Girls’ comparative advantage in reading can largely explain the gender gap in math-related fields

Thomas Breda and Clotilde Napp :

Women remain strongly underrepresented in math-related fields. This phenomenon is problematic because it contributes to gender inequalities in the labor market and can reflect a loss of talent. The current state of the art is that students’ abilities are not able to explain gender differences in educational and career choices. Relying on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data, we show that female students who are good at math are much more likely than male students to be even better in reading. As a consequence, the difference between 15-y-old students’ math and reading abilities, which is likely to be determined by earlier socialization processes, can explain up to 80% of the gender gap in intentions to pursue math-studies and careers.

Civics: Judge Rules Terrorism Watchlist Violates Constitutional Rights

Charlie Savage:

A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that a federal government database that compiles people deemed to be “known or suspected terrorists” violates the rights of American citizens who are on the watchlist, calling into question the constitutionality of a major tool the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security use for screening potential terrorism suspects.

Being on the watchlist can restrict people from traveling or entering the country, subject them to greater scrutiny at airports and by the police, and deny them government benefits and contracts. In a 32-page opinion, Judge Anthony J. Trenga of United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said the standard for inclusion in the database was too vague.

“The court concludes that the risk of erroneous deprivation of plaintiffs’ travel-related and reputational liberty interests is high, and the currently existing procedural safeguards are not sufficient to address that risk,” Judge Trenga wrote.

Reading is essential to an educated citizenry.

‘Father Is Surgeon,’ ‘1 Mil Pledge’: The Role of Money in USC Admissions

Jennifer Levitz and Melissa Korn:

Emails among athletics, admissions and fundraising officials at the University of Southern California show the school explicitly weighed how much money applicants’ families could donate when determining whether to admit students.

The messages were filed Tuesday in a Boston federal court by a lawyer for two parents accused in the nationwide college-admissions cheating scandal. He claims USC wasn’t a victim of any scheme, but rather based admission decisions in part on expectations of donations from well-heeled families.

There is a long-held assumption that money influences college admissions, but the 18 previously undisclosed documents, obtained during the discovery process in the case, appear to make the direct connection in stark terms.

They include intricate spreadsheets color-coded by university officials to track “special-interest applicants”—applicants flagged for their connections to USC officials, trustees, donors or other VIPs—with direct references to past and prospective dollar amounts of gifts from their families.

Also included are email exchanges about specific candidates whose qualifications were portrayed as questionable by admissions and other officials but whose family ties and bank funds won out.

“VIP” students were described in spreadsheets with references like “given 2 million already,” “1 mil pledge,” “Previously donated $25k to Heritage Hall” and “father is surgeon,” the filings show.

The Most Promising Careers of the Next Decade

Soo Oh:

Tech, management and health-care roles are among the most promising careers of the next decade, according to a Wall Street Journal ranking of new employment-projection data released by the Labor Department. Factory jobs and other manual-labor occupations continue to have the least promising futures.

In ranking the new occupational data, the Journal assessed current median wages with projected annual openings. The average of those attributes contributed to their final ranking.

Many of America’s fastest-growing jobs, such as personal-care aides and fast-food workers, pay the lowest wages in the nation, while the highest-compensated professions, like doctors and lawyers, have few openings a year. Registered nurses and software developers hit the sweet spot, pairing relatively high wages with robust demand—making them among the most promising careers in our analysis.

Search our interactive below for more than 800 jobs with information on their rankings, median pay, projected employment changes and growth rates, and typical education needed.

What an ‘Adversity Score’ Misses

Wall Street Journal:

Getting Adversity Backward

Rather than lend students a cushion on their SATs, adversity should fuel them to excel. That’s what universities really want to see. From their essays to their interviews and even their grade-point averages, high school students have the space to make their case in full. It’s on them to articulate it.

Colleges are apt to listen—even if an applicant’s grades and test scores aren’t perfect. Admissions departments want to see more than that. They, along with future employers, want character. The value of a strong determination to overcome adversity is unquantifiable, but it can be used to succeed in college and beyond.

If a student’s goal is not only to earn a degree but also to build a good life, she will learn early on that adversity is not something that sets you back, but something to use to propel you forward.

The Google Syndrome: The company should become a generic term for today’s acute political mania.

Daniel Henninger:

It may be time to take the big G out of Google. The company called Google has turned itself into a generic metaphor for our politicized times. In addition to being the name of a U.S. technology company, “google” should become a lowercase word for a psychological syndrome—such as attention-deficit disorder, paranoia or dissociative identity disorder. A person with google disorder would be diagnosed as being in the grip of an uncontrollable political mania.

During the company’s early years, in keeping with what it called its culture of “openness” and the notion that employees should “bring their whole selves to work,” Google allowed thousands of internal message boards to proliferate. This must have seemed like a good idea at the time since Google employees are supersmart and presumably full of interesting, innovative thoughts.

Over time, the conversations on these text-based message boards turned toxic—as they do on message boards everywhere—with participants carving each other up in paroxysms of resentment and retribution. As the Journal reported last year, Google basically turned into a political nut house.

Google employees quickly sorted themselves into subsets with names such as Googlers for Animals, Black Googler Network, Activists at Google, Militia at Google, and Sex Positive at Google.

A few weeks ago, in attempt to do something about this epidemic outbreak of google syndrome, Google released a statement called “Community Guidelines,” a set of directives that are supposed to explain to the company’s more than 100,000 employees—known as Googlers—how they should talk to each other.

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

Credit Cards & Privacy

Geoffrey Fowler:

I recently used my credit card to buy a banana. Then I tried to figure out how my credit card let companies buy me.

You might think my 29-cent swipe at Target would be just between me and my bank. Heavens, no. My banana generated data that’s probably worth more than the banana itself. It ended up with marketers, Target, Amazon, Google and hedge funds, to name a few.

Oh, the places a banana will go in the sprawling card-data economy. Despite a federal privacy law covering cards, I found that six types of businesses could mine and share elements of my purchase, multiplied untold times by other companies they might have passed it to. Credit cards are a spy in your wallet — and it’s time that we add privacy, alongside rewards and rates, to how we evaluate them.

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

Betsy Morris and Tawnell D. Hobbs:

The uncertainty is feeding alarm among some parents already worried about the amount of time their children spend attached to digital devices. Some believe technology is not doing much to help their kids learn, setting up a clash with tech advocates who say technology is the future of education.

Across the country—in Boston, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Austin, Texas—parents are demanding proof technology works as an educational tool, and insisting on limits. They’re pushing schools to offer low- or screen-free classrooms, picketing board meetings to protest all the online classes and demanding more information about what data is collected on students.

In April, a report from the National Education Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group at the University of Colorado at Boulder, found the rapid adoption of the mostly proprietary technology in education to be rife with “questionable educational assumptions . . . self-interested advocacy by the technology industry, serious threats to student privacy and a lack of research support.”

Proponents say schools must have technology. “We are moving into a time of exponential change,” says Keith Krueger, CEO of Consortium for School Networking, an association for school tech officers that also includes tech companies. “Schools are not at the leading edge of technology but technology is reaching a tipping point in the way learning happens.” He says, “Schools need to determine how to equip [students] to be smart digital citizens.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Next Recession and Pension Funds

Joshua Konstantinos:

In order to meet the returns required for future pension costs, public pension funds have thus been pushed into equities and other riskier assets. In 1992 just over half their allocation was still in fixed income. As of 2012, only 25% of public pension fund assets were allocated in fixed-income assets or cash – with the remaining 75% in equities and other higher yield alternatives. According to a recent report from the PEW charitable trust:
In a bid to boost investment returns, public pension plans in the past several decades have shifted funds away from fixed-income investments such as government and high-quality corporate bonds. During the 1980s and 1990s, plans significantly increased their reliance on stocks, also known as equities. And during the past decade, funds have increasingly turned to alternative investments such as private equity, hedge funds, real estate, and commodities to achieve their target investment returns.
The report goes on to say that because of this shift towards riskier assets “Public pension systems may be more vulnerable to an economic downturn than they have ever been.” And this was from six years ago, when interest rates were much higher. Today the famously conservative central bank of Germany is talking about negative interest mortgages.
Accounting for Risk in Public Pension Funds
There is one other key reason that public pension funds have transitioned into riskier assets.
States have passed laws exempting state government pension plans from the standards that private pension plans are held to. These public pension plans are permitted to use generous assumptions about risk that are not permitted in the private sector. So, while public pensions have moved into objectively riskier assets, they haven’t been forced to account for that risk.
According to a 2018 report, if public sector pension plans were held to the same standards as the private sector, even with their own extremely optimistic estimates, only Wisconsin’s would be considered stable. To quote the report:
However, the Pension Protection Act does not apply to public sector DB pension plans. Using the states’ own estimates of their liabilities and assets, 32 states are at risk of default by private sector standards. If the Pension Protection Act were applied to the public sector and states had to use a similar discount rate as the private sector, about 4.5 percent, only Wisconsin’s pension system has enough assets to be considered stable.
And this is not a controversial point – an overwhelming majoring of leading economists agree that the government accounting standards used by U.S. state and local governments understate their pension liabilities and the true cost of future pensions. A recent estimation from 2018 calculates that “Unfunded liabilities of state-administered pension plans, using a proper, risk-free discount rate, now total over $5.96 trillion. The average state pension plan is funded at a mere 35 percent.”

A neuroscientist’s studies show that altruism isn’t always attractive.

Sigal Samuel:

Picture this: You’ve worked hard all year. You’re burned out. Every atom in your brain and body is crying out for a relaxing vacation. Luckily, you and your partner have managed to save up $3,000. You propose a trip to Hawaii — those blue waves are calling your name!

Just one problem: Your partner refuses, arguing that you both should donate the money to charity instead. Think how many malaria-preventing bednets $3,000 could buy for kids in developing countries!

You might find yourself thinking: Why does my partner seem to care more about strangers halfway around the world than about me?

A philosopher would tell you that your partner may be a utilitarian or consequentialist, someone who thinks that an action is moral if it produces good consequences and that everyone equally deserves to benefit from the good, not just those closest to us. By contrast, your response suggests you’re a deontologist, someone who thinks an action is moral if it’s fulfilling a duty — and we have special duties toward special people, like our partners, so we should prioritize our partner’s needs over a stranger’s.

Jennifer Cheatham’s Harvard Lecturer Position

Harvard Graduate School of Education:

Jennifer Cheatham, Ed.M.’06, Ed.D.’10, will be joining the HGSE faculty as a senior lecturer on education and director of the Public Education Leadership Program (PELP). She was previously superintendent of the Madison (Wisconsin) Metropolitan School District, a post she had held since 2013. Prior to that role, she had worked in various capacities in public education, including as classroom teacher, instructional coach, and director of curriculum and instruction. She has a strong commitment to research-based practice and strategy across multiple domains, including data-driven instruction, creating strong school partnerships, serving high-risk populations, and policy implementation. She will begin at HGSE on October 1, 2019.

Public Education Leadership Project:

To improve the management and leadership competencies of public school leaders in order to drive greater educational outcomes. To truly serve all students and meet the demands of the new accountability environment, leaders at all levels of a school district must work to ensure that all students have rich learning opportunities and achieve at high levels throughout a system of schools.


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

2013: What will be different, this time? Jennifer Cheatham’s Madison Rotary Club talk.

2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience: contrasting local cheerleading and academic results.

2019: Why Can’t Madison’s students read?

Commentary on Teacher Supply

Judith Siers-Poisson:

An education expert explains why he thinks that teachers leaving the profession is at the heart of the current teacher shortages. And he offers advice on how to retain experienced educators, while making it a more attractive career to young people.

Tim Slekar notes and links. Additional Wisconsin Public Radio appearances: February, 2019.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, long lead by our new Governor, Mr. Tony Evers, has waived thousands of elementary teacher reading content knowledge tests [Foundations of Reading]. This, despite our long term, disastrous reading results.

This test – our only teacher content knowledge requirement – is based on Massachusetts’ very successful MTEL standards.

Soaring Student Debt Opens Door to Relief Scams

Jean Eaglesham, Michael Tobin and Coulter Jones:

A record $89.2 billion of student loans was in default at the end of June, New York Federal Reserve data show. Of the $1.48 trillion outstanding, 11%, or $160 billion, was at least 90 days behind on repayments—and the true rate is likely double that, because only half the loans are currently in repayment.

