All posts by AdminsXss94m

The traditional US college model forces students to pay for classes they don’t need

Jake Flanagan:

On Aug. 10, Democratic candidate for US president Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled a $350 billion plan to eliminate college debt and allow young Americans to complete four-year degrees without taking out loans.
Some see Clinton’s plan as a crucial step in the right direction. These days, it’s virtually impossible to self-finance an American college education.

For those not getting help from mom and dad, loans and/or federal grants are a matter of course. “In 2014-2015, the school year just ended, the total of tuition, fees and room and board for in-state students at four-year public universities was $18,943,” reports Anya Kamenetz for NPR. “The maximum Pell Grant didn’t keep pace with that: It was $5,730.” This leaves the average grantee roughly $13,300 to cover annually. (Pell Grants are funded by the US federal government and are based on financial need, as determined by FAFSA.)

Why the Debate Over College Costs Is About More Than College

Aaron Zitner:

If Donald Trump‘s made-for-tabloid musings have you wondering when the presidential candidates will seriously grapple with important issues, take a look at the brewing debate over college costs.

Even if you don’t carry student debt or have a kid headed to college, the higher-ed debate is worth following. More than any issue, it’s revealing how candidates in both parties plan to show an unhappy public that they have solutions to the current strain of economic anxiety, one arising from wage stagnation, disruptive technologies and tepid growth.

And this debate is yielding a rarity in politics—new ideas—as well as some surprising areas of agreement between the parties.

Deep Learning Courses

Cuda Zone:

Deep learning is a rapidly growing segment of artificial intelligence. It is increasingly used to deliver near-human level accuracy for image classification, voice recognition, natural language processing, sentiment analysis, recommendation engines, and more. Applications areas include facial recognition, scene detection, advanced medical and pharmaceutical research, and autonomous, self-driving vehicles.

Analyzing stylistic similarity amongst authors


About one year ago, I finished building a book recommender for the Project Gutenberg collection. To do so, I analyzed the style and content of tens of thousands of the books they freely provide (for more details on precisely how I did this, you can read my earlier blog post). Recently it occurred to me to revisit this data with a slightly different aim. Rather than quantifying the similarity of individual books, I could try to estimate the stylistic relationships between authors. From a practical point of view, such an analysis could serve a similar purpose to the book recommender, except at the slightly coarser level of authors. From an academic perspective, determining quantitatively which authors wrote like each other could prove useful to scholars attempting to resolve outstanding problems in literary theory. The results of this effort can be seen below.

Books That Shaped America

Library of Congress:

The Library of Congress, the world’s largest repository of knowledge and information, began a multiyear “Celebration of the Book” with an exhibition on “Books That Shaped America.” The initial books in the exhibition are displayed below.

“This list is a starting point,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books – although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not.
We hope you will view the list, discuss it with your friends and family, and most importantly, choose to read and discuss some of the books on this list, reflecting America’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage, which the Library of Congress makes available to the world.

The Coddling of the American Mind


omething strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.

Civics: The Philosopher Of Surveillance

Peter Maas:

Unlike the paranoid eavesdropper played by Gene Hackman in The Conversation, or the quiet Stasi agent at the center of The Lives of Others, Socrates lives in the age of Google and data-mining. Like the rest of us, he cannot remain invisible. Socrates was an evangelical Christian for seven years, got married at 19, divorced at 27 and remarried not long after. He is now a registered Democrat and lives in a Maryland suburb with his son and wife, a public school teacher. I’ve seen the inside of their house, thanks to a real estate listing; the home, on a cul de sac, has four bedrooms, is more than 2,000 square feet, and has a nice wooden deck. I’ve also seen pictures of their son, because Socrates and his wife posted family snapshots on their Facebook accounts. His wife was on Twitter.

Conducting surveillance can be a creepily invasive procedure, as Socrates discovered while peering into the digital life of his first diplomatic target, and as I discovered while collecting information about him. In the abstract, surveillance might seem an antiseptic activity — just a matter of figuring out whether a valid security reason exists to surveil a target and then executing a computer command and letting the algorithms do the rest. But it’s not always that clinical. Sheelagh McNeill, the research editor with whom I worked on this story, was able to find Socrates’ phone number, and although he did not respond to voicemails, he eventually got on the line when I called at night.

Inside An instagram Bot Farm


People want Instagram followers so much, they don’t care if they’re bots—because when it comes to social media, appearances are reality. The businessmen who are happy to oblige those desperate for fake followers are rolling in the monies but at the same time, they’re locked in a weird arms race of algorithms—one where the bot farmers and social media platforms are constantly trying to outsmart the other.

The biggest battle right now is over Instagram, and one group of bot farmers is winning.

Thousands of parents face court action over pupil truancy


The numbers of parents being taken to court over their child skipping school is rising, with thousands facing action last year.

Figures obtained by the Press Association also show that growing numbers are being convicted of truancy offences, facing fines, and in some cases even being sent to jail.

In total, 16,430 people in England were prosecuted for failing to ensure that a child went to school in 2014 – equivalent to around 86 cases for each day of the school year.

Low fee private schooling: what do we really know? Prachi Srivastava responds to The Economist

Poverty to Power:

I have been researching low-fee private schooling for nearly a decade and a half. In fact, the term did not exist until I coined it.

The first time I dared to speak about low-fee private schooling at an international academic conference in 2004 I was told, not-so politely and somewhat patronisingly, to hush-up. We had more pressing Education for All goals to worry about.

‘But, what about the parents making sacrifices to send their kids to these schools?’, I asked. What about states that secretly support them to show increased universal primary education numbers? (Support is less secret now in countries like India, Pakistan, and Uganda). And shouldn’t we be researching this so that we know more about issues like relative achievement, equity implications, and wider impacts on education systems?

The Economist.

Move over Shakespeare, teen girls are the real language disruptors

Gretchen McCullough:

Hate vocal fry? Bothered by the use of “like” and “just”? Think uptalk makes people sound less confident? If so, you may find yourself growing increasingly unpopular—there’s a new wave of people pointing out that criticizing young women’s speech is just old-fashioned sexism.

I agree, but I think we can go even further: young women’s speech isn’t just acceptable—it’s revolutionary. And if we value disruptors and innovation, we shouldn’t just be tolerating young women’s speech—we should be celebrating it. To use a modern metaphor, young women are the Uber of language.

Via Steve Crandall.

Online Teaching Conference (#CCCOTC15) Keynote

Phil Hill:

Back in June I had the pleasure of giving the keynote at the Online Teaching Conference (#CCCOTC15) in San Diego, put on by the California Community College system. There was quite a bit of valuable backchannel discussions as well as sharing of the slides. The theme of the talk was:

Emerging Trends in Online / Hybrid Education and Implications for Faculty

As online and hybrid education enter the third decade, there are significant efforts to move beyond the virtualization of traditional face-to-face classroom and move more towards learner-centric approaches. This shift has the potential to change the discussion of whether online and hybrid approaches “can be as good as” traditional approaches to a discussion of how online and hybrid approaches “can provide better learning opportunities”.

