Orderliness in School—What a Concept: Our charter schools are under fire for being strict. Funny, students do well and parents are eager to sign up

Eva Moskovitz:

school enrollment grew by 260,000 students nationwide. Most of the fastest-growing charter networks, including Success Academies in New York City, which I run, believe we have a responsibility both to push children to achieve their potential and to protect them from the mayhem that in district schools often robs students of their opportunity to learn.

This stricter approach has encountered fierce criticism in certain quarters. The New York Times, for example, has bemoaned Success Academy’s “stringent rules about behavior” that require students to have their “eyes following the speaker” and walk “in formation reminiscent of the von Trapp children at the beginning of ‘The Sound of Music.’ ”

Madison’s Trickle-Down Theory Of Education

David Blaska:

You want local control? The ultimate local control pushes decision-making down to the family kitchen table. The Republican state government gave the UW System authority to create charter schools that are independent of the school district. This is something that the Madison School District asked for, however unknowingly, when it denied Madison Urban League’s proposed Madison Prep charter school.

Under this UW aegis, the state per-pupil stipend follows the student to the independent charter school.

One bright spot: Madison schools Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham appears to get it. “My intent is to make [the independent charters] obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.” (Quoted here.)

NYC Charters Retain Students Better Than Traditional Schools


New York City charter schools retain more of their students, on average, than traditional public schools, according to Department of Education data obtained and analyzed by WNYC.

Citywide, across all grades, 10.6 percent of charter school students transferred out in 2013-14, compared to 13 percent of traditional public school students. But there is wide variety among these schools and among the different networks. You can see all of our data here.

Academic Drivel Report

Peter Dreier:

I don’t know if there is a statute of limitations on confessing one’s sins, but it has been six years since I did the deed and I’m now coming clean.

Six years ago I submitted a paper for a panel, “On the Absence of Absences” that was to be part of an academic conference later that year—in August 2010. Then, and now, I had no idea what the phrase “absence of absences” meant. The description provided by the panel organizers, printed below, did not help. The summary, or abstract of the proposed paper—was pure gibberish, as you can see below. I tried, as best I could within the limits of my own vocabulary, to write something that had many big words but which made no sense whatsoever. I not only wanted to see if I could fool the panel organizers and get my paper accepted, I also wanted to pull the curtain on the absurd pretentions of some segments of academic life. To my astonishment, the two panel organizers—both American sociologists—accepted my proposal and invited me to join them at the annual international conference of the Society for Social Studies of Science to be held that year in Tokyo.

Messmer schools to raise teacher pay, narrowing pay gap with public schools

Annysa Johnson:

Messmer Catholic Schools will spend $500,000 to boost teacher salaries by 10% to 30% over the next two years in a move intended both to sustain recent academic gains and uphold the church’s teachings on social justice, its president said.

“If we’re going to exhibit Catholic values of justice, that means appropriate compensation and fulfilling our mission,” said Jim Piatt, whose system employs about 100 teachers on three campuses.

“Teachers should not be paid at a level that qualifies them for assistance or free and reduced lunch,” he said.

The move by Messmer is an attempt to raise its teacher salaries to about 90% of their public school counterparts in and around Milwaukee, said Emily Koczela, its newly hired chief financial officer, who like Piatt had worked in the Brown Deer School District before joining Messmer.

She stressed that the money for the raises would come from internal savings and increases in state-funded voucher payments, and not new pleas to donors.

Koczela said she expects at least some of the other 100-plus schools in the 10-county Archdiocese of Milwaukee to follow suit.

“We’re pretty sure this is going to be a beacon,” she said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and SUNY State Tax Dollar Funds

Nick Pinto:

Andrew Cuomo, the archetypal politician — fickle, conviction-less, his soul shriveled to a crushing singularity from which only ego can escape — has of late been feeling the political winds blowing left-wise and has grudgingly drifted accordingly. Indeed, a Martian visitor freshly descended to the Empire State might be forgiven if, surveying recent political developments, she came to the belief that the governor is motivated by progressive ideals. Ignorant of history and blessedly unfamiliar with the howling void at the center of Cuomo’s being, she might look at his recent advocacy for paid family leave or increases in the minimum wage and conclude that he is committed to the use of government to benefit and protect working-class New Yorkers.

Our Martian might believe this, that is, until she came across the headlines of the past few months announcing Cuomo’s plan to gut nearly half a billion dollars in state funding — a full 30 percent — from the City University of New York. CUNY, the public conglomeration of community colleges, four-year institutions, and graduate and professional schools that serves students in New York City, is the third largest university system in the United States. Thirty-eight percent of its quarter of a million students are immigrants. Three-quarters of them are people of color. Forty-two percent represent the first generation in their family to go to college. As Barbara Bowen, the head of CUNY’s faculty union, puts it, “You can’t be progressive without being progressive on CUNY. Cuomo’s position is a glaring swerve from his position of being the champion of working people and people of color.”

Luxurious College Apartments, Built on Debt

Megan McArdle

The lazy rivers. The dining-hall steakhouse. The hot tubs. The dazzling fitness centers. Journalists who cover higher education love these lists of amenities in student housing, and readers love to hate them.

Take the latest trend in college housing: luxury off-campus apartment buildings that rent only to students. This is, on the face of it, somewhat mysterious. Students are not known for their fantastic credit. Nor for taking excellent care of their surroundings. I myself recall moving into a rather standard off-campus rental that first had to be cleared of the 57 bags of garbage that the previous occupants left behind. Everything you would infer from that fact about the condition of the house is correct.

Yet apparently today’s students have a rather more inviting option: student-only apartment buildings considerably nicer than those occupied by, say, many successful journalists of my acquaintance. This naturally raises the question: Where are the students getting the money for this?

Lessons From The School Where I Failed As A Teacher

Claudio Sanchez:

Before I became a reporter, I was a teacher. After 27 years on the education beat, I’ve met a few fantastic teachers and a few bad ones. So I’ve wondered, where would I have fit in? Was I a good teacher?

Recently I went back to the site of the school where I taught so many years ago, just outside Tucson, Ariz. Treehaven was both a day school and a boarding school for so-called “troubled kids.”

The actual school and the people who ran it are long gone. The property, now called Circle Tree Ranch, houses a residential drug-rehabilitation facility for families and children. The company that runs the place today has nothing to do with Treehaven, but one of the administrators was nice enough to give me a brief tour.

New York’s Elite Public High Schools Have a Diversity Problem. And Other Cities’ Don’t Look Much Better.

Miriam Hall:

Last Friday was “match day” for New York City’s eighth graders, when they found out whether they’d been admitted to one of the city’s elite high schools. And not shockingly, the numbers were appalling when it came to diversity.

There are nine of these selective high schools in New York City. At eight of them, students take a test to get in, and at one—La Guardia High School, which specializes in the performing arts—students must audition. Of the schools that “test in,” black and Latino students will likely make up no more than 4 and 6 percent, respectively, of the student populations next year. Yet across the city, those two groups make up 70 percent of the public school population.

A Look At Police Calls To Madison Schools

Doug Erickson:

Also, incidents occurring anywhere on or adjacent to a high school campus or across the street from the campus were captured in the data. So in a handful of cases, district officials said, the person arrested may have been an adult or a juvenile not currently enrolled in the district.

Black individuals were more likely to be arrested and cited than non-black individuals, the district said. However, “there has been a consistent decrease in arrest incidents and arrest charges for African-American individuals over the last three years,” the report said.

In a separate data category unrelated to arrests, the district said the number of citations issued for truancy fell 19 percent, from 134 to 108, between the comparison years.

Related: Gangs and school violence forum and police calls: 1996-2006.

Youngest Kids In Class At Higher Risk Of ADHD Diagnosis

Angus Chen:

By the time they’re in elementary school, some kids prove to be more troublesome than others. They can’t sit still or they’re not socializing or they can’t focus enough to complete tasks that the other kids are handling well. Sounds like ADHD. But it might be that they’re just a little young for their grade.

Studies done in several countries including Iceland, Canada, Israel, Sweden and Taiwan show children who are at the young end of their grade cohort are more likely to get an ADHD diagnosis than their older classmates.

Teens who use IUDs to prevent pregnancy often skip condoms

Megan Thielking:

More and more teenage girls are using intrauterine devices and other long-acting reversible contraceptives, or LARCs. That’s one reason the teen pregnancy rate has plunged. But those girls are using condoms less often than girls who take oral contraceptives, according to a new analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Why it matters:

LARCs are more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, and their use has doubled between 2010 and 2015. But IUDs and hormonal implants — which work by preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg — don’t protect women from sexually transmitted diseases or infections.

Teacher perceptions and race

Dick Startz:

When it comes to student behavior, what’s polite or rude—what counts as acting out versus what’s seen as healthy youthful exuberance—depends not only on actual behavior but on how teachers read behavior. Black and white American cultures are still sufficiently different in that how teachers read behavior depends in part on the teacher’s race. New research shows that black and white teachers give very different evaluations of behavior of black students. When a black student has a black teacher that teacher is much, much less likely to see behavioral problems than when the same black student has a white teacher.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate:  will high local property taxes continue to be deductible?

Scott Greenberg:

deduction is the deduction for state and local taxes. Out of the 44 million households that itemize deductions, almost 43 million deduct the taxes they pay to state and local governments. It’s not surprising that nearly all taxpayers that itemize claim a deduction for state and local taxes, because almost everyone pays some income, sales, or property tax to state and local governments.

Next most popular is the charitable deduction. 36 million households claimed a deduction for their charitable contributions, or 82 percent of all households that itemize. On average, households making less than $100,000 claimed a charitable deduction of $2,820, while those making over $100,000 claimed an average charitable deduction of $8,495.

