Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends report highlights China’s short-form videos and super apps

Catherine Shu, Rita Liao:

This year’s edition of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report, released earlier today, once again included a section on China prepared by Hillhouse Capital. There are now 3.8 billion Internet users globally, more than half of the world’s population, but growth is slowing (as demonstrated by declining smartphone shipments). Internet leaders in China can continue helping companies in other countries find ways to engage their users, the way WeChat launched features, including mini-programs and e-commerce, that are now ubiquitous in messaging and social media apps around the world.

China has the most internet users in the world, about 800,000,000 or 21% of the world’s total internet users (it is followed by India, the United States and Indonesia). Chinese companies took seven of the top 30 spots for internet market cap leaders: Alibaba, Tencent, Meituan Dianping,, Baidu, NetEase and Xiaomi—stable, just one less than one year.

Oberlin’s Trial Loss and Legacy Media Coverage Commentary

Ann Althouse:

This is a story about the seriousness of damage caused by free-swinging attacks, so you might want to rein it in. Notice the students were concerned about “systemic racism” and their tone isn’t characterized nastily, but they were involved in causing harm that the jury soberly examined and found deserving of a $33 million punitive damages award. And conservatives are casually smeared, made to look like they get on social media and jeer and name-call.

Senior Chinese law researcher target of PhD plagiarism claims

Laurie Chen:

University of Political Science and Law says it will treat the allegations against Li Shichun seriously. Photo: Handout
China University of Political Science and Law says it will treat the allegations against Li Shichun seriously. Photo: Handout

A Chinese university has promised to treat seriously claims that a senior figure in the country’s peak body for legal professionals lifted sections of his doctoral dissertation from academic journals, according to a Chinese media report.

The plagiarism claims against Li Shichun, head of the China Law Society’s legal information department, first surfaced online, Shanghai-based news outlet reported on Tuesday.

The doctorate was awarded by the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing in 2002, and the news site said it confirmed that entire sections of the dissertation “Study on the Procedures of Preserving Civil Matters”, were directly copied from the 1995 editions of two law journals, Legal Commentary and the Annual of China Maritime Law, as well as another 1997 sociology paper published in the Ocean University of China’s journal.

I BabySit for the One Percent

Margaret Grace Myers:

“It’s like Uber, for babysitting,” is something that sounds vaguely like a joke and is one of the ways that I make rent every month. This could be an essay about the horrors of the gig economy and how you can have two master’s degrees and a full-time job and still not quite enough to comfortably afford groceries and buy a new sweater every once and while, but I’ll spare you. I used to be a full-time nanny, and when I transitioned out of that job into a part-time one (and, eventually, a full-time one), I found myself dabbling in the world of babysitting apps, of which there are a few in New York. Now, a few times a week, my phone pings with notifications for booking requests, which I frequently accept, trekking all up and down Manhattan and, if I’m lucky, closer to home in Brooklyn.

The people who hire me to babysit have enough disposable income to book me on a whim, sometimes with only a few hours’ notice. Usually I am greeted by a beautiful mom who has mastered the art of styling her hair. She gestures toward a monitor and shows me where the remote is before quickly absconding with her partner (equally as beautiful, these men with the expensive watches) and returning a few hours later in the dark. “Everything go okay?” they ask as I put my shoes on. In the elevator, I confirm on the app that the job is over and edit the end time if I need to, which is often. (“Take your time!” I say cheerfully as they leave, hoping for a bigger payment and to pocket the cab fare that gets added automatically past 11 p.m.) A few days later, a small sum — I make between $17–21 an hour, depending on how many kids are present — shows up in my Venmo account, and I spend it on lunches the following week.

The surprising benefits of talking to strangers

Nicholas Epley & Juliana Schroeder:

Two women talking on the tubeImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Most people spend part of every day surrounded by strangers, whether on their daily commute, sitting in a park or cafe, or visiting the supermarket.
Yet many of us remain in self-imposed isolation, believing that reaching out to a stranger would make you both feel uncomfortable.
These beliefs may be unwarranted. In fact, our research suggests we may often underestimate the positive impact of connecting with others for both our own and others’ wellbeing.
For example, having a conversation with a stranger on your way to work may leave you both feeling happier than you would think.
We asked bus and train commuters in Chicago how they would feel about striking up a conversation on their morning commute, compared to sitting in solitude or doing whatever they normally do. Most thought that talking would lead to the least pleasant commute.

Back Row America

David Azerrad:

The Back Row is Arnade’s name for the parts of the country that are poor and “rarely considered or talked about beyond being a place of problems.” Some are black, some are white; some rural, some urban. All are populated by those who could not or would not leave their dying neighborhoods in pursuit of the American Dream (as defined by those in the Front Row among whom Arnade used to live).
Today, they are stuck “living in a banal world of hyperefficient fast-food franchises, strip malls, discount stores, and government buildings with flickering fluorescent lights and dreary-colored walls festooned with rules. They are left with a world where their sense of home and family and community won’t get them anywhere, won’t pay the bills. And with a world where their jobs are disappearing.”
In retelling their stories, Arnade lets his subjects speak for themselves. The book is mostly composed of excerpts from the conversations he had with those stuck in the Back Row, along with numerous photographic portraits: some quite haunting, others quite touching. Dignity will make a powerful impression on all those who read it.
We meet Takeesha, a drug-addicted prostitute who lives with her husband Steve, who is sober, on the streets of Hunts Point in the South Bronx. In Bakersfield, California, we meet Jeanette, the daughter of Mexican immigrants who lives and preaches at the Full Gospel Lighthouse Church to a Hispanic congregation. In the parking lot of the Walmart in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, we meet Paul, who supplements his disability benefits by doing lawn work and proudly flies a Confederate flag on the back of his truck. We meet Henry, 84, and Winston, 79, two retired African Americans who migrated north from the Mississippi Delta as young men and today spend their days at the McDonald’s in Milwaukee’s North Side.
It is hard to see what unites such different and diverse people. In Arnade’s Back Row, one finds prostitutes, drug addicts, ghetto thugs, but also retirees, Somali immigrants, hard-working people, and churchgoers. What they all have in common, according to Arnade, is “a sense of having been left behind, of being forgotten—or, even worse, of being mocked and stigmatized by members of the world who are moving on and up with the GDP.”
Later in the book, he puts it even more poignantly: “Much of the back row of America, both white and black, is humiliated.” They either directly feel the contempt of the Front Row if they are white (the elites being too reverential vis-à-vis minorities ever to directly criticize them), or they clearly see that the things they hold dear are viewed with contempt by those running the country. As Angelo Codevilla already observed in The Ruling Class, the “dismissal of the American people’s intellectual, spiritual, and moral substance is the very heart of what our ruling class is about.”
Those in the Back Row ultimately do not share the values of those in the Front Row, namely “getting more education and owning more stuff.” They are not obsessed with economic growth, credentials, and upward mobility. The rat race doesn’t appeal to them.

Civics: US efforts to jail Assange for espionage are a grave threat to a free media


Was it in the public interest that the world should have eventually seen the raw footage of what happened? You bet. Was it acutely embarrassing for the US military and government? Of course. Was the act of revelation espionage or journalism? You know the answer.

We have two people to thank for us knowing the truth about how those Reuters employees died, along with 10 others who ended up in the crosshairs of the laughing pilots that day: Chelsea Manning, who leaked it, and Julian Assange, who published it. But the price of their actions has been considerable. Manning spent seven years in jail for her part in releasing that video, along with a huge amount of other classified material she was able to access as an intelligence analyst in the US army. Assange has been indicted on 17 new counts of violating the Espionage Act, with the prospect that he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

As editor of the Guardian, I worked with Assange when we jointly (along with newspapers in the US and Europe) published other material Manning had leaked. Vanity Fair called the resultant stories “one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years… they have changed the way people think about how the world is run”. The stories were, indeed, significant – but the relationship with Assange was fraught. We fell out, as most people eventually do with Assange. I found him mercurial, untrustworthy and dislikable: he wasn’t keen on me, either. All the collaborating editors disapproved of him releasing unredacted material from the Manning trove in September 2011. Nevertheless, I find the Trump administration’s use of the Espionage Act against him profoundly disturbing.

Much ado about nothing: ancient Indian text contains earliest zero symbol

Hannah Devlin:

Nowt, nada, zilch: there is nothing new about nothingness. But the moment that the absence of stuff became zero, a number in its own right, is regarded as one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of mathematics.

Now scientists have traced the origins of this conceptual leap to an ancient Indian text, known as the Bakhshali manuscript – a text which has been housed in the UK since 1902.

Radiocarbon dating reveals the fragmentary text, which is inscribed on 70 pieces of birch bark and contains hundreds of zeroes, dates to as early as the 3rd or 4th century – about 500 years older than scholars previously believed. This makes it the world’s oldest recorded origin of the zero symbol that we use today.

A Duke study recorded thousands of students’ faces. Now they’re being used all over the world

Jake Satisky:

t was a gloomy day in March 2014. Thousands of students were walking around campus, going to and from their classes, minding their own business.

What they might not have known is that on this particular day, Duke researchers were recording them and putting their likenesses into a data set. This data set would be placed on a public website, and it would be downloaded by academics, security contractors and military researchers around the globe.

Squeezed by declining enrollment, Arizona’s rural schools are suffering

Lily Altavena :

The schools, specks on the map, are monuments to Arizona’s history.

Inside sits Arizona’s future.

But in most of Arizona’s rural counties, the public school systems are increasingly strained. The education funding crisis in Arizona schools highlighted by last year’s #RedForEd teacher protests is compounded in rural schools.

Ten Arizona counties, encompassing many of the state’s rural areas, have together lost more than 10,000 students in the past decade while Maricopa County’s student population has risen by more than 70,000, according to enrollment data.

Fewer students means less money for schools, limiting students’ educational opportunities and making it more difficult to recruit and pay qualified teachers. And unlike in suburban districts, rural communities can’t easily offset state funding losses with local taxes.

Leading Hong Kong teachers’ union calls for class boycott after clashes over extradition bill

Kanis Leung:

A leading union has called on Hong Kong teachers to skip classes for the rest of the week after street clashes between police and residents protesting the government’s extradition bill.

The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU), the city’s biggest pro-democracy union for educators, announced it would boycott classes on Thursday and Friday.

The union condemned the government for pushing forward the legal amendments by all means, and the Legislative Council’s president for cooperating with officials.

COMMENTARY on schools and inequalitY

Nick Hanauer:

A major theme in the educationist narrative involves the “skills gap”—the notion that decades of wage stagnation are largely a consequence of workers not having the education and skills to fill new high-wage jobs. If we improve our public schools, the thinking goes, and we increase the percentage of students attaining higher levels of education, particularly in the STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—the skills gap will shrink, wages will rise, and income inequality will fall.

Turning Rights Into Reality: How Guardianship and Alternatives Impact the Autonomy of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

National Council on Disability:

NCD undertook this report to increase the understanding of guardianship and its impact on the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) and their families. In this report, NCD examines why people with ID/DD are at increased risk for becoming subject to guardianship as adults, and how that impacts their ability to benefit from civil rights laws aimed at advancing the self-determination and opportunities available to people with ID/DD, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Developmental Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The report examines how people with ID/DD are treated differently than other adults who are the subjects of guardianship proceedings, including in several states that have separate guardianship laws for people with ID/DD. The findings and recommendations are based on the available data on guardianship for people with ID/DD, an in-depth examination of the experiences of individuals with ID/DD in Washington, DC, and information collected directly from stakeholders across the nation.

Persuade or Be Persuaded

Agnes Callard:

For the first time in my decade of teaching at the University of Chicago, I have encountered resistance to a proposed university event on account of content. I was told I should check with higher ups. I was told that this is not the right time to have this conversation, because tensions are high. “The strike is the conversation.” What if I am perceived as discouraging union activity? What if that sours my relations with graduate students? What if it tarnishes the name of my event series?

I am lucky enough to work in one of the most intellectually open places the world has ever known. The pressures are not strong enough to stop me from holding my event. But they are there. The dark secret of un-Socratic civility is that it cannot avoid holding force in reserve. The force may be physical; it may involve damaging rhetoric; it may involve leveraging social pressures to exclude an undesirable viewpoint. One way or another, we stop listening.

Un-Socratic civility is sunshine and smiles until it isn’t. It threatens to plunge us into darkness as soon as we decide “this time, it actually matters.” For all its relentless, aggressive intrusiveness, Socratic civility does have the virtue of refusing to allow our violent impulses extraconversational expression.

Socrates wouldn’t respect the point of view of the protesters outside his window. He would want to know who is right and who is wrong, and he wouldn’t stop talking to them until the difference between points of view was obliterated. Persuade or be persuaded.

Civics: In the dying minutes of the Obama administration’s final term, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed from its website a collection of almost 200 speeches and testimonies

Sarah John:

In the dying minutes of the Obama administration’s final term, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed from its website a collection of almost 200 speeches and testimonies delivered by agency leadership dating back to 2004. With a couple of clicks of a mouse, access to a federal government web resource containing 12 years of primary source materials on ICE’s history was lost. In our most recent report, the Web Integrity Project (WIP) documents the removal of this collection.

As our report details, a collection of 190 transcripts of speeches and testimonies hosted on the ICE website’s “Speeches and Testimonies” page was removed between the early afternoon of January 18 and late evening on January 19, 2017. (Compare the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine captures from January 18, 2017 and on January 19, 2017.) The transcripts were of speeches and testimony delivered between 2004 and 2017 by high-ranking ICE officials, including the director of the agency and directors of ICE sub-units. Most contained prepared remarks submitted to congressional committees, often on controversial topics like the standard of medical treatment for detainees, treatment of unaccompanied children, sanctuary cities, drug trafficking, and E-Verify.