“We’ll do the work for you,” Financial Preparation Services says on its website. “No more drowning in a sea of confusing paperwork and processing!” Its fee: $1,195 for document preparation, then $40 a month for almost 20 years—a total of $10,555—according to a 2018 client agreement reviewed by the Journal.

Regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, share oversight of such companies. One issue they face is the sheer number of small firms offering these services, many using several names.

“This is a relatively target-rich environment,” Michelle Grajales, an FTC attorney, said in an interview. “There are unfortunately a lot of companies that still appear to violate the law.” Ms. Grajales didn’t comment on Financial Preparation Services specifically.

Huawei Boosted Research Spending at Berkeley Before Sanctions, Documents Show

Matt Drange:

Huawei sharply increased its spending on research projects at the University of California, Berkeley last year and this year, immediately before the university cut ties with the Chinese telecom manufacturer amid U.S. government sanctions, according to documents obtained by The Information.

The documents show that Berkeley accepted nearly $1.5 million through four grants during February and March of this year. That is a fifth of the more than $7 million in funding Huawei has given Berkeley since it started funding research projects in 2013. Berkeley announced in January that it would stop taking money from Huawei for new research projects, but that it would continue taking money under existing grants. Officials stopped accepting those as well in May, however, after the Commerce Department sanctioned

How the assault on American excellence at Yale–and all universities–threatens our democracy

Anthony Kronman:

The Pierson master who gave up his title could not possibly have thought that he might be confused with the owner of a Mississippi plantation. What really disturbed him, and his students, was not race but rank. It was the aristocratic implication, however slight, that men and women can be distinguished according to their success not in this or that particular endeavor—the study of computer science, for example, or Greek philosophy—but in the all-inclusive work of being human. This idea has been accepted by many cultures of the most varied sorts. It has been joined with other beliefs, some pernicious and others benign. But at the most basic level, it runs against the grain of America’s democratic civilization. It seems—it is—antidemocratic. Any institution that embraces the idea of aristocracy, even in the most modest and qualified terms, therefore puts itself at odds with our civilization as a whole.

Yet even—indeed especially—in our democracy it is essential to preserve a few islands of aristocratic spirit, both for their own sake, because of the rarity and beauty of what they protect, and for the good of the larger democratic culture as well. That is because a democracy is strengthened by the habit of independent-mindedness that, at their very best, these institutions value and promote. None play a more important role in this regard than our colleges and universities. An attack on the idea of aristocracy within them harms not only the few who live and work in the privileged space they afford, but all who, in Edward Gibbon’s phrase, “enjoy and abuse” the democratic privileges that belong to everyone outside their walls.

Alexis de Tocqueville developed this line of thought with a clarity that has never been matched. I take my point of departure from his classic account.

‘Virtue Signalling’ May Annoy Us. But Civilization Would Be Impossible Without It

Geoffrey Miller:

Ever since grad school, I’ve been fascinated by moral hypocrisy as a hallmark of virtue signaling. People say they believe passionately in issue X, but they don’t bother to do anything real to support X. That kind of behavior seemed highly diagnostic of hypocritical signaling, and hypocritical signaling is bad, because hypocrisy is always bad. Case closed.

Or was it? My understanding of virtue signaling got a lot more complicated when I learned more about signaling theory. In grad school I’d studied sexual selection through mate choice, and the “sexual ornaments” and “fitness indicators” that evolve to signal a potential mate’s good genes, good health and good brains. Fitness signaling is central to animal behavior. But there’s a lot more to signaling than sexual ornaments.

In 1996, I started work as a researcher at the Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution, in the economics department at University College London. It was an evolutionary game-theory center, led by Ken Binmore. I had a crash course in game theory, including signaling theory. I learned about Thorstein Veblen’s view of conspicuous consumption as wealth signaling, and Michael Spence’s view of educational credentials as intelligence signaling, and Amotz Zahavi’s view of animal displays as fitness signaling. I got the intellectual tools to think in a more nuanced way about virtue signaling.

There’s virtue signaling, and then there’s virtue signaling. This book is about both kinds.

On the one hand, there’s what economists call “cheap talk”: signals that are cheap, quick and easy to fake, and that aren’t accurate cues of underlying traits or values. When partisans on social media talk about political virtue signaling by the other side, they’re usually referring to this sort of cheap talk. Virtue signaling as cheap talk includes bumper stickers, yard signs, social media posts and dating app profiles. The main pressure that keeps cheap talk honest is social: the costs of stigma and ostracism by people who don’t agree with your signal. Wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat doesn’t cost much money, but it can cost you friendships.

On the other hand, there’s virtue signaling that’s costly, long-term, and hard to fake, and that can serve as a reliable indicator of underlying traits and values. This can include volunteering for months on political campaigns, making large, verifiable donations to causes, or giving up a lucrative medical practice to work for Doctors Without Borders in Haiti or New Guinea. The key to reliable virtue signals is that you simply couldn’t stand to exhibit them, over the long term, if you didn’t genuinely care about the cause.

Google, YouTube To Pay $170 Million Penalty Over Collecting Kids’ Personal Info

Avie Schneider:

The companies allegedly collected information of children viewing videos on YouTube by tracking users of channels that are directed at kids. YouTube allegedly failed to notify parents or get their consent, violating laws that protect children’s privacy, according to a complaint filed against the companies by the FTC and the New York attorney general.

YouTube earned millions of dollars by then using this information to target ads to the children, according to the complaint.

“YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement. “Yet when it came to complying with (the children privacy law), the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids. There’s no excuse for YouTube’s violations of the law.”

According to the complaint, YouTube marketed itself as a top destination for kids in presentations to the makers of popular children’s products and brands.

For example, Google and YouTube told Mattel, maker of Barbie and Monster High toys, that “YouTube is today’s leader in reaching children age 6-11 against top TV channels” and told Hasbro, which makes My Little Pony and Play-Doh, that YouTube is the “#1 website regularly visited by kids.”

Two Madisons: The Education and Opportunity Gap in Wisconsin’s Fastest Growing City

Will Flanders:

At Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), there exist two distinct school systems.

Despite its economic growth, low-income families in Madison are more likely to stay poor for their entire lives.

While 60% of white students at MMSD are proficient or higher on the Forward exam, only 9.8% of African Americans are proficient. This achievement gap is worse than Milwaukee Public Schools.

While Hispanic proficiency is higher than that for African Americans, large gaps remain.

21% of African Americans and 18% of Hispanic students in MMSD do not graduate from high school within five years compared to just 6% of white students.

African American and low-income students are more likely to be in schools with significantly higher numbers of police calls.

Due to caps and restrictions, school choice is very limited in Madison. Unless your family has money. More than 4,300 children attend 31 private schools in Madison, primarily outside of the voucher program.

Related: Police calls near local high schools: 1996-2006.

Madison taxpayers recently funded expansion of our least diverse schools.

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

I am currently the reading interventionist teacher at West High School.

I’ve been there for 4 years. Previous to that I’ve been in the school district as a regular ed teacher for about 20 years. I started in the early 90s.

I have (a) question I want to ask you guys. What district-wide systems are in place as we use our map data to monitor the reading student achievement?

Student by student, not school by school but also school by school and provide support for the school the teachers and the students that need it.

And especially to help students who score in the bottom percentiles who will need an intervention which is significantly different than differentiation.

I was (a) TAG coordinator (talent and gifted coordinator) for 4 years at Hamilton and I have extensive background with the talent and gifted and differentiation training.

( and teaching of teachers). Now I’m in interventionist and they are significantly different we need interventions to serve the lowest scoring kids that we have.

Here’s my data from this year and this is why I’m here:

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

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

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

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

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

Of those 24 students one is Caucasian the rest of them identify as some other ethnic group.

I am tired of the district playing what I called whack-a-mole, (in) another words a problem happens at Cherokee boom we bop it down and we we fix it temporarily and then something at Sherman or something at Toki or something at Faulk and we bop it down and its quiet for awhile but it has not been fixed on a system-wide level and that’s what has to change.

Thank you very much.

Madison taxpayers have long spent far more than most K-12 school districts, now between 18 and 20k per student, depending on the district documents one reviews.

College- and Career-Ready Student Outcomes Data Explorer


Though all states collect data on student outcomes, the measures they track differ from state to state—differences like which students are included in each indicator, which assessments are used, whether data on student subgroups are reported, and how indicators are constructed. Furthermore, the data states report are often found across a number of websites, and some states publicly report more information than others. Each of these factors makes it hard to know how well-prepared students are for their next steps after high school.

The College- and Career-Ready Student Outcomes Data Explorer brings the available data together in one place, with a range of indicators that measure students’ progress towards and demonstration of college and career readiness (read more about how the data is collected here and see where it is collected from here). This Data Explorer shows states’ college and career readiness data by subgroup where available, and provides insight into how different measures are constructed and which students are being counted for these indicators of achievement.

The High School Course Beijing Accuses of Radicalizing Hong Kong

Tiffany May and Amy Qin:

HONG KONG — They are sitting in orderly rows, wearing neatly pressed uniforms. But in this class, as they debate the merits of democracy and civil rights, Hong Kong high school students are prompting Beijing to worry that they are increasingly out of control.

The mandatory civics course known here as liberal studies has been a hallmark of the curriculum in Hong Kong for years, and students and teachers say the point is to make better citizens who are more engaged with society.

But mainland Chinese officials and pro-Beijing supporters say the prominence of the city’s youth at recent mass protests is the clearest sign yet that this tradition of academic freedom has gone too far, giving rise to a generation of rebels.

“The liberal studies curriculum is a failure,” Tung Chee-hwa, a former leader of Hong Kong, said in July. “It is one of the reasons behind the youth’s problems today.”

Americans Have Shifted Dramatically on What Values Matter Most

Chad Day:

The values that Americans say define the national character are changing, as younger generations rate patriotism, religion and having children as less important to them than did young people two decades ago, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey finds.

The poll is the latest sign of difficulties the 2020 presidential candidates will likely face in crafting a unifying message for a country divided over personal principles and views of an increasingly diverse society.

When the Journal/NBC News survey asked Americans 21 years ago to say which values were most important to them, strong majorities picked the principles of hard work, patriotism, commitment to religion and the goal of having children.

All Those Adages of Geniuses Are a Big Scam

Joe Queenan:

But then, alas, I found out that Ben Franklin may never have said any of these things. Or if he did, he may have lifted them from somebody else. No matter. Whoever said them is wrong. Way off base. Which is true of most famous maxims. It does not take one to know one; you don’t need to be an idiot to identify an idiot. You can fight City Hall; people do it all the time. If you lead a horse to water, it will drink it. So will a dog.

So if somebody tells you that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the exact same thing and always expect a different result, reply: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” I think it was the 19th-century American educator Thomas H. Palmer who said that. But it could have been Albert Einstein.

‘Father is Surgeon,’ ‘1 mil pledge’: The Role of Money in USC Admissions

Jennifer Levitz and Melissa Korn:

Emails among athletics, admissions and fundraising officials at the University of Southern California show the school explicitly weighed how much money applicants’ families could donate when determining whether to admit students.

The messages were filed Tuesday in a Boston federal court by a lawyer for two parents accused in the nationwide college-admissions cheating scandal. He claims USC wasn’t a victim of any scheme, but rather based admission decisions in part on expectations of donations from well-heeled families.

There is a long-held assumption that money influences college admissions, but the 18 previously undisclosed documents, obtained during the discovery process in the case, appear to make the direct connection in stark terms.

Helsinki Central Library Oodi chosen as the best new public library in the world


The annually presented Public Library of the Year award is presented to a public library that is either newly built or set up in premises not previously used for library purposes. This year, a total of 16 libraries from all over the world applied to be considered for this award. The other libraries that made it to the final were Green Square Library and Plaza in Australia, Bibliotheek LocHal in the Netherlands and Tūranga – Christchurch Central Library in New Zealand. The award’s sponsor, IT company Systematic, awarded USD 5,000 to Oodi.

‘Oodi was designed together with customers for a long period of time. We received more than 2,000 ideas from customers to serve as the basis of the architectural competition. ALA Architects designed an amazing and unique building that takes all the elements most desired by customers into account. The customers immediately made Oodi their own, which is our greatest success. The Public Library of the Year award tells us that the world has also taken notice of this,’ rejoices Director of Oodi Anna-Maria Soininvaara.

