Category Archives: Uncategorized

Arizona students at center of Border Patrol incident to face criminal charges

KOLD News:

The student can be heard comparing Border Patrol agents to the KKK.

“They allow murders on campus, where I pay to be,” she said. “This is supposed to be a safe space for students, but they allow an extension of the KKK into campus.”

Videos of the incident quickly made their rounds on social media. KOLD News 13 reached out to the student who filmed the encounter but she did not give us permission to use them. Other social media users, like the Lone Conservative, have posted copies of the video. You can see them HERE and HERE.

Why “Worthless” humanities degrees may set you up for life

Amanda Ruggeri:

At university, when I told people I was studying for a history degree, the response was almost always the same: “You want to be a teacher?”. No, a journalist. “Oh. But you’re not majoring in communications?”

In the days when a university education was the purview of a privileged few, perhaps there wasn’t the assumption that a degree had to be a springboard directly into a career. Those days are long gone.

Today, a degree is all but a necessity for the job market, one that more than halves your chances of being unemployed. Still, that alone is no guarantee of a job – and yet we’re paying more and more for one. In the US, room, board and tuition at a private university costs an average of $48,510 a year; in the UK, tuition fees alone are £9,250 ($12,000) per year for home students; in Singapore, four years at a private university can cost up to SGD$69,336 (US$51,000).

Learning for the sake of learning is a beautiful thing. But given those costs, it’s no wonder that most of us need our degrees to pay off in a more concrete way. Broadly, they already do: in the US, for example, a bachelor’s degree holder earns $461 more each week than someone who never attended a university.

Artist who hatched paint-by-numbers idea in Detroit dies at 93

John Seewer:

Dan Robbins, whose works were dismissed by some critics but later celebrated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, died Monday in Sylvania, Ohio, said his son, Larry Robbins. He was 93.

He had been in good health until a series of falls in recent months, his son said.

Robbins was working as a package designer for the Palmer Paint Company in Detroit when he came up with the idea for paint-by-numbers in the late 1940s. He said his inspiration came from Leonardo da Vinci.

“I remembered hearing that Leonardo used numbered background patterns for his students and apprentices, and I decided to try something like that,” Robbins said in 2004.

He showed his first attempt – an abstract still life – to his boss, Max Klein, who promptly told Robbins he hated it.

The Inclusive School Fighting China’s Stigma Against Autism

Ni Dandan:

For once, the kindergarten classroom in Dongguan is quiet. Around the room, 28 young children nap on small single beds. When their teachers gently wake them in the early afternoon, Duan Yiyang stretches, removes his eye mask, and exchanges his pajamas for his orange school uniform.

Like most of his peers here, 5-year-old Duan is a gentle, polite kid. He patiently waits in line for afternoon dessert, compliments his classmates on their drawings, and pays close attention to his teachers. Only small details indicate that Duan has autism. The eye mask, for instance, blocks out any light that stops him from sleeping — a common problem among autistic children, who tend to find it harder to nod off than other kids. When he speaks, Duan tends to use simpler language than his peers and sometimes fails to complete his sentences. On rare occasions, he loses his temper and becomes disruptive.

Duan, who was diagnosed with a mild form of autism spectrum disorder at 2 years old, is now in his second year at Dongguan Yulan Experimental Kindergarten, known locally as “Yulan.” The public preschool is the only facility in the southern Chinese city that offers so-called integrated education — a model that has preschoolers without special needs learn, play, and socialize alongside those receiving support for certain conditions. Of the 160 kids enrolled here, 18 require extra learning support due to autism and other conditions, like cerebral palsy, and hearing disabilities. This relatively high ratio means that each class of around 30 children accommodates two or three with special needs.

What’s needed to restock the ranks of talented teachers is more Alyssa Molinskis


The number of people making second career decisions to go into teaching or coming to teaching from unconventional backgrounds has increased, and that is, overall, a good thing.

But a lot of teachers are needed now and will be needed in coming years and the mainstream way to get into teaching — go to college, major in education, go to work in a school — remains important.

UW looks to improve teacher pipeline

The University of Wisconsin System has created a task force to recommend ways to improve the pipeline.

The session at UWM was sort of an open-microphone night for those who are concerned. Speakers were mostly people involved in the field, not all of them at UWM. They voiced support for more financial aid for students, more partnerships in developing teachers, more encouragement for people to become teachers, fewer bureaucratic barriers.

You’re trying to push a string unless more is done to improve the working situations in schools, one speaker warned. “There’s got to be something to go to that’s attractive,” he said.

Commentary on Wisconsin Act 10

CJ Safir and Collin Roth

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery “The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” the dog that didn’t bark reveals the greater truth. The same might be said of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’s first state budget proposal. Derided by critics as a “liberal wish list,” Mr. Evers’s budget proposes to expand Medicaid, freeze school choice, overturn right to work, fund Planned Parenthood, add more than 700 government jobs, increase spending by $7 billion, and raise taxes by more than $1 billion

Much more on Act 10, here

What They Don’t Teach You at the University of Washington’s Ed School

Nick Wilson:

I am not interested in politics or controversy, and I derive no pleasure in creating difficulties for the UW out of personal resentment. But whenever family and friends ask me about graduate school, I have to explain that rather than an academic program centered around pedagogy and public policy, STEP is a 12-month immersion in doctrinaire social justice activism. This program is a bizarre political experiment, light on academic rigor, in which the faculty quite consciously whips up emotions in order to punch home its ideological message. As a consequence, the key components of teaching as a vocation—pedagogy and how best to disseminate knowledge—are fundamentally neglected. With little practical training or preparation, graduates of the program begin their teaching careers woefully unprepared. Even for the most ardent social justice activist, STEP’s lack of practical content is a serious shortcoming. I found the program so troubling that I have decided to write this first-hand account with specific examples of the daily experience to illustrate how social justice activism in the academy has a high opportunity cost.

To put this in context, STEP’s approach to education deserves some explanation. Public schools haven’t done a great job of bridging ugly chasms in American life, such as the racial academic achievement gap between black and white populations, which has hardly narrowed since the Civil Rights Act. Discrimination based on gender and sexuality remain impediments to equality of opportunity and the way children are currently treated in public schools is clearly a part of that. The statistics on these matters are appalling, and slow progress is no excuse for complacency. Additionally, teachers should work to cultivate catholic tastes, and in light of demographic changes, white Americans shouldn’t expect the literature and old-fashioned narrative history of Europe and the United States to be considered the normal curriculum, with a few token “diverse” authors alongside Shakespeare and Hemingway. Nonetheless, while these challenges exist, and although public education is a vital mechanism in the struggle to resolve inequality and to further the development of an open cosmopolitan culture, the program’s attempts to address these issues are deeply disturbing.

Organized according to the standard tenets of social justice theory, anyone in the graduate school class who does not identify as a straight white male is encouraged from the outset to present themselves as a victim of oppression in the social hierarchy of the United States. And so a culture emerges rapidly in the 60-student cohort in which words and phrases fall under constant scrutiny, and ideas thought to be inimical to social justice are pounced on as oppressive. Moreover, instead of imparting knowledge about the rudiments of pedagogy or how to develop curriculum content and plan for high school classes, the faculty and leadership declare that their essential mission is to combat the colonialism, misogyny and homophobia that is endemic in American society. The logic here is that if teachers are immersed in social justice ideology they will then impart these ideas to young people at all levels of K-12 and post-secondary education. This lofty aim explains why the program focuses so heavily on training students in the discourse of far-left identity politics and why it demands total intellectual acquiescence. When you consider that STEP’s ostensible purpose is to prepare graduates to become novice high school teachers, this approach in a public university is difficult to justify.

The first three of STEP’s four quarters address social constructivism, postmodernism, and identity politics through flimsy and subjective content. With a few notable exceptions, the content one might expect to study at graduate school is absent. Although the classes have names like “Teaching for Learning,” “Creating Classrooms for All,” “Teaching in Schools,” and “Adolescent Psychology,” the vast majority of their content is essentially political. These classes are difficult to distinguish from one another, each experienced as a variation on the theme of imploring students to interpret every organization and social structure through the paradigms of power and oppression via gender, race, and sexuality. Students are expected to demonstrate that the attributes of their personal identity (always reduced to race, sexuality and gender, and sometimes disability status) will shape their assumptions when they work as classroom teachers. Practically speaking, the purpose is to have teachers acknowledge and embrace a broad variety of behavioral norms and activities in the classroom and to explore a wider range of academic content than has traditionally been the case in American public schools. Above all, the program emphasizes that diversity and inclusion are the most important considerations in education, and that equity—equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity—ought to be the primary goal of public policy.

Related: Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers.

Inside the Minds of Chinese Millennials

Wǒ Men Podcast

Karoline Kan is a second child born among the one child generation in 1989. In order to give birth to her, her mother hid from local officials for almost ten months. But the challenges didn’t end there — to her paternal grandparents, she was an unwanted girl, an idea that shadowed her whole childhood.

Yet she was also a lucky girl with a strong mother who pushed the family out of a remote Chinese village and completely changed Karoline’s life by providing her with the best education she could. In her late twenties, Karoline, a girl with humble background, became an author and international journalist for The New York Times.

Recently, she published Under Red Skies, widely touted as the first English-language memoir written by a Chinese millennial.

Civics: As vice president, Biden sought to remake the rules of sexual culture on college campuses and beyond. He succeeded—and now is suffering for it.

Emily Yoffe:

Joe Biden is now living in the world of accusation he helped to create. It is one of peril for the accused, in which they are subjected to expansive definitions of sexual misconduct and little benefit of the doubt. Biden helped to bring it about as the leader of the Obama administration’s cornerstone effort to end sexual assault at colleges and universities, a worthy undertaking that quickly spiraled into overreach. The goal, as Biden often says, was to remake sexual culture on campuses and in society at large—a goal that’s reached remarkable fruition in the #MeToo era. Now, as he mulls whether to enter the presidential race, Biden is finding himself ensnared by some of the doctrines he has advocated over the past several years.

In the past few days, Biden’s not-yet candidacy has been rocked by accusations of unwanted touching. Last week, Lucy Flores, a former Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of Nevada, said that at a campaign rally in 2014, the then-vice president, standing behind her, placed his hands on her shoulders, sniffed her hair and gave the back of her head a “big slow kiss.” A few days later, Democratic former congressional aide Amy Lappos said that at a 2009 event, Biden put his hands on her face, pulled her to him and rubbed his nose with hers. This week, two more women have come forward—a student who said he touched her thigh and hugged her “just a little bit too long,” and a writer who said his hand strayed from her shoulder and moved down her back before her husband intervened.

systemic failings at schools in poor neighborhoods are “the equivalent of child abuse.”

Erik Schatzker:

The solution, he argues, lies in better leadership at the “top of the country;” treating the wealth and income gap as a national emergency; a bipartisan commission to re-engineer the economic system; more accountability, presumably for elected officials; minimum standards for health care and education; some redistributive taxes on the wealthy; and more coordination of monetary and fiscal policy to stimulate growth.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Plan For The Internet Would Be A Disaster For Free Expression

David Harsanyi:

In a recent op-ed, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg implored the state to get more involved in governing the internet. “Every day, we make decisions about what speech is harmful, what constitutes political advertising, and how to prevent sophisticated cyberattacks,” he began. “These are important for keeping our community safe. But if we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t ask companies to make these judgments alone.”

Zuckerberg’s case for government-instituted speech codes is a cynical attempt to deflect criticism aimed at his company. But it’s also propelled by two corrosive political myths.

For starters, there’s no such a thing as “harmful speech.” There might be speech that offends us. There might be speech we disagree with. There’s also speech that’s inarguably ugly, dishonest, pornographic or despicable. “We” allow these unpleasant words to go largely unregulated because we value the broader liberty of being able to offer opinions without government censors dictating which thoughts are acceptable.

So if Zuckerberg wants to rid his platform of this “hate speech,” no one is stopping him. Facebook allegedly employs a number of new mechanisms to achieve this very task. Good luck.

Genome engineers made more than 13,000 CRISPR edits in a single cell

Antonio Regalado:

Since its invention, CRISPR has let scientists introduce DNA changes at specific locations in a genome. Often these precise changes are made one at a time.

