‘Back in time 60 years’: America’s most segregated city

Daniel Dale

—On weekday afternoons, Gaulien “Gee” Smith, a prominent Milwaukee barber and businessman, walks out of the Gee’s Clippers shop on North Doctor Martin Luther King Dr., steps into his shiny new limited-edition pickup truck, and begins the 20-minute drive to a parallel universe.

He heads north. Past vacant lots and vacant storefronts. Past the boundary of the city’s north side, where almost all of his customers and almost everybody else is black. He crosses into the suburb of Glendale. The stares begin.

Glendale is home to an Apple Store and a Brooks Brothers and a Swarovski. And white people. A whole lot of white people. Smith, a charismatic 45-year-old black man with a salt-and-pepper goatee, doesn’t need the probing eyes as a reminder.

The white people are why he’s there in the first place.

Smith makes the trip across the invisible race border to pick up two of his sons, one from a private school and one from an elite public school. He chose the schools, in part, for their whiteness.

Making Academia Safe


At AMNH a lawyer reached out to anthropologist Rebecca Ackermann to help investigate Richmond’s actions. She found three undergraduates who gave accounts of inappropriate behavior. AMNH is still investigating him (he was placed on leave after the initial investigation, and no other punishment was added when Ackermann submitted the other three accusations).

Richmond had already left GWU, but continued to teach at the GWU-run Koobi Fora Field School in Kenya. According to the Science article, immediately after finding out his former co-worker and pupil was accused of sexual misconduct, GWU professor Bernard Wood decided that he wanted to be sure that Richmond’s presence at GWU was not marked by the same type of activity:

In St. Louis [at the conference where the research assistant first came forward], Wood canvassed younger researchers about their experiences with Richmond. He asked everyone the same question: “Does this alleged behavior come as any surprise to you?” But he didn’t get the “yes” he was expecting. Nearly all said that they were not surprised, and two individuals told Wood that they had been the direct subjects of unwanted sexual advances by Richmond.

Wood continued asking questions back at GWU’s Center for Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology (CASHP) that yielded similar responses. Rebecca Ackermann, an anthropologist asked by AMNH’s lawyer to help investigate Richmond’s history, found three undergraduates who gave accounts of incidents of harassment and unwanted contact that occurred at the field school.

The Questions Developed to Cull Students

Scott Jaschik

The policy debate at Mount St. Mary’s University has from the start involved more than President Simon Newman’s comparison of at-risk students to bunnies that should be drowned or killed with a Glock.

Faculty members and the provost (whom Newman has since demoted) objected to plans to give all freshmen a survey and then to use the survey to identify new students who might — in their first weeks in college — be encouraged to quit before Mount St. Mary’s would have to report them as having been enrolled and thus dropping out. The theory behind the plan was to increase the university’s retention rate.

Amid all the attention to Newman’s metaphor and his subsequent firing of two faculty members (one with tenure) for failing to show sufficient loyalty in carrying out his retention plan, relatively little discussion has focused on the questionnaire itself. It is now circulating, and faculty members at Mount St. Mary’s (speaking privately, fearing for their jobs) and outside experts (speaking publicly) say it shows just how problematic the retention program was. (The university also sent a new letter to one of the professors it fired, referring to the possibility of reconciliation, but it is unclear what would happen in the event of meetings the letter appears to propose.)

Why UW-Madison’s plan to become bigger “merit aid” player is bad for U.S. public higher education

Stephen Wurd:

f you are worried about the status of low-income students at the nation’s top public universities, recent news out of Madison, Wisconsin is disheartening.

In December, Inside Higher Ed (IHE) revealed that the University of Wisconsin at Madison is planning to substantially boost the amount of money it spends on non-need-based aid, which is popularly known as “merit aid.” The university’s primary goal is to use this aid to keep top Wisconsin students in the state. In recent years, some of the school’s Big Ten rivals have been luring high-achieving Wisconsin students to their campuses with generous offers of merit aid.

By investing heavily in non-need-based aid, University of Wisconsin officials want to “build a wall around our state and make sure that our own students have every reason to consider us,” Steve Hahn, UW-Madison’s vice provost for enrollment management, told the online publication.

Berkeley Plans a ‘New Normal’

Inside Higher Ed:

The University of California at Berkeley Wednesday morning announced a major initiative aimed at maintaining educational quality while addressing serious budgetary concerns. Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in a campus message that the university faces “a substantial and growing structural deficit, one that we cannot long sustain,” and introduced what he called a comprehensive strategic planning process to establish a “new normal.”

“We must focus not only on the immediate challenge, but also on the deeper task of enhancing our institution’s long-term sustainability and self-reliance,” he said. “This is a moment not just to stabilize our finances, but also to consider our future as a leading institution of higher education. The guide for this effort has to be our core mission: to enhance the educational experience we provide to students while maintaining our commitment to access, to increase the support we provide for groundbreaking research and scholarship, and to align our public outreach with 21st-century societal needs.”

“Plenty of Resources”: Madison’s school budget ($17K+/student) isn’t so bad

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Cheatham has the right attitude on “repurposing” school resources within existing spending levels. She wants to add three more employees to focus on student academic and career planning, for example. That should help more struggling students graduate. She also wants to advance the district’s technology plan.

Cheatham is proposing $2.1 million in new spending for key priorities. She plans to offset that expense through savings in the district’s central office.

“Rather than continually looking for more funding — kind of piling on each year, adding cost — we’re very strategically looking for the highest and best use of our dollars for the coming year,” Cheatham said.

Sounds good.

Despite the Legislature’s strict limits on public schools, Madison needs to set strong priorities with the money it has.

Madison, at $17,000+ per student spends far more than most government school districts. Columbus, Mississippi spends $6,602 per student….

Generalized Concrete Nonsense, or Why We Teach Factually Wrong Things

Irregular Impression:

So, what is the problem I am talking about? It is really very simple, yet totally unexpected and shocking. It is that a lot of university course material, at least in the field of information technology and computer science, contains significant amounts of factually wrong assertions presented as facts to the unsuspecting students.

In fact, “significant” puts it very mildly. The lecture slides I’ve encountered today contain several capital errors, frequently two or three of them per slide. In order to illustrate the seriousness of these mistakes, I am quoting some actual phrases, definitions and assertions found in the slides in question (translated to English, since the original material is written in Hungarian) that I have encountered.

Economic Conditions and School Climate

Alan Borsuk:

Finnegan and Holme include a set of maps focused on economic and racial trends in the Milwaukee area that show “over the course of four decades, segregation and the concentration of poverty in Milwaukee grew even more severe.” They conclude, “These segregation patterns are important to educational policy because they correspond closely with perceived patterns of school ‘failure.'”

In “Education Next,” a quarterly based out of Harvard and Stanford, Steven Riskin, a professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, concludes that the average black student nationwide now goes to public school with more white students than a half century ago, but fewer white students than 30 years ago. “The rate of exposure has declined markedly since 1988,” he wrote.

Does segregation hurt education? “The best answer, in my view, is that the consequences of racial segregation for student learning are probably adverse, but not severely so,” Riskin concluded.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, a nongovernment group, issued a paper that concludes that poor minority students in segregated schools are more likely to get involved in crime than those in integrated schools.

No, You Still Can’t Go To High School Online, FTC Says

Jen Wieczner:

Cracking down on the alleged “diploma mills,” the FTC took the opportunity to remind consumers that even as online high school education has proliferated along with online universities, it is often a scam. The websites often promise to sell customers a high school equivalency certificate known as a GED for minimal coursework or a test that can be completed online.

Presumably, the legacy government (taxpayer) funded schools are held to similar standards. Or not?

Increasing black student achievement imperative

Patrick Dobard:

This is important because almost 40 percent of the 45.5 percent of black public school students statewide attend school in one of our districts.

While we work hard daily to serve all students regardless of race, we do recognize and accept a higher calling to ensure we focus intently on serving children who look like us and look up to us as figures of authority in their own towns and cities.

Too many times, the only black people our young people see on a regular basis are being shown on the local news in a negative light.

We decided to work with one another to establish best practices to educate students mired in poverty while advocating for and implementing policies that will accelerate the pace of civil rights acquisition in education. Some of these policies include a more flexible funding model and access to high-quality early childhood services and financial aid opportunities.

The financialization of US higher education

Charlie Eaton, Jacob Habinek, Adam Goldstein, Cyrus Dioun, Daniela García Santibáñez Godoy and Robert Osley-Thomas:

Research on financialization has been constrained by limited suitable measures for cases outside of the for-profit sector. Using the case of US higher education, we consider financialization as both increasing reliance on financial investment returns and increasing costs from transactions to acquire capital. We document returns and costs across four types of transactions: (i) revenues from endowment investments, (ii) interest payments on institutional borrowing by colleges, (iii) profits extracted by investors in for-profit colleges and (iv) interest payments on student loan borrowing by households. Estimated annual funding from endowment investments grew from $16 billion in 2003 to $20 billion in 2012. Meanwhile financing costs grew from $21 billion in 2003 to $48 billion in 2012, or from 5 to 9% of the total higher education spending, even as interest rates declined. Increases in financial returns, however, were concentrated at wealthy colleges whereas increases in financing costs tended to outpace returns at poorer institutions. We discuss the implications of the findings for resource allocation, organizational governance and stratification among colleges and households.

Charter schools once again dominate District 4 race for East Baton Rouge School Board

The Advocate:

Collins and Maxie are both mid-’90s graduates of Baton Rouge public schools — Lee and Capitol high schools, respectively. Both have school-aged children. Collins, 39, has two sons, 18 and 19 years old, who are recent graduates of Belaire and Scotlandville high schools and are now in college. Maxie, 37, has six children, five in school now — two are at Belaire High, and three attend Labelle Aire Elementary.

Collins, however, is backed by traditional public education advocates, including teachers unions and local leaders, such as state Rep. Pat Smith, with ties to the school system.

Maxie, meanwhile, is getting support from business and community leaders who favor greater privatization and expansion of charter schools, public schools run by private organizations.

