attempt to continue using its available funds to pay down its other debts between now and the filing of a notice of appeal, thereby leaving less available to pay the judgment in this case.

Saving Lydia: Why I’m Open Sourcing My Baby To Save Her and Millions of Others

Rohan Seth:

There are six billion characters in our DNA. All of us have spontaneous typos in this code — a mutation. Some typos, like Lydia’s, cause serious diseases. Collectively, there are seven million people in the U.S. suffering from typos that affect the brain. Majority of affected are children. This doesn’t include the millions who have already died from these. Pre-natal genetic testing does not look for these. Because a typo can happen in one of billions of characters, there are only a handful of patients with the exact same one. For Lydia’s, there are only two others in the entire world — one in Greece and one in England. At position 683 of the gene KCNQ2, an A was mistyped as a G. That’s all it took.
This is a classic long tail problem — no mutation is common enough, but collectively there are tons. The existing Pharma approach to treat these is broken — they look for common typos and fix them with long drawn out trials. This barely makes a dent. Worse, they have put each in its own bucket and labeled them as rare, so the majority of the world feels they‘re not important to fix. How can these be rare when collectively there are millions with these mutations? The rare label is wrong and limits progress. These are not rare. These are genetic and have the same root cause. We need a systematic, platform-driven approach to fix these typos. We need a spell check.


Mike Lilley:

SPCNJ revealed that the New Jersey Education Association was the source of at least $2.5 million in funding for NDNJ. This was a significant victory for transparency in New Jersey’s political system because NDNJ had reneged on its promise to disclose its donors.

Since then, NDNJ has launched an extensive, million-dollar media campaign featuring the governor, promoting a millionaires tax, and attacking Democratic legislators for leaving the tax out of the fiscal year 2020 budget.

While these aggressive tactics have gained a great deal of press, the coverage has consistently left out the important fact that the state’s most powerful special interest, the NJEA, is the money behind NDNJ. This is a significant omission because it ignores a critical issue: the governor’s conflict of interest due to his leading role in NDNJ’s media campaign.

The facts are damning. It is well-known that the NJEA strongly supported Gov. Murphy’s election campaign, and that NJEA leaders played significant roles in both his transition team and his administration. Indeed, a former NJEA political operative is currently a deputy chief of staff for the governor.

Is disability the new normal

Frank Furedi:

Students in higher education are increasingly classified as either disabled or as suffering from mental-health issues. Disability on campuses has become the new normal and there is a growing demand for providing students with extra time to take exams or with an ever-expanding variety of special institutional support.

At some elite institutions in the United States, around one in four students are now classified as disabled. At Pomona College in California, 22 per cent of students were considered disabled in 2018, compared with five per cent in 2014. A survey published in the Harvard Crimson says that among the class of 2018, 41 per cent of students have at some point sought mental-health support from Harvard’s health services, while 15 per cent have sought support off campus.

Think Republicans are disconnected from reality? It’s even worse among liberals

Arlie Hochschild:

In a surprising new national survey, members of each major American political party were asked what they imagined to be the beliefs held by members of the other. The survey asked Democrats: “How many Republicans believe that racism is still a problem in America today?” Democrats guessed 50%. It’s actually 79%. The survey asked Republicans how many Democrats believe “most police are bad people”. Republicans estimated half; it’s really 15%.

The survey, published by the thinktank More in Common as part of its Hidden Tribes of America project, was based on a sample of more than 2,000 people. One of the study’s findings: the wilder a person’s guess as to what the other party is thinking, the more likely they are to also personally disparage members of the opposite party as mean, selfish or bad. Not only do the two parties diverge on a great many issues, they also disagree on what they disagree on.

This much we might guess. But what’s startling is the further finding that higher education does not improve a person’s perceptions – and sometimes even hurts it. In their survey answers, highly educated Republicans were no more accurate in their ideas about Democratic opinion than poorly educated Republicans. For Democrats, the education effect was even worse: the more educated a Democrat is, according to the study, the less he or she understands the Republican worldview.

East High Principal Mike Hernandez to become chief of MAdison high schools


East High School Principal Mike Hernandez will be the Madison Metropolitan School District’s new chief of high schools, according to a letter sent out to families Wednesday morning.

Hernandez, who first started at East four years ago after previously working as a principal at Sherman Middle School, will take on the role after chief of secondary schools Alex Fralin announced earlier this month that he would leave the district.

“I am excited about the new challenges, and look forward to working with staff across the city,” Hernandez wrote. “In my new role, I vow to keep the focus on equity, achievement, trust, and positive relationships.”