Perhaps not for much longer. A team at Harvard University says it has used the technique to make 13,200 genetic alterations to a single cell, a record for the gene-editing technology.

The group, led by gene technologist George Church, wants to rewrite genomes at a far larger scale than has currently been possible, something it says could ultimately lead to the “radical redesign” of species—even humans.

Large-scale gene editing of this sort has been tried before. In 2017, an Australian team led by Paul Thomas peppered the Y chromosome of mice with edits and succeeded in blasting it out of existence. That strategy is being eyed as a potential treatment for Down syndrome, a genetic disorder caused by an extra chromosome.

To set the new gene-editing record, team members Oscar Castanon and Cory Smith aimed CRISPR at a type of DNA sequence called a LINE-1, a mysterious repetitive element found littered across the human genome. These genetic elements, which are able to copy themselves, are estimated to account for about 17% of our genome.

Civics: Republican Senators are Skating Awfully Close to White Christian Identity Politics

David Bernstein:

As readers may recall, Judge Neomi Rao’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals hit a snag when Senator Josh Hawley questioned her commitment to opposing “substantive due process” and whether her personal political views leaned toward being pro-choice. After significant pressure from conservative activists, the Trump administration, and, according to reports, personal reassurances from Rao’s former boss Justice Clarence Thomas regarding her conservative bona fides, Hawley relented and Rao was confirmed.

Jessie Liu, nominated to be associate attorney general, wasn’t so lucky. Opposition from Utah Senator Mike Lee killed her nomination, she withdrew on Friday.

According to his spokesman, Lee opposed Jessie Liu’s nomination to be associate attorney general because of “questions about her record on life issues.” The only basis provided for concluding that Liu might be pro-choice is Liu’s prior affiliation with the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), which opposed Sam Alito’s 2005 nomination to the Supreme Court based in part on concerns about reproductive rights. NAWL is a professional development organization, whose slogan is “Empowering Women in the Legal Profession Since 1899.” Any statements it makes related to abortion are tangential to its mission. Liu said that she played no role in the decision to oppose Alito’s nomination, and no one contradicted her assertion.

WSU teaches students how to handle College Republicans at bias training

Ben McDonald :

Washington State University’s Bias Advisory Response Team planned two de-escalation trainings in late March and early April with the purpose of trying to help students learn how to manage public encounters like a recent College Republicans event.

WSU Police Sgt. Dawn Daniels helped set up the event because she thought it was necessary given the rise of “programs that are controversial,” The Daily Evergreen reported.

Why Austin’s Schools Aren’t Working For Students Of Color

Claire McInerny:

Last year, only a third of the 557 students met grade level in all subjects, compared to 52 percent in the district overall. Nearly 65 percent of Overton students were English-language learners, and 93 percent came from low-income households. Only a handful of them were white.

A year ago, she stood in the middle of her fourth-grade classroom, breaking the students into small groups for a language arts lesson.

To prepare for an upcoming STAAR test, Wilson had the students practice reading comprehension. The kids in one group didn’t understand the phrase “well known,” so she walked them through some examples.

“Let’s think of Beyonce; she’s well known,” Wilson said. “What’s another word for that?”

“Famous,” a student responded.

Related: Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers.

What to expect from the 2019 Madison School Board

Christina Gomez Schmidt:

With the spring election over, what should we as a community now expect of the Madison School Board?

Its role is to provide consistent leadership and direction that results in every student receiving the best education possible. Genuine collaboration is needed among these seven people to tackle the complex problems in our schools. They don’t have to agree on every issue, but they can provide for and model vigorous public debate of issues, a problem-solving mindset and consensus building.

We should expect the School Board to:

Insist on accurate, comprehensive and publicly accessible information to enable informed decision-making by the board and informed participation by the community.
Publicly discuss important topics including school improvement plans, enrollment trends, and the board’s evaluation of the superintendent.

Facilitate two-way communication with the community and insist on better outreach to those who feel their voices are unheard
Ensure that while addressing student needs, the district also supports our educators and staff.

Much more on the 2019 Madison School Board election, here.

A chance to shape their future

Promoted Content at the Times:

Teaching is a bit like planting an arboretum. You have a pretty good idea how it is going to turn out – you nurture the saplings, you encourage them to put down firm roots, you get them established in the soil – but you know you are not going to see its fruition. It is the ultimate statement of confidence in the future.

After a short career in the British Army keeping the massed forces of the Warsaw Pact at bay, then a longer one as a Fleet Street journalist, in 2015 I traded in my reporter’s notebook and press card for a stack of exercise books and a union card. I became a late (very late) entrant to teaching, and now front maths classes at a comprehensive academy in Chelmsford, Essex.

Facebook Hearings Reveal How Government Regulations Work

Jeffrey Tucker:

A commentator on Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before the Senate observed that the event seemed like a 5-hour tech-support call. Truth.

If you have ever had to do tech support, you know the way it happens. The user is hopeless, frustrated, and essentially ignorant of the product. That’s the Senate. The support employee tries to organize tasks and stay patient. That’s Zuckerberg.

Eventually, the problem is resolved when its source becomes immediately obvious. It was something dumb all along and the fix was easy. (A secret of tech support is the time on hold. The longer the technician delays answering, the more likely it is that the user will fix his or her own problem.)

So it went with the Facebook hearings. It became obvious that Senators knew essentially nothing about how Facebook works, who owns the data, how the business makes money, the platform’s relationship to the app economy, what a data breach means, and so on. Mark was on the other end of the call, explaining all the basics, filling in technical details, revealing the basic business model, speaking earnestly of his personal history and dream for the platform.

Study: Few Houston students study for high-demand careers

Shelby Webb:

Houston students enrolled in career-and-technical education courses disproportionately are studying fields that employ relatively few workers in the region, according to a study by the Fordham Institute.

The study, published Wednesday, found that more than half of students in the greater Houston-area who are enrolled in CTE courses chose to pursue programs in information technology, healthcare, and arts and communications. Those fields, however, only account for about 9.2 percent of local jobs.

The parents indicted in the college-admissions scandal were responding to a changing America, with rage at being robbed of what they believed was rightfully theirs.

Caitlin Flanagan:

I will now add as a very truthful disclaimer that the horrible parents constituted at most 25 percent of the total, that the rest weren’t just unobjectionable, but many—perhaps most—were lovely people who were so wise about parenting that when I had children of my own, I often remembered things they had told me. But that 25 percent was a lesson that a lifetime of reading novels hadn’t yet taught me. In the classroom I was Jane Eyre, strong and tranquil in the truth of my gifts; in the college-counseling office, I was the nameless heroine of Rebecca, running up and down the servant stairs at the Hôtel d’Azur as Mrs. Van Hopper barked at me.

During those three years before the mast, I saw no evidence of any of the criminal activity that the current scandal has delivered. But I absolutely saw the raw materials that William Rick Singer would use to create his scam. The system, even 25 years ago, was full of holes.

The first was sports. Legacy admissions have often been called affirmative action for white people, but the rich-kid sports—water polo, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, and even (God help us all) sailing and actual polo—are the true affirmative action for the rich. I first became acquainted with this fact when I was preparing for a meeting with the parents of a girl who was a strong but not dazzling student; the list her parents had submitted, however, consisted almost exclusively of Ivy League colleges. I brought her file in to my boss for guidance. She looked it over and then, noticing something in the section on extracurricular activities and tapping it decisively with her pen, said, “Oh, she’ll get in—volleyball.”

Volleyball? Yale was going to let her in—above half a dozen much more academically qualified and many much more interesting kids on my roster—because she played volleyball? I soon learned that the coaches of all these sports were allowed a certain number of recruits each year, and that so long as a kid met basic academic qualifications—which our kids easily did—the coaches got their way. I never heard an admissions person question a coach; “She’s on the soccer list,” the admissions person would say, and we’d move on to the next kid.

The statistical consequences of fat tails

Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

This book consists in 1) published papers and 2) (uncensored) commentary,about classes of statistical distributions that deliver extreme events, and howwe should deal with them for both statistical inference and decision making.Most “standard” statistics come from theorems designed for thin tails: theyneed to be adapted preasymptotically to fat tails, which is not trivial –orabandoned altogether

Photo Essay: China’s Left-Behind Elders

Liu Min and Teng Jing Xuan:

In the mountains surrounding the city of Dingxi in Northwest China’s Gansu province, entire communities have lost their youngest residents.

Left behind in the province, one of China’s poorest, are the oldest people who continue to eke out meager existences in a bleak landscape.

In Bailiu village near Dingxi, there are fewer than 4,000 people — nearly none under the age of 35.

Zhang Wenqing, who looks out of place in the 21st century with his full white beard and old-fashioned cap, says he’ll be 80 by the 12th month of this lunar year.

Zhang and his wife, 63-year-old Cai Jiaoying, live in a house he built in 1985. The roof tiles were brought in on a donkey from Huining county, 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away, Zhang said. It took a fortnight to transport all the tiles to Bailiu. When it was completed, it was the best-looking house in the village. “When he was young, he could walk (into town in) Dingxi and back within a day,” Cai said. “At the time, there was nothing to eat or drink, so he went around peddling goods.”

Civics: Manhattan D.A. Spent $250K in Asset Forfeiture Funds on Fine Dining and Luxurious Travel

C J Ciaramella:

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance spent nearly $250,000 over the past five years from a state asset forfeiture fund on fine dining, first-class airfare, and luxurious hotels, according to public records obtained by The City, a nonprofit news outlet in New York City.

While regular state employees, like the line prosecutors under Vance, are bound by strict travel and expense rules, Vance is under no such regulations, and his office controls more than $600 million in funds seized by New York law enforcement in civil and criminal cases.

During his frequent trips across the country, Vance lived high on the hog, The City reports:

He bought the fencing coach’s house. Then his son got into Harvard

Boston Globe:

The buyer, it turns out, was the father of a high school junior who was actively looking at applying to Harvard with an eye toward being on the fencing team.

Soon enough, Jie Zhao’s younger son would gain admission and join the team. And Zhao, who never lived a day in the Needham house, would sell it 17 months after he bought it for a $324,500 loss.

The home sale may become the next chapter in the national debate over fairness in college admissions.

Zhao, who has lavished his largesse on the fencing world and on Harvard, knows how the home purchase looks. But he said it was not meant to help his younger son get into college. Rather, in a series of interviews with the Globe, he called it an investment and favor for Brand, the coach whom he said had become his close friend.

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

Chinese Couple to Fund up to 400 Brain Science PhDs Each Year in California

Qian Tongxin:

A California-based non-profit institute co-founded by famous Chinese entrepreneur Chen Tianqiao will establish a global postdoctoral program to support research into the human brain.

One of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute’s priorities this year is to launch the global postdoctoral program and it will be the first project directly operated by the organization, Tianqiao Chen, the chief executive of Shanda Investment Group, told Yicai Global. The lab was founded in 2016 after the couple donated USD115 million to the California Institute of Technology.

The TCCI has bought over 13 hectares of land in Silicon Valley to build a center for the program which will fund of 300 to 400 young scientists each year, the founder of the private investment group said, without disclosing the total funding.

The program is certainly a good thing for the development of brain science, one young researcher told Yicai Global, adding that many eligible scientists will sign up.

China and the US have many labs for PhDs in the medical field, including the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation in the US, which gives awards worth up to USD200,000 per year for each postdoc student.

The global average of how much money it takes to cultivate a PhD researcher in brain science is CNY300,000 (USD44,700) each year, according to ShanghaiTech University. This would mean that the TCCI needs to spend at least CNY200 million (USD29.8 million) to fund up to 400 people for a two-year curriculum.

Administrative Burden: Policymaking by Other Means

Cass Sunstein:

Reducing these burdens can have an enormous impact on people’s lives. For free school meals, the Department of Agriculture has adopted a “direct certification” program, which means that if the locality or the school district has enough information to know that children are eligible, they are automatically enrolled. In recent years, more than 11 million children have benefited from the program (about 91 percent of the eligible population). Simplification of the FAFSA dramatically increases the likelihood that low-income students will apply for aid and eventually enroll in college. A number of states have adopted automatic voter registration, which means that if eligible citizens interact with a state agency (for example, by receiving a driver’s license), they are registered as voters. In 2016, Oregon’s automatic registration program produced more than 250,000 new voters; almost 100,000 of them voted. The private sector can also do a lot more to reduce sludge—for example, it can help people choosing among health care plans by simplifying options and explaining what is likely to be their best choice.