The number of American teens who excel at advanced math has surged. Why?

Peg Tyre:

On a sultry evening last July, a tall, soft-spoken 17-year-old named David Stoner and nearly 600 other math whizzes from all over the world sat huddled in small groups around wicker bistro tables, talking in low voices and obsessively refreshing the browsers on their laptops. The air in the cavernous lobby of the Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was humid, recalls Stoner, whose light South Carolina accent warms his carefully chosen words. The tension in the room made it seem especially heavy, like the atmosphere at a high-stakes poker tournament.

Is majoring in liberal arts a mistake for students?

Vinod Khosls:

prepared mind, as Louis Pasteur is credited with saying, we’re in danger of becoming a very unlucky nation. Little of the material taught in Liberal Arts programs today is relevant to the future.

Consider all the science and economics that has been updated, the shifting theories of psychology, the programming languages and political theories that have been developed, and even how many planets our solar system has. Much, like literature and history, should be evaluated against updated, relevant priorities in the 21st century.

Scalia High School Commencement Speech

Justice Antonin Scalia:

Movement is not necessarily progress. More important than your obligation to follow your conscience, or at least prior to it, is your obligation to form your conscience correctly. Nobody — remember this — neither Hitler, nor Lenin, nor any despot you could name, ever came forward with a proposal that read, ‘Now, let’s create a really oppressive and evil society.’ Hitler said, ‘Let’s take the means necessary to restore our national pride and civic order.’ And Lenin said, ‘Let’s take the means necessary to assure a fair distribution of the goods of the world.’

“In short, it is your responsibility, men and women of the class of 2010, not just to be zealous in the pursuit of your ideals, but to be sure that your ideals are the right ones. That is perhaps the hardest part of being a good human being: Good intentions are not enough. Being a good person begins with being a wise person. Then, when you follow your conscience, will you be headed in the right direction.”

Nina Totenberg:

Even in some terrorism cases he was something of a purist, declaring that the administration of George W. Bush could not imprison an American citizen indefinitely without charge. On this, his opinion was the most radical on the court, rejecting the more equivocal and prevailing approach of other justices.

“If civil rights are to be curtailed during wartime,” he insisted, “it must be done openly and democratically as the Constitution requires, rather than by silent erosion through an opinion of this court.”

Such unexpected liberal moments, however, were rare. More often, Scalia’s aggressive conservatism, even when it failed to prevail, often framed the debate, and justices once considered centrists came to be viewed as liberals compared with Scalia.

Tara Kole clerked for Judge Scalia: “He knew his mind. He taught me the importance of knowing my own.”

Wisdom in dissent.

University Of Wisconsin 2016-2017 Athletic Budget Set To Increase By $8M+

Jason Galloway:

Still, the university’s athletic board approved an operating expense budget of nearly $122 million for 2016-17 at its meeting Friday, an increase of more than $8 million from the previous year.

Some of the jump comes from the decision to add three new departments to the athletic department’s budget — camps and clinics, the W Club and University Ridge Golf Course — that will add about $6.1 million in both revenue and expenses.

Vouchers: Time for Thinking, Not Rhetoric

Paul Hill, via a kind Deb Britt email:

Will this set off another round in the polarized debate over whether vouchers work? It’s an article of faith on the right that vouchers are always a good thing, and on the left that they always do harm. These extremes are silly: vouchers are simply a way of giving parents the freedom to choose, and whether students benefit depends less on the ways money flows from the government to the school than on the quality of schools available and how well informed parents are.

Vouchers apparently benefit students in localities where students can get access to well-established and effective schools, for example, Catholic schools that already had strong records of success with poor and minority students. Vouchers work a lot less well when the available schools, as in Louisiana, are not particularly coherent, well-run, or effective. To be more effective than Louisiana’s program, vouchers also have to be well-funded: those that pay a lot less than the tuition private schools charge benefit the parents who are already paying tuition but don’t do much for students who need to get out of district-run schools.

Renaissance Florence Was a Better Model for Innovation than Silicon Valley Is

Eric Weiner:

Urban planners the world over yearn to replicate the success of Silicon Valley: witness Thames Valley (England) and Silicon Oasis (Dubai), to name just two of these attempts. Invariably, these well-intentioned efforts fail for the simple reason that they’re trying to replicate the wrong model. Silicon Valley is too new, too now, to glean lessons from. Those hoping to launch the world’s next great innovation hub would be better off looking to an older, even more remarkable genius cluster: Renaissance Florence. The Italian city-state produced an explosion of great art and brilliant ideas, the likes of which the world has not seen before or since. This hothouse of innovation offers lessons as relevant and valuable today as they were 500 years ago. Here are a few of them.

Talent needs patronage. The Medicis of Florence were legendary talent spotters, leveraging their wealth with selective generosity. That was especially true of Lorenzo Medici, better known as Lorenzo the Magnificent. One day when he was strolling through the city, a boy not more than 14 years old caught his eye. The boy was sculpting a faun, a figure in Roman mythology that is half man, half goat, and Lorenzo was stunned by both his talent and his determination to “get it right.” He invited the young stonecutter to live in his residence, working and learning alongside his own children. It was an extraordinary investment, but it paid off handsomely. The boy was Michelangelo. The Medicis didn’t spend frivolously, but when they spotted genius in the making they took calculated risks and opened their wallets wide. Today, cities, organizations, and wealthy individuals need to take a similar approach, sponsoring fresh talent not as an act of charity, but as a discerning investment in the common good.


Innovation in Cities
Fostering sustainable growth in urban areas.
Mentors matter. In today’s culture, we tend to value youth over experience and have little patience for old-fashioned learning models. Ambitious young entrepreneurs want to tear down the corner office, not take lessons from the people in it. However, the experience of innovators in Renaissance Florence suggests this is a mistake. Some of the greatest names in art and literature willingly paid their dues, studying their craft at the feet of the masters. Leonardo da Vinci spent a full decade — considerably longer than was customary — apprenticing at a Florentine bottega, or workshop, run by a man named Andrea del Verrocchio. A good artist but a better businessman, Verrocchio surely spotted the burgeoning genius in the young artist from an “illegitimate” family, but he nonetheless insisted Leonardo start on the bottom rung like everyone else, sweeping floors and cleaning chicken cages. (The eggs were used to make tempera paint before the advent of oil.) Gradually, Verrocchio gave his charge greater responsibility, even permitting him to paint portions of his own artwork. Why did Leonardo stay an apprentice for so long? He could easily have found work elsewhere, but he clearly valued the experience he acquired in the dusty, chaotic workshop. Too often, modern-day mentoring programs, public or private, are lip service. They must instead, as during Leonardo’s time, entail meaningful, long-term relationships between mentors and their mentees.

Liberal intolerance is on the rise on America’s college campuses

Catherine Rampell:

Okay, maybe conservatives are right to freak out about illiberal lefty militancy on college campuses.

Today’s students are indeed both more left wing and more openly hostile to free speech than earlier generations of collegians.

Catherine Rampell is an opinion columnist at The Washington Post. View Archive
Don’t believe me? There are hard data to prove it.

For 50 years, researchers have surveyed incoming college freshmen about everything from their majors to their worldviews. On Thursday, the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles released the latest iteration of this survey, which included 141,189 full-time, first-year students attending about 200 public and private baccalaureate institutions around the country.

Why Do Many Big Donors Prefer Charter Schools?

Richard Whitmire:

Recent big-dollar donations from pro-charter philanthropists leave traditional educators sputtering: Why don’t they just donate their money to us?

Good question, and one that was raised in Los Angeles recently in light of a possible huge gift from philanthropist Eli Broad and others that appears headed mostly to charter schools. LAUSD board member Scott Schmerelson wondered out loud, the L.A. Times reported: Why not us?

Punching Above Their Weight in Mississippi

Deborah Fallows:

Jim and I returned to Columbus, Mississippi, recently to see how development in the Golden Triangle was progressing, and to visit one of our favorite schools, The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. The MSMS is a two-year public residential school for students of all races, ethnic groups, and economic backgrounds from all over Mississippi. You see a glimpse of the school and some of its students at work in the science labs at the end of this Atlantic video produced this past fall.

Ecru (in green), Starkville (orange), and Edwards (blue), Mississippi are the home towns of the student authors in this post. Columbus, home city of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, is the small red dot near Starkville. (Esri)
Don’t be fooled by the name of the school, with its emphasis on math and science. The school is equally impressive in its humanities programs. We wrote about MSMS here and featured some of the essays from students last year here. We have more for you this year.

Emma Richardson teaches the creative writing class at MSMS, and the essays and poems here are all from her students. This is the first of two collections

Columbus spent $29,817,427.12 during the 2014-2015 school year for 4,516 students or 6,602 per student. Madison, the land of milk and honey spends more than $17,000 per student or 154% more…..

Commentary On Proposed Changes To Wisconsin’s Redistributed K-12 Tax Dollars

Molly Beck:

While I do agree that there was some situations where some districts were gaming the system, and perhaps something needs to be done, it’s clear in talking with the Senate that there isn’t support to bring this bill all the way home,” he said, adding that he expected enough support for the original version of the bill. “Key senators have told me that they’re troubled by” the Vos amendment.

Jagler voted for the Vos amendment even though he worries about the impact on his bill.

Making it more challenging is that lawmakers are hoping to wrap up their work soon. Vos said Tuesday he intends to have the Assembly wrap up its work next week, leaving little time for the Senate to pass its own version of the bill to send to the Assembly for consideration.

More, here.

Learning to be a cog: Homeschooling, Socialization, and the New Groupthink

B K Marcus:

I recently talked to a mom who wants to homeschool her daughter. The girl’s dad objects to the idea because, he insists, home education will fail to prepare her for “the real world.” I find it significant that this man is career military. The real world, as he knows it, is regimented, tightly controlled, and bureaucratized into stasis — at least compared with the very different real world of voluntary exchange and spontaneous order.

