Category Archives: Budget/Financing

Walton Family Foundation stepping back from Milwaukee education scene

Alan Borsuk:

But it is also important in a broader context. Walton is joining a significant list of national players who in one way or another have entered the Milwaukee scene and then departed or reduced their interest.

I came, I got involved, I got frustrated, I didn’t see much change, I moved on. That has been the summary of a parade of those who have found Milwaukee a difficult environment for change.

And there are others (the large and impressive KIPP network of charter schools comes to my mind first) that have declined even to try Milwaukee for similar reasons.

Fifteen years ago, Milwaukee was called by some “ground zero” for school reform. Now, you rarely see national attention to Milwaukee education, at least not for positive reasons. The Walton decision underscores that.

It’s a curious thing, since you would think the current political dynamics in state government would make this a time for enthusiasm among private school choice, charter schools and innovations in the structure of urban education. In some ways that’s true, but in surprising ways, it is not.

In short, I’d attribute this to the entrenched nature of the way we do things, the continuing strength of those opposed to the things Walton favors and missteps by those who favor what Walton favors.

Milwaukee was among a handful of cities targeted in recent years by Walton. Walton had a fairly short list of Milwaukee grants, but they were generally large — frequently in the mid six figures.

Lawmaker wants to bill K-12 for college remediation

Alisha Kirby:

(Tenn.) As the cost and challenge of preparing college-ready students escalates and puts new burdens on higher education – one lawmaker is proposing that districts should pay for remedial courses high school graduates must take in college.

Community colleges in Tennessee spent an estimated $18.5 million last year on remedial courses such as reading, writing and math so students could catch up before taking college-level courses.

SB 526, authored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, would require districts to reimburse colleges for the catch-up courses for students who graduated within 16 months of taking a remedial course. It excludes those who returned to college after taking time off.

Some experts say it sounds reasonable but in the end it’s more a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

“At face value it’s a logical argument: The high schools are not doing their jobs, so let’s hold them accountable to make sure they do a better job,” said Bruce Vandal, vice president of advocacy group Complete College America. “But it creates a dysfunctional dynamic between K-12 and higher education that I think we’re beginning to realize is really not helpful.

“At the end of the day it doesn’t serve anybody’s purpose,” he continued. “Colleges aren’t really that excited about taking money if it means that they are disinvesting in K-12.”

The Wal-Mart-ization of higher education: How young professors are getting screwed

Keith Hoeller:

In 2009, Money Magazine published a survey titled “The 50 Best Jobs in America.” Their reporters analyzed job data and conducted an online survey of thirty-five thousand people, taking into account such factors as salaries, flexibility, benefit to society, satisfaction, stress, job security, and growth prospects. The proverbial college professor sat high on the list at No. 3, with a median salary of $70,400 for nine months’ work, top pay of $115,000, and a ten-year growth prospect of 23 percent. College teaching earned “A” grades for flexibility, benefit to society, and satisfaction, and a “B” for job stress, with 59 percent of surveyed professors reporting low stress.

While acknowledging that “competition for tenure-track positions at four-year institutions is intense,” Money claimed that graduate students with only a master’s degree could find a part-time teaching job: “You’ll find lots of available positions at community colleges and professional programs, where you can enter the professoriate as an adjunct faculty member or non-tenure-track instructor without a doctorate degree.”

Similarly, the 2000 “American Faculty Poll” conducted by the academic pension giant Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) seemed to corroborate the high job satisfaction rate for professors. “The poll found that 90 percent of the faculty members surveyed were satisfied with their career choices and would probably make the same decisions again,” reported Courtney Leatherman, in her Chronicle of Higher Education story about the survey.

Senate higher ed chair wants to make colleges earn tuition increases

Benjamin Wermund:

Seliger’s bill, filed Wednesday, would allow for tuition increases only if schools meet performance measures like four- and six-year graduation rates, first-to-second year persistence rates, first-generation college graduates, and percent of lower division semester credit hours taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty members.

Institutional targets for each of these metrics are recommended by the institutions, reviewed by the Legislative Budget Board, and approved by the Legislature, under Seliger’s bill.

Seliger’s approach marries the push to regulate tuition with calls from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create performance hurdles for schools to earn funding.

“This bill ensures that tuition increases are justified by progress and production in rigorous standards and I expect universities to perform in exceptional fashion,” Seliger said in a statement. “Performance Based Tuition reflects the diversity in missions at our colleges and universities.”

Finding cheaters using multiple-choice comparisons

Jonathan Dishoff:

An interesting method by which I found out that people were cheating on my final exam.

Background

I use different versions of midterm examinations to discourage cheating in my population biology class (~200 students). When the course started, I used to do the same thing for the final exam, but it was a little more complicated, because the final exam is administered by the registrar’s office, not by me and my teaching team.

At some point, somebody advised me not to bother with versions: the registrar’s office is supposed to be professional about administration, and they usually mix people who are taking different exams in the same room, so I stopped bothering with different versions for the final exam for a year or two. I do it again now, and you’ll see why.

The incident

In the year in question, my exam was given in two separate medium-sized rooms. My class was alone in these two rooms. I received a report from the invigilators in Room 1 about suspicious behaviour. They had warned a couple of students for acting strangely, and then warned them again. They weren’t prepared to say that they were sure that the students were cheating, but wanted me to compare their answer slates. In retrospect, they should have left the students alone until they were ready to sign a complaint against them (or until they had cheated enough to have it proved against them).

The College of Lost Arts

Amy Crawford:

Every student in the college majors in building arts, but can choose one of six specializations: architectural stone, carpentry, forged architectural iron, masonry, plasterwork, or timber framing. The college seeks to combine a traditional liberal arts curriculum with intensive crafts training, often teaching disciplines like history or math by way of the latter; for example, history is taught with an architectural history focus.

“The graduate here has learned both the art and the science of preservation and new construction,” says Colby M. Broadwater III, a retired Army lieutenant general brought in as president in 2008 to apply some military discipline to the school’s finances. “How to build a business, the drawing and drafting that underlies all of it … the language, the math that supports the building functions, the science of why materials fail—all of those things wrapped into a liberal arts and science education.”

Higher Academic Achievement May Require Higher Standards

Joe Yeado:

While at the gym last week, I overheard two fathers discussing the homework their elementary and middle school children were bringing home. The general feeling was that the homework was too hard and that students were being asked to do complex tasks in earlier grades than when the dads were kids. They lamented about how things are so different today – even teaching math differently!

But with parents, educators and employers saying that students are not academically prepared, there seems to be a disconnect between what people say they want in terms of educational attainment for our schoolchildren in general and what parents want in terms of educational demands on their kids.

Of the 65 developed countries that participate in the PISA international assessment of 15 year-olds, the United States ranked 36th in math, 28th in science and 24th in reading. Making things worse, the scores for U.S. students have actually fallen in each category since the last assessment in 2009. Without changes to our current education system, our students – and our country – will likely find it more challenging to compete.

An astonishingly small number of elite universities produce an overwhelming number of America’s professors.

Joel Warner and Aaron Clauset:

While elite universities, with their deep resources and demanding coursework, surely produce great professors, the data suggest that faculty hiring isn’t a simple meritocracy. The top schools generate far more professors than even just slightly less prestigious schools. For example, in history, the top 10 schools produce three times as many future professors as those ranked 11 through 20.

One explanation for this skewed hiring system is that lower-prestige institutions are trying to emulate their high-prestige brethren. For a university, the easiest way to burnish your reputation is to hire graduates from top schools, thereby importing a bit of what made these institutions elite in the first place, while signaling to prospective students and faculty that you attract top talent.

Another factor could be that it’s not easy for schools to evaluate job applicants on merit alone, because merit can be difficult to define or measure. In the tenure system, a professor might work at the same institution for 40 years. But when hiring for tenure-track positions, schools often have to guess about lifelong productivity based on just a few years of experience. Hiring faculty is therefore a high-stakes decision; while you can always deny someone tenure, doing so means you’ve wasted years nurturing talent that you don’t want to keep. With so much uncertainty involved in the process, it may be natural to go with what seems like a safe choice: an applicant trained at a high-prestige school, even at the expense of exciting candidates from slightly less elite institutions.

Parents: not happy about something at school? Here’s how to complain

Disappointed Idealist:

ne of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was from a friend in the restaurant business. If I were planning to complain about any part of my meal or service, he said, I should wait until I had eaten all I was going to eat that night. He illustrated this warning with examples of what can happen to food prepared for awkward customers, and so I’ve followed this advice ever since. It’s a good principle: don’t complain to people on whom you’re relying – unless there’s no way they can wipe your steak on their bum or drop a bogey in your soup.

As with restaurants, so with schools. The difference with schools is that you’re likely to be stuck with them for a lot longer than one meal. So think carefully before putting on your Mr Angry face and marching into the school for a spot of ranting.

Brand success in an era of Digital Darwinism

Jacques Bughin:

The challenges for brand-marketing executives will probably increase as consumers opt for more complete digital interactions. We found that the likelihood of brand conversion is lower for fully digital consumers than for experimenters. Specifically, when experimenters become aware of a brand, their conversion rate reaches about 40 percent. The conversion rate for fully digital consumers, by contrast, is only 25 percent.

More actively digital consumers are prone to abandon a brand midstream for a number of reasons. They are more likely to have joined Facebook, Twitter, or product-evaluation platforms for conversations about the qualities of products or services. The greater number of touchpoints before purchase increases the odds a consumer will encounter a deal breaker along the digital highway. What’s more, companies have less control over more digitally seasoned consumers, who initiate their prepurchase interactions independently. And since the level and influence of advertising in the social-media space have yet to reach the levels common in offline channels, brand messages are less likely to influence decisions.

Our research indicated, however, that some companies have managed to navigate this competitive turbulence successfully. To understand the differentiating factors for that success, we rated brands across four digital skills: the ability to create brand awareness among an unusually high share of digitally savvy consumers, to serve customers digitally during the purchase processes, to generate an online customer experience deemed at least as good as the offline one, and to track the digital comments of customers about their experience and to use those comments to improve it. We added the scores across these dimensions, compiling a digitization index that represents the weight of satisfactory touchpoints leading to a purchase across decision journeys.3

Many College Freshmen Plan for More than 4 Years of Higher Education

Sam Hayes:

of California, Los Angeles’ Higher Education Research Institute, included 135,000 first-year students from 227 schools and various backgrounds. The survey was given during the fall 2014 semester.

Many students claim that they’ll need more than four years to complete their degree because they’re ambitious or need extra help getting ready for college.

The desire to pursue a double major, take remedial courses or to pursue non-classroom experiences were among the respondents’ reasons for taking more than four years, according to the press release.

One of the most telling factors for whether a student anticipates needing more than four years was the selectivity of the school they enrolled in.

About 30% of students at the most selective public four-year institutions predicted needing more time. However, 36% of freshmen at moderately selective schools and 42% of students at the least selective schools anticipated needing additional time to complete their degrees.

Indiana School Choice Report

Indiana Department of Education (PDF):

This is the 2015 update to the Choice Scholarship Program Annual Report originally released on January 27, 2014. This version of the report includes updates for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years.
The report provides an overview of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, which was passed as part of House Enrolled Act 1003-2011(Public Law 92-2011) and provides Choice Scholarships to students in households that meet income and eligibility requirements. The program provides funds to assist with the payment of tuition and fees at a participating Choice School.

For the 2011-2012 school year, Choice Scholarships were limited to 7,500 students. For the 2012-2013 school year, Choice Scholarships were limited to 15,000 students. Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, the student cap was removed and Choice Scholarships were available to any student that met eligibility and income requirements. During the 2013 Session of the Indiana General Assembly, the program was further expanded to include eligibility components related to special education, siblings, and failing schools.

Information on the School Choice Program may be found in I.C. 20-51, 512 IAC 3, and 512 IAC 4 or by accessing information on the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) website at the following link http://www.doe.in.gov/choice.

Hacking Oklahoma State University’s Student ID

Sam Snelling:

In 2013 I took an Information Security class at Oklahoma State University. As a final project, we were broken into teams to find a security hole, and have a plan to theoretically exploit it.

I led this project, and in early 2014, gave a presentation to key faculty and IT security on campus. As I understand it, the final solution was to take down the website (https://app.it.okstate.edu/idcard/), and not worry about the rest. Fair enough.

Here are the contents of my final report.