Paperwork burdens are often a product of decisions by public officials. At the national level, those decisions come from Congress or from administrative agencies, which have diverse motivations. Many of their goals are legitimate. Perhaps most important, they might be trying to ensure that people are actually eligible for the benefits for which they are applying. In addition, officials might be trying to collect data that they can use to improve their programs. Sometimes they use paperwork burdens as a kind of rationing device, limiting licenses, permits, or money to people who are willing to run some kind of gauntlet.

Demographic time-bomb: Finland sends a warning to Europe

Richard Milne:

Yet finding answers has proved nigh on impossible. Finland’s three-party coalition government collapsed last month over its failure to pass landmark healthcare and local government reforms before an election on April 14. The only long-term issue related to demographic trends that has been addressed in two decades of trying has been pension reform.

For Europe, Finland may be a warning about the intractable political problems that lie ahead. Its population is ageing faster than any other European country, although Germany and Italy will have bigger peaks of older people later on this century. The lesson from Finland may be that trying to make health and elderly care costs sustainable involves the types of political choices few governments are willing to make, raising questions about long-term economic growth and the health of public finances for increasingly cash-strapped governments across Europe.

While parts of the rest of Europe face what researchers at the Robert Schuman Foundation have called “demographic suicide”, the lessons from the Finnish experience are complex. Breaking the omertà around ageing — as the foundation argued for — has not particularly helped in Finland. “In European terms we have been preparing early but only a little has been done,” says Marja Vaarama, a professor of social work at the University of Eastern Finland.

Nikoli Puzzles


PuzzlesHere we show you some of the famous Nikoli puzzles. You can solve these puzzles without knowing Japanese or mathematical techniques. The Nikoli pages on Wikipedia are very useful to understand the rules of Nikoli puzzles for English speakers. Here on our homepage you get the basic rules at each puzzle.

Want to Fix College? Admissions Aren’t the Biggest Problem

Nicholas Lemann:

The indictment last week of more than thirty clients of William Singer, the Max Bialystock of élite-college admissions, by the U.S. Attorney in Boston was, among other things, a form of de-facto federal-government support to journalism, because it gave so many people so much to write about. It wasn’t just that the details were so juicy—celebrities, rich helicopter parents and their spoiled kids, S.A.T. cheating, coaches taking bribes—but also that they seemed to confirm something that many people already feel, which is that the admissions system is deeply corrupt. Over the years, as the ratio of available slots in the very best colleges to the number of aspirants for them has become more and more insanely lopsided, and the way that the decisions are made has remained mysterious, it has become almost impossible to avoid concluding that somebody in this system is getting screwed. Maybe it’s kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, or kids who don’t fit into any of the categories that bring you special consideration, or, most likely, it’s you and people you know. Nobody seems to believe that the process is fair.

As often happens, a spectacular crime has drawn the public’s attention to a system where what’s legal and objectionable is actually much more pervasive than what’s illegal. It isn’t all that common for affluent families to cheat on admissions tests or to pay six-figure bribes, but it’s very common for them to provide their children with expensive and evidently effective coaching—for tests and other aspects of admissions—that ordinary families can’t afford, and to make over-the-table gifts to colleges from less than purely philanthropic impulses. Most coaches probably can’t be bought, but most coaches are given (in Singer’s phrase) a “side door” into the admissions office, which allows them to bypass the normal deliberative process for their favorite recruits. It may be that the Singer case will engender not just new precautions against outright criminality but also a fresh look at some of the standard practices that Singer found ways to corrupt. That would be a healthy outcome.

Teacher Credentialism Commentary

Joe Nathan:

I agree with Scott Croonquist, executive director of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, which represents more than 40 suburban and urban districts. Croonquist told me on March 13 his organization agrees with many others: “The new system has only been in effect for half a year. We have no data to support changes.”

Anoka-Hennepin teacher Drew Moldenhauer, who spent 11 years as a police officer in Ramsey and has earned a master’s degree, might lose his job under proposed revisions in the law because he does not have a teaching degree. He also teaches classes at Hennepin Technical College. If proposed changes are made, he believes, “It will be very difficult to attract good, professional police officers to teach due to career instability.” That’s because proposed revisions allow a state agency to decide whether he can keep teaching, even if the district wants to keep him.

Nicole Tuescher, Anoka-Hennepin district executive director of human resources, testified recently in a Minnesota House committee, “We need time to collect information on how the currently adopted structure serves our students.” She pointed out that “positions in our district’s robust career and tech education program … might go unfilled” if changes are made.

Tuescher also explained the new approaches “look promising toward statewide efforts to ensure a diverse teaching corps.”

Josh Crosson, senior policy director with Minneapolis-based EdAllies, agrees with Tuescher. He told legislators on March 13 that almost 900 “teachers of color” are in the categories that opponents want to restrict. While teachers of color and American Indian teachers represent about 5 percent of Minnesota’s public school teachers, they represent about 10 percent of the teachers in categories that opponents want to restrict.

Related: Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers.

Hindsight 2070: We asked 15 experts, “What do we do now that will be considered unthinkable in 50 years?” Here’s what they told us.

Javier Zarracina:

Some 50 years ago, in 1964, 42 percent of Americans smoked cigarettes. Smoking in bars and offices was normal and cigarettes were given to soldiers as part of military rations. Half of American physicians smoked. Ads for cigarettes bombarded the American public. That year, the surgeon general released a report outlining the health risks of smoking. Two years later, only 40 percent of Americans said that they believed smoking was a major cause of cancer.

Today, we know that smoking is bad for our health. We’ve banned smoking in most indoor public spaces. We stopped allowing tobacco companies to advertise and forced them to put warning labels on cigarette boxes. By 2001, 71 percent of the country said they recognized smoking was a major cause of cancer, and by 2017, the rate of smokers dropped to 14 percent. The habit is now looked at as a relic of the past, something we’ve come to accept as unquestionably harmful.

When we think about what common habits, social norms, or laws that are widely considered unthinkable in today’s world, a variety of past atrocities come to mind. We could point to bloodletting, Jim Crow-era segregation, and drinking and driving as being on the “wrong side” of history.

But what modern practices will we one day think of as barbaric? It’s a framework invoked frequently in political or scientific beliefs: Actor Harrison Ford recently said leaders who deny climate change are on the “wrong side of history.” President Barack Obama said Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine was on the “wrong side of history.” Filmmaker Spike Lee said that President Donald Trump himself is on the “wrong side of history.”

Berkeley law school dean: Trump’s free speech executive order is ‘unconstitutional’

Brittany Slaughter:

In light of President Donald Trump’s executive order on free speech, Erwin Chermerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law, and Howard Gillman, Chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, penned an op-ed in which they state that the executive order does not help protect free speech on college campuses and that it is even “unconstitutional.”

“[T]he order is so vague and ambiguous, it makes compliance by colleges and universities extremely difficult — and it is almost certainly unconstitutional,” Chermerinsky and Gillman wrote for the Los Angeles Times.

Our Graduation Requirements Are Doing a Disservice to Students Who Want to Serve in the Military

Ronald Fay:

For the most part, state legislators and the Department of Education have maintained high standards for students in Colorado by requiring students to meet a variety of graduation requirements and benchmarks that prove they’re ready for success in college and career.

But, are we challenging students who want to go into the armed forces with the same rigor as those who opt for college? According to The Education Trust’s study, Shut Out of the Military, “Our high schools are undermining the preparedness of too many of the young people who seek to serve their nation, leaving our country—and our youth—in harm’s way.”

It’s time for this to change.

We spend millions of dollars on programming and testing to ensure our students walk across the stage with a diploma that signifies they are ready to contribute to society. The state has outlined a list of measures that districts can use to show that their students are ready to graduate from high school. It includes everything from ACT/SAT scores to concurrent enrollment and even capstone projects. The state suggests that if a student can meet a minimum standard in at least one area, they’re ready for the challenges and opportunities of college and the workforce. But for that to be true, the bar must be set appropriately for each measure of success, and I fear the bar has been set too low for students who plan to enter the armed forces after graduation. This represents an egregious oversight on the part of policy makers.

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

K-12 Tax &Spending Climate: America’s Biggest Economic Challenge May Be Demographic Decline

Neil Irwin:

A new report from the Economic Innovation Group, a Washington think tank funded in large part by tech investors and entrepreneurs, adds rich new detail, showing that parts of the United States are already grappling with Japanese-caliber demographic decline — 41 percent of American counties with a combined population of 38 million.

At the national level, slower growth in America’s working-age population is a major reason that mainstream forecasters now expect the economy to expand around 2 percent each year rather than the 3 percent common in the second half of the 20th century. As a matter of simple arithmetic, lower growth in the number of people working will almost certainly mean slower growth in economic output.But demographic change doesn’t hit everywhere equally. Besides the inevitable effect of the extra-large baby boom generation hitting retirement age and stepping away from the work force, decisions by working-age people can accentuate or lessen the impact of that underlying shift.

Dear Humanists: Fear Not the Digital Revolution

Ted Underwood:

Historians and literary critics started out with the same generalizing impulse. In the 18th and 19th centuries, we posited taxonomies of genres and laws of cultural evolution. But we found that those approaches weren’t usually flexible enough to describe human history. It turns out that Homo sapiens excels at making up new games — a talent that gives culture a remarkable and maddening specificity. It can be clear that there are only six possible narrative arcs — until someone invents a seventh, or until an expanding middle class decides that stories shouldn’t be characterized by clear narrative arcs at all, but should become long, baggy things called “novels” that imitate the chaos of biography. This is why humanists make such a fuss about situating every piece of evidence in a specific historical context. Since the 18th century, we have been stung repeatedly by the discovery that our descriptive categories are less universal than we thought. We have learned to temper generalization with attention to the quirks of particular places and times.

In short, humanists have spent centuries acquiring a distinctive interpretive expertise, and they are right to feel that research on cultural history would be more meaningful if it were built on that foundation. But there is, alas, another side to this story, less likely to be popular in history and English departments. While scientists usually do a better job if they work in collaboration with humanists, it must be admitted that today they can often make genuine contributions to historical understanding with or without our assistance. “Quantitative Analysis of Culture in Millions of Digitized Books” may not have created a new field called culturomics, but it did (in collaboration with Google) help produce an interactive website that journalists and schoolteachers still use to understand linguistic trends. The project wasn’t led by humanists, but it was nonetheless one of the most consequential public humanities projects of the last decade. And this was only an early, crude example of interdisciplinary interest in the humanities. More recent publications go far beyond graphing the frequencies of words. Sociologists have theorized the function of ambiguity in literary criticism; cognitive scientists have used information theory to describe historical change; the economist Thomas Piketty stormed the best seller list with Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Harvard University Press, 2014), reinterpreting the last two centuries of history with illustrations drawn from Balzac. Humanities departments really are no longer alone.

Google employees demand removal of conservative member from AI-ethics council

Rachel Metz:

By midday on Monday, Googlers Against Transphobia said that more than 900 Google employees and dozens of others — including a range of academic researchers, activists and tech industry employees — had added themselves to a list of supporters.

This isn’t the first time Google has faced pushback from employees on topics related to artificial intelligence. In 2018, 4,000 employees signed a petition demanding the company refrain from building technology that can be used for warfare after learning about a controversial contract the company had for the Pentagon’s Project Maven program, which uses AI to enhance drone strikes. Google subsequently

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

One Day There May Be a Drug to Turbocharge the Brain. Who Should Get It?

Carl Zimmer :

In 2011, Dr. Dena Dubal was hired by the University of California, San Francisco, as an assistant professor of neurology. She set up a new lab with one chief goal: to understand a mysterious hormone called Klotho.

Dr. Dubal wondered if it might be the key to finding effective treatments for dementia and other disorders of the aging brain. At the time, scientists only knew enough about Klotho to be fascinated by it.

