Starting With the “Why” in Personalized Learning

Bethany Gross:

Last spring, on our first visit to 35 schools committed to personalized learning, teachers often told us they weren’t sure what they were supposed to be doing to personalize learning. Revisiting the same schools this fall, we realized a more fundamental issue was at play: many teachers didn’t seem entirely sure why they were personalizing learning in the first place.

The teachers we interviewed certainly had clear goals for their students: to be ready for college and career, to be lifelong learners and successful adults. And most described the specific objectives for knowledge, skills, and attitudes their students would need to reach these goals. But only rarely could teachers tell us how the activities they do to personalize learning would deliver on these objectives. The problem is, without starting with that end in mind, it’s nearly impossible to build a coherent personalized learning (PL) approach.

Born to Be Wild: Texas kids spend 7.17 hours per day in a classroom, longer than students in any other state.

Dan Oko:

In Texas, shifting demographics are largely to blame for this detachment from nature. We’re predominantly urban now and our cities have swelled with newcomers; fewer and fewer Texans have roots that trace back to the ranching and farming families that once quite literally shaped our state as they worked the land. And then there’s our overtaxed educational system. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, Texas kids spend 7.17 hours per day in a classroom, longer than students in any other state.

In 2009, using Louv’s research as a rallying cry, Carter Smith, the executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife, worked with a team of educators, legislators, and nonprofit leaders to form Texas Children in Nature, a private-public network of more than three hundred organizations that aims to make it easier for families to find al fresco activities. “Getting kids outdoors is a necessity, not a luxury,” says Smith, who speaks as both a father and a seventh-generation Texan. “With growing competition for discretionary leisure time, we really need to find ways for our kids to enjoy nature.” So how do we re-wild the next generation?

Here’s The Fine Print On The Country’s Biggest-Ever Free College Plan Listen· 3:46

Any Kamenetz:

New York state has passed legislation that would create the largest experiment in the country to offer free tuition at two- and four-year colleges. The Excelsior Scholarship, approved over the weekend as part of the state budget, would cover full-time students in the State University of New York system, which totals 64 campuses and 1.3 million students.

Fact-Check: Bernie Sanders Promises Free College. Will It Work?
Fact-Check: Bernie Sanders Promises Free College. Will It Work?
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, appeared with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and state education leaders in an event hailing the new program, which would begin this fall and is estimated to cost $163 million per year.

Students from families making up to $100,000 a year would be eligible in the program’s first year, and by the third year that would increase to $125,000 a year.

University of Wisconsin Faculty Find Widespread Bullying

Colleen Flaherty:

Some 35 percent of faculty members who completed a survey on work-life issues at the University of Wisconsin at Madison reported having been bullied by colleagues within the last three years, The Cap Times reported. “The measure of incidence of hostile and intimidating behavior is rather surprising,” reads a new report on survey results prepared by the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute at Madison.

The same survey found that 91 percent of respondents said major budget cuts due to decreased state funding lowered morale. Some 72 percent of respondents said controversial new tenure policies adopted after changes to the state statute on tenure lowered morale. The survey involved tenured and tenure-track faculty members and saw a 59 percent response rate.

About half of women and faculty members with disabilities said they’d experienced bullying. Professors with tenure and those in the social sciences also were more likely to report having been bullied than participants over all. Some 42 percent of respondents also said they’d witnessed bullying, defined in the survey as “hostile and intimidating behavior.”

The institute has conducted the work-life survey five times since 2003, but the most recent survey, conducted last spring, was the first to ask about bullying. Hostile and intimidating behavior was also a factor in 16 percent of cases brought to Madison’s Ombuds Office in 2015-16, according to an annual report. Reports included bullying from supervisors and peers. In 2014, the UW Madison Faculty Senate and Academic Staff Assembly adopted policies defining hostile and intimidating behavior and establishing informal and formal processes for reporting it, according to The Cap Times.

Ohio CPS took 7-year-old from parents without cause

The Blaze:

Do you think you know what’s best for your kids? You could end up battling the state for your child like this Ohio family.

On Thursday, Glenn Beck and the guys talked to Ohio parents Christian and Katie Maple, who have been fighting the state to get back their 7-year-old son, Camden. Their son’s school called Child Protective Services (CPS) after the family refused to have their typically “rambunctious” son evaluated for mental health.

After a month-long battle, dad Christian and stepmom Katie finally have their child back in their home, but they are still entangled in a court fight that is costing the family emotionally as well as financially. The couple, who welcomed their sixth child to the family in January, have set up a GoFundMe page to help with legal expenses.

Christian described Camden as “creative” and smart, tending to finish his classwork early and then act up due to boredom.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Obama’s Debt Interest Bomb

Wall Street Journal:

If that seems small, consider that interest payments rose $28 billion for the six months of fiscal 2017 to $152 billion. That’s a 22.2% increase, among the biggest in any single spending item highlighted by CBO. The increases reflect the growing debt but in particular the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates after years of near-zero rates.

While Mr. Obama was doubling the national debt over eight years, the Fed’s monetary policies spared him from the fiscal consequences. The Fed’s near-zero policy kept interest rates at historic lows that reduced net interest payments even as the overall debt increased. The Fed’s bond-buying programs also earned money that the Fed turned over to Treasury each year, reducing the size of the federal budget deficit by tens of billions of dollars.

This not-so-free Fed lunch is starting to end. CBO estimates that $160 billion more spending will be required each year over the next decade if interest rates are merely one percentage point higher than in its current projections. As interest rates rise, the Fed will also have to pay banks more to keep excess reserves parked at the central bank. After its latest rate increase in March, the Fed now pays banks 1% on reserve balances or about $20 billion a year, and that will go up.

Locally, Madison continues to increase K-12 tax and spending.

The cost of California’s public pensions is breaking the bank. Here’s one reason this problem is so hard to fix

Judy Lin:

More than 20 times in the last 15 years, political leaders looking to control California’s fast-growing public pension costs have tried to put reform initiatives before the voters.

None of the proposals has made it onto the ballot.

Often, advocates could not raise enough money for signature gathering, advertising and other costs of an initiative campaign. Some of the most promising efforts, however, ran into a different kind of obstacle: an official summary, written by the state attorney general, that described the initiative in terms likely to alienate voters. Facing bleak prospects at the polls, the sponsors abandoned the campaigns.

Taxpayer advocates contend that the attorneys general — Democrats elected with robust support from organized labor — put a finger on the scale, distilling the initiatives in language that echoed labor’s rhetoric.

Asking people to show up on time is not inclusive, says Clemson employee training

Mitchell Gunter:

The invoice, labelled, “Department: Chief Diversity Officer,” refers to Chief Diversity Officer Lee Gill, who, according to publicly provided salary information, earned $185,850 per year as of October 1, 2016.

Campus Reform reached out to Gill for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

“Employees who have not completed the training will receive two automated reminders,” the email continues.

The online training presents a variety of scenarios featuring fictional characters. In one scenario between “Henry” and “Maxine,” Maxine thinks that inclusion and diversity training are about “political correctness,” and are a distraction, in response to which the training suggests that Henry should “discuss how diversity can lead to better decisions,” and “decrease employee turnover,”

The incorrect answer, it notes, is to “say nothing” and assume Maxine is correct.

When You need to Explain to Your Kid the Internet Is not Safe

Carolina Milanesi:

Last week was time for me to explain to my child the internet isn’t a safe place. It wasn’t pretty. My nine-year-old daughter has been going online on a parental controlled browser and to play multi-gamer Minecraft with her friends but nothing else — or so I thought. Last week, she mentioned playing with these “friends” on an app that lets you create a family of dogs. I remained calm as I explained we had discussed this issue before and that she was not allowed to go online because people on the internet are not always who they seem to be and they might ask her questions that are personal. With a somewhat annoyed tone, she replied that she is not naïve and that when “this boy” asked her how old she was and where she lived she did not reply. That is when I freaked out. I took a deep breath and started explaining.

Just because You are not Face to Face with Someone, doesn’t make it Safer

While not being physically in the same room or playground might mean you do not get punched or pushed or mocked, it does not mean they cannot hurt you. Just because you do not see them, it does not mean they are not real. That was the easy part.

“But mom, they are just kids like me!” My heartbroken daughter whispered. That was when the hard part started. Explaining that people online can pretend to be kids and they might be interested in her the way grownups are interested in each other was the hardest thing I ever had to explain. Much harder than explaining where babies come from. Within a couple of minutes, my daughter went from my sweet little girl to the potential victim of an online predator. I know I might be overreacting. I know there are more genuine kids online than there are predators but there are also numbers. According to the US Department of Justice, approximately 1 in 7 (13%) youth internet users received unwanted sexual solicitations. One in 25 youths received an online sexual solicitation in which the solicitor tried to make offline contact. So, forgive me but it’s my baby and I am not taking any chances. As much as I think she is too young to fully understand what I am talking about, it is my duty as a parent not to scare her but to make her aware of the risks. This is no different than telling your children they should not talk to strangers the first time they are somewhere without you at their side.

You won’t believe how much money colleges make on rejected applications

Chelsie Arnold

As of fall 2017, Harvard University dropped the Law School Admissions Test as a requirement for law school applicants.

This won’t lead to more people being admitted — but it just might increase the number of submitted applications. (After all, the whole idea behind Harvard deciding to accept the GRE instead of the LSAT is to make the law school more accessible and save students money.)

And at $75 per application, Harvard could stand to benefit too, in the form of more revenue.

Already, Harvard alone makes nearly $3 million in gross profits off of rejected applications each year, according to a new study conducted by UCEazy, a company that assists first generation immigrants with the college application and admission process.

An Interview With Robert Caro

New York Review of Books:

Did you grow up in a house full of books?

No. My mother got very sick when I was five, and she died when I was eleven. My father was a Polish immigrant. He wasn’t really a reader. Books were not part of the house, but my mother, before she died, had my father promise to send me to Horace Mann. When I think of my childhood, it’s Horace Mann.

I was the editor of the school newspaper. Every Friday, I’d take a trolley up to Yonkers with a rotating cast of the other editors. We’d get off at Getty Square, take all our copy over to a Linotype shop, and then we would stay there while the hot type came out, and when the page was complete they’d ink it and put a piece of paper over it with a roller, and that’s how you’d read it.

The nicest thing that’s happened to me, really, is that four years ago Horace Mann said they wanted to name a prize after me. I said that would be great, so long as they made it for something that I really wanted to be studied. And they said, Well, what is that? I said, I want students to learn that writing, the quality of the prose, matters in nonfiction, that writing matters in history. So they created the Robert Caro ’53 Prize for Literary Excellence in the Writing of History. My wife, Ina, is always saying, when I win awards, You’re not excited. I say, I’ll pretend to be excited if you want. It’s like those awards are happening to somebody else, you know? But to go back up there to that school that I loved and to see tacked up on the door of every classroom, deadline for the caro prize—you say, My God, that’s exciting.

The Math Trick Behind MP3s, JPEGs, and Homer Simpson’s Face

Aatosh Bashia:

Nine years ago, I was sitting in a college math physics course and my professor spelt out an idea that kind of blew my mind. I think it isn’t a stretch to say that this is one of the most widely applicable mathematical discoveries, with applications ranging from optics to quantum physics, radio astronomy, MP3 and JPEG compression, X-ray crystallography, voice recognition, and PET or MRI scans. This mathematical tool—named the Fourier transform, after 18th-century French physicist and mathematician Joseph Fourier—was even used by James Watson and Francis Crick to decode the double helix structure of DNA from the X-ray patterns produced by Rosalind Franklin. (Crick was an expert in Fourier transforms, and joked about writing a paper called, “Fourier Transforms for birdwatchers,” to explain the math to Watson, an avid birder.)

