A Madison “instrumentality Charter School” Approved

Doug Erickson:

Board member Mary Burke said it was critically important to her that the student body of the new charter school reflect the demographics of the overall district in terms of racial diversity and the percentages of students with special needs. The school’s founders and its supporters convinced her through their testimonials and their diligent work that this will be the case, she said.

“I think there’s a true commitment,” Burke said. She noted that the parents who came to the board asking for the public Montessori option reflected that diversity.

More than 20 supporters spoke Monday, one telling the board the IMA proposal is “a gift you don’t want to turn down.”

Prior to voting against the proposal, Mertz said he was concerned that too many unresolved issues were being left to the administration to negotiate when they should be dealt with by the board. After the meeting, he added that he thought the overall proposal has too many weaknesses.

Independent charter schools have been rejected by a majority of the Madison School. They include the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School and the Studio School.

This, despite our long term, disastrous reafing results.

Anmarie Calgaro’s lawsuit alleges that healthcare providers treated her 17-year-old as an emancipated minor without her consent


Oral arguments are set to begin Thursday for the lawsuit of a Minnesota woman who is suing her transgender teen daughter along with a variety of local school and health agencies.

Anmarie Calgaro’s lawsuit alleges that healthcare providers treated her 17-year-old as an emancipated minor without her consent when the teen began receiving transgender medical and mental health services.

While the lawsuit centers largely on the state’s lack of a clearly defined legal process for emancipation, Calgaro’s unnamed teen daughter earlier told Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid attorneys that her mother had “made it known to him [sic] that she no longer wishes to have any contact with him,” according to cou

The Fourth Amendment: Obama Killed a 16-Year-Old American in Yemen. Trump Just Killed His 8-Year-Old Sister.

Glenn Greenwald:

IN 2010, President Obama directed the CIA to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, despite the fact that he had never been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime, and the agency successfully carried out that order a year later with a September 2011 drone strike. While that assassination created widespread debate – the once-again-beloved ACLU sued Obama to restrain him from the assassination on the ground of due process and then, when that suit was dismissed, sued Obama again after the killing was carried out – another killing carried out shortly thereafter was perhaps even more significant yet generated relatively little attention.

Two weeks after the killing of Awlaki, a separate CIA drone strike in Yemen killed his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman, along with the boy’s 17-year-old cousin and several other innocent Yemenis. The U.S. eventually claimed that the boy was not their target but merely “collateral damage.” Abdulrahman’s grief-stricken grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, urged the Washington Post “to visit a Facebook memorial page for Abdulrahman,” which explained: “Look at his pictures, his friends, and his hobbies His Facebook page shows a typical kid.”

The fourth amendment.

I Was Trained for the Culture Wars in Home School

Kieryn Darkwater:

I was working the polls on election day, handing people ballots and explaining how to fill them out properly. I made it my mission to come up with interesting uses for the removable tabs and entertain people for the 30 seconds that I had their captive attention. When 7 pm hit, people came in looking grim. “Did you hear about the polls?” they’d ask. “No,” I said, “but don’t tell me, I need to get through the next hour.” I guarded my polling location from news of what was happening because we still had to close – I still had to close – and needed to be able to focus without dealing with the sheer terror of reality.

I checked Twitter as I got in my Lyft back home. Shock bombarded and horror filled me as I scrolled through my timeline. I hoped the panic would vanish once the CA votes were counted. It didn’t. Slowly the new reality set in – the one where I wake up horrified and lose more of my basic human rights every day. The one where I wake up and am reminded that I was prepared for this, I saw this coming, I know what’s happening.

How poets write letters

Nancy Campbell:

Towards the end of her life, Elizabeth Bishop wrote to her pianist friends Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale from Ouro Preto, Brazil. She was planning an unusual seminar series at Harvard: the subject was to be “Just letters – as an art form or something”. She asked their advice, explaining, “I’m hoping to select a nicely incongruous assortment of people – Mrs. Carlyle, Chekhov, my Aunt Grace, Keats, a letter found in the street, etc.”. The seminar series must have had its origins in Bishop’s own experience of the post – in particular her exchanges with friends and fellow poets during the many years she lived abroad. Yet, writing to Gold and Fizdale, she describes letters as “the dying ‘form of communication’”.

Open enrollment application period for Wisconsin public schools starts Feb. 6

Bill Novak:

Parents who plan to send their students to a public school other than where they live can start signing up for open enrollment on Feb. 6.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction announced on Thursday the application period for open enrollment in the 2017-18 school year will run from Feb. 6 to April 28.

The open enrollment era in Wisconsin began in 1998-99, and has grown in popularity every year since.

Much more on open enrollment here.

Youngest in class twice as likely to take ADHD medication

Martin Paul Whitely And Suzanne Robinson

New research has found the youngest children in West Australian primary school classes are twice as likely as their oldest classmates to receive medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the research analysed data for 311,384 WA schoolchildren, of whom 5,937 received at least one government subsidised ADHD prescription in 2013. The proportion of boys receiving medication (2.9%) was much higher than that of girls (0.8%).

Among children aged 6–10 years, those born in June (the last month of the recommended school-year intake) were about twice as likely (boys 1.93 times, girls 2.11 times) to have received ADHD medication as those born in the first intake month (the previous July).

For children aged 11–15 years, the effect was smaller, but still significant. Similar patterns were found when comparing children born in the first three months (July, August September) and the last three months (April, May, June) of the WA school year intake.

Brief interventions help online learners persist with coursework, Stanford research finds

Alex Shashkevich:

Millions of people have taken free massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which have been touted as democratizing access to educational opportunities around the world. But whether learners are likely to succeed in a MOOC largely depends on where they live, according to new Stanford-led research.

Kurt Hickman

Stanford researchers show in a new study how affirmation activities help students persevere in online courses despite low development in their home countries.

A study, published in the Jan. 20 issue of Science, found that people in less-developed countries are completing MOOCs at a lower rate than those in the more developed parts of the world.

But, the researchers found, brief psychological interventions that affirm class takers’ sense that they belong can help close the global achievement gap.

“MOOCs have expanded access to education but this doesn’t guarantee equal opportunities for people around the world,” said René Kizilcec, the lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication. “Providing access to the Internet and courseware is not enough. People need to feel welcome in online-learning environments to reach their potential.”

“lead to a small increase in average quality of the teaching workforce in individual-salary districts.”

As Stanford University economic researcher Barbara Biasi explains in a new study (which is awaiting peer review), Act 10 created a marketplace for teachers in which public-school districts can compete for better employees. For instance, a district can pay more to recruit and retain “high-value added” teachers—that is, those who most improve student learning. Districts can also cap salaries of low-performing teachers, which might encourage them to quit or leave for other districts.

The 2011 Wisconsin law, known as Act 10, limited collective bargaining to base wages while letting school districts negotiate pay with individual teachers based on criteria other than years on the job and education level. Some districts like Green Bay have used the law to reward teacher performance while others such as Racine have adhered to seniority-based salary schedules.

Prior research on Washington, D.C.’s teacher-tenure reforms and merit pay has found that financial incentives improved the performance of highly rated teachers while dismissal threats led to attrition among ineffective ones. Student achievement has risen as a result. Act 10 provides an opportunity to evaluate how changes in contract negotiations affect teaching quality.

As Stanford University economic researcher Barbara Biasi explains in a new study (which is awaiting peer review), Act 10 created a marketplace for teachers in which public-school districts can compete for better employees. For instance, a district can pay more to recruit and retain “high-value added” teachers—that is, those who most improve student learning. Districts can also cap salaries of low-performing teachers, which might encourage them to quit or leave for other districts.

Ms. Biasi analyzed how the demand for and supply of teachers changed across districts with individual-salary negotiations from those that kept uniform pay schedules. She found that the share of teachers moving from salary-schedule to individual-salary districts, and vice versa, roughly doubled between 2012 and 2014 from the five years prior to the law’s enactment.

She also found changes in salary structure. For instance, salaries in Green Bay increased about 13% for teachers with five to six years of experience but a mere 4% for those who had worked 29 or 30 years. Salaries among teachers with the same seniority also diverged more. In Racine the opposite occurred. Green Bay was able to pay better teachers more without regard to the lock-step pay scales traditionally dictated by unions.

Ms. Biasi found that better teachers gravitate to districts where they can negotiate their own pay while lousy teachers tend to migrate toward those where salary scales are regimented. The study found “a 34 percent increase in the quality of teachers moving from salary schedule to individual-salary districts, and a 17 percent decrease in the quality of teachers exiting individual-salary districts.”

“These sorting patterns,” Ms. Biasi concludes, “lead to a small increase in average quality of the teaching workforce in individual-salary districts.” Student math achievement rose significantly in individual-salary districts relative to salary-schedule districts due in part to improvements in the teacher workforce.

Much more on ACT 10, here.

Oconomowoc raised teacher salaries and increased high school teaching time.