To test or not to test, public education’s epic drama

Alan Borsuk:

Not long ago, some people on the left and some on the right hated tests, but they weren’t much of a force. Now, everyone hates tests — there are too many, they waste time, they don’t prove anything, they stress everyone out, they’re of low quality, they distort education, they’re being used for the wrong purposes and so on.

Which brings us to the present. Let us touch on two scenes.

One is in Wisconsin, where a new test for grade school kids, the product of one of the two consortia, will launch in March. The test has problems, by far the biggest being that Gov. Scott Walker wants to kibosh it after this year. Many school people have gone to great lengths to prepare for this test and are wondering why bother to give it if it’s going to be killed. (Good question, I must say.)

The other and actually more important scene is in Washington, where there is new interest in revamping No Child Left Behind. There are a lot of obstacles, the largest of which is intense differences over testing. How much testing, if any, should be federally required? What kinds of tests and what should be done with the results? How do you hold states accountable without (or even with) test results?

The atmosphere is filled with anger and frustration as the mountain grows of test scores that have little prospect of yielding constructive impact.

However and unfortunately, Wisconsin’s DPI has spent many, many millions on the useless WKCE.

Teacher Union Lobbying: “We’re saying, ‘OK. We used to have sway top down and the only way we get back there again is to educate people at the local level.’”

Molly Beck:

Either way, membership is down more than 50 percent from the union’s 98,000-member levels before Gov. Scott Walker signed his signature legislation in 2011 that significantly diminished collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

WEAC’s lobbying dollars have dropped dramatically, too.

A decade ago, WEAC spent $1.5 million on lobbying during the 2005-2006 legislative session, state records show. The next session: $1.1 million. During the two sessions leading up to the passage of Act 10, WEAC spent $2.5 million and $2.3 million, respectively.

But during the 2013-14 session, after Walker signed the bill into law, the union spent just $175,540. It was the first time in at least 10 years that the union was not among the state’s top 12 lobbying spenders, according to the Government Accountability Board.

“That has a big effect on the political landscape,” said Mike McCabe, former executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks political spending. “They often were the No. 1 lobbying spender among interest groups and they obviously don’t have the capacity to do that anymore.”

But Brey said it’s part of a strategy that WEAC was working on before Act 10. She said instead of relying on a lobbyist, the local focus is more effective because legislators have to explain their votes in their communities.
“At some point you have to look someone in the eye and explain just what you’re doing to their neighborhood public school and why,” she said.

Related: $1,570,000 for four Wisconsin Senators.

I’m glad that Ms. Beck included spending data.

How To Save Our Public Schools

Richard C. Morais:

Democrats and Republicans alike, he says, must first recognize that public education is a “broken, government-run monopoly serving the needs of adults at the expense of the needs of children.” The only way forward, Klein says, is to offer underprivileged families real educational choices, breaking the states’ monopoly on education and the perverse union rules strangling public education all across the nation.

Start by leaving your comfort zone and funneling capital away from your wealthy alma mater and toward the poor neighborhoods, where your generosity is truly needed. “A lot of people say to me, ‘I won’t give to public schools because I don’t think it will do anything,’ ” Klein says. He sends such skeptics to tough neighborhoods where charter schools run by the likes of KIPP, Success Academy, and Achievement First are making a real difference.

Consider a 2006 Robin Hood Foundation fund-raiser evening, where $45 million in donor support for new schools was matched by the charity’s board, raising $90 million in minutes. Klein, as the city’s chancellor, quickly agreed to kick in another $90 million from his $12 billion capital budget, and two architecturally stunning charter schools delivering quality education have since been built in blighted neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

“Imagine what these kids feel like, when they walk into their school and it’s the Taj Mahal? Go talk to those kids if you are looking for impact,” says Klein. That made me press him for practical help, and he promptly offered to try to organize for interested Barron’s Penta subscribers who emailed us they wanted to see such impact up close—a tour of a new charter school making a difference somewhere in the U.S. Subscribers who want a tour need only shoot us an e-mail.

Which gets us to his final point: Spend political capital, as well. Charter schools are great, Klein says, but voucher programs are the only way to quickly scale up high-quality alternatives to the busted and dangerous public schools currently entrapping our kids. Such programs allow a disadvantaged family to apply the tax-dollar equivalent of a public education—almost $20,000 a year in New York City—toward a private education of their choice.

Why schools are failing our boys

Jennifer Fink:

He hasn’t been allowed outside at school all week; it’s too cold. Yet this son has spent happy hours outside at home this week, all bundled up, moving snow with the toy snowplow, creating “snowmobile trails” in our yard with his sled and shoveling both our walk and our neighbors. Because he wants to.

This morning, as always, my son was up and dressed before the rest of the household; he likes time to play Minecraft before school starts. But he also cleaned the dirty glass on the woodstove, started the fire and brought wood into the house. Because he wants to.

And it hit me this morning: He would have done great in Little House on the Prairie time.

We’re reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter, one of the books in the Little House series, aloud right now. Back then, boys (and girls) primarily learned by doing. Kids between the ages of 5 and 18 weren’t corralled into schools and kept apart from real life; out of necessity, boys worked on the farms and girls helped in the house. Entire families worked together to survive, and along the way, boys and girls learned how to function in the real world.

The progressive ideas behind the lack of free speech on campus

Wendy Kaminer:

Is an academic discussion of free speech potentially traumatic? A recent panel for Smith College alumnae aimed at “challenging the ideological echo chamber” elicited this ominous “trigger/content warning” when a transcript appeared in the campus newspaper: “Racism/racial slurs, ableist slurs, antisemitic language, anti-Muslim/Islamophobic language, anti-immigrant language, sexist/misogynistic slurs, references to race-based violence, references to antisemitic violence.”

No one on this panel, in which I participated, trafficked in slurs. So what prompted the warning?

Smith President Kathleen McCartney had joked, “We’re just wild and crazy, aren’t we?” In the transcript, “crazy” was replaced by the notation: “[ableist slur].”

One of my fellow panelists mentioned that the State Department had for a time banned the words “jihad,” “Islamist” and “caliphate” — which the transcript flagged as “anti-Muslim/Islamophobic language.”

I described the case of a Brandeis professor disciplined for saying “wetback” while explaining its use as a pejorative. The word was replaced in the transcript by “[anti-Latin@/anti-immigrant slur].” Discussing the teaching of “Huckleberry Finn,” I questioned the use of euphemisms such as “the n-word” and, in doing so, uttered that forbidden word. I described what I thought was the obvious difference between quoting a word in the context of discussing language, literature or prejudice and hurling it as an epithet.

Young researchers should take the time to educate themselves on STEM career-related statistics.

Julie Gould:

Like many PhD students in their fourth year, there are two things constantly on my mind: one is my research, and the other is my post-graduation plan. I am currently a graduate student in the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) PhD programme, which is designed to be 4-5 years long. The course puts a strong emphasis on developing post-graduation plans early on, so I started researching career options in my 2nd year.

I came across some statistics from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that painted a dire picture of career prospects in academia. Coincidentally, I joined CSHL’s Bioscience Enterprise Club around the same time to learn about alternative careers, and was taken aback by the abundance of career options available for PhDs: research in industry, publishing, science writing, teaching, public policy, finance, consulting, patent law, biotech startups, and more.

Researching career options early on has given me ample time to identify rewarding career paths, and to get involved in extra-curricular activities. Having done the research, I plan on applying the data science skills that I have developed over the course of my PhD to a career in industry.

As I get closer to graduation, I find myself much more prepared for what’s to come and strongly believe that considering career options early on is crucial for any PhD student. Therefore, I would urge all graduate schools to insist that their students do the same, especially in the current academic climate. For those who haven’t been introduced to the stats, I’ve put together a short summary for you.

Educating school teachers (2006)

Arthur Levine (PDF):

This report, the second in a series of policy reports on the results of a four-year study of America’s education schools, focuses on the education of classroom teachers, the people who have the greatest impact on our children’s learning in school.

Teacher education has taken on a special urgency because the United States needs to raise both the quantity and quality of our teacher force. The country is experiencing an acute shortage of teachers. At the same time, we are asking teachers to increase student achievement to the highest levels in history in a new standards-based, accountability-driven system of education. To address both demands simultaneously is an enormous challenge, made even more difficult because the nation is deeply divided about how to prepare large numbers of high-quality teachers.

We don’t agree about what skills and knowledge teachers need or how and when teachers should learn them. This is the context for the second report. The first report focused on the education of school administrators.

The third report will examine the quality of education research and the preparation of the scholars and researchers who conduct it. The final report will be an overview of America’s schools of educa- tion, where the overwhelming majority of our school leaders, teachers, and scholars are educated.

“We know best”: All over America, people have put small “give one, take one” book exchanges in front of their homes. Then they were told to tear them down.

Conor Friedersdorf:

Last summer in Kansas, a 9-year-old was loving his Little Free Library until at least two residents proved that some people will complain about anything no matter how harmless and city officials pushed the boundaries of literal-mindedness:

The Leawood City Council said it had received a couple of complaints about Spencer Collins’ Little Free Library. They dubbed it an “illegal detached structure” and told the Collins’ they would face a fine if they did not remove the Little Free Library from their yard by June 19.
Scattered stories like these have appeared in various local news outlets. The L.A. Times followed up last week with a trend story that got things just about right. “Crime, homelessness and crumbling infrastructure are still a problem in almost every part of America, but two cities have recently cracked down on one of the country’s biggest problems: small-community libraries where residents can share books,” Michael Schaub wrote. “Officials in Los Angeles and Shreveport, Louisiana, have told the owners of homemade lending libraries that they’re in violation of city codes, and asked them to remove or relocate their small book collections.”

Here in Los Angeles, the weather is so lovely that it’s hard to muster the energy to be upset about anything, and a lot of people don’t even know what municipality they live in, so the defense of Little Free Libraries is mostly being undertaken by people who have them. Steve Lopez, a local columnist, wrote about one such man, an actor who is refusing to move his little library from a parkway. His column captures the absurdity of using city resources to get rid of it:

Economists say millennials should consider careers in trades

Chris Arnold:

As the economy continues to recover, economists are seeing stark differences between people with high school and college degrees. The unemployment rate is nearly twice as high for Americans with a high school diploma as for those with a four-year college degree or more.

But economists say that doesn’t mean everybody needs a four-year degree. In fact, millions of good-paying jobs are opening up in the trades. And some pay better than what the average college graduate makes.

Learning A Trade

When 18-year-old Haley Hughes graduated from high school this past summer, she had good grades; she was on the honor roll every year. So she applied to a bunch of four-year colleges and got accepted to every one of them. But she says, “I wasn’t excited about it really, I guess.”

A quick look at Dane County, WI K-12 Budgets and Redistributed State Tax Dollars

:

Mahoney, director of business and technology services at the McFarland School District, said in an email to district staff that a budget deficit of between $500,000 and $1 million is likely for the next school year, which includes keeping a 3 percent wage increase and expecting a 7 percent health insurance cost increase.

I appreciate the “total spending” data included with the article, along with McFarland’s healthcare spending increase. Changes over time would be quite useful as well.

Degrees don’t matter anymore, skills do

Miles Kimball:

Too much of our educational system, both at the K-12 level and in higher education, is built around the idea that some students are smart and others are dumb. One shining exception are the “Knowledge is Power Program” or KIPP schools. In my blog post “Magic Ingredient 1: More K-12 School” I gave this simple description of the main strategy behind KIPP schools, which do a brilliant job, even for kids from very poor backgrounds:

They motivate students by convincing them they can succeed and have a better life through working hard in school.

They keep order, so the students are not distracted from learning.

They have the students study hard for many long hours, with a long school day, a long school week (some school on Saturdays), and a long school year (school during the summer).

Meanwhile, one size fits all largely reigns in Madison.

Athletes & Rigor

Jake New:

In an endless cycle of perpetuating stereotypes, college athletes care a great deal about academics, a recent paper suggests, but some purposefully underperform academically in a misguided attempt to fit in with their teammates.

College athletes, especially those involved in big-time college sports like Division I football and basketball, tend to take easier courses and earn lower grades than nonathletes. Previous research has suggested several explanations for their underperformance, including the demanding time requirements of playing a sport, special admissions practices that enroll underprepared students and an apparent lack of motivation from athletes.

The new paper by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles and Princeton University asserts that there may be an additional explanation: athletes study less and gravitate toward easier courses because they want to better align with what they assume are the views of their peers.

