Milwaukee School Reform….

James Wigderson:

Opportunity Schools Partnership Program Commissioner Demond Means announced his resignation Wednesday, citing the inability to forge a “collaborative partnership” with Milwaukee Public Schools.

“Over the last several months, it has become clear to me that efforts to implement the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program law will become increasingly adversarial at a time when adversity is the last thing our children need,” Means said. “Moreover, I made a promise when I volunteered for this position that I would not impose anything on Milwaukee Public Schools.”

The OSPP was created by the state legislature to “turn around” up to three failing schools in Milwaukee in the first year. Control of the program was given to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who then appointed Means, superintendent of the Mequon school district, as the program’s commissioner.

Why a Charter School Founder Is Running Against Mayor Garcetti

Hillel Aron:

often preposterously low, and some have suggested that a more prominent figure should be given direct control of the LAUSD. That was one of Antonio Villaraigosa’s major platforms when he ran for mayor in 2005. When he won, defeating incumbent James Hahn, Villaraigosa got the state Legislature to pass a law giving a council of mayors (with the most power apportioned to himself, naturally) control over LAUSD. But the school board sued, and the court ruled the law unconstitutional.

Villaraigosa then shifted tack, vigorously campaigning for school board candidates who supported his brand of “school reform.” He initially was successful, electing a majority, who then hired John Deasy as superintendent. But voters seem to be forever dissatisfied with the state of LAUSD, and have voted out incumbents time and time again. Villaraigosa lost control of the school board, and Deasy was fired.

When Garcetti ran for mayor, he made a conscious decision not to become embroiled in school board politics – though his campaign consultant Bill Carrick argues that Garcetti has hardly abandoned education.

Why the World Is Better Than You Think in 10 Powerful Charts

Peter Diamondis:

Before I share the new “data” with you, it’s essential that you understand why this matters.

We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by negative news from every angle. If you turn on CNN (what I call the Crisis News Network), you’ll predominantly hear about death, terrorism, airplane crashes, bombings, financial crisis and political scandal.

I think of the news as a drug pusher, and negative news as their drug.

There’s a reason for this.

We humans are wired to pay 10x more attention to negative news than positive news.

Being able to rapidly notice and pay attention to negative news (like a predator or a dangerous fire) was an evolutionary advantage to keep you alive on the savannas of Africa millions of years ago.

Beyond video games: New artificial intelligence beats tactical experts in combat simulation

MB Reilly:

Artificial intelligence (AI) developed by a University of Cincinnati doctoral graduate was recently assessed by subject-matter expert and retired United States Air Force Colonel Gene Lee — who holds extensive aerial combat experience as an instructor and Air Battle Manager with considerable fighter aircraft expertise — in a high-fidelity air combat simulator.

The artificial intelligence, dubbed ALPHA, was the victor in that simulated scenario, and according to Lee, is “the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI I’ve seen to date.”

Details on ALPHA – a significant breakthrough in the application of what’s called genetic-fuzzy systems are published in the most-recent issue of the Journal of Defense Management, as this application is specifically designed for use with Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) in simulated air-combat missions for research purposes.

The Chicago Annenberg Challenge (2003!): Successes, Failures, and Lessons for the Future

Mark A. Smylie, Stacy A. Wenzel with Elaine Allensworth, Carol Fendt, Sara Hallman, Stuart Luppescu and Jenny Nagaoka

This final technical report of the Chicago Annenberg Research Project addresses four central questions: (a) Did the Chicago Annenberg Challenge promote improvement of the schools that it supported? (b)

Among those schools, did it also promote improvement in student academic achievement and other outcomes? (c) What factors might explain improvement or lack thereof among Annenberg schools? and (d)

What can we learn from the Challenge’s experiences to promote school improvement in the future? In answer to these questions, this report provides a macro view of the Challenge’s success in promoting school improvement and student learning. Additionally, it looks closely at several Annenberg schools to understand what makes local school improvement successful.

This report focuses on the period between the 1996 to 1997 and 2000 to 2001 school years, the five full years during which the Challenge supported local school improvement. In all, the Challenge supported about 210 high schools and elementary schools, but because approximately 90 percent of these were elementary schools, this report focuses only on them
The Challenge’s “bottom line” was improving student achievement and other social and psychological outcomes. Our research indicates that student outcomes in Annenberg schools were much like those in demographically similar non-Annenberg schools and across the Chicago school system as a whole, indicating that among the schools it supported, the Challenge had little impact on student outcomes.

Madison’s long term disastrous reading results: 2005 and 2013.

‘I’m just going to walk naked outside of my house and hope that nobody looks at me.’ 

Peter Maass:

The Soviet Union is long gone, but in 2016 we live under the specter of far more surveillance than anything the KGB could have dreamed of with its rudimentary bugs and fearful informers. Not just government surveillance — law enforcement can easily obtain our phone and internet records with a warrant from the nearly always compliant courts — but corporate surveillance, too. It’s not just Google and Facebook that might know more details about our lives and friends than the KGB could have imagined in its most feverish dreams of information dominance, but even Zipcar and Amazon.

There are precautions one can take, and I did that with the Lamb. When we had our video chat, I used a computer that had been wiped clean of everything except its operating system and essential applications. Afterward, it was wiped clean again. My concern was that the Lamb might use the session to obtain data from or about the computer I was using; there are a lot of things he might have tried, if he was in a scheming mood. At the end of our three hours together, I mentioned to him that I had taken these precautions—and he approved.

Graduation Rate Study Commentary

Rolf Wegenke:

The report is critical of private, nonprofit colleges’ and universities’ six-year graduation rates. By excluding certain students from the calculations, the study makes these graduation rates appear worse than they are.

So what are the facts (derived from the same data used by Third Way) about graduations in Wisconsin? In 2015, the four-year graduation rate for four-year, public institutions stood at 29%, while the four-year rate for private, nonprofit institutions stood at 48%. The six-year rate for public institutions was 59% and for private, nonprofit universities it was 65%. As stated in the article, all of us are committed to doing better, but the way these data were sliced and diced in the study does not reflect reality and does not justify denigrating a particular sector of higher education.

First, in its calculation of graduation rates, the Department of Education considers only full-time students who have enrolled for the first time and remained at the same institution for all four or six years. In today’s economy, many more students are part-time and gain their degree by transferring among a number of institutions. These graduates “don’t count” under the study’s measure.

Second, although colleges and universities take responsibility for improving graduation rates, there are other factors not under our control: government mandates for certain professions (e.g. teachers and CPAs). These mandates increase the time to degree. For example, graduates seeking a CPA certificate are required by law to have 150 college credits, instead of the usual 120. In addition, public policy has been to encourage older workers to go back to school. Often, they do so part-time, which results in a longer time to graduation. Approximately 35% of students enrolled in Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges are age 25 or over. Of those 25 or older, almost 60% are attending part-time.

Rachel Dwyer:

college degree has been the ticket to the middle class in America. That is even truer today than it was before the Great Recession. As the connection between college and the middle class has become common knowledge in our society, more and more young people have sought a college degree while at the same time more and more middle class families have lost the ability to pay for some or all of college, and loans have surpassed grants as a way to fund college education. The result: a generation carrying a large amount of student loan debt. Is this good public policy?

In this paper, Rachel E. Dwyer, a professor at The Ohio State University, examines a key aspect of this problem: whether and to what extent student loans impact graduation from college. This is because, as Dwyer notes “Student loans, then, represent both an opportunity and a risk, just as do other forms of credit.” They can be a good investment in a young person’s future or not. Or, as Dwyer puts it, “Are loans associated with graduation or do they represent a drag on completion?”

Peter Scholze And The Future Of Arithmetic Geometry

Quanta Magazine:

In 2010, a startling rumor filtered through the number theory community and reached Jared Weinstein. Apparently, some graduate student at the University of Bonn in Germany had written a paper that redid “Harris-Taylor” — a 288-page book dedicated to a single impenetrable proof in number theory — in only 37 pages. The 22-year-old student, Peter Scholze, had found a way to sidestep one of the most complicated parts of the proof, which deals with a sweeping connection between number theory and geometry.

Private Urban Universities Beat Rivals in Enrollment and Revenue Growth, Moody’s Says

Arielle Martinez:

Private urban universities are outperforming their rural and suburban counterparts in enrollment and revenue growth, according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service.

Private urban universities can use their locations to their advantages and attract more international students, graduate students, and students in continuing-education programs, according to the credit-rating agency’s report.

Enrollment at private urban universities rated by Moody’s grew 34 percent from 2000 to 2015, compared with 24-percent growth for all private universities, according to the report. Median operating revenue was $343 million for private urban universities and $131 million for non-urban private universities in the 2015 fiscal year.

When are people gonna realize their studies are dead on arrival?

Andrew Gellman:

Small sample size and variable measurements ensure that any statistically significant difference will be huge, thus providing Kahneman- and Gladwell-bait.