Testimony from Thomas Homan, who was appointed Acting Director of ICE by President Trump soon after inauguration in January 2017, featured prominently in the removed collection. In one removed transcript — a February 2016 statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the “Unaccompanied Children Crisis” — then-Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations Homan detailed how ICE contracted out to “effectuate” the transportation of “UC” and enumerated the “important steps” that the administration had taken to “deter illegal immigration.” In another removed transcript from May 2016, Homan detailed how local jurisdictions “limiting or declining cooperation with ICE” put “the public at risk.” It is not inconceivable that an outgoing Democratic administration might want to avoid preserving these public stances for future scrutiny.

Among the removed transcripts with less controversial content, then-Assistant Secretary, Michael Garcia, purports to quote Ricky Martin at a 2004 United Nations luncheon regarding Child Sex Tourism. Another contains the remarks of then-Director, John Morton, at the funeral of Special Agent Jaime J. Zapata. While less politically salient, these transcripts are important pieces of ICE’s history.

She was rejected by 13 colleges and blames her elite DC prep school. She wants the Supreme Court to hear her case

Caroline Kelly:

Applying to college can make any high school senior feel like he or she is pleading a case before a judge and jury — but one former Washington, DC, prep school student is trying to get her college woes heard by the Supreme Court.

Dayo Adetu and her parents, Titilayo and Nike Adetu, say that the private Sidwell Friends School — the elite school attended by a who’s who of Beltway families, including presidential daughters Sasha and Malia Obama and Chelsea Clinton as well as former Vice President Joe Biden’s granddaughter Maisy — breached a settlement with the family after it allegedly discriminated against Adetu, an African-American, in the grades she received while in high school and then in materials Sidwell submitted as she applied to colleges.

“Sidwell has long been perceived as a ‘feeder-school’ to Ivy League institutions and other top universities,” the Adetus wrote in their appeal to the Supreme Court. Adetu, however, was not immediately accepted by any university.
The court is scheduled to consider whether to take up the case, along with scores of other petitions, at their private conference on Thursday.

The pressurized world of admissions to top-tier colleges has been a national focus recently following the sprawling scam that has implicated wealthy parents, Hollywood celebrities and college coaches, resulting in several guilty pleas.

How I Taught My Kid to Read: Children can learn quickly by sounding out words, letter by letter—but somehow, the method is still controversial.

John McWhorter:

Now that it’s summer, I have a suggestion for how parents can grant their wee kiddies the magic of reading by Labor Day: Pick up Siegfried Engelmann’s Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. My wife and I used it a while ago with our then-4-year-old daughter, and after a mere 20 cozy minutes a night, a little girl who on Memorial Day could recognize on paper only the words no and stop and the names of herself and her family members could, by the time the leaves turned, read simple books.

My wife and I are not unusually diligent teachers. The book worked by, quite simply, showing our daughter, bit by bit, how to sound out the words. That’s it. And yet in the education world, Engelmann’s technique is considered controversial.

Engelmann’s book, which he co-wrote with Phyllis Haddox and Elaine Bruner, was first published in the early 1980s, but it was based on work from the late 1960s. That’s when Engelmann was involved in the government-sponsored Project Follow Through, whose summary report compared nine methods for how to teach reading and tracked results on 75,000 children from kindergarten through third grade. The results, though some critics over the years have rejected them on methodological grounds, were clear: The approach that proved most effective was based on phonics—teaching children how to sound words out, letter by letter, rather than encouraging students to recognize words as single chunks, also called the whole-word system. Specifically, the most successful approach supplemented basic phonics with a tightly scripted format emphasizing repetition and student participation, often dubbed “direct instruction.” As I have previously explained for NPR, the results were especially impressive among poor children, including black ones.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Jenny Peek dives in.

This, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

Civics: Large Tech/SoCial platform cEnsorship

Deanna Fisher:

What has been incremental, is now moving faster. Tech company platforms like Google (which owns YouTube) and Pinterest are engaging in outright censorship by banning content that they don’t like.

This is a move from the “platform” stance to the “publisher” stance, which actually will create a lot more problems for the tech giants in the future, as they could be held liable for whatever content appears on their websites, if they continue on with this shift. Google CEO Sundar Pichai made this very clear in a new interview. First Alex Jones (because no one likes him), then Steven Crowder (who some people don’t like), and then whoever else they want.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use these services, including Google and Facebook.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Economic stress and demographic change are weakening a symbiotic relationship


OF LATE THE world’s older democracies have begun to look more vulnerable than venerable. America seems destined for a constitutional showdown between the executive and the legislature. Brexit has mired Britain in a constitutional morass of its own. Such troubles could be mistaken for a comeuppance. In recent years political economists have argued that rising inequality in the Anglo-American world must eventually threaten the foundations of democracy; a book on the theme by Thomas Piketty, a French economist, has sold well over a million copies. That argument channels a time-worn view, held by thinkers from Karl Marx to Friedrich Hayek, that democracy and capitalism may prove incompatible.

As powerfully as such arguments are made, the past century or so tells a different story. The club of rich democracies is not easy to join, but those who get in tend to stay there. Since the dawn of industrialisation, no advanced capitalist democracy has fallen out of the ranks of high-income countries or regressed permanently into authoritarianism. This is not a coincidence, say Torben Iversen of Harvard University and David Soskice of the London School of Economics, in their recent book, “Democracy and Prosperity”. Rather, they write, in advanced economies democracy and capitalism tend to reinforce each other. It is a reassuring message, but one that will face severe tests in years to come.

Civics: Social media details required for US visa


It’s expected that this new measure will affect approximately 14,7 million people annually who travel to the USA. However, some diplomatic and official visa applicants will be excluded from having to submit their social media usernames, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers.

Before this new measure was implemented, only those people applying for American VISAs who needed additional vetting – such as people who had been to parts of the world controlled by terrorist groups – were required to submit such information. Now, everyone applying for a VISA to the USA has to volunteer their social media details.

We Read 150 Privacy Policies. They Were an Incomprehensible Disaster

Kevin Litman-Navarro:

In the background here are several privacy policies from major tech and media platforms. Like most privacy policies, they’re verbose and full of legal jargon — and opaquely establish companies’ justifications for collecting and selling your data. The data market has become the engine of the internet, and these privacy policies we agree to but don’t fully understand help fuel it.

Maine Governor Signs Strictest Internet Protections in the U.S.


Maine Internet service providers will face the strictest consumer privacy protections in the nation under a bill signed Thursday by Gov. Janet Mills, but the new law will almost certainly be challenged in court.

Several technology and communication trade groups warned in testimony before the Legislature that the measure may be in conflict with federal law and would likely be the subject of legal action.

The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2020, would require providers to ask for permission before they sell or share any of their customers’ data to a third party. The law would also apply to telecommunications companies that provide access to the Internet via their cellular networks.

“The Internet is a powerful tool, and as it becomes increasingly intertwined with our lives, it is appropriate to take steps to protect the personal information and privacy of Maine people,” Mills said after signing the bill into law. “With this common-sense law, Maine people can access the Internet with the knowledge and comfort that their personal information cannot be bought or sold by their ISPs without their express approval.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: federal Taxpayer aid programs to the states high in transaction costs, covering State Waste

Chris Edwards:

The federal government has a large presence in state and local policy activities such as education, housing, and transportation. That presence is facilitated by “grants-in-aid” programs, which are subsidies to state and local governments accompanied by top-down regulations.

Federal aid spending was $697 billion in 2018, which was distributed through an estimated 1,386 separate programs. The number of programs has tripled since the 1980s, indicating that the scope of federal activities has expanded as spending has grown.

Rather than being a positive feature of American federalism, the aid system produces irresponsible policymaking. It encourages excessive and misallocated spending. It reduces accountability for failures while generating costly bureaucracy and regulations. And it stifles policy diversity and undermines democratic control.

Cutting federal aid would reduce federal budget deficits, but more importantly it would improve the performance of federal, state, and local governments. The idea that federal experts can efficiently solve local problems with rule-laden subsidy programs is misguided. Decades of experience in many policy areas show that federal aid often produces harmful results and displaces state, local, and private policy solutions.

Civics: Elites above the Law

Victor Davis Hanson:

We are told, however, that the FBI’s culture and institutions are exempt from the widespread wrongdoing at the top. Such caution is a fine and fitting thing, given the FBI’s more than a century of public service. Nonetheless, many of those caught up in the controversies over the Russian-collusion hoax were not recent career appointees. Rather, many came up through the ranks of the FBI. And that raises the question, for example, of where exactly Peter Strzok (22 years in the FBI) learned that he had a right to interfere in a U.S. election to damage a candidate that he opposed.

And why would an Andrew McCabe (over 21 years in the FBI) think he had the duty to formulate an “insurance policy” to take out a presidential candidate? Or why would he even consider overseeing an FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s improper use of emails when his wife had been a recent recipient of Clinton-related PAC money? And why would McCabe contemplate leaking confidential FBI information to the press or even dream of setting up some sort of operation to remove a sitting president under the 25th Amendment? And how did someone like the old FBI vet Peter Strozk ever end up at the center of the entire mess — opening up the snooping on the Trump campaign while hiding that fact and while briefing the candidate on Russian interference in the election, interviewing Michael Flynn, preening as a top FBI investigator for Robert Mueller’s dream team, right-hand man of “Andy” McCabe, convincing Comey to change the wording of his writ in the Clinton-email-scandal investigation, softball coddling of Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, instrumental in the Papadopoulos investigation con — all the while conducting an affair with fellow FBI investigator and attorney Lisa Page and bragging about his assurance that the supposedly odious Trump would be prevented from being elected. If a group of Trump zealots were to call up the FBI tomorrow and allege that a member of Joe Biden’s family has had unethical ties with the Ukrainian or Chinese government, would that gambit “alarm” the FBI enough to prompt an investigation of Biden and his campaign? How many career-professional Peter Strozks are still at the agency?

Historical Map of (the) Cognitive Science(s)

Anna Riedl:

This map is a macroscopic, historical, trans-disciplinary introduction to (the) cognitive science(s).

Moving from left to right, the map is read in a roughly historical fashion, but not literally, as we are compressing a n-dimensional intellectual space into a two dimensional map grid.

Unfortunately there is no way to generate an educational map that has everyone and everything on it. As such, there is always someone who should be on the map who is not.

The attempt of abstracting from reality always asks the question of (the most) relevance, in this case primarily to an beginner audience and especially students of the MEi:CogSci programme.

Let’s publish everything.


This claim is situated in the context of a fight in psychology between the traditionalists (who want published work to stand untouched and respected for as long as possible) and replicators (who typically don’t trust a claim until it is reproduced by an outside lab).

Rather than get into this debate right here, I’d like to step back and consider the proposal of Kaufman and Glǎveanu on its own merits.

I’m 100% with them on reducing barriers to creativity, and I think that journals in psychology and elsewhere should start by not requiring “p less than 0.05” to publish things.

Nothing is stopping researchers such as the authors of the above paper from publishing their work without replication. So I’m not quite sure what they’re complaining about. They don’t like that various third parties are demanding they replicate their work, but why can’t they ignore these demands.

Indeed, as I wrote above, I think the barriers to publication should be lowered, not raised. And if an Association for Psychological Science journal doesn’t want to publish your article (perhaps because you don’t have personal connections with the editors; see P.S. below), then you can publish it in some other journal.

If, you flip a coin 6 times and get four heads, and you’d like to count that as evidence for precognition or telekinesis, and publish that somewhere, then go for it.

Civics: Google Axes Lobbyists Amid Growing Government Scrutiny

Brody Mullins and Ted Mann:

Google has fired about a half-dozen of its largest lobbying firms as part of a major overhaul of its global government affairs and policy operations amid the prospect of greater government scrutiny of its businesses.

In the past few months, the company has shaken up its roster of lobbying firms, restructured its Washington policy team and lost two senior officials who helped build its influence operation into one of the largest in the nation’s capital, according to people familiar with Google’s Washington strategy. The firms Google has dumped make up about half of the company’s more than $20 million annual lobbying bill.

People familiar with the matter say the revamp is part of a continuing modernization of the influence operation Google built over the last 15 years, but it comes as Google faces a number of government investigations into its affairs. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the Justice Department is gearing up to conduct an antitrust investigation into the tech giant. Congress and states attorneys general are also reviewing Google’s practices, while on the campaign trail, some Democratic presidential candidates are calling for the company to be broken up.

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

Oberlin Pays for Smearing the Town Grocer

Wall Street Journal:

Oberlin administrators agreed to boycott Gibson’s, which had long held catering contracts with the college’s dining service, and they allowed students to skip class to participate in protests. The Gibsons alleged that the administrators guided student-government leaders in promoting a resolution to condemn the bakery and Gibson family. Oberlin’s dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, handed out a flier accusing Gibson’s of having a “long account of racial profiling and discrimination.”

The Gibson family claims administrators told them they’d reinstate the catering contract if they dropped charges against the three shoplifting students and promised to contact the school, not police, if other students stole from their store in the future. The family refused and instead sued Oberlin and Ms. Raimondo, seeking $12.8 million at trial on numerous counts including libel, interference with business contracts and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

As a result of the protests, boycotts and lawsuits, the Gibson family business, which had survived two world wars and the Great Depression, suffered greatly. Its owners took no salary for two years, and nearly all the staff had to be let go. In their closing arguments, Mr. Gibson’s lawyers lamented that without a ruling in their favor, the beloved Oberlin bakery could be forced to close.

On June 7 a jury awarded Gibson’s Food Mart and Bakery, as well as the Gibson family, $11 million in compensatory damages. After punitive damages are decided this week, Oberlin College could owe the Gibsons an additional $22 million.

This historic case received scant media attention during the trial. My publication, Legal Insurrection, was the only national outlet to be present for the entire trial, because we felt Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College was emblematic of tensions in American culture, particularly the “town vs. gown” divide that pits activist colleges against the places that host them.