Metamorphabet: Imaginative ABC’s


Metamorphabet is a playful, interactive alphabet for all ages. Poke, prod, drag, and spin each of the 26 letters of the alphabet to reveal surprising and luminous transformations.

• Easy-to-use interface
• Responsive, organic, toy-like design
• Kids are invited to explore the alphabet and expand their vocabulary
• Adults will be engaged by the fluid, rich interactions and beautifully crafted universe

Metamorphabet contains NO in-app purchases.

Parents need more information to hold schools accountable

Susan Olivieri:

This week, states begin submitting their implementation plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act and they find themselves in the driver’s seat to ensure that the public has access to clear and accurate information about schools in their community.

The challenge for states will be to find the political will to do the right thing when it comes to accountability. And to do the right thing for parents, especially as federal and state policymakers increasingly promote the expansion of school choice.

They’re all rich white kids and they’ll do just fine, NOT!

Invisible Manipulators of Your Mind

Tamsin Shaw:

We are living in an age in which the behavioral sciences have become inescapable. The findings of social psychology and behavioral economics are being employed to determine the news we read, the products we buy, the cultural and intellectual spheres we inhabit, and the human networks, online and in real life, of which we are a part. Aspects of human societies that were formerly guided by habit and tradition, or spontaneity and whim, are now increasingly the intended or unintended consequences of decisions made on the basis of scientific theories of the human mind and human well-being.

How States Can Promote Local Innovation, Options, and Problem-Solving in Public Education

Jordan Posamentier, Robin Lake and Paul Hill:

State policy plays a critical role in determining whether and how well local education improvement strategies can be implemented. As states rework their education policies under ESSA, state and local leaders need a way to assess their current policy environment and identify the changes needed to encourage local innovation and problem solving.

To identify the legal and regulatory barriers to local autonomy, CRPE researched 14 states that already have one or more large cities pursuing local innovation strategies. We find that:

The accretion of state law over the years has constrained local education leaders’ ability to innovate, improve, and transform their schools.
States have set up command-and-control frameworks, viewing districts rather than schools as public education’s first responders, which is at odds with school-level efforts to address the particular needs of students and communities.

Schools Rack Their Brains as Bus Driver Jobs Go Begging

Valerie Bauerlein:

In the past three years, Wake County has cut one in five bus routes, bumped children off the bus who live within a mile of their school, required others to walk farther to the bus stop, and now is considering starting some schools earlier in the morning.

Why? A shortage of school bus drivers.

Wake County, one of North Carolina’s biggest, is contending with a school system that has grown 25% to 160,000 pupils in the past decade and a supply of drivers that has fallen 18% to 740 in the same period. Supervisors regularly have to fill in.

New York Fed chief warns on US student debt

Jennifer Bissell:

A top Federal Reserve policymaker warned on Monday about the long-term consequences of student debt on home ownership and consumer spending, saying that college loan delinquency rates remained stubbornly high.

William Dudley, president of the New York Fed, said seriously delinquent student debt rates across the US — the highest of any category of household debt by far — increased to 11.2 per cent in the last three months of 2016. The next category — serious credit card debt — remained at 7.1 per cent. Seriously delinquent is debt that is 90 days or more past due for payment.

Aggregate student loan balances, meanwhile, stand at $1.3tn, a 170 per cent increase from 2006, according to the New York Fed, as more students take out larger loans and after states have reduced their financial support to colleges.

Rules of memory ‘beautifully’ rewritten

James Gallagher:

What really happens when we make and store memories has been unravelled in a discovery that surprised even the scientists who made it.

The US and Japanese team found that the brain “doubles up” by simultaneously making two memories of events.

One is for the here-and-now and the other for a lifetime, they found.

It had been thought that all memories start as a short-term memory and are then slowly converted into a long-term one.

Experts said the findings were surprising, but also beautiful and convincing.

‘Significant advance’
Two parts of the brain are heavily involved in remembering our personal experiences.

Emanuel To Meet With Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Wednesday


“We were surprised to discover how much CPS has saturated charter schools in neighborhoods with declining school-age populations,” said Roosevelt Associate Professor of Sociology Stephanie Farmer in a March press release when the report was published. “We believe this decision is a strong contributing factor to the current strain on CPS’ finances.”
The report found that 20 new charter schools located within a 1.5-mile walking radius of a school closed for low enrollment have opened since 2013. Additionally, 71 percent of new charter schools opened between 2000 and 2012 were within a 1.5 mile radius of the 49 schools that closed in 2013 due to low enrollment. An audit of CPS charter schools filed with the Illinois State Board of Education in 2015 found that some 27 percent had a combined outstanding debt of $227 million (independent of CPS’s overall debt), which will be paid back with taxpayer dollars.

The Chicago Mayor appeared in an interesting Propublica article on influence and airline mergers.

How I Learned to Take the SAT Like a Rich Kid

Dylan Hernandez:

The summer before my junior year of high school, I boarded an airplane for the first time. Three hours later I was in picture-perfect New England, where I was soon to be surrounded by a diverse and extremely accomplished group of peers. I had been awarded a generous scholarship to attend the Phillips Exeter summer semester — five weeks of classes and sports, with some optional SAT prep mixed in.

I’m from Flint, Mich., and even though I recently transferred to a private Catholic high school in my city, top tier-education is new to my family. Neither of my parents went to college, and in Rust Belt regions like the middle of Michigan, education is falling behind the rest of the country. Stanford researchers found, for example, that sixth graders in our town are two to three grade levels behind the national average. They are almost five grade levels behind students in more prosperous counties 30 miles away.

The friends I made at Phillips Exeter were from fancy-sounding towns and seemed to have it all. Most attended prestigious private or highly ranked public schools. They were impossibly sporty, charming and intelligent, with perfect smiles and impeccably curated Instagram profiles. The program we attended costs around $10,000, so they were clearly affluent, but they also came from diverse backgrounds. They had been on exotic vacations and had volunteered for the needy. They were truly interesting people.

Why Many Universities Make Free Speech a Low Priority

John McGinnis:

My friend Heather Mac Donald is the latest speaker to be prevented from presenting on a college campus—this time at Claremont McKenna. Heather’s talk was to show how policing saves citizens’ lives, including those of African-Americans. Heather is the one of the most eloquent speakers I know. It is outrageous that some students prevented her from speaking. But perhaps not surprising: they fear that she may persuade their fellow students that it is some of their preferred policies, not the police, that are the greater danger to minority communities.

After the suppression of Heather’s talk a Vice-President at Claremont voiced bureaucratic regret in the manner that has become familiar after similar such incidents across the country. But it is generally a mistake to believe that university administrators at these universities or many others will do what it takes to defend free speech and thus free inquiry at their institutions of learning. The best evidence of the low priority they place is that students who prevent talks are almost never disciplined, let alone expelled or prosecuted for their interference. As Robert George reminds us every day, no has yet been held accountable for the assault on Charles Murray and his host that occurred at Middlebury. No one has yet been disciplined for the recent violence at Berkeley over a speaker either.

Book Pins Corporate Greed on a Lust Bred at Harvard

Andrew Ross Sorkin:

If you were to look for one ingredient that binds together the nation’s chief executives, top managers and boards of directors, you’d find a remarkably consistent commonality, now and in generations past: A disproportionate number of them are graduates of Harvard Business School.

An M.B.A. from H.B.S., as those in the know refer to it, has long been the ultimate Good Housekeeping stamp of approval on any résumé. Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook — and the list goes on and on. The number of Fortune 500 chief executives who earned their business degrees at Harvard is three times the total from the next most popular business school, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

It is hard to overstate the school’s influence on corporate America.

Related: Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015).

A Quarter Century of Changes in the Elementary and Secondary Teaching Force: From 1987 to 2012


This report looks at changes in several key characteristics of the teaching force between the 1987-88 and 2011-12 school years, including the number of teachers, the level of teaching experience, and the racial/ethnic diversity of the teaching force. The report focuses on how these demographic changes varied across different types of teachers and schools.

Among the findings about changes in the teacher workforce over this 25 year period:

The teacher work force grew by 46 percent between 1987-88 and 2011-12. Above average growth was seen among teachers in the fields of English as a Second Language, English language arts, mathematics, foreign language, natural science, and special education. Below-average growth was seen in the fields of general elementary education, vocational-technical education, and art/music;

The growth in the teaching force varied across different types of schools. The teaching force in high-poverty public schools grew by nearly 325 percent while the number of teachers in low-poverty schools declined by almost 20 percent. The number of teachers in private schools grew at a higher rate than in public schools. However, private school teachers still account for only about 12 percent of the teacher work force; and

The teacher force became more diverse. While minority teachers remain underrepresented in the teaching force, both the number and proportion of minority teachers increased. Between 1987–88 and 2011–12, the number of minority teachers grew by 104 percent, compared to 38 percent growth in the number of White teachers. The percentage of teachers who belonged to all minority groups increased from 12.4 percent in 1987-88 to 17.3 percent in 2011-12.

Teachers who sexually abuse students still find classroom jobs

Steve Reilly:

By 2005, administrators at Orangefield Independent School District, about a two-hour drive from Houston, had investigated complaints by six different students.
When it came time to deal with the Orangefield High School football coach, administrators didn’t fire McFarlin or report him to police. They didn’t even notify Texas education officials who had the power to take away his teaching license.
Instead, they let him become someone else’s problem.

They hid his behavior from state regulators, parents and coaches.

The Roots of the New Urban Crisis

Richard Florida:

Cities, it seems, are imprinted in my DNA. I was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1957, back when it was a thriving city, bustling with iconic department stores, morning and evening newspapers, libraries and museums, a busy downtown, and a large middle class. My parents, like millions of other Americans, moved to the suburbs when I was a toddler. They chose the small town of North Arlington, about a fifteen-minute drive from Newark. They did so, as they often reminded me, because of the good schools the town offered, particularly the Catholic school, Queen of Peace, which they believed would prepare my brother and me for college, putting us on a path to a better life. Even though we had moved out of Newark, we still visited the old neighborhood on most Sundays, joining my grandmother and the rest of the family who still lived there for large Italian suppers.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: 2017 Minnesota Tax Incidence Study Analysis of Minnesota’s household and business taxes.

Minnesota Department of Revenue:

I am pleased to transmit to you the fourteenth Minnesota Tax Incidence Study undertaken by the Department of Revenue in response to Minnesota Statutes, Section 270C.13 (Laws of 1990, Chapter 604, Article 10, Section 9; Laws of 2005, Chapter 151, Article 1, Section 15).

This version of the incidence study report builds on past studies and provides new information regarding tax incidence. Previous studies have estimated how the burden of Minnesota state and local taxes was distributed across income groups from a historic perspective. This study does that by displaying the burden of state and local taxes across income groups in 2014. It includes over 99 percent of Minnesota taxes paid, those paid by business as well as those paid by individuals. The study addresses the important question: “Who pays Minnesota’s taxes?”

The report also estimates tax incidence across income groups for Minnesota state and local taxes for 2019. By forecasting incidence into the future, it is possible to give policymakers a view of the state and local tax system that reflects tax law changes enacted into law to date. Studies that concentrate only on history would not reflect the most recent changes to Minnesota’s tax system. The 2019 projections also reflect the impact of the forecast for economic growth and expected changes in the distribution of income on the tax system. This version of the 2019 projections is based on the November 2016 economic forecast from the Department of Management and Budget.

Conclusions of the research are:

Of the total $30.0 billion in 2014 taxes, 83.6 percent of the burden ultimately falls
on Minnesota residents ($25.0 billion). The remaining $4.9 billion of the tax burden
is “exported” to nonresident consumers or nonresident owners of capital.

