Faking ‘wokeness’: how advertising targets millennial liberals for profit

Alissa Quart:

“Eco-warriors” are celebrated in one video. In another, a message flashes across the screen: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong.” Yet another ad champions the theme of girls and Stem (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and celebrates a girl-centered technology organization.

Despite all appearances, these videos are not public-service campaigns. Instead, they are advertisements for some of the most blockbuster brands around: for the car company Kia, for Airbnb, and for the phone carrier Verizon, whose ad campaign involves partnering with Girls who Code. These companies are now gesturing at liberal values through their messaging. If television is waking up politically, with shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, advertisements seem to be far ahead.

Civics, Your Printer: Errata Security: How The Intercept Outed Reality Winner


Today, The Intercept released documents on election tampering from an NSA leaker. Later, the arrest warrant request for an NSA contractor named “Reality Winner” was published, showing how they tracked her down because she had printed out the documents and sent them to The Intercept. The document posted by the Intercept isn’t the original PDF file, but a PDF containing the pictures of the printed version that was then later scanned in.

The problem is that most new printers print nearly invisibly yellow dots that track down exactly when and where documents, any document, is printed. Because the NSA logs all printing jobs on its printers, it can use this to match up precisely who printed the document.

In this post, I show how.

You can download the document from the original article here. You can then open it in a PDF viewer, such as the normal “Preview” app on macOS. Zoom into some whitespace on the document, and take a screenshot of this. On macOS, hit [Command-Shift-3] to take a screenshot of a window. There are yellow dots in this image, but you can barely see them, especially if your screen is dirty.

College ROI

Erik Rood:

College is obviously expensive, but is it still a wise investment?

We’ve all heard how expensive college is getting, along with plenty of criticism surrounding its value in a changing job market. Of course, there are many benefits beyond the monetary ones that should be considered when exploring college options, but for the purpose of this post I’m going to limit the scope and purely assess the financial benefit of attending college.

The main financial benefit of attending college is the earnings differential received by a college graduate over a high school graduate; Payscale provides 20-year return on investment (ROI) figures for exactly that. The website compares the gain in median pay from graduating over a high school graduate across ~1,250 4 and 5-year educational institutions in the United States.

Below I’ll compare the ROI of college to the return generated from simply joining the workforce after high school, but investing college tuition costs* into the stock market (using S&P 500 as a proxy).

“Safe spaces” survey: A slight majority, 37 percent, of current college students answered “No, they are completely out of touch from reality.”


The data LendEDU gathered for this report was licensed from polling company Whatsgoodly. In total, 1,659 current college students were asked to answer the following question truthfully: “Do you agree with college campuses establishing safe spaces?” This poll was conducted from May 5th, 2017 to May 11th, 2017. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that there are 20.5 million current college students in the United States. We estimate that our sample is representative of the population of college students with a margin of error of +-2.00%.

Open-minded people have a different visual perception of reality

Olivia Goldhill:

Psychologists have only begun to unravel the concept of “personality,” that all-important but nebulous feature of individual identity. Recent studies suggest that personality traits don’t simply affect your outlook on life, but the way you perceive reality.

One study published earlier this year in the Journal of Research in Personality goes so far as to suggest that openness to experience changes what people see in the world. It makes them more likely to experience certain visual perceptions. In the study, researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia recruited 123 volunteers and gave them the big five personality test, which measures extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. That last personality trait involves creativity, imagination, and a willingness to try new things.

Lessons From The Nation’s Oldest Voucher Program

Claudio Sanchez:

The school doesn’t offer transportation, so Henry Tyson, the man who runs St. Marcus, is known to shuttle kids to and from school whenever their parents can’t. This morning, he is on his way to pick up a little boy named Jeremiah. Tyson says Jeremiah is a talented child who lives in a rough neighborhood where kids often get lost.

“It’s one of the great tragedies in a city like this,” says Tyson. “How do you give kids a vision for their future especially when they’re growing up in these tough, tough neighborhoods.”

Margaret Katherine has a grandson at St. Marcus. The voucher that he uses was an opportunity she says she couldn’t pass up.

“You better grab it while you can,” she says, “because once it’s gone, you’re gonna be like me.”

Katherine says not a day goes by that she doesn’t regret dropping out of school, not learning how to read or write properly. “I don’t want my child to be lost.”

Much more on Henry Tyson.

Greatness! Future Leaders of Madison take Center Stage

One City Learning, via a kind Kaleem Caire email:

Tonight, One City Early Learning Centers, a high quality preschool located in the heart of South Madison, is hosting its first graduation ceremony and community barbecue, in honor of its first cohort of children to transition from its preschool to local kindergartens in the city. Nine children will be celebrated for their growth, success and individual potential as they prepare to enter local elementary schools this fall. More than 150 people are expected to attend.

One City is a nonprofit preschool located in South Madison that opened in September 2015. It was established to help parents and young children overcome Madison’s persistent achievement gap, to cultivate a broader community of support among children and families, and to give the community a high quality and affordable place to educate and make a difference in the lives of children, together.

One City Founder and CEO, Kaleem Caire, said, “If you are tired of bad news filling your news feeds in your email box, and on your televisions, hand-held devices and social media accounts, join us tonight. We are filling the room with nothing but great news this evening. We are going to celebrate nine outstanding children who are poised to succeed in grade school and beyond.”

Caire further stated, “Our children have the knowledge and skills to make it happen. They will know tonight that not only do they have the support of their parents and family members, they have the support of the Greater Madison community at-large. The Village will be clapping and shouting nothing but love for our kids tonight, and we will continue to be a major part of their support base as they get older.”

Tonight’s graduation ceremony will take place from 5:30pm to 6pm at Mount Zion Baptist Church, 2019 Fisher Street, on Madison’s South Side. It will be followed by an an anniversary celebration and barbecue from 6pm to 7:30pm at One City’s learning center, located directly across the street from the church. One City is located at 2012 Fisher Street.

7 in 10 Smartphone Apps Share Your Data with Third-Party Services

Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez and Srikanth Sundaresan:

Our mobile phones can reveal a lot about ourselves: where we live and work; who our family, friends and acquaintances are; how (and even what) we communicate with them; and our personal habits. With all the information stored on them, it isn’t surprising that mobile device users take steps to protect their privacy, like using PINs or passcodes to unlock their phones.

The research that we and our colleagues are doing identifies and explores a significant threat that most people miss: More than 70 percent of smartphone apps are reporting personal data to third-party tracking companies like Google Analytics, the Facebook Graph API or Crashlytics.

When people install a new Android or iOS app, it asks the user’s permission before accessing personal information. Generally speaking, this is positive. And some of the information these apps are collecting are necessary for them to work properly: A map app wouldn’t be nearly as useful if it couldn’t use GPS data to get a location.

It takes more than fingerprint checks to beat cheaters in China’s biggest exam

Zheping Huang:

This week, more than 9 million Chinese students will sit roughly nine hours over a period of two days for the gaokao, the high-stakes exam for admission to a Chinese college. Notoriously grueling, it can determine a student’s entire career path, and ultimately the kind of life one leads. At least 2 million of the test-takers won’t pass.

That’s why the gaokao, to be held on June 7-8, never falls short of cheaters. Exam halls have used metal detectors and drones to prevent cheating via high-tech gadgets. But what about hiring a surrogate to take the exam for you?

For this, verification via ID cards is a must, but hardly enough. Surrogates can use their own photos on forged IDs, and admission tickets with the real test-takers’ information on them. Fingerprint checks have become common in many test centers, but surrogates have responded by wearing special fingerprint films of the candidates.

Teenager Gets Into Yale With Essay About Papa John’s Pizza, Then Chooses Auburn


Carolina Williams of Brentwood, Tennessee received a letter from the prestigious school’s admission committee in March announcing the good news. More surprisingly, the letter highlighted one of the ten essays she had written for the application as a stand out.

“It really tickled me that they specifically commented on that one because there were a ton of essays,” William told ABC News. “I think it stood out because it was just very genuine and reflective of me and it was kind of taking a risk, I guess.”

UP FRONT New evidence that lead exposure increases crime

Jennifer Doleac:

recent investigation by Reuters found that lead exposure affects kids in communities across the country — not just in high-profile cities like Flint, Michigan. This is worrisome, because elevated blood lead levels in kids have been linked to an array of developmental delays and behavioral problems. More ominously, this could also increase crime. Kevin Drum and others have argued that lead exposure caused the high crime rates during the 1980s and early 1990s. There has been suggestive evidence of such a link for decades, though it hasn’t gained much traction in research or policy circles. But the case that lead exposure causes crime recently became much stronger.

Personal finance sets traps for dinosaurs

Tim Harford:

It was free!” announces Bob the Dinosaur, an adorable moron from the Dilbert cartoon. Bob is driving a bright red convertible. “They just make you sign papers!”, he elaborates. That cartoon is a quarter of a century old, but some things never change. The suspicion lingers that too many people are buying cars using financial products they do not fully understand.

