College Board Drops Plans for SAT Student Adversity Scores

Douglas Belkin:

The backlash emerged after an article in The Wall Street Journal in May detailed the College Board’s plans for the adversity score.

The College Board, the New York-based nonprofit that oversees the SAT, said it has worried for years about race income inequality influencing test results.

White students scored an average of 177 points higher than black students and 133 points higher than Hispanic students in 2018 results. Asian students scored 100 points higher than white students. The children of wealthy and college-educated parents outperformed their classmates.

An analysis by Georgetown University researchers earlier this year found that if the most selective U.S. colleges and universities relied solely on SAT scores for admissions decisions, their campuses would be wealthier, whiter and more male, raising questions about the role of standardized testing in admissions.

Landscape is designed to help colleges compare an applicant’s test scores to those of other students in their high school and beyond, the College Board said. It also aims to give a picture of the quality of the school and relative wealth and stability of the neighborhood.

Six “challenge factors” provide the “summary neighborhood challenge indicator” and the “summary high-school challenge indicator,” according to the College Board. Those factors are college attendance, household structure, median family income, housing stability, education levels and crime. Admissions officers who tested Landscape estimate they lack high-school information for about 25% of all applications, the College Board said.

Fifty colleges used the adversity score last year as part of a beta test. The College Board had planned to expand it to 150 institutions this fall, and then use it broadly the following year.


Intimidation-Produced Silence at Stanford

John Rosenberg:

Back in the late middle of the last century I attended Stanford for my last three years of college and my last three years of graduate school. Since then I have looked in vain for the dividend checks from that investment, but one thing I have received with some regularity is the alumni magazine.

Along with its almost equally depressing news of classmates either more successful or deceased, Stanford usually presents impressive representatives of the unusually talented undergraduates it attracts, as well as items highlighting other accomplishments on campus. A recent issue, however, featured a symposium by four senior faculty members on “What Should Free Speech Mean in College?” that is discordantly, uncharacteristically depressing — in no small part because the editors obviously had no idea how bad the picture they painted makes Stanford look.

Michael McConnell, law professor, director of the Constitutional Law Center, former judge on the the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and one of the few conservatives at Stanford, struck a common note with his observation that “at Stanford, students frequently appeal to the university to silence other students whose views make them feel uncomfortable. Students of a conservative persuasion tell me that they do not feel free to express their views—even mainstream, reasonable views shared by millions of Americans—in class or in common spaces, for fear of attracting a torrent of abuse from fellow students and occasional disapproval from a small minority of ideologically intolerant faculty. They simply self-censor; they keep their mouths shut.”

civics: 61% Welcome Public Scrutiny of Big League Reporters

Rasmussen Reports:

The New York Times and others are complaining that allies of President Trump are targeting hostile reporters by exposing controversial social media postings from their past. But most voters consider these reporters fair game for public criticism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters think reporters at major news organizations like CNN, Fox News and the New York Times are public figures who deserve the same level of scrutiny as the people they cover. Just 19% disagree, although just as many (20%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Just over half (51%) say it is appropriate for elected officials to criticize specific reporters and news organizations. Thirty-nine percent (39%), however, view such criticism as a threat to freedom of the press. This compares to 48% and 45% respectively in February 2017 after Trump began criticizing specific news organizations that were targeting him. Ten percent (10%) remain undecided.

Rasmussen Reports bases its surveys on likely voters – those who have a history of voting in recent elections – as opposed to registered voters in general, many of whom historically don’t go to the polls.

A plurality (47%) of voters continues to believe that ideologically speaking the average reporter is more liberal than they are. Just 19% think that reporter is more conservative than they are, while 22% consider them ideologically about the same. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure. This is consistent with findings in surveys for the past several years.

German cartel office to take Facebook case to High Court

Joseph Nasr:

Facebook appealed February’s landmark decision by the cartel office that the world’s largest social network abused its dominant market position to gather information about users without their consent.

The Higher Regional Court in Duesseldorf said in its ruling earlier on Monday: “The suspension of the order means that Facebook does not have to implement the decision of the Federal Cartel Office for the time being.”

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, declined to comment.

The court said its temporary injunction removing restrictions on Facebook’s data gathering would be valid until it had made a final decision on the company’s appeal.

Rather than doing work their own way, they do what they think will be well-received — being merely imitators of what is already popular.

Benjamin Hardy:

Kenzie and Harris wouldn’t have had their breakthrough if they didn’t start as amateurs. They had some raw talent. But more than anything, they were willing to put themselves out there over and over and over. Quantity became quality. And then they put something out that people loved.

Very few people have the humility to start as amateurs. They procrastinate doing the work they want in the name of perfectionism. You know these people. The one’s who have been saying for years that they’re going to do something but never do. Yet inwardly, they’re terrified of what other people will think of them.

They’re caught in a state of paralysis by analysis — too busy calculating and never reaching a state of flow. Rather than doing work their own way, they do what they think will be well-received — being merely imitators of what is already popular.

Commentary on Education Schools and Teacher Supply/Demand


More than 2,500 teachers in Wisconsin worked in schools using emergency licenses during the 2017-18 school year, according to DPI data.

In the Madison Metropolitan School District, 109 teachers were on emergency licenses during the 2016-17 school year after 67 the preceding school year.

Teachers who work with some of the state’s most vulnerable students, including people with disabilities and those learning English as a second language, are often likely to have emergency licenses. Emergency licenses are also often awarded for math and science teachers.

“There are high needs areas like special education that have been high needs areas for the last 30 years,” said Kimber Wilkerson, faculty director of the School of Education’s Teacher Education Center. “But it’s exacerbated in the last five or 10 years.”

Wilkerson said that in some rural Wisconsin school districts that might only have one or two special education teachers, all might be working under emergency licenses.

DPI’s DeGuire said looking at the number of vacancies school districts have that go unfilled also illustrates the teacher shortage problem.

Nationally, some researchers have argued the teaching shortage is worse than previously understood and disproportionately affects high poverty schools, according to a paper by the Economic Policy Institute from earlier this year.

“Lack of sufficient, qualified teachers and staff instability threaten students’ ability to learn and reduce teachers’ effectiveness, and high teacher turnover consumes economic resources that could be better deployed elsewhere,” wrote Emma Garcia and Elaine Weiss, the paper’s authors. “The teacher shortage makes it more difficult to build a solid reputation for teaching and to professionalize it, which further contributes to perpetuating the shortage.”

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has waived thousands of elementary teacher reading content knowledge requirements in recent years (“Foundations of Reading”).

Years Ago, This Doctor Linked A Mysterious Lung Disease To Vaping

Victoria Knight:

Dr. John E. Parker was working at a West Virginia hospital in 2015 when a 31-year-old female patient was admitted with acute respiratory problems. A team of doctors ultimately suspected that her mysterious case of lipoid pneumonia might be related to vaping and weren’t sure they had seen anything like it before. They were intrigued enough to publish a case report — a type of medical paper on unusual or provocative patient findings. Such reports can serve as a call to the medical community to be on the lookout, though they sometimes raise more questions than they provide answers.

This summer, almost four years later, federal officials began investigating a national outbreak of severe lung illnesses linked to vaping that has struck more than 150 patients in 16 states. In an interview, Parker, a professor of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine at West Virginia University, described what happened.

US indicts Chinese professor over alleged lack of disclosure

Kadhim Shubber:

US prosecutors have indicted a University of Kansas professor on charges that he failed to disclose a contract with a Chinese university while doing US government-funded research.

Franklin Tao, 47, was charged with four counts of fraud by the Department of Justice on Wednesday. A justice department spokesman said Mr Tao was in custody.

The case highlights the heightened scrutiny of academics in an ongoing US crackdown on what it claims are Chinese efforts to use American knowledge to boost China’s economy.

“Any potential conflicts of commitment by a researcher must be disclosed as required by law and university policies. The Department will continue to pursue any unlawful failure to do so,” said John Demers, chief of the DoJ’s national security division, in a statement.

Mr Tao could not be immediately reached for comment. The court docket showed no current attorney for him.

Eliminating Talent By Force

Rod Dreher:

In that same book I quoted in an earlier post, From Under The Rubble (which you can read online for free by following the link), there’s an essay on socialism by Igor Shafarevich. In it, he quotes Marx saying that communism aims to “eliminate talent by force.” Equality must be achieved above all things.

Reading the Shafarevich, I thought of the removal and/or relocation of photographs of white males from medical schools, on ideological grounds (I wrote about it here on Monday.) It won’t stop there. That’s just the first step. They begin by removing the images of certain figures, and will eventually get around to removing people like them from the schools, all in the name of equality.

Something like this might be about to happen in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s School Diversity Advisory Group has recommended that the city eliminated gifted and talented programs for elementary schools, and stop using academic criteria for admission to middle schools. Why? Diversity, of course. Too many of the kids who get into the better schools and programs are white and Asian, not enough are black and Hispanic, according to progressive dogma. Christine Rosen writes:

Madison’s one size fits all experiment: English 10.

Yet, despite spending far more than most – between $18K and $20K per student, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results:

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

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

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

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

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

Rudyard Kipling, American Imperialist

Maya Jasanoff:

If a writer harbored bias, shall we never speak his name? Or when he wrote with insight, might we read him all the same? Christopher Benfey opens his book about Rudyard Kipling with the inevitable questions. He answers by coming neither to praise Kipling nor to bury him, but to explore him as more than the author of some now-notorious couplets. A boundlessly prolific spinner of verse, stories, and novels for adults and children alike, Kipling managed to be “the most popular and financially successful writer” of his era, as well as one of the most acclaimed—becoming the first English-language author to win the Nobel Prize, at just 41. And though he may by now have become the “most politically incorrect writer in the canon,” he impressed many postcolonial writers, too. Born in Bombay in 1865 and beginning his career as a journalist in Lahore and Allahabad, Kipling knew India more intimately than any other British writer, giving his work, says Salman Rushdie, an “undeniable authority.” Michael Ondaatje weaves Kipling’s novel Kim into The English Patient, likening Kipling’s pages to “a drug of wonders.” Maya Angelou herself said that she “enjoyed and respected Kipling.”

Remember that report on Providence schools? Nothing has changed… Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results over the Decades

Wall Street Journal:

Examiners observed students during class chatting with friends, talking on the phone and watching YouTube videos. “Kindergartners punch each other in the face—with no consequences,” one teacher said. About a quarter of teachers were absent at least 10% of the school year. Student test scores are the worst in Rhode Island and lower than districts in other states with similar demographics. “Economically disadvantaged students experienced decreasing rates of proficiency as they progressed through school, with a low of only 6.2% proficiency by the 8th grade,” the report noted.

Cue the condemnations by political leaders who presided over this horror show. “This report makes clear that the status quo is failing our kids and we know that nipping at the margins will not be enough,” Mayor Jorge Elorza declared. “We need wholesale, transformational change.”

“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”.

I worked as a janitor to keep my student loans low. Wiping debt punishes students like me.

Christian Barnard:

Rather than funding the exorbitant sticker prices of America’s colleges, it’d be much better for everyone if policymakers held the institutions directly accountable. Innovative alternatives to traditional student loans such as income-sharing agreements — where private investors fund students and are paid back by students’ future income — are a promising way to incentivize universities to actually become more affordable and career-focused.

Sanders wants students to be spared the risk of investing in their own futures. But people like me, folks benefiting from their undergraduate and higher-level degrees, should have skin in the game. After all, over our lifetimes, we’ll make millions more with our degrees than we would have without them. Certainly, college should be accessible and affordable to all. But to get there, it doesn’t require giving welfare to the rich and punishing the young people who chose to exercise some financial responsibility.

Parents Know Better Than Standardized Tests

Jason Bedrick and Corey A. DeAngelis:

Thanks to private-school choice—vouchers, tax-credit scholarships and education savings accounts—this year nearly half a million children in 29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia will attend schools their parents selected.

Critics of school choice often argue that low-income families lack the knowledge or ability to choose meaningfully between schools. Worrying that parents will be taken advantage of or make poor decisions, they oppose choice programs or favor onerous testing requirements to prove they are effective.