When ‘Black Like Me’ Means ‘White Like Them’

Boluwaji Ogunyemi, via a kind reader:

From my first steps onto campus, I was determined to make my Nigerian parents proud and to seize the opportunities they had left their native country for. I had graduated high school in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s most eastern province, at the top of my class and as student body vice president. Being the single black student in a school of 600 had been immaterial to me. I had not developed a sense of black identity because, simply, I did not have to.

So here I was at the University of Western Ontario, the sole black on a dormitory floor made up mostly of white students from Toronto and a few ethnic minorities. It was, for most of us, the first time we were living away from home, and we spent time asking honest and sometimes naïve questions about one another, including ones about religion and race. It proved to be a safe, collegial space to check our biases. Or so I thought.

A few months in, we received an email notification that our exam grades were available. One by one, the pre-meds among us logged onto the reporting system to access our scores and, following the lead of one floor mate, shared them aloud. Each of us had already fallen prey to the paranoia that even a single mediocre grade would compromise our chances of medical school acceptance.

2006/1999: Acting White.

High Standards And Black Student Achievement

Emily Deruy:

When states raise the number of math classes they require students to take in high school, black students complete more math coursework—and boost their earnings as a result. That’s the topline takeaway from new research by Joshua Goodman, an associate professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

To understand the results, it’s helpful to have a little background. During the 1980s, a now-famous report called “A Nation at Risk” by Ronald Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education opened this way:

Related: a majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

10 Billion Private Searches & Counting!

Gabriel Weinberg:

At DuckDuckGo, our vision is to raise the standard of trust online, and in service of that vision, our mission is to be the world’s most trusted search engine.

We are proud to say that at the end of last year, we surpassed a cumulative count of 10 billion anonymous searches served, with over 4 billion in 2016! We are growing faster than ever with our first 14M day on Jan 10, 2017.

People are actively seeking out ways to reduce their digital footprint online. For example, a Pew Research study reported “40% think that their search engine provider shouldn’t retain information about their activity.”

Moglen’s Snowden and the future is worth reading.

How doctor’s free surgery brings joy to disfigured children in Cambodia

Fionnuala McHugh:

Jock Struthers is sitting in a small hospital on the out­skirts of Phnom Penh recalling the first time he saw a woman with a brain protrusion that almost obliterated her face.

“It was here, in Cambodia, in Banteay Meanchey province, near the Thai border. I saw her driving a motorbike, then she went into a little shop. It looked like a tumour. You see so many horrendous things … but this was a young girl.”

Struthers, who’s from New Zealand, was then working with NZAID – the country’s Agency for International Development – talking to pig farmers. He did nothing “and it always worried me”.

As vote nears on Montessori (Instrumentality) charter school, questions remain on cost, staffing

Doug Erickson:

The Madison School Board is poised to vote Monday on whether to create its first public Montessori charter school, a decision that appears to hinge on the level of risk board members are willing to accept.

The district’s charter review committee says it cannot recommend approval of the proposal from Isthmus Montessori Academy because the plan falls short in key areas. But the board could decide the shortcomings are fixable and not major enough to derail the effort.

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham has raised another possibility. If board members want to go forward with the proposal, she is recommending that implementation be delayed until the 2018-19 school year. That would provide more time to address remaining issues.

Melissa Droessler, a co-founder of the Montessori school, said delaying implementation by a year would be disappointing but not a deal-breaker, as long as the district kept negotiating in good faith.

Isthmus Montessori Academy (IMA), 1402 Pankratz St., is a private, nonprofit school founded in 2012 that wants to become part of the district. It is attempting to do that through the district’s charter application process, which was revised last year to be more rigorous.

Under the new process, if an applicant receives a “fails to meet expectations” rating in even one of 15 areas, the district’s charter review committee will not recommend it. The IMA proposal fails to meet the district’s expectations in four areas, including in its approach to budgeting, staffing and measuring academic growth.

However, School Board President James Howard questioned the rubric used by the district to evaluate applications, saying it “seems to be subjective” and that perhaps the threshold is too high.

Related: a majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

Writing clearly turns out to be not so easy after all

Lucy Kellaway:

When handing out my annual guff awards last week I wrote something I’d now like to retract. I said clear language in business was perfectly possible if you tried hard enough.

I now find it’s not as simple as that. Last autumn, I co-founded a social enterprise designed to get people like me to retrain as teachers. Teach Last, I wanted to call it, which I thought both clear and comic. No, no, no, was the response from practically everyone. Teach Last, they insisted, sounded as if the crematorium was the next stop, and so I backed down, and settled on the least worst alternative, Now Teach.

Wisconsin ACT doesn’t meet all federal accountability requirements

Erin Richards:

The ACT exam that Wisconsin uses to assess high school students for accountability purposes is not fully compliant with federal law, the U.S. Department of Education has told the state.

Based on a peer review of Wisconsin’s assessment system, the ACT only partially meets the federal government’s requirements for reading, language arts and mathematics assessments, and the state will have to provide “substantial additional information” to become compliant, according to a letter from the DOE to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction this month.

If Wisconsin doesn’t address the matter, the DOE could place a condition on the state’s federal grant dollars, the letter says.

The news comes as Wisconsin has recently shifted to using the ACT High School Assessments to accomplish two important tasks: Get more students taking the ACT college-entrance exam to increase the numbers of students considering college; and use the results of the widely known exam, which is administered to all Wisconsin juniors, to measure high-school achievement under federal law.

The long march from China to the Ivies

Brook Larmer:

s the daughter of a senior colonel in China’s People’s Liberation Army, Ren Futong has lived all 17 years of her life in a high-walled military compound in northern Beijing. No foreigners are allowed inside the gates; the vast encampment, with its own bank, grocery store and laundromat, is patrolled by armed guards and goose-stepping soldiers.

Growing up in this enclave, Ren – also known as Monica, the English name she has adopted – imbibed the lessons of conformity and obedience, loyalty and patriotism, in their purest form. At her school, independent thought that deviated from the reams of right answers the students needed to memorise for the next exam was suppressed. The purpose of it all, Monica told me, was “to make everybody the same”.

Why are schools in China looking west for lessons in creativity?

Imogen West-Knights

In the auditorium of Beijing Bayi School, on a cold morning thick with smog, props are broken, lines unlearnt and the mechanical curtain has blown a fuse. In four hours, my cast of 22 Chinese 14-year-olds, who have never acted before, will perform Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to an audience of 1,500 — in English. All their education has told them that drama is an irrelevance. As I race around the theatre, trying to track down an absent Grandpa Joe and a missing Golden Ticket I ask myself, not for the first time: what am I doing here?

Chinese education has increasingly been hailed as “superior” to the way we teach in the west in recent years. Its success in global tests for 15-year-olds reinforced this sense of a world tilting to the east: in the 2012 round of the Programme for International Student Assessment tests (Pisa), Shanghai, representing China, came first in science, reading and mathematics. Fretful western governments took note, amid mounting concern that China’s educational success would inevitably pave the way for economic and cultural dominance. Or, as the former UK government minister Michael Gove baldly stated when he was secretary of state for education, the UK can either “start working as hard as the Chinese, or we’ll all soon be working for the Chinese”.

For many, the solution is simple: whatever they are doing, we need to do it too. In July last year, it was announced that 8,000 primary schools in the UK would be given funding to adopt the “mastery” maths teaching technique, the method used in China, in which students are always taught, unstreamed, as a whole class, with stronger students helping weaker ones to keep up. A BBC documentary, Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School, followed an academy in Hampshire as it turned over some of its students to a cohort of Chinese teachers, to see if they could boost results. This autumn, the first dual language English-Chinese private prep school is to open in London.

One in three Tennessee graduates shouldn’t have received high school diploma, state says

Grace Tatter:

A third of Tennessee students are receiving diplomas without meeting the state’s requirements, according to a new report by the State Department of Education.

During this week’s State Board of Education meeting, department leaders vowed to address the lapse.

“This couldn’t happen again,” Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said Thursday. “We’ve got some pretty drastic measures that we’re taking.”

Should gifted students go to a separate school?

Catherine Wormald:

Despite two Senate inquiries in 1988 and 2001, it has taken 15 years and a state parliamentary review for the Victorian government to decide to build a specialist high school for students who are gifted, specifically targeting those from rural and regional Victoria.

Research at both the national and international level has long advocated that students who are gifted have specific learning needs that require:

tailored learning strategies

education supported by a challenging curriculum

teachers trained in gifted education

more exposure to students of similar ability

opportunities for acceleration

U.S., U.K. May Lose Luster as M.B.A. Destinations

John Simons:

Political changes in the U.S. and United Kingdom may be spurring some graduate business-school students to look elsewhere for their degrees.

More than a third (37%) of 760 prospective M.B.A. candidates who are non-U.S. citizens say they are less likely to pursue a graduate business degree in the U.S. because of the outcome of last year’s presidential election, according to a survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

Though no policy changes have yet been implemented, as a candidate, Donald Trump frequently proposed tougher immigration policies, including the construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. He also expressed support for a registry of all Muslims living in the U.S.