Do Citizens Have A Right To See The Algorithms Used By Publicly-Funded Software?

Gkyn Moody:

In 2009, the Spanish government brought in a law requiring electricity bill subsidies for some five million poor households in the country. The so-called Bono Social de Electricidad, or BOSCO, was not popular with energy companies, which fought against it in the courts. Following a 2016 ruling, the Spanish authorities introduced new, more restrictive regulations for BOSCO, and potential beneficiaries had to re-register by 31 December 2018. In the end, around 1.5 million households were approved, almost a million fewer than the 2.4 million who had benefited from the previous scheme, and a long way from the estimated 4.5 million who fulfilled the criteria to receive the bonus.

The process of applying for the subsidy was complicated, so a non-profit organization monitoring public authorities, Civio, worked with the National Commission on Markets and Competition to produce an easy-to-use Web page that allowed people to check their eligibility for BOSCO. Because of discrepancies between what the Civio service predicted, and what the Spanish government actually decided, Civio asked to see the source code for the algorithm that was being used to determine eligibility. The idea was to find out how the official algorithm worked so that the Web site could be tweaked to give the same results. As Civio wrote in a blog post, that didn’t go so well:

“An all-voucher system would be a shock to the educational system, but the shakeout might be just what the system needs,”

David Brooks on:

Professor Warren also supported proposals to help families afford day care, but she opposed the approach that candidate Warren now advocates. Back then, she called taxpayer-funded day care a liberal “sacred cow”: “Any subsidy that benefits working parents without providing a similar benefit to single-income families pushes the stay-at-home mother and her family further down the economic ladder.”

Professor Warren supported ways to help make universities more affordable, but she opposed the sort of government subsidy proposals that candidate Warren now supports. “Are state governments supposed to write a blank check for higher education, allowing universities to increase costs with abandon?” she asked. “The more-taxes approach suffers from the same problem the more-debt approach engenders. It gives colleges more money to spend without any attempt to control their spiraling costs.”

“The Two-Income Trap” is filled with interesting and heterodox proposals. Warren supported many progressive policy ideas and many conservative ones. She wanted to eliminate the tax on savings. She opposed more government regulations on housing, because such regulations reduce the incentive to build more housing.

In that book, she harshly criticized many Republicans. She also criticized the women’s movement for being naïve about economics, and she criticized Hillary Clinton for flip-flopping on important issues for the sake of political expediency.

There are two core tensions that make the book so fascinating. Warren and Tyagi are both working women and feminists. And yet they provide case after case in which stay-at-home moms provide an important safety net for their families. Warren and Tyagi want Americans to have children, but they provide case after case in which childbearing strains family finances and leads to bankruptcy and misery.

In 2016 Warren and Tyagi wrote a new introduction to their book. It’s hard to believe this introduction was written by the same people. The 2003 book is intellectually unpredictable and alive. The new introduction is paint-by-numbers progressive boilerplate. The original book described a complex world in which people navigate trade-offs and unintended consequences often happen. The new introduction describes a comic book world, in which everything bad can be blamed on greedy bankers.

This is the problem with politics in a dogmatic age. Everything conforms to rigid ideology. Independent, evidence-based thinking? That goes out the window.

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

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The American Working Class Dilemma

Joel Kotkin:

Unlike workers with steady pay and benefits, those in the precariat — many of them young, lacking good prospects and often socialistically minded — have little to protect. Whether they work for McDonald’s or Uber, they lack health insurance, company backing for further education or any influence on corporate decision-making. A policy agenda of “Medicare for all”, cancelled student debts and forcing companies to put workers could have considerable appeal to such voters.

Which party wins the working class in 2020?

Appealing to the precariat, however, also poses a challenge to the democratic establishment, many of whom, including several top Obama aides, work at firms such as Uber and Lyft . Some of these notional progressives consider what they call the “sharing” economy as “democratizing capitalism” by returning control of the working day to the individual. Yet for most gig workers there’s not very much democratic or satisfying.

The new working class activism also may move to drive the party further, even disastrously, to the left. Some labor activists such as Chicago’s teacher union leaders recently traveled to Venezuela’s disastrous leftist regime, and expressed their admiration and solidarity. This is not a good role model to sell to the electorate.

How to become a great impostor

Tim Holmes:

Unlike other icons who have appeared on the front of Life magazine, Ferdinand Waldo Demara was not famed as an astronaut, actor, hero or politician. In fact, his 23-year career was rather varied. He was, among other things, a doctor, professor, prison warden and monk. Demara was not some kind of genius either – he actually left school without any qualifications. Rather, he was “The Great Impostor”, a charming rogue who tricked his way to notoriety.

My research speciality is crimes by deception and Demara is a man who I find particularly interesting. For, unlike other notorious con-artists, imposters and fraudsters, he did not steal and defraud for the money alone. Demara’s goal was to attain prestige and status. As his biographer Robert Crichton noted in 1959, “Since his aim was to do good, anything he did to do it was justified. With Demara the end always justifies the means.”

Though we know what he did, and his motivations, there is still one big question that has been left unanswered – why did people believe him? While we don’t have accounts from everyone who encountered Demara, my investigation into his techniques has uncovered some of the secrets of how he managed to keep his high level cons going for so long.

The Next Recession (Whenever it Comes) Will Be About Sovereign Debt

Joshua Konstantinos:

What made the recession in 2008 the Great Recession was the failure of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury to prevent Lehman Brothers from collapsing. Allowing the collapse of an institution that was too big to fail is what started the deflationary spiral that almost brought down the entire global economy. Although there is always the risk of another similar misstep in any recession, it would be surprising if any central banker allowed the abrupt collapse of a major bank for another half-century or so. However, while it’s unlikely that the next recession will see another Lehman Brothers, the next recession will likely be worse than 2008 – but for a different reason.

The Massive Accumulation of Debt Since 2008
The nations of the world prevented the total collapse of the global economy in 2008 by bailing out their financial systems. However, this was accomplished at an enormous cost. Countries took on massive amounts of debt and this combined with the plummet in tax revenues strained national budgets.
According to the IMF “Leverage in the system has increased some 50%-60% since the financial crisis a decade ago, with debt now worth some 230% of economic output globally” This immense pile of debt – particularly the debt held by governments known as sovereign debt – poses a terrible risk to the world.

Europe is Mired in Debt
In Europe, the massive debt accumulation morphed the 2008 financial crisis into a sovereign debt crisis. Immediately after Lehman’s collapse, yields on government bonds began to rise in some countries as the risk rose that these nations would be unable to service their debt in the recessionary environment. By 2010, the Southern European nations of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain (referred to in financial circles at the time as the PIIGS) were in a full-blown sovereign debt crisis which saw the value of their bonds plummet and their costs to borrow soar.

Ring (Amazon) asks police not to tell public how its law enforcement backend works

Kate Cox:

Amazon’s Ring line of consumer home surveillance products enjoys an extensive partnership with local police departments all over the country. Cops receive free product, extensive coaching, and pre-approved marketing lines, and Amazon gets access to your 911 data and gets to spread its network of security cameras all over the nation. According to a trio of new reports, though, the benefits to police go even further than was previously known—as long as they don’t use the word “surveillance,” that is.

Gizmodo on Monday published an email exchange between the chief of police in one New Jersey town and Ring showing that Ring edited out certain key terms of a draft press release before the town published it, as the company frequently does.

The town of Ewing, New Jersey, in March said it would be using Ring’s Neighbors app. Neighbors does not require a Ring device to use; consumers who don’t have footage to share can still view certain categories of crime reports in their area and contribute reports of their own, sort of like a Nextdoor on steroids.

Amazon writes scripts for cops to sling Ring home cameras, report says
Law enforcement has access to a companion portal that allows police to see an approximate map of active Ring cameras in a given area and request footage from them in the course of an investigation. The town also launched a subsidy program, giving up to 200 residents a $100 discount on the purchase of Ring security products. Members of the police department also received $50 discount vouchers for their own use.

Loose rules let Texas districts boost ratings by claiming military enlistments

Javob Carpenter:

In Hearne ISD, a rural school district home to about 800 pupils northwest of College Station, students have scored poorly on the state’s standardized tests for years, and 2019 was no exception.

In the past, Hearne’s abysmal test scores resulted in “improvement required” or failing grades from the state, prompting a gradual increase in state oversight of the rural district. This year, however, Hearne received a B rating under Texas’ A-through-F accountability system, one of the largest improvements in the state.

Measles: Four European nations lose eradication status


Measles has returned to four European nations previously seen as free of the illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The disease is no longer considered eradicated in Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and the UK.

“We are backsliding, we are on the wrong track,” said Kate O’Brien of the WHO’s Immunization Department.

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially fatal illness that causes coughing, rashes and fever.

The disease can be prevented through two doses of the MMR vaccine, which is available for

Duty, Democracy and the Threat of Tribalism

Jim Mattis:

In late November 2016, I was enjoying Thanksgiving break in my hometown on the Columbia River in Washington state when I received an unexpected call from Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Would I meet with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss the job of secretary of defense?

I had taken no part in the election campaign and had never met or spoken to Mr. Trump, so to say that I was surprised is an understatement. Further, I knew that, absent a congressional waiver, federal law prohibited a former military officer from serving as secretary of defense within seven years of departing military service. Given that no waiver had been authorized since Gen. George Marshall was made secretary in 1950, and I’d been out for only 3½ years, I doubted I was a viable candidate. Nonetheless, I felt I should go to Bedminster, N.J., for the interview.

I had time on the cross-country flight to ponder how to encapsulate my view of America’s role in the world. On my flight out of Denver, the flight attendant’s standard safety briefing caught my attention: If cabin pressure is lost, masks will fall…Put your own mask on first, then help others around you. In that moment, those familiar words seemed like a metaphor: To preserve our leadership role, we needed to get our own country’s act together first, especially if we were to help others.

The next day, I was driven to the Trump National Golf Club and, entering a side door, waited about 20 minutes before I was ushered into a modest conference room. I was introduced to the president-elect, the vice president-elect, the incoming White House chief of staff and a handful of others. We talked about the state of our military, where our views aligned and where they differed. Mr. Trump led the wide-ranging, 40-minute discussion, and the tone was amiable.


Tawnell D. Hobbs:

The cost of a free public education is on the rise, as a growing number of districts across the U.S. are charging students for registration, textbooks, the use of libraries and more.

Some students in the Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District in Ohio this school year pay a $10 student-activity fee, $34 for chemicals and supplies for chemistry and $3 for an alert system with mass calling capabilities. Anatomy and physiology students pay $35 to help cover the cost of cat cadavers and other course materials. High-school students this year also face a new $25 fee for school-provided laptops.

“These are necessary items that are going to help their children succeed and thrive in the classroom,” said Guy Parmigian, the district’s superintendent. Students who don’t pay can have their diploma withheld, he said.

The Math That Takes Newton into the Quantum World

John Baez:

In my 50s, too old to become a real expert, I have finally fallen in love with algebraic geometry. As the name suggests, this is the study of geometry using algebra. Around 1637, René Descartes laid the groundwork for this subject by taking a plane, mentally drawing a grid on it, as we now do with graph paper, and calling the coordinates x and y. We can write down an equation like x2+ y2 = 1, and there will be a curve consisting of points whose coordinates obey this equation. In this example, we get a circle!

It was a revolutionary idea at the time, because it let us systematically convert questions about geometry into questions about equations, which we can solve if we’re good enough at algebra. Some mathematicians spend their whole lives on this majestic subject. But I never really liked it much until recently—now that I’ve connected it to my interest in quantum physics.

Ideological Diversity, Hostility, and Discrimination in Philosophy

Uwe Peters, Nathan Honeycutt, Andreas De Block, and Lee Jussim:

Members of the field of philosophy have, just as other people, political convictions or, as psychologists call them, ideologies. How are different ideologies distributed and perceived in the field? Using the familiar distinction between the political left and right, we surveyed an international sample of 794 subjects in philosophy. We found that survey participants clearly leaned left (75%), while right-leaning individuals (14%) and moderates (11%) were underrepresented. Moreover, and strikingly, across the political spectrum, from very left- leaning individuals and moderates to very right-leaning individuals, participants reported experiencing ideological hostility in the field, occasionally even from those from their own side of the political spectrum. Finally, while about half of the subjects believed that discrimination against left- or right-leaning individuals in the field is not justified, a significant minority displayed an explicit willingness to discriminate against colleagues with the opposite ideology. Our findings are both surprising and important, because a commitment to tolerance and equality is widespread in philosophy, and there is reason to think that ideological similarity, hostility, and discrimination undermine reliable belief formation in many areas of the discipline.