New studies on school choice in Colombia and Barbados, however, suggest families know something that tests can’t detect. These two countries, with per capita incomes a quarter and a third of America’s, respectively, can teach us a lot about how the most economically disadvantaged families choose schools.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Next Recession Will Destroy Millennials

Annie Lowrey:

Cost pressures have also made it difficult or impossible for Millennials to save or invest. The share of Americans under the age of 35 who own stocks has meandered down from 55 percent in 2001 to 37 percent in 2018, in part because employers are less likely to offer retirement-savings plans and in part because Millennials have nothing left over at the end of the month to put away. Virtually all members of the cohort are “not saving adequately,” experts warn, and two-thirds of Millennials have zero retirement savings. This means that Millennials have benefited not a bit from the decade-long boom in stock prices, as their parents and grandparents have.

Millennials are worth less on paper than members of older generations are, and are worth less on paper than members of older generations were at the same point in their lives. The net worth of your average Millennial household is 40 percent lower than for Gen X households in 2001 and 20 percent lower than for Baby Boomers’ households at the end of the 1980s.

Beyond Techno-Orientalism: An Interview with Logic Magazine’s Xiaowei R Wang

Josh Feola:

Though they’ve spent the last few years focusing on the intersection between agriculture and technology, Xiaowei R Wang‘s resume of working with tech in China is long and varied. Many of the projects they’ve been involved with are process-oriented and community-based, such FLOAT, an interactive design project that sent Arduino-linked air-quality-sensing kites up in public parks around China, and LOOP, a user-generated community radio that popped up in Beijing for the 2015 JUE Festival.

The latest one-word project Xiaowei’s become involved with is Logic, a technology magazine initiated in 2016. Xiaowei was drafted from the project’s beginning as Creative Director, and has just put together a full issue on China for the magazine’s 7th issue, out now. Logic‘s China issue tackles trending topics (censorship, surveillance, social credit) and less covered facets of technology in China (rural-urban divide in internet use, changing government attitudes towards online freedom) in equal measure, commissioned and shaped by Wang to “present a rounder, more nuanced picture of the tech landscape in China today.”

I sat down with Xiaowei to discuss the driving logic behind this issue of Logic, and where they hope it falls along “China watcher”/”tech watcher” divide:

A ‘Fact Checker’ Declares War On Satire

Kyle Mann:

If your job is to make people laugh, what do you do when your brand of humor is classified as dangerous?

I run the Babylon Bee, a satirical website, and we’ve had to face that question a lot lately. The “fact checkers” at—once a reliable source for distinguishing reality from urban legends—have been smearing the Bee as “fake news.” They don’t seem to have a problem when we make fun of Trump-worship, conservatives, fundamentalism and megachurches. But when we target Democrats and the left, suddenly we’re branded…

Where Does Affirmative Action Leave Asian-Americans?

Jay Caspian Kangv:

For the purposes of this article, Alex Chen, an 18-year-old senior at the Bronx High School of Science in New York City, is the “typical Asian student.” Alex has a 98 percent average at one of the city’s elite public high schools, scored a 1,580 on the SAT and, as far as he knows, has earned the respect of his teachers. Alex is also the vice president of technology for the Bronx Science chapter of the National Honor Society, the director of graphics and marketing for TeenHacks L.I. (“the first hackathon for teens in Long Island”), a member of the cross-country team, the vice president of the school’s painting club, the president of the Get Your Life Together club (visitors from various businesses come talk to students) and the senator for his homeroom. In his free time, he plays Pokémon and goes on long jogs through Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. His parents, Qiao and Su, emigrated from China in the ’90s and worked their way through commuter colleges in Queens. They live along with Alex’s little brother in a modest apartment in outer Queens. In the specific yet ultimately abstracted and perhaps inhuman calculations particular to selective college admissions, Alex is a first-generation (considered a plus), middle-class (minus) Chinese-American (minus, arguably) with two college-educated parents (minus) from a major American city (minus) with aspirations to study either computer science (minus, given all the Asians who want to go into STEM disciplines) or political science (plus).

When I first met him in early August 2018, we struggled to find a time to meet up to talk about his thoughts on affirmative action and its effect on Asian-American students. Deep into the summer vacation before his last year of high school, Alex had been interning in the office of Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou while also completing a study on congressional legislators with a professor at New York University. There just was no time.

Our willingness to share content without thinking is exploited to spread disinformation

Claire Wardle:

As someone who studies the impact of misinformation on society, I often wish the young entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley who enabled communication at speed had been forced to run a 9/11 scenario with their technologies before they deployed them commercially.

One of the most iconic images from that day shows a large clustering of New Yorkers staring upward. The power of the photograph is that we know the horror they’re witnessing. It is easy to imagine that, today, almost everyone in that scene would be holding a smartphone. Some would be filming their observations and posting them to Twitter and Facebook. Powered by social media, rumors and misinformation would be rampant. Hate-filled posts aimed at the Muslim community would proliferate, the speculation and outrage boosted by algorithms responding to unprecedented levels of shares, comments and likes. Foreign agents of disinformation would amplify the division, driving wedges between communities and sowing chaos. Meanwhile those stranded on the tops of the towers would be livestreaming their final moments.

Public schools should be places of learning, not propaganda

Joel Kotkin & Doug Harvard:

California likes to think of itself as the brain center of the universe, but increasingly much of that intellectual content comes from somewhere else. Once a leader in educational innovation and performance, California is now toward the bottom of the pack.

Despite these failings, the powerful California Teachers Association, emboldened by the huge Democratic gains in 2018, continues to push an aggressive and fundamentally reactionary approach to education, spending upwards of a million a month to curtail the surge of innovative charter schools in the state. This is particularly critical in lower-income communities, such as the East Bay, central Orange County and Los Angeles, where the state’s public schools have consistently failed and where some charters have made considerable strides through reforms and innovations.

But nothing has been more illustrative of the political agenda of our educational establishment than the recent draft curriculum for an “ethnic studies” course for the state’s schools. Although this curriculum has created a firestorm of opposition and is unlikely to be adopted as is, the fact is the curriculum reflected a far-left agenda that is deeply entrenched in the educational establishment.

My Schooling In The Soviet Union Surpasses U.S. Public Schools Today

Katy Sedgwick:

In America, however, that very system has been weakened from within. Here’s an overview of what’s different between my childhood Soviet education and my kids’ U.S. public schools.


Math was the dissident’s favorite in the Soviet Union. It was believed that the subject is so logical and abstract, the party could never impose its will on it. After all, two plus two equals four — in the 10-digit system, at least — regardless of the edicts of the Politburo.

Maybe the Soviet bureaucrats weren’t clever enough, because the American educational bureaucracy did ruin mathematics. That, of course, was accomplished via the 1960s’ “new math,” which has been reincarnated yet again in Common Core. Those who didn’t subscribe to the new math teachings weren’t exiled to Gulags, but the kids who were taught in this manner failed to learn. Sometimes, the soft managerial power of destructive innovation is mightier than the NKVD.

With generations raised after the new math, schools are hard-pressed to find anyone who can teach the subject — not that the administrators would know, anyway. U.S. instructors readily admit they don’t understand or like the discipline. They end up confusing the students. A few years ago at my child’s back-to-school meeting, a third-grade teacher was chirping away about Common Core math and how it shows that in math, too, there is more than one way to find an answer.

I was taught something like “multiple methods,” and I find this line of thought ridiculous. Yes, there can be more than one way to get to the same answer, but we prefer the elegant, simplest solution. There is logic and beauty in mathematics that educated people of average intellect have to be able to appreciate.


I have spent quite a bit of time in my Russian language and literature classes memorizing poems and language rules. Several times every quarter, we were called up to recite a poem. Likewise, the rules of spelling and punctuation were to be memorized. We copied sentences from our textbooks — some of them straight commie propaganda, but others taken out of classic works of fiction — filling in correct prefixes and endings, putting punctuation marks in correct places.

After spending a week or two on an individual language rule, we would have a dictation test. Is it naive to expect an equal rigor from American public edutainment?

Russian is a vicious language, but English shouldn’t be that hard to master. It has more words, but fewer rules to follow and fewer exceptions to those rules. Teachers can take these rules one by one, explain, and practice over a period of a few weeks. With the kind of system I went through, most children graduating elementary school should be decent spellers.

Who am I kidding, though? No structure exists to support this kind of learning — not even textbooks! In our California elementary school, at the very end of second grade, students received handbooks with all the rules of the English language. Was that a joke? What is a nine-year-old expected to do with that manual? Thus, students are funneled into middle schools with hardly a clue about writing.

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”.

3 Law Schools Pass the $100,000-a-Year Mark

Greta Anderson:

The price to attend the law schools at Columbia and Stanford Universities and the University of Chicago will pass $100,000 this academic year, making them the first of the nation’s law schools to blow past that mark. Several of their law school peers are poised just below it and will surpass six figures soon.

Columbia’s cost of attendance went from $97,850 in 2018-19 to $101,345 this upcoming year, according to its costs and budgeting information published online, which includes both tuition and fees and law students’ nine-month cost of living expenses. Stanford Law will charge $101,016 this upcoming year, as reported in its 2019-20 Financial Aid Handbook. That’s a 4.5 percent increase from its 2018-19 total cost of $96,429. Chicago edged over the $100,000 mark by $80 for first-year students, but is at a mere $98,505 for second- and third-year students.

K-12 TAX & SPENDING CLIMATE: Hospital CEOs top pay list, as top earner clears $10 million over the past five years

Transparent California:

The heads of public health agencies are once again atop the list of California’s highest-paid special district workers.

Transparent California now has 2018 pay data for over 125,000 special district workers statewide, which includes agencies like fire and water districts, sanitation districts, transit agencies and public hospitals.

The top special district earners all came from public health systems, as shown below:

Washington Hospital Healthcare System CEO Nancy Farber: $1,194,702.

BETA Healthcare Group CEO Thomas Wander: $1,141,450.

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital District CEO Pedro Delgado Jr: $960,054.
Tri-City Medical Center CEO Steven Dietlin: $837,494.

Alameda Health System CEO Delvecchio Finley: $824,859.

The one outlier is Wander of the BETA Healthcare Group, which is a special district that provides liability and workers’ compensation coverage to public health systems.

Meeting online has become the most popular way U.S. couples connect, Stanford sociologist finds


Algorithms, and not friends and family, are now the go-to matchmaker for people looking for love, Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld has found.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Rosenfeld found that heterosexual couples are more likely to meet a romantic partner online than through personal contacts and connections. Since 1940, traditional ways of meeting partners – through family, in church and in the neighborhood – have all been in decline, Rosenfeld said.

A Broken Media Is a Broken Society

Ian Welsh:

It is not possible to make good decisions without good information.

In a well functioning society, the media would be part of that system by providing accurate, useful information to the public.

That isn’t the media we have. Strictly speaking, we’ve never had that media, though some periods were better than others.

Let’s run through a few of the issues:

Man Bites Dog; If It Bleeds It Leads

The more we see something, the more of it we think exists. But the routine and normal doesn’t make sensational news.

The truth is that violent crime is at multi-generational lows, but most people don’t think that.

The truth is that the person who will hurt or molest your child is almost certainly not a stranger, but a family member, friend, or other trusted adult.

The truth is that terrorism is not a significant threat to Americans. You’re more likely to get hurt when you slip in your tub.

Oregon Village Board, School District at odds over school-based police officer contract

Logan Wroge:

With a new school year swiftly approaching, the Oregon Village Board and Oregon School District are at odds over finalizing a contract to provide a police officer for the district.

The Village Board unanimously approved Monday new contract language between the village and the school district that would “simplify and streamline” the school resource officer, or SRO, program, said Village Board president Jeanne Carpenter.

Steve Zach, president of the Oregon School Board, said the district has instead proposed renewing an existing contract, which includes specifics on things such as how arrests are conducted, qualifications to serve as an SRO, and the role of the officer in school disciplinary matters.

De Blasio Gives Up on Educating Poor Kids

Jason Riley:

To say that many liberal elites have all but given up on educating low-income minorities might seem like an overstatement. But when you consider the state of public education in our inner cities, and the priorities of those in charge, it’s hard to draw any other conclusion.

After Labor Day, New York City’s 1.1 million public school students will return to the classroom. The majority of them can’t do basic reading or math, according to state standardized test results released last week. And the numbers get even more depressing when broken down by race and ethnicity. Black and Hispanic students make up 67% of the system, while whites and Asians are about 15% and 16%, respectively. Only 28% of black students passed the math exam, versus 33% of Hispanics, 67% of whites and 74% of Asians. On the English exam, the passage rates were 68% for Asians, 67% for whites, 37% for Hispanics and 35% for blacks.