American Workers Rank Last In Problem-Solving Skills With Technology

Michael Grothaus:

issued by the National Center for Education Statistics has found that American workers rank “dead last” out of 18 industrial nations when it comes to problem-solving skills using technology, the Wall Street Journal says. The report is based on Program for the International Assessment for Adult Competency (PIACC) data that tested thousands of adults aged 16 to 74 on literacy, numeracy, and digital problem-solving.

The results show that in the 1970s the U.S. had the most educated workforce in the world—but since 2000 the skills and knowledge of high-school graduates here have stagnated while other countries have seen a rapid increase in those traits.

Truancy among non-Japanese kids

Japan Times:

The education system is not taking adequate care of the increasing number of foreign children living in Japan. According to a recent Kyodo News survey, 41 out of 72 municipal governments have failed to confirm the whereabouts of more than 10,000 non-Japanese children not attending school. That lack of oversight does not happen with Japanese children, whose truancy is typically tracked and investigated by boards of education.

The number of students potentially left out of the system is roughly 10 percent of the 100,000 school-age children of foreign nationality in Japan. These kids are not receiving an education, or even any attention, during their most important years. Such negligence violates the Convention of the Rights of the Child, a United Nations treaty that went into force in 1990 and stipulates that all children have the right to attend school.

Mississippi House passes bill requiring teachers to grade parents

Steve Wilson:

Under House Bill 4, also known as the Parent Involvement and Accountability Act, teachers would be required to grade parents’ involvement with their children’s education.

The legislation, by state Rep. Gregory Holloway (D-Hazlehurst), would mandate a section be added to each child’s report card on which the parents are graded on their responsiveness to communication with teachers, the students’ completion of homework and readiness for tests, and the frequency of absences and tardiness.

Israeli 10th-grader stumbles upon new geometric theorem


Tamar Barbi from Hod Hasharon is only in the 10th grade, but she has already chalked up an impressive achievement: developing a new geometric theorem.

Barbi, who is studying mathematics on the highest matriculation track offered in Israel, discovered while doing her geometry homework that the theorem she was using to solve one of the problems on her homework didn’t actually exist.

“I checked with my teacher, Sean Gabriel-Morris, I asked relatives abroad who are involved with mathematics, and I consulted my parents, and [then] I realized that the theorem really didn’t appear anywhere, even though it’s very logical and basic.”

“This is a claim used to justify dumbing-down”

A Teacher:

This is a claim used to justify dumbing-down, the idea being that if technology changes working life really quickly then there is no need to teach content as it will be irrelevant by the time our students get to the workplace. The widespread use of the claim in educational environments can almost all be traced back to the “Did You Know?” or “Shift Happens” videos that went viral among fashionably minded educators some time back. These consisted of a variety of poorly sourced and dubious claims about the future accompanied by enough bright colours and loud music to hypnotise the congenitally gullible. The sources were available here (but no longer, let me know if you have an up to date link) and when they were they indicated that it can be traced back to a claim attributed to a US politician in an obscure out of print book. This would be reason enough to discount it, however (just in case you think the second hand utterances of the political classes are a reliable source of information), I should also point out that the book was published in 2004 and was a prediction and not a fact. Did it turn out to be true? Well I know of no definitive list of the most “in demand jobs”, but I can find several attempts to find something similar. HR magazine published a list (from a now defunct website) of the Top 10 “in demand” occupations in 2009:

Civics: Encryption Tales From President Obama

Jenna McLaughlin:

“Why isn’t ‘government must always have the ability to access plaintext’ the more ‘absolutist’ view?” asked Julian Sanchez, privacy and technology senior fellow at the Cato Institute, in a tweet. “‘Swallow arsenic.’ No. ‘Ok, a little hemlock then.’ No. ‘Well, c’mon, you can’t be an ABSOLUTIST about this,’” he joked.

Kevin Bankston, the director of the Open Technology Institute, tweeted that he was “disappointed” Obama resorted to fearmongering. “Opens w/child kidnapping & terror, closes w/child porn & terror, vague talk of balance,” he wrote.

Jonathan Zdziarski:

We, as everyday Americans, should also encourage the idea of warrant proof places. The DOJ believes, quite erroneously, that the Fourth Amendment gives them the right to any evidence or information they desire with a warrant. The Bill of Rights did not grant rights to the government; it protected the rights of Americans from the overreach that was expected to come from government. Our most intimate thoughts, our private conversations, our ideas, our -intent- are all things our phone tracks. These are concepts that must remain private (if we choose to protect them) for any functioning free society. In today’s technological landscape, we are no longer giving up just our current or future activity under warrant, but for the first time in history, making potentially years of our life retroactively searchable by law enforcement. Things are recorded in ways today that no one would have imagined, even when CALEA was passed. The capability that DOJ is asserting is that our very lives and identities – going back across years – are subject to search. The Constitution never permitted this.

The bottom line is this: Our country actually recognizes warrant proof data, and Apple has every right and ethical obligation to recognize it in the design of their products. As Americans, we should be demanding our thoughts, conversations, and identities be protected with the highest level of security. This isn’t just about credit cards.

Most literate nation in the world? Not the US, new world ranking says

Valerie Strauss:

new world ranking of countries and their literacy rates puts the United States at 7th. Who’s Number one? Finland.

The study, conducted by John W. Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, analyses trends in literate behaviour and literacy in more than 60 countries. It found that Nordic countries are among the most literate in the world, but countries in the Western Hemisphere didn’t do well.

Auer Avenue School shows signs of improved culture, achievement

Alan Borsuk:

There’s a surge of new programs at Auer Avenue Community School, and there are some positive results. People within the school, in the Milwaukee Public Schools administration, in the immediate neighborhood, and in the broader community are joining together to support the school and improve the lives and academic success of the children who go there.

Is there a long way to go? Yes. Is it going to take sustained and well-executed work to make big progress? Yes.

But, in a morning at the school one day last week, what I believe I saw growing there was the kind of school culture — energized, focused, positive, committed — that, even in demanding circumstances, can move a school and its students forward in big ways.

Auer Avenue, near N. 24th and W. Burleigh St., is one of four schools in MPS that was designated last year as a “community school.” What does that mean? Answering that question was one of the reasons I wanted to visit the school.

The other reason was simply this: The way things had been going at Auer Avenue for years had made it somewhat symbolic of central city schools with poor results. Last year, a rumor gained currency that Auer Avenue would be an early target of a new law that gives the Milwaukee County executive power to take schools away from MPS and turn them over to outside operators. Teachers and others held hands while surrounding the school to protest the idea (which has not come to pass, at least so far).

What Do Americans Believe Will Help Them Get Ahead?

Ronald Brownstein:

But for Hathcoat, returning to school on a more regular basis to finish her degree involves difficult trade-offs of time and money. Besides working, she’s also raising a daughter. Covering the cost of childcare would greatly multiply the expense of returning to college. “It’s really, really a high cost,” she says. “Having an eight-hour job, I would have to put my daughter in daycare, and that’s something I’m not wanting to do.” Though she believes completing a degree would improve her long-run prospects, “personal and … financial” considerations have convinced her she needs to wait.

A new Atlantic Media/Pearson Opportunity Poll suggests that many Americans recognize Hathcoat’s dilemma. Americans appear to have internalized the conclusion that in the information age, they will earn more if they learn more. Across racial lines, a significant majority of American adults said in the poll that they believe they could obtain a better and higher-paying job if they acquired more education or training.

But respondents also identified a thicket of obstacles centered on money and time that prevents them from obtaining more credentials. “There’s lots of different certifications, or courses or classes I’d like to take,” says Ryan McGraw, a software consultant in Nashville who responded to the poll. “And it’s just difficult to create the time and money to do so.”

MIT Media Lab’s Journal of Design and Science Is a Radical New Kind of Publication

Liz Stinson:

Ito describes the process as “peer-to-peer” review. The goal, he says, is for ideas presented in the journal to morph and evolve and become interconnected over time. “You can imagine that after a few weeks, all of the papers coming out on this journal are all referring to and quoting each other, so it looks like a network rather than a bunch of isolated papers,” he says. In this way, the journal seeks to incorporate voices from as many interested disciplines as possible. “The idea that going deep deep deep to get better results is giving way to the idea that the way to get the most interesting results is to be able to go a bit diagonal,” Slavin says. Both Slavin and Ito reference the field of synthetic biology as an example of where this intersection is happening, and point specifically to the work of Kevin Esvelt.

“Specifically, the presence of many entrepreneurs and artists is associated with faster long-term growth, but the association does not hold for notable military, political or religious figures.”

Olivier Gergaud, Morgane Laouénan, Étienne Wasmer:

Last and not least, we find a positive correlation between the contemporaneous number of entrepreneurs and the urban growth of the city in which they are located the following decades. More strikingly, the same is also true for artists, with the contemporaneous number or share of artists positively affecting city growth over the next decades. In contrast, we find a zero or negative correlation between the contemporaneous share of “militaries, politicians and religious people” and urban growth in the following decades.

Race, Debt, and Opportunity

Deborah Merritt:

Education opens doors. In law schools, we have tried for decades to open one particular door: the one that welcomes more minority graduates into the profession. In some ways, we have succeeded admirably. The percentage of minority law graduates almost tripled between 1983 and 2012, from 8.6% to 24.2%. The absolute number of those graduates rose almost four-fold during the same years, from 3,169 per year to 11,951 annually.

Today, all of us can name successful minority lawyers, judges, and law professors–as well as minority business people, nonprofit directors, and policymakers with law degrees. Legal education can even point with pride to the first African American President of the United States.

Just as the doors started to open, however, new obstacles emerged. Research shows that minority students earn lower law school grades than white students–even after controlling for entering credentials. We have also dramatically raised the cost of legal education as our student bodies diversified. And, perhaps most disturbing, we now know that these high costs fall disproportionately on Black and Latino/a students. New data from the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) show that these students assume substantially more law school debt than their white and Asian American classmates. That debt gap is new–and growing.