If your goal for your children is a lifetime of government work, then by all means send them to public school: the bigger, the better. But if, by “socialization,” you mean ensuring that a child becomes sociable, that he or she develops the intelligence and social reflexes that promote peaceful and pleasurable interactions with larger groups of friends and strangers, then the irony of the what-about-socialization question is that it gets the situation precisely backwards. It is schooled kids, segregated by age and habituated to the static and artificial restrictions of the schooling environment, who demonstrate more behavioral problems while in school and greater difficulty adjusting to the post-school world.

Does “Socialization” Mean Peer Pressure?

While homeschooled kids learn to interact daily with people of all ages, schools teach their students to think of adults primarily in terms of avoiding trouble (or sometimes seeking it). That leaves the social lessons to their peers, narrowly defined as schoolmates roughly their own age.

Each year, in alarming numbers, and with alarming predictability, they leave

Brooke Haycock:

Cornelius, the young people you are about to meet — identified by pseudonyms they chose for themselves — are not the kinds of students generally looked to for answers on how to improve schools. Too often, they are cast as the very problems. The data points that drag schools down, the disciplinary actions, the truancy numbers, the failure rates, the call-outs, the walk-outs, the kick-outs.

These students are telling us in every way they know how that our schools are not working for them. And they are exactly the young people from whom we need to be seeking advice about how to draw them back in.

Similarly, the schools I met them in, which also remain unidentified to protect student privacy, are not the kinds that districts and traditional schools generally look to for exemplar practices. These are the schools of second chance: an alternative school, a comprehensive GED program, and a high school in a secure juvenile detention facility.

How The Chicago Public Schools Failed Laquan McDonald

Sarah Karp:

The videotaped shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer was a criminal act, according to prosecutors who have charged the cop with the teen’s murder.

But the death represented something else: The culmination of a series of failings by other taxpayer-funded systems that are supposed to help at-risk youths.

That’s the conclusion of a two-month Better Government Association investigation that examined the educational and social service agencies serving troubled kids like McDonald, who suffered physical and sexual abuse while in foster care, had emotional and other mental issues, and had been involved with drugs and gangs.

Accounting for the Rise in College Tuition (Federal Tax $ Spending And Student Loans…)

Grey Gordon, Aaron Hedlund:

We develop a quantitative model of higher education to test explanations for the steep rise in college tuition between 1987 and 2010. The framework extends the quality-maximizing college paradigm of Epple, Romano, Sarpca, and Sieg (2013) and embeds it in an incomplete markets, life-cycle environment. We measure how much changes in underlying costs, reforms to the Federal Student Loan Program (FSLP), and changes in the college earnings premium have caused tuition to increase. All these changes combined generate a 106% rise in net tuition between 1987 and 2010, which more than accounts for the 78% increase seen in the data. Changes in the FSLP alone generate a 102% tuition increase, and changes in the college premium generate a 24% increase. Our findings cast doubt on Baumol’s cost disease as a driver of higher tuition.

On institutions And Governance

Tamson Pietsch:

The institution I know best is the university. Universities still work with an understanding of time and human capacity that stretches beyond the frames of annual reports, funding cycles, government elections or even of individual careers. For all their problems, they are still places that recognise the messy, uncertain and often troubling aspects of human life. Universities are founded on an acknowledgement that we are meaning-making creatures, that so much about life is uncertain, and that expertise takes years to develop. Their power lies in their relational character: it is not monetised exchange and short-term benefit that underpins their mission, but rather an encounter with ideas and with each other. With their buildings, books and bequests they draw us into a form of time that stretches out beyond the life of any one of us; and with their bars and playing fields and classrooms they bring us into an engagement with one another. In doing so they equip us with thick forms of connection: knowledge, ethics of participation and relationships that give us ways to live and to flourish in the fractured and fluid world of what sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has called ‘liquid modernity’.

Conversely, institutions atrophy in the absence of governance, interest and competition as Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results illustrate. (MAP commentary)

Aztec app brings historic Mexico codex into the digital age


A 16th century document considered one of the most important primary sources on the Aztecs of pre-Columbian Mexico went digital Thursday with a new app that aims to spur research and discussion.

The Codex Mendoza is a 1542 illustrated report ordered by Spanish viceroy Antonio de Mendoza that details sources of riches, Aztec expansion and territorial tributes, and chronicles daily life and social dynamics.

The new interactive codex lets users page through the virtual document, mouse-over the old Spanish text for translations into English or modern Spanish, click on images for richer explanations and explore maps of the area.

China Wants Male Teachers, and We Should Too

Mark Judge:

China’s approach is wise and much needed, both in Asia and the West. Many female teachers are doing a wonderful job, but schoolboys are in desperate need of male teachers. Boys are by nature more rambunctious, distracted, hyperactive, and physical than girls. This is obvious to anyone with rudimentary observation skills and access to a playground, but I saw it firsthand a few years ago when I was a teacher. Bluntly put, sometimes it takes a male teacher to handle male students.

Experts can conduct all the studies they want to and the government can hand out blue-ribbon panel guidelines on equality in schools, but all a person has to do to be faced with the difference between girls and boys in school is to simply spend a couple weeks—or even a day—as a teacher.

We should reject efforts to repeal College & Career Ready Standards

Jennifer Brown:

I wish I could say that this honor was for jovial purposes.

It wasn’t.

I appeared before the committee not to discuss the amazing job our teachers are doing in classrooms across the state, but instead to defend Alabama’s College and Career Ready Standards from the latest legislative attempt to reverse what the democratically-elected State Board of Education put in place in 2010.

This was not the first time that the basic expectations for what K-12 students in Alabama are supposed to learn in math and English each year were publicly debated before this committee. In fact, it was the sixth.

Enrollment in online courses rises, but their importance to academic chiefs wanes

Jon Marcus:

About 63 percent of chief academic officers consider the likes of massive open online courses, or MOOCS, to be critical to their institutions’ long-term strategies, down from 71 percent last year, the survey, by the Babson Survey Research Group, found.

Twenty-nine percent say the outcomes are inferior to those of face-to-face instruction, up from 26 percent the year before.

Nor are faculty growing more persuaded of the worth of online education. Only 29 percent of academic leaders say their faculty accept the “value and legitimacy” of online courses, a figure that has remained generally flat.

Inside Chicago’s noble schools


Today, one in every 10 public high school students in Chicago is getting a Noble education. Four of Noble’s 16 campuses are still adding grades. A 17th school, approved last fall despite unprecedented public opposition, opens later this year. And later this month, Noble officials plan to ask for even more schools.

While most Noble campuses are highly rated by CPS, some newer ones lag behind. These sites reflect the network’s move into more troubled and deeply impoverished African-American neighborhoods on the South and West sides, where students come in with more challenges.

“It’s a tough place,” Michael Milkie says of the South Side campuses. “And whether it’s Noble campuses or CPS campuses, even selective-enrollment campuses, [those schools] struggle in some way.”

PostEverything Democrats love universal pre-K — and don’t seem to care that it may not work

Kevin Huffman:

A Tennessee study found that students who attended the state’s pre-k program did worse by third grade than students who had been lotteried out. l

As campaign issues go, promoting preschool for poor kids is about as close to a no-brainer as it gets among progressives.

Indeed, when Hillary Clinton officially launched her campaign last summer with a call for expanded access to prekindergarten, the New York Times reported, “Of all the issues Mrs. Clinton could have delved into, early childhood education is perhaps the most obvious and among the safest.”

Both Clinton and Bernie Sanders have made universal, school-based pre-K a centerpiece of their platforms. Meanwhile, they’ve demonized any opposition. “They aren’t just missing the boat on early childhood education,” Clinton said, “they’re trying to sink it.” Sanders, not to be rhetorically outdone, claimed that “to turn our back on children at that period is disgraceful.”

And why shouldn’t we all fall in line on this issue? We know that children from low-income homes enter kindergarten already significantly behind their wealthier peers. Research shows that they hear about 30 million fewer words, they have significantly lower exposure to books, and their impulse control and self-regulation — often called executive function — tend to be less developed than in higher income children. So it makes absolute sense to look for meaningful interventions between birth and age 5.

Unfortunately, the predominant remedy advocated by those on the left is neither as effective, nor cost-effective, as people tend to think.

More than Access: College Programs in Prison and Transforming Education

Gillian Harkins:

In keeping with the spirit of the epigraphs offered here, this essay raises more questions than it provides answers. Raising questions without answers may be one peculiar provenance of academic inquiry, as Ruth Wilson Gilmore points out. Here answers are primarily the vehicle for further questioning, one temporary constellation of meaning in the broader field of “research.” For activists as well, answers are temporary and situational. But here Gilmore suggests that answers are the vehicle for tactical intervention, one temporary constellation of meaning in the broader field of “politics.” Yet what happens in situations where scholarly research and tactical action overlap? What happens when the roles of “academic” and “activist” are blurred in institutional settings where traditional systems of higher education meet their limit? Kirk Branch’s scholarly research on teaching literacy across educational institutions and systems helps us puzzle out how educators find themselves asking such questions when they work to create broader access to higher education.[3] Branch’s research raises additional questions for this essay: how do we imagine and institute the aims of higher education in systems that reveal the historical tensions or even contradictions between “scholarly inquiry” and “political practice”? What happens when providing education is perceived as a political practice, not merely by teaching scholarly research but also by instituting new systems of educational access? And how can we improve our tactics for providing educational access so that it leads more broadly to education justice?

On The “Reading Heavy” SAT

Anemona Hartocollis:

Chief among the changes, experts say: longer and harder reading passages and more words in math problems. The shift is leading some educators and college admissions officers to fear that the revised test will penalize students who have not been exposed to a lot of reading, or who speak a different language at home — like immigrants and the poor.

It has also led to a general sense that the new test is uncharted territory, leaving many students wondering whether they should take the SAT or its rival, the ACT. College admissions officers say they are waiting to see how the scores turn out before deciding how to weight the new test.