Via Noel Radomski.

Teaching Machines and Turing Machines: The History of the Future of Labor and Learning; Stuck In The Past

Audrey Waters:

In 1913, Thomas Edison predicted that “Books will soon be obsolete in schools.” He wasn’t the only person at the time imagining how emergent technologies might change education. Columbia University educational psychology professor Edward Thorndike – behaviorist and creator of the multiple choice test – also imagined “what if” printed books would be replaced. He said in 1912 that

If, by a miracle of mechanical ingenuity, a book could be so arranged that only to him who had done what was directed on page one would page two become visible, and so on, much that now requires personal instruction could be managed by print.

Edison expanded on his prediction a decade later: “I believe that the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks.” “I should say,” he continued, “that on the average we get about two percent efficiency out of schoolbooks as they are written today. The education of the future, as I see it, will be conducted through the medium of the motion picture… where it should be possible to obtain one hundred percent efficiency.”

Indeed, Madison continues to tolerate long term, disastrous reading results. This, despite spending double the national average per student.

Political churning puts education on a murky path

Alan Borsuk:

If you want to know how kids are doing in school or how a school is doing overall, what do you need?

I’d suggest two things: A clear and steady idea of what you’re trying to accomplish and a clear and steady way of telling whether you’re accomplishing that.

A third thing would seem valuable also: Having a clear and steady plan for what to do if kids or schools are falling short.

All three of these steps are undergoing a lot of change at the federal and state levels. “Clear and steady” is the not the phrase I’d apply to a lot of things.

Worse than the low bar wkce?

Dual-Enrollment Programs On the Rise

Sonya Stinson:

A more intense spotlight on college costs, student readiness and equal access is helping to increase the nationwide interest in programs that let high school students earn college credits. These programs are growing at a rate of about 7 percent per year, according to the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). Adam Lowe, executive director of NACEP, estimates that more than 20 percent of U.S. high school students are taking at least one college course.

Offering high school students the chance to take college courses for free or a low fee can help offset the rising cost of a college education, Lowe says. In addition, an increased focus on assessing college rea

Most Popular Academic Majors for 2015 Power 5 Conference Football Players

Justin Ferguson:

To many fans, they’re college football players. But in the eyes of the NCAA and their respective schools, they’re student-athletes.

The first half of that term often gets ignored by those in the stands and watching on TV. When these players hit the football field each weekend, they aren’t only coming off several days of hard practice. They are college students who have also been in the classroom and the study hall.

Intermittent Immortality: A Latin Renaissance in East Scarborough

Jennifer A. Franssen::

“Not all our books will perish, nor our statues, if broken, lie un­repaired; other domes and pediments will arise from our domes and pediments; some few men will think and work and feel as we have done, and I venture to count upon such continuators, placed irregularly throughout the centuries, and upon this kind of intermittent immortality.” —Marguerite Yourcenar,
Memoirs of Hadrian

“How many do you think you’ll get?”

“Well, I have two and Sharon has two, and they should be able to get a few friends to come along, so at least eight or ten.” As I said it, we both tried to look confident that our own daughters would give up their lunch recess.

Striking parallels between mathematics and software engineering

Alice Zheng:

During my first year in graduate school, I had an epiphany about mathematics that changed my whole perspective about the field. I had chosen to study machine learning, a cross-disciplinary research area that combines elements of computer science, statistics, and numerous subfields of mathematics, such as optimization and linear algebra. It was a lot to take in, and all of us first-year students were struggling to absorb the deluge of new concepts.

One night, I was sitting in the office trying to grok linear algebra. A wonderfully lucid textbook served as my guide: Introduction to Linear Algebra, written by Gilbert Strang. But I just wasn’t getting it. I was looking at various definitions — eigen decomposition, Jordan canonical forms, matrix inversions, etc. — and I thought, “Why?” Why does everything look so weird? Why is the inverse defined this way? Come to think of it, why are any of the matrix operations defined the way they are?

Online Advising Still a Rarity in Higher Ed

Dian Schaffhauser:

Few institutions of higher education perform academic advising online or have specially trained or equipped counselors ready to help distance learning students with their advising needs. Those are some of the findings in an extensive report from Primary Research Group, which recently published the “Survey of Best Practices in Academic Advising.”

Across a sample of 43 colleges and universities, 15 percent reported that they used online means to deliver advising sessions; the median was 8.5 percent. The practice is more prevalent in private schools than public ones: 21 percent vs. 13 percent, respectively. Schools with annual tuition costs of $8,000 to $25,000 saw the highest level of use at 30 percent. Two in 10 colleges with an enrollment of fewer than 1,200 students had online advising. The use of online advising surfaced more frequently in institutions running specific schools, such as a nursing program, where the average was 28 percent.

MIT claims to have found a “language universal” that ties all languages together

Cathleen O’Grady:

Language takes an astonishing variety of forms across the world—to such a huge extent that a long-standing debate rages around the question of whether all languages have even a single property in common. Well, there’s a new candidate for the elusive title of “language universal” according to a paper in this week’s issue of PNAS. All languages, the authors say, self-organise in such a way that related concepts stay as close together as possible within a sentence, making it easier to piece together the overall meaning.

Language universals are a big deal because they shed light on heavy questions about human cognition. The most famous proponent of the idea of language universals is Noam Chomsky, who suggested a “universal grammar” that underlies all languages. Finding a property that occurs in every single language would suggest that some element of language is genetically predetermined and perhaps that there is specific brain architecture dedicated to languag

Data science blogs


A curated list of data science blogs

Analytics Vidhya (RSS)

Dataaspirant (RSS)

Dr. Randal S. Olson (RSS)

Domino Data Lab’s blog (RSS)

Entrepreneurial Geekiness (RSS)

no free hunch

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Illinois’ Pension Disaster


There are many paths to failure. But to understand how Illinois’ pension system became the worst in the nation, it’s instructive to look at what happened 10 years ago in the final, hectic days of the annual state legislative session in Springfield.

A dense, 78-page bill aimed in part at curbing pension abuses in downstate and suburban school systems landed in lawmakers’ laps two days before their scheduled May adjournment. One sponsor called it the first “meaningful” reform in 40 years, a reversal of “decades of neglect and bad decisions.” Another predicted that it could save the state up to $35 billion.

How the Hiroshima bombing is taught around the world

Herman Wong:

Seventy years after the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, its place in history remains secure. As The Post has written: “It’s seared into the collective global memory — no other time in history has a nuclear weapon been used in war.” But how do the United States and Japan, and the rest of the world for that matter, teach this seminal event so many decades after the world witnessed this incredible display of force.

“It has been a struggle to make sure their schools share our high expectations”


I am an African-American mother of two children in Virginia public schools. Both of them have a learning disability. My husband and I have very high expectations for our children. It has been a struggle to make sure their schools share our high expectations. One day my son Justin’s speech pathologist told me that she was not sure if my son had a “real” speech delay, or if my husband and I were speaking “Black English” to him at home, and that was the cause for my son’s speech delays. I guess she forgot that my husband, and proud father of his children, is White. At that moment, I knew it would take more, than just raising our children to believe that if they work hard, they can and will achieve great things. I would also have to convince their schools to look beyond my children’s race or disabilities and believe that they could be successful in school and in life.