– Data processing choices were made after the data were seen. In this case, two-thirds of the data were discarded because they did not fit the story. Sure, they have an explanation based on ceiling and floor effects—but what if they had found something? They would easily have been able to explain it in the context of their theory.

– Another variable (mood scale) was available. If the difference had shown up as statistically significant only after controlling for mood scale, or if there had been a statistically significant difference on mood scale alone, any of these things could’ve been reported as successful demonstrations of the theory.

Computer science demand soars at UW, surpasses business as top choice among incoming freshmen

Todd Bishop:

“At UW and across the nation, student interest in computer science is booming,” said Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates chair in the UW department of Computer Science & Engineering, in an email to GeekWire this morning. “It’s visible in 3 ways: enrollment in introductory courses, interest in upper-division courses by students majoring in other fields, and demand for the major.”

The interest among students coincides with rising demand from major corporate players. The need for computer science graduates has reached new heights in the Seattle region due to a strong startup ecosystem, Amazon’s rapid growth, and the opening of Seattle-area engineering offices by Google, Facebook, and many other tech companies. In addition, engineering is becoming an increasingly important role at non-tech companies.

The Dark Sides of Our Digital Self: How the Internet Changes Our Thoughts and Behaviors for the Worse

Steven Handel:

The author of Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality is a psychiatrist by the name of Elias Aboujaoude who is currently serving as the director at the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Clinic at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The thesis of Dr. Aboujaoude’s new book is that the world wide web can have a very profound effect on our sense of self. In fact, it can cause a kind of “digital divide” between our digital self, how we often think and behave online, and our offline self, how we often think and behave in face-to-face, “real world” interactions.

Aboujaoude has observed this divide in many of his own patients who engage heavily in online behavior – anywhere from creating fakes profiles on dating sites to impulsive online shopping to delusional thinking about reality (to the point where individuals begin to consider the reality of virtual worlds like Second Life and World of Warcraft more real than their lives offline).

In College Turmoil, Signs of a Changed Relationship With Students

Frank Bruni:

Given all that has happened on so many campuses over the last few years, it’s hard to pick the one that has been roiled the most by struggles over political correctness. But Oberlin College would certainly be in the running.

A widely discussed series of events there included the demand for a so-called trigger warning to students who might be upset reading “Antigone”; complaints about the ethnic integrity of the sushi in a campus dining hall; and a petition, signed by 1,300 students, calling for a semester in which the lowest possible grade was a C, so that anyone skipping classes or skimping on studies to engage in social activism wouldn’t pay too steep an academic price.

In the view of more than a few observers, these students were taking liberalism to illiberal extremes. But their actions were arguably proof of something else as well.

Educating Rita: Artificial intelligence will have implications for policymakers in education, welfare and geopolitics

The Economist:

IN JULY 2011 Sebastian Thrun, who among other things is a professor at Stanford, posted a short video on YouTube, announcing that he and a colleague, Peter Norvig, were making their “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” course available free online. By the time the course began in October, 160,000 people in 190 countries had signed up for it. At the same time Andrew Ng, also a Stanford professor, made one of his courses, on machine learning, available free online, for which 100,000 people enrolled. Both courses ran for ten weeks. Mr Thrun’s was completed by 23,000 people; Mr Ng’s by 13,000.

Such online courses, with short video lectures, discussion boards for students and systems to grade their coursework automatically, became known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). In 2012 Mr Thrun founded an online-education startup called Udacity, and Mr Ng co-founded another, called Coursera. That same year Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology got together to form edX, a non-profit MOOC provider, headed by Anant Agarwal, the head of MIT’s artificial-intelligence laboratory. Some thought that MOOCs would replace traditional university teaching. The initial hype around MOOCs has since died down somewhat (though millions of students have taken online courses of some kind). But the MOOC boom illustrated the enormous potential for delivering education online, in bite-sized chunks.

Wolfram Data Science Platform


From the company that created Mathematica and Wolfram|Alpha comes a revolutionary system for data science. Take numerical, textual, image, GIS or other data and give it the Wolfram treatment, carrying out a full spectrum of data science analysis and visualization and automatically generating rich interactive reports—all powered by the revolutionary knowledge-based Wolfram Language.

Imagine being able to run a completely customizable Wolfram|Alpha instance with your own data, automatically generating rich reports. That’s just the beginning of what you can do with Wolfram Data Science Platform. Building on the vast algorithm, knowledge and interface resources of the Wolfram Language, Wolfram Data Science Platform makes it easy to apply the most advanced algorithms and visualizations to your data, then create beautifully formatted reports that can be deployed in the cloud, on mobile, through APIs, and more.

Ghost Boxes: Reusing Abandoned Big-Box Superstores Across America – 99% Invisible

Kurt Kohlstedt:

Big-box stores promise convenience and jobs for suburbs and small towns, but have a mixed reputation with designers and citizens. Many see big boxes as icons of unsustainable sprawl, reinforcing car culture with highway-oriented access and expansive parking lots. These boxy buildings not only take up vast amounts of land but often also require infrastructure around them to be overhauled. Later, when their super-sized occupants leave: a giant empty structure is left in their wake, which can be difficult to reuse unless a similar retailer takes its place.

The Feynman Technique: The Most Efficient Way to Learn Anything

There are two types of knowledge and most of us focus on the wrong one. The first type of knowledge focuses on knowing the name of something. The second focuses on knowing something. These are not the same thing. The famous Nobel winning physicist Richard Feynman understood the difference between knowing something and knowing the name of something and it’s one of the most important reasons for his success. In fact, he created a formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else.

Oberlin College offers buyouts to faculty and staff

Karen Farkas:

The board of trustees agreed to slow the rate of tuition increase from 3.9 percent to 2.8 percent in the 2016 fiscal year, which will result in $2.1 million in reduced gross income, the Review said.

Annual tuition and fees total $50,636. Standard room and board costs are $13,630.

But last year, approximately 80 percent of Oberlin students received some form of financial aid, with an average grant of $32,000—a total of nearly $59 million, the college said.

A growing number of colleges are offering incentives to faculty and staff to encourage them to retire, according to a study on higher education retirement trends by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The number of people older than 65 teaching full time at American colleges and universities nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund. College professors, many who say they still enjoy teaching, are among the oldest Americans in the workforce.

“Facebook has gotten more aggressive in its use of smartphone location data in the last year”

Kashmir Hill:

with creepy accuracy the “people we may know” has surprised, delighted, and horrified its users for years. While the magic sauce behind friend suggestions has always been a bit mysterious, it now includes some potentially unsettling information. Thanks to tracking the location of users’ smartphones, the social network may suggest you friend people you’ve shared a GPS data point with, meaning your friend suggestions could include someone whose face you know, but whose name you didn’t until Facebook offered it up to you.

Last week, I met a man who suspected Facebook had tracked his location to figure out who he was meeting with. He was a dad who had recently attended a gathering for suicidal teens. The next morning, he told me, he opened Facebook to find that one of the anonymous parents at the gathering popped up as a “person you may know.”

The two parents hadn’t exchanged contact information (one way Facebook suggests friends is to look at your phone contacts). The only connection the two appeared to have was being in the same place at the same time, and thus their smartphones being in the same room. The man immediately checked the privacy settings on his phone and saw that Facebook “always” had access to his location. He immediately changed it to “never.” (He also did not want to reveal his identity for this story.)

The Madison School Districts Maintenance And Healthcare Spending Priorities

James Wigderson:

Despite the administration’s plan to make sure no employee experienced a net loss in pay in the coming year, Loumos wanted the district to cover the cost of the employee contributions for the first year so every employee could have the full amount of their raises.

“What would it be if we held, if we gave everybody the true raise and added their co-payment on top? That’s what I want,” Loumos said.

However, the other board members balked at the idea of finding another $1.3 million in the budget to cover the employee health-insurance premium contributions.

“My goal was no one takes a net pay cut and I’m happy that we can find $300,000, which achieves that goal,” said board member Ed Hughes.

“We are in the midst of a broad and devastating crisis of authority.”

Glenn Greenwald:

It’s natural — and inevitable — that malignant figures will try to exploit this vacuum of authority. All sorts of demagogues and extremists will try to re-direct mass anger for their own ends. Revolts against corrupt elite institutions can usher in reform and progress, but they can also create a space for the ugliest tribal impulses: xenophobia, authoritarianism, racism, fascism. One sees all of that, both good and bad, manifesting in the anti-establishment movements throughout the U.S., Europe, and the U.K. — including Brexit. All of this can be invigorating, or promising, or destabilizing, or dangerous: most likely a combination of all that.

The solution is not to subserviently cling to corrupt elite institutions out of fear of the alternatives. It is, instead, to help bury those institutions and their elite mavens and then fight for superior replacements. As Hayes put it in his book, the challenge is “directing the frustration, anger, and alienation we all feel into building a trans-ideological coalition that can actually dislodge the power of the post-meritocratic elite. One that marshals insurrectionist sentiment without succumbing to nihilism and manic, paranoid distrust.”