“It’s going to change who does well,” said Lee Weiss, the vice president of precollege programs at Kaplan Test Prep, one of the nation’s biggest test-preparation programs. “Before, if you were a student from a family where English was not the first language, you could really excel on the math side. It may be harder in the administration of this new test to decipher that, because there is so much text on both sides of the exam.”

Public schools oppose loss of funding for students they don’t educate

Chris Rickert:

It’s as if taxpayers face paying for a voucher student twice — once through state taxes for vouchers, and again through district property tax levies for, well, I’m not sure what, given that the voucher students are no longer in the districts.

Dan Rossmiller, government relations director at the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, noted “it’s not always the case where the students are moving from a public school to a voucher school.” That’s because some students who have never attended public school are eligible for vouchers, too.

Of course, like other voucher students, their families still have to fall below certain income limits. And in the absence of vouchers, taxpayers would probably still be paying for a lot of low-income students’ education, anyway (just in the public schools, where public schools’ leaders like to keep them).

Rossmiller’s also right that a district can’t simply close a school or lay off a teacher because it loses two or five or 10 students — and the taxpayer funding that comes with them — to voucher schools. There would have to be bigger losses before districts could find offsetting efficiencies, like closing schools.

Still, changes in district enrollments happen all the time for many reasons. Birth rates go up and down, local economies boom or bust, districts provide better or worse education. Students leaving for other public school districts or for voucher-supported private schools are only two of many possibilities.

Richest US universities reel in donors

Stephen Foley:

A record $40.3bn was raised by US colleges and universities in 2015, according to the Council for Aid to Education, but 18 per cent of that went to just 10 institutions — and Stanford University alone raised $1.63bn.

The CAE study was released on Wednesday, the same day the National Association of College and University Business Officers (Nacubo) said that the largest endowments returned an average 4.3 per cent in the most recent financial year, compared with a 2.3 per cent average for the sector.

Evidence of the increasing concentration of wealth among elite institutions will stoke a debate about the best places for wealthy individuals to direct their philanthropy at a time of concern about inequality.

While opponents argue that giving to elite schools perpetuates inequality, many donors say their money supports scholarships and other programmes to widen access.

Insead’s 1-year MBA tops FT rankings

Della Bradshaw:

Insead, the business school with campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, has topped the Financial Times’ Global MBA rankings for the first time since they were introduced in 1999.

This is the first time that an MBA programme with a substantial Asian presence has been ranked number one by the FT, and marks a growing interest from elite students in Asian business and business schools. Insead is still the only top-ranked business school to teach its full-time MBA on multiple campuses, with 75 per cent of the 1,000 students studying in both Singapore and Fontainebleau, just outside Paris.

It is also the first time that a one-year MBA programme has been ranked in the top slot. The flagship MBA programmes of the four previous winners — Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in the US, and London Business School in the UK — are all two-year degrees. Together with Insead, these schools have been ranked in the top five slots for the past three years by the FT.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Illinois Union Showdown

Wall Street Journal:

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has the hardest job in America—saving Illinois from public union power—so wish him luck in his latest showdown. For a year he has been trying to negotiate a new contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (Afscme) that represents some 40,000 public workers in Illinois. The talks have been going nowhere, so on Friday he asked the state’s labor relations board to rule on whether the negotiation is at an impasse.

Although the union’s contract expired last summer, a “tolling agreement” means the previous contract’s terms continue until a new contract is signed. That gives union leaders little incentive to bargain in good faith. Mr. Rauner has made deals with other unions, including the Teamsters, and he recently said he’d start a merit-pay system for state workers, giving them a chance to earn bonuses. But Afscme rejected the idea, calling bonuses based on “subjective” criteria “tone-deaf and heartless.”

Afscme leaders prefer the status quo, in which union clout matters more than worker performance. That has been costly for Illinois taxpayers. Between 2005 and 2014, Afscme base salaries increased 49%, to an average base of $66,582 in 2014 from $44,583 in 2005. That cost the state some $3.5 billion more than it would have if salaries had grown at the rate of inflation. State pension obligations to Afscme workers have also grown at an unsustainable pace in the high-tax, slow-growth Illinois economy.

Estimate: Common Core To Cost California Nearly $10 Billion, Nation $80 Billion

Joy Pullman:

A California commission has just decided the technology costs for Common Core tests are an unfunded mandate, which will require state taxpayers to cough up approximately $4 billion more to local school districts, Californian and former U.S. Department of Education official Ze’ev Wurman tells The Federalist.

This adds to the extra $3.5 billion the legislature gave schools for Common Core in spring 2015 and a separate infusion of $1.7 billion Gov. Jerry Brown snagged for Common Core spread across fiscal years 2014 and 2015. That makes a total of approximately $9.2 billion above and beyond existing tax expenditures Californians will pay to have Common Core injected into their state.

Most Eighth Grade Students Are Not Proficient in Geography

US General Accounting Office:

About three-quarters of eighth grade students—the only grade for which trend data are available—were not “proficient” in geography in 2014, according to GAO’s analysis of nationally representative data from the Department of Education (Education). Specifically, these students had not demonstrated solid competence in the subject, and the proficiency levels of eighth grade students have shown no improvement since 1994 (see figure). Geography is generally taught as part of social studies, but data show that more than half of eighth grade teachers reported spending a small portion (10 percent or less) of their social studies instruction time on geography. Further, according to a study by an academic organization, a majority of states do not require geography courses in middle school or high school.

A key challenge to providing geography education is the increased focus on other subjects, according to officials in selected states and K-12 teachers GAO interviewed. These officials and teachers said spending time and resources on geography education is difficult due to national and state focus on the tested subjects of reading, math, and science. GAO’s interviews and review of relevant reports identified a range of other challenges, as well, including:

Report to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.

“The annual premium cost for family coverage under the district’s private plan is almost $37,000 and includes medical, dental, prescription and vision coverage”

Diane D’amico:

Almost 200 employees under family-plan coverage received $18,500 each, according to information obtained by The Press of Atlantic City through an Open Public Records Act request. The annual premium cost for family coverage under the district’s private plan is almost $37,000 and includes medical, dental, prescription and vision coverage.

By contrast, under a 2010 state law, employees who get their health benefits through the School Employees Health Benefits Program, or SEHBP, can receive no more than 25 percent of the annual premium costs, or $5,000, whichever is less. Just more than half of all school districts are in the state plan.

The high cost of the district’s private insurance plan has caught the attention of the state Department of Education. While the district was approved for an additional $20 million in state aid in November, that approval agreement came with instructions to reduce health insurance costs.

Via Laura Waters.

Why kids — now more than ever — need to learn philosophy. Yes, philosophy.

Steve Nuemann:

The idea that schoolchildren should become philosophers will be scoffed at by school boards, teachers, parents, and philosophers alike. The latter will question whether kids can even do philosophy, while the former likely have only a passing familiarity with it, if any — possibly leading them to conclude that it’s beyond useless.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, nothing could be more important to the future well-being of both our kids and society as a whole than that they learn how to be philosophers.

I don’t mean that we should teach kids philosophy the way they would encounter it in college. Adolescents don’t need to dive into dissertations on Plato’s theory of forms or Kant’s categorical imperative. (That kind of study is valuable, too, and should be included in secondary education somewhere, but that’s an argument for another day.) The kind of philosophy I have in mind helps kids become better citizens by turning the classroom into what the philosopher John Dewey called “embryonic society.”

To see why this is vital, just consider the state of discourse in the current presidential election cycle. From issues of racism, economic inequality, gun violence, domestic and foreign terrorism to climate change, the inability of the candidates and their respective parties to engage in fruitful public discourse is a manifestation of our own adult dysfunction writ large.

The hardest IQ question ever

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

I’m concerned about your academic career if you talk about this publicly


What truths would be written if academics weren’t afraid of losing their jobs?

What truths would be written if you followed through, with practice, the type of sovereignty and decolonization you theorize in journals?

All the times I’ve heard some version of “I’m concerned about your academic career if you talk about this publicly”: that’s not concern for me.

I knew about the systems, I knew the stories about these men. We all do. We all do, because academic aunties gossip. And academic auntie gossip saves lives.

But still, I irrationally believed I was safe, or somehow exempt.

Even after, in second year, that time I got out of that ethics professor’s car, downtown, at night, in the middle of winter, and walked home rather than sit beside him after he joked that his seats recline all the way, if I was interested.

“In addition, we see that very few schools actually achieved growth improvements of 5% or more, with changes in growth generally clustering around 0%.” Slide updates on Madison’s $500M+ Government School System

PDF slides from a recent Madison School District Quarterly Board retreat. Readers may wish to understand “MAP” or “Measure of Academic Progress” [duck duck go SIS 2012 Madison and Waunakee results]

Using MAP for Strategic Framework Milestones and SIP Metrics

Feedback from various stakeholders has led us to examine the use of MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) to measure Strategic Framework Goal #1: Every student is on track to graduate as measured by student growth and achievement at key milestones. In particular, we have received three specific questions regarding our use of MAP data for Strategic Framework Milestones and SIP Metrics for 2016-17:

1. What is the best way to measure growth on MAP?

2. How should the district and schools set MAP goals for growth?

3. How should the district and schools set MAP goals for proficiency?

4. Should we track progress based on Proficient-Advanced or Basic-Proficient-Advanced?

In this document, we summarize the key issues for each of these questions and provide our recommendations.
1. What is the best way to measure growth on MAP?

Currently, MMSD uses the percent of students meeting or exceeding fall to spring growth targets on the MAP assessment as both a Strategic Framework Milestone and School Improvement Plan (SIP) metric. In addition, this metric receives significant attention in our public reporting on MAP in other venues and teachers have been trained over the past several years to use it to measure progress at the classroom and student level. We have included growth as a complement to MAP proficiency; it allows us to look not just at how students are performing, but also improvement during the year.

For MAP growth, our initial growth trajectory involved a 10 percentage point improvement each year for the district. This goal has extended to SIPs for the past three years, as schools near district averages have received the goal recommendation of 10% improvement; that recommendation changed to 5% starting in 2015-16. The graph to the right illustrates our original trajectory of 10 percentage points a year, our recommended goals for each year (the previous year’s actual result plus an improvement of 10%), and our actual results from each year.