Sadly, these racial gaps in academic achievement have persisted for decades, and they are a main source of racial inequality in America. Want to help someone avoid poverty or addiction or incarceration? An education goes a long way. The irony is that the same social-justice advocates who obsess over inequality also spurn reforms, such as public charter schools, that help close black-white differences in learning. “City charter schools, now teaching roughly 10% of the city’s student population, markedly outperformed traditional public schools again” on the state tests, reported the New York Post. Fifty-seven percent of charter-school test takers passed the state English exam, and 63% passed the math portion.

“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — not!.

Madison’s one size fits all expedition: English 10.

“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”.

Reading Recovery in Madison….. 28% to 58%; Lags National Effectiveness Average.

Reading interventionist teacher’s remarks to the school board on madison’s disastrous reading results.

Madison teachers gather at pep rally for racial equity

Steven Elbow:

Some 5,000 educators from the district’s 50 schools gathered at the Alliant Energy Center Monday to start their workweek with the three-hour event, which featured Madison School District officials, a student poet and Bettina Love, a popular speaker on issues of race and education.

The event highlighted the importance the district has placed on black academic progress, and on erasing the alarming achievement gap that has persisted despite years of effort.

But according to the district’s annual report released Monday, progress is being made.

The report says that black students have made significant progress on key benchmarks since 2012, the year before Jennifer Cheatham was hired as superintendent to address persistent issues related to race and equity. Cheatham left this summer for a job at Harvard University, and the district hired Jane Belmore as interim superintendent while the School Board decides on a permanent replacement.

“I invite you also to open your minds and, importantly, open your hearts to today’s messages,” Belmore told the gathering, “both here and as you go back to your schools and workplaces and work with your teams and continue this work throughout the year.”

The exuberant tone of the gathering belied some of contentious issues that have accompanied the district’s attempts to narrow the achievement gap, such as the implementation of a new discipline policy in 2014 that prompted some teachers to complain that they feel powerless when facing student misbehavior.

Belmore, who takes over during the second year of a new strategic framework that stresses black excellence, acknowledged the friction surrounding equity issues.

“I know this year will be a very important year for our district,” she said. “We have many critical decisions to make as we support every day the important work that you do in your schools. I want you to know that we’ll do our very best to make those decisions with courage and with integrity, knowing that not everyone will be pleased with every decision we make.”

According to the annual report, standardized testing shows an 8% increase for grades three to five in reading proficiency for black students, and an 11% increase in math proficiency, since 2012, nearly the same increases seen overall. In grades six to eight, black students outpaced the total student progress with a 7% increase in reading proficiency, compared to 4% overall, and a 5% increase in math proficiency, compared to 3% overall. High school completion rates for black students are up 11%, compared to 4% overall.

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

The New American Homeless

Brian Goldstone:

Last August, Cokethia Goodman returned home from work to discover a typed letter from her landlord in the mailbox. She felt a familiar panic as she began to read it. For nearly a year, Goodman and her six children—two of them adopted after being abandoned at birth—had been living in a derelict but functional three-bedroom house in the historically black Peoplestown neighborhood of Atlanta. Goodman, who is 50, has a reserved, vigilant demeanor, her years trying to keep the kids out of harm’s way evident in her perpetually narrowed eyes. She saw the rental property as an answer to prayer. It was in a relatively safe area and within walking distance of the Barack and Michelle Obama Academy, the public elementary school her youngest son and daughter attended. It was also—at $950 a month, not including utilities—just barely affordable on the $9 hourly wage she earned as a full-time home health aide. Goodman had fled an abusive marriage in 2015, and she was anxious to give her family a more stable home environment. She thought they’d finally found one.

As a longtime renter, Goodman was acquainted with the capriciousness of Atlanta’s housing market. She knew how easily the house could slip away. Seeking to avoid this outcome, she ensured that her rent checks were never late and, despite her exhausting work schedule, became a stickler for cleanliness. So strong was her fear of being deemed a “difficult” tenant that she avoided requesting basic repairs. But now, reading the landlord’s terse notice, she realized that these efforts had been insufficient. When her lease expired at the end of the month, it would not be renewed. No explanation was legally required, and none was provided. “You think you did everything you’re supposed to do,” she told me, “and then this happens.”

Notes and links: Police and the Taxpayer supported Madison School District

David Blaska:

“Mainstream education is an oppressive institution,”
says one supporter

If I read this right, Madison police will continue to provide security and positive role models in Madison’s four main public high schools for two more school years.

That is because the Madison Board of Education is not considering evicting the school resource officer at any one of those schools for the 2020-21 school year, as its contract with the city permits. At least, that’s according to the agenda posted for Monday’s (08-26-19) school board meeting. And time is running out.

One supposes it is possible for a special meeting to be called before the September 15 deadline.

Chris Rickert:

A Madison School Board member’s comparison of police to Nazis and of Dane County’s juvenile jail to concentration camps is drawing the ire of local law enforcement.

In a Facebook post Saturday highlighting the plight of youth detained at the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center, Ali Muldrow said: “I think that (it’s) important to talk about what it is like for the students who are arrested at school and end up in the Dane County Jail. We would not talk about the role of the Nazis and act as if the experiences people had in concentration camps is a separate issue.”

Muldrow, who was elected to her first term on the board in April, has long questioned the need to lock up juvenile offenders and criticized racial disparities in the criminal justice system.


But he had “difficulty equating what they go through with Nazi Germany.”

School Board president Gloria Reyes, a former Madison police officer, called the Holocaust comparisons “very far-fetched.”

“We can’t blame officers for the disparities in arrests,” she said. “They (police) get called.”

She said she shared Muldrow’s concerns about disparities in arrests “but we are doing something about it,” mentioning restorative justice, for example.

Kelly Powers, president of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association, called Muldrow’s post “universally insulting” and “ridiculous on so many levels.”

“It is this sort of position that will cause (the Madison School District) to continue seeing departures to open enrollment and families moving to neighboring communities,” he said.

In her own comment on Muldrow’s post, school board member Ananda Mirillli, who was also elected to a first term in April, thanked Muldrow “for directly speaking to the issue of armed police in our schools. Thanks for speaking to the experiences of our students upon incarceration

The Lonely Work of Moderating Hacker News

Anna Weiner:

Open-plan offices offer few pleasures; one of them is snooping on other people’s browsing habits. When, years ago, I began working for tech companies in San Francisco, I noticed that my co-workers were always scrolling through a beige, text-only Web site that resembled a nineteen-nineties Internet forum. They were reading Hacker News—a link aggregator and message board that is something of a Silicon Valley institution. Technologists in Silicon Valley assume familiarity with Hacker News, just as New Yorkers do with the New York Post and the New York Times. For some, it’s the first Web site they pull up in the morning; it captures the mix of technical obsession, business ambition, and aspirational curiosity that’s typical of the Valley. On any given day, its top links might include a Medium post about technical hiring; a 1997 article from Outside magazine about freezing to death; an open-source virtual private network hosted on GitHub; an academic paper, from 2006, about compiler construction; an announcement from Facebook’s corporate communications team; a personal blog post about Linux kernels, and another about selling Vidalia onions on the Internet. Nearly all the software engineers I know check it religiously. Not one of them has a neutral opinion about it.

Like many of the software products that have shaped the Valley, Hacker News began as a side project. In 2007, the venture capitalist Paul Graham, who was then the president of the startup accelerator Y Combinator—an early investor in Dropbox, Stripe, Reddit, Twitch, and other companies—built the site as a way to experiment with Arc, a new programming language that he was co-authoring. Originally, Graham named the site Startup News. He hoped that it would serve as a new home for the startup founders and “would-be founders” who had once gathered on Reddit, before that site grew too popular to feel like a community. Among other benefits, he imagined that Startup News might help him find worthy entrepreneurs. (“There are a number of Reddit users that I know only by their usernames, but I know must be smart from the things they’ve written,” he explained, in his launch announcement. “We’re counting on the same phenomenon to help us decide who to fund.”) Within a few months, though, Graham found that startup-centric conversation had its limits. He renamed the site Hacker News, and expanded its focus to include “anything that good hackers would find interesting . . . anything that gratifies one’s intellectual curiosity.” (Hacker News is still owned by Y Combinator.)

Why Finland leads the world in flexible work

Maddy Savage:

Miika Härkönen was fed up with the long, dark winters in the Finnish capital Helsinki, so he asked his manager if he could work remotely from Spain for six months.

Since his wife had just had a baby and was on parental leave, the idea was to “work from home” from a rental apartment in Malaga, doing his regular job as a senior team manager for an IT company while also maximising time with his family.

His boss was open to the idea after Härkönen wrote down a list of his main tasks – which included managing 20 employees – and his solutions for completing them from his makeshift office.

“It worked brilliantly actually, even a bit better than I thought,” beams Härkönen, who’s now back in the Helsinki office and sits at a stereotypically Scandinavian white desk, with a sheepskin draped over his chair.

States are finding ways for teens to get HPV shots without parental consent

Sonja Haller:

HPV is associated with almost every case of cervical cancer.

A vaccine for HPV, or human papillomavirus, could prevent about 33,700 cancers a year. More than 4,000 women die of cervical cancer each year.

At least 79 million Americans, mostly in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection. Yet parents aren’t vaccinating their teens in near the numbers the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting would like to see — only 49% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 are receiving the recommended dosage.

Much of the country requires parental consent for those under the age of 18 to receive vaccinations.

So some states have attempted to change that by allowing teens to obtain the HPV vaccine without Mom or Dad.

Commentary on “Post Capitalism”

Paul Mason:

he red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

Instead over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did.

If you lived through all this, and disliked capitalism, it was traumatic. But in the process technology has created a new route out, which the remnants of the old left – and all other forces influenced by it – have either to embrace or die. Capitalism, it turns out, will not be abolished by forced-march techniques. It will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values and behaviours. I call this postcapitalism.

Desegregation Plan: Eliminate All Gifted Programs in New York

Eliza Shapiro:

For years, New York City has essentially maintained two parallel public school systems.

A group of selective schools and programs geared to students labeled gifted and talented is filled mostly with white and Asian children. The rest of the system is open to all students and is predominantly black and Hispanic.

Now, a high-level panel appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio is recommending that the city do away with most of these programs in an effort to desegregate the system, which has 1.1 million students and is by far the largest in the country.

Mr. de Blasio, who has staked his mayoralty on reducing inequality, has the power to adopt some or all of the proposals without input from the State Legislature or City Council. If he does, the decision would fundamentally reshape the segregated school system and reverberate in school districts across the country.

Related: Madison’s one size fits all program: English 10.

The Great Student-Loan Scam: The magnitude of federal budget losses is becoming clearer

Wall Street Journal:

About 10% of the $1.5 trillion federal student-loan portfolio is 30 days or more past due. Another 20% is in deferment or forbearance, and about 30% is in income-based repayment plans that allow most borrowers to cap monthly payments at 10% of discretionary income and discharge the remaining balance after 20 years or 10 for folks in “public service.”

Congress created these nifty plans in 2012 for new borrowers, but then the Obama Administration expanded them retroactively to reduce defaults, buy off millennial voters and disguise the cost of its student-loan takeover. This may be the biggest accounting fraud in history.

Democrats in the 1990s created a public student-loan option to compete with subsidized private lenders. Then in 2010 they nationalized the market to help pay for Obama Care. The Congressional Budget Office at the time forecast that eliminating private lenders would save taxpayers $58 billion over 10 years. This estimate was pure fantasy, and now we’re seeing how much.

The government student-loan portfolio has since doubled while severely delinquent loans have spiked despite a good economy. Many borrowers in income-based repayment plans aren’t repaying principal, so their balances are growing as they accrue more interest. By 2012 a majority of new borrowers had bigger balances after two years of making payments.

Yet during the Obama years CBO scored student loans as a government profit center by underestimating the growth in income-based repayment plans. CBO has slowly scaled back its 10-year revenue projections for student loans to a $31.4 billion government cost in this year’s forecast from a $219 billion 10-year revenue gain in 2012.

The nearby chart tells the story. Using fair-market accounting that prevails in the private economy, CBO now projects a $306.7 billion cost to taxpayers over the next 10 years. The red ink will be far worse beyond that 10-year budget window.