Civics: Trump’s Muslim Ban is Culmination of War on Terror Mentality but Still Uniquely Shameful

Glenn Greenwald:

Making this worse still is the central role the U.S. Government played in the horrors from which many of these now-banned people are fleeing. The suggestion that Trump protected the countries with which he does business is preposterous. The reality is that his highly selective list reflects long-standing U.S. policy: indeed, Obama restricted visa rights for these same seven countries, and the regimes in Riyadh and Cairo have received special U.S. protection for decades, long before Trump.

Beyond U.S. support for the world’s worst regimes, what primarily shapes Trump’s list is U.S. aggression: six of the seven predominantly Muslim countries on Trump’s list were ones bombed by Obama, while the seventh (Sudan) was punished with heavy sanctions. Thus, Trump is banning immigrants from the very countries that the U.S. Government – under both Republicans and Democrats – has played a key role in destabilizing and destroying, as Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, with surprising candor, noted this week:


It is critical to recognize and fight against the unique elements of Trump’s extremism, but also to acknowledge that a substantial portion of it has roots in political and cultural developments that long precede him. Immigration horror stories – including families being torn apart – are nothing new. As ABC News noted last August, “the Obama administration has deported more people than any other president’s administration in history. In fact, they have deported more than the sum of all the presidents of the 20th century.”

Civics: Gen. McChrystal explains what he means by suggesting our rights will be curtailed

Thomas Ricks

Each of us will have a different view of where the right balance lies, and what I’d like future reality to be and what I suspect will be the case, will no doubt be different. But my guess is that the next decade or more will show a constant tension between the security provided by the rise in collection and analytical capacity and our desire for some level of privacy. I see it likely for most citizens to gradually accept more and more encroachments to the personal privacy our grandparents, and even our parents, considered sacred and secure, than for us to accept the inconvenience or security risks associated.

More, here.

Humphries: Let parents choose how to fix schools

James Wigderson:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate John Humphries has unveiled a plan that would allow parents whose children attend the lowest-performing schools to decide what kind of changes they want to make.

“We’ve created a proposal system where we identify the lowest performing 5 percent of low-income schools,” Humphries told a group of voters Thursday at Coffee Makes You Black, a coffee shop on Milwaukee’s North side. “We accept proposals for those schools based on something called an RFP [request for proposal] process, that will have some quality standards put right into [it] so that we know that students will be getting high-quality curriculum from skilled staff members.”

Southeast Texas coaches blow whistle on referee power struggle

David Thompson:

High-ranking associates of two rival outfits had been summoned to peace talks in a long-running turf war.

The man who arranged the sit-down was the head of a third party, whose members contracted for the two outfits’ services. They were the ones most suffering from the long-running conflict.

The members were stressed from having to make decisions about which outfit to use based as often on pressure as preference. The situation was costing them peace of mind, money – and worse.

First they came for the Iranians

Scott Aaronson:

This time, it’s taken just five days, since the hostile takeover of the US by its worst elements, for edicts from above to have actually hurt my life and (much more directly) the lives of my students, friends, and colleagues.

Today, we learned that Trump is suspending the issuance of US visas to people from seven majority-Islamic countries, including Iran (but strangely not Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Wahhabist terrorism). This suspension might last just 30 days, but might also continue indefinitely—particularly if, as seems likely, the Iranian government thumbs its nose at whatever Trump demands that it do to get the suspension rescinded.

So the upshot is that, until further notice, science departments at American universities can no longer recruit PhD students from Iran—a country that, along with China, India, and a few others, has long been the source of some of our best talent. This will directly affect this year’s recruiting season, which is just now getting underway. (If Canada and Australia have any brains, they’ll snatch these students, and make the loss America’s.)

How to Raise Kids to Be Leaders—Not Twitter Trolls

Stephanie Cohen:

At the start of 2017, the Atlantic author Ta-Nehisi Coates self-importantly announced he was taking a year-long sabbatical from Twitter to focus on that old-fashioned long-form genre: the book. He’s not the only one taking a Twitter hiatus; lots of celebrities and writers have taken temporary breaks from the social media platform. But the compulsion—or addiction—to tweet is often too powerful to resist for very long.

To be sure, one can appreciate the cleverness of those who can stir the pot—or get a good laugh—with merely a few characters. Succinctness has its power. President Donald Trump sees Twitter as the most direct way to communicate with the American public—his words, no middle man, no third-hand interpretation, no tortured ambiguity. But the short 140-character bolts of verbal zing and the resulting dopamine bursts that he must get from the tidal wave of re-tweets has none of the depth, richness, and evidence of argument that were once the hallmark of leadership.

It’s not too late for slow parenting

Leonid Bugaev:

I didn’t even know that I have been raising my 5-years old son according to the contemporary philosophy of slow parenting. I don’t mean that the time is getting frozen in our family. On the contrary: as a modern nomads we’ve moving a lot and and having many events. Slow parenting for me is not to be in a hurry; everything has its time. I believe that kid should go through all the levels of adulthood and make it in his very own tempo.
The title of a best-seller book about early childhood development by Japanese author Masaru Ibuka “Kindergarten Is Too Late” translated to Russian in even more categorical tone — ”It’s Too Late Under Three Years”. And is very up to date. Go faster and faster: you must educate your kid all the skills, display his talents and make him an adult as quick as possible. But are you sure that all these stuff is necessary for a natural and happy childhood and then adulthood?

The spreading of misinformation online

Michela Del Vicarioa, Alessandro Bessib, Fabiana Zolloa, Fabio Petronic, Antonio Scalaa,d, Guido Caldarellia,d, H. Eugene Stanleye, and
Walter Quattrociocchia,

The wide availability of user-provided content in online social media facilitates the aggregation of people around common interests, worldviews, and narratives. However, the World Wide Web is a fruitful environment for the massive diffusion of unverified rumors. In this work, using a massive quantitative analysis of Facebook, we show that information related to distinct narratives––conspiracy theories and scientific news––generates homogeneous and polarized communities (i.e., echo chambers) having similar information consumption patterns. Then, we derive a data-driven percolation model of rumor spreading that demonstrates that homogeneity and polarization are the main determinants for predicting cascades’ size.

Polish schools told to pare back science in push for ‘new Pole’

Neil Buckley and Evon Huber:

Since Ewa Korulska launched Startowa middle school as director in 2007 she has wanted it to be a model for Polish education.

Now the school in a Warsaw suburb could be swept away as planned educational reforms bring cultural battles between Poland’s conservative government and its critics to the nation’s schools.

Middle schools such as Startowa, which teach 13- to 16-year-olds, would be abolished, but Ms Korulska and many education professionals have deeper concerns. They say the planned changes, including less time devoted to science and less compulsory schooling, will leave children ill-prepared for jobs and modern life.

Coursera enrols governments in online learning

Hannah Kuchler:

Coursera, the online education platform, is targeting veterans in the US, youth in Pakistan and would-be financiers in Kazakhstan with the launch of a service where governments pay on behalf of users.

Agencies from seven national governments have signed up to provide online training, aiming to close the skills gap and encourage people into employment in a cheaper way than conventional education.

By paying a couple of hundred dollars a year per student, the governments can provide free courses to the unemployed or underemployed in everything from machine learning in Mongolia to Excel spreadsheets in Egypt.

Rick Levin, chief executive of Coursera and former president of Yale University, said the Silicon Valley start-up began by addressing the skills gap individually and was moving to working with employers and governments.

Wisconsin Act 10, Outcomes, Spending And Rhetoric

Molly Beck:

A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Act 10 has been an “undisputed victory for Wisconsin taxpayers.”

“Wisconsin’s declining union membership since the passage of right-to-work legislation only reflects that workers now have the ability to make their own decision about the costs and benefits of union membership,” said spokeswoman Myranda Tanck. “Senator Fitzgerald maintains that the heart of this issue is a simple matter of individual freedom.”

Nationally, according to Thursday’s BLS report, about 14.6 million workers were members of unions in 2016 — down by 240,000 members, or 0.4 percent, from 2015. By comparison, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, or 17.7 million workers, in 1983.

UW-Madison economist Steven Deller said the level of union membership nationally has been declining for years — a trend that is likely to continue with large-scale, labor-intensive manufacturing being replaced with smaller-scale technology that requires more capital but less manual labor. Large-scale manufacturing companies tend to be unionized and their replacements are more likely not to be.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Act 10.

An emphasis on adult employment.

WEAC: $1.57 million for four senators.

K-12 Tax & Spending growth.

Madison schools 18k per student budget, up from about 15k in 2010.

Civics, First Amendment, Fakebook And Political Rhetoric

Lachlan Markay:

Left-wing advocacy group Media Matters for America has been quietly working with social media giant Facebook to combat what the group describes as “propaganda” and “fake news,” internal documents reveal.

Media Matters told current and prospective donors at a retreat in Florida over the weekend that it has been in discussions with Facebook leadership about their policies on inaccurate and partisan news stories on the website that many liberals blame for political losses last year.

“We’ve been engaging with Facebook leadership behind the scenes to share our expertise and offer input on developing meaningful solutions,” the group said in a briefing book obtained by the Washington Free Beacon at the conference

2005, Madison Schools’ Fake News.