In the UK, the finger of suspicion is pointing at personal contract purchase agreements, or PCPs, which account for 80 per cent of new cars sold. The Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority are looking into the car finance sector (the FCA is supposed to prevent us being ripped off; the PRA is supposed to prevent banks accidentally ripping themselves off — thankless tasks).

What I Saw at Evergreen State College

Mark Musser:

The student antics at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington have recently garnered some national media attention – but not nearly enough. Tucker Carlson interviewed progressive biology professor Bret Weinstein, who had the moral dexterity to show up to teach his own class as contracted by the college in spite of the fact that students had decided to impose on the campus an anti-white imperialism day. The point of the student protest was that any white person who came to the college on that particular day was demonstrating that he is not in alliance with their anti-racist crusade. Blaming Trump’s election, such a proposal was a reversal of a long standing practice at the college where students gave themselves a day of absence to protest racism.

Do We Need the Department of Education?

Charles Murray:

The case for the Department of Education could rest on one or more of three legs: its constitutional appropriateness, the existence of serious problems in education that could be solved only at the federal level, and/or its track record since it came into being. Let us consider these in order.

(1) Is the Department of Education constitutional?

At the time the Constitution was written, education was not even considered a function of local government, let alone the federal government. But the shakiness of the Department of Education’s constitutionality goes beyond that. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates the things over which Congress has the power to legislate. Not only does the list not include education, there is no plausible rationale for squeezing education in under the commerce clause. I’m sure the Supreme Court found a rationale, but it cannot have been plausible.

On a more philosophical level, the framers of America’s limited government had a broad allegiance to what Catholics call the principle of subsidiarity. In the secular world, the principle of subsidiarity means that local government should do only those things that individuals cannot do for themselves, state government should do only those things that local governments cannot do, and the federal government should do only those things that the individual states cannot do. Education is something that individuals acting alone and cooperatively can do, let alone something local or state governments can do.

Men saying “no thanks” to college

Monte Whaley:

John Maxwell is curious about the world and freely shares, in casual conversation, tidbits of English history. Yet he says he’ll never again set foot in a college classroom.

“I consider myself mostly self-taught and I just believe I should cut my own path in life,” said the 24-year-old Maxwell, who dropped out of Littleton’s Araphoe Community College after one semester.

Maxwell said he didn’t want to waste his parents’ money on college work that held little or no interest to him.

“I just wanted to see what I wanted to do with my life and college was never a part of that,” said Maxwell, currently an employee at a Parker liquor store. “It might cost me financially down the road, but I never really saw myself as getting rich anyway. So I don’t see it as much of a loss.”

Why Higher Education Is Stagnating


One reason this problem is hard to tackle is that the Left and Right disagree on the ultimate cause of the bloat. Many progressives see it as a product of the free market: If students and parents select colleges based on the quality of student spas and diversity centers and other amenities, then of course colleges will tailor their offerings to meet that demand. The real question is how to make access to college even more universal. Conservatives, meanwhile, are more likely to point to overweening government, including unnecessary regulations, which require more staff to implement, and to federal student loan programs, which pay the salaries of well-organized bureaucrats and end up funding superfluous services that colleges might otherwise forego.

There is some truth to both of these analyses, but neither side is offering a realistic program for how to address the underlying problem. “Free college” programs, now popular among Democrats, will simply make the underlying cost even higher, even if they shift it to taxpayers rather than consumers. And GOP slash-and-burn efforts at state universities often extract theatrical budget cuts without actually excising the source of the rot. Student tuitions go up and faculty salaries are frozen, but the bureaucratic bloat isn’t actually rolled back.

Bilingual education in US in its infancy, but growing

France 24:

Brazil, with a ‘z’ or an ‘s’?” asks a girl. “In Spanish, it’s with an ‘s,’ in English with a ‘z,'” another kid answers. Just another day in a bilingual class at a Los Angeles school.

A sign that proclaims “Bienvenido/Welcome” is pinned above the blackboard of this class in a bilingual program at Franklin High School.

It’s Thursday morning, and in history class, teacher Blanca Claudio asks her 11- and 12- year old students to find Mesoamerica — an area stretching from southern Mexico through Central America — on the map.

Half of the population of Los Angeles — the second most populous US city after New York — is of Hispanic origin, and Latinos make up 16 percent of the US population, making them the largest single ethnic minority group in the country.

K-12 Tax And Spending Climate: On The Impossible Governance Challenge

George Will:

One reason many Americans are becoming “cord cutters,” abandoning cable and satellite television, is that they want an a la carte world. One reason ESPN has lost 12 million subscribers in six years is that it is an expensive component of cable and satellite packages and many of those paying for the packages rarely watch ESPN.

Compelling taxpayers to finance government-subsidized broadcasting is discordant with today’s a la carte impulse and raises a point: If it has a loyal constituency, those viewers and listeners, who are disproportionately financially upscale, can afford voluntary contributions to replace the government money. And advertisers would pay handsomely to address this constituency.

Often the last, and sometimes the first, recourse of constituencies whose subsidies are in jeopardy is: “It’s for the children.” Big Bird, however, is more a corporate conglomerate than an endangered species. If “Sesame Street” programming were put up for auction, the danger would be of getting trampled by the stampede of potential bidders.

The argument for government-subsidized broadcasting is perversely circular: If the public were enlightened, there would be no need for government subsidies. But, by definition, an enlightened public would understand the inherent merits of subsidies by which the government picks more deserving winners than the market does.

Locally, Madison’s schools spend more annually (now around $18k/student) yet.

Seventh grader, far ahead of her class, punished for taking too many courses

Jay Matthews:

In a compelling piece for the Washington City Paper, D.C. high school teacher Rob Barnett has confessed his anguish at passing students who haven’t mastered the content of his math courses and described his radical solution.

It’s called mastery learning. Barnett recorded all of his lessons, put them online and let each student move through them at his or her own pace. “They must show they understand one topic before advancing to the next,” he said. “I think of myself not so much as a teacher but as a facilitator of inquiry.”

This method is not new. I remember a Virginia high school that tried it 20 years ago. Barnett identified charter schools in Yuma, Ariz., and Chicago that are having success with it. It is a logical way to deepen the education of our children and, as Barnett discovered in his classes, inspire initiative. “They learn to assess their own understanding, to ask for help when they need it, and to teach themselves and their peers without my guidance,” he said.

But mastery learning is almost completely at odds with American school traditions. Barnett had difficulty, for instance, dealing with the required annual D.C. tests that assume everyone learns at the same pace.

A parent I know in Michigan found his public school system helpful at first, but it eventually reacted to his daughter’s fast pace under a makeshift mastery program as though the child had violated the dress code.


English 10

TAG Complaint

credit for non MMSD courses

4D Toys. An interactive toy for 4D children.

website and app/play store links:

Poke, throw, roll and watch as they disappear into a dimension you can’t see.

Get an intuitive feel for how four-dimensional objects behave:

Become a child of the fourth dimension.
In this case the 4th dimension is not time but a 4th dimension of space that works just like the first three dimensions we are familiar with. If you count time these toys are 5D.

It turns out that the rules of how objects bounce, slide and roll around can be generalized to any number of dimensions, and this toy lets you experience what that would look like.

Personalized SAT Practice on Khan Academy

College Board:

The College Board’s test developers and the online learning experts at Khan Academy® worked together to bring you Official SAT Practice.

Don’t miss out on these practice tools:

Personalized recommendations for practice on the skills you need the most help with
Thousands of questions, reviewed and approved by the people who develop the SAT
Video lessons that explain problems step-by-step

Full-length practice tests

Revenue Share?

K-12 Tax And Spending Climate: How Much Does the Class of 2017 Know About Their Student Debt?


They will also be joining the millions of other graduates working to pay off the student debt they accumulated throughout college.

According to The Student Loan Report, there are 44,179,100 current student loan borrowers, or 70% of the students in the U.S. Collectively, they contribute to a national student loan debt total of $1.41 trillion. Additionally, the average student debt per borrower is an intimidating $27,857.

We wanted to find out how prepared the college graduates of 2017 were to tackle their student debt. To do this, Student Loan Report has commissioned a survey of 400 four year college graduates from the Class of 2017 that have student loan debt.

Global Pension Timebomb: Funding Gap Set to Dwarf World GDP

Peter Vanham:

The world’s six largest pension saving systems – the US, UK, Japan, Netherlands, Canada and Australia – are expected to reach a $224 trillion gap by 2050, a new study by the World Economic Forum shows

Adding in China and India, which have the world’s largest populations, the combined savings gap for the eight countries reaches a total of $400 trillion by 2050, a sum five times the size of the current global economy

“Very few decisions have to be final”: What I wish I’d known at age 21

Jill Filopovic:

(Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)
When I was 21, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I was headed to law school, so I assumed I would be a lawyer for the rest of my life. I didn’t know that life is long enough to allow for reinvention, do-overs, and big errors—that very few decisions ever have to be final, or are ever as monumental as they feel when you’re at a crossroads.

