Political correctness is the biggest issue facing America today.

David Gelernter, via Will Fitzhugh:

Donald Trump is succeeding, we’re told, because he appeals to angry voters—but that’s obvious; tell me more. Why are they angry, and how does he appeal to them? In 2016, Americans want to vote for a person and not a white paper. If you care about America’s fate under Obama, naturally you are angry; voters should distrust a candidate who is not angry.

But there’s more to it than mere anger. Chris Christie was angry, and he’s gone. Trump has hit on important issues—immigration, the economy, appeasement unlimited—in ways that appeal to voters emotionally. There’s nothing wrong with that; I trust someone who feels what I feel more than a person who merely thinks what I think. But though Rubio and Cruz are plainly capable of connecting with voters emotionally, Trump is way ahead—for many reasons, but the most important is obvious and virtually ignored.

Political correctness. Trump hasn’t made it a campaign theme exactly, but he mentions it often with angry disgust. Reporters, pundits, and the other candidates treat it as a sideshow, a handy way for Trump (King Kong, Jr.) to smack down the pitiful airplanes that attack him as he bestrides his mighty tower, roaring. But the analysts have it exactly backward. Political correctness is the biggest issue facing America today. Even Trump has just barely faced up to it. The ironic name disguises the real nature of this force, which ought to be called invasive leftism or thought-police liberalism or metastasized progressivism. The old-time American mainstream, working- and middle-class white males and their families, is mad as hell about political correctness and the havoc it has wreaked for 40 years—havoc made worse by the flat refusal of most serious Republicans to confront it. Republicans rarely even acknowledge its existence as the open wound it really is; a wound that will fester forever until someone has the nerve to heal it—or the patient succumbs. To watch young minorities protest their maltreatment on fancy campuses when your own working life has seen, from the very start, relentless discrimination in favor of minorities—such events can make people a little testy.

We are fighting Islamic terrorism, but the president won’t even say “Islamic terrorism.” It sounds like a joke—but it isn’t funny. It connects straight to other problems that terrify America’s nonelites, people who do not belong (or whose spouses or children don’t belong) to the races or groups that are revered and protected under p.c. law and theology.

Political correctness means that when the Marines discover that combat units are less effective if they include women, a hack overrules them. What’s more important, guys, combat effectiveness or leftist dogma? No contest! Nor is it hard to notice that putting women in combat is not exactly the kind of issue that most American women are losing sleep over. It matters only to a small, powerful clique of delusional ideologues. (The insinuation that our p.c. military is upholding the rights of women everywhere, that your average American woman values feminist dogma over the strongest-possible fighting force—as if women were just too ditzy to care about boring things like winning battles—is rage-making.)

The mainstream press largely ignored the Marines story. Mainstream reporters can’t see the crucial importance of political correctness because they are wholly immersed in it, can’t conceive of questioning it; it is the very stuff of their thinking, their heart’s blood. Most have been raised in this faith and have no other. Can you blame them if they take it for granted?

Why did the EPA try to issue a diktat designed to destroy the American coal industry in exchange for decreases in carbon emissions that were purely symbolic? Political correctness required this decree. It is not just a matter of infantile posing, like pretending to be offended by the name Washington Redskins. Bureaucrats have been ordered by those on high to put their p.c. principles into practice, and the character of American government is changing.

The IRS attacks conservative groups—and not one IRS worker has the integrity or guts to resign on principle, not one. Political correctness is a creed, and the creed holds that American conservatives are ignorant, stupid, and evil. This has been the creed for a generation, but people are angry now because we see, for the first time, political correctness powering an administration and a federal bureaucracy the way a big V-8 powers a sports car. The Department of Justice contributes its opinion that the IRS was guilty of no crime—and has made other politically slanted decisions too; and those decisions all express the credo of thought-police liberalism, as captured by the motto soon to be mounted (we hear) above the main door at the White House, the IRS, and the DOJ: We know what’s best; you shut up.

It’s a gigantic, terrifying problem—and no other candidate even mentions it! If Cruz and Rubio and Bush choose to be taken seriously by voters (versus analysts), they will follow Trump in attacking this deadly corrosion that weakens democracy from the inside, leaving a fragile shell that crumbles to powder in the first stiff breeze.

The State Department, naturally, is installing the same motto above its door—together with a flag emblazoned with a presidential phone and a presidential pen, the sacred instruments of invasive leftism. Christians are persecuted, enslaved, murdered in the Middle East, but the Obama regime is not interested. In a distant but related twist, Obama orders Christian organizations to dispense contraceptives whether they want to or not. This is political correctness in action—invasive leftism. Political correctness holds that Christians are a bygone force, reactionary, naïve, and irrelevant. If you don’t believe it, go to the universities that trained Obama, Columbia and Harvard, and listen. We live in the Biblical Republic, founded by devout Christians with a Creed (liberty, equality, democracy) supported directly—each separate principle—by ancient Hebrew verses. Christianity created this nation. But p.c. people don’t know history. Don’t even know that there is any. Stalin forced the old Bolsheviks to confess to crimes they never committed, then had them shot. Today, boring-vanilla Americans are forced to atone for crimes committed before they were born. Radically different levels of violence; same underlying class-warfare principle.

And we still haven’t come to the main point. Many white male job-seekers have faced aggressive state-enforced bigotry their whole lives. It doesn’t matter much to a Washington wiseguy, left or right, if firemen in New Haven (whites and Hispanics) pass a test for promotion that is peremptorily thrown in the trash after the fact because no blacks scored high enough. Who cares? It hardly matters if a white child and a black child of equal intelligence study equally hard, get equally good grades and recommendations—and the black kid gets into college X but the white kid doesn’t. Who would vote for a president based on that kind of trivia? This sort of corruption never bothers rich or well-educated families. There’s always room at the top. But such things do matter to many citizens of this country, who are in the bad habit of expecting honesty and fairness from the institutions that define our society, and who don’t have quite as many fancy, exciting opportunities as the elect families of the p.c. true believers. In analyzing Trump, Washington misses the point, is staggeringly wide of the point. Only Trump has the common sense to mention the elephant in the room. Naturally he is winning.

Why, by the way, was Trump alone honored by a proposal in the British Parliament that he be banned from the country? Something about Trump drives Europeans crazy. Not the things that drive me crazy: his slandering John McCain, mocking a disabled reporter, revealing no concept of American foreign policy, repeating that ugly lie about George W. Bush supposedly tricking us into war with Iraq. The British don’t care about such things one way or the other—they are used to American vulgarians. But a man who attacks political correctness is attacking the holy of holies, the whole basis of governance in Europe, where galloping p.c. is the established religion—and has been effective for half a century at keeping the masses quiet so their rulers can arrange everybody’s life properly. Europe never has been comfortable with democracy.

The day Obama was inaugurated, he might have done a noble thing. He might have delivered an inaugural address in which he said: This nation used to be guilty of race prejudice, but today I can tell you that there is no speck of race prejudice in any corner of the government or the laws of this country, and that is an amazing achievement of which every American ought to be deeply proud. An individual American here or there is racist; but that’s his right in a free country; if he commits no crime, let him think and say what he likes. But I know and you know, and the whole world knows, that the overwhelming majority of Americans has thoroughly, from the heart, renounced race prejudice forever. So let’s have three cheers for our uniquely noble nation—and let’s move on tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new.

But he didn’t.

Worst of all its crimes is what invasive leftism has done to our schools. Trump’s un-privileged, un-classy supporters understand that their children are filled full of leftist bile every day at school and college. These parents don’t always have the time or energy to set their children straight. But they are not stupid. They know what is going on.

Cruz, Rubio, Bush, and Carson—even Kasich—could slam thought-police liberalism in every speech. They’d concede that Trump was right to bring the issue forward. Their own records are perfectly consistent with despising political correctness. It’s just that they lacked the wisdom or maybe the courage to acknowledge how deep this corruption reaches into America’s soul. It’s not too late for them to join him in exposing this cancer afflicting America’s spirit, the malign and ferocious arrogance of p.c.

David Gelernter, a professor of computer science at Yale, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.

Greed: College presidents earn more –- a lot more –- than CEOs

Anthony Hennen:

High pay for CEOs attracts annual attention and recitations about the immorality of capitalism, but when the focus is on average CEO pay, they make less than half the annual earnings of college presidents, according to CBS News.

The average CEO earns $176,840 annually, an amount that would make a university president into a pauper. In academia, college presidents earn $377,261 annually.

Americans outraged and indebted by high college costs will be quick to draw the parallel between college president pay and their tuition bill. Correlation, though, doesn’t imply causation. Often, college presidents aren’t even the highest-paid college employees; athletic coaches earn more.

Regardless, college presidents “are well into the 99th percentile of compensation for wage earners in the United States,” Peter L. Hinrichs and Anne Chen noted for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

The median cost of presidential salaries per student is $138.85. Slashing presidential pay could free up some money for student scholarships or additional staff hiring, but students aren’t over-burdened by presidential salaries, as easy a scapegoat as it might be.

Overall staff salaries, however, might be a different story.

Civics: Trump And The Rise Of The Unprotected

Peggy Noonan:

If you are an unprotected American—one with limited resources and negligible access to power—you have absorbed some lessons from the past 20 years’ experience of illegal immigration. You know the Democrats won’t protect you and the Republicans won’t help you. Both parties refused to control the border. The Republicans were afraid of being called illiberal, racist, of losing a demographic for a generation. The Democrats wanted to keep the issue alive to use it as a wedge against the Republicans and to establish themselves as owners of the Hispanic vote.

Many Americans suffered from illegal immigration—its impact on labor markets, financial costs, crime, the sense that the rule of law was collapsing. But the protected did fine—more workers at lower wages. No effect of illegal immigration was likely to hurt them personally.

It was good for the protected. But the unprotected watched and saw. They realized the protected were not looking out for them, and they inferred that they were not looking out for the country, either.

The unprotected came to think they owed the establishment—another word for the protected—nothing, no particular loyalty, no old allegiance.

Mr. Trump came from that. . . . You see the dynamic in many spheres. In Hollywood, as we still call it, where they make our rough culture, they are careful to protect their own children from its ill effects. In places with failing schools, they choose not to help them through the school liberation movement—charter schools, choice, etc.—because they fear to go up against the most reactionary professional group in America, the teachers unions. They let the public schools flounder. But their children go to the best private schools.

This is a terrible feature of our age—that we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens.

Black Wealth Barely Exists

Richard Reeves and Edward Rodrigue:

2. Most Black Middle Class Kids Are Downwardly Mobile

Downward intergenerational social mobility from the middle to the bottom is much more common among Black Americans. Seven out of ten black Americans born into the middle quintile fall into one of the two quintiles below as adults. In some ways, this is an even more depressing fact than the poor rates of upward mobility. Even black Americans who make it to the middle class are likely to see their kids fall down the ladder:

On Student Behavior

Alan Borsuk:

I’ll focus here on responses from current or retired teachers. All but one agreed that conduct in school had declined. (The one said, in short, that kids hadn’t changed much and there are still a lot of great students in schools.) Many didn’t want to be named, and I’ll extend that to all here.