In 2014, the state and local tax burden on Minnesota households averaged 12.0
percent of income, up from 11.5 percent in 2012.

The local tax share of tax revenue fell from 29.7 percent in 2012 to 28.1 percent in
2014, but is projected to rise to 28.8 percent in 2019. The state tax share rose from 70.3 percent in 2012 to 71.9 percent in 2014 and is projected to fall to 71.2 percent in 2019.

The share of state and local revenue derived from taxes on income rose from 36.5 percent in 2012 to 38.6 percent in 2014 and is projected to rise to 39.2 percent in 2019. The property tax share fell from 32.4 percent in 2012 to 30.1 percent in 2014, but is projected to rise to 30.5 percent in 2019. The consumption tax share rose slightly between 2012 and 2014, from 31.1 percent to 31.3 percent, but is projected to fall to 30.3 percent in 2019.

The business tax share of total tax revenue rose from 33.2 percent in 2012 to 34.2 percent in 2014 but is projected to fall to 32.8 percent in 2019.

After allowing for the shifting of business taxes, the Minnesota tax system in 2014 remained regressive (as it had been in 2012). The full-sample Suits index, a measure of the progressivity or regressivity of a tax or tax system, rose (toward zero) from -0.052 in 2012 to -0.029 in 2014. This change reflects a substantial decrease in overall regressivity.

Minnesota’s refundable income tax credits and property tax refunds for homeowners and renters substantially reduce overall regressivity. In their absence, the 2014 Suits index would fall from -0.029 to -0.054.

Total Minnesota income is expected to grow by 22.6 percent between 2014 and 2019. Tax receipts and tax burdens on Minnesotans are each forecast to grow more slowly (at 19.6 and 20.5 percent), so the overall effective tax rate is projected to fall from 12.0 percent to 11.8 percent of income.

The full-sample Suits index is projected to rise (toward zero) from -0.029 in 2014 to -0.024 in 2019. Income growth rates are expected to outpace tax growth rates, thereby reducing effective tax rates in every decile except the 9th (where the increase is only 0.03 percent of income).
The fourteen biennial tax incidence studies cover a 26-year period. Comparison with earlier reports provides some historical context for the results of the current study. Figures E-1 and E-2 below show how effective tax rates and Suits indexes have changed over time. The effective tax rate is the ratio of tax burden to total household income. For the Suits index, positive values reflect progressivity and negative values show regressivity. To allow comparability to earlier studies, Figure E-2 shows population-decile Suits indexes as well as the more accurate full-sample Suits indexes, which were not reported until tax year 2004. Chapter 1 provides further explanation for these trends.

The Right Number To Flunk

Scott Greenfield:

Law is hard, but not that hard. After three years of study at an accredited law school, it’s not unreasonable to believe that one would have the ability to pass the bar exam. And yet, many don’t.

Graduates who fail face losing jobs already started, not getting jobs that were promised, debt, embarrassment and more debt. Simply taking the exam again costs more than $700, and add to that the cost of further bar review classes, living expenses in the meantime and income lost. All told, thousands more dollars may be piled onto law school debt that is increasingly well above $100,000.

Most of those who fail their first attempt eventually pass the bar on the second or third try. After each attempt, however, these graduates do not learn to be better lawyers, they simply learn how to beat the test. And the damage done from the initial failure can be great. In addition to the financial costs, they may find themselves timed out of promising professional opportunities that never reappear. Finally, there are the emotional and psychological costs that are possibly the most overwhelming consequence of even one failed attempt.

This is all true, a veritable laundry list of terribles that come from failing the bar exam. But notably, it’s all one-sided, the narrative of the failed. As Dean of UC Hastings School of Law, David Faigman is likely smart enough to have deliberately tried to fool readers by this narrative. But it’s in his best interest as a law school dean to try to game the discussion.

After all, his job is to fill empty seats with paying butts, and if young people realize that after three years of education and a couple hundred thousand dollars of tuition, they won’t get to call their moms to say they’re lawyers, that’s going to be really hard to do.

Milwaukee Public Schools expands AP course access through video conferencing

Brittany Carloni:

It’s 9:30 a.m. at Milwaukee’s Vincent High School as nine students file into their Advanced Placement statistics class. They grab computers, sit at wooden tables and wait for instructions.

But their teacher, Nick Dlapa, isn’t in the room.

Dlapa is at Riverside High School with Riverside students who are in the same AP statistics class as the students at Vincent. Through video conferencing technology called Telepresence, Dlapa can teach the AP course to students at both schools.

Milwaukee Public Schools began using the technology last year to expand AP course offerings. Two AP statistics classes were the first offered through it: one from Washington High School to Bay View High School, and one from Riverside to Milwaukee School of Languages.

This year, the district is also using Telepresence for AP classes in Spanish language, calculus, world history, macroeconomics, microeconomics and government. It added courses in health and linguistics this spring.

“We had some schools that had several AP courses, but you had schools that either didn’t have offerings or had one or two offerings,” said Tonya Adair, MPS Chief Innovation Officer. “If students are exposed to more rigorous courses, then they will go on to complete college successfully.”

Deliveroo accused of ‘creating vocabulary’ to avoid calling couriers employees

Sarah Butler:

Managers at Deliveroo have been given a list of dos and don’ts setting out how to talk to the firm’s food delivery riders, using terms that appear designed to fend off claims that they are employees.

In a six-page document seen by the Guardian, Deliveroo says its couriers, who deliver takeaways, should always be referred to as “independent suppliers” – self-employed workers with few employment rights – rather than as employees, workers, staff or team members.

The business models of gig-economy companies such as Deliveroo and taxi app Uber are based on using thousands of self-employed contractors rather than employees – a move that saves them millions of pounds in holiday pay, sick pay and tax. The workers have no right to the minimum wage.

PTA Gift for Someone Else’s Child? A Touchy Subject in California

Dana Goldstein:

Of all the inequalities between rich and poor public schools, one of the more glaring divides is PTA fund-raising, which in schools with well-heeled parents can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year or more.

Several years ago, the Santa Monica-Malibu school board came up with a solution: Pool most donations from across the district and distribute them equally to all the schools.

This has paid big benefits to the needier schools in this wealthy district, like the Edison Language Academy in Santa Monica, where half the children qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The campus is decorated with psychedelic paintings of civil rights icons such as Cesar Chavez and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the work of the school’s art teacher, Martha Ramirez Oropeza, whose salary is paid by the pooled contributions. That money has also funded the school’s choral program, teacher aides, a science lab and a telescope.

Related: Madison recently expanded its least diverse school.

The best ways to visualize the impact of the decline in bar passage scores

Derek Muller:

I’ve visualized a lot about the decline in bar pass scores and bar passage rates in the last few years, including a post on the February 2017 decline here. For some reason, this post in particular drew criticism as being particularly deceptive. It caused me to think a little more about how to best visualize–and explain–what the decline in multistate bar exam (“MBE”) scores might mean. (I’ll channel my inner Tufte and see what I can do….)

In the February 2017 chart, I didn’t start the Y-axis at zero. And why should I? No one scores a zero. The very lowest scores are something in the 50s to 90s. And the score is on a 200-point scale, but no one gets a 200. So I suppose I could visualize it on the low to high ends–say, 90 to 190.

WikiLeaks Docs Reveal How The CIA Targets Windows Users

Nathanial Mott:

WikiLeaks published new documents from what it calls the Vault 7 trove describing how the CIA targets Windows users. The files pertain mostly to Grasshopper, a framework used to build custom installation executables, and the agency’s use of the Carberp malware in its Stolen Goods persistence mechanism. This leak puts the spotlight on another of the CIA’s internal tools and on how it repurposes public malware to suit its own purposes.

Grasshopper’s user guide explains that it was used to build and execute custom malware. Operators could use various installers, target devices based on what version of Windows they use or what antivirus software is installed, and decide if the malware should create a log file when it’s run. This would theoretically improve the agency’s chances of compromising their target while reducing the odds of getting caught or affecting other people.

FAILING BLACK BOYS: Last week, we wrote about #blackdegreesmatter. A public school principal weighs in by calling on schools to do more

Hilderbrand Pelzer:

The true cost of failing to meet the needs of black male students hit me several years ago, when I was principal of a Philadelphia public school inside Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility. One day, I met a former student from a public high school I had led several years earlier. I remembered that I had repeatedly suspended the young man from school for repeatedly cutting class. I felt it was the right thing to do at the time, for the sake of the school. But he was now an inmate, and still had not graduated from high school. I felt I had contributed to his circumstance.

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

Giving All NYC Families the Same School Choice That The Deputy Mayor Has

Alina Adams:

On April 3, 2017, The New York Post broke the story of how Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, with the help of Chancellor Carmen Fariña, pulled strings to get his son into Park Slope’s top middle school. This is a blatant violation of rules that all families, connected or not, are expected to follow.

And here is what’s funny: In March, when Buery gleefully tweeted out the news that his son had gotten into Brooklyn Technical High-School, I responded that since Buery’s boss, the Mayor, once asserted the only way to get into any of NYC’s Specialized High-Schools was to “game the system” (this despite de Blasio’s own son being a Brooklyn Tech graduate), I looked forward to hearing how Buery had done so for the benefit of his child. I guess now we know.

After going through the Kindergarten admissions process with my three kids, and high school for my oldest, I wrote two books, Getting Into NYC Kindergarten and Getting Into NYC High-School, as well as started doing open to the public workshops and producing free podcasts and webisodes on the subject.

Entitlement Mentality


Recently Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor sat down with Aspen Institute’s Latinos and Society Program Executive Director Abigail Golden-Vazquez for a chat about civic engagement, Latinos, and opportunities. I will say I agree with her on the importance of education and civic engagement – not just for Latinos, but for everyone! The issues she discussed aren’t endemic to just Latinos. When she says, “None of us can afford to be bystanders in life. We create our community, and we create it by being active participants in our community,” it shouldn’t be limited to Latinos, or to anyone of a particular ethnicity, religious affiliation or lack thereof.

A lot of the challenges with a lack of civic participation are not limited to Latinos. When Sotomayor says, “If you’re working 14 hours a day at your job, it is hard to make time for civic participation. And for many Latinos, that’s the quality of their life. We have to engage with that reality,” this is not an insurmountable problem faced only by Latinos. It’s one that plagues much of the working class. Latinos aren’t the only ones working multiple jobs more than 14 hours per day and the weekends. But we make time, and we do what we can. And sometimes we don’t get a lot of sleep. And many times we don’t have free time on the weekends. That’s just the way it is, but we sacrifice for the things that are important. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

And no, it’s not fair that some people inherit immense wealth, giving them opportunities to attend the best schools without accruing massive debt.

Power, Policy and Prayer: My Eye-Opening Phone Call With Betsy DeVos

Marilyn Anderson Rhames:

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog expressing my exasperation with my children’s public school education and my attraction to school vouchers. To my surprise, United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke about that blog in a speech, and her staff later invited me to the Department of Education (DOE) to meet and talk about schools. It was an on-the-record discussion, and I wrote about it too.

Then last Wednesday, I had an exclusive, eye-opening conversation with the secretary.

DeVos called me on my cell phone from a restricted line at precisely 10:00 a.m. To help me relax and talk to her straight, I decided to stay in bed and take the call wearing my fuzzy pajamas with my night scarf still on. (Whatever works, right?)

The call was arranged just 24 hours earlier, so overnight I had reached out to a core group of family and friends to ask them to pray for me to have wisdom and to also send me questions for her. It was my duty, I felt, to voice the needs of my community—low- and middle-income African-American families—to the most powerful person in public education.

What surprised me was that DeVos seemed to have called not to talk, but to listen. Our 30-minute call turned into an hour, and she didn’t seem to mind. She was gracious, granting me on-the-record permission to blog about our conversation even though I admitted that I hadn’t taken many notes or recorded the phone call.