Now, at 33, I’m a lawyer who doesn’t practice law, a feminist who has turned writing about women into a job, and a journalist who covers US politics from Nairobi and travels the globe covering health, development, and women’s rights. Sometimes, my parents and friends and colleagues and random acquaintances still ask me where I see myself in five years, or in ten. What is my dream job?

What does the federal government spend your tax dollars on? Social insurance programs, mostly

Drew DeSilver:

It’s springtime, which means the start of the budgeting process for Congress and a mad dash for many Americans to file their income taxes. That makes it a good time to look at the federal government’s spending habits in a broader context than just this year’s battles.

When thinking about federal spending, it’s worth remembering that, as former Treasury official Peter Fisher once said, the federal government is basically “a gigantic insurance company,” albeit one with “a sideline business in national defense and homeland security.” In fiscal year 2016, which ended this past Sept. 30, the federal government spent just under $4 trillion, and about $2.7 trillion – more than two-thirds of the total – went for various kinds of social insurance (Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, unemployment compensation, veterans benefits and the like). Another $604 billion, or 15.3% of total spending, went for national defense; net interest payments on government debt was about $240 billion, or 6.1%. Education aid and related social services were about $114 billion, or less than 3% of all federal spending. Everything else – crop subsidies, space travel, highway repairs, national parks, foreign aid and much, much more – accounted for the remaining 6%.

Do Geography and Altitude Shape the Sounds of a Language

Joseph Stromberg:

You likely don’t give a ton of thought to the sounds and patterns that make up the language you speak everyday. But the human voice is capable making of a tremendous variety of noises, and no language includes all of them.

About 20 percent of the world’s languages, for example, make use of a type of sound called an ejective consonant, in which an intense burst of air is released suddenly. (Listen to all the ejectives here.) English, however—along with most European languages—does not include this noise.

Is the U.S. Education System Producing a Society of Smart Fools?

Claudia Wallis:

At last weekend’s annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) in Boston, Cornell University psychologist Robert Sternberg sounded an alarm about the influence of standardized tests on American society. Sternberg, who has studied intelligence and intelligence testing for decades, is well known for his “triarchic theory of intelligence,” which identifies three kinds of smarts: the analytic type reflected in IQ scores; practical intelligence, which is more relevant for real-life problem solving; and creativity. Sternberg offered his views in a lecture associated with receiving a William James Fellow Award from the APS for his lifetime contributions to psychology. He explained his concerns to Scientific American.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

Per Capita Taxes Have More Than Doubled Since JFK

Terence Jeffrey:

Real federal taxes per capita have more than doubled since John F. Kennedy served as president — and argued for lower taxes.

In 1961, the fiscal year Kennedy was elected, the federal government collected about $94.388 billion in taxes, according to the Office of Management and Budget. The population that year was about 183,691,481, according to the Census Bureau. That meant federal tax revenues equaled about $514 per capita — or $4,121 in 2016 dollars.

By 1965, the fiscal year Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater, the federal government collected about $116.817 billion in taxes from a population of about 194,302,963. That year federal taxes equaled about $601 per capita — or $4,578 in 2016 dollars.

Low-Income Students Nowhere to Be Found in STEM A dearth of low-income students in STEM has college officials ‘terrified.’

Lauren Camera:

Andrew Moore, the dean of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science, was blown away upon reading a college application essay from a student in rural Texas who described how he spent evenings writing computer code in pencil because he didn’t have a computer at home. He’d head to school the next morning to try the codes out on the school’s computers.

“That is awesome,” Moore said. “That is so much a Carnegie Mellon person.”

The Pittsburgh-based school has one of the best and most rigorous tracts in the country for computer science majors, and as such, requires students who plan to pursue that field of study to have a strong foundation in math.

“Rightly or wrongly,” Moore said, “we have not done a good job serving students who come in without enough of a mathematics background. And this particular applicant did not have that background.”

Why Academic Freedom Should Be Covered at Freshman Orientation

Roger Bowen:

wenty years ago, several New York State legislators, a member of the State University of New York’s Board of Trustees, and members of the New Paltz College Council (an advisory board) publicly and privately pressured the then-president of SUNY New Paltz — me — to cancel a long-planned conference about women’s sexuality hosted by the women’s-studies program. When I demurred, the SUNY chancellor ordered an investigation, and the governor decried the waste of taxpayer dollars. The New York Post repeatedly attacked me, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed about the conference by a right-wing ideologue, and The New York Times supported me for defending academic freedom.

Teachers Unions Get A Free Lunch, Taxpayers Foot The Bill

Truth in public education:

Teachers unions loudly insist that collective bargaining agreements are necessary to ensure that teachers receive fair wages and benefits for the important work they do educating children. However, they fail to mention that many unions use those legally-binding contracts to compel school districts to underwrite the salaries and benefits of their own employees — i.e., tax dollars meant for the classroom are instead being used to pay full-time union officials.

For obvious reasons, school districts and teachers unions don’t advertise these arrangements, but there are efforts underway in several states to end the practice. Below are three recent examples…

Syracuse, New York

Syracuse resident Michael Hunter filed a lawsuit last month over a clause in the Syracuse Teachers Association’s current contract that requires the school district to pay the salary of the union president. Hunter and his lawyers estimate the arrangement has cost the Syracuse City School District approximately $1.1 million over the past nine years.

Data Exclusive: 75 Percent of Black California Boys Don’t Meet State Reading Standards

Matt Levin:

Three of four African-American boys in California classrooms failed to meet reading and writing standards on the most recent round of testing, according to data obtained from the state Department of Education and analyzed by CALmatters.
 More than half of black boys scored in the lowest category on the English portion of the test, trailing their female counterparts. The disparity reflects a stubbornly persistent gender gap in reading and writing scores that stretches across ethnic groups.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

K-12 tax and spending Climate: S&P, Moody’s Downgrade Illinois to Near Junk, Lowest Ever for a U.S. State

Elizabeth Campbell:

Illinois had its bond rating downgraded to one step above junk by Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings, the lowest ranking on record for a U.S. state, as the long-running political stalemate over the budget shows no signs of ending.
 S&P warned that Illinois will likely lose its investment-grade status, an unprecedented step for a state, around July 1 if leaders haven’t agreed on a budget that chips away at the government’s chronic deficits. Moody’s followed S&P’s downgrade Thursday, citing Illinois’s underfunded pensions and the record backlog of bills that are equivalent to about 40 percent of its operating budget.

University of California’s Board of Regents Partied Hard, Billed the State, Then Raised Tuition

Kelly Weill:

On the night of Jan. 25, members of the University of California’s Board of Regents piled into San Francisco’s lavish Intercontinental Hotel for a dinner party. By the end of the night, the 65-person party had racked up a $17,600 bill, or roughly $271 per diner—which they charged to the university. The next day, the same Regents voted to raise tuition by 2.5 percent or $336 for each in-state student.
From 2012 until May 17, 2017, the UC Board of Regents expensed luxury banquets totalling over $225,000, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported Sunday. University President Janet Napolitano’s office reimbursed the dinners in full, using UC funding. The news comes in the wake of a damning state audit that revealed $175 million in undisclosed funds belonging to Napolitano’s office. UC students say they’re not going to stomach the costs any more.
On Tuesday, the Board of Regents defended their dinner expenses, but said the board would have to buy their own meals going forward.

Universities Should Be Safe Spaces — for Intellectual Diversity

Middleberry College alums:

As university professors and administrators, we are deeply concerned with escalating attacks on free speech and inquiry all across American higher education – and we believe that lessons of national import can be learned from the situation at our alma mater in Vermont. Middlebury College recently completed its public response to the physical intimidation and assault visited upon Charles Murray and Middlebury Professor Allison Stanger on March 2. Last week it issued a press release stating that 67 students had received sanctions “ranging from probation to official College discipline.” Middlebury also has appointed a special committee to “explore and discuss issues relating to” the incident.

U.S. Could Use a Better Way to Pay for Science

Tyler Cowen:

We’re all for higher productivity growth, yet such growth depends on a lot of little things rather than a single major lever. One of those things is how we fund science.

There’s been plenty of coverage of proposed cuts to the budget of the National Institutes of Health, but little noticed is a proposal to significantly reduce how federal grants pay overhead to universities through the category of “indirect costs.” 1 These payments to research institutions, both public and private, pay for labs, equipment, data storage and basic support services, among other background functions.

To give you an idea of the stakes, respected historian of science Peter A. Shulman tweeted in response to President Donald Trump’s budget last week:

The First Time America Freaked Out Over Automation

Rick Wartzman:

In 1958, America found itself in the midst of its worst economic slump since the Great Depression. There had been other recessions, from 1948 to 1949 and from 1953 to 1954, but they were less severe. The latest downturn, which began in the summer of 1957, turned serious by winter. In January 1958, Life magazine visited Peoria, Illinois, and found the mood there to be gloomy. Caterpillar, the heavy equipment maker and the big provider of jobs in town, had already laid off 6,000 workers and cut back to a 4-day week. “Trouble is already here for some people,” said one Caterpillar worker. “But it’s under the surface for everybody.”