Mice bred to make extra Klotho lived 30 percent longer, for instance. But scientists also had found Klotho in the brain, and so Dr. Dubal launched experiments to see whether it had any effect on how mice learn and remember.

The results were startling. In one study, she and her colleagues found that extra Klotho protects mice with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease from cognitive decline. “Their thinking, in every way that we could measure them, was preserved,” said Dr. Dubal.

What Does the Punishment of a Prominent Scholar Mean for Intellectual Freedom in China?

Donald Clarke, David Yeliang Xia, Sarah Biddulph, Teng Biao, Taisu Zhang, Jerome A. Cohen, Margaret Lewis, Orville Schell:

The news of Xu Zhangrun’s suspension is paradoxically both shocking—there did not seem to be any immediate cause—and not shocking at all. Not only had Xu been a constant critic of China’s political institutions, but—perhaps most unforgivably—he had also personally mocked Xi Jinping, writing pointedly that “the speeches of officials, originally nothing more than some clichéd officialese written by their secretaries, are now assembled into finely bound volumes and distributed free all over the world, wasting vast amounts of paper. It’s enough to make you spit out your food with laughter.”

That Chinese academics (like everyone else in China) do not enjoy the freedom to speak their minds is not news. Some people used to say that you could say pretty much anything in China, provided you didn’t say it in an organized way. That has not been true for a while. (Mockery of the leader, it seems, is especially serious: one man was sentenced to 22 months in jail in 2017 merely for referring to “Steamed-Bun Xi” in a closed WeChat group.) The government is steadily ratcheting up pressure on academics who do not toe the line. The more outspoken ones get fired. Others find themselves banned from publishing, find their existing work removed from bookstores and university reading lists, or are banished to the library.

Tulsa’s black schools unequal to white schools 51-years after integration

The Black Wall St. Times:

An apocalyptic future awaits America’s Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma that will ultimately decimate the descendants of this once seemingly-viewed promised land for Blacks escaping racial hostility in the American south.

In this city, schools with a large African-American student-population are failing some 51-years after the U.S. Justice Department filed suit against Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) to force a plan for desegregation.

Upon this forced governmental policy on this twin city, African-American students were isolated from their prosperous community that already produced successful schools in the Greenwood District, dubbed the Negro Wall Street of America by Booker T. Washington. They were forced to attend unfriendly, and at times, hostile learning environments at white schools.

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

Google’s brand-new AI ethics board is already falling apart

Kelsey Piper:

The board, founded to guide “responsible development of AI” at Google, would have had eight members and met four times over the course of 2019 to consider concerns about Google’s AI program. Those concerns include how AI can enable authoritarian states, how AI algorithms produce disparate outcomes, whether to work on military applications of AI, and more.

Of the eight people listed in Google’s initial announcement, one (privacy researcher Alessandro Acquisti) has announced on Twitter that he won’t serve, and two others are the subject of petitions calling for their removal — Kay Coles James, president of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, and Dyan Gibbens, CEO of drone company Trumbull Unmanned. Thousands of Google employees have signed onto the petition calling for James’s removal.

James and Gibbens are two of the three women on the board. The third, Joanna Bryson, was asked if she was comfortable serving on a board with James, and answered, “Believe it or not, I know worse about one of the other people.”

Altogether, it’s not the most promising start for the board.

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

Eight Austin-area educators among finalists for annual H-E-B awards

Melissa Taboada:

Eight Austin-area educators are being recognized among the best in their profession.

The six teachers and two principals were named finalists this week for the 2019 H-E-B Excellence in Education awards, the largest such program in the state. The educators are among 40 finalists statewide and were surprised this week at their schools with balloons, cookies, flowers and cash prizes.

The finalists were chosen by regional judging panels comprised of former winners, community leaders and administrators. To compete for the state awards, each finalist will be interviewed by a statewide panel of judges.

Finalists are chosen in three teaching categories: Rising Star, for teachers with 10 or fewer years of experience; Leadership, for those with 10 to 20 years of experience; and Lifetime Achievement, for those educators with at least 20 years of experience. The program also doles out principal awards.

2019 Madison School Board Election Result Commentary

David Blaska:

I met many people throughout the city (and reconnected with sister Jane). Gratified at the many educators, teaching support staff, and mainstream Democrats who said they voted for me. Another shout-out to liberal downtown Madison blogger Greg Humphrey. That took courage.

We started a long overdue conversation in this community. That will continue.

I am proud of the campaign we ran and many of you were a big part of that. We talked the issues, we did not disparage motives or call names. (But we sure were on the receiving end! Thought I had a tough hide but there are some bruises.) We offered real-life solutions rather than blaming nebulous, macro socio-economic conditions, Act 10 or various Koch brothers. Returning control of their classrooms to teachers was, Tuesday’s results show, a bridge too far. Who’d a-thunk it?

Jenny Peek:

Caire said he knew it would be a tight race, but said the 32,000 people who voted for him want change. “That 32,000 is a sign that there are folks that want to move in different directions. So we’re going to keep pushing,” he said. He said he is concerned that the “hardcore left” in Madison is not truly committed to change for kids of color. “You don’t see them fighting and calling people names and yelling and screaming and picketing when it’s black kids failing. And that bothers me, that bothers me. I feel like if they’re really with us, they should be with us all the time.”

Mirilli and Muldrow said they will address the issues they campaigned on.

“Now we get to work,” Muldrow said. “Now we try to make our schools into places where every single kid can be successful and … give it everything we’ve got.”

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Caire said he will continue to be active in Madison’s education scene and will push for universal preschool in the city.

“I keep going; I don’t stop,” Caire said. “(The election) is not going to stop me from doing what it is that we need to do … there’s a lot going on in the schools I feel I could help with, and I’ll still try to help.”

Carusi, who has touted her many years of attending School Board meetings and being a grassroots organizer, has staunchly opposed voucher schools and independent charter schools like One City. Her opposition to independent charter and voucher schools scored her the endorsement of Madison Teachers Inc., the local teachers union.

“I’m looking forward to being able to bring all voices to the table and representing our whole community on the School Board,” Carusi said.

WORT-FM commentary mp3 audio.

Notes and links on the 2019 Madison School Board election, here.

Turnout: 26.6% statewide

Civics: New deputy director of Beijing’s liaison office makes first public remarks: Calls on Hongkongers to be patriotic, study Chinese history and help develop nation

Tony Cheung:

Hongkongers should be patriotic, learn more Chinese history and help in the overall development of the nation.

Those were the words of the Beijing’s new liaison official as she made her first public appearance in the city on Tuesday.

Lu Xinning, the new deputy director of the central government’s liaison office, also promised that her office would continue to listen to Hong Kong’s younger generation.

American Employers Are Hung Up on Hiring Ph.D.s

Noah Smith:

Meanwhile, salaries for electrical, mechanical and software engineers are rising as well, if a bit less spectacularly. For those with the skills to “tell computers what to do” (as venture capitalist and inventor Marc Andreessen once put it), capitalism still looks like a good deal. And there’s also the financial industry, which has long offered attractive salary premiums for highly talented people willing to endure the competitive culture and potential moral ambiguity.

But there’s a hidden downside to this high-end labor market. Many of these good jobs require Ph.D.s. A survey by Paysa found in 2017 that about 35 percent of AI jobs required a doctorate. In finance, Ph.D.s are heavily recruited for top quant trading jobs — as a professor at Stony Brook University, I helped advise applied-math doctoral students who were aiming for that industry. Plenty of workers at top tech companies such as Intel have Ph.D.s too. And more Ph.D. economists are going to work for industry. A quick Google search reveals a vast array of tech industry positions that now require this most advanced of degrees.

Google Helps Government Conduct Warrantless Searches, Alleges EPIC

Lucian Armasu:

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”), a civil liberties group based in Washington D.C., filed an amicus brief in the United States vs. Wilson case concerning Google scanning billions of users’ files for unlawful content and then sending that information to law enforcement agencies.

Bypassing the Fourth Amendment

EPIC alleges that law enforcement is using Google, a private entity, to bypass the Fourth Amendment, which requires due process and probable cause before “searching or seizing” someone’s property.

As a private entity, Google doesn’t have to abide by the Fourth Amendment as the government has to, so it can do those mass searches on its behalf and then give the government the results. The U.S. government has been increasingly using this strategy to bypass Fourth Amendment protections of U.S. citizens and to expand its warrantless surveillance operations further.

Image Hashes vs. Image Matches

Google and a few other companies have “voluntarily” agreed to use a database of images hashes from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to help the agency find exploited children.

More than that, the companies would also give any information they have on the people who owned those images, given they are users of said companies’ services and have shared the images through those services.

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

Don’t Fall into the Calculus Trap

Richard Rusczyk:

You love math and want to learn more. But you’re in ninth grade and you’ve already taken nearly all the math classes your school offers. They were all pretty easy for you and you’re ready for a greater challenge. What now? You’ll probably go to the local community college or university and take the next class in the core college curriculum. Chances are, you’ve just stepped in the calculus trap.

For an avid student with great skill in mathematics, rushing through the standard curriculum is not the best answer. That student who breezed unchallenged through algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, will breeze through calculus, too. This is not to say that high school students should not learn calculus—they should. But more importantly, the gifted, interested student should be exposed to mathematics outside the core curriculum, because the standard curriculum is not designed for the top students. This is even, if not especially, true for the core calculus curriculum found at most high schools, community colleges, and universities.

Solzhenitsyn and the Economic Lesson of Soviet Gulags

Joshua Hofford:

From its inception, the Gulag was meant to have a significant impact in the life of the Soviet economy. The Stalinist Gulag prison system of the 1930s aided in the construction of the ill-fated White Sea Canal, which was too narrow and too shallow for maritime or commercial transportation traffic. Begun in the last half of 1930, the canal was built in two years and swallowed up an estimated 100,000 gulag prisoners. Under the control of the NKVD, the canal’s construction was hasty and used very little engineering in its planning or construction.

Many private colleges remain in danger

Clayton M. Christensen and Michael B. Horn:

The average tuition discount rate at private colleges was a whopping 49.9 percent for first-time, full-time freshmen in 2017-18, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. That means that students are paying roughly half of what colleges and universities say they charge. A tuition discount rate above 35 percent puts a college in a danger zone, particularly when it is heavily dependent on tuition. Many institutions have discount rates far above that now.

Fund-raising and endowments don’t offer much hope to bring in the necessary amount of revenue for most schools, either.

Although the total amount of alumni giving to universities is up — it ticked in at $11.37 billion in 2017, which was up 14.5 percent from the year prior — the number of alumni who give has actually fallen. Fewer younger donors give. Only 5 percent of alumni from public universities donate, and just 18 percent of private university alumni give.

What that means is fewer people are giving bigger gifts. And, with certain exceptions from which it’s dangerous to extrapolate, most of those gifts are going to the well-off elite institutions that are not at risk.

On top of that, just 11 percent of colleges and universities hold roughly 75 percent of the $500 billion in endowment wealth in the United States. That means most institutions don’t have substantial endowments that can support their costs over time — and many endowments have significant donor restrictions on how they can be used. In other words, the limited dollars in many endowments may not be able to support a college’s most urgent needs.

Silence + Conformity = Complicity — reflections on university life in China today

Geremie R. Barme:

On 30 March 2019 we received the text of a powerful article by an academic at Tsinghua University written in support of Professor Xu Zhangrun. We believed we had a clear understanding that China Heritage had permission to publish that text in translation. We were mistaken. Subsequent to publication, we were belatedly informed that the essay was, in fact, not intended for circulation outside the People’s Republic, nor indeed did the author want its existence to be reported. We were baffled by this surprising information, however, given the nature, and delicacy, of the situation, we are hardly in a position to protest ourselves, after all, it was impossible to determine what, if any, exogenous factors may have contributed to this untoward development.

We would reason that, the very existence of such a considered, quasi-public expression of support for a leading academic involved in an incident of major pubic debate in China and widespread discussion internationally merit the publication of that essay. It would also seem to make it inevitable that the author’s argument (one that is essentially a warning to students in the People’s Republic), or at least the gist of it, would become known over time. Nonetheless, we defer to the express wishes of the author and hereby unreservedly offer our apologies for any misunderstanding or offense that we may have unwittingly caused.