The “Post-Truth” Publication Where Chinese Students in America Get Their News

Han Zhang:

College Daily, which now has more than thirty staffers in Beijing and fifteen in New York, launched at the beginning of 2014, as a one-man operation in Lin Guoyu’s apartment, in Beijing. In its early days, it was a bare-bones survival guide for American campus life, with vaporous posts about boosting your G.P.A. and planning for finals week. Over time, and especially after the 2016 U.S. election, it transitioned to the kinds of stories it features today: Chinese news delivered with nationalistic overtones; tabloid tales of Chinese students living overseas (sex, drugs, murders, and missing women appear frequently); and news from the U.S. and the celebrity world.

A headline posted during the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign read “Using a Double? Changing Leaders? Might Not Have Long to Live? Hillary’s Campaign May End Early.” More recently, a headline proclaimed, “Trump Dodged a Bullet! ‘Russian Collusion’ Investigation Over, and He’s Safe. . . .” Others have ranged from “Farewell, isis! The Last isis Group Will Be Exterminated, and They Beg the World to Forgive” to “Hollywood Sexy Asian Goddess, First Love Was Daniel Wu, Bewitched Hot Men All Over the World” (about the actress Maggie Q). When College Daily, after weeks of silence, finally weighed in on the protests in Hong Kong, in August, it toed the government line, uncritically publishing a headline that used the phrase “I Support the Hong Kong Police”—a saying that has been popularized by the People’s Daily, an official organ of the Chinese Communist Party.

Customers Handed Over Their DNA. The Company Let the FBI Take a Look.

Amy Dockser Marcus:

The trouble started when the Federal Bureau of Investigation attorney made a personal appeal to Bennett Greenspan.

Mr. Greenspan, president of FamilyTreeDNA, was used to fielding requests from genealogists, customers, even friends of friends, seeking help with DNA testing. The FBI’s Steve Kramer wasn’t among them.

The company’s database of over 1.5 million customers could help solve heinous crimes, the attorney said. He wanted to upload DNA data in two cases to see if there were genetic links to other users. Turning up matches to even distant relatives might generate leads.

This wasn’t what his customers signed up for, Mr. Greenspan knew. People typically took DNA tests to find long-lost relatives or learn more about their ancestry. They didn’t expect their genetic data might become part of a criminal investigation.

But one case involved a dead child whose body had never been claimed. The other was from a rape crime scene. Mr. Greenspan was horrified by the details.

He didn’t tell the FBI attorney to come back with a court order. He didn’t stop to ponder the moral quandaries. He said yes on the spot.

Why Japan’s ‘shūkatsu’ job-seeking system is changing

Mari Shibata:

But beginning next year, these rules will no longer apply. Last October, the Keidanren announced it would abolish the traditional job-hunting schedule as well as existing guidelines on how firms recruit new graduates. After six decades, the current cohort of third- and fourth-year students will be the last to experience the gruelling pressures that come with shūkatsu.

As Japan’s low birth-rate has resulted in a population decline over the last decade, companies have been competing for a shrinking pool of prospective employees. Non-Keidanren members, not bound by the guidelines, have been snapping up promising students before member companies have even started recruiting.

And with foreign firms offering higher salaries and faster career progression than their Japanese counterparts, global competition for workers has forced companies to re-think. Although Keidanren’s new guidelines are yet to be finalised, some Japanese millennials who have already gone against the grain suggest that prioritising passion over following societal rules can lead to a more fulfilling career.

How the Hong Kong Protestors’ Tactical Brilliance Backed Beijing into a Corner

Nick Taber:

While the Hong Kong government has refused to meet the protesters’ 5 demands, likely under pressure from Beijing, the protesters have successfully forced Carrie Lam to suspend the extradition bill. Effectively killing the bill is a significant achievement, particularly considering the fact that Carrie Lam, at least to a significant degree, represents the interest of Beijing, which is firmly against legitimizing any kind of political opposition.

One of the reasons for the effectiveness of the protest movement is the decision to remain leaderless. In an op-ed article in 2017, Nicholas Berggruen, chairman of the Berggruen Institute, suggests that resistance movements need strong and charismatic leaders to succeed. Many resistance movements such as the Civil Rights Movement with Martin Luther King Jr., the resistance to apartheid with Nelson Mandela, and the India Independence Movement with Gandhi benefited greatly from such leadership.

But the outcome of Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy movement suggests that the current protests would not be nearly as robust or effective if it did have such leaders. Joshua Wong, the strong and charismatic leader of the Umbrella movement in 2014, was jailed in 2017 for unlawful assembly. With strong leaders present, the authorities can arrest them, fatally weakening a movement. Given the deterioration of the rule of law in Hong Kong, the authorities could conceivably jail all of the movement’s linchpins with considerable ease. But with a leaderless movement, the authorities have no such power. So far, the Hong Kong Police Force has arrested hundreds of protesters while the movement has not lost any momentum because the contribution of no single individual is vital.

Just as they are doing with seemingly every obstacle in their way, Hong Kong protesters innovated around the need for a strong leader. They are using communications technology to be both highly organized and leaderless, leaving the authorities unable to take out any key elements that would cause the effort to collapse.

Stop Worrying About Guns in the Classroom. They’re Already Here.

Erik Gilbert:

If you work at a Texas college and are worried by the prospect of having guns in your classroom, relax. The new campus-carry law changes your risk of gun violence very little. I can almost guarantee that if you have a few semesters of teaching under your belt, at some point there have been students with guns in your classroom. If those illegally armed students were not moved to violence by the content of your course or the statements of their fellow students, it seems highly improbable that a new group of legally armed students will prove to be more volatile or violence-prone than their scofflaw peers.

Statistical foundations of virtual democracy

Adrian Colyer:

This is another paper on the theme of combining information and making decisions in the face of noise and uncertainty – but the setting is quite different to those we’ve been looking at recently. Consider a food bank that receives donations of food and distributes it to those in need. The goal is to implement an automated decision making system such that when a food donation is received, the system outputs the organisation (e.g. housing authority or food pantry) that should receive it. We could hard code a set of rules, but what should they be? And who gets to decide?

A democratic solution to this would be to give each of the stakeholders a vote on every decision. In the food bank setting, identified classes of stakeholders include the donors, the recipients, the volunteers (who pick up food from the donor and deliver it to the recipient), and employees. Their votes encode their own preferences and biases, perhaps in a way that even the voters themselves couldn’t neatly codify in a set of explicit rules.

Gifted Education in Massachusetts: A Practice and Policy Review

Dana Ansel:

Last year, the Massachusetts Legislature decided that the time had come to understand the state of education that gifted students receive in Massachusetts. They issued a mandate for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to review the policy and practices of education in public schools for gifted students as well as for students capable of performing above grade level.

The challenge that this mandate presents is that Massachusetts neither defines giftedness nor collects data on gifted students. We can nevertheless review what districts report about their practices and what parents of gifted children report about their experiences. We can also report on the state’s policies toward gifted education. In addition, we can analyze the academic trajectory and social-emotional well-being of academically advanced students based on their math MCAS scores. All of this information is valuable in painting a picture of gifted education in Massachusetts, but it is nonetheless limited.

To begin, Massachusetts is an outlier in the country in its approach to gifted education. Nearly every other state in the country defines giftedness. Nor is there an explicit mandate to either identify or serve gifted students in Massachusetts. In contrast, 32 states reported a mandate to identify and/or serve gifted students, according to the State of the States in Gifted Education. In terms of preparing teachers to teach gifted students, Massachusetts used to have an Academically Advanced Specialist Teacher License, but it was eliminated in 2017 because of the lack of licenses being issued and programs preparing teachers for the license.

We do not know how many gifted students live in Massachusetts, but a reasonable estimate would be 6–8 percent of state’s students, which translates into 57,000 – 76,000 students.1 Without a common definition and identification process, it is impossible to pinpoint the precise number. According to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) 2015-16 survey, 6.6 percent of students were enrolled in gifted programs nationally. This number includes states such as Massachusetts that have very few gifted programs, and other states that enroll many more than the average. Another source of data, a nationally representative survey of school districts, found that the fraction of elementary school students nationwide who have been identified as gifted and enrolled in a gifted program was 7.8 percent (Callahan, Moon, & Oh, 2017)

Related: Wisconsin adopted a very small part of Massachusetts’ elementary teacher content knowledge licensing requirements, known as MTEL.

Massachusetts public schools lead the United States in academic performance.

However and unfortunately, the Wisconsin Department of public instruction has waived more than 6000 elementary teacher exam requirements since 2015…. (Foundations of reading)

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

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

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

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

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

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

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

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

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

At a Loss for Words How a flawed idea is teaching millions of kids to be poor readers

Emily Hanford:

For decades, schools have taught children the strategies of struggling readers, using a theory about reading that cognitive scientists have repeatedly debunked. And many teachers and parents don’t know there’s anything wrong with it.


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

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

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

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

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

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

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

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

2013: What will be different, this time?

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

First day at university in China now means a face scan to enrol

Sarah Dai:

Back-to-school season in China’s universities has become another example of how facial recognition technology is now part of people’s daily lives, as much as social media, mobile payments and online shopping already have.

A growing number of universities are now extending their use of facial recognition to the enrolment registration process, after its initial adoption in applications such as security and recording students’ attendance.

China’s elite Tsinghua University is among the first batch of large academic institutions that have implemented face scans to expedite the enrolment process this month, when the school welcomed more than 3,800 new undergraduate students at its campus in Beijing. The regular academic year in the country starts in September, though many institutions may hold orientations beforehand.

The university deployed an array of face-scanning machines at designated registration points, which has made enrolment “smarter and more convenient” for both students and the university staff involved in the process, according to the system’s provider, Zhejiang Uniview Technologies, in a social media post on Tuesday.

Facebook Said It Would Give Detailed Data To Academics. They’re Still Waiting.

Craig Silverman:

In 2018, Facebook announced a partnership to provide data to academics to “help people better understand the broader impact of social media on democracy — as well as improve our work to protect the integrity of elections.”

In April of this year, the first batch of winning proposals was announced. “The urgency of this research cannot be overstated,” wrote the founders of Social Science One, the entity that operates the program. It describes itself as “an LLC operating on a not-for-profit basis.”

Madison West High School pauses Personalized Pathways as model expands at 3 Madison high schools

Logan Wroge:

The school is hitting the pause button as it looks to address concerns that the program has not shown an improvement in student outcomes.

Pathways is billed as an interconnected, experiential approach where learning is centered around a career field; students form tight-knit communities with classmates and teachers within the pathway; and material learned in one class is connected to other classes. Eighth-grade students have the option to apply for Pathways before entering high school.

“We want students to think about how they’re experiencing high school and how those experiences have connections across classrooms and are tied to a theme that is brought to life across their four years,” said Cindy Green, the district’s executive director of secondary programs and Pathways.

Related: Small Learning Communities and English 10.

Hong Kong protesters form 28-mile human chain demanding democracy

Paul Goldman and Linda Givetash:

On Aug. 23, 1989, the so-called Baltic Way involved 2 million Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians protesting Soviet domination of the region.

“I joined the Hong Kong Way because it’s peaceful,” protester Peter Cheung, 27, told Reuters, referring to the campaign’s name. “This is the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way. I hope there will be a bigger chance to make an international noise.”

How the Internet Was Invented

Ben Tarnoff:

In the kingdom of apps and unicorns, Rossotti’s is a rarity. This beer garden in the heart of Silicon Valley has been standing on the same spot since 1852. It isn’t disruptive; it doesn’t scale. But for more than 150 years, it has done one thing and done it well: it has given Californians a good place to get drunk.

During the course of its long existence, Rossotti’s has been a frontier saloon, a gold rush gambling den, and a Hells Angels hangout. These days it is called the Alpine Inn Beer Garden, and the clientele remains as motley as ever. On the patio out back, there are cyclists in spandex and bikers in leather. There is a wild-haired man who might be a professor or a lunatic or a CEO, scribbling into a notebook. In the parking lot is a Harley, a Maserati, and a horse.

It doesn’t seem a likely spot for a major act of innovation. But 40 years ago this August, a small team of scientists set up a computer terminal at one of its picnic tables and conducted an extraordinary experiment. Over plastic cups of beer, they proved that a strange idea called the internet could work.