In this case, Oberlin students and administrators appeared happy to smear a family-run institution in pursuit of a “social justice” agenda. Ignoring the facts, they attempted to destroy a business without concern for the damage they were inflicting on a family and workers in their own community.

How To Ask Questions The Smart Way

Eric Raymond and Rick Moen:

When you ask your question, display the fact that you have done these things first; this will help establish that you’re not being a lazy sponge and wasting people’s time. Better yet, display what you have learned from doing these things. We like answering questions for people who have demonstrated they can learn from the answers.

Use tactics like doing a Google search on the text of whatever error message you get (searching Google groups as well as Web pages). This might well take you straight to fix documentation or a mailing list thread answering your question. Even if it doesn’t, saying “I googled on the following phrase but didn’t get anything that looked promising” is a good thing to do in e-mail or news postings requesting help, if only because it records what searches won’t help. It will also help to direct other people with similar problems to your thread by linking the search terms to what will hopefully be your problem and resolution thread.

Take your time. Do not expect to be able to solve a complicated problem with a few seconds of Googling. Read and understand the FAQs, sit back, relax and give the problem some thought before approaching experts. Trust us, they will be able to tell from your questions how much reading and thinking you did, and will be more willing to help if you come prepared. Don’t instantly fire your whole arsenal of questions just because your first search turned up no answers (or too many).

Prepare your question. Think it through. Hasty-sounding questions get hasty answers, or none at all. The more you do to demonstrate that having put thought and effort into solving your problem before seeking help, the more likely you are to actually get help.

Texas vaccine exemption rates have reached an all-time high. Did Texas make it too easy for parents to opt out?

Elizabeth Byrne and Shiying Cheng:

Texas’ exemption law used to be stricter. In 2003, a state senator proposed loosening restrictions via a three-page amendment to a 311-page bill. After five minutes of discussion, the amendment was approved. The bill was soon signed into law. Sixteen years later, former state Sen. Craig Estes said the change to Texas’ vaccine laws that he helped enact should be reviewed in the current public health climate.

“Obviously we didn’t ever imagine what would happen,” Estes, a Republican from Prosper, told The Texas Tribune. “With what’s happened recently, I would encourage the legislature in the future to revisit that issue and debate it.”

The speedy way in which the Texas Legislature weakened the state’s vaccine exemption rules suggests that, like Estes, few in office at the time thought it would put Texas at risk for future outbreaks. However, while experts suggest Texas is now vulnerable, efforts to change the exemption law have been dead on arrival in the Capitol.

“There will be a terrible measles epidemic in Texas, and children will be hospitalized in intensive care units, just like they are in New York right now,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said last month. “That will wake up the state Legislature to realize that there’s a problem and close those exemptions.”

On Gerard of Cremona’s twelfth-century quest to translate Arabic scholarship.

Violet Moller:

The city of Toledo was an important center of learning during the tenth and eleventh centuries, and when the Christians took over in 1085, the transfer of power was peaceful. As a result, even though the majority of the Muslim elite emigrated south, their culture was preserved, libraries were protected and the various communities of Jewish, Arab, Mozarabic, and Christian scholars were able to work together. This was especially important for the program of translation from Arabic to Latin (often via Hebrew or Romance) that followed. In the early Middle Ages, Spain was a multilingual society. Under Muslim rule, Arabic was the language of education and government, but Romance was spoken on the streets and in the fields, intermingled with various Berber dialects. Latin was the language of the Mozarabic Church, and of course Hebrew was ever-present in the large Jewish communities. When Toledo was reconquered by the Christians, Latin, the language of the Catholic Church, took on an increasingly important role, but the Mozarabs continued to use Arabic until well into the fourteenth century.

The European scholars who came to Toledo soon after the reconquest were staggered by the wealth of knowledge they found there. In the medieval period, Arabic book culture positively dwarfed that of Western Europe; the twelfth-century scholar Bernard of Chartres was proud of the twenty-four books he owned, but, in 1258, the city of Baghdad boasted thirty-six public libraries and over a hundred book merchants. The largest medieval library in Christian Europe, at the Abbey of Cluny, contained a few hundred books, while the royal library of Córdoba had 400,000. Even if we allow for exaggera­tion and the fact that the Arabs still mainly used scrolls, which could not contain as much text (several would be needed for one copy of a codex), and that paper was not produced in Western Europe until the fourteenth century, so it had to be imported, making books more expensive, the comparison is still shocking. Arab textual culture was not only much larger, it was also infinitely richer. The scale of Arab accomplishment in literature, history, geography, philosophy, and, of course, science left Latin scholars dazzled, giddy with awe. There was a lot of catching up to do.

2019 gaokao points to focus on hi-tech future

Wang Qi

China’s national college entrance examinations, known as the gaokao and also known for its toughness and which determines millions of young people’s destinies every year, concluded on Saturday, showing the country’s determination to nurture creative talent.

As usual, the examination questions have become a hot talking point on Chinese social media, but this time the discussion centered on their creativity by merging the arts and sciences and by their philosophical thinking, although some viewed them as adding more difficulty to the already arduous test.

For instance, in the national math test paper, examinees found a cloud-shaped curve on a coordinate axis. The “cloud” was composed of three arcs, and the question was to figure out the polar coordinates equation of a circle.

In order to ensure the fairness of talent selection, China’s Ministry of Educationhas been using three different sets of college entrance examinations to students in different provinces since 2016.

“I was confused when I saw that cloud in the national math test, it was really unexpected,” one Weibo user posted. “The ‘cloud’ was new, but not that difficult,” said another.

With Apologies to Orwell, We’ve Gone Way Past 1984

Dorian Lynskey:

Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World used to be seen as mutually exclusive dystopias. In 1984, however, while Neil Postman was writing Amusing Ourselves to Death, Aldous Huxley’s biographer Sybille Bedford came to a different conclusion, describing the choice as a false binary: “We have entered the age of mixed tyrannies.” By this she meant that the modern power-seeker would assemble whatever combination of coercion, seduction and distraction proved most effective.

Effectiveness is one of the watchwords of Vladimir Putin’s mixed tyranny, or “managed democracy.” Since first becoming Russia’s president in 2000, buoyed by a craving for strength and stability after the nerve-grinding upheavals of the post-communist 90s, the former KGB officer has gradually brought back such features of the old regime as leader-worship, martial parades, mass arrests, show trials, political prisoners, territorial aggression, the one-party state, censorship, Newspeak and endemic paranoia. In 2012, Putin declared his dream of building a Russian-led replacement for the European Union, “from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” unbound by such bothersome concepts as human rights and free and fair elections. Inspired by the fascist thinker Aleksandr Dugin, he called it Eurasia. In 2014, Stalin’s posthumous approval rating in Russia reached a new peak of 52 percent, proving beyond doubt that Homo Sovieticus had outlived the Soviet Union.

Putin’s justification is, of course, different from Stalin’s—nationalism and cultural conservatism rather than Marxist ideology—and his execution less brutish, retaining the pretense of freedom of speech and political opposition. The aim of his brand of authoritarianism is not total control but effective control. In his last substantial interview before his death in 2005, the great reformer Aleksandr Nikolaevich Yakovlev called Russia’s weakness for strong leaders a “disease” and bemoaned its backsliding towards a centralized state at the expense of a healthy society. “If the state so wishes, the society will be civil, or semicivil, or nothing but a herd,” he said. “Look to Orwell for a good description of this.” Yes, but look to Huxley, too.

The Oberlin Trial Is a Blueprint for Fighting Back

David French:

alate last week, an Ohio jury reached a verdict that sent shockwaves through the American higher-education establishment. It ordered Oberlin College to pay a business called Gibson’s Food Market and Bakery a stunning $11 million in compensatory damages for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and intentional interference with business relationships. And that number will rise, significantly, if it decides to impose punitive damages as well.

The case represents an important moment — the moment when the American legal establishment learned that it can potentially impose steep costs on institutions that participate in the kind of cruel, malicious, and vicious mob tactics that have become an all-too-familiar part of the American political landscape. It turns out that the law can indeed offer an answer to the worst forms of illiberal behavior.

Religion And commencement speeches

Samantha West:

A commencement speech in which a member of the Appleton school board referenced his Christian faith is sparking controversy and debate about what messages are appropriate in a public school setting.

In response to the students’ and other community members’ concerns, Dupree told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin that he is an elected official — not a district employee — and emphasized that he has no obligation to withhold his personal views.

Dupree said he heard from many students and their family members who thanked him for the speech.

“People of faith should not have to go in the closet while everyone else is allowed to be free and out of the closet,” Dupree said. “I did not impose or threaten or tell people that if they don’t believe like I believe that they’re wrong.”

Families leaving Madison middle school graduation event fight, police respond, officials say


Police said after the event, 15-20 parents and children were involved in an altercation. The school’s resource officer intervened and called for backup.

In a letter to Sennett parents Tuesday, Principal Daniel Kigeya described the incident as “two families engaged in a verbal exchange” in the gym that continued as other families exited the school and made their way to the parking lot.

“This ceremony is a very special event for Sennett students and the Sennett community,” Kigeya wrote. “We want to celebrate these students and everything they’ve worked toward over the last three years. We do not want this unfortunate incident to overshadow what has been an incredibly positive, successful last school year for these students.”

No one was injured, DeSpain said.

No one was cited or arrested Tuesday but the school resource officer plans to review surveillance video, police said.

Studies and Teachers Nationwide Say School Discipline Reform Is Harming Students’ Academic Achievement and Safety

Max Eden, via a kind Will Fitzhugh email:

A statewide poll sponsored by the Oregon Education Association declared a “crisis of disrupted learning” and noted that 56 percent of teachers reported experiencing at least one “room clear” in the past year. (A “room clear” is when teachers direct all children to leave the classroom for their own safety while a disruptive student throws a tantrum.)


A not-yet-peer-reviewed doctoral dissertation examined several California school districts that banned suspensions for nonviolent “willful defiance”: Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and Pasadena. It found no effects on reading but a harm to math achievement large enough to take a student from the 50th percentile to the 39th after three years.

Earlier this year, the RAND Corporation published a randomized control trial examining the effects of restorative justice in Pittsburgh as the district aggressively reduced suspensions. The results were mixed. On one hand, teachers in schools that implemented restorative justice reported an improvement in school safety, staff morale and their classroom management abilities. But students disagreed: They said their teachers’ classroom management abilities deteriorated and that students became less supportive of one another. Perhaps most alarmingly, academic achievement for African-American students decreased.

Taken as a whole, the academic literature suggests that modest efforts to reduce suspensions may be pursued with minimal effect, that aggressive efforts pose a serious risk to academics and that restorative justice may exacerbate rather than ameliorate harm.

School and system leaders should, of course, take their bearings not only from academic studies but also from the perspective of teachers. Nationwide, a majority of educators express sympathy for the idea of discipline reform. But, as I’ve documented, teachers in school districts that implemented discipline reform under pressure from federal investigations do not believe it works.


Kaleem Caire, writing within Facebook’s walled garden. Via a kind reader:

The Capital Times published my editorial below on March 12, 2019. I then posted the article on my FB page the same day. This terrible, awful and destructive generational disease didn’t get nearly the same rise out of people as me imploring our children and young adults to use more empowering language when advocating for themselves, and avoid cursing at school board members and staff in our public schools.

Over the last few days since I voiced my concerns about the poor language being used towards adults by our children and youth in our public schools (and at several school board meetings), I have received mostly positive feedback. However, I have also read comments by people who feel my concern about our children’s poor use of language is overstated, misguided and disrespectful.

Worse, I was referred to as a man who practices “respectability politics” and a “Black leader” who has “turned his back” on Black children and who “can no longer hear this voice [of Black youth], can no longer hear the concerns of the masses, can no longer concern [myself] with Black, often low-income, and poor people because [they] are not speaking the way [I] want them to speak?” It was interesting reading this from people who clearly know very little if anything about me or my work, but whose children have directly benefited from years of my advocacy, and from specific programs I created or pushed to have established.

But let’s address the Police Officer in Schools issue first.

Over the last year-plus, our school districts leadership and Board of Education have been focused on whether or not they should renew their contract with the Madison Police Department and continue having police officers stationed in our public high schools. To gain a deeper understanding this issue, I talked with Madison parents, and students and teachers in our public schools about their opinions about having police officers in schools. I also talked with three of the four Educational Resource Officers (EROs) stationed at our four comprehensive public high schools about who they are and what their jobs entail. During our conversations, I learned that none of the people arguing for their displacement from our schools have never reached out to or sat down with these officers to learn about what they actually do in our schools. All four EROs are people of color. One is a Latina female and three are African American males.

Of the three that shared their personal stories with me, I learned that all of them (including the ERO at Memorial who I have not yet talked with) have come from challenging backgrounds that have enabled them to relate to our children, and are reasons why they are so driven to help our most vulnerable and challenged young people to succeed.

All four officers applied for their current positions within the Madison Police Department because they a very serious about wanting to help our children succeed and “prevent” them from entering our criminal justice system. All stressed concern that none of the organizations or leaders leading the fight against their being in the schools have sat down to talk with them about what they actually do, or about the impact they are having with our children in their schools.

As men and women of color, these officers are disappointed that people are portraying them, their work and their efforts differently than what they actually do and experience every day. After hearing dozens of ways they are helping our children succeed and overcome obstacles, while keeping our schools safe, I can understand their concerns and impact at a deeper level now, too.

Before we began our conversation, I told each ERO that I initially was not supportive of the idea of having police officers in our schools, but I wanted to learn from them what they do, what they are seeing and experiencing on a daily basis, and what they think is needed for our children and schools before I formalized my position about their work and placement in our high schools. I left each conversation feeling grateful for these men and women and blessed that we have officers who care so deeply about our children, families and community.