The Corporations Devouring American Colleges

Kevin Carey:

The colleges would have you believe that none of this is their fault. They would point out that public schools took a huge financial hit during the recession when states slashed their education budgets. This is true, but that hardly explains the size and pace of the price hikes or the fact that tuition at private schools has exploded, too. [1]

It also doesn’t explain why colleges have failed to take advantage of the best opportunity to radically drop the price of a good degree that I’ve seen in 15 years of watching and reporting on the industry. This opportunity doesn’t have the daunting price tag of worthy proposals like “free college.” It doesn’t require any action from Congress at all.

The answer is online learning. When online degrees started proliferating 20 years ago, they earned their reputation for being second-rate or just plain scammy. Many were little more than jumped-up correspondence courses offered by for-profit colleges out to make a quick buck, and they were particularly ineffective for low-income students.

But there have been remarkable advances in online learning in the last decade. Nearly every prestigious college and university now offers multiple online degrees taught by skilled professors. And many of the courses are really good—engaging, rigorous, truly interactive. They are also a lot cheaper for universities to run. There are no buildings to maintain, no lawns to mow, no juice bars and lazy rivers to lure new students. While traditional courses are limited by the size of a lecture hall, online courses can accommodate thousands of people at a time.

This is how universities could break the tuition cost curve—by making the price of online degrees proportional to what colleges actually spend to operate the courses. So far, colleges have been more aggressive in launching online graduate programs. But there’s huge potential for undergraduate education, too, including hybrid programs that combine the best of in-person and virtual learning. And yet nearly every academic institution, from the Ivies to state university systems to liberal arts schools, has refused to pass even the tiniest fraction of the savings on to students. They charge online students the same astronomical prices they levy for the on-campus experience.

Related: Ivy League Summary: Tax Break Subsidies And Government Payments

The Lottery That’s Revolutionizing D.C. Schools

Thomas Toch:

Public school choice has expanded steadily in the nation’s cities since the first magnet schools emerged nearly five decades ago as a way to desegregate public school systems voluntarily, and especially since the start of charter schooling in the early 1990s. But in Washington and the rest of the country, taking advantage of expanding school options traditionally meant navigating myriad application timelines and deadlines without information to make clear comparisons. It meant oversubscribed schools pulling names out of paper bags, families pitching tents on sidewalks — or paying others to camp out for them — to get to the front of wait-list lines, and schools cherry-picking applicants to get the most attractive students: a system favoring the well-educated, the wealthy and the well-connected.

For schools, the system made planning almost impossible. Many students were admitted to multiple schools but didn’t let schools know their plans — causing thousands of wait-listed students to change schools through September and early October, leaving schools guessing about revenue and staffing, and disrupting instruction. Now, the Johnsons and the Golidays were following a very different route. Since the 2014-15 school year, the District’s 93,000 public school students have selected traditional public schools and charters through a single centralized application process powered by a computer program that matches as many students as possible to their top choices.

Speaking Up for a Man Who Dared to Speak Out

China Heritage:

At a moment of public concern and outrage over the fate of Professor Xu Zhangrun 許章潤 and other academics in China, we would recall that administrators at Tsinghua University played a key role in the high-education Thought Re-education Campaign in the early 1950s which devastated China’s intellectual and pedagogical worlds. It was also at the forefront of the rabble-rousing zealotry, as well as the bloody violence, of the Cultural Revolution.

Although the contemporary university touts itself as something of a modern-day incarnation of Chen Yinque’s praise for ‘A Spirit Independent and a Mind Unfettered’ 獨立之精神, 自由之思想 in 1930, in reality, since 1989 at least, Tsinghua University can at best only claim a mixed — and at times markedly indifferent — record of achievement.

Following the online release of this Open Letter/ Petition on 31 March, the number of signatories increased exponentially. The response of the country’s ‘brittle political superego’ was relatively swift: within two days, evidence of the petition had been eliminated.

Against metrics: how measuring performance by numbers backfires

Jerry Muller:

More and more companies, government agencies, educational institutions and philanthropic organisations are today in the grip of a new phenomenon. I’ve termed it ‘metric fixation’. The key components of metric fixation are the belief that it is possible – and desirable – to replace professional judgment (acquired through personal experience and talent) with numerical indicators of comparative performance based upon standardised data (metrics); and that the best way to motivate people within these organisations is by attaching rewards and penalties to their measured performance.

Austin is training staff to help parents find affordable housing so that kids don’t have to switch schools

Erin Richards:

Almost one in five students in Austin switch schools in the middle of the year, state figures show. Worse, most of the churn is happening at schools that are already struggling. Research shows the instability also harms the progress of kids who stay put, likely because teachers must repeat material.

This pattern plays out in urban districts across the nation, especially in cities with high poverty, a high cost of living or lots of school choice — or some combination of all three.

But Austin is one of the nation’s only districts employing a comprehensive approach to stemming turnover. In the past two years, the district has trained key staff members at all schools on how to help parents search for nearby affordable housing so that a residential move doesn’t also become a school switch in the middle of the academic year.

“This is a way to provide more stability for our families,” said Austin Superintendent Paul Cruz. “We’re not sending parents to multiple places for housing information. It’s basically, we’ll help you locate a place and say how much it’s going to cost you and this is what the deposit is — it’s almost like a prescreening.”

My sixth-grader’s teacher puts her in charge of the difficult boys. What should I do?

by Matthew Dicks, Cassy Sarnell, and Katie Holbrook, via a kind message:

My daughter’s sixth-grade elective teacher recently called me to tell me that my daughter is a great student, eager to learn, and very fun to have in class. Sounds great, right? But he also mentioned that he often asks her to partner with difficult students in class. When I asked my daughter about this, she said that these difficult students are often boys that don’t pay attention and don’t really want to be in the class. I let my daughter know I thought she was a good classmate, but the more I think about it, I feel like it isn’t my daughter’s responsibility to manage these boys in class, and that this is part of how girls get taught to be responsible for boys and their behavior—and likewise how boys learn that they aren’t responsible for their behavior. Is it worth going back to the teacher to have a discussion with him about this? Or should I just let it go because it is one semester of sixth-grade mythology? How should I talk with my daughter about it?

Mom Ignores Doctor When Her Sick 2-Year-Old Starts Feeling Better, Child Services Send a SWAT Team

Lenore Skenazy:

Chandler, Arizona, cops broke through the door of a family’s home in the middle of the night, stormed in, pointed their guns, handcuffed the father, and watched as the state’s Department of Child Safety (DCS) took custody of the parents’ three kids—all because mom had decided her toddler’s fever was not serious enough to merit a trip to the hospital.

It was dinnertime on February 25 when the pregnant mother took her 2-year-old to the doctor with a fever of over 100. The doctor told her to take him to the emergency room, fearing that because the boy was unvaccinated, perhaps he had meningitis—a life-threatening disease.

The doctor called the hospital to alert them. But by the time the mother and child left his office, the boy was “laughing and playing with his siblings,” according to this excellent piece by Dianna M. Nanez in The Arizona Republic. Mom took his temperature again, and it was almost normal. So instead of going to the emergency room, the family went home. The mom called the doctor to say her boy’s fever had broken and she wasn’t going to the emergency room. The doctor told her she should go anyway, so she agreed she would—but then she didn’t.

School Probes Thesis ‘Copying’ Confidential Research Funding Bid

Li You:

A prestigious university in central China’s Hunan province said Thursday it had launched an investigation following allegations that a student thesis plagiarized a confidential proposal for research funding from a national science organization.

In a post on microblogging platform Weibo, the graduate school of Hunan University wrote that a special working group had been established to verify claims of academic misconduct lodged against former graduate student Liu Mengjie. The announcement came just one day after a post from a Weibo user accused Liu’s 2018 graduate thesis of plagiarizing an earlier research proposal the user had written for national science funding.

The Weibo user, who has claimed to be a teacher at Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, said that proposal — titled “Research on the Impact and Effect of Corruption on Company Tax Evasion” — had been submitted in 2017 to the National Natural Science Foundation of China, which allocates resources from the country’s National Natural Science Fund. The user said that after the proposal was rejected, she continued researching the same topic for her doctoral dissertation, using much of the proposal’s text.

But the user said that in March of this year, she ran her completed dissertation through a plagiarism detection tool that matches inputs against already published documents, only to find that her work was highly similar to Liu’s graduate thesis from 2018, titled “Research on the Impact of Corruption on Company Tax Evasion.”

Robert A. Caro on L.B.J., Understanding Power and Nearing Completion

David Marchese:

One of the criticisms your books have gotten is that, in the case of Johnson, the depiction of him is too Manichean, too black-and-white. I’m wondering if the boiling down you’re describing might result in your portraying Johnson in a way that lends itself to being boiled down. I don’t think it’s Manichean at all. To oversimplify ridiculously, Lyndon Johnson wanted to create social justice, and because of his incredible capacity for turning compassion into governmental action, he had an unrivaled capacity to do that. But on the other hand, there was the Vietnam War. There were 58,000 Americans killed in that war. Over two million total killed — I can’t even get the total number. I will get the number. But to what extent does Johnson’s personality play into the incredible escalation of Vietnam? You said, “Oh, that’s a guy that’s Manichean.” But it isn’t black or white. It’s all the same personality. It’s the same character.

Milan Kundera Warned Us About Historical Amnesia. Now It’s Happening Again

Ewan Morrison:

Milan Kundera is 90-years old on April 1, 2019 and his central subject—The Power of Forgetting, or historical amnesia—could not be more relevant. Kundera’s great theme emerged from his experience of the annexation of his former homeland Czechoslovakia by the Soviets in 1948 and the process of deliberate historical erasure imposed by the communist regime on the Czechs.

As Kundera said:

The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long that nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster.

I first read Kundera’s Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979) back in 1987, when I was a member of the British Communist Party. The book shook my beliefs and Kundera’s writing became a part of a process of truth-speaking that shook the USSR to the ground in 1989.

In the 90s we believed we were living in a “post-mortem” era in which all the hidden graves of the 20th century would be exposed, the atrocities analyzed, the lessons learned. Lest we forget. We also thought we’d entered a time in which the Silicon Valley dream of digitizing all knowledge from the entire history of the printed and spoken word would lead us towards the infinite free library, the glass house of truth and the global village of free information flow. The future would be a time of endless remembrance and of great learning.

The government is now a check-writing, wealth-redistribution machine that costs trillions

John Merline:

What is the government’s primary function? If you look at the debates that rage each year when the president’s budget comes out, you’d think it was defense spending. Or food stamps. Or cancer research. Or student loans.

Any proposed changes to those programs make headlines. Just as President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget did. It would, we were told, “slash domestic spending,” “cut science and medical research,” and “eliminate funding for arts,” while boosting defense spending.

But if you look beyond the headlines at the actual budget document, you learn that those are all squabbles over crumbs. Today, the one thing the federal government does above all else is write checks. Lots of checks. Nearly $3.2 trillion worth of checks. Each and every year.

Buried in a separate volume of the annual budget are “Historical Tables,” which provide rich detail on how the government has spent taxpayers’ money going back as far as 1789. Three of these tables track “payment for individuals,” defined as “federal government spending programs designed to transfer income (in cash or in kind) to individuals or families.” It doesn’t include things like salaries paid to federal workers or services rendered.

How Rich Chinese Parents Get Their Kids Into U.S. Colleges

Amy Hawkins:

That’s a familiar story for Chinese. There have been numerous reported cases of students caught cheating the system. Last week, five California residents were arrested on charges of helping more than 40 Chinese nationals obtain student visas by taking their English tests for them, using fake passports in the process. The scheme was allegedly masterminded by 23-year-old Liu Cai, an international student at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2018, professors at the University of California, Santa Barbara, complained that many Chinese students lacked adequate English language proficiency, and it’s common for international students who have been coached into U.S. universities to struggle to keep up.

The man at the center of the U.S. scandal was William Singer, founder of a college-preparatory business known as The Key. He told a federal court in Boston that he created a “side door” of admissions that guaranteed access to top institutions. That was an alternative to the “front door of getting in, where a student just does it on their own,” and the “back door,” where people “make large donations, but they’re not guaranteed in.”