For Coaches, Anger More Effective Than Positivity When It Comes To Halftime Speeches

Ben Renner:

The coach’s halftime speech is long known to be a motivational tool in the sports world. Many sports movies, such as Hoosiers, Remember the Titans, or Friday Night Lights include a pivotal scene in which the coach makes an impassioned speech to his team, igniting a furious comeback. But what makes an effective halftime speech in real life? A new study finds that anger is actually more effective during halftime speeches than inspiration.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business analyzed hundreds of halftime speeches and final scores from high school and college basketball games, and found that players seem to perform better after a harsh, more negative halftime speech from their coach. In fact, researchers discovered a significant relationship between the level of negativity a coach projects during a halftime speech and second-half scoring outcomes. The more negativity, the more the team outscored their opponents, that is at least up to a certain threshold point.

“That was even true if the team was already ahead at halftime,” lead researcher and Haas professor emeritus Barry Staw comments in a media release. “Rather than saying, ‘You’re doing great, keep it up,’ it’s better to say, ‘I don’t care if you’re up by 10 points, you can play better than this.’”

The Partisan Split on Higher Ed

Keith Whittington:

A new Pew survey reveals that the partisan split that became visible a couple of years ago in public perceptions of American higher education has continued. In the long term, this cannot be good for American colleges and universities.

A lot of American institutions have taken it on the chin in recent years as Americans have become less trusting of any of them. Some of those declines reflect a general eroding of public confidence, but some institutions tend to see a specifically partisan split with supporters of one political party continuing to like that institution as supporters of the other party express dislike. This is not terribly surprising for political institutions like the presidency, which tend to be seen through a partisan lens depending on who currently occupies the White House (though notably this stark partisanship about the presidency is itself a relatively recent development).

Colleges and universities are fairly distinctive in being non-political institutions that are nonetheless seen in increasingly partisan terms. There is an extensive conservative infrastructure now dedicated to publicizing the foibles of academia. Of course, the reality is that college professors and administrators lean heavily to the political left, though this has been true for decades. Republicans now perceive universities as politicized, partisan institutions.

Republicans continue to send their own kids to college. They continue to recognize the personal economic value of a college degree. But if Republicans continue to believe that on the whole universities are damaging American society, they are unlikely to try to defend them against misguided political interventions from the political left and are more likely to propose misguided political interventions of their own. There is probably a limit as to what universities themselves can do to improve the situation, but they would be wise to take a serious look in the mirror and consider how they could win back the confidence of conservative Americans.

How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition

Daniel Markovits:

In the summer of 1987, I graduated from a public high school in Austin, Texas, and headed northeast to attend Yale. I then spent nearly 15 years studying at various universities—the London School of Economics, the University of Oxford, Harvard, and finally Yale Law School—picking up a string of degrees along the way. Today, I teach at Yale Law, where my students unnervingly resemble my younger self: They are, overwhelmingly, products of professional parents and high-class universities. I pass on to them the advantages that my own teachers bestowed on me. They, and I, owe our prosperity and our caste to meritocracy.

Two decades ago, when I started writing about economic inequality, meritocracy seemed more likely a cure than a cause. Meritocracy’s early advocates championed social mobility. In the 1960s, for instance, Yale President Kingman Brewster brought meritocratic admissions to the university with the express aim of breaking a hereditary elite. Alumni had long believed that their sons had a birthright to follow them to Yale; now prospective students would gain admission based on achievement rather than breeding. Meritocracy—for a time—replaced complacent insiders with talented and hardworking outsiders.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: U.S. Mortgage Debt Hits Record, Eclipsing 2008 Peak

Harriet Torry:

U.S. mortgage debt reached a record in the second quarter, exceeding its 2008 peak as the financial crisis unfolded.

Mortgage balances rose by $162 billion in the second quarter to $9.406 trillion, surpassing the high of $9.294 trillion in the third quarter of 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Tuesday.

Mortgages are the largest component of household debt. Mortgage originations, which include refinancings, increased by $130 billion to $474 billion in the second quarter. The figures are nominal, meaning they aren’t adjusted for inflation.

Demographic Decline and the End of Capitalism as We Know It

Zachary Karabell:

For most of human history, the world’s population grew so slowly that for most people alive, it would have felt static. Between the year 1 and 1700, the human population went from about 200 million to about 600 million; by 1800, it had barely hit one billion. Then, the population exploded, first in the United Kingdom and the United States, next in much of the rest of Europe, and eventually in Asia. By the late 1920s, it had hit two billion. It reached three billion around 1960 and then four billion around 1975. It has nearly doubled since then. There are now some 7.6 billion people living on the planet.

Just as much of the world has come to see rapid population growth as normal and expected, the trends are shifting again, this time into reverse. Most parts of the world are witnessing sharp and sudden contractions in either birthrates or absolute population. The only thing preventing the population in many countries from shrinking more quickly is that death rates are also falling, because people everywhere are living longer. These oscillations are not easy for any society to manage. “Rapid population acceleration and deceleration send shockwaves around the world wherever they occur and have shaped history in ways that are rarely appreciated,” the demographer Paul Morland writes in The Human Tide, his new history of demographics. Morland does not quite believe that “demography is destiny,” as the old adage mistakenly attributed to the French philosopher Auguste Comte would have it. Nor do Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson, the authors of Empty Planet, a new book on the rapidly shifting demographics of the twenty-first century. But demographics are clearly part of destiny. If their role first in the rise of the West and now in the rise of the rest has been underappreciated, the potential consequences of plateauing and then shrinking populations in the decades ahead are almost wholly ignored.

Is it time to shed our anonymity online?

Michael Skapinker:

Reading about the 19th century battles between Noah Webster and his many enemies, real and imagined, I was struck by the famed American lexicographer and others’ frequent resort to the anonymous article. In 1834, an article in a Massachusetts periodical accused Joseph Worcester, Webster’s mild-mannered rival, of “gross plagiarism”.

Webster’s name did not appear on the article, but it was in all likelihood written by him, according to The Dictionary Wars, a book by Peter Martin. Anonymous articles were common in the 18th century and much of the 19th.

In recent decades, anonymity in books, newspapers and established websites has been infrequent enough to create a sensation. Witness the fuss about Primary Colors, the 1996 novel about the Bill Clinton era. Originally published anonymously, it was eventually revealed to have been the work of the political columnist Joe Klein. Last year, the New York Times published an unsigned op-ed by a senior official in the Trump administration, who wrote that presidential appointees were “thwarting Mr Trump’s more misguided impulses”.

The ‘Moneyball’ A’s Find a New Inefficiency: Other Teams’ Players

Jared Diamond:

Early in the movie “Moneyball,” Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane sits in front of a room of befuddled old-school scouts and delivers the message that has defined the real-life Oakland Athletics for nearly two decades.

“If we try to play like the Yankees in here,” Oakland’s heralded executive says, “we will lose to the Yankees out there.”

That attitude helped spark baseball’s data revolution and made the A’s the blueprint for how to thrive with a minuscule budget. Unable to compete with their big-market opponents for high-price talent, the A’s built a powerhouse in the early 2000s largely through their farm system.

But with the A’s now pushing for yet another playoff berth despite a payroll near the bottom of the major leagues, an examination of their team reveals something strange: As they begin a crucial three-game series against New York on Tuesday, the A’s are suddenly more like the Yankees than the Yankees themselves.

Oakland has just six homegrown players—those who have spent their entire North American professional career in the A’s organization—on its active 25-man roster and MLB injured and restricted lists. Only the Chicago Cubs have fewer. The deep-pocketed Los Angeles Dodgers have 18. The Boston Red Sox, the game’s highest-spending team, and the Yankees, the exact opposite of the A’s when it comes to wealth and luxury, both have 13.

“We’re zigging when everyone else is zagging,” A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty said.

Madison has for decades spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts. Yet, we’ve long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Civics: I lost my job for keeping Charlottesville police accountable. I’d do it again

Molly Conger:

When the editor of a weekly paper approached me about writing a regular column about local politics, the first thing I asked her was: “Are you sure you know what you’d be getting yourself into?”

That was February. I had been live-tweeting Charlottesville city government meetings for a year and a half, ever since the deadly Unite the Right rally in August 2017. Entirely by accident, I had created a fairly large audience for what amounted to municipal meeting minutes narrated by a mouthy socialist.

Though I had never written for a publication before, my concern wasn’t whether I could produce readable content. It was whether the paper was prepared to be targeted by two primary detractors of my work: neoliberals and neo-Nazis.

I wrote just six pieces before the column was canceled. Two centered on the need for police accountability in a city traumatized by the memory of officers standing by as neo-Nazis beat residents in the streets.

The Triple 7 Kanji List

Japanese Complete:

Based on a report from 2000 that analyzed a large corpus of Japanese text, it says that at roughly the 750-800 character line, 90% of kanji occurrences in the wild are covered. By looking at the cumulative frequency of characters, the efficacy of learning the most frequent kanji first is shown by the following:
777 characters: 90.0% coverage
1477 characters: 98.0% coverage
2477 characters: 99.9% coverage
[Caption: Let’s use some rudimentary data science to hyper-accelerate your kanji acquisition!]

Cryptic, allusive messages from Hong Kong’s wealthiest tycoon

Victor Maier:

People have been wondering when Hong Kong’s magnates would speak out on the prolonged protests in their city. Finally one has. That’s Li Ka-shing, the richest of them all: “HK Billionaire Li Ka-Shing Breaks Silence Over Protests” (8/15/19 newscast on YouTube). He took out full page advertisements (both seem to be on the front page) in two of Hong Kong’s most influential financial newspapers: Hong Kong Economic Times and Hong Kong Economic Journal. Here’s the first:

It looks straightforward, simple, and heartfelt, with that big crossed-out “bàolì 暴力” (“[NO] violence”) in the center of a big, red circle. Here’s the rest of the entire text, which looks innocent and innocuous enough, especially with the striking repetition of “ài 愛” (“love”):

Civics & First amendment: Facebook pulls Trump campaign ad violating platform’s policy

Owen Daugherty:

Facebook has reportedly pulled an ad for President Trump’s reelection campaign after it violated the platform’s advertising policies.

Popular Info reported Monday that Facebook pulled the Trump ad because it violated a policy that prohibits ads targeting “personal attributes.”

The ad in question featured a crowd of women with the caption, “The Women for Trump Coalition needs the support of strong women like you!”

Facebook’s ad policy prohibits “content that asserts or implies personal attributes,” including, among other things, “direct or indirect assertions or implications about a person’s … gender identity.”

Facebook reportedly pulled the ad following an inquiry from Popular Info.

“We’ve notified the campaign that the ads violate policy. They cannot continue to run unless fixed,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Hill in a statement.

The 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns used personal data extensively, including via Facebook.

Madison must address its crisis of illiteracy

Laurie Frost:

I am grieving the death of Toni Morrison.

I admired Morrison deeply because she had the courage to speak truth with unflinching clarity, and because she did so with a magnificent lyricism.

In the wake of Morrison’s passing, I have been feeling doubly sad because I know the vast majority of our black students in Madison will never read anything Morrison wrote. Why? Because they cannot read at the level required to enter the hallowed space of her work.

But the situation has improved for our black students, you say.

No, it hasn’t, I reply.

And because everyone claims to be data driven these days, let me offer up the cold, hard numbers.

According to the state Department of Public Instruction, only 10% to 15% of our black fourth-graders in Madison are reading proficiently. (Note: Fourth grade is a pivotal year, when “learning to read” becomes “reading to learn.”) That means 85% to 90% of them are not. The situation has not changed for a very long time.

Unbelievably, things do not improve as our black fourth-graders move from grade to grade. As a cohort of Madison students moves from elementary through high school, it continues to be the case that no more than 15% of the black students in the cohort are reading proficiently. That means no fewer than 85% of them still are not.

The illiteracy of Madison’s black students is a longstanding crisis. It is time to make it our highest priority.

Literacy is a fundamental responsibility of public education. It is the key that opens the door to the wider world of opportunity, possibility and change. Literacy is a prerequisite for active and informed participation in our increasingly fragile democracy. It is the single most personally and politically empowering tool on the planet.

Let me be clear: The problem is not that our black children cannot learn how to read. The problem is our failure to teach them how to read, exacerbated by our complacency around that failure.

I cannot imagine what it must be like to go to school every day not knowing how to read. I question the value of a high school diploma in the absence of basic academic skills, such as literacy. I do not understand how our black children can be expected to feel “excellent” when they cannot read. I am baffled and outraged by the absence of honest public conversation about the unconscionably low literacy rate of our black students.