After digging into the issues with them, I learned that they are preventing for more arrests than we would see if they were not in our schools and didn’t know school staff and our children. Each described how if a traditional beat cop was called into the school who didn’t know our students or the dynamics of our schools, that they wouldn’t take the time an ERO does to get know the students involved. They would figure out who did what, likely arrest the student(s), and take them to the Juvenile Reception/Detention Center (JRC – aka youth jail) for processing so they could get to their next call.

That said, I do understand why some of our young people and parents may still not want officers in our schools. However, there are also many who want them to remain in our schools. Moreover, I am deeply concerned that our school board has listened to hours of testimony but even many of them have not yet met or talked with these officers about their work and impact either. I hope going forward, that they do.

But the bigger point here is, we are spending hundreds of hours on the issue of having police in our high schools, while we are not spending much time at all addressing the fact that more than 85.8% of Black children (or 792 of 923 Black children in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade in 2017-18) cannot read at grade level in our public “elementary” schools. In fact, the majority (55.4% or 511 of 923) of these children read significantly below grade level. The definition for “significantly below (or aka “below basic”) means that the “student demonstrates minimal understanding of and ability to apply the knowledge and skills for their grade level that are associated with college content-readiness.” (Source: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction 2019).

WHAT IS UP WITH THIS? Why is our community going way over-the-top with its disgust and advocacy for police officers and issues that have little to do with how poorly our children are doing educationally in preschool through 5th grade? Why isn’t this the focus of our advocacy? Are we not aware that a young person’s educational success and attainment will dramatically reduce the likeliness that they ever will find themselves trapped in the bowels of our nation’s criminal justice system?

What are we doing and what are we advocating for that will actually move the needle educationally for our children? Protest the police if you want to, and protest loudly, but don’t scapegoat brothers like me who hold our children to a higher standard of personal and professional conduct (their profession, being a student), regardless of the circumstances they face, and who are actually focused on helping them succeed educationally in school. And please don’t tell our children that it is ok to curse out their teachers because they’ve been “marginalized” or “disrespected”. We aren’t helping them by enabling and excusing such behavior.

A teacher asking a student to get to class on time shouldn’t be told, “Fuck you bitch, don’t talk to me. Leave me alone.” I heard that one myself at West High School. I had to get up out of my chair to address these four young girls as I was talking with the ERO, Justin Creech, at West High School, about his job duties. When I walked into the hallway from Officer Creech’s office, I saw a group of four girls who look like my daughter directing their language at a white female teacher who was simply asking them to get to class. Class had started 10 minutes earlier. I confronted these young women about it and they apologized to me by saying, “My bad, My bad, I’m sorry.” I asked them to apologize to the teacher and they did. However, that teacher and Officer Creech told me that this happens all the time in the school because the children know they can get away with it. My daughter Alana who attends the school said she sees it happening all the time, too. I heard the same thing from Black and Latino teachers, staff and Principal Mike Hernandez at East High School after I had spoken up about this issue at the school board meeting on Monday. They said this disrespectful behavior towards adults is happening in our high schools every day. More than a handful of our students are engaged in this behavior, and its getting worse not better.

So, those who say they are fighting for justice for Black children, including my own, I have a few questions…
What is a greater “injustice”, having police officers present in our public high schools OR allowing thousands of Black children to fail academically in our elementary schools every year and show up to high school ill-prepared to succeed there? What are we doing to address the underlying root causes, and at the point of a child’s life where we can actually make the greatest positive impact on their growth, development and future outcomes?

What is the greater injustice, the proliferation of undereducated Black children in our public schools and communities, OR a police officer with a badge walking through the hallways of our public high schools?

What is the greater injustice, asking our children and young adults to be passionate in their advocacy for their causes but to please avoid using language that injures others, disempowers their messages, and distracts from others seeing their agenda, OR giving our children absolute permission to curse and swear at adults and do what they want because they’ve been hurt and marginalized?

It is depressing to see so little focus being placed on the areas where we need it most and where we can make the greatest difference now and the future.

And then, despite the fact that I have spent 30 years working to address these issues locally, nationally and internationally, while creating great opportunities for learning, career growth and college attainment for thousands of children in Madison, and many more across the USA, I am told by the orchestrators of these school board protests that because I spoke up about our children cursing at school board members during school board meetings, and about other children who are misbehaving in our schools and berating teachers and staff each day, that I have “turned my back” on “Black children”. Are we not supposed to hold our children accountable to treat adults and each other respectfully?

As the days and years go by, I am very worried and deeply troubled about the health, welfare and success of Black children in Madison. We are at risk of losing another generation of Black children to a legacy of poverty, depression, disenfranchisement and underperformance. Also, I am equally concerned about how quickly some people and organizations try to diminish the voices of Black men, and/or other people they see as outliers to their values and belief systems.

When I, as a Black father of five children – three adults and two adolescents, raise my concerns about the poor conduct of young men and women who look like me in our schools, and am called names because of it, I wonder with deep concern, why do the very people who profess to be about justice for Black people want Black men’s compliance and our silence on issues that matter to us, our children and our community? People complain about there being too few Black fathers present in the homes and lives of Black children. However, when Black men who are present and deeply committed to our families and young people speak up to address our concerns with our youth, we get dirt thrown on us by people who think that it’s ok to condone, promote and apologize for our young people’s negative behaviors.

We live in crazy times. But, I will not lower my expectations of our children (or adults). Not now. Not ever. Peace and Blessings. “Children are the reward of life.”

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Jenny Peek dives in.

This, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

Children Need to Learn Respect

Kaleem Caire:

I HAVE HAD ENOUGH! Last evening, I sat in a Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education meeting only to listen yet again to a number of young people in middle and high school curse out and demean Madison School Board members in front of an audience of 200 people, and do so to the applause of other adults in the audience. I thought I was in the twilight zone.

While our young people are to be commended for exercising their voices and articulating their ideas and concerns with depth and precision, the power, value and meaning of their words consistently are lost and undermined by their foul, abrasive and derogatory language and demeanor towards Board members who are actually listening to them, even if some Board members might disagree with some of our young people’s points or proposed solutions. I have been vilified and dissed more than many in this community for taking unpopular positions on issues but I have never cursed someone out because of it.

As a father of five, I would never let (or condone) my children, or any other young person (or adult), direct hurtful language like that at me or another person without speaking up and correcting them. To see adults clapping for that behavior tonight turned my stomach inside out. I had to get up and leave, and take the mic to say a few words before I left.

People, what are we thinking and what are we doing? Too many children are cursing out teachers and staff every day in our public schools and we are letting it happen, and making excuses for many children who do it.

Much more on Kaleem Caire, here.

David Blaska has been following Madison’s taxpayer supported school board rhetoric and governance climate for some time.

Opinion: Respectability Politics Fail to Address Urgent Challenges in Madison Schools

John B. Diamond, Kendra Alexander, Bianca J. Baldridge and Erika C. Bullock, via a kind reader:

In a recent OpEd published on Madison 365, Kaleem Caire chastised Madison youth of color and their adult allies for their demeanor and their “foul, abrasive, and derogatory language” as they raised legitimate concerns about the important issues they face in the Madison Metropolitan School District. As part of our Mobilizing Youth Voices Project, we have been working with young people from Freedom, Inc, the Lussier Community Education Center, and the UW-Madison/Madison Metropolitan School District TEEM Scholars Program. These groups fight against racial, gender, queer oppression, while also striving to become critical educators in Madison in order to disrupt the harm that youth of color experience within our city. We have learned how each group is fighting for racial justice in their own unique ways and we support their efforts to make their voices heard by those in power in whatever format they choose. In particular, we have witnessed young people from Freedom Inc. (the same young people to whom Caire’s remarks were directed) show up to school board meetings month after month for over a year armed with personal accounts and supportive research about the effects of police in schools only to be ignored, criticized, and criminalized.

As educators committed to supporting youth of color in Madison who fight for racial justice, we honor the work that these young people have done and see them as examples of passion and persistence in fighting for one’s dignity and for the dignity of their community. We also recognize that critiquing the strategies of those fighting oppression is a tool used by those in power to maintain that power. Rather than addressing legitimate demands for justice, they argue for a politics of respectability.

Commentary on Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 TaX and spending plans

Logan Wroge:

The Madison teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc., is demanding the full cost-of-living increase. According to the union, more than 1,000 district employees, or about one-quarter of all staff, are slated to only receive a base wage increase in 2019-20. Bargaining between the two sides is ongoing.

“We will continue to demand a 2.44% cost-of-living base-wage increase for all employees, regardless of the state budget decisions,” MTI said in its weekly newsletter Monday.

Carusi’s plan would cut $1.6 million from administration and “strategic equity investments,” including reducing conference travel expenses by $250,000 and leaving seven of nine vacant positions in administration unfilled for $600,000 in reductions.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts – $18k to 20k per student, depending on the documents one reviews.

Stephen Marche, a survivor of academia, returns to a troubled field

The Times:

The distinct stench of decaying sense floated over the Hyatt Regency during the Modern Language Association annual convention in Chicago this year. For me, the smell was oddly reminiscent. I left a secure job as an English academic for the wilderness of writing more than ten years ago. Going back to academia was a bit like going back to the old hometown that has fallen on hard times: it’s mostly the same people, they’re just older. The town drunk’s still there. The local restaurant’s lousier than you remember. Of the friends who stayed, some have flourished, others look battered. But, of course, I don’t live there anymore so its problems aren’t really mine. And what problems. The MLA this year took, as its principal subject, the death of its own significance.

Any which way you care to look at them, the humanities in the United States are in radical, sharp decline. The number of history students is down about 45 per cent since 2007, the number of English students has halved since the late 1990s. The job market is uncoupled from the number of PhDs granted. One professor at the 134th MLA convention in January asked us to imagine an MA seminar with eight students in it. Of those eight, four will drop out, two will go on to complete PhDs and then find work outside academia, one will suffer as a short-contract academic worker, and the last will find work as a traditional tenured faculty member.

‘Boys underperform in schools because we look after their wellbeing less’

Natasha Devon:

It’s my observation that the world is broadly divided into two types of people: those for whom the link between wellbeing and academic achievement is obvious and therefore requires no explanation and those for whom it is not. And whilst Maslow’s hierarchy of needs tells us that human beings are incapable of learning unless they have their basic needs (which include self-esteem) met, it is an incredibly difficult relationship to measure on the ground.

This is one of the most frustrating things about my job, particularly when I’m met by a hostile geography teacher, seething that my PSHE class has meant their pupils have had to be removed from “proper” lessons. Or by a smug MP who insists that if every child can learn a Keats poem by rote by the time they are 14, it will magically lead to more social mobility.

Last week, my Self-Esteem Team attended a lecture at University College London by Martin Seager, who is part of a research team studying male psychology. In it, Seager argued that psychology suffers from “gender blindness”, in that the profession is reluctant to consider the possibility that men have specific needs. Indeed, Seager argued, we are reluctant to think of men as a gender in their own right at all, thanks to the increasing prevalence of pop-feminism and a widely held and false notion that all men are inherently privileged, regardless of their socio-economic circumstances.

Civics: America’s rural radio stations are vanishing

Debbie Weingarten:

KHIL was founded in 1958 by Rex Allen, who gained notoriety as the last of the singing cowboys. On the silver screen, The Arizona Cowboy could be seen strumming a guitar from the back of his horse, until the genre came to a close in 1954. He would go on to narrate a plethora of Disney movies, including Charlotte’s Web, and for years was the voice behind Ford truck and Purina Dog Chow commercials.

Allen – who died in 1999 – is now immortalized by a statue in the historic downtown. Born 31 December 1920 to Horace and Faye Allen in Willcox, Rex Elvie Allen was cross-eyed at birth, reads the plaque below the statue.

Civics: The populist dilemma

Joel Kotkin:

The recent upsurge in support for populist conservatives, not only across Europe, but in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and even India has inspired talk of a “a nationalist revival” and “the cosmic magnetism” of Donald Trump and Brexit. Here, it is argued, is a movement that finally can take on both the Green-oriented and increasingly authoritarian left.

Yet maybe it’s time for right-wingers to put down the Champagne glasses. Conservative nationalists may have made considerable headway, but in many countries, the geographic, demographic and economic tide continues to pull the other way toward ever more politically correct, climate-obsessed rule from above.

Indeed a strong majority of those elected last month to the European parliament back the European Union and its basic policies on migration, climate and top-down social control. More ominous still, the Green movement, the new standard bearers of the globalist left, has emerged as the biggest winner in many countries, notably Germany.

No paper, no PhD? India rethinks graduate student policy

Gayathri Vaidyanathan:

PhD students in India will no longer be required to publish articles in academic journals before they are awarded their doctorates, if the country’s higher-education regulator adopts recommendations from a committee of researchers.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) currently requires PhD students to publish at least one article in a peer-reviewed journal and present two papers at conferences or seminars before they submit their doctoral thesis for marking. India is unusual in having a national publication policy for PhD students; in many other countries, institutions set their own requirements.

First Systematic Study Of The Advice People Would Give To Their Younger Selves

Christian Jarrett:

The question is an old favourite – if you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self? Yet despite the popularity of this thought experiment, no one has, until now, actually studied what people would tell themselves.

Reporting their findings in The Journal of Social Psychology Robin Kowalski and Annie McCord at Clemson University have done just that in two surveys of hundreds of participants on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk website. Their findings show that people’s advice to their younger selves is overwhelmingly focused on prior relationships, educational opportunities and personal worth, echoing similar results derived from research into people’s most common regrets in life. Moreover, participants who said they had followed the advice they would give to their younger selves were more likely to say that they had become the kind of person that their younger self would admire. “…[W]e should consult ourselves for advice we would offer to our younger selves,” the researchers said. “The data indicate that there is much to be learned that can facilitate wellbeing and bring us more in line with the person that we would like to be should we follow that advice.”