On Progress and Historical Change


To give an example within the realm of intellectual history, teleological intellectual histories very often create the false impression that the only figures involved in a period’s intellectual world were heroes and villains, i.e. thinkers we venerate today, or their nasty bad backwards-looking enemies. This makes it seem as if the time period in question was already just previewing the big debates we have today. Such histories don’t know what to do with thinkers whose ideas were orthogonal to such debates, and if one characterizes the Renaissance as “Faith!” vs. “Reason!” and Marsilio Ficino comes along and says “Let’s use Platonic Reason to heal the soul!” a Whig history doesn’t know what to do with that, and reads it as a “dead end” or “detour.” Only heroes or villains fit the narrative, so Ficino must either become one or the other, or be left out. Teleological intellectual histories also tend to give the false impression that the figures we think are important now were always considered important, and if you bring up the fact that Aristotle was hardly read at all in antiquity and only revived in the Middle Ages, or that the most widely owned author in the Enlightenment was the now-obscure fideist encyclopedist Pierre Bayle, the narrative has to scramble to adopt.

Teleological history is also prone to “presentism” <= a bad thing, but a very useful term! Presentism is when one’s reading of history is distorted by one’s modern perspective, often through projecting modern values onto past events, and especially past people. An essay about the Magna Carta which projects Enlightenment values onto its Medieval authors would be presentist. So are histories of the Renaissance which want to portray it as a battle between Reason and religion, or say that only Florence and/or Venice had the real Renaissance because they were republics, and only the democratic spirit of republics could foster fruitful, modern, forward-thinking people. Presentism is also rearing its head when, in the opening episodes of the new Medici: Masters of Florence TV series, Cosimo de Medici talks about bankers as the masterminds of society, and describes himself as a job-creator, not the conceptual space banking was in in 1420. Presentism is sometimes conscious, but often unconscious, so mindful historians will pause whenever we see something that feels revolutionary, or progressive, or proto-modern, or too comfortable, to check for other readings, and make triple sure we have real evidence. Sometimes things in the past really were more modern than what surrounded them. I spent many dissertation years assembling vast grids of data which eventually painstakingly proved that Machaivelli’s interest in radical Epicurean materialism was exceptional for his day, and more similar to the interests of peers seventy years in his future than his own generation — that Machiavelli was exceptional and forward-thinking may be the least surprising conclusion a Renaissance historian can come to, but we have to prove such things very, very meticulously, to avoid spawning yet another distorted biography which says that Galileo was fundamentally an oppressed Bill Nye. Hint: Galileo was not Bill Nye; he was Galileo.

Civics: After 8 years, here are the promises Obama kept — and the ones he didn’t

Kim Soffen:

In his eight years as president, Barack Obama saw the nation through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, a major restructuring of the health insurance industry and a renaissance of civil rights movements. He saw political parties continue to polarize, tensions with Russia heighten and opioid abuse become an epidemic.

In preparing to face the challenges of the presidency, Obama laid out dozens of promises during his two campaigns. Now that he has moved out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we can evaluate: How have the results stacked up?

Governance Rhetoric

Joanne Jacobs:

ews coverage about Betsy DeVos has been lousy, writes Alexander Russo in The Grade, now on the Kappan site.

Instead of giving readers a full, helpful understanding of the nominee and her background, national outlets including Politico, Slate, the Wall Street Journal, and (especially) the New York Times have cherry-picked storylines that put DeVos in a negative light and written about DeVos’s ideas and efforts using fraught, charged language.

DeVos has been depicted as “Darth Vader meets Cruella de Vil,” writes Russo.
If she was so persuasive and powerful, wouldn’t Michigan have a voucher program in place? Wouldn’t Detroit Public Schools have been dissolved by now? Wouldn’t her husband be governor? Wouldn’t her preferred candidate have won the Republican nomination for president? Wouldn’t she have given a more commanding performance during her Senate hearing?

Russo mocks the idea that DeVos, who’s focused her attention on her home town of Grand Rapids, is responsible for Detroit Public Schools.

Speed reading

Mark Seidenberg:

THE LATE NORA Ephron famously felt badly about her neck, but that’s minor compared to how people feel about their reading. We think everyone else reads faster than we do, that we should be able to speed up, and that it would be a huge advantage if we could. You could read as much as a book critic for the New York Times. You could finish Infinite Jest. You could read all of Wikipedia. So, how fast can people read?

Reading speed is obviously going to depend on factors such as readers’ skills and goals and whether they are reading Richard Feynman’s lectures on physics or TMZ.com. But let’s just do some cold, hard calculations based on facts about the properties of eyes and texts.

About 7 to 8 letters are read clearly on each fixation.
Fixation durations average around 200 to 250 milliseconds (4 to 5 per second).
Words in most texts are about five letters long on average. 4 fixations per second = 240 fixations per minute
240 fixations × 7 letters per fixation = 1,680 letters per minute
1,680 letters/6 (five letters per word plus a space) = 280 words per minute

Bridging the District-Charter Divide to Help More Students Succeed

Robin Lake, Sarah Yatsko, Sean Gill, Alice Opalka

Animosity between school districts and charter schools has been the norm since the nation’s first charter school opened in 1992, but that is now starting to change. In at least 35 urban school districts with significant numbers of charter schools, efforts are under way to jointly improve instruction, align policies, address inequities, or garner efficiencies. About a dozen of these districts are using cooperation, also commonly referred to as district-charter collaboration, to drive decisions and address systemic challenges, including tracking school performance, student enrollment, and school closure. Cooperation in some cities has yielded real, tangible improvements for students and families, for example around more transparent discipline data and streamlined enrollment systems, while in other cities progress has stalled or even gone backwards.

Based on six years of research, our work has surfaced some fundamentals about the promises and challenges of cross-sector cooperation to date.

America the Aggrieved Departs Center Stage

Thomas P.M. Barnett:

It was always going to be the case that America would eventually want/have to renegotiate its relationship with the world and the many great powers whose rise we encouraged and accommodated. Eight years ago I published an entire book (Great Powers) that laid out a host of accommodations, deals, renegotiations, compromises, etc. that we’d have to pursue to re-rationalize our relationship with the world and globalization itself – the most obvious being we’d have to get along with, and forge new, more realistic and equitable relationships with New Core powers like China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and so on. As I have maintained for a couple of decades now, globalization comes with rules – but not a ruler.

President Obama did a lot of good things while in office, most notably symmetricizing the war on terror (our SOF/drones against their badasses). But he also engaged in the ill-conceived and poorly executed “Asian pivot,” created a serious great-power leadership vacuum in SW Asia (into which strode Russia and Iran), and abandoned all pretense of responsible nation-building (logically adhering to the pottery barn rule – yes, but doing it by sharing both the burden and the decision-making with all those far-more-local-and-incentivized New Core powers named above). By doing these things, Obama encouraged the “G-Zero” atmosphere that President Trump now exploits to complete his very dark take on the state of America and the world – a take that allows him to regurgitate the “America First” vision of pre-superpower America.

Classification vs. Prediction

Frank Harrell:

The field of machine learning arose somewhat independently of the field of statistics. As a result, machine learning experts tend not to emphasize probabilistic thinking. Probabilistic thinking and understanding uncertainty and variation are hallmarks of statistics. By the way, one of the best books about probabilistic thinking is Nate Silver’s The Signal and The Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail But Some Don’t. In the medical field, a classic paper is David Spiegelhalter’s Probabilistic Prediction in Patient Management and Clinical Trials.

By not thinking probabilistically, machine learning advocates frequently utilize classifiers instead of using risk prediction models. The situation has gotten acute: many machine learning experts actually label logistic regression as a classification method (it is not). It is important to think about what classification really implies. Classification is in effect a decision. Optimum decisions require making full use of available data, developing predictions, and applying a loss/utility/cost function to make a decision that, for example, minimizes expected loss or maximizes expected utility. Different end users have different utility functions. In risk assessment this leads to their having different risk thresholds for action. Classification assumes that every user has the same utility function and that the utility function implied by the classification system is that utility function.

Lucy Kellaway’s jargon awards: corporate guff scales new heights

Lucy Kellaway:

Every January for the past decade I have handed out awards for horrible use of language in business. Usually the task amuses me. This year I have found the sheer weight of euphemism, grammatical infelicity, disingenuity and downright ugliness so lowering I have decided to start the 2016 Golden Flannel Awards with something more uplifting: a prize for clarity.

I am calling this the Wan Long prize, after the Chinese meat magnate who once uttered the clearest sentence ever spoken by a CEO: “What I do is kill pigs and sell meat.” Mr Wan will surely approve of my winner, a BNSF railway executive who told a conference: “We move stuff from one place to another.”

This elegant, informative and borderline beautiful sentence is a reminder that despite the horrific nature of the entries below, clarity remains attainable.