K-12 tax & SpendinG Climate: Bond Markets Don’t Bend. They Snap.

Pounts & Figures:

If you live in a place like I do that consistently taps the bond market for funding to cover deficit spending without any reform of that spending beware. By reform, I mean cutting spending because usually governments don’t find new revenue. Governments think they can tap the bond market for money with no end in sight. Like it’s a spigot they just turn on, or a money tree in the backyard they go and pick cash off of.
They are making a poor assumption. Corporate and Muni bond markets are not at all like US Treasury markets except for maybe the jargon used to trade them. US Treasury markets are very very liquid. Other bond markets not so much. The bid ask spread in the Treasury market can be as tight as 1/64th. That spread will have billions of dollars on each side of it waiting to be taken out. In short term interest rate markets like Eurodollars, they trade trillions a day in notional value with spreads as little as $6.25 wide.
Contrast that with corporate bonds or municipal bonds. Those spreads are miles wide and often it takes a couple of days to get a quote depending on how popular the bond is. I owned some water bonds from a county in Illinois and it wasn’t a snap to get out of them. If it would have been a US Treasury, I would have pushed a button on my phone.

Collecting data on Taxpayer supported Madison K-12 students 24×7 Reading?

Logan Wroge:

But the move to 24-hour monitoring was not without concern.

Last week, the Madison School Board weighed the benefits of potentially preventing bullying and suicide with protecting student privacy and how the collected data could be used.

Ultimately, the board approved on a 5-1 vote spending $114,408 over the next two years to expand the district’s use of the software. Board member Nicki Vander Meulen was the sole opponent, but others voiced some misgivings before signing off.

Vander Meulen, who is an attorney, said some of her issues with the product relate to the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, adding she is concerned information flagged by the software could be used in criminal cases.

“It also worries me on the privacy issue. We want our teens to trust us, we want them to talk to us,” said Vander Meulen, who added she thought the money might be better spent on school counselors.

Board president Gloria Reyes said the software would not be monitoring student’s personal devices, but rather district-owned devices provided to students.

She said the software is worth it if it could prevent a suicide attempt or flag school safety threats.

The chromebooks are supplied by Google, a behemoth built on personal data mining.

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

Federal fraud indictment: KU professor secretly worked for Chinese university

Mara Rose Williams:

A University of Kansas associate professor on Wednesday was indicted on federal charges alleging he concealed he worked for a Chinese university while doing U.S. government-funded research.

Feng “Franklin” Tao, 47, of Lawrence, who taught chemical engineering and chemistry at KU’s Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis, is charged with one count of wire fraud and three counts of program fraud.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the wire fraud count, and up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the program fraud counts

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: CBO expects deficit to grow more than projected, warns that tariff hikes could harm growth

Kevin Breuninger & Ylan Mui:

Federal deficits are expected to swell to higher levels over the next decade than previously expected, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a new report Wednesday.

The CBO also said that President Donald Trump’s tariffs are projected to shrink gross domestic product by 2020, and warned that further tariff hikes could stifle economic growth.

The U.S. budget deficit is expected to hit $960 billion in 2019, and average a whopping $1.2 trillion per year between 2020 and 2029, according to the CBO’s look ahead at the U.S. budget and economic outlook over the next decade.

The new deficit projection for 2019 rose $63 billion from the last report, which came out in May. The CBO says this is mainly because of the massive new budget deal, which passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by Trump in early August.

The Provocations of Camille Paglia

Emily Eshfahania:

The word “person” captures a concept so fundamental to Westerners that it can be jarring to discover that it once had a different meaning. Etymologically, “person” comes from the Latin word persona, which means “mask.” To be a person is to wear a mask, act out a role—what people today might call being fake.

But to Camille Paglia, the dissident social critic, a mask does not conceal a person’s true nature; it helps reveal it. This is why Halloween was her favorite holiday as a child. It was “a fantastic opportunity,” she told an interviewer recently, “to enact one’s repressed and forbidden self—which in my case was male.” When she was five, she dressed up as Robin Hood; at seven, she was a Roman soldier; at eight, Napoleon; at nine, Hamlet. “These masks,” Paglia told me in Philadelphia recently, “are parts of myself.”

Paglia, 72, grew up in the 1950s, when girls played house, not Hamlet. It was an unforgiving time to be different. As a fifth-grader, Paglia shoved a boy in order to be first in line; her teacher made her look up “aggressive” in the dictionary after school, an exercise that left her in tears. But at Halloween, she could defy conventions. Eventually, she would explain not only her personality but also the development of Western civilization through sexual masks. “I show how much of Western life, art, and thought,” she writes in Sexual Personae, her 735-page history of Western culture, “is ruled by personality, which the book traces through recurrent types of personae (‘masks’).”

College Board Drops Plans for SAT Student Adversity Scores

Douglas Belkin:

The backlash emerged after an article in The Wall Street Journal in May detailed the College Board’s plans for the adversity score.

The College Board, the New York-based nonprofit that oversees the SAT, said it has worried for years about race income inequality influencing test results.

White students scored an average of 177 points higher than black students and 133 points higher than Hispanic students in 2018 results. Asian students scored 100 points higher than white students. The children of wealthy and college-educated parents outperformed their classmates.

An analysis by Georgetown University researchers earlier this year found that if the most selective U.S. colleges and universities relied solely on SAT scores for admissions decisions, their campuses would be wealthier, whiter and more male, raising questions about the role of standardized testing in admissions.

Landscape is designed to help colleges compare an applicant’s test scores to those of other students in their high school and beyond, the College Board said. It also aims to give a picture of the quality of the school and relative wealth and stability of the neighborhood.

Six “challenge factors” provide the “summary neighborhood challenge indicator” and the “summary high-school challenge indicator,” according to the College Board. Those factors are college attendance, household structure, median family income, housing stability, education levels and crime. Admissions officers who tested Landscape estimate they lack high-school information for about 25% of all applications, the College Board said.

Fifty colleges used the adversity score last year as part of a beta test. The College Board had planned to expand it to 150 institutions this fall, and then use it broadly the following year.


Intimidation-Produced Silence at Stanford

John Rosenberg:

Back in the late middle of the last century I attended Stanford for my last three years of college and my last three years of graduate school. Since then I have looked in vain for the dividend checks from that investment, but one thing I have received with some regularity is the alumni magazine.

Along with its almost equally depressing news of classmates either more successful or deceased, Stanford usually presents impressive representatives of the unusually talented undergraduates it attracts, as well as items highlighting other accomplishments on campus. A recent issue, however, featured a symposium by four senior faculty members on “What Should Free Speech Mean in College?” that is discordantly, uncharacteristically depressing — in no small part because the editors obviously had no idea how bad the picture they painted makes Stanford look.

Michael McConnell, law professor, director of the Constitutional Law Center, former judge on the the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and one of the few conservatives at Stanford, struck a common note with his observation that “at Stanford, students frequently appeal to the university to silence other students whose views make them feel uncomfortable. Students of a conservative persuasion tell me that they do not feel free to express their views—even mainstream, reasonable views shared by millions of Americans—in class or in common spaces, for fear of attracting a torrent of abuse from fellow students and occasional disapproval from a small minority of ideologically intolerant faculty. They simply self-censor; they keep their mouths shut.”

civics: 61% Welcome Public Scrutiny of Big League Reporters

Rasmussen Reports:

The New York Times and others are complaining that allies of President Trump are targeting hostile reporters by exposing controversial social media postings from their past. But most voters consider these reporters fair game for public criticism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters think reporters at major news organizations like CNN, Fox News and the New York Times are public figures who deserve the same level of scrutiny as the people they cover. Just 19% disagree, although just as many (20%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Just over half (51%) say it is appropriate for elected officials to criticize specific reporters and news organizations. Thirty-nine percent (39%), however, view such criticism as a threat to freedom of the press. This compares to 48% and 45% respectively in February 2017 after Trump began criticizing specific news organizations that were targeting him. Ten percent (10%) remain undecided.

Rasmussen Reports bases its surveys on likely voters – those who have a history of voting in recent elections – as opposed to registered voters in general, many of whom historically don’t go to the polls.

A plurality (47%) of voters continues to believe that ideologically speaking the average reporter is more liberal than they are. Just 19% think that reporter is more conservative than they are, while 22% consider them ideologically about the same. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure. This is consistent with findings in surveys for the past several years.

German cartel office to take Facebook case to High Court

Joseph Nasr:

Facebook appealed February’s landmark decision by the cartel office that the world’s largest social network abused its dominant market position to gather information about users without their consent.

The Higher Regional Court in Duesseldorf said in its ruling earlier on Monday: “The suspension of the order means that Facebook does not have to implement the decision of the Federal Cartel Office for the time being.”

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, declined to comment.

The court said its temporary injunction removing restrictions on Facebook’s data gathering would be valid until it had made a final decision on the company’s appeal.

Rather than doing work their own way, they do what they think will be well-received — being merely imitators of what is already popular.

Benjamin Hardy:

Kenzie and Harris wouldn’t have had their breakthrough if they didn’t start as amateurs. They had some raw talent. But more than anything, they were willing to put themselves out there over and over and over. Quantity became quality. And then they put something out that people loved.

Very few people have the humility to start as amateurs. They procrastinate doing the work they want in the name of perfectionism. You know these people. The one’s who have been saying for years that they’re going to do something but never do. Yet inwardly, they’re terrified of what other people will think of them.

They’re caught in a state of paralysis by analysis — too busy calculating and never reaching a state of flow. Rather than doing work their own way, they do what they think will be well-received — being merely imitators of what is already popular.

Commentary on Education Schools and Teacher Supply/Demand


More than 2,500 teachers in Wisconsin worked in schools using emergency licenses during the 2017-18 school year, according to DPI data.

In the Madison Metropolitan School District, 109 teachers were on emergency licenses during the 2016-17 school year after 67 the preceding school year.

Teachers who work with some of the state’s most vulnerable students, including people with disabilities and those learning English as a second language, are often likely to have emergency licenses. Emergency licenses are also often awarded for math and science teachers.

“There are high needs areas like special education that have been high needs areas for the last 30 years,” said Kimber Wilkerson, faculty director of the School of Education’s Teacher Education Center. “But it’s exacerbated in the last five or 10 years.”

Wilkerson said that in some rural Wisconsin school districts that might only have one or two special education teachers, all might be working under emergency licenses.

DPI’s DeGuire said looking at the number of vacancies school districts have that go unfilled also illustrates the teacher shortage problem.

Nationally, some researchers have argued the teaching shortage is worse than previously understood and disproportionately affects high poverty schools, according to a paper by the Economic Policy Institute from earlier this year.

“Lack of sufficient, qualified teachers and staff instability threaten students’ ability to learn and reduce teachers’ effectiveness, and high teacher turnover consumes economic resources that could be better deployed elsewhere,” wrote Emma Garcia and Elaine Weiss, the paper’s authors. “The teacher shortage makes it more difficult to build a solid reputation for teaching and to professionalize it, which further contributes to perpetuating the shortage.”

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has waived thousands of elementary teacher reading content knowledge requirements in recent years (“Foundations of Reading”).

Years Ago, This Doctor Linked A Mysterious Lung Disease To Vaping

Victoria Knight:

Dr. John E. Parker was working at a West Virginia hospital in 2015 when a 31-year-old female patient was admitted with acute respiratory problems. A team of doctors ultimately suspected that her mysterious case of lipoid pneumonia might be related to vaping and weren’t sure they had seen anything like it before. They were intrigued enough to publish a case report — a type of medical paper on unusual or provocative patient findings. Such reports can serve as a call to the medical community to be on the lookout, though they sometimes raise more questions than they provide answers.

This summer, almost four years later, federal officials began investigating a national outbreak of severe lung illnesses linked to vaping that has struck more than 150 patients in 16 states. In an interview, Parker, a professor of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine at West Virginia University, described what happened.

