How the Internet Archive is waging war on misinformation

Camilla Hodgson:

On a foggy September lunchtime in San Francisco, a group of researchers and data scientists sat around foldable plastic tables in what was once a Christian Science church, evangelising about open-source information and the democratisation of knowledge.

The 50-strong party, which had been assembled for a weekly progress discussion, dined downstairs in a pillared building that now houses the Internet Archive, a digital library dedicated to providing “universal access to all knowledge”. As computers hummed on cluttered workstations all around, the employees and a handful of invited guests greeted each update with optimistic applause.

The Internet Archive, founded in 1996, is a non-profit that collects and digitises information, from films to books. It is best known for the Wayback Machine, a free repository of web pages that allows users to see what a particular URL looked like when it was archived, regardless of whether it has since been changed or taken down.

American kids with money and privilege are more likely to binge drink

Christina Capatides:

And while the problem is widespread, certain American kids are more likely than others to participate. In particular, experts say economic privilege is a factor.

“There are some studies that show that a lot of kids who grow up in affluent suburban communities grow up in communities where the adults around them drink a lot. And they’re going to model that behavior,” explains Dr. Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology at Temple University. “They also may have access to alcohol from the alcohol that their parents have purchased and have at home. So, you know, we often think that money and privilege is a protective condition. But I think in this case, it may be associated with actually more dangerous behavior.”

“They have access to money,” concurs Julie Fenn, a clinical social worker in the Massachusetts public school system. “In households where two parents have college degrees or secondary degrees beyond that, there’s a higher rate of alcohol use among kids. … Parents who are highly educated will think their kids will never do it. Or they’re at work or traveling and kids are left alone more, or aren’t supervised as closely. Then you do see higher rates of alcohol abuse. You can see that nationally in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System — communities that are of higher socioeconomic status are at the higher end of that.”

Teaching the Contradictions of Stone Mountain

Peter Dye:

Before taking a group of international college students on a field trip to a place like Stone Mountain Park, it’s important to give them the proper context. As a teacher of English as a second language, a good bit of that context involves linking language to history and culture, and this week’s vocabulary lesson included some doozies. Confederacy, Klansmen, mini-golf, and laser show aren’t words you’d typically find in any ESL textbook. I wasn’t even sure if I should be teaching some of these words to my students, much less how they would react to them.

For those unfamiliar, Stone Mountain — a stone monadnock that rises 825 feet above the ground east of Atlanta — today is essentially a theme park known for hiking trails, yearly festivals, adventure courses, and perhaps most famously, the 90-foot tall Confederate monument carved prominently into the mountain’s side. As children scurry around the ropes course and families hike upward to see the beautiful views of the Atlanta skyline, the chiseled profiles of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis stare off into the distance, with their hats held closely to their hearts as they sit atop majestic horses.

Experts, UW vice chancellor release external review on UW fraternity, sorority life

Nuha Dolby:

The external review conducted on University of Wisconsin fraternity and sorority life was released recently, after being submitted mid-May.

The review, according to the Fraternity and Sorority Life website, was conducted with a goal for “students to be healthy and safe and for fraternities and sororities to contribute positively to the campus community through their shared values of scholarship, leadership, service and sisterhood/brotherhood.”

The review was conducted by five professionals from other universities, each holding membership in an organization that is part of the four governing Greek councils (Interfraternity Council, Multicultural Greek Council, National Panhellenic Council and Panhellenic Association).

The report discussed accountability and relationships with UW.

The report stated that concerns about behaviors and how to manage accountability for them varied by Council. While accountability was not brought up as a critical issue during conversations with members of the NPHC and MGC, that did not hold true for all councils.

IFC and Panhellenic council members, according to the report, didn’t address using their own judicial or standards boards to resolve infractions committed by their members.

While IFC has a Judicial Board, the report stated that “its function was unclear.” A Panhellenic Council Judicial Board was brought up, but the report stated that no conversation was directed in verifying whether this was an operational or effective tool or deterrent.

The Committee on Student Organizations, according to the report, brought on almost universal negative connotations. Chapter members, student officers and alumnus advisers complained that CSO had a lack of transparency, a process that appeared to apply differently to Greek life organizations versus other student organizations, sanctions that were not deemed fitting to the violation and confusion over what role different staff members played in the process.

Let Children Get Bored Again

Pamela Paul:

“I’m bored.” It’s a puny little phrase, yet it has the power to fill parents with a cascade of dread, annoyance and guilt. If someone around here is bored, someone else must have failed to enlighten or enrich or divert. And how can anyone — child or adult — claim boredom when there’s so much that can and should be done? Immediately.

But boredom is something to experience rather than hastily swipe away. And not as some kind of cruel Victorian conditioning, recommended because it’s awful and toughens you up. Despite the lesson most adults learned growing up — boredom is for boring people — boredom is useful. It’s good for you.

If kids don’t figure this out early on, they’re in for a nasty surprise. School, let’s face it, can be dull, and it isn’t actually the teacher’s job to entertain as well as educate. Life isn’t meant to be an endless parade of amusements. “That’s right,” a mother says to her daughter in Maria Semple’s 2012 novel, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.” “You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

“End legacy Admissions”

New York Times:

For nearly a century, many American college and university admissions officers have given preferential treatment to the children of alumni.

The policies originated in the 1920s, coinciding with an influx of Jewish and Catholic applicants to the country’s top schools. They continue today, placing a thumb on the scale in favor of students who already enjoy the benefits of being raised by families with elite educations. Of the country’s top 100 schools (as determined by the editors at U.S. News & World Report), roughly three-quarters have legacy preferences in admissions. These anachronistic policies have been called “affirmative action for the rich” and “affirmative action for whites.”

Preferential treatment for legacy admissions is anti-meritocratic, inhibits social mobility and helps perpetuate a de facto class system. In short, it is an engine of inequity. Little wonder that it is unpopular with most Americans, yet supported by the affluent who both oversee the college admissions process and are its primary beneficiaries.

Legacy admissions are no ordinary leg up. In 2011, a Harvard researcher who studied 30 of the nation’s most selective schools found that all legacy applicants had a 23 percent higher probability of admission, while “primary legacy” students (those with a parent who attended the school as an undergraduate, rather than, say, a grandparent or aunt) had a 45 percent higher probability compared with their peers, all other things being equal. …

Related: Open The Books:

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

Waitlisted students offer to pay classmates to drop courses

Marlena Tavernier-Fine:

Multiple students on campus have offered to pay their classmates to drop out of classes they are waitlisted for, raising concerns about over-enrollment and advising.

Campus sophomore David Wang reposted a screenshot on the Overheard at UC Berkeley Facebook page showing a post by a Haas senior in their final semester before going abroad offering to pay $100 to the first five students to drop UGBA 102B, “Introduction to Managerial Accounting.” The student in question needed the class to graduate, and claimed that the “advising office was no help, so I’m taking matters into my own hands.”

Wang said in an email that in this student’s situation it would have made sense for advisers to make an exception for the senior since their graduation status was in jeopardy.

“I do not blame the students for paying his/her classmate to get in the class — I would do the same in that situation,” Wang said in an email.

New jersey Teachers Union and Dark Money

Sunlight policy center:

So we can now confirm what many of us already assumed: NDNJ would not exist if not for the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). With almost 70 percent of the $6.5 million raised coming from New Jersey’s most powerful special interest, and with Governor Murphy appearing in NDNJ’s TV ads, it sure looks like the NJEA is pulling the strings of the Murphy administration. For all intents and purposes, NDNJ appears to be a NJEA Super PAC with our governor serving as its spokesperson.

Here are five other things we learned:

1. NDNJ’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. NDNJ’s spokesperson, Phil Swibinski, decries potential attacks on NDNJ from “entrenched Trenton special interests.” This is laughable coming from NDNJ, which got $4.5 million from the most powerful entrenched special interest of them all, the NJEA. SPCNJ estimates, from 1999 to 2017, the NJEA spent over $880 million on politics, most of it disguised and unreported. No other political force in the state comes close. A look at NJEA’s multi-million-dollar headquarters in Trenton, a short walk across the street from the Statehouse, tells you all you need to know. Moreover, the list of NDNJ donors is nothing but a list of special interests. Finally, after its months of delay, it takes some real chutzpah for NDNJ to call on other organizations to reveal their donors and promise to hold them “accountable” if they don’t.

Introduction to Constitutional Law: 100 Supreme Court Cases Everyone Should Know

CATO:

An Introduction to Constitutional Law will teach you the narrative of constitutional law as it has developed over the past two centuries. All readers — even those unfamiliar with American history — will learn the essential background for grasping how this body of law has come to be what it is today. The accompanying online video library brings to life the Supreme Court’s 100 most important decisions; the videos are enriched by photographs, maps, and even audio from Supreme Court arguments. More importantly, this multimedia work is accessible to all: students in law school, college, high school, and homeschool, as well as lifelong learners pursuing independent study. Law students can read and watch these materials to prepare for class or use the platform after class to fill in any gaps in their notes. Come exam time, students can binge-watch the entire canon of constitutional law in about 12 hours. Please join us to learn about this innovative project, with comment by a prominent federal judge and a leading Supreme Court reporter.

When the University of Chicago Dropped Football

Timothy Taylor:

There was a time when football was king at the University of Chicago. Their famous coach, Amos Alonzo Stagg, ran the program from 1892 to 1932. His teams were (unofficial, but widely recognized) national champions in 1905 and 1913. His teams won 314 games, which means that even after all these years he ranks 10th for most wins among college football coaches. Stagg is credited with fundamental innovations to the way we think about football: the “tackling dummy, the huddle, the reverse and man in motion plays, the lateral pass, uniform numbers.”

But in 1939, in a step that seems to me almost inconceivable for any current university with a big-time football program, the President of the University of Chicago, Robert Maynard Hutchins, shut down the University of Chicago football team.

Language Both Enraptures and Deceives Us

Kevin Berger:

he purpose of language is to reveal the contents of our minds, says Julie Sedivy. It’s a simple and profound insight. We are social animals and language is what springs us from our isolated selves and connects us with others.

Sedivy has taught linguistics and psychology at Brown University and the University of Calgary. She specializes in psycholinguistics, the psychology of language, notably the psychological pressures that give birth to language and comprehension.

More recently Sedivy has been writing about language in her own life. She was born in Czechoslovakia, spent time as a kid in Austria and Italy, and came of age in Canada. She speaks Czech, French, and English, and gets by in Spanish, Italian, and German.

GWU aims to get smaller and better. Will that mean cuts to faculty and financial aid?

Nick Anderson:

By many measures, George Washington University looks healthy. The largest school in the nation’s capital boasts growing enrollment, solid finances, expanding research prowess and robust demand for programs such as politics and international affairs.

Yet GWU is taking a surprising and radical step that has prompted deep faculty anxiety: It is choosing to shrink — a lot.

Over the next five years, the private university just west of the White House aims to slash the undergraduate population of its D.C. campuses 20 percent. That would mean 2,100 fewer students, less tuition revenue and tough choices on whether to reduce faculty and financial aid or find other ways to balance the budget.

Many colleges have scrambled in recent times to cope with falling enrollment amiddemographic upheaval. GWU provides the rare case of a school announcing in advance, as a public strategy, that it wants to get smaller.

Lifelong learning and Tax Base Growth: Colorado Town Offers 1 Gbps For $60 After Years Of Battling Comcast; Wisconsin blinked

Karl Bode:

A new community broadband network went live in Fort Collins, Colorado recently offering locals there gigabit fiber speeds for $60 a month with no caps, restrictions, or hidden fees. The network launch comes years after telecom giants like Comcast worked tirelessly to crush the effort. Voters approved the effort as part of a November 2017 ballot initiative, despite the telecom industry spending nearly $1 million on misleading ads to try and derail the effort. A study (pdf) by the Institute for Local Reliance estimated that actual competition in the town was likely to cost Comcast between $5.4 million and $22.8 million each year.

Unlike private operations, the Fort Collins Connexion network pledges to adhere to net neutrality. The folks behind the network told Ars Technica the goal is to offer faster broadband to the lion’s share of the city within the next few years:

Then Governor Jim Doyle had an opportunity to address the telecommunications oligopoly, but did nothing in 2007.

Edgewood would need city permission to make field changes under Plan Commission recommendation

Abigail Becker:

Currently, schools without a campus master plan located within the Campus Institutional zoning district do not need approval from the city to create uses that occur outside of an enclosed building. These types of uses include outdoor sports and recreational facilities.

The main change within the zoning text amendment is that all entities in the Campus Institutional zoning district without master plans would need conditional use approval for any outdoor uses and site changes.

Opponents to the change argued the zoning change is unclear and takes away any permitted uses on campuses. Nathan Wautier, an attorney representing Edgewood, suggested the change is “selectively regulating” Edgewood.

Matt Lee, another attorney representing Edgewood, was more blunt.

“This ordinance is blatantly, nakedly designed and written to prevent Edgewood from, once its master plan goes away, being able to play games on its field, put lights on its field, put up modest additional seating around its field for spectators just like Memorial has, just like La Follette has, just like every other high school in the city has the right to do,” Lee said.