Internet Health Report

Internet health report:

The Internet is an ecosystem. A living entity that billions of people depend on for knowledge, livelihood, self-expression, love…. The health of this system relies on – and influences – everyone it touches. Signs of poor health in any part impacts the whole. We’re all connected.
 How healthy is our Internet? How might we understand and diagnose it? We believe this is a timely and necessary conversation, and we hope you’ll join in.
 Our individual actions shape the health of the Internet ecosystem. Only by recognizing where the system is healthy can we take positive steps to make it stronger. Only by understanding where it’s at risk can we avoid actions that weaken it.

Chicago Plans To Launch A Single Application For All Public High Schools

Becky Vevea:

The move is designed to make applying to a vast number of high school options easier on families. Now, students must fill out separate applications for each type of school they are interested in, such as selective enrollment or military schools. All incoming freshmen, not just savvy families applying to specialty schools, will use the system, district officials told WBEZ.

“They’ll go to the web page, one portal, and rank order their preferences one to 20,” said Janice Jackson, the chief education officer for Chicago Public Schools. “This entire program is about equity and access.”

The story of a designer conquering mathematics.

Jinju Jang:

I hated maths.

Mathematics was frustrating. When I was young it seemed to be pointless to spend too much time on solving mathematical problems whilst you have so many other things to do!
Actually, I can create beautiful concepts if I know more about maths!

When I was a university student, I took an interactive art class where they taught me how to be a creative artist by writing code with Processing. From one of the examples, I found gorgeous art created by Marius Watz (he is my idol since then).

Hey Progressives: You Can Fight DeVos, but You Can’t Stop School Choice

Scott Shackford:

These are critiques that come also entirely from those who are embedded within the entrenched public education system and who have a stake in maintaining and expanding the status quo. Some senators seem aghast at the idea that DeVos was unfamiliar with all sorts of federal laws about how local schools are required to behave in order to receive federal funding.

But this just puts DeVos on the same footing as everybody outside the education system who have to interact with it and feel little control. While there are indeed parents who are familiar with these federal regulations because they have kids with special needs, this approach on DeVos feels very much like an attempt to keep the Department of Education under the control of insiders.

Canadian universities see rise in U.S. applicants

Simons Chiose:

This year’s surge in the number of Americans applying to Canadian universities is not a clear sign that today’s students are dodging Donald Trump the way their grandparents dodged Vietnam, university admission experts say.

At many Canadian universities, applications from U.S. students for the 2017-18 academic year are up between 20 per cent and 80 per cent compared to last year, an informal survey conducted by The Globe and Mail shows. Even smaller schools such as Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., say they have seen applications from the United States increase by more than 60 per cent.

The interest comes after several years of renewed recruiting efforts in the United States. While the results of the U.S election may have stoked this year’s numbers, those recruitment campaigns combined with the drop in the Canadian dollar are likely to have played a large role, universities say.

Civics: Democracy index

economist intelligence unit:

According to the 2016 Democracy Index almost one-half of the world’s countries can be considered to be democracies of some sort, but the number of “full democracies” has declined from 20 in 2015 to 19 in 2016. The US has been downgraded from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” because of a further erosion of trust in government and elected officials there.

The “democratic recession” worsened in 2016, when no region experienced an improvement in its average score and almost twice as many countries (72) recorded a decline in their total score as recorded an improvement (38). Eastern Europe experienced the most severe regression. The 2016 Democracy Index report, Revenge of the “deplorables”, examines the deep roots of today’s crisis of democracy in the developed world, and looks at how democracy fared in every region.

Philly teachers plan Black Lives Matter week — not all are happy

Kristen Graham:

“This is a critical issue of our time – in our society, but also in our students’ lives,” said Charlie McGeehan, an English and history teacher and member of the Caucus of Working Educators, an activist group within the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. “It’s important for us to dive in.”

That’s not a universal sentiment.

Christopher Paslay, an English teacher at Swenson Arts and Technology High School, said he’s unequivocally for equal rights and justice for all of his students, regardless of race.

But he takes issue with the Black Lives Matter movement and thinks it has no place in Philadelphia classrooms.

Algorithmic Life

Massimo Mazzotti:

Algorithms are changing the worlds we inhabit — and they’re changing us. They pop up in op-eds on weighty topics like the future of labor in an increasingly automated world. Writing about how new trading algorithms are taking over Wall Street, a dismayed journalist wonders “which office jobs are next?” — which of us, in other words, will be consigned to the dustbin of irrelevancy? The solution, others gamely counter, may be more algorithms: “How do you find a job? Ask the algorithm.” Algorithms promise to bring reliability and objectivity to otherwise uncertain procedures. In 2007, a famous billboard for ASK.com happily capitalized on this promise: it announced to San Franciscans that “the algorithm constantly finds Jesus.” Since then, most of us have adjusted our expectations. Algorithms, we have realized, can be carriers of shady interests and vehicles of corporate guile. And so, as a new batch of commentators urge, we must “make algorithms accountable.”

Top 13 percent of earners receiving two-thirds of Wisconsin private school tax benefit

Matthew DeFour:

Tax filers making more than $100,000 a year are claiming two-thirds of a private school tuition tax cut enacted four years ago, according to data from the Department of Revenue.

The tax cut is costing the state about $12 million a year, far less than the $30 million projected when it was slipped into the 2013-15 state budget. The $18 million adjustment to the estimate was already factored into the state’s financial bottom line in 2016, DOR spokesman Casey Langan said, so it’s not an amount that can be tapped for new spending in the 2017-19 budget.

Families sending students to private school can reduce their adjusted gross income by up to $10,000 for high school tuition and up to $4,000 for elementary school tuition. The private school tuition exclusion, similar to an exclusion for a retirement account contribution, reduces a tax filer’s income before deductions and credits are applied, so the actual amount in tax savings is a few hundred dollars per tax filer. Unlike a tax deduction, filers don’t have to itemize to benefit from it.

End of China’s one child policy sees births rise to 18.46 million in 2016 … but it’s still not enough

Zhuang Pinghui:

China’s relaxation of its one-child policy led to the highest number of births for 17 years in 2016 with a further increase in the number of newborns tipped for this year, the country’s health authority said.

More than 18.46 million babies were born in mainland hospitals in 2016 – 11.5 per cent more than 2015 – which was the record total since 2000, Yang Wenzhuang, a division director at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, told reporters at a briefing on Sunday.

China’s National Statistics Bureau previously reported that 17.86 million babies were born in 2016 based on a 1/1,000 sample survey. Both ways of calculating births are considered legitimate.

But these numbers are still below previous estimates. China’s family planning agency had estimated that allowing every Chinese couple to have two babies could push annual new births up to 20 million.

Deja Vu: Madison School District Agreement with the US ED Office of Civil Rights

Last October, Madison Superintendent Jen Cheatham signed a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding OCR’s compliance review of access to advanced coursework by Hispanic and African-American students in the District. The resolution agreement was presented at the December 5, 2016 Instruction Workgroup meeting (agenda item 6.1):

The description of the resolution agreement by Dylan Pauly & Jen Cheatham starts around 2 (h) 16 (m)

The OCR resolution agreement was included on the agenda (item 9.3) of the December 12, 2016 full board meeting as part of the Instruction Workgroup “report out” without discussion.

When OCR does a compliance review, it issues a resolution letter to the subject institution which describes OCR’s review and OCR’s findings. The resolution agreement (signed by the institution) then sets forth what the institution agrees to do to address the issues in the resolution letter.

Adele Rapport (PDF), via a kind reader:

According to the Superintendent, the District did not have a unified cuniculum prior to the 2013-201 4 school year. The Distiict recently reported to OCR that it is implementing “a multi-year, multi-phased plan to engage in course alignment. The end result will be courses that share a common course plan, common titles and course descriptions in the high school course guides, syllabi using common templates and common end-of-course summative assessments.” As summarized below. the District’s cum~nt approach to AL services is the product of several programs and initiatives as well as a recently concJuded audit by WDPI.