US indicts Chinese professor over alleged lack of disclosure

Kadhim Shubber:

US prosecutors have indicted a University of Kansas professor on charges that he failed to disclose a contract with a Chinese university while doing US government-funded research.

Franklin Tao, 47, was charged with four counts of fraud by the Department of Justice on Wednesday. A justice department spokesman said Mr Tao was in custody.

The case highlights the heightened scrutiny of academics in an ongoing US crackdown on what it claims are Chinese efforts to use American knowledge to boost China’s economy.

“Any potential conflicts of commitment by a researcher must be disclosed as required by law and university policies. The Department will continue to pursue any unlawful failure to do so,” said John Demers, chief of the DoJ’s national security division, in a statement.

Mr Tao could not be immediately reached for comment. The court docket showed no current attorney for him.

Eliminating Talent By Force

Rod Dreher:

In that same book I quoted in an earlier post, From Under The Rubble (which you can read online for free by following the link), there’s an essay on socialism by Igor Shafarevich. In it, he quotes Marx saying that communism aims to “eliminate talent by force.” Equality must be achieved above all things.

Reading the Shafarevich, I thought of the removal and/or relocation of photographs of white males from medical schools, on ideological grounds (I wrote about it here on Monday.) It won’t stop there. That’s just the first step. They begin by removing the images of certain figures, and will eventually get around to removing people like them from the schools, all in the name of equality.

Something like this might be about to happen in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s School Diversity Advisory Group has recommended that the city eliminated gifted and talented programs for elementary schools, and stop using academic criteria for admission to middle schools. Why? Diversity, of course. Too many of the kids who get into the better schools and programs are white and Asian, not enough are black and Hispanic, according to progressive dogma. Christine Rosen writes:

Madison’s one size fits all experiment: English 10.

Yet, despite spending far more than most – between $18K and $20K per student, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

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

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

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

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

Of those 24 students one is Caucasian the rest of them identify as some other ethnic group.

I am tired of the district playing what I called whack-a-mole, (in) another words a problem happens at Cherokee boom we bop it down and we we fix it temporarily and then something at Sherman or something at Toki or something at Faulk and we bop it down and its quiet for awhile but it has not been fixed on a system-wide level and that’s what has to change.

Rudyard Kipling, American Imperialist

Maya Jasanoff:

If a writer harbored bias, shall we never speak his name? Or when he wrote with insight, might we read him all the same? Christopher Benfey opens his book about Rudyard Kipling with the inevitable questions. He answers by coming neither to praise Kipling nor to bury him, but to explore him as more than the author of some now-notorious couplets. A boundlessly prolific spinner of verse, stories, and novels for adults and children alike, Kipling managed to be “the most popular and financially successful writer” of his era, as well as one of the most acclaimed—becoming the first English-language author to win the Nobel Prize, at just 41. And though he may by now have become the “most politically incorrect writer in the canon,” he impressed many postcolonial writers, too. Born in Bombay in 1865 and beginning his career as a journalist in Lahore and Allahabad, Kipling knew India more intimately than any other British writer, giving his work, says Salman Rushdie, an “undeniable authority.” Michael Ondaatje weaves Kipling’s novel Kim into The English Patient, likening Kipling’s pages to “a drug of wonders.” Maya Angelou herself said that she “enjoyed and respected Kipling.”

Remember that report on Providence schools? Nothing has changed… Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results over the Decades

Wall Street Journal:

Examiners observed students during class chatting with friends, talking on the phone and watching YouTube videos. “Kindergartners punch each other in the face—with no consequences,” one teacher said. About a quarter of teachers were absent at least 10% of the school year. Student test scores are the worst in Rhode Island and lower than districts in other states with similar demographics. “Economically disadvantaged students experienced decreasing rates of proficiency as they progressed through school, with a low of only 6.2% proficiency by the 8th grade,” the report noted.

Cue the condemnations by political leaders who presided over this horror show. “This report makes clear that the status quo is failing our kids and we know that nipping at the margins will not be enough,” Mayor Jorge Elorza declared. “We need wholesale, transformational change.”

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

I worked as a janitor to keep my student loans low. Wiping debt punishes students like me.

Christian Barnard:

Rather than funding the exorbitant sticker prices of America’s colleges, it’d be much better for everyone if policymakers held the institutions directly accountable. Innovative alternatives to traditional student loans such as income-sharing agreements — where private investors fund students and are paid back by students’ future income — are a promising way to incentivize universities to actually become more affordable and career-focused.

Sanders wants students to be spared the risk of investing in their own futures. But people like me, folks benefiting from their undergraduate and higher-level degrees, should have skin in the game. After all, over our lifetimes, we’ll make millions more with our degrees than we would have without them. Certainly, college should be accessible and affordable to all. But to get there, it doesn’t require giving welfare to the rich and punishing the young people who chose to exercise some financial responsibility.

Parents Know Better Than Standardized Tests

Jason Bedrick and Corey A. DeAngelis:

Thanks to private-school choice—vouchers, tax-credit scholarships and education savings accounts—this year nearly half a million children in 29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia will attend schools their parents selected.

Critics of school choice often argue that low-income families lack the knowledge or ability to choose meaningfully between schools. Worrying that parents will be taken advantage of or make poor decisions, they oppose choice programs or favor onerous testing requirements to prove they are effective.

New studies on school choice in Colombia and Barbados, however, suggest families know something that tests can’t detect. These two countries, with per capita incomes a quarter and a third of America’s, respectively, can teach us a lot about how the most economically disadvantaged families choose schools.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Next Recession Will Destroy Millennials

Annie Lowrey:

Cost pressures have also made it difficult or impossible for Millennials to save or invest. The share of Americans under the age of 35 who own stocks has meandered down from 55 percent in 2001 to 37 percent in 2018, in part because employers are less likely to offer retirement-savings plans and in part because Millennials have nothing left over at the end of the month to put away. Virtually all members of the cohort are “not saving adequately,” experts warn, and two-thirds of Millennials have zero retirement savings. This means that Millennials have benefited not a bit from the decade-long boom in stock prices, as their parents and grandparents have.

Millennials are worth less on paper than members of older generations are, and are worth less on paper than members of older generations were at the same point in their lives. The net worth of your average Millennial household is 40 percent lower than for Gen X households in 2001 and 20 percent lower than for Baby Boomers’ households at the end of the 1980s.

Beyond Techno-Orientalism: An Interview with Logic Magazine’s Xiaowei R Wang

Josh Feola:

Though they’ve spent the last few years focusing on the intersection between agriculture and technology, Xiaowei R Wang‘s resume of working with tech in China is long and varied. Many of the projects they’ve been involved with are process-oriented and community-based, such FLOAT, an interactive design project that sent Arduino-linked air-quality-sensing kites up in public parks around China, and LOOP, a user-generated community radio that popped up in Beijing for the 2015 JUE Festival.

The latest one-word project Xiaowei’s become involved with is Logic, a technology magazine initiated in 2016. Xiaowei was drafted from the project’s beginning as Creative Director, and has just put together a full issue on China for the magazine’s 7th issue, out now. Logic‘s China issue tackles trending topics (censorship, surveillance, social credit) and less covered facets of technology in China (rural-urban divide in internet use, changing government attitudes towards online freedom) in equal measure, commissioned and shaped by Wang to “present a rounder, more nuanced picture of the tech landscape in China today.”

I sat down with Xiaowei to discuss the driving logic behind this issue of Logic, and where they hope it falls along “China watcher”/”tech watcher” divide:

A ‘Fact Checker’ Declares War On Satire

Kyle Mann:

If your job is to make people laugh, what do you do when your brand of humor is classified as dangerous?

I run the Babylon Bee, a satirical website, and we’ve had to face that question a lot lately. The “fact checkers” at—once a reliable source for distinguishing reality from urban legends—have been smearing the Bee as “fake news.” They don’t seem to have a problem when we make fun of Trump-worship, conservatives, fundamentalism and megachurches. But when we target Democrats and the left, suddenly we’re branded…

Where Does Affirmative Action Leave Asian-Americans?

Jay Caspian Kangv:

For the purposes of this article, Alex Chen, an 18-year-old senior at the Bronx High School of Science in New York City, is the “typical Asian student.” Alex has a 98 percent average at one of the city’s elite public high schools, scored a 1,580 on the SAT and, as far as he knows, has earned the respect of his teachers. Alex is also the vice president of technology for the Bronx Science chapter of the National Honor Society, the director of graphics and marketing for TeenHacks L.I. (“the first hackathon for teens in Long Island”), a member of the cross-country team, the vice president of the school’s painting club, the president of the Get Your Life Together club (visitors from various businesses come talk to students) and the senator for his homeroom. In his free time, he plays Pokémon and goes on long jogs through Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. His parents, Qiao and Su, emigrated from China in the ’90s and worked their way through commuter colleges in Queens. They live along with Alex’s little brother in a modest apartment in outer Queens. In the specific yet ultimately abstracted and perhaps inhuman calculations particular to selective college admissions, Alex is a first-generation (considered a plus), middle-class (minus) Chinese-American (minus, arguably) with two college-educated parents (minus) from a major American city (minus) with aspirations to study either computer science (minus, given all the Asians who want to go into STEM disciplines) or political science (plus).

When I first met him in early August 2018, we struggled to find a time to meet up to talk about his thoughts on affirmative action and its effect on Asian-American students. Deep into the summer vacation before his last year of high school, Alex had been interning in the office of Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou while also completing a study on congressional legislators with a professor at New York University. There just was no time.

Our willingness to share content without thinking is exploited to spread disinformation

Claire Wardle:

As someone who studies the impact of misinformation on society, I often wish the young entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley who enabled communication at speed had been forced to run a 9/11 scenario with their technologies before they deployed them commercially.

One of the most iconic images from that day shows a large clustering of New Yorkers staring upward. The power of the photograph is that we know the horror they’re witnessing. It is easy to imagine that, today, almost everyone in that scene would be holding a smartphone. Some would be filming their observations and posting them to Twitter and Facebook. Powered by social media, rumors and misinformation would be rampant. Hate-filled posts aimed at the Muslim community would proliferate, the speculation and outrage boosted by algorithms responding to unprecedented levels of shares, comments and likes. Foreign agents of disinformation would amplify the division, driving wedges between communities and sowing chaos. Meanwhile those stranded on the tops of the towers would be livestreaming their final moments.

Public schools should be places of learning, not propaganda

Joel Kotkin & Doug Harvard:

California likes to think of itself as the brain center of the universe, but increasingly much of that intellectual content comes from somewhere else. Once a leader in educational innovation and performance, California is now toward the bottom of the pack.

Despite these failings, the powerful California Teachers Association, emboldened by the huge Democratic gains in 2018, continues to push an aggressive and fundamentally reactionary approach to education, spending upwards of a million a month to curtail the surge of innovative charter schools in the state. This is particularly critical in lower-income communities, such as the East Bay, central Orange County and Los Angeles, where the state’s public schools have consistently failed and where some charters have made considerable strides through reforms and innovations.

But nothing has been more illustrative of the political agenda of our educational establishment than the recent draft curriculum for an “ethnic studies” course for the state’s schools. Although this curriculum has created a firestorm of opposition and is unlikely to be adopted as is, the fact is the curriculum reflected a far-left agenda that is deeply entrenched in the educational establishment.

My Schooling In The Soviet Union Surpasses U.S. Public Schools Today

Katy Sedgwick:

In America, however, that very system has been weakened from within. Here’s an overview of what’s different between my childhood Soviet education and my kids’ U.S. public schools.


Math was the dissident’s favorite in the Soviet Union. It was believed that the subject is so logical and abstract, the party could never impose its will on it. After all, two plus two equals four — in the 10-digit system, at least — regardless of the edicts of the Politburo.

Maybe the Soviet bureaucrats weren’t clever enough, because the American educational bureaucracy did ruin mathematics. That, of course, was accomplished via the 1960s’ “new math,” which has been reincarnated yet again in Common Core. Those who didn’t subscribe to the new math teachings weren’t exiled to Gulags, but the kids who were taught in this manner failed to learn. Sometimes, the soft managerial power of destructive innovation is mightier than the NKVD.