One teacher wrote, “The easy answer is bad parenting. And that’s part of it, I believe, but certainly not the only thing.”

“To be honest, a lot of my students with severe behavior difficulties have parents that are incarcerated, or absent, or out drinking until all hours of the night…. But some of them are from two-parent, dedicated families.

“In my opinion, I think parents often indulge their children — to be their pals, to make them the center of the universe, to just give in because they’re too exhausted or unknowing to say no or have family time, or whatever.”

A retired teacher and administrator wrote, “When I became an administrator, it was clearly understood that if a student used inappropriate language toward a peer, teacher or staff member, there would be consequences, perhaps a detention or in extreme cases a suspension. By the time I retired, this type of behavior was seen as the student merely expressing his/her feelings in a vivid and colorful manner.”

A recently retired high school teacher recounted in detail how the misbehavior of a single student — often one who had been passed along to higher grades without being on grade level — could get much of a class period off track for learning and school administrators weren’t adequately helpful in responding.

Academic Waste

Kelly Baker:

For two years, I’ve been writing about how academia works— and particularly about contingent labor, gender, and the adjunctification of the modern university. I’ve advocated for the impermanent members of the faculty because my own work in academia was only ever off the tenure track.

When I began reading Marc Bousquet’s How the University Works, I was convinced that I knew the map of faculty labor in higher education. I assumed his book would complement and shore up what I knew. I’m already familiar with higher education’s increasing reliance on contingent faculty. I’m aware that the job market in the humanities generally (and in my field of religious studies, in particular) is bad because I stayed on it for five years. Tenured professors retire, and their positions are moved off the tenure track. We continually read dire pronouncements about how graduate school ruins your life, and impassioned calls to reduce graduate admissions.

The Beginning and End of Ethnic Studies

Joanne Barker

UPDATED: Last week at San Francisco State University (SFSU), the only College of Ethnic Studies (COES) in the United States, was informed that next year’s budget would be cut somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000: based on this year’s budget of $3.6 million, that would mean a 13.8 percent budget cut (see table below).

To be clear, the COES has already experienced severe cuts: for instance, in 2009, the COES had 60 full-time faculty and now has only 37 full-time faculty.

The proposed cuts for 2016-2017 could mean no faculty sabbaticals or course release, no lecturers, no research institutes, no student resource center, and the suspension of all hiring initiatives on new and replacement faculty lines most immediately impacting a current search in Africana Studies. Tenure and tenure track faculty would be expected to make up the difference by significantly increasing their course loads and advising responsibilities. Further, with 40-50 percent less course offerings (considering the total percentage of those courses currenty offered by lecturers), students’ time-to-degree could also be adversely impacted.

Valparaiso Law School announces ‘right-sizing’ plan

Amy Lavalley:

Valparaiso University announced Friday that in the wake of declining enrollment for its law school, it is offering buyouts to tenured faculty and faculty members with multi-year contracts.

The school has 21 tenured faculty and six with multi-year contracts and any of them could be eligible for a buyout, said Andrea Lyon, the law school’s dean, adding she couldn’t comment on a target number for the buyouts because that would depend on salaries and the school’s budget.

She said the school is “right-sizing” its faculty because of a drop in students. The school has an enrollment this year of 430 full- and part-time students, and had an incoming class in the fall of 133 students.

Civics: Media & Political Class Ties

Lee Fang:

Journalism 101 teaches that reporters and TV news hosts must properly identify their sources and analysts,” says Jeff Cohen, an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College. We reached out to NBC, CBS, CNN, and ABC News, but did not hear back.

Stephanie Cutter, for example, has appeared on multiple networks to discuss Clinton, and is typically introduced as a former campaign official for President Barack Obama. What hasn’t been disclosed in any of her appearances reviewed by The Intercept, however, is that the boutique consulting firm she co-founded, Precision Strategies, has been retained by the Clinton campaign for “digital consulting,” according to Federal Election Commission records. Precision Strategies has been paid at least $120,049 from the Clinton campaign since June of last year.

“I think that Hillary Clinton has done everything right. She has run a good campaign. She has outperformed in debates. She’s raised money. She’s got a great ground game,” said Cutter, speaking about the upcoming New Hampshire and Iowa primaries on NBC’s Meet the Press on January 17. She was introduced as “President Obama’s 2012 deputy campaign manager.” Her company’s affiliation with the Clinton campaign was not disclosed.

The cafeteria, epicenter of noise and disarray, falls out of favor at some Madison schools

Doug Erickson:

Students are taking more time to eat now because they no longer are racing to get outside, Lehman said, and any disputes that arise on the playground can be addressed during lunch, instead of expecting children to transition immediately from kickball to math.

Even though the length of the lunch period at Hawthorne technically did not change — it’s still about 20 minutes — children can take a little more time if they need to because there’s more flexibility in the schedule, Lehman said. By combining recesses, kids put on and take off their coats and hats and boots just once during the school day, cutting in half a laborious task that can devour a sizable chunk of school time.

Disrupting the Classroom: How the sharing economy is creating a marketplace for cheating.

Doug Bierend:

years, Nicole has worked full-time as live-in caretaker for her centenarian grandmother. Looking to make a little extra cash, she signed up last September with Studypool “an online marketplace that connects students with questions with tutors who can answer them.” An Uber for tutors, if you will.
Nicole created a profile, submitted copies of her driver’s license and unofficial college transcripts, and joined the ranks of independent contractors powering the on-demand economy. Within six hours, she was in business, browsing questions posted by a vast diaspora of students connected via a convenient sharing platform. She quickly came across a request from a college engineering student — represented by a Spongebob Squarepants avatar—looking for help with his calculus homework. Nicole bid five bucks and got the gig.

Britons’ maths-phobia is no laughing matter

Brownwen Maddox:

As Britain struggles to work out whether it is better off in or out of the EU, it might pay heed to the devastating analysis that shows the really frightening obstacles to a thriving future lie at home. The OECD, the Paris-based think-tank, last month ranked British teenagers bottom of 23 developed countries in literacy, and 22nd out of 23 in numeracy.

That was not the first blow. Another OECD survey in May put British 15-year-olds 20th in the world in maths and science (above the US at 28th, it must be said); Singapore was top, followed by Hong Kong and South Korea. International rankings are controversial, not least because they sometimes compare cities or regions against whole countries; Shanghai’s glittering record hardly reflects the performance of China’s rural poor. Still, the tables help monitor a country’s progress, or lack of it — and point to teaching techniques that can be borrowed.

Who and what gets left out of world university rankings?

Michelle Stack:

I often wondered why higher education institutions became implicated in media-business rankings. The major rankings that I analysed for my book, Global University Rankings and the Mediatization of Higher Education, use indicators that tell us more about the wealth of an institution than the quality of students’ educational experience. Rankings have been part of a seismic shift in determining the mission of universities, a shift in who and what is seen as showing evidence of excellence. They play a pivotal role in the dramatic increase in higher education institutions’ spend on marketing and public relations.

I started to write my book on rankings two years ago, and since that time the number of issues plaguing institutions – including top-ranked HEIs – seems only to be increasing. In the US, 157 colleges are under federal investigation for their handling of sexual assault. Too often students report academic leadership being more concerned about the institution’s reputation than the safety of students. But how an institution attempts to deal with systemic violence is not included in determining whether a university is excellent at a world-class level.

State superintendent considering lawsuit over McCleary

Tom James:

The central focus of his legal action would be to get the state Supreme Court to rule on the legality of continuing to use local levies to supplement teacher and staff pay. The court has already ruled that paying for essential parts of education is a state duty, not a local one. But local districts continue to collect levies that pay for basic parts of public school

Dorn added that he had been trying to put together some kind of legal action on the issue since before the start of the legislative session. Gathering support for the move and deciding on the right legal approach has taken time.

The Kansas City spending experience is worth reviewing.

State superintendent considering lawsuit over McCleary

Tom James:

The central focus of his legal action would be to get the state Supreme Court to rule on the legality of continuing to use local levies to supplement teacher and staff pay. The court has already ruled that paying for essential parts of education is a state duty, not a local one. But local districts continue to collect levies that pay for basic parts of public school

Dorn added that he had been trying to put together some kind of legal action on the issue since before the start of the legislative session. Gathering support for the move and deciding on the right legal approach has taken time.

Commentary on Wisconsin’s Act 10

Mitch Henck video.

Molly Beck:

The bill that later became Act 10 launched the largest protests ever in Madison, including a temporary occupation of the Capitol; legislative chaos highlighted by Democratic senators fleeing to Illinois to forestall a floor vote; and Walker’s historic recall victory.

The days, weeks and months after Walker’s Feb. 11, 2011, announcement were among the most dramatic in Wisconsin’s history.

Years later, Act 10 continues to influence the state’s political, economic and social landscape. And it will continue to reverberate years into the future.

Today, the Wisconsin State Journal explores five impacts of Act 10 on the five-year anniversary of its introduction.

Much more on Act 10, here.

“The real problem is that too many black students are getting a hopelessly inadequate K-12 education and by the time they get to college, their best bet is to major in a subject whose exams have no wrong answers and whose professors engage in rampant grade inflation.”

Naomi Schaefer Riley:

The first comes from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, which found that black students are less likely to pursue lucrative majors than their white peers. According to the report, “African Americans account for only 8 percent of general engineering majors, 7 percent of mathematics majors, and only 5 percent of computer engineering majors.”

But they’re overrepresented in fields that don’t have high salaries: “21 percent in health and medical administrative services, compared to only 6 percent in the higher-earning detailed major of pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, and administration.”

Finally, it noted, “They are also highly represented in . . . [the low-paying fields of] human services and community organization (20%) and social work (19%).”

“There’s a huge inadequacy here in counseling,” Anthony Carnevale, director of the center and the lead author of the report, told the Atlantic.

This seems pretty unlikely. Who doesn’t realize computer engineers get paid well? The real problem is that too many black students are getting a hopelessly inadequate K-12 education and by the time they get to college, their best bet is to major in a subject whose exams have no wrong answers and whose professors engage in rampant grade inflation.

Carnevale also argues that’s because blacks are concentrated in open-access schools that have fewer choices of majors. But this, too, is questionable. Plenty of open-access universities offer courses and majors in STEM fields.

The implication is that black students at lower-tier universities are actually less likely to graduate in STEM majors than those at higher-tier ones. Which is patently false. Indeed, the historically black colleges and universities, many of which aren’t selective at all, tend to have among the highest rates of graduating STEM majors.

And if you want to get a job in a lucrative STEM field, your chances of completing your degree are much better at a lower-tier school. But here’s the real kicker: A recent survey by the Wall Street Journal found that in “fields like science, technology, engineering and math, it largely doesn’t matter whether students go to a prestigious, expensive school or a low-priced one — expected earnings turn out the same.”

Madison, spending more than $17k per student annually, has added numerous programs (complexity) over the decades. yet, it has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

The full Georgetown report (PDF).

Madison Adds Another Program: Community Schools

Doug Erickson:

Madison has so many organizations that want to do good for the community and that offer programming; the problem is that the coordination is really hard,” Sloan said. “That will be the real benefit of this: coordination that’s focused and centralized.”