COMMENTARY on Madison k-12 teacher compensatioN: 2 + 2.44 + benefits

Logan Wroge:

In addition to a higher base wage, the district has said that, on the average, employees will receive another 2% salary increase this year based on a salary schedule that awards experience and education.

But MTI has said about 1,000 employees, including some of the lowest paid, won’t receive more money through the salary schedule, arguing a full base-wage bump is necessary to keep up with the cost of living.

The agreement won’t take effect until approved by both the union members and the School Board, according to the Facebook post.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, between $18k and 20k per student, depending on the district documents reviewed.

“An emphasis on adult employment”.

Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Years ago, a senior Madison teacher mentioned to me that the local union leadership traded benefit growth for reduced salary increases, which affected younger teachers.

The Madison school district has benefited greatly from a growing property tax base – supported by a massive federal taxpayer electronic medical record subsidy (nearly $40B since 2011!). Will that continue? What happens if things change?


David McWilliams:

Mr Bernanke’s unorthodox “cash for trash” scheme, otherwise known as quantitative easing, drove up asset prices and bailed out baby boomers at the profound political cost of pricing out millennials from that most divisive of asset markets, property. This has left the former comfortable, but the latter with a fragile stake in the society they are supposed to build.

As we look towards the 2020 US presidential election, could Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s leftwing politics become the anthem of choice for America’s millennials?

But before we look forward, it is worth going back a bit. The 2008 crash itself didn’t destroy wealth, but rather revealed how much wealth had already been destroyed by poor decisions taken in the boom. This underscored the truism that the worst of investments are often taken in the best of times.

Mr Bernanke, a keen student of the 1930s, understood that a “balance sheet recession” must be combated by reflating assets. By exchanging old bad loans on the banks’ balance sheets with good new money, underpinned by negative interest rates, the Fed drove asset prices skywards. Higher valuations fixed balance sheets and ultimately coaxed more spending and investment. However, such “hyper-trickle-down” economics also meant that wealth inequality was not the unintended consequence, but the objective, of policy.

The results of money printing can be seen in Venezuela.

Why Angry Librarians Are Going to War With Publishers Over E-Books

Heather Schwedel:

If I wanted to borrow A Better Man by Louise Penny—the country’s current No. 1 fiction bestseller—from my local library in my preferred format, e-book, I’d be looking at about a 10-week waitlist. And soon, if the book’s publisher, a division of Macmillan, has its way, that already-lengthy wait time could get significantly longer.

In July, Macmillan announced that come November, the company will only allow libraries to purchase a single copy of its new titles for the first eight weeks of their release—and that’s one copy whether it’s the New York Public Library or a small-town operation that’s barely moved on from its card catalog. This has sparked an appropriately quiet revolt. Librarians and their allies quickly denounced the decision when it came down, and now the American Library Association is escalating the protest by enlisting the public to stand with libraries by signing an online petition with a populist call against such restrictive practices. (The association announced the petition Wednesday at Digital Book World, an industry conference in Nashville, Tennessee.) What’s unclear is whether the association can get the public to understand a byzantine-seeming dispute over electronic files and the right to download them.

Ministry asks ideology, politics professors to focus more on teaching

Xinhua:

China’s Ministry of Education has asked ideology and politics professors in universities to attach more importance to teaching in their work.Ideology and politics professors in higher learning institutions should increase the proportion of teaching in their work and focus on teaching in their scientific research, according to a work plan drawn up by the ministry to make reforms in ideology and politics courses.

Commentary on Teacher Compensation and Rhetoric

Bruce Baker:

That is, teachers and their unions are the primary drag on overall quality and a primary cause of inequality of educational opportunity. These two assertions form the basis of a recent spate of lawsuits which claim that teacher seniority protections and tenure laws – not funding levels or disparities or any other factor for that matter – are the primary cause of inequitable and inadequate schools for low income and minority children, in violation of education articles of state constitutions (in California, New Jersey and New York).[ii] And these claims are built on the assertion that competitive wages and equitable wages across schools and districts have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the teacher workforce or the distribution of quality teachers.

Again, it may seem that I’m exaggerating claims of teacher and union responsibility. But extreme examples are not difficult to find in relatively mainstream sources (like Newsweek). An article in the Economist proclaimed in October of 2012:

New Parent Charged in College-Admissions Cheating Case

Melissa Korn and Jennifer Levitz :

U.S. prosecutors charged an additional mother in the college-admissions cheating case, alleging she paid $400,000 to get her son into UCLA and marking the 52nd person to face criminal prosecution in the sprawling scheme.

The woman, a Chinese national named Xiaoning Sui, was arrested Monday night in Spain and is being held there as U.S. authorities seek her extradition to Boston.

The indictment, unsealed Tuesday in Boston federal court, also introduces another individual allegedly involved in the scheme: a tennis recruiter who connected high-school players to college coaches and, according to prosecutors, worked with college counselor William “Rick” Singer to help bribe a University of California, Los Angeles soccer coach to secure admission for Ms. Sui’s son as a fake soccer player.

Women make up 54% of new students entering Iranian universities

Mehr News:

Hossein Tavakoli, an official at Iran’s National Education Assessment Organization (NEAO) said that out of 191,215 students accepted in this year’s university entrance exam, 104,123 or 54% are women.

Saying that men only make up 45.55% of the new college students this year, Tavakoli added that out of the total 191, 215 new entrants, 59,000 are accepted in Mathematics and Physics majors (21,757 female, 37,860 male), 64,870 are accepted in empirical sciences majors (38,644 female; 26,226 male), and 57,697 major in humanities (37,389 female; 20,308 male).

Furthermore, 4,477 new students have been accepted in art fields of studies (3,444 female; 1,003 male) while 4,554 students are accepted in foreign languages majors (2,859 female; 1,659 male.)

Hollywood’s Great Leap Backward on Free Expression

Martha Bayles:

Today these bookstores are gone, along with nearly all of Hong Kong’s independent publishers. The courageous men and women who struggled to keep them alive have been effectively silenced. This crackdown, along with the many other issues that have brought 2 million protesters into the streets of Hong Kong, reflect the Chinese Communist Party’s aggressive efforts to bring the former British colony into line with President Xi Jinping’s 2017 decree that all forms of media would be consolidated and placed under the direct control of the Central Propaganda Department.

The fate of the Hong Kong booksellers has caused an outcry around the world, with independent news outlets and free-speech advocates warning of a return to totalitarianism. “It’s an attack on the publishing industry from all aspects,” declared Yaqiu Wang of Human Rights Watch in a recent New York Times article.

‘American Factory’ Boss Argues Case Against Labor Unions

Tang Fanxi:

Chinese billionaire Cao Dewang, a key character in the Netflix documentary “American Factory,” has lashed out at labor unions, saying such groups only disrupt production.

“As long as there are unions in America, factories (there) will not improve their efficiency,” Cao said Monday in an interview with The Beijing News, weeks after the documentary’s release. “If a factory can do without a union, it’s better not to have one.”

Cao’s comments shed light on an important labor issue that became a source of tension between employees and managers at the Chinese company he owns when it expanded into the American Midwest. In 2014, Cao’s Fuyao Group repurposed the former site of a General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio, transforming it into a glassmaking factory.

The documentary tells the story of a Chinese company injecting money into a flagging local economy by creating over 2,000 jobs. Through a human-centric lens, it examines the different work cultures to which local and Chinese staff are accustomed. When some of the American workers move to unionize, Fuyao mobilizes to crush the initiative.

Cao told The Beijing News that productivity directly correlates with employee welfare and claimed that Fuyao’s welfare scheme had led to “stability” within the company, as well as “loyalty” and a “good mental state” among staff, without elaborating on the nature of the welfare scheme.

“Once a factory has a union, it will have to invest time and legal resources in it,” Cao said. “There’s not one thing we can decide — everything has to go through the union.”

Describing labor unions as the biggest cultural difference Chinese businesses face when they expand into Europe or North America, Cao said he would rather incur losses than be “messed around” by unions. “Mental distress is worse than financial loss,” he said.

The 73-year-old billionaire also complained that some of the scenes in the documentary “vilified” his company. Addressing backlash over the depiction of some of his American employees working extended hours at the Ohio factory, Cao said such work schedules were common in Chin

These Are the Best Books for Learning Modern Statistics—and They’re All Free

Dan Kopf:

The books are based on the concept of “statistical learning,” a mashup of stats and machine learning. The field of machine learning is all about feeding huge amounts of data into algorithms to make accurate predictions. Statistics is concerned with predictions as well, says Tibshirani, but also with determining how confident we can be about the importance of certain inputs.

This is important in areas like medicine, where a researcher doesn’t just want to know whether a medicine worked, but also why it worked. Statistical learning is meant to take the best ideas from machine learning and computer science, and explain how they can be used and interpreted through a statistician’s lens.

The beauty of these books is that they make seemingly impenetrable concepts—”cross-validation,” “logistical regression,” “support vector machines”—easily understandable. This is because the authors focus on intuition rather than mathematics. Unlike many statisticians, Tibshirani and his coauthors don’t come from a math background. He believes this helps them think conceptually. “We try to explain [concepts] intuitively by explaining the underlying idea first,” he says. “Then we give examples of a situation you would expect it work. And also, a situation where it might not work. I think people really appreciate that.” I certainly did.

Flagship Universities Fail on Financial Equity

Madeline St. Amour:

Only the relatively wealthiest students can afford to attend most public flagship institutions, according to a new report released last week by the Institute for Higher Education Policy.
The report found that only six of 50 state flagships meet an affordability benchmark for low-income students (see graphic, below).

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Mamie Voight, vice president of policy research at IHEP and a co-author of the report, said public institutions funded by taxpayers should better serve low-income students, a demographic that’s growing in overall college enrollments. Flagship universities often have high graduation rates and good post-college outcomes for students, Voight said, making them a good vehicle for social mobility.

But flagships “are not following through on that promise,” she said, because they aren’t providing affordable, accessible education for low- and middle-income students. This results in some students taking out large loans, working long hours while attending school and facing difficulty covering basic needs such as food, all of which can lead to poorer outcomes for the students. Other students may opt for a less expensive college with fewer supports, or forgo college altogether.

Being ‘Indistractable’ Will Be the Skill of the Future

Nir Eyal:

If distraction becomes a habit, we may be unable to sustain the focus required for creativity in our professional and personal lives. Worse, if we’re constantly pulled away from friends and family by distractions, we miss out on cultivating the relationships we need for our psychological well-being.
Digital distraction might manifest in looking at notifications that pop up on your phone — even during conversations with family, friends, or colleagues, interrupting focused work to check email — chatting with coworkers who pop by your desk when you intended to do focused work, or scrolling through your social media feeds when you planned to read a book.
The opposite of “distraction” is “traction.” Traction is any action that moves us towards what we really want. Tractions are actions, done with intent. Any action, such as working on a big project, getting enough sleep or physical exercise, eating healthy food, taking time to meditate or pray, or spending time with loved ones, are all forms of traction if they are done intentionally. Traction is doing what you say you will do.

Alaska’s universal basic income problem

Robyn Sundlee:

What if we just give people money?

This is the question propelling several new books and that’s been taken up by more than one presidential candidate — foremost Andrew Yang, who has made universal basic income (UBI) the centerpiece of his campaign. An automated future looms on the horizon, and tech magnates and policy wonks are turning to UBI as a neat solution to the messy problem of technology-induced unemployment.

Yet when one considers the political ramifications of the largest and longest-running UBI experiment in America — Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) — giving out cash appears to create unforeseen problems, and advocates for basic income would do well to incorporate Alaska’s latest experience into their conceptions of the policy.

Since 1982, Alaska has been giving every woman, man, and child an annual chunk of its nest egg: the $66.3 billion Permanent Fund. Alaska deposits at least 25 percent of mineral royalties — revenue the state generates from its mines, oil, and gas reserves — into the fund annually. The money is in turn invested by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation in domestic and global stock, bonds, private equity, and more, and interest earnings are then distributed to Alaska residents every September.

Former Gov. Jay Hammond, the mastermind behind the fund, created the dividend system as a way to ensure Alaska’s nonrenewable resources could provide an everlasting return to the state. In his words, he “wanted to transform oil wells pumping oil for a finite period into money wells pumping money for infinity.” Paying out $1,000 to $2,000 per person per year — every Alaskan gets the same amount — was Hammond’s plan to protect the fund. If every Alaskan were a stakeholder in the Permanent Fund’s future, surely no politician could dismantle it without paying an electoral price.

The 64 Floor

Laura Waters:

For those of you following along, while both principal at Carteret High School and as superintendent of Asbury Park Public Schools, Lamont Repollet instituted a practice called “The 64 Floor.” As I explain here (and Repollet confirmed before legislators here), when high school teachers enter grades into the database at Asbury Park, an A+ is a 97, an A is a 94, and so on. Now here is where it gets interesting. A D is a 65. But an F is recorded as a 64. No one can get less than a 64. That’s why it’s called “The 64 Floor.”