The two studies followed a similar format with the participants (selected to be aged at least 30 years) asked to provide either three pieces or one piece of advice to their younger selves; to reflect on whether following this advice would help them become more like the person they aspire to be or ought to be; whether they had actually followed the advice later in life; to consider a pivotal event that had shaped them in life, especially in light of the advice they’d chosen to give their younger selves; and to reflect on what their younger self would make of their current self.

Let’s Privatize State Colleges

Richard Vedder:

Op-Ed. An estimated 14.67 million college students attend what we call “state universities.” Some of them are renowned highly selective research institutions like the University of California at Berkeley or the University of Michigan, while others are relatively obscure schools with an open admissions policy. But all receive some degree of subsidization from the state government where they are physically located.

Yet there are good arguments to make state universities independent private institutions, albeit ones that still indirectly receive some governmental support. Our so-called “private” schools already mostly are indirectly heavily dependent on the federal government for support via its financing student tuition and room and board charges, not to mention research support and favorable tax treatments. With a few exceptions like Hillsdale College, purely totally independent private institutions are extremely rare.

Let’s give money to needy and accomplished students, not to schools. Data collected by Harvard’s Raj Chetty and associates show that the family income of kids attending schools like the University of Virginia or the University of Michigan averages around $200,000 a year, with the median income also in the six digits. These schools are not places where poor but bright and ambitious kids heavily populate. People worried about income distribution and access to economic opportunity should be concerned that state government aid to colleges is, in fact, largely a middle and upper-class entitlement.

Why don’t we provide vouchers for college attendance like some states do for students going to K-12 schools? The aid could be more explicitly targeted to kids who are either relatively poor or who excel academically. For example, suppose Michigan gave vouchers for attendance by residents that vary in magnitude from $1,000 to $15,000, with extremely high-income applicants made ineligible for any assistance, while very low-income students could receive enough to cover most basic living costs (more than they get today)? Why don’t we further restrict assistance after the first year to students showing at least minimally acceptable academic performance, perhaps something like a “C” average (2.0 grade point average)? Why don’t we put a five-year limit on vouchers, reducing the phenomenon of students taking six years to get a degree?

When the Tassel Isn’t Worth the Hassle

Rachel Lu:

Graduation season has become somewhat poignant for me. I can’t help but smile when I step through the sliding doors of a box store and find myself looking at a display of cards, balloons, and festive pastries. Hats off to the grads! The tassle is worth the hassle! They’re such happy sentiments. I haven’t donned academic robes for quite a number of years, but it’s still fun to think about the fresh faces, burgeoning potential, and mounds of buttercream icing.

Even in the face of such cheerfulness, though, it’s hard to forget that higher education is in bad shape. It’s time to start thinking creatively about this problem, because it’s obvious that our present system is becoming unsustainable. College has become ludicrously expensive while offering graduates diminishing returns on their investments.

As institutions compete for a shrinking pool of potential students, resources are being squandered on fancy buildings and overpaid administration, while starving adjuncts teach most of the courses. College campuses are continually in the news, but for all the wrong reasons. Sooner or later, something has to give.

The coming shake-up could have any number of negative consequences, but there may also be windows of opportunity for positive reform. Many existing colleges will go bankrupt, and families may start thinking further outside the box as they consider their educational options. Trade schools will probably see increased interest as traditional four-year colleges decline.

China social media: WeChat and the Surveillance State

Stephen McDonell:

China’s WeChat is a site for social interaction, a form of currency, a dating app, a tool for sporting teams and deliverer of news: Twitter, Facebook, Googlemaps, Tinder and Apple Pay all rolled into one. But it is also an ever more powerful weapon of social control for the Chinese government.

I’ve just been locked out of WeChat (or Weixin 微信 as it is known in Chinese) and, to get back on, have had to pass through some pretty Orwellian steps – steps which have led others to question why I went along with it.

One reason is that life in Beijing would be extremely difficult without WeChat. The other is that I could not have written this piece without experiencing the stages which have now clearly put my image, and even my voice, on some sort of biometric database of troublemakers.

I was in Hong Kong to cover the enormous candlelight vigil marking 30 years since the People’s Liberation Army was ordered to open fire on its own people to remove the mostly student protesters who’d been gathering in and around Tiananmen Square for months in June 1989.

K-12 tax & SPENDING climate: The world population is changing: For the first time there are more people over 64 than children younger than 5

Hannah Ritchie:

Countries across the world have been going through an important demographic transition: from young to increasingly ageing populations.

In 2018 the number of people older than 64 years old surpassed the number of children under 5 years old. This was the first time in history this was the case.1 We can see this transition clearly when we look at the population by age bracket in the chart below – this is shown from 1950 onwards, with UN projections to 2100.

In the chart below you can explore the projected age structure of future populations – for any country or world region. Just click on Change Country in the bottom left.

The Anti-College Is on the Rise

Molly Worthen:

A small band of students will travel to Sitka, Alaska, this month to help reinvent higher education. They won’t be taking online courses, or abandoning the humanities in favor of classes in business or STEM, or paying high tuition to fund the salaries of more Assistant Vice Provosts for Student Life. They represent a growing movement of students, teachers and reformers who are trying to compensate for mainstream higher education’s failure to help young people find a calling: to figure out what life is really for.

These students will read works by authors ranging from Plato and Herbert Marcuse to Tlingit writers. The point is to “develop and flex a more rigorous political imagination,” according to one course syllabus. They will take on 15 to 20 hours a week of manual labor in Sitka, and set their group’s rules on everything from curfews to cellphones. Last summer’s cohort discouraged the use of phones during class and service hours and ordered everyone to turn off the internet at 10 p.m.

This is Outer Coast, one of an expanding number of educational experiments born out of a deepening sense that mainstream American colleges are too expensive, too bureaucratic, too careerist and too intellectually fragmented to help students figure out their place in the universe and their moral obligations to fellow humans.

There are alternative colleges that replace traditional courses with personalized study; gap-year programs that combine quasi-monastic retreats with world travel; summer seminars devoted to clearing trails and reading philosophy. They aim to prove that it is possible to cultivate moral and existential self-confidence, without the Christian foundation that grounded Western universities until the mid-20th century. They seek to push back against the materialism and individualism that have saturated the secular left and right, all at an affordable price. It’s a tall order.

Was SAT Biology Subject Test Compromised?

Scott Jaschik:

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a group that has long criticized standardized tests and pointed to security problems on them, revealed Thursday that it had received a call with information about questions on the SAT subject test in biology given last weekend. Further, similar questions turned up on Reddit, FairTest announced. The call with information about the test came from East Asia and took place before the exam was given in the United States. FairTest noted that many test takers monitor Reddit, making it possible some had an advance edge on the test.

A spokeswoman for the College Board said via email, “We take all reports about test security with the utmost seriousness, and are aware of this report. For every test administration, we go to great lengths to make sure that all test scores we report are accurate and valid.”

Biggest Offender in Outsize Debt: Graduate Schools

Kevin Carey:

The signs are hard to miss in downtown San Francisco: two stylized A’s inside a red circle, symbolizing the Academy of Art University. The for-profit school occupies more than 40 buildings throughout the city and has made its family owners very rich.

Where does the Academy of Art’s money come from? About $100 million per year arrives as tuition and fees financed by federal student loans. The full scope of the borrowing was revealed May 21, when, for the first time, the Department of Education released information about how much debt students are taking on to earn degrees from various academic programs at American colleges and universities.

The data shows one sector in particular with outsize debt: graduate school. And while the Academy of Art fosters unusually high burdens, many public universities and nonprofit schools have also gotten into the debt-fueled graduate school business.

Lawsuit challenges University of Arkansas tenure policy: ‘Mao-ist attack on free speech’

Max Brantley:

Revisions in the University of Arkansas tenure policy that many faculty believe serve as a curb on free speech were challenged in a federal lawsuit filed Friday.

The class action suit is led by Dr. Philip Palade, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Dr. Gregory Borse, an associate professor of English and philosophy at the University of Arkansas at Monticello; and J. Thomas Sullivan, a distinguished professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law. Attorneys for Plaintiffs are Joseph W. Price II and Brittany Ford with Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull in Little Rock.

Jessie Stiller:

The new policy expands the definition of “cause” to encompass not only the “willingness or ability” of a faculty member to perform his duties but also “otherwise serves as the basis for disciplinary actions.”

The revised policy also “offers a list of 12 non-exclusive ‘grounds’ that are more than mere examples of conduct but broad and vague descriptions of conduct that constitute the necessary justification for any administrator to dismiss a faculty member for ‘cause.’”

These new changes include the following:

Parents Gone Wild: High Drama Inside D.C.’s Most Elite Private School

Adam Harris:

The motto of Sidwell Friends School, the hyperselective “Harvard of Washington’s private schools,” is simple and lofty. “Eluceat omnibus lux”—Latin for “Let the light shine out from all.” But bright lights sometimes illuminate the worst in people. Last month, shocking behavior by parents may have led two of the school’s three college counselors to leave their jobs.

School officials have repeatedly warned parents, who represent the pinnacle of elite Washington, about their offensive conduct. In January, the head of the school, Bryan Garman, sent a remarkable letter to parents of seniors in which he demanded that they stop “the verbal assault of employees.” He also reiterated a policy banning them from recording conversations with counselors and making calls to counselors from blocked phone numbers. Garman also suggested that some parents were responsible for the “circulation of rumors about students.”

Anger, vitriol, and deceptiveness have come to define highly selective college admissions. In the now notorious Varsity Blues scandal, the desire from wealthy parents to get their children into such elite institutions as Yale and the University of Southern California led them to lie on applications and obtain fake SAT scores. At Sidwell Friends, one of America’s most famous Quaker schools, the desire manifested itself in bad behaviors—including parents spreading rumors about other students, ostensibly so that their children could get a leg up, the letter said.

K-12 Tax & sPending Climate: Retirement Benefits Are to White Collar Crime and Generational Inequity What Handguns Are to Street Crime

Larry Littlefield:

Then again, in the hands of powerful and self-interested public employee unions and the politicians they control, in places such as New York City, “defined benefit pensions” are actually “undefined benefit pensions.” Or rather they are defined on the downside – can’t be less than what was promised – but undefined on the upside. With retroactive pension increases from secret political deals drastically increasing what public employees get paid for work done in the past, with nothing in return. And less well off workers, like the “temps” on the BMW assembly line, forced to accept tax increases and service cuts to pay for it.

Which is why, in many places, there is a state and local government pension crisis, leading to the sort of cuts in benefits for new hires and calls for pension freezes one sees at BMW. Whereas in other states, there are crises due to the failure of anti-tax politicians to property fund the pensions public workers had been promised to begin with, sometimes in lieu of Social Security, which they are not entitled to receive.

Is there a retirement crisis? This, believe it or not, is a relatively hopeful take on the question.

Wisconsin appeals court: Officials have to provide requested electronic records

Steven Elbow:

Wisconsin public officials can’t charge exorbitant fees for hard copies of records that can be easily and cheaply produced in more user-friendly electronic form, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

“The ruling rejects the excuses conjured up by the custodians in this case to deny access to records in electronic form and clearly establishes that electronic records contain additional information beyond what is provided with printed paper copies,” reads a statement from Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and editor of The Progressive.

The decision from the 2nd District Court of Appeals hands Lueders a victory in a lawsuit he filed in 2016 against state Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, who responded to an open records request for constituent contacts by producing 1,500 paper copies of emails and charging a per-page fee.

Schools Are Deploying Massive Digital Surveillance Systems. The Results Are Alarming

Benjamin Herold:

But in an age of heightened fear about mass school shootings, it tripped invisible alarms.

The local Brazosport Independent School District had recently hired a company called Social Sentinel to monitor public posts from all users, including adults, on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. The company’s algorithms flagged Lafrenais’s tweet as a potential threat. Automated alerts were sent to the district’s superintendent, chief of police, director of student services, and director of guidance. All told, nearly 140 such alerts were delivered to Brazosport officials during the first eight months of this school year, according to documents obtained by Education Week.

Among the other “threats” flagged by Social Sentinel:

Tweets about the movie “Shooter,” the “shooting clinic” put on by the Stephen F. Austin State University women’s basketball team, and someone apparently pleased their credit score was “shooting up.”

A common Facebook quiz, posted by the manager of a local vape shop.

A tweet from the executive director of a libertarian think tank, who wrote that a Democratic U.S. senator “endorses murder” because of her support for abortion rights.

And a post by one of the Brazosport district’s own elementary schools, alerting parents that it would be conducting a lockdown drill that morning.

“Please note that it is only a drill,” the school’s post read. “Thank you for your understanding. We will post in the comment section when the drill is over.”

A Witch Hunt Comes for a Nonconformist Professor

Daniel Klein:

I was the external examiner on Dr. Carl’s DPhil from Nuffield, Oxford, so I am familiar with his work. It is a data-intensive investigation of cognitive ability (or intelligence) and its correlates, including ideological views, trust, and self-rated happiness. He wrote a report for the classical liberal Adam Smith Institute on why British academics lean left, and argued that intelligence does not work as explanation. He has published several analyses of the Brexit vote. He follows the scientific literature in recognizing that both “nature” and “nurture” affect the development of cognitive ability. He has not conducted research on race or ethnicity as factors in cognitive ability, but he has written a courageous and thoughtful essay about the ethics of preemptively shutting down such research.

Dr. Carl, then, is a serious and highly accomplished researcher who simply does not conform to leftist ways of interpreting the world and who is not cowed by leftist taboos. As such, he has been singled out as a miscreant. Disgraceful means have been used to take him down. The charges are defamatory.

I read about the rescinding in a May 1 article in Varsity. No less than three times does the article quote Dr. Carl’s former employer saying that he had “collaborated with a number of individuals who were known to hold extremist views,” without naming a single such individual. It notes that Dr. Carl attended a conference on intelligence research. Many enemies are quoted, calling him a racist, etc., but not a single friend or defender.