Mendota Principal Carlettra Stanford said the school currently does not offer programming on weekends or past 5:30 p.m. on weeknights.

“That’s why this is such an exciting opportunity for us,” she said, noting that the North Side has a particularly difficult year ahead as the Oscar Mayer plant winds down and closes.

A $300,000 grant paid over three years from the Madison Community Foundation initiated the planning process last year. The two selected schools are expected to roll out the concept this fall.

Madison, spending more than $17k per student annually, has added numerous programs (complexity) over the decades. yet, it has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Any number of programs have been added over the years, including “small learning communities” and the somewhat recent “achievement gap plan”. None, despite spending ever larger amounts of taxpayer funds, has addressed the basics, particularly reading.

What’s different this time?“, July, 2013. That’s incoming Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. Indeed!

Private school gives pupils a boost worth two extra years of education, research shows

Richard Adams:

Independently-educated pupils receive a boost equivalent to two years of extra schooling over state school pupils even after adjusting for social and economic bias, according to new research.

The study by Durham University – the most sophisticated of its type to date – found that independent school pupils in England gained an advantage worth nearly two-thirds of a GCSE grade higher once the effects of income, gender and prior attainment were stripped out.

Poverty in Wisconsin hit its highest level in 30 years during the five-year period ending in 2014

Karen Herzog:

, even as the nation’s economy was recovering from the Great Recession, according to a trend analysis of U.S. census data just released by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers.

The number of Wisconsin residents living in poverty averaged 13% across that post-recession time frame — the highest since 1984, according to the analysis by UW-Madison’s Applied Population Laboratory. In 1984, the poverty rate peaked at 15.5% as the nation was recovering from a double-dip recession.

The UW-Madison analysis dovetails with an unrelated study that identified pockets of the country faring worse as the economic recovery gains some traction, released Thursday by a national nonprofit research group in Washington, D.C.

Remarks delivered by Acting Sec. John B. King Jr. during a confirmation hearing Before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

John King:

But there are still so many young people out there like me, children whose paths to school have been marked by burdens no young person should have to bear. We owe it to those children to make school for them what it was for me.

That’s why I feel such urgency about the work of education. That’s what led me to help found a school and then a school network. And it’s what drove me in my tenure as the Deputy Commissioner and then Commissioner of Education in New York State.
Roxbury Prep, the first school I co-founded, and one that is filled with young people from backgrounds like mine, became one of the highest-performing urban middle schools in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Uncommon Schools network that my colleagues and I created now includes nearly fifty high-performing urban schools, and impacts the lives of thousands of low-income students every day. And as a result of my tenure in Albany, I am proud to say that New York is now a

A majority of the Madison school board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school serval years ago. This, despite the government funded schools’ long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Master thesis done – lessons learned

Mads Ravn:

I graduated from Aarhus University with a degree in Computer Science this june. Now, I’m finally getting around to publishing my code (as I linked in my thesis). I thought that I would give a quick summary of the process of writing my thesis as well. You can find my thesis and the code I developed for my thesis here. The title of my thesis is Orthogonal Range Searching in 2D with Ball Inheritance and my advisor was Kasper Green Larsen.

Before I started writing my thesis, I followed a course called Master Thesis Preparation by Olivier Danvy. He has advised for quite a few PhD students so far, so he certainly has a good experience with it. The course consisted of a lot of good tips, tricks and good stories (which is his modus operandi). One of the few things which really stuck with me was to remember an advisor has a limited amount of time for you and it is your responsibility to use it as best as possible. My advisor was awesome enough to read some of what I had written each time we met. And in order to maximize what I got from this, I always compiled a ‘diff-version’ of my thesis for him. A ‘diff-version’ was made using latexdiff. Each time I handed something in, I saved the latex files for that version. Next time I handed something in, I would then run latexdiff on the current version and what I handed in last time. With this it was easy to see what was removed, what was added and what was the same as last time he read it. This worked out pretty good.

Free Range Education: Unschooling

Stephanie Hanes:

On a late Monday morning in this rural New Hampshire town, Dayna and Joe Martin’s four children are all home. Devin, age 16, is hammering a piece of steel in the blacksmith forge he and his parents built out of a storage shed in the backyard. Tiffany, 14, is twirling on a hoverboard, deftly avoiding the kaleidoscope-painted cabinets in the old farmhouse’s living room. Ivy, 10, and Orion, 7, are sitting next to each other using the family’s two computers, clicking through an intense session of Minecraft.

It looks a lot like school vacation, or a weekend. But it’s not. This, for the Martin kids, is school. Or, to put it more accurately, it’s their version of “unschooling,” an educational theory that suggests children should follow their own interests, without the imposition of school or even any alternative educational curriculum, because this is the best way for them to learn and grow.

“I don’t even know what grades are,” says Orion, who has never spent a day in school, has never followed a lesson plan, and has never taken a test. (Tests, his mother says, can be degrading to children – an invasion of their freedom of thought.)

Educators do little time for sex crimes

Jen Zettel:

Wisconsin educators convicted of inappropriate relationships or abuse of students often plead down from more serious charges and rarely serve more than a year in prison, a USA TODAY NETWORK investigation has found.

Three recent cases near Fond du Lac, Green Bay and Milwaukee illustrate how plea deals lead to lesser penalties. Several more cases of teacher misconduct involving sexual allegations over the last decade show a similar trend, based on a database of all Wisconsin teachers whose licenses were revoked.

The findings are part of USA TODAY NETWORK’s ongoing nationwide investigation of how states handle teacher misconduct.

Students struggle with mental health, academic pressures as they act on social justice responsibilities

Mei Novak:

Two weeks ago, the University released the final version of its diversity and inclusion action plan, which could not have been compiled without the exhaustive efforts of students throughout last semester.

“There are people breaking down, dropping out of classes and failing classes because of the activism work they are taking on,” said David, an undergraduate whose name has been changed to preserve anonymity. Throughout the year, he has worked to confront issues of racism and diversity on campus.

His role as a student activist has taken a toll on his mental, physical and emotional health. “My grades dropped dramatically. My health completely changed. I lost weight. I’m on antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills right now. (Counseling and Psychological Services) counselors called me. I had deans calling me to make sure I was okay,” he said.

As students rallied to protest two racist columns published by The Herald and the alleged assault of a Latinx student from Dartmouth by a Department of Public Safety officer, David spent numerous hours organizing demonstrations with fellow activists. Meanwhile, he struggled to balance his classes, job and social life with the activism to which he feels so dedicated. Stressors and triggers flooded his life constantly, he said.

Judges weigh arguments over teacher vs. student rights in landmark tenure lawsuit

Howard Blume & Joy Resm9vits:

overflow crowd at a Los Angeles appeals courtroom listened attentively Thursday to the latest round in an ongoing argument about the intersection of students’ rights and teachers’ rights.

“There probably isn’t anybody in this room who didn’t have a bad teacher sometime,” presiding justice Roger Boren remarked to the court — a point that may help explain why the case has drawn so much attention.

The Ten Worst Colleges for Free Speech (But Why Are There Any?)

George Leef

Just how bad colleges have become when it comes to free speech and toleration for anyone who disagrees with those who hold power cannot be underestimated. Many Americans who think back fondly on their college days decades ago are shocked to learn the truth.

Toward that end, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has just released its Top Ten list—the worst colleges and universities in the country last year when it came to freedom of speech.

Introducing the list, FIRE’s president Greg Lukianoff writes, “The past year will be remembered as the year that freedom of speech (or the lack thereof) on U.S. campuses became international news. Even President Obama felt compelled to comment on the issue three separate times.”

What we learn from these cases is that almost everyone affiliated with higher education these days must tread very carefully to avoid trouble with the people who feel empowered to control speech.

After looking at the schools that made FIRE’s rogues gallery, I’ll offer some thoughts on the reasons behind the collapse of support for free speech.

Top “honors” went to Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, recently thrown into turmoil by president Simon Newman’s firing of two faculty members who criticized his idea that the school should reduce its freshman class by “drowning some of the bunnies” (i.e., culling out academically weak students). Whether the president’s concept was good or bad, firing people for criticizing it is the worst way for an educational leader to react.

Mistakes in peer-reviewed papers are easy to find but hard to fix

David Allison:

Just how error-prone and self-correcting is science? We have spent the past 18 months getting a sense of that.

We are a group of researchers working on obesity, nutrition and energetics. In the summer of 2014, one of us (D.B.A.) read a research paper in a well-regarded journal estimating how a change in fast- food consumption would affect children’s weight, and he noted that the analysis applied a mathematical model that over- estimated effects by more than tenfold. We and others submitted a letter1 to the editor explaining the problem.

Researchers have discovered a much faster way to learn new skills

Christopher Ingraham:

If you’re trying to improve your golf swing or master that tricky guitar chord progression, here’s some good news from researchers at Johns Hopkins University: You may be able to double how quickly you learn skills like these by introducing subtle variations into your practice routine.

The received wisdom on learning motor skills goes something like this: You need to build up “muscle memory” in order to perform mechanical tasks, like playing musical instruments or sports, quickly and efficiently. And the way you do that is via rote repetition — return hundreds of tennis serves, play that F major scale over and over until your fingers bleed, etc.

The Young and the Economically Clueless

Daniel Arbess:

Bernie Sanders, the 74-year-old self-described democratic socialist, is surprising even himself with his primary-season success against Hillary Clinton, fueled by a staggering 83% majority of the under-30 vote in New Hampshire and 84% in the Iowa caucuses.

As this newspaper reported on Tuesday, voters in the millennial bracket, 18- to 34-year-olds, will for the first time equal the baby-boomer share of the electorate, at 31%. These young voters appear to be falling headlong for the Vermont senator’s plaintive narrative of economic “unfairness.” His throwaway prescriptions for redistributing income and wealth are being echoed by an increasingly nervous Mrs. Clinton—despite such policies’ having been jettisoned during her husband’s administration in the 1990s.

Then again, Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s vague promises that he will “make America great again” aren’t much more comforting—except to the masses of Americans responding to his populist diatribes against free trade and immigrants. He too scored well with the young in New Hampshire, though, winning 38% of the 18-29 support, more than double his closest competitor for that group, Ted Cruz, at 17%.

These young voters seem not to realize that the economic policies they find so resonant are the least likely to promote the growth and the social mobility they desire. They deserve to be lead from the discredited backwater of equalizing outcomes, forward with policies that instead help eliminate barriers frustrating their access to opportunities.

Long Struggle Against Teacher Sex Abuse in Spotlight After Investigation

Naomi Nix:

It’s not that Terri Miller thought getting Joseph Peterson out of the classroom would be easy, but she never thought it would take more than a decade.

It was 1983 and Miller had just moved to a small Nevada town when Peterson’s wife revealed during their aerobics class that she was leaving her husband, a high school teacher and coach. The reason: she had found him in bed with one of his students.

The Horror Story of Publishing Children’s Books in Russia

Masha Gessen:

I WALK IN ON a minor crisis at Samokat, a children’s publishing house in Moscow. The commercial director, Gleb Kochnev, is telling the editor-in-chief, Irina Balakhonova, that there is a problem in a book they have just published.