With generations raised after the new math, schools are hard-pressed to find anyone who can teach the subject — not that the administrators would know, anyway. U.S. instructors readily admit they don’t understand or like the discipline. They end up confusing the students. A few years ago at my child’s back-to-school meeting, a third-grade teacher was chirping away about Common Core math and how it shows that in math, too, there is more than one way to find an answer.

I was taught something like “multiple methods,” and I find this line of thought ridiculous. Yes, there can be more than one way to get to the same answer, but we prefer the elegant, simplest solution. There is logic and beauty in mathematics that educated people of average intellect have to be able to appreciate.


I have spent quite a bit of time in my Russian language and literature classes memorizing poems and language rules. Several times every quarter, we were called up to recite a poem. Likewise, the rules of spelling and punctuation were to be memorized. We copied sentences from our textbooks — some of them straight commie propaganda, but others taken out of classic works of fiction — filling in correct prefixes and endings, putting punctuation marks in correct places.

After spending a week or two on an individual language rule, we would have a dictation test. Is it naive to expect an equal rigor from American public edutainment?

Russian is a vicious language, but English shouldn’t be that hard to master. It has more words, but fewer rules to follow and fewer exceptions to those rules. Teachers can take these rules one by one, explain, and practice over a period of a few weeks. With the kind of system I went through, most children graduating elementary school should be decent spellers.

Who am I kidding, though? No structure exists to support this kind of learning — not even textbooks! In our California elementary school, at the very end of second grade, students received handbooks with all the rules of the English language. Was that a joke? What is a nine-year-old expected to do with that manual? Thus, students are funneled into middle schools with hardly a clue about writing.

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

3 Law Schools Pass the $100,000-a-Year Mark

Greta Anderson:

The price to attend the law schools at Columbia and Stanford Universities and the University of Chicago will pass $100,000 this academic year, making them the first of the nation’s law schools to blow past that mark. Several of their law school peers are poised just below it and will surpass six figures soon.

Columbia’s cost of attendance went from $97,850 in 2018-19 to $101,345 this upcoming year, according to its costs and budgeting information published online, which includes both tuition and fees and law students’ nine-month cost of living expenses. Stanford Law will charge $101,016 this upcoming year, as reported in its 2019-20 Financial Aid Handbook. That’s a 4.5 percent increase from its 2018-19 total cost of $96,429. Chicago edged over the $100,000 mark by $80 for first-year students, but is at a mere $98,505 for second- and third-year students.

K-12 TAX & SPENDING CLIMATE: Hospital CEOs top pay list, as top earner clears $10 million over the past five years

Transparent California:

The heads of public health agencies are once again atop the list of California’s highest-paid special district workers.

Transparent California now has 2018 pay data for over 125,000 special district workers statewide, which includes agencies like fire and water districts, sanitation districts, transit agencies and public hospitals.

The top special district earners all came from public health systems, as shown below:

Washington Hospital Healthcare System CEO Nancy Farber: $1,194,702.

BETA Healthcare Group CEO Thomas Wander: $1,141,450.

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital District CEO Pedro Delgado Jr: $960,054.
Tri-City Medical Center CEO Steven Dietlin: $837,494.

Alameda Health System CEO Delvecchio Finley: $824,859.

The one outlier is Wander of the BETA Healthcare Group, which is a special district that provides liability and workers’ compensation coverage to public health systems.

Meeting online has become the most popular way U.S. couples connect, Stanford sociologist finds


Algorithms, and not friends and family, are now the go-to matchmaker for people looking for love, Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld has found.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Rosenfeld found that heterosexual couples are more likely to meet a romantic partner online than through personal contacts and connections. Since 1940, traditional ways of meeting partners – through family, in church and in the neighborhood – have all been in decline, Rosenfeld said.

A Broken Media Is a Broken Society

Ian Welsh:

It is not possible to make good decisions without good information.

In a well functioning society, the media would be part of that system by providing accurate, useful information to the public.

That isn’t the media we have. Strictly speaking, we’ve never had that media, though some periods were better than others.

Let’s run through a few of the issues:

Man Bites Dog; If It Bleeds It Leads

The more we see something, the more of it we think exists. But the routine and normal doesn’t make sensational news.

The truth is that violent crime is at multi-generational lows, but most people don’t think that.

The truth is that the person who will hurt or molest your child is almost certainly not a stranger, but a family member, friend, or other trusted adult.

The truth is that terrorism is not a significant threat to Americans. You’re more likely to get hurt when you slip in your tub.

Oregon Village Board, School District at odds over school-based police officer contract

Logan Wroge:

With a new school year swiftly approaching, the Oregon Village Board and Oregon School District are at odds over finalizing a contract to provide a police officer for the district.

The Village Board unanimously approved Monday new contract language between the village and the school district that would “simplify and streamline” the school resource officer, or SRO, program, said Village Board president Jeanne Carpenter.

Steve Zach, president of the Oregon School Board, said the district has instead proposed renewing an existing contract, which includes specifics on things such as how arrests are conducted, qualifications to serve as an SRO, and the role of the officer in school disciplinary matters.

De Blasio Gives Up on Educating Poor Kids

Jason Riley:

To say that many liberal elites have all but given up on educating low-income minorities might seem like an overstatement. But when you consider the state of public education in our inner cities, and the priorities of those in charge, it’s hard to draw any other conclusion.

After Labor Day, New York City’s 1.1 million public school students will return to the classroom. The majority of them can’t do basic reading or math, according to state standardized test results released last week. And the numbers get even more depressing when broken down by race and ethnicity. Black and Hispanic students make up 67% of the system, while whites and Asians are about 15% and 16%, respectively. Only 28% of black students passed the math exam, versus 33% of Hispanics, 67% of whites and 74% of Asians. On the English exam, the passage rates were 68% for Asians, 67% for whites, 37% for Hispanics and 35% for blacks.

Sadly, these racial gaps in academic achievement have persisted for decades, and they are a main source of racial inequality in America. Want to help someone avoid poverty or addiction or incarceration? An education goes a long way. The irony is that the same social-justice advocates who obsess over inequality also spurn reforms, such as public charter schools, that help close black-white differences in learning. “City charter schools, now teaching roughly 10% of the city’s student population, markedly outperformed traditional public schools again” on the state tests, reported the New York Post. Fifty-seven percent of charter-school test takers passed the state English exam, and 63% passed the math portion.

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

Madison’s one size fits all expedition: English 10.

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

Reading Recovery in Madison….. 28% to 58%; Lags National Effectiveness Average.

Reading interventionist teacher’s remarks to the school board on madison’s disastrous reading results.

Madison teachers gather at pep rally for racial equity

Steven Elbow:

Some 5,000 educators from the district’s 50 schools gathered at the Alliant Energy Center Monday to start their workweek with the three-hour event, which featured Madison School District officials, a student poet and Bettina Love, a popular speaker on issues of race and education.

The event highlighted the importance the district has placed on black academic progress, and on erasing the alarming achievement gap that has persisted despite years of effort.

But according to the district’s annual report released Monday, progress is being made.

The report says that black students have made significant progress on key benchmarks since 2012, the year before Jennifer Cheatham was hired as superintendent to address persistent issues related to race and equity. Cheatham left this summer for a job at Harvard University, and the district hired Jane Belmore as interim superintendent while the School Board decides on a permanent replacement.

“I invite you also to open your minds and, importantly, open your hearts to today’s messages,” Belmore told the gathering, “both here and as you go back to your schools and workplaces and work with your teams and continue this work throughout the year.”

The exuberant tone of the gathering belied some of contentious issues that have accompanied the district’s attempts to narrow the achievement gap, such as the implementation of a new discipline policy in 2014 that prompted some teachers to complain that they feel powerless when facing student misbehavior.

Belmore, who takes over during the second year of a new strategic framework that stresses black excellence, acknowledged the friction surrounding equity issues.

“I know this year will be a very important year for our district,” she said. “We have many critical decisions to make as we support every day the important work that you do in your schools. I want you to know that we’ll do our very best to make those decisions with courage and with integrity, knowing that not everyone will be pleased with every decision we make.”

According to the annual report, standardized testing shows an 8% increase for grades three to five in reading proficiency for black students, and an 11% increase in math proficiency, since 2012, nearly the same increases seen overall. In grades six to eight, black students outpaced the total student progress with a 7% increase in reading proficiency, compared to 4% overall, and a 5% increase in math proficiency, compared to 3% overall. High school completion rates for black students are up 11%, compared to 4% overall.

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

The New American Homeless

Brian Goldstone:

Last August, Cokethia Goodman returned home from work to discover a typed letter from her landlord in the mailbox. She felt a familiar panic as she began to read it. For nearly a year, Goodman and her six children—two of them adopted after being abandoned at birth—had been living in a derelict but functional three-bedroom house in the historically black Peoplestown neighborhood of Atlanta. Goodman, who is 50, has a reserved, vigilant demeanor, her years trying to keep the kids out of harm’s way evident in her perpetually narrowed eyes. She saw the rental property as an answer to prayer. It was in a relatively safe area and within walking distance of the Barack and Michelle Obama Academy, the public elementary school her youngest son and daughter attended. It was also—at $950 a month, not including utilities—just barely affordable on the $9 hourly wage she earned as a full-time home health aide. Goodman had fled an abusive marriage in 2015, and she was anxious to give her family a more stable home environment. She thought they’d finally found one.

As a longtime renter, Goodman was acquainted with the capriciousness of Atlanta’s housing market. She knew how easily the house could slip away. Seeking to avoid this outcome, she ensured that her rent checks were never late and, despite her exhausting work schedule, became a stickler for cleanliness. So strong was her fear of being deemed a “difficult” tenant that she avoided requesting basic repairs. But now, reading the landlord’s terse notice, she realized that these efforts had been insufficient. When her lease expired at the end of the month, it would not be renewed. No explanation was legally required, and none was provided. “You think you did everything you’re supposed to do,” she told me, “and then this happens.”

Notes and links: Police and the Taxpayer supported Madison School District

David Blaska:

“Mainstream education is an oppressive institution,”
says one supporter

If I read this right, Madison police will continue to provide security and positive role models in Madison’s four main public high schools for two more school years.

That is because the Madison Board of Education is not considering evicting the school resource officer at any one of those schools for the 2020-21 school year, as its contract with the city permits. At least, that’s according to the agenda posted for Monday’s (08-26-19) school board meeting. And time is running out.

One supposes it is possible for a special meeting to be called before the September 15 deadline.

Chris Rickert:

A Madison School Board member’s comparison of police to Nazis and of Dane County’s juvenile jail to concentration camps is drawing the ire of local law enforcement.

In a Facebook post Saturday highlighting the plight of youth detained at the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center, Ali Muldrow said: “I think that (it’s) important to talk about what it is like for the students who are arrested at school and end up in the Dane County Jail. We would not talk about the role of the Nazis and act as if the experiences people had in concentration camps is a separate issue.”

Muldrow, who was elected to her first term on the board in April, has long questioned the need to lock up juvenile offenders and criticized racial disparities in the criminal justice system.


But he had “difficulty equating what they go through with Nazi Germany.”

School Board president Gloria Reyes, a former Madison police officer, called the Holocaust comparisons “very far-fetched.”

“We can’t blame officers for the disparities in arrests,” she said. “They (police) get called.”

She said she shared Muldrow’s concerns about disparities in arrests “but we are doing something about it,” mentioning restorative justice, for example.

Kelly Powers, president of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association, called Muldrow’s post “universally insulting” and “ridiculous on so many levels.”

“It is this sort of position that will cause (the Madison School District) to continue seeing departures to open enrollment and families moving to neighboring communities,” he said.

In her own comment on Muldrow’s post, school board member Ananda Mirillli, who was also elected to a first term in April, thanked Muldrow “for directly speaking to the issue of armed police in our schools. Thanks for speaking to the experiences of our students upon incarceration

The Lonely Work of Moderating Hacker News

Anna Weiner:

Open-plan offices offer few pleasures; one of them is snooping on other people’s browsing habits. When, years ago, I began working for tech companies in San Francisco, I noticed that my co-workers were always scrolling through a beige, text-only Web site that resembled a nineteen-nineties Internet forum. They were reading Hacker News—a link aggregator and message board that is something of a Silicon Valley institution. Technologists in Silicon Valley assume familiarity with Hacker News, just as New Yorkers do with the New York Post and the New York Times. For some, it’s the first Web site they pull up in the morning; it captures the mix of technical obsession, business ambition, and aspirational curiosity that’s typical of the Valley. On any given day, its top links might include a Medium post about technical hiring; a 1997 article from Outside magazine about freezing to death; an open-source virtual private network hosted on GitHub; an academic paper, from 2006, about compiler construction; an announcement from Facebook’s corporate communications team; a personal blog post about Linux kernels, and another about selling Vidalia onions on the Internet. Nearly all the software engineers I know check it religiously. Not one of them has a neutral opinion about it.