One of N.J.’s Top Superintendents Explains What’s Wrong with the Opt-Out Movement

Laura Waters:

Remember, we’re arguing about standards that have been in place for five years and assessments that haven’t even been given yet. Can we wait two weeks before passing judgement?

Also in the comments section, Anne Clark, who never takes fools lightly, has her own responses to anti-testers. She notes that there was plenty of opportunity for public comment during the adoption of Common Core and PARCC, that instructional time devoted to PARCC tests is de minimus compared to traditional testing schedules, and that the movement towards uniform standards and assessments has always been bipartisan. She’s also not afraid to call out Save Our Schools-NJ, one of the primary instigators of N.J.’s hysteria:

Yet, we have no useful method to track academic progress despite the DPI’s decades long WKCE adventure.

The skills Americans say kids need to succeed in life

Sara Goo:

But we also found some interesting differences:

While all Americans were most likely to cite communication and reading skills as most important for today’s kids, women were more likely than men to say this. More women said reading skills (88%) matter compared with men (83%), and there was a similar divide on communication skills (92% vs. 88%). On the other hand, men were more likely than women to say that science and math skills were most important. Among men, 63% said science skills were important – a figure 9 percentage points higher than women who said the same. Men were also more likely than women to say that math skills were important (81% vs. 76%).

College-educated Americans were more likely to point to communication, writing, logic and science skills as important when compared with those with a high school education or less. For example, 63% of those with a college degree said science skills were most important, compared with 51% of those with a high school education or less. Some 81% of college grads said that writing skills were most important, compared with 70% among those with a high school degree or less.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Confusing Politics of Pensions and Hedge Funds

Chad Alderman:

Morgan Housel has a fantastic piece in The Motley Fool imagining a conversation between two hedge fund managers. It tells a pretty accurate, and damning, story of hedge funds’ under-performance, high fees, and general lack of transparency.

Most people, and especially most teachers, don’t personally invest in hedge funds. To them, hedge funds may be some sort of a distant and poorly understood creature of Wall Street. But one of Housel’s hedge fund managers says that, “We’re basically a conduit between public pension funds and Greenwich real estate agents.” The other fellow says “Cheers to that.”

Wait, what? Teacher pension plans are heavily invested in hedge funds? Yes, yes they are. Teacher pension plans and other public-sector pension funds have dramatically ramped up their investments in hedge funds and other forms of private equity over the last 30 years. In fact, pension funds in both the public and private sector are becoming some of the hedge fund industry’s most dependable clients!

Court rules against measure letting Scott Walker halt school administrative rules

Patrick Marley:

Parents of students and members of teachers unions sued Walker over the law as it applied to rules put together by the Department of Public Instruction, which is headed by Evers. Walker is a Republican and Evers is aligned with Democrats, though his post is officially nonpartisan.

The state constitution says that “the supervision of public instruction shall be vested in a state superintendent and such other officers as the Legislature shall direct.” In a 1996 case that the appeals court repeatedly cited, the state Supreme Court held that lawmakers and the governor cannot give “equal or superior authority” over public education to any other official.

The Supreme Court’s ruling found that the state constitution prevented then-Gov. Tommy Thompson from transferring powers from the Department of Public Instruction to a new Department of Education overseen by the governor’s administration.

“In sum, the Legislature has the authority to give, to not give, or to take away (the school superintendent’s) supervisory powers, including rule-making power. What the Legislature may not do is give the (superintendent) a supervisory power relating to education and then fail to maintain the (superintendent’s) supremacy with respect to that power,” Appeals Judge Gary Sherman wrote for the court in Thursday’s decision.

Yet, we have no useful method to track academic progress despite the DPI’s decades long WKCE adventure.

K-16 Governance: An Oxymoron? Wallace Hall Was Right About UT All Along

Jim Schutze:

When Hall was early on the board, the university revealed to regents there were problems with a large private endowment used to provide off-the-books six-figure “forgivable loans” to certain faculty members, out of sight of the university’s formal compensation system.

Hall wanted to know how big the forgivable loans were and who decided who got them. He wanted to know whose money it was. He was concerned there had to be legal issues with payments to public employees that were not visible to the public.

University of Texas President William Powers painted the law school slush fund as a problem only because it had caused “discord” within the faculty. He vowed to have a certain in-house lawyer get it straightened up. Hall, who thought the matter was more serious and called for a more arms-length investigation and analysis, thought Powers’ approach was too defensive. In particular, Hall didn’t want it left to the investigator Powers had assigned.

“I had issues with that,” Hall says. “I felt that was a bad, bad deal. The man’s a lawyer. He lives in Austin. The people in the foundation are his mentors, some of the best lawyers in the state. They’re wealthy. He’s not going to be in the [university] system forever. He’s going to be looking for a job one day.”
But Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and other members of the board of regents did not share Hall’s concerns. “I was overruled,” Hall says. “That’s when I first felt like, one, there’s a problem at UT, and, two, the system has set up a scheme that gives the opportunity for a less than robust investigation.”

Since then, the university’s own in-house investigation, which cleared the law school of any real wrongdoing, has been discredited and deep-sixed. The in-house lawyer who did it is no longer on the payroll. The matter has been turned over to the Texas attorney general for a fresh investigation.

The head of the law school has resigned. The president of the university has resigned. Cigarroa has resigned.

Next, Hall questioned claims the university was making about how much money it raised every year. He thought the university was puffing its numbers by counting gifts of software for much more than the software really was worth, making it look as if Powers was doing a better job of fundraising than he really was.

When Hall traveled to Washington, D.C., to consult with the national body that sets rules for this sort of thing, he was accused of ratting out the university — a charge that became part of the basis for subsequent impeachment proceedings. But Hall was right. The university had to mark down its endowment by $215 million.

The really big trouble began in 2013 when Hall said he discovered a back-door black market trade in law school admissions, by which people in positions to do favors for the university, especially key legislators, were able to get their own notably unqualified kids and the notably unqualified kids of friends into UT Law School.

Local education issues that merit attention include:

A. The Wisconsin DPI’s decades long WKCE adventure: “Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”… It is astonishing that we, after decades of DPI spending, have nothing useful to evaluate academic progress. A comparison with other states, including Minnesota and Massachusetts would be rather useful.

B. Susan Troller’s 2010 article: Madison school board member may seek an audit of how 2005 maintenance referendum dollars were spent. A look at local K-12 spending (and disclosure) practices may be useful in light of the planned April, 2015 referendum.

C. Madison’s long term disastrous reading results, despite spending double the national average per student.

D. Teacher preparation standards.

Student loan debt piles up to $1.16 trillion: NY Fed

John Schoen:

Even with an improved job market, those student loans are getting harder to keep up with.

While households are generally doing a better job making payments on their mortgages and credit cards, the delinquency rates on student loans worsened in the last three months of 2014, according a new report from the New York Federal Reserve.

“Although we’ve seen an overall improvement in delinquency rates since the Great Recession, the increasing trend in student loan balances and delinquencies is concerning,” said New York Fed researcher Donghoon Lee in a statement. “Student loan delinquencies and repayment problems appear to be reducing borrowers’ ability to form their own households.”

Delinquencies climbed in auto and student lending. Overall debt rose $117 billion in 4th quarter.

How bad is age discrimination in academia?

Tyler Cowen:

I believe it is very bad, although I do not have data. I believe that if a 46-year-old, with an excellent vita and newly minted Ph.D in hand, applied for academic economics jobs at the top fifty research universities, the individual would receive very few “bites.” Unless of course he or she managed to cover up his or her age. (I am very pleased with the openness of my own university, I will add in passing.)

Perhaps there are not many examples of this kind of age discrimination (do you know of any?). In part that is because older individuals are so discouraged from going down that path in the first place. Furthermore it is likely harder for older individuals to go down that path. In addition to life-cycle considerations, there may be age discrimination at the stage of graduate admissions.

I rarely hear complaints about age discrimination in academia, though I often hear complaints about gender and race discrimination. I believe all of these phenomena are real (and unfortunate), and I wonder what exactly this discrepancy indicates. If anything, I suspect age discrimination is far more extreme, at least when it comes to the final stage of the process, namely the actual interview and hiring decisions.

Former admissions director: Parents, calm down. Let Harvard go.

Susan Svrluga:

Like many who have worked in college admissions, she has heard it: All the worries from parents about “what they can do” to get their kids into Ivies.

And she has read about a cluster of suicides that some attribute to stress, pressure on achievement.

As a former admissions officer for some top schools, she has some cutting advice for parents:

Forget the top schools. Forget formulas to ace admissions. Forget achievement at all costs.

The Reading Level of the State of Union Address is in Decline

priceonomics:

“The act of the last session of Congress concerning the commercial intercourse between the United States and Great Britain and France and their dependencies having invited in a new form a termination of their edicts against our neutral commerce, copies of the act were immediately forwarded to our ministers at London and Paris, with a view that its object might be within the early attention of the French and British Governments.”

This whopper of a sentence — 71 words, 9 of which are 10 characters or longer — is indicative of Madison’s speeches in general: complex, wordy, and Thesaurus-worthy.

By all historic accounts, Madison was lauded both for his writing skills, and eloquence. Despite being “painfully shy [and] physically frail,” his words commanded the attention of Congress and major political influencers. “If the art of persuasion includes persuasion by convincing,” once wrote Chief Justice John Marshall, “Mr. Madison was the most eloquent man I ever heard.” Before crafting his own speeches, Madison advised and heavily edited the speeches of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams — all three of whom are ranked in the top 10 here.

President Obama’s speeches, which rank lowest on the list at a grade level of 9.8, are of an entirely different nature. Take, for example, this excerpt from his recent 2015 Address:

“But tonight, we turn the page. Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before. More of our people are insured than ever before. And we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost thirty years.”

“Since 2004, student loan balances have more than tripled, at an average annualized growth rate of about 13 percent per year, to nearly $1.2 trillion, in 2014.”

Meta Brown, Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally, and Wilbert van der Klaauw:

Our data indicate that both increased numbers of borrowers and larger balances per borrower are contributing to the rapid expansion in student loans. Between 2004 and 2014, we saw a 74 percent increase in average balances and a 92 percent increase in the number of borrowers. Now there are 43 million borrowers, up from 42 million borrowers at the end of 2013, with an average balance per borrower of about $27,000.

The heterogeneity of borrower indebtedness is very pronounced. As shown in the chart below, nearly 39 percent of borrowers owe less than $10,000, and the median balance is about $14,000. At the high end, more than 4 percent of borrowers, about 1.8 million people, owe more than $100,000.

QOD: A Public School Mom on the Anti-Test Movement’s Hostility Towards Data

Lynnell Mickelson:

Can we be clear? When the sole responsibility for test outcomes was on the children, there was little to no organized test resistance. But as soon as some of the responsibility shifted to the adults, oh my God! Let the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth begin. Oh, the inhumanity! Oh, the stress of “high-stakes”! Oh, the loss of childhood! Oh, the corporate conspiracy of Pearson! And so forth.

I’m not entirely unsympathetic to the anti-test movement. Some districts test too much. Endless rote test prep is dumb. Art, music and gym are all crucial and belong in the curriculum.

But the organized movement to dump standardized testing and replace it with projects or individual teacher’s tests, also strikes me as blatant attempt to dump the evidence.

Via Laura Waters.

Pro Choice: Vouchers, per student spending and achievement

The Economist:

This is not the end of the story for vouchers, however. In both Milwaukee and Washington, voucher schemes get similar results to the public schools but with much less money. Under the DC scheme, each voucher is worth $8,500 a year, compared with $17,500 to educate a child in the public school system. In Milwaukee the difference is smaller but still amounts to several thousand dollars. Another consistent finding from voucher schemes is that parents like being given a choice, which explains why vouchers, once granted, are hard to take away.

Though Milwaukee’s experience overall has been mixed it still has lessons for elsewhere. If one includes private schools, charter schools and open enrolment at public schools (which means parents may enroll their children in a school that is not in the neighbourhood where they live), around 40% of parents in Milwaukee exercise some kind of choice over their children’s education, an unusually high share. With so much competition, it is hard for any school to grow complacent. There are good public, private and charter schools and bad ones, too. Some private schools do very well with poor black and Hispanic children, others fail them and yet manage to stay in business, which suggests that even with lots of parents choosing there is a need for an authority than can close the bad schools down.

The proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

An interview with Henry Tyson.

A focus on adult employment.