2019 Madison School Board election Commentary

Seat 3: Caire vs. Carusi
Logan Wroge:

“There’s no one in the history of Madison schools that has my professional record,” he said.

Carusi has reviewed budgets and policies during 12 years of attending School Board meetings and has actively served in parent leadership roles, which puts her in a “unique position of someone who’s not been on the board but really has been watching the board and knows what’s going on.”

The district needs to explore new teaching methods and school models, such as a school dedicated to performing arts, Caire said, along with increasing access to early childhood education and making the district attractive to retain families and draw in new ones.

“I also want (students) to have the type of education that’s going to prepare them to be problem-solvers in the future,” he said. “I don’t think any of our kids are getting that by a large measure, white kids, black kids. It’s the same old 13 years of liberal arts education that’s boring.”

Seat 4: Blaska vs. Muldrow:

Logan Wroge:

In the most ideologically divided Madison School Board race this year, David Blaska and Ali Muldrow offer stark contrasts for voters when they decide April 2 who takes over Seat 4.

Muldrow said the achievement gap is “what defines our community.” She wants to include information on “medically accurate, inclusive human growth and development” throughout the K-12 curriculum to teach children about anatomy, stages of development and how to better understand their emotions. She said a priority is having arts every day.

“More dance, more music, more theater, more planning time and smaller classrooms are things I care about,” said Muldrow, co-executive director of GSAFE, the Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools. “My opponent and I are really different people who have really different values and bring different priorities to the table.”

Blaska, a former Dane County supervisor and conservative blogger, argues the district is obsessed with “identity politics” and said correcting bad behaviors has become administratively burdensome. He wants teachers to be in charge of classrooms and principals in charge of schools. His priorities would be “discipline, discipline, discipline.”

“I’m very much a political realist. I’m doing this because it needs to be said, and because I know it will get a receptive audience,” Blaska said. Muldrow, he said, “is wedded to identity politics, and for her, everything is race and not behavior.”

In February, Muldrow won 56 percent of the vote in a four-way primary followed by Blaska with 23 percent.

Muldrow lost the 2017 race for Seat 6, and Blaska has not run for School Board previously.

Seat 5: Mertz vs Mirilli
Logan Wroge:

Six years ago TJ Mertz and Ananda Mirilli appeared on a primary ballot that resulted in Mirilli placing third behind another candidate (Sarah Manski) who dropped out after the primary, all-but ensuring Mertz’s victory. Now the two are finally going head-to-head April 2 for Seat 5.

Logan Wroge:

Seat 4
Ali Muldrow took in $14,144 this reporting cycle — with more than $5,500 coming from other fundraising committees — versus the $6,605 raised by David Blaska, a former Dane County Board supervisor and conservative blogger. Muldrow received $4,500 from MTI.

Muldrow, co-executive director of GSAFE, ended the reporting period with $14,241 in cash available. Blaska had a cash balance of $2,635.

Much more on the April 2, 2019 Madison School Board election, here.

Student demand for computer science straining UW-Madison department resources

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The challenges facing UW-Madison’s computer science department aren’t unique. Across the country, computer science departments are grappling with a surge in students and not enough faculty to teach them.

UW-Madison’s department thought long and hard about whether to limit the program’s size.

Other universities such as the University of Washington have established a cap, accepting only the best and brightest students into the program. Swarthmore College, a private school in Pennsylvania, holds lotteries to select students into computing courses. Some institutions do not offer computer science courses to non-majors. Others make it nearly impossible for students to transfer into the program.

UW-Madison’s computer science faculty took a vote in 2016 and unanimously agreed to not place restrictions on the program.

“We felt a mission to educate as many people as possible,” Arpaci-Dusseau said, invoking the Wisconsin Idea, the longstanding belief that the university should address the needs of all Wisconsin residents.

Students clamor to get into computer science classes for the high salaries and job security that come with the skill set. They can go on to work in fields as varied as biology, banking, agriculture or insurance.

Hiwassee College to close after 170 years due to financial reasons

Monica Kast:

Hiwassee College in Madisonville, Tennessee, will close at the end of its spring semester on May 10.

On Thursday, the college’s board of trustees voted for the closure.

The school is closing for “financial reasons,” according to Rev. Tim Jones, director of communications for the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Hiwassee College was founded in 1849 and is affiliated with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. Jones said he could not elaborate further at this time.

“Growing marketplace trends including substantially discounted or highly subsidized public education, changes in demographics, our rural location, and declining enrollment have combined to produce an unsustainable economic mode,” a release from the college read.

There are currently 225 students enrolled at Hiwassee College, and 33 students will graduate at the end of the spring semester, according to the release.

Jones said there will be meetings in the future to help determine a plan for students who will not graduate by the time the college closes.


Will Flanders:

First, it is important to note that spending on school choice represents a minuscule share of the state’s education spending. For fiscal year 18-19, Wisconsin spent $5,899,757,400 in aid to local school districts according to LFB. Spending on school choice was $192 million, or about three percent of that total. To make the claim that school choice is undermining public school spending is one of the biggest fallacies regularly repeated by choice opponents.

Perhaps the most misleading aspect of Pope’s summary of the information is in the $42 million reduction that is attributed to Milwaukee. Pope presents this as if this is continual reduction that requires Evers’ extremist position of capping enrollment in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program to address.

In reality, this reduction is already disappearing over time. Indeed, quoting Pope’s own LFB memo “Under Provisions of 2013 Act 20, (the percentage of this aid reduction) will be reduced by 3.2 percentage points each year, until no aid reduction is made beginning in 2024-25.” In other words, the legislature has already taken steps to reduce by $42 million the aid reduction that Pope is discussing, yet this appears nowhere in her press release.

That aid reductions should occur for students that a district is no longer educating seems to be common sense. Districts that have students whose families make the decision to attend a private school that works better for them should not still see the school they left rewarded with tax dollars earmarked for that student. As we have noted on several occasions, Pick and Save does not continue to receive money from you if you choose to shop at Aldi. Pope believes public schools should be exempt from the performance-improving benefits of competition. We do not. Moreover, districts have the ability to raise property taxes to make up for the loss of state aid, and many do, for better or worse.

Also neglected from Pope’s press release is the reality that school choice saves Wisconsin money overall. Students in independent charter schools and those using a voucher are funded at a substantially lower level than students in traditional public schools throughout the state. Independent charter schools receive $8,619 per student and voucher students receive $7,754 (K8) or $8,400 (9-12) per student. Public school students are funded at a rate more than $2,000 higher on average throughout Wisconsin. According to recent research from EdChoice, this leads to a savings of $800-1,200 per student in the choice program. Over the lifetime of the programs, Wisconsin has realized a benefit of more than $345 million from school choice. I’d wager some of that boon was poured back in to the public school system.

613,000 in Japan aged 40 to 64 are recluses, says first government survey of hikikomori


About 613,000 people aged 40 to 64 are believed to fall into the category of recluses, who hide themselves away in their homes without working, the government’s first survey on the age group showed Friday.

The estimated number of recluses, known as hikikomori, in that age group is higher than those age 15 to 39. There are an estimated 541,000 recluses that fall into the younger age bracket, a Cabinet Office survey in 2015 showed.

The total number of social recluses in Japan is thought to be over 1 million, an official said.

“Adult hikikomori is a new social issue,” said welfare minister Takumi Nemoto. “It should be addressed appropriately by conducting studies and analyses.”

Madison Partnership for Advanced Learning 2019 School Board Candidate Q & A

Christina Gomez Schmidt, via a kind email:

In March 2019 after the primary election, we asked each candidate six questions about education issues and Advanced Learning topics. We hope the answers will help voters to better understand candidate viewpoints and how they see Advanced Learning fitting into district priorities.

Below are links to their answers from March 2019. The election will be held on April 2, 2019.

Seat 3:
Kaleem Caire
Cris Carusi

Seat 4:
David Blaska
Ali Muldrow

Seat 5:
TJ Mertz (incumbent)
Ananda Mirilli

Much more on the 2019 Madison School Board Election, here.

Teens have less face time with their friends – and are lonelier than ever

Jean Twenge:

It’s not because they are spending more time on work, homework or extracurricular activities. Today’s teens hold fewer paid jobs, homework time is either unchanged or down since the 1990s, and time spent on extracurricular activities is about the same.

Yet they’re spending less time with their friends in person – and by large margins. In the late 1970s, 52 percent of 12th-graders got together with their friends almost every day. By 2017, only 28 percent did. The drop was especially pronounced after 2010.

Today’s 10th-graders go to about 17 fewer parties a year than 10th-graders in the 1980s did. Overall, 12th-graders now spend an hour less on in-person social interaction on an average day than their Gen X predecessors did.

We wondered if these trends would have implications for feelings of loneliness, which are also measured in one of the surveys. Sure enough, just as the drop in face-to-face time accelerated after 2010, teens’ feelings of loneliness shot upward.

China Holds Vaccine Parent-Turned-Activist Detained At Beijing Protest

Radio Free Asia:

Authorities in China are holding a prominent parent campaigner under criminal detention after she helped to organized protests over faulty vaccines last month.

He Fangmei, the mother of a baby made sick by a faulty vaccine, was initially detained by police from her home province of Henan on Feb. 25 during a protest by parents of children affected by faulty vaccines outside the National Health Commission in Beijing, rights groups said.

She was taken to an unofficial detention center at Majialou on the outskirts of the capital, before being sent back to her home city of Xinjiang on March 5 under escort.

He, who is also known by her online nickname Shisanmei, was handed a 15-day administrative sentence on her arrival in Xinxiang.

But instead of releasing her, the authorities issued a notice of criminal detention dated March 20, and are continuing to hold her on suspicion of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” according to the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) network.

She is currently being held at Xinxiang Detention Center.

How to Teach Students Historical Inquiry Through Media Literacy And Critical Thinking

Katrina Schwartz:

Many students are not good at evaluating the credibility of what they see and read online according to a now-famous Stanford study that was released just after the 2016 election. And while it’s true that 82 percent of middle schoolers couldn’t tell the difference between a native advertisement and a news article, neither could 59 percent of adults in a study conducted by the advertising industry.

Sam Wineburg, the Stanford professor who led the middle school study, is worried that everyone is “profoundly confused” right now and that schools aren’t doing enough to teach students the skills they need to be effective citizens and digital consumers.

“We blame our kids for not knowing the difference between ads and news stories, but the kinds of skills we are talking about are not widely taught in schools,” Wineburg said on KQED’s Forum program while discussing his new book Why Learn History (When It’s Already on Your Phone). “So we can’t blame young people for not knowing things they haven’t been taught.”

He thinks the most logical place to insert more digital media literacy is in the history curriculum, where students already should be learning to question dominant narratives, find good evidence and practice strong research skills. To do that, Wineburg said teachers need to ditch textbooks.

Forget Bribery. The Real Scam Is Pretending That Degrees Have Value.

Elaine Ou::

As any remaining illusion of a college meritocracy swirls down the drain, there remains one school where students are still admitted based on unadulterated academic aptitude: Caltech.

No bonus points for legacy applicants, nor for star athletes. Even if an underqualified student does happen to slip in, they don’t have an easy way out. The California Institute of Technology does not engage in grade inflation, and the four-year graduation rate stands at 79 percent, well below that of its elite peers.

Quick, name a famous Caltech alum! Maybe Sheldon Cooper? Jean-Luc Picard? No, those are fictional characters. Truly devoted nerds might be able to name Gordon Moore, founder of Intel, or Hal Finney, Bitcoin pioneer.

Despite being an intellectually rigorous institution, Caltech does not graduate many future elites. Alumni go on to be successful in their academic fields, but don’t tend to dominate finance, tech or politics. An academic meritocracy does not reflect how the world actually works.

How Database Works: Frontend Architecture

Madush and Hanushka:

In a computer program, the database is the heart of handling data. It provides an efficient way of storing and retrieving data fast. Learning Database internal architecture in code level is not that so easy since Database has complex architecture. Looking into a complex database is not that easy because of the complexity. But, SQLite is a nice little compact database that used in millions of devices and operating systems. Interesting fact about the SQLite database is that, code is highly readable. All most all of the codes are well commented and architecture is highly layered. This post is to look at the high-level architecture of the SQLite database.