What’s the result? No one can fail a class. Read the link for a full explanation.

Now that we’re, um, tinkering with PARCC, Repollet appeared before the State Board of Education to discuss “cut scores,” or what grade a student would need to pass each standardized end-of-year assessment. NJ 101.5 reports the following conversation between Board members and Repollet on cut scores for the science assessment:

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Unions Aiming to Repeal California’s Property Tax Caps

Steven Greenhut:

For a sense of the endless political resources that California’s left-leaning groups have at their ready, consider this recent turn of events. After having spent $3.45 million last year to qualify a tax-hike measure on the 2020 general-election ballot, activists have decided to start from scratch on a “new and improved” version. Given the higher vote totals that they now need, they’ll have to spend at least $5 million on the new signature drive.

This would be chump change for labor groups such as the California Teachers’ Association and the Service Employees International Union—and other prominent backersof an initiative that will obliterate Proposition 13’s tax protections on commercial property owners and small businesses. Consider $5 million a small investment given the likely payout if voters are foolish enough to embrace this record-setting property tax boost.

According to the filing at the California Secretary of State’s office, the currently qualified “split rolls” initiative will result in a “Net increase in annual property tax revenues of $6.5 billion to $10.5 billion in most years, depending on the strength of the real estate markets.” The bulk of the money “would be allocated to schools (40 percent) and other local governments (60 percent).” There are no revisions that can alter the fundamental nature of this stinker.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: “The middle class everywhere in the world, notes a recent OECD report, is under assault, and shrinking in most places while prospects for upward mobility for the working class also declines.”

Joel Kotkin:

Today’s neo-feudalism recalls the social order that existed before the democratic revolutions of the 17th and 18th Century, with our two ascendant estates filling the roles of the former dominant classes. The First Estate, once the province of the Catholic Church, has morphed into what Samuel Coleridge in the 1830s called “the Clerisy,” a group that extends beyond organized religion to the universities, media, cultural tastemakers and upper echelons of the bureaucracy. The role of the Second Estate is now being played by a rising Oligarchy, notably in tech but also Wall Street, that is consolidating control of most of the economy.

Together these two classes have waxed while the Third Estate has declined. This essentially reversed the enormous gains made by the middle and even the working class over the past 50 years. The top 1% in America captured just 4.9 percent of total U.S. income growth in 1945-1973, but since then the country’s richest classes has gobbled up an astonishing 58.7% of all new wealth in the U.S., and 41.8 percent of total income growth during 2009-2015 alone.

In this period, the Oligarchy has benefited from the financialization of the economy and the refusal of the political class in both parties to maintain competitive markets. As a result, American industry has become increasingly concentrated. For example, the five largest banks now account for close to 50 percent of all banking assets, up from barely 30 percent just 20 years ago.

VPR deletes, responds to op-ed questioning Chinese international students in America

Sam Zoerb & Rachel Friedman:

Vanderbilt Political Review (VPR) removed an op-ed from their website that was titled “What Do We Gain from Allowing Chinese Espionage” Sept. 10. The editorial decision to remove the piece followed what they called “strong responses” from the Vanderbilt community, particularly from international students.

The op-ed, written by two VPR contributors and published on April 8, took the position that the United States must stop allowing “the wholesale import” of Chinese nationals into American educational institutions purportedly because students are a known form of Chinese espionage. The piece did not make reference to Vanderbilt, but rather called for increased visa screening particularly for students interested in research or STEM fields.

What teachers think about race and school discipline

Nat Malkus and Hannah Warren:

School discipline has long been at or near the top of the list of public concerns about education. Indeed, polls show that student discipline was the public’s top concern 50 years ago, in 1969, and for 15 of the next 16 years. More recently, education reformers’ concerns have focused more on how students are disciplined than how disciplined they are. Arguments that suspensions are unproductive, harmful to recipients, and unfairly administered by race led the Obama administration to tackle the issue through 2014 federal guidance encouraging leaders to seek alternatives to exclusionary discipline and reduce racial disparities in suspensions. This was criticized as a top-down overreach, and subsequently scrapped by the Trump administration without any further substantive action. Despite the federal walk-back, pressure for centralized solutions remains, as evidenced by the pending California legislation that would ban all suspensions for disruptive behavior.

That noted, polls also reveal a great deal of support for alternatives to suspension. Fordham finds that 81% of teachers view restorative justice practices as somewhat effective alternatives, and PDK finds that two-thirds of all adults see mediation as more effective than detention or suspension. One of the drivers of this appeal for alternatives is pronounced distrust of disciplinary practices. PDK finds that only 59% of all parents trust their child’s school to administer discipline fairly—a number that falls to a mere 40% among black parents. This racial disparity is understandable given that 15% of black parents report having a child suspended or expelled from schools, double the percentage of white parents. These views are aligned with the pressure in education reform circles to move away from suspension and reflect some sympathy for the Obama and California regulatory moves.

How to Major in Unicorn Many of the freshmen now arriving in Palo Alto came to raise capital and drop out. A cynic’s guide to killing it at Stanford.

Max Read:

Google was founded by two Stanford graduate students, Instagram by two Stanford alumni, Snapchat by a Stanford dropout. WhatsApp, Netflix, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard were all founded by onetime Stanford students; the earliest investors in Facebook and Amazon were Stanford graduates. Even Elizabeth Holmes, symbol of Silicon Valley self-delusion and fraud, was a student at Stanford when she dropped out to found Theranos. About the only two famous tech founders with no immediately apparent Stanford connection are Steve Jobs and Bill Gates — though is it a coincidence that each had a daughter attend the school?

Stanford, nestled south of Facebook and west of Google, is more than a kind of finishing school to the burgeoning independent commonwealth of tech. It’s already to the 21st century what Harvard, or maybe the University of Chicago, was to the 20th: the institution that grooms an elite class for power and imbues it with the reigning ideology. And for the students destined to rule over megaplatforms and other digital fiefdoms, Stanford can be less a college than a kind of incubator or accelerator — a four-year networking opportunity for the next Systrom, Spiegel, or Thiel, as everyone who goes there knows. “I don’t remember there being that much emphasis on serving others or what is the broad philosophical points of a Stanford education,” a political-science major from the class of 2017 told us. “It really always felt like it’s that gold mine, like you’re just there to find that random idea and hop on that train and have $100 million by the time you’re 30.”

Commentary on Betsy DeVos Visit to a Milwaukee Voucher School

Related: Mission vs Organization. Then Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 speech to the Madison Rotary Club:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.”

An interview with St. Marcus Superintendent Henry Tyson.

Taxpayer supported K-12 school districts substantially outspend voucher schools. Madison’s $18-20K per student is more than double typical voucher school taxpayer support.

‘Sign In With Apple’ Is Way Better Than Passwords—If You Can Find It

Joanna Stern:

What are the downsides of Apple’s option?

In cases like Tinder’s, the anonymity benefit to one user can be a problem for other users. “Verifying a user’s identity using their login credentials helps us prevent those who have been removed for their conduct from accessing our service,” a Tinder spokesman said, adding that the company looks forward to hearing more from Apple on this.

There’s also the fact that the iPhone isn’t immune to security vulnerabilities. Plus, who could forget the iCloud celebrity hacks of 2014? Apple does require two-factor for Sign in with Apple.

And finally, even when your favorite app does adopt it, you might have to create a new account to use it.

So what should I do?

I wish more app makers would run—not walk—to implement Apple’s option as an alternative to Facebook and Google. For now, just be on the lookout for it. If you don’t see it, I recommend Google as the quickest, safest alternative. Just do yourself a favor, and choose your doors wisely.

Providence teachers push back against harsh report on schools

Madeleine List:

Providence teachers describe a climate of negativity, an air of uncertainty and a culture of blame hovering over their district since the release of a report by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy this summer on the state of the schools.

But for them, the anxiety caused by the scathing report, the impending state takeover and what they see as a barrage of criticism aimed at them in the media, fades away when they greet their students.

“The moment we step on the front step of that school, that’s it, you leave it there,” said Cynthia Robles, a special education collaborative teacher at Roger Williams Middle School. “You have to leave that negativity at the door, because the kids are depending on you.”

Six educators from around the district shared this week what it’s like to be a teacher in the thick of a national controversy over their schools.

“It doesn’t affect me one bit, one bit,” said Allison Campbell, a kindergarten dual-language English teacher at Carl G. Lauro Elementary School, who said she always gets swept up in her students and the pace of the school day.

But about 100 teachers have resigned this year, some because they were recruited by other districts and others because of the mounting pressure on Providence teachers in the wake of the report, said Ed German, dean of students at Hope High School.

“People don’t want to be associated with education in Providence,” he said. “We’ve lost good administrators. We’ve lost good teachers

Richard Zimman (2009 – then Ripon, WI Superintendent):

Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.”

Civics: The New York Times Has Abandoned Liberalism for Activism

Andrew Sullivan:

“Our democracy’s ideals were false when they were written.”

I’ve been struggling with that sentence — the opening statement of the introductory essay to the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project on the legacy of slavery in America — for a few weeks now.

It’s a very strange formulation. How can an enduring “ideal” — like, say, freedom or equality — be “false” at one point in history and true in another? You could of course say that the ideals of universal equality and individual liberty in the Declaration of Independence were belied and contradicted in 1776 by the unconscionable fact of widespread slavery, but that’s very different than saying that the ideals themselves were false. (They were, in fact, the most revolutionary leap forward for human freedom in history.) You could say the ideals, though admirable and true, were not realized fully in fact at the time, and that it took centuries and an insanely bloody civil war to bring about their fruition. But that would be conventional wisdom — or simply the central theme of President Barack Obama’s vision of the arc of justice in the unfolding of the United States.

9/11 Is History Now. Here’s How American Kids Are Learning About It in Class

Olivia Waxman:

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Lauren Hetrick was a 16-year-old sophomore at Hershey High School in Hershey, Pa. Her French class was just about to start when a strange announcement came over the P.A. system: “Attention, teachers: The computer tech is in the building.”

The teacher, hearing those words, logged onto her computer. Then she started to cry. She turned on the TV, and there was the North Tower at the World Trade Center, in flames. The class watched as a second plane hit the South Tower. Then the students watched the collapse of the tallest buildings in New York City.

Nearly two decades later, Hetrick has cause to see her teacher’s behavior that morning through a slightly different lens: She became a high school teacher herself, so helping students understand the events of 9/11 is part of her job too. This generation of students were almost all born after that defining 21st century moment, so while the attack may seem like yesterday to those old enough to remember it, to Hetrick’s students, it’s history.

“Freedom of Religion” commentary

Logan Wroge:

The three lunches — Mondays at Memorial, Tuesdays at Middleton and Wednesdays at Verona — will run for the first eight weeks of the fall semester and last eight weeks of the spring semester, she said.

Anyone is welcome to attend a Jesus Lunch, regardless of their religion, Helbach said.

She expects about $40,000 in fundraising will be necessary to run the lunches this school year.

Lunches for Middleton students, which included sub sandwiches this week, will continue to be prepared by organizers, she said. Students at Memorial and Verona will be served food from nearby restaurants. This week was pizza from Costco.

Much more on freedom of religion.

For Online Courses, Questions Over How Success is Measured

Reeve Hamilton:

The results of the University of Texas at Austin’s first full-semester foray into massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are in. But advocates for the classes, which are free or close to it, and open to anyone with an internet connection, recommend looking beyond the fall completion rates — ranging between 1 percent and 13 percent — to measure success.

In October 2012, the University of Texas System partnered with edX, a Massachusetts-based startup, to develop MOOCs, which were being widely touted as a disruptive force in higher education delivery.

The UT System invested $5 million in edX and committed to spending another $5 million on course development. It was in good company; Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had each ponied up $30 million to launch the service. Rice University, Texas’ elite private institution, also partnered with edX.

But the model has faced criticism for chronically low completion rates. And in those terms, UT-Austin’s early results, despite some courses being on the high end nationally, probably don’t look particularly impressive to most.

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.

We Think We Know How to Teach Reading, But We Don’t. What Else Don’t We Know, and What Does This Mean for Teacher Training?

Chad Aldeman:

But in this country, there are at least a few thousand preparation programs attempting to teach future teachers to teach reading. And yet, we have no evidence that any of those programs produce reading instructors who are better (or worse) than any others.

This is a scary realization, but it has implications for how much stock we should put in teacher preparation reform. When researchers Paul von Hippel and Laura Bellows went looking for meaningful differences in teacher preparation programs across six states, they found essentially none. The graph below shows what they found for large teacher preparation programs (TPPs) in Texas. Even looking at just the biggest programs with the largest sample sizes, they found that no program produced teachers who were statistically better or worse at teaching reading than any others.

the majority of ALL 11th-grade students in Madison read and write below basic proficiency. Translated: they are functionally illiterate.