“it’s around monopoly, and monopolies are slow to innovate”

Maya Pope-Chappell:

At the center of the fight is Oakland Unified Public School Superintendent Antwan Wilson. Besides making school choices easier and more transparent, Wilson argues that a single form would provide valuable data that could be used to scale up more options that parents want. (There are currently 40 different enrollment processes in Oakland, says Wilson).

Denver—where Wilson worked as an assistant superintendent—and New Orleans were the first cities to implement common enrollment systems that included district and charter options. Similar systems have been launched in Washington D.C. and Newark.

Oakland’s school board is set to to vote on the common enrollment plan in June. I spoke to Wilson about the battle, the lessons he’s learned in Denver and what schools across the country can do to create more equity and access to quality education.

Edited excerpts:

Q: The New York Times recently wrote about you and the row over enrollment in Oakland. The article quoted Robert C. Pianta, dean of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, as saying, “If he gets it right, it’s a model for moving past the polarized sense of reform that we have right now.” Would you agree with his statement about you?

I would agree with that. I find that the polarization in the arguing is distracting and it’s harmful. What we really need to focus on is quality and getting people access and equity. By moving away from arguing about district versus charter and moving towards giving parents the same opportunities that more affluent parents have to determine where their children go to school, puts parents and families in the driver’s seat.

Q: During your tenure in Denver, the city enacted its single-enrollment system. Similar concerns were raised there. Why is enrollment such a polarized issue and what have you learned?

There are some families who are concerned about the quote, unquote ‘competition’ and the drain of resources from schools. But to me, the issue isn’t around district-run or charter, it’s around monopoly, and monopolies are slow to innovate. What ends up happening is people begin to peel off and innovate. And when we as a district begin to innovate, then we will put ourselves in a position to offer parents more of what they want. What Denver has learned is that both district schools and charters benefit when the parents’ needs are put at the center. If arguing about school governance worked in terms of improving student achievement and increasing enrollment and parent/student satisfaction, I’d jump into that argument. It just doesn’t.

Q: Early results from Denver and New Orleans show some successes, but parents there have complained that there aren’t enough quality schools to choose from. An enrollment system can’t resolve that on its own, so what are some other ways to create more equity and access to quality education—especially among low-income families?

I think funding is a huge piece—giving more money to kids who need it most. Expanding school time, [which] benefits all children. Another strategy is mentoring and tutoring. These are strategies we know work. And then the last thing, you have to address access to rigorous programming in schools.

Madison Schools 2016-2017 Budget Update (lacks total spending….)

Madison School District Administration (PDF)

Salary and Wage Notes:

Step Advancement (background) is funded in v3.0 of the budget. The employee handbook calls for ‘step advancement’ on existing wage/salary schedules. The cost of ‘steps’ is estimated at 1.75% of total wage/salary rates. ($4,528,492)

Lane Movement (background) for Professional Learning is funded in v3.0 of the budget. The handbook calls for ‘lane movement’ on the existing salary schedule. Lane movement is budgeted for as a lump sum estimate. ($400,000)

A Base Wage allowance is funded in v3.0 of the budget up to the limit allowed per statute, which is 0.12% base wage increase for July 1, 2016 agreements. ($240,000)

Attrition rates very significantly across job types, with food services workers (17.8%), security assistants (17.2%), and the clerical/technical unit (15.0%), having the highest rates over the past year

The attrition rate among teaching staff, the largest job type in MMSD, reached a five-year high at 9.4%, driven by an increase in retirements. This falls below national teacher attrition rates, estimated to be around 11%

Typical attrition rate for MMSD is significantly greater than the position reductions in the proposed budget

Madison spends more than $17K/student, though I’ve not seen a total budget number for some time…

Additional documents: Proposed administrative changes and a look at school staffing.

Bronze statues of students still stand at school 75 years later

Jim Stingl:

For 75 years now, two bronze life-size figures of teenagers have been standing proud inside the front doors of what used to be Steuben Junior High School.

Steuben closed in 2004 and gave up the building to Milwaukee French Immersion School, but still the statues keep watch, chins up and sights set on however bright the future looked in 1941.

Tarnished plaques on each pedestal say one statue is called Male Student, the other Female Student.

But to 89-year-old Leroy Konrath, that bronze boy was his classmate, Earle Albright, who posed for the sculptor. Konrath called to tell me that he spotted Albright’s death notice in the Journal Sentinel this month, and he drove to the school at 2360 N. 52nd St. to tell them, too, and see if the statues remain.

“Sure enough, there they are just as big as life,” said Konrath, a retired police officer living in Fox Point.

He also remembers the girl model’s name, Jean Zilavy, who was in his class, as well. I found Jean in Florida, very much alive and nearing 90 years old.

To be fair, other students also posed for the statues, according to a Milwaukee Journal article from June of 1941. The story mentions Zilavy and says she was an excellent model who did much of the posing for the girl figure. The boy was said to be a composite, though Konrath can still picture Albright doing the honors.

Madison Schools’ “Calling the Police” Policy & Related Education Resource Officers (ERO)

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

MMSD’s goal is to minimize police involvement for minor student infractions that should be managed with the Behavior Education Plan. The District is committed to a non-criminal enforcement model that supports restorative justice concepts, early intervention and problem solving rather than reliance on law enforcement. However, it certainly doesn’t mean that police will never be needed in our schools. The following are circumstances where involvement of the police may be necessary

Educational Resource Officer (ERO) Slides (PDF) and ERO contract with the city of Madison.

Commentary On UW System Tenure Changes

Colleen Flaherty:

Repeatedly during the meeting, Millner and other regents cited the need, in an era of tight budgets, for “flexibility” to close programs — and eliminate faculty jobs in the process. The votes here marked the near-end of two years of debate over a tenure policy that saw the university system’s tenured faculty go from having among the strongest protections in the nation (written into state law) to having a system that many professors fear will make it too easy to dismiss them and eliminate programs they believe should be preserved. When the idea of removing tenure from state statute first surfaced — at the behest of Governor Scott Walker, a Republican — he and others said that necessary protections for faculty members could all be preserved in system policy. But the system adopted Thursday differs in key ways from what was removed from state law — especially after a series of amendments were rejected.

Millner weighed in on an amendment proposed by Tony Evers, a fellow regent, that — if passed — would have addressed one of the biggest faculty concerns about the proposed policy regarding layoffs of tenured faculty: that it conflates financial and educational considerations in assessing programs for possible closure (and subsequent faculty job losses).

Governor Cuomo wants to stop funding one-third of CUNY four-year colleges’ budget. Where will the money come from?

Ellen Wexler:

Soon after Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his budget for fiscal year 2017, the protests began at New York City’s public colleges.

Nearly 500 students and faculty members traveled to Albany two weeks ago to attend a rally, and another group returned Tuesday to meet with legislators. Last week, the University Student Senate held a press conference on the steps of City Hall.

Why are you targeting our colleges? they asked. Do you know how much the higher education system matters to our city?

For decades, the state has paid for most of the operating funds of the City University of New York’s four-year colleges and universities, much like it does for campuses of the State University of New York (though CUNY’s community colleges do receive city funds). But in January, Cuomo announced his plan to reduce state funding by $485 million. On Thursday, the New York State Assembly rejected the plan in its one-house budget, which proposes restoring the $485 million and freezing tuition for two years. But the matter is far from resolved.

Europe’s 200 best universities: who is at the top in 2016?

Ellie Bothwell:

When US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders painted a picture of the perfect model of higher education, he didn’t reference Harvard, Yale or Stanford; instead he cited universities in Germany and Scandinavia. He held up their education systems as ones that the US should ape when pledging to make tuition free at public colleges and universities last year.

“This is not a radical idea,” he wrote on his campaign website. “Last year, Germany eliminated tuition because they believed that charging students $1,300 [£894] per year was discouraging Germans from going to college…Finland, Norway, Sweden and many other countries around the world also offer free college to all of their citizens. If other countries can take this action, so can the United States of America.”

High school students debate surveillance in post-Snowden America

Jenna McLaughlin:

Lena is 17, a senior at Niles West High School outside Chicago. She’s a former video game junkie with the build of a great blue heron, and part of a top-ranked, two-girl “policy debate” team. Lena’s partner is Faith Geraghty, 18, a blonde pit bull in Doc Martens and a former ice hockey champion who traded in her skates for an ever-present MacBook — now crammed full of information about things like the upcoming congressional debate on NSA spying programs authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Jonah Jacobs, a dark-haired junior at Glenbrook North High School, also near Chicago, gave up football for debate after a bad concussion. He tells me he spent the entire summer researching the ways intelligence sharing with other countries benefits the U.S. economy. Jonah’s partner, Anthony Trufanov, was half of the national championship team last year. Many high school policy debaters literally gasp for air as they rush to make their arguments, but Anthony breathes between words, using an inhalation technique he learned from mastering Systema, a form of Russian martial arts. He says he’s enjoying debating about surveillance because he likes finding “nuanced solutions to complex problems.”

Eben Moglen: Snowden and the future.

Radley Balko.

Charter schools’ ranks swell in Albuquerque

Maggie Shepard:

When they return to their collegelike charter school campus tucked away in Sandia Park in the East Mountains, they’ll get back to their small, intimate classes and after-school sports – all publicly funded.

East Mountain High School was the first charter school launched immediately after the state fully authorized charter schools in 1999.

Fifteen years later, it is one of 99 in the state and one of 54 in Albuquerque. That represents 11 percent of public schools in the state; the current statewide enrollment for charter schools is 23,593 students.

East Mountain High School has some of the highest math and reading proficiency rates and test scores in the state.

It’s one of the schools Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera means when she says some charter schools “deliver incredible opportunities.”

“Some set a very high bar. Some of our top 10 schools in the state are charter schools,” she said.