In 2008 The District received a $5.3 million Smaller Learning Communities grant from the Department. With these funds the District began, in its words, “to rethink and reconceptualize the high school experience.” As a result of this process, the Distri<.:t in October 2010 announced the "Dual Pathways Plan," with goals that included aligning the curriculum among all four high schools: closing the achievement gap between white students and students of color: and remedying what the District concedes was unequal access for students to advanced courses. The District proposed we meet these goals by implementing two different pathways for high school students: a "preparatory pathway" and an "accelerated pathway". In March, 2011, The WDPI concluded an investigation of the District's TAG program by determining that the District had failed to comply with four State of Wisconsin requirements for TAG programs: (1) establish a TAG plan and hire a TAG coordinator: (2) identify TAG students in multiple domain areas, including intellectual, academic, creative. leadership and the arts: (3) provide access to TAG programming without cost and allow parents to participate in identification and programming. The District subsequently adopted and implemented a corrective action plan to address findings of WDPI's audit. On February 6, 2015, WDPI concluded monitoring the implementation of the District's corrective action plan, finding the District in compliance with all relevant statutory requirements for TAG programs in Wisconsin. Also in 2011, in response to unfavorable feedback from parents and community members regarding the Dual Pathways proposal, the District modified the proposal and enacted a more modest series of reforms focusing on curriculum alignment. The District began to scale back its use of prerequisites for advanced high school courses, implementing a system of "recommended skills and experiences." The District also increased its advanced course offerings for the ninth and tenth grade, and expanded its assessment of elementary and middle school students for advanced kaming opportunities by broadening its reliance on qualitative factors like teacher recommendations. ...... The District offers honors ond AP courses to provide enriched academic opportunities for students. The District does not offer an International Baccalaureate program. Students can take honors courses at the middle school level, and both honors and AP courses at the high school level. None of the high schools offers weighted grades or credits for honors or AP courses. The District's offoring of honors and AP courses varies among schools, and neither the alternative high school (Shabazz City High School) nor the non-traditional high school (Innovative and Alternative Education) which focuses on expeliential learning, offers such courses. The District offored 13 different AP courses in multiple sections during the 2013-14 school year and 24 different AP courses during the 2015-16 school year. Recognizing that its AP course offerings vary across its four high schools, the District recently completed a three-year plan for course vetting and course alignment that includes AP coursework. Pursuant to this plan, the District plans to standardize across all four high schools AP courses that do not have prerequisites. In addition, the Dist1ict's Director of CuITiculum and Instruction said the District has the goal to have a standard set of AP courses across all four high schools: the schools will not necessarily offer all of the same courses, but the AP courses each offers will be drawn from the same set of AP courses. The District will gauge student interest in AP courses in deciding where to offer the courses. However, the District will ensure that core AP courses such as Physics and English will be offered at all four high schools. The AL Direclor noted that a first step in offering higher level math courses at all high schools is to ensure that Algebra 1 is the same at all school. The Director of Curriculum and Management confirmed that the District is realigning the math curriculum. ...... The magnitude of the racial disparity in AP enrollment is worse for math and science AP courses. There were only 18 math and 17 science AP enrollments by African-American students, a rate of 1.2 math and 1.1 science AP enrollments per 100 African-American students. There were only 44 math and 38 science AP enrollments by Hispanic students, a rate of 3.9 math and 3.3 science AP enrollments per 100 Hispanic students. By comparison, there were 526.5 math and 368 science AP enrollments by white students, a rate of 14.9 math and 10.4 science AP enrollments per 100 white students. Thus, in the 2013-14 school year, enrollments by white students in AP math and AP science courses were 12.4 and 9.5 times greater respectively, than enrollments by African-American students, and 3.8 and 3.2 times greater, respectively, than enrollmentw by Hispanic students. ...... Further the data provided by the District show that there was underepresentation of African American and Hispanic students in AP courses at each high school in the District. During the 2013-2014 school year, the disparity between African-American students' participation and all other students' participation was statistically significant in 12 of 15 AP courses offered at East High School, 5 of 13 courses at LaFollette High School, 13 of 17 courses at Memorial High School and 9 of 14 courses at West High School. The disparity between Hispanic student enrollment and all other students' enrollment was statistically significant in 2 of 15 AP courses offered at East High SchooL 0 of 13 courses at LaFollette High School. 6 of 17 courses at Memorial High School and 8 of 14 courses at West High School. In addition. African-American students underrepresentation in AP math ws statistically significant in all 12 of the AP math offerings that were offered at every District high school (in the three courses of Calculus AB, Calculus BC and Statistics) and Hispanic students underrepresentation in AP math was statistically significant in 3 of the same 12 AP math offerings. As for participation in AP science, African-American students' underrepresentation was statistically significant in 8 of 12 offerings of AP science (in the three courses of Physics C, Chemistry, Biology and Environmental Science), and Hispanic students' underrepresentation was statistically significant in 3 of the same 12 AP science offerings.


TAG Complaint

Small Learning Communities English 10

Connected Math

Discovery Math

Reading Recovery

Math Forum Math Task Force

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before

Madison’s Long Term, Disastrous Reading Results.

Curriculum Is the Cure: The next phase of education reform must include restoring knowledge to the classroom.

“The existing K-12 school system (including most charters and private schools) has been transformed into a knowledge-free zone…Surveys conducted by NAEP and other testing agencies reveal an astonishing lack of historical and civic knowledge…Fifty-two percent chose Germany, Japan, or Italy as “U.S. Allies” in World War II.”

Sol Stern, via Will Fitzhugh:

President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education has set off a new round in America’s long-running education wars. Teachers’ unions and progressive activists are warning of impending disaster—that DeVos and other “billionaire privatizers” are out to dismantle America’s public schools, the pillars of our democracy. Pro-choice education reformers, on the other hand, are cheering the DeVos appointment, and see great opportunities ahead for their movement. DeVos is one of the nation’s most tenacious advocates for (and generous funders of) the market approach to education. She likes charter schools, but is a true believer in vouchers—the policy of giving parents of children stuck in failing public schools tax dollars to pay tuition at the private schools of their choice. Even more encouraging, DeVos will presumably have the backing of a president who pledged on the campaign trail to use $20 billion in federal education funds to boost voucher programs in the states.

Unfortunately, hyperbole seems to be trumping reality (pun not intended) in this latest dust-up over the schools. Both sides ought to consider a ceasefire in order to begin focusing on the major cause of bad schooling in America: a half-century of discredited instructional practices in the classroom.

Let’s dispose of a couple of canards. First, the Trump administration isn’t about to privatize the public schools—far from it. During the campaign, the Republican-dominated Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that includes provisions severely limiting the federal role in K-12 education. These restrictions make it exceedingly difficult for the new administration to launch any sort of national school-choice program or to do away with Common Core. For better or worse, the future of all such reforms will remain exactly where they began—in the states.

Second, neither side in the debate has been entirely candid on the issue of charters and vouchers. We’ve already had several decades of robust school-choice experiments in the states and localities, many of which have been thoroughly evaluated. The results provide little confirmation for either side’s argument on how best to improve the schools. Charters seem to have produced significant gains for students in some school districts, including New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and New York. On the other hand, the largest study of charter school effects nationally (conducted by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes) found that only 17 percent of all charters had higher academic gains than similar public schools, while 37 percent had worse performance. Forty-six percent of charters performed no better or worse than public schools in the same district.

The grade for voucher programs is also an Incomplete. The country’s largest voucher experiment was launched in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 26 years ago. Today, more than 28,000 students are enrolled in the program, one-in-four of all the city’s students. Most minority parents are happy with their voucher schools—not a small point in its favor—but there has been no Milwaukee academic miracle. In fact, the city’s black children have recorded some of the worst test scores of any urban district in the country, as measured by National Association of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests.

Chinese professor in hot water for describing how women students are screened by their appearance

Josh Ye:

A Chinese university is investigating complaints that one its professors blogged in lurid detail how male professors screened women students who hoped to take their courses according to their appearance.

Qiao Mu, an outspoken journalism professor at the Beijing Foreign Studies University who was famously sidelined for his advocacy for free speech, has again attracted controversy after writing on his Weibo account on Friday that many male professors judged women interviewees based on their appearance.

A Libertarian Builds Low-Cost Private Schools for the Masses

Jim Epstein:

A libertarian businessman based in Raleigh, North Carolina, Luddy made his fortune as the owner of the nation’s leading manufacturer of commercial kitchen ventilation systems. CaptiveAire has factories in six states, and its 2016 revenues were $400 million. But what does fabricating stove hoods and building HVAC systems have in common with turning out successful students? More than you might think.

Luddy became interested in education when he observed that many hires at CaptiveAire lacked the basic math and science skills to thrive on the job. He volunteered to co-chair a statewide education commission and met with North Carolina officials to voice his concerns. “They were happy to discuss all of these ideas,” Luddy says, “but they weren’t going to implement any of them.”

The last straw for Luddy came in 1997, when he ran for a seat on the local school board and lost. It turned out to be a “great blessing,” he says, because it led him to start focusing on creating alternatives to the traditional public schools.

Madison spends about $18,000 per student, far above the national average.

Intuition In Mathematics

Elijah Chudnoff:

Abstract: The literature on mathematics suggests that intuition plays a role in it as a ground of belief. This article explores the nature of intuition as it occurs in mathematical thinking. Section 1 suggests that intuitions should be understood by analogy with perceptions. Section 2 explains what fleshing out such an analogy requires. Section 3 discusses Kantian ways of fleshing it out. Section 4 discusses Platonist ways of fleshing it out. Section 5 sketches a proposal for resolving the main problem facing Platonists—the problem of explaining how our experiences make contact with mathematical reality.

The foolish Democratic crusade against Betsy DeVos

Shikha Dalmia:

President Donald Trump’s pugnacious and divisive inaugural address confirmed that there are going to be many, many things to fear over the next four years. But his choice of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education is not one of them.

Despite what you may have heard from hyperventilating liberals, DeVos is among Trump’s more sober Cabinet choices. She never joined his cheerleading squad like Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson. And she was certainly not part of his inner circle hatching plans to court white voters by demonizing immigrants and minorities, like Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general. In fact, she declared relatively early that Trump did not “represent the Republican Party” and never retracted that statement.

San Francisco Asks: Where Have All the Children Gone?