The book is called Say Hi to Me, it is a primer on refugees for elementary school children, and it contains a map of Russia and its neighbors. One of the countries on the map is Georgia, which Russia invaded in 2008, biting off two small regions. The regions have since declared independence, which is recognized only by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and the island microstates of Nauru, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu (though Tuvalu later reneged and Vanuatu seems to have had second thoughts). The map in the book shows the regions as being part of Georgia — the way most of the world sees it. But federal law dictates that any published map must reflect Russia’s official view of the world, which is that these tiny regions are independent. It is not clear what the penalty for violating this provision may be, but it’s clear that it spells trouble.

Union-busting at Duke: a brief history

Bennett Carpenter:

This week, contingent faculty at Duke took the historic step of filing for a union election. The decision comes in response to the administration’s ongoing attempts to replace stable, full-time, tenure track jobs with part-time, precarious, low-wage positions. Predictably, the burden of these policies is distributed unevenly across race and gender lines; while roughly 40 percent of Duke’s teaching staff are now contingent, more than 50 percent of faculty of color—and more than 60 percent of female faculty—labor off the tenure track. As our faculty take a stand for long-term contracts, health care and fair pay, it seems an opportune moment to look back at the history of wage suppression and union-busting here at Duke, which has been chronicled by Erik Ludwig.

Our journey through history takes us back to 1963. Duke, one of the last major universities to desegregate, has just admitted its first Black undergraduate students. Restrooms on campus remain segregated; there is a separate entrance to Wallace Wade Stadium marked “colored.” There are no Black faculty, administrators or trustees.

The dirty secret in public education no one addresses

Citizen Stewart:

A story this ugly is a shock to parents and leaders in a community because most people trust their public schools to protect and educate their children. Yet, abuse of students is more common than education officials ever admit.

Carraway’s arrest mirrors many others.

Thomas Guzzi, 36, a teacher with the Vineland Public Schools in New Jersey was arrested recently for distribution of child pornography.

A Picture Of Language: The Fading Art Of Diagramming Sentences

Juana Summers:

When you think about a sentence, you usually think about words — not lines. But sentence diagramming brings geometry into grammar.

If you weren’t taught to diagram a sentence, this might sound a little zany. But the practice has a long — and controversial — history in U.S. schools.

And while it was once commonplace, many people today don’t even know what it is.

Scalia and Higher Ed

Scott Jaschik:

“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas,” he said.

Black scientists, he said, “come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them,” he added. “I’m just not impressed by the fact that the University of Texas may have fewer [black students],” Scalia added. “Maybe it ought to have fewer. And maybe … when you take more, the number of blacks, really competent blacks admitted to lesser schools, turns out to be less. And I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Casualty of Cities’ Resurgence: The Suburban Offices Left Behind

Eliot Brown

Companies from General Electric to Weyerhaeuser are pulling their headquarters out of leafy suburban campuses and moving to downtown high-rises, giving cities an economic jolt.

But figuring out what to do with the vacant corporate campuses left behind is a quandary for civic leaders and landlords across the U.S. Towns have pondered turning them into gyms, community centers or education facilities, but finding large tenants for such spaces has proven difficult, and nearby residents often resist plans to build dense apartment complexes on empty sites.

Poorest Students Feel the Bite of Rising College Costs

Josh Mitchell Andrea Fuller:

Students from the poorest households are shouldering more of the pain from rising college costs, borrowing at far higher levels as a share of family income than ever.

As college costs have increased faster than government grants and scholarship money in the past two decades, poor students have been taking on more debt for tuition as well as for living expenses.

It is now the norm for U.S. students from the lowest income bracket to borrow at least half of their household income to attend most four-year colleges. At 58% of 1,319 four-year colleges with available federal data, students from households earning $30,000 or less a year left those schools during the 2013 and 2014 school years owing a median $15,000 or more in total debt, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

The Library of Alexandria


Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Library at Alexandria. Founded by King Ptolemy in the 3rd century BC the library was the first attempt to collect all the knowledge of the ancient world in one place. Scholars including Archimedes and Euclid came to study its grand array of papyri. the legacy of the library is with us today, not just in the ideas it stored and the ideas it seeded but also in the way it organised knowledge and the tools developed for dealing with it. It still influences the things we know and the way we know them to this day.With Simon Goldhill, Professor of Greek at the University of Cambridge; Matthew Nicholls, Lecturer in Classics at the University of Reading; Serafina Cuomo, Reader in Roman History at Birkbeck College, University of London.

K-12 Tax And Spending Climate: Report Warns of Rising Health Insurance Premiums (25% Of Madison’s 2014-2015 Budget Spent On Benefits)


Premiums for employment-based health insurance this year will average about $6,400 for single coverage and $15,500 for family coverage, according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

In a new report, the CBO says average premiums for individually purchased insurance are also high, although not quite as high as employment-based premiums.

“Although premiums for private insurance have grown relatively slowly in recent years, they have usually grown faster than the economy as a whole and thus faster than average income,” the report says.

From 2005 to 2014, premiums for employment-based insurance grew by 48 percent for single coverage and by 55 percent for family coverage. The report projects similar growth rates over the next decade, although CBO notes that from 2014 to 2016 premiums grew more slowly than the historical norm.

The report also discusses the likely impact of the “Cadillac Tax” on high-cost health insurance, a tax Congress recently delayed until 2020. It will likely lead average premiums for affected enrollees to be about 10 percent lower that year — and up to 15 percent lower in 2025 — than they would have been otherwise.

25% of Madison’s 2014-2015 budget was spent on benefits.

Digital Divide Rhetoric

Cecilia Kang:

The Lifeline plan has drawn strong criticism from the two Republicans among the five F.C.C. commissioners, and from some lawmakers, who say the program, which was introduced in 1985 to bring phone services to low-income families, has been wasteful and was abused.

In 2008, when the commission added subsidies for mobile-phone services to discounts for landlines, some homes started double-billing the program, and the budget for the fund ballooned. Various investigations, including a government review in early 2015, questioned the effectiveness of the phone program and whether the commission had done enough to monitor for abuse.

How Chicago Teachers Union spends its money

Chris Fusco & Tim Novak:

Karen Lewis is one of eight Chicago Teachers Union employees paid more than $100,000 a year by the union. Rich Hein / Sun-Times file photo
The Chicago Teachers Union, having rejected a new teachers contract, is in a high-stakes battle with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.

And with more than $25 million a year in dues coming from 28,000 teachers and other school employees, CTU president Karen Lewis and her 77-member staff are a well-funded adversary for the mayor and his schools chief, Forrest Claypool, a Chicago Sun-Times examination of the union’s financial filings shows.

The Best AI Program Still Flunks an Eighth-Grade Science Test

Will Knight:

For all the remarkable progress being made in artificial intelligence, and warnings about the upheaval this might bring, the smartest computer would still struggle to make it through the eighth grade.

A contest organized by researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), invited programmers to create a program capable of taking a modified version of a conventional eighth-grade science test. The results of the competition were announced Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI).

The winner, a contestant based in Israel called Chaim Linhart, combined several established machine-learning techniques with large databases of scientific information to correctly answer 59 percent of the questions. Like other participants, Linhart fed his computer system hundreds of thousands of questions paired with correct answers so that it could learn to come up with the right answer.

A score of almost 60 percent might disappoint most parents, but it is remarkable for a computer. The test used for the contest was, however, simplified slightly to make it practical for computers to attempt. Diagrams were removed, for example, and only questions with multiple-choice answers were used.

Why grit is highly overrated

Margaret Wente:

When I was six, I had a dream. I dreamed of being a ballet dancer, floating across the stage in my white tutu and tights. I would dazzle the world! Alas, I never made it. I was built like a brick, and had no sense of rhythm. I had plenty of determination, but so what? Not even 10,000 hours of practice would have made me fit to carry Karen Kain’s pointe shoes.

The notion of “grit” – a combination of hard work and

perseverance – has caught on everywhere. It has been widely embraced by educators, along with its companion, “character education.” Grit is based on the idea that intelligence isn’t everything, or even the main thing. Non-cognitive factors are just as important to school success. Teach them grit, the theory goes, and even mediocre students can become high achievers.

If only it were true. Alas, it’s not. The most significant predictor of how kids will do in school is how their parents did in school. Nothing the education system has tried so far has changed that. The latest confirmation comes from a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It assessed the data from test results in the U.K., where everyone takes a universal exam at the ageof 16. The researchers focused on the test scores of 2,321 twin pairs, who are part of a long-term study to determine the various influences of environment and heredity on behaviour and life outcomes. Their conclusion is both good news and bad news for those who think intelligence is highly overrated. They found that educational achievement does indeed depend on far more traits than just IQ. The bad news: Those traits are highly heritable, too.

How Google Stole the Work of Millions of Authors

Roxana Robinson

Last week publishers, copyright experts and other supporters filed amicus briefs petitioning the Supreme Court to hear the copyright-infringement case against Google brought by the Authors Guild. The court’s decision will determine how and whether the rights and livelihood of writers are protected in the future.

If you type, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” into Google’s search box, the text and author will be identified for you in a matter of seconds. This is not because Google has ranks of English majors waiting at the ready, but because, over a decade ago, Google made an agreement with a number of great libraries to make digital copies of every book they owned.

The Troubled Academic Job Market for History

Robert B. Townsend and Julia Brookins

The academic job market in history remains quite challenging for recent PhDs, and evidence from the AHA’s Directory of History Departments, Historical Organizations, and Historians (the Directory) indicates that these challenges are likely to persist. Among the signs of difficulty for academic-job candidates today and into the near future: (1) the number of positions advertised with the AHA over the past year fell for the third year in a row, (2) the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty lines fell slightly over the past five years, and (3) evidence indicates that a relatively small share of full-time faculty will be approaching retirement within the next decade.1

The data reported here represent academic positions that have been advertised with the AHA; this is a subset within the broad range of jobs that historians pursue and perform. An in-depth study conducted by the AHA in 2013 found that 24 percent of those who had earned a history doctorate 3 to 15 years earlier held positions beyond the professoriate.2 The AHA’s ongoing Career Diversity for Historians project highlights the extensive scope of such opportunities and provides professional development resources for both history doctoral students and graduate programs.3 Finally, many positions in postsecondary history teaching—at two-year colleges, for example—are advertised primarily through institutional and local job boards, and are not part of the data set in this analysis

Education Dept. Defends Its Approach to Title IX in Face of Senate Pressure

Peter Schmidt

The Education Department is standing by its controversial guidance to colleges on sexual harassment and sexual assault in response to questions raised by a prominent Senate critic.

Catherine E. Lhamon, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, defended her agency’s actions in a letter on Wednesday to Sen. James Lankford, who, as head of the Senate’s subcommittee on regulatory affairs and federal management, had accused the department of overreach in pressuring colleges to fight sexual discrimination to comply with the gender-equity law known as Title IX.