Here’s a paraphrasing of part of our discussion:

DeVos: Do you think empowering parents to choose what schools to send their children to would change the dynamics of schooling?

Me: Yes. Schools need to work for students, not the other way around. That said, there must be some safeguards in place to ensure that the school choices are high quality, otherwise we’ll have a situation like in Detroit where most of the school choices are bad.

Get Up, Stand Up: All who cherish free expression, especially on campuses, must combat the growing zeal for censorship.

Heather Mac Donald:

Where are the faculty? American college students are increasingly resorting to brute force, and sometimes criminal violence, to shut down ideas they don’t like. Yet when such travesties occur, the faculty are, with few exceptions, missing in action, though they have themselves been given the extraordinary privilege of tenure to protect their own liberty of thought and speech. It is time for them to take their heads out of the sand.

I was the target of such silencing tactics two days in a row last week, the more serious incident at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, and a less virulent one at UCLA.

The Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna had invited me to meet with students and to give a talk about my book, The War on Cops, on April 6. Several calls went out on Facebook to “shut down” this “notorious white supremacist fascist Heather Mac Donald.” A Facebook post from “we, students of color at the Claremont Colleges” announced grandiosely that “as a community, we CANNOT and WILL NOT allow fascism to have a platform. We stand against all forms of oppression and we refuse to have Mac Donald speak.” A Facebook event titled “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascist Heather Mac Donald” and hosted by “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascists” encouraged students to protest the event because Mac Donald “condemns [the] Black Lives Matter movement,” “supports racist police officers,” and “supports increasing fascist ‘law and order.’” (My supposed fascism consists in trying to give voice to the thousands of law-abiding minority residents of high-crime areas who support the police and are desperate for more law-enforcement protection.)

Via Will Fitzhugh.

Test Prep Comes Out of the Closet: What’s Really Behind Some of NYC’s High Test Scores?

Alina Adams:

New York City kids have just finished sitting for the 2017 English Language Arts state tests and so this seems like a good time to talk about the tutoring epidemic that goes beyond four-year-olds prepping to ace Gifted & Talented screenings, and teens cramming for the Specialized High School Admissions Test.

Those exams are for accelerated programs and require going above and beyond what’s taught at the average public school. But thousands of students are also getting outside help to prepare for the English and Math state tests, which are supposed to measure how much they’ve learned during the year. In this case, tutoring obscures school quality and skews NYC’s important attempts at true accountability.

How do I know that there is massive tutoring going on?

To start with, new tutoring companies wouldn’t be popping up literally every day if there wasn’t a market for them. All anyone has to do is walk by a Kumon, Huntington, Bright Kids, or FasTracKids tutoring center, peek in the window, and see all the kids with their state test prep books. When my oldest son, now a senior in High-School, was younger, tutoring was still an under-the-radar thing. Kids who mentioned they had a tutor were quickly shushed by their parents, who would apologetically stammer, “They’re only having trouble with this one thing. It’s just until he/she catches up with the rest of the class.”

What we know about the effects of pre-K in 6 consensus statements


In 2015, 42 states and the District of Columbia spent $6.2 billion in state funds on pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) programs, a fact that represents a growing commitment to pre-K as a way to help children from disadvantaged families increase their school readiness. But while numerous studies have documented the success of pre-K programs in preparing students for elementary school, inconclusive evidence about the sustainability of pre-K benefits as children move through their school years is raising important new questions for scientists, educators, and policymakers alike. How can states optimize their pre-K programs to provide both the strongest early learning boost and a solid foundation for future learning?

Forget coding, we need to teach our kids how to dream

Mike Hutchens:

Life is becoming increasingly less predictable. From the political volatility of Donald Trump and Brexit to the vast societal changes of globalisation, drastic, seismic change is in the air.

While unpredictability is already problematic for many, for future generations there are no signs of things calming. If we accept that the role of education is to furnish our children with the best understanding, skills and values for a prosperous and happy life, then how do we arm them for a future that we can’t imagine? Do we even need knowledge in a world of Alexa and Siri? Is the skill of agility now more valuable than the gaining of knowledge?

We’ve prioritised the acquisition of knowledge around what we assume society would deem most “worthy”. For much of history, knowledge was rooted in theology: it was about explaining the world in a supernatural way, seeing goodness as a tenet. The industrial revolution saw a vast shift away from this to a way of maximising return on investment in a production-centric environment. In recent years, we have considered maths, reading, and writing as the basic building blocks for survival; the best levers for our labour to produce value.

Under school choice, most St. Francis high students live somewhere else

Alan Borsuk:

The view through the windows of the student cafeteria at St. Francis High School is terrific. You look across S. Lake Drive to an expanse of Lake Michigan. People pay large sums of money for homes with views like this.

That’s not why parents choose the school for their children.

There’s the academic program itself. There’s the sense of personal connectedness in a 540-student high school. There’s the safety and order of the school. There’s the hard-working staff. And there’s the fact — how do I put this diplomatically? — a lot of city of Milwaukee parents prefer suburban high schools.

Make no mistake, St. Francis High is a choice school. To a large degree, the St. Francis district, which includes two other schools serving kindergarten through eighth graders, is a choice district.

Just to be clear, despite the religious-sounding name, St. Francis is a public school district, located near Mitchell International Airport. The municipality has a population under 10,000. Many longtime residents no longer have school-age children and many young residents living in newer developments near the lake also don’t have school-age children. In other words, there is a declining number of kids who live in St. Francis.

Why Kids Shouldn’t Sit Still in Class

Donna De La Cruz:

But that is changing as evidence builds that taking brief activity breaks during the day helps children learn and be more attentive in class, and a growing number of programs designed to promote movement are being adopted in schools.

“We need to recognize that children are movement-based,” said Brian Gatens, the superintendent of schools in Emerson, N.J. “In schools, we sometimes are pushing against human nature in asking them to sit still and be quiet all the time.”

“We fall into this trap that if kids are at their desks with their heads down and are silent and writing, we think they are learning,” Mr. Gatens added. “But what we have found is that the active time used to energize your brain makes all those still moments better,” or more productive.

Artificial intelligence and Asia


We all have seen the headlines: “Google’s AlphaGo defeats world-class Chinese “Go” player”; “IBM’s Watson is tackling healthcare with artificial intelligence”; “Facebook artificial intelligence spots suicidal users”; and so on. Artificial intelligence (AI), which is essentially a set of tools and programs that make software ’smarter’ in a way an outside observer thinks the output is generated by a human, is starting to break out on the global stage.

In its current state, AI has the potential to benefit businesses through significant cost savings due to its high scalability, an elimination of both omission and commission errors, and the ability to instantaneously document and optimize processes. Like all technologies, AI will continue to evolve as progress compounds from one innovation to the next. And it is likely that by 2030, AI will be as commonplace in society as internet-ready devices are today.

Don’t squeeze free speech on college campuses

LA Times:

If you think college campuses are hotbeds of political expression, Kevin Shaw may change your mind.

Shaw, a student at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, says he was handing out Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution on campus last November when he was stopped by a college administrator who told him he was allowed to exercise his 1st Amendment rights only within a minuscule “free speech zone” located near a campus thoroughfare. Not only that — before doing so, he had to obtain a permit from college officials.

Long Beach Unified accused of misspending money for neediest students

Howard Blume:

Add Long Beach Unified to the list of California school districts accused of improperly spending money intended to help students with some of the greatest needs.

The system, with about 78,000 students, is the seventh to be targeted by Public Advocates. The watchdog law firm has filed a complaint on behalf of Children’s Defense Fund-California, Latinos in Action and parents Marina Roman Sanchez and Guadalupe Luna.

The complaint alleges that Long Beach Unified is improperly spending as much as $40 million this year for district-wide programs rather than targeting that money to help low-income students, those learning English and foster children.

Long Beach Unified received about $108 million this year to help those groups of students, said Angelica Jongco, senior staff attorney for Public Advocates, which is based in San Francisco.

Much more on Long Beach, here.

The Scientific Method in Action

Karin Chenowith:

The first thing the principal did, however, was take me into the office of his assistant principal, who was in charge of the school’s schedule; point to a giant chart on the wall-sized whiteboard that showed when every class in the school was taught at what day and time and by whom and where; and say something to the effect of “that’s the reason for our success.”

I look back on that moment as the beginning of my education about systems. I wasn’t prepared, so many of the details of what the assistant principal subsequently told me went over my head. The chart, as any school person can say, was the master schedule of the school. I remember listening to the assistant principal tell me that it was built around the semester-by-semester expansion of AP classes and how he had hand-scheduled hundreds of AP students to ensure they got all their classes. As he walked me through the chart to show me how he juggled all the priorities of the school to focus on giving more students the opportunity to be exposed to and master advanced material, it began to dawn on me that the master schedule was a concrete expression of the school’s values.

My education has continued through more than a decade of visiting unexpected schools. In each one, teachers and leaders have talked about the issues their very vulnerable students bring to school and the systems they have put in place to address them, from master schedules to counseling groups.

These schools not only put in systems but also continually evaluate them so that they can continue and expand the ones that work or change or jettison those that don’t. Here’s a small example of what I mean: The teachers and leaders of Elmont Memorial High School once noticed that their ninth-graders were having difficulty making the transition from middle to high school. They used the master schedule to set up a “ninth-grade academy” in which groups of students would share teams of teachers who could collaborate on how to teach individual students. “It worked. For a while,” said John Capozzi, the former principal. That is to say, for a year or two, ninth-graders were more successful than they had been. They started slipping again because new issues had emerged. Elmont changed the schedule again.

CS 88S (Free a information Security Course) Enrollment Form

Frank Chen:

My name is Frank Chen, and I am teaching a seminar at UCLA called CS 88S: Safety in the Cloud – Introduction to Cybersecurity in Spring 2017. This course is an preliminary introduction to the field of cybersecurity. We will study a variety of topics that are important for a regular consumer of technology. This course has great relevance in our current society: cyber attacks and data leaks are becoming more mainstream. A shared belief in the journalism field is that “nothing is more important to democracy than an educated electorate”; the same can be said for education in cybersecurity. It is more important than ever for everyone to be cybersecurity-aware.
This is an online form for anyone not enrolled but interested in following along with the course!

No programming or computer science background is required to understand the material – just excitement for a more cybersecurity-aware society! I’ll be sending out weekly emails + resources.

We need more varsity academics

Jeff Jacoby:

Of the three R’s, says Will Fitzhugh, the founder and publisher of The Concord Review, the middle R has long been the most neglected. It was true in his own case — when he arrived at Harvard as a freshman 61 years ago, he had never had to write a single term paper — and it remains true now. On the whole, American students graduate from high school incapable of writing a coherent, well-researched essay. Most of those who continue to college don’t become competent writers there, either.

For years, blue-ribbon panels and high-powered commissions have bewailed this state of affairs, to little visible effect. The last time the federal government measured writing skills among middle and high school students, it found that nearly 3 out of 4 could not pass a test of writing proficiency. Employers are forced to spend enormous sums on remedial writing courses for their workers — by one estimate, as much as $3.1 billion per year.

Fitzhugh, who worked for the Apollo space program, Westinghouse, and the Peace Corps before finding his calling as a teacher, didn’t have billions when he launched The Concord Review in 1987. All he had was $80,000 he had inherited from his father, some familiarity with desktop publishing software, and the fervent conviction that what works for high school athletics could work for writing: Promote and praise the top achievers, and other students will be inspired by their example.