Good News For New Orleans

Douglas Harris:

What happened to the New Orleans public schools following the tragic levee breeches after Hurricane Katrina is truly unprecedented. Within the span of one year, all public-school employees were fired, the teacher contract expired and was not replaced, and most attendance zones were eliminated. The state took control of almost all public schools and began holding them to relatively strict standards of academic achievement. Over time, the state turned all the schools under its authority over to charter management organizations (CMOs) that, in turn, dramatically reshaped the teacher workforce.

New Findings on Effectiveness of Teacher Development

Joyce Foundation:

The Education Program has spent more than a decade helping to build the research base to show that teachers are the biggest in-school determinant of student success. Joyce has also invested in efforts that helped transform teacher evaluation policies to ensure they better gauge teacher effectiveness.

Now, with these new tools available, Joyce is funding efforts to promote policies that use teacher evaluations to guide better professional development. As a recent report from The New Teacher Project (TNTP) notes, school districts spend a significant amount of money on professional development for educators – and it’s not always resulting in better teachers. Joyce-funded teacher voice groups, such as Educators 4 Excellence and Teach Plus, also are thinking about this issue and working on potential policy fixes.

Uncovering what Thoreau uncovered

Colleen Walsh:

ome might say the pioneering feminist, literary critic, social reformer, teacher, and war correspondent Margaret Fuller died as she lived, determinedly on her own terms.

On a journey back to the United States from Europe, Fuller’s ship, the steamer Elizabeth, ran aground off New York’s Fire Island during a violent storm in the early hours of July 19, 1850. According to Megan Marshall’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Fuller stood firm with her husband and 2-year-old son on the sinking deck.

“Margaret would not leave her family; they would not leave her. Surely first mate Davis would return with the lifeboat now visible on shore,” wrote Marshall of Fuller’s plight and the sailor who had managed to swim to land.

Why I am shutting down my bookstore in New Delhi

Ajitvikram Singh:

In a few weeks from now, I will be bringing down the curtain on Fact & Fiction, a small bookshop I started in New Delhi, more than 30 years ago.

It’s not an easy decision to make, but it’s no big deal. Really. Bookshops shut almost every day around the world. For me, though, it is the end of a long road. I have finally accepted this after denying loyal customers for some while now, who have been hearing rumours, and can also see my stock liberally dwindle.

I have been in denial because a part of me still longs to see new books come through the door, believing it is business as usual.

Education Intelligence Agency Public education research, analysis and investigations ABOUTCOMMUNIQUÉSCONTACTDECLASSIFIEDHEADLINESNEA AFFILIATE FINANCESSCHOOL DISTRICT SPENDING 22 NEA State Affiliates Have Fewer Members Than in 1994

Mike Antonucci:

22 NEA State Affiliates Have Fewer Members Than in 1994. Last April I did a little historical research and discovered that 20 NEA state affiliates actually lost members from 1994 to 2013. Now that I have the union’s 2013-14 membership numbers available, I am updating that figure to 22.

Recent membership losses in the Georgia Association of Educators and the Tennessee Education Association bring them to levels below where they stood in 1994. Here is the complete list:

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: U.S. Paychecks Grow at Record-Slow Pace


U.S. wages and benefits grew in the spring at the slowest pace in 33 years, stark evidence that stronger hiring isn’t lifting paychecks much for most Americans. The slowdown also likely reflects a sharp drop-off in bonus and incentive pay for some workers.

The employment cost index rose just 0.2 percent in the April-June quarter after a 0.7 increase in the first quarter, the Labor Department said Friday. The index tracks wages, salaries and benefits. Wages and salaries alone also rose 0.2 percent.

Would Chinese-style education work on British kids?


The Chinese education system – with its long school days and tough discipline – tops global league tables. But how did British pupils cope when five Chinese teachers took over part of their Hampshire school?
For the BBC documentary Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School, an experiment was carried out at the Bohunt School in Liphook. Fifty children in year nine had to live under a completely different regime – one run by Chinese teachers.

For four weeks, they wore a special uniform and started the school day at 07:00. Once a week there was a pledge to the flag. Lessons were focused on note-taking and repetition. Group exercise was undertaken. The pupils had to clean their own classrooms. There were two meal breaks in a 12-hour day.

The Economy Keeps Getting Better, but Young Adults Keep Living With Mom and Dad

Jordan Weissman:

Earlier this spring, there seemed to be signs that young adults were finally shaking off the effects of our long-ago recession and moving out from their parents’ basements. Namely, the pace of U.S. household formation was speeding up, which is generally a sign that twentysomethings are setting off on their own.

But maybe not so much. Today, the Pew Research Center is out with a new analysis of census data suggesting that young adults haven’t really changed their ways. The job market might be getting better by the month, but millennials are still very much living at home.

Raising Kids During Exponential Times

Peter Diamandis:

How do you raise kids today during these exponential times?
Should they learn a second language… in a world of instant translation?

Should they ever memorize any fact… in a world of ubiquitous Google?

Will college even exist in 10 years’ time?

Which is more important? Learning to code or learning sports?

As a father of twin 4-year-old boys, these questions are on my mind. (My wife may have a different point of view as an artist).

This blog is one parent’s opinion.

The Brain vs Deep Learning Part I: Computational Complexity — Or Why the Singularity Is Nowhere Near

Tim Dettmers:

In this blog post I will delve into the brain and explain its basic information processing machinery and compare it to deep learning. I do this by moving step-by-step along with the brains electrochemical and biological information processing pipeline and relating it directly to the architecture of convolutional nets. Thereby we will see that a neuron and a convolutional net are very similar information processing machines. While performing this comparison, I will also discuss the computational complexity of these processes and thus derive an estimate for the brains overall computational power. I will use these estimates, along with knowledge from high performance computing, to show that it is unlikely that there will be a technological singularity in this century.

This blog post is complex as it arcs over multiple topics in order to unify them into a coherent framework of thought. I have tried to make this article as readable as possible, but I might have not succeeded in all places. Thus, if you find yourself in an unclear passage it might become clearer a few paragraphs down the road where I pick up the thought again and integrate it with another discipline.

We’re Making Life Too Hard for Millennials

Steven Rattner:

TO some, millennials — those urban-dwelling, ride-sharing indefatigable social networkers — are engaged, upbeat and open to change. To others, they are narcissistic, lazy and self-centered.

I’m in the first camp, but regardless of your opinion, be fretful over their economic well-being and fearful — oh so fearful — for their prospects. The most educated generation in history is on track to becoming less prosperous, at least financially, than its predecessors.

That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket

George Anders:

less than two years Slack Technologies has become one of the most glistening of tech’s ten-digit “unicorn” startups, boasting 1.1 million users and a private market valuation of $2.8 billion. If you’ve used Slack’s team-based messaging software, you know that one of its catchiest innovations is Slackbot, a helpful little avatar that pops up periodically to provide tips so jaunty that it seems human.