Ms. Lhamon’s response to Senator Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, appears to set the stage for a clash between the Education Department and the Senate over the department’s powers, Darrell (D.J.) Jordan, a spokesman for the senator, said on Thursday. The letter “raises further concerns for Senator Lankford, and he is now contemplating several measures to continue this oversight,” Mr. Jordan wrote in an email. He added, however, that “we’re not ready to confirm our next steps just yet.”

Madison educators’ implicit biases are nothing compared to their explicit ones

Chris Rickert:

Another change has to do with teacher quality, which Cheatham described as “the single most important in-school factor for improving student achievement.”

in the Madison public schools, teacher quality has long played second fiddle to teacher seniority and teacher credential-attainment in determining which teachers get raises, laid off, retained and sought-after transfers. And there’s little evidence that teacher seniority, after about five years on the job, and an advanced teaching degree are linked to higher student achievement.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending more than $17k per student annually.

Change is coming to the legal profession—whether attorneys like it or not—and HLS is at the forefront of efforts to anticipate it, and prepare students

Harvard Law:

The warning bells have been ringing for at least two decades: The legal profession as we’ve known it is doomed, and lawyers must adapt—or face extinction. For the most part, these dire predictions have been ignored, even as globalization and technology have revolutionized markets, affecting everything from airline travel to taxicabs. Yes, law firms have been outsourcing legal research to India, and electronic discovery is taking over some basic tasks. But lawyers have tended to see themselves as immune: a guild of highly educated advisers whose wisdom, savvy and deep understanding of a complex series of laws are irreplaceable.

Then a computer named Watson beat a human on “Jeopardy!” Now all bets are off.

Civics: The Government (FBI) vs Apple; Either everyone gets security, or no one does

Bruce Schneier:

There’s nothing preventing the FBI from writing that hacked software itself, aside from budget and manpower issues. There’s every reason to believe, in fact, that such hacked software has been written by intelligence organizations around the world. Have the Chinese, for instance, written a hacked Apple operating system that records conversations and automatically forwards them to police? They would need to have stolen Apple’s code-signing key so that the phone would recognize the hacked as valid, but governments have done that in the past with other keys and other companies. We simply have no idea who already has this capability.

And while this sort of attack might be limited to state actors today, remember that attacks always get easier. Technology broadly spreads capabilities, and what was hard yesterday becomes easy tomorrow. Today’s top-secret NSA programs become tomorrow’s PhD theses and the next day’s hacker tools. Soon this flaw will be exploitable by cybercriminals to steal your financial data. Everyone with an iPhone is at risk, regardless of what the FBI demands Apple do.

Jonathan Zdziarski:

Quite the contrary, unless Department of Justice is asking Apple to completely ignore sound forensic science, and simply pump out a reckless (and possibly harmful) hacking tool, it would seem that false statements are being made to the court. Or perhaps they’re attempting to skirt the reality of this by using the verbiage, “after its purpose”, which requires disseminating it outside of Apple, as well as opening it up to work on other devices, and thereby relinquishing custody of it.

In the same vein, you’ll also notice that in demanding a tool, FBI has sneakily ensured that a more “open” copy of the software will have to be released (that will work on other devices) in order for it to be tested, validated, and re-tested by a defense team. This guarantees that the hacking tool FBI is forcing Apple to write will be out in the public, where it will be in the hands of multiple agencies and private attorneys.

John McAfee:

It has finally come to this. After years of arguments by virtually every industry specialist that back doors will be a bigger boon to hackers and to our nation’s enemies than publishing our nuclear codes and giving the keys to all of our military weapons to the Russians and the Chinese, our government has chosen, once again, not to listen to the minds that have created the glue that holds this world together.

This is a black day and the beginning of the end of the US as a world power. The government has ordered a disarmament of our already ancient cybersecurity and cyberdefense systems, and it is asking us to take a walk into that near horizon where cyberwar is unquestionably waiting, with nothing more than harsh words as a weapon and the hope that our enemies will take pity at our unarmed condition and treat us fairly.

Any student of world history will tell you that this is a dream. Would Hitler have stopped invading Poland if the Polish people had sweetly asked him not to do so? Those who think yes should stand strongly by Hillary Clinton’s side, whose cybersecurity platform includes negotiating with the Chinese so they will no longer launch cyberattacks against us.

The FBI, in a laughable and bizarre twist of logic, said the back door would be used only once and only in the San Bernardino case.

Marcy Wheeler:

If Apple were to move its headquarters and servers to Cork (perhaps with some redundant servers in Brazil, for example), that would be far less accessible to both US law enforcement and intelligence. And contrary to what you might think from those attacking Apple’s alleged non-compliance here, that would result in significantly less intelligence (or evidence) than both are getting now.

That’s because by offering the best encryption product in the world that relies on US-based servers, Apple ensures that at least the metadata — not to mention any content backed up to iCloud (which in Farook’s case, included content through October plus that from his colleagues) — is readily available. If Apple were to move to Cork, any backed up content would be far harder to get and NSA would have to steal Internet packets to get iMessage metadata (admittedly, that’s probably pretty easy to do from Ireland, given its proximity to GCHQ’s gaping maw, but it does require some work).

Jean Louis Gassee:

revelations from WikiLeaks, or Edward Snowden’s exposures of CIA and NSA practices. Keep mind that a breach of the United Sates Office of Personal Management compromised the data of 18 million people. Breaches and leaks have happened and will happen again. Entrusting a government agency with a set of backdoors keys will inevitably lead to bad outcomes.

Furthermore, consider financial systems advances, such as Bitcoin, that need unbreakable encryption to work. These systems will wither if backdoors allow well-intentioned Guardians of the Peace and criminals alike to peek and poke. How can any company that relies on security expect to export compromised technology?

Ridiculously optimistic” machine learning algorithm is “completely bullshit,” says expert.

Christian Grothoff & J.M. Porup:

In 2014, the former director of both the CIA and NSA proclaimed that “we kill people based on metadata.” Now, a new examination of previously published Snowden documents suggests that many of those people may have been innocent.

Last year, The Intercept published documents detailing the NSA’s SKYNET programme. According to the documents, SKYNET engages in mass surveillance of Pakistan’s mobile phone network, and then uses a machine learning algorithm on the cellular network metadata of 55 million people to try and rate each person’s likelihood of being a terrorist.

Patrick Ball—a data scientist and the director of research at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group—who has previously given expert testimony before war crimes tribunals, described the NSA’s methods as “ridiculously optimistic” and “completely bullshit.” A flaw in how the NSA trains SKYNET’s machine learning algorithm to analyse cellular metadata, Ball told Ars, makes the results scientifically unsound.

Somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 people have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, and most of them were classified by the US government as “extremists,” the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported. Based on the classification date of “20070108” on one of the SKYNET slide decks (which themselves appear to date from 2011 and 2012), the machine learning program may have been in development as early as 2007.

In the years that have followed, thousands of innocent people in Pakistan may have been mislabelled as terrorists by that “scientifically unsound” algorithm, possibly resulting in their untimely demise.

Student Debt: Where It’s Not The Top Campaign Priority For Millennials

Asma Khalid:

Amanda Durio, 31, is a union carpenter. She plans to caucus for Bernie Sanders because she likes his message on “race” and “social classes.”
Amanda Durio, 31, is a union carpenter. She plans to caucus for Bernie Sanders because she likes his message on “race” and “social classes.”
Asma Khalid/NPR
So far this campaign season, much of the political conversation involving millennials has centered around college debt.

And, no doubt, as we’ve reported previously, student debt and college affordability are major concerns for many young people.

But a majority of young people do not have a bachelor’s degree, according to U.S. Census data analyzed by CIRCLE, the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, for NPR. CIRCLE found that, in fact, about two-thirds of millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 do not have a bachelor’s degree.

Robots will force experts to find other routes to the top

Andrew Hill:

It comes when futurists concede that a few expert lawyers, consultants or accountants will still be needed, even after cheaper, more efficient computer systems have taken over many of their juniors’ tasks.

It happened last week at a lecture by Richard and Daniel Susskind, which the organisers claimed was the largest ever gathering of senior managers in UK professional services firms.

The father-and-son authors of The Future of the Professions predicted radical change in the sector. But the tense scepticism in the room dissipated as each senior partner or director quietly acknowledged he or she would be a survivor, even if algorithms and artificial intelligence swept away the consultant or solicitor in the next seat.

The Moroz Family – From the Soviet Union to the Liberal Gulag

Marc Randazza:

It is said that if you are a young conservative you have no heart, and if you are an old liberal, you have no brain.

As a 46 year old Liberal, I take offense at half of that, but I would not wish to stop anyone from saying it.

Unfortunately, I feel like an endangered species – the Liberal who embraces dissent and debate. As a Liberal, I have always valued education – as I look at places of education as places where we manufacture Liberals — by educating people. To me, wide open and robust debate and the revelation of knowledge will inevitably drive one to the Liberal view – but to get there, we must tolerate views with which we disagree.

Public Research Universities: Understanding the Financial Model

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences

In the last twenty years, and especially since the onset of the Great Recession, states have dramatically reduced their contributions to public higher education.

While the cuts have affected every public higher education institution, the cuts at public research universities have been the most severe, averaging a 26 percent drop in investment since 2008.

The federal government has not covered this deficit, but has rather scaled back its support for the public research enterprise.

No one has yet devised a workable plan to reverse these trends

Why Don’t People Manage Debt Better?

Emory Nelms and Dan Ariely:

How do we intuitively manage our debts?

Despite its apparent burden on families across the country, many people do not effectively manage their debt. Most individuals juggle multiple kinds of debts, each coming with different terms and interest rates. This diversification of debt requires consumers to make decisions about how to best allocate limited resources to repay them. The most effective way to pay off debt over the long-term is to focus on the loans with the highest interest rates first. Yet evidence has shown time and again that consumers are likely to manage multiple debts in ways that cost them more over time.

Ivy League crybullies vs. survivor of a Soviet labor camp; guess who needs ’emotional support’?

David Bernstein:

It’s hard to tell parody from real life on certain college campuses these days, but I’m pretty sure this article is serious. The article, from the Brown Daily Herald, discusses how Brown students’ emotional and academic well-being is suffering because they are so busy fulfilling their “social justice responsibilities” as student activists. (And here I thought that if my parents were paying $60K a year for me to go to school, my first responsibility would be to study!)

Americans can study in Germany for free, in English. An increasing number are doing it.

Rick Noack:

Tuition to U.S. universities has surged 500 percent since 1985 and continues to rise. But German universities offer free education to everyone — including Americans.

The number of American students enrolled in German universities has risen steadily in recent years. Currently, an estimated 10,000 U.S. citizens are studying at German colleges — nearly all of them for free, according to NBC News.

German universities in most federal states have traditionally been free for German citizens as well as many foreigners, including many American, Chinese and British students. One reason German taxpayers foot the bill is to help attract more skilled workers to the country.

FIRE Announces 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2016


Among the institutions on FIRE’s annual “worst of the worst” list are a university that fired two faculty members for criticizing the university president’s plan to oust low-performing freshmen, a college that suspended a student for making a six-word joke on social media, and even one university that punished a student for something someone else said—and then went after the student newspaper for reporting on the story.