Three decades later, Fitzhugh’s journal has become the world’s foremost showcase for first-rate history research by secondary school students. To date, the review has published 1,230 essays by authors from 44 states and 40 other countries, on an astonishing variety of historical topics. These are not short compositions of a few hundred gauzy words. On average, papers published in The Concord Review run 7,000 words, along with detailed endnotes. Among the offerings in the latest issue are a paper on the Opium Wars, written by Stephanie Zhao; an essay on Ronald Reagan and the Cold War by Siddharth Tripathi; and a study of the Treaty of Trianon by Milan Kende Loewer.

Much more on Will Fitzhugh, here.

Students Last

Will Fitzhugh, via a kind email:

The great social psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan wrote that the principal problem with communication is that we think we express meaning to others, when in fact we evoke it.

That is, what we say brings a response in the listener which involves their current thoughts at the time, their feelings, wishes, goals and other preoccupations, all of which affect and alter the meanings of our expression as they hear it.

Psychiatrists are carefully trained to be useful in that situation. They learn to listen. When they do listen, they can derive an understanding of at least some of the ways in which the thoughts of their patients have responded to what was said. They can find out how the patient’s own experiences, thoughts and concerns have interacted with what the psychiatrist said, and this can help the doctor shape what they say next in perhaps more pertinent and more useful ways.

When I was a high school History teacher I was not a bad person, but I almost never shut up in class. If the teacher talks, that can make life easier for students, because they can continue giving their attention to whatever they were thinking about at the time, and if the teacher pauses, most students can easily ask a question to get the teacher talking again if they seem to be slowing down.

Most high school History teachers are not bad people, but they usually feel they have an obligation to talk, present, excite, inspire, demonstrate material and in other ways fill up the time of students in their classes. Some of the best teachers do ask questions, but even they believe they can’t spend too much time on student answers, not to mention on what students are actually thinking about what the teacher has said, or, if other students talk, about what they have said.

This is much less the case in some special secondary schools, like Phillips Exeter, which have small classes meeting around a table as a seminar, specifically designed to gather the comments and thoughts of students about academic subjects. But for public school teachers with five classes of 30 students each, that kind of dialogue is not an option.

Unless they fall silent, high school History teachers almost never have any idea what their students are thinking, and students come to understand that, at least in most classrooms, what is on their minds is of little importance to the process. This doesn’t mean that they don’t learn anything in their History classes. Some teachers really are well-educated, full of good stories, fascinating speakers, and fun to be with. That does not change the fact that even those best teachers have very little idea of what students are actually thinking about the History which is offered to them.

Some teachers do assign short papers, and if the students can choose the topics themselves, and if teachers have the time to read those papers, they can learn more about what some part of History means to their students. Sad to say, the assignment of serious History research papers is declining in this country, with some students working on slide presentations or videos, but many fewer students writing Extended Essays in History.

Education reform pundits all agree that the most important variable in student academic achievement is teacher quality, because what teachers do is the lowest level of educational activity of which they are able to take notice. In fact, the most important variable in student academic achievement is student academic work. Students learn the most from the academic work that they do, but this factor escapes the notice of the majority of education professors, theorists, reporters and other thought leaders.

Since 1987, The Concord Review has published 1,241 exemplary History research papers [average 7,000 words, with endnotes and bibliography] by secondary students from 44 states and 40 other countries []. These papers are on a vary large variety of historical topics, ancient and modern, domestic and foreign, but all of them show what students are actually thinking as they take History seriously. If more teachers of History would read a few of these strong research papers, they would become more aware, first, that some high school History students actually can think about History, and second, that such student writing, based on extensive reading of History, demonstrates a level of sophistication in their understanding of History that can never be discovered in classes where teachers do all the talking.

Great teachers of History should continue to talk the way they do in classes, and their students will learn a lot. But the actual thoughts of students of History should have a place for their expression as well. Students whose work is published in The Concord Review not only benefit from the hard work they have done, they also come to have greater respect for their own achievement and potential as scholars of History.

“Teach with Examples”
Will Fitzhugh [Founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
National Writing Board [1998]
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TCR Summer Program [2014]
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Varsity Academics®

Kaleem Caire’s Weekly Talk Show (Tuesdays, 1:00p.m. CST)

Over the last 20 years, I have been a guests on several dozen local and national radio and television talk shows across the U.S., and abroad.

Tom Joyner, Joe Madison, George Curry, Laura Ingraham, Tavis Smiley, Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh, Juan Williams, Armstrong Williams, Sean Hannity & Alan Colmes, Jean Feraca, Vicki McKenna, Carol Koby, Neil Heinen, Derrell Connor and Mitch Henck…I have learned a lot from these seasoned veterans while talking with them on their shows.

One thing I learned, from all of them, is that they have a tremendous ability to inform people of the issues they discuss. They can inspire thought, provoke action and stimulate new conversations. I hope to do the same with my show, especially when it comes to the laying groundwork for the future success of children, families and communities.

My new show is titled, “Perspectives with Kaleem Caire”. It will air LIVE online every Tuesday from 1pm to 2pm CST at

The show is produced by Mitch Henck, creator of MadisonTalks, and a prominent talk show host in Wisconsin. My wife, Lisa Peyton-Caire, came up with the name for the show. Several friends, colleagues and my team members at One City Early Learning Centers helped me determine the subject matter that I should focus on.

Tune-in today to learn why I created this show:

Today, I will talk with Dr. Michael Andrews (photo to the right above), assistant principal of the 1,300-student Sweetwater Middle School in Gwenette County, Georgia. Dr. Andrews and I will discuss:what it was like to grow up in Madison, Wisconsin as a Black male who is biracial, was adopted and raised by two White parents, and who strongly identifies with his African American roots. What contributed to his success? What message does he have for our youth, parents and leaders? What can we learn from his experiences, his challenges and his triumphs? You don’t want to miss this show!

Dr. Andrews holds a PhD in education from Argosy University, M.S. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. in history from Florida A&M University. He is a 1989 graduate of Madison’s West High School. His adopted father, Morris Andrews, is credited with building one of the strongest statewide teachers unions in the United States.

How is this relevant to children, families, education and the expansion of high quality early childhood education for every kid? Tune in at 1pm CST at to find out.

Make Your Contribution to One City Early Learning Today!

We are blessed to have Kaleem back in Madison.

He lead the aborted effort to launch the Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.

Just To Be Clear: We Don’t Do Legacy

Chris Peterson:

A few students pointed me towards this piece in the Wall Street Journal about whether or not colleges should consider legacy in the admissions process.

For those of you not familiar with the practice, “legacy admissions” means preferring the children of alumni in the admissions process. Why would schools do this? For the money, mostly, because if you make your alumni happy by admitting their kids, they might be more likely to give you money. Advocates of legacy admission, like advocates of “development cases”, will argue that this makes the school a better place for the rest of the students by allowing them to build great labs and dorms and offer fantastic financial aid and everything else. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, former President of GWU, made this case in support of legacy admissions, along with citing certain fringe benefits like “bridging” the generations by forming a sort of intergenerational club.

School Choice, Bureaucracy, and American Airlines

Fredeick Hess:

This frustration is at the heart of the school choice debate. School choice advocates experience this feeling of helpless and think something has to change. They want an option beyond appealing to the tuned-out gate agent. They want to be able to clearly and cleanly signal disapproval by leaving one school or system for another. The more thoughtful advocates remind us that the real promise of markets is not in providing miracle solutions, but in allowing better providers to emerge and worse ones to gradually get squeezed out. Those who embrace charter schooling and private school choice see them as ways to break up big, impersonal systems in favor of smaller, more human-sized ones.

Choice critics think that supporters are misdiagnosing the problem. They read my American experience and observe that American is a for-profit company operating in a marketplace, and that airline passengers already have choice. Clearly, they argue, there’s no magic in markets. They argue that choice and markets don’t speak to the core issues of professional acumen, while a profit-seeking focus on the bottom line helps drain the humanity and responsiveness from an organization. They note that I still had to wind up on American, that I’ll probably fly American next week (due to limited options), and that my vaunted choice didn’t seem to yield much responsiveness.

The risk of lead poisoning isn’t just in Flint. So we mapped the risk in every neighborhood in America

Sarah Frostenson and Sarah Kliff:

Neighborhoods where kids face the highest risk of lead poisoning exist all across America.

The trouble is that exposure risk is surprisingly difficult estimate, due to a variety of state-by-state differences in reporting standards. So we worked with epidemiologists in Washington state to estimate risk levels in every geographic area in America.

“As a parent, I found it very alarming,” says Holly Davies, who works in Washington’s Department of Ecology on lead exposure reduction. “My son was born in West Virginia, and there it was standard practice that at one year they get screened [for lead poisoning risk]. But here it wasn’t a standard thing; I was the one who had to bring it up.”

Is High School Meaningful?

Tawnell Hobbs:

Chicago Public School students who want to graduate will have to show proof that they have a plan after high school—such as providing an offer letter for a job or acceptance into college or military service, under a plan expected to be approved next month.

The initiative, pitched by former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and carried by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is targeted at encouraging students to plan for life after high school. It likely goes farther than any other public-school initiative to encourage postsecondary preparation. Mr. Emanuel called it a “game-changer.”

“The goal here is to no longer have 12th grade be the end of our responsibility,” Mr. Emanuel said in an interview. “The economy and business today require a minimum of two years post-high school.”

Students also could show acceptance letters for a job program; a trade or apprenticeship program; or a “gap-year” program, which could include travel, volunteer work or research before resuming the academic career. Those who have a job would be covered.

The Chicago Board of Education will consider the proposal next month. Mr. Emanuel assured that the board, which he appoints, would pass the measure.

The program—called “Learn. Plan. Succeed”—would go into effect for this year’s freshmen graduating in 2020.

But the plan could be challenged legally.

Miranda Johnson, associate director of the Education Law and Policy Institute at Loyola University Chicago, said that while state law allows school boards to adopt additional graduation requirements, a concern with the CPS proposal is that it involves third-party approval that could be out of students’ control.

“My concern is that it seems to go beyond coursework or community service requirements,” Ms. Johnson said.

Mr. Emanuel said the plan would pass legal muster and brushed aside a question on what would happen to those students who don’t have a plan. He said Chicago students have shown that they will adhere to graduation requirements.

School districts in recent years have become more focused on getting students career- and work-force ready as some students don’t want to go to college. Chicago officials believe their plan will help students make the transition.

Related: small learning communities and English 10.

The last thing on ‘privilege’ you’ll ever need to read

Carlos Lozada:

Someone needs to book Phoebe Maltz Bovy on one of those television shows featuring people who have the most awful jobs in America, because she has just completed a project so soul-crushing that I can’t imagine anyone ever doing it again, certainly not voluntarily.

She has scoured the Internet for every overwrought think piece and self-indulgent personal essay about privilege — and has read all of them, apparently. And if that were not enough masochism, she has also read the comments sections, those swamps of vitriol and condescension that no one is ever supposed to even contemplate or speak of, let alone wade into. And she has drawn on that experience to write a book about why so much of the current debate and online pile-on about privilege tends to be contradictory, embarrassing, superficial and, above all, self-defeating.
(St. Martin’s Press)

The result is “The Perils of ‘Privilege,’ ” an often lively and more often meandering book that will be of intense interest to the sort of people who are up on the latest cultural criticism on the state of our cultural criticism. Unless you are steeped in the privilege debates already, the book will be most striking for its obsessively narrow focus, and for its expenditure of Bovy’s analytic and writing talents on a work that explores the vicious and petty ways people talk about a concept more than it interrogates the truth of the concept itself. If this book constitutes a “takedown” of the privilege orthodoxy, as the author suggests, it is very much an inside job.