And some of the top schools in the nation are New Mexico charter schools. Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School and Albuquerque Institute for Mathematics and Science have consistently landed in national rankings for challenging and successful schools.

Without support, Minnesota students left behind at graduation

Laura Yuen:

Students like Simmons get knocked off track for a complex mix of reasons. But by one measure, Minnesota schools provide the weakest safety net in the country: No other state spends less of its education dollar on non-classroom student support.

Abysmal graduation rates for minority students have not only rattled education officials, but are worrying policymakers and civic leaders over the implications for Minnesota’s economy. The state needs skilled workers. And the fastest-growing segment of the future workforce is students of color — the students least likely to earn diplomas.

Many schools here and elsewhere have improved their graduation rates in part by following a simple formula of early intervention. They identify students who are at risk of dropping out, then match them with the support they need.

Why the poor pay more for toilet paper — and just about everything else

Emily Badger:

Using panel data on more than 100,000 American households over seven years, they tracked purchases of toilet paper, which has the great benefit of being non-perishable and steadily consumed (it’s hard to go without, but we also don’t use more just because we happen to have more in the house). That’s nearly 3 million toilet paper purchases.

When Orhun and Palazzolo compared households with similar consumption rates shopping at comparable stores — and controlling for two-ply TP — they found that the poor were less likely than wealthier households to buy bigger packages, or to time their purchases to take advantage of sales. By failing to do so, they paid about 5.9 percent more per sheet of toilet paper — a little less than what they saved by buying cheaper brands in the first place (8.8 percent).

Perhaps this sounds like a subtle discovery about minor household goods. But it supports a larger point about poverty: It’s expensive to be poor. Or, to state the same from another angle: Having more money gives people the luxury of paying less for things.

In the case of toilet paper, or any number of other storable goods like canned tomatoes, rice or paper towels, shoppers have to pay more up front to reap savings over time. And the poor often can’t afford to do that — to pay $24 for a 30-pack instead of $5 for a four-pack. Then, because they can’t stock up, they can’t afford to wait until the next sale comes around. When the toilet paper runs out, they have to run to the store for another small quantity of it — whatever it costs in that moment. Because they can’t use one money-saving strategy, they can’t use the other, either.

The use of connected math has not helped. More, here.

Detroit schools are in financial crisis and won’t be able to pay teachers after April 8

Emma Brown:

The Detroit public school system is running out of cash so quickly that it likely will not be able to make payroll after April 8 unless state lawmakers take action soon, the new state-appointed emergency manager said Wednesday.

Steven Rhodes, who assumed the helm of Detroit Public Schools at the beginning of March, urged members of the House Appropriations Committee to move quickly to pass legislation to deal with the school system’s mounting debt, the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News reported.

“We can’t print money,” he said, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit plans to spend $768,893,425 during the current school year or $8,481/student for 90,660 students.

Madison, the land of milk and honey, spends more than $17,000/student.

Civics: It Took a FOIA Lawsuit to Uncover How the Obama Administration Killed FOIA Reform

Jason Leopold:

The Obama administration has long called itself the most transparent administration in history. But newly released Department of Justice (DOJ) documents show that the White House has actually worked aggressively behind the scenes to scuttle congressional reforms designed to give the public better access to information possessed by the federal government.

The documents were obtained by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports journalism in the public interest, which in turn shared them exclusively with VICE News. They were obtained using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) — the same law Congress was attempting to reform. The group sued the DOJ last December after its FOIA requests went unanswered for more than a year.

America’s High School Graduates Look Like Other Countries’ High School Dropouts


The PIAAC study — the Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies — looks at the skills adults need to do everyday tasks, whether it’s at work or in their social lives.

“Clearly, we have some work to do in this country,” says Peggy Carr, the acting commissioner of the government’s National Center for Education Statistics. The study compared countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Japan and Finland led the group in literacy, math and technology skills, while the United States’ performance was average or well below average in each category.

K-12 Diversity May Arrive In Madison

Doug Erickson:

Gary Bennett, a former public school teacher, will begin April 1, according to the UW System.

He will establish and lead the new Office of Educational Opportunity, an entity proposed by Darling and other Republican legislators and approved last year as part of the state’s biennial budget process.

The office will have the ability to bypass local school boards and directly authorize new charter schools in districts with more than 25,000 students. Currently, that’s just Madison and Milwaukee.

A majority of the Madison school board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school several years ago.

Unfortnately, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending more than $17k/student during the 2015-2016 school year.

The School Choice Voucher: A ‘Get Out of Jail’ Card?

Corey DeAngelis, Patrick J. Wolf:

report we examine crime rates for young adults who experienced Milwaukee’s citywide voucher program as high school students and a comparable group of their peers who had been public school students. Using unique data collected as part of a longitudinal evaluation of the program, we consider criminal activity by youth initially exposed to voucher schools and those in public schools at the same time. We also consider subsequent criminal activity by the students that stayed in the voucher program through 12th grade compared to those who were in public schools for the same period. We show that the mere exposure to private schooling through a voucher is associated with lower rates of criminal activity but the relationship is not robust to different analytic samples or measures of crime. We find a more consistent statistically significant negative relationship between students that stayed in the voucher program through 12th grade and criminal activity (meaning persistent voucher students commit fewer crimes). These results are apparent when controlling for a robust set of student demographics, test scores, and parental characteristics. We conclude that merely being exposed to private schooling for a short time through a voucher program may not have a significant impact on criminal activity, though persistently attending a private school through a voucher program can decrease subsequent criminal activity, especially for males.

It’s Not Your Imagination: Millennials Are Poorer Than Their Parents, Investigation Finds

Allie Conti:

For years, millennials have been derided as lazy, narcissistic leaches whose spoiled upbringing has left them ungrateful for the world of technological wonders they’ve been born into. But a new Guardian investigation into data about incomes in Western countries has found that young people have reason to complain—in seven wealthy nations in particular, they’re statistically destined to end up worse off financially than their parents. In the US, young people are now poorer than retirees.

The Guardian reported that even as the incomes of young people in countries like the US, Canada, Australia, and France have declined, the fortunes of older people have increased. “It is likely to be the first time in industrialised history, save for periods of war or natural disaster, that the incomes of young adults have fallen so far when compared with the rest of society,” according to the Guardian.

Overworked teachers call for change as extracurricular supervision takes toll

Tomohiro Osaki:

As this year’s elementary school graduates enter junior high school in April, one of their biggest concerns will be which extracurricular club to join.

Known as bukatsu, the clubs are so central to the Japanese junior high and high school experience that they not only determine students’ friendships but also affect their later development.

But this long-held tradition is now coming under fire, and from an unexpected quarter: The teachers forced to supervise them say the expectations placed on them are inhumane and driving them to exhaustion.

We look at the emerging controversy over extracurricular clubs:

A New Era for the Battle Over Teacher Evaluations

Thomas Toch:

The Obama administration has worked hard to strengthen public-school teaching—a $400 billion-plus workforce, and perhaps the single strongest lever in schools for raising student achievement. But just after Thanksgiving, the president signed a major new education law that largely abandoned the cornerstone of his teacher agenda: pressing states and school districts to take more seriously the task of identifying who in the profession was doing a good job, and who wasn’t.

Two powerful forces at opposite ends of the political spectrum had attacked the president’s strategy—teacher unions wanting to end the new scrutiny of their members and Tea Party members targeting the Obama plan as part of a larger anti-Washington campaign. As a result, the new Every Student Succeeds Act terminates the Obama administration’s incentives for states and school districts to introduce tougher teacher-evaluation systems. And the law effectively bans the U.S. Secretary of Education from promoting teacher-performance measurements in the future.

Missouri Enrollment Declines

Clay Travis:

The fallout from the fake Mizzou protests continues to destablize the University of Missouri. Today the interim chancellor of the university emailed students that the university will enroll 1500 less students than projected and faces a budget shortfall of $32 million this year.

While the 1500 fewer students aren’t broken out by year, the vast majority of them will come from the entering freshman class. How substantial is the decline in enrollment? Based on Mizzou admission data from past years we’re talking about a potential 20% drop in enrolled freshmen.

Why the Atlanta superintendent wants to close successful schools

Molly Bloom:

Atlanta school Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s plan to turn around the struggling school system calls for closing schools that, by Atlanta standards, are succeeding and merge those students with now-failing schools.

The closures will allow her to replace hundreds of teachers, bring in new leaders and save money by closing half-empty schools. District officials says the goal is to improve education for thousands of Atlanta children.

In addition to closing three schools, Carstarphen has also proposed hiring charter school groups to run five low-performing schools.

But her plan doesn’t make sense to some parents.

“Why would you close a school that’s improving?” asked Antonia Mickens, whose daughter attends one of the schools up for closure.

Meanwhile Madison is expanding its least diverse middle school: Hamilton.

Calculus Is So Last Century


Can you remember the last time you did calculus? Unless you are a researcher or engineer, chances are good it was in a high-school or college class you’d rather forget. For most Americans, solving a calculus problem is not a skill they need to perform well at work.

This is not to say that America’s workforce doesn’t need advanced mathematics—quite the opposite. An extensive 2011 McKinsey Global Institute study found that by 2018 the U.S will face a 1.5 million worker shortfall in analysts and managers who have the mathematical training necessary to deal with analysis of “large data sets,” the bread and butter of the big-data revolution.

The question is not whether advanced mathematics is needed but rather what kind of advanced mathematics. Calculus is the handmaiden of physics; it was invented by Newton to explain planetary and projectile motion. While its place at the core of math education may have made sense for Cold War adversaries engaged in a missile and space race, Minute-Man and Apollo no longer occupy the same prominent role in national security and continued prosperity that they once did.