Such creativity can’t be programmed. Instead, much of it is minted by one of Slack’s 180 employees, Anna Pickard, the 38-year-old editorial director. She earned a theater degree from Britain’s Manchester Metropolitan University before discovering that she hated the constant snubs of auditions that didn’t work out. After dabbling in blogging, videogame writing and cat impersonations, she found her way into tech, where she cooks up zany replies to users who type in “I love you, Slackbot.” It’s her mission, Pickard explains, “to provide users with extra bits of surprise and delight.” The pay is good; the stock options, even better.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Not the retiring type: meet the people still working in their 70s, 80s and 90s

Audrey Gillan:

‘I still have my life force’
Ivan Roitt, 87, is emeritus professor at Middlesex University’s Centre for Investigative and Diagnostic Oncology. He lives in Finchley, north London, with his wife, Margaret. They have three daughters and six grandchildren.

There was no conscious decision – I just went on working. When I finished as head of immunology at University College London, after 25 years, a colleague asked if I would like to go to Middlesex University. I thought, “Let’s do something useful”, so I set up the cancer research centre.

Thinking Slowly About Education in Singapore

Fernando Reimers:

I travelled to Singapore in May of 2015. On my arrival, on a weekend, I took a long walk from my hotel to the National Museum of Singapore, where I had the opportunity to visit an exhibit celebrating the life and legacy of former Primer Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who had recently passed away. Seeing the exhibit, and reflecting on the history of the young nation, was a very good way to start this visit. It helped me frame and understand how the same impetus that led Lee Kuan Yew to invest in the design of beautiful gardens, so people could be proud of living in a beautiful city, had led him and others to invest in education, as a way to help shape the character of the Singaporean people. Nations are narratives, and national identity encompasses the stories we tell ourselves and others about who we are. Reflecting on the history of a young nation renders the power and intentionality of building such narratives more visible and it makes the role of the builders of such narratives also more apparent. This visit to the Museum made me reflect not just on Lee Kuan Yew, but also on other members of the generation of ‘elders’ of the country, those who were adults when Singapore was founded and who led the institutions that were created to foster the country’s development. I thought of Sing Kong Lee, former Director of the NIE, a remarkable institution founded by Dr. Ruth Wong Hie King to support the continuous improvement of the education system, or Kishore Mahbubani, the founder of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and of others like them.

A College Without Classes

Alana Semuels:

Had Daniella Kippnick followed in the footsteps of the hundreds of millions of students who have earned university degrees in the past millennium, she might be slumping in a lecture hall somewhere while a professor droned. But Kippnick has no course lectures. She has no courses to attend at all. No classroom, no college quad, no grades. Her university has no deadlines or tenure-track professors.

Instead, Kippnick makes her way through different subject matters on the way to a bachelor’s in accounting. When she feels she’s mastered a certain subject, she takes a test at home, where a proctor watches her from afar by monitoring her computer and watching her over a video feed. If she proves she’s competent—by getting the equivalent of a B—she passes and moves on to the next subject.

The Video Game Dream

Robert Kolker:

In the spring of 2014, after a decade of visa problems, the Hassan family moved out of its spacious house in Karachi, Pakistan, to an apartment in Rosemont, a suburb of Chicago near O’Hare International Airport. They were a family of eight, two parents and six kids, jammed into a three-bedroom space. Money was tight and work unsteady; for most of them, the move was a struggle. But their 15-year-old son, Sumail, was thrilled—being in the U.S. meant less lag time when he played Dota 2.

A Chill for Chinese Exchanges?

Elizabeth Redden:

draft law that would require foreign nongovernmental organizations to register their activities with police authorities in China has American universities worried about a chilling effect on educational exchanges of all types.

The draft law defines foreign NGOs broadly and is sweeping in its scope, seemingly applying not only to universities that have physical locations in China but also to any institution that so much as sends a single student or professor there. If an American university were to conduct an international research conference in China, that would seem to require registration under the law. So would sending a faculty member there to interview applicants for a graduate program. Or sending a professor to give a lecture or take part in a joint research project. Or organizing a networking event for alumni in China. Or sending a student singing group to participate in a competition there.

Make School Wants To Build The Product University For The Masses

Danny Crichton:

College has failed, or so many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs believe. Not only are tuition costs spiraling out of control, but students are leaving college without the ability to produce … anything. We are living in the era of code, and yet, college students are graduating barely able to read or write an essay – let alone make an app.

Make School hopes to change this sordid state of affairs. Through a rigorous and lengthy two-year curriculum, the school hopes to instill deeper critical thinking skills while also providing students engineering and product skills that will allow them to be highly productive at startups and large tech companies.

Wanderers and Homebodies

Paul John:

For instance, Elsevier’s report “International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base — 2011,” carried out for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, reveals that the 46 percent of British academics who published with overseas collaborators in 2010 garnered twice as many citations for their papers as those who collaborated only within their institution. They also had 40 percent more citations than those who collaborated with academics at other institutions in the U.K.

A century after his death, work of wordsmith James Murray is remembered

Hannah Somerville:

ACADEMICS, family members and fans gathered in Oxford yesterday to celebrate 100 years since the death of James Murray, chief editor of the first Oxford English Dictionary.

Wreaths were laid at the lexicographer’s grave in Wolvercote Cemetery, Banbury Road, at 11am, led by his great-grandson Oswyn Murray.

One special offering was provided by Oxford English Dictionary staff.

Lynda Mugglestone, professor of history of English at Oxford University, said: “We have taken facsimiles from the original dictionary’s font and the wreath uses those letters.

“He was involved in every single design decision and spent ages thinking about fonts, so it is really nice.”

Groups That Back Bloomberg’s Education Agenda Enjoy Success in Albany

Kate Taylor:

Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has been out of office for a year and a half, but his influence over New York schools is practically as strong as ever.

A group devoted to continuing his education agenda and founded in part by his longtime schools chancellor, has become one of the most powerful forces in Albany by pouring millions into lobbying and adroitly exploiting rivalries in state politics.

The organization, StudentsFirstNY, and another group with a similar focus called Families for Excellent Schools have formed a counterweight to teachers’ unions, long among the top spenders in the state capital. This year alone, the groups saw major elements of their platforms come to pass, such as tying teacher evaluations more closely to test scores, adding hurdles to earning tenure and increasing the number of charter schools, measures all unpopular with the unions.

Put the “Ph” Back in PhD

Story by Arturo Casadevall, as told to Maryalice Yakutchik. Illustrations by Xiaohua Yang:

I traveled light when I moved earlier this year from New York. The walls of my office here are still bare, and I’m debating even hanging my diplomas—except for one I’m particularly proud to display: a degree in pest control operations. My father thought that killing rats would be a good way for me to make a living. I listened to him but ultimately refused to accept that I couldn’t do better.

Some 30 years later, I feel the same way about science and the way we prepare scientists. As the new chair of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI), I’m eager to unpack a big, bold plan that challenges postgraduate training as we know it.