Thomas Fuller:

In a compact studio apartment on the fringes of the Castro district here a young couple live with their demanding 7-year-old, whom they dote on and take everywhere: a Scottish terrier named Olive.

Raising children is on the agenda for Daisy Yeung, a high school science teacher, and Slin Lee, a software engineer. But just not in San Francisco.

“When we imagine having kids, we think of somewhere else,” Mr. Lee said. “It’s starting to feel like a no-kids type of city.”

A few generations ago, before the technology boom transformed San Francisco and sent housing costs soaring, the city was alive with children and families. Today it has the lowest percentage of children of any of the largest 100 cities in America, according to census data, causing some here to raise an alarm.

Madison School District Summer School Slides

PDF Slides

Summer School – a Strategy for Equity:

Gap narrowing work

Accelerate student achievement on key skills as measured by
CCSS aligned performance tasks and AIMSweb

Re-engage and reconnect students as learners as measured by survey and attendance data

Presentation Overview:

Review of MMSD Summer School 2016:

Key data and demographics

Program outcomes and results, including opportunities and challenges

Summer School 2017: Key Changes, Focus Areas and Highlights

Newsflash: Bruce Baker Analyzes Charter School Expansion and I’m Impressed

Laura Waters:

I am typically a fierce critic of Professor Bruce Baker but this week I find myself in the delightful position of praising his scholarship. Not all of it, mind you, and I’ll get to that. But in his new analysis, “Exploring the Consequences of Charter School Expansion in U.S.Cities” published by the Economic Policy Institute, Prof. Baker arrives at several clear, data-driven conclusions about the impact of charter school growth on traditional districts with only the occasional nod to anti-choice agitprop.

The report covers eight large and mid-size urban school districts and focuses on the “loss of enrollments and revenues to charter schools in host districts and the response of districts as seen through patterns of overhead expenditures.” One of those districts is Newark, the site of much sturm und drang among anti-choice folk because the charter sector in this north Jersey city now educates 35% of students with compelling results.

While there’s been much written by the usual suspects (NJEA, Save Our Schools-NJ, Mark Weber aka Jersey Jazzman, Bob Braun) about charters desiccating district finances, Baker’s analysis contradicts this meme. Here’s Baker:

Necessity, Not Nicety: What We’ve Learned About District-Charter Alliances

Robin Lake:

In some of the cities known as ground zero for noisy fights about charter schools, quiet partnerships are underway between district and charter leaders. In New York City and Newark, district educators are meeting with their charter school counterparts to share successful teaching strategies. In Chicago, charter and district leaders have worked out ways to use the same performance standards and to share facilities. In Philadelphia, charter schools are actively engaged with the district to turn around low-performing schools in specific neighborhoods. To help the financially strapped district manage debilitating legacy costs, Philadelphia charter schools assume the debt burden of the buildings they occupy and are lobbying the state for a more rational district funding model.

Why is this going on? The superintendents and school boards in these cities do not score points with teachers unions by working directly with charters. Charter schools are usually wary of losing their autonomy or wasting time when they get too close to districts. The reason is simple: the payoff of well-chosen cooperation, though slow and time consuming, is worth the effort. District-charter collaboration is a necessity, not a nicety.

New Jersey’s Retreat from Teacher Effectiveness Ratings; Out With the New, In With the Old

Laura Waters:

Charlotte Danielson, the doyenne of teacher evaluations, says that when schools use her highly-regarded rubric to gauge teacher effectiveness, the label of Highly Effective is “a place you visit” while the label of Effective “is where most teachers live.”

Not in New Jersey. Here, one in three teachers (33.8%) reside in Highly Effective Land, at least according to the just-released Educator Evaluation Implementation Report, the second iteration since the passage of the state’s 2012 teacher tenure reform law. In fact, 98.6 percent of teacher received ratings of Effective or Highly Effective, a 1.6 percent increase from last year.

That’s a feature, not a bug. Just like in New York City, where fewer than 1% of teachers earned ineffective ratings because evaluations are almost entirely subjective and student outcomes play a minimal role, just like in Connecticut where Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher called the state’s current teacher evaluation system “little more than cotton candy in a rainstorm,” NJ’s highly-vaunted teacher evaluation reform system, as currently implemented, is just so much fluff. The bipartisan legislation promised realistic differentiation of teacher quality in contrast to the former practice where seventeen teachers among a cadre of over 100,000 were fired for incompetence over the course of a decade. But it seems we’re right back where we started.

Civics: Brian Eno: ‘We’ve been in decline for 40 years – Trump is a chance to rethink’

Simon Hattenstone:

Brian Eno’s new album is called Reflection, and what better time to reflect on an astonishing career? Or careers. There’s the first incarnation of Eno as the leopardskin-shirted synth-twiddler who overshadowed the more obviously mannered Bryan Ferry in Roxy Music. With his shoulder-length hair and androgynous beauty, there was something otherworldly about Eno. He was as preposterous as he was cool. So cool that, back then, he didn’t bother with a first name.

After two wonderfully adventurous albums he left and Roxy became more conventional. There followed a sustained solo career, starting with the more poppy Here Come the Warm Jets, progressing to the defiant obscurity of his ambient albums and on to commercial Eno, the revered producer behind many of the great Bowie, Talking Heads, U2 and Coldplay records.

There is Eno the visionary, who helped conceive a 10,000-year clock and invented an influential pack of cards called Oblique Strategies that offer creative solutions for people in a pickle. There is Eno the visual artist; Eno the activist, tirelessly campaigning for a fairer world; and Eno the philosopher, endlessly thinking of ways in which to bring this new world about.

Chicago State spends money to lobby state — which isn’t giving out money

Jodi Cohen:

Cash-strapped Chicago State University spent about $200,000 over the past two years to lobby state lawmakers, including contracts with consultants closely tied to legislative leaders whose inability to pass a state budget has contributed to the school’s financial crisis.

With Chicago State’s budget woes forcing administrators to lay off hundreds of employees, including professors, money continued to flow to the politically connected to help with the university’s legislative strategy in Springfield and with communications advice for school leaders.

A Public-School Paradox Why do so many presidents send their kids to private school?

Alia Wong:

When President Jimmy Carter assumed office in 1977, he did something remarkable: He enrolled his 9-year-old daughter, Amy, in a predominantly black Washington, D.C., public school. The move was symbolic, a commitment the Democrat from Georgia had made even before securing the presidency. In his presidential-nomination acceptance speech the previous year, Carter criticized “exclusive private schools that allow the children of the political and economic elite to avoid public schools that are considered dangerous or inferior.”

Amy became the first child of a sitting U.S. president to attend a public school since 1906. She still is. When Sasha and Malia Obama moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with their dad, they enrolled in the $40,000-a-year Sidwell Friends—a highly selective Quaker school that also boasts Chelsea Clinton, Julie and Tricia Nixon, and Albert Gore III, among other political progeny, as alumni. Boarding schools such as Phillips Exeter Academy have been another popular option among past presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Calvin Coolidge, and Theodore Roosevelt. For the many presidents whose kids were adults by the time they assumed office, it’s hard to say where those kids would have attended school as first children had they been younger. But if Clinton’s trajectory is any indication, those presidents probably wouldn’t have taken the Carter route: Even children who had traditionally attended public school—such as Chelsea Clinton—enrolled in private school once their father assumed the presidency.

Civics: Trump Now Inherits an Expansive Surveillance State

Benjamin Snyder:

his final week in office, President Obama made several feel-good moves that played to his base. He transferred 10 Guantanamo detainees to Oman. He commuted the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning. He donated his children’s swing set to a D.C. shelter.

And then there was his decision to significantly strengthen the surveillance state. On January 12, the New York Times reported that Obama had rolled back limits on the National Security Agency’s most powerful surveillance operations, allowing the agency to share raw feeds of intercepted data with 16 other government agencies rather than selectively filtering it beforehand. The personal data of private citizens is now more widely and easily accessible to government eyes.

“For every working-poor student the Ivy League launches into the middle class, CUNY launches more than 6.”

David Leonhardt:

Alex Kosoglyadov has a story that sounds as if it’s out of New York’s glorious past.

His parents emigrated from Russia and raised him in a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn. Alex did well in school and enrolled at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York.

There, he was surrounded by highly motivated students, many of them holding down jobs while they went to school and many whose first language was not English. It wasn’t easy, but there was an esprit de corps. “Everyone appreciated the grind it took to succeed,” he said.

And yet Kosoglyadov’s story doesn’t come from the past. He is 29 years old now and has a very nice job in Manhattan, as a director at the Bank of Montreal. He’s yet another success story from the City University of New York.

School improvement flop: $7 billion = 0

Joanne Jacobs:

After seven years and $7 billion in School Improvement Grants, low-performing schools showed no improvement, concluded a federal analysis. The final evaluation found “no evidence that SIG had significant impacts on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment” compared to similar low-performing schools that didn’t receive grants.

To receive up to $2 million per year for three years, school had to adopt one of four Education Department models.