Already a friend to charter schools, Wisconsin could see more growth under budget proposal; one size fits all continues in Madison

Molly Beck:

“That charter authorizer is without accountability, if you will, to the voter in any way,” she said. “And so why would we want to do that? That’s what I would like explained to me. Why would that be a good thing for the state of Wisconsin? Honestly, I can’t fathom what the justification would be other than if I’m one of the big chains (of charter schools) that wants leverage into Wisconsin.”

Madison School Board member Ed Hughes wrote against the proposal on his education blog last week, saying the proposal allows new authorizers to “operate with a free hand in the state’s largest urban areas.”

Walker included a similar proposal in his 2013-15 budget but it was pulled out. Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, also has proposed similar legislation in the past. She said in an interview Tuesday that more communities than Milwaukee and Racine should have the option of an independent charter school.

She pointed to Madison Preparatory Academy, an independent charter school proposed by the Urban League of Greater Madison geared toward low-income, minority students that was voted down by the School Board in 2011.

“In some cases there will be opportunities where school boards say, ‘No, we don’t want that,’ as Madison did, and it seems there should be another option for those families,” she said.

Related:

The proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

An interview with Henry Tyson.

A focus on adult employment.

Was Moynihan Right: What happens to children of unmarried mothers

Sara McLanahan & Christopher Jencks:

200119436-002In his 1965 report on the black family, Daniel Patrick Moynihan highlighted the rising fraction of black children growing up in households headed by unmarried mothers. He attributed the increase largely to the precarious economic position of black men, many of whom were no longer able to play their traditional role as their family’s primary breadwinner. Moynihan argued that growing up in homes without a male breadwinner reduced black children’s chances of climbing out of poverty, and that the spread of such families would make it hard for blacks to take advantage of the legal and institutional changes flowing from the civil rights revolution.

Moynihan’s claim that growing up in a fatherless family reduced a child’s chances of educational and economic success was furiously denounced when the report appeared in 1965, with many critics calling Moynihan a racist. For the next two decades few scholars chose to investigate the effects of father absence, lest they too be demonized if their findings supported Moynihan’s argument. Fortunately, America’s best-known black sociologist, William Julius Wilson, broke this taboo in 1987, providing a candid assessment of the black family and its problems in The Truly Disadvantaged. Since then, social scientists have accumulated a lot more evidence on the effects of family structure. This article will offer some educated guesses about what that evidence means.

Why do MOOCS have low completion rates?

Hacker News:

Two reasons similar/in addition to the ones already mentioned:

The obvious one: MOOCs usually involve small or no payment and are not typically part of a degree program. Everyone who has attended a traditional college has taken one or several classes where they disliked the material, the format, or the faculty but kept taking it anyway because it was a required course, they needed the credit hours to stay in good standing, or they had already paid nontrivial tuition and/or fees for it. For most MOOCs, if you are even mildly disappointed, you can just drop out with little remorse.

The second, less obvious one: on Coursera, I bookmark courses (including ones I have only tenuous interest in) months ahead by enrolling in them. Then when the course starts, I judge whether I still have the time or interest (I usually don’t), and if not, drop out. I don’t know if this is common, but if it is, then it would have an impact.

I’d also be curious to know how pacing impacts completion rates. Personally, while some platforms treat it as a selling point, I find it very difficult to complete self-paced courses.

On the other hand, some people may miss one or two deadlines in a non-self-paced MOOC and simply give up.

Education at heart of Chicago mayor’s race

Stephanie Simon:

Democratic mayors and governors across the nation are increasingly standing up to their traditional allies in the teachers unions to demand huge changes in urban school districts — and labor is frantically, furiously fighting back. Local and national unions have made Emanuel a top target, pouring resources into the effort to oust him. If they succeed, they’ll gain momentum, not to mention a huge PR victory.

But if Emanuel wins despite the unions’ best efforts, analysts say it would embolden other Democratic reformers to forge ahead with a controversial agenda that includes closing struggling neighborhood schools, expanding privately run charter schools and overhauling the teaching profession by repealing tenure, trimming benefits and paying teachers in part based on how well their students score on standardized tests.

Ranking the top open admission New Jersey high schools by SAT scores

Colleen O’Dea:

Today’s vo-techs now operate some of the most elite public schools in New Jersey and the nation. U.S. News and World Report ranked Biotechnology High School in Freehold, part of the Monmouth County Vocational School District, 11th best in the nation and best in New Jersey among public schools. High Technology High School in Lincroft, another MCVSD school, ranked 20th nationally. Bergen County Academies, part of the Bergen County Technical Schools district, boasts thirty-six 2015 National Merit Semifinalists in a school with about 250 students in each grade level. These schools are smaller than the typical public school and more selective, requiring entrance exams as part of a competitive application process.

So it’s not surprising that these academies had the highest total-mean-scores during the past school year on the Scholastic Aptitude Test that students take as part of the college application process. High Technology High topped the list with a mean of 2195 out of a possible 2400. (Scores are for seniors and members of the class of 2014.) Its total enrollment was just 286 students, with an enviable 11-to-1 student-teacher ratio in 2013-2014. Six other schools had mean scores higher than 2000: Academy for Mathematics, Science and Engineering in Morris County Vocational; Bergen County Academies; Biotechnology High in Monmouth; Middlesex County Vocational Academy of Math, Science and Engineering Technology; Union County Magnet High School; and Academy of Allied Health and Science in Monmouth.

Is teaching about instruction or selection?

Gary Davis:

Teaching is commonly associated with instruction, yet in evolution, immunology, and neuroscience, instructional theories are largely defunct.

We propose a co-immunity theory of teaching, where attempts by a teacher to alter student neuronal structure to accommodate cultural ideas and practices is sort of a reverse to the function of the immune system, which exists to preserve the physical self, while teaching episodes are designed to alter the mental self.

This is a theory of teaching that is based on the inter-subjective relationship between teacher and learner. This theory posits that teaching does not, as is commonly assumed, take place via instruction from teacher to students, but rather through a process of selection in the learner’s brain, stimulated by materials and activities utilized by the teacher. In this theory, the mechanism that drives the selection process in learners’ brains is co-regulated emotional signaling between teacher and learner. From this perspective, the power of formative assessment is that it intrinsically carries with it emotional aspects for both learner and teacher, in that it provides a feedback relationship between them both, and so, according to the Greenspan & Shanker theory of cognitive symbolic development, promotes cognitive development.

– See more at: http://beta.briefideas.org/ideas/b0b3c84a223e16c8f066b8770831a962#sthash.kKerYg1g.dpuf

Research results from Madison schools suggest compassion, kindness can be taught

Doug Erickson:

To do the study, the researchers secured permission from the parents of 68 Madison students during the 2012-13 school year. All were in the district’s 4K program.

Thirty children were randomly assigned to classrooms where they received twice-weekly kindness lessons for three months. Children in the control group did not receive the lessons.

The curriculum is rooted in adult mindfulness-based practices adapted to a child’s developmental ability, said Laura Pinger, the curriculum’s lead designer.

She and the other researchers are affiliated with the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, the UW-Madison effort founded by Richard Davidson, an international leader in mindfulness training.

Behind the curtain in Montgomery County Schools

Melinda Anderson and Frances Frost:

Montgomery County seems like a fairyland of affluence on the outskirts of the nation’s capital with progressive politics and world-class public schools. But pull back the curtain and the Oz-like illusion disappears. In its place, you find a suburb confronting rapidly increasing poverty with excellent public schools for some students amid the complexities of a “majority-minority” region.

As Montgomery County Public Schools navigates its way through profound change, it needs stability and perseverance. That’s why the abrupt departure of Superintendent Joshua P. Starr is a major blow and a loss for the district’s 154,000 students and for parents and teachers.

Bubbling beneath the surface are issues that rarely receive top billing in school-district politics.

350 years of publishing from the world’s oldest science journal– in pictures

Rebecca Ratcliffe:

Henry Oldenburg, secretary of the Royal Society and founder of the Philosophical Transactions, first published in 1665

Drawing on information gathered from the Royal Society’s meetings, his own correspondence with natural philosophers and the latest books and pamphlets, Oldenburg produced a monthly overview of all that was new in natural philosophy. He sold it for one shilling.

Transactions was initially Oldenburg’s own private venture, but it became an official Society publication in the 18th century.

When letting your kids out of your sight becomes a crime

Danielle Meitiv:

We all want what is best for our children. We want them to be happy and successful, and we want to protect them from harm. But what if we are protecting them from extremely remote threats while ignoring the things that most endanger their well-being? What if police and child welfare officials, the experts whom we empower to protect our children, are pursuing phantom problems while neglecting those who are truly at risk?

One recent Saturday afternoon, six police officers and five patrol cars came to my home in Silver Spring. They demanded identification from my husband and entered our home despite not having a warrant to do so. The reason for this show of force? We had allowed our children to walk home from a neighborhood park by themselves.

A few hours later, a Montgomery County Child Protective Services (CPS) social worker coerced my husband into signing a “temporary safety plan” for our children by threatening to take the children “right now” — a threat she backed up with a call to the police. In the weeks that followed, another worker from the agency appeared at our door with the police and insisted that he did not need a warrant to enter our home. He also interviewed our children at school without our knowledge or permission.

High-fliers in the classroom Programmes that place bright and ambitious graduates in poor schools are spreading around the world—and show what it takes to make a difference

The Economist:

“IT’S not enough to have a dream”, reads a banner over the whiteboard in Nancy Sarmiento’s Baltimore classroom. Most of her 12-year-old pupils qualify for a free or cheap lunch. About 70% of the school’s new arrivals last September had reading and mathematical skills below the minimum expected for their grade. Americans call such schools “disadvantaged”. Whatever the label, most countries have schools where most children are from poor families, expectations are low, and teachers are hard to recruit. And in most, the falling prestige of the teaching profession makes matters worse.

But Ms Sarmiento, who graduated from a four-year biology degree course a year early, had to see off fierce competition to win her teaching spot. Teach for America (TfA), the scheme that placed her, accepts just one in six applicants. It looks for a stellar academic record and evidence of traits that distinguish the best teachers in tough schools, including leadership, resilience and motivation to help the poor. Recruits get five weeks’ training and pledge to work for two years in a disadvantaged school.

Google boss warns of ‘forgotten century’ with email and photos at risk

Ian Sample:

Cerf called for the development of “digital vellum” to preserve old software and hardware so that out-of-date files could be recovered no matter how old they are.

“When you think about the quantity of documentation from our daily lives that is captured in digital form, like our interactions by email, people’s tweets, and all of the world wide web, it’s clear that we stand to lose an awful lot of our history,” he said.

“We don’t want our digital lives to fade away. If we want to preserve them, we need to make sure that the digital objects we create today can still be rendered far into the future,” he added.

The warning highlights an irony at the heart of modern technology, where music, photos, letters and other documents are digitised in the hope of ensuring their long-term survival. But while researchers are making progress in storing digital files for centuries, the programs and hardware needed to make sense of the files are continually falling out of use.

Google, Facebook and governments are storing, mining, selling and aggregating all of this…..

The Mismeasure of Teaching Time

Samuel Abrams:

Few matters of international education policy have achieved as much consensus as the claim that teachers in U.S. public schools spend nearly twice as much time leading classes as their counterparts in such high-performing nations as Finland, Japan, and many other nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Yet this claim is far from true.

Teachers in U.S. public schools work hard, for relatively low pay, and under increasingly stressful conditions because of federally mandated high-stakes tests tying assessment of teachers to student performance on these tests.1 But they do not, as reported in detailed tables published by the OECD every year since 2000, spend so much more time instructing students than teachers in other OECD nations.2 Through regular repetition by academics and journalists, this misinformation has become conventional wisdom.

In reality, U.S. primary teachers spend about 12 percent more time leading classes than their OECD counterparts, not 50 percent; U.S. lower-secondary teachers spend about 14 percent more time, not 65 percent; and U.S. upper-secondary teachers spend about 11 percent more time, not 73 percent. In the case of Finland and Japan, in particular, the alleged differences, as will be explained, reach 110 percent.

Disabilities and online education

Tamar Lewin:

Advocates for the deaf on Thursday filed federal lawsuits against Harvard and M.I.T., saying both universities violated antidiscrimination laws by failing to provide closed captioning in their online lectures, courses, podcasts and other educational materials.