They’re Back! How to Cope With Returned College Grads A parental war plan: test interviews on, family Netflix off

Rob Lazebnik:

Congratulations. Two months ago, your kid graduated from college, bravely finishing his degree rather than dropping out to make millions on his idea for a dating app for people who throw up during Cross Fit training. If he’s like a great many of his peers, he’s moved back home, where he’s figuring out how to become an adult in the same room that still has his orthodontic headgear strapped to an Iron Man helmet.

Now we’re deep into summer, and the logistical challenges of your grad really being home are sinking in. You’re constantly juggling cars, cleaning more dishes and dealing with your daughter’s boyfriend, who not only slept over but also drank your last can of Pure Protein Frosty Chocolate shake.

The Mathiness of Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Adam Merberg:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb saw the financial crisis of 2008 coming. As pundits like Jim Cramer confidently declared that Bear Stearns was a safe investment, Taleb stood behind his warning that consolidation of banks would lead to global financial collapse – and he invested his own money accordingly. By the time the housing bubble had burst, the stock market had collapsed, and the dust had settled, Taleb had augmented his personal wealth by tens of millions of dollars – and cemented his reputation as an astute observer of financial markets.

But Taleb doesn’t just see himself as an expert on finance. He would prefer that we call him an expert on risk, more broadly. As he opined in Antifragile, the 2012 bestselling book, “everything entailing risk–everything–can be seen with a lot more rigor and clarity from the vantage point of an option professional.”

SmartGPA: How Smartphones Can Assess and Predict Academic Performance of College Students

Rui Wang, Gabriella Harari†, Peilin Hao, Xia Zhou, and Andrew T. Campbell:

Many cognitive, behavioral, and environmental factors im- pact student learning during college. The SmartGPA study uses passive sensing data and self-reports from students’ smartphones to understand individual behavioral differences between high and low performers during a single 10-week term. We propose new methods for better understanding study (e.g., study duration) and social (e.g., partying) behav- ior of a group of undergraduates. We show that there are a number of important behavioral factors automatically in- ferred from smartphones that significantly correlate with term and cumulative GPA, including time series analysis of ac- tivity, conversational interaction, mobility, class attendance, studying, and partying. We propose a simple model based on linear regression with lasso regularization that can accu- rately predict cumulative GPA. The predicted GPA strongly correlates with the ground truth from students’ transcripts (r = 0.81 and p < 0.001) and predicts GPA within ±0.179 of the reported grades. Our results open the way for novel interventions to improve academic performance.

How Academia Resembles a Drug Gang

Alexandre Afonso:

In 2000, economist Steven Levitt and sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh published an article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics about the internal wage structure of a Chicago drug gang. This piece would later serve as a basis for a chapter in Levitt’s (and Dubner’s) best seller Freakonomics. The title of the chapter, “Why drug dealers still live with their moms”, was based on the finding that the income distribution within gangs was extremely skewed in favor of those at the top, while the rank-and-file street sellers earned even less than employees in legitimate low-skilled activities, let’s say at McDonald’s. They calculated $3.30 as the hourly rate, that is, well below a living wage (that’s why they still live with their moms).

If you take into account the risk of being shot by rival gangs, ending up in jail or being beaten up by your own hierarchy, you might wonder why anybody would work for such a low wage and at such dreadful working conditions instead of seeking employment at McDonald’s. Yet, gangs have no real difficulty in recruiting new members. The reason for this is that the prospect of future wealth, rather than current income and working conditions, is the main driver for people to stay in the business: low-level drug sellers forgo current income for (uncertain) future wealth. Rank-and file members are ready to face this risk to try to make it to the top, where life is good and money is flowing. It is very unlikely that they will make it (their mortality rate is insanely high) but they’re ready to “get rich or die trying”.

Humans are underrated

Geoff Colvin:

As technology becomes more dominant in the workplace, here are the three job skills that you need to thrive.

As the Pepper robot from Softbank scurries about your home or office, it reads your emotions by your words, tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. It then responds in all those ways; its hands and posture in particular are remarkably expressive. If you thought emotions were beyond the competencies of robots, you were right for a long time. But no more.

Maybe you believe that humans uniquely will always have to perform the highest-stakes, most delicate and demanding tasks in our lives, such as surgery. But researchers at the University of California at Berkeley are training a robot to identify and cut away cancerous tissue—not like today’s surgical robots, which are actually tools used by human surgeons, but entirely on its own.

Staying Afloat: Some Scattered Suggestions on Reading in College

Timothy Burke:

The first thing you should know about reading in college is that it bears little or no resemblance to the sort of reading you do for pleasure, or for your own edification.

Professors assign more than you can possibly read in any normal fashion.

We know it, at least most of us do.You have to make strategic decisions about what to read and how to read it. You’re reading for particular reasons: to get background on important issues, to illuminate some of the central issues in a single session of one course, to raise questions for discussion. That calls for a certain kind of smash-and-grab approach to reading.You can’t afford to dilly-dally and stop to smell the lilies. You might not think that’s the ideal way to learn, and I would sort of agree. But on the professiorial side of things, we feel a real obligation to cover a particular field of knowledge in the course of a semester, and we can’t do it all through lectures. Nor would I personally want to talk at my students day in and day out.

Introduction To Monte Carlo Methods

Alex Woods:

I’m going to keep this tutorial light on math, because the goal is just to give a general understanding.

The idea of Monte Carlo methods is this—generate some random samples for some random variable of interest, then use these samples to compute values you’re interested in.

I know, super broad. The truth is Monte Carlo has a ton of different applications. It’s used in product design, to simulate variability in manufacturing. It’s used in physics, biology and chemistry, to do a whole host of things that I only partially understand. It can be used in AI for games, for example the chinese game Go. And finally, in finance, to evaluate financial derivatives or option pricing [1]. In short—it’s used everywhere.

Civics & we know best: Venezuelan farmers ordered to hand over produce to state

Harriet Alexander:

Venezuela’s embattled government has taken the drastic step of forcing food producers to sell their produce to the state, in a bid to counter the ever-worsening shortages.

Farmers and manufacturers who produce milk, pasta, oil, rice, sugar and flour have been told to supply between 30 per cent and 100 per cent of their products to the state stores. Shortages, rationing and queues outside supermarkets have become a way of life for Venezuelans, as their isolated country battles against rigid currency controls and a shortage of US dollars – making it difficult for Venezuelans to find imported goods.

Pablo Baraybar, president of the Venezuelan Food Industry Chamber, said that the order was illogical, and damaging to Venezuelan consumers.

American Literature Road Map

Richard Kreitner & Steven Melendez:

I am a freak for the American road trip. And I’m not alone, as some of this country’s best writers have taken a shot at describing that quintessentially American experience. “There is no such knowledge of the nation as comes of traveling in it, of seeing eye to eye its vast extent, its various and teeming wealth, and, above all, its purpose-full people,” the newspaper editor Samuel Bowles wrote 150 years ago in Across the Continent, arguably the first true American road-trip book.