This graph shows us that the original plan of 10% improvement in growth per year would have placed us around 80% in the current school year. Although we believe in setting ambitious goals, the idea that we would continue to improve 10 percentage points every year likely was not realistic, and now that we are around 60% of students meeting growth targets, we may want to consider a lower target than 10 percentage points each year, as even 5 percentage points is relatively large.

Almost all schools set goals for MAP growth that aligned with a district recommendation: 5%, 10%, or 15%. In addition, we see that very few schools actually achieved growth improvements of 5% or more, with changes in growth generally clustering around 0%.

Recommendation: Schools/groups within 10 percentage points of the MAP growth threshold would receive a recommendation for 2% improvement and schools/groups more than 10 percentage points from the threshold would receive a recommendation for 5% improvement.

## On the other hand, one might view this discussion positively, compared to the use of “facts and figures” ten years ago, in the Math Forum.

2015-16 Analysis: Equitable Distribution of Staffing.


Call to Action: Together as a community, we can commit to ensuring all of our students are successful. We must work in partnership, creating an organized effort to lift up our students of color, especially our African American students.

Technology plan One Pager:

The MMSD Information and Technology plan undergirds all three of the goals and five priority areas in the Strategic Framework. The plan includes deliberate preparation, implementation, and monitoring phases to ensure each project’s success. We are learning from emerging best practices, building on successes, spreading out costs and addressing key challenges that arise. Technology is a powerful tool for enhancing teaching and learning and meeting students’ needs in creative, innovative and flexible ways. We are committed to providing more equitable access to technology for all students.

The first cohort (G1) began device implementation this school year after a full year of planning and targeted professional learning. Staff and students from other schools are in need of devices to access core digital resources, intervention programs, linguistic resources, and just-in-time learning. To continue progress towards equitable access and device implementation as stated in the original Tech Plan, we would like to phase in the next cohort of schools (G2) in January 2017 by instating the following actions:

Technology plan budget.

Behavior Education Plan – Draft:

The Behavior Education Plan (BEP), MMSD’s policy for addressing behavior and discipline, was approved by the Board of Education in the spring of 2014 with initial implementation in the fall of 2014. The BEP moves us toward the use proactive approaches that focus on building student and staff skills and competencies, which, in turn, lead to greater productivity and success. Moreover, the BEP is also designed to reflect a commitment to student equity as we hold all students to high expectations while providing different supports to meet those expectations. Ultimately, the BEP seeks to decrease the use of exclusionary practices through the use of progressive, restorative discipline while also impacting the significant disproportionality experienced, in particular, by our African American students, male students, and / or students with disabilities.

Given the complexity of implementing the many layers of the BEP, ongoing implementation of the BEP continues to require differentiated and stable supports for our schools including allocation of resources targeted to the needs of students. BEP focus areas for 2016-2017 include implementation of Positive Behavior Support (PBS) universal school-wide systems, PBS classroom systems and practices, behavior response, and tier 2 and 3 interventions.

Priority Actions for Board Consideration (Draft – February 2016):

Pathways Professional Development – In order to support the planning and implementation of personalized pathways in year one, the District will provide professional development to support the first health services pathway.

$400,000 Grant Total (Grant Funding for Professional Development – pending)

$200,000 -(Direct Grant to support local Professional Development)

$200,000 – (In-Kind Grant for Professional Development)

Major Capital Maintenance- The capital maintenance budget is currently funded at $4.5 million, well below the $8.0 million target level recommended in the latest (2012) facility study.

$500,000 – Provides incremental progress towards annual funding goal of $8,000,000 to maintain our schools. (Funding from Local) – Questions have been raised about past maintenance and referendum spending (editor)

Priority spreadsheet that requires new funding.

Measuring Strategic Framework Goal #3:

Goal 3 of MMSD’s Strategic Framework is that “Every student, family and employee experiences a customer service oriented school system as measured by school climate survey data.” The district’s Climate Survey, first administered in the spring of 2015, provides the data we need to measure progress on this goal. In this document, we introduce our recommendations for using climate survey data to set goals and track progress at the district (Strategic Framework via the Annual Report) and school (SIP) level.

Our recommendations are designed to answer five questions:

1. How should we account for different surveyed groups?
2. What metric(s) should we use?
3. Which dimensions should we include?
4. How should schools set goals?
5. Should schools goal set on focus groups?

Personalized Pathways- Draft

Personalized Pathways- Draft 2016-2017
The development of Personalized Pathways is a major strategic priority action for 2016-17. The goal next year is to prepare for and establish the right conditions for a successful launch of Personalized Pathways in the fall of 2017 that will improve the level of engagement for our students, the number of students on track for graduation and our graduation rates. In alignment with state legislation, the continued development and expansion of Academic and Career Plans (ACP) undergirds the development of Personalized Pathways by ensuring that every student graduates with a clear post-secondary plan that has been developed throughout their secondary school experience. The key actions for 2016-17 are outlined below and are essential to improving the readiness levels of our schools and central office staff.

Next year, the expansion of ACP to 7th and 10th grade will require a small increase of 1.9 FTE at middle school and 1.5 FTE at high school (total 3.4 FTE) to support these new work streams.

With the continued expansion of ACP to grades 6 through 12 over three years, staffing will need to increase across our middle schools to 3.8 FTE where it will level off for full implementation. ACP expansion at high schools will also need to expand over the next three years to support the number of students needing experiential learning related to college and career exploration, as well as Pathways coordination, leveling off at 6.8 FTE. The funding strategy may include repurposing existing roles or grant opportunities.

Indeed, spending more than $500,000,000 annually for 27K students provides “plenty of resources”.

“The thing about Madison that’s kind of exciting is there’s plenty of work to do and plenty of resources with which to do it,” Mitchell said. “It’s kind of a sweet spot for Jen. Whether she stays will depend on how committed the district is to continuing the work she does. plenty of resources”, Derek Mitchell, 2013.

Perhaps Re-Thinking ongoing Madison Schools Budget Growth?

Doug Ericsson:

She described it as “repurposing” existing money and said the approach likely will be the norm going forward.

“It’s a good, positive way of working,” she said. “So rather than continually looking for more funding — kind of piling on each year, adding cost — we’re very strategically looking for the highest and best use of our dollars for the coming year.”

Madison’s government school spending grows annually, yet our community has long tolerated disastrous reading results. This, despite spending more than $17,000 per student during the 2016-2017 school year.

Perhaps, one day, there might be a more structural change in our Frederick Taylor [duck duck go and SIS] era non diverse K-12 school system.

Do Parenting Classes Work?

Elissa Strauss:

2012, British Prime Minister David Cameron launched a pilot program offering parenting classes to low-income families. The government anticipated around 20,000 parents of children under five to show up. Fewer than 3,000 did.

Not easily deterred, Cameron recently announced that he’s going to try this again. As part of a £70 million anti-poverty plan centered around providing more emotional support to families, the government is planning to launch another parenting class program—this time inviting middle class families as well as underprivileged ones. Cameron’s goal appears to be helping more parents as well as shedding the stigma that only poor families need such help; he says he wants it to become “normal, even aspirational, to attend parenting classes.”

May wants UK police commissioners to set up free schools for ‘troubled children’

Alan Travis:

Elected police and crime commissioners should be given the power to set up their own free schools to support “troubled children”, Theresa May has announced.

The move will be part of a major expansion of the powers of police and crime commissioners into the areas of youth justice, probation and court services to be proposed after their second set of elections take place in May.

The home secretary said that the next set of PCCs should “bring together the two great reforms of the last parliament – police reform and school reform” to set up or work with “alternative provision of free schools to support troubled children and prevent them falling into a life of crime”.

Data: Wealthy Paid 55 Percent of Income Taxes in 2014

Tax Foundation:

The IRS recently released preliminary data for Tax Year 2014. The data shows that the U.S. income tax system remains very progressive, with high-income taxpayers paying a disproportionate share of the tax burden relative to their share of the nation’s income, while the majority of taxpayers pay a considerably smaller share relative to their share of total income.

Overall, nearly 149 million taxpayers filed a tax return in 2014. After adjusting for credits and deductions, 52 million filers (35 percent of the total) had no income tax liability, while the remaining 97 million filers paid nearly $1.3 trillion in income taxes.
As my colleague Scott Greenberg wrote last week, in 2014, America’s income tax bill grew by more than 10 percent over 2013, far surpassing the 6 percent growth in incomes. This is a clear indication that the tax code is rigged to insure that tax revenues outpace the growth in the economy.
Much of the growth in income tax payments was generated by taxpayers at the top of the income scale. In 2013, taxpayers earning over $250,000 paid $603 billion in income taxes. By contrast, in 2014, these taxpayers paid $700 billion in income taxes, 16 percent more than 2013.

Dumbing down the French language will create a whole generation of illiterate undergraduates

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet:

I’m rarely in sympathy with the hashtagged collective wisdom of the internet but I’ll make an exception over the #JeSuisCirconflexe fury. The French Ministry of Education has decided to enforce an Académie Française decision dating back to 1990 to “simplify” the French language by changing some 2,400 words.

“You don’t need to be George Orwell to see that there is something sinister in any regime that sacrifices the memory and structure of the language”

The Radical, 18th-Century Scottish System for Paying for College

Shannon Chamberlin:

The saddest part of the debate over how to rein in the cost of college is that rising prices have not been tied to any real improvement in the quality of education. Skyrocketing tuition, it’s generally agreed, has been brought on by the expansion of student services. There are nothing but bad choices, it seems: Allow the status quo to persist and saddle students with debt that will hamper their ability to buy houses, start families, or even get the jobs they need to pay off their debt. Or make college (and graduate school, argues Samual Garner, a bioethicist who chronicled his personal student-debt crisis in Slate) taxpayer-funded, and risk a larger and more catastrophic version of the cost escalation that can come with a pot of free money.