Must I first define “privilege” in its current use, or should I imagine that if you’ve reached this paragraph, you’re already among the cognoscenti? As it is known today and discussed in progressive circles, a jurisdiction Bovy writes about with the knowing weariness that comes with longtime residence, privilege is not just about having special advantages available only to the few, but it is also about those advantages that are entirely unearned, and usually ones of which the privileged party is blissfully unaware or, even better, somewhat defensive.

These high school journalists investigated a new principal’s credentials. Days later, she resigned

Samantha Schmidt:

Connor Balthazor, 17, was in the middle of study hall when he was called into a meeting with his high school newspaper adviser.

A group of reporters and editors from the student newspaper, the Booster Redux at Pittsburg High School in southeastern Kansas, had gathered to talk about Amy Robertson, who was hired as the high school’s head principal on March 6.

The student journalists had begun researching Robertson, and quickly found some discrepancies in her education credentials. For one, when they researched Corllins University, the private university where Robertson said she got her master’s and doctorate degrees years ago, the website didn’t work. They found no evidence that it was an accredited university.

“Presented with stagnant or declining performance in the face of a meteoric rise in federal spending per pupil”

Andrew Coulson:

Math and Reading scores at the end of high school are unchanged over the past forty years, while Science scores suffered a slight decline through the year 1999, the last time that test was administered. Data from another nationally representative test series show a continuing decline in 12th grade Science between 1996 and 2005, the last year for which we have trend data.2

Presented with stagnant or declining performance in the face of a meteoric rise in federal spending per pupil, it is reasonable to ask: what happened to total spending? If state and local expenditures fell to such an extent that they offset federal increases, that might explain the profound disconnect revealed in Figure 2.

To answer that question, I present Figure 3, showing how the total cost of an entire k-through-12 public school education has changed over time.

Student Debt Giant Navient to Borrowers: You’re on Your Own

Shahien Nasiripour:

Over the past several years, Jack Remondi, chief executive of student loan giant Navient Corp., has gone out of his way to tout the company’s devotion to helping Americans cope with student debt.

He’s mentioned it in meetings with investors, on calls with Wall Street analysts, in testimony before Congress, and even on his Medium blog. “At Navient, our priority is to help each of our 12 million customers successfully manage their loans in a way that works for their individual circumstances,” he said March 20.

But faced with a potential multi-billion dollar lawsuit by the federal government for not living up to that mantra, Remondi’s company, formerly an arm of student lender Sallie Mae, sang a different tune in court filings.

Borrowers can’t reasonably rely on America’s largest student loan servicer to counsel them about their many options, Navient said on March 24 in a motion to dismiss the case, because its primary role is, after all, to collect their payments.

Stoughton School Board incumbents outsted by hard-working challengers

Rob Schultz:

The incumbents were doing their job as defined by the current board culture and that’s to deal with district policy and budget issues only,” Jackson said. “We want to change that.”

Schumacher, who said he spent about $600 on his campaign, said he believes money is behind the rise in partisan-style politics in small-town elections.

“We got outspent and that got (the challengers) the support of the political action committees,” Schumacher said. “I think it’s sort of a shame that it has come down to money. It’s been that way in Madison for a long time. But in small-town America, it’s a shame that seats can be bought.”

The Changing of the Guard: The Political Economy of Administrative Bloat in American Higher Education

Todd J. Zywicki and Christopher Koopman:

The cost of higher education in the United States has risen dramatically in recent years. Numerous explanations have been provided to explain this increase. This paper focuses on one contributing factor: The dramatic growth in the size and expense of non-academic administrators and other university bureaucrats, which has outpaced the growth of expenditures on academic programs. Given that university faculty are typically viewed as the constituency that primarily controls universities, this growth of non-academic employees and expenses appears to be anomalous. Some theories are provided to explain this transition.

Something has happened to the structure of higher education in American universities. Universities have increased spending, but very little of that increased spending has been related to classroom instruction; rather, it is being directed toward non-classroom costs. As a result, there has been a growth in academic bureaucracies, as universities focus on hiring employees to manage or administer people, programs, and regulations. Between 2001 and 2011, these sorts of hires have increased 50% faster than the number of classroom instructors. This trend toward growing academic bureaucracies has become ubiquitous in the landscape of American higher education.

Gifted programs across Washington leave out black and Latino students — except in Federal Way

Claudia Rowe:

This long-standing trend places Washington in line with other states, and it is raising uncomfortable questions. Like the ones that swirled around Nila Griffin at age 12, as she listened to her mother speaking with a teacher during the first parent conference of sixth grade. Nila’s transcripts, from her previous school in California, were covered with 90th-percentile scores. Impressive, her new teacher said. But was Mrs. Griffin certain they were actually her daughter’s?

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Four Great Critiques

China Digital Times:

In June 2014, a senior inspector from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (the Party’s top graft watchdog) warned that the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) (an influential government think tank) had been “infiltrated” by “foreign forces.” This accusation came as two hallmark campaigns of the Xi Jinping administration were gaining momentum: Xi’s ongoing Party corruption cleanup, and a drive to enforce ideological orthodoxy throughout both the Party and society. The warning of infiltration at CASS came after a leaked internal Party memo known as “Document No. 9” exposed Xi’s ideological priorities: to resist “false ideological trends, positions, and activities,” including “Western constitutional democracy,” “universal values,” “Western ideas of journalism,” and “historical nihilism.” (Journalist Gao Yu was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2015 for allegedly leaking the document, but has since been granted medical release to serve the remainder of a reduced sentence under house arrest.) Earlier, as he was in the middle of his gradual accession to top Party and State leader, Xi had warned that a primary reason for the collapse of the USSR was due to “their ideals and beliefs having been shaken.”

Since the revelation of Document No. 9, Xi has overseen many related campaigns aimed at preserving Party ideas and beliefs. Xi has reinforced Mao-era Party views on the role of the media, cracked down on liberal microbloggers, and subjected Chinese reporters to mandatory training in the “Marxist view of journalism.” Meanwhile, the nation’s institutes of higher learning have seen a campaign against “Western values,” and a series of legislation has been passed in effort to maintain “ideological security.”

New Jersey Teacher Last In/First Out Governance Lawsuit Update

Matthew Frankel, via a kind email:

Friends –

As we only try to curate and update you on some of the most informative stories regarding this NJ LIFO Lawsuit – I did want to flag these three items for your files:

1.) Here is a moving testimonial interview today showcasing one of the Newark parents involved in the suit. It was published in Laura Waters’ great NJ education blog NJ Left Behind. This piece provides more personal narrative and background than some of the published news stories:

2.) Earlier this week, PEJ Executive Director Ralia Polechronis did a live interview with Eric Dawson and Rashon Hasan, of Newark’s SPLASH RADIO 94.3FM Radio. There is some great in-depth background on the case You can listen to it here –

3.) And if you go to the influential news site – Insider NJ – later this week you will see our aggressive video ad buy, which will drive readers to the animated video we produced explaining the LIFO lawsuit. Which in just a couple of weeks have already garnered over 35K views.
I know many of you are deeply interested and supportive of these legal efforts and the communication work that is dovetailing this strategy, so I hope this email is helpful…Thanx.

Matthew Frankel
MDF Strategies
41 Watchung Plaza, Suite 355
Montclair NJ 07042

Much more on the New Jersey Last In First Out Teacher Governance lawsuit, here.

2009, Richard Zimman:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

A deep look at Google’s biggest-ever search quality crisis

Danny Sullivan:

The past few months have been bad for Google’s search reputation. Long considered the “gold standard” in search, Google has seen its search results questioned as never before. It’s a body blow to a core service that should be safe as Google tries to grow in new directions.
 Recovering from that blow isn’t easy. What’s happened to Google search is on par with the Apple Maps fiasco or Samsung’s exploding Galaxy Note7 phones.
 To this day, people still joke about Apple Maps being bad, even though it’s greatly improved. As for Samsung, the phones might no longer explode, but the jokes continue. Google now faces the same problem. Some of its search results are seen as laughable, embarrassing, or even dangerous.

How to Help When College Rejection Letters Land

Clare Ansberry:

How do you deal with your child’s first real rejection?

It is a question that Priscilla Sands, head of the Marlborough School, an elite girls school in Los Angeles, addresses every year when students learn they didn’t make it into their top colleges. She knows they are disappointed and distraught. She also knows that what looks like a setback might not be.

“It’s an issue for parents. They need to understand the pain, but also not rob their child of an opportunity to use it as a growth experience,” says Dr. Sands, who didn’t attend her dream college, worked in a diner as a single mom to support her children, and didn’t get jobs she thought she deserved.

Escape to another world

Ryan Avent:

Like millions of people of a certain age, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) had occupied a crucial place in Mullings’s childhood. It introduced him to video gaming, gave him a taste for it, made him aware of the fact that he was good at it: a “born gamer”, in his words. Yet the pixelated worlds of the Mario brothers, for all their delights, were nothing like the experiences available to gamers today.

Mullings’s friends invited him to join them in playing Destiny, a “massively multi­player online game” (meaning that lots of different people around the world simultaneously play within the Destiny universe) and a “first-person shooter” (meaning that most of the gameplay involves the player looking out through a character’s eyes and shooting stuff). The world surrounding the players is vast, filled with great, sweeping vistas rendered in extraordinary and realistic detail. It is a world of its own. Within that world, players, often in teams, take on quests and square off repeatedly in matches against opponents.

A Retiree Discovers an Elusive Math Proof—And Nobody Notices

As he was brushing his teeth on the morning of July 17, 2014, Thomas Royen, a little-known retired German statistician, suddenly lit upon the proof of a famous conjecture at the intersection of geometry, probability theory, and statistics that had eluded top experts for decades.

Known as the Gaussian correlation inequality (GCI), the conjecture originated in the 1950s, was posed in its most elegant form in 1972 and has held mathematicians in its thrall ever since. “I know of people who worked on it for 40 years,” said Donald Richards, a statistician at Pennsylvania State University. “I myself worked on it for 30 years.”

Royen hadn’t given the Gaussian correlation inequality much thought before the “raw idea” for how to prove it came to him over the bathroom sink. Formerly an employee of a pharmaceutical company, he had moved on to a small technical university in Bingen, Germany, in 1985 in order to have more time to improve the statistical formulas that he and other industry statisticians used to make sense of drug-trial data. In July 2014, still at work on his formulas as a 67-year-old retiree, Royen found that the GCI could be extended into a statement about statistical distributions he had long specialized in. On the morning of the 17th, he saw how to calculate a key derivative for this extended GCI that unlocked the proof. “The evening of this day, my first draft of the proof was written,” he said

Madison Middle school students explore complex themes in black history bowl

Amber Walker:

For the last 23 years, the Madison chapter of 100 Black Men of America has hosted the African-American History Challenge Bowl. Middle school students from across Madison participate in the quiz show-style, single-elimination tournament. Each team receives copies of the core text, “Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African-American History” by Henry Louis Gates, and an set of competition questions covering nearly 500 years of black history. The winning team will represent Madison in the national competition in New Orleans in June.

While the bowl fosters healthy competition between schools, it also gives participating students an opportunity to learn more about the rich history of African-American people.

Enis Ragland, founding president of 100 Black Men of Madison, said the African-American History Bowl offers a valuable supplement to the Madison Metropolitan School District’s standard American history curriculum for students who want to learn more about black culture. One of the core tenets of 100 Black Men’s platform is education, as well as mentoring, economic empowerment, leadership development and health and wellness.

The Man The Government Calls a ‘FOIA Terrorist’


The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, allows anyone to petition the federal government for access to its documents. Jason Leopold, senior investigative reporter at Buzzfeed, is a power-user of FOIA who recently filed a lawsuit against the NSA for its failures to act on his three-year-old request for access to internal reports. The agency responded by asking the court for a rarely-used “Open America” stay, which would send Leopold’s request all the way to the back of the line. Bob speaks with Leopold about his attempts to navigate NSA bureaucracy — and the NSA’s attempt to paint him as a “FOIA terrorist” in response.