“This past year, free speech on campus took center stage and became international news,” said FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff. “For those of us who have worked for years on the frontlines, the threat to free speech on campus isn’t a new story. Too often students find their voices silenced, and increasingly their professors are finding themselves in the same boat. If this year’s ‘worst’ list proves anything, it’s that even tenured faculty members aren’t safe from the censor’s muzzle.”

Changing Faculty Employment at Four-Year Colleges and Universities in the United States

Liang Zhang, Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Xiangmin Liu

We use panel data models to examine variations and changes over time in faculty employment at four-year colleges and universities in the United States. The share of part-time faculty among total faculty has continued to grow over the last two decades, while the share of full-time lecturers and instructors has been relatively stable. Meanwhile, the share of non-tenure track faculty among faculty with professorial ranks has been growing. Dynamic panel data models suggest that employment levels of different types of faculty respond to a variety of economic and institutional factors. Colleges and universities have increasingly employed faculty whose salaries and benefits are relatively inexpensive; the slowly deteriorating financial situations at most colleges and universities have led to an increasing reliance on a contingent academic workforce.

Civics: Koch & Bernie Sanders (Nice to see this discussion)

Charles Koch:

Consider the regulations, handouts, mandates, subsidies and other forms of largesse our elected officials dole out to the wealthy and well-connected. The tax code alone contains $1.5 trillion in exemptions and special-interest carve-outs. Anti-competitive regulations cost businesses an additional $1.9 trillion every year. Perversely, this regulatory burden falls hardest on small companies, innovators and the poor, while benefitting many large companies like ours. This unfairly benefits established firms and penalizes new entrants, contributing to a two-tiered society.

Whenever we allow government to pick winners and losers, we impede progress and move further away from a society of mutual benefit. This pits individuals and groups against each other and corrupts the business community, which inevitably becomes less focused on creating value for customers. That’s why Koch Industries opposes all forms of corporate welfare — even those that benefit us. (The government’s ethanol mandate is a good example. We oppose that mandate, even though we are the fifth-largest ethanol producer in the United States.)

Will political winds blow Milwaukee ‘opportunity schools’ away?

Alan Borsuk:

There are so many questions for which I don’t have answers. These are just a few of them:

What will happen to the school reform idea put under the control of the Milwaukee County executive — officially known as the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program — if state Sen. Chris Larson wins election to the office in April? Larson is adamantly opposed to cooperating with the effort, which was created by Republicans in the state Legislature.

What will happen to the idea if Chris Abele wins re-election as county executive? He’s sort of gone along with the idea and named Mequon-Thiensville Superintendent Demond Means as commissioner of education for Milwaukee. But, three months after the appointment, I don’t know what, if anything, is going to result. Means has made it clear he’s not going to do dramatic stuff like take schools away from the Milwaukee Public Schools system.

Are we just waiting until after the April election — or maybe the November election — to see what, if anything, the “opportunity schools” idea will bring? Will the politicians who thought this was a way to kick a few MPS schools into some kind of higher gear want to see more or different action?

Is the “opportunity schools” idea so flawed that we’re better off if nothing happens?

If the title of “education commissioner” doesn’t really mean anything, can I have it, just for kicks? It would look good on a business card.

A whole different front: What am I supposed to think of the change being made in who runs Community High School? This is a small school and maybe a small matter, but it’s much on my mind.

Community was created in 2004 as a charter school within the MPS system. It has been led by two MPS teachers, Jason O’Brien and Roxane Mayeur, and its aim has been to offer “a safe, supportive, and personalized high school experience” that included partnerships with community groups to get students involved in helping people.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Dues, Taxes and Recent Newsletters; Matthews Reflects on Service to MTI

Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter (PDF) 1.25.2016 Newsletter:

MTI – Teachers who worked full-time in the Madison Metropolitan School District for the entire calendar year in 2015 (January through December) paid dues/fair share in the amount of $1,042.10. Of that amount, $260 was for WEAC, $183.60 for NEA, $570.00 for MTI, and $28.50 for MTI VOTERS (MTI’s political action committee). Because of wide variances, teachers employed under part-time contracts should check their last payroll check stub in 2015 for the correct amount to use in calculating their taxes.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter (PDF) 2.1.2016 Newsletter where John Matthews Reflects on 48 years::

Thanks for the opportunity. Many have asked why in the world one would stay in a job for 48 years. My answer is quite simple. My work for MTI was a labor of love, it was working with MTI members – virtually 24/7. It was working for a great group of people in search of social justice. MTI members standing in solidarity and moving forward – willing to take risks when necessary in the mutual interest of all. My days were filled working with individuals who were in search of solutions to work, family, and personal issues – and my effort helped produce solutions and advance rights. Those solutions made careers more enjoyable, more productive, and made member’s personal life, family life and work life better.

MTI has grown into a fantastic union. It is a member-driven union that is among the best in the United States. Whether negotiating to provide better working and living conditions, or engaging in social or political action in search of change which enabled improvements in education or society in general, MTI has been at forefront of such causes. So, in the scheme of things, my 48 year career went by like the blink of an eye.

I can’t imagine working anywhere else where my career could have been more productive, more enjoyable, or more satisfying.

My thanks to each and every MTI member 1968-2016. MTI has a great staff and it will continue moving forward in service to its members.

Keillor Takes the Reins

With John Matthews retiring from MTI, the Cabinet on Personnel, which is made up of the leadership of all five MTI bargaining units, has tapped Doug Keillor to succeed Matthews. Keillor has worked with Matthews for the past 25 years, and is well-known by MTI members. He has worked with Matthews in member service and in negotiations. In recommending that Keillor replace him, Matthews told the Cabinet on Personnel that Keillor has the skill, knowledge, and philosophy to continue the Union’s excellent service to MTI members.

Keillor is eager to continue his work for MTI in his new capacity, working with MTI staff, elected leaders and membership to carry the Union forward.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter (PDF) 2.8.2016 Newsletter on Seniority:

Rights granted to an employee by the Union’s Contract are among the most important conditions of one’s employment. Those represented by MTI, in each of MTI’s five bargaining units, have a limited number of important SENIORITY protections in critical areas. Contrary to popular opinion, seniority has little relevance in issues such as voluntary transfer where the Union Contract allows the employer to select the most qualified candidate for any vacancy. However, when determining who should be declared “surplus” (above staff requirements in a school or department) or who should be subject to “layoff” (above staff requirements in the District), SENIORITY is the objective factor that limits and controls management’s subjective actions. Because of SENIORITY rights provided by the Union’s Contract, for example, the employer cannot layoff the more senior employee simply because she/he is paid more or may be outspoken.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter (PDF) 2.15.2016

Workers’ Compensation is a statutory benefit intended to provide compensation for workers who suffer a work-related injury or illness. However, the process does not always work as intended and claims are often delayed and/or denied. Fortunately in such instances, MTI-represented employees can turn to their Union for assistance.

Slips, trips and falls are the some of the most common causes of work-related injuries to District employees. If an employee is injured at work, they need to complete an Injury Report form as soon as possible and, if necessary, visit a doctor to determine what, if any, work restrictions are recommended. If an injury or illness restricts an employee from work, the injured employee needs to submit a Work Status Report form (signed by the medical provider) identifying those restrictions to the District. (Union Advantage #1: members injured on the job can contact MTI staff for assistance with the process. MTI has produced a Workers’ Compensation Fact Sheet for members advising of the process and of their rights.)

Once approved, Workers’ Compensation is supposed to compensate the employee at two-thirds (2/3) of the employee’s wage rate up to certain maximum during a period of temporary disability. (Union Advantage #2: MTI’s Contracts, and next school year’s Employee Handbook, require that injured employees eligible for workers’ compensation receive 100% of wages for the first 180 days of injury.)

Much more on John Matthews, here.

For standardized tests, we’re all morning people (or could use a break)

Cathleen O’Grady:

The idea behind standardized testing is that everyone gets the chance to perform on the same test in the same circumstances. In an ideal world, this should create a system where everyone’s test results are a good indicator of their skills, learning, and hard work.

The reality, of course, is different. Standardized testing faces a host of criticisms, some more valid than others. But even if we assume that everyone walks into a standardized test with the same background, when the test happens matters. The timing of the test itself can have a marked impact on student scores, according to a new paper in PNAS.

The paper found that the later in the day a standardized test was held, the lower the scores were. That’s an important finding, given how much rests on standardized test results. These tests not only form the basis of education policy in countries all over the world, but they’re often also used to decide how funding should be distributed among schools. And, most obvious of all, a test score can determine the course of a student’s life.

When learning a new language, shortcut classes and “hacks” don’t work

Mark Manson:

When I arrived in Buenos Aires in the beginning of 2010, I could barely order food in a local restaurant. Two years later, I calmly explained the mechanics of Russian grammar to a Guatemalan friend… in her native Spanish.

Today, I’m conversationally fluent in both Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese, and low conversational in Russian. I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass and tell you it was easy or that there’s some shortcut or hack. I practiced my ass off. Honestly, I’ve seen the supposed “hacks” for language learning, and none of them worked for me. It took hours of study combined with stumbling through many, many conversations.

trying to repair the Obama administration’s frayed relationship with teachers

Emma Brown:

In one of his first major speeches as acting U.S. secretary of education, John King apologized to teachers for the role that the federal government has played in creating a climate in which teachers feel “attacked and unfairly blamed.”

To many teachers, King’s remarks at a Philadelphia high school late last month was an astonishing and welcome acknowledgment that the Obama administration, in pushing states to link teacher evaluations to student test scores, had helped create systems that seemed as if they were designed to punish teachers instead of help them get better.

On Entitlement

Talia Jane:

When I was a kid, back in the 90s when Spice Girls and owning a pager were #goals, I dreamed of having a car and a credit card and my own apartment. I told my 8-year old self, This is what it means to be an adult.

Now, seventeen years later, I have those things. But boy did I not anticipate a decade and a half ago that a car and a credit card and an apartment would all be symbols of stress, not success.

I left college, having majored in English literature, with a dream to work in media. It was either that or go to law school. Or become a teacher. But I didn’t want to become a cliche or drown in student loans, see. I also desperately needed to leave where I was living — I could get into the details of why, but to sum up: I wanted to die every single day of my life and it took me several years to realize it was because of the environment I was in. So, I picked the next best place: somewhere close to my dad, since we’ve never gotten to have much of a relationship and I like the weather up here. I found a job (I was hired the same day as my interview, in fact) and I put a bunch of debt on a shiny new credit card to afford the move.

The Secret Lives Of Tumblr Teens

Elspeth Reeve:

When Pizza reached 100,000 followers on Tumblr, she posted a picture of a pizza box, takeout chicken wings, and an orange soda spread out on her bed: “pizza and chicken wings 2 celebrate.” One fan replied, “CONGRATULATIONS GIRL! YOU DESERVE IT!” Another: “MOTHER OF GOD 100K?!?!” An anonymous user was unimpressed: “you only have 100k because of ur url.” But Pizza shot that down: “uh no i had 93k before i got this url so excuse u.”

Which Places Benefit Most from State and Local Tax Deductions?