As I early mentioned, SQLite has a highly layered architecture and that can be separated into seven layers. We will go through each of the layers one by one.

Facebook Will Ban White Nationalist And White Supremacist Content

Ryan Broderick and Ryan Mac:

Facebook will begin banning white nationalist, white separatist, and white supremacist content, and direct users who attempt to post such content to the website of the nonprofit Life After Hate, which works to de-radicalize people drawn into hate groups.

The change, first reported Wednesday by Vice’s Motherboard, comes less than two weeks after Facebook was heavily criticized for its role in the Christchurch mosque attack. The gunman went live on the platform for several minutes before the attack began, showing off his guns and at one point ironically said, “Remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie,” referring to the Swedish YouTuber connected to a number of racist and anti-Semitic controversies.

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Facebook for more information on how the ban will work. In a blog post titled “Standing Against Hate,” Facebook published Wednesday, the company said the ban takes effect next week. As of midday Wednesday, the feature did not yet appear to be live, based on searches by BuzzFeed News for terms like “white nationalist,” “white nationalist groups,” and “blood and soil.”

“It’s clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services,” the blog post reads. “Over the past three months our conversations with members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations around the world have confirmed that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups.”

Related: The First Amendment.

Most Americans say colleges should not consider race or ethnicity in admissions

Nikki Graf:

hen asked about eight admissions criteria that colleges may consider, high school grades top the list. About two-thirds of Americans (67%) say this should be a major factor; 26% say it should be a minor factor. And while many colleges have stopped requiring standardized test scores as part of the application process, 47% of Americans say these scores should play a major role, while an additional 41% say they should play a minor role. Most Americans also think colleges should take into account community service involvement.

The public is more divided, however, over whether being the first person in the family to go to college should factor into admissions decisions. Some 47% say this should be considered, while 53% say it should not be a factor.

In addition to race or ethnicity, majorities also say that colleges should not consider an applicant’s gender (81%), whether a relative attended the school (68%) – a practice known as legacy admissions – or athletic ability (57%) when making decisions.

Across several of these items, views vary by education, with those holding at least a bachelor’s degree generally more likely than those with less education to say they should be at least a minor factor in college admissions. For example, college graduates are more likely than those with less education to say colleges should consider race (38% say it should be a major or minor factor vs. 22% among those without a bachelor’s degree) or being a first-generation college student (57% vs. 43%) in admissions decisions.

In interview, former Madison Whitehorse staffer speaks publicly for the first time since altercation with student

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Whether Mueller-Owens will be able to find a place in the community remains to be seen, as he has kept a low profile since media reports surfaced last month about the Feb. 13 incident and sparked a flurry of outrage in the community.

Mikiea Price, the girl’s mother, has said she believed Mueller-Owens snapped when he attempted to escort her daughter out of a classroom after she had repeatedly disrupted it.

“I have been in several situations where students have kicked me, spit on me, broke my ankle, and I still did not conduct myself in that kind of manner,” Price said when no criminal charges were filed against Mueller-Owens.

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham penned an open letter to the Madison community in which she described the altercation as “especially horrific.”

“Jennifer Cheatham has known me ever since she came to Madison and has grown to respect me and trust me,” Mueller-Owens said. “She invited me to the White House with her because of the restorative work I’ve done in the district and my commitment to kids in this city.”

The irony of the incident is that Mueller-Owens served as a positive behavior coach. He traveled to Washington D.C. with Cheatham to attend a conference in 2015 at the White House to talk about reforming school discipline.

“E tu Brute? That’s how I felt. You’re going to stab me in the back, too, Ms. Cheatham?” Mueller-Owens said in response to the superintendent’s open letter.

Mueller-Owens and his attorney, Jordan Loeb, said MMSD’s handling of the incident and his employment with the district was unfair.

Related: Gangs and school
Violence forum

How did we decide that professors don’t deserve job security or a decent salary?

Herb Childress:

Like any addict, I have to be vigilant whenever higher ed calls again. I know what it means to be a member of that cult, to believe in the face of all evidence, to persevere, to serve. I know what it means to take a 50-percent pay cut and move across the country to be allowed back inside the academy as a postdoc after six years in the secular professions. To be grateful to give up a career, to give up economic comfort, in order to once again be a member.

Part of me still wants it. That kind of faith is in my bones, and reason can only bleach it away somewhat. The imprint is still there, faint, hauntingly imprecise, all the more venerable for its openness to dreams. I worked as a college administrator for seven years after that postdoc, because I couldn’t bear to be away from my beloved community even after it had set me aside. Because I couldn’t walk away.

All cults, all abusers, work the same way, taking us away from friends and family, demanding more effort and more sacrifice and more devotion, only to find that we remain the same tantalizing distance from the next promised level. And the sacrifice normalizes itself into more sacrifice, the devotion becomes its own reward, the burn of the hunger as good as the meal.

Related: US Higher Education spending data.

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

DNA Computer Shows Programmable Chemical Machines Are Possible

Samuel Moore:

Probably the most masterful and mysterious act of chemical computation is when a single cell uses its DNA to divide, multiply, and specialize to produce a fully developed organism. In research reported this week in Nature, computer scientists took a small but important step toward harnessing the potential of chemical computation by constructing the first broadly programmable DNA computer.

The system executes a wide variety of 6-bit programs using a set of instructions written in DNA. The researchers used it to perform 21 test programs, though the system is capable of many more. Previous DNA computer schemes were essentially bespoke systems, only capable of solving the single problem they were designed for.

The new system, which is made of just DNA and salt water, is unlikely to find a technological application itself. But it is a step toward developing self-assembling programmable matter, where chemical software automatically directs the construction of materials with complex, programmable nanometer-scale features. Its creators were “trying to understand how to embed computational behaviors within chemistry in order control what chemistry does,” explains Erik Winfree, the professor of computer science and bioengineering who led the research, which was mostly conducted at Caltech.

Tsinghua University suspends Xu Zhangrun, Chinese law professor who criticised Xi Jinping

Echo Xie:

A liberal law professor at Tsinghua University who openly criticised Chinese President Xi Jinping has been suspended and placed under investigation by the university, according to one of his colleagues and several academics familiar with the situation.

Xu Zhangrun, 56, was suspended this month after he wrote several articles criticising Beijing over political and social issues, his colleague Guo Yuhua, a sociology professor at the university, told the South China Morning Post.

In one opinion piece last year, Xu questioned the personality cult surrounding Xi and the decision by the National People’s Congress to scrap the term limit on the Chinese presidency. The article, and others written by Xu critical of the president, were widely circulated online.

The Most Wonderful Map in the World: Urbano Monte’s Planisphere of 1587

Res Obscura:

Perhaps the most striking thing about the map is the elaborate organizational schema of the 60 sheets that comprise it. Monte intended for each of these sheets to be assembled into a vast, 9-foot-square circular world map that had a markedly different projection than the more famous style that had been adopted by Mercator some two decades earlier. As an excellent recent essay about the map explains, Monte used an innovative “polar azimuthal projection; that is, a portrayal of the globe as radiating from a central North Pole, with the degrees of latitude shown at equidistant intervals.”

“Strategic Lawfare”, administrative rule making, the administrative state – and reading

Jessie Opoien:

WILL’s most likely battle with Evers, Esenberg said, is over administrative rules — a “fight that only a wonk could love.” As Evers seeks to implement policies with a Republican Legislature opposed to most of his goals, he could direct state agencies to implement administrative rules — most of which WILL would be likely to oppose.

“To the extent that there are more regulations enacted by a new administration, they would have more targets to shoot at, although they were not lacking for targets in the ‘old world,’” Tseytlin said.

As Evers seeks to freeze enrollment in the state’s taxpayer-funded voucher schools and halt the creation of new charter schools, WILL will push back.

Sobic contends those programs offer alternatives to improve student achievement, while Evers has said the freezes are needed so officials can reexamine the state’s education system and the way each portion of it is funded. Evers has argued the state currently has two parallel systems.

Related: Repeated Wisconsin DPI elementary reading teacher mulligans – this despite our long term, disastrous reading results.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Half of Older Americans Have Nothing in Retirement Savings

Ben Steverman:

The bad news is that almost half of Americans approaching retirement have nothing saved in a 401(k) or other individual account. The good news is that the new estimate, from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, is slightly better than a few years earlier.

Of those 55 and older, 48 percent had nothing put away in a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan or an individual retirement account, according to a GAO estimate for 2016 that was released Tuesday. That’s an improvement from the 52 percent without retirement money in 2013.

Two in five of such households did have access to a traditional pension, also known as a defined benefit plan. However, 29 percent of older Americans had neither a pension nor any assets in a 401(k) or IRA account.

The estimate from the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, is a brief update to a more comprehensive 2015 report on retirement savings in the U.S. Both are based on the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district spends nearly $20,000 per student, far more than most.

Mao goes to high schools: a new front in the war on boys

Larry Kummer:

Here is a typical news story in New America. It is unusual only because this event occurred in high school – not college. Boys are guilty of unauthorized thoughts and non-politically correct speech to friends. Then comes the government crackdown and a Maoist-like struggle session – culminating in confession and self-criticism by the guilty. Followed by new programs for indoctrination using authoritarian pressure plus intensive social pressure to conform. It is America’s new education, since teaching about reading and math is so boring. School officials find political activism more fulfilling!

What If Elite Colleges Switched To A Lottery For Admissions?

Anya Kamanetz:

Better standards than test scores

For a subset of privileged and striving Americans, this would come as a huge shock. They have a lot riding on the current arduous process of finding the “dream school” for each student and, even more so, on the lifelong work of shaping their kids into being the “dream student” for a particular group of elite schools. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute is among those pointing out that an admissions lottery would be a “huge blow” to the prestige of elite colleges, not to mention hiring practices in the corporate world.

But let’s put aside for a moment how feasible the idea is. Would it even work as advertised?

The Other LA College Cheating Scandal — The One You Might Have Missed

Josie Huang:

UCLA is at the center of a cheating scandal that federal authorities say involved former and current students impersonating dozens of Chinese nationals who needed good scores on English tests to get into college in the U.S.

The six defendants, five with ties to UCLA, allegedly used fake passports, doctored with their own photos, to pass themselves off as the Chinese nationals at testing centers in and around Los Angeles as recently as 2016.

They were paid about $400 to $1,000 each time they sat for an exam, said Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Ryan. [Compared to $10,000 to $75,000 allegedly charged per test in that other college cheating scandal that broke this week.]

Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction “DPI”, lead for many years by new Governor Tony Evers, has waived thousands of elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirements. This, despite our long term, disastrous reading results.

Chan Stroman tracks the frequent Foundations of Reading (FoRT) mulligans:

DPI Rhetoric: “We set a high bar for achievement”.

Wisconsin DPI efforts to weaken the Foundations of Reading Test for elementary teachers

Foundations of Reading Elementary Reading Teacher Exam Results.

December, 2018: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2013: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

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

K-12 attempts to address learning include the implementation – and abandonment – of “one size fits all” courses, such as English 10 and “small learning communities“.

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

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

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

Yet, spending continues to grow, substantially. Governor Evers has proposed a double digit increase in K-12 tax and spending for the next two years. Once in a great while, a courageous soul dives in and evaluates spending effectiveness: a proposed (not heard from again) Madison maintenance referendum audit.

“Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” – Former Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School. Curiously, former school board member Ed Hughes, who voted against Madison Prep, is supporting Kaleem Caire for school board, 8 years hence. Yet, how many students have we failed as time marches on?

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

Of the 65 students plus or minus it kind of changes this year 24 of them are regular ed students.

Another way to say they don’t have an IEP so there is no excuse for that reading intervention in (that group).

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

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

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


What happens after rich kids bribe their way into college? I teach them


If you think corruption in elite US college admissions is bad, what happens once those students are in the classroom is even worse.

I know, because I teach at an elite American university – one of the oldest and best-known, which rejects about 90% of applicants each year for the small number of places it can offer to undergraduates.