Like many of the software products that have shaped the Valley, Hacker News began as a side project. In 2007, the venture capitalist Paul Graham, who was then the president of the startup accelerator Y Combinator—an early investor in Dropbox, Stripe, Reddit, Twitch, and other companies—built the site as a way to experiment with Arc, a new programming language that he was co-authoring. Originally, Graham named the site Startup News. He hoped that it would serve as a new home for the startup founders and “would-be founders” who had once gathered on Reddit, before that site grew too popular to feel like a community. Among other benefits, he imagined that Startup News might help him find worthy entrepreneurs. (“There are a number of Reddit users that I know only by their usernames, but I know must be smart from the things they’ve written,” he explained, in his launch announcement. “We’re counting on the same phenomenon to help us decide who to fund.”) Within a few months, though, Graham found that startup-centric conversation had its limits. He renamed the site Hacker News, and expanded its focus to include “anything that good hackers would find interesting . . . anything that gratifies one’s intellectual curiosity.” (Hacker News is still owned by Y Combinator.)

Why Finland leads the world in flexible work

Maddy Savage:

Miika Härkönen was fed up with the long, dark winters in the Finnish capital Helsinki, so he asked his manager if he could work remotely from Spain for six months.

Since his wife had just had a baby and was on parental leave, the idea was to “work from home” from a rental apartment in Malaga, doing his regular job as a senior team manager for an IT company while also maximising time with his family.

His boss was open to the idea after Härkönen wrote down a list of his main tasks – which included managing 20 employees – and his solutions for completing them from his makeshift office.

“It worked brilliantly actually, even a bit better than I thought,” beams Härkönen, who’s now back in the Helsinki office and sits at a stereotypically Scandinavian white desk, with a sheepskin draped over his chair.

States are finding ways for teens to get HPV shots without parental consent

Sonja Haller:

HPV is associated with almost every case of cervical cancer.

A vaccine for HPV, or human papillomavirus, could prevent about 33,700 cancers a year. More than 4,000 women die of cervical cancer each year.

At least 79 million Americans, mostly in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection. Yet parents aren’t vaccinating their teens in near the numbers the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting would like to see — only 49% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 are receiving the recommended dosage.

Much of the country requires parental consent for those under the age of 18 to receive vaccinations.

So some states have attempted to change that by allowing teens to obtain the HPV vaccine without Mom or Dad.

Commentary on “Post Capitalism”

Paul Mason:

he red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

Instead over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did.

If you lived through all this, and disliked capitalism, it was traumatic. But in the process technology has created a new route out, which the remnants of the old left – and all other forces influenced by it – have either to embrace or die. Capitalism, it turns out, will not be abolished by forced-march techniques. It will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values and behaviours. I call this postcapitalism.

Desegregation Plan: Eliminate All Gifted Programs in New York

Eliza Shapiro:

For years, New York City has essentially maintained two parallel public school systems.

A group of selective schools and programs geared to students labeled gifted and talented is filled mostly with white and Asian children. The rest of the system is open to all students and is predominantly black and Hispanic.

Now, a high-level panel appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio is recommending that the city do away with most of these programs in an effort to desegregate the system, which has 1.1 million students and is by far the largest in the country.

Mr. de Blasio, who has staked his mayoralty on reducing inequality, has the power to adopt some or all of the proposals without input from the State Legislature or City Council. If he does, the decision would fundamentally reshape the segregated school system and reverberate in school districts across the country.

Related: Madison’s one size fits all program: English 10.

The Great Student-Loan Scam: The magnitude of federal budget losses is becoming clearer

Wall Street Journal:

About 10% of the $1.5 trillion federal student-loan portfolio is 30 days or more past due. Another 20% is in deferment or forbearance, and about 30% is in income-based repayment plans that allow most borrowers to cap monthly payments at 10% of discretionary income and discharge the remaining balance after 20 years or 10 for folks in “public service.”

Congress created these nifty plans in 2012 for new borrowers, but then the Obama Administration expanded them retroactively to reduce defaults, buy off millennial voters and disguise the cost of its student-loan takeover. This may be the biggest accounting fraud in history.

Democrats in the 1990s created a public student-loan option to compete with subsidized private lenders. Then in 2010 they nationalized the market to help pay for Obama Care. The Congressional Budget Office at the time forecast that eliminating private lenders would save taxpayers $58 billion over 10 years. This estimate was pure fantasy, and now we’re seeing how much.

The government student-loan portfolio has since doubled while severely delinquent loans have spiked despite a good economy. Many borrowers in income-based repayment plans aren’t repaying principal, so their balances are growing as they accrue more interest. By 2012 a majority of new borrowers had bigger balances after two years of making payments.

Yet during the Obama years CBO scored student loans as a government profit center by underestimating the growth in income-based repayment plans. CBO has slowly scaled back its 10-year revenue projections for student loans to a $31.4 billion government cost in this year’s forecast from a $219 billion 10-year revenue gain in 2012.

The nearby chart tells the story. Using fair-market accounting that prevails in the private economy, CBO now projects a $306.7 billion cost to taxpayers over the next 10 years. The red ink will be far worse beyond that 10-year budget window.

The “Post-Truth” Publication Where Chinese Students in America Get Their News

Han Zhang:

College Daily, which now has more than thirty staffers in Beijing and fifteen in New York, launched at the beginning of 2014, as a one-man operation in Lin Guoyu’s apartment, in Beijing. In its early days, it was a bare-bones survival guide for American campus life, with vaporous posts about boosting your G.P.A. and planning for finals week. Over time, and especially after the 2016 U.S. election, it transitioned to the kinds of stories it features today: Chinese news delivered with nationalistic overtones; tabloid tales of Chinese students living overseas (sex, drugs, murders, and missing women appear frequently); and news from the U.S. and the celebrity world.

A headline posted during the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign read “Using a Double? Changing Leaders? Might Not Have Long to Live? Hillary’s Campaign May End Early.” More recently, a headline proclaimed, “Trump Dodged a Bullet! ‘Russian Collusion’ Investigation Over, and He’s Safe. . . .” Others have ranged from “Farewell, isis! The Last isis Group Will Be Exterminated, and They Beg the World to Forgive” to “Hollywood Sexy Asian Goddess, First Love Was Daniel Wu, Bewitched Hot Men All Over the World” (about the actress Maggie Q). When College Daily, after weeks of silence, finally weighed in on the protests in Hong Kong, in August, it toed the government line, uncritically publishing a headline that used the phrase “I Support the Hong Kong Police”—a saying that has been popularized by the People’s Daily, an official organ of the Chinese Communist Party.

Customers Handed Over Their DNA. The Company Let the FBI Take a Look.

Amy Dockser Marcus:

The trouble started when the Federal Bureau of Investigation attorney made a personal appeal to Bennett Greenspan.

Mr. Greenspan, president of FamilyTreeDNA, was used to fielding requests from genealogists, customers, even friends of friends, seeking help with DNA testing. The FBI’s Steve Kramer wasn’t among them.

The company’s database of over 1.5 million customers could help solve heinous crimes, the attorney said. He wanted to upload DNA data in two cases to see if there were genetic links to other users. Turning up matches to even distant relatives might generate leads.

This wasn’t what his customers signed up for, Mr. Greenspan knew. People typically took DNA tests to find long-lost relatives or learn more about their ancestry. They didn’t expect their genetic data might become part of a criminal investigation.

But one case involved a dead child whose body had never been claimed. The other was from a rape crime scene. Mr. Greenspan was horrified by the details.

He didn’t tell the FBI attorney to come back with a court order. He didn’t stop to ponder the moral quandaries. He said yes on the spot.

Why Japan’s ‘shūkatsu’ job-seeking system is changing

Mari Shibata:

But beginning next year, these rules will no longer apply. Last October, the Keidanren announced it would abolish the traditional job-hunting schedule as well as existing guidelines on how firms recruit new graduates. After six decades, the current cohort of third- and fourth-year students will be the last to experience the gruelling pressures that come with shūkatsu.

As Japan’s low birth-rate has resulted in a population decline over the last decade, companies have been competing for a shrinking pool of prospective employees. Non-Keidanren members, not bound by the guidelines, have been snapping up promising students before member companies have even started recruiting.

And with foreign firms offering higher salaries and faster career progression than their Japanese counterparts, global competition for workers has forced companies to re-think. Although Keidanren’s new guidelines are yet to be finalised, some Japanese millennials who have already gone against the grain suggest that prioritising passion over following societal rules can lead to a more fulfilling career.

How the Hong Kong Protestors’ Tactical Brilliance Backed Beijing into a Corner

Nick Taber:

While the Hong Kong government has refused to meet the protesters’ 5 demands, likely under pressure from Beijing, the protesters have successfully forced Carrie Lam to suspend the extradition bill. Effectively killing the bill is a significant achievement, particularly considering the fact that Carrie Lam, at least to a significant degree, represents the interest of Beijing, which is firmly against legitimizing any kind of political opposition.

One of the reasons for the effectiveness of the protest movement is the decision to remain leaderless. In an op-ed article in 2017, Nicholas Berggruen, chairman of the Berggruen Institute, suggests that resistance movements need strong and charismatic leaders to succeed. Many resistance movements such as the Civil Rights Movement with Martin Luther King Jr., the resistance to apartheid with Nelson Mandela, and the India Independence Movement with Gandhi benefited greatly from such leadership.

But the outcome of Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy movement suggests that the current protests would not be nearly as robust or effective if it did have such leaders. Joshua Wong, the strong and charismatic leader of the Umbrella movement in 2014, was jailed in 2017 for unlawful assembly. With strong leaders present, the authorities can arrest them, fatally weakening a movement. Given the deterioration of the rule of law in Hong Kong, the authorities could conceivably jail all of the movement’s linchpins with considerable ease. But with a leaderless movement, the authorities have no such power. So far, the Hong Kong Police Force has arrested hundreds of protesters while the movement has not lost any momentum because the contribution of no single individual is vital.

Just as they are doing with seemingly every obstacle in their way, Hong Kong protesters innovated around the need for a strong leader. They are using communications technology to be both highly organized and leaderless, leaving the authorities unable to take out any key elements that would cause the effort to collapse.

The kids who had been “left behind” are doing much better today than 25 years ago. But what about everyone else?

Michael Petrilli:

I see three key trends worthy of comment.

1. Progress in math in fourth and eighth grade has been widespread and long-lasting. Virtually all groups of students are doing much better now than before. Here are a few examples of what widespread progress looks like, reproduced from this 2017 post:

Eighth grade math, white students, 1990–2015

Stop Worrying About Guns in the Classroom. They’re Already Here.

Erik Gilbert:

If you work at a Texas college and are worried by the prospect of having guns in your classroom, relax. The new campus-carry law changes your risk of gun violence very little. I can almost guarantee that if you have a few semesters of teaching under your belt, at some point there have been students with guns in your classroom. If those illegally armed students were not moved to violence by the content of your course or the statements of their fellow students, it seems highly improbable that a new group of legally armed students will prove to be more volatile or violence-prone than their scofflaw peers.

Statistical foundations of virtual democracy

Adrian Colyer:

This is another paper on the theme of combining information and making decisions in the face of noise and uncertainty – but the setting is quite different to those we’ve been looking at recently. Consider a food bank that receives donations of food and distributes it to those in need. The goal is to implement an automated decision making system such that when a food donation is received, the system outputs the organisation (e.g. housing authority or food pantry) that should receive it. We could hard code a set of rules, but what should they be? And who gets to decide?

A democratic solution to this would be to give each of the stakeholders a vote on every decision. In the food bank setting, identified classes of stakeholders include the donors, the recipients, the volunteers (who pick up food from the donor and deliver it to the recipient), and employees. Their votes encode their own preferences and biases, perhaps in a way that even the voters themselves couldn’t neatly codify in a set of explicit rules.