Yet: “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”.

Statement of Commissioner Gail Heriot in the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Report: Beyond Suspensions: Examining School Discipline Policies and Connection to School to Prison Pipeline for Students of Color with Disabilities.

Gail Heriot:

On April 23, 2019, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report entitled Beyond Suspensions: Examining School Discipline Policies and Connection to School to Prison Pipeline for Students of Color with Disabilities. This Statement is part of that report.

In the report, the Commission finds “Students of color as a whole, as well as by individual racial group, do not commit more disciplinable offenses than their white peers ….” That would be a good thing if it were true, but there is no evidence to support it and abundant evidence to the contrary. “This Statement discusses that evidence. Denying facts is not helpful to students, no matter what their race or ethnicity.”

The report also asserts that students with disabilities are disciplined more often than students without disabilities. But it leaves the impression that this means students with physical disabilities are being disproportionately disciplined. That isn’t true. It is students with behavioral disorder who misbehave more often (and hence are disciplined more often). But behavioral disorders are defined by a pattern of misbehavior. All the Commission has found is that student who misbehave a lot get disciplined more often than students who don’t. No surprise there.

Laura Meckler:

Experts say it is unclear whether or why students of color may be more likely to display behavior problems. Possible explanations include the impact of poverty, family structure and systemic bias faced throughout life.

One of the commissioners who voted against adoption of the report, Gail Heriot, said she was disturbed by the finding that students of color do not commit more offenses warranting discipline than their white peers.

“The report provides no evidence to support this sweeping assertion and there is abundant evidence to the contrary,” Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego, wrote in her dissent. She said that denying that black and Hispanic students misbehave more often is a “slap in the face to teachers” because it suggests they are singling out students of color for punishment much more often without evidence.


Dan Sinykin:

Fifty years ago, almost every publisher in the United States was independent. Beginning in the late 1960s, multinational corporations consolidated the industry. By 2007, four out of every five books on bookstore shelves were published by one of six conglomerates: corporate entities that hold businesses from different industries under one governing financial structure. I call this period—from, roughly, RCA’s purchase of Random House at the end of 1965 until the release of the Amazon Kindle and the 2007–8 financial crisis—the conglomerate era.

The conglomerate era was full of prophecies about the coming death of literature, or, on the other hand, its continued flourishing. Literature, said the doomsayers, needed some freedom from commerce to survive. Otherwise we’d be left with only cookbooks and celebrity memoirs. Novelists, especially, rattled their swords. They even convinced the US Senate, in 1980, to hold a hearing about breaking up the conglomerates. E. L. Doctorow argued on behalf of PEN that “the concentration into fewer and fewer hands of the production and distribution of literary work is by its nature constricting to free speech and the effective exchange of ideas and the diversity of opinion.” Publishers countered that—either in spite or because of their consolidations—more and more diverse literature was being published than ever.

The Effects of Means-Tested Private School Choice Programs on College Enrollment and Graduation

Will Flanders:

Despite the efforts of Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Democrats to end school choice, the evidence continues to build on the positive effects of the program. The most recent evidence in a new study from the Urban Institute is arguably some of the most important so far.

Using rigorous research methods, the study found that students in Milwaukee’s school choice program are more likely to enroll in, and graduate from, four year colleges.

This study is a follow-on to the School Choice Demonstration Project that was commissioned by the state of Wisconsin in the mid 2000s. Researchers from the University of Arkansas tracked the progress of students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) along with a matched sample of students in traditional public schools. The matching method used here allows for the best measure of the true effect of an intervention outside of lotteries, which didn’t occur in Milwaukee.

There are two sets of results in the study, one for students that were in 9th grade at baseline and one for students who were in 3rd through 8th grade. Among 9th graders, effects were found on enrollment but not on graduation. Among 3rd through 8th graders, the study also found an effect on enrollment. They find that 50 percent of MPCP students in this group enrolled in college compared to 45 percent of Milwaukee Public Schools students. This difference was statistically significant.

The death and life of the great American hipster offers an alternative history of culture over the last quarter century.

Greg Jackson:

On the college campus where I have been living, the students dress in a style I do not understand. Continuous with what we wore fifteen years ago and subtly different, it is both hipster and not. American Apparel has filed for bankruptcy, but in cities and towns across the US the styles forged a decade ago at the epicenters of bohemia still filter out. Urban Outfitters is going strong. In Zürich, on the banks of the Limmat, elaborate tattoos cover the bodies of the children of Swiss bounty. The French use Brooklyn as a metonym for hip. In this context, in such saturation, hipster can no longer stand for anything, except perhaps the attempt or ambition to look cool. But since coolness venerates its own repudiation most of all, every considered choice bears hipster’s trace. Hipster is everything and nothing—and so it is nothing.