Every attempt to manage academia makes it worse

Mike Taylor:

I’ve been reading the excellent blog of economist Tim Harford, for a while. That arose from reading his even more excellent book The Undercover Economist (Harford 2007), which gave me a crash-course in the basics of how economies work, how markets help, how they can go wrong, and much more. I really can’t say enough good things about this book: it’s one of those that I feel everyone should read, because the issues are so important and pervasive, and Harford’s explanations are so clear.

In a recent post, Why central bankers shouldn’t have skin in the game, he makes this point:

The basic principle for any incentive scheme is this: can you measure everything that matters? If you can’t, then high-powered financial incentives will simply produce short-sightedness, narrow-mindedness or outright fraud. If a job is complex, multifaceted and involves subtle trade-offs, the best approach is to hire good people, pay them the going rate and tell them to do the job to the best of their ability.

I think that last part is pretty much how academia used to be run a few decades ago. Now I don’t want to get all misty-eyed and rose-tinted and nostalgic — especially since I wasn’t even involved in academia back then, and don’t know from experience what it was like. But could it be … could it possibly be … that the best way to get good research and publications out of scholars is to hire good people, pay them the going rate and tell them to do the job to the best of their ability?

Student Loan Debt Has Nearly Tripled

Anya Kamenetz:

Recent college graduates who borrow are leaving school with an average of $34,000 in student loans. That’s up from $20,000 just 10 years ago, according to a new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In that report, out this week, the New York Fed took a careful look at the relationship between debt and homeownership. For people aged 30 to 36, the analysis shows having any student debt significantly hurts your chances of buying a home, compared to college graduates with no debt. The cliche of “good debt” notwithstanding, the consequences of borrowing are real, and they are lasting.

The report paints a mixed picture of how student borrowing has evolved over the last decade, since the financial crisis. There are some bright spots: For example, student loan defaults peaked five years ago and have declined ever since.

Ameerpet, India’s unofficial IT training hub

The Economist:

CramvilleAmeerpet, India’s unofficial IT training hub

The Hyderabad neighbourhood’s IT courses cost less than $400 for six months
From the print edition | Business
Mar 30th 2017

UNIVERSITY campuses can take a while to get going in the mornings, as students recover from extra-curricular antics. Contrast that with Ameerpet, a squeezed neighbourhood of Hyderabad that has become India’s unofficial cramming-college capital. By 7.30am the place is already buzzing as 500-odd training institutes cater to over 100,000 students looking to improve their IT skills. If there are ivory towers here, they are obscured by a forest of fluorescent billboards promising skills ranging from debugging Oracle servers to expertise in Java coding to handling Microsoft’s cloud.

Expertise in the IT industry erodes fast as software programs are upgraded or become obsolete. Indian outsourcing giants such as Infosys and Wipro spend heavily to keep employees’ skills up to date. But staff looking to change their career paths—to say nothing of those who didn’t crack the interview in the first place—need rapid systems upgrades of their own. Training courses authorised by software providers exist but cost up to 375,000 rupees ($5,765). Fees at Ameerpet’s informal institutes are typically below 25,000 rupees for classes lasting three to six months.

Wharton School to Attract Poets to Business

Kelsey Gee:

Even William Shakespeare could have benefited from an M.B.A.—or so the nation’s oldest business school would like young poets to think.

University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business is set to launch a new program today for undergraduates studying liberal arts, science and nursing at the Ivy League institution and looking to gain early admission to its prestigious graduate business school.

Investment banker Ken Moelis and his wife, Julie Taffet Moelis, gave a $10 million gift to their alma mater to create the program, which is open to Penn seniors aiming to work for up to four years after graduation before returning to campus to study management.

School Choice Deniers

Wall Street Journal:

President Trump has made a cause of public and private school choice, and liberals who oppose evaluating teachers based on student achievement are now hyping a few studies that have found vouchers hurt student performance. A closer look still supports the case for giving parents choice.

More than 400,000 students in 30 states and Washington, D.C., participate in private-school choice programs whose designs and funding sources vary. Over the last two decades dozens of studies have sought to measure these programs’ impact on student growth. Those with the most rigorous methodologies have produced positive findings.

A meta-analysis last year by the Friedman Foundation found that 14 of 18 empirical studies analyzing programs in which students were chosen at random by lottery found positive academic outcomes. Two demonstrated no visible effect, while two recent studies of Louisiana’s voucher program found negative effects. The Louisiana studies are disconcerting since voucher proponents have hailed the program, and the negative effects were large. Math scores declined in one study by 0.4 standard deviations after one year in private schools, representing a 50% increase in likelihood of failing the state test.

How many NSA spy hubs are scooping up your Internet data? I counted 7

Sebastian Anthony:

A couple of years ago, when I was investigating the UK’s safest ISP, a high-ranking employee at Virgin Media told me there was no NSA or GCHQ Internet traffic interception equipment hiding within Virgin’s network. He also said that, in his opinion, not much traffic interception actually occurs in the UK. I asked him why. “Because they don’t need to. They’ll get your data when it lands in the US.”
While it’s not true that all Internet traffic flows through the US, the addition of a few listening posts at key Internet exchanges in Europe (London, Paris) and some in Asia (Hong Kong, Tokyo) ensure that the NSA and its Five Eyes partners can analyse and ingest the majority of international Internet traffic.

To visualise the extent of the NSA’s surveillance network, IXmaps is hosting a tool that shows you the location of suspected Internet traffic interception points. You can input your own traceroute data, or if you’re in a rush you can just bring up traceroute data from people living in the same city or using the same ISP. Then click the “layers” button and turn on NSA, AT&T/Fairview, and Verizon/Stormbrew.

Most of the suspected surveillance sites come from Edward Snowden’s leak of NSA documents in 2013, including the image you see below. The blue dots, which appear to all be at submarine cable landing sites, are the most important: Internet traffic can take many different routes across a country, but there are only a handful of submarine trunk links that most international traffic traverses.

Meet the ‘Grammar Vigilante’ of Bristol


For years, it has been rumoured that somebody has been going out late at night, correcting bad punctuation on Bristol shop fronts.

The self-proclaimed “grammar vigilante” goes out undercover in the dead of night correcting street signs and shop fronts where the apostrophes are in the wrong place.

Jon Kay meets grammar’s answer to Banksy and reveals the extent of his one man mission to improve standards.

Jonathan Haidt on the Cultural Roots of Campus Rage

Bari Weiss:

When a mob at Vermont’s Middlebury College shut down a speech by social scientist Charles Murray a few weeks ago, most of us saw it as another instance of campus illiberalism. Jonathan Haidt saw something more—a ritual carried out by adherents of what he calls a “new religion,” an auto-da-fé against a heretic for a violation of orthodoxy.

“The great majority of college students want to learn. They’re perfectly reasonable, and they’re uncomfortable with a lot of what’s going on,” Mr. Haidt, a psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business, tells me during a recent visit to his office. “But on each campus there are some true believers who have reoriented their lives around the fight against evil.”

The Chicago Public-School Teacher Who Never Thought He’d End Up in a Classroom

Trupti Rami:

Growing up, the narrative in my household was you’re going to do something in the sciences. Most likely, you’re going to be a doctor. That’s kind of how I had structured my life. I never really thought about other career options. I definitely never thought about teaching.

I was studying physics at the University of Chicago, planning on applying to medical school. Towards the end of my senior year, I realized that I was no longer interested in pursuing math. I just hated everything I was doing. I had been a part of an organization called Peer Health Exchange where we went to schools in Chicago and taught health lessons. I decided that teaching might be something that I was interested in. Now I’m a ninth-grade math teacher at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy on the South Side of Chicago. This is my fourth year.

Oregon lawmakers, sensing ambitious education goals out of reach, prepare to drop them

Betsy Hammond:

In 2011, Oregon lawmakers agreed on an ambitious goal: By 2025, the state should get all its young people to graduate from high school and 80 percent to earn a two- or four-year college degree.

Now, largely at the urging of the state’s teachers union, a group of mostly Democratic lawmakers want the state to drop those goals, largely as an admission the state’s schools and colleges won’t come close to accomplishing them.

“It is not realistic,” Rep. Paul Evans, D-Salem, a community college instructor and the primary sponsor of the bill to end the numeric goals, said Wednesday as he unveiled his plan. Unless the state were to spend $1 billion more a year on education, a drive to get all young people to complete high schools and 80 percent to earn a college credential is just “a fantasy we tell ourselves,” he said.

Other lawmakers, community colleges, the state’s higher education commission and Oregon businesses are pushing back, however. They say it’s essential that the state set measurable education goals and doing so has had a big impact on students.

False-Positive Citations

Joseph P. Simmons, Leif D. Nelson, Uri Simonsohn

In 2010 or thereabouts, we stopped believing that many published findings were true. We discussed recently published articles in our weekly journal clubs (we were all at different universities then), and those discussions frequently devolved into statements of disbelief. We didn’t think the findings were fraudulent, but it was just impossible to believe that, with only 14 participants per cell, researchers had found that people will pay more for a chocolate bar when it is presented at a 45 degree angle, but only if they are below the median on the self-monitoring scale.1 When results in the scientific literature disagree with our intuition, we should be able to trust the literature enough to question our beliefs rather than to question the findings. We were questioning the findings. Something was broken.
After much discussion, our best guess was that so many published findings were false because researchers were conducting many analyses on the same dataset and just reporting those that were statistically significant, a behavior that we later labeled “p-hacking” (Simonsohn, Nelson, & Simmons, 2014).

A.I. VERSUS M.D. What happens when diagnosis is automated?

Siddhartha Mukherjee:

In 1945, the British philosopher Gilbert Ryle gave an influential lecture about two kinds of knowledge. A child knows that a bicycle has two wheels, that its tires are filled with air, and that you ride the contraption by pushing its pedals forward in circles. Ryle termed this kind of knowledge—the factual, propositional kind—“knowing that.” But to learn to ride a bicycle involves another realm of learning. A child learns how to ride by falling off, by balancing herself on two wheels, by going over potholes. Ryle termed this kind of knowledge—implicit, experiential, skill-based—“knowing how.”

The two kinds of knowledge would seem to be interdependent: you might use factual knowledge to deepen your experiential knowledge, and vice versa. But Ryle warned against the temptation to think that “knowing how” could be reduced to “knowing that”—a playbook of rules couldn’t teach a child to ride a bike. Our rules, he asserted, make sense only because we know how to use them: “Rules, like birds, must live before they can be stuffed.” One afternoon, I watched my seven-year-old daughter negotiate a small hill on her bike. The first time she tried, she stalled at the steepest part of the slope and fell off. The next time, I saw her lean forward, imperceptibly at first, and then more visibly, and adjust her weight back on the seat as the slope decreased. But I hadn’t taught her rules to ride a bike up that hill. When her daughter learns to negotiate the same hill, I imagine, she won’t teach her the rules, either. We pass on a few precepts about the universe but leave the brain to figure out the rest.

Some time after Lignelli-Dipple’s session with the radiology trainees, I spoke to Steffen Haider, the young man who had picked up the early stroke on the CT scan. How had he found that culprit lesion? Was it “knowing that” or “knowing how”? He began by telling me about learned rules. He knew that strokes are often one-sided; that they result in the subtle “graying” of tissue; that the tissue often swells slightly, causing a loss of anatomical borders. “There are spots in the brain where the blood supply is particularly vulnerable,” he said. To identify the lesion, he’d have to search for these signs on one side which were not present on the other.