Commentary On Improving Madison’s $17k/student School District

Ed Hughes:

long arc of successful school improvement efforts, we should pay more attention to long-term trends than test-to-test or even year-to-year progress. This requires a kind of patience that coexists uneasily with the sense of urgency for our urban public schools.

It also calls for the kind of long-term commitment that isn’t very compatible with the traditional model of school board governance. Folks generally aren’t inspired to run for school board by a desire to refrain from monkeying around with an approach that seems to be working. “Let’s leave well enough alone” isn’t much of a campaign slogan. And yet, if a school district is headed in the right direction, as I think we are in Madison, that can be exactly what is called for.

The bottom line is, education is complicated. Change is hard, system-wide change is harder, system-wide change for the better is harder still. The kind of long-term positive changes we want to see in our urban school districts will certainly take longer than five years and may take a decade of sustained effort to achieve. And incremental progress along the way may be all that we can expect to see.

Much more on Ed Hughes, here.

Unfortunately, despite spending more than most, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Speaking of the long view, this, from 2007 is worth reading.

what age is it easiest to learn a second language?

Monika Schmid:

addition to this overall and gradual advantage for younger learners, there is one notable qualitative difference: even very good older language learners differ from younger ones when it comes to using grammar correctly and consistently. Every time I mark a run of scripts from my adult students, most of whom are from non-English-speaking backgrounds, I find that while they are amazingly good at using a wide range of vocabulary, appropriate style and complex grammar, they often struggle with some simple grammatical rules.

For example, many adult learners never fully master the distinction between “he walks” and “they walk”. They also often fail to grasp that “I have lived in Colchester for two years” means that I still live there, while “I lived in Colchester for two years” means that I do not. Why are simple and highly frequent rules apparently impossible to master, while words that have been encountered only a few times sink in easily?

Oregon charter schools underperform, serve too few poor and minority students, study says

Betsy Hammond:

Oregon’s charter school movement is on life support, ranking worst among 18 states where at least 2 percent of students attend charter schools, a report by a pro-charter school group says.

One of the biggest problems: Oregon’s nearly 30,000 charter school students made less progress in reading and much less in math than students in traditional public schools from 2008 to 2011, the report found.

Oregon’s 100-plus charter schools also serve a more heavily white and much more heavily middle-class population than other public schools, it said. Charter schools by their nature strive to reach students poorly served by traditional schools, so charter schools ideally should serve more minority and low-income students than regular public schools, the study’s authors said.

Why is it so hard to recruit good maths and science teachers?

Australasian Science:

There are well-recognised problems with student participation and achievement in maths and science. Widespread shortages of suitable secondary maths and science teachers and low levels of students studying these subjects at secondary and tertiary levels are not just problems faced by Australia, but have become international issues.

A number of interrelated factors that form a self-perpetuating cycle contribute to this situation.


A school in Berlin is teaching refugees how to code

Tech Rung:

The students will be attending classes in 7 different places in Berlin over the next three months. The German Tech and Entrepreneurship Center is hosting the Sunday classes while on Wednesdays and Thursdays, ReDI has arranged mentoring sessions for the students at six coworking spaces in Berlin.

ReDI began its classes with sponsorship from Klöckner & Co, a German steel distribution company that is on the leading edge of digitizing its own industry.

The FBI Has a New Plan to Spy on High School Students Across the Country

Sarah Lazare:

Under new guidelines, the FBI is instructing high schools across the country to report students who criticize government policies and “western corruption” as potential future terrorists, warning that “anarchist extremists” are in the same category as ISIS and young people who are poor, immigrants or travel to “suspicious” countries are more likely to commit horrific violence.

Based on the widely unpopular British “anti-terror” mass surveillance program, the FBI’s “Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools” guidelines, released in January, are almost certainly designed to single out and target Muslim-American communities. However, in its caution to avoid the appearance of discrimination, the agency identifies risk factors that are so broad and vague that virtually any young person could be deemed dangerous and worthy of surveillance, especially if she is socio-economically marginalized or politically outspoken.

Denver’s Mayor on Testing, Hillary Clinton and America’s Fastest-Growing Urban School District

Matt Barnum:

So how is Denver trying to make the schools stronger? How are you trying to improve your schools?
First and foremost, we’ve elected a Board of Education that is accountable and committed to making sure that every young person in the city of Denver has access to quality schools, starting in their own neighborhoods. That’s been critical because we’ve attracted some award-winning programs to communities, many that have been underserved. Some today that were quite frankly mired in perennially failing schools five, six years ago now have some of the leading schools in the state and that has made a difference.

Secondly, as we grow, being able to recruit the best administrators and teachers to the school district makes an awful lot of difference. We certainly have seen that with the partnerships through Teach For America, and other innovative programs that are helping us to drive new energy and innovation to the classroom.

We’ve also had quite a few state and local laws that have passed that have aided innovation and injection of creativity into the classroom. Those things have made a difference in Denver.

Why You Probably Don’t Need An MBA

The Economist:

Businesses have been run well without MBAs for millennia. The merchants of Carthage did not need them. Kanye West does not have one. That said, an MBA will get you up to speed on business in a general sense. But so will a good book, for far less money and time.

The MBA is a club like any other: you are either in or out, that is its main selling point. Incompetent people will get in, and they’ll leave incompetent. But they will beat non-MBAs at job interviews because they had the money to attend a prestigious school and scraped through on Cs. You will not leave business school with the next Google, YouTube or Twitter in your head; if it is to happen, it will happen anyway. Reading case studies about Steve Jobs is not enough for you to become like him. To start something takes imagination and courage.

Learn Different

Rebecca Mead:

entilla, AltSchool’s thirty-five-year-old founder, is a native New Yorker who attended Buckley, on the Upper East Side, and proceeded to Andover, the New England prep school. He went to Yale, where he majored in math and physics, and then earned an M.B.A. Ventilla worked briefly for Google, then launched a startup, Aardvark, which developed a tool for “social search”—the ability to direct a question to a targeted group of people. In 2010, he sold the company to Google, reportedly for fifty million dollars. Ventilla rejoined Google as a group product manager, and eventually became responsible for creating a “unity of experience” across the company’s products—insuring that, say, a user’s search results are informed by her YouTube browsing history. When Ventilla quit Google to start AltSchool, in the spring of 2013, he had no experience as a teacher or an educational administrator. But he did have extensive knowledge of networks, and he understood the kinds of insights that can be gleaned from big data.

The first AltSchool opened that September, in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. The idea grew out of the search that Ventilla and his wife, Jenny Stefanotti, a former Google executive, conducted to find a preschool for their daughter, who is now four. (They also have a two-year-old son.) “It was a startlingly miserable experience,” he told me. “You are thrown into this high-stakes world of trying to get your two-year-old into a school, and all the places that are desirable have a hundred times more people applying than they admit, and if you don’t pick your preschool right your child will be penniless and alone at thirty. And there is, absurdly, a little bit of truth to that.” While visiting schools, Ventilla was struck by how little education had changed since he began school. “A three-year-old today isn’t that different,” he told me. But, largely because of technology, “a thirteen-year-old is really different.”

A struggle within MIT’s IT department over its future

Drew Bent:

Led by IS&T’s vice president, John Charles, the ambitious reorganization began in February 2015 and aims to spur innovation through agile software development practices adopted from industry. Charles emphasizes that this is not a typical reorganization, but rather a complete transformation of MIT’s IT department.

Meanwhile, a number of current and former employees say the transformation has fallen short of improving the organization, and has instead created considerable turmoil in the work environment. This has resulted in roughly 20 percent of nearly 300 staff members leaving since February, instead of the average 8 or 9 percent annual turnover.

In solidarity with Library Genesis and Sci-Hub


In Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s tale the Little Prince meets a businessman who accumulates stars with the sole purpose of being able to buy more stars. The Little Prince is perplexed. He owns only a flower, which he waters every day. Three volcanoes, which he cleans every week. “It is of some use to my volcanoes, and it is of some use to my flower, that I own them,” he says, “but you are of no use to the stars that you own”.

There are many businessmen who own knowledge today. Consider Elsevier, the largest scholarly publisher, whose 37% profit margin1 stands in sharp contrast to the rising fees, expanding student loan debt and poverty-level wages for adjunct faculty. Elsevier owns some of the largest databases of academic material, which are licensed at prices so scandalously high that even Harvard, the richest university of the global north, has complained that it cannot afford them any longer. Robert Darnton, the past director of Harvard Library, says “We faculty do the research, write the papers, referee papers by other researchers, serve on editorial boards, all of it for free … and then we buy back the results of our labour at outrageous prices.”2 For all the work supported by public money benefiting scholarly publishers, particularly the peer review that grounds their legitimacy, journal articles are priced such that they prohibit access to science to many academics – and all non-academics – across the world, and render it a token of privilege.3

LSAT, Bar Failure, and Debt

Deborah J. Merritt

Last fall, Law School Transparency (LST) released a detailed study of declining LSAT scores among entering law students. Drawing upon data from several sources, the report warned that students with LSAT scores below 150 suffer increasing risks of failing the bar exam. For students with scores below 145, the risk is extreme. One school, for example, reported that only 16% of graduates in that category passed the bar on their first attempt. The eventual pass rate for those students was just 36%.

LST also offered evidence that these high-risk students are paying more for their legal education than students with a better chance of becoming lawyers. Schools that admit a substantial number of high-risk students offer fewer tuition discounts than other schools. Scholarships at high-risk schools are also more likely to be conditional (and forfeited) than scholarships at schools admitting lower risk students.

Cutting Faculty Jobs Brings President Award

Ellen Weller:

When Carolyn Stefanco accepted the “disrupter” award inside an Albany hotel Friday, faculty members picketed on the sidewalk.

“Disruptive leadership,” their signs read, “is killing the College of Saint Rose.”