Yet even before hipster petered out, confusion dogged its meaning. Starting in 2009, Mark Greif and his colleagues at n+1 undertook the most serious attempt to date to understand and situate the hipster in context. This realized itself in essays and panel discussions and ultimately a book, What Was the Hipster?1 Admirable as these efforts were—and Greif’s essay of the same name remains the high-water mark in hipster criticism—something elusive always troubled the boundaries of the concept. As Rob Horning wrote for PopMatters after one such panel, “The participants never really made much of an effort to establish a stable definition of what a hipster is,”2 a failure that may reflect the impossibility of the task.

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.”

How to Overcome Failure

Rachel Simmons:

Earlier this year, I suffered an anxiety attack while giving a speech in front of 250 people. It was disorienting and embarrassing; I’m a professional public speaker, and this was an important client. After I stopped talking, someone brought me a chair and a glass of water. I sat in front of a sea of murmuring, concerned faces, wondering if my public speaking career was over.

Years ago, that would have been the end of the story: I would have slunk off the stage and returned the money. But instead, I put my hand over my heart and reminded myself I wasn’t alone. I spoke to myself the way I would talk to my closest friend. How did I know to do this? In part because I’ve spent the last decade teaching failure resilience to students.

As it turns out, learning to fail is a skill like any other. Which means it takes practice. Here’s how you can approach a setback so that — to paraphrase Cardi B — when you’re knocked down nine times, you can get up 10.

Grafton schools ordered to pay for $78,000 a year boarding school for a dyslexic student

Annysa Johnson:

The Grafton School District has been ordered to pay $78,000 a year, plus expenses, to send a student to a boarding school for young people with learning disabilities after an administrative law judge found the district failed to provide him the “free and appropriate public education” required by law.

The boy’s mother had waged a yearslong battle with the district over her son’s education, in recent years accusing his high school teachers of completing assignments for him, lying about his progress and passing him in classes when he hadn’t done the work.

“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”

Let’s Compare: Middleton and Madison Property Taxes

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

xlsx file.

Related links: Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 tax and spending history. Madison spends around 18.5 to 20K per student, depending on the district documents reviewed (some include all referendum spending).

Middleton taxpayers spent $90,989,198 for 7,437 students during the 2018-2019 school year or $12,239 per student. Madison spends at least 50% more per student. Yet.

2016 comparison.

I pondered this while considering Chicago’s property tax growth problems.

Property Tax Explosion Stunts Chicago Real Estate Market

AK Thomson:

Bryce Hill, research analyst at the independent Illinois Policy think-tank, says that the annual property-tax take in Cook County, which includes Chicago, increased 76 per cent more than median home values between 1996 and 2016.

“Both the city and the state are wrestling with unbalanced budgets, massive amounts of pension debt, and limited solutions,” he says. “As they fight these worsening financial conditions, businesses and homeowners have been saddled with high property taxes that far outpace growth in property values.”

Until last year, homeowners in Chicago could write off property taxes against their taxable income. But President Donald Trump’s 2018 reform establishes a $10,000 cap, leaving many homeowners suddenly forking out huge sums. “It has really put the brakes on sales,” says Nicholas Apostal, a principal broker at Keller Williams in Chicago.

Apostal is listing a fully renovated 19th-century brownstone in Lincoln Park with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. The $1.45m sales tag is far below the pricier markets of New York and San Francisco, but it comes with annual property taxes of just under $22,000 — and no guarantee that they will not increase in years to come.

The Madison School Board is considering another property tax and spending boost. This occurs during a time of substantial federal taxpayer subsidized property base growth.


Madison has long spent more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts. Yet we have tolerated disastrous reading results.

Related: A look at property taxes.

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison property taxes: 2018 and 2016.

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 Best Magazine Articles Ever

Kevin Kelly:

The following are suggestions for the best magazine articles (in English) ever. Stars denote how many times a correspondent has suggested it. Submitter comments are in italics. For a great way to read long-form magazine articles on a tablet device see my review of LongForm and Instapaper here.

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


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.


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?


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.


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.”

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…”

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

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.”

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.”
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.

Freedom in the 50 states


We score all 50 states on over 200 policies encompassing fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom. We weight public policies according to the estimated costs that government restrictions on freedom impose on their victims.

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.