Raising The Stakes In The Fight Over The LSAT

Kathryn Rubino:

I was told there’d be no crim pro…The LSAT may not be the rite of passage all lawyers share much longer, but LSAC, the organization that administers the exam, is not going to take that lying down.

You may recall Arizona Law has decided to accept the GRE in lieu of the LSAT. They claim it is a move designed to increase diversity, but some see increasing the school’s applicants as another nifty benefit. While most schools aren’t ready to make the move to the GRE just yet, the LSAT’s dominance may be in jeopardy. The first move LSAC made to stem the tide was to threaten to take away Arizona Law’s membership (and the application data that comes with it), but that move was wildly unpopular with law school deans, and LSAC backed off.

Now LSAC has announced another ramification of moving away from the LSAT.

In a letter sent to admissions professionals at all law schools yesterday, LSAC announced it intends to stop certifying matriculant admissions data. Amid concerns about the accuracy of law school admissions data, beginning in 2011, LSAC began certifying the accuracy of the data (i.e., average LSAT scores). Now LSAC intends to stop that:

What do you mean, “free” college?

John Patrick Leary:

When I was in college at a midwestern university famous for its right-wing economists, the coffee shop in my dorm was called T.A.N.S.T.A.F.L., which stood for “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.” It was a quotation from Milton Friedman, who I suppose used it to mean that someone–the owners of capital–are the ones paying for what workers, mothers of dependent children, Chilean miners, or whomever are merely taking, as if it were “free.”

Of course, there isn’t any such thing as a free lunch, but it’s not because someone else is paying for it. It’s because someone is working for it. But that’s not what Friedman meant, and it’s not what critics of tuition-free college mean when they dismiss “free college” as a pipe dream. The derisive use of “free” in the TANSTAFL libertarian sense has experienced a revival, especially around the issue of tuition-free, publicly-funded higher education, or to its critics, “free college.”

What Makes Nigel Richards The Best Scrabble Player On Earth

By Oliver Roeder:

When the 2014 National Scrabble Championship begins Saturday in Buffalo, New York, the odds-on favorite will be a 47-year-old New Zealander who resides in Malaysia named Nigel Richards. He is currently ranked first in North America. The difference between his official rating and the second-place player’s is about the same as the difference between second place and 20th. He has held the first or second ranking on the continent since 2002, the year of his first National Championship. He holds the record for the highest Scrabble rating ever achieved. He is such an overwhelming favorite this weekend that a popular fantasy Scrabble rotisserie competition places him on participants’ selected teams automatically.

Why not bring back grammar schools?

Chris Cook:

Few intra-governmental memos have sparked more anger than one called Circular 10/65, a memorandum sent 51 years ago by Anthony Crosland, then the education secretary, to local authorities. The document instructed local officials to commence converting grammar schools into comprehensives. Only a few English counties, such as Kent and Lincolnshire, retained many.

Today, we learn, we have a new education secretary – Justine Greening – and she went to a comp. She is the first post-Crosland education secretary – and it has taken longer than one might have hoped for the new system to attain this position. But we also know, though, that Theresa May – and her advisers – are rather keen on a return to a world of grammars.

This might be an apt moment to quickly rattle through what we know about the grammar system. This is an argument that is, in truth, really about more than what is known, in the jargon, as “tracking” – the process of making pupils sit an academic test and separating the highest-performing from the rest.

Learning To Ask The Right Question

Steve Denning:

Teachers can use the approach, say the authors, at different points: to introduce students to a new unit, to assess students’ knowledge to see what they need to understand better, or for students to set a fresh learning agenda for themselves. It can be used develop science experiments, create their own research projects, begin research on a teacher-assigned topic, prepare to write an essay, analyze a word problem, think more deeply about a challenging reading assignment, prepare an interview, or simply get themselves “unstuck.”

A Letter to My Daughter About Young Men

Benjamin Sledge:

Do not despair, my daughter, for as you read this, you may be tempted to believe that honorable men disappeared in the years before you were born. They still exist. You must search to find them, and that may take many years. In your search, though, you will encounter many men without honor. Do not blame them.For they had fathers who didn’t know how to train their sons in the ways in which a man should walk. Many grew up without a male figure to explain what honor and integrity look like. Feel compassion for them, instead. Point them to other men you see acting in honorable ways.

I leave you with this in closing, Adi. When you were born, my heart was yours, and I wanted nothing more than to protect you, kiss your face, and watch you smile. One day, I hope to meet the man who feels the same way.

Kyoto Film 1


In the penultimate release for the KYOTO project, director Alan Algee offers Moving / Memory, a film featuring shodō artist and teacher Hiroshi Ueta discussing and demonstrating his relationship to the country’s calligraphic tradition, from its orthodox roots in 5th century Japan to his own avant-garde approach that began with instruction as a child from his mother Nobuyo Miyamoto. Over the course of the collaboration between Algee and VSCO’s 23.5 title, the KYOTO project has explored the city’s unique intersection between ancient and contemporary worlds, between ideas of cultural preservation and modernity. In Hiroshi Ueta’s artistry we find both a very literal example and an elegant expression of these ideas at work.

In praise of Dewey: He knew how to protect democracy – not by rote and rules but by growing independent-minded kids. Let us not forget it

Nicholas Tampio:

Did you attend a public school in the United States and perform in a school play, take field trips, or compete on a sports team? Did you have a favourite teacher who designed their own curriculum, say, about the Civil War, or helped you find your particular passions and interests? Did you take classes that were not academic per se but that still opened your eyes to different aspects of human experience such as fixing cars? Did you do projects that required planning and creativity? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you are the beneficiary of John Dewey’s pedagogical revolution.

Dewey put forth the philosophy of education that would change the world in Democracy and Education, a book that turns 100 this year. Dewey’s influence is far-reaching, but his pedagogy has been under assault for at least a generation. The United States Department of Education report A Nation at Risk (1983) signalled the rise of the anti-Dewey front, under the somewhat misleading name of the ‘education reform’ movement. The report warns that other countries will soon surpass the US in wealth and power because ‘a rising tide of mediocrity’ engulfs schools in the US. The problem, according to the report, is that US education is ‘an often incoherent, outdated patchwork quilt’. The education reform movement aims to replace that ‘patchwork quilt’ – mostly made by local school boards, teachers and parents – with a more uniform system based on national standards.

Forgotten Children: Why do parents keep leaving their kids in hot cars?

Matt Keyser:

Children’s laughter fills the halls of Dee Dee Estis’ two-bedroom Seabrook apartment. Toys are scattered throughout the house and child safety measures are in place to ensure no one gets hurt. In a back bedroom, Estis’ 6-year-old daughter, Bailey, plays with a friend.

Hanging on the walls are pictures of her 3-year-old son, Christian LaCombe, a brown-haired, blue-eyed boy. His mother describes him as an adventurous goofball with a contagious smile who can make the grumpiest person in the room grin. A caring, compassionate boy, who’s willing to do anything for those he loves.

He loves hiding behind the couch, waiting for Estis to walk by so he can attack and pounce on her back. He loves the movie “Cars” so much, Estis estimates he’s watched it at least a million and a half times. And he has a knack for memorizing song lyrics, especially “Life Is A Highway” by Rascal Flatts, the theme song to “Cars.”

Tougher Bar-Passage Standard for Law Schools Sparks Objections

aJacob Gorshman:

The ABA is considering a plan that would require 75% of a law school’s graduates who sit for a bar exam to pass the test within two years. The proposal has been floated amid a perplexing trend of declining bar exam scores nationwide and increasing attention on the racial make-up of the profession.

A number of law school deans and the largest nationwide black law student association are objecting to the proposed standard, expressing concern about its potential impact on schools with larger minority student populations.

If adopted, the new standard would “jeopardize the existence of traditionally minority law schools and ultimately erase the profession’s modest gains in diversity over the last several decades,” states a July 29 letter co-signed by the deans of more than a dozen law schools. The deans represent schools “designed to serve historically underrepresented minority population,” including Howard University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University and Florida A&M University.

Many of the schools represented in the letter reported passage rates among first-time test-takers in the 60% to 70% range, according to the most ABA data. Schools currently are required to report the passage rate of at least 70% of graduates who took the test for the time during the previous calendar year. So actual passage rates may be lower.

Tough times for higher ed

Glenn Reynolds:

Colleges, and graduate programs, are in trouble. Enrollments are falling — and not just at the PC-tainted University of Missouri — student debt is rising, and, worst of all in any bursting-bubble industry, the rubes seem to be catching on. This weekend, walking out of the drugstore, I saw Consumer Reports’ cover story, “I kind of ruined my life by going to college.” It was all about student loan debt and what it does to people’s lives. Hint: Nothing good.

I noted some years ago that trends in higher education couldn’t continue. The cost of college goes up every year; salaries, on the other hand, have grown much more slowly, if at all. This means that where today’s parents might have been able to comfortably fund their educations with loans and part-time work, today’s students can’t. Tuition is too high to cover with a waitressing job, and salaries are too low to comfortably pay back the debt after graduation. Or, sometimes, to pay it back at all.

Madison Schools’ Employee Handbook – Hiring/Transfer Language

Deirdre Hargrove-Krieghoff:

After the initial Handbook discussions one open item around the issue of filling vacancies in the support units remained. We were directed to continue to meet to try to reach consensus on this item.

Originally, we had recommended that the language in the Handbook with regard to vacancies state as follows:

Vacancies shall first be filled by employees in surplus. The District has the right to determine and select the most qualified applicant for any position. The term applicant refers to both internal and external candidates for the position.
The District retains the right to determine the job qualifications needed for any vacant position. Minimum qualifications shall be established by the District and equally applied to all persons.

The rationale for this language change is that it is essential that the District has the ability to hire the most qualified candidate for any vacant position—whether an internal candidate or an external candidate. This language is currently used for transfers in the teacher unit. Thus, it creates consistency across employee groups.

Charter Rhetoric: Legacy Non Diverse Governance Vs Choice

Joshua Miller:

The pro-charter school referendum campaign is starting a massive, $2.3 million August television advertising campaign aimed at persuading residents to vote yes on Question Two, which would allow for the creation or expansion of up to 12 charter schools per year in Massachusetts.

“Massachusetts public charter schools are among the best in the country,” says a Boston charter school teacher identified as Mrs. Ingall, sitting in a classroom with sunlight streaming through on the desks behind her. “Our charter schools are public. And we have longer school days with more personal attention.”

Mandatory for Minority Students

Scott Jaschik:

Concordia University St. Paul has for years had an orientation meeting for minority students. But this year, one of those students shared part of the invitation letter online — and said it was offensive to require minority students to attend a special program. She has since said she’s looking to enroll elsewhere.

Concordia denies that it has a requirement for minority students only. But the letter — a portion of which has been widely shared on Facebook — says in bold capital letters: “All new students of color are expected to attend this meeting.”

Brains of overweight people look ten years older than those of lean peers

Nicola Davis:

who are obese or overweight appear to have aged an extra 10 years compared to their lean peers from middle age onwards, brain scanning research has revealed.

The difference, scientists say, corresponds to a greater shrinkage in the volume of white matter, although they don’t know the cause. It might be down to genes causing both brain-shrinking and obesity, or it could be that changes occurring in the brain lead to overeating. Either way, it does not appear to affect cognitive performance.

White matter is tissue, composed of nerve fibres, that aids communication between different regions of the brain. The volume of white matter in a human brain increases during youth and then decreases with age for both lean who are overweight or obese.

“We know best” & curiosity

Madison students have long endured the disastrous results of “we know best“.

Reading Recovery and Connected Math are two prominent examples.

Chris Mooney:

The question then is whether there is an effective way to prime people to be more science-curious — which could then also have political ramifications.

“It’s an asset that there’s a segment of the population that has that kind of disposition, so what you want to do is exploit it to the greatest extent,” Kahan says. “And if we’re lucky, it will percolate into other people with whom they have interactions.”

How Marginalized Families Are Pushed Out of PTAs

Casey Quinlan:

When Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland, told parents in the fall of 2014 that it would allow students to use Chromebooks as a way to bridge the digital divide between low-income families and affluent families, there were mixed reactions. The plan was aimed at helping students become more adept at using technology, but the affluent parents, most of whom were white, were apprehensive about their children getting more screen time.

Center for Neighborhood Technology Shows That Reducing Household Costs of Living Can Help Cut Poverty Levels

Laura Bliss:

Proportionally speaking, Americans living in poverty pay more for basic necessities. On energy bills, the poorest 20 percent of Americans spend more than seven times the share of their income than do the wealthiest. Dividing American incomes into three, households in the bottom third spend twice the portion of their incomes on transportation than the top third. High housing costs are hurting everyone—but they’re hurting poor Americans the most.

How Black Lives Matter Activists Plan to Fix Schools: Activists are calling for an end to charter schools and juvenile detention centers.

Emily Deruy:

As my colleague Vann Newkirk has noted, the Movement for Black Lives Matter coalition recently published a platform outlining a range of specific policies it would like to see take shape at the local, state, and federal levels. The education proposals are rooted in the K-12 space, activists who helped draft them told me, because the U.S. public-school system is so broken that college is never an option for many young people of color. And while many universities are privately controlled, the group sees an opportunity to return control of K-12 public schools to the students, parents, and communities they serve.

The Real Value of $100 in Each State

Alan Cole:

This map shows the real value of $100 in each state. Prices for the same goods are often much cheaper in states like Missouri or Ohio than they are in states like New York or California. As a result, the same amount of cash can buy you comparatively more in a low-price state than in a high-price state.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has been measuring this phenomenon for two years now; it recently published its data for prices in 2014. Using this data, we have adjusted the value of $100 to show how much it buys you in each state.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Road To Confetti

Jim Grant:

We asked Miron about the predictive value of these data. Could you tell that Greece was on the verge by examining its fiscal imbalance? And might notJapan be the tripwire to any future developed-country debt crisis, sinceJapan–surely–has the most adverse debt, demographic and entitlement-spending profile? Miron replied that comparative statistics on fiscal imbalance among the various OEGD countries don’t exist. And even if they did, it’s not clear that they would tell when a certain country would lose the confidence of its possibly inattentive creditors. The important thing to bear in mind, he winds up, is that the imbalances–not just in America orJapan or Greece but throughout the developed world–are “very big and very bad.”

Of course, government debt is only one flavor of nonfinancial encumbrance. The debt of households, businesses and state and local governments complete the medley of America’s nonfinancial liabil’ities. The total grew in 2015 by 51$ 1 .9 tril’h’on, which the nominal GDP grew by $549 billion. In other words, we Americans borrowed $3.46 to generate a dollar of GDP growth.

We have not always had to work the national balance sheet so hard. The marginal efficiency of debt has fallen as the growth in borrowing has accelerated. Thus, at year end, the ratio of nonfinancial debt to GDP reached a record-high 248.6%, up from 245.4% in 2014 and from the previous record of 245.5% set in 2009. In the long sweep of things, these are highly elevated numbers.

In the not-quite half century between 1952 and 2000, $1.70 of nonfinancial borrowing sufficed to generate a dollar of GDP growth. Since 2000, $3.30 of such borrowing was the horsepower behind the same amount of growth. Which suggests, conclude Van Hoisington and Lacy Hunt in their first-quarter report to the clients of Hoisington Investment Management (30., “that the type and elficiency of the new debt is increasingly nonproductive.”

What constitutes a “nonproductive” debt?

Innovation in learning and teaching project report


This document presents the findings of a small-scale qualitative study into the motivations of higher education providers for pursuing strategic-level innovations in learning and teaching; the source of these innovations; their impact on the learning experience of students; and their financial implications for higher education providers. The project tells us why some institutions invest in innovation in learning and teaching, and what the enablers of innovation in higher education are.

Madison’s Reading Data, an Update

Our community, via the quite traditional Madison School District, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Has anything changed?

The District’s 2015-2016 “annual report” includes a bit of data on reading and math:

Tap for larger versions.

Unfortunately, the annual report lacks a significant amount of data, from enrollment to staffing and total spending. Boston publishes a handy two page pdf summary, shades of Madison’s long lost “Citizen’s budget“.

Commentary, from Ed Hughes. Mr. Hughes assertion that 4k plays a role in local reading results is surprising, in light of recent studies that question 4k’s lack of achievement progress.


Doug Erickson:

“a selective rather than exhaustive view…with only some grades and some demographic groups highlighted in detail”

Let’s Compare: Boston, Long Beach & Madison

Enrollment Staff Budget
Boston 56,650 9,125 $1,153,000,000 ($20,353/student)
Long Beach 78,230 6,515 $1,133,478,905 ($14,489/student)
Madison 25,231 4,081 ? $421M + “Construction” and ? (at least $17k/student)


In 2013, Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said “What will be different, this time“? The Superintendent further cited Long Beach and Boston as beacons in her Rotary speech. However, based on recently released 2015-2016 budget slides (PDF) and Molly Beck’s summary, it appears that the same service, status quo governance model continues, unabated.

2013, SIS

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

The District seeks increased tax & spending authority soon, perhaps in November. Ideally, a complete budget picture – with related outcome changes over time – would be easy to find and understand. Unfortunately, that is not currently the case. Boston publishes a handy 2 page summary (pdf).

Madison’s K-12 Government Schools Seek Tax & Spending Increase (Total Spending….?)

Madison School District Slides

2017-19 Budget Premise

Next biennial state budget will continue a six-year pattern of underfunding K-12

Next two years of MMSD budget development will require deeper and more disruptive budget cuts

We need a more balanced approach to budget development, combining targeted cost cutting with additional revenues based on an affordable tax levy

We recommend an operational levy referendum this November to stabilize the budget, maintain MMSD’s positive momentum, and keep our focus on teaching and learning

Madison plans to spend at least $421,473,742 (this number apparently excludes “construction spending”) during the 2016-2017 school year.

Limitless Worker Surveillance

Ifeoma Ajunwa, Kate Crawford, Jason Schultz:

From the Pinkerton private detectives of the 1850s, to the closed-circuit cameras and email monitoring of the 1990s, to contemporary apps that quantify the productivity of workers, American employers have increasingly sought to track the activities of their employees. Along with economic and technological limits, the law has always been presumed as a constraint on these surveillance activities. Recently, technological advancements in several fields – data analytics, communications capture, mobile device design, DNA testing, and biometrics – have dramatically expanded capacities for worker surveillance both on and off the job. At the same time, the cost of many forms of surveillance has dropped significantly, while new technologies make the surveillance of workers even more convenient and accessible. This leaves the law as the last meaningful avenue to delineate boundaries for worker surveillance.

San Antonio Trial Reveals How Guns, Drugs and Corruption Turned a Mexican Border State into a Graveyard

Michael Barajas:

Tavira and his wife were getting ready for bed when they heard the loud banging. It was the middle of the night, and as the noise grew louder and faster, Tavira realized that men were downstairs breaking through the security gate outside his home in Piedras Negras, the Mexican border city across from Eagle Pass.

Tavira’s children woke and came out of their rooms just as men, wearing bulletproof vests and armed with automatic rifles, stormed the house. Tavira would later recall how one of the gunmen covered his face with a mask made to look like a skull — “like you were looking at death.”

As a drug trafficker for the powerful Zetas cartel, Tavira recognized some of his captors. One was a friend of the family, someone whose kids played with Tavira’s own. The man ordered Tavira’s wife and children into the closet, shut the door, and then directed him down the hallway toward the staircase.

Under Surveillance: Examining Facebook’s Spiral of Silence Effects in the Wake of NSA Internet Monitoring

Elizabeth Stoycheff:

Since Edward Snowden exposed the National Security Agency’s use of controversial online surveillance programs in 2013, there has been widespread speculation about the potentially deleterious effects of online government monitoring. This study explores how perceptions and justification of surveillance practices may create a chilling effect on democratic discourse by stifling the expression of minority political views. Using a spiral of silence theoretical framework, knowing one is subject to surveillance and accepting such surveillance as necessary act as moderating agents in the relationship between one’s perceived climate of opinion and willingness to voice opinions online. Theoretical and normative implications are discussed.

Related: workplace surveillance.

Defending Privacy at the U.S. Border: A Guide for Travelers Carrying Digital Devices

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Our lives are on our laptops – family photos, medical documents, banking information, details about what websites we visit, and so much more. Thanks to protections enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the government generally can’t snoop through your laptop for no reason. But those privacy protections don’t safeguard travelers at the U.S. border, where the U.S. government can take an electronic device, search through all the files, and keep it for a while for further scrutiny – without any suspicion of wrongdoing whatsoever.

Learn Voraciously


told me that she thought I was much cleverer than her.

Now that is an awkward first sentence to a blog post. In fact, it’s the sort of incident that I would normally try and laugh off as quickly as possible. But this time it was so blatantly untrue that I couldn’t get it out my head, I am definitely not naturally cleverer than her.

On Academic Rigor….

Anemona Hartcollis:

“As an alumnus of the college, I feel that I have been lied to, patronized and basically dismissed as an old, white bigot who is insensitive to the needs and feelings of the current college community,” Mr. MacConnell, 77, wrote in a letter to the college’s alumni fund in December, when he first warned that he was reducing his support to the college to a token $5.

A backlash from alumni is an unexpected aftershock of the campus disruptions of the last academic year. Although fund-raisers are still gauging the extent of the effect on philanthropy, some colleges — particularly small, elite liberal arts institutions — have reported a decline in donations, accompanied by a laundry list of complaints.

More, frome Claire Lehman.

One Principal, Two Schools

Patrick Wall:

By allowing veteran principals to take on new challenges without abandoning their longtime schools, the split role has drawn effective leaders into buildings that need them. Where those principals have simply become mentors to other educators, weaker schools seem to be revitalized and stronger schools have not been impaired.

But experts remain wary of cases like Wiltshire’s, where one principal oversees two schools. The principals who are trying to make that arrangement work have generally handed off their original school to a deputy—but even then, playing double duty can be punishing. “This is like running a city and running a village,” said Connie Hamilton, the founder of a successful small school who was brought in to stabilize a large Brooklyn school. “I’m exhausted.”

‘Massive’ breach exposes hundreds of questions for upcoming SAT exams

Renee Dudley:

Among the red flags that consultant Gartner Inc raised in an October 2013 report: The not-for-profit College Board needed to better protect the material being developed for the new SAT.

Plans to secure the new test from leaks or theft had “not been developed” by the organization, the consultancy wrote in the report, reviewed by Reuters. At risk were thousands of items, or questions, that were being prepared for the redesigned SAT.

In 2014, employees at the New York-based College Board also raised concerns, arguing for limits on who could access items and answer keys for the revamped SAT, an email shows.

Report Card: The 14 Most Picturesque High School Campuses in the U.S.


Majestic. It’s just one of the many ways to describe Stadium High School in Tacoma, WA. The school — originally intended to be a luxury hotel — is rich in history and rich in architectural design.

The two financial backers, Northern Pacific Railroad Co. and Tacoma Land Co., had high hopes for their hotel when they began construction in 1891.

“The hotel was to be so grand, so elegant, so ornate, so artful, so elaborate, so huge, so splendid that other grand hotels would blush with shame at their own silly pretensions,” according to HistoryLink.org.

NJ teachers union to Dems: No campaign cash for you until pension amendment vote

Samantha Marcus and Susan Livio:

The constitutional amendment would require the state increase payments into the government worker pension fund. It must be approved by the voters in a public referendum. But Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) has so far declined to hold a vote on the referendum until lawmakers resolve a transportation funding impasse.

related: WEAC: four senators for $1.57 million

NJEA Leaders as Thugs and New Jersey’s Options at the Ballot Box: Murphy vs. Sweeney, Toady vs. Statesman

Laura Waters:

Would New Jerseyans rather have a governor who sucks up to special interests or a governor with courage and integrity? Our choices at the ballot box rarely split into such neat dichotomies but, if today’s news is any indication, we may have it easy in November 2017.

Today Phil Murphy, gubernatorial hopeful, released a statement that gives new heft to the concept of political pander. Parroting NJEA talking points and dissenting from the State Board of Education’s decision earlier today, he promised he would eliminate new PARCC assessments and end all high school diploma qualifying tests. Instead, he promised, N.J. would create “new and innovative tests,” “end student and teacher stress,” and save the state money because “computer-based tests have been proven to cost a fraction of PARCC.” Murphy failed to point out that designing new tests would cost mega-bucks, that meaningful tests would have to be aligned with N.J. course content standards — just like PARCC — and that PARCC is, in fact, a “computer-based test” that cost less than N.J.’s old and much-maligned ASK and HSPA tests.

In His Own Words: Gary Kildall

Computer History Museum:

Our father, Gary Kildall, was one of the founders of the personal computer industry, but you probably don’t know his name. Those who have heard of him may recall the myth that he “missed” the opportunity to become Bill Gates by going flying instead of meeting with IBM. Unfortunately, this tall tale paints Gary as a “could-have-been”, ignores his deep contributions, and overshadows his role as an inventor of key technologies that define how computer platforms run today.

Encouraging New Study Indicates Majority Of U.S. Students Can Now Recognize Math

The Onion:

In what experts are describing as the most marked improvement in American academic performance in decades, a study released Friday by the U.S. Department of Education has found that the majority of the nation’s students have attained the skills necessary to recognize math. “We were encouraged to find that when presented with a series of numbers, mathematical symbols, or even fairly complex equations, more than half of our young people were able to correctly identify math as the academic subject before them,” said Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell, who noted that for the first time on record, over 50 percent of the country’s first- through 12th-grade students are readily able to distinguish math from other areas of study when it appeared alongside English, social studies, foreign languages, or history on a standardized test. “While our schools should feel proud of this accomplishment, let’s remember that we must keep striving to do better. Too many Americans still graduate high school without learning to recognize any math beyond basic arithmetic, and our nation’s children still lag far behind students in other developed nations in their ability to identify geometry, algebra, and calculus as math.” A related Education Department study found that a majority of American eighth-graders are now able to look at a map of the earth and point to where the world is.

Website Tracking Study

Bill Camarda:

So… according to the Princeton review, who tracks most? That’ll be news, arts, and sports sites, which typically provide content for free and “lack an external funding source, [and] are pressured to monetize page views with significantly more advertising.”

And who tracks least? “Mostly sites which belong to government organizations, universities, and non-profit entities… websites [that] may be able to forgo advertising and tracking due to the presence of funding sources external to the web.” Oh, and adult sites, too.

Next, Englehardt and Narayanan turned to fingerprinting: techniques for individually identifying anonymous site visitors based on the unique characteristics of their hardware and software. (Check out our detailed primer on fingerprinting here.) The researchers wanted to know: Is it really being used in the wild? How widely? Which techniques?

They began with HTML Canvas fingerprinting, reflecting subtle differences in the way browsers and devices render HTML5 Canvas-based images. Canvas fingerprinting showed up on 14,371 sites – far more than a similar measurement in 2014.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: What Cost is each State Obsessed with?


Weed, liposuction and laser eye surgery, according to Google Inc., rank among the top searched-for costs of popular products and services in Denver. While Colorado now permits recreational uses of marijuana — including its alleged side effects, such as excessive hunger and bloodshot eyes — what are some of the autocomplete predictions of search queries for goods and services elsewhere? Most of them seem quite controversial.

Dope Sick: A harrowing story of best friends, addiction — and a stealth killer

David Armstrong:

DJ Shanks was early into his afternoon shift as a baker at the Tim Hortons doughnut shop when the craving, and the dread, began. He called the one person he knew would help. Fast.

Justin Laycock and DJ had met on their first day of kindergarten in nearby Swanton. Now in their early 20s, they remained best friends. “Do you have anything?” DJ asked Justin. “I’m sick.” Justin didn’t hesitate: “I got you, bud.”

He didn’t need to ask what DJ needed. The childhood pals were consumed by heroin addiction, and Justin knew DJ was dope sick.

Many heroin addicts don’t fear death. Dope sickness is another matter. When the body doesn’t get the heroin it lusts for, it retaliates with brutal force: vomiting, diarrhea, profuse sweating, intense cramping, paralyzing anxiety. Addicts will do whatever they can to avoid it — stealing, lying, or pimping themselves to get heroin. Justin once took his grandmother’s debit card. DJ had pawned his little sister’s video game console.

Two ordinary kids from Middle America, DJ and Justin were caught up in the most pressing public health crisis of the day — a wave of opioid addiction that’s killing nearly 30,000 Americans a year. But their story comes with a terrifying twist.

Their descent began with marijuana use in high school, then escalated to prescription painkiller abuse and heroin. It would end with something even more wicked.

After DJ’s call, Justin phoned his heroin dealer and ordered an “80” — street slang for $80 worth of heroin, about a half-gram. A half-hour later, Justin walked up to the doughnut shop counter and slid a folded dollar bill toward his friend. DJ, wearing white baker’s pants and a Tim Hortons baseball cap, grabbed it and quickly walked to the back of the shop, where he snorted the powdery substance concealed inside the money. Justin, meanwhile, went to the bathroom and injected some of the drug, then returned and handed DJ another bill. DJ went into the bathroom to snort more of the powder.

Why New Jersey Still Needs Tenure Reform

Laura Waters:

New Jersey School Boards Association reports on an important case that will tell us much about how well the state’s tenure reform system works. In Bound Brook vs. Ciripompa, the first to reach the level of a State Supreme Court appeal, the Bound Brook Board of Education filed tenure charges against a high school math teacher because he, according to NJSBA, violated the district’s “acceptable computer-use policy when administrators learned that he stored pictures of nude women on his district-issued iPad,” made “inappropriate sexual comments” towards several female staff members, purchased flowers and had students deliver them to female staff members, and made female staff members uncomfortable,

Twitter And Academics

Christopher Schaberg:

was recently having dinner with my dissertation adviser, Scott @shershow, catching up after many years, and at one point during the meal our conversation predictably drifted to something someone said on Twitter. Scott paused and said, “I must admit I don’t really get Twitter.”

He had joined Twitter maybe a year ago, had a couple dozen followers and was trying to become more familiar with it. But his admission suggested a murkiness and mysteriousness around the medium — qualities we tend to forget after several years of obsessive tweeting and accumulating thousands of followers, retweets and likes.
My mentor may be near a tipping point: either ready to abandon Twitter, or just on the verge of getting it, to use his word. Without wanting to sound like a hyped-up social media evangelist, let me see if I can help. What can Twitter be for academics?

California State teachers union has given more than $13 million to extend income taxes on wealthy Californians

Liam Dillon:

California’s largest teachers union has given more than $13 million to the effort to extend income tax hikes on California’s highest earners, according to newly released state campaign finance reports.

The report shows the California Teachers Assn. gave $3 million between April and June this year, in addition to the $10 million the union donated last month.

Before the $10-million contribution, supporters of the Proposition 55 campaign reported having $14 million in the bank. Also supporting the measure are the California Hospital Assn., Service Employees International Union and the California Medical Assn

. Related: WEAC, $1.57M for four senators.

and, Act 10.

Detroit’s vicious cycle: Why national education groups aren’t coming to help some of the country’s most troubled schools

Erin Einhorn:

been a struggle for sure,” said Dan Varner, the CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit, who says he’s approached “dozens” of deep-pocketed philanthropies like the Gates Foundation, prominent education organizations that boost schools around the country, and charter networks that run successful schools in other cities.

“We were looking for real substantive help and all of them have poked around and have done their homework and have decided not to [come].”

Plenty of Detroiters say that’s a good thing. They point to SWAT teams of education “reformers” who’ve promised to fix urban schools, only to be accused of trampling democracy — as happened recently in Newark when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg poured $100 million into schools and angered many locals in the process.

Math Errors On New York State’s Exam

Mr. Horner:

The purported reason for the penalty is that “The student made an error by not manipulating expressions independently in an algebraic proof”. It’s unclear what, if anything, this means, but there is no requirement that expressions be manipulated independently in an algebraic proof. This is an artificial criticism.

I suspect the complaint has to do with multiplying both sides of the equation by some quantity. I have occasionally heard teachers argue that, when proving an identity, you can’t multiply both sides of an equation by the same thing. Their reasons vary, but the most common explanation is that in doing so you are assuming the sides are equal, which is what you are trying to prove.

This is faulty mathematics. For the most part, there is no issue with multiplying both sides of a purported identity by the same quantity: if the original equation is true, the new equation will be true, and if the original equation is false, the new equation will be false. In general, the equations are logically equivalent, that is, true and false under exactly the same circumstances.

Making Algorithms Accountable

Julia Angwin:

Algorithms are ubiquitous in our lives. They map out the best route to our destination and help us find new music based on what we listen to now. But they are also being employed to inform fundamental decisions about our lives.

Companies use them to sort through stacks of résumés from job seekers. Credit agencies use them to determine our credit scores. And the criminal justice system is increasingly using algorithms to predict a defendant’s future criminality.

Those computer-generated criminal “risk scores” were at the center of a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that set the first significant limits on the use of risk algorithms in sentencing.

The court ruled that while judges could use these risk scores, the scores could not be a “determinative” factor in whether a defendant was jailed or placed on probation. And, most important, the court stipulated that a presentence report submitted to the judge must include a warning about the limits of the algorithm’s accuracy.

This warning requirement is an important milestone in the debate over how our data-driven society should hold decision-making software accountable. But advocates for big data due process argue that much more must be done to assure the appropriateness and accuracy of algorithm results.

Texas Opens Probe Into Gulen Connection to Charter Schools

Douglas Belkin and Tawnell D. Hobbs:

The state of Texas has launched an investigation into alleged fiscal improprieties at the state’s largest chain of charter schools.

Behind the probe: charges by the president of Turkey that the schools are part of a $500 million a year front to fund the revolutionary aspirations of a Turkish cleric he claims backed a recent failed coup.

The probe by the Texas Education Agency was prompted by a series of complaints filed by a Washington-based law firm hired late last year by the Turkish government to lead its case against Fethullah Gulen, a political enemy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr. Gulen, who lives in rural Pennsylvania, is on trial in absentia in Turkey on charges related to overthrowing the government. Thousands of Mr. Gulen’s followers in Turkey have been arrested or detained by Mr. Erdogan following the failed coup earlier this month.

Last week, a spokesman for Mr. Gulen denied any connection to the coup and said his goal is nonviolent reform in Turkey.

Walker calls for extending UW tuition freeze in next state budget

Nico Savidge:

Gov. Scott Walker says he wants to extend the freeze on University of Wisconsin System tuition for another two years. The Republican governor also told UW and most other state agencies they should not anticipate any new funding in his next budget.

UW officials and supporters have called for greater state funding for the system after years of budget cuts they say threaten the quality of public higher education in Wisconsin.

But in a letter the governor sent July 25 to the heads of state agencies, Walker indicated his budget proposal won’t include any new funding for UW or any but a few other departments.

School systems are more segregated than ever in this time of racial tension.

Lauren Camera:

The racial tension and violence that roiled the country this month left politicians, policymakers and protesters of every stripe shocked and exasperated.

Two separate incidents caught on video of white police officers shooting and killing black men, one in Baton Rouge and the other in Minneapolis, resulted in the killing of five Dallas police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest and most recently the killing of three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers – all in a two week span.

What Boston’s Preschools Get Right

Lilian Mongeau:

From start to finish, a day in Bolt’s Russell Elementary classroom could be a primer on what high-quality preschool is supposed to look like. Children had free time to play with friends in a stimulating environment, received literacy instruction that pushed beyond comprehension to critical thinking and communication, and were introduced to complex mathematics concepts in age-appropriate ways. All three practices have been shown to go beyond increasing what children know to actually improving how well they learn in kindergarten and beyond.

How To Read A Book.

Paul Edwards:

How can you learn the most from a book — or any other piece of writing — when you’re reading for information, rather than for pleasure?
It’s satisfying to start at the beginning and read straight through to the end. Some books, such as novels, have to be read this way, since a basic principle of fiction is to hold the reader in suspense. Your whole purpose in reading fiction is to follow the writer’s lead, allowing him or her to spin a story bit by bit.

But many of the books, articles, and other documents you’ll read during your undergraduate and graduate years, and possibly during the rest of your professional life, won’t be novels. Instead, they’ll be non-fiction: textbooks, manuals, journal articles, histories, academic studies, and so on.

The purpose of reading things like this is to gain, and retain, information. Here, finding out what happens — as quickly and easily as possible — is your main goal. So unless you’re stuck in prison with nothing else to do, NEVER read a non-fiction book or article from beginning to end.

Instead, when you’re reading for information, you should ALWAYS jump ahead, skip around, and use every available strategy to discover, then to understand, and finally to remember what the writer has to say. This is how you’ll get the most out of a book in the smallest amount of time.

A few blocks from the DNC, tales from the city with the highest poverty rate among major U.S. cities

Mike Newall:

The one that has moved in for a few days – the media, the delegates, the protesters of all the stripes – and the one we live in every day. The one of contradiction and divide. The one with a downtown bursting with new growth and neighborhoods plagued by the highest poverty rate of any big city in the nation.

The one where working men like Henry and Jones sit on a bench in a Center City that is becoming shinier by the day and talk about the neighborhoods where they live. Neighborhoods just a few miles away that might as well be a universe away. Neighborhoods plagued by poverty and hunger – the types of issues that have not garnered nearly enough attention during this bizarre and frightening election.

God help us all if Donald Trump wins. But how is it that two nights into a Democratic National Convention held in a city where one out of four people lives in poverty, where one of five children goes without enough food, where 700 people sleep on the streets each night, the words hunger or homelessness have barely been mentioned from the lectern, if at all?

When the circus leaves, we will remain, as will our problems.

It was a point not lost on David Brown. He sighed as he watched the protesters, wishing the crowds were clamoring for something else: the end of homelessness.

I know David, having written about him. For more than 20 years, he slept on benches on the Parkway or inside refrigerator boxes in a lot next to the Free Library. Three years ago, he finally accepted a Project HOME outreach worker’s plea to come inside. Now he lives in an apartment and manages a boutique.

Having seen enough, Brown left the protests and walked to the library, passing the benches where he once slept.

At the Free Library on Tuesday, Project HOME was holding its own DNC event, “Stories From the Margins.”

Centuries ago, explorers like Columbus and Vasco da Gama played a real-life version of Pokémon Go

Aishwarya Subramanian:

Amidst the flood of Pokémon Go stories that have dominated the news in the last week or so (to whatever extent a single story can be said to have dominated this week’s news) one recurring theme has been that of the game’s straying into the real world in unfortunate ways.

This is unsurprising. The very aspect of the game that is newsworthy is the relationship between its virtual space and the tangible, material space that we all exist in. Exhorting its users to “step outside and explore the world”, the game turns travelling through mundane urban landscapes (more rural areas haven’t been quite as well catered for) into an adventure, making you the protagonist of your own fantastic quest.

Seymour Papert – Logo, Lego and constructionism – RIP

Donald Clark:

For Papert, school is a process of regimentation through age segregation, a fixed view of knowledge, of what is ‘right’, too teacher-led and too much focus on academic, abstract thinking and reading, pushing what he calls the ‘epistemology of precision’. For Papert, children should play and personalise their learning through play, improvisation and doing. They should be encouraged to see knowledge as incomplete and accept vagueness and imprecision.

As a mathematician he is highly critical of both ‘what’ maths is taught and ‘how’ it is taught in schools. Most of what is taught, he thinks, is irrelevant to most people. He thinks this is the result of paper-based learning – the ability to write and manipulate symbols on paper. How it is taught, is also flawed, as it does not connect with the real world.

The Death of University Arts Programs, Part 2: The Corcoran Collapse

Richard bledsoe:

As prospective college students spend the summer looking forward to starting a new chapter in their lives, they need to understand the consequences of the decisions made about about schools and majors. Straight from the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Washington, DC, comes a cautionary tale about studying art at the college level.

In the Washington Post, Philip Kennicott wrote about the collapse of the Corcoran School of Art and Design and its associated gallery at this link: “The Corcoran Gallery is going away just as its mission is more important than ever.”

An anthropologist looks at Social Imperialism and New Victorian Identity Politics

Fabius Maximus:

The hope of the gatekeepers is that through the vehicle of legal rights they might become a new addition to the rentier class: exercising monopoly rights over the appropriate and authentic representation of their social fragment. They will decide which words can be spoken, and by whom; which phrases are permissible; which patterns can be reproduced on clothing and commercial advertising; mascots will be subjected to harsh interrogation methods; and, they will decide who is entitled to do the act of representation to the media, the courts, the White House, and to gain any rewards that flow from that. However, as producers of spectacle consumed by others, the rents for now accrue entirely to capital, especially the capital behind Facebook, Twitter, and other social media — so they are “useful” to the rentier class that dominates the society (see Harvey, 2014, p. 278).

The new tribal lobbies of the New Victorianism expressly dislike class issues. They rightly fear that people’s attention might be drawn to the class divisions that operate within such groups themselves. The questions such leaders dread is that of their own exploitation of their followers, and how as leaders they went about appointing themselves to speak in their followers’ names.

Words are losing their power. Not even Jason Bourne can save them now

Catherine Shoard:

It’s also why characters in mainstream movies now simply say less. The last thing any nervous producer wants is for their blockbuster to get banned because it brings up something dodgy. Better to spray a field full of pesticides than sow it with words that could sprout into hot potatoes.

But these films also need to appeal to a generation for whom actual chat makes up a diminishing proportion of their communication. Each new app encourages us to whittle. Emojis and Instagram promote pure imagery. And people like pictures in part because this is an international language. Everybody understands what a little picture of putting on nail polish means. Why explain further? Nuance only contracts the scope of the conversation.

23andMe Pulls Off Massive Crowdsourced Depression Study

Antonio Regalado:

23andMe has sold more than a million gene-test kits. The product, costing $199, is mostly for entertainment, like finding out about one’s ethnic background. But more than half of its customers have agreed to allow their DNA to be used in further research and answer survey questions about their health.

Through its surveys, the company was able to locate more than 141,000 people who said they’d been diagnosed with depression. That is about 10 times more than the next-largest depression study ever carried out, says Levinson. DNA data on another 337,000 23andMe customers who reported no depression were used as controls.

Pull of neighborhood schools remains weak in Milwaukee

Alan Borsuk:

When court-ordered desegregation began in Milwaukee 40 years ago, the goal, in broad terms, was to replace segregated neighborhood schools with integrated schools drawing kids from broad areas.

What a deal! We ended up with neither.

We have few integrated schools, especially at the kindergarten through eighth-grade levels, either in the city or in the suburbs.

And strong neighborhood schools? That’s still the reality in many suburbs, thanks to small school systems that aren’t particularly diverse by race or economics.

But in the city, consider this answer to a question I asked about Milwaukee Public Schools: What percent of kindergarten through eighth-grade students across the city go to the school in the “attendance area” where they live?

How children’s literature with a social conscience galvanised a generation and changed the UK

Kimberly Reynolds:

Children’s books often fly beneath the cultural radar, belying their ability to work powerfully on the social imagination. In the McCarthy-era US, for instance, they provided both a safe haven and a platform for writers and illustrators whose work was out of favour with the establishment. Subsequent studies suggest that the progressive views many American children absorbed through their books shaped the generation that protested against the war in Vietnam, supported the Civil Rights movement and campaigned for equal rights for women.

The fact that children’s books can have a strongly formative influence upon the young has often attracted the attention of new leaders and regimes. In the early days of the Soviet Union, Lenin and his followers harnessed the power of children’s books to shape culture. Some of the artistically vibrant work that resulted from co-opting leading writers and artists is currently on exhibit at London’s House of Illustration with the title, A New Childhood: Picture Books from Soviet Russia. In interwar Britain too, a group of socially and aesthetically radical children’s books underpinned the work of making Britain a progressive, egalitarian, and modern society. But unlike their Soviet counterparts, these books have since remained a largely hidden secret, with most scholars of the period overlooking them altogether.

Mediated/Augmented Reality (Un)Course Notes, Part I

Tony Hirst:

Pokemon Go seems to have hit the news this week – though I’m sure for anyone off social media last week and back to it next week, the whole thing will have completely passed them by – demonstrating that augmented reality apps really haven’t moved on much at all over the last five years or so.

But notwithstanding that, I’ve been trying to make sense of a whole range of mediated reality technologies for myself as prep for a very short unit on technologies and techniques on that topic.

Here’s what I’ve done to date, over on the Digital Worlds uncourse blog. This stuff isn’t official OU course material, it’s just my own personal learning diary of related stuff (technical term!;-)

Defending No Child Left Behind? Education Reform Hits the DNC

Molly Knefel:

Just two weeks prior, DFER President Shavar Jeffries had called the finalized education platform “hijacked” and an “unfortunate departure from President Obama’s historic education legacy,” but now speakers were emphasizing the importance of uniting behind Hillary Clinton and working together with other stakeholders in education, including teachers unions.

Clinton had recently spoken to both the United Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, said Ann O’Leary, senior policy advisor to Hillary for America, and had told them that “we really need to make sure to end these so-called education wars and put our ideology aside and look at how we problem-solve.” The group of education reformers at the DNC reluctantly cheered, and O’Leary added, “Yeah, you can clap for that!”

O’Leary called for unity between public school teachers — “who oftentimes are being asked to do so much more than we ever asked teachers to do in the past” — and reformers who “said it’s not good enough.” She argued that “great charters all over this country” are “laboratories” whose practices can be replicated at both charter schools and “traditional public schools.”

Study Finds Chinese Students Excel In Critical Thinking, Until College

Javier Hernandez:

BEIJING — Chinese primary and secondary schools are often derided as grueling, test-driven institutions that churn out students who can recite basic facts but have little capacity for deep reasoning.

A new study, though, suggests that China is producing students with some of the strongest critical thinking skills in the world.

The unexpected finding could recast the debate over whether Chinese schools are doing a better job than American ones, complementing previous studies showing Chinese students outperforming their global peers in reading, math and science.

But the new study, by researchers at Stanford University, also found that Chinese students lose their advantage in critical thinking in college. That is a sign of trouble inside China’s rapidly expanding university system, which the government is betting on to promote growth as the economy weakens.

WikiLeaks reveals DNC holds unions in contempt

Jeremy Lott:

Yet the emails that have been released highlight the rather one-way relationship between the Democratic Party and labor unions. DNC staffers see the unions as good soldiers in skirmishes with Republicans, as a pain when it comes to getting things done and, ultimately, as pushovers.

When brainstorming what to do about last week’s Republican National Convention, the DNC’s Rachel Palermo urged her party to “meet with the hotel trades, SEIU, and Fight for 15 about staging a strike.” She said the result could be a “fast food worker strike around the city or just at franchises around the convention.” The aim would not be to improve working conditions, but to bloody Republicans.

Alternately, the DNC could “infiltrate friendly union hotels and properties around the convention that Republicans will be patronizing to distribute ‘care’ packages” — probably not chocolates.

Palermo also noted that “SEIU has space in downtown Cleveland close to convention that can be the base of operations and host the wrapped mobile RV.”

Related: WEAC, $1,570,000 for four senators.

Public Pensions on Shaky Ground

conversable economist :

The stock market run-up of the 1990s was fool’s gold for many state and local pension funds. At the height of the dot-com boom, the typical pension fund had enough on hand to cover all of its expected future costs. But booms don’t tend to last, and that one didn’t, either. There are a couple of short recent reports that offer a useful update on the current status of public pension funds. One is the “Issue Brief” by Alicia H. Munnell and Jean-Pierre Aubry called “The Funding of State and LocalPensions: 2015-2020,” published by the Center for State & Local Government Excellence in June 2016. The other, by William G. Gale and Aaron Krupkin, is called “Financing State and Local Pension Obligations:Issues and Options,” and was published as a Brookings Institution Working Paper in July 2016.