Stefanco, the president of Saint Rose, received the award two months after announcing the elimination of 23 faculty positions — many of them tenured — and 12 academic programs. She pitched the cuts, part of an attempt to fix a $9 million deficit, as a way to save money while investing in the college’s more popular programs.

At Saint Rose, which she joined in 2014, Stefanco’s plans have been contentious. Earlier this month, the faculty voted no confidence in the president, arguing that the cuts were poorly designed and that liberal arts programs were hit particularly hard.

When baby is due, genetic counselors seen downplaying false alarms

Beth Daley:

Little Kate Summersgill certainly didn’t look like a child with Down syndrome — no upward slanting eyes or telltale flat facial features.

Devon and Mike Summersgill had believed baby Kate was all but certain to be born with the intellect-stunting disorder because of a blood test Devon’s doctor recommended during her 2014 pregnancy. Even after the birth, when their baby looked fine, their genetic counselor, Laura Limone, insisted that the result of the test was not a mistake, Devon says.

Narcissistic Students Get Better Grades from Narcissistic Professors

Nicole Torres:

We’ve all heard it: Millennials are more narcissistic, entitled, and self-indulgent than generations past. Whether that makes you nod your head or roll your eyes — the evidence, after all, remains controversial and polarizing — the idea that narcissism has increased among college students over the last 25 years is worrisome from an organizational perspective. Millennials are the next generation of leaders. And while we know narcissism can be useful at times, research has linked narcissists’ sense of entitlement and belief that the rules don’t always apply to them to a range of counterproductive work behaviors, such as embezzlement, workplace incivility, bullying, and white-collar crime.

Commentary On Money And Schools

Noah Smith:

The case against spending more on schools comes in two basic forms. One is to look at various U.S. states, and see whether the ones that spend more on education enjoy better outcomes. This has been done many times, with decidedly mixed results. Some studies show little state-by-state correlation between spending levels and educational performance, while others show a fairly substantial one.

The second case against increased spending comes from looking at correlations across time. If more money is better, we’d expect to see increases in school funding followed by improvements in performance. In fact, though public school spending has increased a lot in the past couple of decades, achievement hasn’t really increased much.

So with mixed evidence from state-by-state analysis and discouraging evidence from the history of spending increases, many people are ready to conclude that throwing more money at education is a losing battle. Some spending opponents place their hopes in charter schools and other reform efforts, while others claim that education just doesn’t work — that academic ability is either innate or learned from an early age.

Kansas City dramatically increased spending years ago, and……

In amicus brief, Ivy League schools oppose Columbia grad union

Conor Skelding

In an amicus brief filed with the National Labor Relations Board concerning the Columbia University graduate student unionization case, the other seven universities in the Ivy League recommended that the board maintain precedent, under which graduate students may not unionize.

The board has indicated that it may reconsider a 2004 decision which found that graduate students at Brown University were not employees under the National Labor Relations Act.

“Amici submit that there are no facts or changed circumstances that justify revisiting or modifying Brown,” those universities’ general counsels, plus those of Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in the Monday brief.

The Problem With the GRE

Victoria Clayton:

Early one Saturday morning last year, Christian Vazquez hopped on his bicycle and pedaled from his Highland Park home to the campus of Cal State, Los Angeles, one of many designated testing facilities for the Graduate Record Examination. The GRE, as it’s better known, is a test required for admission to what may amount to thousands of Master’s- and doctoral-degree programs—from astronomy and English to journalism and zoology—in the United States.

Vazquez, 24, who studied for the GRE over the course of about four months using a free study guide, was already an academic success story. Raised in east L.A. by a mother who worked full-time as a bank-loan processor, he was the first person in his family to attend college. During his undergraduate education, Vazquez lived at home and commuted via bike or bus to California State University Northridge four days a week, a two-hour trip each way, and paid his way through school by working as a cashier at a Kohl’s department store. Vazquez graduated in 2013 with a B.A. in English, earning mostly As. When he went job hunting, he had one thing in mind: “I knew I wanted a job where I made an impact on other people’s lives,” he says. He ended up with two part-time positions, as a teaching assistant at an elementary school helping mainly at-risk Latino children and as a tutor at Pasadena City College, where he also enrolled in literature and writing classes for fun. On his commutes to work, Vazquez dreamed of a grander future: becoming a college English professor.

Silence Won’t Protect You

Kelly Baker:

Almost 39 years ago, Audre Lorde gave a talk on silence, language, and action at the Modern Language Association. “I have come to believe over and over again,” she notes, “that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” When the inevitability of her own death appeared pressing and soon, she found that she regretted her silences most of all. Silence is not a cure-all for our hurts, ills, pains, or deaths. Remaining silent won’t soothe us or stop our suffering. She famously proclaimed, “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”

Silence, after all, feels antithetical to academic freedom, the ability to teach and research as scholars see fit. According to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) 1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure, academic freedom “entitles” scholars “full freedom in research” and “freedom in classroom in discussing their subject.” Though, the AAUP does caution against inserting our opinions, those unrelated to course materials, into our classes. Academic freedom emerged as a crucial component of tenure along with economic security, yet, it was not limited to the tenured. Instead, the AAUP emphasized that academic freedom should protect the “full-time probationary teacher” (those on the tenure track), contingent faculty (part-time and full-time), and graduate students. Any scholar who taught should have academic freedom. Their vision of who was granted academic freedom was expansive and idealistic, which feels a far cry from where we are now.

Yet, the AAUP did not present a concept of limitless freedom. Academic freedom did not include all speech by faculty. Teacher scholars were citizens with rights of free speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but they also had “special obligations” because of their affiliations with institutions (for better or worse). Academic freedom had to have limits. Faculty could write and speak as citizens, but they should “at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for their institution.” Scholars appeared as representatives of their institutions. Think about your name badge that you wear at conferences. Your name rests above the name of the college, university, seminary, or institution that employs you (unless like me, you lack affiliation). Affiliation requires teachers to make clear distinctions between their private selves and their public personas.

University Of California’s Hedge Fund Investments Plagued By High Fees

CBS Bay Area:

The University of California paid hedge fund managers about $1 billion in fees over the last 12 years, according to a white paper study released by the university system’s largest employee union.

AFSCME Local 3299 announced Tuesday the release of a white paper study highlighting what they say is the lack of transparency and lack of returns associated with the university system’s current hedge fund investment plan.

The union, which represents more than 22,000 employees at the university’s 10 campuses and numerous other centers, clinics and labs, states that the university’s “experiment” with hedge fund investments “has fallen far short of the expectations on which they were sold” and wasted money on performance and management fees “for returns that largely mirrored the stock market.”

Education dwindles as an issue in national, local elections

Alan Borsuk:

That’s not a platform. It’s a couple of slogans, a vague concept, and a sort-of position that has been pretty much already settled in favor of Trump’s view. The education law passed a few months ago by Congress stops the federal government from promoting the Common Core education standards and shifts education decision-making generally back toward states.

Trump has a lot of company in downplaying education. In both the Republican and Democratic presidential races, none of the candidates has made kindergarten through 12th-grade issues prominent.

Turning the focus more locally, Milwaukee has a race for mayor underway in which education is not a major issue.

On the other hand, education is a hot issue in the race for county executive, an office that historically has nothing to do with schools. A new state law makes the country executive a key figure in what lies ahead. Who expected that a year ago?

But nationwide, I suggest, education is waning as an issue, after some years in which it was a bigger deal. I suspect a major reason is a broad sense of fatigue with education debates — they’ve gone on for so long and brought so little improvement. The surge of anti-big government sentiment is an important factor also.

How much is education in the backwaters of the presidential campaign?

Why the new SAT is not the answer

Akil Bello & James Murphy:

Community organizations can now distribute waivers; in the past only high school counselors could do so. The waiver system could be more efficient — there is often a rush to get waivers out to seniors at the start of the school year in time for the October exam — and the College Board needs to devise a way to distribute them once an August SAT date begins in 2017, but all in all, the fee waiver program provides a real benefit to low-income students.

So, too, does using the Preliminary SAT-National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) to also identify students who qualify for scholarships designed for students of color and low-income students.

This year the applicant pool of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which provides support for high-performing, low-income students, grew nearly 200 percent as a result of its alliance with the College Board. This, again, is clearly a win. (The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a funder of The Hechinger Report).

New Film Dives Into FBI Arrests Of Youths For Terrorism Crimes They Might Commit

Murtaza Hussain:

The ethical issues involved in preventive counterterrorism cases like Sadequee’s are the theme behind much of Homegrown. Following 9/11, law enforcement agencies were given a mandate to halt terrorist acts before they occurred, rather than investigate crimes after the fact. This directive inevitably gave rise to some disturbing ethical questions. When is it acceptable to arrest someone for a crime they haven’t actually committed, but you think they might commit in the future? At what point do a teenager’s online postings turn into a terrorism offense?

‘Who Rules the Universities?’: Academics Discuss the Toll Campus Protests Have Taken on America and Higher Education

The Blaze:

Liberal education aims to liberate the mind from prejudice — the prejudice of birth, public opinion, our own distorted and inflated opinions of ourselves — in preparation for citizenship and freedom,” Milikh said. “But modern universities too often flatter and protect prejudices. It says there’s almost nothing to learn. ‘Come as you are, for you have already attained a kind of perfection,’ they say. Gaining and preserving wisdom takes a backseat to the creation of ’safe spaces’ — shelters, in other words — for prejudice, not from it.”

When Kesler began his segment, he bemoaned the student protesters’ failure to recognize the universal principles that “provide the starting points of demonstration or argument,” adding that the idea of the “university” itself hinges upon the ability to grasp moral and physical values as “self-evident truths.” If the protesters do not recognize these universal values, Kesler believes that they can never truly understand or appreciate the “university’s” original intent.