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War

Robert Gordon:

In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, home appliances, motor vehicles, air travel, air conditioning, and television transformed households and workplaces. With medical advances, life expectancy between 1870 and 1970 grew from forty-five to seventy-two years. Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth provides an in-depth account of this momentous era. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end?

Gordon challenges the view that economic growth can or will continue unabated, and he demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 can’t be repeated. He contends that the nation’s productivity growth, which has already slowed to a crawl, will be further held back by the vexing headwinds of rising inequality, stagnating education, an aging population, and the rising debt of college students and the federal government. Gordon warns that the younger generation may be the first in American history that fails to exceed their parents’ standard of living, and that rather than depend on the great advances of the past, we must find new solutions to overcome the challenges facing us.

A critical voice in the debates over economic stagnation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth is at once a tribute to a century of radical change and a harbinger of tougher times to come.

A Conversation with Jonathan Haidt

John Leo

On January 11, John Leo, editor of “Minding the Campus,” interviewed social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, one of the editors of the five-month-old site, “Heterodox Academy,” and perhaps the most prominent academic pushing hard for more intellectual diversity on our campuses. Haidt, 52, who specializes in the psychology of morality and the moral emotions, is Professor of Ethical Leadership at NYU’s Stern School of Business and author, most recently, of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012).

JOHN LEO: You set off a national conversation in San Antonio five years ago by asking psychologists at an academic convention to raise their hands to show whether they self-identified as conservatives or liberals.

JONATHAN HAIDT: I was invited by the president of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology to give a talk on the future of Social Psychology. As I was finishing writing The Righteous Mind, I was getting more and more concerned about how moral communities bind themselves together in ways that block open-minded thinking. I began to see the social sciences as tribal moral communities, becoming ever more committed to social justice, and ever less hospitable to dissenting views. I wanted to know if there was any political diversity in social psychology. So I asked for a show of hands. I knew it would be very lopsided. But I had no idea how much so. Roughly 80% of the thousand or so in the room self-identified as “liberal or left of center,” 2% (I counted exactly 20 hands) identified as “centrist or moderate,” 1% (12 hands) identified as libertarian, and, rounding to the nearest integer, zero percent (3 hands) identified as “conservative.”

JOHN LEO: You and your colleagues at your new site, Heterodox Academy, have made a lot of progress in alerting people to the problem that the campuses are pretty much bastions of the left. What kind of research did that prompt?

Corporate education reform goes global

Nicholas Tampio:

From its inception in 1945, the United Nations has been involved with education on a global scale. The U.N. views education as crucial to eradicating poverty, building peace and fostering intercultural dialogue, and it remains committed to “a holistic and humanistic vision of quality education worldwide.”

Yet there has been a dramatic shift in the U.N.’s educational mission from supporting a well-rounded, humanistic conception of education to one that focuses on teaching children the “hard skills” necessary to participate in the global economy. This turn began with the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) and has intensified with the Sustainable Development Goals that launch this month. One of the new targets, for instance, is to “increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship” by 2030.

The Limits of Education Reform: A Road Paved With the “Best Intentions”?


There is one question that animates the sociology of education more than any other: how do we explain and predict the difference in outcomes among black and white students in the post Civil Rights era of greater equality of opportunity? Sure, we talk about Hispanic and Asian students but really they are often deployed as a means of clarifying the black-white racial hierarchy in the U.S. And, yes, we sometimes talk about other things like class or the more robust “social class”, which includes the social conditions of economic positions relative to one another. But, really social class is often a proxy for race for those who would rather not discuss race head-on and class is so entangled with intersecting processes of racialization that really the easiest way to critique those kinds of analyses is to point out, “but what about race and racism though”. The debate persists because, despite our best intentions, public education in the U.S. does not serve black students well.

How a Lincoln High teacher gets all his students to pass the AP Calculus exam

Steve Lopez:

Twenty-five youngsters watch and listen as a smiling Anthony Yom takes his pre-calculus class on a right-angle trigonometry thrill ride through a maze of sines and cosines, out to prove that three squared plus five squared is going to equal H squared, or the world is off its axis.

“I am done teaching,” Yom finally says before starting students on their own problem-solving missions. “You need to get to work now.”

As they dig pencils into paper, Alexis Pong, a sophomore, tells me it’s challenging work, but fun, too. And she has this to say about Yom’s way:

“He challenges us to the max, so we do better on tests.”

The Seventy Four, founded by controversial advocate, takes over LA School Report

Howard Blume:

Seventy Four, an organization whose co-founder is a controversial education advocate, has taken over LA School Report, a website covering the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The organization’s name is a reference to 74 million students attending public schools in the United States. The site was co-founded by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, who is part of a lawsuit seeking to overturn tenure protections for teachers in New York.

Education Deserts

Nicholas Hillman & Taylor Weichman:

When deciding where to go to college, students ask several important questions: How much will it cost? What academic programs are available? Will it prepare me for my future? What colleges and universities are nearby? While most research and policy conversations understandably focus on helping students answer the rst few, this last question about geography and place is too often overlooked. Perhaps it is overlooked because we assume geography is irrelevant in the Internet age. Maybe we assume every community in the United States has a college or university nearby, or that students are highly mobile. Whatever the reason for overlooking the context of place, this paper explains why place still matters.

In fact, place matters even more for today’s college students, many of whom work full-time, care for depen- dents, and have close social ties to their communities. If higher education is to better serve students and expand educational opportunities, then stakeholders must prioritize the importance of place and understand how it shapes college options. Nonetheless, federal policy conversations and researchers often discuss col- lege choice as though place and geography do not matter (Turley 2009). For example, federal policy e orts like the College Scorecard, Financial Aid Shopping Sheet, and College Navigator all seek to get “better information” into the hands of students with the hopes they will make “better choices” about where to enroll. But for prospective students who live in communities with few educational options, their educational desti- nations are bound by whatever institution is nearby.

A Beloved Bronx Teacher Retires After a Conflict With His Principal

David Gonzales:

career has always been based on the emotional and social well-being of the child,” he said, inside an office whose walls were decorated with awards, proclamations and photos of him alongside several school chancellors; Michael R. Bloomberg, the mayor at the time; and the rapper DMC. “Now, I don’t know where teaching is headed. I just know I can’t anymore. I find it torture. I’d rather separate myself from the classroom doing something that is distasteful and try to spend my days doing things that are important.”

Will our children really not know economic growth?

Lawrence Summers:

Gordon’s The Rise and Fall of American Growth is an extraordinary work of economic scholarship. At a time when too much of the economics profession prioritises theorising about small issues, Gordon provides new data bearing on what may be the most important economic question of all—what will economic growth be like over the next couple of generations? Moreover, this is one of the rare economics books that is on the one hand deeply analytical, with over 100 figures and tables, and on the other a pleasure to read: it is chock full of anecdotes about everything from flying out of Chicago’s O’Hare airport in the 1970s to the spread of radio in the 1920s to the travails of pharmaceutical research. Pick any random page and you will learn something interesting about American life.

A reflection on nour education system: It’s Stupid That My Actor Dad Is The One Who Has To Teach Us Not To Be Dumb

Harry Dreyfuss:

My father, actor Richard Dreyfuss, is taking heat for attending a Ted Cruz rally. I shouldn’t have to write this, but here goes: curiosity is not a sin.

My father went to a Ted Cruz rally. My father also won an oscar in the 70s and his name is Richard Dreyfuss. Those two things are only related because by virtue of being famous, my father’s attendance at a Cruz rally got written about by a couple of media outlets. Those write-ups were absorbed by a number of mouth-breathers, and so began The Dumb.

The Impact of Teacher Collective Bargaining Laws on Student Achievement: Evidence from a New Mexico Natural Experiment

Benjamin Lindy:

This Note uses the 1999 sunset and 2003 reauthorization of New Mexico’s public employee collective bargaining law to estimate the causal effect of teacher collective bargaining on student achievement. This Note finds that mandatory teacher bargaining laws increase the performance of high-achieving students while simultaneously lowering the performance of poorly achieving students. After establishing this core empirical result, the Note explores its implications for current trends in American education policy and for normative arguments about the role of teachers’ unions in public schools.

More here.

Act 10.

Research Suggests D.C.’s Tough Teacher Evaluation System Helped Students. 7 Big Lessons for Other Cities

Matt Barnum:

There were cheers last week after the release of a new working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research that showed students in Washington, D.C. benefited when low-performing teachers left the classroom.
Among those advocating for more rigorous instructional standards across the country, the report was held up as proof that Washington D.C. was right to implement tougher teacher evaluation policies, which required low performers to be fired.

The study is good news for D.C. school leaders, who faced fierce opposition in implementing a policy that rewarded good teachers while pushing ineffective ones out of the system. But policymakers across the country who might be thinking of replicating the city’s results elsewhere must read beyond the headlines to note what makes the D.C. success story so unique.

Shariah Is Creeping Into Public School Classrooms


Islamofascism: A U.S. Marine has sued a Maryland school district for forcing his daughter to recite the Islamic profession of faith in history class. Schools across the nation are forcing such Islamic indoctrination.

We applaud John K. Wood for refusing to allow his daughter to be subjected to the promotion of the Muslim religion in her high school World History, class as part of pro-Islamic curriculum implemented by the Charles County Public Schools in Maryland.

Wood, who was deployed in Iraq and also responded as a firefighter to the 9/11 Islamic terror attack on the Pentagon, couldn’t stand by as his daughter was compelled by liberal educrats to memorize and recite the five pillars of Islam, and write out faith statements of the religion in worksheets and quizzes.

Universities around the world offer tuition in English

Nic Mitchell:

There are now almost 8,000 courses being taught in English by leading universities in non-English speaking countries, according to a project mapping their expansion.

The rise of universities teaching in English, rather than their own local language, has become a global phenomenon.