In this setting, where teaching quality is at a premium and students expect faculty to give them extensive personal attention, the presence of unqualified students admitted through corrupt practices is an unmitigated disaster for education and research. While such students have long been present in the form of legacy admits, top sports recruits and the kids of multimillion-dollar donors, the latest scandal represents a new tier of Americans elbowing their way into elite universities: unqualified students from families too poor to fund new buildings, but rich enough to pay six-figure bribes to coaches and admissions advisers. This increase in the proportion of students who can’t do the work that elite universities expect of them has – at least to me and my colleagues – begun to create a palpable strain on the system, threatening the quality of education and research we are expected to deliver.

Students who can’t get into elite schools through the front door based on academic merit don’t change once they’re in class. They can’t do the work, and are generally uninterested in gaining the skills they need in order to do well. Exhibit A from the recent admissions corruption scandal is “social media celebrity” Olivia Jade Gianulli, whose parents bought her a place at the University of Southern California, and who announced last August to her huge YouTube following that “I don’t know how much of school I’m going to attend. But I do want the experience of, like, game days, partying … I don’t really care about school.”

Every unqualified student admitted to an elite university ends up devouring hugely disproportionate amounts of faculty time and resources that rightfully belong to all the students in class. By monopolizing faculty time to help compensate for their lack of necessary academic skills, unqualified students can also derail faculty research that could benefit everyone, outside the university as well as within it. To save themselves and their careers, many of my colleagues have decided that it is no longer worth it to uphold high expectations in the classroom. “Lower your standards,” they advise new colleagues. “The fight isn’t worth it, and the administration won’t back you up if you try.”

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

Mistakes, we’ve drawn a few

Sarah Leo:

At The Economist, we take data visualisation seriously. Every week we publish around 40 charts across print, the website and our apps. With every single one, we try our best to visualise the numbers accurately and in a way that best supports the story. But sometimes we get it wrong. We can do better in future if we learn from our mistakes — and other people may be able to learn from them, too.

After a deep dive into our archive, I found several instructive examples. I grouped our crimes against data visualisation into three categories: charts that are (1) misleading, (2) confusing and (3) failing to make a point. For each, I suggest an improved version that requires a similar amount of space — an important consideration when drawing charts to be published in print.

The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything

Shane Parrish:

There are two types of knowledge and most of us focus on the wrong one. The first type of knowledge focuses on knowing the name of something. The second focuses on knowing something. These are not the same thing. The famous Nobel winning physicist Richard Feynman understood the difference between knowing something and knowing the name of something and it’s one of the most important reasons for his success. In fact, he created a formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else.

It’s called the Feynman Technique and it will help you learn anything faster and with greater understanding. Best of all, it’s incredibly easy to implement.

‘‘You Got Your High School Diploma?’’

Elizabeth Weil:

Five Keys’ official policy is to try to slow students down. “We’ve had folks over the years say we need to get people high school diplomas because that’s their ticket for a job and they can’t spend a lot of time with us,” Steve Good said. “That’s great, but the high school diploma still needs to mean something. It needs to be a benchmark for something — minimum qualifications and skill set. If we’re graduating people who can’t read and aren’t numerate, what’s the point? We’re no better than a diploma mill.” To protect against this, Five Keys students must perform at a seventh- to ninth-grade level, depending on the class, before they can take the core curriculum required to graduate. Five Keys also tries to steer students away from using the AB-167/216 exception if they’re making normal progress.

“I don’t want him thinking he needs five credits and he needs 30 credits,” John said to Shelia, hoping to manage Raymon’s expectations. “I want him thinking he needs 30 credits and then needs five.”

Raymon strutted down the bus’s center aisle, pretending that he was walking across a stage, collecting a diploma.

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

The fall of Rome and the retreat of European multiculturalism: A historical trope as a discourse of authority in public debate

Andrew Gillett and Knox Peden:

History, as the papers in this volume show, can be used as a discourse of authority in a variety of ways. Most obviously, past events are used as causal explanations of present conditions (e.g., the critique that the reduction of taxation rates because of “trickle-down economics” in the 1990s led to inadequate government revenues now). History can serve as a moral imperative urging change (such as the argument that occupation of indigenous peoples’ lands by colonial settler societies demands redress). And history can be an affective discourse: a historical phenomenon with no immediate connection to the present can be deployed to suggest that past conditions could be replicated now; past historical periods can serve as templates for the present not because of actual causation but because of the sense that patterns of history may be repeated. In the early twenty-first century, such affective use of history has been particularly apparent with the invocation of “Classical” history, the history of ancient Greece and Rome. As Classics, once a mainstay of European education systems, has become increasingly peripheral, Classical tropes have nevertheless maintained or perhaps increased their appeal for argumentation from simile, especially for conservative commentators. The year 2017 alone has seen popularisation of the “Thucydides Trap” as a model for predicting great power competition between China and the USA, and public debates between British Classicists and Brexit supporters over the implications of the end of the ancient Roman Republic for British immigration policy and Brexit (Allison, 2017 Allison, G. (2017, June 9). The thucydides trap. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from
The Thucydides Trap
[Google Scholar]
; “Mary Beard v Arron Banks”, 2017 Mary Beard v Arron Banks: ‘Your Vision of the EU is Like Mine of Rome – A Dream’. (2017, January 17). The Guardian. Retrieved from
[Google Scholar]
). This paper examines one recent incident of the use of a highly charged trope of Classical history, the Fall of the Roman Empire, as a discourse of authority in current public debates on western multicultural policies, in relation to the tragic events of the Paris terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015. The public debate over this incident involved the intersection of multiple political, cultural, and academic factors: neo-conservative critique of multicultural and immigration policies and liberal responses; “neo-medievalist” interpretation of Islamist terrorism; the cultural status of Classics and Euro-centric “grand narratives” in British education; popular history and its use in online venues; and academic revisionism and reaction.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: NJ Pension System Unlikely to Meet FY2019 7.5% Assumed Rate of Return

Laura Waters:

Without a big rally by the end of the fiscal year, New Jersey’s public-employee pension system doesn’t stand a chance of making its 7.5 percent assumed rate of return.

How far off track are the returns? For the first eight months of fiscal 2019 (which runs through the end of June), the pension system’s investments have generated just under 2 percent, according to the latest figures released yesterday at the New Jersey State Investment Council’s public meeting in Trenton.

The investment-performance figures are a little better for the calendar year, with the returns running a little above 6 percent. Meanwhile, long-term investment performance is still strong, with returns over the past 10 years coming in above 10 percent, easily beating the pension system’s annual assumed rate of return.

New Jersey’s $74.9 billion pension system covers nearly 800,000 current and retired government workers. Worker pensions are funded primarily through contributions from employees and government employers, but revenue derived from long-term investment gains also plays a role. And given New Jersey’s long history of underfunding its employer obligation — which has helped make the state pension system one of the worst funded in the country — there’s even more pressure on investment managers to generate strong returns.

Camera Above The Classroom

Xue Yujie:

Jason Todd first discovered his school’s secret on the internet.

It was late September 2018, less than a month after high school had started. Jason was idly scrolling through his news feed on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo when he saw a trending hashtag — #ThankGodIGraduatedAlready — and clicked it.

Under the hashtag, someone had posted a photo depicting a bird’s-eye view of a classroom. Around 30 students sat at their desks, facing the blackboard. Their backpacks lay discarded at their feet. It looked like a typical Chinese classroom.

Except for the colored rectangles superimposed on each student’s face. “ID: 000010, State 1: Focused,” read a line of text in a green rectangle around the face of a student looking directly at the blackboard. “ID: 000015, State 5: Distracted,” read the text in a red rectangle — this student had buried his head in his desk drawer. A blue rectangle hovered around a girl standing behind her desk. The text read: “ID: 00001, State 3: Answering Questions.”

Jason thought the photo was a scene from a sci-fi movie — until he noticed the blue school badges embroidered on the chest of the familiar white polos worn by the students. It was exactly the same as the one he was wearing.

Computational Mathematics with SageMath

Paul Zimmermann, Alexandre Casamayou, Nathann Cohen, Guillaume Connan, Thierry Dumont, Laurent Fousse, François Maltey, Matthias Meulien, Marc Mezzarobba, Clément Pernet, Nicolas M. Thiéry, Erik Bray, John Cremona, Marcelo Forets, Alexandru Ghitza, Hugh Thomas:

SageMath, or Sage for short, is an open-source mathematical software system based on the Python language. Sage is developed by an international community of hundreds of teachers and researchers, whose aim is to provide an alternative to the commercial products Magma, Maple, Mathematica and Matlab. To reach this goal, Sage relies on several open-source programs, including GAP, Maxima, PARI and various scientific libraries for Python, to which thousands of new functions are added. Sage is freely available and is supported by all modern operating systems.

For high school students, Sage provides a wonderful scientific and graphical calculator. It efficiently supports undergraduate students in their computations in analysis, linear algebra, calculus, etc. For graduate students, researchers and engineers, Sage provides the most recent algorithms and tools for many domains of mathematics. This is why several universities all around the world already use Sage at the undergraduate level, including for student internships.

Wisconsin Governor Proposes 10% K-12 Tax & Spending increase over the next two years

Bethany Blankely:

“Will massive increases in spending actually improve student outcomes?” WILL asks. According to an analysis of education spending and outcomes, WILL says, “probably not.”

WILL’s Truth in Spending: An Analysis of K-12 Spending in Wisconsin compares K-12 spending on Wisconsin public schools and student outcomes. Based on the most recent available data, Wisconsin’s K-12 education spending is comparable to the rest of the country, but it already spends more money, on average, than the majority of states, according to the report. Wisconsin spends $600 per pupil more than the median state spends.

Based on WILL’s econometric analysis, no relationship between higher spending and outcomes exists in Wisconsin. On average, high-spending districts perform the same or worse on state-mandated exams and the ACT relative to low-spending districts, the analysis found.

Slinger and Hartford school districts spend significantly less than the state average on education but their students’ Forward Exam performances are significantly higher than other districts, the report found. By comparison, White Lake and Bayfield districts have “woeful proficiency rates despite spending far more than the average district,” the report states.

In Evers’ budget address, he said, “more than one million Wisconsinites have raised their own property taxes to support local schools in their communities,” Matt Kittle at the MacIver Institute notes. “But they chose to do so,” Kittle says, “through the mechanism of referendum that offers school districts the ability to set their own priorities and not make taxpayers elsewhere pick up an ever-increasing portion of the tab.”

Evers’ budget plan calls for a return to the state picking up two-thirds of K-12 funding, but would put more money into the state’s long-failing schools, Kittle notes, “while he looks to punish Wisconsin’s school choice program.”

This is counterintuitive to the facts, WILL argues, as private choice schools and charter schools in Wisconsin achieve more with less. According to recent analysis, these schools achieve better academic outcomes despite spending thousands less per student than traditional public schools.

Madison spends far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, now around $20,000 per student.

Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

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

New York county declares measles outbreak emergency


A county in New York state has declared a state of emergency following a severe outbreak of measles.

Rockland County, on the Hudson river north of New York City, has barred unvaccinated children from public spaces after 153 cases were confirmed.

Violating the order will be punishable by a fine of $500 (£378) and up to six months in prison.

The announcement follows other outbreaks of the disease in Washington, California, Texas and Illinois.

Vaccination rates have dropped steadily in the US with many parents objecting for philosophical or religious reasons, or because they believe misleading information that vaccines cause autism in children.

Facebook to Fight Belgian Ban on Tracking Users (and Even Non-Users)

Stephanie Bodoni:

Facebook Inc. is attacking a Belgian court order forcing it to stop tracking local users’ surfing habits, including those of millions who aren’t signed up to the social network.

The U.S. tech giant will come face to face with the Belgian data protection authority in a Brussels appeals court for a two-day hearing starting on Wednesday. The company will challenge the 2018 court order and the threat of a daily fine of 250,000 euros ($281,625) should it fail to comply.

Armed with new powers since the introduction of stronger European Union data protection rules, Belgium’s privacy watchdog argues Facebook “still violates the fundamental rights of millions of residents of Belgium.” The Brussels Court of First Instance in February 2018 ruled that Facebook doesn’t provide people with enough information about how and why it collects data on their web use, or what it does with the information.

“Facebook then uses that information to profile your surfing behavior and uses that profile to show you targeted advertising, such as advertising about products and services from commercial companies, messages from political parties, etc,” the Belgian regulator said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.