Proposal: replace Algebra II and Calculus with “Statistics for Citizenship”

Cory Doctorow:

Andrew Hacker, a professor of both mathematics and political science at Queens University has a new book out, The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions, which makes the case that the inclusion of algebra and calculus in high school curriculum discourages students from learning mathematics, and displaces much more practical mathematical instruction about statistical and risk literacy, which he calls “Statistics for Citizenship.”

Hacker’s idea is based on a course in “civic numeracy” he’s taught for two years, in which students learn to use mathematics to understand current affairs: gerrymandering in Pennsylvania, spotting fraudulent tax returns, and so on.

I have a theory that you can track the rationality of a society by the number of people who play the lottery — and that a significant achievement for an education system would be to graduate a cohort who never bought a single lotto ticket. The rise and rise of Drumpf tracks pretty closely to those eye-popping Powerball jackpots.


It’s not just factory jobs the robots are after – it’s your intellectual jobs too

Alexander Khaytin:

Automation technologies such as the Jacquard loom were ubiquitous in the 1800s during the first industrial revolution. Such machines eliminated some of the most tedious and time-consuming jobs from factories, and raised production to record levels.

Then, in the mid-1900s, the robotic arm was invented. Like the loom, that too is a machine ubiquitous in the contemporary industrial landscape. And with the advent of computing, robotics and automation systems have been increasingly integrated into self-contained production systems, controlled through what might now be considered rudimentary forms of artificial intelligence.

The case for eradicating algebra in schools

Dana Goldstein:

In his new book The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions, political scientist Andrew Hacker proposes replacing algebra II and calculus in the high school and college curriculum with a practical course in statistics for citizenship (more on that later).

Only mathematicians and some engineers actually use advanced math in their day-to-day work, Hacker argues-even the doctors, accountants, and coders of the future shouldn’t have to master abstract math that they’ll never need.
I showed the book to my husband, Andrei, a computer programmer who loved math in school. He scrunched up his face. “People don’t use Shakespeare in their jobs, but it’s still important for them to read it,” he said.

“It’s not the same,” I told him. “Reading fiction builds empathy.”

“Math helps us understand the world around us!” Andrei replied. “Like how derivatives demonstrate change over time.” He smiled, and I could tell that for him, it was all clear and beautiful.

Yale’s Imaginary Crime Wave

KC Johnson

Yale is the only university that regularly issues reports on its handling of sexual assault complaints, the result of a 2012 resolution agreement with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The university is also unusual in reporting so many sexual complaints, the result of its peculiar decision to broaden the campus definition of “sexual assault” beyond all recognition.

The newest of these reports, issued as always by Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler, has now appeared. And, as always, Spangler notes that Yale has chosen to redefine “sexual assault,” attributing to the term “broad ranges of behavior” that neither the criminal law nor common cultural understanding would define as sexual assault. Yale has never offered a convincing explanation for why it pursued this course, but the strategy does inflate the numbers, thereby helping to feed the current moral panic on campus.

Minnesota Teacher Licensing ‘Confusing,’ ‘Complex,’ and ‘Broken,’ Audit Finds

Stephen Sawchuck:

Minnesota’s teacher-licensing system is broken—and should be overhauled, beginning by consolidating the two state agencies that administer it, the state’s Office of the Legislative Auditor said in a report released March 4.

There isn’t any easy way to summarize just how convoluted this all gets over the report’s 100 pages, which detail the state’s “complex, unclear, and confusing” system, to quote from auditor James Nobles’ letter. But are a sampling of some of the findings:

The split between the state’s board of teaching, which sets licensing requirements, and the state education department, which makes decisions about licensing and issues licenses, blur the lines about duties and accountability, confusing teachers and leading to finger-pointing among agency officials.

The state’s licensing statutes and the regulations carrying them out don’t even use the same terms to describe the same type of licenses.
Multiple loopholes and exceptions to the rules, combined with a series of legislative changes over the past five years, have further complicated the issues.

When it denies licenses, the state often doesn’t provide teacher candidates with enough information about why.

Schools That Can expands leadership training across sectors

Annysa Johnson:

Andy Vitrano corrals a group of school leaders from across Milwaukee inside the main hallway at St. Anthony School on the city’s south side.

They’ve spent much of the last hour discussing the importance of data in assessing a school’s performance, dissecting one school’s attendance figures and brainstorming ideas for improvement.

Now he’s dispatched them, clipboards in hand, on a scavenger hunt, in search of the many ways St. Anthony tracks data — from the daily attendance listing in the front hall to classroom charts that track students’ academic and behavioral improvement.

“They’re looking for things they can use in their own buildings,” said Vitrano, a former principal turned leadership coach with the nonprofit Schools That Can Milwaukee, which runs this monthly “deans’ collaborative.”

The group’s gatherings, says Executive Director Abby Andrietsch, are the only place in Milwaukee, and one of a few around the country, where school leaders regularly work across sectors — traditional public, charter and private voucher schools — to improve educational outcomes for children.

My humbling—and motivating—teacher test experience

Peter Sipe:

One of my favorite pieces of writing is four sentences long. It’s the statement General Dwight Eisenhower drafted in the event D-Day ended in defeat:

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

This noble declaration came to mind as I studied for the exams to become an elementary teacher in Massachusetts. I wondered how I should explain if I did not pass. And I still do, because I won’t learn until March 18.

Much more on MTEL.

Detroit Public Schools will be completely broke by April. Here’s how things got to this point.

Tara Golshan:

One of Michigan’s most controversial public figures had his last day as emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools this week. To replace him is another state-appointed manager: Judge Steven Rhodes, the man who oversaw Detroit’s historic bankruptcy case.

This change in leadership may not be surprising after months of widespread “sickouts,” teacher protests involving calling in sick to protest the horrific school conditions. Rhodes faces a public school system — one that could run out of money completely by April — crumbling in financial ruin and a community that doesn’t really want someone from the state in charge of fixing it.

The test every parent — and student — needs to take about the new SAT

Joy Resmovits:

one of two major college entrance exams, the SAT has become a dreaded rite of passage for millions of American high school students since 1926.

This Saturday, approximately 277,000 students across the U.S. will take a revamped version of the SAT.



5:51 a.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that approximately 463,000 students are taking the SAT this weekend. Approximately 277,000 students are taking the SAT in its first national administration this weekend; the figure of 463,000 reflects the number of students who will have taken the new test in March, as of this weekend. Some school districts held SAT School Day this week, where all students take the test in school.

Political correctness devours yet another college, fighting over mini-sombreros

Catherine Rampell:

On Saturday, two members of Bowdoin College’s student government will face impeachment proceedings. What heinous transgression did they commit? Theft, plagiarism, sexual assault?

Nope. They attended a party where some guests wore tiny sombreros.

Two weeks ago, some students threw a birthday party for a friend. The email invitation read: “the theme is tequila, so do with that what you may. We’re not saying it’s a fiesta, but we’re also not not saying that :).” The invitation — sent by a student of Colombian descent, which may or may not be relevant here — advertised games, music, cups and “other things that are conducive to a fun night.”

Those “other things” included the miniature sombreros, several inches in diameter. And when photos of attendees wearing those mini-sombreros showed up on social media, students and administrators went ballistic.

College administrators sent multiple schoolwide emails notifying the students about an “investigation” into a possible “act of ethnic stereotyping.”

Partygoers ultimately were reprimanded or placed on “social probation,” and the hosts have been kicked out of their dorm, according to friends. (None of the disciplined students whom I contacted wanted to speak on the record; Bowdoin President Clayton Rose declined an interview and would not answer a general question about what kinds of disciplinary options are considered when students commit an “act of bias.”)

Other students closed ranks, too.

Oxford admissions needs a shake-up — The Higher Education Revolution

Junaid Mubeen:

Oxford admissions interviews are notoriously challenging, particularly in mathematics. A 25-minute interview is designed with stunning precision to tease out the strongest problem-solvers (the main criteria for selection in mathematics). The competition is stiff. Yet a good chunk of candidates who make it to the final interview stage unravel within moments, ruling themselves out of contention.
These hopeful candidates can execute basic warm-up tasks at will — say, sketching a logarithm — but stumble the moment they are presented with a novel problem that they have not previously encountered —

Bogle vs. Goliath

Ben Carlson:

Each year the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) puts out a study on the investment performance of college endowment funds. It’s a comprehensive report that goes through the asset allocations and performance numbers of funds ranging from a few million dollars to funds with many billions of dollars (in the latest report there were over 800 funds in total).
Institutional investors are obsessed peer comparisons so they all eagerly await these performance numbers to see how they stacked up against the competition.

Here’s the latest batch through June 30, 2015:

Oakland’s School Transformation Drive

Motoko Rich:

The superintendent, Antwan Wilson, who is an imposing 6-foot-4, favors crisp suits and Kangol caps and peers intensely through wire-rimmed glasses, has become accustomed to confrontation since he arrived in this activist community from Denver two years ago. One board meeting last fall reached such a fever pitch that police officers moved in to control the crowd.

Mr. Wilson is facing a rebellion by teachers and some parents against his plan to allow families to use a single form to apply to any of the city’s 86 district-run schools or 44 charter campuses, all of which are competing for a shrinking number of students.

Adults Banned From Taking The SAT Because They Cheat On It So Much

Daily Caller:

Typically, the SAT has been open to anybody who wants to take it, not just those who need it for college applications. Notably, many adults who work in the field of standardized test prep take it in order to improve their teaching ability (while also demonstrating their personal expertise).

But now, the College Board is suddenly cutting them off. In an unprecedent move it says is needed to prevent cheating, the College Board is barring non-students from taking the coming March 5 test.

Numerous test prep workers and other non-students (plus some students over age 21) received an email from the College Board earlier this week saying that security concerns had forced the rule change.