Another Student Data Privacy Act That Doesn’t Protect Student Data or Privacy

Jessy Irwin:

The story mentions that this a reaction to the industry’s attempt to self-regulate with a privacy pledge this past October, and that the legislation which will be similar to California’s SOPIPA, which prohibits targeting students with online marketing and advertising, selling student information, profiling students based on data collected, and requiring companies to put security measures in place to protect student data. (While security measures are required to protect student data, SOPIPA set no bare minimum security standards for education technology companies, and did not require companies to disclose their security measures to users.)

“In the absence of a government subsidy, most colleges could not fill up their seats.”

Jeffrey Sellingo:

Even so, American higher education remains the envy of the world. But that respect really only extends to a few hundred universities at the most. At too many colleges attended by the vast majority of American students, costs are spiraling out of control and quality is declining. And the very worst of the institutions suffer from low graduation rates, high debt loads for students, and poor placement rates into jobs.

Last week, on a panel I moderated about the future of higher education at a conference in Nashville, Tom Angelo, an expert in teaching and learning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, called these bottom-feeder institutions a “cancer on American higher education.” In most markets, such bad players would simply go away, driven out by more-efficient and less-expensive options.

Student Debt Growth

Ben Mclannahan:

Navient Corp, the largest student loan servicing company in the US, gave a glimpse into worsening trends in the $1.2tn market as it reported a 40 per cent drop in profits due to a big rise in provisions and a squeeze on interest margins.

Student loans have been the only consumer debt segment to grow in the US since the Lehman crisis, with the total outstanding more than doubling since 2008. At the same time, fears have risen that the jobs market is not strong enough to support such towering amounts of debt.

Chicago Undergraduate Math Bibliography


Somehow I became the canonical undergraduate source for bibliographical references, so I thought I would leave a list behind before I graduated. I list the books I have found useful in my wanderings through mathematics (in a few cases, those I found especially unuseful), and give short descriptions and comparisons within each category. I hope that this list may serve as a useful “road map” to other undergraduates picking their way through Eckhart Library. In the end, of course, you must explore on your own; but the list may save you a few days wasted reading books at the wrong level or with the wrong emphasis.

The list is biased in two senses. One, it is light on foundations and applied areas, and heavy (especially in the advanced section) on geometry and topology; this is a consequence of my interests. I welcome additions from people interested in other fields. Two, and more seriously, I am an honors-track student and the list reflects that. I don’t list any “regular” analysis or algebra texts, for instance, because I really dislike the ones I’ve seen. If you are a 203 student looking for an alternative to the awful pink book (Marsden/Hoffman), you will find a few here; they are all much clearer, better books, but none are nearly as gentle. I know that banging one’s head against a more difficult text is not a realistic option for most students in this position. On the other hand, reading mathematics can’t be taught, and it has to be learned sometime. Maybe it’s better to get used to frustration as a way of life sooner, rather than later. I don’t know.

A Black Woman’s experience in the Stanford Computer Science Major

Alona King:

As a Black female CS major at Stanford, I hate walking around the halls of the Gates Computer Science Building.

It’s not because the Gates interior reminds me of 1970 even though it was built in the 1990s. It’s not because of the memories I have of CS107’s Heap Allocator turning me into a nocturnal Gates inhabitant. It’s because inevitably, whenever I walk into Gates, I always get hit with the four words every non-tech minority thinks whenever they see an unfamiliar minority in a tech space:

How to Speak American

Sarah Laskow:

Nearly a century ago, just after World War I had ended, there was a groundswell of linguistic patriotism in America. All of a sudden, scholars, writers and politicians were interested in studying, defining and promoting a distinctly “American” version of English.

In 1919, H.L. Mencken published the first edition of what would become one of his more popular books, The American Language. In the early 1920s, some of the country’s leading linguists started work on the “Linguistic Atlas of New England”, one of the first attempts to systematically document a regional dialect; in 1925, the journal American Speech published its first issue.

Make School Wants To Build The Product University For The Masses

Donny Crichton:

College has failed, or so many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs believe. Not only are tuition costs spiraling out of control, but students are leaving college without the ability to produce … anything. We are living in the era of code, and yet, college students are graduating barely able to read or write an essay – let alone make an app.

Make School hopes to change this sordid state of affairs. Through a rigorous and lengthy two-year curriculum, the school hopes to instill deeper critical thinking skills while also providing students engineering and product skills that will allow them to be highly productive at startups and large tech companies.

“but the data shows the world improving”

Oxford Research:

‘I used to be a pessimist,’ Max tells me, ‘but the data shows the world improving.’

By way of illustration, Max shows me one of his visualisers — it shows the global rise of education over time. You can see vast advances in the average number of years spent in education worldwide, with most notable increases in the east and more recently, Africa. This Good News message is not unique.

The Re-education Of Blackboard

Issie Lapowsky:

YOU REMEMBER BLACKBOARD, don’t you? It’s that not-so-sleek site you used to submit assignments to your college professors—the one you cursed to death when it failed to save that paper on Plato’s Republic you spent hours working on.

Blackboard was at turns frustrating, migraine-inducing, and burdensome. Which isn’t to say Blackboard wasn’t innovative. It was, back in the day. Unfortunately, that day was around 2004. Since then, the overgrown education technology giant has somehow managed to infiltrate most of the nation’s colleges and about half its schools. Meanwhile, Blackboard Learn—the portal where students access and turn in assignments, find their grades, and communicate with teachers and fellow classmates—has stagnated.

Self-proclaimed ‘experts’ more likely to fall for made-up facts, study finds

Rachel Feltman:

One portion of the study presented 100 subjects — all of whom had been asked to rate their knowledge of personal finances — with 15 specific finance terms. They were then asked to rate their understanding of each term, not knowing that three of them (pre-rated stocks, fixed-rate deduction, annualized credit) were totally made up.

“The more people believed they knew about finances in general, the more likely they were to overclaim knowledge of the fictitious financial terms,” lead study author Stav Atir of Cornell said in a statement. “The same pattern emerged for other domains, including biology, literature, philosophy and geography.”

The New Education Order

Richard Taylor:

The world is changing at a faster rate than we have ever witnessed. The education sector is benefiting from increasing advances in technology and the barriers to entry are lower than ever, as more people look to cash in on this growing global market.

We are not yet at the tipping point, where the old will meet the new, and I don’t believe that traditional institutional education providers are fully aware of the tsunami of competition that’s about to hit them. I am not sure whether it is a case of the old brigade burying their heads in the sand or whether they simply do not know how to become again relevant to their students.

Jobs, Never Easy, Have Become Pressure Cookers

Jennifer Howard:

A lot has changed in those two-plus decades, and Mr. Barnds’s job has expanded remarkably. Like other administrators and faculty and staff members on campuses around the country, he is learning to live in a world of tighter budgets, swelling regulations, and ever more assessment and competition.

“The pressure’s greater on enrollment officers for a whole host of reasons, but we’re not alone,” he says. “There’s increased pressure on every senior leader on a college campus.”