Alan Cole:

Some of the most substantial deductions in the federal tax code are the itemized deductions for state and local income, sales, and real estate taxes. This map shows the variation, by county, in the amounts of these deductions. The measurement used here is mean deduction amount taken per return: in other words, the total of all of the deductions for state and local taxes, divided by number of returns filed. The results show that the benefits of these deductions vary substantially from county to county.

Is Myers-Briggs up to the job?

Murad Ahmed:

On the first day of his new job at the management consultants McKinsey & Company, Alick Varma, then 22, was asked to take a test. The questionnaire quizzed him on aspects of his personality, asking, for instance, whether he would “rather be considered a practical person or an ingenious person?” and whether he considered himself “a ‘good mixer’ or rather quiet and reserved?”

Varma, who joined McKinsey as a business analyst in October 2007, was taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) — a personality test that has become a rite of passage for millions of white-collar workers. Since the 1960s, when the test began to be rolled out across corporate America, more than 50 million people around the world are estimated to have taken it.

Myers-Briggs has a particularly strong influence at McKinsey, according to current and former staffers (when contacted for this article, McKinsey said it does not comment on its “internal processes”.) Included in the basic biographical information supplied on the company’s staff profile pages are addresses, educational background — and MBTI personality types. When a team begins a new project, associates often start by discussing their respective personality traits — are you an “E” (extrovert) or an “I” (introvert)?

Uninformed, Irresponsible Journalism Is Killing Needed Education Reform

Caroline Bermudez:

Many of us working in this space can write these pieces on autopilot. They are derivative when we are in dire need of well reported, factually reliable, and original journalism that tells us what we don’t already know and doesn’t consist of hoary canards.

Instead, what we are getting are screeds masked as journalism.

Education reporting has to be more ambitious — and occasionally it is, as shown by the work of Nikole Hannah-Jones in her reporting on school segregation. While our opponents believe we prefer to live in an echo chamber, we would much rather have our work analyzed—even challenged—thoughtfully and without an obvious agenda.

Ambitious, valuable journalism means not using tired phrases such as “corporate reform” or coming to pat conclusions such as “the real problem is persistent poverty.” It does not sneer at data.

It acknowledges the modern wave of the education reform movement cannot possibly be responsible for policies and practices that have been in place for decades. Good journalism is not caricature and it does not look for easy villains and heroes.

Why is this kind of journalism not more common? In concert with the very uncertain future of the industry, it is no secret that education reporting is afforded less respect than other beats.

When The New Yorker allows its film critic to deliver a poorly informed rant, that gives you an indication of the esteem in which education reporting is held.

When Low-Income Parents Go Back to School

Leah Askarinam:

Leon Sykes has eight children at home, works two jobs, and drives for Uber and Lyft on the side. Yet the 34-year-old father has found time to take classes Monday through Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. to earn his high-school credentials at Academy of Hope, an adult public charter school in Washington, D.C. Sykes is about two years into the program. His wife usually picks up their children, ages 5 to 15, from after-school activities, but he still can’t always make it to class. “Some days, you just have to pick and choose,” he says

Civics: IRS Returns N.C. Man’s Entire Life Savings After Seizing It Through Civil Forfeiture

John Kramer:

It is a major victory for the individual against the seemingly all-powerful IRS. In a single-page letter, sent this morning by fax, the IRS agreed to return a North Carolina convenience store owner’s entire live savings.

The IRS seized $153,907.99 from Ken Quran in June 2014, without any warning or meaningful prior investigation, simply because he repeatedly withdrew cash from his bank in amounts under $10,000.

Ken’s money was seized under so-called “structuring” laws. These laws were designed to target criminals evading bank-reporting requirements. But under IRS policy at the time of the seizure, the IRS applied the structuring laws to seize cash from individuals and businesses accused only of frequent under-$10,000 cash transactions.

State of Charter Authorizing 2015 Report


42 states and the District of Columbia. Collectively, authorizers oversaw 6,716 charter schools serving more than 2.6 million students.

School districts, also called Local Education Agencies (LEAs), make up the largest group of authorizers in the country. In 2014-15, there were 950 school district authorizers in the country, followed by 45 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), 18 State Education Agencies (SEAs), 17 Not-For-Profit organizations (NFPs), 17 Independent Charter Boards (ICBs), and three (3) Non-Educational Government entities (NEGs), such as a mayor or municipality. Learn more about the different types of authorizers.

Authorizers also vary tremendously in the number of schools they oversee. More than one-half (52%) of all authorizers oversee a single charter school. More than four out of five (85%) authorizers oversee five schools or fewer. By contrast, the largest authorizer in the country, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), oversees 644 charter schools.

Williams College President Calls Off Speech by Controversial Conservative Writer

Nick DeSantis:

Williams College’s president has taken what he called the “extraordinary step” of canceling a student-organized speaking engagement by a conservative writer who has been criticized as racist, The Berkshire Eagle reported.

The president, Adam F. Falk, said in a letter to the campus that he held free speech in “extremely high regard.” But he said he wanted to make it clear that Williams would not play host to John Derbyshire, a former writer for the conservative magazine the National Review. The magazine fired Mr. Derbyshire in 2012 after he wrote a column for another online publication that drew widespread condemnation.

The Regrettable Underenforcement of Incompetence as Cause to Dismiss Tenured Faculty

David M. Rabban:

This essay asserts that the reluctance of universities to dismiss tenured professors for incompetence compromises the traditional and convincing justification for protecting academic freedom through tenure. This justification is most fully elaborated in the 1915 Declaration of Principles of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). After asserting that society benefits from the academic freedom of professors to express their expert professional views without fear of dismissal, the 1915 Declaration maintained that the grant of permanent tenure following a probationary period of employment protects academic freedom. Yet the 1915 Declaration also stressed that academic freedom does not extend to expression that fails to meet professional standards. Nor, it added, does permanent tenure prevent dismissal for cause, which could include “professional incompetency” as well as misconduct. It reasoned that only fellow faculty members have the expertise to determine departures from professional standards. It, therefore, insisted that a professor is entitled to a hearing by a committee of faculty peers before being dismissed and that professors have an obligation to serve on these committees.

This essay assesses the concerns that explain the overwhelming reluctance of university administrators to bring charges against clearly incompetent tenured faculty and offers suggestions to minimize them. It concludes that administrators should bring charges in appropriately extreme circumstances and should give substantial deference to the decisions of the faculty hearing committee. Doing so would uphold the principle of academic freedom, based on professional competence as determined by peer review, that is at the heart of the 1915 Declaration and that is still convincing today.

Member Lethargy a Boon to Union Coffers

Mike Antonucci:

A largely overlooked portion of the Friedrichs lawsuit is its fall-back argument. In the event the U.S. Supreme Court upholds agency fees, the plaintiffs ask that unions be required to get members to opt-in to paying for non-chargeable activities, rather than require fee-payers to opt-out. In other words, the default status of employees in a bargaining unit would be fee-payer.

I don’t know if this flies as a legal argument, but the unions will fight any effort that requires positive action on the part of members to fund their operations. As a general rule, you always want to be in a position to gain if people do nothing, rather than have to urge them to act. It’s the primary reason we have payroll deduction of income taxes.

We can see the effect in real dollars if we take a look at the difference between the collection of contributions for the California Teachers Association’s ABC PAC and that of the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education PAC.

How should mathematics be taught to non-mathematicians?


Michael Gove, the UK’s Secretary of State for Education, has expressed a wish to see almost all school pupils studying mathematics in one form or another up to the age of 18. An obvious question follows. At the moment, there are large numbers of people who give up mathematics after GCSE (the exam that is usually taken at the age of 16) with great relief and go through the rest of their lives saying, without any obvious regret, how bad they were at it. What should such people study if mathematics becomes virtually compulsory for two more years?

A couple of years ago there was an attempt to create a new mathematics A-level called Use of Mathematics. I criticized it heavily in a blog post, and stand by those criticisms, though interestingly it isn’t so much the syllabus that bothers me as the awful exam questions. One might think that a course called Use of Mathematics would teach you how to come up with mathematical models for real-life situations, but these questions did the opposite, and still do. They describe a real-life situation, then tell you that it “may be modelled” by some formula, and proceed to ask you questions that are purely mathematical, and extremely easy compared with A-level maths.

More than a quarter of American 15-year-olds are low-performing in at least one subject

Jill Barshay:

But recently the OECD decided to analyze the past decade of test scores in a new way, to see which nations do the best job of educating their struggling students, and what lessons could be learned. This is important because low-performing students are more likely to drop out of school, and less likely to obtain good jobs as adults. Ultimately, they put more strains on social welfare systems and brakes on economic growth. The results were released on February 10, 2016 in an OECD report, “Low-Performing Students: Why They Fall Behind and How To Help Them Succeed.”

No Appetite to Educate: Stacking the Deck Against Children In Poverty

Marina Marcou-O’Malley:

New York State has a massive funding gap between rich and poor schools and it has grown rapidly since Governor Cuomo took office in 2011.

The funding gap between the 100 poorest school districts and the 100 wealthiest is $9,796 per pupil. In a school of 300 students this amounts to $2.9 million annually.

The funding gap grew by $1,772 per pupil since Governor Cuomo ended the state’s commitment to the Foundation Aid formula that was enacted in 2007. The Foundation Aid formula was enacted as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and was designed to narrow the gap.

If the Foundation Aid Formula were to be fully funded it would close the gap by $2,824 per pupil.

The funding gap closely correlates with graduation gap of 26%. The difference in graduation rates is as staggering as the difference in funding. The high spending, wealthy school districts have a 92% graduation rate, whereas underfunded, poor communities graduate 66% of their

The funding gap is also tied to advanced educational opportunities. Half of the graduating cohort in well-funded, wealthy school districts leaves with the highly coveted Advanced Regents diploma, whereas only 1 in 5 students leave school with an Advanced Regents diploma in underfunded poor districts.

Education Inequality and Income Inequality

Introductory politics class suffers biggest enrollment loss at UW-Madison over last 10 years

Todd Milewski:

Introduction to American Politics and Government course was one of the most-attended at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Now, it’s barely hanging onto a spot on the list of the 100 highest-enrolled courses.

Enrollments in that introductory-level political science course and a race and ethnicity class have dropped more than any others in the last decade.

In the same period, basic computer programming and engineering design classes have taken off in popularity, but none has been able to knock off General Chemistry I as the school’s most-popular course.

What If America’s Teachers Made More Money?

Alia Wong:

In Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin’s proposed budget would allocate $178 million in new money to support a $3,000 raise for every teacher in the state, where teachers earned about $44,000 on average in 2012. “In this unprecedented teacher shortage, it is absolutely critical that we as a state address teacher compensation and give teachers a stronger reason to stay in Oklahoma classrooms,” state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was quoted as saying in response to the plan. In South Dakota, home to the country’s lowest teacher salaries, Governor Dennis Daugaard wants to raise the sales tax by half a cent in an effort to increase teacher pay to $48,500. Tennessee and New Mexico are considering similar proposals, and a controversial bill is making its way through Indiana’s legislature that would in part allow teachers to negotiate extra pay.