Data scientist Cathy O’Neil on the cold destructiveness of big data

Nikhil Sonnad:

O’Neil: All of the time when you’re on the internet. All of the time. I have a couple examples that I like to tell because they affect everyone, and everyone is kind of offended by them in a very direct way.

One of them is, you call up customer service, and from your phone number they infer your value as a customer. If you’re a low-value customer you will wait on hold forever. If you’re a high-value customer you get to a customer representative immediately. And if you’re low-value, you’re likely to be told by the rep, “Oh you’re low-value, you’re not going to get what you want.” That happens. I didn’t even know the rep knows your score, but turns out that in that system they actually do. And they can say, “I’m not going to give you what you want.”

The Meaning of Middlebury

Flagg Taylor:

The protest and subsequent riot at Middlebury College during Charles Murray’s recent visit has prompted a great deal of commentary, facing left and right, about ever-increasing intolerance on college campuses. Much of this commentary is reassuring insofar as people from different sides of the political spectrum seem to agree that many colleges and universities are now reaching the point where they are betraying a core element of their mission: to foster atmospheres of rigorous and reasoned debate and discussion. Further, it is finally dawning on many interested observers that the lack of political and ideological diversity on too many campuses (both among faculty and students) might have something to do with this intolerance. The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt founded the Heterodox Academy precisely to increase awareness of this problem and to advocate for viewpoint diversity.

Ortega y Gasset and You Tube

John Minehan

Professor Vlahos concludes that elites (which he defines more broadly than “the One Percent”) are acting to their own advantage, as elites have done in other times moving towards the point when things fell apart (for example, at the end of Classical times in 6th through the 8th Centuries or after the Black Death in the 14th Century or after the World Wars in the 20th Century).

He further thinks that over what could be a long period of time our current elites have set the stage, by monopolizing resources, for a catastrophic event (perhaps climate change) to change how the cards are dealt.

Professor Vlahos came to that conclusion while teaching graduate courses on how global systems subside. He states that he initially focused on climate change, but came to see such events (like the, probably climate related, Plague of Justinian in the 6th Century) as being a trigger for a course of events that were already in trail.

There have been thinkers who have considered these matters before.

In 1930, the Spanish philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset, published a book called The Revolt of the Masses, which dealt with the “mass-ification” of society, which included “señorito satisfecho” (“Little Mr. Satisfied” or the bureaucrat).

In 1995, the late historian, Christopher Lasch, wrote a book called The Revolt of the Elites, which presciently predicted the perception on the part of many Americans that elites “‘dangerously isolated’ from the rest of the country” mind set and lacked a sense of “noblesse oblige.”

I am vastly less qualified than the people I have cited, but let me offer my own opinion.

English 10, connected math and discovery math.

U.S. College Grads See Slim-to-Nothing Wage Gains Since Recession

Austin Weinstein:

The bachelor’s degree — long a ticket to middle-class comfort — is losing its luster in the U.S. job market.

Wages for college graduates across many majors have fallen since the 2007-09 recession, according to an unpublished analysis by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce in Washington using Census bureau figures. Young job-seekers appear to be the biggest losers.

What you study matters for your salary, the data show. Chemical and computer engineering majors have held down some of the best earnings of at least $60,000 a year for entry level positions since the recession, while business and science graduates’s paychecks have fallen. A biology major at the start of their career earned $31,000 on an annual average in 2015, down $4,000 from five years earlier.

At U-Va., a ‘watch list’ flags VIP applicants for special handling

T Rees Shapiro:

The University of Virginia’s fundraising team for years has sought to help children of wealthy alumni and prominent donors who apply for admission, flagging their cases internally for special handling, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The records from the U-Va. advancement office, which oversees fundraising for the prestigious public flagship, reveal nearly a decade of efforts to monitor admission bids and in some cases assist those in jeopardy of rejection.

U-Va. denies that the advancement office held any sway over admissions decisions. But the documents show the office kept meticulous notes on the status of certain VIP applicants and steps taken on their behalf.

Within U-Va., the records were known as an annual “watch list.” They provide a case study of what is regarded as an open secret in higher education: that schools do pay attention when an applicant’s family has given them money — or might in the future.

The money question on schools is the question of money

Alan Borsuk:

And Holtz said, “There is no scientific correlation between higher spending and higher academic achievement… Adequate funding is important, but money is not the thing that is going to save our failing schools.”

Evers said, “Frankly, our public schools have been deteriorating in their state support, everybody knows that.” Referring to differences in facilities and success between schools in places such as Milwaukee and in more affluent communities, he said, “Resources are at the core of this.”

In short, Evers sees himself as an advocate for more money for schools. Holtz doesn’t.

The state budget. When Walker says he is going to fight for more money for schools, who does he expect to fight with? It seems certain Democrats will back his proposal, as compared to any involving lower amounts. But some Republican legislators are sending signals they are likely to favor smaller increases, given other pressures on the state budget (which is mostly to say, roads).

The Rising Tide of Educated Aliteracy

Alex Good:

The CBC’s Canada Reads radio program was launched in 2001 with the intention of creating a national book club, a way to “get Canada reading.” And over the years it has enjoyed some success, becoming probably the most prominent platform for the discussion of Canadian books in the country.

In 2014, however, something interesting happened when the program announced a theme: pick the one book that could change the nation. For starters, not one of the five panelists was what might be considered, however loosely, a literary figure. And that’s fine. People like celebrities, so inviting a sports star, a television star, a film star, a former politician, and a rapper made a kind of sense. These are, theoretically, the kind of people who can be counted on to provide articulate and entertaining debate.

Libraries have become a broadband lifeline to the cloud for students

Phil Shapiro:

As cloud computing has become an integral part of the lives of students at public schools, it has increased the importance of a place generations of students have turned to for much more analog learning needs—the library.

Both public and school libraries have always been a source of information for students. And while the Internet has undoubtedly changed the way students do research, cloud-based tools have actually evolved the library’s role rather than diminished it. Public computers at libraries have become an extension of the classroom, and they’re an important resource for children who don’t have unfettered access to broadband Internet at home. The cloud has only made those public computers more effective.

New Johns Hopkins School of Education website grades K-12 reading, math programs

The Hub:

By using the categories of evidence—strong, moderate, and promising—outlined in the law, Evidence for ESSA makes it easier for school leaders to determine which programs are in compliance. Programs without evidence of effectiveness are not ranked on the website, and the CRRE plans to incorporate new educational studies and new programs into the website as they become available.

“We plan to have a very fast response, so that users can be confident that what they’re looking at is the very latest,” Slavin said.

The website also offers a wide array of filters that allow users to sort through programs that target the needs of different types of students, such as struggling students; rural, suburban, or urban students; English learners; special education students; and low-income students. It also filters for program features, such as whether or not they incorporate technology or opportunities for teacher professional development.

Development of Evidence for ESSA began almost 10 months ago, and key national organizations have provided feedback. Organizations including the National Education Association, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National PTA, the National Association of State Board of Education, and America Forward were among those stakeholders helping to create the nonpartisan website.

“Our view is this: At the end of the day, you’ve got a school, you’ve got teachers, and you’ve got kids,” Slavin said. “You’ve got to use programs and practices that are as effective as they can possibly be.”

Harvard Thinks It’s Found the Next Einstein — and She’s 23

Kat Merck:

The Cuban-American Chicago native graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in just three years with a 5.0-grade point average, the highest possible, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard with full academic freedom — meaning she can pursue her own study on her own terms without staff interference.

Pasterski first attracted the attention of the scientific and academic community after single-handedly building her own single-engine airplane in 2008, at age 14, and documenting the process on YouTube.

MIT professors Allen Haggerty and Earll Murman saw the video and were astonished. “Our mouths were hanging open after we looked at it,” Haggerty recalls. “Her potential is off the charts.”

Wisconsin DPI Candidate Event


Holtz also slammed Evers for the state’s achievement gaps, saying it’s “not acceptable to be the worst” in the country. He said one of the main reasons why it exists is because schools aren’t safe

“We’re turning our back on generations of minority kids and saying, ‘Sorry, we didn’t fix the problem,’” he said.

He also asked Evers why he let the achievement gap widen during his eight years as state superintendent.

Evers said the achievement gap is tied to poverty, which he’s not responsible for, but refuted Holtz’s claims that he’s done nothing on the issue. The state has “spent a lot of time, effort and money” to help address the issue and noted there’s lots of collaborations with other state agencies happening to provide mental health treatment, services for parents and developing job centers.

Wright Middle School 7th-grader wins state Google honors

Gayle World:

Thirteen-year-old Alyssa Anderson isn’t quite sure where she’ll be at noon on Friday, since Madison students have no school that day.

But wherever she is, she’ll probably be Googling.

Alyssa, a seventh-grader at Wright Middle School, is Wisconsin’s finalist in this year’s Doodle 4 Google competition, a nationwide design contest run by the search-engine giant since 2008.

The national winner, to be announced online around noon Friday along with four runners-up, will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 technology award for their school, a trip to Google headquarters in California and other prizes.

“It’s been amazing. Everyone has been encouraging me and telling me they’re rooting for me,” Alyssa said of the process of entering and advancing in the contest. “We’re just keeping our fingers crossed.”

If you publish Georgia’s state laws, you’ll get sued for copyright and lose

Joe Mullin:

Open-records activist Carl Malamud bought a hard copy, and it cost him $1,207.02 after shipping and taxes. A copy on CD was $1,259.41. The “good” news for Georgia residents is that they’ll only have to pay $385.94 to buy a printed set from LexisNexis.

Malamud thinks reading the law shouldn’t cost anything. So a few years back, he scanned a copy of the state of Georgia’s official laws, known as the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, or OCGA. Malamud made USB drives with two copies on them, one scanned copy and another encoded in XML format. On May 30, 2013, Malamud sent the USB drives to the Georgia speaker of the House, David Ralson, and the state’s legislative counsel, as well as other prominent Georgia lawyers and policymakers.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate – Mapped: Where American income has grown the most over the past 25 years

Christopher Groskopf & Dan Kopf

As the Rust Belt stagnated, coastal metropolises thrived. As Appalachia sputtered, shale country boomed. As Southern manufacturing centers shut their doors, neighboring research hubs opened theirs.

These are just a few the trends that have played out in regional economies across the United States over the past 25 years. This period includes the booms of the late 1990s and mid 2000s, a couple of mild recessions, one huge one, and the slow but steady growth of today. Nationally, workers’ average annual earnings rose by about 24% from 1990 to 2015, or from $42,800 to $52,300 in inflation-adjusted dollars. That works out to a 1.3% real annual raise every year—don’t spend it all at once!

The $315 Billion Waste. Why Classroom Technology is Costing More Than its Worth

Jasky Singh:

All because the outcomes seem to have been forgotten, and sadly we the technology providers are partly to blame.

So, this Principal continued to go on and on about comparing the benefits of one classroom technology over another in making her decision. She went back and forth asking me about every feature, functionality, and delving other all minute aspects for nearly an hour. And this continued over a number of days.

Every time I raised a suggestion and moved the conversation to the topic where I felt her energy should go, it came across as if I was trying to sway her opinion and was selling her on something that was in my interest.
She was obviously skeptical, this method of decision making had been drilled into her and any possible diversions lifted her guard up. Hence, I realised I wasn’t doing a good enough job.

Hillsdale College Proposes A Chicago Charter

Juan Perez

A group seeking to open a taxpayer-financed charter school in the South Loop is getting support from a conservative Michigan college that aims to build on President Donald Trump’s school choice agenda.

Hillsdale College, which refuses federal funds in order to maintain its independence from government oversight, has helped open 17 schools in states including Texas, Florida and Indiana through its Barney Charter School Initiative.

K-12 governance diversity….

Curated Education Information