Commentary on madison high school “resource officers”

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Under a newly proposed contract between the city and the Madison Metropolitan School District, MMSD has the ability to move away from having an officer in each of the city’s four high schools starting in the 2020-21 school year.

Under the new language in the contract, MMSD would have until Sept. 15 to tell the city if it would like to reduce the number of SROs assigned to Madison schools from four to three. The district would have to select which school should have a reduction. The reduction would then take place the following school year.

The new contract language follows a negotiation strategy the Madison School Board broadly supported last month to move towards removing an SRO from at least one of Madison’s high schools.

The new contract will be discussed at the board’s June 10 meeting and likely be up for a vote later in the month. The contract would run until June 2022.

“The Board is considering a proposal from the City that is based upon prior negotiations,” School Board President Gloria Reyes said in an email Friday afternoon. “It would not be appropriate to comment at this time before the Board has fully considered the proposal.”

In December, the Madison School Board approved an amended contract to keep police officers in the high schools after the current contract expires June 30. The added language would have given school officials the ability to remove an officer from a school if they found cause. Madison Police Chief Mike Koval and the city had argued that the added language was illegal, because personnel decisions on officers are under the authority of the police chief.

Logan Wroge:

The proposal follows months of negotiations between the Madison School District and Madison Police Department after a previously proposed contract, which passed the board in December, included an amendment police called a nonstarter.

“I am relieved and grateful that the pleas of parents, students, teachers and staff have been acknowledged, and we can continue to demonstrate that the SROs are a valuable, complementary piece in making our schools safer,” Police Chief Mike Koval said in a statement.

But Koval expressed opposition to the option to drop one officer.

He used a metaphor about a road trip with four children in the car but seat belts for only three, resulting in one child riding without a seat belt and risking injury.

“I love all my kids equally, and I don’t want to have to make a choice as to which kid should be less protected against potential harm(s),” Koval said.

He also questioned how police response time to an incident at a high school without an SRO would be affected, and called choosing what high school would not have an officer “problematic.”

“I have never been silent when I object to things that could impact public safety, and I am against the clause that would provide the district the option of reducing our presence in all of the four high schools,” Koval said.

He acknowledged, though, that the decision to continue the contract is up to elected school and city representatives.

David Blaska:

Madison East high school? Madison West? La Follette? James Madison Memorial?

Police EROs 2019
Justin Creech, West; Rod Johnson, La Follette; Zulma Franco, East; Tray Turner, Memorial H.S.

One of those lucky schools — more particularly, their students, parents, and faculty — will be freed of those troublesome school resource officers under a contract the school board is proposing with the Madison Police Department.


Madison School Board members expressed “broad support” for at least one of Madison’s four high schools to go without a police officer stationed at the school as part of a new contract between the city and district, according to meeting minutes obtained by the Cap Times in an open records request.

In a closed session meeting on May 6, the Madison School Board discussed its negotiation strategies with the city over the renewal of a contract that has a school resource officer based at East, West, La Follette and Memorial high schools.

“There was broad support for working towards at least one school with no ERO/SRO,” Barbara Osborn, the recording secretary, wrote in the meeting minutes, which the Cap Times obtained Thursday.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results:

Mark Seidenberg, a UW-Madison professor and cognitive neuroscientist, has spent decades researching the way humans acquire language. He is blunt about Wisconsin’s schools’ ability to teach children to read: “If you want your kid to learn to read you can’t assume that the school’s going to take care of it. You have to take care of it outside of the school, if there’s someone in the home who can do it or if you have enough money to pay for a tutor or learning center.”

Theresa Morateck, literacy coordinator for the district, says the word “balanced” is one that’s been wrestled with for many years in the reading world.

Teacher who built Dane County’s jail high school to retire

Natalie Yahr:

“My first order of business when I would get kids would be to help them understand that they have value, because they would come in thinking that they were worthless.” That, she says, is why there has never been a fight in her classroom. “As soon as they learned that they have value and that they can learn, it made all of us safer and it made them future-oriented.”

‘I’ve given all that I can’

Deciding to retire wasn’t easy, Anderson said, adding that she wasn’t sure until she submitted her retirement paperwork. But she said she’s been suffering from “compassion fatigue,” a phenomenon common among those who spend their careers in emotionally taxing careers. Anderson likened her situation to the book, “The Giving Tree,” in which a tree gives shade, support and ultimately its own life to a child.

“I told kids earlier this year. I said, ‘I’m a stump. I’m a polished stump.’ People can sit on me, they can rest, but sometimes I just feel like I’ve given all that I can, and I have to be able to give at home,” Anderson said, adding that she wants to make way for someone else to step into the role.

The Madison Metropolitan School District will be responsible for filling Anderson’s position.

Related: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

Chinese School Under Fire for Allegedly Admitting Children Based on Parents’ Qualifications

Huang Shulun, Li Mi, Zhao Runhua and Teng Jing Xuan:

As China’s school admissions season begins, some parents are jumping through more than the usual hoops to enroll their children in a good school.

Parents in Sichuan province complained last week that one private school affiliated with Sichuan Normal University, Shengfei Primary School, was asking parents to bring their degree certificates to a first-grade admissions event. The requirement unfairly disadvantaged children whose parents had received less education, the parents complained.

Shengfei told Caixin that it was entirely up to parents whether to bring their certificates to the event. Private schools have “some level of autonomy” when it comes to admitting students, an official at the local education bureau told Caixin Monday.

The school didn’t say explicitly that parents’ certificates would affect children’s applications, but people familiar with the issue say the certificates will likely be used to narrow the pool of applicants based on parents’ educational levels.

Competition is fierce for spots at top institutions in China, where there’s often great disparity between schools when it comes to teaching standards and resources.

Alone The decline of the family has unleashed an epidemic of loneliness.

Kay Hymowitz:

Americans are suffering from a bad case of loneliness. The number of people in the United States living alone has gone through the studio-apartment roof. A study released by the insurance company Cigna last spring made headlines with its announcement: “Only around half of Americans say they have meaningful, daily face-to-face social interactions.” Loneliness, public-health experts tell us, is killing as many people as obesity and smoking. It’s not much comfort that Americans are not, well, alone in this. Germans are lonely, the bon vivant French are lonely, and even the Scandinavians—the happiest people in the world, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report—are lonely, too. British prime minister Theresa May recently appointed a “Minister of Loneliness.”

The hard evidence for a loneliness epidemic admittedly has some issues. How is loneliness different from depression? How much do living alone and loneliness overlap? Do social scientists know how to compare today’s misery with that in, say, the mid-twentieth century, a period that produced prominent books like The Lonely Crowd? Certainly, some voguish explanations for the crisis should raise skepticism: among the recent suspects are favorite villains like social media, technology, discrimination, genetic bad luck, and neoliberalism.

Still, the loneliness thesis taps into a widespread intuition of something true and real and grave. Foundering social trust, collapsing heartland communities, an opioid epidemic, and rising numbers of “deaths of despair” suggest a profound, collective discontent. It’s worth mapping out one major cause that is simultaneously so obvious and so uncomfortable that loneliness observers tend to mention it only in passing. I’m talking, of course, about family breakdown. At this point, the consequences of family volatility are an evergreen topic when it comes to children; this remains the subject of countless papers and conferences. Now, we should take account of how deeply the changes in family life of the past 50-odd years are intertwined with the flagging well-being of so many adults and communities.

NYC public education has become dedicated to racial categories (Part I)


Did you know that, in New York City, Asians have become some sort of honorary whites, according to the city’s Department of Education?:

A city DOE-sponsored panel designed to combat racism told parents that Asian-American students “benefit from white supremacy” and “proximity to white privilege,” an outraged mom told The Post.

This seems like nonsense unless you get into the mindset of those educators to whom race isn’t just a thing, it’s the only thing. Here’s how it goes: Asians aren’t white, and they’re a minority group, plus a significant number of them are from immigrant families who aren’t wealthy. That ought to make them stars in the minds of those who consider non-white racial achievement one of the highest goals of all in education. However, the devotion to diversity bumps up against the fact that Asians do disproportionately well and it becomes difficult to explain this in conventional terms, because certainly Asians have often been targets of discrimination. Equality of outcome is considered by the SJWs to be a must, so Asian academic dominance is a stumbling block (especially in light of discrimination) and something that cries out for them to explain it.

One such explanation might be that Asians are on average just innately smarter, although any suggestion of such a thing would be a big no-no. I have no idea whether that’s true or not. But even without that explanation there’s another one that almost certainly is true: Asian families tend to espouse values that lead to academic excellence, such as hard work. Since such values are now labeled by SJW educators as “white,” therefore Asians are supposedly benefiting from their “proximity” to white values that confer white privilege. All this despite the facts that Asians are not white.

State and Local Individual Income Tax Collections Per Capita

Tax Foundation:

The individual income tax is one of the most significant sources of revenue for state and local governments. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, the most recent year of data available, individual income taxes generated 23.5 percent of state and local tax collections, just less than general sales taxes (23.6 percent).

The map below shows combined state and local individual income tax collections per capita for each state in FY 2016. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia levy broad-based taxes on wage income and investment income, while two states—New Hampshire and Tennessee—tax investment income but not wage income. Tennessee’s tax on investment income—known as the “Hall tax”—is being phased out and will be fully repealed by tax year 2021. Seven states do not levy an individual income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

$800,000 fedeRal taxpayer planning Funds for another independent madison charter school

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction:

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction approved 11 awards totaling more than $7 million in federal funds to plan, open, or expand charter schools in the state. The department received 21 grant applications, requesting a total of $13.9 million.

“Charter schools are one way for educators to innovate and engage the wide range of students in our communities,” State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor said. “As we determined these awards, we prioritized expanding opportunities to students who face challenges. We want all students, no matter who they are or where they live, to have access to the resources and educational rigor they need to succeed.”

This is the second round of funding in a five-year, $95 million grant awarded to Wisconsin by the U.S. Department of Education to support charter school activities. The program provides three types of awards: planning and implementation grants for charter schools opening in the fall of 2020, implementation grants for schools which recently opened or will open in 2019, and grants to help existing, high-quality charter schools expand. Grant activities span from four to five years.

Much more on diverse Madison K-12 charter schools (just 2, now), here.

A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school

Madison K-12 Superintendent’s School Board “weekly Update” – via open records (!)

Jennifer Cheatham:

Dear Board Members:

As you know, we have already begun on boarding our three new board members who will be sworn in later this month. Congratulations to each of them!

I want to thank TJ, Dean and James for their service to the Board all these years. I appreciate you so much…your time, your thoughtful attention, and your guidance. We have accomplished a lot together during this time and there is much to be proud of.

And of course, there is always more work to be done! I am confident that the Board1 with the support of its newest members, will be able to build on your good work in the years to come.

As I mentioned in my last note to the Board, we are planning on something a little different for the April Regular meeting. We plan to have the meeting at a school1 with a reception beforehand, and a student performance. I’ll share more information with you during briefings this month.
Sincerely, Jen

Much more on Jennifer Cheatham, here.

Why is reading Recovery So Limited in its Usefulness?

James Chapman, via a kind reader:

Children are encouraged to use pictures or other cues to guess unknown words. This approach is supported by the use of predictable books rather than decodable books. Predictable books have sentences that are repetitive and have words that many beginner readers cannot read by themselves.

Learning to read is not like learning to talk. Most children need to be taught explicitly what sounds that letters, and groups of letters, make. Phonics helps in this process. Unfortunately, RR strongly and mistakenly disapproves of phonics. As a result, RR denies most struggling readers with the very skills they need to become successful readers.

RR does not teach children how words work. In addition to letter sounds,there are other important building blocks that children need to learn to help them read. Children need to be able to blend sounds together, segment words into their separate sounds, and break words into syllables. These skills are also really important for spelling development. RR does not focus on developing these skills even though the research about their importance is overwhelming. Struggling readers are disadvantaged as a result.
RR has little to no focus on spelling. Yet, there is a lot of evidence that shows reading and spelling should be learnt at the same time.

RR has turned out to be a big disappointment. One major review of early intervention programs showed that RR was no better than one-to-one interventions that were done by teacher aides or volunteers with little training. This comprehensive review showed that the most successful reading intervention programs in the junior primary school were based on phonics approaches. Yet, RR clings to outdated reading approaches that end up disadvantaging the very students the program is supposed to help.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Self-censorship on Campus Is Bad for Science

Luana Maroja:

Similar biological denialism exists about nearly any observed difference between human groups, including those between males and females. Unfortunately, students push back against these phenomena not by using scientific arguments, but by employing an a priori moral commitment to equality, anti-racism, and anti-sexism. They resort to denialism to protect themselves from having to confront a worldview they reject—that certain differences between groups may be based partly on biology. This denialism manifests itself at times in classroom discussions and in emails in which students explain at length why I should not be teaching the topic.

To my surprise, some students even objected to other well-established biological concepts, such as “kin selection,” the idea that, when individuals take actions for the benefit of their offspring and siblings, they are indirectly perpetuating their own genes. Startled students, falling into what we call the “naturalistic fallacy”—the notion that what occurs in nature is good—thought I was actually endorsing Trump’s hiring of his family! Things have gone so far that, in my classes, I now feel compelled to issue a caveat: Just because a trait has evolved by natural selection does not mean that it is also morally desirable.

Civics: Tech giant brings software to a gun fight: Salesforce bars its customers from selling firearms

Jay Greene:

On its website, touts retailer Camping World as a leading customer of its business software, highlighting its use of products to help sales staff move product. A Camping World executive is even quoted calling Salesforce’s software “magic.”

But behind the scenes in recent weeks, the Silicon Valley tech giant has delivered a different message to gun-selling retailers such as Camping World: Stop selling military-style rifles, or stop using our software.