70% of white third-graders in the Twin Cities are proficient Only 38% of students of color meet that threshold.

Liz Fedor:

Generation Next reports that 70 percent of white third-graders in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region are proficient in reading, while only 38 percent of students of color meet that threshold.

“More than 1 million people in our state are people of color,” said Craig Helmstetter, Compass project director. About 3 million people live in the Twin Cities metro area, and about 762,000 are people of color.

“Since 1990 the population of color has accounted for nearly all of the growth in Minnesota’s population,” Compass reported. Between 1990 and 2014, Minnesota’s non-Hispanic white population increased by 8 percent, while the population of color skyrocketed by 270 percent.

Because of that dramatic population growth, many immigrant-led organizations are tackling school achievement and employment gaps.

With Viral “Rip & Redo” Video, Both The NYT & Success Academy Could Have Done Better

Alexander Russo:

On Friday morning, this shocking video was published in the Metro Section of the New York Times. On a surreptitious cell phone video, Success Academy Charter Schools (SA) Charlotte Dial berates a student.

If you haven’t already stopped to watch it, you should do so now. It’s only about a minute long. (No time? Not to worry. There’s a GIF version of the key moment further down.)

In an accompanying story, education reporter Kate Taylor wrote that “Interviews with 20 current and former Success teachers suggest that while Ms. Dial’s behavior might be extreme, much of it is not uncommon within the network.”

On Friday afternoon, SA held a press conference to rebut the Times’ coverage and to suggest that the problem was much more isolated than it appeared from the video: “We can’t seem to get a fair shake from the so-called paper of record,” said SA head Eva Moskowitz.

But the Times rejected the high-profile attempt to discredit its reporting, and subsequently posted a roundup of reader comments and classroom expert views. Then came a slew of Tweets, “hot takes” and a couple of explainers from mainstream outlets including Vox and the Washington Post.

Now having read most of the relevant materials, spoken to the Times deputy editor who was in charge of the piece, and gotten some additional explanations from SA itself, there are several key questions that remain unanswered, including:

1) Did the videotape and the accompanying stories of high-pressure teaching at SA schools really make the case that these kinds of practices are characteristic/common problems within the SA charter network — and if so are they any more common than they might be at other comparable NYC public schools?

2) How well or poorly did the Times and SA respond to what was a high-pressure situation for both organizations? What else might they have done to make their cases more compelling and useful to the public and the kids attending these schools?

As you’ll see below, my take is that both organizations could – should – have done better, and, the focus of this site being education journalism rather than PR strategy, that the Times in particular might have taken a few relatively easy steps to be even more careful and thoughtful than it was apparently trying to be.

Education: Millennials have a higher opinion of socialism than of capitalism

Catherine Rampell:

In my column today, I mentioned that one reason millennials prefer Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton is that they’re not just willing to look past Sanders’s socialism — they actually like his socialism. It’s a feature, not a bug.

Here are some of the data I was referring to.

In a recent YouGov survey, respondents were asked whether they had a “favorable or unfavorable opinion” of socialism and of capitalism. Below are the results of their answers, broken down by various demographic groups.

Reading, history and critical thinking skills are essential to a functioning democracy.

Meanwhile, Venezuela president raises fuel price by 6,000% and devalues bolivar to tackle inflation.


US Marshals arresting people for not paying their federal student loans

Isaiah Carey:

Believe it or not, the US Marshals Service in Houston is arresting people for not paying their outstanding federal student loans.

Paul Aker says he was arrested at his home last week for a $1500 federal student loan he received in 1987.

He says seven deputy US Marshals showed up at his home with guns and took him to federal court where he had to sign a payment plan for the 29-year-old school loan.

The Hardest IQ Question

WT Gowers:

What is the next term in the following sequence: 1, 2, 5, 14, 41, 122? One can imagine such a question appearing on an IQ test. And one doesn’t have to stare at it for too long to see that each term is obtained by multiplying the previous term by 3 and subtracting 1. Therefore, the next term is 365.

If you managed that, then you might find the following question more challenging. What is the next term in the sequence

State’s first online technical education high school to be based in McFarland district

Doug Erickson:

Leaders of a new online public charter high school in Wisconsin say its focus on career and technical education will help train students for high-paying jobs in fields that desperately need workers, such as construction.

The school, announced in Madison on Wednesday, is to begin offering classes this fall. It will be called Destinations Career Academy of Wisconsin and will be based in the McFarland School District, which already authorizes another online school, Wisconsin Virtual Academy.

According to the new school’s founders, students will be able to get a head start on careers by earning technical and specialty trade credentials and college credits along with their high school diplomas. The venture will be Wisconsin’s first career and technical education online school and potentially a national prototype, said Terry McGowan, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139.

“Everyone’s watching us,” McGowan said.

The Wisconsin labor union, based in Pewaukee, is a partner in the effort along with Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton and the McFarland School District. The virtual school will use the digital curriculum and academic services of K12 Inc., a for-profit education company based in Herndon, Virginia. The company also provides the curriculum for Wisconsin Virtual Academy.

The new high school will offer career pathways in four clusters: architecture and construction; business, management and administration; health science; and information technology. Students in grades 9-12 will be able to earn dual credits through Fox Valley Technical College, said Nicholaus Sutherland, who will be the new venture’s head of school. He serves in the same capacity for Wisconsin Virtual Academy.

Madison’s $17k/year government schools lack such diverse options. The most recent attempt to change this was rejected by a majority of the School Board.

Will Only One in Two Los Angeles Seniors Graduate This Year?

Education World:

According to The 74 and its partner, LA School Report, Los Angeles Unified School District is scrambling to offer extra assistance to about 15,000 high school seniors that are currently not on track to graduate. The 74 says that as it stands, only one in two LAUSD high school seniors are on track to graduate. “According to internal district reports obtained by LA School Report, an estimated 54 percent of seniors are on track to meet their ‘A through G’ requirements. The actual graduation rate could be even lower as there are several other requirements to graduate,” the article said.

Public Sector Union Density

Mike Antonucci:

Public Sector Union Density. Each year the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the nation with overall union membership statistics and each year unionstats.com breaks down the figures as much as possible so we can examine the unionization rates in various sectors of the economy.

The picture for teachers’ unions was a little brighter in the 2015 sample. Of the 4,678,590 people employed as elementary, secondary and special education teachers in the United States (both public and private), 2,358,132 were union members (50.4%). The unionization rates for pre-k, kindergarten and higher education were much lower, but that has always been the case.

Standards, Grades And Tests Are Wildly Outdated, Argues ‘End Of Average’

Anya Kamenetz:

Todd Rose dropped out of high school with D- grades. At 21, he was trying to support a wife and two sons on welfare and minimum wage jobs.

Today he teaches educational neuroscience at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He’s also the co-founder of Project Variability, a new organization devoted to “the science of the individual and its implications for education, the workforce, and society.”

Should Computer Education Cover More Than Just Coding?

Byrd Pinkerton:

But computers are not just about coding. There’s also a lot of theory — and science — behind technology. And those theoretical concepts form the basis of much of computer science education in colleges and universities.

Lisa Singh, an associate professor at Georgetown University, stands behind that theoretical approach.

“We now need to train everybody to understand the basics of computer science,” she says, “and I don’t equate it to just coding. I equate it to principles of thinking.”

There are ways of approaching problems, for example, or of structuring data, that help students program more effectively and more thoughtfully.

Education in America is on the cusp of a dramatic change. Will the country let it happen?

Amy Wang:

Are they ready for the next generation of jobs? Whether there’s truly a shortage of engineers and scientists in the global workforce, either now or in the near future, is actually still a matter of debate.

In the US, that speculation is certainly being treated seriously.

Pressure has been mounting for some years now to bolster the country’s educational standards in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, and the White House is now attempting to answer the call with a $4 billion proposal to bring computer science to K-12 students all over the country. Unveiled Feb. 9 as part of the Obama administration’s 2017 education budget, the program is hugely ambitious—if perhaps also a little questionable in its efficacy: As critics have pointed out, $4 billion is chump change next to the country’s overall half-trillion-dollar education budget, and the plan hinges on “continued investments” from states and districts.

College Costs by state and income

College Costs:


The U.S. Department of Education has recently released a (mostly) amazing College Scorecard to see how much various colleges cost and how well they do at graduating students.

There seemed to me to be a few important pieces of information missing, the most important being, “How much will this college cost Me?”

Some colleges and universities adjust their tuition and costs a lot for families’ incomes. Some don’t. You want to know which ones will be right for you.

There’s also no way on their site to match your scores with schools. Sometimes we should reach for the sky, sometimes we should be practical. On College Scorecard, there’s no button for, “Show me only colleges I have a realistic chance of being admitted to.” Here there is. We’ll show the 25th percentiles to show the possibilities.

It’s no surprise if men decide university isn’t for them

Joanna Stern

Male students have become a rare breed in UK universities.

They were first outnumbered by women as far back as 1992 and, since then, the gender gap has increased annually.

Statistics released by Ucas last week show that this year almost 100,000 more women than men have applied for a university place. In England, women are 36 per cent more likely to submit an application than their male peers; among those from disadvantaged backgrounds this rises to 58 per cent.

Indexing the World of Tomorrow

Shannon Mattern:

What New Yorkers know today as Flushing Meadows — the massive park that houses the Mets, the New York Hall of Science, and the Queens Museum of Art — was once a tidal marsh from whose dark waters rose the imposing Mount Corona, a pile of soot and trash and manure immortalized in The Great Gatsby as the “Valley of Ashes.” It was on this unlikely site, in 1930, that Parks Commissioner Robert Moses envisioned an urban oasis. 1 Over the course of three decades, Moses moved mountains and rivers, powerful banks and labor unions, politicians and the press, to remake the park (and the city) in his image. Transforming the Meadows from gray to green involved the reclamation of 1200 acres of marsh and refuse, the eviction of residents and squatters, the diversion of waterways and building of new highways. 2 The 1939 World’s Fair (and another at the same location in 1964) paved the way for a grand public park.

Learning second language can delay ageing of the brain, say scientists

Steve Connor:

Learning a second language can boost thinking skills, improve mental agility and delay the ageing of the brain, according to scientists who believe that speaking minority languages should be positively encouraged in schools and universities.

Studies have found that children and adults who learn or speak another language benefit from the extra effort it takes to handle two sets of vocabularies and rules of grammar.

“Fewer parents speak minority languages to their children because of the perceived lack of usefulness. Many people still think that a minority language makes children confused and puts them at a disadvantage at school,” said Antonella Sorace of the University of Edinburgh.

I no longer understand my PhD dissertation (and what it Means For Mathematics Education)

Junaid Mubeen:

Earlier this week I read through my PhD dissertation. My research was in an area of Pure Mathematics called Functional Analysis which, in short, meant it was self-motivated and void of tangible real-world application. I submitted the thesis in 2011 and after a successful ‘defense’ made a swift exit from research mathematics.

I was curious to see how much of the dissertation I can still grasp, five years after the fact. I figured it couldn’t hurt my ego if I refreshed my mind with past mathematical glories.