In Peoria and across the nation, things got steadily worse. By July, the national unemployment rate hit 7.5 percent. General Electric alone had sent home some 25,000 production workers by the summer of ’58; General Motors, 28,000. Things got so bad for Studebaker-Packard, the automaker, that it made a shocking announcement: It would no longer honor its pension obligations for more than 3,000 workers, handing an “I told you so” moment to those who’d been warning about the fragility of retirement promises.

Political Posturing and School Choice


Congressman Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) tried to grill Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Wednesday about the performance of the Milwaukee voucher program, at one point asking her if she’d send her own children to one of the city’s lowest-performing voucher schools.

DeVos demurred on that question during a House subcommittee hearing. Later, she suggested that it would be up to states to figure out how to hold private schools accountable for the millions of public dollars they would receive under the Trump administration’s proposed budget.

In their sprightly exchange, Pocan, who supports public schools, and DeVos, a longtime advocate of private schools, managed to do something remarkable: Explain the entire history and controversy over school vouchers in Wisconsin in under six minutes.

Here are some highlights from the house subcommittee meeting, plus a few fact checks:

Rural America Is the New ‘Inner City’ -2-

Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg:

At the corner where East North Street meets North Cherry Street in the small Ohio town of Kenton, the Immaculate Conception Church keeps a handwritten record of major ceremonies. Over the last decade, according to these sacramental registries, the church has held twice as many funerals as baptisms.

In tiny communities like Kenton, an unprecedented shift is under way. Federal and other data show that in 2013, in the majority of sparsely populated U.S. counties, more people died than were born — the first time that’s happened since the dawn of universal birth registration in the 1930s.

For more than a century, rural towns sustained themselves, and often thrived, through a mix of agriculture and light manufacturing. Until recently, programs funded by counties and townships, combined with the charitable efforts of churches and community groups, provided a viable social safety net in lean times.

Business license required for teens to cut grass

Teens in Gardendale are in for a rude awakening this summer when it comes to cutting grass. According to the city’s ordinance, you must have a business license.

Teenagers have been threatened by officials and other lawn services to show their city issued license before cutting a person’s lawn for extra summer cash.

Cutting grass is often one of the first jobs many have in the summer. But a business license in Gardendale costs $110. And for a job, just for a couple of months, that can be a bit extreme.

“I have never heard of a child cutting grass had to have a business license,” said Elton Campbell.

Kids In Rural Areas Need School Choice, Too

Collin Roth and Will Flanders:

When someone mentions the phrase “failing school,” what image comes to mind? For most, it will be an urban school with a significant population of disadvantaged, minority kids. While this image is no doubt reasonable—many of the worst school districts in the country are urban—the problems of poor schools in other areas are too often forgotten. Particularly in America’s rural areas and small towns, performance doesn’t look all that different from central cities.

For instance, the lowest-performing school district in the state of Wisconsin is not Milwaukee. It’s tiny Cambria-Friesland, population 767. Nevertheless, the story of education reform in the state of Wisconsin, like most areas around the country, has overwhelmingly focused on the challenges of urban education.

Massive Data Breaches, Billions in Wasted Funds: Who Is Holding Edtech Vendors Accountable?

Jenny Abamu:

Since then a slew of security breaches and malicious data hacks have hit educational institutions, including K-12 districts and their technology providers. Most recently, one of the most widely-used education technology companies, Edmodo, had records for over 77 million users compromised.

In the absence of legal recourse and protection, lawyers and researchers are encouraging educators to defend themselves—starting at the negotiating table. They point to vendor contracts as the frontline of these efforts, noting that schools can and should demand better transparency around privacy protection, cybersecurity practices and even pricing terms. By doing so, schools can save themselves headache—and possibly billions of taxpayer dollars.

When Will AI Exceed Human Performance? Evidence from AI Experts

Katja Grace, John Salvatier, Allan Dafoe, Baobao Zhang, and Owain Evans:

dvances in artificial intelligence (AI) will transform modern life by reshaping transportation, health, science, finance, and the military [1, 2, 3]. To adapt public policy, we need to better anticipate these advances [4, 5]. Here we report the results from a large survey of machine learning researchers on their beliefs about progress in AI. Researchers predict AI will outperform humans in many activities in the next ten years, such as translating languages (by 2024), writing high-school essays (by 2026), driving a truck (by 2027), working in retail (by 2031), writing a bestselling book (by 2049), and working as a surgeon (by 2053). Researchers believe there is a 50% chance of AI outperforming humans in all tasks in 45 years and of automating all human jobs in 120 years, with Asian respondents expecting these dates much sooner than North Americans. These results will inform discussion amongst researchers and policymakers about anticipating and managing trends in AI.

The Education System Isn’t Designed for Smart Kids

Daniel Lattier:

Over the past five years I’ve looked at countless student performance numbers, and almost always, my attention goes to the large percentages of students who are performing below grade level in reading, math, history, etc. I see these numbers as evidence of the failure of the current education system.

But a recent policy brief (titled “How Can So Many Students Be Invisible?) has brought something else to my attention—something equally, if not more, damning of the education system. It’s the fact that large percentages of American students are performing ABOVE grade level.

With state budget in crisis, many Oklahoma schools hold classes four days a week

Emma Brown:

But in other states, the Great Recession sparked a spike in the growth of four-day weeks that has since slowed, according to data collected by The Washington Post. Oklahoma stands out for the velocity with which districts have turned to a shorter school week in the past several years, one of the most visible signs of a budget crisis that has also shuttered rural hospitals, led to overcrowded prisons and forced state troopers to abide by a 100-mile daily driving limit.

Democrats helped pass bipartisan income tax cuts from 2004 to 2008. Republicans — who have controlled the legislature since 2009 and governorship since 2011 — have cut income taxes further and also significantly lowered taxes on oil and gas production.

“The problems facing Oklahoma are our own doing. There’s not some outside force that is causing our schools not to be able to stay open,” said state Sen. John Sparks, the chamber’s top Democrat. “These are all the result of a bad public policy and a lack of public-sector investment.”

But Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said a downturn in the energy sector and a decreasing sales tax revenue have led to several “very difficult budget years.”

Madison is rather different, spending far more than most, around $18k per student.

CRISPR Gene-Editing Might Cause Thousands of Unintended Mutations

Avery Thompson:

Perhaps the largest medical breakthrough this side of the Human Genome Project has been the invention of CRISPR, a technique for rewriting entire sections of DNA. CRISPR lets scientists target specific sections of DNA and edit them however they want, essentially giving scientists a potentially unlimited ability to fix genetic illnesses.

But there’s a catch: CRISPR might cause random side effects.

When scientists want to edit a gene with CRISPR, they use techniques to select a specific gene sequence to edit. But selecting a single region in an entire genome is not easy, and often CRISPR will target other regions in the genome as well. Researchers believed they could predict most of these “off-target effects,” but a new study in Nature Methods suggests they probably can’t.


Jia Tolentino:

The Columbus Circle location is Amazon’s seventh bookstore, so far. It is reminiscent of an airport bookshop: big enough to be enticing from the outside but extremely limited once you’re inside. The volumes on display are spaced at a courteous distance from one another, positioned with their front covers facing out. Greeting customers, front and center, is a “Highly Rated” table, featuring books that have received 4.8 stars or above on Amazon.com, among them Trevor Noah’s memoir, Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, a book by the couple on the TV show “Fixer Upper,” and a book about kombucha. Other offerings are determined by digital metrics such as Goodreads reviews, Amazon sales, and pre-orders, and by input from the curators at Amazon Books. The store, in other words, is designed to further popularize, on Amazon, that which is already popular on Amazon. (The company’s new Amazon Charts feature, public online as of last week, is intended to challenge the best-seller list at the Times.)

At the right of the shop is a large, Best Buy-esque electronics area that’s mainly dedicated to the Amazon Echo. The Echo section occupies more space in the store than the section dedicated to fiction, which you’ll find on the left. Under the “G”s in the fiction section you’ll find: Roxane Gay, Hazel Gaynor, Paolo Giordano, William Golding, Bryn Greenwood, and Yaa Gyasi. That’s it. Only a handful of authors have two titles featured on the shelves: Margaret Atwood, Jane Austen, Paulo Coelho, Emma Donoghue, Ernest Hemingway, Jojo Moyes, Liane Moriarty, Haruki Murakami, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Marilynne Robinson, and J. D. Salinger. Only John Steinbeck and W. Bruce Cameron have three titles displayed: Cameron’s are “A Dog’s Purpose,” “A Dog’s Journey,” and “A Dog’s Way Home.” Over all, there are fewer than two hundred titles on offer in the fiction section, and three thousand titles in the store as a whole. For comparison, McNally Jackson, in SoHo, stocks about sixty thousand titles; my favorite indie bookstore—Literati, in Ann Arbor, where I went to grad school—stocks twenty-five thousand, with five thousand titles in fiction.