“Much of Harvard’s online content is either not captioned or is inaccurately or unintelligibly captioned, making it inaccessible for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing,” the complaint said, echoing language used in the M.I.T. complaint. “Just as buildings without ramps bar people who use wheelchairs, online content without captions excludes individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

Jeff Neal, a spokesman for Harvard, said that while he could not comment on the litigation, Harvard expected the Justice Department to propose rules this year “to provide much-needed guidance in this area,” and that the university would follow whatever rules were adopted.

Contract teaching at a Canadian University

Andrew Robinson:

Today, I had a perfectly reasonable request from a student who wanted to review an exam from last term. I was unable to comply with this request because to do so would be to give my employer more of my time for free. As a dedicated teacher, I am extremely sad about this, because I would like to give my students the very best learning experience that I possibly can.

So what makes a mild-mannered Physics instructor turn into a seething rebel? The blunt answer is that I, along with many of my colleagues in Higher Education in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia are being shamelessly exploited by our employers. We do not have permanent jobs, we have to eke out an existence by patching together many temporary contracts to try and earn enough to survive on. We go by many different names — in Canada we are Contract Instructors or Sessional Lecturers. In the US, Adjunct Professors. We are highly qualified, I have a PhD, and often have experience outside academia. I have worked as a scientist or scientific programmer in the nuclear engineering industry and in the biosciences sector. This counts for little.

The social network for people who want to upload their DNA to the Internet

Daniela Hernandez:

More than three years after Clark first put her genes up on the web for all to see, roughly 1,500 others have joined her on openSNP. It isn’t the only social network out there for genetic exhibitionists. Just like someone might have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, people are starting to upload their genetic information to multiple sites. Clark is active on Genomera, Snpedia, and Promethease — all grass-roots open-source platforms for genetic information and research. People have even uploaded their genes to the collaboration tool Github.

This all adds up to a citizen-genetics movement that is just getting started. People like Sharon Terry, an advocate for public participation in genetics research, and Melanie Swan — a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who founded DIYGenomics, an organization that organizes crowdsourced genetics research — are spurring this revolution.

“What we’re trying to do is imagine a system where the patient says, ‘I want my data. I want it open. I want researchers to work on it. I want them to share it.’ We’re trying to build this alternate universe,” said Stephen Friend, the director of Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit that champions open science.

Governance Diversity: Measure would allow tech colleges to run charter high schools

Erin Richards:

Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges could establish independent charter high schools staffed by college instructors, under a proposal being circulated by two Republican lawmakers that aims to better prepare students for the workforce.

Rep. Tom Weatherston (R-Racine) says charter high schools focused on occupational education or technology could attract students who would not otherwise be college-bound and help them attain the skills Wisconsin employers need.

His vision, outlined in a draft bill he and Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) are circulating for cosponsorship, is to allow students to attend a charter high school run by the tech college for four years, then continue in the college to earn an associate degree after just one more year.

“There are a lot of young people in my district lacking the knowledge that technical education is out there,” Weatherston said. “Especially with the current systems, they’re required to graduate high school before they can get into technical programs.”

Options already exist for Wisconsin high school students to take classes at technical colleges, though Weatherston counters that some districts don’t let students participate in them.

More broadly, the potential bill would be the latest proposal aimed at expanding public charter schools in Wisconsin that operate independently of traditional school districts — something public-school supporters have opposed.

Gov. Scott Walker’s 2015-’17 budget proposal calls for creating a different avenue to spawn more independent charter schools: a new state board that would authorize nonprofit entities to oversee such schools around the state.

He made the same proposal in his previous biennial budget.

A failed Republican-backed bill last session would have allowed all the University of Wisconsin System campuses, plus technical colleges and regional state education agencies to approve operators to open charter schools.

Generally, teachers unions and many district administrators are not on board with these ideas. That’s because independent charter schools are public schools run like small businesses, with nonunion employees that don’t answer to local school boards.

Critics say that the schools divert students, and by extension, state revenue, away from traditional public schools they would have otherwise attended.

Advocates say without so much government bureaucracy, independent charters can be more innovative than a typical public school.

While lots of districts operate their own charter schools staffed by district employees, independent charters exist only around the Milwaukee area currently.

Most answer to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee or the City of Milwaukee. State law also allows UW-Parkside to authorize charter schools.

One technical college, Milwaukee Area Technical College, can as well, but MATC has never exercised that authority.

One unusual aspect of the Weatherston-Wanggaard idea is that it would have the tech colleges run the charter high schools themselves, rather than overseeing a charter-school management company to run the potential high school.

The bill would allow instructors at the college to teach at the high school, ostensibly without a state teaching license typically required of K-12 educators.

Weatherston said tech-based charter high schools could offer programming relevant to careers such as dental hygienist or HVAC technician.

He said general education classes could have a technical career focus, such as math for bookkeeping.

“I think we should keep it broad-based and allow the market to drive what kind of curriculum they offer,” he said.

But some educators worry about autonomy.

“Communities deserve to have local control over their schools, and this proposal appears to allow high schools to be dropped into their towns without input,” Betsy Kippers, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said in a statement Tuesday.

Options already exist for high school students to take occupational or technical education classes at local colleges.

The Legislature last session also approved a new program called Course Options that lets students at all grade levels take up to two classes at a time from approved educational institutions outside their home school, at no cost.

Approved institutions include the University of Wisconsin System institutions and state technical colleges.

Waukesha County Technical College started a special program two years ago that allows local high school seniors to apply to spend a portion of their day taking credit-bearing classes in areas such as welding, metal fabrication, and printing and publishing. Students admitted to the program don’t have to pay for the college classes. State Superintendent Tony Evers is scheduled to visit that program at WCTC Dual Enrollment Academy on Wednesday.

Some districts have even started their own specialty schools to meet that niche. LakeView Technology Academy is a specialty high school in the Kenosha Unified School District that allows students to earn up to the equivalent of one year of tech college credits and one semester of engineering credits upon graduation.

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About Erin Richards
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Erin Richards covers K-12 education in urban and suburban Milwaukee, as well as state politics related to education issues.
@emrichards
erichards@journalsentinel.com
414-224-2705

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Feb. 9, 2015 – As Gov. Scott Walker calls for scrapping a new state achievement test after just one year, the exam is coming in over budget and lacking key functionality. (4)
Rural schools get mixed bag of benefits in Walker’s budget
Feb. 8, 2015 – Leaders of financially struggling rural school districts say the governor’s proposed budget both gives relief and takes it away.

Study: Even for college-educated blacks, road to full-time work is rocky

Lolly Bowean:

Months before he graduated from college, Jeramey Winfield was sending out resumes and applying for jobs online in Chicago.

The media studies major hoped to jump from Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire right into the Chicago workforce, in marketing or event planning, so he could get his own apartment and begin helping his family financially. But after more than a year of networking, sending out applications and asking mentors for help, Winfield still doesn’t have a full-time job. In fact, he said, he’s rarely been called back for an interview.

“I had this picture in my mind of working downtown, taking the train in and contributing to my profession,” said Winfield, who often wears dapper, fitted business suits. “I had this vision of helping my mom out, since she struggled to raise five of us. I wanted to give her some relief.”

Preparing Effective Teachers

Nicole Thorpe:

Like so many teachers, when I first entered the classroom, I believed that I would be effective. Then I met Mohammed, and Jose, and Efrain. Mohammed was defiant. He refused to do work, disrupting the learning of my other students. Most days, Jose hid under his desk. Efrain turned eleven in 4th grade because he was retained in El Salvador before coming to the U.S. and couldn’t read a word in English or Spanish. I wanted more than anything to help these students. In fact, I wasn’t helping them. I was like most first year teachers. I needed more training. I needed coaching. I needed a veteran teacher who could guide my practice.

What I felt most acutely in those first few months of teaching was that all of the students in my class would be better off it they were across the hall in Mrs. Lewis’ class. Debbie Lewis was a skilled veteran teacher. She was the kind of teacher my kids deserved.

In the beginning, I despaired of ever becoming that teacher. But slowly that year, my teaching got better. That year, Debbie talked me through every challenge I experienced in my classroom, from instructional failures to behavior issues, and helped me problem-solve so that I did better the next day. She worked with me to create a class-wide behavior system that even Mohammed wanted to follow. Together, we differentiated my lesson plans so Jose and Efrain would make progress. Debbie wasn’t the only one. Other coaches came into my classroom to equip me with skills to become more effective.

How Spelling Keeps Kids From Learning

Luba Vangelova:

Johnny in Topeka can’t read, but Janne in Helsinki is effortlessly finishing his storybooks. Such a disparity may be expected by now, but the reason might come as a surprise: It probably has much less to do with teaching style and quality than with language. Simply put, written English is great for puns but terrible for learning to read or write. It’s like making children from around the world complete an obstacle course to fully participate in society but requiring the English-speaking participants to wear blindfolds.

Adults who have already mastered written English tend to forget about its many quirks. But consider this: English has 205 ways to spell 44 sounds. And not only can the same sounds be represented in different ways, but the same letter or letter combinations can also correspond to different sounds. For example, “cat,” “kangaroo,” “chrome,” and “queue” all start with the same sound, and “eight” and “ate” sound identical. Meanwhile, “it” doesn’t sound like the first syllable of “item,” for instance, and “cough” doesn’t rhyme with either “enough,” “through,” “furlough” or “bough.” Even some identically spelled words, such as “tear,” can be pronounced differently and mean different things.

Your lifetime earnings are probably determined in your 20s

Danielle Paquet:

Ah, your 20s: A decade of self discovery, smartphone dating and shopping for IKEA coffee tables — right?

A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York sends a more sobering message to millennials: Your first 10 years in the labor market likely shape your lifetime earning potential.

“Across the board, the bulk of earnings growth happens during the first decade,” wrote economists Fatih Guvenen, Fatih Karahan, Serdar Ozkan and Jae Song, who studied the career paths of about 5 million workers over nearly 40 years.

The jump in pay could be largely driven by the steep learning curves early in your career, said Guvenen, an economics professor at the University of Minnesota.

Why Scott Walker’s allegedly mistaken attempt to change the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement is an omen for big changes to higher education in America

Alia Wong:

Last Wednesday, Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker released a biennium budget plan that had a strange twist nestled inside. This line item didn’t have much, if anything, to do with how he intended to spend the state’s money; it had no numbers, dollar signs, nor provisos. It did, however, deal ever-so-vaguely with Wisconsin’s economy—at least, what Walker envisioned it would look like down the line and how higher education would make that happen.

Walker proposed to rewrite the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement. He apparently wanted to strip out its frills (stuff like “extended training,” “public service,” improving “the human condition,” and “the search for truth”) and inject it with a more practical goal: meeting “the state’s workforce needs.”

Change is inevitable.

The Paradoxes of Education Reform Critics: “asymmetric incompetency”

Adam Ozimek:

There’s a lot of important, nuanced debate to be had between the most optimistic education reformers and those who are more skeptical. But I think there are many, though of course not all, on the education reform critic side who tie themselves in knots telling inconsistent stories about education in this country. So here are the most common paradoxes of that movement. This isn’t to say those who criticize some or even many aspects of education reform embody all these paradoxes, but I would argue they are relatively common. I think education reform critics spend a lot of times opposing individual policies or ideas or changes, and so it is hard to tie all of those disparate criticisms together into a coherent vision that also explains what education policy should be. These paradoxes, I would argue, identify a problem.

1. Administrators can’t be trusted with firing, but are perfect at hiring.

One of the arguments for lots of job protections in schools is that you can’t trust administrators to decide who to fire. If you give them discretion, they will fire good teachers who they don’t like, or who do anything other than toe the administration line, or for other cronyism reasons. On the other hand, we are told that firing more teachers won’t solve anything because we most teachers are good at their job or at the most just need more coaching. So while we can’t trust administrators to fire competently, we also have arrived at a place where their hiring decisions involve impeccable foresight to never make a bad hiring decision. It’s a strange paradox of asymmetric incompetency.

The Myth of Charter-School ‘Cherry Picking’

Eva Moskovitz:

There is a concept called the big lie, which holds that if you repeat a falsehood long enough and loudly enough, people will begin to believe it. Sadly, fearing the success of charter schools in New York City, the United Federation of Teachers and other education-reform opponents have been telling a big lie for years.

The UFT and its backers have kept up a steady drumbeat of false claims against charter schools in New York City: Charters cherry-pick their students, push out those who need extra support, and generally falsify their impressive results. Well, a recent report from New York City’s Independent Budget Office, a publicly funded, nonpartisan agency, proves that these accusations are false. Unfortunately, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is among those city officials who believe the big lie.