There is a long, inglorious history of the powerful withholding literacy from the powerless, which is why some people argue that our ongoing failure to teach our black students how to read is the new Jim Crow.

Agree or disagree about how to explain it. Can we at least agree that whatever we’ve been doing for so many years hasn’t worked, and that it’s long past time for us to figure out what will?

In blessed memory of Toni Morrison, let us join our hands and hearts together and finally teach our black children how to read.


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

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

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

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

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

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

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

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

2013: What will be different, this time?

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

Stretch Targets:

Open Records vs the taxpayer funded Madison school board

Chris Rickert:

Nicki Vander Meulen, who was elected to the board in 2017 and serves as the board’s clerk, said that in response to the union’s push, district administrators in a private “board briefing” Monday with her and another board member said acceding to the union’s demand would set a “bad precedent.”

“That’s virtually telling you how to vote,” she said.

Vander Meulen is not the first board member to question the legality of board briefings, which were instituted in 2013 by just-departed former superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and are held separately between one or two board members and administrators to go over items on upcoming agendas.

Former board member TJ Mertz stopped attending the meetings out of fear they could amount to the creation of “walking quorums,” which occur when members of a public body coordinate privately to take a certain action, thus rendering “the publicly held meeting a mere formality,” according to the state Department of Justice.

Madison has for decades spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts. Yet, we’ve long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Edgewood High School sues Madison over athletic field conflict, alleges religious discrimination

Emily Hamer:

After a heated months-long battle with the city of Madison over whether Edgewood High School’s athletic field can be used to host games, the Catholic school filed a federal lawsuit against the city Wednesday alleging religious discrimination.

The lawsuit claims Madison has imposed city ordinances in an “arbitrary, unequal and unlawful” way by restricting the use of Edgewood’s athletic field to only team practice and gym classes, and refusing to give the school an electrical permit to add lights to the field.

“All of the city’s public high schools and the University of Wisconsin-Madison share the same zoning classification as Edgewood, yet the City is imposing these restrictions on Edgewood alone,” the lawsuit states.

Abigail Becker:

For nearly a century, (Edgewood) has used its on-campus athletic field to host athletic contests and other activities in furtherance of its religious mission and values,” the lawsuit states. “However, the City and its officials have now imposed the City’s land use regulations in an arbitrary, unequal, and unlawful manner to prohibit Edgewood and its students from using the field for anything other than team practices and physical education classes.”

In a statement, the school said it needed to file the lawsuit Wednesday to meet a deadline regarding possible future appeals and that it is reviewing all of its options.

Edgewood names the city, the Zoning Board of Appeals, Zoning Administrator Matt Tucker and Building Inspection Division Director George Hank in the lawsuit.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in a statement Wednesday that the city “does not discriminate against any religion.”

Last year, Edgewood proposed adding seats, lighting and a sound system to its athletic field that would allow it to host sporting events at night. Neighbors opposed the project, saying the added lights, noise and traffic would disrupt the neighborhood.

Hong Kong street art: how Wan Chai is being transformed as graffiti gains acceptance

Lauren James:

WWalls sprayed with slogans, stencils and scenes don’t just affect the aesthetic value of a city – they can also inspire cultural shifts.

Just as the original “Lennon Wall” sprang up in Prague in the 1980s, as citizens behind the iron curtain voiced their dissent through art, Hong Kong now has its own walls covered, in messages of support for the extra­dition bill protests. And similar to the Hong Kong streets and plazas taken over by neon Post-it notes, the Czech Lennon Wall is periodically destroyed and recreated, to symbolise uprisings – in both the creative and political spheres.

This year’s street art and mural festival organised by HKwalls did not delve into politics speci­fically, yet the works adorning walls in Wan Chai are redolent of a city that is becoming comfortable expressing its values through visual public media.

“[Street art] makes people more aware of the space they’re in. They stop and take notice,” says Jason Dembski, the American architect and designer who founded the non-profit HKwalls with Hongkongers Stan Wu and Maria Wong in 2014. “The Lennon Walls are about communicating thoughts and ideas and sharing them with the wider public, which is what a lot of street art is about.”

The Financialization of the American Elite

Sam Long:

On October 1, 2018, the newly christened Klarman Hall opened to much acclaim on the campus of Harvard Business School. The stunning $120 million building houses a conference center as well as a gleaming auditorium built around a 32-million-pixel, 1,250-square-foot video wall and a state-of-the-art, modular design that seats up to a thousand attendees.1 To mark the opening, the school held a daylong series of speeches and lectures, headlined by the building’s namesake and one of the school’s wealthiest living gradu­ates, billion­aire investor Seth Klarman.

Sixty-two-year-old Klarman leads Baupost Group, a hedge fund headquartered high above historic Boston Common. The New York Times has called Klarman “the most successful and influential in­vestor you have probably never heard of,” while the Economist nick­named him the “Oracle of Boston,” a comparison to Warren Buffet.2 Like Buffet, Klarman has a cultlike following within so-called value investing circles. An out-of-print book that he wrote early in his career, Margin of Safety, now commands over $1,500 for a paperback copy on Amazon.3

Although the building has certainly enhanced his reputation on campus, the school has long held up Klarman as a role model for its students. Klarman launched Baupost with several million dollars of his professors’ money immediately after receiving his MBA from Harvard in 1982, brashly bypassing the apprenticeship model that is common for aspiring investors.4 When faculty members introduce Klarman during classroom visits, they emphasize Baupost’s early days as a start-up, and Klarman is presented both as a bold entrepreneur and a stock-picking wizard with a near-superhuman ability to make money.

How Life Sciences Actually Work: Findings of a Year-Long Investigation

Alexey Guzey:

academia has a lot of problems and it could work much better. However, these problems are not as catastrophic as an outside perspective would suggest. My (contrarian, I guess) intuition is that scientific progress in biology is not slowing down. Specific parts of academia that seem to be problematic: rigid, punishing for deviation, career progression; peer review; need to constantly fundraise for professors. Parts that seem to be less of a problem than I initially thought: short-termism; lack of funding for young scientists.

Historic Rise of College-Educated Women in Labor Force Changes Workplace

Likhitha Butchireddygari:

The trend is likely to continue to rise. Since the 1980s, women have made up the majority of those seeking bachelor’s degrees. By 1999, women received 57% of bachelor’s degrees, and it has been that way more or less for almost two decades.

While 57% might appear to be a magic number for women with college degrees, it’s unclear whether the college-educated female workers will ever get to that point and how long it will take for it to do so. Ariane Hegewisch, program director of employment and earnings at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, said several factors—including future demand for female-dominated professions, impact of automation on female-dominated professions and the child and elder care policy landscape—will shape the female share of the college-educated labor force.

The rise of these female workers is changing the way companies structure compensation and benefits packages to attract qualified women. According to human resources consulting firm Mercer ’s 2015 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, 6% of employers with 20,000 or more employees covered egg freezing. In 2018, that number nearly tripled to 17%. Smaller companies have seen smaller but steady growth in coverage of fertility services in recent years.


James Pontuso:

n the evening of February 12, 1974, a notorious criminal—considered to be one of the most dangerous men in the world—was taken from an infamous prison, flown out of his country, and unceremoniously dumped in Cologne, Germany. His jailers would have preferred to kill him, but, frightened of the consequences, they instead sentenced him to permanent exile. Incredibly, this man—who had terrified the rulers of a vast empire—was not the leader of a rival country, a terrorist group, or a political party. His only weapons were a strong-willed spouse, loyal friends, an exceptional memory, and a literary talent matched by few of his contemporaries.

The ex-convict was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He had spent eight years in the Soviet Gulag after writing an offhand jibe about Stalin in a letter to a friend. There, as one of millions of innocent people sent to the camps, he witnessed firsthand the ineptitude, brutality, and injustice of the Communist system. He vowed retribution. Solzhenitsyn had committed to memory the atrocities of the Soviets, and he set about chronicling them after his release.

He slipped through a crack in the Soviet monolith when Nikita Khrushchev allowed the novella One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, set in a Soviet labor camp, to be published in 1962 as a way of discrediting Stalin’s followers. The book became a worldwide sensation and so raised Solzhenitsyn’s international profile that he was able to publish The First Circle and Cancer Ward in the West in 1968 without serious reprisals. In 1970 he won the Nobel Prize for literature.

The Beleaguered Moderators Who Keep Hacker News Focused on Intellectual Curiosity

David Cassio:

When venture capitalist Paul Graham unveiled Hacker News in 2007, he’d formulated its goal of stoking “intellectual curiosity.”

“Paradoxical as it sounds, the thing that makes hackers such good startup founders is that they care about more than business. They have intellectual curiosity driving them as well as the desire to make money. So the way to make a news site for startup founders is to make it be about more than just startups,” he wrote at the time.

Last Thursday The New Yorker offered an assessment of this goal, in “The Lonely Work of Moderating Hacker News.” The article revealed that the tech news and discussion forum now has 5 million unique visitors each month, and wonders if “the site’s original tech-intellectual culture can be responsibly scaled up to make space for a more inclusive, wider-ranging vision of technology.”

People with unusually high IQs, why are you still unsuccessful?


Because no man is an island, but heckuva many are peninsulae. Success is much more than merely intelligence, tenacity and hard work. Success is the ability to cooperate, use the connections, teamwork, friends, social ties, organizations and hierarchies. To howl with the wolves.

There is the nasty thing of communication range which is the root cause of this issue, why people with unusually high IQ are more likely lonely than not.. Nobody gets successful alone and on one’s own merit only..

According to several intelligence researchists, all meaningful human interaction can occur only on certain bracket of IQ – the communication range. According to Leta Hollingworth, it is +/- two standard deviations (30 points), according to D.K. Simonton, it is +/- one standard deviation (15 points). Once the difference between two human beings’ intelligence becomes too great, all communication becomes impossible.

Top accounting firms urged to fire pro-riot staff

Global Times:

Industry insiders and Chinese netizens urged the top accounting firms to investigate people who claim to be their staff and fire employees found to have the wrong stance on the current Hong Kong situation, despite distancing themselves from a statement published in the city’s Apple Daily newspaper on Friday requesting the release of arrested rioters.

The firms – KPMG, Ernst & Young (EY), Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are obligated to give an explanation as their business reputation has been hijacked by anonymous people who claim to be their employees, observers said. They said the firms should launch a formal investigation on the matter.

The statement, the result of a crowdfunding campaign by people claiming to be accountants working at the four firms in Hong Kong, denounced comments made by senior executives of their firms in which illegal protests were condemned and tried to whitewash arrested rioters as “righteous guys,” amid increasingly violent protests which bring huge damages to the city.

The statement said the public condemnation of protests by leaders of their respective firms only focus on their self-interests.

Civics: Former Google Chair’s Data Firm on Payroll of Top Dem Presidential Campaigns

Joe Schoffstall:

It was announced in April that Civis Analytics would be working on behalf of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to help the former vice president connect with younger voters and small donors. On June 14, Biden’s campaign paid $32,000 to Civis for technology services, filings show.

Civis, however, is not performing work solely for the Biden campaign. The Schmidt-backed group appears on the campaign payroll of nearly every top Democrat seeking to oust President Donald Trump from office.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D., Mass.) presidential campaign committee has paid $51,255.29 to Civis for research consulting. Sen. Cory Booker’s campaign disbursed $47,000 to the data firm for software between March and late April.

In addition to Biden, Warren, and Booker, Sen. Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign paid Civis $24,000 for an analytics platform. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I., Vt.) campaign spent $18,000 on research from the firm. Other Democratic candidates, such as Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), have also tapped Civis for its services this election cycle.

The firm has also collected payments this year from America Votes Action Fund, a nonprofit that bills itself as the “coordination hub” of the progressive movement; Fair Fight, a group started by failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams; NextGen Climate Action, founded by Democratic presidential candidate and billionaire Tom Steyer; the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; and the Democratic National Committee, among others.

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

Transcript of secret meeting between Julian Assange and Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Google’s Software is Malware

Malware means software designed to function in ways that mistreat or harm the user. (This does not include accidental errors.) This page explains how Google’s software is malware.

Malware and nonfree software are two different issues. The difference between free software and nonfree software is in whether the users have control of the program or vice versa. It’s not directly a question of what the program does when it runs. However, in practice nonfree software is often malware, because the developer’s awareness that the users would be powerless to fix any malicious functionalities tempts the developer to impose some.