KC Johnson:

Middlebury’s response to the disruption of Charles Murray’s invited campus address—followed by the protesters assaulting and injuring Professor Alison Stanger, moderator for the talk—offered little ground for optimism. A statement from the college implied that evidence (albeit ambiguous evidence) existed suggesting that some professors violated the Faculty Handbook in the pre-disruption period. The disruptors themselves received token punishments, as several sympathetic professors supported them in the disciplinary process. The chief of the Middlebury Police Department even denied that the disruptors assaulted Stanger. (“It was more of a scrum. There wasn’t any assault per se.”)

The Middlebury student government, moreover, has seemed intent on confirming the critics’ case about a campus out of control. After repeatedly expressing support, in words and deeds, for the disruptors, the student government concluded its term by rejecting an academic freedom/viewpoint diversity bill, which sponsors Rae Aaron and Jack Goldfield hoped would reaffirm the college’s stated commitment—clearly not upheld in the Murray case—that “officially recognized student organizations may invite to the campus and hear any person of their choosing,” and that “free intellectual inquiry, debate, and constructive dialogue are vital to Middlebury’s academic mission and must be protected even when the views expressed are unpopular or controversial.”

Everything You Thought You Knew About Learning Is Wrong

Garth Sendem:

“People tend to try to learn in blocks,” Bjork said. “Mastering one thing before moving on to the next.”

Instead of doing that Bjork recommends interleaving. The strategy suggest that instead of spending an hour working on your tennis serve, you mix in a range of skills like backhands, volleys, overhead smashes, and footwork.

“This creates a sense of difficulty,” Bjork said. “And people tend not to notice the immediate effects of learning.”

Instead of making an appreciable leap forward with your serving ability after a session of focused practice, interleaving forces you to make nearly imperceptible steps forward with many skills. But over time, the sum of these small steps is much greater than the sum of the leaps you would have taken if you’d spent the same amount of time mastering each skill in its turn.

Everyone wants to know why 4 West Bend teachers abruptly resigned. There’s more to the story.

Erin Richards:

Seven days before summer break, West Bend East and West High School saw an unusual staffing change: Four of the six English teachers resigned Friday, throwing students into a lurch before finals and prompting vast speculation about the cause of the departures.

While students protested, the district released a statement that declined to name the teachers and only said that the resignations were “in no way related to any opinions expressed about curriculum.”

Whatever the specifics, the departures top an unusually turbulent year in West Bend. The Washington County district has long had fractious relations between some of its teachers, school board members and administrators, but a number of recent developments in short succession have raised new concerns.

Consider that in the past year:

An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State (and Costs)

Clyde Wayne Crews:

Ten Thousand Commandments is the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual survey of the size, scope, and cost of federal regulations, and how the U.S. regulatory burden affects American consumers, businesses, and the economy. Authored by CEI Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr., it shines a light on the large and growing “hidden tax” of America’s regulatory state.

Federal government spending, deficits, and the national debt are staggering, but so is the impact of federal regulations. Unfortunately, regulations get little attention in policy debates because, unlike taxes, they are unbudgeted, difficult to quantify, and their effects are often indirect. By making Washington’s rules and mandates more comprehensible, Crews underscores the need for more review, transparency, and accountability for new and existing federal regulations.

Global competency for an inclusive world


The framework illustrated in this document represents a new, ambitious and still experimental approach to global competence which the OECD has developed in consultation with the international community of experts and which could provide a starting point for the PISA 2018 assessment. In particular, its emphasis on attitudes and values is novel in comparative assessment. Respect and a belief in human dignity place a stake in the ground for the importance of right and wrong and offer a counterweight to the risk that sensitivity to other viewpoints descends into cultural relativism. The dilemma at the heart of a globalised world is how we strike the balance between strengthening common values, that cannot be compromised, and appreciating the diversity of “proprietary” values. Leaning too far in either direction is risky: enforcing an artifcial uniformityof values damages people’s capacity to acknowledge different perspectives; and overemphasising diversity can undermine the legitimacy of any core values at all.

Global Competence is only one dimension of what people will need to learn; the OECD is looking at a broader range of dimensions in The Future of Education and Skills: an OECD Education 2030 Framework. This project is still in its early phase, and is proceeding in consultation with OECD member countries. Over time it could present a picture of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and competencies required for the 2030 world. The framework could shape approaches to measurement; and the measurement outcomes could in turn help re ne the framework and de ne policy interventions at different levels.

Could subjects soon be a thing of the past in Finland?

Penny Spiller:

Finland has long been renowned for the quality of its education and always scores highly in international league tables.

Now it is rethinking how it teaches in the digital age – seeking to place skills, as much as subjects, at the heart of what it does. But not everyone is happy, and there are fears it could bring down standards.
It is a chilly morning in a remote village in southern Finland, but the thoughts of this class of 12-year-olds are elsewhere – in ancient Rome.

Their teacher is taking them through a video re-enactment – shown on the classroom’s interactive smart board – of the day Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed the city of Pompeii.

The Atomic Bomb Considered As Hungarian High School Science Fair Project

Scott Alexander:

A group of Manhattan Project physicists created a tongue-in-cheek mythology where superintelligent Martian scouts landed in Budapest in the late 19th century and stayed for about a generation, after which they decided the planet was unsuitable for their needs and disappeared. The only clue to their existence were the children they had with local women.

The joke was that this explained why the Manhattan Project was led by a group of Hungarian supergeniuses, all born in Budapest between 1890 and 1920. These included Manhattan Project founder Leo Szilard, H-bomb creator Edward Teller, Nobel-Prize-winning quantum physicist Eugene Wigner, and legendary polymath John von Neumann, namesake of the List Of Things Named After John Von Neumann.

How Facebook’s tentacles reach further than you think

Joe Miller:

Facebook’s collection of data makes it one of the most influential organisations in the world. Share Lab wanted to look “under the bonnet” at the tech giant’s algorithms and connections to better understand the social structure and power relations within the company.

A couple of years ago, Vladan Joler and his brainy friends in Belgrade began investigating the inner workings of one of the world’s most powerful corporations.
The team, which includes experts in cyber-forensic analysis and data visualisation, had already looked into what he calls “different forms of invisible infrastructures” behind Serbia’s internet service providers.

Why do so few people major in computer science?

Dan Wang:

In 2005, about 54,000 people in the US earned bachelor’s degrees in computer science. That figure was lower every year afterwards until 2014, when 55,000 people majored in CS. I’m surprised not only that the figure is low; the greater shock is that was flat for a decade. Given high wages for developers and the cultural centrality of Silicon Valley, shouldn’t we expect far more people to have majored in computer science?

This is even more surprising when we consider that 1.90 million people graduated with bachelor’s degrees in 2015, which is 31% higher than the 1.44 million graduates in 2005. (Data is via the National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics) That means that the share of people majoring in computer science has decreased, from 3.76% of the all majors in 2005 to 3.14% of all majors in 2015. Meanwhile, other STEM majors have grown over the same period: “engineering” plus “engineering technologies” went from 79,544 to 115,096, a gain of 45%; “mathematics and statistics” from 14,351 to 21,853, a gain of 52%; “physical sciences and science technologies” from 19,104 to 30,038, a gain of 57%; “biological and biomedical sciences” from 65,915 to 109,896, a gain of 67%. “Computer sciences and information technologies?” From 54,111 in 2005 to 59,581 in 2015, a paltry 10.1%.

It’s time for the US to use the metric system

Susannah Locke:

The United States actually tried to once before. In the 1970s, there was a big push to switch to metric. But it fizzled out because the legislation wasn’t strong enough. And that failed legislation created a slew of naysayers who think that switching to metric is simply impossible.

But that’s not true. The reasons to go metric are stronger than ever, and it’s time to revive the effort. In our increasingly global economy, America’s bizarre measurement system puts the country at a disadvantage. Popular opinion on the matter seems to be quite positive, and there are some hints of change on the horizon.

Why the metric system is superior

The False Promise of ‘Community’ on Campus

Naomi Schaefer Riley:

“The primary reason we wanted to do this is we really wanted to come together to celebrate Harvard black excellence and brilliance. … This is really an opportunity for students to build fellowship and build a community.”

That was Michael Huggins, president of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance, explaining why the group has organized a separate graduation ceremony for black students this week. There are plenty of reasons to balk at the event — the segregationist tendency, for starters. But there is also reason to wonder why it is that students who have spent four years or more at one of the most comprehensive, most exclusive universities in the country are still struggling to find “fellowship” and “community.”

What know-it-alls don’t know, or the illusion of competence

Kate Fehlhaber:

One day in 1995, a large, heavy middle-aged man robbed two Pittsburgh banks in broad daylight. He didn’t wear a mask or any sort of disguise. And he smiled at surveillance cameras before walking out of each bank. Later that night, police arrested a surprised McArthur Wheeler. When they showed him the surveillance tapes, Wheeler stared in disbelief. ‘But I wore the juice,’ he mumbled. Apparently, Wheeler thought that rubbing lemon juice on his skin would render him invisible to videotape cameras. After all, lemon juice is used as invisible ink so, as long as he didn’t come near a heat source, he should have been completely invisible.