K-12 Tax, Spending & Referendum Climate: The Legacy of Debt: Interest Costs Poised to Surpass Defense and Nondefense Discretionary Spending

Josh Zumbrun:

The U.S. has come a long way since the days of trillion-dollar deficits, just a few years ago. The White House projects 2016 will have the smallest budget deficit in eight years. Yet the budgetary impact of the debt that’s been accumulated–$18 trillion in total, $13 trillion of that owed to the public–will reassert itself.

Currently, the government’s interest costs are around $200 billion a year, a sum that’s low due to the era of low interest rates.

Forecasters at the White House and Congressional Budget Office believe interest rates will gradually rise, and when that happens, the interest costs of the U.S. government are set to soar, from just over $200 billion to nearly $800 billion a year by decade’s end.

No profit left behind

Stephanie Simon:

A POLITICO investigation has found that Pearson stands to make tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and cuts in student tuition from deals arranged without competitive bids in states from Florida to Texas. The review also found Pearson’s contracts set forth specific performance targets — but don’t penalize the company when it fails to meet those standards. And in the higher ed realm, the contracts give Pearson extensive access to personal student data, with few constraints on how it is used.

POLITICO examined hundreds of pages of contracts, business plans and email exchanges, as well as tax filings, lobbying reports and marketing materials, in the first comprehensive look at Pearson’s business practices in the United States.

The investigation found that public officials often commit to buying from Pearson because it’s familiar, even when there’s little proof its products and services are effective.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, for instance, declined to seek competitive bids for a new student data system on the grounds that it would be “in the best interest of the public” to simply hire Pearson, which had done similar work for the state in the past. The data system was such a disaster, the department had to pay Pearson millions extra to fix it.

The issues are not only on the supply side. Wisconsin’s decade plus use of the weak and largely useless WKCE is worth a deeper dive.

Buy side issues merit equal attention.

Ms. Simon deserves applause for digging deep. It is so rare in our ever more expensive K-12 world.

Addressing the dismal state of civics education: Require citizenship test in schools

USA Today:

Jay Leno’s old Tonight Show man-on-the-street quizzes were particularly hilarious — and depressing — when he tested Americans’ knowledge of their own government.

One woman thought the colonies won their independence from Greece; a college instructor guessed that U.S. independence was won in 1922; and a man said the general who led our troops in the Revolutionary War was Winston Churchill.

Funny stuff, until you remember that these are the same citizens who elect the leaders who shape the nation’s future, if they bother to vote at all. Nor are these know-nothings outliers.

Surveys and tests repeatedly show that Americans’ knowledge of civics is pathetic. In 2010, just one in five eighth-graders tested proficient in civics on a national performance assessment — worse even than their dismal performance in reading and math.

A poll of Millennials, out last week, found that 77% of these 18- to 34-year-olds could not name even one of their home state’s U.S. senators.

A 2012 survey of adults by Xavier University found that one in three native-born citizens failed the civics portion of a test given to immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship. The pass rate for immigrants: 97.5%.

The worst of all forms of teaching, except for all the others

Bodil Isaksen:

One can easily look at the concept of a didactic lesson and tear it apart. All the pupils know and can do different things. They will all pick up new concepts at different speeds. They will all require different amounts of practice to master a new skill. Nuthall found that pupils already knew 50% of what was taught. The problem is, they all knew differing parts of the domain. It’s not like you can cull 50% of the curriculum, because different pupils didn’t know different thing.

Whenever the teacher is talking, what they’re saying will be unnecessary to a certain portion of the class. This sounds like a real problem, right? Little Jonny already understands how to add fractions. Why are we making him listen to it being explained again?

Prescription: individualised instruction and eradicating teacher talk. The drive for overwhelming differentiation and reduced explicit instruction does, in part, seem to have its roots in this noble aim not to waste pupils’ time listening to stuff that’s too hard or too easy*. All they want is for everyone to be in the goldilocks zone of optimal porridge temperature.

When Children With Autism Grow Up

Bob Plantenberg:

The heat that afternoon was intense. Weather maps across Iowa were deep red, and warnings flashed across the screen. A high school football player on the other side of the state had died from heat exhaustion the week before. Cornfields wilted and shrank into hills of despondent brown.

I was running late as I parked and shuffled to a dilapidated satellite classroom building. I introduced myself to a teacher sitting at a desk and told him that I was there to meet a 21-year-old man named “Scooter” — a childhood nickname, I’d later learn, that had stuck. (I’ve changed all names and some details to protect him and to comply with privacy laws.) I needed a summer job after my first year of grad school, and he needed staff.

My experience with autism had been limited to movies and anecdotes from friends who worked in “the field” — care industry shorthand for post-institutional residential and community-living nonprofits supporting people with developmental disabilities. (“We’re always looking,” the agency had said, and hired me without any sort of drug screening and a cursory, astonishingly fast background check. The drug screening was my only concern while filling out applications.)

Problem’s Swirl Around Wisconsin’s next student test….

Erin Richards:

Costs to administer the new test have gone millions of dollars over budget. And administrators learned last week that a key technological feature of the new test — its ability to adapt to students’ individual ability levels by offering harder or easier questions as they take the exam — won’t be ready this spring.

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction officials are downplaying the concerns.

“(It’s) a good test. It’s reliable,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers, while acknowledging the exam has turned out to be pricier than anticipated.

District superintendents are more critical. The timeline the Legislature approved for switching to a new exam tied to the Common Core standards this academic year has districts bearing the brunt of political and technological hangups with the test.

“If we administer this for one year only, which is likely, why are we shifting?” said Patricia Greco, superintendent of the Menomonee Falls School District. “We’re putting staff and students through a lot of change for a shift to a test that probably won’t produce the results we expected.”

The chinks in the armor of the new exam are coming to light at the same time that Walker has shifted his position on Common Core — again. Walker has had a complicated relationship with the standards, ranging from tacit early approval to an explicit call for their repeal last summer.

Now he’s eased away from throwing out the standards to booting the examination tied to them.

Wisconsin’s WKCE has long been criticized for its lack of rigor. Yet, we continue.

School Vouchers have new champions on the Hill

Maggie Severns:

At Republicans’ recent retreat, Messer listened to GOP strategist Alex Castellanos promote school choice as one of a handful of issues that should make up a new agenda for the party.

“I thought, oh gosh — maybe I’m onto something here,” Messer said.

School choice has always been a hard sell in Washington: GOP lawmakers from rural states and those with powerful unions don’t stand to gain much from pushing the issue. In wealthier districts, too, parents may not feel they have much to gain if they are satisfied with their well-funded public schools. Other members of Congress don’t see why it’s worth the time.

“It’s an interesting challenge: Republicans believe this will be good for vulnerable kids and kids that need help,” said Frederick Hess, education policy director at the American Enterprise Institute. “But it’s also a fact that their local superintendents, and school boards, and kids, and parents are saying, ‘We don’t think this is a good idea’ in many cases.”

Was Larry Summers Right about Women in Science and Math?

Richard Bradley:

As NPR reports, a childhood friend of his, Eileen Pollack, a former scientist and now a teacher of creative writing at the University of Michigan, has written a book exploring why there are so few women in STEM fields relative to men.

After Summers’ infamous 2005 speech on the subject—a watershed in his disastrous Harvard presidency—Pollack, who knew Summers in high school, sat down to write him a long email explaining why he was wrong to suggest that women had less genetic aptitude for math and science than men do. Pollack, who says that she always considered Summers an admirer of smart women, thought he had gone very wrong on this one. The email grew into the book, The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science is Still a Boys Club. (The book is blurbed, by the way, by MIT prof Nancy Hopkins, who stood up and walked out of that Summers speech, one of the main reasons why it got as much attention as did.)

Pollack argues that the primary reason for the lack of women in STEM is still a lack of support from more senior figures in those fields, and from their own peers—an explanation that certainly sounds much more credible than the idea that male and female brains are hardwired differently. (As I recall, Summers also suggested that those fields are so competitive, many women would have trouble succeeding at their highest levels because of greater family obligations, whether due to choice or social mores.)

There are two models of online education

Sam Gerstanzang:

1. Preparatory knowledge, in the form of course-based video-delivered teachings: Coursera, Udacity, Thinkful, etc.

2. On demand knowledge: Wikipedia, StackOverflow, Genius, etc.

Of the two, the latter has been much more widely spread and far more influential.

What works about on demand knowledge is that it is pull based (the knowledge you need, when you need it) and comes in digestible chunks. Unlike MOOCs, which are consumed far in advance of the knowledge being applied, Wikipedia and StackOverflow are the knowledge you need, now. Humans are lazy and working ahead requires discipline and foresight, which makes on demand knowledge far more appealing to most.

Why we are saying “uh” less and ‘um’ more

Ari Daniel Shapiro:

“It does seem to be the case that ‘um’ generally signals a longer or more important pause than ‘uh’,” says Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania.

At least that’s what he thought.

Liberman has been studying these so-called “filled pauses” for almost a decade, and he has made a rather curious discovery.

“As Americans get older, they use ‘uh’ more,” he says. “And at every age, men use ‘uh’ more than women.”

If you look at “um”, exactly the opposite is true. Younger people say “um” more often than older people. And no matter the age, women say “um” more than men. Nobody, not even the linguists, were expecting this result; until they studied these hesitations, they thought it was more about the amount of time a speaker hesitates than who that speaker is.

How to Raise a University’s Profile: Pricing and Packaging

Kevin Carey:

One day in 2013, I sat down in a Starbucks in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington with Hugh Moren, then a junior at the nearby George Washington University. I asked him how much money he was borrowing to go to college.

“Eighty-two thousand dollars,” he said. “By the time I graduate, a hundred ten.”

The number shocked me, but not as much as the way it didn’t shock him.

Hugh Moren was born in Warwick, R.I., and like generations of smart young people raised in the country’s decaying industrial towns, he spent his adolescence plotting to leave. He wanted to study international relations and get a degree from a university with a good reputation. But his family didn’t have any money, and tuition, fees and room and board at George Washington ran almost $60,000 a year. So he borrowed as much as the federal government would lend him and went to private lenders like Sallie Mae to borrow more.

“I was given an institution and told, ‘Make this place better, and by the way, be embarrassed that you’re not Georgetown,’” says Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, former president of the George Washington University.
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Politics and Academics in China

Bill Bishop:

Tackling the academy was thus the next logical step. According to the January Central Committee Document, universities are to put a higher priority on teaching (research is only mentioned insofar it concerns Marxist and Socialist theory), strengthen a common ideological basis and enhance Party leadership in higher education. Political theory courses and textbooks are to be centralized, and new evaluation and performance management systems introduced, in order to standardize the curriculum. Teaching staff will be required to participate in regular ideology training and study sessions, and to spend time engaging in “social practice” outside campuses. In the weeks since this document was published, the heads of all elite education institutions have published pledges of allegiance in various Party media.

There are quite a few reasons why the academy is targeted. First, it has internationalized more than any other professional group in China. Many well-regarded Chinese professors have either been educated abroad, or have spent considerable time outside China as visiting researchers. This considerable time spent living in a different political environment has provided them with a more nuanced understanding of social and political organization in other countries than can be gained in short trips. Second, they have considerable input into policymaking processes. China’s technocratic governance mode has often valued expert input more than public participation. This, therefore, provides academics with avenues to transform imported ideas into reality. Third, “patriotic worrying” is a part of Chinese intellectual tradition, which compels academics to relentlessly search out flaws in the China of the present in order to perfect the China of the future. Fourth, as educators, they are crucial in shaping the worldview of a new generation. However, the current generation of millennials (balinghou and jiulinghou) is already seen as rebellious and hedonistic, and it seems the leadership has decided that they’d better not be further confused. Remember: political protests in China over the last century, from May Fourth to Tiananmen, have tended to originate from universities. [Editors note: Pang Xianzhi, the former Director of the CPC Central Committee Party Literature Research Center, recently said this explicitly in 关于意识形态问题的一些看法, an essay that was republished on People’s Daily Online. Pang wrote “历史经验证明,出事往往从高校而起.” ]

It’s Etch A Sketch time in Wisconsin for education policy

Alan Borsuk:

Every two years for the last couple decades or so, the governor and Legislature pick up the state education policy Etch A Sketch, turn it over, shake it and draw a new picture. The game also goes by the name of the biennial budget process.