Self-control improves your prospects. But it may harm your health

The Economist:

IT BEGAN with some marshmallows. In the 1960s Walter Mischel, a psychologist then working at Stanford University, started a series of experiments on young children. A child was left alone for 15 minutes with a marshmallow or similar treat, with the promise that, if it remained uneaten at the end of this period, a second would be added. Some of the children, who were aged four or five at the time, succumbed to temptation before time was up. Others resisted, and held out for the reward.
Then, it was Dr Mischel’s turn to wait. He followed the children’s progress as they grew up. Those who had resisted, he found, did better at school than those who had given in. As adults they got better jobs, were less likely to use drugs and got into trouble with the law less frequently. Moreover, children’s family circumstances suggested that impulsive behaviour was as much learned as inherited. This suggested that it could be unlearned—improving the child in question’s chances in life.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: US Median Household Income Lower Than 1996..


Taken as a whole, Ms Clinton’s plan is an eclectic grab-bag. It is as if her advisors brainstormed every possible policy to boost wages, and then kept them all. Some—such as greater investment in skills and infrastructure—are welcome. Wages, ultimately, reflect workers’ productivity. Ms Clinton is also right that the impact of technology on the labour market presents a huge and perplexing challenge for policymakers. But greater union power and more protectionism are comfort-blanket polices for which the economy—and most Americans—would pay a price in the long-run. Ms Clinton’s speech contained plenty of ideas. Perhaps when Mr Sanders exits the stage, some of the duds will be dropped.

Madison, which spends double the national average per student, plans to increase property taxes by 5% this fall.

Winning formula: USA tops International Math Olympiad for first time in 21 years

Michael Miller:

Thirty-five years later, America pulled off another stunning upset this week.

But this victory involved integers, not ice skates, and was waged not by hulking Cold Warriors but by teens.

Team America has finally retaken the International Mathematical Olympiad crown. The victory this week was a historic comeback.

If winning a youth math competition seems less important than vanquishing the Soviets back in 1980, consider this: the last time America won the IMO was 1994. Back then, Bill Clinton was president and Ace of Base was top of the pop charts.

How Libraries Can Compete With Google and Amazon

Sonali Kohli:

But the reach of the Queens Library extends beyond the walls of its 65 physical branches. Dotting the borough are thousands of New Yorkers logged into their own mini-libraries, using the library’s mobile app to do research for homework, or the WiFi hotspots they checked out to fill in the holes in broadband access at home, or accessing e-books on one of the libraries’ tablets they can take home.

Throughout the country, library initiatives are emerging to keep up with technological advances. And libraries are finding that one population they can serve better than anyone else is low-income Americans.

An iPad gave my son with disabilities a voice – and changed his life

Kathy Bell:

For most of us, our voices emanate from our own vocal chords. For Kevin, our 20-year-old son with Mowat Wilson Syndrome – a developmental disability – his words are battery-charged, delivered by an app and wrapped protectively in royal blue silicone. And we love his voice.

By the age of two, we knew that Kevin had severe language issues. We held onto the hope that, by age 10 – an important milestone in speech development – he would have words with which to communicate. Perhaps it was naïve on our part; it didn’t happen. When he was 13, we accepted what limited progress he had made, stopped thinking about what he could not do and focused on the everyday things he could achieve.

Syria-Isis Westerners fighting for Kurds disillusioned with YPG’s ‘school trip with guns’ tactics

Sofia Barbarani:

A number of them were recently involved in the retaking of Tel Abyad on 15 June – an Arab-majority border town in northern Syria. The move, which was seen as a setback for IS, was hailed as a major victory for the Kurds, who were able to open a corridor through the town and connect two of their three autonomous cantons: Jazeera and war-torn Kobani.

“Hard to make comparisons across years” 

Alex Scharaschkin:

The exams are finished and GCSE and A-level students are heading off for summer. But there are 12 weeks – and a lot of work – from “pens down” to results day

Did you hear that noise? It’s the sound of thousands of students collectively breathing a sigh of relief. If April is the cruellest month, then July is the most anticipated. The end of GCSE and A-level exams marks a rite of passage, a time for reflection, celebration – and, for some, panic. After candidates have put down their pens, examiners – usually teachers by day – remain holed up in studies, marking.

Related: WKCE.

Linear Algebra for Data Scientists

Alex Woods:

It’s important to know what goes on inside a machine learning algorithm. But it’s hard. There is some pretty intense math happening, much of which is linear algebra. When I took Andrew Ng’s course on machine learning, I found the hardest part was the linear algebra. I’m writing this for myself as much as you.

So here is a quick review, so next time you look under the hood of an algorithm, you’re more confident. You can view the iPython notebook (usually easier to code with) on my github.

Bing plans to include school ratings in search results

Bing blog:

If you have kids, we don’t have to tell you that the quality and accessibility of schools near your new home can be just as important as the home itself. Found the perfect home on Bing? Click on one of the local schools in the answer to see key information. You’ll see the GreatSchools rating and community score at the top, and details including contact information, student-to-faculty ratios, enrollment, as well as rankings and academic indicators for high schools.

UK Home Secretary proposes tougher rules for student visas

Chris Cook:

Home Secretary Theresa May is looking into tougher rules for visas for overseas university students, BBC Newsnight has learned.

The proposals would require students to have more financial savings on arrival.
In a confidential letter to other ministers, she argues that universities should “develop sustainable funding models that are not so dependent on international students”.

The Home Office refuses to comment on leaked documents.

Student migration is a significant political problem for the government, which has a target of reducing net immigration to below 100,000 people per year.

Early childhood education by MOOC: Lessons from Sesame Street

Melissa Kearney & Phillip Levine:

Early childhood education has important effects on the academic readiness and ultimate life chances of children. This column examines how the introduction of the educational television show Sesame Street in the US affected primary school outcomes for disadvantaged children. Those from counties that had better access to the broadcast had superior educational outcomes through their early school years. These effects were particularly pronounced for black, non-Hispanic children, and those living in economically disadvantaged areas. The extremely low cost per child of such interventions make them ideal for addressing educational inequality in childhood.

New york City Pre-k Acceptance Letters

Elizabeth Bradley:


We are pleased to offer your child a pre-kindergarten placement for the 2015-2016 school year at:

Digester Eggs, Newtown Creek, Brooklyn

To accept this placement, please gather proofs of identification and immunization and proceed to the corner of Greenpoint and Humboldt Streets. There you will be met by Anubis, jackal-headed guide of souls and Guardian of the Scales. He will weigh the heart of each student: those deemed lighter than an ostrich feather may continue on to registration at the Eggs. Those deemed heavier or in possession of non-organic cheddar bunnies will be eaten by Ammit, Devourer of the Dead, at the nearby Lake of Fire.

Uber for disembodied companionship

Remains of the day:

It’s hard to put a price on love. But Crowdsource did. It’s worth a whopping five cents. That’s how much I got paid to write each of these texts.

If I spent an hour answering texts, and took the full five minutes to write each one, I’d be making 60 cents an hour, far below the minimum wage. This is legal because all the workers on the platform are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. “Contributors have a tremendous amount of control over their decisions—for example, when to perform a task, when to complete it, and even if they want to complete it at all,” said Jeffrey H. Newhouse, an employment lawyer at Hirschler Fleischer, by email. “That means the contributor isn’t an employee and, as a result, employee protections like the minimum wage don’t apply.”