Police concluded that Wheeler was not crazy or on drugs – just incredibly mistaken.

Unattractive People Are Seen As Better Scientists

Discover Magazine:

Good looking, sociable people don’t make good scientists, according to popular stereotypes.
 This is one of the findings of an interesting new study of how scientists are perceived, from British researchers Ana I. Gheorghiu and colleagues.
 Gheorghiu et al. took 616 pictures of scientists, which they downloaded from the faculty pages at various universities. They gave the portraits to two sets of raters. The first group were asked to rate the attractiveness of the portraits and to say whether they appeared competent, intelligent, etc. A second set of raters were asked whether they thought the person pictured was a good scientist.

AFL-CIO Citizens United Brief


The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (“AFL-CIO”), a federation of 56 national and international labor organizations with a total membership of 11 million working men and women, files this brief amicus curiae in support of Appellant with the consent of the parties as pro- vided for in the Rules of this Court.1

As plaintiffs in McConnell v. Federal Election Com- mission, 540 U.S. 93 (2003), the AFL-CIO and its fed- eral political committee (“the AFL-CIO Plaintiffs”) brought a facial First Amendment challenge to § 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (“BCRA”) of 2002, 2 U.S.C. § 441b(b)(2) and (c) (amending the Federal Election Campaign Act (“FECA”), 2 U.S.C. § 431 et seq.), which proscribes union and corporate funding of “electioneering communications.” The AFL-CIO Plaintiffs did so because this provision criminalized the AFL-CIO’s use of the broadcast me- dium as a legislative and policy advocacy tool, falsely characterized substantial labor organization speech on matters of public concern as wholly or substan- tially electoral, and impaired union political partici- pation as a matter of law.

DC is America’s “healthiest city,” but its African Americans are being left behind

Tiffany Browne:

When talking about health disparities in the District, the narrative is usually the same: African American residents in Wards 7 and 8 are either at risk or are greatly impacted by illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, kidney disease and cases of sexually transmitted diseases. These disparities are so well-known, they aren’t even newsworthy any more; it’s almost as if we can no longer see them.

A report by Georgetown University on health disparities in the District found that African American residents are being left behind. For instance, African American residents are six times more likely than white residents to die from diabetes-related complications, and twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease. Despite DC’s rapid economic growth and increasing prosperity, “health outcomes and quality of life indicators for African American residents do not reflect trends of the general population,” the report finds.

UNC’s Reaction To The NCAA: Go To Heel

JD King:

UNC revealed its latest response to the NCAA’s most recent Notice of Allegations and as Luke DeCock details here, it’s more of the same. We’re just going to quote a passage because he sums it up really perfectly and we’re not sure anyone could put it much better:
 “North Carolina’s response to the NCAA’s third Notice of Allegations, released Thursday, makes it clear that the university intends to fight the NCAA’s jurisdiction on every front.
 “That’s the tone UNC took with its response to the second notice, back in August, and its resolve has only sharpened in this one, not only continuing to lodge objections over the NCAA’s ability to even bring the allegations, but going, at times, sentence by sentence to rebut the evidence offered.
 “That’s where the divide continues to fall both inside and outside the halls of the NCAA, between those who believe the scandal at North Carolina had an impact on how competitive its athletic teams were (as the NCAA clearly does, based on the way the allegations were strengthened from the second notice to the third) and those who believe the scandal was merely academic by NCAA standards (as the university continues to posit, an echo of how it hid behind the Martin Report).

The End Of The University

Roger Scruton:

niversities exist to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and culture that will prepare them for life, while enhancing the intellectual capital upon which we all depend. Evidently the two purposes are distinct. One concerns the growth of the individual, the other our shared need for knowledge. But they are also intertwined, so that damage to the one purpose is damage to the other. That is what we are now seeing, as our universities increasingly turn against the culture that created them, withholding it from the young.

The years spent at university belong with the rites of initiation studied by the Victorian anthropologists, in which those born into the tribe assume the burden of perpetuating it. If we lose sight of this, it seems to me, then we are in danger of detaching the university from its social and moral purpose, which is that of handing on both a store of knowledge and the culture that makes sense of it.

Teachers learn to use math as Trojan horse for social justice

Toni Airaksinen:

“Do you ask students to think deeply about global and local social justice issues within your mathematics classroom?” a course overview asks. “This education and teacher training course will help you blend secondary math instruction with topics such as inequity, poverty, and privilege to transform students into global thinkers and mathematicians.”

According to the website, the course can even help students to learn math, because while many aspects of middle- and high-school math “can seem abstract to students,” the developers claim that “setting the mathematics within a specially-developed social justice framework can help students realize the power and meaning of both the data and social justice concerns.”

What Orwell Saw—and What He Missed—About Today’s World

Tom Ricks:

But Orwell likely would have been fascinated about the next step these innovative new corporations took. Nowadays they produce goods that intrude far deeper into private life than ever was done by the titans of 20th century industry. It is not uncommon today to, say, search online for an airfare one day, and the next day to see an advertisement in your Facebook timeline for a bargain on a hotel at the contemplated destination. I’ve had similar advertisements pop up on my computer after searching for an obscure book. The chilling fact is that anyone using the internet is being monitored endlessly by companies eager to sell them more goods. Just as Orwell’s Big Brother conducted personal observation of citizens, so do too these companies—and far more efficiently than did Orwell’s clumsy monster.

Today, data is not only powerful, it also has become hugely profitable. There is a saying in Silicon Valley that there is no such thing as a free app—that is, if you use an app that comes without a cost, then you are the product. Today’s tech companies treat people as resources to be mined and exploited, not unlike, say, coal in the nineteenth century.

Yale’s Notorious Yelp Reviewer Is Now on Leave

Scott Jaschik:

June Chu is a dean of Yale’s Pierson College (a position that involves leadership of a residential college, not an academic deanship). For weeks now, Yale students have been circulating some of her Yelp reviews that denigrated various groups. Her comments frequently didn’t focus on the restaurant she was commenting on, but on groups of people she saw there, on which she offered her criticism. For example, in a much-quoted review of a restaurant (above) she wrote, “If you are white trash, this is the perfect night out for you.” In a review of a movie theater, she praised the “lack of sketchy crowds, despite it being in New Haven.” In a review of another movie theater, she wrote about “barely educated morons trying to manage snack order for the obese ….”

The Yale Daily News, which broke the story, has published a selection of the Yelp reviews here.

When the story first broke, and Chu apologized to her students, Yale seemed to regard the incident as unfortunate, but not necessarily career altering.

As the week went on, however, more and more Yelp reviews by Chu, containing insults, materialized (many of them promptly shared on social media), and Yale’s position changed. (Chu has taken down her Yelp account but is not commenting.)

Facebook and Twitter ‘harm young people’s mental health’

Denis Campbell:

Four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young people’s mental health, with Instagram the most damaging, according to research by two health organisations.

Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing, a survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds found, and the health groups accused it of deepening young people’s feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

The survey, published on Friday, concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful. Among the five only YouTube was judged to have a positive impact.

The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate children’s and young people’s body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, the participants said.

Social media and bullying: how to keep young people safe online
Read more
The findings follow growing concern among politicians, health bodies, doctors, charities and parents about young people suffering harm as a result of sexting, cyberbullying and social media reinforcing feelings of self-loathing and even the risk of them committing suicide.

“It’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing. Both platforms are very image-focused and it appears that they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people,” said Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, which undertook the survey with the Young Health Movement.

She demanded tough measures “to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young people’s mental health and wellbeing”. Social media firms should bring in a pop-up image to warn young people that they have been using it a lot, while Instagram and similar platforms should alert users when photographs of people have been digitally manipulated, Cramer said.

In ‘Enormous Success,’ Scientists Tie 52 Genes to Human Intelligence

Carl Zimmer:

In a significant advance in the study of mental ability, a team of European and American scientists announced on Monday that they had identified 52 genes linked to intelligence in nearly 80,000 people.

These genes do not determine intelligence, however. Their combined influence is minuscule, the researchers said, suggesting that thousands more are likely to be involved and still await discovery. Just as important, intelligence is profoundly shaped by the environment.

Parents And Teachers Say Charter Schools Get These 4 Things Right

Madeleine Deliee:

You’ve probably heard a lot about charter schools lately, but you may not know exactly what they are, or what makes them so popular in some circles—and controversial in others. Now, with the proposed federal budget devoting $500 million in funding to charter expansion across the United States, you’re likely to hear even more about these publicly funded, independently operated campuses. And love them or leave, their unique status affords them the opportunity to function outside the traiditonal educational model. Though they aren’t perfect, charter schools offer a few advantages.