Corrupt elites always try to persuade people to continue to submit to their dominance in exchange for protection from forces that are even worse. That’s their game. But at some point, they themselves, and their prevailing order, become so destructive, so deceitful, so toxic, that their victims are willing to gamble that the alternatives will not be worse, or at least, they decide to embrace the satisfaction of spitting in the faces of those who have displayed nothing but contempt and condescension for them.

There are plenty of nearby examples as well. For example the Madison school district budget continues to be an enigma wrapped in a question.

This is no small matter, given Madison’s long-term disastrous reading results. l

Doug Erickson’s most recent article on the budget only discussed operating expenditures. Does the rest of the budget simply cease to exist?

Drowning In A Sea Of Information

Clayton d’Arnault:

Information overload is something that’s been plaguing me for a while. It was only recently that I decided to take the time to understand why my brain doesn’t work the way it used to. I needed to do this to understand myself. The first step in admitting you have a problem is understanding that problem. I have an information problem. This is a millennial’s quest to understand information overload while struggling against it. Here’s everything I’ve learned.

On Teacher Tenure Reform

Laura Waters:

“Two Mount Olive High School teachers, initially fired in 2013 after allegedly calling students “Negroes,” have been allowed to return to work and keep their tenure, but will lose 10 months’ pay.”

That’s courtesy of the NJ Advance Media, that reports that the two gym teachers, who have taught for almost 30 years, were originally fired by the State Commissioner David Hespe after the school board brought tenure charges, but his judgement was overruled by a state appeals court.

The court returned the case to Comm. Hespe after finding that the two women were guilty of “conduct unbecoming” a teacher, but that the penalty of firing, with removal of tenure, was “too harsh.” Also, explained the court, the teachers were most likely unaware that students were around when they made racist remarks. Therefore, Hespe was forced to reduce the charges and reinstate their tenure. The two teachers’ attorney estimated that they are owed back pay of $200,000.

The teachers have hired another attorney to sue the board for age discrimination.

Is Math Real?

Jack Stephens:

There are two types of mathematicians, Platonists – who believe that mathematical truths are discovered because they literally exist and they literally are true, and Nominalists – who believe that math is just what we do when we account for things / the process of labeling things.

Nominalists believe that Math is a concept of the human brain for the following reasons:

Facts vs Ideas

Julianne Stanford:

Curta: I think that there’s an idealism that most people in academia, specifically in the humanities, share. We live in an era of ideological morass, especially with the collapse of communism that has left no room for those idealists in the academic world. No matter how you can prove that system doesn’t work, with an inclination to go that way perhaps because most people associate socialism with social justice, while the former is an ideology with concrete ideas and concrete historical experiences, while social justice is a very vague abstract notion.

You have to understand, the difference between ideas and facts is what is of major concern here. As my father used to say, it is so much easier to be a Marxist when you sip your coffee in Rive Gauche, left-bank Paris, than when living in an apartment under Ceaușescu, especially in the 1980s.

Milwaukee Fellows

Alan Borsuk:

It us discouraging how, after decades, the statistics for long-term educational success for low-income and minority students remain low. Many have the talent and smarts to make it. But there are hurdles all along the way, including for those who get admitted to college but, in large numbers, don’t end up graduating. Money is a big problem, of course. But other factors matter.

Talking about MKE Fellows led me to check on some other local efforts to promote success in college.

Civics: On Marxism And Academia

Kate Hardiman:

After traveling to more than 110 countries to pursue various forms of research, notably cultural anthropology, Stauder described his conversion from Marxism as a process of disillusionment.

“I gradually became disenchanted with Marxism by visiting many of the countries that had tried to shape their societies to conform to its doctrines. I was disillusioned by the realities I saw in … socialist countries – the USSR, Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, etc,” Stauder told The College Fix via email.

“I came to recognize that socialism doesn’t work, and that its ‘revolutionary’ imposition inevitably leads to cruelty, injustice and the loss of freedom,” the professor continued.

“I could see the same pattern in the many failed left-wing revolutions of Latin America and elsewhere. By combining actual travel with the historical study of socialism and revolution, I succeeded in disabusing myself of the utopian notions that fatally attract people to leftist ideas.”

2 Year Degree ROI

Caitlin Hendee:

Hickenlooper said aligning the self-interest of businesses with that of individuals makes system-wide change possible.

“Our ability to generate workforce of tomorrow is going to depend on the success of business today,” he said. “Launch My Career Colorado isn’t the whole answer, but it will go a long way toward integrating all the other efforts going on.”

Such efforts include a recent push by education leaders and businesses to lay the foundation for a model utilized in Switzerland. Under the Swiss model, students typically choose a career path as early as 10th grade, and immediately begin taking specific coursework, as well as work for local businesses in the industry, to obtain a certification or degree.

Cognitive and emotional outcomes after prolonged education: a quasi-experiment on 320 182 Swedish boys


Cognitive and socio-emotional abilities are powerful predictors of death and disease as well as of social and economic outcomes. Education is societies’ main way of promoting these abilities, ideally so that inequalities by socioeconomic back- ground are reduced. However, the extent to which education serves these cognitive, social-emotional and equality objectives is relatively unknown and intensively debated. Drawing on a Swedish school reform that was explicitly designed as a massive quasi- experiment, we assessed differential impact of education on intelligence and emotional control across childhood socioeconomic position. We also assessed initial differences in abilities by childhood socioeconomic position and how well childhood socioeconomic position and abilities predict all-cause mortality.

Waste to 5 Popular Myths about Reading Instruction

Shanahon on Literacy:

1. No, the fact that you do not use a textbook to teach reading does not make you a good teacher.

The idea that good teachers don’t follow a program and weak ones do has been around since well before I became a teacher. It is absolutely silly. The good teachers are the ones who manage to teach kids a lot and the poor ones accomplish less. That has nothing to do with whether a program is followed or not.


“academics and universities urgently need to ponder why such a significant chunk of the population has come to distrust them”

David Matthews:

Rebecca Roache, a philosophy lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, who said she no longer wanted to be friends with Conservatives, and argued supporting the party was “as objectionable as expressing racist, sexist, or homophobic views”.

Furthermore, our referendum poll last week found that nine in 10 university staff support remaining in the EU. UK universities have also presided over the emergence of a campus culture in which more than one in four students believes that UKIP should be banned from speaking.

With universities so bereft of Brexiteers, is it unreasonable if Leave voters treat academic research on controversial subjects such as the impact of EU migration with greater scepticism than normal?

Scepticism is not the same as outright Gove-style anti-intellectualism, of course. But regardless of which way the country votes tomorrow, academics and universities urgently need to ponder why such a significant chunk of the population has come to distrust them.

College Unaffordable Even in Higher Income Brackets

John Finney:

at the University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt University, families earning 48,001 to $75,000 a year had to pay a significant portion of their gross income to send a student to a public four-year nondoctoral institution. On average, it cost 16 percent (in Alaska) to 33 percent (in New Jersey) of their income in 2013, the latest year for which complete statistics were available for the report.

The burden was higher at public research universities, according to the report, “2016 College Affordability Diagnosis.” Families would have had to pay, on average, 17 percent (Wyoming) to 31 percent (Alabama) of their income to enroll in such state-run institutions as the University of Wyoming or the University of Alabama.

Private institutions offered no relief. Of the states where at least 20 percent of students attended private nondoctoral colleges and universities, families earning $48,001 to $75,000 were required to pay, on average, 16 percent (Idaho) to 45 percent (Rhode Island) of family income to enroll in these institutions.

Chicago Schools’ Governance And Spending

Lauren Fitzpatrick:

Also as part of the lobbying campaign, CPS has hired a marketing firm with ties to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s former transportation commissioner Gabe Klein, enlisted the services of a foreign animation firm that does “fear-based marketing” and employed a consulting company run by a former official of the New Schools for Chicago, a private organization that’s helped fund charter schools, according to the documents obtained by the Sun-Times.

The Chicago school system is facing a projected $1 billion budget gap, officials say.

Dispelling the myth that “business leaders don’t need to be technical”

Andrea Coravos:

We expect our executives to have a strong understanding of the financial performance of their companies. Shareholders would find it strange – or more likely, unacceptable – if a CEO said, “I’m not financially-inclined” and passed along financial performance inquires to his or her CFO. Similarly, CEOs in an increasingly digital world will struggle to say, “I’m not technical” and hand over mission-critical business questions for the engineers to answer.

Would you, as an employer, hire an MBA who graduated from a program that taught strategy, marketing, leadership, and operations — but did not teach finance or accounting? An MBA program that lacks a computer science curriculum is like a program that lacks finance or accounting.

Opportunity At commencement

Joanne Jacobs:

“Earned success” is the key to a fulfilling life, said Mitch Daniels, former Indiana governor and now Purdue president, in this year’s commencement speech at Purdue.

Mitch Daniels told Purdue graduations to own their achievements and failures.

One of the most dangerous ideas of our time is that “we are less masters of our fate than corks floating in a sea of luck,” Daniels said. “Or, even more absurd, that most of us are victims of some kind, and therefore in desperate need of others to protect us against a world of predators and against our own gullibility.”

On Milwaukee Schools’ Governance

Annysa Johnson:

Milwaukee Public Schools officials and County Executive Chris Abele sat down Thursday for the first time in an effort to resolve a monthslong standoff over a new state law seen by many as a takeover of MPS.

And while there were no decisions, Abele said he and his school turnaround commissioner, Demond Means, would “take a good faith look” at a proposal floated by school officials last week that would allow them to open an early childhood program in an MPS building.

Abele said they would weigh the financial feasibility of the plan, and whether it would comply with the state law, which calls for the transfer of some of Milwaukee’s poorest performing schools to outside operators.

“Anything we do has to be legal. It has to be something we think will help public education (and) it will have to be OK with the authors” of the legislation, Abele said in the lobby of the Zeidler Municipal Building after the meeting. “We’ll be checking in with the lawmakers to make sure they’re comfortable with this.”

When smart people get important things really wrong

Ethan Zuckerman:

Though he may be best know as co-founder of content marketing platform “Contently”, Shane Snow describes himself as “journalist, geek and best-selling author”. That last bit comes from his book “Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success”, which offers insights on how “innovators and icons” can “rethink convention” and break “rules that are not rules”. That background may help readers understand where Snow is coming from. His blog is filled with plainspoken and often entertaining explanations of complex systems followed by apparently straightforward conclusions — evidently, burning coal and natural gas to generate electricity is a poor idea, so oil companies should be investing in solar energy. Fair enough.

Some of these explorations are more successful than others. In Snow’s essay about prison reform, he identifies violence, and particularly prison rape, as the key problem to be solved, and offers a remedy that he believes will lead to cost savings for taxpayers as well: all prisoners should be incarcerated in solitary confinement, fed only Soylent meal replacement drink through slots in the wall, and all interpersonal interaction and rehabilitative services will be provided in Second Life using the Oculus Rift VR system. Snow’s system eliminates many features of prison life — “cell blocks, prison yards, prison gyms, physical interactions with other prisoners, and so on.” That’s by design, he explains. “Those are all current conventions in prisons, but history is clear: innovation happens when we rethink conventions and apply alternative learning or technology to old problems.”

Related: “We know best“.

Civics: In Wisconsin, a Backlash Against Using Data to Foretell Defendants’ Futures

Mitch Smith:

Before his sentencing for his 2013 arrest, Mr. Loomis received a score on the Compas scale that suggested he was at a high risk of committing another crime. He is now serving his six-year sentence, with a possible release in 2019.

After Mr. Loomis appealed his sentence, an appellate court referred the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The Wisconsin attorney general’s office has defended the use of the Compas system in assessing risk, saying in court filings that it “has a role at sentencing” and is “individualized to each defendant.”

What is Compas?

Compas is an algorithm developed by a private company, Northpointe Inc., that calculates the likelihood of someone committing another crime and suggests what kind of supervision a defendant should receive in prison. The results come from a survey of the defendant and information about his or her past conduct. Compas assessments are a data-driven complement to the written presentencing reports long compiled by law enforcement agencies.

Much more, here.

Commentary On The Rigor Of Los Angeles Schools’ Credit Recovery Courses

Los Angeles Times:

The big issue is the lack of accountability. The district has a vested interest in raising graduation rates and making the A-G policy look good. But who checks that students are getting enough online coursework to receive a meaningful education? Who sets the standard, if there is any standard, for the minimum amount of work that must be put into an online course to receive credit?

A UC official also was surprised to learn that students might be pre-testing out of most of the units in any course. Monica Lin, associate director for undergraduate admissions, said UC doesn’t supervise how local school districts use their courses and doesn’t have the time and resources to conduct regular audits even if it wanted to. She added that the university would reconsider approval if it knew that large numbers of students were pre-testing their way through most of the course.

Her instincts are right. If large numbers of students are indeed testing out of significant portions of these courses — which is difficult to ascertain — and if they’re skipping writing assignments on a regular basis, then those students are being done a serious disservice. If they’re just reading one book in a year in what’s supposed to be the equivalent of a junior-year English course, that’s unacceptable too — and raises worrisome questions about the rest of the credit-recovery courses being offered as well.

Our kids can’t read, but we’re talking about haircuts

Citizen Stewart::

I remembered Iverson last week when I saw the major league dragging Dr. Steve Perry got after suggesting in Tweets that a group of young black men had been made job-ready by scalping themselves and getting tight fade lines.

Charges of respectability politics ricocheted and Perry stood thigh high in Twittershit.

Race hashtagger Jose Vilson took it home in a post on Medium. He accused Perry of being an anti-black charlatan. The piece was called “How Dr. Steve Perry Sells Black Kids To The Highest Bidder.” Vilson isn’t clear on who Perry is selling black kids to, or who is bidding on them, but his argument boils down to this: Perry brags too much about his supposed success, and celebrities with no classroom experience eat far too much of it.

Related: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Sorry, Everyone: The American Middle Class Is Winning

David Harsanyi:

According to research by Stephen Rose at the Urban Institute, in 1979 38 percent of families in the United States were in the middle class compared to only 32 percent in 2014. Despite the endless political chatter about stagnant wages, Rose adjusted thresholds for inflation going back to 1979 and found that those moving into the middle class were earning more, and earning it through contemporary middle-class vocations.

Making the Grade in America’s Cities: Assessing Student Achievement in Urban Districts

Kristan Blagg:

Many US education reform efforts have focused on the performance of students in large, urban school districts. Compared with their suburban and rural counterparts, urban school districts enroll larger proportions of students of color, and more of their students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch (Sable, Plotts, and Mitchell 2010). Moreover, the achievement gap is larger within large city districts than for public school districts nationally. For example, on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2015, the average gap between black and white student scores was 20 percent larger in large city districts, and the gap between Hispanic students and white students was nearly 25 percent larger.

Recognizing the importance of understanding student achievement in large cities, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has conducted biennial assessments of fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics, known as the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) program, since 2002. The TUDA, which assessed 21 school districts in 2015, is an extension of the NAEP assessment program the “Nation’s Report Card,” which also provides national and state data on student achievement.

Analysis: NY Senate Blasts Mayor De Blasio on School Oversight, While Tossing Lifeline to NYC’s Charters

Derrel Bradford:

An opening observation: Folks who are normally violently opposed over education reform or the pace of change in the city’s schools were, oddly, aligned on this year’s extension.

Supporters of charter schools and school choice, for instance, who have little reason to support Mayor Bill de Blasio as he implements an agenda many of us deem anemic, supported an extension of his authority. Like Churchill once offered about democracy, mayoral control is the worst form of governance…except for all the others.

What We Cannot Know

The Economist:

field of mathematics. If people cannot know everything about the physical world, then perhaps they can at least rely on mathematical truth? But even here there are limits. Mathematicians have shown that some theorems have proofs so long that it would take the lifetime of the universe to finish them. And no mathematical system is complete: as Kurt Gödel, an Austrian logician, showed in the 1930s, there are always true statements that the system is not strong enough to prove.

Where does this leave us? In the end, Mr du Sautoy has an optimistic message. There may be things people will never know, but they don’t know what they are. And ultimately, it is the desire to know the unknown that inspires humankind’s search for knowledge in the first place.

The Greek clock

The Universe of Discourse:

In former times, the day was divided into twenty-four hours, but they were not of equal length. During the day, an hour was one-twelfth of the time from sunrise to sunset; during the night, it was one-twelfth of the time from sunset to sunrise. So the daytime hours were all equal, and the nighttime hours were all equal, but the daytime hours were not equal to the nighttime hours, except on the equinoxes, or at the equator. In the summer, the day hours were longer and the night hours shorter, and in the winter, vice versa.

Some years ago I suggested, as part of the Perl Quiz of the Week, that people write a greektime program that printed out the time according to a clock that divided the hours in this way. You can, of course, spend a lot of time and effort downloading and installing CPAN astronomical modules to calculate the time of sunrise and sunset, and reading manuals and doing a whole lot of stuff. But if you are content with approximate times, you can use some delightful shortcuts.

First, let’s establish what the problem is. We’re going to take the conventional time labels (“12:35” and so forth) and adjust them so that half of them take up the time from sunrise to sunset and the other half go from sunset to sunrise. Some will be stretched, and some squeezed. 01:00 in this new system will no longer mean “3600 seconds after midnight”, but rather “exactly 7/12 of the way between sunset and sunrise”.


Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Perri Klass:

But can we actually stimulate children’s brains by helping them form letters with their hands? In a population of low-income children, Dr. Dinehart said, the ones who had good early fine-motor writing skills in prekindergarten did better later on in school. She called for more research on handwriting in the preschool years, and on ways to help young children develop the skills they need for “a complex task” that requires the coordination of cognitive, motor and neuromuscular processes.

“This myth that handwriting is just a motor skill is just plain wrong,” Dr. Berninger said. “We use motor parts of our brain, motor planning, motor control, but what’s very critical is a region of our brain where the visual and language come together, the fusiform gyrus, where visual stimuli actually become letters and written words.” You have to see letters in “the mind’s eye” in order to produce them on the page, she said. Brain imaging shows that the activation of this region is different in children who are having trouble with handwriting.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Trust in government: 1958-2015


The public’s trust in the federal government continues to be at historically low levels. Only 19% of Americans today say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (3%) or “most of the time” (16%).

Trust – 1Fewer than three-in-ten Americans have expressed trust in the federal government in every major national poll conducted since July 2007 – the longest period of low trust in government in more than 50 years. In 1958, when the American National Election Study first asked this question, 73% said they could trust the government just about always or most of the time.

Galbraith unveils $45.4 million plan for free state college tuition

Jasper Craven:

The plan would grant free tuition to the five state colleges — including Vermont Technical College — while offering free or reduced tuition for University of Vermont students who qualify for Pell Grants.

Galbraith said free tuition would keep more young people in the Green Mountain State. He added that the plan would reduce or eliminate college debt for many, which he said could spur investments in homes and create new Vermont families.

If enacted, the plan would be available to all Vermont high school graduates, roughly 8,000 students.

The $45.4 million required to pay for tuition would come mostly from repealing tax breaks for the wealthy.

Galbraith has identified a handful of tax breaks he vowed to end as governor, totaling $25.4 million in annual state revenue. The largest chunk of tax revenue — $4 million — would come from applying Vermont sales tax to online cloud-based services.

He would get an additional $2 million by scrapping the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive, which rewards businesses financially for staying in the state. Galbraith would instead like to see VEGI money allocated as loans

Ten Simple Rules for Effective Statistical Practice

PLOS Computational Biology:

A big difference between inexperienced users of statistics and expert statisticians appears as soon as they contemplate the uses of some data. While it is obvious that experiments generate data to answer scientific questions, inexperienced users of statistics tend to take for granted the link between data and scientific issues and, as a result, may jump directly to a technique based on data structure rather than scientific goal. For example, if the data were in a table, as for microarray gene expression data, they might look for a method by asking, “Which test should I use?” while a more experienced person would, instead, start with the underlying question, such as, “Where are the differentiated genes?” and, from there, would consider multiple ways the data might provide answers. Perhaps a formal statistical test would be useful, but other approaches might be applied as alternatives, such as heat maps or clustering techniques. Similarly, in neuroimaging, understanding brain activity under various experimental conditions is the main goal; illustrating this with nice images is secondary. This shift in perspective from statistical technique to scientific question may change the way one approaches data collection and analysis. After learning about the questions, statistical experts discuss with their scientific collaborators the ways that data might answer these questions and, thus, what kinds of studies might be most useful. Together, they try to identify potential sources of variability and what hidden realities could break the hypothesized links between data and scientific inferences; only then do they develop analytic goals and strategies. This is a major reason why collaborating with statisticians can be helpful, and also why the collaborative process works best when initiated early in an investigation. See Rule 3.

‘There’s a mathematical angle to almost anything’

Hannah Fry:

Dr Hannah Fry is quickly becoming the UK’s best-known mathematician, having appeared as an expert and presenter on BBC4’s Climate Change by Numbers, Radio 4’s The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry, and City in the Sky, an in-depth study of the aviation industry, currently on BBC2. Far from being a mere pop scientist, however, Fry is a much-published researcher and a lecturer at UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), where she specialises in the mathematics of urban and social systems. After gaining her PhD in fluid dynamics five years ago, she has published papers combining mathematics with criminology and architecture, as well as her 2015 book The Mathematics of Love, which applies statistical and data-scientific models to dating, sex and marriage. The accompanying TED talk has been viewed nearly 4 million times.

In City in the Sky, you look at the maths behind the aviation industry. Are you concerned about the way that industry is expanding?
Passenger numbers are set to double over the next 20 years, so there are definitely challenges facing the industry. We do have a section [in the show] looking at where air travel might go in the future: electric-powered planes is one thing and smaller planes are more efficient, surprisingly. It is astonishing that there are a million people in the air at any one time and sustaining that does require international co-operation on a scale that you really don’t see in other settings.

On Chomsky and the Two Cultures of Statistical Learning


I take Chomsky’s points to be the following:

Statistical language models have had engineering success, but that is irrelevant to science.

Accurately modeling linguistic facts is just butterfly collecting; what matters in science (and specifically linguistics) is the underlying principles.

Statistical models are incomprehensible; they provide no insight.

Statistical models may provide an accurate simulation of some phenomena, but the simulation is done completely the wrong way; people don’t decide what the third word of a sentence should be by consulting a probability table keyed on the previous two words, rather they map from an internal semantic form to a syntactic tree-structure, which is then linearized into words. This is done without any probability or statistics.
Statistical models have been proven incapable of learning language; therefore language must be innate, so why are these statistical modelers wasting their time on the wrong enterprise?

Education and the election: it’s still all about the money

Lucy Clark:

A legally blind Indigenous boy who started at Merrylands broken, angry, having suffered unthinkable life trauma, who has been turned around by targeted teaching and individual attention, now thriving. Another student with no family support structure, who is finally able to come to school, able to engage with learning, able to locate some hope in his life.
Or the refugee kids who were too scared to come to school now eager to learn. Or the teachers making time after school to teach literacy and numeracy to parents who don’t speak English. Or the immigrant parents walking into a university for the first time in their lives, to see where their children are going to go. All thanks to extra resources funded by Gonski money.
This is the heart of equity in education for the school’s principal, Lila Mularczyk, who has overseen a wholesale cultural change at her low-SES high-LBOTE (language background other than English)school. Merrylands has introduced individual learning plans for each student, special engagement teams to work with children in need and increased professional learning for staff

Why isn’t the fundamental theorem of arithmetic obvious?


Answer 1. If you think it’s obvious, then you’re probably assuming what you need to prove.

If you say, “we can simply work out its prime factorization,” you are already assuming that that factorization is unique. Otherwise, you would have had to say, “we can simply work out a prime factorization for it”. Of course, if you say it that way, it suddenly doesn’t seem quite as obvious that there’s only one. If you’re trying to argue that it’s obvious and you ever utter the phrase, “the prime factorization,” then you are begging the question, since implicit in those words is the assertion that there is only one prime factorization.

I worried people would forget about me’: can teenagers survive without social media?

Rosie Ifould:

In 2001, the US author Marc Prensky invented the term “digital native” to describe the post-millennial generation who would grow up in an online world. “Our students today are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games and the internet,” he wrote. The term quickly became shorthand for describing the experience of children and adolescents, but it also became open to misinterpretation.

Wayne State drops math as general ed requirement

David Jesse:

Wayne State University has subtracted mathematics from the list of classes all students must take to graduate.

Up until now, students had to take one of three different math classes before they could earn their degree.

Now, depending on their major, students may be able to squeak through college without taking math. The university is leaving it up to the individual departments to decide whether math will be a required part of a degree’s curriculum.

That means the nursing program will be responsible for setting one level of math students must pass in order to graduate, while the journalism department could set a completely different standard.

“We felt the math requirement was better left to the various programs and majors to decide and to decide what levels of mathematics would be needed,” Monica Brockmeyer, associate provost for student success, told the Free Press.. “We still continue to support mathematics at Wayne State.”

Indeed, in a note sent out late last month to students announcing the change, the university said it “strongly encouraged” students to take mathematics as an elective. The note said two of the foundation classes are still important to take for students looking to go into STEM fields and that the Mathematics in Today’s World class “does an excellent job in introducing students to many important applications of mathematics.”

Related: Math Forum.

Will the Internet Make Most Languages Go Extinct?

Alex Mayasi:

If you ever find yourself at an Internet cafe in the Middle East, you may be surprised to find that you can read the letters on people’s screens—even if you don’t know Arabic.

It’s not just that many young people write in English. It’s that they often text and email in Arabic using latin characters. Rather than write مبروك, which means congratulations, they’ll write “mabrook.” They simply transliterate every word, writing Arabic in the same alphabet that English uses. Many shop signs in capital cities like Cairo and Amman do the same.

Observing this while living in Cairo, this author wondered whether the use of Arabic script would decline, like cursive writing in the United States.

A number of nonprofits and scholars are devoted to studying and protecting the world’s linguistic diversity. They focus on languages with dwindling numbers of native speakers, and try to preserve a record of tongues that die out.

Why Are Mexican Teachers Being Jailed for Protesting Education Reform?

David Bacon:

On Sunday night, June 12, as Ruben Nuñez, head of Oaxaca’s teachers union, was leaving a meeting in Mexico City, his car was overtaken and stopped by several large king-cab pickup trucks. Heavily armed men in civilian clothes exited and pulled him, another teacher, and a taxi driver from their cab, and then drove them at high speed to the airport. Nuñez was immediately flown over a thousand miles north to Hermosillo, Sonora, and dumped into a high-security federal lockup.

Just hours earlier, unidentified armed agents did the same thing in Oaxaca itself, taking prisoner Francisco Villalobos, the union’s second-highest officer, and flying him to the Hermosillo prison as well. Villalobos was charged with having stolen textbooks a year ago. Nuñez’s charges are still unknown.

Both joined Aciel Sibaja, who’s been sitting in the same penitentiary since April 14. Sibaja’s crime? Accepting dues given voluntarily by teachers across Oaxaca. Sección 22, the state teachers union, has had to collect dues in cash since last July, when state authorities froze not only the union’s bank accounts but even the personal ones of its officers. Sibaja was responsible for keeping track of the money teachers paid voluntarily, which the government called “funds from illicit sources.”

Undercommoning within, against and beyond the university-as-such

undercommon collective:

No specter is haunting the university; the university is haunting us.

While we are accustomed to imagining “the university” as an enlightening institution that works in the public interest, we, The Undercommoning Project, hold that: in an age of skyrocketing tuition prices, soaring student debt, the hyperexploitation of precarious service workers, the proliferation of highly-paid senior administrative positions and the increased commercialization and corporatization of higher education, universities today are anything but a public good.

Indeed, we insist the university-as-such has never been a bastion of progress, learning, and fairness; it has always excluded individuals and communities on the basis of race, class, gender, sexuality, citizenship and politics. Indeed, it is implicated in the past and present of slavery and colonial genocide in North America.

Inside the growing movement against campus militarization

Shane Burley:

As the student leaders of the Portland State Student Union, or PSUSU, began leading chants to “disarm” the university, hundreds of students and community leaders had already begun circling the steps of the library. The rally was the meeting point for a planned student and faculty “walkout” on May 10, where more than 400 students promised to leave class to protest the Board of Trustees’ decision to arm campus police officers — which organizers see as just a piece of the larger trend towards the militarization of police officers around the country.

“Our incarceration system is a continuation of slavery,” said Portland Jobs With Justice coalition organizer Andrea Lemoins. “It targets people of color. It targets people in the LGBTQ community. It targets people who are traditionally oppressed, and we are here fighting oppression.”

Portland Jobs With Justice, which is an action coalition of over a hundred community groups and unions, was only one of the dozens of community sponsors that endorsed PSUSU’s campaign to confront the use of lethal armaments on the urban campus for the state university.

Quality control has failed to keep pace with the growth of science.

Jerome Ravetz:

As noted already in the Guardian’s science pages, there is no lack of initiatives to tackle science’s crisis in all its aspects, from reproducibility to the abuse of metrics, to the problems of peer review. This gives good grounds for hope that the crisis will eventually be resolved, and that it will not become a general crisis of trust in science. Should that occur, and ‘science’ ceases to be a key cultural symbol of both truth and probity, along with material beneficence, then the consequences could be far-reaching. To that end, we should consider what lies behind the malpractices whose exposure has triggered the crisis over the last decade.

It is clear that a combination of circumstances can go far to explain what has gone wrong. Systems of controls and rewards that had evolved under earlier conditions have in many ways become counterproductive, producing perverse incentives that become increasingly difficult for scientists to withstand. Our present problems can be explained partly by the transformation from the ‘little science’ of the past to the ‘big science’ or ‘industrialised science’ of the present. But this explanation raises a problem: if the corrupting pressures are the result of the structural conditions of contemporary science, can they be nullified in the absence of a significant change in those conditions?

We should explore how these new conditions lead to these new pressures. There are two familiar qualitative aspects of the steady quantitative growth of the scientific enterprise. The first is the loss of ‘Gemeinschaft’, where all communities and sub-communities have become so large that personal acquaintance no longer dominates in the professional relationships. The old informal systems of rewards and sanctions are no longer effective. Under the new ‘Gesellschaft’ conditions, such intimate tasks of governance must be made ‘objective’. Ironically, applying a ‘scientific’ methodology to the tasks of governance of science leads directly to corruption, since any such system can be gamed. Allied to that development is a second one, the hugely increased capital-intensity of science, so that the typical context of discovery is no longer the scientist with his test-tube, but a large lab with division of labour on an industrial scale. In the absence of the discipline of customers for a product (however corrupted that might be), there is nothing to ensure quality control except those informal systems that are already obsolete.

Some charter schools close in wake of Ohio reform law

Associated Press:

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown on Monday asked federal regulators to examine how Ohio charter schools that received money through a grant program stack up against their counterparts in other states before giving the state any more money.

In a letter to Education Secretary John King, the Democrat said he remains concerned Ohio charter schools lack adequate oversight.

“Ohio’s current lack of oversight wastes taxpayer’s money and undermines the ostensible goal of charters: providing more high-quality education opportunities for children,” Brown wrote. “There exists a pattern of waste, fraud and abuse that is far too common and requires extra scrutiny.”

Boffins achieve breakthrough’ in random number generation

Katyanna Quach:

method of generating random numbers that could shake up computer encryption.

University of Texas computer science professor David Zuckerman and PhD student Eshan Chattopadhyay have found that a “high-quality” random number could be generated by combining two “low-quality” random sources.

You can read their report, Explicit Two-Source Extractors and Resilient Functions, here.

Random number generation is used for a variety of applications including cryptography and scientific modelling.

Turkish students up in arms over Islamization of education


Development Party (AKP) took power in 2002, Turkey has had six education ministers, each of whom made major changes to the education system, some argue to turn students into guinea pigs. The most significant change, bulldozed through parliament amid fistfights and protests in March 2012, expanded the imam-hatip religious schools and introduced Quranic studies and the life of the Prophet Muhammad as elective courses in public schools, among other changes. The opposition has long decried the Islamization of education, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted on raising a “devout generation,” lauding imam-hatip schools, which train Muslim clergy and offer extensive Quranic studies.

The limited value of a computer science education

thoughts from the red planet:

There are people who take the extreme positions, that a computer science education is totally useless or that a computer science education is completely essential. My position is that a computer science education is overvalued, though not useless. The vast majority of what a programmer does, forming good abstractions and avoiding complexity, is almost completely untouched by computer science curriculums.

A handful of times in my career, I encountered problems which I don’t think I would have solved without my computer science education. These all related to algorithms in distributed systems that required formal proofs to be confident of their correctness. These few cases happened to be critical to their respective systems – for example, this algorithm is what made Storm possible. So in that sense, I personally have gotten a lot of benefit from my computer science education.

Do Schools Matter for High Math Achievement? Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions

Glenn Ellison and
Ashley Swanson

This paper uses data from the American Mathematics Competitions to examine the rates at which different high schools produce high-achieving math students. There are large differences in the frequency with which students from seemingly similar schools reach high achievement levels. The distribution of unexplained school effects includes a thick tail of schools that produce many more high-achieving students than is typical. Several additional analyses suggest that the differences are not primarily due to unobserved differences in student characteristics. The differences are persistent across time, suggesting that differences in the effectiveness of educational programs are not primarily due to direct peer effects.

“location-related searches are growing 50% faster than all mobile searches”

Linda Kinstler:

Of all Google searches, says McClendon, approximately 30% are local in nature, and 10% are maps- related. These days, the company reports, location-related searches are growing 50% faster than all mobile searches. In 2013, a report commissioned by Google estimated that the value of Geo services is between $150 to $270 billion in revenue annually—in addition to 1.1 billion hours saved per year by keeping people from getting lost or “avoiding wasted journey time.”

Walter Reuther’s careful management of shop-floor politics shapes the UAW’s relationship to student workers today.

Barry Edlin:

Things are looking up for student worker unionism. For decades, the legions of graduate and undergraduate teaching and research assistants whose labor is critical to the daily functioning of universities have fought to establish a basic claim: the work they do is, in fact, work — it’s not just part of their education.

Now, it appears likely that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will rule later this year that these workers are in fact workers, and therefore entitled to union protections.

The decision would overturn the board’s 2004 Brown decision, which declared that student workers at private universities were students, not workers, and therefore ineligible to unionize. (Student workers at public universities in several states have had collective bargaining rights for decades, while other states prohibit any public sector workers from unionizing.)

This would be a long-overdue step forward for workers’ rights in academia. As university administrations model themselves more and more on corporations, and universities rely more and more on contingent labor, unions have become critically important for those in their employ.

The Canon Is Sexist, Racist, Colonialist, and Totally Gross. Yes, You Have to Read It Anyway.

Katy Waldman

Hello, Yale students. It’s me, a random internet writer. I have some unfortunate news for you, but first, let me step back and catch everybody up.

Recently, the requirements for the Yale English major have come under fire. To fulfill the major as it currently stands, a student must take either the two-part “major English poets” sequence—which spans Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, and Eliot—or four equivalent courses on the same dead white men. Inspired in part by articles in the Yale Daily News and Down magazine, Elis have crafted a petition exhorting the college to “decolonize” its English curriculum. Their demands: abolish the major English poets cycle and revise the remaining requirements “to deliberately include literatures relating to gender, race, sexuality, ableism, and ethnicity.” “It is your responsibility as educators to listen to student voices,” the letter concludes. “We have spoken. We are speaking. Pay attention.”

Letter: Tony Evers did not object to DOJ dropping DPI as a client in lawsuit

Molly Beck:

But in a May 25 letter to Walker’s office, DPI’s chief legal counsel, Janet Jenkins, said Evers had no objection to DOJ withdrawing from a federal lawsuit over a transportation dispute with a private school in Hartford.

“I don’t think he objected to them withdrawing but objected to the manner with which they withdrew,” DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said Friday when asked about the letter.

While Evers did not object to DOJ’s withdrawal, Jenkins did inform the governor’s office of the DOJ’s handling of the case — noting in a May 16 letter that DOJ told DPI it would no longer represent the agency in the case three days before the deadline to respond to the lawsuit’s complaint and that DOJ would not provide details to DPI about why representation was discontinued.

The Work of Humanities


A few weeks ago, the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations celebrated its 50th anniversary, alongside 60 years for The Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and more generally a record of excellence in research on South Asia dating back to the foundation of University of Chicago in 1892.

These are good times for the study of India at the University of Chicago. Just two years ago, with much fanfare, the University opened a Center at Delhi (to go along with other global centers in Paris, Beijing etc.). A few years before that the Indian Cultural Ministry put in $1.5 million to install the Vivekananda Visiting Chair. Earlier this year, was another major gift– The Anupama and Guru Ramakrishnan Professorship in Sanskrit Studies– a Chair that will be held by Gary Tubb.

At Texas A & M, Diversity Increases Without Affirmative Action

Matthew Watkins & Neena Satija:

But a surprising shift has occurred at A&M over the last decade. Despite its reluctance to formally consider the race of its applicants, the university has worked hard to convince black and Hispanic students to apply and enroll. Since 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the legality of affirmative action in college admissions, A&M has continued not using it, yet the share of black and Hispanic students has more than doubled at its College Station campus — from 10.8 percent to 23.1 percent.

Civics: Venezuelans Ransack Stores as Hunger Grips the Nation

Nicholas Casey:

Economsts say years of economic mismanagement — worsened by low prices for oil, the nation’s main source of revenue — have shattered the food supply.

Sugar fields in the country’s agricultural center lie fallow for lack of fertilizers. Unused machinery rots in shuttered state-owned factories. Staples like corn and rice, once exported, now must be imported and arrive in amounts that do not meet the need.

In response, Mr. Maduro has tightened his grip over the food supply. Using emergency decrees he signed this year, the president put most food distribution in the hands of a group of citizen brigades loyal to leftists, a measure critics say is reminiscent of food rationing in Cuba.

The ‘Tiger Mother’ Has a Contract for Her Cubs

Amy Chua:

The contract was signed by all four of us and went into legal force two weeks ago, and I can now say with confidence that I highly recommend this approach for parents with grown children—at least in America, a land where the laws and social norms heavily favor children over parents. The last time Jed and I showed up at the apartment, the refrigerator was stocked with orange juice, the master bedroom looked duplicitously unused, and our daughters greeted us with spontaneous joy and gratitude.

Can Liberal Education Save the Sciences?

Lorraine Daston:

Some of you may be mentally re-parsing my title to something more like “Can Liberal Education Be Saved from the Sciences?” For today’s embattled humanities, the sciences have come to stand for the antithesis of what is now understood to constitute the content and values of a liberal education, namely: the cultivation of the intellectual and artistic traditions of diverse cultures past and present, the assertion of the generalist’s prerogatives over those of the specialist, and the defense of non-utilitarian values as preparation for civic engagement in the cause of the commonweal. In contrast, what are currently known as the STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—stand for knowledge that is presumed universal and uniform, for narrow specialization and, above all, for applications that are useful and often lucrative. A comparative glance at the budgets for the sciences and for the disciplines that constitute the core of the Core seems to tell it all: it’s not the sciences that need saving, most certainly not by the likes of liberal education, a minnow—a starving minnow, at that—sent out to rescue a fat and sassy whale.

Every Federal Worker is Above Average

Charles Hughes:

A new report from the Government Accountability Office finds that virtually every one of the 1.2 million employees in their study received a rating at or above “fully successful,” compared to only 0.1 percent who were deemed “unacceptable,” which might be surprising given the scandals that have rocked multiple agencies in recent years and the fact that these employees are people, prone to making mistakes or every day struggles like everyone else. Milton Friedman once asked “where in the world you find these angels who are going to organize society for us?” If these performance ratings are to be believed, they’re already in the federal workforce, which might surprise anyone who has followed the developments at the VA or TSA. The extremely skewed distribution of ratings highlighted in the report highlight the shortcomings of the current evaluation system, which makes it harder to actually address any real problems with the performance of federal employees.

For poor children to succeed, rich ones must fail

Sarah O’Connor:

Researchers at the Bank of Italy have used surnames (which are relatively region-specific) as a proxy to inspect the fortunes of Florentine families since the 1427 census. They found the top-five earning surnames in 2011 were also the elites six centuries ago, when they were lawyers or members of the wool, silk and shoemaker guilds. The researchers found evidence of dynasties in some elite professions, such as banking and law.

That is not to say there was no mobility. Lower-class people had a fairly good chance of rising to a higher position, but there seemed to be a “glass floor” that stopped the upper classes from sliding to the bottom.

Florence is not unique. Studies (often using rare surnames to track families through generations) have found similar stories in countries as varied as Sweden and China. In the UK, the effect seems to last about six generations before finally petering out.

Bill Gross warns over $10tn negative-yield bond pile

Robin Wigglesworth and Joel Lewin:

Even a relatively modest rise in yields could cost investors dearly. Goldman Sachs recently estimated that an unexpected 1 percentage point rise in US Treasury yields would trigger $1tn of losses, exceeding the financial crisis losses from mortgage-backed bonds.

Negative-yield debt breaks $10tn level for first time
A close-up of the front of the US 10-dollar bill bearing the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Treasury Secretary, is seen on December 7, 2010 in Washington, DC

Sovereign paper with sub-zero yield up 5% month on month, buoyed by rising prices

Mr Gross joins a mounting chorus of big investors who fret that this phenomenon will end in tears. Capital Group — which manages about $1.4tn — has warned that negative interest rates were distorting financial markets and economies, and might lead to “potentially dangerous consequences”.

Jeffrey Gundlach, the head of Los Angeles-based bond house DoubleLine, recently told a Swiss newspaper that negative interest rates “are the stupidest idea I have ever experienced”, and warned that “the next major event [for markets] will be the moment when central banks in Japan and in Europe give up and cancel the experiment”.

Million-dollar babies 

The Economist:

THAT a computer program can repeatedly beat the world champion at Go, a complex board game, is a coup for the fast-moving field of artificial intelligence (AI). Another high-stakes game, however, is taking place behind the scenes, as firms compete to hire the smartest AI experts. Technology giants, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Baidu, are racing to expand their AI activities. Last year they spent some $8.5 billion on deals, says Quid, a data firm. That was four times more than in 2010.

The highest paid Duke University employee in 2014? Not Coach K

Jason DeBruyn:

In 2014, Dzau received a total compensation of $8 million and Krzyzewski received $5.6 million. Krzyzewski’s total compensation includes $1.5 million in deferred payments, making his take-home pay for the year slightly more than $4 million. Dzau’s $8 million total compensation for the year includes $3.1 million in deferred compensation that had accrued for the past decade. He also received more than $4 million in bonus and incentive compensation. Dzau’s final day at Duke was June 30, 2014, meaning the reported compensation came in the final six months of his employment with the university.

As an academic institution, Duke files as a tax-exempt organization and must report specific financial information. Although most of the financial data contained in the report coincide with the school year, the 2014-15 school year in this case, compensation data is measured for calendar year 2014.


Robert I. Lerman and W. Bradford Wilcox:

e retreat from marriage—a retreat that has been concentrated among lower-income Americans—plays a key role in the changing economic fortunes of American family life. We estimate that the growth in median income of families with children would be 44 percent higher if the United States enjoyed 1980 levels of married parenthood today. Further, at least 32 percent of the growth in family-income inequality since 1979 among families with children and 37 percent of the decline in men’s employment rates during that time can be linked to the decreasing number of Americans who form and maintain stable, married families.
2– Growing up with both parents (in an intact family) is strongly associated with more education, work, and income among today’s young men and women. Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual “intact-family premium” that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families.

3– Men obtain a substantial “marriage premium” and women bear no marriage penalty in their individual incomes, and both men and women enjoy substantially higher family incomes, compared to peers with otherwise similar characteristics. For instance, men enjoy a marriage premium of at least $15,900 per year in their individual income compared to their single peers.

4– ese two trends reinforce each other. Growing up with both parents increases your odds of becoming highly educated, which in turn leads to higher odds of being married as an adult. Both the added education and marriage result in higher income levels. Indeed, men and women who were raised with both parents present and then go on to marry enjoy an especially high income as adults. Men and women who are currently married and were raised in an intact family enjoy an annual “family premium” in their household income that exceeds that of their unmarried peers who were raised in nonintact families by at least $42,000.

College courses without textbooks? These schools are giving it a shot.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel:

A community college reform group has selected a handful of schools in Virginia and Maryland to develop degree programs using open-source materials in place of textbooks, an initiative that could save students as much as $1,300 a year.

Such open educational resources — created using open licenses that let students download or print materials for free — have gained popularity as the price of print textbooks have skyrocketed, but courses that use the materials remain a novelty in higher education. Achieving the Dream, an education advocacy group based in Silver Spring, Md., aims to change that by offering $9.8 million in grants to support the development of open-source degree programs at 38 colleges in 13 states.

The managerial destruction of academic freedom

Russell Marks:

Like all university managements, La Trobe employs a small number of employment lawyers. In consultation with them, Dewar determined that La Trobe would suspend Ward on full pay pending disciplinary action for ‘serious misconduct’. In a statement Dewar sent to La Trobe staff, he confirmed that the disciplinary process was based on ‘alleged breaches of the University’s code of conduct’. Within 48 hours of La Trobe’s letter being sent to Ward, all hell broke loose. Ward and her union, the NTEU, had passed the letter to New Matilda, which published most of it verbatim.

Civics: A Hong Kong Bookseller


reunion-with-the-motherland thing isn’t going any better in Hong Kong, where one of the five abducted booksellers returns after eight months in captivity, and speaks out. When Lam Wing-kee reappeared in Hong Kong three days ago, it seemed he would behave as three other returnees have done – look traumatized, ask the police to shut the case, and drop out of public view. Most people could guess what had happened: they had been abducted, held in a secret Mainland location, interrogated, forced to make false confessions, subjected to blackmail or threats against family, and eventually, stressed and terrified, dropped off in Hong Kong.

A Mathematician’s Lament

Paul Lockhart:

In their wisdom, educators soon realize that even very young children can be given this kind of musical instruction. In fact it is considered quite shameful if one’s third-grader hasn’t completely memorized his circle of fifths. “I’ll have to get my son a music tutor. He simply won’t apply himself to his music homework. He says it’s boring. He just sits there staring out the window, humming tunes to himself and making up silly songs.”

In the higher grades the pressure is really on. After all, the students must be prepared for the standardized tests and college admissions exams. Students must take courses in Scales and Modes, Meter, Harmony, and Counterpoint. “It’s a lot for them to learn, but later in college when they finally get to hear all this stuff, they’ll really appreciate all the work they did in high school.” Of course, not many students actually go on to concentrate in music, so only a few will ever get to hear the sounds that the black dots represent. Nevertheless, it is important that every member of society be able to recognize a modulation or a fugal passage, regardless of the fact that they will never hear one. “To tell you the truth, most students just aren’t very good at music. They are bored in class, their skills are terrible, and their homework is barely legible. Most of them couldn’t care less about how important music is in today’s world; they just want to take the minimum number of music courses and be done with it. I guess there are just music people and non-music people. I had this one kid, though, man was she sensational! Her sheets were impeccable— every note in the right place, perfect calligraphy, sharps, flats, just beautiful. She’s going to make one hell of a musician someday.”

The War On Stupid People

David Freedman:

As recently as the 1950s, possessing only middling intelligence was not likely to severely limit your life’s trajectory. IQ wasn’t a big factor in whom you married, where you lived, or what others thought of you. The qualifications for a good job, whether on an assembly line or behind a desk, mostly revolved around integrity, work ethic, and a knack for getting along—bosses didn’t routinely expect college degrees, much less ask to see SAT scores. As one account of the era put it, hiring decisions were “based on a candidate having a critical skill or two and on soft factors such as eagerness, appearance, family background, and physical characteristics.”

The 2010s, in contrast, are a terrible time to not be brainy. Those who consider themselves bright openly mock others for being less so. Even in this age of rampant concern over microaggressions and victimization, we maintain open season on the nonsmart. People who’d swerve off a cliff rather than use a pejorative for race, religion, physical appearance, or disability are all too happy to drop the s‑bomb: Indeed, degrading others for being “stupid” has become nearly automatic in all forms of disagreement.

Here’s your chance to start a really black-led education movement, and it comes with money

Citizen Education:

frustrated with the lack of progress for black children. You have great ideas about how to change the game for them. You know that a solid education makes a world of difference, but public education has failed the children of low-income and working-class families.

Now what? How do you turn your ideas into action?

Simply put, you need money? Every good plan needs resources and now you have a shot at the funding to turn your good ideas into action.

Civics: Un-Googled: Trudeau government had Harper web pages removed from search results

Elizabeth Thompson:

Dozens of government web pages related to former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s time in office have been removed from all Google search results at the new Liberal government’s request.

In fact, the requests on behalf of the Privy Council Office to remove sites such as Harper’s site and the former PMO’s 24seven video website from search results began Nov. 4, 2015 – the day Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was sworn into office.

The Money Letter That Every Parent Should Write

Ron Lieber:

The Money Talk, capital “M” and capital “T,” is overrated. As with the Sex Talk, children can sense that one is coming. And if they get antsy, your words will go in one ear and out the other.

Tempted to hand over a notecard instead? Your first principles may fit on it, and making one for a new graduate is a fine thing to do. But there isn’t much space for storytelling.

So in this season of transitions, consider the old-fashioned letter. It’s long enough to tell some tales to bolster your advice, and if it’s written with enough soul, there’s a good chance the recipient will keep it for a long time. Plus, it’s a literal conversation piece, since the good letters will inspire more curiosity about how the writers oversee their own financial affairs.

Mendel and the Rules of Genetic Lottery

open mind:

The year was 1900 and the quantum mysteries inside atoms had begun to be unraveled. However, the sharpest minds on the planet could still not explain how it was possible that a person could have flat feet, but not his parents. Suddenly three scientists, a Dutchman, a German and an Austrian, believed that they had discovered, on their own, how children inherit the physical traits of their parents. And before they could even begin fighting to get this recorded in the history books, it was discovered that their supposed scoop had already been recorded 35 years earlier by an Austrian monk whose research with pea plants had almost passed unnoticed.

Some university presidents get houses, cars, chauffeurs, bonuses, paychecks for spouses and guaranteed jobs after their terms end

Douglas Belkin:

Salaries of college and university presidents have been escalating for years to the consternation of students and their parents, who are shouldering rising tuition and debt.

Less well documented is the rising value of presidential perks—during and after their terms.

Contracts obtained for a new academic study and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal offer a rare glimpse into these presidential compensation packages. Highlights include guarantees to make presidents the most well paid professor on campus after they leave office, six-figure annual retention bonuses, $500,000 sabbaticals and a second contract—and paycheck—for spouses.

In 2013, the last data available, private college presidential pay jumped 5.6% from the year before to an average of $436,429, according to an annual survey of compensation by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Public school presidents saw a 7% increase to $428,250. A total of 34 school presidents—32 from private schools, two from public ones—earn more than $1 million a year.

But a new wrinkle in those contracts are the perks that began to show up in the last few years, said James Finkelstein, a professor at George Mason University who has been reviewing presidential contracts since 1998.

Commentary On Virtual Schools

Alisha Kirby:

(Colo.) Students enrolled in virtual or blended learning schools are graduating on time at half the rate of traditional schools, even as online learning continues to grow rapidly in popularity, according to recent research.

Blended schools—in which students spend some time in a classroom—had a four-year graduation rate of 37.4 percent in 2013-14, and full-time virtual schools at 40.6 percent, the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder reported. The national average is 81 percent.

“The rapid expansion of virtual schools and blended schools is remarkable given the consistently negative findings regarding student and school performance,” authors of the report wrote. “The graduation rates for virtual schools have worsened by 3 percentage points over the past few years, even as graduation rates in the country have been improving 1 percentage point each year.”

In debates over school choice, virtual learning is often considered a means for students to work at their own pace. In 2014, 30 states and the District of Columbia offered statewide, full-time online schools, while 26 states had virtual schools in operation, according to a study published by Evergreen Education Group, a Colorado-based education-technology consulting firm.

Chicago Schools Governance, Finance And Achievement Commentary

Valerie Strauss:

In September 2015, the Chicago Tribune ran an editorial that wondered whether the Chicago Public School District would collapse under the weight of its mind-numbing financial problems. It hasn’t yet, but money mismanagement, inadequate funding and failed education policy are combining with a host of other factors to raise the issue of whether the nation’s third-largest school district is in existential danger.

Chicago spent $14,336 per student during the 2015-2016 school year or

Psychologists recommend children be bored in the summer


Do you entertain your kids with chess camp, art school, cooking classes, or tennis lessons during the unstructured summer months? Or perhaps all of them?

There are activities and summer camps galore to fill children’s time and supply much needed childcare when kids are out of school. But psychologists and child development experts suggest that over-scheduling children during the summer is unnecessary and could ultimately keep kids from from discovering what truly interests them.