The Wisconsin Department of Public instruction, long lead by our new Governor, Tony Evers, has waived thousands of elementary teacher reading content knowledge requirements (Foundations of Reading, based on Massachusetts’ best in the States MTEL requirement)

K-12 Tax& Spending Climate: City of Madison Tax Base & Municipal Debt CommentarY

Abigail Becker:

However, the negative outlook stems from three conditions that could move the rating down in the future. These include increases in debt levels, weakening of the city’s tax base and material declines in operating reserves and liquidity, including the financial conditions of the Madison Water Utility.

“General operations of the city remain exposed to its water enterprise,” the report from Moody’s said.

Last April, an audit revealed the Water Utility faced a $6 million deficit. The Public Service Commission granted the utility a 30.6% rate increase in November 2018 while reprimanding its fiscal practices.

The rate increase was meant to let the utility borrow for 2018 to cover capital expenses for 2017, 2018 and 2019 and repay the city a $6 million loan.

According to the report, the rate increase should strengthen water operations but “any challenges to water operations requiring general fund support could potentially place downward pressure on the city’s credit profile.”

Related: Madison’s property tax base growth and nearly $40B (!) federal taxpayer electronic medical record backdoor subsidy.

Moody’s downgraded the taxpayer supported Madison School’s debt in 2016. Debt ratings are a factor in borrowing costs.

Madison taxpayers have long spent more than most K-12 school districts.

“The majority of ALL 11th-grade students in Madison read and write below basic proficiency. Translated: they are functionally illiterate”

David Blaska:

ACT 2019 Madison v stateIn Madison public schools, 39.7% of all 11th graders scored proficient or better the ACT english/language arts. That’s down from 45.8% three years ago (2015-16 school year). (Note: the stats just cited differ from the WI State Journal’s in today’s editions. They used grades 3-8 and 11. Blaska Policy Werkes is isolating on grade 11, when students are about to graduate [maybe] into the economy.)

Statewide, the WI State Journal reports, white students in fifth grade dropped 4.6 percentage points in reading and writing compared to a 1.6 drop among African-American students. That’s how the statewide racial gap is closing, at least in that statistic. Good news for those obsessed by race, one supposes.

⇒Madison’s racial achievement gap continues to yawn wide after six years of Jennifer Cheatham’s magical thinking. Only 9% of Madison’s African-American high school students tested proficient in English language arts (aka: reading and writing) in the just-completed school year, compared to almost two-thirds of white kids. The flip side is two-thirds of black kids are functionally illiterate (what the educrats like to call “below basic proficiency). And what’s up with better than one in five AA kids not taking the test at all?

Much more on our long term, disastrous reading results, here.

The Progressive Dystopia Of NEw York City Schools

Rod Dreher:

You have to read this long Atlantic piece by George Packer, in which he describes the disillusioning of him and his wife — good urban liberals — by the militant wokeness that overtook the New York City public schools that their children attended (and that their son still attends). The piece begins with Packer recounting the insane competition among the rich and connected to get their kids into private schools. The Packers ultimately opted out of that, and searched for a good progressive public school for their son (and later, their daughter).

They found an ethnically diverse one that satisfied them, though it was not without its challenges. All seemed relatively well. Until five years ago:

Around 2014, a new mood germinated in America—at first in a few places, among limited numbers of people, but growing with amazing rapidity and force, as new things tend to do today. It rose up toward the end of the Obama years, in part out of disillusionment with the early promise of his presidency—out of expectations raised and frustrated, especially among people under 30, which is how most revolutionary surges begin. This new mood was progressive but not hopeful. A few short years after the teachers at the private preschool had crafted Obama pendants with their 4-year-olds, hope was gone.

At the heart of the new progressivism was indignation, sometimes rage, about ongoing injustice against groups of Americans who had always been relegated to the outskirts of power and dignity. An incident—a police shooting of an unarmed black man; news reports of predatory sexual behavior by a Hollywood mogul; a pro quarterback who took to kneeling during the national anthem—would light a fire that would spread overnight and keep on burning because it was fed by anger at injustices deeper and older than the inflaming incident. Over time the new mood took on the substance and hard edges of a radically egalitarian ideology.

College, Calculus, and the Problem With the SAT

Vera Tutunik:

Depending on the circumstances they were born into, students might see these tasks as steps toward claiming a birthright or as giant obstacles that stand between them and a future of economic security. The former are helped along by tutors, consultants, and nagging parents; the latter scrape up money for test-taking fees and get what help they can from overworked school counselors. In his new book, The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us, Paul Tough explores this divide, and interrogates whether going to college has become a privilege of wealth and whether it can still lift people out of economic insecurity.

Over six years, Tough visited big universities and small liberal arts colleges and community colleges, speaking with more than a hundred students. He writes movingly about students who are trying to navigate the confounding, expensive, and intimidating process of getting into and staying in college. Tough has written several books about education. This new book has some pretty depressing moments—especially about the current state of standardized testing. But he also finds plenty to be hopeful about.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos questions how K-12 funding was spent given test score decline

Molly Beck:

Less than half of Wisconsin students again this year are considered to be proficient in reading and math — a trend Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Thursday called “disturbing.”

The percentage of students in public and private voucher schools scoring well in reading and math on state tests dropped slightly during the 2018-19 school year, from 41% in both areas to 40% in math and 39% in reading.

“These test scores are a cause for concern for parents, educators and taxpayers,” Vos said, in a statement on the annual release of state test scores by the state Department of Public Instruction. “While standardized tests don’t reflect everything that’s happening in the classroom, these scores reveal a disturbing decline.”

Vos also questioned how recent increases in K-12 funding have been spent given students’ scores on state tests, which were crafted by an agency run by Gov. Tony Evers until January when he left his position as state superintendent.

“Wisconsin students deserve an excellent education no matter where they attend school,” he said. “With the repeated increases in funding for K-12 education, taxpayers deserve to know why we’re not seeing better results.”

Vos rejected a state budget proposal this year from Evers that included $1.4 billion in new funding for public and private voucher schools and changed the state funding formula to provide more money to schools with students who live in poverty — a characteristic of students who generally score poorly on state tests.

The Republican-backed budget ultimately included an increase in funding — $500 million in additional funds for schools. Evers then used his broad veto authority to add about $65 million more for schools.

Related: 2011: A Capitol Conversation on Wisconsin’s Reading Challenges.

2012: Wisconsin Act 166.

2015: Foundations of Reading Teacher Exam Results 2017 update.

2019: Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers.

2019: A bill is circulating in both houses of the Wisconsin legislature that would permanently exempt special education teachers from having to pass the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT).

The Garden of College Excellence Is Growing Weeds

Peter Schuck:

Anthony Kronman, my long-time Yale Law School colleague and perhaps the most eloquent individual I know personally, has written a brave, high-minded, argumentative, and largely persuasive book about the values and choices that should animate our greatest colleges and universities but no longer do. His book, The Assault on American Excellence, is also quixotic in the manner of King Canute who ordered the sea to retreat, knowing that as a mere mortal, he would fail. Unlike Canute, Kronman utterly believes what he says, yet the stars, alas, are aligned against him.

This book could not be more timely. The cascade of campus contretemps over academic values and due process in recent years seems relentless. A partial list would include student protests over right-wing speakers on campus and demands for trigger warnings and other protections from unwelcome (i.e., conservative) provocations by faculty, administrators, and other sources; curricular disputes; admissions and financial aid policies; regulation of students’ sexual relations; demands for an army of diversity specialists; and other offenses against political correctness creatively ginned up by hypersensitive, politically “woke” members of the community. When the pending lawsuit by Asian-descent students to Harvard’s ethnic admission program is decided, the war will surely intensify.

These specific disputes are manifestations of competing conceptions of the academy’s role in American life today – a larger challenge that Kronman passionately engages. Its framing argument is easily stated. (It is also obsessively repeated, an authorial tic redeemed by his graceful writing and his subject’s vital importance). Two norms clash on today’s campuses. The first is what he calls the “aristocratic” spirit – a provocative label that will surely invite misunderstanding, even caricature: “Many people,” he notes, “have an allergy to the word ‘aristocracy.’ To them, it implies unearned privilege and exploitative domination. In the original sense, though, the word simply means the rule of the best.” Kronman is clear that higher education is an inherently aristocratic activity which should be organized, conducted, and defended as such. His “best” are the faculty who profess and execute aristocratic ideals. Only they possess the hard-won knowledge and authority to frame the compelling intellectual questions to be debated in the classroom and to judge whether the debaters have enacted those ideals.

CS 61A course enrollment reaches an all-time high at 2,000 students

Leon Chen:

UC Berkeley’s introductory computer science course hit the class maximum of 2,000 enrolled students this semester, seeing an increase from the previous maximum enrollment of 1,961 during the fall 2018 semester.

As of print, 1,949 students are enrolled in CS 61A, according to BerkeleyTime. The professor of CS 61A, John DeNero, said in an email that that despite the large class size, 25 waitlisted students may still join the course.

“It’s exciting to see so many students interested in learning about computer science,” DeNero said in the email. “Teaching a very large class involves planning, technology, and help from the university.”

DeNero added that there are 57 undergraduate student instructors, or UGSIs, for the class this semester. Besides CS 61A, four other courses in the electrical engineering and computer sciences department, or EECS, have over 1,000 students. CS 61A was held in Zellerbach Hall for the first two weeks of the semester to accommodate the large class size.

Elite Failure Has Brought Americans to the Edge of an Existential Crisis

Derek Thompson:

The ends of Millennials and Gen Z are similarly traditional. The WSJ/NBC poll found that, for all their institutional skepticism, this group was more likely than Gen Xers to value “community involvement” and more likely than all older groups to prize “tolerance for others.” This is not the picture of a generation that has fallen into hopelessness, but rather a group that is focused on building solidarity with other victims of economic and social injustice. Younger generations have been the force behind equality movements such as Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, #AbolishICE, and Medicare for All, not only because they’re liberal, and not only because they have the technological savvy to organize online, but also because their experience in this economy makes them exquisitely sensitive to institutional abuses of power, and doubly eager to correct it. What Americans young and old are abandoning is not so much the promise of family, faith, and national pride as the trust that America’s existing institutions can be relied on to provide for them.

The authors of the paper on working-class men note that, even as their subjects have suffered a shock, and even as they’re nostalgic for the lives of their fathers and grandfathers—the stable wages, the dependable pensions—there is a thin silver lining in the freedom to move beyond failed traditions. Those old manufacturing jobs were routine drudgery, those old churches failed their congregants, and traditional marriages subjugated the female half of the arrangement. “These men are showing signs of moving beyond such strictures,” the authors write. “Many will likely falter. Yet they are laying claim to a measure of autonomy and generativity in these spheres that were less often available in prior generations. We must consider both the unmaking and remaking aspects of their stories.”

And there is the brutal truth: Many will likely falter. They already are. Rising anxiety, suicide, and deaths of despair speak to a profound national disorder. But eventually, this stage of history may be recalled as a purgatory, a holding station between two eras: one of ostensibly strong, and quietly vulnerable, traditions that ultimately failed us, and something else, between the unmaking and the remaking.

St. Marcus is proud to be a top 2 school serving low-income, African American students in Wisconsin! (We’ll catch up, @MilwCollegePrep. 😉)

An interview with St. Marcus’s Henry Tyson.

I Was a Low-Income College Student. Classes Weren’t the Hard Part.

Anthony Abraham Jack:

Now, as a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I teach a course I’ve titled C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me) — borrowing the title of that still-relevant Wu-Tang Clan track — in which we examine how poverty shapes the ways in which many students make it to and through college. Admission alone, as it turns out, is not the great equalizer. Just walking through the campus gates unavoidably heightens these students’ awareness and experience of the deep inequalities around them.

I’ve spent half my life in Miami and the other half in Massachusetts. One 20-minute phone call with an Amherst football coach when I was a high school senior, and a college brochure that arrived two days later, brought this dual citizenship into existence. I can still hear my brother asking, “What is an Amherst?” We didn’t have internet at home, so we had to wait to get to the school computer lab before we could look up the unfamiliar name. We learned that the “H” was as silent as my brother was when he found out a United States president — Calvin Coolidge — was an alumnus, and so was the eminent black physician Dr. Charles Drew. Now maybe his baby brother could be one, too.

The path from Miami to Massachusetts was not one that everyone around me could see. I attended George Washington Carver Middle School, which had an International Baccalaureate program, in my neighborhood, Coconut Grove. But the summer before I started at Carver, I took some summer school electives at Ponce de Leon Middle School, our zoned school, where my mom worked as a security guard and which she helped to desegregate in the ’60s. Before the starting bell one day, an assistant principal from Carver saw me goofing around with some friends from around the way. She strode over and said to me, “You don’t have the potential to be a Carverite.”

That assistant principal saw black, boisterous boys and deemed us, and me, less than. She didn’t see my drive to succeed. My family didn’t have much, but since my days in Head Start, I was always a top performer in every subject. During one rough patch, I stayed home from school for a few days when we couldn’t afford all the supplies needed to carry out my science-fair experiment on bulb voltage and battery life. I developed my hypotheses and outlined my proposed methods without the materials and had everything ready to go when we were able to afford the supplies. I missed the ribbon but got the A. So on that summer morning when the assistant principal admonished me, anger welled up inside me, but I couldn’t let it show. That would have just played into her preconceived notion of who — or rather, what — I was. I had to prove her wrong. I had to prove myself right.