College Still Pays Off, but Not for Everyone

Josh Mitchell:

Investing in a college degree still pays off for most students with higher salaries and greater wealth, but in recent years it has become riskier, splitting graduates more widely into haves and have-nots.

“It just has not been the blanket guarantee of following the same path to prosperity that the earlier generations followed,” says economist William Emmons of the St. Louis Federal Reserve.

There are three related shifts causing economists to re-examine the returns of college. First, the wages of college graduates have remained mostly flat this century, after inflation. Second, the cost of attending college has soared. Third, even with higher salaries, significant numbers of college graduates in recent years are failing to build the kind of wealth that previous generations did.

New initiatives hint at how Africa’s universities can respond to its youth boom

The Economist:

In rwanda it’s not easy to get a job,” says Jean-Paul Bahati, a student at Kepler, a college founded in Kigali in 2013. But the 22-year-old believes his course will help him stand out. He studies health-care management, a growing industry in Rwanda. Kepler’s degrees are accredited by Southern New Hampshire University (snhu), which runs one of the largest online universities in America. The first six months are a crash course in skills such as critical thinking, English, communication and it. “I like that Kepler knows what employers want,” says Mr Bahati.

In recent decades millions of young people like Mr Bahati have swelled the number of students in sub-Saharan Africa. Today 8m are in tertiary education, a term that includes vocational colleges and universities. That is about 9% of young people—more than double the share in 2000 (4%), but far lower than in other regions (see chart). In South Asia the share is 25%, in Latin America and the Caribbean, 51%.

Civics: Taiwan leader lauds Cathay CEO for listing self instead of giving names to CCP Taiwan legislator praises Cathay CEO as ‘true warrior’ for refusing to give list of striking employees to CCP

Keon’s Everington:

Supporters of the Hong Kong protests, including Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), are praising former Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg for taking a principled stand and protecting his employees at the expense of his own position.

According to local Hong Kong media reports, Beijing authorities asked Hogg to hand over a list of Cathay Pacific employees who had taken part in the recent anti-extradition bill protests in Hong Kong. Instead of betraying his employees and endangering their safety, he only provided a list of one name — his own.

Indicating the intimate involvement of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the investigation of the airline, Hogg’s resignation was first made public by Chinese state-run media outlet CCTV at 4:50 p.m. on Aug. 16. It was not until 5:14 p.m. that Cathay Pacific itself officially announced that Hogg was stepping down as CEO, leading to speculation that his resignation was the result of pressure from Beijing authorities.

SF Board of Supervisors sanitizes language of criminal justice system

Phil Matier:

The words “felon,” “offender,” “convict,” “addict” and “juvenile delinquent” would be part of the past in official San Francisco parlance under new “person first” language guidelines adopted by the Board of Supervisors.

Going forward, what was once called a convicted felon or an offender released from jail will be a “formerly incarcerated person,” or a “justice-involved” person or simply a “returning resident.”

Parolees and people on criminal probation will be referred to as a “person on parole,” or “person under supervision.”

A juvenile “delinquent” will become a “young person with justice system involvement,” or a “young person impacted by the juvenile justice system.”

And drug addicts or substance abusers will become “a person with a history of substance use.”

“We don’t want people to be forever labeled for the worst things that they have done,” Supervisor Matt Haney said.

Haney was one of 10 supervisors (Gordon Mar was absent) who voted for the new guidelines, which Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer proposed.

Pop culture lionizes the dazzling brilliance of money managers on the autism spectrum. Reality rarely measures up.

Amanda Cantrell:

Three weeks after I enrolled my youngest child in a neighborhood nursery school in Brooklyn, I got the call. An administrator and my child’s lead teacher urgently wanted to meet with my husband and me.

Our daughter, it turned out, was wandering out of the classroom. She wasn’t making eye contact. She didn’t respond to her name. She couldn’t carry on a conversation with her teachers or classmates. She had poor fine motor skills. She didn’t play with toys like others did. Most alarmingly, she wasn’t socializing well — or at all — with other children. In short, it was impossible to teach her in a regular classroom setting.

We were baffled. Those observations didn’t square with the ebullient, extremely verbal child whose pediatrician had never raised any red flags about her social or emotional development. But at the school’s urging, we had her evaluated through New York City’s Department of Education. Looking for a diagnosis — something the DOE doesn’t give for preschoolers — we also sought the advice of a developmental pediatrician, who confirmed what no one else would tell us: Our daughter was on the autism spectrum.

Civics: NYT’s blockbuster Rhetoric about American politics!

Fabius Maximus:

There is always a Left-Right spectrum. That was so even in the Roman Republic. But the “teams” or their characteristics shift, as our political system evolves. For years, bien-pensant Leftists insisted that the Right-Conservatives-Republicans (different expressions on the spectrum) had moved to the right. They said this in 2012 (e.g., here and here, in 2015in 2016 (e.g., here and here), in 2017, and even in 2018 (here and here). Some even said that the Democratic Party had moved to the right.

But by 2018 it became increasingly difficult to ignore the Left-liberal-Democrats move to the Left. Especially after Trump has governed as a standard right-wing Republican for 3 years. Tax cuts for the rich and more military spending like Reagan and Bush Jr. Hatred for arms control treaties, like conservatives back to 1964. Harsh measures on immigrants from the South, like FDR and Obama.

David Graham, staff writer at The Atlantic insisted that the Party was being pulled to the Left by voters. By this year it became impossible to hide. Time to retcon US political history! For that, they call on the heavy hitters at the New York Times: “What Happened to America’s Political Center of Gravity?” by Sahil Chinoy, based on data from The Manifesto Project. They open with comforting words to the Left.

The case of the missing tattoos: Altered photo lineup by Portland police draws objection

Maxine Bernstein:

There’s no mistaking the elaborate tattoos that cover Tyrone Lamont Allen’s forehead and right cheek.

But when Portland police suspected Allen was involved in four bank and credit union heists, and none of the tellers reported seeing tattoos on the face of the man who robbed them, police digitally altered Allen’s mugshot.

They covered up every one of his tattoos using Photoshop.

“I basically painted over the tattoos,’’ police forensic criminalist Mark Weber testified. “Almost like applying electronic makeup.’’

Civics: Rasmussen: New Poll Shows Voters Trust Political News About As Much As They Trust Wikipedia

Tim Hains:

“The media has a huge credibility problem and it’s always had the problem,” he explained. “Oh, we talk about it differently today. Now we talk about it as a political bias. I think the issues have always been there. I mean, people were complaining about the bias of Walter Cronkite back in the 1960s.”

He continued: “78% of voters say that what reporters do with political news is promote their agenda. They think they use incidents as props for their agenda rather than seeking accurately record what happened. Only 14% think that a journalist is actually reporting what happened… If a reporter found out something that would hurt their favorite candidate, only 36% of voters think that they would report that.

“So voters are looking at them as a political activist, not as a source of information,” he concluded.

The world’s most-surveilled cities

Paul Bischoff:

Cities in China are under the heaviest CCTV surveillance in the world, according to a new analysis by our researchers at Comparitech. However, some residents living in cities across the US, UK, UAE, Australia, and India will also find themselves surrounded by a large number of watchful eyes, as our study of the number of public CCTV cameras in 120 cities worldwide found.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras serve many purposes, ranging from crime prevention to traffic monitoring to observing industrial operations in environments not suitable for humans. The digital age has boosted the prevalence of CCTV surveillance. Cameras are getting better and cheaper, while live video streams can be remotely accessed, stored on the internet, and passed around. The adoption of face recognition technology makes it possible for both public and private entities to instantly check the identity of anyone who passes by a CCTV camera.

Depending on whom you ask, the increased prevalence and capabilities of CCTV surveillance could make society safer and more efficient, could trample on our rights to privacy and freedom of movement, or both. No matter which side you argue, the fact is that live video surveillance is ramping up worldwide.

Résumés Are Starting to Look Like Instagram—and Sometimes Even Tinder

Chip Cutter:

When it came time late last year for 23-year-old Valentino Bogliacino Bueno to revamp his résumé, he added up top an oval photo of himself smiling. He didn’t stop there.

He designed a watermark of his initials and stretched it diagonally across the page. He included a “by the numbers” section in large blue type to highlight points about his budding career. Accounts under his supervision: 125+. Languages he can speak fluently: two.

“I wanted to do something that stood out,” says Mr. Bueno, who recently received a promotion to regional marketing and site coordinator at Balfour, which sells class rings to high schools and colleges. “I feel like this is what the future of résumés is going to be.”

What The 1619 Project Leaves Out

Jim Geraghty:

“The goal of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The New York Times that this issue of the magazine inaugurates, is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year,” The New York Times Magazine editors declare. “Doing so requires us to place the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.”

The scale of the opening offering is massive by the standards of modern journalism: 100 pages (with a few ads), ten essays, a photo essay, and a collection of original poems and stories from 16 additional writers.

But the 1619 Project’s effort to “reframe American history” requires cropping out some significant figures in African-American history. Perhaps no near-100-page collection of essays, poems and photos could cover every significant figure in African-American history, but the number of prominent figures who never even get mentioned or who get only the most cursory treatment is pretty surprising.

Early in Nikole Hannah-Jones’s essay, she reiterates the important point, “in every war this nation has waged since that first one, black Americans have fought — today we are the most likely of all racial groups to serve in the United States military.” The name Crispus Attucks is mentioned three times, but he is, as far as I can tell, the lone black Revolutionary War combatant mentioned. James Armistead was a spy for Lafayette who had access to General Cornwallis’s headquarters. Back in 1996, the New York Times wrote about the First Rhode Island Regiment, who fought at Newport and Pine’s Bridge, and in a regrouped form, Yorktown. By one account, one-quarter of the American forces at the battle of Yorktown were black. The 1619 Project does not mention the Battle of Yorktown.

One might argue that the essay authors preferred to focus on lesser-known African-American historical figures . . . but you really have to strain to contend James Armistead is sufficiently widely known already. Could anyone seriously argue that African-American contributions to the Revolutionary War are too well-known?

Martin Delany was an abolitionist, the first African American accepted to Harvard Medical School (white students quickly forced him out), and the first African-American field grade officer in the U.S. Army in 1865. He’s quoted once in passing.

In the early 1860s, about 179,000 black men enlisted in the U.S. Colored Troops, almost 10 percent of the entire Union army. The U.S. Colored Troops are not mentioned in the 1619 Project. The Buffalo Soldiers are not mentioned in the 1619 Project. There is a brief mention of African-American soldiers heading west after the Civil War: “Even while bearing slavery’s scars, black men found themselves carrying out orders to secure white residents of Western towns, track down ‘‘outlaws’’ (many of whom were people of color), police the federally imposed boundaries of Indian reservations and quell labor strikes.”

Christian Schneider:

A Cornell University scholar cited in a recent New York Times piece tying slavery to capitalism was previously found to have inflated statistics, invented facts, and altered quotes, according to fellow academics in his field.

In an October 2016 paper, scholars Alan Olmstead of the University of California Davis and Paul Rhode of the University of Michigan harshly criticized the research of Cornell’s Edward Baptist presented in Baptist’s 2014 book “The Half Has Never Been Told.” In the book, Baptist argues that modern capitalism still contains many of the remnants of slavery and America’s current economy is still influenced by the exploitation of slaves.

An African maths institute is encouraging home-grown boffins

The Economist:

Albert agisha ntwali was resigned to becoming a maths teacher at a secondary school. The 23-year-old from Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo was a stellar undergraduate at his local university. But his career options seemed limited until a professor told him about the African Institute of Mathematical Science (aims), a network of postgraduate academies that offers scholarships to budding African mathematicians. Last year Mr Ntwali enrolled at the aims campus in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. “Now I can join a company, become a data scientist, do a phd…” He goes giddy listing the options.

For decades there were few possibilities for African mathematicians to reach their potential on the continent. Many gave up studying; others went abroad. Wilfred Ndifon, a Cameroon-born biologist who oversees research at aims, recalls that after he completed his phd at Princeton in 2009, he was put off from returning home by the lack of computing power. “Universities mostly used Excel,” he says.

The institute is making scholars think twice about forsaking study or moving overseas. In 2003 the first campus was founded on the outskirts of Cape Town by Neil Turok, a South African physicist. Today there are five more, in Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania and Rwanda. Funding for each one comes partly from the host country’s government and partly from international donors. Nearly 2,000 students from 43 African countries have graduated.