Colleges, Money And Recruiting

R0n Lieber:

In the minds of parents and teenagers going through the college application process, May 1 is a magic date. At that point, you’ll have made your decision, sent in a deposit, bought a sticker for your car window and posted your choice on social media.
This year, however, scores of teenagers had something unexpected happen next: During the first week in May, they received text messages or emails from schools that had accepted them but had not heard back. The messages all hinted at a particular question: Might a little bigger discount prompt you to come here after all?

Hampshire College, Elizabethtown College and Ursinus College all did this sort of outreach in recent weeks, as did Lawrence University — and perhaps many others, though these were the ones I was able to confirm after a week of reporting.

For some students, such a note can be a dream come true if it makes their first-choice college more affordable — even if it means forfeiting a deposit at another school, which typically runs into the hundreds of dollars.

UCLA paying students to fight ‘whiteness,’ ‘patriarchy’

Toni Airaksinen:

The application for the inaugural students asks aspiring Social Justice Advocates to explain their interest in social justice, list their preferred gender pronouns (such as “zi” and “hir”), and describe any experience they have in facilitating workshops on “social justice” issues.

Successful applicants will join the inaugural cohort of 8-10 Social Justice Advocates for the upcoming fall semester, during which time they are expected to commit three hours per week to their duties, which include weekly meetings and crafting presentations.

The program is funded through the Bruin Excellence & Student Transformation Grant Program (BEST), which receives funding from the university’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and from Gold Shield, Alumnae of UCLA.

What surprises do Wisconsin lawmakers have in store for education?

Alan Borsuk:

News of the future! Well, wait, we’ll get to that in a few moments. First, news of the past.

Every two years, the governor and Legislature labor mightily to come up with a new budget for Wisconsin. It’s a great and curious tradition that in the process of doing this, they add in stuff that doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with spending. Those who control the steering wheel and gas on this unwieldly vehicle are sometimes willing to fill it with surprising passengers.

Using the state budget as a vehicle, things like a statewide private school voucher program suddenly have strolled out of the back rooms in the Capitol in Madison in the smallest hours of the morning and — presto! — they’re state law, without any notice, public hearings or meaningful debate. (Yes, this really happened in 2013.)

Why some people are more cautious with their finances than others

The Economist:

RISK has always had a bit of an image problem. It is associated in the popular mind with gamblers, skydivers and, more recently, the overpaid bankers who crippled the global economy. Yet long-term economic growth would be impossible without people willing to wager all they have by starting a business, expanding an existing one or trying to invent a better mousetrap. Such risk-taking has been disturbingly scarce in America of late: the number of self-employed workers, job-creation at start-ups and the sums invested in businesses have been low.

Though changing appetites for risk are central to booms and busts, economists have found it hard to explain their determinants. Instead, they tend to cite John Maynard Keynes’s catchy but uncrunchy talk of “animal spirits”. Recent advances in behavioural economics, however, are changing that.

Millennials and baby boomers have conflicting views on when it’s time to pay your own way

Quentin Fottrell:

Young Americans are constantly told by the media — and, sometimes, their own parents — that they think the world owes them a favor.

Millennials say people should be able to pay for their own housing at 22 years of age, pay for their own car at 20.5 years of age and be responsible for their own cell phone plan at 18.5 years of age, according to a new study from personal-finance site Bankrate.com.

Solving the Mystery of Underachievement

Nick Ehrmann:

Last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed pathbreaking legislation to provide many of the state’s residents with tuition-free enrollment at public community colleges and four-year universities. In the swirl of commentary, which ranged from measured applause to outright skepticism, I could only think about one thing: the life of Travis Hill, a young man I met in the winter of 2000. Bright and conscientious, Travis joined my fourth-grade classroom at Emery Elementary School in the Eckington neighborhood of Washington, D.C., less than two miles north of the U.S. Capitol. He participated consistently in class, rarely missed a day of school, and tried to mask the emotional vacuum created by his father’s murder on the streets of D.C. Over the course of the year, he shared his thoughts with such careful depth that I began calling him “the philosopher.” We stayed in touch, and during his junior year of high school, I watched the same flashes of brilliance layer into his term paper on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter. “The universal truth is we all start out as righteous,” he wrote, “but sometimes we sin to the point of no return.”

Doubling down: Los Angeles’ teachers union in the aftermath of its major election defeat

Sarah Favot and Mike Szymanski:

The teachers union in Los Angeles — one of the largest local teachers unions in the nation — suffered a huge loss in last week’s school board election, but observers say it will only cause union leadership to fight harder.

Ultimately, that could mean United Teachers Los Angeles will bolster efforts to unionize charter school teachers and might move to strike as it fights for a new contract.

“Normally a setback of this magnitude would result in retrenching, or at least re-evaluation,” said union watcher and writer Mike Antonucci. “It may instead lead to redoubling. Now that they have lost, they will use the defeat as evidence of the danger posed by their opponents, and so the fight must continue, and in fact, escalate.”
Antonucci predicted there is little chance of a quick settlement of its union contract negotiations, which have already begun, and that a strike is “very likely.”

“I don’t think it causes the union to pull back. Sometimes when you’re kind of in a corner, you get tougher,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA.

Beyond just promise, CRISPR is delivering in the lab today

the conversation:

There’s a revolution happening in biology, and its name is CRISPR.

CRISPR (pronounced “crisper”) is a powerful technique for editing DNA. It has received an enormous amount of attention in the scientific and popular press, largely based on the promise of what this powerful gene editing technology will someday do.

CRISPR was Science magazine’s 2015 Breakthrough of the Year; it’s been featured prominently in the New Yorker more than once; and The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Jennifer Lopez will be the executive producer on an upcoming CRISPR-themed NBC bio-crime drama. Not bad for a molecular biology laboratory technique.

Household Debt Reaches New Peak Driven by Gains in Mortgage, Auto, and Student Debt

New York Fed:

The CMD’s latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit reveals that total household debt achieved a new peak in the first quarter of 2017, rising by $149 billion to $12.73 trillion—$50 billion above the previous peak reached in the third quarter of 2008. Balances climbed in several areas: mortgages, 1.7 percent; auto loans, 0.9 percent; and student loans, 2.6 percent. Credit card balances fell 1.9 percent this quarter.

Google starts tracking offline shopping — what you buy at stores in person

Associated Press:

Google already monitors online shopping — but now it’s also keeping an eye on what people buy in physical stores as it tries to sell more digital advertising.

The Internet giant said Tuesday that a new tool will track how much money people spend in merchants’ bricks-and-mortar stores after clicking on their digital ads.

The analysis will be done by matching the combined ad clicks of people who are logged into Google services with their collective purchases on credit and debit cards. Google says it won’t be able to examine the specific items bought or how much a specific individual spent.

But even aggregated data can sometimes be converted back to data that can identify individuals, said Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute privacy research firm.

Universal health care cost in California $400 billion a year

Angela Hart:

The price tag is in: It would cost $400 billion to remake California’s health insurance marketplace and create a publicly funded universal heath care system, according to a state financial analysis released Monday.
 California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called “single-payer” system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag.
 The cost analysis is seen as the biggest hurdle to creating a universal system, proposed by Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

Why American College Campuses Were Built to Get Students Out of Cities

Steve Diner:

In 1883, Charles F. Thwing, a minister with deep interest in higher education, published a study of American colleges. In his chapter 3, entitled “Morals,” he asserted that a significant number of city-bred college students “are immoral on their entering college” because the city environment has “for many of them been excellent preparatory schools for Sophomoric dissipation” and “even home influences . . . have failed to outweigh the evil attractions of the gambling table and its accessories.” In contrast, students from rural settings have been deeply elevated by “not only the purity of the student’s home but the associations of his country life.” Moreover, he explained, the higher rates of immorality among students in colleges “located in or near cities” reflected “the character and surroundings of the colleges.”

RFP 15196 – Educational Oversight of City of Milwaukee Charter Schools

City of Milwaukee:

For this RFP, the City of Milwaukee is using a Bonfire portal for accepting and evaluating proposals digitally.

All required documents are available for download on the Bonfire portal.

Your submission must be uploaded, submitted, and finalized prior to the Closing Time of May 30, 2017 at 2:00 PM CST. We strongly recommend that you give yourself sufficient time and at least ONE (1) hour before Closing Time to begin the uploading process and to finalize your submission.

Black Graduates Do Themselves And Americans No Favors By Booing Betsy DeVos

Justin McClinton:

After the protesting students, who the school administration numbers at approximately 20, 13 of whom were escorted out of the ceremony, met public criticism for their behavior, more than 200 black university professors signed a public letter supporting their actions.

“The world watched you protest the speaker you never should have had,” the letter says. “We cheered as we saw so many of you refuse to acquiesce in the face of threats and calls for complicity. Your actions fit within a long tradition of Black people fighting back against those who attack our institutions and our very lives with their anti-Black policies and anglo-normative practices. Betsy DeVos’ commitment to dismantling public education and her egregious framing of historically Black colleges and universities as ‘pioneers’ in school choice are just two examples of why she should never have been invited to speak at an event celebrating Black excellence.”

Wrong. It does not matter what your opinion is of Betsy DeVos, booing her during a speech is disrespectful. There has always been a trickle-down from predominantly white colleges to historically black colleges. The worse of these has been a blatant contempt for people who represent contrasting viewpoints.

Immigrant rises to top of graduating class El Salvador native credits family, dual language classes for path to success

Shelby Webb:

The price of Sofia Alfaro’s future was a 1994 Chevrolet Camaro.

Her stepfather sold the car when Sofia was 5, paying for safe passage from her native El Salvador to the United States. But that journey led to another – her years-long struggle to learn English and adapt to a new country. She fell a grade level behind her peers due to her limited English skills and was sent to an alternative school – not for bad behavior but to catch up.

Counted out


About this time every year, roughly 5,000 North Carolina 8-year-olds show they’re ready to shine. Despite the obstacles of poverty that hobble so many of their classmates, these third graders from low-income families take their first state exams and score at the top level in math.

With a proper push and support at school, these children could become scientists, engineers and innovators. They offer hope for lifting families out of poverty and making the state more competitive in a high-tech world.

But many of them aren’t getting that opportunity, an investigation by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer reveals. Thousands of low-income children who get “superior” marks on end-of-grade tests aren’t getting an equal shot at advanced classes designed to challenge gifted students.

As they start fourth grade, bright children from low-income families are much more likely to be excluded from the more rigorous classes than their peers from families with higher incomes, the analysis shows. The unequal treatment during the six years ending in 2015 resulted in 9,000 low-income children in North Carolina being counted out of classes that could have opened a new academic world to them.

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

A Heretic at Duke Divinity School

Peter Berkowitz:

The campaign against free speech on American campuses rolls on, steadily decreasing the domain of permissible ideas. But the case of Paul Griffiths, a professor at Duke Divinity School, is something new. The defense of liberty of thought and discussion itself has been transformed into a career-ending transgression.

The case was brought to light in late April when Rod Dreher of the American Conservative published a series of email exchanges. It started Feb. 6, when Anathea Portier-Young, another Divinity School professor, distributed a facultywide email. “On behalf of the Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Standing Committee,” she wrote, “I strongly urge you to participate in the Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training planned for March 4 and 5.” Ms. Portier-Young promised colleagues that the weekend program would be “transformative, powerful, and life-changing.”

Ms. Portier-Young, an Old Testament scholar with expertise in “constructions of identity, gender, and ethnicity, and traditions of violence and nonviolence,” approvingly quoted the Racial Equity Institute’s guiding ideas: “‘Racism is a fierce, ever-present, challenging force, one which has structured the thinking, behavior, and actions of individuals and institutions since the beginning of U.S. history.’ ” She also included the institute’s call to political action: “ ‘To understand racism and effectively begin dismantling it requires an equally fierce, consistent, and committed effort.’ ”

Asians With “Very Familiar Profiles”: How Princeton’s Admissions Officers Talk About Race

A trove of documents created during a federal investigation into Princeton University offers an unprecedented glimpse at how elite college admissions officers talk about race.

Outsiders have long debated how the secretive Ivy League admissions system considers the race of its applicants. Within the schools, such discussions form one of the most closely guarded elements of a process that has remained remarkably opaque for decades.

But documents obtained by BuzzFeed News show Princeton’s admissions officers repeatedly wrote of Asian applicants as being difficult to differentiate, referring to them dismissively as having “very familiar profiles,” calling them “standard premeds,” or “difficult to pluck out.” The comments were noted by civil rights investigators at the Education Department as they probed allegations of racial bias in the school’s admissions system.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Why Some U.S. Cities Are So Much More Productive Than Others

Mark Muro & Joseph Parilla:

So here’s another gap that bears examination: the city productivity gap. Labor productivity matters because productivity influences living standards. So while the pundits are right to debate the facts and causes of slowing productivity growth at the national level, they would do well also to explore the local dimension of the problem. After all, while many of the proposed causes of malaise—less competition in industries and fewer technological breakthroughs among others—remain national, many of them may be distinctly local.

Which is why we recently took a look at the limited accessible data and roughed out a preliminary analysis of city-by-city labor productivity—the amount of goods and services produced per worker.

Wondering What Happened to Your Class Valedictorian? Not Much, Research Shows

Eric Barker:

What becomes of high school valedictorians? It’s what every parent wishes their teenager to be. Mom says study hard and you’ll do well. And very often Mom is right.

But not always.

Karen Arnold, a researcher at Boston College, followed 81 high school valedictorians and salutatorians from graduation onward to see what becomes of those who lead the academic pack. Of the 95 percent who went on to graduate college, their average GPA was 3.6, and by 1994, 60 percent had received a graduate degree. There was little debate that high school success predicted college success. Nearly 90 percent are now in professional careers with 40 percent in the highest tier jobs. They are reliable, consistent, and well-adjusted, and by all measures the majority have good lives.

A University That Prioritizes the Students Who Are Often Ignored

Meredith Kolodner:

NEWARK, N.J.—Protests focused on entrenched racism rocked campuses around the country this year. Many top colleges enroll small numbers of black students, and the four-year college graduation rate for black students is half that of whites.

In response, many admissions officers have been scouring the country—and the globe—to attract “qualified” black and brown students, striving to meet diversity targets while avoiding students they consider “at risk” of dropping out.

But a growing group of colleges and universities think that the calculation for who is “at risk” is fundamentally wrong. They not only accept students often turned away by other four-year universities, but also aggressively recruit them, believing that their academic potential has been vastly underrated.

More Colleges, Universities Join Scholarship Platform to Fund Good Students

Sri Ravipati:

An online fundraising platform that has helped high schoolers raise more than $1 billion in scholarships for college is growing its community of academic institution partners. The University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Washington University in St. Louis, Harvey Mudd College and Grinnell College are all part of the newest cohort of campuses to join Raise.me.

The platform rewards good students for their hard work: Starting from grade 9, students can input their achievements (class grades, clubs, sports, etc.) to earn “micro-scholarships” from colleges on Raise.me. Different academic institutions award different amounts for the same achievement. So, U Penn could reward a student $150 for earning an “A” in algebra, while Grinnell could offer $100, for example. Micro-scholarships typically range from $100 to $3,000 and can be redeemed once a student is admitted by a partner college.

Harvard student submits rap album as his senior thesis

Collin Binkley:

While other Harvard University students were writing papers for their senior theses, Obasi Shaw was busy rapping his.

Shaw is the first student in Harvard’s history to submit a rap album as a senior thesis in the English Department, the university said. The album, called “Liminal Minds,” has earned the equivalent of an A-minus grade, good enough to guarantee that Shaw will graduate with honors next week.

Count Shaw among those most surprised by the success.

Amazon made a small change to the way it sells books. Publishers are terrified.

Constance Grady:

It used to be that when you were shopping for a new copy of a book and clicked “Add to Cart,” you were buying the book from Amazon itself. Amazon, in turn, had bought the book from its publisher or its publisher’s wholesalers, just like if you went to any other bookstore selling new copies of books. There was a clear supply chain that sent your money directly into the pockets of the people who wrote and published the book you were buying.

But now, reports the Huffington Post, that’s no longer the default scenario. Now you might be buying the book from Amazon, or you might be buying it from a third-party seller. And there’s no guarantee that if the latter is true, said third-party seller bought the book from the publisher. In fact, it’s most likely they didn’t.

Recent College Grad? Chances Are You’re in Sales, Making $38,000

Polly Mosendz:

Sales associate positions are the most common jobs for recent U.S. college graduates, a new study from the career website Glassdoor Inc. found. The jobs, which range from real estate sales to retail, have a median base salary of $38,000 a year, the study found.

A variety of assistant positions in research, teaching, and administration, all relatively low-paying, were also cited as common. The highest-paying job on Glassdoor’s list was software engineer, at a median base salary of $90,000, followed by engineer, at $70,500, and financial analyst, at $64,453. The lowest-paying job was teaching assistant, at $20,000. Substitute teachers earned a bit more, at $25,000, with tutors bringing in $36,000.

Two experts debate whether public funds should be used to support private school vouchers

Michael J. Petrilli, Richard D. Kahlenberg, and Kyle Spencer:

Rick doesn’t believe that kids should be forced to attend the school their district assigns to them, usually the one closest to their house, or that private schools should be illegal. I don’t believe that tax dollars should flow to schools without any accountability for results. We both believe in school choice—in allowing kids to choose publicly funded schools beyond their neighborhood public school. The question is how wide those choices should be, especially for families too poor to pay private school tuition, and what the conditions on the schools should be.

Rick supports public school choice, in part as a way to allow poor kids to attend more affluent public schools, and thus further the cause of integration. Same with charter schools. He’s also OK with magnet schools, even though they are selective, and thus don’t take all students. But he draws the line at private schools. Why? It can’t be because of accountability; states like Indiana and Louisiana have demonstrated that it’s possible to have voucher programs that are held accountable for student achievement. If private schools in those states don’t make enough progress with voucher participants, they get kicked out of the program.

Curated Education Information