But even as I write these words, I’m aware that this is exactly the kind of story that poor, black and Latinx students are conditioned to write for college application essays. In everyday life, as the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote, we “wear the mask that grins and lies” that “hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,” but when we write these all-important essays we are pushed — by teachers, counselors and anyone who gives advice — to tug the heartstrings of upper-middle-class white admissions officers. “Make them cry,” we hear. And so we pimp out our trauma for a shot at a future we want but can’t fully imagine.

Related: Former Madison K-12 Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Harvard lecturer position.

Ratings systems have returned to haunt the gig economy

Andrew Hill:

This shift is mere common sense. Any review system is prone to what experts call the “idiosyncratic rater effect”, which is a polite way of saying that bias and discrimination can pollute the outcomes. That applies in particular to “rank-and-yank” assessments, but also to poorly presented feedback. As Marcus Buckingham, a consultant, and Cisco’s Ashley Goodall wrote in Harvard Business Review earlier this year: “Because your feedback to others is always more you than them, it leads to systematic error, which is magnified when ratings are considered in aggregate.”

Having tested such methods to soul-destroying destruction in some of the biggest organisations in the world, it is not merely perverse but positively dangerous to disinter their flaws so they can haunt the gig economy.

Discrimination has been one of the first ghosts to re-emerge. Researchers who looked at Uber, concluded that while its rating system was outwardly neutral, it could be a vehicle for, say, racial bias. Academics feel the ratings effect personally. The authors of another paper about Uber pointed out that their own students’ evaluations were “relevant for the renewal of teaching contracts, promotions or future applications”, and are also suspected of bias. Their study suggested solutions could include giving Uber drivers the opportunity to challenge a bad rating, or appointing a third party who could audit reviews for potential bias.

Uber does let drivers rate users, who can themselves be kicked off the app if their bad behaviour pushes their rating below par. This leads to the mutually assured insincerity of high ratings on both sides (the flaw in Airbnb’s review system identified in the Boston study) and leaves neither customer nor provider much the wiser.

The grim alternative is not much better, though, and I will bear it in mind before I next submit a low mark. It is that everyone slips back into a swamp of personal performance ratings, where customers are cast in the role of rankers-and-yankers, remotely and unwittingly ruling on the fate of individuals just like them.

Public Flagship Universities Fail on Financial Equity

Madeline St. Amour:

Only the relatively wealthiest students can afford to attend most public flagship institutions, according to a new report released last week by the Institute for Higher Education Policy.
The report found that only six of 50 state flagships meet an affordability benchmark for low-income students (see graphic, below).

Mamie Voight, vice president of policy research at IHEP and a co-author of the report, said public institutions funded by taxpayers should better serve low-income students, a demographic that’s growing in overall college enrollments. Flagship universities often have high graduation rates and good post-college outcomes for students, Voight said, making them a good vehicle for social mobility.

But flagships “are not following through on that promise,” she said, because they aren’t providing affordable, accessible education for low- and middle-income students. This results in some students taking out large loans, working long hours while attending school and facing difficulty covering basic needs such as food, all of which can lead to poorer outcomes for the students. Other students may opt for a less expensive college with fewer supports, or forgo college altogether.

The report created five profiles of students using nationally representative data. They include three dependent students who are low-income, middle-income and high-income; and two independent students, one with dependents and one without dependents.
To determine what each student could afford to pay, the report used the “Rule of 10” benchmark from the Lumina Foundation, which says that a family should be able to pay college costs by setting aside 10 percent of discretionary income for 10 years, with the student working 10 hours per week while enrolled.

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

Campus police said he should’ve been ‘smarter’ than to exercise his First Amendment rights. Now he’s suing.

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education:

Late yesterday, with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Brown sued Jones County Junior College over policies that deny students their First Amendment rights on campus.

The public Mississippi institution twice stopped Brown from exercising his free speech rights when he tried to recruit fellow students for a campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty.

In April, Brown and two other individuals held up a sign designed to poll students on the legalization of recreational marijuana. But Jones College administrators quickly summoned campus police because the group hadn’t filled out the proper paperwork — which requires administrative approval and a minimum three-day waiting period before “gathering for any purpose” anywhere on campus.

The Secret to Success Academy’s Top-Notch Test Scores

Dale Russakoff:

HOW THE OTHER HALF LEARNS
Equality, Excellence, and the Battle Over School Choice
By Robert Pondiscio

Every fall, astonishing news emerges from Success Academy, the largest and most controversial charter school network in New York City. With considerable fanfare, the network announces that its predominantly low-income and minority students have once again defied their demographics, earning consistently impressive scores on the state’s standardized tests. Not only do they dramatically outperform children across the city, erasing the achievement gap between white and black, rich and poor, they even beat the privileged kids in suburban Scarsdale and Chappaqua.

Divining the secret to Success’ success has been an obsession for years in media and education circles. That is partly because its founder and leader is the former New York City Council member Eva Moskowitz, whose hardball politics and support of punitive consequences for noncompliant students and parents have stirred public backlash. In 2016, the New York Times reporter Kate Taylor posted a hidden-camera recording of a Success teacher ripping up a first grader’s incorrect math work, then ordering her off the classroom rug. (The teacher was briefly suspended.)

The speed reading fallacy: the case for slow reading

Ness Labs:

About 2 million books get published every year in the world. The indexed web contains at least 5.75 billion pages. So much to read, so little time. In a world obsessed with speed and productivity at all costs, it’s no surprise that someone came up with a solution. It’s called speed reading, and its promise is to help anyone read at speeds of above 1000 words per minute—much higher than the 200-400 words per minute achieved by the average college-level reader. Sounds fantastic. The problem? It’s completely bogus.

Many speed reading programs sell the dream of being able to read much faster with full comprehension. The first one, called Reading Dynamics, was launched by Evelyn Wood in 1959. A researcher and schoolteacher, Wood created and marketed a system said to increase a reader’s speed by a factor of three to ten times or more, while preserving—and even improving—comprehension. The business was a success: it eventually had 150 outlets in the United States, 30 in Canada, and many others worldwide. Today, many apps are built on the same promise.

State special education monitoring errors could impact federal consent decree over New Orleans schools

Marta Jewson:

Court-appointed monitors overseeing special education services in New Orleans have been reviewing the wrong schools. The problem may force the extension of a four-year-old federal consent decree negotiated to settle a 2010 lawsuit that charged that the city’s charter schools were admitting too few special-needs students and failing to provide proper services to the ones they did enroll.

A June case record in the long-running federal class-action lawsuit identified “potential errors” with the monitoring process. And this week, a state Department of Education spokeswoman confirmed what those errors were.

The issue calls into question the past two years of supervision, during which state Department of Education employees and federally appointed monitors have recorded progress in improving their oversight of special education services. Over that period, the defendants in the suit — the Orleans Parish School Board and the state Department of Education — were found to have achieved “substantial compliance” with the consent decree. They are now nearing a point at which federal Judge Jay Zainey — who is presiding over the case — could lift the decree, ending court and monitor supervision.

American Phrase Book

alumni.mit.edu:

Introduction

Many people moving to the U.S assume that they pretty much know English. After all, they have studied the language and watched many hours of American TV.

Upon arrival it is therefore often to their surprise how many seemingly simple phrases actually turn out to mean something completely different in the US American variant of the English language. Interpreting these phrases literally, results in misunderstandings that can at times lead to severe complications.

This phrase book is aimed to help newcomers to the U.S understand what some popular local idioms really mean.

More generally, the immigrant should keep in mind a golden rule: US natives will usually phrase everything in a manner that creates the least social friction in any given interaction. In most cases this results in shying away from a negative description or opinion. Almost as often, it even means not saying anything definite, and instead just stating possibilities and options

A Very Dangerous Place for a Child Is College

Louis M. Profeta:

Most loved the candor, the openness, the willingness of a seasoned ER doctor to answer uncomfortable questions about drugs and alcohol, sexual assault, and hazing, and a whole host of semi-taboo topics. But it was the questions when the “adults” were out of the room that made me say to myself, “Holy shit … so many of these ‘kids’ have absolutely no business being in college.”

“What about whippets, what if I just snorted one xanax, can you really soak a tampon in alcohol and get drunk, is cough syrup OK to mix with vodka, is ecstasy and molly the same thing, can’t you just strap a backpack to them to keep them from rolling over so they don’t choke on their own vomit, what about phenergan, what’s in skittles (not the candy), how many milligrams of THC can you eat and not die, are they starting to add stuff to coke (not the cola) that makes you more hyped, how much does it cost to go to an ER, will you call my parents if I go, how can you tell if your roommate is suicidal, what if you know your roommate is using heroin … should I tell their parents, how do I tell if the ‘bars’ I bought online are not fentanyl, I got raped last year … should I tell someone now, I think my roommate is going to probably kill herself…who do I tell?”

As I’ve traveled the country, these are just some of the questions and emails I have gotten from your college students. I try to approach them with openness and honesty, as a doctor and a father who almost lost a child to cancer, and I tell them that I want them to live a long life and experience the joy of holding their own child in their arms one day. I tell them they can always email me and I’ll find them help if they need it. Occasionally, they do. Most of the time it’s a parent who drops me a note and says something like, “Thank you, my kid called me tonight after your talk and apologized for every stupid thing they ever did.”

Community effort creates new playground at Lowell Elementary

Pamela Cotant:

Living across from Lowell Elementary School, Kim Neuschel looked out at a vast expanse of asphalt and pondered the potential of the playground and other outdoor space.

She was struck by how much of the students’ engagement in their outdoor environment was asphalt, which covered a good portion of playground along with pea gravel. The mini-forest — a green space in the middle of the C-shaped school building — couldn’t be used during recess because of a fence. And while a group of parents earlier had created a garden in the front yard, it was underutilized because there was no fence to separate it from busy Atwood Avenue.

“To me, fundamentally, it was the question of how do our kids access the outdoors and what does that outdoor space say to them,” said Neuschel, whose son, Finnegan Neuschel-Dornan, attended the school.

Private Tutoring Firm Opens First Center Overseas Amid Sluggish China Demand

Su Huixian and Tang Ziyi:

One of China’s largest private tutoring companies has made a foray into the U.S. as it looks to tap into rising demand from the surging number of Chinese students studying abroad.

The New York-listed TAL Education Group will open its first tutoring center in Silicon Valley, the company announced (link in Chinese) last week on social media. Run by its education agency Think Academy, called Xueersi in Chinese, the company will start an online math class in mid-October targeting elementary school students. It also plans to open offline classes next year at the new center.

In China, students are required to take a standardized test to apply to university. This exam score-focused assessment system has led to a domestic boom in private tutoring centers, as parents fight to improve their children’s chances of getting into an elite school.

Wisconsin Academic Result commentary: writer fails to mention thousands of DPI eLementary Reading teacher mulligans

Logan Wroge:

For example, white students in fifth grade dropped 4.6 percentage points in English/language arts proficiency compared to a 1.6 percentage-point decrease for black students in fifth grade.

In the eighth grade, the percentage of African American students scoring proficient or advanced in English/language arts rose 2 percentage points to 12.1%, while the percentage of white students in that group dropped 1.1 percentage points. But the proficiency difference is still separated by a 30-point gap.

Tomev said DPI is still going over the numbers to better understand the decline in proficiency from the previous year.

“Of course, we believe our students desire nothing less than our full support,” she said. “They’re entering the classroom with more challenges than ever before. For the system to work, we need to keep funding it, and we have to make adjustments so we’re not losing students along the way.”

As in previous years, Madison students trailed the average statewide testing proficiency. In grades 3 to 8, 34.8% of Madison students tested proficient or advanced in English on the Forward Exam and 38.2% in math.

Since the Forward Exam was first used in 2015-16, math proficiency has increased about 3 percentage points for Madison students, but English results have remained relatively stagnant.

The district prefers to track growth and progress through another exam — the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP — which it administers several times a year, said Andrew Statz, the district’s chief accountability officer, since results come in quicker than for the Forward Exam and can be better used by teachers to make adjustments and plan for upcoming school years.

The MAP results show a higher percentage of elementary and middle school students are proficient in reading and math and show larger long-term gains.

Statz said that’s likely because the Forward Exam uses a higher threshold in determining proficiency as opposed to the MAP standards. But the district has kept the same MAP standards since 2013 in order to be able to accurately measure change over time, he said.

The district continues to hit higher composite ACT scores than the state as a whole with the average score for Madison juniors being 20.5 out of 36.

The performance on the ACT, though, varies among students at the district’s four comprehensive high schools, with West High leading the group with an average score of 23, followed by Memorial at 21.9, East at 18.9, and La Follette at 18.4.

A few notes from Scott Girard.

the majority of ALL 11th-grade students in Madison read and write below basic proficiency. Translated: they are functionally illiterate.

The Wisconsin Department of Public instruction, long lead by our new Governor, Tony Evers, has waived thousands of elementary teacher reading content knowledge requirements (Foundations of Reading, based on Massachusetts’ best in the States MTEL requirement)

The Secret of a Charter School’s Success? Parents

Robert Pondisco:

Collectively, charter schools educate 3.2 million children in 7,000 schools in 43 states and the District of Columbia. None are more polarizing than New York City’s network of about 50 Success Academy schools, which serve 17,000 students—94% of whom are from minority backgrounds—under their visionary and lightning-rod leader, Eva Moskowitz. Most are less than a decade old, and all of them are exceptionally high performing. In a city where less than 40% of black and Hispanic children test at proficiency for reading or math, 90% of Success Academy’s students of color passed the most recent state reading test. Virtually all of them—over 98%—did so in math.

Test results should not be the sole measure of school quality, but they’re how we often keep score. By that standard, there’s no such thing as a bad Success Academy school. Its very “worst” campus saw 85% of its students pass last year’s reading test, and in math the worst was 92%—a level of quality and consistency unmatched by any other large charter school network in the U.S.

N ew Orleans program aims to create more pathways to classrooms for black teachers, especially men

Katy Reckdahl:

Two years ago, Nathaniel Albert walked into a first grade classroom at Andrew H. Wilson Charter School in New Orleans and quietly made connections with children. Soon, he became an indispensable part of their school day.

“When he wasn’t there, the students would ask, ‘Where were you?’ ” said teacher Kierston James, 40, who oversaw Albert, a fellow with the Brothers Empowered to Teach (BE2T) Initiative. The program recruits college-age people of color, particularly African American men, and pays them stipends to work in schools in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

At Wilson, as at many New Orleans public schools, most students are black — and it was Albert’s personal mission to reach them. “Even with the ones that were shy, Nathaniel would always push up his chair: ‘What you reading? What can you tell me about it?’ And on the playground, he’d go play with them,” James said.

The Rise of the Comfort College At American universities, personal grievances are what everyone’s talking about

Dteven Gerrard:

Last year, in the fall of 2018, I tried to stand up for campus free speech.

A small group of faculty at Williams College in Massachusetts, where I teach philosophy, had circulated a petition to have our institution sign a national pledge of allegiance to principles of free expression that originated at the University of Chicago. Over 50 colleges and universities, including Princeton and the Citadel, had already adopted the mainstream liberal principles, protecting both speakers and protesters.

I was cautiously optimistic. Like many liberal arts colleges, Williams had gone through a free-speech crisis — and survived. In 2016, our then-president canceled a talk from a conservative writer (the first presidential cancellation since 1865, when Ralph Waldo Emerson was barred from speaking on campus); he also ordered that a mural of the school’s founder be temporarily boarded over because of objections to its depiction of Native Americans.

What College Admissions Offices Really Want

Paul Tough:

In the fall of 2014, Angel Pérez was hired to oversee enrollment at Trinity College, a small liberal-arts school that occupies a picturesque 100-acre hillside campus overlooking Hartford. Trinity is in many ways a typical private northeastern college. It was founded by a group of Episcopalians in the early 19th century, and its student body has been dominated ever since by white, wealthy graduates of New England prep schools. Its architecture is Gothic, its squash teams are nationally ranked and despite its small size (about 2,200 undergraduates), it manages to support five separate student a cappella groups. Two of Trinity’s most famous graduates are George Will and Tucker Carlson, meaning that the college has pretty much cornered the market on conservative TV personalities known for wearing bow ties.

Pérez grew up in very different circumstances, born in Puerto Rico in 1976 to a teenage mother and a father who delivered milk door to door. When Pérez was 5, his family moved to New York to find better opportunities, but they landed instead in a public housing development in the South Bronx during the worst years of the borough’s disintegration. Pérez’s memories of childhood are mostly of a pervasive fear, both at home and on the streets. His father drank too much and was sometimes violent with Pérez’s mother, and Pérez, a pale, nerdy kid who loved books, was easy prey for the gangs that controlled his neighborhood. Twice he was attacked on the street and beaten so badly that he ended up in the hospital.

In high school, Pérez joined every club, pursued summer internships, ran for student government — anything to stay out of the apartment, anything to improve his chances for a better future. A guidance counselor persuaded him to apply to Skidmore College, a selective private institution in upstate New York that Pérez had never heard of. He took the SAT just once, and he scored poorly. But miraculously, someone in Skidmore’s admissions office decided to ignore his lousy test score in favor of his excellent grades and admit him with full financial aid. It was a decision that changed Pérez’s life.

Pérez got his first job in admissions straight out of college, motivated by the opportunity to do for young people what that admissions officer did for him: spot hidden potential in students with unconventional academic records and transform young lives. He rose through the profession, working first at Skidmore and then at the Claremont Colleges in Southern California, earning a master’s degree and a Ph.D. along the way.

Schools Pushed for Tech in Every Classroom. Now Parents Are Pushing Back.

Betsy Morris and Tawnell D. Hobbs:

When Baltimore County, Md., public schools began going digital five years ago, textbooks disappeared from classrooms and paper and pencils were no longer encouraged. All students from kindergarten to 12th grade would eventually get a laptop, helping the district reach the “one-to-one” ratio of one for each child that has become coveted around the country. Teaching apps and digital courses took the place of flashcards and notebooks.

Despite the investment, academic results have mostly slipped in the district of about 115,000 students.

Over the last decade, American schools embraced technology, spending millions of dollars on devices and apps, believing its disruptive power would help many children learn faster, stay in school and be more prepared for a competitive economy. Now many parents and teachers are starting to wonder if all the disruption was a good idea.

Why it has become fashionable not to have children.

Frank Furedi:

Until recently, babies were seen as a blessing. Now, far too many people argue that not having a baby is a blessing. Ultimately, the reason for this loss of faith in the human spirit is neither economic nor environmental. Rather, the main driver of this anti-natal movement is the difficulty that sections of society have in giving meaning to life today. Recovering our confidence in the human spirit and in age-old human virtues is the best antidote to the turn against giving birth.

Civics: Open Records and the Wisconsin Governor’s Office

Libby Sobic and CJ Szafir:

The Wisconsin Attorney General’s office issues a best practices guide for open records requests for all government entities. Democrat Attorney General Kaul, along with his predecessor Republican Attorney General Schimel, recommends 10 business days as a generally reasonable timeline for

Neither the administrations of Schimel nor former Governor Scott Walker were prefect. Walker received backlash for supporting a provision that would have made it easier for Wisconsin legislators to withhold records from the publiciv and Attorney General Schimel instituted an office policy that

But Governor Walker issued two executive orders that required state agencies to use best practices when responding to open records requests from the public. In 2016, Walker’s executive order1 required state agencies to implement several new practices to improve customer service for open records requests, including:

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Workers Are Fleeing Big Cities for Small Ones—and Taking Their Jobs With Them

Ben Eisen:

Additionally, workers tend to spread out geographically during an economic cycle’s later stages, economists say, raising questions about how these cities will fare in a downturn. Workers are usually more confident—and employers more lenient—when the economy has been flourishing.

Ms. Swift said she and her family were effectively living paycheck to paycheck in the Los Angeles area. But living in Boise is 35% less expensive than living in Los Angeles, according to personal-finance website Bankrate.com. She and her husband, who have two children, bought a house in the Boise area after renting in L.A. It is twice as big as their old place, but the monthly payments are half as much as their L.A. rent. There was also enough room for her mother to move in.

“We all love it,” she said. “We have a much higher quality of life here.”

Some regions see remote work as a promising way to lure people who otherwise wouldn’t consider the move. Vermont and the Shoals area of Alabama, among others, have introduced giveaways to draw telecommuters in the last few years. A program in Tulsa, Okla., hands some arriving remote workers $10,000 in cash. “You’re looking for something new,” says the website for the program, which is sponsored by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. “We’re looking for great people to join the Tulsa community.”

38 Madison high school students named semifinalists for National Merit Scholarship

Logan Wroge:

Thirty-eight Madison high school seniors have been named semifinalists for the 2020 National Merit Scholarships.

The students join about 16,000 other high school seniors across the country that were named Wednesday as semifinalists for the prestigious scholarship. About 90% of semifinalists are named finalists, and around half of the finalists go on to receive a scholarship.

The program, now in its 65th year, will award about $31 million in scholarships this spring.

Much more on National Merit scholars, here.

Mr Logan’s article does not include “cut-off scores”.

However, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Much ado about nothing: City of Madison education comMittee; ReAding?

Scott Girard:

Bidar said it would be a challenge to become a decision-making body, given that any initiatives would require approval by three different legislative bodies, but there’s still value in the committee.

“Once we have clarity and agreement around what we want to be, it’s sharing the information with the rest of our colleagues,” she said. The committee provides a connection for elected officials who don’t regularly have an opportunity to interact, she added.

If nothing else, Bidar said the group understands why its work is important.

“The one thing that you would see is that all of us are very focused and understand the importance of our schools as an integral part of our community,” she said. “The focus is how do we support youth and families.”

“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” .

Student Debt Is Transforming the American Family

Hua Hsu:

Since 2012, Zaloom has spent a lot of time with families like Kimberly’s. They all fall into America’s middle class—an amorphous category, defined more by sensibility or aspirational identity than by a strict income threshold. (Households with an annual income of anywhere from forty thousand dollars to a quarter of a million dollars view themselves as middle class.) In “Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost” (Princeton), Zaloom considers how the challenge of paying for college has become one of the organizing forces of middle-class family life. She and her team conducted interviews with a hundred and sixty families across the country, all of whom make too much to qualify for Pell Grants (reserved for households that earn below fifty thousand dollars) but too little to pay for tuition outright. These families are committed to providing their children with an “open future,” in which passions can be pursued. They have done all the things you’re supposed to, like investing and saving, and not racking up too much debt. Some parents are almost neurotically responsible, passing down a sense of penny-pinching thrift as though it were an heirloom; others prize idealism, encouraging their children to follow their dreams. What actually unites them, from a military family in Florida to a dual-Ph.D. household in Michigan, is that the children are part of a generation where debt—the financial and psychological state of being indebted—will shadow them for much of their adult lives.

A great deal has changed since Kimberly’s parents attended college. From the late nineteen-eighties to the present, college tuition has increased at a rate four times that of inflation, and eight times that of household income. It has been estimated that forty-five million people in the United States hold educational debt totalling roughly $1.5 trillion—more than what Americans owe on their credit cards or auto loans. Some fear that the student-debt “bubble” will be the next to burst. Wide-scale student-debt forgiveness no longer seems radical. Meanwhile, skeptics question the very purpose of college and its degree system. Maybe what pundits dismiss as the impulsive rage of young college students is actually an expression of powerlessness, as they anticipate a future defined by indebtedness.

The language you speak changes how informative you can be

Olivia Goldhill:

Not only does the language you speak differ in its tone, syntax, and speed, it also changes the way you convey information.

Linguistic researchers studied 17 languages from around the world to track differences in “information rate”—how quickly a spoken language gets its point across—and ranked them accordingly. The study, published in Science this week, found that despite their many differences, languages have fairly similar rates of imparting information, though they achieve this rate in different ways.

The 17 languages studied contain a huge variety of speaking styles: Some have contrasting tones while others do not; Japanese and Spanish have 25 phonemes (distinct units of sound) compared to 40 in English and Thai; and there are a few hundred distinct syllables in Japanese, versus almost 7,000 English. There are also significant differences in the information density of each language, meaning the amount of information contained per syllable. However, the authors found that information density tends to be balanced out by speech rate (how quickly the language is spoken), meaning that, overall, humans get the some amount of information across in roughly the same amount of time.

“Prosperity Breeds Idiots”

Francis X. Maier:

At the start of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel In the First Circle, a Soviet diplomat on home leave in Moscow tries to make an anonymous call to the U.S. embassy. His purpose: warning the Americans of a Soviet theft of atomic secrets. But he gets a dull-witted, indifferent embassy staffer on the line, and the call goes nowhere. Or almost nowhere. The call is monitored by Soviet security. Arrested and imprisoned at the end of the novel, the diplomat’s final thought about Americans is that “prosperity breeds idiots.”

Solzhenitsyn’s diplomat channels views that were clearly held by the author himself. Comfort and safety, enjoyed too long in the West, invite complacency—and complacency leads to stupidity. As a gulag survivor, Solzhenitsyn had a barely disguised disgust for Western elites with little experience of political murder and repression. Nor could he abide the legion of fools who seemed fascinated, from a secure and prosperous distance, with socialist thought. In his foreword to The Socialist Phenomenon—an extraordinary book by his friend Igor Shafarevich—Solzhenitsyn noted “the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism,” and stressed that

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”.

UMN women-only STEM awards come under fire

Jasmine Snow:

The University of Minnesota and other universities across the country are under fire with claims of discrimination against men in STEM programs.

The Chicago Office for Civil Rights under the U.S. Department of Education opened an investigation into the University last month for possible Title IX violations against men. The investigation comes after complaints were filed by University alumnus and University of Michigan-Flint professor Mark Perry.

The complaints are in regards to three female-only faculty awards — the Mullen/Spector/Truax Women’s Leadership Award, the Ada Comstock Distinguished Women Scholars Award and the Sara Evans Faculty Woman Scholar/Leader Award — that he claims are illegal under Title IX.

But some members of the University’s College of Science and Engineering say women’s awards and programs help promote diversity within the college.

Katharina Fransen, a senior majoring in chemical engineering and the treasurer of the University’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, said the issue might not be as simple as Perry makes it out to be.

Hong Kong Protests: The most striking illustrations from the movement so far

Digital Arts:

The Umbrella Movement may be known for its distinctive umbrella symbolism, but this year’s ongoing protests in Hong Kong against the controversial extradition bill has thrown up a whole host of striking illustrations online that show the message goes beyond the realm of logos and placards.

Pictured here is a tribute to the children now protesting as term begins in the state; as with most of the images in this gallery, the artist remains nameless.

Scroll on mobile or click to the right on desktop to see more art of the Umbrella Movement. If any artists are wanting to be credited please let us know via Twitter.

How an Élite University Research Center Concealed Its Relationship with Jeffrey Epstein

Ronan Farrow:

The M.I.T. Media Lab, which has been embroiled in a scandal over accepting donations from the financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, had a deeper fund-raising relationship with Epstein than it has previously acknowledged, and it attempted to conceal the extent of its contacts with him. Dozens of pages of e-mails and other documents obtained by The New Yorker reveal that, although Epstein was listed as “disqualified” in M.I.T.’s official donor database, the Media Lab continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university. Perhaps most notably, Epstein appeared to serve as an intermediary between the lab and other wealthy donors, soliciting millions of dollars in donations from individuals and organizations, including the technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates and the investor Leon Black. According to the records obtained by The New Yorker and accounts from current and former faculty and staff of the media lab, Epstein was credited with securing at least $7.5 million in donations for the lab, including two million dollars from Gates and $5.5 million from Black, gifts the e-mails describe as “directed” by Epstein or made at his behest. The effort to conceal the lab’s contact with Epstein was so widely known that some staff in the office of the lab’s director, Joi Ito, referred to Epstein as Voldemort or “he who must not be named.”

The financial entanglement revealed in the documents goes well beyond what has been described in public statements by M.I.T. and by Ito. The University has said that it received eight hundred thousand dollars from Epstein’s foundations, in the course of twenty years, and has apologized for accepting that amount. In a statement last month, M.I.T.’s president, L. Rafael Reif, wrote, “with hindsight, we recognize with shame and distress that we allowed MIT to contribute to the elevation of his reputation, which in turn served to distract from his horrifying acts. No apology can undo that.” Reif pledged to donate the funds to a charity to help victims of sexual abuse. On Wednesday, Ito disclosed that he had separately received $1.2 million from Epstein for investment funds under his control, in addition to five hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars that he acknowledged Epstein had donated to the lab. A spokesperson for M.I.T. said that the university “is looking at the facts surrounding Jeffrey Epstein’s gifts to the institute.”

What Statistics Can and Can’t Tell Us About Ourselves

Hanna Fry:

The dangers of making individual predictions from our collective characteristics were aptly demonstrated in a deal struck by the French lawyer André-François Raffray in 1965. He agreed to pay a ninety-year-old woman twenty-five hundred francs every month until her death, whereupon he would take possession of her apartment in Arles.

At the time, the average life expectancy of French women was 74.5 years, and Raffray, then forty-seven, no doubt thought he’d negotiated himself an auspicious contract. Unluckily for him, as Bill Bryson recounts in his new book, “The Body,” the woman was Jeanne Calment, who went on to become the oldest person on record. She survived for thirty-two years after their deal was signed, outliving Raffray, who died at seventy-seven. By then, he had paid more than twice the market value for an apartment he would never live in.

Raffray learned the hard way that people are not well represented by the average. As the mathematician Ian Stewart points out in “Do Dice Play God?” (Basic), the average person has one breast and one testicle. In large groups, the natural variability among human beings cancels out, the random zig being countered by the random zag; but that variability means that we can’t speak with certainty about the individual—a fact with wide-ranging consequences.

Every day, millions of people, David Spiegelhalter included, swallow a small white statin pill to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. If you are one of those people, and go on to live a long and happy life without ever suffering a heart attack, you have no way of knowing whether your daily statin was responsible or whether you were never going to have a heart attack in the first place. Of a thousand people who take statins for five years, the drugs will help only eighteen to avoid a major heart attack or stroke. And if you do find yourself having a heart attack you’ll never know whether it was delayed by taking the statin. “All I can ever know,” Spiegelhalter writes, “is that on average it benefits a large group of people like me.”

That’s the rule with preventive drugs: for most individuals, most of those drugs won’t do anything. The fact that they produce a collective benefit makes them worth taking. But it’s a pharmaceutical form of Pascal’s wager: you may as well act as though God were real (and believe that the drugs will work for you), because the consequences otherwise outweigh the inconvenience.

There is so much that, on an individual level, we don’t know: why some people can smoke and avoid lung cancer; why one identical twin will remain healthy while the other develops a disease like A.L.S.; why some otherwise similar children flourish at school while others flounder. Despite the grand promises of Big Data, uncertainty remains so abundant that specific human lives remain boundlessly unpredictable. Perhaps the most successful prediction engine of the Big Data era, at least in financial terms, is the Amazon recommendation algorithm. It’s a gigantic statistical machine worth a huge sum to the company. Also, it’s wrong most of the time. “There is nothing of chance or doubt in the course before my son,” Dickens’s Mr. Dombey says, already imagining the business career that young Paul will enjoy. “His way in life was clear and prepared, and marked out before he existed.” Paul, alas, dies at age six.

Doorbell-camera firm Ring has partnered with 400 police forces, extending surveillance reach

Drew Harwell:

The doorbell-camera company Ring has quietly forged video-sharing partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them access to homeowners’ camera footage and a powerful role in what the company calls America’s “new neighborhood watch.”

The partnerships let police automatically request the video recorded by homeowners’ cameras within a specific time and area, helping officers see footage from the company’s millions of Internet-connected cameras installed nationwide, the company said. Officers don’t receive ongoing or live-video access, and homeowners can decline the requests, which Ring sends via email thanking them for “making your neighborhood a safer place.”

The SAT Changes Its Answer

Wall Street Journal:

The educational establishment rarely reverses itself when it makes a mistake in the name of combating inequality. So the College Board deserves credit for its decision, announced Tuesday, to scrap plans for an “adversity score” to accompany students’ SAT results. The metric would have increased cynicism about the inscrutable college-admissions game.

The SAT unveiled the adversity score in May as it faced a crisis of legitimacy. Pundits have increasingly attacked the test as a measure of privilege rather than merit, and a growing number of schools have gone “test-optional.” Never mind that privileged students have as much of an advantage on grades and extracurricular activities as they do on tests.

How Long Must American Kids Emit ‘Primal Screams’ About Family Chaos Before We Hear Them?

Joy Pullmann:

The plain truth is that private choices about sex have public consequences. There is no such thing as “what happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom.” Innocent and helpless human beings are created inside those bedrooms whether their parents desire that or not, and these children are more likely to become wards of the state in some capacity if their biological parents are not married to each other and stay that way. (Not incidentally, this is one reason all functioning societies have put guardrails on sexual activities.)

Mary Eberstadt’s latest book, “Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics,” presents a fresh view of some of these major public consequences of private sexual choices. It presents in book form her argument that first arrived in a 2017 essay for the recently defunct Weekly Standard. It also extends her 2014 book, “How The West Lost God.”

Thus anyone familiar with Eberstadt’s work over the years now reading “Primal Screams” will be broadly familiar with her argument before reading. Yet it is characteristically interesting and well-sourced, and worth one’s time.

Eberstadt uses a particularly interesting frame for discussing the psychological effects of the West’s family disintegration crisis that helps lift it from readers’ individual experiences and biases to develop empathy for the broader problem. That is presenting new research of the effects of family separation on animal welfare. She points out the pain and suffering family separation inflicts on animals, even ones we’ve falsely thought of as individualistic animals, like “lone wolves.”

Young Chinese Spend Like Americans—and Take on Worrisome Debt

Stella Yifan Xie, Shan Li and Julie Wernau:

Western economists have long said that China needed a base of American-style consumers to bring the country sustained economic growth. Now China has one: Its young people.

While previous generations were frugal savers—a product of their years growing up in a turbulent economy with a weak social safety net—the more than 330 million people born in China between 1990 and 2009 behave much more like Americans, spending avidly on gadgets, entertainment and travel.

The freewheeling consumption is helping China diversify its economy at a crucial time. Beijing has relied on exports and infrastructure-building to drive growth for decades, but recent signs point to a slowdown amid tariffs from the Trump administration. The new spending patterns have benefited Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. , Tencent Holdings Ltd. and other tech companies, whose rapid growth has helped energize China’s economy.

Yet all this consumption has a downside. Household debt levels have risen rapidly over the past several years, with many young Chinese borrowing money for their purchases.

High levels of corporate and government debt are already longstanding concerns for Beijing. As household debt climbs, some economists worry the country’s debt burdens overall could become unmanageable and weigh on China’s growth.

Loneliness Is a Big Problem

John Maxwell:

Lately, I’ve been having an alarming amount of conversations arise about the burdens of loneliness, alienation, rootlessness, and a lack of belonging that many of my peers feel, especially in the Bay Area. I feel it too. Everyone has a gazillion friends and events to attend. But there’s a palpable lack of social fabric. I worry that this atomization is becoming a world-wide phenomenon – that we might be some of the first generations without the sort of community that it’s in human nature to rely on.

And that the result is a worsening epidemic of mental illness…
Without the framework of a uniting religion, ethnicity, or purpose, it’s hard to get people to truly commit to a given community. Especially when it’s so easy to swipe left and opt for things that offer the fleeting feeling of community without being the real thing: the parties, the once-a-month lecture series, the Facebook threads, the workshops, the New Age ceremonies. We often use these as “community porn” – they’re easier than the real thing and they satisfy enough of the craving. But they don’t make you whole.

The MIT-Epstein debacle shows ‘the prostitution of intellectual activity’. Time for a radical agenda: close the Media Lab, disband Ted Talks and refuse tech billionaires money

Evgeny Morozov:

One of Brockman’s persistent laments was that all the billionaire techies in his circle barely read any of the books published by his clients. Not surprisingly, his famed literary dinners – held during the Ted Conference, they allowed Epstein (who kept Brockman’s Edge Foundation on a retainer) to mingle with scientists and fellow billionaires – were mostly empty of serious content.

As Brockman himself put it after one such dinner in 2004, “last year we tried ‘The Science Dinner’. Everyone yawned. So this year, it’s back to the money-sex-power thing with ‘The Billionaires’ Dinner’.” Was “the money-sex-power thing” that very potent “new mode of intellectual discourse” promised by the “third culture”? If so, we’d rather pass.

In attendance at one such dinner, in 1999, was a young Japanese American by the name of Joi Ito; also present were Richard Saul Wurman, the original founder of the Ted Conference, Jeff Bezos, and, among all the other billionaires, Jeffrey Epstein. A godson of Timothy Leary and a college drop-out, Ito would eventually lead the Media Lab, interview Obama, write a popular technology book (another Brockman client), and join 20 different boards, including those of such prestigious institutions as the New York Times, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Knight Foundation.

MMSD changing curriculum to brain-based letter sound approach as Wisconsin readers fall behind

Amanda Quintan:

She took on the responsibility of paying for a tutor and removing her children from MMSD. After a year of working with Priscilla Gresens at the Arnold Reading Clinic, the Perez kids are reading at grade level.

“After years of interventions to not have any results, and then a year of one hour a week of tutoring to have such excellent results, to me it’s kind of mind boggling. Like what’s going on in that time during school?” Kowieski said.

Kowieski said her kids are not alone in this struggle, and she knows many other parents don’t have the resources to get help.

Madison taxpayers have, for years spent far more than most K-12 school districts. Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Excluded and Exaggerated Data Hides the Real State of Our Students

Krista Kaput:

In fact, the report completely excludes details about the ongoing disparities in AP access and success. For the Class of 2018, 19% of black, 14% of Native American, and 18% of Latinx students participated in AP courses, as compared to 34% of white students. We should also note that 38% of Asian students took AP courses, but the disparity among Asian communities requires the state to further disaggregate the data to show a better picture of how our education system is serving all students.

If we are going to address these gaps, we need to face them. That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate our wins, but it does our students a huge disservice to obscure the facts.

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” .

The Top-Ranked College Is…

Melissa Korn and Douglas Belkin:

Go west for a diverse school. Look to the Northeast for a rich one most likely to land you a great job. For great bang for your buck, consider the City University of New York.

These are some of the conclusions of this year’s Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings, which reveal a rich array of options for students whether they’re most focused on the academic environment, extracurricular engagement, career opportunities or return on investment.

Four Ivy League schools rank among the top five. Harvard University stands atop the overall list, followed by its Cambridge neighbor, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania are next, with the California Institute of Technology and Princeton University tied for fifth.

We Interviewed 100 Philly-Area Teachers About What It Takes to Raise Happy, Successful Kids

Brian Howard:

On the Expectations We Place on Kids
“Most parents believe their children are smarter than they actually are. On the plus side, children will often rise to the occasion. Conversely, some parents believe their children can skip certain parts of the curriculum, creating major gaps.” — A teacher at a Montgomery County public elementary school.

On Standardized Tests
“I am a huge fan of the new term ‘educational apartheid,’ and that’s how these standardized tests are used. It’s proving that the kids who have access, ability, resources and support can do well on these tests, and the kids who don’t have that, can’t.” — Sheila Myer

“They provide minimal to no useful feedback to classroom teachers.” — A kindergarten teacher at a West Philadelphia charter school

“We need to make sure all parents and kids know that anyone can opt out. Opt out if you wish to not put that stress on your student. Opt out; it’s okay!” — A middle-school teacher in the suburbs

“I know the grading in our school is incredibly inflated — everyone gets A’s. How do we differentiate? That’s where standardized testing comes in. But the pressure it puts on kids is extraordinary. It’s unfair to kids who don’t test well and will never be able to show how smart they are.” — A high-school teacher at a private single-sex school

“The stakes are too high for just a few weeks of testing. It is concerning that the written portions of the test are graded by non-educators with just a bachelor’s degree who get temp jobs by answering ads online.” — David Hensel

“I hate it. I hate it so much. It takes away from what you’re actually trying to do. I have to prepare my students for what’s going to be on that test. That leaves little room for my struggling students or for my high-achieving students. It keeps us all in second gear.” — Hector Wangia

Cheating, Inc.: How Writing Papers for American College Students Has Become a Lucrative Profession Overseas

Farah Stockman and Carlos Mureithi :

Tuition was due. The rent was, too. So Mary Mbugua, a university student in Nyeri, Kenya, went out in search of a job. At first, she tried selling insurance policies, but that only paid on commission and she never sold one. Then she sat behind the reception desk at a hotel, but it ran into financial trouble.

Finally, a friend offered to help her break into “academic writing,” a lucrative industry in Kenya that involves doing school assignments online for college students in the United States, Britain and Australia. Ms. Mbugua felt conflicted.

“This is cheating,” she said. “But do you have a choice? We have to make money. We have to make a living.”

Classroom Frequency: Student Voices From Wisconsin

Maureen McCollum:

“Classroom Frequency” is co-hosted by MG21 teacher, Ian Lowe. “I feel like this project encapsulates so much of what I love about teaching and particularly teaching at a project-based school like ours,” said Lowe. “I love seeing the ways in which students can use their creative expression to make their mark in the world and to make a difference. In the past, that might have meant building a Little Free Library outside of our school or writing a play that will show up in the Young Playwrights Festival. This project has allowed students to tell their stories and to have their stories shared on the radio. That has just been incredible to see and I love the courage that I see from students.”

Radio can be incredibly empowering and provides a space for a wide range of interests and stories. It’s been an incredible honor to work with each of the talented and inspiring students at MG21.

DMVs Are Selling Your Data to Private Investigators

Joseph Cox:

Departments of Motor Vehicles in states around the country are taking drivers’ personal information and selling it to thousands of businesses, including private investigators who spy on people for a profit, Motherboard has learned. DMVs sell the data for an array of approved purposes, such as to insurance or tow companies, but some of them have sold to more nefarious businesses as well. Multiple states have made tens of millions of dollars a year selling data.

Motherboard has obtained hundreds of pages of documents from DMVs through public records requests that lay out the practice. Members of the public may not be aware that when they provide their name, address, and in some cases other personal information to the DMV for the purposes of getting a driver’s license or registering a vehicle, the DMV often then turns around and offers that information for sale.

Many of the private investigators that DMVs have sold data to explicitly advertise that they will surveil spouses to see if they’re cheating.

The Benefits of Optimism Are Real

Emily Esfahani Smith:

Far from being delusional or faith-based, having a positive outlook in difficult circumstances is not only an important predictor of resilience—how quickly people recover from adversity—but it is the most important predictor of it. People who are resilient tend to be more positive and optimistic compared to less-resilient folks; they are better able to regulate their emotions; and they are able to maintain their optimism through the most trying circumstances.

This is what Dr. Dennis Charney, the dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, found when he examined approximately 750 Vietnam war veterans who were held as prisoners of war for six to eight years. Tortured and kept in solitary confinement, these 750 men were remarkably resilient. Unlike many fellow veterans, they did not develop depression or posttraumatic stress disorder after their release, even though they endured extreme stress. What was their secret? After extensive interviews and tests, Charney found ten characteristics that set them apart. The top one was optimism. The second was altruism. Humor and having a meaning in life—or something to live for—were also important.

Civics: HERE’S HOW MUCH THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHARGES TO BE ON EACH HOUSE COMMITTEE

Ryan Grim
And Aida Chavez
:

HOUSE DEMOCRATS ARE woefully behind on dues owed to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to an internal party document provided to The Intercept. The rank-and-file’s lagging participation in the party’s money chase is being made up for, however, by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s prolific buckraking. By the end of June, she had raised the DCCC more than $43,000,000.

Otherwise, only 11 party members had paid their dues in full, according to the document, a July draft of the “Member Dues Report” for the 2019-2020 election cycle. The delinquency doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t pay at some point during the cycle (though some certainly won’t), but the DCCC, naturally, would prefer to have the money as early as possible, for budgeting and planning purposes. Members, meanwhile, prefer to hold on to their campaign cash as a signal of strength, to deter potential opponents considering a bid.

Party members are doing no better in the DCCC’s points system, a complex, lesser-known ranking that rewards a variety of activities Democrats can do to hold the majority.

The “DCCC Points Program,” as it is dubbed in an internal document, rewards members for their involvement in recruitment efforts and kicks them points if they raise money for the party’s House campaign arm, vulnerable incumbents, and candidates vying to flip swing districts. Pelosi is sitting atop the leaderboard with 279 points, while most members have none or just a few.

Power is accumulated in the House by raising and dispersing money to colleagues, a dynamic pioneered by Pelosi’s quasi-mentor, the late Rep. Phil Burton, who once held Pelosi’s seat; it’s now a bipartisan practice. This has been formalized with the DCCC’s decades-old practice of asking members to pay “dues” to the party committee in charge of reelection efforts and reallocating that money to contested races. Democrats in leadership positions, or who chair so-called money committees, are required to pay higher dues than back benchers. Members are also given a target amount of money they are expected to raise directly for the DCCC, which is separate from their dues payment.

The Problem With Believing What We’re Told

Gary Marcus and Annie Duke:

The good news is that there’s increasing evidence that the needed critical-thinking skills can be taught. In a study published in November in the journal SSRN, Patricia Moravec of Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business and others looked at whether they could improve people’s ability to spot fake news. When first asked to assess the believability of true and false headlines posted on social media, the 68 participants—a mix of Democrats, Republicans and independents—were more likely to believe stories that confirmed their own prior views. But a simple intervention had an effect: asking participants to rate the truthfulness of the headlines. That tiny bit of critical reflection mattered, and it even extended to other articles that the participants hadn’t been asked to rate. The results suggest that just asking yourself, “Is what I just learned true?” could be a valuable habit.

Similar research has shown that just prompting people to consider why their beliefs might not be true leads them to think more accurately. Even young children can learn to be more critical in their assessments of what’s truthful, through curricula such as Philosophy for Children and other programs that emphasize the value of careful questioning and interactive dialogue. Ask students to ponder Plato, and they just might grow up to be more thoughtful and reflective citizens.

Rather than holding our collective breath waiting for social media companies to magically resolve the problem with yet-to-be invented algorithms for filtering out fake news, we need to promote information literacy. Nudging people into critical reflection is becoming ever more important, as malicious actors find more potent ways to use technology and social media to leverage the frailties of the human mind. We can start by recognizing our own cognitive weaknesses and taking responsibility for overcoming them.

Reading is job 1. Unfortunately, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Andrew Luck and the NFL’s Looming Crisis of Race and Class

Dave Zirin:

Then there is the palpable fear in the offices of the National Football League about what the retirement of Luck represents and the attendant public relations hit. Behind the pageantry, the war planes flying overhead, and the tailgating keg stands, this is a game largely played by black people from poor backgrounds for a largely white affluent fan base in the stands. Seventy percent of the league is black, and top tickets cost hundreds of dollars. A player like Andrew Luck masks that reality. He graduated from Stanford. He comes from an affluent family. He is white. He played football because he wanted to, not because he had to. And he chose to walk away. He decided that he didn’t need this anymore: that the game he loved—not to mention the fans he loved—didn’t love him back.

Luck also highlights the fact that the more we know about head injuries, concussions, and the toll that the game takes on the human body—“the only workplace with a 100 percent injury rate” as the union is fond of saying—the more middle-class parents are keeping their kids from the sport. As the San Francisco Chronicle observed last year in a devastating exposé, “The number of high school boys playing tackle football has been in slow but steady decline for nearly a decade. The trend has coincided with heightened concern about the frequency and lasting impact of head injuries on young athletes—with former NFL stars among those questioning whether they’d let their sons play football, and some states weighing whether to establish minimum age limits for the sport.”

The piece shows how the sport has declined dramatically in the last decade in onetime hotbeds like Ohio and Michigan, with the overall number of players dipping nationally by 75,000 at a time when high school sports on the whole have expanded. The numbers of young people playing also dropped, Forbes reported, as affluent white families are much more likely to focus their male children on lacrosse: fewer concussions and a greater social cachet for parents who want a future Wall Street raider rather than an Oakland Raider.

Losing players like Andrew Luck promises a future when the mask is ripped clean off the NFL and the sport is plainly poor black players playing for wealthy white fans living vicariously through fantasy football and a violence that they don’t have to personally endure.

As for Luck, when he cried through his press conference, one couldn’t help but think he wasn’t crying only over losing his team, and the harsh reaction of fans, so quick to show him that their bond was only as strong as his next touchdown pass. Andrew Luck was crying for a sport that over a generation has changed culturally, even if the violence is the same. A league that once depended on a community’s coming together to collectively cheer a team now demands poverty to produce players and disposable wealth among fans whose identity revolves around the violent collisions they consume as voyeurs. It’s a sport that’s sustainable only on the ugliest possible terms: the denial of the humanity of players and the acceptance of that denial by the league and the fans themselves.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

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

MORE HONEST LATIN MOTTOES FOR YOUR OVERRATED UNIVERSITY

Dani Bostick:

Largitione ac donis
“Through bribes and gifts”

Multi matriculantur, pauci gradum suscipiunt
“Many matriculate, few graduate”

In reliquum tempus aere distrahi
“Torn asunder by debt for the rest of your life”

Pro scientia inutili
“For useless knowledge”

Quo plus cerevisiae, eo minus memoriae
“The more beer, the fewer the memories”

Dormire totum diem in cubiculo
“Sleeping all day in the dorms”

The Sidewalk Wars

Essays by joe berridge, michael bryant, ann cavoukian, jan de silva, dan doctoroff, cory doctorow, richard florida, ken greenberg, alexander josephson, jennifer keesmaat, bruce kuwabara, mohamed lachemi, kwame mckenzie, gord perks, robert prichard, yung wu, bianca wylie and shoshana zuboff :

Google has big plans to build a Jetsonian smart city on the waterfront, and Torontonians have strong opinions about it: is it the solution to all our problems or the end of the world as we know it? We asked 18 super-smart people to tell us what they think

CPS offers to stop using private nurses at schools, union says plan has ‘loopholes’

Nader Issa:

The CPS proposal — made in late July — would put an end, starting with this school year, to contracts that outsource jobs such as counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, case managers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists. Though privatization isn’t widely used for those positions, those jobs would be filled only by full-time union employees.

CPS would have more time to end contracted nursing work in particular but would commit to phasing out privatization of nurses by the end of the 2023-24 school year, CPS officials said.

Nursing positions are the ones most commonly outsourced, and the CTU, parents and students have taken issue in the past with the privatization of nursing jobs. CPS has said those positions have needed to be outsourced because it’s difficult to find qualified candidates for full-time jobs.

Why Parents in the College-Admissions Scandal May Get Light Sentences

Jennifer Levitz and Melissa Korn:

Mr. Vandemoer admitted to taking bribes from Mr. Singer for Stanford’s sailing program in exchange for flagging some teens as recruited athletes, even though they weren’t competitive sailors, and giving them a boost in the admissions process.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel for a sentence of 13 months in prison.

But the probation department found no economic loss, since Mr. Vandemoer turned over his ill-gotten gains to Stanford. Stanford also told the court in a letter it hadn’t experienced financial loss.

Judge Zobel sentenced Mr. Vandemoer to one day in prison, which he already served, and two years of supervised release, including six months home confinement.

Mr. Lelling said in a statement after that sentencing that his office “will continue to seek meaningful penalties in these cases.”