“When we closed registration last week, our analysis of registrants showed an unusually high number of individuals meeting criteria associated with a higher security risk,” the College Board said in its email, published by The Washington Post. “As a result, we have instituted a new security measure, effective immediately, which aims to ensure that anyone taking the test is doing so for its intended purpose: to apply to and attend a college or university undergraduate program, or to apply for scholarship, financial aid, or other programs that require a college admissions test.”

For now, the College Board says adults who have registered for the SAT will be able to take it in May due to enhanced security precautions.

UC Davis chancellor apologizes for controversial moonlighting activities

Teresa Watanabe:

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi apologized Friday for her controversial moonlighting activities, which had prompted key state lawmakers to call for her resignation and announce legislative hearings on paid outside activities by university officials.  

Katehi, who earns $424,360 annually as chancellor at UC Davis, had come under fire for accepting a $70,000-a-year position with the DeVry Education Group, a for-profit firm that offers college degrees online and on 55 campuses nationwide, including 13 in California.

DeVry is being investigated by state and federal authorities on allegations of deceptive advertising about job and income prospects for its graduates. The firm has denied the accusations.

Katehi resigned from the DeVry seat this week after questions were raised by public interest groups and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) who heads the Assembly budget subcommittee on education finance

PC Hysteria Claims Another Professor

Robby Soave:

The movement to purge all offensive speech from American college campuses has claimed another scalp. Andrea Quenette, an assistant communications professor, was chased out of her own classroom—not because she was a bad teacher, but because her students said she wasn’t agreeing with them quickly enough.

For months, Quenette has been under investigation by the University of Kansas. She is on academic leave. Her students’ refusal to return to class left her no other choice but to take the semester off.

We Read All 20 Filings In Support Of Apple Against The FBI; Here Are The Most Interesting Points

Tech dirt:

In the last week or so, it became quite clear that a fair number of tech companies and organizations in the civil liberties community would file amicus (friend of the court) briefs urging magistrate judge Sheri Pym to side with Apple over the Justice Department and the FBI. However, now that the briefs are in, it’s fairly staggering just how many companies, organizations and individuals signed onto briefs supporting Apple. Yes, many of them teamed up and filed briefs together, but it’s still a ton. And that’s especially true for an issue at the district court level in front of a magistrate judge. Here’s the big list put together by Apple, including links to various blog posts and press releases about the filings:

The Silence of the Clams and the University of Tennessee Office of Diversity and Inclusion

George Korda:

I’m writing yet another column about the University of Tennessee’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion because the University of Tennessee won’t respond to questions or requests about its Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

In Sept. 2015 I wrote about the office after an uproar over a series of curious “pronouns” recommended or suggested for use on campus for individuals who didn’t want to be identified by what was called the “gender binary,” which means male or female.

After a Mt. Everest-sized avalanche of national ridicule, the pronouns were dispatched to the outer darkness amid gnashing of teeth by various UT officials.

In an October column I contrasted the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s celebratory approach to the opening of a new Pride Center while “suggesting” that religiously-themed holiday parties were not inclusive.

The following is taken from the column, which references a discussion with State Rep. Martin Daniel on my Sunday afternoon radio show on WOKI-FM. Rep. Daniel has been researching the costs of UT’s diversity efforts, which are in the neighborhood of $5 million system-wide.

Genetic Discrimination: A New Frontier

Andrew Hanson:

Genetic testing is a medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes and genes to determine whether a person has, or might develop, a genetic condition. Genetic testing is becoming cheaper and easier to do each year. With $199 dollars and some saliva, companies like 23andMe can provide you with personal information ranging from ancestry to whether you are a “carrier” for certain conditions. Today, before a parent even holds their child their arms, procedures like amniocentesis can tell them about their child’s potential chromosomal abnormalities.

Presently all fifty states are required to test infants for at least twenty-one disorders. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, early detection and treatment “can help prevent intellectual and physical disabilities and life-threatening illnesses.” But with these medical advances, there is cause for concern.

Americans Don’t Know What ‘Single Payer’ Means

Olga Khazan:

The AP recently asked 1,033 adults what they thought of “Medicare for All,” a cornerstone of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.

When asked their view of “single-payer” health care—what such a system is often called—the respondents seemed to like it. “A slim plurality of 39 percent supports replacing the private health insurance system with a single government-run, taxpayer-funded plan that would cover medical, dental, vision and long-term care, with 33 percent opposed,” the AP’s Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Emily Swanson write. Just 26 percent, meanwhile, support the existing Obamacare law.

In Washington state, marginalized students and families have few real 

Citizen Ed:

The first student I met at Summit Sierra charter school in Seattle was sharp, soft-spoken, and confident. I visited on a day when students were working independently on their goals, so I was imposing on her time, but she was gracious about the interruption.

She walked me through Summit’s computer based program that keeps track of all the work she completes toward gaining admission to a college program. As a parent I saw the benefit of such a program immediately. She never has to wonder if she is on track. The program provides real time information that keeps her on the same page with her parents and teacher. No need to wait for a report card or teacher’s conference.

Every six weeks students have “expeditions,” which is an elective two week period where students can pursue subjects they care about like videography, cooking, civics, or topical focus areas like criminal justice, the stock market, or the Holocaust. For each area the school connects students with community experts.

Personalization is a key feature at Summit. Each student has a well-developed personal learning plan driven by their own interests, dreams, and goals. It’s a vision of education many schools say they want, but one few achieve for more than a pocket of lucky kids.

Often when I go into a school I see the disparity between their brochure and their reality. Websites promise lots of fanciful bells and whistles (a charter school on roller skates!) but you get in the building and notice kids are dead in the eyes, teachers are curt, and the surroundings are grim.

It’s always a good feeling to find a school with high ceilings, lots of sunlight, buoyant students, and staff who appear to have a good time. Summit is that kind of school.

The Rise of Homeschooling Among Black Families

Jessica Huseman:

Marvell Robinson was in kindergarten when a classmate reportedly poured an anthill on him at the playground. After that, the gibes reportedly became sharper: “Why are you that color?” one boy taunted at the swing set, leaving Marvell scared and speechless. The slow build of racial bullying would push his mother, Vanessa Robinson, to pull him from his public school and homeschool him instead.

Marvell is one of an estimated 220,000 African American children currently being homeschooled, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. Black families have become one of the fastest-growing demographics in homeschooling, with black students making up an estimated 10 percent of the homeschooling population. (For comparison’s sake, they make up 16 percent of all public-school students nationwide, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.)


The Long, Tangled History of Alfred E. Neuman

Sam Sweet:

In a 1975 interview with the New York Times, MAD Magazine founder Harvey Kurtzman recalled an illustration of a grinning boy he’d spotted on a postcard in the early fifties: a “bumpkin portrait,” “part leering wiseacre, part happy-go-lucky kid.” It was captioned “What, Me Worry?”
 That bumpkin became Alfred E. Neuman, MAD’s mascot, who turns sixty this year—kind of. The impish, immutable redhead made his official debut in December 1956, when he appeared on the cover of MAD #30 as a write-in candidate for president. He’s appeared on almost every MAD cover since: possessing, spoofing, and spooking cultural icons with nothing more than a drowsy rictus. Though MAD gave him a purpose, a permanent home, his origin story remains elusive. It involves, among other things, a plum-pudding advertisement, a dubious lawsuit, and a traveling nineteenth-century farce

China’s education system leaves students woefully unprepared for the real world

Jenny Anderson:

Chinese kids are smart. The kids of Shanghai cleaners outperform those of British doctors and lawyers in math, and Shanghai’s richest students are about three academic years ahead of the developed-country average. Students in the 90th percentile in the US score below the average Shanghai student on a test given to 15 year-olds around the world (pdf).
But tests only tell you so much about Chinese students’ smarts, says Xiaodong Lin, a professor of cognitive studies at Columbia University’s Teachers College. When they come to university in the US, Chinese students tend to struggle with analytical writing, critical thinking, and communication with peers and professors, Lin wrote in the People’s Daily (link in Chinese), the official newspaper of China’s Communist Party.
“While Chinese education has focused more on mastery of knowledge, the American education seems to emphasize how to learn, even though we may not do as a good job as we wish,” she wrote.

The Google Technical Interview


mHow to Get The interview process at Google has been designed (and redesigned!) from the ground up to avoid false posi- tives. We want to avoid making offers to candidates who would not be suc- cessful at Google. (The cost of this un- fortunately includes more false nega- tives, which are times when we turn down somebody who would have done well.) The recruiters and engineers you will speak with want to see where you shine, whether you can do the job, and make sure you’re someone they want to work with. This article is designed to help both you and Google achieve those goals—and help the interview be an interesting, even pleasant, experi- ence, too.

How low-income students at elite colleges create their own obstacles

Ray Salazar:

Today, I came across a Boston Globe article from almost a year ago that highlighted the challenges many low-income students at Ivy League colleges face. The article’s title emphasized the students’ economic status: “What it’s like to be poor at an Ivy League School?” But after reading it a few times, after exchanging ideas on social media with a few people, I realized why the article was misleading readers to feel sorry for these students.

Intelligence Unleashed An argument for AI in Education

Rose Luckin,
Wayne Holmes, Mark Gri and Laurie B. Forcier

We wrote this short paper on arti cial intelligence in education (AIEd) with two aims in mind. The rst was to explain to a non-specialist, interested reader what AIEd is: its goals, how it is built, and how it works. After all, only by securing a certain degree of understanding can we move beyond the science- ction imagery of AI, and the associated fears. The second aim was to set out the argument for what AIEd can o er learning, both now and in the future, with an eye towards improving learning and life outcomes for all.

Throughout, our approach has been to start with teaching and learning – and then describe how well designed and thoughtful AIEd can usefully contribute. Crucially we do not see a future in which AIEd replaces teachers. What we do see is a future in which the role of the teacher continues
to evolve and is eventually transformed; one where their time is used more e ectively and e ciently, and where their expertise is better deployed, leveraged, and augmented.