These are not only appealing to the world’s five million international students who travel abroad, they are also being chosen by students staying in their own countries who prefer to study in English rather than their own language.

may be hard to admit, but education trumps athletics

Luke Schaetzel:

But last week the UW Athletic Department sent out an email to supporters detailing more possible major renovations. Those renovations could include improvements to club seating and suite seating. One of the more interesting options would be a field-level club. Other improvements would include improved concessions areas and renovated restrooms.

According to Justin Doherty, the senior associate athletic director for external relations, nothing is set in stone or imminent, they are simply trying to gain feedback. But they wouldn’t have sent the email, including details of possible renovations, if they didn’t have an idea of what they want to do. The reason to renovate Camp Randall again is the decrease in ticket sales over the past two years.

The possible plans of another Camp Randall renovation begs the question, how is a stadium that had renovations 10 years ago already outdated and why are fewer and fewer people coming to games? If anything it is the football team’s results on the field and UW athletics should focus on the on-field product — but that is a topic for the sports section.

Wouldn’t the logical thing to do is put all the money garnered from college sports should be spent back into athletic programs, rather than facilities?

Ministerial meddling with national curriculum is ‘serious problem’

Richard Adams:

Government ministers should be barred from horse-trading over what schools teach, the shadow education secretary will say in a speech calling for an end to the political interference seen during Michael Gove’s period as education secretary.

Labour’s Lucy Powell will say that “ministerial meddling” has reached new heights since 2010, citing examples including members of the cabinet being given effective veto over details of the national curriculum.

“Under the Tories we’ve seen parts of the curriculum personally drafted by the education secretary and then circulated for sign-off amongst cabinet ministers, each making a case for their own pet project to be included,” Powell will tell her audience at the Education Foundation’s education reform summit in Sheffield.

A look at economic (and tax base) growth in some southern cities

Emily Badger

In the economic analysis the Brookings Institution released last week — the one where Washington looks remarkably bad — Austin, Raleigh and Nashville are all humming. Their economies are growing. Aggregate wages are rising. The number of jobs in these regions is expanding, too.

That’s all great news if you believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. Except, in these places, it hasn’t. Whatever economic growth these metropolitan areas have experienced since the recession isn’t improving the quality of life for everyone.

Take Austin: Among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country, it ranks 2nd in the nation on Brookings’ combined measure of economic growth. On “inclusion” — which reflects improvements in relative poverty, median wages and employment — it ranks 60th. Austin fares barely better when you consider those metrics particularly among non-whites.

Look across all 100 of these metros, and there’s only a weak relationship between economic growth and inclusion. Areas with rapid growth haven’t necessarily swept up the poor and working class. In many places where relative poverty has declined (like Jackson, Miss.), the economy isn’t growing much:

What Ivy League students are reading that you aren’t

Christopher Ingraham:

If you want an Ivy League education, you could fork over $200 grand or so and go to Cornell or Harvard for four years. Alternatively, you could save a ton of cash by simply reading the same books Ivy League students are assigned.

That became easier recently with the release of the Open Syllabus Explorer, an online database of books assigned in over 1 million college courses over the past decade or so.

As the group behind the project explains: There’s an “intellectual judgment embedded” in the lists of books college students are required to read. The most frequently-assigned books at the nation’s universities are essentially our canon: the body of literature that society’s leaders are expected to be familiar with. So what does that canon look like?

Students are demanding to be protected from ideas they find offensive or just uncomfortable. Academics should stop indulging this idea; students should grow up

Feank Furedi:

On both sides of the Atlantic, the cultural politics of higher education are undergoing a profound transformation. The values of experimentation, risk-taking and openness to new ideas promoted in the 1960s and 1970s have given way to a climate of moral regulation and conformism. University life has always been subject to pressures to conform, of course, and to submit to political and economic interests. However, until relatively recently, the main threat to academic freedom came from sources outside universities. Today it is no longer merely the illiberal media and intolerant politicians who call for dissident academics to be silenced or controversial speakers to be banned. Such calls are more likely to emanate from inside universities, and their most vociferous proponents are students, not faculty.

For anyone who believes that academic freedom and free speech are fundamental values that underpin university life, the casual manner in which these principles are being cast aside in Britain and the United States will come as a shock. Contempt for these freedoms is now openly expressed. A good example is “The Doctrine of Academic Freedom,” a polemic published in the Harvard Crimson, a student newspaper, in February 2014. The article depicted academic freedom as a barrier to the achievement of justice. The undergraduate author, Sandra YL Korn, displayed a chilling disdain for a value central to academic life, describing it as the “obsession” of a privileged professorial caste.

American Students Know Almost Nothing About Their College Loans

Natalie Kitroeff:

Handing an 18-year-old a loan for tens of thousands of dollars to get a college degree comes with many risks. One is that the borrower may not understand anything about the contract being signed.

A new study suggests that young people with education debt don’t know the most basic facts about their loans. The survey, conducted in January by Lendedu, a company that provides information about loan refinancing options, adds to a growing body of research into the widespread ignorance among young people about debt that could follow them to their graves.

The Water Next Time: Professor Who Helped Expose Crisis in Flint Says Public Science Is Broken

Steve Kolowich:

Last fall he said there was lead in the water in Flint, Mich., despite the reassurances of state and local authorities that the water was safe. He was right about that, too.

Working with residents of Flint, Mr. Edwards led a study that revealed that the elevated lead levels in people’s homes were not isolated incidents but a result of a systemic problem that had been ignored by state scientists. He has since been appointed to a task force to help fix those problems in Flint. In a vote of confidence, residents last month tagged a local landmark with a note to the powers that be: “You want our trust??? We want Va Tech!!!”

But being right in these cases has not made Mr. Edwards happy. Vindicated or not, the professor says his trials over the last decade and a half have cost him friends, professional networks, and thousands of dollars of his own money.


Laura Waters:

As a recap, remember that last year’s arguments against PARCC testing had far less to do with the purported accuracy of new tools to measure student learning than concerns about a new evaluation system that links student growth to teacher and administrator job security.

For better or worse, a compromise between state legislators and union lobbyists diminishes that reciprocity. PARCC was not ‘high stakes’ for students and now it’s not high stakes for educators.

This elimination of a major anti-testing talking point gives us an opportunity to strip away the political arguments against PARCC and extract some preliminary comparisons among three different ways we’ve gauged student academic growth.

Teens Aren’t Ruining Language

Adrianne LaFrance:

I have not heard these terms, except ironically among old friends, since maybe 1999. I’m pretty sure that’s because no one outside of a cluster of schools in my Philadelphia-area hometown uttered them in the first place. More broadly, this was an era when agreeable circumstances were “phat,” high-maintenance friends were “spazzes,” and you might taunt someone by saying, “psyche!” (Or was it “sike”?) And then, the 1990s ended, and all that slang did what it does best: It faded.

Fad words often have a different trajectory in today’s social-network-connected, meme-ified world. Platforms like Vine and Twitter have helped spread and standardize terms that might otherwise have stayed regional. And certainly the Internet has shortened the lifespan of some slang, especially when co-opted by brands trying to speak in teen parlance. (See also: On fleek, bae, basic, et al.)

Why Aren’t More Black Students Identified as Gifted?

Jason Grissom:

Nationally, black and Hispanic students are underrepresented in gifted programs, which provide specialized instruction or other services to meet the needs of especially bright or talented students.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education show that black and Hispanic students make up 40 percent of public school students but make up only 26 percent of students enrolled in gifted programs.

So what are the reasons for this underrepresentation?

How colleges’ net prices fluctuate over time

Robert Kelchen:

A graduate sits on his bed after his graduation ceremony next to his textbooks and belongings as he gets ready to move out of his dorm at a university in Heifei, Anhui province, June 25, 2011. China’s State Council said that the country is facing a risk of creating jobs for millions of college students who will graduate between 2011 and 2015, as it forecasts a steady increase in the number of graduates over the next five years, Xinhua News Agency reported. According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, China will have about 6.6 million college graduates in 2011.
As student loan debt has exceeded $1.2 trillion and many colleges continue to raise tuition prices faster than inflation, students, their families, and policymakers have further scrutinized how much money students pay to attend college. A key metric of affordability is the net price of attendance, defined as the total cost of attendance (tuition and fees, books and supplies, and a living allowance) less all grants and scholarships received by students with federal financial aid. The net price is a key accountability metric used in tools such as the federal government’s College Scorecard and the annual Washington Monthly college rankings that I compile. In this post, I am focusing on newly released net price data from the U.S. Department of Education through the 2013-14 academic year.

I first examined trends in net prices since the 2009-10 academic year for the 2,621 public two-year, public four-year, and private nonprofit four-year colleges that operate on the traditional academic year calendar. I do this for all students receiving federal financial aid (roughly 70% of all college students nationwide), as well as students with family incomes below $30,000 per year—roughly the lowest income quintile of students. Note that students from different backgrounds qualify for different levels of financial aid from both the federal government and the college they attend (and hence face different net prices). Table 1 shows the annual percentage changes in the median net price by sector over each of the five most recent years, as well as the median net price in 2013-14.

Iowa Per Student Spending Drops, Unlike Madison, Which Continues To Grow

Alexander Russo:

School spending per student drops for a third year in a row Hechinger Report: Per-pupil spending in the nation’s public schools fell for the third straight year in 2012-13*, according to the most recent federal financial data, which was released on January 27, 2016. In that school year, U.S. public schools spent only $10,763 per elementary, middle and high school student, on average, across the country.

Chicago Teachers Union Rejects ‘Serious Offer’ From District AP: The Chicago Teachers Union says it has rejected a contract proposal because it does not address school conditions, lack of services to some students and the long-term fiscal crisis of the nation’s third-largest school district… See also Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune.

Madison plans to spend more than $17,000 per student during the 2015-2016 school year, substantially more than most. Despite this, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Do Elite Colleges Lead to Higher Salaries? Only for Some Professions

Eric Eide:

all the thought that families put into choosing a college, very often the decision is dominated by a simple line of reasoning: The more prestigious the school you attend, the higher your salary will be after you graduate.

So, they focus their efforts on getting their children into the best possible college they can afford, figuring that even if they’re paying more tuition now, they’re maximizing earnings down the road.