The pressure Salesforce is exerting on those retailers – barring them from using its technology to market products, manage customer service operations and fulfill orders – puts them in a difficult position. Camping World, for example, spends more than $1 million a year on Salesforce’s e-commerce software, according to one analyst estimate. Switching to another provider now could cost the company double that to migrate data, reconfigure systems and retrain employees.

Trump’s Next Trade War Target: Chinese Students at Elite Schools


“I’m nervous, worried, even saddened by the unnecessary conflict,” said Liu Yuanli, founding director of the Harvard School of Public Health’s China Initiative and now serves as dean of Peking Union Medical College’s School of Public Health in Beijing. “The restrictions on Chinese scholars and students are irrational and go against the very core value that makes U.S. a great nation.”

Liu is a participant in China’s controversial “Thousand Talents” recruitment program, which began in 2008 as a way for Beijing to encourage its brightest citizens abroad to help develop the economy back home. More recently, China has sought to play down the program as U.S. concerns about its activities grow.

Increasing Suspicion

The developments underscore how the trade conflict is fundamentally changing the relationship between to the world’s two largest economies, from one of greater reliance to increasing suspicion. President Donald Trump’s expanding curbs on Chinese goods and China’s move to set up a sweeping blacklist of “unreliable” foreign entities since their trade talks broke down have helped fuel new Wall Street warnings about a possible global recession.

Education has for decades been a strong point of cooperation between the nations, with a surge of Chinese students filling American university coffers while giving the country access to some of the world’s best research hubs. The U.S. hosted more than 360,000 students from China last year, according to a report by the Institute of International Education, more than any other country.

A New York School District Will Test Facial Recognition On Students Even Though The State Asked It To Wait

Daley Alba

A New York school district will move forward with its facial recognition pilot program next week, despite an explicit order from the New York State Education Department that it must wait until a standard is finalized for data privacy and security for all state educational agencies.

On Friday, the Lockport school district said it was “confident” that the data collection policy for its facial recognition system was sound enough that it could begin testing it on campuses June 3.

“[State Education Department] representatives previously communicated to the District their recommendation that the System not become operational until the dialogue between the District and SED with regard to student data security and privacy is complete,” the statement, sent by the district’s director of technology, Robert LiPuma, to BuzzFeed News, said. “However, the District’s Initial Implementation Phase of the System (which will commence June 3, 2019 and continue through August 31, 2019) will not include any student data being entered into the System database or generated by the System.”

The College Bureaucracy That Never Shrinks

Heather MacDonald:

A billionaire tech investor made headlines last week with his pledge to pay off the student loans held by Morehouse College’s graduating Class of 2019. Unfortunately, Robert Smith’s multimillion-dollar gift, however admirable philanthropically, is as irrelevant to the problem of student debt as the recent policy proposals from the Democratic presidential field. Whether it’s Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plan to use taxpayer dollars to cancel most outstanding student loans for the majority of borrowers, or Senator Bernie Sanders’s promise of “free” (i.e., fully taxpayer-subsidized) tuition for public universities, all such proposals treat ballooning college costs as a naturally occurring phenomenon, outside the reach of human action. The discourse around student debt—which now stands at $1.5 trillion—holds colleges harmless in causing that debt. The sole focus of discussion is instead how best to underwrite rising tuitions with public or private money.

But college tuition is not an act of God, beyond human control. It is a result of decisions taken by colleges themselves—above all, decisions to bulk up their bureaucracies. Bureaucratic outlays rose at nearly twice the rate as teaching outlays from 1993 to 2007, according to the Goldwater Institute. From 1997 to 2012, colleges hired new administrators at twice the rate of any student-body increase, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting found. Colleges inevitably claim that government mandates force this administrative bloat upon them. But the vast majority of administrative hires are voluntary: for every dollar in mandated bureaucratic spending from 1987 to 2011, public universities added an additional $2 in discretionary bureaucracy, and private universities added $3, according to economists Robert Martin and Carter Hill. Fiefdoms focused on diversity and student services grew at the fastest clip, in the name of fighting the campus oppression to which minority and female students are allegedly subjected.

‘Can’t pay their bills with love’: In many teaching jobs, teachers’ salaries can’t cover rent

Erin Richards and Matt Wynn:

Her annual compensation for those skills: $64,000, plus benefits. That doesn’t go far in this popular coastal city, where median rent has shot up to almost $2,000 per month, and the median mortgage is almost $1,300 per month before taxes or insurance, according to the real estate site Zillow.

“We spend a good 30% to 40% of our income on our mortgage,” said Corugedo, 52. “I would have moved out of Miami by now if not for my husband’s additional income.”

Beginner teachers have an even tougher time affording Miami. Skyrocketing housing prices combined with relatively low educator salaries have made the area one of the nation’s priciest cities for starting teachers.

An antidote to futility: Why academics (and students) should take blogging / social media seriously

Duncan Green:

Before I started teaching at LSE in January, I had the impression that the academics and researchers around the school were totally social media savvy – prolific tweeters like Charlie Beckett and top blogs like LSE Impact are high up on my follow list.

It turned out the impression was, ahem, a little misleading. A good proportion of the people I have come across may be brilliant in their field, but when it comes to using the interwebs, tend to sound like the querulous 1960s judge asking ‘What is a Beatle?’ (‘I don’t twitter’). Much of life is spent within the hallowed paywalls of academic journals (when I pointed out that no-one outside academia reads them, the baffled response seemed to be along the lines of ‘and your point is?’).

So why should they rethink? Here are some initial arguments, confined to blogs and twitter (the only bits of social media I engage with). I’m sure there are lots of others – feel free to add:

Can Data Be Human? The Work of Giorgia Lupi

Alexandra Lange:

The designer Giorgia Lupi was born in 1981 and believes that she is part of a special bridge generation. “I was raised in a completely analog environment,” she says. “I was a teen-ager when all of the awkward connection and human connection needed to be made in real life. But, at the same time, because I started to use technology as a teen-ager, I’m fluent in both worlds.” This week, Lupi joins the graphic-design firm Pentagram as the only partner who has a focus on information design. Her work, consistent with her upbringing, brings a tactile feel to computer code, and her appointment is an occasion to assess information design—a field located between graphic design and data science—and the possibilities it holds.

Sitting in Pentagram’s crisp quarters, on Park Avenue South, Lupi cuts an extremely organized figure: petite and black-clad, with a looping black necklace and round black glasses, accented by a cap of red hair. Born in Modena, Italy, and trained as an architect, Lupi had her first brush with information design while in college via an exercise in urban mapping, inspired by the planner Kevin Lynch. In his landmark book, “The Image of the City,” published in 1961, Lynch asked people to draw their city for a visitor, paying attention to their own everyday paths and major landmarks, without reference to geography. Of course, each person’s map, both in Lynch’s book and Lupi’s exercise, was different—but that did not mean that one map was more accurate than another. Rather, each person was telling a different story through cartography.

Today, Lupi describes her profession as “telling stories with data,” which sounds like an oxymoron, until you see her work. For the Milan Design Triennial, Lupi and her previous design studio, Accurat, created a so-called data tapestry, made up of horizontal bands crosshatched with vertical lines, that wraps around three sides of a gallery, titled “The Room of Change.” Each horizontal band represents a different data set, ranging from world population to animal extinctions, alcohol consumption, and technology access. Each vertical slice represents a moment in time. The wow factor comes when you step back and realize that all those numbers—all that data—look from afar like the sketch for a Bauhaus tapestry, done in colored pencil. The installation works as both visual art and a narrative of environmental decline.

Lupi calls what she does “data humanism,” a reaction against the computer-generated, harsh-toned bar graphs, pie charts, and rows of tiny humans that leapt from corporate reports into mainstream media in the nineties. In a manifesto of sorts that was published in Print magazine, Lupi writes how “ ‘cool’ infographics promised us the key to master this untamable complexity.” When that did not work out, “we were left with gigabytes of unreadable 3D pie charts and cheap translucent user interfaces full of widgets.” The ostensibly neutral visual language of these graphics suggested authority, but they could easily mislead or be misread. What was needed was a more honest, approachable, graspable way to present data.

UW-Madison researchers’ study highlights voices of immigrant parents, students in public schools


The project, “Building Equitable Inclusion of Immigrant Parents in Public Schools” conducted focus groups and one-on-one interviews with a total of 80 Latinx and Hmong parents and youth from a variety of areas in Dane County, including Madison, Sun Prairie, Fitchburg and McFarland.

The project was partly funded by the School of Education’s Grand Challenges Engage initiative in 2017, which awarded a total of $200,000 to eight finalists that year.

Outreach was done through local community organizations, and data collection began in 2018 and stretched into 2019. While the researchers are still analyzing their data, they’ve already presented at the American Educational Research Association conference and hope to be able to submit a paper for publication in early 2020.

Stop Feeding College Bureaucratic Bloat: Congress Should Tie Student Loans To Ratio Of Administrators To Faculty

Wall Street Journal:

American higher education faces many difficulties, not least soaring costs and the decline of academic freedom. Administrative bloat, subsidized by the federal government, makes both these problems worse.

A 2014 analysis by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting found that from 1987 to 2012, the higher-education sector added more than half a million administrators. Their numbers have doubled relative to academic faculty. Financed in large part with federally subsidized tuition, this rise of administrators siphons money from the core functions of academic institutions. Colleges and universities have shifted teaching duties from full-time professors to part-time nontenured adjuncts who earn paltry wages.

Congress can combat this transformation of the university by reforming student-loan programs. The U.S. government offers student loans without regard to the ratio of administrators to full-time tenured faculty at the school receiving the funds. Congressional largess to students has thus changed the nature of the higher-education system. It has enabled colleges and universities to expand and entrench a class of employees whose interests often conflict with a serious education.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: a look at US debt

Cutizens against government waste:

Even in the “Drain the Swamp” era, the national debt of the United States first exceeded $21 trillion in 2018 and is poised to rise substantially in the coming years. To help chart a path out of this calamitous hole, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is releasing Prime Cuts 2018, a comprehensive account of options the federal government possesses to cut into the ballooning debt.

CAGW has been publishing Prime Cuts since 1993. The 2018 version contains 636 recommendations that would save taxpayers $429.8 billion in the first year and $3.1 trillion over five years.

Prime Cuts 2018 addresses every area of government spending. For example, the report proposes eliminating the Market Access Program (MAP), which aims to help agricultural producers promote U.S. products overseas. However, MAP is a corporate welfare program that funnels millions of dollars to large, profitable corporations and trade associations that can well afford to pay for their own ads. Eliminating MAP would save taxpayers nearly $1 billion over five years.

Numerous cuts can be made to the Department of Defense (DOD) without jeopardizing national security, including eliminating congressional add-ons for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. The F-35 is $173 billion over budget, seven years behind schedule, and on pace to become the most expensive weapon system in history, with an estimated lifetime cost of $1 trillion for operation and maintenance.

The recommendations also include long-standing proposals to eliminate the sugar, dairy, and peanut programs; reduce Medicare improper payments by 50 percent; and, increase the use of software asset management tools.

The Books of College Libraries Are Turning Into Wallpaper

Dan Cohen:

When Yale recently decided to relocate three-quarters of the books in its undergraduate library to create more study space, the students loudly protested. In a passionate op-ed in the Yale Daily News, one student accused the university librarian—who oversees 15 million books in Yale’s extensive library system—of failing to “understand the crucial relationship of books to education.” A sit-in, or rather a “browse-in,” was held in Bass Library to show the administration how college students still value the presence of books. Eventually the number of volumes that would remain was expanded, at the cost of reducing the number of proposed additional seats in a busy central location.

Little-noticed in this minor skirmish over the future of the library was a much bigger story about the changing relationship between college students and books. Buried in a slide deck about circulation statistics from Yale’s library was an unsettling fact: There has been a 64 percent decline in the number of books checked out by undergraduates from Bass Library over the past decade.

Yale’s experience is not at all unique—indeed, it is commonplace. University libraries across the country, and around the world, are seeing steady, and in many cases precipitous, declines in the use of the books on their shelves. The University of Virginia, one of our great public universities and an institution that openly shares detailed library circulation stats from the prior 20 years, is a good case study. College students at UVA checked out 238,000 books during the school year a decade ago; last year, that number had shrunk to just 60,000.

How Social Media Imperils Scholarship

Justin Smith:

The existence of this profile for me, on an ostensibly “professional” social-media platform, suggested a responsibility on my part to maintain it. I imagined uploading a picture of myself smiling confidently, chin resting on my hand like a happy version of “The Thinker,” or like some real-estate agent on his business card — an image of someone who is probably not happy but knows the rules of his trade.

Or perhaps, if I wished to comply more fully with the habitus of Anglophone academic philosophy, I could maintain my profile with a picture of myself kayaking, or on a climbing wall, or hiking the Rockies with a look on my face that says, if only for a fleeting moment, “Boy, do I know how to live.” And if I wished to deviate from those approved pastimes, I might select a photo of myself having a great time with my kids. Except that I do not have kids, and I know nothing of mountain sports.

I wrote to David Chalmers, who directs the site along with David Bourget, and in late March I heard back from him. My machine­-generated profile had been graciously removed.

US universities brace for decline in Chinese students after Beijing warning

Mark Magnier and Daniel Bases:

Beijing’s pointed warning on Monday that Chinese students should reassess their prospects for obtaining US visas amid heightened tensions between the two countries is raising concerns in the American academic community.

Chinese undergraduate and graduate students make up the largest portion of foreign students at US universities by far, and that proportion has steadily increased over the past 40 years, according to the US Department of Education’s National Centre for Education Statistics.

“American universities are unanimous in their statements about how much they welcome Chinese students, and a number of university presidents are on record about that,” said John Holden, a senior director at McLarty Associates and a former head of the US-China Strong Foundation, which seeks to increase the number of Americans studying Mandarin.