In days gone by, the new picture often wasn’t all that different from the old one. Some new money here, some new rules on how to spend it, some new patterns for what was expected from kids. There were sometimes bigger deals, like in the mid-90s when it was decided to hold down how much school districts could spend and how much teacher compensation could go up in exchange for the state paying more of the total bill.

With the rise of private school vouchers starting in Milwaukee, state budget season became prime time for controversy over changing the rules on money, accountability and who could participate.

Then came 2011. Whoa, what an Etch A Sketch event that was. Take the whole system of teacher unions and contracts, turn it over, shake — presto, the screen was blank. Amazing. In the new etching, school spending was cut and teachers bore the brunt by paying more for health and retirement benefits.

Do our obsessions with maths add up?

The Times of London:

Opinions differ over Alice Thomson’s belief that a good grounding in the basics is sufficient

Sir, Mathematics is not just about learning multiplication tables and algebra (“This obsession with maths doesn’t add up”, Opinion, Feb 4). Taught well, mathematics ignites curiosity and encourages confidence and creativity — the very qualities that Alice Thomson rightly points out we should nurture in Britain.

The scientific and mathematical thinking learnt in the classroom — logical and critical thinking, problem-solving — is vital in the real world and is much desired by employers. If we want an effective democratic society, people must be capable of balancing the benefits and risks of new science and be able to reason mathematically. The Royal Society

Camden Update: “Our Students Have the Potential to Change the World”

Laura Waters:

I graduated from Camden schools, and the quality of the education my children were getting has been far below what I received. I’m glad that the District is finally making some changes, and I’m glad that parents like me have more and better options to choose from.
That’s Camden parent Mary Jane Timbe, an alumna of Camden Public Schools who has a child at Mastery North Camden and another at Woodrow Wilson High School. She made that comment at Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard’s “State of the Schools” report yesterday at Woodrow Wilson High School.

Indeed, the district, New Jersey’s neediest, concurs with Ms. Timbe’s assessment. Superintendent Rouhanifard, appointed eighteen months ago when the State took over the long-failing district, noted in this most recent of his quarterly updates to the community, that “the School District is falling short. He went on to itemize the steps he will take to move the district forward, particularly at the high school level and with student and staff engagement.”

There is good news to report, although Rouhanifard was careful to note that the occasion of his update to the community “is not a celebration, but a public accounting.” Graduation rates are up 6%. Students feel significantly safer in the hallways and bathrooms. High school freshmen and sophomores are beginning to spend more time on reading and math and the district is in the midst of overhauling its vocational programs. (According to the Star Ledger, “absolutely zero high school students earned a vocational program certificate last year, despite hundreds of students enrolled in vocational education classes.”) Next week the Rouhanifard will begin a series of “Teacher Roundtables” and the week after that he’ll launch “Student Leader Roundtables” in order to enhance collaboration with stakeholders.

Chicago’s schools Hard work rewarded Rahm Emanuel’s school reforms are working

The Economist:

Some of the toughest decisions Mr Emanuel had to make in his first term concerned schools. He demanded merit pay for teachers and a longer school day (Chicago’s was only 5 hours 45 minutes) and earmarked for closure 50 half-empty schools in poor districts. Teachers went on strike for the first time in 25 years, but Mr Emanuel got the longer day and the closures went ahead in 2013. The teachers kept their seniority-based pay system.

Mr Emanuel ploughed some of the money saved by closures into charter schools, which made him even more unpopular with the teachers’ unions. But charter schools have worked well in Chicago. The Noble Network, which already runs 16 charter high schools with 10,000 pupils and plans to have 20,000 by 2020, has an attendance rate of 94% (compared with 73% for Chicago public schools) and a drop-out rate of only 0.4% (compared with 4.7%). It also gets better results on the ACT, a college-readiness test. It has an even higher percentage of minority students (98% compared with 92% at Chicago public schools), and slightly less public funding.

States weigh turning education funds over to parents

Stephanie Simon:

A radical new concept in school choice will come up for vote in at least a half-dozen states from Virginia to Oklahoma in the coming months, as lawmakers consider giving hundreds of thousands of parents the freedom to design a custom education for their children — at taxpayer expense.

Twenty-one states already subsidize tuition at private schools through vouchers or tax credits. The new programs promise far more flexibility, but critics fear they could also lead to waste or abuse as taxpayers underwrite do-it-yourself educations with few quality controls.

Called Education Savings Accounts, the programs work like this: The state deposits the funds it would have spent educating a given child in public schools into a bank account controlled by his parents. The parents can use those funds — the amount ranges from $5,000 to more than $30,000 a year — to pay for personal tutors, homeschooling workbooks, online classes, sports team fees and many types of therapy, including horseback riding lessons for children with disabilities. They can also spend the money on private school tuition or save some of it for college.

Calling a spade a spade: Mathematics in the new pattern of division of labour

Alexandre Borovik:

The growing disconnection of the majority of the population from mathematics is increasingly difficult to ignore.

This paper focuses on the socio-economic roots of this cultural and social phe- nomenon which are not usually mentioned in public debates. I concentrate on math- ematics education, as an important and well documented area of interaction of math- ematics with the rest of human culture.

New patterns of division of labour have dramatically changed the nature and role of mathematical skills needed for the labour force and correspondingly changed the place of mathematics in popular culture and in mainstream education. The forces that drive these changes come from the tension between the ever deepening special- isation of labour and ever increasing length of specialised learning required for jobs at the increasingly sharp cutting edge of technology.

How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science

Claire Cain Miller:

We know that women are underrepresented in math and science jobs. What we don’t know is why it happens.

There are various theories, and many of them focus on childhood. Parents and toy-makers discourage girls from studying math and science. So do their teachers. Girls lack role models in those fields, and grow up believing they wouldn’t do well in them.

All these factors surely play some role. A new study points to the influence of teachers’ unconscious biases, but it also highlights how powerful a little encouragement can be. Early educational experiences have a quantifiable effect on the math and science courses the students choose later, and eventually the jobs they get and the wages they earn.

K-12 Governance Stasis

Peter Thiel:

Why has this happened? Let me give both a libertarian and a conservative answer. The libertarian answer is that we have basically outlawed everything in the world of atoms but have left the world of bits mostly unregulated. It costs $100,000 to start a computer software company; it costs $1 billion to get a new drug approved through the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore it’s not surprising that we live in a world where people start video game companies rather than work on drugs that would save people’s lives. There is an extraordinary regulatory double standard.

From a more conservative perspective, there is the sense that we have become a more risk-averse society. We have lost hope for the future. I think this has seeped in in many subtle ways.

Among both libertarians and conservatives there exists a bias that the government can’t do things. But this isn’t absolutely true. The government succeeded with the Manhattan Project in the 1940s. It succeeded with the Apollo program, putting man on the moon.

Now we’re at a point where we can’t even get a website for Obamacare.

Whatever you think of the morality of nuclear weapons, building an atomic bomb is a far harder undertaking than building a website. We should not let our ideological biases obscure the objective decline that has happened.

The Techies Who Are Hacking Education by Homeschooling Their Kids

Jason Tanz:

A couple of weeks ago, I wandered into the hills north of the UC Berkeley campus and showed up at the door of a shambling Tudor that was filled with lumber and construction equipment. Samantha Matalone Cook, a work-at-home mom in flowing black pants and a nose ring, showed me around. Cook and her family had moved into the house in April and were in the middle of an ambitious renovation. “Sorry,” Cook said, “I didn’t tell you we were in a construction zone.” A construction zone, it turns out, that doubles as a classroom.

We walked into the living room where Cook’s two sons, Parker and Simon, were sitting on the couch, silently scribbling. The boys, aged 12 and 10, had the air of young Zuckerbergs-in-training. Babyfaced and freshly scrubbed, they spoke with a somewhat awkward and adenoidal lilt and wore sweatshirts with the hoods flipped up and no shoes. The room around them was chaos—piles of art supplies were stacked around the floor and paint samples were smeared next to the doorways. The family’s two dogs, Dakota and Kaylee, wrestled loudly over a chew toy. The sound of pounding construction equipment drifted in from the basement. And yet the boys were focused on what I soon learned were math workbooks—prealgebra for Parker, a collection of monster-themed word problems for Simon.

The Cook boys are homeschooled, have been ever since their parents opted not to put them in kindergarten. Samantha’s husband Chris never liked school himself; as a boy, he preferred fiddling on his dad’s IBM PC to sitting in a classroom. After three attempts at college, he found himself unable to care about required classes like organic chemistry and dropped out to pursue a career in computers. It paid off; today he is the lead systems administrator at Pandora. Samantha is similarly independent-minded—she blogs about feminism, parenting, art technology, and education reform and has started a network of hackerspaces for kids. So when it came time to educate their own children, they weren’t in any hurry to slot them into a traditional school.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The College Loan Bombshell Hidden in the Budget Obama’s new repayment program comes with a record $22 billion shortfall.

Michael Grunwald:

In obscure data tables buried deep in its 2016 budget proposal, the Obama administration revealed this week that its student loan program had a $21.8 billion shortfall last year, apparently the largest ever recorded for any government credit program.

The main cause of the shortfall was President Barack Obama’s recent efforts to provide relief for borrowers drowning in student debt, reforms that have already begun to reduce loan payments to the government. For more than two decades, budget analysts have recalculated the projected costs of about 120 credit programs every year, but they have never lowered their expectations of repayments this dramatically. The $21.8 billion revision—larger than the annual budget for NASA, or the Interior Department and EPA combined—will be tacked onto the federal deficit.

“Wow,” marveled Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Whether or not it’s good policy to help borrowers with their payments, it’s obviously costly for taxpayers.”

The 40 million Americans with student loans are now saddled with more than $1.2 trillion in outstanding debt. And with higher education costs rising much faster than inflation, the already massive program has been growing at a spectacular clip; direct government loans alone increased 44 percent over the last two years despite an aura of austerity in Washington. The Obama administration has tried to ease the burden for some borrowers by reducing their payments to 10 percent of their income and forgiving their loans after 20 years; this year, the Education Department plans to make all borrowers eligible for that “pay-as-you-earn” relief.

K-12 Tax, Spending & Referendum Climate: Global Debt has risen by $57 Trillion Since the Financial Crisis

Neil Irwin:

Here are two things we know about how debt affects the economy.

First, in the abstract it doesn’t matter. For every debtor there is a creditor, and in theory an economy should be able to hum along just fine whether a country’s citizens have a great deal of debt or none. A company’s ability to produce things depends on the workers and machines it employs, not the composition of its balance sheet, and the same can be said of nations.

Second, in practice this is completely wrong, and debt plays an outsize role in creating boom-bust cycles across the world and through history. High debt increases the amplitude of economic swings. To think of it in terms of the corporate metaphor, high reliance on borrowed money may not affect a company’s level of output in theory, but makes it a great deal more vulnerable to bankruptcy.

A Case for Lifelong Kindergarten

Tina Berseghian:

Could it be that the best way to learn happens in kindergarten? It’s an intriguing proposition, one that’s being explored at M.I.T. by folks like Mitch Resnick, the creator of the famous computer programming site for beginners called Scratch.

Resnick brought up the idea last week at the New York Times’ School for Tomorrow summit, and proclaimed that “schools should be on the edge of chaos,” a comment that lit up the Twitterverse.

Resnick is one of three recipients, including Robert Beichner, a physics professor at North Carolina State University, and Julie Young, president of Florida Virtual School, of the McGraw Prize in Education. The three of them worked on a paper that exemplifies how technology should work seamlessly with learning.

College Marketing Madness

Laura Pappano:

What is college? To Madison Comer, a confident 6-year-old, it is a very big place. “It’s tall,” she explained, outlining the head of Tuffy, the North Carolina State mascot, with a gray crayon. “It’s like high school but it’s higher.”

Elizabeth Mangan, who plans to be a veterinarian because she loves her puppy, pointed out that she, too, would attend North Carolina State. “Me and Madison are going to the same college,” she said.

And what is college? “It’s someplace where you go to get your career.”

Political Posturing

Karen Herzog:

UW System leaders also lobbied for up to $200 million in one-time state money “until we have full tuition authority.” That would have reduced the cut to $100 million over two years, instead of the $300 million Walker will propose when he releases full details of his budget Tuesday.