Gifted Education in Massachusetts: A Practice and Policy Review

Dana Ansel:

Last year, the Massachusetts Legislature decided that the time had come to understand the state of education that gifted students receive in Massachusetts. They issued a mandate for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to review the policy and practices of education in public schools for gifted students as well as for students capable of performing above grade level.

The challenge that this mandate presents is that Massachusetts neither defines giftedness nor collects data on gifted students. We can nevertheless review what districts report about their practices and what parents of gifted children report about their experiences. We can also report on the state’s policies toward gifted education. In addition, we can analyze the academic trajectory and social-emotional well-being of academically advanced students based on their math MCAS scores. All of this information is valuable in painting a picture of gifted education in Massachusetts, but it is nonetheless limited.

To begin, Massachusetts is an outlier in the country in its approach to gifted education. Nearly every other state in the country defines giftedness. Nor is there an explicit mandate to either identify or serve gifted students in Massachusetts. In contrast, 32 states reported a mandate to identify and/or serve gifted students, according to the State of the States in Gifted Education. In terms of preparing teachers to teach gifted students, Massachusetts used to have an Academically Advanced Specialist Teacher License, but it was eliminated in 2017 because of the lack of licenses being issued and programs preparing teachers for the license.

We do not know how many gifted students live in Massachusetts, but a reasonable estimate would be 6–8 percent of state’s students, which translates into 57,000 – 76,000 students.1 Without a common definition and identification process, it is impossible to pinpoint the precise number. According to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) 2015-16 survey, 6.6 percent of students were enrolled in gifted programs nationally. This number includes states such as Massachusetts that have very few gifted programs, and other states that enroll many more than the average. Another source of data, a nationally representative survey of school districts, found that the fraction of elementary school students nationwide who have been identified as gifted and enrolled in a gifted program was 7.8 percent (Callahan, Moon, & Oh, 2017)

Related: Wisconsin adopted a very small part of Massachusetts’ elementary teacher content knowledge licensing requirements, known as MTEL.

Massachusetts public schools lead the United States in academic performance.

However and unfortunately, the Wisconsin Department of public instruction has waived more than 6000 elementary teacher exam requirements since 2015…. (Foundations of reading)

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

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

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

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

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

At a Loss for Words How a flawed idea is teaching millions of kids to be poor readers

Emily Hanford:

For decades, schools have taught children the strategies of struggling readers, using a theory about reading that cognitive scientists have repeatedly debunked. And many teachers and parents don’t know there’s anything wrong with it.


Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

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

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

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

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

First day at university in China now means a face scan to enrol

Sarah Dai:

Back-to-school season in China’s universities has become another example of how facial recognition technology is now part of people’s daily lives, as much as social media, mobile payments and online shopping already have.

A growing number of universities are now extending their use of facial recognition to the enrolment registration process, after its initial adoption in applications such as security and recording students’ attendance.

China’s elite Tsinghua University is among the first batch of large academic institutions that have implemented face scans to expedite the enrolment process this month, when the school welcomed more than 3,800 new undergraduate students at its campus in Beijing. The regular academic year in the country starts in September, though many institutions may hold orientations beforehand.

The university deployed an array of face-scanning machines at designated registration points, which has made enrolment “smarter and more convenient” for both students and the university staff involved in the process, according to the system’s provider, Zhejiang Uniview Technologies, in a social media post on Tuesday.

Facebook Said It Would Give Detailed Data To Academics. They’re Still Waiting.

Craig Silverman:

In 2018, Facebook announced a partnership to provide data to academics to “help people better understand the broader impact of social media on democracy — as well as improve our work to protect the integrity of elections.”

In April of this year, the first batch of winning proposals was announced. “The urgency of this research cannot be overstated,” wrote the founders of Social Science One, the entity that operates the program. It describes itself as “an LLC operating on a not-for-profit basis.”

Madison West High School pauses Personalized Pathways as model expands at 3 Madison high schools

Logan Wroge:

The school is hitting the pause button as it looks to address concerns that the program has not shown an improvement in student outcomes.

Pathways is billed as an interconnected, experiential approach where learning is centered around a career field; students form tight-knit communities with classmates and teachers within the pathway; and material learned in one class is connected to other classes. Eighth-grade students have the option to apply for Pathways before entering high school.

“We want students to think about how they’re experiencing high school and how those experiences have connections across classrooms and are tied to a theme that is brought to life across their four years,” said Cindy Green, the district’s executive director of secondary programs and Pathways.

Related: Small Learning Communities and English 10.

Hong Kong protesters form 28-mile human chain demanding democracy

Paul Goldman and Linda Givetash:

On Aug. 23, 1989, the so-called Baltic Way involved 2 million Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians protesting Soviet domination of the region.

“I joined the Hong Kong Way because it’s peaceful,” protester Peter Cheung, 27, told Reuters, referring to the campaign’s name. “This is the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way. I hope there will be a bigger chance to make an international noise.”

How the Internet Was Invented

Ben Tarnoff:

In the kingdom of apps and unicorns, Rossotti’s is a rarity. This beer garden in the heart of Silicon Valley has been standing on the same spot since 1852. It isn’t disruptive; it doesn’t scale. But for more than 150 years, it has done one thing and done it well: it has given Californians a good place to get drunk.

During the course of its long existence, Rossotti’s has been a frontier saloon, a gold rush gambling den, and a Hells Angels hangout. These days it is called the Alpine Inn Beer Garden, and the clientele remains as motley as ever. On the patio out back, there are cyclists in spandex and bikers in leather. There is a wild-haired man who might be a professor or a lunatic or a CEO, scribbling into a notebook. In the parking lot is a Harley, a Maserati, and a horse.

It doesn’t seem a likely spot for a major act of innovation. But 40 years ago this August, a small team of scientists set up a computer terminal at one of its picnic tables and conducted an extraordinary experiment. Over plastic cups of beer, they proved that a strange idea called the internet could work.

For Coaches, Anger More Effective Than Positivity When It Comes To Halftime Speeches

Ben Renner:

The coach’s halftime speech is long known to be a motivational tool in the sports world. Many sports movies, such as Hoosiers, Remember the Titans, or Friday Night Lights include a pivotal scene in which the coach makes an impassioned speech to his team, igniting a furious comeback. But what makes an effective halftime speech in real life? A new study finds that anger is actually more effective during halftime speeches than inspiration.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business analyzed hundreds of halftime speeches and final scores from high school and college basketball games, and found that players seem to perform better after a harsh, more negative halftime speech from their coach. In fact, researchers discovered a significant relationship between the level of negativity a coach projects during a halftime speech and second-half scoring outcomes. The more negativity, the more the team outscored their opponents, that is at least up to a certain threshold point.

“That was even true if the team was already ahead at halftime,” lead researcher and Haas professor emeritus Barry Staw comments in a media release. “Rather than saying, ‘You’re doing great, keep it up,’ it’s better to say, ‘I don’t care if you’re up by 10 points, you can play better than this.’”

The Partisan Split on Higher Ed

Keith Whittington:

A new Pew survey reveals that the partisan split that became visible a couple of years ago in public perceptions of American higher education has continued. In the long term, this cannot be good for American colleges and universities.

A lot of American institutions have taken it on the chin in recent years as Americans have become less trusting of any of them. Some of those declines reflect a general eroding of public confidence, but some institutions tend to see a specifically partisan split with supporters of one political party continuing to like that institution as supporters of the other party express dislike. This is not terribly surprising for political institutions like the presidency, which tend to be seen through a partisan lens depending on who currently occupies the White House (though notably this stark partisanship about the presidency is itself a relatively recent development).

Colleges and universities are fairly distinctive in being non-political institutions that are nonetheless seen in increasingly partisan terms. There is an extensive conservative infrastructure now dedicated to publicizing the foibles of academia. Of course, the reality is that college professors and administrators lean heavily to the political left, though this has been true for decades. Republicans now perceive universities as politicized, partisan institutions.

Republicans continue to send their own kids to college. They continue to recognize the personal economic value of a college degree. But if Republicans continue to believe that on the whole universities are damaging American society, they are unlikely to try to defend them against misguided political interventions from the political left and are more likely to propose misguided political interventions of their own. There is probably a limit as to what universities themselves can do to improve the situation, but they would be wise to take a serious look in the mirror and consider how they could win back the confidence of conservative Americans.

How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition

Daniel Markovits:

In the summer of 1987, I graduated from a public high school in Austin, Texas, and headed northeast to attend Yale. I then spent nearly 15 years studying at various universities—the London School of Economics, the University of Oxford, Harvard, and finally Yale Law School—picking up a string of degrees along the way. Today, I teach at Yale Law, where my students unnervingly resemble my younger self: They are, overwhelmingly, products of professional parents and high-class universities. I pass on to them the advantages that my own teachers bestowed on me. They, and I, owe our prosperity and our caste to meritocracy.

Two decades ago, when I started writing about economic inequality, meritocracy seemed more likely a cure than a cause. Meritocracy’s early advocates championed social mobility. In the 1960s, for instance, Yale President Kingman Brewster brought meritocratic admissions to the university with the express aim of breaking a hereditary elite. Alumni had long believed that their sons had a birthright to follow them to Yale; now prospective students would gain admission based on achievement rather than breeding. Meritocracy—for a time—replaced complacent insiders with talented and hardworking outsiders.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: U.S. Mortgage Debt Hits Record, Eclipsing 2008 Peak

Harriet Torry:

U.S. mortgage debt reached a record in the second quarter, exceeding its 2008 peak as the financial crisis unfolded.

Mortgage balances rose by $162 billion in the second quarter to $9.406 trillion, surpassing the high of $9.294 trillion in the third quarter of 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Tuesday.

Mortgages are the largest component of household debt. Mortgage originations, which include refinancings, increased by $130 billion to $474 billion in the second quarter. The figures are nominal, meaning they aren’t adjusted for inflation.

Demographic Decline and the End of Capitalism as We Know It

Zachary Karabell:

For most of human history, the world’s population grew so slowly that for most people alive, it would have felt static. Between the year 1 and 1700, the human population went from about 200 million to about 600 million; by 1800, it had barely hit one billion. Then, the population exploded, first in the United Kingdom and the United States, next in much of the rest of Europe, and eventually in Asia. By the late 1920s, it had hit two billion. It reached three billion around 1960 and then four billion around 1975. It has nearly doubled since then. There are now some 7.6 billion people living on the planet.

Just as much of the world has come to see rapid population growth as normal and expected, the trends are shifting again, this time into reverse. Most parts of the world are witnessing sharp and sudden contractions in either birthrates or absolute population. The only thing preventing the population in many countries from shrinking more quickly is that death rates are also falling, because people everywhere are living longer. These oscillations are not easy for any society to manage. “Rapid population acceleration and deceleration send shockwaves around the world wherever they occur and have shaped history in ways that are rarely appreciated,” the demographer Paul Morland writes in The Human Tide, his new history of demographics. Morland does not quite believe that “demography is destiny,” as the old adage mistakenly attributed to the French philosopher Auguste Comte would have it. Nor do Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson, the authors of Empty Planet, a new book on the rapidly shifting demographics of the twenty-first century. But demographics are clearly part of destiny. If their role first in the rise of the West and now in the rise of the rest has been underappreciated, the potential consequences of plateauing and then shrinking populations in the decades ahead are almost wholly ignored.

Is it time to shed our anonymity online?

Michael Skapinker:

Reading about the 19th century battles between Noah Webster and his many enemies, real and imagined, I was struck by the famed American lexicographer and others’ frequent resort to the anonymous article. In 1834, an article in a Massachusetts periodical accused Joseph Worcester, Webster’s mild-mannered rival, of “gross plagiarism”.

Webster’s name did not appear on the article, but it was in all likelihood written by him, according to The Dictionary Wars, a book by Peter Martin. Anonymous articles were common in the 18th century and much of the 19th.

In recent decades, anonymity in books, newspapers and established websites has been infrequent enough to create a sensation. Witness the fuss about Primary Colors, the 1996 novel about the Bill Clinton era. Originally published anonymously, it was eventually revealed to have been the work of the political columnist Joe Klein. Last year, the New York Times published an unsigned op-ed by a senior official in the Trump administration, who wrote that presidential appointees were “thwarting Mr Trump’s more misguided impulses”.

Curated Education Information