That number is set to rise quickly. The institute will open nine new campuses. And it is adding new degrees. In July the first cohort of students graduated in Kigali with a masters in machine intelligence.

Where the short names of Chinese provinces, regions and cities came from

Wee Kek Koon:

On a highway in Shenzhen recently, I spied a mud-splattered car that had perhaps travelled more than 3,000km from Jilin province. In any case, I could tell from its licence plate that the vehicle was registered in China’s northeast.

China is divided into 33 “first-level administrative divisions”, consisting of 22 provinces; four municipalities (Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai and Tianjin); five autonomous regions (Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Tibet and Xinjiang) and two special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau). In addition to these is Taiwan, governed by the nominal Republic of China, which Beijing considers a renegade territory that has yet to be reunified with the Chinese nation.
In the same way that American states are abbreviated to two letters in postcodes (TX for Texas, for example), each of China’s administrative divisions has a single-character name that is a short form of its longer name. It is this character that indicates on the licence plates of civilian vehicles the place of their registration.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: State Tax Collectors Want You

Wall Street Journal:

South Dakota’s law exempted out-of-state businesses with less than $100,000 in sales or 200 transactions in the state. In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said these small business exemptions would prevent an undue burden on interstate commerce.

But states have since enacted disparate rules, which as we warned are straining small business. As a case in point, the Kansas Department of Revenue will now require all out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax no matter how much business they do in the state. This includes college students selling used textbooks on eBay and retirees hawking a few hand-made greeting cards on Etsy .

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly earlier this year vetoed an internet sales tax with a small-business exception that the GOP-controlled Legislature had included in a broader tax reform. The state agency then imposed the internet sales tax by fiat while claiming it lacked legal authority to exempt out-of-state small businesses, which are now hostages in a partisan brawl.

The Real Problem At Yale Is Not Free Speech

Natalia Dashan:

When I saw him, he was outside Payne Whitney. Nothing about the tall, gray façade suggests it is the university gym, unless there is a new trend of contractors housing athletics departments in Gothic cathedrals. You wouldn’t guess by looking at the frosted glass panes and arches that the third floor hosts the world’s largest suspended indoor swimming pool. It is a work of art, like the rest of Yale’s buildings.

Marcus was smoking by a bench, his face jaundiced from three packs that day. This is atypical for Yale students—most abstain from smoking. There was no reason for him to smoke so much, just as there was no reason for me to ride around campus on a blue Razor scooter. But Yale students tend to have such quirks. His suit-jacket was dusty and smelled of sweat—he didn’t mind lifting weights in a dress shirt and trousers if that meant more time to read Nietzsche alone at the bar.

When I hugged him, he felt skeletal. I asked if he had eaten today. He assured me that his earthly requirements were limited—no need for anything other than alcohol and cigarettes. “I can buy you a sandwich.” He refused. I insisted. A nice one. Bacon and egg. Or steak and cheese. I was testy now. “GHeav is right there. I’ll be back in six minutes.”

He turned his face towards me, warm with friendliness—and with one sentence, he changed our relationship forever.

You know I’m rich, right?”


“You know I have a trust fund, right? I can buy my own sandwich if I wanted it.”

This is the moment when after three years of friendship, Marcus sat down and told me his life story. His cottages in Norway. Sneaking into the family study. Learning about the cost of hardwoods and hearing his boorish, critical father sulk in 5-star hotel rooms.

Marcus did not act this way out of anxiety, grief, stress, or because he had nobody to tell him his habits will kill him. He lived as a starving writer not out of necessity, but for the aesthetic. Out of some desire to imitate the Bohemian 19th century writers. Out of artistry. Style. Intentional choice.

In terms of income at Yale, I was in the bottom 2%. And the people to whom I extended my generosity did not need it, whatsoever. This is mildly entertaining, but not the point. This is not a story about me, or about Marcus, or about our amusing adventures at Yale.

This is a story about an institution and an elite that have lost themselves.

Rod Dreher:

Here’s a really important essay by Natalia Dashan, a recent Yale graduate, who says that “the real problem at Yale is not free speech.” It’s an essay about her alma mater, but really it’s about the moral collapse of the American elite. Dashan came from a poor family (they were once on food stamps, she said), and was shocked to find so many truly rich kids at Yale pretending to be poor.

Hong Kong protests: student leaders say they were victims of death threats for supporting demonstrators

Karen Zhang:

Student leaders have revealed they received death threats and had their personal information exposed after helping their peers protest against the Hong Kong government.

Threats were directed at three student union representatives, it was disclosed at a press conference on Friday, with the culprits vowing to kill family members of one victim, and also publicly displaying posters detailing their private data.

Leung Siu-yuk, external vice-president of Baptist University’s student union, fought back tears when she talked about how she and her family had been targeted.

Why Did China Just Devalue the Yuan?

Joshua Konstantinos:

Recently China allowed their currency to fall below the key level of 7 yuan per dollar. But what does that mean for a currency’s value to change? And what benefit does China gain from this move?

Before we can really answer that question, we need to understand what it means for a currency’s value to change – and how a currency valuation impacts the global economy. In today’s world currencies are free-floating – which just means that the value of currencies relative to each other can change. It wasn’t always this way. Under the old gold standard currencies would all be convertible into gold. And after World War II, the Bretton Woods Agreement established fixed exchange-rates with currencies pegged to the dollar. But after that system broke down, nations abandoned the peg to the dollar and floated their currencies.

Purchasing Power Parity
With currencies now floating, the relative value of a currency suddenly mattered. Under the current free-floating monetary system, the prices of currencies themselves can be manipulated – which affects the calculation of comparative advantage for trade. Currencies can be undervalued or overvalued relative to each other. One might logically suppose that when six Turkish Lira can be exchanged for one American dollar, the actual purchasing power of one dollar would be roughly the same as six Turkish Lira. In other words, if a cheeseburger cost $5 in the United States, when you exchange currency you may get ¥500 yen, but a cheeseburger in Japan should then cost roughly ¥500 yen. But this is not the case. Many nations manipulate the currency exchanges to undervalue the purchasing power parity (PPP) of their own currencies. Making everything priced in their currency cheaper to buyers from foreign countries. This is the reason that China purchased so much U.S. government debt – China bids up the price of the dollar relative to the yuan by buying dollars with yuan, and then sits on these dollars by purchasing U.S. treasuries with them. This is why the idea that you sometimes hear that China could hurt the U.S. by selling off their treasury holdings is totally backward. If they sold their dollar denominated U.S. debt for yuan the value of the yuan would spike and deeply damage their export economy. Both Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren want the dollar to be weaker because, as we will see, a weaker currency will boost exports.

Why is there so much shooting and killing in Chicago?

Chicago Tribune:

A day after Chicago’s weekend from hell, when outbreaks of gunfire killed 12 people and injured at least 62, the carnage continued.
Derrick Hall, 22, was waiting for a bus in the 9100 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue on Monday morning when a man approached and shot him to death, the Tribune reported. In the afternoon, three men were shot on West Iowa Street in South Austin. Later, a man was shot in the wrist by someone in a passing car. A man was hit in the stomach. A man was struck while getting into a vehicle. At least 10 people were shot in eight incidents Monday on the South and West sides.

Overlooked Americans: Scenes from the country’s back row


Perhaps the most enduring image of the Great Depression is Dorothea Lange’s 1936 portrait of a migrant mother in Nipomo, California. The photographer found the woman sitting in a camp where field workers had assembled after their pea crops had failed.

The great recession of our era perhaps has no such single image. But photographer and writer Chris Arnade has a bookful of images with an equally compelling and intimate perspective of what he calls “back row” america.

For more than ten years he’s been travelling the country taking pictures and writing stories about Americans forced to the margins and trying to survive. NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker has more.

Exploring DNA with Deep Learning

Floydhub vm:

Neural networks are changing the way that Lex Flagel studies DNA.

Lex’s recent paper – The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Convolutional Neural Networks in Population Genetic Inference – demonstrates how simple deep learning techniques can be used to tackle the ever-changing field of DNA research.

Lex is the Quantitative Genetics Team Lead at Bayer Crop Science. At Bayer, Lex focuses on genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, and data science on crops like corn and soybeans. Don’t worry — we’ll dig into what all those terms mean! Lex has a PhD in Genetics from Iowa State University. He’s also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota.

I’m excited to share my conversation with Lex for this Humans of Machine Learning (#humansofml) interview. In this post, we’re going to learn about how Lex uses deep learning to study population genetics, as well as Lex’s own journey with data science and AI.

We Have Ruined Childhood

Kim Brooks:

According to the psychologist Peter Gray, children today are more depressed than they were during the Great Depression and more anxious than they were at the height of the Cold War. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that between 2009 and 2017, rates of depression rose by more than 60 percent among those ages 14 to 17, and 47 percent among those ages 12 to 13. This isn’t just a matter of increased diagnoses. The number of children and teenagers who were seen in emergency rooms with suicidal thoughts or having attempted suicide doubled between 2007 and 2015.

To put it simply, our kids are not O.K.

For a long time, as a mother and as a writer, I searched for a single culprit. Was it the screens? The food? The lack of fresh air and free time, the rise of the overscheduled, overprotected child, the overarching culture of anxiety and fear?

Those things might all contribute. But I’ve come to believe that the problems with children’s mental and emotional health are caused not by any single change in kids’ environment but by a fundamental shift in the way we view children and child-rearing, and the way this shift has transformed our schools, our neighborhoods and our relationships to one another and our communities.

Parents file complaints over “failure” of new school


Parents of children at the Pontus school in the city of Lappeenranta in eastern Finland have filed a number of complaints with the Regional State Administrative Agency about teaching methods and practices at the school. In some cases, parents have decided to move their children to other schools where more traditional pedagogical methods are still being used.

The Pontus school is one of the first in the country to fully implement the new core curriculum, introduced by Finland’s Ministry of Education in 2016, which is based on the concept of ‘phenomenon teaching’ – the replacing of traditional subject-based classes like maths and history with interdisciplinary courses focusing on broader topics.

Under the new curriculum, children are also encouraged to become autonomous learners, for example by creating their own study plans.

The Pontus school’s brand new building was completed and opened in the autumn of 2017, and the architecture was designed to support the objectives of the new core curriculum.

What happens when a radical sheriff comes to town

The Economist:

The sheriff’s response has been to try making his jail “the best mental-health hospital” possible. He has done away with solitary confinement, a practice which has long been known to cause and worsen mental woes. (Doing so has also cut staff assaults, he says). He appointed psychologists as jail directors and hired medically trained staff in place of some guards. Inmates can take courses in yoga, chess and other activities intended to rehabilitate.

Spend a day in his jail and much appears unusual for a place of detention. In a damp and gloomy basement, prison workers hand out questionnaires to men arrested the night before. They scramble to see inmates before they go before a bail judge (who will release most the same day), to get a chance to diagnose the mentally ill, see who gets treatment and offer care.

For those kept inside—the jail holds some 6,000 detainees at a time, many for three-to-six months—further diagnosis and treatment follows. Staff in a beige hospital building distinguish between 1,600 inmates, currently, who are “higher-functioning” for example with depression, 382 of “marginal stability”, perhaps with schizophrenia, and 80 who suffer the most acute psychosis. The last are the hardest to manage, let alone release safely.

We Have Ruined Childhood

Kim Brooks:

According to the psychologist Peter Gray, children today are more depressed than they were during the Great Depression and more anxious than they were at the height of the Cold War. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that between 2009 and 2017, rates of depression rose by more than 60 percent among those ages 14 to 17, and 47 percent among those ages 12 to 13. This isn’t just a matter of increased diagnoses. The number of children and teenagers who were seen in emergency rooms with suicidal thoughts or having attempted suicide doubled between 2007 and 2015.

To put it simply, our kids are not O.K.

For a long time, as a mother and as a writer, I searched for a single culprit. Was it the screens? The food? The lack of fresh air and free time, the rise of the overscheduled, overprotected child, the overarching culture of anxiety and fear?

Those things might all contribute. But I’ve come to believe that the problems with children’s mental and emotional health are caused not by any single change in kids’ environment but by a fundamental shift in the way we view children and child-rearing, and the way this shift has transformed our schools, our neighborhoods and our relationships to one another and our communities.