In mid-November, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank contacted a top Walker donor and friend of UW-Madison to seek his help, according to an email she sent Nov. 15 to the UW System’s key communications and political strategist, Jim Villa, Vice Chancellor for University Relations.

Blank referred to the donor, Mike Shannon, as “one of our best friends and donors” and said she planned to fly with him and “other UW-Madison folks” to the Packers game the next day, adding “Scott and Tonette Walker are supposed to be along on the trip as well.”

Shannon is founder of KSL Capital Partners LLC in Denver,

and a board member for the University of Wisconsin Foundation.

“As he said to me, ‘I’ve been a really big donor to the Wi Republican party, but I’ve never asked anything of them since I live outside the state,'” Blank recounted to Villa.

In another email exchange between Villa and UW System President Ray Cross on Jan. 8, Villa outlined budget projections, the political landscape and strategies and options intended to be used as “notes for regent phone calls.”

“Our political strategies over the decade have varied in style and purpose from collaborative to hostile,” Villa said in the email. “We have tried to engage, cajole, prod, threaten, beg, and even initiate a statewide marketing effort. Yet, we have lost influence and suffered continuous budget cuts.”

Villa noted that UW over the past year had worked “to more tightly connect some aspects of the university to the state economy.” While those efforts received positive comments, he said, “when the state’s budget projections became dismal, our request to invest in and help to rebuild the economy of the state was tossed aside… We need a new strategy!”

K-12 Tax, Referendum & Spending Climate

John Judis:

Jerry is in his late 50s. He is a sales representative in Southern Maryland for a multinational corporation. He has a college degree and makes about $80,000 a year. He considers himself a “moderate Democrat.” He voted for Obama in 2008 and O’Malley in 2010. He says of Obama in 2008, “He was a breath of fresh air.” But after Obama became president, Jerry became disillusioned. He didn’t like Obama’s stimulus program. “I really think Obama messed up with all the money that we were giving out,” he said. He suspects that both Obama and O’Malley primarily gave the money to “their constituencies”—most notably, labor unions. In 2012, Jerry voted for Romney, whom he admired as a “businessman.” In 2014, he voted for Hogan. Taxes were an important reason. “Every year I seemed to pay more with Maryland state taxes,” he explained. “I am not happy with what is happening with the taxes. I don’t seem to be getting anything more from them.” Brown, he feared, would continue along the same line as O’Malley. “Hogan seemed to have the message,” he said.

Connie is in her mid-40s, a college graduate and a paralegal at a property-management firm. She lives in north Baltimore County. She was a Democrat until a month before last November’s election, and she voted for Obama in 2008 and O’Malley in 2010. In 2012, having become disillusioned with Obama, she voted for Romney. “I was disenchanted. [Obama] made a lot of promises. I have just seen our country turn around and go backwards,” she said. “I work in property management. The number of young people living on entitlement programs is overwhelming to me. I have seen it increase as never before.” Last November, she voted for Hogan. “I was upset with the number of taxes that I was being hit with as a single parent,” she explained. “We are overspending, and someone needs to get a handle on it, and perhaps a businessman was the best person to do that.” Connie supports abortion rights, but she thought Brown misrepresented Hogan’s position. “Hogan is not for repealing anything,” she said. She characterized Brown’s attempt to paint Hogan as a foe of abortion rights as a “political jab.” Hogan’s antiabortion position “didn’t bother me,” she said.

James is in his early 30s, a college graduate and a coordinator of services at a university in Southern Maryland. He lives in Howard County. He is one of the millennial voters on whom Democrats have rested their hopes. He voted for Obama twice and O’Malley in 2010, but in 2014, he backed Hogan. “I didn’t entirely like Hogan,” James said. “But I liked the idea of reining in spending.” He also thinks there was “some point” to Hogan’s attack on Brown as a tax-hiker. “The important thing with Brown is that he was likely to spend money. That would mean more taxes,” he said. James rejects the idea that Republicans are antigovernment. “Republicans are skeptical of government,” he told me.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Global Debt Levels Change the Economic Environment

Mike Hugman:

Moreover, the debt overhang (see chart 2) in many developed and in some emerging countries is dead weight on growth and inflation. In many major emerging markets, the slower economic expansion has been primarily noncyclical. Price pressures are wilting under the impact of cumulative demographic trends in many large economies, especially in Europe and Asia. The effect of aging populations so far conforms to theoretical predictions of slower potential growth and lower household savings rates, but in practice, the latter is being offset by the strong desire to save by companies and governments.

Education minister warns against “wrong Western values”

Xinhua:

A Chinese newspaper has published an article by the country’s education minister in which he warns of textbooks with “wrong Western values” and claims college students and teachers are targets of infiltration by “hostile forces.”

Yuan Guiren’s article was carried by Monday’s edition of China Education Daily, which is affiliated to the Ministry of Education, and comes after Yuan told college officials last week to “never let textbooks promoting Western values appear in our classes” and asked them to have more oversight of textbooks and materials directly taken from Western countries.

Teacher Evaluation Plan Draws New Support

Caroline Porter:

A coalition of teacher-preparation groups came out at the last minute to support a controversial federal plan to track how well new teachers fare as they start teaching in the classroom.

While the groups represent a small segment of the teaching profession—only about 80,000 teachers out of millions—the move sets up a showdown with traditional players in the field.

Teachers become certified in a variety of ways, often at undergraduate- and graduate-level colleges of education. Educators and administrators at such schools have raised questions about federal overreach, the practicality of trying to keep track of every teacher’s pathway after finishing training and the accuracy of relying on metrics to grade the programs.

Urban Teacher Center, Teach For America and seven additional alternative-certification programs planned to say on Monday that proposed rules by the U.S. Education Department, intended to weed out poor teacher-training programs, are essential to improving schools.

Much more, here.

A Newark Mother of Ten Children Explains Why Her Children Need Charter Schools

Laura Waters:

Shayvonne Anderson , a Newark mother of ten children who range in age from five to eighteen, explains in the Star-Ledger today why she sends her children to charter schools. Among all the complaints about charter schools from lobbying groups like NJEA, Save Our Schools-NJ, and Education Law Center – they discriminate against children with special needs, they practice a “drill and kill” pedagogy, they drain money from traditional schools — we rarely hear from parents on the ground.

Ms. Anderson skewers those complaints. At least three of her children have “unique learning needs,” yet they are well-served by several Newark Charter schools:

Testing Costs a Drop in the Bucket

Matthew M. Chingos:

The cost of standardized tests, long assailed by testing critics as too high, has resurfaced in the debate over reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act currently underway in Congress. The National Education Association (NEA) has argued that funds spent on testing could be “better spent on high-quality early childhood education, health care, after-school programs, and support services.” Recently, the New Jersey Education Association released poll results indicating that a majority of voters and parents think that “too much money is spent on testing.”

Testing critics usually point to estimates of total spending on assessments; a commonly cited figure—$1.7 billion spent by states each year—comes from a report I wrote in 2012. [1] But what these claims always miss is that, however calculated, spending on testing is barely a drop in the bucket of a public education system that spends over $600 billion per year.

If testing were eliminated entirely, what could schools do with the $1.7 billion saved? Very little, it turns out. Teacher salaries could be increased by one percent or pupil-teacher ratios could be reduced by 0.1 students. The $34 per student spent by states on federally and state-mandated tests simply isn’t very much in a system that spends about $10,000 per student. Put in the context of the NEA position, $34 per student would not buy very much early childhood education—only eight hours of preschool per student in Florida to be exact. [2]

Lessons for higher education reformers

:

In response to growing concerns about the US higher education system, policymakers have launched a range of efforts to improve the system’s quality. But this
is easier said than done. The system is populated with a diverse array of programs offered through a mix of public, nonprofit, and for-profit providers. Further- more, the outcomes that students and the public care about are frequently difficult to measure and are integrally tied to the characteristics and behavior of students themselves. All these factors confound efforts to improve quality.

In reality, however, numerous sectors suffer from these challenges in one way or another. Policymakers should, therefore, look to learn from efforts to ensure quality, accountability, and consumer protection in these other sectors. In that spirit, this paper examines four sectors that face many of these same challenges: health care (with a focus on transparency efforts), workforce development (specifically, the system’s long-standing emphasis on outcome measurement and accountability), charter schools (a model of deregula- tion and delegated oversight), and housing finance (an example of risk sharing).

Free speech? Not at four in five UK universities

Louise Tickle:

When Professor Thomas Scotto, of Essex University’s department of government, invited Israel’s deputy ambassador to give a talk to political science students, he hoped for “lots of disagreement: that the speaker would express his views and that the students would challenge him”.

Instead, a noisy protest outside the venue ramped up into an attempt to storm the building, students in the lecture theatre heckled the Israeli diplomat, and it became impossible for him to begin. With feelings running high, university security said they could no longer guarantee the speaker’s safety. The event had to be abandoned.

Celebrate statistics as a vital part of democracy

The Guardian:

From reading your editorial on the use of statistics in political debate (30 January) your readers might have come away with the impression that no numbers in the public arena can be trusted. They would be wrong. Of course statistics will be abused in the runup to an election. But the underlying quality of UK statistics (such as our census, our health statistics or even the new figures on wellbeing) is very high. And they quietly play an important role to help inform lots of day-to-day decisions: Where do we need new transport links? Who is at risk of flooding? Which medicines might work?

U.S. students improving – slowly – in math and science, but still lagging internationally

Drew Desilver:

Scientists and the general public have markedly different views on any number of topics, from evolution to climate change to genetically modified foods. But one thing both groups agree on is that science and math education in the U.S. leaves much to be desired.

In a new Pew Research Center report, only 29% of Americans rated their country’s K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM) as above average or the best in the world. Scientists were even more critical: A companion survey of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that just 16% called U.S. K-12 STEM education the best or above average; 46%, in contrast, said K-12 STEM in the U.S. was below average.

Standardized test results appear to largely bear out those perceptions. While U.S. students are scoring higher on national math assessments than they did two decades ago (data from science tests are sketchier), they still rank around the middle of the pack in international comparisons, and behind many other advanced industrial nations.

Is College Worth it?

Danielle Paquette:

Earlier this month, after announcing his plan to make community college free, President Obama lauded a college degree as “the surest ticket to the middle class.”

New research in the prolific field of “Is College Worth It?” suggests it’s not that simple.

“‘Ticket’ implies a college degree is something you can just cash in,” said Alan Benson, assistant business professor at the University of Minnesota. “But it doesn’t work that way. A college degree is more of a stepping stone, one ingredient to consider when you’re cooking up your career. … It’s not always the best investment for everyone.”

Benson, along with M.I.T.’s Frank Levy and business analyst Raimundo Esteva, co-authored a new paper, released this week, examining the value of public university options in California. Factors like how long it takes to complete a degree — often longer than four years — and whether students make it to graduation, he learned, can significantly diminish the value of pursuing higher education.

Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Susan Pinker:

PRESIDENT OBAMA’s domestic agenda, which he announced in his State of the Union address this month, has a lot to like: health care, maternity leave, affordable college. But there was one thing he got wrong. As part of his promise to educate American children for an increasingly competitive world, he vowed to “protect a free and open Internet” and “extend its reach to every classroom and every community.”

More technology in the classroom has long been a policy-making panacea. But mounting evidence shows that showering students, especially those from struggling families, with networked devices will not shrink the class divide in education. If anything, it will widen it.

The Dance of the Disrupted: Observations from the education front lines

Aswath Damodaran:

Each option has its pluses and minuses. My site will include everything I offer my regular class, including emails and announcements but it is an online site without any bells and whistles. The iTunes U site is the most polished in terms of offerings, but there is no forum for interaction and requires more work if you don’t have an Apple device. Yellowdig is a new add-on to my menu and it is a site where you will be able to access the classes and material and hopefully interact with others in the class. (You will have to register on Yellowdig and it is restrictive on what email addresses it will accept.) YouTube is the least broadband-intensive forum, since the file size adjusts to your device, but you will be able to get only the class videos (and not the material).

If you are wondering why I would disrupt businesses that I am part of, I have three responses. The first is that, with four children, I am a consumer of the products/services of these businesses and I am sick and tired of paying what I do for textbooks, college tuition and minor financial services. The second is that it is so much more fun being a disruptor than the disrupted and being in a defensive posture for the rest of my life does not appeal to me. The third is that with Asia’s awakening, we face a challenge of huge numbers and the systems (education, public and financial services) as we know them don’t measure up.