Private school education could be poor investment, research shows

Richard Adams:

A private school education may be a poor investment, according to research commissioned by a firm of stockbrokers that shows rapid growth in independent school fees outstripping the incomes of middle class professionals. The research, published by investment advisers Killik & Co, says the £236,000 paid by parents of a day pupil would, if invested, return nearly £800,000 over the child’s lifetime – enough to pay for university, put down a substantial deposit on a house and leave £500,000 for retirement.

A New Look at Apprenticeships as a Path to the Middle Class

Nelson Schwartz:

With its gleaming classrooms, sports teams and even a pep squad, the Apprentice School that serves the enormous Navy shipyard here bears little resemblance to a traditional vocational education program.

And that is exactly the point. While the cheerleaders may double as trainee pipe fitters, electricians and insulators, on weekends they’re no different from college students anywhere as they shout for the Apprentice School Builders on the sidelines.

But instead of accumulating tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, Apprentice School students are paid an annual salary of $54,000 by the final year of the four-year program, and upon graduation are guaranteed a job with Huntington Ingalls Industries, the military contractor that owns Newport News Shipbuilding.

“There’s a hunger among young people for good, well-paying jobs that don’t require an expensive four-year degree,” said Sarah Steinberg, vice president for global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. “The Apprentice School is the gold standard of what a high-quality apprenticeship program can be.”

Youthful Folly

The Economist:

THE REBECCA SCHOOL for autistic children occupies all five floors of a building in midtown Manhattan. Its rooftop playground has a fine view of the Empire State Building. It features colourful classrooms and lots of places for children to lie down and recover from the sensory overload often suffered by autistic people. “My body doesn’t feel safe,” says one boy curled up in a corridor, asking to be left alone.

Are small, private online courses the future of higher education in America?

James Poulous:

Just a few years ago, a huge vogue erupted among higher-ed administrators for MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. Anant Agarwal, president of the online education company edX, at the time made a bold vow: “Online education will change the world.”

After the educational elite launched these seemingly visionary programs, however, their enthusiasm was swiftly curbed. As Stephanie Garlock observes in the new issue of Harvard Magazine, The New York Times dubbed 2012 “The Year of the MOOC,” but before 2013 was out, The Washington Post was asking if MOOCs were “already over.”

How pushy Chinese parents get their kids in the best schools

The Economist:

INSIDE the red-lacquered door of No. 39 Wenhua Lane in central Beijing is an old-style single-storey home built around a small courtyard. Its owner, an elderly man in a vest, sits on an upturned bucket near a jumble of cooking pots; a pile of old cardboard rests atop a nearby shed. Next to the man, two estate agents hover at the entrance to a room just big enough for a bed, a wardrobe and a rickety desk. They say it costs 3.9m yuan ($630,000). At 353,990 yuan per square metre, this makes it pricier than posh digs around New York’s Central Park—and it does not even have its own bathroom and kitchen. It is, however, close to the state-run Beijing No. 2 Experimental Primary School, one of the best in the city.

Education, Intelligence, and Attitude Extremity

Michael Makowsky & Stephen Miller:

Education and general intelligence both serve to inform opinions, but do they lead to greater attitude extremity? We use questions on economic policy, social issues, and environmental issues from the General Social Survey to test the impact of education and intelligence on attitude extremity, as measured by deviation from centrist or neutral positions. Using quantile regression modeling, we find that intelligence is a moderating force across the entire distribution in economic, social, and environmental policy beliefs. Completing high school strongly correlates to reduced extremity, particularly in the upper quantiles. College education increases attitude extremity in the lower tail of environmental beliefs. The relevance of the low extremity tail (lower quantiles) to potential swing-voters and the high extremity tail (upper quantiles) to a political party’s core are discussed.

Artificial Stupidity

Quentin Hardy:

But if the human race is at peril from killer robots, the problem is probably not artificial intelligence. It is more likely to be artificial stupidity. The difference between those two ideas says much about how we think about computers.

In the kind of artificial intelligence, or A.I., that most people seem to worry about, computers decide people are a bad idea, so they kill them. That is undeniably bad for the human race, but it is a potentially smart move by the computers.

But the real worry, specialists in the field say, is a computer program rapidly overdoing a single task, with no context. A machine that makes paper clips proceeds unfettered, one example goes, and becomes so proficient that overnight we are drowning in paper clips.

In other words, something really dumb happens, at a global scale. As for those “Terminator” robots you tend to see on scary news stories about an A.I. apocalypse, forget it.

Related: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Philosophical discussions boost pupils’ maths and literacy progress, study finds

Richard Adams:

Philosophical discussions about truth, fairness or kindness appear to give a small but significant boost to the maths and literacy progress of primary school pupils, although experts remain puzzled as to why.

More than 3,000 pupils in 48 state primary schools across England took part in a year-long trial as part of a study named “philosophy for children”, and found that their maths and reading levels benefited by the equivalent of two months’ worth of teaching.

A Durham University evaluation said the results showed faster rates of progress for pupils eligible for free school meals, suggesting that the technique could “be used to reduce the attainment gap in terms of poverty in the short term”.

“the widespread denial of educational mediocrity”

Laura Waters:

What’s more troubling is that many middle-class families take this propaganda as gospel and reject efforts to maintain meaningful oversight and accountability.

The Problem Is Us
Now, New Jersey may be an extreme example. We’re die-hard local control fanatics who cherish our small towns and district identities. As such, we adhere to what Rotherham calls the “middle class politics of education” which “means leaving suburban schools alone to rise and fall as they might. This has led to widespread mediocrity and pockets of excellence…and neutering accountability systems to mask uncomfortable bad news about school performance.”

Related: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results and the Math Forum.

Can history and geography survive the digital age?

Matthew Reisz:

William Cronon, who is Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas research professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was delivering the first in a new series of British Academy lectures in geography at London’s Royal Geographical Society on 7 July.

He was interested, he told the audience, in “the bridge between the academy and its many publics”. But although history and geography ranked “among the greatest synthesizing disciplines” and could help to “make the world more meaningful, more legible, for everyone”, academics had shown themselves to be far too “old media” and ran the risk of “isolating [them]selves in a pay-wall universe”.

“History has traditionally required long-form prose,” explained Professor Cronon, and it now counted as “the only academic discipline in the United States which still generally requires a monograph for tenure”. At the same time, most students no longer “read for pleasure” and “a growing number of academic administrators come from disciplines which no longer have a use for books”.

Cost Disease: Federal Reserve Study: Federal student loans increase tuition, not enrollment

The Week:

A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests that federal student aid programs are doing more harm than good. When subsidized federal loans have the effect of “relaxing students’ funding constraints,” universities respond by raising tuition to collect the newly available cash.

The resultant tuition hikes can be substantial: The researchers found that each additional dollar of Pell Grant or subsidized student loan money translates to a tuition jump of 55 or 65 cents, respectively. Of course, the higher tuition also applies to students who don’t receive federal aid, making college less affordable across the board.