Trump’s Next Trade War Target: Chinese Students at Elite Schools


Several Chinese graduate students and academics told Bloomberg News in recent weeks that they found the U.S. academic and job environment increasingly unfriendly. Emory University dismissed two Chinese-American professors on May 16, and China’s Education Ministry issued a warning Monday on the risks of studying in the U.S. as student visa rejections soar.

“I’m nervous, worried, even saddened by the unnecessary conflict,” said Liu Yuanli, founding director of the Harvard School of Public Health’s China Initiative and now serves as dean of Peking Union Medical College’s School of Public Health in Beijing. “The restrictions on Chinese scholars and students are irrational and go against the very core value that makes U.S. a great nation.”

Liu is a participant in China’s controversial “Thousand Talents” recruitment program, which began in 2008 as a way for Beijing to encourage its brightest citizens abroad to help develop the economy back home. More recently, China has sought to play down the program as U.S. concerns about its activities grow.

Madison School Board eyes renewal of several partnerships despite worries of not enough success

Negassi Tesfamichael:

“It’s really difficult after all of these years to look and see no academic improvement in outcomes, and it’s not because people aren’t working hard or don’t have the right intentions or all of these things,” said board member Mary Burke. “But I’d like to hear we’re looking at how we reimagine the middle school (program). But the status quo for none of us is acceptable when we come to reading proficiencies or math proficiencies for students of color, and we need to look at our partnerships and also say the status quo is not enough.”

Burke, who does not plan to run for re-election when her term ends in 2021, said the board and district shouldn’t wait until the next renewal to find ways to improve and better track outcomes for students in Schools of Hope.

Superintendent Jen Cheatham and MMSD staff emphasized that programs like Schools of Hope give students a chance to build their social-emotional learning and non-cognitive skills through their interactions with tutors.


It ain’t working so let’s do more of it.

What Good Is Grandma?

David Barash:

These circumstances can be stressful for youngsters, their parents, and their grandparents. But there is another way of looking at it: Today’s grandparents are doing exactly what their biology has prepared them for.

In pretty much all other species, individuals reproduce until they can’t anymore, and nearly always, this coincides with the end of their lives. Human beings are extraordinary, by contrast, in that long after we’ve stopped reproducing, we just keep on living. In particular, we appear to be the only animals in which half the population loses the ability to reproduce, through menopause, while they still have roughly one-third of their lives ahead of them, much of it quite healthy.

Natural selection rewards reproduction, and the mathematics show that a woman who produces an additional child will be favored over one who stops ovulating. (Reproduction offers the biological equivalent of compound interest; having just one more offspring means the potential of a whole lot of enhanced fitness, so selection should always favor giving it one more try, even if the would-be mother dies in the attempt.) As a result, the existence of menopause as a species-wide trait presents a species-wide mystery. Why don’t people, like other perfectly good mammals, keep on reproducing until they die? Or, another way of looking at it, why do women stop reproducing in late middle age, and yet keep on living? The answer that is emerging from a productive confluence of evolutionary theory and anthropology is that these old people—too old to reproduce, too young and healthy to kick the bucket—are highly biologically relevant.3

PC insanity may mean the end of American universities

Roger Kimball:

People used to talk about the ends of the university and how the academic establishment was failing its students. Today, more and more people are talking about the end of the university, the idea being that it is time to think about closing them rather than reforming them.

Last month at a conference in London, the distinguished British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton added his voice to this chorus when responding to a questioner who complained of the physical ­violence meted out to conservative students at Birkbeck University.

There were two possible responses to this situation, Sir Roger said. One was to start competing institutions, outside the academic establishment, that welcomed conservative voices.

The other possibility was “get rid of universities altogether.”

That response was met with enthusiastic applause.

Why We Remember June Fourth

Perry Link:

We remember June Fourth because the glint of bonfires on bayonets is something one does not forget, even if one did not see it personally.

We remember June Fourth because it taught us the essential nature of the Communist Party of China when all of the clothes, every shred, falls away. No book, film, or museum could be clearer.

We remember June Fourth because of the ordinary workers who died then. We cannot remember most of their names because we do not know most of their names. We never did. But we remember them as people, and we remember that we never knew their names.

We remember June Fourth because the worst of China is there—but the best of China is there, too.

We remember June Fourth because it was a massacre—not just a crackdown, or an “incident,” an event, a shijian, a fengbo; not a counterrevolutionary riot, not a faint memory, and not, as a child in China might think today, a blank. It was a massacre.

We remember June Fourth because, as Fang Lizhi noted with his characteristic wit, it is the only case he has heard of in which a nation invaded itself.

We remember June Fourth because Xi Jinping’s fat smile is a mask.

These Americans fled the country to escape their giant student debt

Annie Nova:

Chad Haag considered living in a cave to escape his student debt. He had a friend doing it. But after some plotting, he settled on what he considered a less risky plan. This year, he relocated to a jungle in India. “I’ve put America behind me,” Haag, 29, said.

Today he lives in a concrete house in the village of Uchakkada for $50 a month. His backyard is filled with coconut trees and chickens. “I saw four elephants just yesterday,” he said, adding that he hopes never to set foot in a Walmart again.

More than 9,000 miles away from Colorado, Haag said, his student loans don’t feel real anymore. “It’s kind of like, if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it really exist?” he said.

Some student loan borrowers are packing their bags and fleeing from the U.S. to other countries, where the cost of living is often lower and debt collectors wield less power over them. Although there is no national data on how many people have left the United States because of student debt, borrowers tell their stories of doing so in Facebook groups and Reddit channels and how-to advice is offered on personal finance websites.

The intersectionality wars

Jane Coaston:

This is a highly unusual level of disdain for a word that until several years ago was a legal term in relative obscurity outside academic circles. It was coined in 1989 by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics “intersect” with one another and overlap. “Intersectionality” has, in a sense, gone viral over the past half-decade, resulting in a backlash from the right.

In my conversations with right-wing critics of intersectionality, I’ve found that what upsets them isn’t the theory itself. Indeed, they largely agree that it accurately describes the way people from different backgrounds encounter the world. The lived experiences — and experiences of discrimination — of a black woman will be different from those of a white woman, or a black man, for example. They object to its implications, uses, and, most importantly, its consequences, what some conservatives view as the upending of racial and cultural hierarchies to create a new one.

But Crenshaw isn’t seeking to build a racial hierarchy with black women at the top. Through her work, she’s attempting to demolish racial hierarchies altogether.

The Academy’s New Favorite Hate-Read

Tom Bartlett:

Founded in 2015 by Claire Lehmann, an Australian writer and former graduate student in psychology, Quillette initially maintained a more straightforwardly scientific focus but later morphed into a vehicle for a distinctive brand of cultural critique. Its three most popular articles as of this writing are a story on a scholar drummed out of the University of Cambridge for writing about race and IQ, a think piece on the decline of elites, and an essay headlined “How Anti-Humanism Conquered the Left.”

Quillette has also become the house journal of sorts for the Intellectual Dark Web, that highbrow variety pack of academics, journalists, and miscellaneous pundits who pride themselves on a clear-eyed commitment to evidence over emotion. It published multiple pieces by and about James Damore, author of the infamous “Google memo” that questioned the company’s diversity policies, and came down squarely on the side of the so-called grievance-studies hoax, in which three scholars punked humanities journals by submitting creative nonsense cloaked in social-justice buzzwords.

Minneapolis shoe rehab owner can repair anything, including the broken man he once was

James Lileks:

When you leave the shoe-rehabilitation establishment run by one Robert Napoleon Steele the Third, you will walk a bit taller, stride a bit quicker. You’re guaranteed to be well-shod and shiny, for you’ve just visited the Lazarus of Leather. The man who can bring the most battered, hopeless, despairing shoe back to its showroom state.

You might say he did the same for himself. Ask Napoleon about his life story and he might ask which part you want — the stand-up comedian days, or the 19 years on the street, homeless?

“I remember when I was homeless, sleeping in an alley on a stinking mattress, didn’t matter, when you’re homeless, you don’t care how it is,” he said.

“I saw this family coming back from church. I was praying — God, get me off crack. Get me off drugs. And I did! And now I got kids, and it’s ‘Sit down! Boy, leave your brother alone! Don’t set the cat on fire!’ And I think, ‘God, get me back on crack.’ ”

Bipartisan Senate Effort Predictably Kills Rand Paul’s Plan to Balance the Federal Budget

Eric Boehm:

“We teach our children that money doesn’t grow on trees, and then they grow up watching politicians pretend otherwise,” Paul said before the vote. “Meanwhile, our debt soars past $22 trillion, endangers our country, and artificially limits what our nation can achieve.”

Paul’s proposal called for cutting 2 percent from all federal line items for each of the next five years and would reduce federal spending by about $11 trillion over the next decade—even though spending would rise after the first five years. It’s an adaptation of the so-called “Penny Plan” that Paul has been pushing for several years, though he now says an additional penny in cuts for every federal dollar spent is necessary to get the budget to balance.

Indeed, the gap between what the federal government spends and what it takes in is growing wider. During the first seven months of the current fiscal year, which began in October 2018, the federal government ran a $531 billion deficit. That’s a 38 percent increase over the same period of time last year.

According to an analysis from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, about 60 percent of this year’s expected deficit is the result of policies—mostly last year’s huge increase in spending that shattered those Obama-era budget caps—put in place by current legislators and signed by the current president.

Chinese AI Talent in Six Charts

Matt Sheehan:

Debates over Chinese and American artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities have been long on bombast and short on data.

That’s why at MacroPolo we have created an original dataset based on published papers at what many experts deem the top annual AI conference, NeurIPS 2018, bringing more data to bear on assessing the quantity and quality of AI research talent in China and the United States.

Research talent is often overlooked but is in fact a core building block of any AI ecosystem (see our ChinAI project). Given that leading AI research is relatively open source, talent is one of the most directly quantifiable of those building blocks. Insights gleaned from the data on published research can better inform a well-grounded and data-driven public debate around the state and flow of global AI talent.

The charts below are a first look at the raw data, followed by key takeaways from the data.

U.S. News makes major changes to high school rankings. How it dramatically changes the results.

Valerie Strauss:

In 2018, the sole indicator was participation by high school seniors in an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam, meaning 100 percent of the rankings were based on standardized tests.

As it turns out, the six factors used by the magazine for its 2019 rankings mostly involved standardized test participation or scores (90 percent) with graduation rates accounting for the remaining 10 percent. But different tests are included and so are different ways of looking at them. (We won’t dwell on the fact that standardized test scores provide a very limited look at what students know and can do. Nor will we fixate on the fact that graduation rates can, and have been, fudged in the past.)

U.S. News said that in addition to the changes in the indicators used in its calculations, it ranked more than 17,000 high schools this year, compared with 2,700 in 2018.

As a result, U.S. News said, “Since the methodology changed so significantly this year, a school’s ranking in the 2019 Best High Schools ranking can’t be compared with its rankings in any previous U.S. News ranking.”

Here’s the 2019 Top 10, followed by the 2018:

Harvard Is An Embarrassment To American Higher Education

Richard Vedder:

As America’s oldest and wealthiest university, Harvard University has been a source of national pride, indeed a national treasure, always very high on the list of the world’s top schools. Yet recently it committed a blunder of breathtaking proportions, one so egregious that it calls for action not only by Harvard but possibly even beyond.

The Dean of Harvard College, Rakesh Khurana, fired Ronald Sullivan, longtime faculty dean of Winthrop House. Sullivan was recruited to Harvard Law School by now Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, and is Jesse Climenko Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Justice Institute. Sullivan is well known for his work in defending literally thousands of individuals accused of major crimes, such as NFL football star Aaron Hernandez. What heinous act led Sullivan (and, by extension, his wife, another Harvard Law instructor, Stephanie Robinson) to be fired from their Winthrop House position? He agreed (although later changed his mind) to represent accused rapist and sexual harasser, Harvey Weinstein in forthcoming criminal proceedings.

Students started protesting, even proclaiming that this act was “deeply trauma-inducing” and threatening. Admittedly, based on numerous news accounts, Weinstein appears to be one of the world’s most morally flawed individuals. But a basic core value of American liberal democracy is the rule of law, with all accused, even the most heinous, entitled to representation by competent legal counsel. It’s as if Dean Khurana said the opinions of unhappy Harvard students count for more than hundreds of years of legal precedent.

Fortunately, many famous liberal icons on the Harvard Law faculty are appalled. Writing in the New York Times, Randall Kennedy said Harvard “has never so thoroughly embarrassed itself as it did.” Laurence Tribe said, according to Peter Berkowitz’s account in Real Clear Politics, “Of many blunders, Harvard has made in my 50 years …here, I recall none worse.” Alan Dershowitz weighed in: “feeling ‘unsafe’ is the new mantra for the new McCarthyism….. It is a totally phony argument.” Some 52 members of the Harvard Law faculty, in a letter to the Boston Globe, strongly condemned the action as well.

Civics: Does anything link the eugenics of the past to abortion today?

Ross Douthat:

The Thomas argument, common inside the pro-life movement but startling to many, is that the present “reproductive rights” regime may effectively extend older eugenic efforts to reduce populations deemed unfit. His dissent cited the eugenic inclinations of progressive icons like Margaret Sanger, while pointing out that today’s abortion rates are highest among populations — racial minorities and the disabled — that the older eugenicists hoped to cull.

This argument prompted multiple rejoinders. First, that many past progressives were racist but today’s pro-choice progressivism isn’t, and it is a “genetic fallacy” to link the two. Second, that the original eugenicists, Sanger included, did not usually favor abortion, so it’s a mistake to connect their views to the pro-choice case. Third, that the original eugenicists wanted governments to practice “collective biosocial engineering,” while the contemporary effects Thomas decries are the result of dispersed individual choices, a very different thing.

Fresh Air Weekend: Mental Health On Campus; How Eugenics Shaped Immigration Policy

Curated Education Information