But that formula doesn’t always hold true. And following it blindly can leave graduates burdened with much more debt than necessary when they get out of school.

The serious reason boys do worse than girls

Jeff Guo:

After stripping away all the alternative explanations, the economists found that the schools themselves do deserve some of the blame for causing boys to suffer academically compared to girls. There’s something about the way that class is conducted at Florida’s worst schools that disadvantages boys. It may have to do with how students are disciplined, or the way that lessons are taught.

Cecil Rhodes statue to remain at Oxford University after alumni threaten to withdraw millions

Javier Espinoza:

The governing body of Oriel College, which owns the statue, has ruled out its removal after being warned that £1.5m worth of donations have already been cancelled, and that it faces dire financial consequences if it bows to the Rhodes Must Fall student campaign.

A leaked copy of a report prepared for the governors and seen by this newspaper discloses that wealthy alumni angered by the “shame and embarrassment” brought on the 690-year-old college by its own actions have now written it out of their wills.

The college now fears a proposed £100m gift – to be left in the will of one donor – is now in jeopardy following the row.

The donors were astonished by a proposal to remove a plaque marking where Rhodes lived, and to launch a six-month consultation over whether the statue of the college’s biggest benefactor should be taken down.

But Oriel College confirmed in a statement to the Telegraph: “Following careful consideration, the College’s governing body has decided that the statue should remain in place.”

How a Mathematical Superstition Stultified Algebra for Over a Thousand Years

Robert Coolman:

later, as a graduate researcher of chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, I realized that by not knowing anything about the origins of these branches of mathematics, I was missing out on something extremely important. I began rummaging through this history to see their elaborate unfolding myself and, to my surprise, found that geometry was far more developed than algebra for a long time: Geometric solutions to many mathematical problems were discovered more than a millennium before their algebraic equivalents.

This is the story of how an ancient, arbitrary rule of Greek thinkers obstructed algebra’s progress for more than a thousand years, and how a peculiar loophole allowed geometry to anticipate mathematics far ahead of its time.

How Low-Income Children in Silicon Valley Are Missing Out on Early-Education Opportunities

Alia Wong:

January is preschool open house season, and parents with the wherewithal to be picky have lots of criteria to think about. In Silicon Valley—home to public schools that produce some of the best test scores in California—hoards of moms and dads are likely narrowing down their myriad options as they tour campuses, review guidebooks, and consult with fellow parents. The area reflects the degree to which American parents have become obsessed with ensuring their kids have an academic edge by the time they start kindergarten. It also reflects the growing national reality that the children born to low-income immigrants are typically among the children who get left behind: Close to three-quarters of Silicon Valley’s poor preschool-age kids have at least one foreign-born parent, and thousands of them enter kindergarten without any prior formal education.

Math whizzes of ancient Babylon figured out forerunner of calculus

Ron Cowen:

Tracking and recording the motion of the sun, the moon, and the planets as they paraded across the desert sky, ancient Babylonian astronomers used simple arithmetic to predict the positions of celestial bodies. Now, new evidence reveals that these astronomers, working several centuries B.C.E., also employed sophisticated geometric methods that foreshadow the development of calculus. Historians had thought such techniques did not emerge until more than 1400 years later, in 14th century Europe.

Stop Talking About Teachers As If They’re Missionaries

Amanda Ripley:

When Lisette Partelow embarked on a new career in 2012, she had all the props of an elite Washington professional: an Ivy League degree, management responsibility, challenging work, and a paycheck that placed her—in her first year on the job—in the top 25 percent of US salaries. Yet when she told people about her work, the response was very different than the one that awaited her attorney husband. “The reaction was ‘Oh, that’s cute,’ ” she remembers. “ ‘You must be sweet. But kind of dull.’ ”

‘A young black man is more likely to be in prison than at a top university’

Tim Shipman and Sia:

DAVID CAMERON has launched an outspoken attack on Britain’s top universities for failing to recruit more black students, saying that racism in the UK’s leading institutions “should shame our nation”.

The prime minister accused the universities, the armed forces and Britain’s biggest businesses of “ingrained, institutional and insidious” attitudes that hold people back. He waded into the row about racism at Oxford, accusing his own university of “not doing enough” to find places for non-white students and the poor.

In an article in The Sunday Times he demanded that universities go “the extra mile” to tackle racism and class discrimination and said: “It’s not enough to simply say you are open to all.”

Lexical Distance Among the Languages of Europe

Teresa Elms:

This chart shows the lexical distance — that is, the degree of overall vocabulary divergence — among the major languages of Europe.

The size of each circle represents the number of speakers for that language. Circles of the same color belong to the same language group. All the groups except for Finno-Ugric (in yellow) are in turn members of the Indo-European language family.

English is a member of the Germanic group (blue) within the Indo-European family. But thanks to 1066, William of Normandy, and all that, about 75% of the modern English vocabulary comes from French and Latin (ie the Romance languages, in orange) rather than Germanic sources. As a result, English (a Germanic language) and French (a Romance language) are actually closer to each other in lexical terms than Romanian (a Romance language) and French.

Spyware Installed On University Of California Data Networks

Michael Meranze and Christopher Newfield:

The San Francisco Chronicle has coverage of an issue that has been circulating on faculty email networks at UC Berkeley for a few days. The piece, “Cal professors fear UC bosses will snoop on them,” is behind a paywall. The first sentence reads, “UC Berkeley faculty members are buzzing over news that University of California President Janet Napolitano ordered the installation of computer hardware capable of monitoring all e-mails going in and out of the UC system.” UC’s Chief Operating Officer says “that UC policy “forbids the university from using such data for nonsecurity purposes.” UC Berkeley’s Senate chair replies, “What has upset a lot of the faculty was that the surveillance was put in place without consulting the faculty. In fact, the people installing the system were under strict instructions not to reveal it was taking place.” On the blog’s Facebook page, we’ve had some debate about how new this capability is, with some faculty from various universities saying they’ve always assumed their university email could be monitored at any time, and others saying this is a new level of intrusion.

Why Are Newark Public Charter Students Ending Up in College, And Staying in College?


We Found One of the Reasons – KIPP New Jersey’s KTC Program!

Last week The Newark Report took a look at the Link Community charter school, where innovative strides are taking place in education.

Link’s unique “elective” program is not only providing Newark students with a world-class education but also showcasing what can happen when communities and schools come together.

Via Laura Waters.

Several London post-92s see falls in battle for students

John Morgan:

The government’s removal of student number controls has led some English universities to increase their student intake by more than 20 per cent in a year, while others have recorded drops of up to 10 per cent, with larger institutions in London seeing a particular decline.

Analysis by Times Higher Education of figures published last week by Ucas on UK student total acceptances for 2015 shows that Russell Group institutions such as the University of Liverpool, Queen Mary University of London, the University of Nottingham and the University of Warwick all capitalised on the scrapping of number controls to expand their intakes by more than 10 per cent compared with 2014.

The next generation of journalism students has no idea what they’re getting into

Erica Berger:

In the 1950s, M. King Hubbard devised an economic theory about what would happen when humans hit our peak oil extraction point. Several decades later, I think Hubbard’s theory, with a little tweaking, makes for a pretty good descriptor of the current media landscape. Or, as I like to call it, “peak content.”

Most of the time, when we talk about journalism and media, we talk about ad dollars, circulation revenue, and attention (let’s be real—clicks) from the audience. I’m not the first to write about the decline in the quality of editorial content or ad dollars. But it is rare that we discuss what online media in particular is doing to journalists, writers, and editors in the fast-moving digital age.

Essentially, many newsroom writers and editors feel that they are bumping up against their maximum output, even as their bosses demand ever-more productivity.

Many newsroom writers and editors feel that they are bumping up against their maximum output.

The 27th Letter

Mairead Small Staid:

“This isn’t the whole story,” wrote Larry Levis in “In the City of Light.” “The fact is, I was still in love. / My father died, & I was still in love.” There it is, that Levisian ampersand, if I can coin a term to mean curled like the vines he plucked grapes from in the San Joaquin Valley of his youth, tractor-wrought under the dusty sun. Soft as the spilled eyes of horses, while the words on either side kick like hooves. Two loops inseparable and yet trying to be closer still, trying to enter each other like lovers, trying to draw all around them into their maw, a black hole, gasping and cosmic. Two loops like the “handcuffs that join / Each wrist in something that is not prayer, although / It is as urgent.”

Not, ahem, hoping for another 20 years of Madison’s achievement gap

Chris Rickert:

Charter schools that overhaul the usual public school model — such as the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, which the school board rejected in 2011 — are another approach. Madison has not embraced the charter school movement with nearly as much vigor as some other districts with race- and income-based achievement gaps.

This is not to say other districts that have adopted these or other more radical changes have shown consistent success.

Some ideas for improving public education have a basis in research, while others have proven only anecdotally effective.

Carol Carstensen, a former Madison School Board member who also was instrumental in getting Schools of Hope started, said she’s not aware of evidence that charter schools, on the whole, make more progress than traditional public schools.

By contrast, the “summer slide” and need for remedial education in the fall, especially for low-income students, have long been documented and seem a pretty good rationale for year-round school.

Despite spending more than most ($17,000+ per student during the 2015-2016 school year), Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

The Best Teacher I Never Had

Bill Gates:

Thirty years ago I went on vacation and fell for Richard Feynman.

A friend and I were planning a trip together and wanted to mix a little learning in with our relaxation. We looked at a local university’s film collection, saw that they had one of his lectures on physics, and checked it out. We loved it so much that we ended up watching it twice. Feynman had this amazing knack for making physics clear and fun at the same time. I immediately went looking for more of his talks, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. Years later I bought the rights to those lectures and worked with Microsoft to get them posted online for free.

In 1965, Feynman shared a Nobel Prize for work on particle physics. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of that honor, the California Institute of Technology—where he taught for many years before his death in 1988—asked for some thoughts about what made him so special. Here’s the video I sent: