The Tribalism of Teacher Unions

Laura Waters:

If the tribalism expressed at the RNC was about, as Krugman says, “drawing a line between us (white Christians) and them (everyone else),” Eskelson-Garcia uses the same tactic (if tribalism can be a tactic and not a defect — I’m trying to be generous here) when she draws a line between her own version of “us” — teachers who teach in traditional schools and pay union dues — and “them” — teachers who teach in charter schools and don’t pay union dues.

Cohen asks Eskelson-Garcia about NEA and AFT’s “movement to unionize charter school teachers”and notes “the obvious tensions between trying to limit the growth of charter schools, while making charter school teachers feel welcome in the labor movement. How has the NEA been threading this needle?”

In response Eskelson-Garcia describes a visit she made to a California charter school to talk to teachers who were former members of the state’s NEA affiliate. She tells Cohen,

Civics: Command Economy-Why raising the minimum wage in Seattle did little to help workers, according to a new study

Max Ehrenfreund:

Yet the actual benefits to workers might have been minimal, according to a group of economists whom the city commissioned to study the minimum wage and who presented their initial findings last week.

The average hourly wage for workers affected by the increase jumped from $9.96 to $11.14, but wages likely would have increased some anyway due to Seattle’s overall economy. Meanwhile, although workers were earning more, fewer of them had a job than would have without an increase. Those who did work had fewer hours than they would have without the wage hike.

“The single biggest thing we could do to fix this would be to improve our systems of education, especially at the K-12 level”

Carolina Journal interviews Tyler Cowen:

Especially if they own real estate. They don’t want to deregulate the market. But we more and more have an economy where the people who got there first entrench themselves and protect their privilege by passing laws and regulations. And again, this is one of the biggest problems for the American economy today. And it does contribute to what people are describing as this inequality problem.

Kokai: Is anyone who has any position of power looking at this situation in the right way? Or are we just chasing things that we shouldn’t be chasing when we’re talking about improving our economy?

Cowen: The political dialogue on remedying America’s opportunity problems … people are pretty aware of education. But very often, they’re not willing to do that much about it. One nice thing about North Carolina is simply what percentage of the students are, in some way, outside of the state system — be it home schooling, private schools, schools which are not certified or accredited in the typical way. So this makes the system here more competitive.

But I think in at least half of America we need more school choice. We need more experiments with charter schools, more home schooling where that’s appropriate or possible. And a lot of it’s a question of political courage. I think at this point a lot of people know.

But when you look at building restrictions, that has received a lot less attention. It’s much more invisible. And we need a much more open dialogue about that. And in some ways, this is maybe more likely to come from the Democrats than the Republicans.

When Tenure Never Comes Academia has become a high-stakes gamble—and the losers can barely afford pants

Stephen Black:

Last thursday, I lost my job. Despite conversations with over thirty colleagues who professed support for the renewal of my contract, the Deans at the university where I’ve worked since 2008 weren’t listening. Like a piece of once-glistening pork left out on a counter, I’ve expired. Of course, I know I’m already well beyond my best-before date. That date was somewhere around 2011, the five-year mark of the completion of my PhD. At this point, I’m supposed to be tenured or long gone. Instead, I’m a “contingent academic.”

The phrase has sprung up as an umbrella term to describe people in my situation. Scholars who’ve trained for the professional life of an intellectual, teacher, or researcher but remain second-class citizens without a tenure-track position: adjunct, sessional, or contract faculty. Contingent academics are hired for three-month courses at a time, or a nine-month replacement, or even a two-year “limited” contract. There’s no question this kind of casual employment can be beneficial to both universities and academics. It gives graduate students a means to support themselves while looking for a permanent position. Such gigs, however, become demoralizing when they turn habitual; when a university department or program continuously hires you on short-term rolling contracts, without any intention of making you an “honest man,” as my father would put it.
Of course, I live in hope. The one thing an academic craves is institutional affiliation—we don’t “exist” until that happens. So you work hard at your research and publishing in case you get some traction on a job application you’ve sent out. And I’ve done that: my first book came out in 2011, and I’ve published a series of articles, and book chapters, as well as held my own research grant. During all of that, I completed two postdoctoral fellowships and obtained a fourth degree. I’ve also lectured, given papers and have been invited to seminars in the US, UK, France, and Germany. Maintaining this scholarly profile is what a friend calls a “compulsory hobby.” Every day for the last decade, I’ve hoped this hobby will lead to a tenure-track position where I’ll be paid. But the chances of that seem to be shrinking.

How High Are Property Taxes in Your State? (2016)

Jared Walczak:

States tax real property in a variety of ways: some impose a rate or a millage—the amount of tax per thousand dollars of value—on the fair market value of the property, while others impose it on some percentage (the assessment ratio) of the market value, yielding an assessed value.

Some states have equalization requirements, ensuring uniformity across the state. Sometimes caps limit the degree to which one’s property taxes can rise in a given year, and sometimes rate adjustments are mandated after assessments to ensure uniformity or maintenance of revenues. Abatements are often available to certain taxpayers, like veterans or senior citizens. And of course, property tax rates are set by political subdivisions at a variety of levels: not only by cities and counties, but often also by school boards, fire departments, and utility commissions.

Should Colleges Really Eliminate the College Lecture?

Christine Gross Loh:

As a doctoral candidate interviewing at a liberal-arts college some years ago, I rambled, waded through pages of notes, and completely lost my train of thought at one point during my job presentation. Even though I was eventually offered the position, I was keenly aware that, despite interviewing for a job in which I’d have to stand in front of students day after day, I’d never been trained in giving a lecture—and it showed.

But that lack of training is not unusual; it’s the norm. Despite the increased emphasis in recent years on improving professors’ teaching skills, such training often focuses on incorporating technology or flipping the classroom, rather than on how to give a traditional college lecture. It’s also in part why the lecture—a mainstay of any introductory undergraduate course—is endangered.

For some years now, students in MIT’s introductory physics classes, for example, have had no lectures, and physics departments at institutions around the country have been following suit. But while the movement to eliminate the college lecture first gained traction among physics professors, including the Stanford Nobel laureate Carl Wieman and Harvard’s Eric Mazur (a proponent of “peer instruction” who has compared watching a lecturer to learn physics to watching a marathon on TV to learn how to run), it has expanded beyond the sciences. Getting rid of the college lecture entirely is the mission of a broad group of educators.

A History Lesson: When Math Was Taboo

Gabiriele Emanuel:

century mathematician Robert Recorde, nestled the line just after his preface, table of contents and a biblical quote citing God’s command to measure and number all things.

Recorde didn’t believe in math’s awfulness — quite the opposite. He was simply reflecting popular opinion on his way to a spirited defense of math. Why?

Mathematics was associated with banking and trade and so “was shunned among the upper classes and the educated classes in Europe,” explains Houman Harouni of Harvard University.

In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas

Judith ShulevitZ:

KATHERINE BYRON, a senior at Brown University and a member of its Sexual Assault Task Force, considers it her duty to make Brown a safe place for rape victims, free from anything that might prompt memories of trauma.

So when she heard last fall that a student group had organized a debate about campus sexual assault between Jessica Valenti, the founder of, and Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, and that Ms. McElroy was likely to criticize the term “rape culture,” Ms. Byron was alarmed. “Bringing in a speaker like that could serve to invalidate people’s experiences,” she told me. It could be “damaging.”

Ms. Byron and some fellow task force members secured a meeting with administrators. Not long after, Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, announced that the university would hold a simultaneous, competing talk to provide “research and facts” about “the role of culture in sexual assault.” Meanwhile, student volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for anyone who found the debate too upsetting.

Civics: Why Standing Up to a Terrorist Is Your Best Self-Defense

Glen Butler:

The mindset that we are helpless without weapons is not only self-defeating, but dangerous, and government policy that reinforces this perception is a flawed one.

A September 2013 FBI report found that of the 160 active shooter incidents in the U.S. between 2010 and 2013, 21 (13.1 percent) ended after unarmed citizens made the “selfless and deeply personal choices” to confront the active shooters. In each of these cases, the citizens “safely and successfully disrupted the shootings” and “likely saved the lives” of many others present.

Another compelling reason to consider change is because future attacks are inevitable, and relying on police rescue might actually lower your own chance of survival.

The 2013 FBI report found that of those 160 active shooter incidents—incidents that generated 1,043 total casualties—60 percent ended before police arrived. These disturbing numbers warrant attention, especially when examined alongside CIA Director John Brennan’s recent remarks: “ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West … our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach … [and] we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign.”

Far more kids would succeed in school if we didn’t bore them to death

Citizen Stewart:

I heard it a while back in Philadelphia from students who told a crowd of educators that they’re not feeling the love in their schools. Their message was something along the lines of “if I make it, it will in spite of my teachers and school.” The issue surfaced again in Seattle where students said they felt disconnected from school because often the lessons are irrelevant to their lives and sometimes insulting to their cultural backgrounds. I’ve heard it in Minneapolis, Oakland, Detroit, and New Orleans.

Is The Student Loan Crisis Fact Or Fiction?

Claudio Sanchez:

There’s a new book out about the student loan crisis, or what author Sandy Baum suggests is a “bogus crisis.” Baum, a financial aid expert and senior fellow at the Urban Institute, claims it has been manufactured by the media in search of a spicy story and fueled by politicians pushing “debt free college” proposals.

We had a few questions for Baum about the book, Student Debt: Rhetoric and Realities of Higher Education.

Roughly 43 million people today hold more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. And many are struggling to pay the money back. But you say Americans have been misled about the seriousness of the problem?

Civics: Politics & History

Katrina Trinko:

But this was no MSNBC event, and far from leaning forward, two of the three participants on a panel went on extended diatribes about the United States’ history to a room with enough empty chairs to satisfy an army of Clint Eastwoods.

Sitting about half a mile from Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed, I got a whirlwind course in Liberal History 101.

“We understand that we have never had a fully participatory democracy,” said Catalina Velasquez. “We understand that democracy, the way it’s defined in the United States, has been about contracting, disenfranchising. The more we disenfranchise, the better. And we are tired of it.”

on Spectacular Success of NYC Charter Schools

Students first:

“The real news from today is the spectacular success of New York City charter schools. The evidence is in that charter schools are the most effective urban school reform in the nation. Charter schools are serving high-risk populations incredibly effectively and it’s time for Mayor de Blasio to embrace what actually works for low income students,” said Jenny Sedlis, Executive Director of StudentsFirstNY.

While changes to the test make it harder to draw comparisons to performance from previous years, there are a few key takeaways from what we can compare:

Who Is Running America’s Charter Schools? A Data Correction

Jersey Jazzman:

As you’ll notice, the shares of students enrolled in Chicago-area charter schools — Noble, UNO, Distinctive, etc. — are way lower. Nobel’s own annual report for 2011-12 put their enrollment at “more than 6,300,” which means they and others move into the “less than 10K” category.

Which actually reinforces a point Bruce made in his post:

2011’s Act 10 helped Madison diversify its teaching staff

Chris Rickert:

An increasingly diverse Madison School District student body will see at least 55 new teachers of color next year — a major increase in minority hiring from the year before.

If those concerned about the district’s long-standing racial achievement gaps are looking for people to thank for this improvement, they might as well put Gov. Scott Walker on their list.

Much more on Act 10.

Simple hacks for university success — Part 1


When I just started my degree I used to be haunted by these constant thoughts:
I’m not smart enough — If I got a dollar each time I said this to myself during my degree, then I’d be a millionaire and wouldn’t need that stupid degree in the first place.

No one is asking questions? Did they all just understand? Why didn’t I? — It’s almost mystical. When the lecturer asked if there were any questions everyone went silent. Some nodded, others smiled, but no one raised his hand, let alone squeaked something that resembled a full sentence.
He must be a genius! He just answered the lecturer’s question! — There’s always that genius. The one that jumps up even before the professor asked his question with a correct answer.

Are Public University Subsidies a Handout for the Wealthy?

Rick Seltzer:

The research, being released under the Brookings Institution’s series of Evidence Speaks reports, finds appropriations from state and local governments used to offset educational costs at public institutions are smaller for students from higher-income families than for those with lower incomes. It also makes the case that low-income students are well represented across types of public four-year universities, including very selective universities, where they represent a quarter of enrollments — a far higher proportion than is the case at most elite private universities.

That might not be surprising to those who expect public higher education to focus on affordability and accessibility. But the findings run counter to an argument that has been growing in recent years among commentators and analysts, said Jason Delisle, a resident fellow in education policy studies from the American Enterprise Institute. Delisle wrote the new report along with Kim Dancy, a policy analyst in the Education Policy Program at New America.
“You have to be almost in this echo chamber of the D.C. policy world in order for this to be a big finding,” Delisle said. “An argument that I hear a lot, and that other people hear a lot in the policy community and D.C. and even in elite newspapers like The Washington Post, is that the taxpayer subsidies for public universities go disproportionately to high-income students.”
The basic argument Delisle and Dancy sought to test starts with the idea that states shell out larger appropriations to their top public universities than they do to their less competitive institutions that enroll higher levels of low-income students. Those universities in turn enroll more students from high-income families, and they spend more per student. At the same time, less selective schools draw a higher percentage of their students from lower-income backgrounds while receiving less in appropriations and spending less per student.

Civics: History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump

Tobias Stone:

seems we’re entering another of those stupid seasons humans impose on themselves at fairly regular intervals. I am sketching out here opinions based on information, they may prove right, or may prove wrong, and they’re intended just to challenge and be part of a wider dialogue.

My background is archaeology, so also history and anthropology. It leads me to look at big historical patterns. My theory is that most peoples’ perspective of history is limited to the experience communicated by their parents and grandparents, so 50–100 years. To go beyond that you have to read, study, and learn to untangle the propaganda that is inevitable in all telling of history. In a nutshell, at university I would fail a paper if I didn’t compare at least two, if not three opposing views on a topic. Taking one telling of events as gospel doesn’t wash in the comparative analytical method of research that forms the core of British academia. (I can’t speak for other systems, but they’re definitely not all alike in this way).

Clinton Reframes Education Message, Attacks Trump

Rachel Cohen:

Hillary Clinton took advantage of a speech to the American Federation of Teachers this week to test out her party’s retooled K-12 education platform, and to hammer home important themes of her presidential campaign.

Clinton’s speech to more than 3,000 AFT delegates gathered for the group’s national convention in Minneapolis on Monday took place against the backdrop of a GOP convention centered heavily on anti-Clinton attacks. It was one of several campaign stops that Clinton is making this week, including an Ohio speech earlier on Monday to the NAACP, and an address to government workers scheduled for Wednesday.

Clinton’s Minnesota speech differed noticeably from a National Education Association address she gave in Washington, D.C., less than two weeks ago, in which she had stated early on that we should pay attention to “great schools,” including public charter schools. These comments had produced the loudest boos for Clinton at the NEA, prompting her to quickly pivot to denouncing for-profit charter schools.

‘You Don’t Have to Wear a Military Uniform to Serve Your Country’

Stanley McChrystal:

In 1838, a 28-year-old Abraham Lincoln declared that the greatest threat facing America comes not from a foreign invader:

If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

The thought that Americans, themselves, may destroy the ideals for which so many have sacrificed is sobering. Trust among Americans is at its lowest levels in generations, and stereotyping and prejudice have become substitutes for knowing and understanding one another as individuals.

How Americans restore trust may be an existential question for their country, then, but it’s ultimately a practical one: What U.S. society needs to answer it in the coming years aren’t lamentations but practical measures, especially among the emerging generations that will define America’s future.

Service may be at the heart of the answer. A year of service has the power to bring young people together from different races, ethnicities, incomes, faiths, and political backgrounds to work on pressing problems facing U.S. society today. In the process, they can build empathy by getting to know each other around something positive—the shared work of participating in a democracy—as they shape their views of their country and the world.

Finalists had to turn over every password for every social media account for every member of their families.

Edward-Isaac Dovere and Gabriel Debenedetti:

They had to turn over every password for every social media account for every member of their families.

They had to list every piece of property they’d ever owned, and copies of every résumé that they’d put out for the past 10 years. Every business partner. Every gift they’d ever received, according to those familiar with the details of the vetting process.

For the finalists in the hunt to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate, it was five weeks of questions and follow-up, and follow-up to the follow-up questions, starting from when they were summoned one-by-one to meet with campaign chairman John Podesta and lawyer Jim Hamilton and told to bring along just one trusted person who’d serve as the point of contact.

This school district tops the nation for teacher planning time

Donna St George:

the nation’s schoolteachers get a lot more time for planning lessons than others. A new analysis found that elementary school teachers in Montgomery County, Md., top the list, getting more planning time than their counterparts in 147 large U.S. school districts.

They get seven hours a week — an average of 84 minutes a day — for planning lesson content, a critical aspect of teaching, according to an examination of teacher contracts and schools district policies released Tuesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

“To my view, it’s a sign of school districts putting the emphasis on the right things, that teachers need time to not only plan their own lessons but more importantly the opportunity to work with other teachers,” said Kate Walsh, president of the NCTQ, a nonprofit advocacy and research group that specializes in teacher evaluation and teacher workforce policies.

Civics: 9th Circuit: It’s a federal crime to visit a website after being told not to visit it

Orin Kerr:

Appeals for the 9th Circuit has handed down a very important decision on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Facebook v. Vachani, which I flagged just last week. For those of us worried about broad readings of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the decision is quite troubling. Its reasoning appears to be very broad. If I’m reading it correctly, it says that if you tell people not to visit your website, and they do it anyway knowing you disapprove, they’re committing a federal crime of accessing your computer without authorization.

Do Black Kids Matter In Memphis?

Liliana Segura:

PREA is the Prison Rape Elimination Act, sweeping federal legislation targeting the nation’s prisons and jails. Passed in 2003, the law was aimed in part at places like this — facilities for youth who present a danger to others or themselves. But while PREA has proven hard to implement, that’s not why I was there that day. Less than a year after Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham took over the detention center that sits directly above juvenile court, officials were running dangerously afoul of a different federal intervention — one designed specifically for Shelby County.

In the spring of 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice released the scathing results of a civil rights investigation into the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County (JCMSC). Almost 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that kids have the same due process rights as adults, the system in Memphis seemed frozen in time. Children received little meaningful defense representation in delinquency hearings and were subjected to hurried, ill-informed, and arbitrary decisions, including transfers to adult court. Worse, “we found that African-American children were treated differently and more harshly,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Tom Perez said. While white kids who broke the law were often sent to diversion programs, black kids were more than twice as likely to be treated like adults. Those kept in custody here were subjected “to unnecessary and excessive restraint,” the DOJ report said, including the use of controversial “restraint chairs.”

The best linear algebra books


It is a painful thing to say to oneself: by choosing one road I am turning my back on a thousand others. Everything is interesting; everything might be useful; everything attracts and charms a noble mind; but death is before us; mind and matter make their demands; willy-nilly we must submit and rest content as to things that time and wisdom deny us, with a glance of sympathy which is another act of our homage to the truth.

— Antonin Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods
If you would follow the road to linear algebra here are some trustworthy signposts.


Hillary Clinton is probably best on education, and that’s Sad

Citizen Ed:

Once a charter school promoter, Clinton has hardened on those schools and pivoted to “community schools,” a feelgood concept of schools that focuses more on social programs than teaching kids.

Clinton of old said “Charter schools can play a significant part in revitalizing and strengthening schools by offering greater flexibility from bureaucratic rules, so that parents, teachers, and the community can design and run their own schools, and focus on setting goals and getting results. Many of these schools are meeting the needs of students who had trouble succeeding in more traditional public schools.”

More recently she suggested, as the unions have told her, that charter schools don’t take the most needy students. In fact, charter school students are more likely than district schools to enroll black, brown, and poor students.

In the 1990s she favored no-excuses schools, saying “I have advocated for highly structured inner city schools. I have advocated uniforms for kids in inner city schools. I have advocated that we have to help structure people’s environment who come from unstructured, disorganized, dysfunctional family settings.”

“As a school district, our choice is to disrupt”

Abigail Becker:

For example, early elementary black students overall increased reading proficiency and growth with a 10 percent increase in reading proficiency for third grade in two years, according to the report.

“In our community, we can choose to reinforce these patterns by inaction, by not testing our assumptions, by not testing our assumptions about students and families and by not examining the long-held institutional ways of working that keep those systems in place,” Cheatham said, “or we could choose to disrupt these patterns.”

Abigail Becker:

The district’s next steps are to expand intensive support on literacy and adolescent development to the district’s highest-need middle schools, according to the report. It will also continue planning for the implementation of the Personalized Pathways program, a new model of curriculum where students are able to make real-world connections to their education by taking classes clustered in a thematic structure.

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

School Resource Officer Discussion

City of Madison Education Committee Draft PDF:

Heather Allen, the Legislative Policy Analyst for City of Madison, and Quentin Penn-Jointer, Community Development AASPIRE Intern, shared a summary of School Resource Officer (SRO) models around the country. SROs have become more common with 20,000 currently in schools.

Nationally there are no specific training programs for SROs. The perception of safety has been increased in schools with SROs, but there is no direct correlation of actual increased safety.

One report recommended every SRO receive at least 40 hours of pre-service training and at least 10 hours annually. Training would include adolescent development, psychology, behavioral issues and conflict resolution. Challenges for SRO programs include training of supervisors and the policies regarding school discipline versus police issues.

Civics: Wiretap Report 2015

United States Courts:

The number of federal and state wiretaps reported in 2015 increased 17 percent from 2014. A total of 4,148 wiretaps were reported as authorized in 2015, with 1,403 authorized by federal judges and 2,745 authorized by state judges. Compared to the applications approved during 2014, the number approved by federal judges increased 10 percent in 2015, and the number approved by state judges increased 21 percent. No wiretap applications were reported as denied in 2015.

In 27 states, a total of 124 separate local jurisdictions (including counties, cities, and judicial districts) reported wiretap applications for 2015. Applications concentrated in six states (California, New York, Nevada, New Jersey, Colorado, and Florida) accounted for 89 percent of all state wiretap applications. Applications in California alone constituted 41 percent of all applications approved by state judges.

Facebook, Public/Government Education and Diversity

Audrey Watters:

On July 14, Facebook released its latest “diversity report,” claiming that it has “shown progress” in hiring a more diverse staff. Roughly 90% of its US employees are white or Asian; 83% of those in technical positions at the company are men. (That’s about a 1% improvement from last year’s stats.) Black people still make up just 2% of the workforce at Facebook, and 1% of the technical staff. Those are the same percentages as 2015, when Facebook boasted that it had hired 7 Black people. “Progress.”

In this year’s report, Facebook blamed the public education system its inability to hire more people of color. I mean, whose fault could it be?! Surely not Facebook’s! To address its diversity problems, Facebook said it would give $15 million to in order to expand CS education, news that was dutifully reported by the ed-tech press without any skepticism about Facebook’s claims about its hiring practices or about the availability of diverse tech talent.

The “pipeline” problem, writes Dare Obasanjo, is a “big lie.” “The reality is that tech companies shape the ethnic make up of their employees based on what schools & cities they choose to hire from and where they locate engineering offices.” There is diverse technical talent, ready to be hired; the tech sector, blinded by white, male privilege, does not recognize it, does not see it. See the hashtag #FBNoExcuses which features more smart POC in tech than work at Facebook and Twitter combined, I bet.

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

Teachers everywhere are fighting against austerity.

Mary Compton:

Ten years ago, Mexican society was electrified by the explosive struggle of Oaxaca’s teachers against neoliberal education reform. What began as a teachers’ protest turned into a mass movement of Oaxacan society against neoliberalism and the brutality of the Mexican state. Over the course of six months of struggle in the face of intense repression, the movement — dubbed the “Oaxaca Commune” — captured the world’s imagination and led to the ouster of the state’s governor.

In 2016, under the rubric of “reform” and “accountability,” Mexican teachers are facing a raft of proposals from the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto designed to weaken their unions. After Mexican police opened fire on protesters in the Oaxacan town of Nochixtlán, killing six, Oaxaca’s teachers once more found themselves leading a national movement against neoliberalism in the face of tremendous police violence.

Madison Schools’ Proposed Facility Plan Community Engagement Process

Madison School District PDF:

The LRFP development process will span over the course of 18 months; as such, we need to create an engagement plan that changes over time to allow for the most relevant data to be available when needed. To do so, we have developed a three phase plan:

Phase 1: Perceptions of and Vision for Facilities (Spring-Summer 2016)

Phase 2: Guiding Principles and Focus Area Identification (Fall 2016)

Phase 3: Focus Area Discussions and Review of Products (Spring 2017)

We have included more detailed descriptions of the phases on pages 2-3 and a planned timeline on page 4.

Powerpoint PDF files.

ISIS in the Twin Cities

Scott Johnson:

The group comes from Minnesota’s large Somali immigrant population, officially estimated at 40,000. The true number must be closer to 140,000. The United States attorney himself has used an unofficial estimate of 100,000 in an agreement he entered into with Somali community leaders. If Minnesota’s Somalians were a city, they would be Minnesota’s third-largest, after Minneapolis and St. Paul. Their numbers grow every year. In September 2015, the House Homeland Security Committee released a study of Americans seeking to join ISIS as foreign fighters. Minnesota, it turns out, sends more aspiring fighters to Syria and Iraq than any other state.

The heart of the government’s case was conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization (by joining ISIS) and conspiracy to commit murder overseas (by fighting for ISIS). In the spring and fall of 2014, the defendants tried unsuccessfully to leave Minnesota for Syria. Farah was one of three Minnesota Somalis intercepted at JFK Airport on his way to Syria that November. He protested to the FBI agents who stopped him that he was simply on his way to vacation by himself in sunny Sofia, Bulgaria.

In April 2015, the defendants thought they had a chance to travel to Syria through Mexico. By this time, however, Bashir had appeared before the grand jury, turned informant, and begun recording his friends for the FBI. In April 2015, he convinced them to travel to San Diego by car to obtain fake passports. The FBI was planning a sting. Sensing that he was “hot,” Omar declined to join the road trip.
Bashir’s covert recordings took center stage over several days at trial. In hours of recordings, the defendants expressed their desire to join ISIS, their regret over the failure of their previous efforts to make it out of the United States, their commitment to wage jihad against nonbelievers, and their ardent wish to die as martyrs. They expressed their contempt for the United States. They thrilled to the videos of ISIS butchery in the name of Allah. They talked excitedly about their communications with friends who had made it to join ISIS in Syria.

What’s the Secret Ingredient? Searching for Policies and Practices that Make Charter Schools Successful

Philip M. Gleason:

The charter school sector in the United States has grown steadily since the first charter school opened in 1992. As of the 2015–2016 school year, more than 6,800 charter schools served nearly 3 million students in forty states and the District of Columbia. Overall, research suggests that the average charter school performs about the same as nearby traditional public schools, but there is great variation in the effects of charter schools. Some charter schools are successful in boosting student achievement and others are not, which raises the question of what characteristics distinguish good charter schools from bad. This paper addresses this issue by summarizing the research on factors associated with successful charter schools. The research suggests that urban charter schools and charter schools primarily serving low-achieving and low-income students have the strongest positive impacts on student achievement. The policies most consistently found to be associated with positive charter school impacts include long school days or years, comprehensive behavioral policies with rewards and sanctions, and a mission that prioritizes boosting student achievement. In addition, moderately strong evidence suggests that high-dosage tutoring, frequent feedback and coaching for teachers, and policies promoting the use of data to guide teachers’ instructional practices are positively associated with charter schools’ achievement impacts.


Zapping Their Brains at Home

Anna Wexler:

For the last three years, I have been studying D.I.Y. brain stimulators. Their conflict with neuroscientists offers a fascinating case study of what happens when experimental tools normally kept behind the closed doors of academia — in this case, transcranial direct current stimulation — are appropriated for use outside them.

Neuroscientists began experimenting in earnest with transcranial direct current stimulation about 15 years ago. In such stimulation, electric current is administered at levels that are hundreds of times less than those used in electroconvulsive therapy. To date, more than 1,000 peer-reviewed studies of the technique have been published. Studies have suggested, among other things, that the stimulation may be beneficial for treating problems like depression and chronic pain as well as enhancing cognition and learning in healthy individuals.

Civics, Taxes & K-12 Spending: $2 Out For A $1 In

Tax Foundation:

hart 1 gives us a 35-year picture of the growth in federal transfer programs targeted at these middle-income households and compares those trends to the total amount of federal taxes they paid. In 1979, these households paid an average of $10,500 in federal taxes (in 2013 dollars), while the government directed an average of $4,700 in transfer benefits toward them. (Transfers include programs such as Social Security, unemployment benefits, Food Stamps, school lunch programs, as well as the cash value of healthcare programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.) At the end of Carter administration, middle-income families paid roughly $2 in taxes for every $1 in federal benefits they received.
As Chart 1 shows, for nearly twenty years, the tax burden on middle-income families remained fairly stable but the amount of transfer programs aimed at them grew considerably. As a result, by 2000, the average amount of transfer programs benefiting the middle-class equaled the average amount of taxes they paid; $10,400 in benefits compared to $10,900 in taxes paid. Since then, the gap between the amount of taxes paid by middle-income families and the amount of transfer benefits spent on their behalf has grown considerably.

Why Good Storytellers Are Happier in Life and in Love

Elizabeth Bernstein:

They also may be more attractive. New research, published this month in the journal Personal Relationships, shows that women find men who are good storytellers more appealing. The article consists of three studies in which male and female participants were shown a picture of someone of the opposite sex and given an indication of whether that person was a proficient storyteller. In the first study, 71 men and 84 women were told that the person whose picture they were looking at was either a “good,” “moderate” or “poor” storyteller. In the second study, 32 men and 50 women were given a short story supposedly written by the person in the picture; half the stories were concise and compelling, and half rambled and used dull language. In the third study, 60 men and 81 women were told whether the person in the picture was a good storyteller and were asked to rate their social status and ability to be a good leader in addition to their attractiveness.

We have an epidemic of bad posture

Until I packed up, started to travel and got a MacBook to work from, I never had any RSI. Suddenly I was working from hostel dorms, hotel rooms, coffee shops, bars, pools, roof tops, anything really.

It only took a month to get my first problems. I started getting a tingling feeling in my wrist and hands. Then at night I’d wake up with phantom arms, like the blood flow had gone out and I couldn’t feel them anymore. That’s normal sometimes, but this would happen every week. The hypochondriac in me started to worry something was deeply wrong. But it was just RSI taking over my arm.

Parent “Coaching”

Tara Seigel Bernard:

When Lindsay Abt was pregnant with her first child, she remembers reading a book for expectant mothers that cautioned against making too many big life changes at once. She went ahead and made three anyway.

“I broke all of the rules,” she said. Not only did she take on a job with greater responsibility — she is a partner at the accounting firm Ernst & Young — she had to move her family to Florida from New York to do it. She moved in July 2014 while her husband stayed behind to sell their house. Her son was born that October.

Throughout the transition, she had a dedicated coach, Delaine, provided by her employer, as part of a new program at the firm to help parents prepare for parental leave — and ease the transition when they return. In one-hour phone sessions each month, Delaine helped Ms. Abt think through what was important to her — being home by bath time every evening? Working from home once a week? — and how to set limits during a long workweek to make that happen

CPC to boost presence in primary, middle school education


Communist Party of China (CPC) organizations at various levels have been told to strengthen “Party building” in elementary and middle schools and integrate their work into all aspects of the schools’ education and operations.

A circular jointly released on Friday by the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee and the Ministry of Education said that Party organizations should effectively participate in school decision-making and supervision, and Party officials and school administrators should cooperate and even switch posts.

“Efforts should be made to improve a mechanism for decision-making, communication and coordination, and education-related Party units should enhance their guidance, supervision and inspection over Party work in primary and middle schools,” it said.

Why We’re Post-Fact

Peter Pomerantsev:

As his army blatantly annexed Crimea, Vladimir Putin went on TV and, with a smirk, told the world there were no Russian soldiers in Ukraine. He wasn’t lying so much as saying the truth doesn’t matter. And when Donald Trump makes up facts on a whim, claims that he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the Twin Towers coming down, or that the Mexican government purposefully sends ‘bad’ immigrants to the US, when fact-checking agencies rate 78% of his statements untrue but he still becomes a US Presidential candidate – then it appears that facts no longer matter much in the land of the free. When the Brexit campaign announces ‘Let’s give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week’ and, on winning the referendum, the claim is shrugged off as a ‘mistake’ by one Brexit leader while another explains it as ‘an aspiration’, then it’s clear we are living in a ‘post-fact’ or ‘post-truth’ world. Not merely a world where politicians and media lie – they have always lied – but one where they don’t care whether they tell the truth or not.

How did we get here? Is it due to technology? Economic globalisation? The culmination of the history of philosophy? There is some sort of teenage joy in throwing off the weight of facts – those heavy symbols of education and authority, reminders of our place and limitations – but why is this rebellion happening right now?

Many blame technology. Instead of ushering a new era of truth-telling, the information age allows lies to spread in what techies call ‘digital wildfires’. By the time a fact-checker has caught a lie, thousands more have been created, and the sheer volume of ‘disinformation cascades’ make unreality unstoppable. All that matters is that the lie is clickable, and what determines that is how it feeds into people’s existing prejudices. Algorithms developed by companies such as Google and Facebook are based around your previous searches and clicks, so with every search and every click you find your own biases confirmed. Social media, now the primary news source for most Americans, leads us into echo chambers of similar-minded people, feeding us only the things that make us feel better, whether they are true or not.

Technology might have more subtle influences on our relationship with the truth, too. The new media, with its myriad screens and streams, makes reality so fragmented it becomes ungraspable, pushing us towards, or allowing us to flee, into virtual realities and fantasies. Fragmentation, combined with the disorientations of globalization, leaves people yearning for a more secure past, breeding nostalgia. ‘The twenty-first century is not characterized by the search for new-ness’ wrote the late Russian-American philologist Svetlana Boym, ‘but by the proliferation of nostalgias . . . nostalgic nationalists and nostalgic cosmopolitans, nostalgic environmentalists and nostalgic metrophiliacs (city lovers) exchange pixel fire in the blogosphere’. Thus Putin’s internet-troll armies sell dreams of a restored Russian Empire and Soviet Union; Trump tweets to ‘Make America Great Again’; Brexiteers yearn for a lost England on Facebook; while ISIS’s viral snuff movies glorify a mythic Caliphate. ‘Restorative nostalgia’, argued Boym, strives to rebuild the lost homeland with ‘paranoiac determination’, thinks of itself as ‘truth and tradition’, obsesses over grand symbols and ‘relinquish[es] critical thinking for emotional bonding . . . In extreme cases it can create a phantom homeland, for the sake of which one is ready to die or kill. Unreflective nostalgia can breed monsters’.

The flight into techno-fantasies is intertwined with economic and social uncertainty. If all the facts say you have no economic future then why would you want to hear facts? If you live in a world where a small event in China leads to livelihoods lost in Lyon, where your government seems to have no control over what is going on, then trust in the old institutions of authority – politicians, academics, the media – buckles. Which has led to Brexit leader Michael Gove’s claim that British people ‘have had enough of experts’, Trump’s rants at the ‘lamestream’ media and the online flowering of ‘alternative news’ sites. Paradoxically, people who don’t trust ‘the mainstream’ media are, a study from Northeastern University showed, more likely to swallow disinformation. ‘Surprisingly, consumers of alternative news, which are the users trying to avoid the mainstream media “mass-manipulation”, are the most responsive to the injection of false claims.’[1] Healthy scepticism ends in a search for wild conspiracies. Putin’s Kremlin-controlled television finds US conspiracies behind everything, Trump speculates that 9/11 was an inside job, and parts of the Brexit campaign saw Britain under attack from a Germano-Franco-European plot.

‘There is no such thing as objective reporting,’ claim the heads of Putin’s propaganda networks Dmitry Kiselev and Margarita Simonyan, when asked to explain the editorial principles which allow for conspiracy theories to be presented as being equally valid to evidence-based research. The Kremlin’s international channel, RT, claims to be giving an ‘alternative’ point of view, but in practice this means making the editor of a fringe right-wing magazine as credible a talking head as a University academic, making a lie as worthy of broadcast as a fact. Donald Trump plays a similar game when he invokes wild rumors as reasonable, alternative opinions, couching stories that Obama is a Muslim, or that rival Ted Cruz carries a secret Canadian passport, with the caveat: ‘A lot of people are saying . . .’[2]

The Myth of Unions’ Overprotection of Bad Teachers: Evidence from the District-Teacher Matched Panel Data on Teacher Turnover

Eunice Han:

This study offers a simple two-period job matching model linking teachers unions to both voluntary and involuntary teacher turnover. The model predicts that teachers unions, by negotiating higher wages for teachers, lower the quit probability of high- ability teachers but raise the dismissal rate of underperforming teachers, as higher wages provide districts greater incentive to select better teachers. As a result, unions help the educational system reach an efficient equilibrium where high-quality teachers are matched with high wages. The unique district-teacher matched panel data for 2003-2012 enables me to use within-state and within-district variations, as well as instrumental variables, to identify union effects on teacher turnover. The data confirms that, compared to districts with weak unionism, districts with strong unionism dismiss more low-quality teachers and retain more high-quality teachers. The empirical analysis shows that this dynamic of teacher turnover in highly unionized districts raises average teacher quality and improves student achievement.

Much more, here.

Madison Student Enrollment Projections and where have all the students gone?

Madison School District PDF:

Executive Summary:

As part of its long-range facility planning efforts, MMSD requires a refined approach for predicting enrollment arising from new development and changes in enrollment within existing developed areas. As urban development approaches the outer edges of the District’s boundary, and as redevelopment becomes an increasingly important source of new housing, these issues are critical.

Study Approach

The study period examined MMSD enrollment through the 2036-2037 school year in five-year segments. The projection model applied current MMSD student enrollment rates to 26 specific residential building forms, ranging from single-family homes to downtown redevelopment mixed-use buildings. Using these “residential typologies”, future development was mapped on more than 300 redevelopment locations and more than 2,000 greenfield locations on the periphery of the District.

Development locations, typologies, and timing were confirmed by planning department staff in Madison and Fitchburg. The model also factored in the continued decline in students per household at a rate of about 1% for every five-year period, consistent with official projections. Three Scenarios were examined, varying by the pace of development. Scenario 3, based on an extrapolation of population growth in MMSD, between 2010 and 2015, was identified as most likely.

Key Findings
1. District Territory is Approaching Build-Out by 2040
Under the selected scenario, by the year 2040, all the developable lands in MMSD’s territory (including the transferring areas from the Middleton-Cross Plains and Verona Area School Districts) are likely to be fully developed. After that point in time, all future changes in land use will occur solely through redevelopment. The economics of redevelopment require greater densities, resulting in a larger proportion of apartments – which have lower student generation rates. As a result, MMSD enrollment is likely to decline after greenfield build-out. If current household size trends hold constant, the resulting rate of enrollment decline will be about 1% for every five years following build-out in about 2040.


MMSD “Leavers” and “Enterers” are a Significant Enrollment Factor.

District leavers include students living in the MMSD territory who choose to attend non-MMSD schools. These include students choosing open enrollment at other public schools, and students attending private and non-MMSD charter schools.

Overall net open enrollment patterns show more students living in the MMSD area choosing open enrollment in other districts, than students living in other districts choosing open enrollment in MMSD. In the fall of 2015, the net loss of 999 students was a result of 316 entering students and 1,315 leaving students. This is about 4% of MMSD’s total enrollment.

Many factors are involved in open enrollment decisions, including the availability of space in other districts. The Monona Grove School District (MGSD) is the most popular destination of students leaving MMSD through open enrollment. Several MGSD schools are at capacity, and MGSD staff has indicated that they maintain full capacity by adjusting the number of open enrollment attendees. Other important considerations, cited by studies and MMSD staff, include the proximity of other schools, the condition and range of school facilities, and resulting travel distances and routes.

This study estimates that about 2,000 resident students are enrolled in private schools in the region – which represents about 9% of MMSD’s total enrollment. This estimate is based on the difference between the 2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates within the MMSD area for the total number of children of K-12 age enrolled in schools of any kind, the estimated number of resident students electing open enrollment outside of MMSD, and actual MMSD enrollment.

7.Key Trends:

MMSD net “Leavers” comprise about 3,000 school age children residing within MMSD territory.

Reduced capacity in many schools in adjacent districts, reflecting strong suburban population growth, is becoming a more frequent limiting factor on MMSD leavers being accepted through open enrollment in other school districts.

Rapidly evolving options, particularly for charter schools and distance learning, make projecting future enrollment changes through net leavers very difficult.

Key Assumption:
1. MMSD net “leavers” will be consistent with their current levels – about 3,000.

Related: Where have all the students gone?

10 Law Schools Where Alumni Have the Least Debt

Delece Smith-Barrow:

A few years of law school can easily lead to enough debt to last a decade.

With tuition and fees often running at $30,000 per year or more, many students take out loans. Among the 183 ranked law schools that submitted debt data to U.S. News, the average debt for 2015 graduates who borrowed was $112,748.

Schools vary when it comes to how much they dole out in scholarships, grants or financial aid. And at some institutions, students graduate with relatively minimal debt.

[Find out how ready you are to pay for law school.]

At the University of Hawaii—Manoa, the average debt for 2015 graduates who borrowed was $54,988. Alumni from the school had the lowest average debt among their peers from the 183 institutions that submitted data to U.S. News in an annual survey.

Three schools are new to the list of law schools where graduates have low debt: University of South Dakota, Georgia State University and Liberty University in Virginia.

40 years after desegregation ruling, core problems remain

Alan Borsuk:

Here’s a milestone I don’t expect anyone will celebrate. The start of the school year, just over a month from now, will mark the 40th anniversary of the launch of court-ordered school desegregation of Milwaukee Public Schools.

It’s remarkable how some of the key elements of the plans implemented beginning then remain part of the Milwaukee school landscape now. To name three:

The racial integration plan that was implemented over several years was focused largely on trying to make a group of “magnet schools” attractive enough that both white and black children would enroll. Some schools that arose in that era, such as non King High School and Golda Meir School, remain comparatively diverse and among the best in Milwaukee.

A 13,000-Mile Experiment in Extreme Parenting

Bruce Kirkby:

The familiar roads of my neighborhood spooled out like black yarn behind the ambulance window; the lights of our family home faded in the distance. Arched atop a stretcher, I coughed up blood between shallow breaths.

Hours earlier I’d been in perfect health, or so I believed. That morning I’d skied 20 miles on nordic trails and lifted weights ­after that. But around midnight I woke up with searing pain radiating down my left arm. I prodded my wife, who called 911.

At the hospital, doctors and nurses ­orbited my bed, running a flurry of tests: blood samples, heart ultrasound, CAT scan. By the next day, a diagnosis began to take shape.

“You have pneumonia,” a burly South Afri­can doctor said. “And a small pulmonary embolism. That’s a clot in your lung. But there is something else going on. Portions of your lung tissue look like ground glass. Have you traveled abroad recently?”

A Jacobin investigation finds widespread corruption at one of the nation’s largest charter school networks.

George Joseph:

Over the summer, FBI agents stormed nineteen charter schools as part of an ongoing investigation into Concept Charter Schools. They raided the buildings seeking information about companies the prominent Midwestern charter operator had contracted with under the federal E-Rate program.

The federal investigation points to possible corruption at the Gulen charter network, with which Concept is affiliated and which takes its name from the Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen. And a Jacobin investigation found that malfeasance in the Gulen network, the second largest in the country, is more widespread than previously thought. Federal contracting documents suggest that the conflict-of-interest transactions occurring at Concept are a routine practice at other Gulen-affiliated charter school operators.

The Jacobin probe into Gulen-affiliated operators in Texas, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California found that roughly $4 million in E-Rate contract disbursements and $1.7 million in Department of Education Race to the Top grantee awards were given to what appear to be “related parties.” Awarding contracts to firms headed by related parties would seem to violate the FCC’s requirement that the school’s bidding process be “competitive” as well as “open and fair.”

Broken window theory: Corey Menafee and the history of university service labor

Zach Schwartz-Weinstein:

In November, 1969, a 30-year old black dining hall waitress at Yale University named Colia Williams threw a glass of water at a white student dining hall manager who’d harassed her continuously over the few short weeks that she’d worked in the university’s dining halls. Williams was promptly fired for her insubordination. As a new hire, she had not yet completed the 90-day probationary period that would qualify her for membership in Local 35 of the Federation of University Employees, Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union and thus secure her access to the union’s then-flimsy grievance procedure. Williams’ act happened to occur during a semester in which several members of Yale Students for a Democratic society had taken jobs in the dining halls, inspired by a broader current of “industrializing” – taking working-class jobs in order to organize mass workplace resistance – across the New Left. Yale SDS in particular was part of the somewhat notorious Progressive Labor faction, which continued to claim the organization’s name following the split at the 1969 national convention (which led to the creation of the Weather Underground.) The presence of these student radicals in the dining halls made workplace struggles that students might otherwise have ignored objects of widespread concern and political urgency. Following Williams’ firing, a hundred students, members of Yale Students for a Democratic Society as well as the Black Student Alliance at Yale, marched into the university’s human resources office in the basement of Wright Hall to demand the university reinstate her. The students occupied the office and took several administrators hostage for a few hours. With the conclusion of the occupation, 47 students were immediately suspended, though all were eventually reinstated. (One alumnus, who’d taken a job as a university custodial worker, was eventually fired for his role in the occupation.) The occupation was successful – Williams won her job back – or rather, Yale administrators discovered, they claimed, that they had never actually fired her. But, a month after returning to work, Williams had quit. Subjected to continued harassment from white supervisors due to her newfound notoriety, Williams explained that working at Yale was “agony.”

The Incalculable Value of Finding a Job You Love

Robert Frank:

Social scientists have been trying to identify the conditions most likely to promote satisfying human lives. Their findings give some important clues about choosing a career: Money matters, but as the economist Richard Easterlin and others have demonstrated, not always in the ways you may think.

Consider this thought experiment. Suppose you had to choose between two parallel worlds that were alike except that people in one had significantly higher incomes. If you occupied the same position in the income distribution in both — say, as a median earner — there would be compelling reasons for choosing the richer world. After all, societies with higher incomes tend also to enjoy cleaner air and water, better schools, less noisy environments, safer working conditions, longer life expectancy and many other obvious benefits.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: 19.4 Trillion Dollars In Debt – We Have Added 1.1 Trillion Dollars A Year To The National Debt Under Obama

Michael Snyder:

Debt Debt And More Debt – Public DomainIn 2006, U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s voice thundered across the Senate floor as he boldly declared that “increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.” That was one of the truest things that he ever said, but just a couple of years later he won the 2008 election and he turned his back on those principles. As I write this article, the U.S. national debt is sitting at a grand total of $19,402,361,890,929.46. But when Barack Obama first entered the White House, our federal government was only 10.6 trillion dollars in debt. That means that we have added an average of 1.1 trillion dollars a year to the national debt under Obama, and we still have about six more months to go.

Even though Barack Obama is on track to be the first president in all of U.S. history to not have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by 3 percent or better, many have still been mystified by the fact that the economy has been relatively stable in recent years.

K-12 Tax& Spending Climate: Measure 97 could mean the end for Powell’s Books

Joseph Gallivan:

How would the proposal affect the Powell’s Books tax bill?

“We’re challenged every year already to figure out how we’re going to be viable for the next year, and this is about a fifty times increase on our current tax bill. We don’t know how we’re going to pay it. We’re relatively low above the $25 million mark. If you’re over 25 you are all the same.”
Are there any other costs?

“The challenge for all of us, and for the small businesses too, it’s not just the bill for the 2.5 percent tax, I fully expect our power bill will go up, many of our utilities will go up, and probably some of our cost of goods will be impacted. I fully expect our margins will go down from some of our suppliers — because they’ll be impacted as well — it’s going to hit us in a lot of places. Pacific Power have already said they’ll be passing this increase along as a price increase. We’re not sure yet but some of our publishers and wholesalers will be impacted, and they may now say, instead of offering us a previous discount, they may say we’re going to have to cut that.”

“Random House sells a lot of books in Oregon, and they, or our main distributor, Ingram Content Group, will be impacted, and if nothing else they will be impacted by these other costs, power and utility increases etcetera.”

Have any other states enacted similar legislation?

“We don’t have enough of a volume in any other state to be impacted. My understanding, from a report by the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office, is other states’ gross receipts taxes are dramatically smaller, like much less than one percent. This is the most massive gross receipts tax I believe nationwide. So while we may be involved in other states where that tax is present, we haven’t felt the impact.”

Civics: Why Are Voters So Angry?

Myron Magnet:

Haunting this year’s presidential contest is the sense that the U.S. government no longer belongs to the people and no longer represents them. And this uneasy feeling is not misplaced. It reflects the real state of affairs.

We have lost the government we learned about in civics class, with its democratic election of representatives to do the voters’ will in framing laws, which the president vows to execute faithfully, unless the Supreme Court rules them unconstitutional. That small government of limited powers that the Founders designed, hedged with checks and balances, hasn’t operated for a century. All its parts still have their old names and appear to be carrying out their old functions. But in fact, a new kind of government has grown up inside the old structure, like those parasites hatched in another organism that grow by eating up their host from within, until the adult creature bursts out of the host’s carcass. This transformation is not an evolution but a usurpation.

What has now largely displaced the Founders’ government is what’s called the Administrative State—a transformation premeditated by its main architect, Woodrow Wilson. The thin-skinned, self-righteous college-professor president, who thought himself enlightened far beyond the citizenry, dismissed the Declaration of Independence’s inalienable rights as so much outmoded “nonsense,” and he rejected the Founders’ clunky constitutional machinery as obsolete. (See “It’s Not Your Founding Fathers’ Republic Any More,” Summer 2014.) What a modern country needed, he said, was a “living constitution” that would keep pace with the fast-changing times by continual, Darwinian adaptation, as he called it, effected by federal courts acting as a permanent constitutional convention.

Modernity, Wilson thought, demanded efficient government by independent, nonpartisan, benevolent, hyper-educated experts, applying the latest scientific, economic, and sociological knowledge to industrial capitalism’s unprecedented problems, too complex for self-governing free citizens to solve. Accordingly, he got Congress to create executive-branch administrative agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, to do the job. During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt proliferated such agencies, from the National Labor Relations Board and the Federal Housing Administration to the Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, to put the New Deal into effect. Before they could do so, though, FDR had to scare the Supreme Court into stretching the Constitution’s Commerce Clause beyond recognition, putting the federal government in charge of all economic activity, not just interstate transactions. He also had to pressure the justices to allow Congress to delegate legislative power—which is, in effect, what the lawmakers did by setting up agencies with the power to make binding rules. The Constitution, of course, vests all legislative power in Congress, empowering it to make laws, not to make legislators.

But the Administrative State’s constitutional transgressions cut deeper still. If Congress can’t delegate its legislative powers, it certainly can’t delegate judicial powers, which the Constitution gives exclusively to the judiciary.

Nevertheless, after these administrative agencies make rules like a legislature, they then exercise judicial authority like a court by prosecuting violations of their edicts and inflicting real criminal penalties, such as fines and cease-and-desist orders. As they perform all these functions, they also violate the principle of the separation of powers, which lies at the heart of our constitutional theory (senselessly curbing efficiency, Wilson thought), as well as the due process of law, for they trample the citizen’s Fifth Amendment right not to lose his property unless indicted by a grand jury and tried by a jury of his peers, and they search a citizen or a company’s private papers or premises, without bothering to get judge-issued subpoenas or search warrants based on probable cause, flouting the Fourth Amendment. They can issue waivers to their rules, so that the law is not the same for all citizens and companies but is instead an instrument of arbitrary power. FDR himself ruefully remarked that he had expanded a fourth branch of government that lacked constitutional legitimacy. Not only does it reincarnate the arbitrary power of the Stuarts’ tyrannical Star Chamber, but also it doesn’t even meet the minimal conditions of liberty that Magna Carta set forth 801 years ago.

Standing on the shoulders of the Google giant: Sustainable discovery and Google Scholar’s comprehensive coverage.

Max Kemman:

Recent surveys have inquired about the use of discovery systems for academic literature. In a survey we conducted in 2012 with 288 Dutch respondents in the Humanities and Social Sciences, 88% used Google Scholar to some extent. JSTOR was a close second, used by 85%, although it was used less often. In a recent survey on 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication, a preliminary finding from the first 1,000 responses was that 92% used Google Scholar. Here Web of Science was a distant second, used by 47% of respondents. Although such surveys do not necessarily show how Google Scholar is used, it is clear that a large portion of scholars searches for literature at Google Scholar. One research report concluded in 2013 that “library and publisher platforms were not central to discovery, but Google and Google Scholar were”.

Comments On The Madison School District’s Third “Annual Report”

Doug Erickson:

The annual report is a selective rather than exhaustive view of the district, with only some grades and some demographic groups highlighted in detail.

The report cited proficiency rates in reading at grade 3 and reading and math in grades 5 and 8, as measured by the Measures of Academic Progress exam, which tests students throughout the school year. Overall, fewer than half of students in any of those grades and subjects were considered proficient, though progress is being made.

Third-graders showed a five percentage point increase in reading proficiency over three years, to 41 percent. Fifth-grade reading proficiency is up 10 percentage points over the same time period, to 44 percent.

“We are taking our challenges head on, and we are seeing strong progress,” School Board Vice President Mary Burke said at the press conference, which was attended by dozens of community leaders, students, staff members and parents.

Middle school math proficiency, calculated by bringing together scores in grades 6-8, is up four percentage points over three years, to 45 percent. The math scores illustrate how racial achievement gaps can widen even when everyone is improving.

During the 2012-13 school year, 19 percent of Hispanic middle school students scored proficient in math compared to 61 percent of white middle school students, a gap of 42 percentage points. Last year, proficiency among Hispanic students improved to 24 percent, yet the proficiency of white students improved to 68 percent, widening the gap to 44 percentage points.

I am glad that the district is discussing reading results.

Tenure/Teaching: The Pendulum Swings

Joseph Asch:

A member of the faculty writes in:

Faculty hired 5-7 years ago were told explicitly that a couple of peer-reviewed articles and a book contract with a well-respected academic press was sufficient for tenure. I often used the word “humane” to describe the requirements for tenure, in that they rewarded both scholarship of a high caliber and teaching prowess. Dartmouth had a reputation as a place where work-life balance was valued, and the inconveniences associated with its rural location were offset by the benefits of raising children within a close-knit community.

Professors hired at that time are now coming up for tenure, having been mentored by department members whose curriculum vitae were far less impressive when they initially made associate. Some of my peers were pressured into service commitments that would have no bearing on tenure, and encouraged to take on projects (writing for anthologies and organizing conferences, for example) that would be time-consuming yet not lead to professional advancement. Recent tenure decisions have many members of my cohort scrambling for the exits—going on the market and taking on visiting appointments elsewhere—now that they understand that they were given a false impression of how different aspects of their trajectories would be evaluated.

The Ugly Truth Behind a College’s “Diversity” Requirement

Mary Grabar:

Hamilton College has for years had an open curriculum, allowing students the freedom to shape their education as they think best. Whether that’s a good idea is debatable, but the college is about to move in the opposite direction by instituting a “diversity requirement” for all students.

As a resident fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the last year, I have watched this drama unfold on the Hamilton College campus. This depressing story reveals much about the tactics of the academic left. A small group of radical but powerful professors, claiming to act on behalf of students, succeeded in instituting the diversity requirement.

Due to their efforts, starting in the 2017-18 academic year, every concentration will require a dedicated course or combination of courses to teach about “structural and institutional hierarchies based on one or more of the social categories of race, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality, age, and abilities/disabilities.”

What Free Will Looks Like in the Brain

Johns Hopkins:

Johns Hopkins University researchers are the first to glimpse the human brain making a purely voluntary decision to act.

Unlike most brain studies where scientists watch as people respond to cues or commands, Johns Hopkins researchers found a way to observe people’s brain activity as they made choices entirely on their own. The findings, which pinpoint the parts of the brain involved in decision-making and action, are now online, and due to appear in a special October issue of the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.

“How do we peek into people’s brains and find out how we make choices entirely on our own?” asked Susan Courtney, a professor of psychological and brain sciences. “What parts of the brain are involved in free choice?”

Madison Schools’ MAP Test Data Sharing Agreement

Madison School District PDF:

Data Sources
a) MMSD will sign NWEA’s release form allowing NWEA to transfer MMSD’s test data to Consultant.

b) In signing this contract, MMSD authorizes DPI to disclose student-level information to the Consultant for the purpose of linking demographic, enrollment, and other necessary data elements to student test scores during the analysis.

i. If data from DPI cannot be used to link student test scores to student demographic data as required by the value-added model, then Consultant will terminate the contract as outlined in the Termination section of the contract.

ii. NWEA student identifiers (full name, date of birth, and any other identifying information) will be sent to DPI with all test data removed to link the state and test IDs. No MAP test scores will be sent to DPI.

c) All data will be destroyed after 10 years or as required in disclosure forms.

d) The Consultant may add de-identified data to its national student growth reference
group database.

Much more on the “Measures of Academic Progress” (MAP), here.

NSA classifies Linux Journal readers, Tor and Tails Linux users as “extremists”

Himanshu Arora

Are you a Linux Journal reader or use software such as Tor and Tails Linux? If so, you’ve probably been flagged as an “extremist” by the NSA. Leaked documents related to the XKeyscore snooping program reveal that the agency is targeting anyone who is interested in online privacy, specifically those who use the aforementioned software and visit the Linux user community website.

XKeyscore is a collection and analysis software that was among a number of surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden last year.

Its source code (basically a rule file), which has been obtained and analyzed by members of the Tor project and security specialists for German broadcasters NDR and WDR, identifies two German Tor Directory Authority servers as being under surveillance by the NSA. The code also cites a number of specific IP addresses of the Tor Directory Authority.

Method without Methodology: Data and the Digital Humanities

Lindsay Caplan:

In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

—Suárez Miranda, Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV, Cap. XLV, Lérida, 1658

In this one-paragraph short story by Jorge Luis Borges, “On the Exactitude of Science” (1946), the fictional Suárez Miranda recounts the rise and fall of an imperial project to make a map the same size as the territory it describes. As soon as the awkwardly scaled artifact is complete, however, its prospective users recognize its absurd inadequacy and abandon it to be absorbed back into the ground it was intended to figure.

On the Proposed Madison Schools’ Tax & Spending Fall, 2016 Referendum

Madison School District PDF:

We also know that MMSD has no extra factors to boost local revenues. Extra revenue factors, such as unused levy authority, General Fund Balance reserves, before considering a referendum to exceed the revenue limit, it is necessary to understand the tax levy forecast before any additional taxing authority. We have identified the major tax levy factors:

Flat to minimal enrollment growth over the next few years

No unused tax levy authority available

The debt service levy already reflects the impact of the 2015 referendum

The debt service levy does not reflect the impact of any future facility referendum, which would be at least 2-3 in the future

It will be important to measure the loss of equalization aid for any specific referendum to exceed the limit.

The 2008 Referendum to Exceed the Revenue Limit
In November 2008, on the presidential ballot, MMSD had a referendum question for recurring authority to exceed the revenue limit. The amounts were phased in, beginning in 2009 ($5.0 million), 2010 ($4.0 million) and finally 2011 ($4.0 million) for a combined $13 million of additional levy authority. The vote occurred three years before the before the Budget Repair Bill and Act 10, and passed with 87,329 ‘yes’ votes and 40,748 ‘no’ votes.

Partial Budget Spending Chart (excludes a number of district expenditures) – PDF and a consultant’s budget forecast.

Commentary On The Common Core

Diane Ravitch:

FOR 15 years, since the passage of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind act, education reformers have promoted standardized testing, school choice, competition and accountability (meaning punishment of teachers and schools) as the primary means of improving education. For many years, I agreed with them. I was an assistant secretary of education in George H. W. Bush’s administration and a member of three conservative think tanks.

much more on the common core, here.

Nine Times Diane Ravitch Was Wrong About Common Core in the New York Times:

1. and 2. Ravitch repeatedly refers to Common Core State Standards as national standards, and as a curriculum.

Common Core State Standards are state-chosen standards, not adopted or mandated nationally in any way. Standards and curricula are completely different things. It’s surprising that an education “expert” is willfully ignoring the difference between standards and curricula.

States and districts have always created their own curricula and reading lists using their state standards as the guide. As a result, what happens in classrooms varies school to school, and state to state even among states that share the same academic standards.

In fact, objective analysis has time and again rejected claims that the Common Core dictates what teachers teach or how they can teach it. In fact, by setting rigorous and consistent learning goals and giving local authorities full control over how best to help students achieve those targets, the Common Core fosters creativity and flexibility in the classroom.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports under the Common Core, “the curriculum and teaching methods are decided locally.” Likewise, US News & World Report points out, “School districts design the curricula, and teachers create their own methods for instruction, selecting the resources best tailored to their lessons.” That hardly sounds like a national curriculum…

3. She claims the standards are “another excuse to avoid making serious efforts to reduce the main causes of low student achievement: poverty and racial segregation.”

National civil and human rights groups have repeatedly stated the value of the standards and assessments for students of color and low-income students. In fact, the civil rights community has publicly united to oppose opting students out of annual tests. Despite the civil rights community’s agreement about the importance of state assessments, Ravitch continues to support opting out.

Refusing the test aligned to high standards robs all students of a quality education, particularly children from underserved communities that have fought to be counted. Data from these statewide assessments provide valuable information, not only to schools and policy makers who use it to inform and improve education policies, but just as importantly, to parents – especially parents of color – who deserve transparent information about their child’s performance.

Pokémon Go Is Secretly Teaching Americans the Metric System

Michael Nunez:

How many kilometers are in a mile?

If you’re like most Americans, you have no fucking idea. But if you’re one of the millions of Americans playing Pokémon Go, you’re about to find out.

For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is an app that uses your phone’s GPS to detect where you are in the real world and make Pokémon “appear” in the game depending on your location. Players are encouraged to patrol neighborhoods looking for new and more powerful Pokémon.

It’s In The Syllabus

Angela Jenks:

“What did we cover in class last week? What’s your late homework policy? When are your office hours? How will my grade be computed?” Jorge Chan’s PhD Comics strip—along with a thriving T-shirt market and Internet meme industry—reflect the frustration instructors experience when faced with a barrage of questions that can be answered with a single refrain: “It’s in the syllabus.”

The course syllabus is one of the central artifacts of contemporary American higher education. We submit them with job applications, they are referenced in evaluation and promotion decisions, and they make up the vast majority of documents in teaching materials exchanges.

It wasn’t always this way, but today, syllabus design is often viewed as the first and most important work a new instructor undertakes. Templates that can assist with this process are widely available: many institutions have their own lists of required sections, and general guides include Josh Boldt’s “Syllabus Design for Dummies” or the first chapter of James M. Lang’s On Course.

In this post, I take a different approach. Creating a syllabus does not mean checking off a list of required elements. The syllabus is a genre of writing that requires us to reflect on the purpose of our teaching, our relationships with students, and effective means of communication. I outline here four considerations that, together, have influenced my approach to syllabus design.

Can Faculty Labor Unions Stop the Decline of Tenure?

Trevor Griffey:

Popular discussions of higher education in the United States today are primarily organized around narratives of decline—from “The Fall of the Faculty” to “The Last Professors”, from “University Inc.” to “The University in Ruins.” Writing about the more than 70 percent of all college instructors who are off the tenure track—with poor pay and little if any job security—tends to fall squarely within this framework. Journalists’ exposés frequently make problematic popular comparisons between fast food workers and college instructors, and turn the humbling of white collar workers into a spectacle of misery that naturalizes the low status of blue collar work through titles like “The Academics Who Are Treated as “Less Than Janitors””.

If this narrative of decline is presented as anything other than inevitable, it tends to promote labor unions for the knowledge economy as the primary solution to address faculty exploitation and contingency. For example, every contributor so far to the Process series on labor and academia has so far promoted labor unions, labor law, and labor history as means to resist the race to the bottom for faculty in higher education.

The Fight Between Berkeley’s Academics And Its Football Team Is Getting Ugly

Patrick Redford:

There’s this old joke around Berkeley that nobody actually knows what the town’s famous university is called. UC Berkeley, Cal Berkeley, California, and a few other permutations get tossed around—most notably “Berkeley,” which academic departments use to refer to the school, and “Cal,” the preferred moniker of the athletics department. Usually, that schism is nothing more than a quirk in nomenclature, but not now. Instead, what began with an investigation into if an assistant football coach put players in danger has evolved into a debate over who’s really in charge at Berkeley: The academics, or the football team? This is, admittedly, not a debate exclusive to Berkeley. What makes it uniquely Berkeley is that the academics seem to think they still have a chance at winning.

It started June 29, when the San Francisco Chronicle published an investigation into the inquiry that cleared strength coach Damon Harrington and the rest of the Cal staff of any wrongdoing in the death of Ted Agu and in the 2013 locker room assault that left freshman Fabiano Hale unconscious. Per the Chronicle, a former player hinted that Harrington incited the fight that left Hale unconscious and that Harrington routinely pushed players too hard in workouts, which was part of why the school had to pay out a $4.75 million settlement to Agu’s family in April. Harrington, however, was cleared by the university.

The CBO Looks Ahead To A US Fiscal Disaster

Thomas Donlan:

The American debt problem was almost entirely ignored at the Republican National Convention last week, and we can expect nothing more when the Democrats gather this week.

Both parties support the entitlement spending system and the decrepit tax system that fails to support it. They compete on the fiscal side of politics with impossible promises to spend more and tax less.

Imagine the U.S. Treasury as an airplane beginning to roll down the runway to take off. For a mile or so, the plane gains no altitude, then the wings start to generate lift. The wheels leave the ground and are retracted so the plane can fly smoothly through the air. Then the plane begins a rapid ascent, taking only a few minutes to arrive at an altitude of 30,000 feet.
For the time being, the Treasury is rumbling down the runway, already moving too fast to abort a takeoff. After takeoff, Americans will discover that Treasury debt is heading for the stratosphere, with consequences that are easy to imagine, hard to believe, and apparently impossible to act upon—except to make it worse.

Colorado’s charter schools are more diverse, performing better and paying teachers less, report shows

Nicholas Garcia:

Colorado’s charter schools for the first time are enrolling racial and ethnic minority students at a higher rate than the state’s district-run schools, a new report by the state education department shows.

The report released Friday also found that charter school students — including those who are considered at-risk — continued to outperform their peers in district-run schools on state tests.

Madison’s One City Early Learning preschool implements new international play system

Lisa Speckhard:

My mom and dad would let me go run the neighborhood. I would play with friends and I was back before the sun went down. I think kids, especially in this generation, have lost some of that, so this is giving them the play back,” he said.

Bailey acknowledges that much of what makes AnjiPlay great is common sense. While adults are busy reading books about play written by other adults, the play experts — kids — are busy playing, she said.

The Majority Illusion in Social Networks

Kristina Lerman, Xiaoran Yan, Xin-Zeng Wu:

Social behaviors are often contagious, spreading through a population as individuals imitate the decisions and choices of others. A variety of global phenomena, from innovation adoption to the emergence of social norms and political movements, arise as a result of people following a simple local rule, such as copy what others are doing. However, individuals often lack global knowledge of the behaviors of others and must estimate them from the observations of their friends’ behaviors. In some cases, the structure of the underlying social network can dramatically skew an individual’s local observations, making a behavior appear far more common locally than it is globally. We trace the origins of this phenomenon, which we call “the majority illusion,” to the friendship paradox in social networks. As a result of this paradox, a behavior that is globally rare may be systematically overrepresented in the local neighborhoods of many people, i.e., among their friends. Thus, the “majority illusion” may facilitate the spread of social contagions in networks and also explain why systematic biases in social perceptions, for example, of risky behavior, arise. Using synthetic and real-world networks, we explore how the “majority illusion” depends on network structure and develop a statistical model to calculate its magnitude in a network.

Military-style voucher school seeks to buy vacant Milwaukee Schools’ building

Annysa Johnson:

A proposal by a military-style voucher school to purchase a vacant Milwaukee Public Schools building is scheduled to go before the city next week.

Right Step Inc., which is being sued by a group of parents for allegedly abusive practices, is proposing to open a boys-only campus for up to 150 students in the former Centro del Nino Head Start building at 500 E. Center St., on the border of the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods. It has offered $223,000 for the building.

The purchase proposal goes before the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee and possibly the Common Council on Tuesday. The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals will take up its request for a special use permit.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative public interest law firm that is representing the school, has accused the city of dragging its feet on the sale and raising issues — such as test scores and graduation rates — not allowed under the law passed last year to expedite the sale of vacant MPS buildings to competing education providers.

Fibbing as A Parenting Tactic: Doing It With Your Kids May Be A Harmful Practice

Lani Lane:

“Fib’s a good parenting tactic”, says Becca Hirst to Daily Chronicle. She confidently presented the benefit of fibbling to her kid especially when it comes to keeping a silent home and a healthy child since she uses it to convince the child to eat. Nonetheless, fibbling is a childish lie. How far should fibbling go for parenting? Is it even healthy psychologically, mentally, and emotionally?

The surface level effect of fibbling is good but if you understand the deep effect of it in the personhood of your child, it will be something serious. The benefit is good at present, but the long term outcome is so great at the negative arena.

Study shows that kids tend to imitate what they see and when it comes to lying, the imitation is gradual. If the child is exposed to lying at an early age, he or she has the tendency to tell bigger lies as he or she gets older. Nonetheless, not all children lie because they saw someone lied to them. Lying comes naturally to kids. Susan Pinker reported in WSJ that, “The ability to bend the truth is a developmental milestone, much like walking and talking. Research led by Kang Lee, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, shows that lying begins early in precocious children. Among verbal 2-year-olds, 30% try to pull the wool over their parents’ eyes at some point. At age 3, 50% regularly try it. Fibbing is common among 80% of 4-year-olds and is seen in nearly all healthy 5- to 7-year-olds.”

Title I: Rich School Districts Get Millions Meant for Poor Kids How Title I, the federal government’s largest K-12 program, increases the inequality it was created to stop. $7.2M for Madison

By Lauren Camera and Lindsey Cook:

The federal government operates a $14.5 billion program aimed at addressing this exact type of education funding inequity. It’s called Title I and it’s the pillar of the federal K-12 law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Its purpose is to financially bolster school districts with large proportions of poor children, like Nottoway, so they have access to the same types of learning opportunities as wealthier children – children who often reside in more affluent districts and whose schools benefit from higher property taxes, among many other supports.

Nottoway receives about $775,000 annually from the federal program. And while it’s a welcome financial boost, every cent of it goes toward teacher salaries. There is nothing left over for professional development, curriculum support, or reading and math enrichment programs.

Meanwhile, Fairfax County, a leafy green suburb outside the nation’s capital that’s home to well-heeled government workers who helped it become the first county in the U.S. to reach a median household income of six figures, rakes in a whopping $20 million in Title I funding.

Alexander Russo:

The notion that federal funding wasn’t as targeted as it should be isn’t new, but the numbers were pretty startling, and the package made it easy for readers to find out what their local funding allocation was.

The package was the work of Lauren Camera, education reporter, and Lindsey Cook, data editor. When originally it came out, the USNews series had noted that at least $2.6 billion in federal education funding is being sent to districts that are wealthier on average.

It had generated some buzz among reporters at local outlets who have taken the USNews data and written their own stories. (These included Liz Bowie from Balt Sun.) But Cook and Camera wanted more.

A longtime fan of using Reddit for reporting on previous stories, Cook came up with the idea of the pair of journalists doing an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) on Reddit as a way of reaching a different set of folks than those who follow US News.

The federal redistributed tac dollars note that Madison’s poverty rate is 20.37%. This number is substantially lower than the District’s free and reduced cost lunch population.

Rauner email: Half of Chicago Public School teachers ‘virtually illiterate’

Bill Ruthhart and John Chase:

Other emails released under the court order show several exchanges between Solomon and Beth Swanson, Emanuel’s then-deputy chief of staff for education, trading messages on a regular basis, many of them friendly in tone.

The city also released an email showing Emanuel’s then-chief of staff raising questions about the cost and impact of the $20.5 million SUPES contract.

“That means CPS is paying more than $25K per person to train them,” Lisa Schrader wrote in an email to Swanson, as well as then-Emanuel senior adviser David Spielfogel and Matt Hynes, another top mayoral aide at the time. “That’s a pretty hefty investment. Maybe a semester tuition @ UofC. Are you comfortable? Is the board? Just seems very expensive for 10 day workshop plus weekly ‘coaching’ given the other financial challenges they face.”

No one answered her concerns — at least in the emails Emanuel’s office released.

Meet the Reeds: An Austin, Texas, Family Confronts Their Obesity

James McWilliams

I recently sat down with Becca, James, and their 26-year old son Drew, who is also badly overweight (despite the 150 pounds he lost after gastric bypass surgery last December). The family, which lives in south Austin, Texas, is more than burdened by obesity; they were (until recently) essentially killing themselves on a steady stream of Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Whataburger, queso and chips, cookies, and ice cream. Their new trainer, Mike “Bonebreaker” Crockett, explained how “the apex of their weekly planning was the list of the fast food places they were going to visit.” Becca, in a later conversation, confirmed as much, noting that the family normally ate fast food or take-out four times a day, the last meal within minutes of going to sleep.

Crockett, who owns a vegan-based gym in Austin, first met the Reeds in June. He offered to train them (for free) under one non-negotiable condition: The family had to eat a healthy plant-based diet and exercise at his gym three times a week. The Reeds jumped at the opportunity. “We’re ready to become new people,” Becca said. “Better people.” James and Drew, who typically cede most of the talking to Becca, nodded together in assent. Crockett, who has lost 150 pounds since 2011, reversing his own diabetes in the process, is as prepared as anyone to help James make it to retirement, and Becca buy that dress at a normal store.

Progressive Policing of Speech Moves Off Campus

Wendi Kaminer:

“Hate speech is excluded from protection,” CNN anchor Chris Cuomo tweeted last year, echoing a dangerously common misconception. “Hate speech isn’t free speech,” people say, assuming they have a right not to hear whatever they consider hateful language and ideas. Government officials sometimes share this view: The Mayor of West Hollywood confirmed to Eugene Volokh that she would not issue a special events permit for a Donald Trump rally so long as he trafficked in hate, contrary to the “values and ideals” of the West Hollywood community

Related: A Champion of Free Speech Takes on the Muzzled Campus

But you don’t have to indulge in allegedly hateful speech to violate questionable local laws: In Washington D.C., an employer who fails to call a transgender employee by the employee’s preferred pronouns, including “ze,” “zir,” or “they,” may be liable for harassment, as Hans Bader explains. The New York City Commission on Human Rights has issued similar mandates, applying broadly to employers, landlords and businesses, meaning that customers and tenants, as well as employees, have a “human right” to regulate ordinary speech used in ordinary commercial transactions.

“(P)eople can basically force us — on pain of massive legal liability — to say what they want us to say, whether or not we want to endorse the political message associated with that term, and whether or not we think it’s a lie,” Volokh laments. “We have to use the person’s ‘preferred … pronoun and title,’ whatever those preferences might be. Some people could say they prefer ‘glugga’ just as well as saying ‘ze’.”

What You Need to Know about Tax Incentives and the Federal Budget (infographic)


The federal budget consists of revenue (mostly taxes, but also things like user fees and intragovernmental revolving funds) and spending.

But not all spending looks the same. Spending through tax provisions—known as tax incentives or expenditures—is not as well-known as other types of federal spending, such as discretionary spending on federal programs, or spending on Social Security and other entitlement programs.

Yet tax expenditures totaled more than $1.2 trillion in fiscal year 2015—roughly what is spent on discretionary federal spending. And they didn’t have the scrutiny of other types of federal spending.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: California Obamacare rates to rise 13% in 2017, more than 3 times the increase of last 2 years

Melody Petersen

Premiums for Californians’ Obamacare health coverage will rise by an average of 13.2% next year — more than three times the increase of the last two years and a jump that is bound to raise debate in an election year.

The big hikes come after two years in which California officials had bragged that the program had helped insure hundreds of thousands people in the state while keeping costs moderately in check.

Premiums in the insurance program called Covered California rose just 4% in 2016, after rising 4.2% in 2015 – the first year that exchange officials negotiated with insurers.

On Tuesday, officials blamed next year’s premium hikes in the program that insures 1.4 million Californians on rising costs of medical care, including specialty drugs, and the end of a mechanism that held down rates for the first three years of Obamacare.

The Scariest Student Loan Number

Derek Thompson:

“I feel I kind of ruined my life by going to college,” Jackie Krowen said. She first took out student loans at 19, to go to community college in Oregon. She borrowed more when she transferred to Portland State University, and even more to go to nursing school at the University of Rochester in New York. Now, more than $150,000 in debt, Krowen told Consumer Reports that she cannot buy a house and fears the specter of her non-dischargeable debt will follow her for the rest of her life.

I read Jackie’s story earlier this summer, and I thought about it constantly while reading the student debt report from the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, which was released today. There’s no doubt that Jackie’s situation is disturbing and sad. It’s not unique: There are many students for whom college is not that promised ticket to the middle class, but rather an albatross that punishes their early adulthood. They are tens of thousands of dollars in debt, in jobs paying half what they expected to earn after college. They cannot buy a home, start a business. They are even afraid to get married and have a kid.

Texas School Funding Litigation

Texas Observer:

Exactly. If you look at Justice [Nathan] Hecht’s opinion in West Orange Cove II [the last school finance case] in 2004, he says, after upholding me on the property tax issue, “Look, there’s really a lot of evidence that the court considered about how the schools are underperforming.” An achievement gap between economically advantaged and disadvantaged. There’s an achievement gap in the race characteristics. And between rural and urban. There were a number of problems. He lays them out and he goes, “You know, just looking at it, we think it’s just barely constitutional, but it could get worse.”

When I was drafting the [latest] judgment, I took every one of those things, and every one had gotten worse, and we could quantify it. Two hundred thousand students in the Texas higher education system are taking remedial math and remedial English. The achievement gap between the economically advantaged and disadvantaged — which had been narrowing as they put more money in — was now widening. The English-language learner (ELL) students, they were not catching the train. And what was really sad is that there was evidence in the trial that if the students stayed in the ELL program four to six years, they performed better in every test — SAT, any of the STAAR tests — than any other demographic group. Better than rich white kids? Yeah. They had developed cognitive abilities in two different languages. So it takes a period of time. But if they do it, the children will succeed more often than not.

A conversation on Texas and Wisconsin academic outcomes.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Social Security Just Ran A $6 Trillion Deficit And No One Noticed!

Laurence Kotlikoff:

It’s been several weeks since the Social Security Trustees released their 2016 Trustees Report. I’ve been waiting to see if either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or anyone in the press core would say a peep about the astounding $6 trillion deficit implied by the Report’s table VI.F1.

Not a peep.

As you may know, I’m running for President as a write-in candidate along with my VP choice, UCLA economist, Edward Leamer. We’ll be on the ballot along with the two party candidates if voters simply write Laurence Kotlikoff for President and Edward Leamer for Vice President on the ballot in the space provided. It’s that simple.

Ed and I are deeply concerned about our country’s fiscal condition, which is grave to say the least. If we don’t address it, we can kiss our children’s economic futures goodbye.

I’ll get back to the overall picture, but let me tell the press what they will find if they care to do their job and look at Table VI.F1. They will learn that Social Security, according to the system’s own actuaries, is now $32 trillion in the red! The $32 trillion is the present value difference between all the system’s projected future benefit payments less the sum of a) all its projected future taxes and b) its current almost $3 trillion trust fund.

We economists call this measure Social Security’s infinite horizon fiscal gap. Last year, the Trustees reported a fiscal gap of $26 trillion. So the system’s fiscal gap grew by $6 trillion over the past year, i.e., Social Security ran a $6 trillion deficit!

The system is now 32 percent underfunded. In other words, Social Security’s 12.4 percentage point payroll tax rate must be raised immediately and permanently by 32 percent, which is 4 cents out of every dollar we earn (up to Social Security’s covered earnings ceiling, which is now $118,500). The longer we wait, the higher the tax hike will have to be, which means the larger the fiscal damage our children will face.

Commentary on Madison Government Schools’ Tax & Spending Growth (Lacks total expenditures)

Christ Rickert

As a Madison School District taxpayer, I appreciate the School Board’s careful consideration of whether the Nov. 8 election would be too soon to ask voters to approve a referendum.

When you’re an elected official overseeing a $376 million operating budget and the educational lives of some 27,000 students, you can’t take the public — or its money — for granted.

Luckily, I’m no elected official, and I can say what the elected school officials probably shouldn’t: Any halfway reasonable request from the Madison schools is almost certain to get approved, and by a large margin.

So far, a November referendum is just a gleam in certain School Board members’ eyes. District administrators haven’t come up with options for how much they might want, or when.

But as long as district officials don’t ask the average taxpayer for, say, more than a hundred bucks more per year, or to outfit every board member with a Lincoln Navigator and a Caribbean timeshare, voters will comply.

The District’s 2016-2017 “budget book” mentions spending $421,473,742 “excluding construction”….

I sent a note to Michael Barry on 10 July 2016 requesting the District’s construction budget, which I could not find.

Turkey suspends more than 15,000 education workers in widening purge

Loveday Morris

Turkey suspended more than 15,000 Education Ministry workers on Tuesday and demanded resignations from all university deans as authorities widened their far-reaching crackdowns in the wake of a failed coup attempt.

The 15,200 personnel were being investigated for links to the power grab launched last week, the ministry said in a statement. In addition, 1,577 university deans from Turkey’s public and private universities were asked to hand in their notice. A further 492 staff were removed from duty at the country’s top Islamic authority.

It marked an escalation in a purge of state institutions after a mutinous faction of Turkey’s military staged an attempted overthrow on Friday night, hijacking fighter jets and helicopters to strike key installations and security forces.

UW-Madison Criticized for Racially Segregated Meetings After Dallas Shooting

Nahima Marchal:

UW Madison’s Multicultural Center — a space designed to “ensure students of all racial and cultural backgrounds” feel welcomed at the university — held a special meeting on Monday to help students process the past week’s of racially-tinged events, which included the targeted killing of five police officers in Dallas and the fatal police shootings of two black men in St Paul, Minnesota and Baton Rouge, La.

But for all the talk of inclusivity, the support meet-ups were — disconcertingly — split up by racial groups.

In a post that has since been deleted off of the official UW-M Facebook page, the Center described the meetings as a space where all students and teachers could gather to discuss and reflect on recent events. “All are welcome and there will be affinity spaces for people of color and for white people,” the announcement said.

According to the post, the center offered two separate “processing” sessions — one for white UW employees in the morning followed by another one for white students in the afternoon, and another two for minority students, faculty, and staff.

Private Colleges Up Tuition Discounts

Farran Powell:

Despite the annual sticker price shock, many students and their families are receiving tuition discounts at private colleges.

Under tuition discounting, a school offsets its published tuition price with grant aid from the institution to entice students to enroll at their college. It’s a practice that began more than three decades ago – and one that is more commonplace at many private schools, college financial aid administrators say.

But the gap between the published tuition prices and the amount students pay is widening for many private institutions – especially at smaller colleges, experts say.

Related: Financial Aid Leveraging.

History of Cartography: Volumes One, Two, and Three


The first volume of the History of Cartography was published in 1987 and the three books that constitute Volume Two appeared over the following eleven years. In 1987 the worldwide web did not exist, and since 1998 book publishing has gone through a revolution in the production and dissemination of work. Although the large format and high quality image reproduction of the printed books (see right column) are still well-suited to the requirements for the publishing of maps, the online availability of material is a boon to scholars and map enthusiasts.

Civics: Three questions about cash restrictions

Guillaume Lepecq:

Cash is trustOn September 1st 2015, the French government lowered the cap on cash payments from €3,000 to €1,000. The new rule applies both to business-to-consumer and business-to-business transactions; consumer-to-consumer transactions are not affected. For non-residents, the limit is €15,000.

France is one of the first countries to have introduced restrictions on cash payments as early as 2001. However, particularly in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, many countries have followed the French lead as illustrated by the table below. In Germany, a plan to introduce a limit on cash transactions has been met with fierce resistance across the country. The economic weekly magazine made this their cover story in February titled “Save Cash”.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: CalPERS posts worst year since 2009, with slim returns

James Rufus Koren:

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System said Monday that its rate of return for the year ended June 30 was just 0.61%. What’s more, Ted Eliopoulos, the pension fund’s chief investment officer, said the poor year has pushed CalPERS’ long-term returns below expected levels.

“We have some challenges to confront,” Eliopoulos said during a conference call. “We’re moving into a much more challenging, low-return environment.”

CalPERS assumes that, in the long-term, it will earn investment returns averaging 7.5% a year. If the fund fails to meet that goal, the state’s taxpayers could be forced to make up any shortfall in pension fund

Are online classes causing summer enrollment on college campuses to shrink?

Elizabeth Donald:

Carbondale campus of Southern Illinois University saw fewer summer students this year, while the Edwardsville campus saw a slight increase — and school officials are saying online classes had an impact on both.
 On-campus summer enrollment at SIUC dropped 14.2 percent this year, or 571 fewer students than last. This is 1,334 fewer students than who were enrolled in summer 2014.
 However, when online classes are factored in, the summer enrollment at SIUC is down 5.1 percent — still a drop, but not as significant. In fact, online class enrollment grew by 8.5 percent this year.

Waive the Waivers

Jordan Posamentier

ESSA provides states with the opportunity to incentivize school districts to expand parent choice. States now have the freedom to relax their NCLB-driven state laws while incentivizing local authorities to go about improving choice in their school systems.

ESSA replaced NCLB, but the law of the land leading up to reauthorization was shaped by the Obama administration’s waiver program. The Department of Education used those waivers to compel states to pass a number of rather prescriptive laws, which tied the hands of districts in some policy areas. Perhaps the most onerous requirement was performance-based teacher evaluations, which—while well intentioned—were also highly constraining.

ESSA cleared the regulatory deck established by the waiver program, but by and large, the state laws that passed because of those waivers are still on the books. To unbind districts from those laws, states can now do one of three things: repeal the waiver-driven laws, weaken them, or waive them with the condition that districts do something awesome. The latter is the sleeper policy in ESSA.

Several states have already set up waiver processes for laws that might or might not have been NCLB-waiver driven. For example, Arkansas allows districts to seek waivers from state law in order to gain the same flexibilities that charter schools have—so long as they have at least one open enrollment charter school within their boundaries. Texas (which didn’t receive an NCLB waiver) has a similar package. Georgia has several to pick from.

How education changed because of welfare reform

Krissy Clark:

Before sociologist Tressie MacMillan Cottom went to pursue her PhD, she was working at a cosmetology school in her native North Carolina. The school emphasized that she was not an admissions officer, but instead focused on enrollment. The pitch was more akin to sales (“Join now!” “Start today!”) than the staid evaluation that liberal arts grads like Tressie knew well.

The school was near the end of a bus line, next to a popular fish stand. The would-be students who called and visited were not typically fresh out of high school, but in the middle of busy adult lives. And they needed a lot more from Tressie than a student might typically ask of someone helping to fill out financial aid documents.

“I held babies, I held hands, I gave them rides home when their boyfriends took their car and the buses had stopped running.”

At the end of many meetings, the women she met with would slide a piece of paper across her desk. She soon discovered, this was welfare paperwork, specifically an accounting of the time the women spent seeking or enrolling in a short-term credential program.

What’s A University For? Case Western Suddenly Shuts Down To House Riot Police


Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) prides itself on being the leading research university in Northeast Ohio. Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that not only would CWRU be housing approximately 1,700 riot police in student dormitories during the Republican National Convention, that not only would those police be permitted to store their weapons in student dormitories, and that not only would widespread student opposition to this decision be placated with two milquetoast Q&A sessions – “opportunities to learn,” President Barbara Snyder called them – but that my colleagues and I, with only one week’s notice, would be expected to cancel a week of summer classes in order to accommodate the quartering of the paramilitary force descending on Cleveland to police the city during the convention.

To be precise, the classes aren’t officially cancelled. A follow up notice from the university explains: “The only change to the existing practice is that these classes do not take place on our campus during those days.” Furthermore, the notice continues, “the educational experience may take place at a different time, place or manner, but the learning will still take place.” This attempt to dodge the accusation I am making—that CWRU is cancelling classes—is perfunctory at best. While my colleagues are brilliant, innovative, and committed teachers, I don’t think anyone who understands the energy and preparation that goes into teaching a college course would realistically imagine that “the learning will still take place” in anything resembling the manner we envisioned when we designed our courses. Can we actually presume that asking faculty to reboot one eighth of their entire class, during week seven of an eight week term and with less than one week of notice, will lead to a positive learning experience for our students? Unlikely. Instead of disputing semantics, I will continue to call this decision what it is: CWRU is effectively cancelling its classes in order to host 1,700 riot police for the RNC. I fail to see the wisdom in rebranding our mistakes in order to imply otherwise.

Since 1980, spending on prisons has grown three times as much as spending on public education

Emma Brown and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel:

State and local spending on prisons and jails has grown three times as much over the past three decades as spending on public education for preschool through high school, according to a new analysis of federal data by the U.S. Education Department.

The analysis, released Thursday, comes amid growing bipartisan agreement about the need for criminal justice reform, and argues that taxpayers and public safety would be better served by redirecting investments from incarceration to public schools.

“A variety of studies have suggested that investing more in education, particularly targeted toward at-risk communities, could achieve crime reduction without the heavy social costs that high incarceration rates impose on individuals, families, and communities,” it says.

What’s at Stake in the Ongoing Fight About School Spending Comparability?

Paul Hill:

On the surface, the current dispute about Title I comparability (the requirement that schools within a district must receive comparable resources from state and local sources for education of disadvantaged children before federal funds are added on) is all about money. On one side, Secretary of Education John King is pressing for regulations that would require districts to demonstrate real-dollar equality of state and local spending. On the other, Senate Education Committee Chair Lamar Alexander is insisting that the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) does not allow such a sharp definition of comparability, leaving states and localities free to interpret the comparability principle in various ways.

But the underlying issues go much deeper. They are about whether schools serving the most disadvantaged children will get a fair chance to improve, or will always be at a disadvantage in attracting and retaining good teachers and principals. Here’s why:

Driven by their collective bargaining agreements, the vast majority of big school districts ignore between-school differences in teacher salaries. This is so senior teachers can choose the schools they believe are the best workplaces—most often schools in nicer neighborhoods with students from higher-income families—while newer teachers with no seniority rights and fewer choices tend to work in more disadvantaged schools serving poorer students.

The use of mathematics in economics and its effect on a scholar’s academic career

Espinosa, Miguel and Rondon, Carlos and Romero, Mauricio:

The use of mathematics in economics and its effect on a scholar’s academic career.

There has been so much debate on the increasing use of formal mathematical methods in Economics. Although there are some studies tackling these issues, those use either a little amount of papers, a small amount of scholars or cover a short period of time. We try to overcome these challenges constructing a database characterizing the main socio demographic and academic output of a survey of 438 scholars divided into three groups: Economics Nobel Prize winners; scholars awarded with at least one of six prestigious recognitions in Economics; and academic faculty randomly selected from the top twenty Economics departments worldwide. Our results provide concrete measures of mathematization in Economics by giving statistical evidence on the increasing trend of number of equations and econometric outputs per article. We also show that for each of these variables there have been four structural breaks and three of them have been increasing ones. Furthermore, we found that the training and use of mathematics has a positive correlation with the probability of winning a Nobel Prize in certain cases. It also appears that being an empirical researcher as measured by the average number of econometrics outputs per paper has a negative correlation with someone’s academic career success.

Denver Public Schools set to strip 2% (47) of teachers of tenure after poor evaluations


Compared with other large Colorado school districts, Denver Public Schools has a higher proportion of teachers set to lose tenure under a sweeping educator effectiveness law passed six years ago.

Forty-seven Denver teachers are poised to lose non-probationary status — or tenure — after two consecutive years of being rated ineffective at their jobs, according to district officials. Those teachers represent about 2 percent of the total number of non-probationary teachers in DPS, the state’s largest school district.

Related: an emphasis on adult employment.

Why American Publishing Needs Indie Presses Like Graywolf, Coffee House Press, and Dorothy

Nathan Scott McNamara:

For better or worse, writers and readers live in an age of the million-dollar book deal. The Big Five publishers (Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster) increasingly gamble on massive book advances in hopes that they might put out one of the biggest hits of the year. Last fall, Knopf—a division of Penguin Random House—paid an unprecedented $2 million advance for the first-time novelist Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire. Other recent million-dollar debut deals include Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers, Stephanie Clifford’s Everybody Rise, and Matthew Thomas’s We Are Not Ourselves—and the list goes on.

Denver superintendent describes what he learned abroad

Melanie Asmar:

Was there anything you saw in the Argentine system that you admired?

It made us appreciate the extraordinary resources we have here. My two daughters went to secondary school: 2,000 kids in 32 rooms. No air conditioning, no library, no gym, no computer room, no nothing. Just bare classrooms. A thousand kids went for five hours in the morning; a thousand kids went for five hours in the afternoon. I think it was very eye-opening for the kids about the level of privilege that we have here in the United States.

It was also very interesting to have my kids be second-language learners and to talk every night about their learning process … (and) talk to their teachers, talk to their school leaders.

What would you want to say to the Spanish-speaking families that DPS serves about what you learned?

Tengo muchas ganas de hablar con ustedes directamente en español. Y es un oportunidad para hablar sin interpretación, sin traducción.