School Improvement Grants could “change the lives of tens of millions of underserved children,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Half of SIG schools chose the “transformation” model, which called for replacing the principal and adopting new instructional strategies, teacher evaluations and a longer school day. Nearly all the rest adopted the similar “turnaround” model, which included firing half the teachers.

Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington-Bothell, studied SIG schools in the state. “Not much had really changed,” she told Ed Week‘s Sarah D. Sparks. “They were being asked to do different things, but the fundamental culture of the school, organization of the school, the fundamental design wasn’t reorienting toward dramatically higher intervention strategies, dramatically higher expectations, or dramatically better teacher training and support.”

The SIG failure aligns with earlier research showing that money can’t save dysfunctional schools and systems, Andy Smarick, an American Enterprise Institute fellow and president of the Maryland Board of Education, told Emma Brown of the Washington Post. “I can imagine Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump saying this is exactly why kids need school choice,” he said.

Smarick predicted the debacle he writes.

On December 6, 2009, I wrote:

The Obama administration’s Department of Education recently launched what I believe will become its most expensive, most lamentable, and most avoidable folly.

In a 2010 Education Next article, The Turnaround Fallacy, Smarick “recommended a different approach to helping kids assigned to failing schools (namely, new schools, a diversity of options, and parental choice).”

Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, Bill Bill Requires teaching of California students about Russian interference for Trump

Jill Tucker:

Unwilling to wait for history to become, well, history, a Marin County legislator wants to make sure state schools teach students about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, requiring the topic in history classes.

Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, said he is introducing a bill to require the State Board of Education to develop curriculum to ensure “all California students will learn how the Russian government conspired to influence the United States Presidential Election to elect Donald Trump,” according to his office.

“The work of 17 intelligence agencies including the FBI and CIA confirmed Russian interference in our election,” he said. “This is a threat to our democracy and must be treated with appropriate significance in American history.”

Civics: Chelsea Manning commutation won’t save Obama’s transparency legacy

Philip Eil:

TRANSPARENCY HAS LONG been a part of Barack Obama’s political identity. He talked about it on the campaign trail in 2007. He talked about it on his first full day as president. He talked about it in his 2015 State of the Union. He even mentioned it in last week’s farewell address. But many of the reporters who covered the Obama administration know a different reality. And as the 44th President leaves the Oval Office, we owe him a farewell fact-check.

Let’s recap the self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in history.”

These were eight years in which the Obama administration prosecuted more leakers than all previous presidents combined. In the 2013 Committee to Protect Journalists report, The Obama Administration and the Press, former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. wrote, “The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration.” More recently, the organization Reporters Without Borders cited this “war on whistleblowers” to help explain the US’s 41st-out-of-180 rank in its Press Freedom Index. Obama’s last-minute commutation of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence improves, but does not erase, what RSF described as his administration’s record of “obsessive control of information.”

These were eight years in which the Society of Professional Journalists sent repeated letters to the Obama administration urging more transparency, when the White House Correspondents Association submitted a letter of its own (co-signed by dozens of news orgs) protesting “Journalists…routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties,” and when the CEO of the Associated Press wrote to Obama’s then-Attorney General to object “in the strongest possible terms” to the DOJ’s secret collection of AP phone records.

How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next

William Davies:

In theory, statistics should help settle arguments. They ought to provide stable reference points that everyone – no matter what their politics – can agree on. Yet in recent years, divergent levels of trust in statistics has become one of the key schisms that have opened up in western liberal democracies. Shortly before the November presidential election, a study in the US discovered that 68% of Trump supporters distrusted the economic data published by the federal government. In the UK, a research project by Cambridge University and YouGov looking at conspiracy theories discovered that 55% of the population believes that the government “is hiding the truth about the number of immigrants living here”.

Rather than diffusing controversy and polarisation, it seems as if statistics are actually stoking them. Antipathy to statistics has become one of the hallmarks of the populist right, with statisticians and economists chief among the various “experts” that were ostensibly rejected by voters in 2016. Not only are statistics viewed by many as untrustworthy, there appears to be something almost insulting or arrogant about them. Reducing social and economic issues to numerical aggregates and averages seems to violate some people’s sense of political decency.

How ex-inmates, with the help from one of their own and the same cops who once pursued them, can find a way back to their families and jobs


Unlocking Potential
How ex-inmates, with help from one of their own and the same cops who once pursued them, can find a way back to their families and jobs

Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Wisconsin Center
400 W. Wisconsin Ave., Room 102, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
7:00AM – 7:30AM Registration
7:30AM – 9:00AM Presentations, Panel Discussion and Q&A

Disney’s “Frozen”, & its frozen ideology

James Bowman:

Said to have been “inspired by” Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, it retains virtually nothing from that characteristically weird but undoubtedly enchanted paean to childish innocence — which is pre-sexual, pro-Christian and anti-rationalist. Instead, all the fairy tale conventions are deliberately subverted, along with the “gender” norms on which they so often depend. Instead of moral lessons, they teach the avoidance of “stereotypes”; instead of the examples of piety that are frequent in Andersen, there are therapeutic nostrums about being solicitous of self; instead of the wicked Snow Queen, there is only poor, differently-abled Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) who suffers through no fault of her own from a tendency to freeze everything she touches. When she retreats to her remote ice palace it is not to harm anyone but to avoid harming anyone — that and being free at last to be “who I am.”

Civics: America’s Russian hypocrisy

Nina Krushcheva:

In my view, the intelligence report itself was fundamentally problematic. Full of conjecture and bias, the report is based on the argument that Putin must be an enemy, because he doesn’t share Western values. But how could he? Russia was never fully welcome in the Western world order, much less able to participate in it on equal terms. That is why Putin has sought to create his own international order.

In fact, in the early days of his presidency, Putin wanted Russia to be part of Europe. But he was immediately confronted with NATO’s expansion into the Baltic states. In 2006, then-U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration announced plans to build a missile-defense shield in Eastern Europe, in order to protect the Western allies against intercontinental missiles from Iran. Russia viewed the plan — which U.S. President Barack Obama went through with last year — as a direct threat, and a sign that calls for closer ties should be regarded with caution.

The U.S. has supported anti-Putin forces since 2008, but ramped up that support in 2011, when Putin, then prime minister, prepared to return to the presidency. In 2013, the U.S. cheered the protests in Ukraine that ousted pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. But while Yanukovych was undoubtedly a crook, the U.S. supports plenty of crooks. Its effort to deny Russia, or any other power, the right to possess similarly odious factotums is pure hypocrisy.

Update on Madison “Community Schools” Implementation

Nichelle Nichols (PDF):

As a reminder, in August we shared that our Resource Coordinators were busily engaging in the early work of Community School implementation, which included (1) forming and beginning meetings with the newly formed Community Schools Committee, (2) compiling existing data about needs in the neighborhood, and (3) working with community partners to plan neighborhood block parties.

Since August the work has continued and we are confident about our early indicators of implementation.

Community School Committees (Standard 1: Collaborative Leadership)
Both schools have done an outstanding job of creating diverse Community School Committees and engaging those committees to help identify the needs and assets of their local community. This is an important aspect of the community school strategy – building shared responsibility for the success of children and youth by working with families, community and school staff.

Leopold’s Committee has 25 members. They have an average participation rate of 70% at meetings since they began in August. Meetings are held at Leopold School. Food and childcare provided; and interpretation for those confirmed to attend.

Lee Hayes – Parent & Wisconsin Youth Company Employee Doug Horejsh-Parent
Angie Oler- Parent & PFO member
Suzanne Johnson- Parent & Adopt a School Partner Yuriana Garcia Zaldivar- Parent
Maria Ramirez- Parent
Camara Stovall- Parent & Allis Teacher
Sarah Kluesner- School Social Worker
Holly Raymond- School Nurse
Emily Michels- Lead Secretary
Marilyn Fruth- Nurse Assistant
Kathy Perez- DLI Teacher
Karine Sloan- Principal
Karen Hall- ELI Teacher
Josh Miller- Pastor & Adopt a School Partner
Scott Endl- City of Fitchburg Forestry, Parks, & Recreation Director Emily Thibedeau- Community Social Worker, Joining Forces for Families Linda Horvath- City of Madison Urban Planner, NRT
Briana Kurlinkus- YMCA Youth Director
Amos Anderson- Urban League/My Brother’s Keeper
Kristina Mendiola- DLI Teacher
Andrea Missureli- ELI Teacher
Julia Stanley- Healthy Kids Collaborative Program Director
Rebecca Peterson- Assistant Principal
Nancy Saiz- City of Madison

Mendota’s Committee has 43 members. They have an average 65% participation rate at meetings since they began in August. Meetings are held at Warner Park Center. Food and childcare provided; and interpretation for those confirmed to attend.
Alison Stauffacher – Staff at Vera Court Amos Anderson – My Brother’s Keeper Beth Welch – Parent
Bridget Rogers – Joining Forces for Families

Carlettra Stanford – Principal
Clara Barbosa – Bilingual resource specialist/board member of Vera Court Neighborhood Center Darline Kambwa – CC Teacher
David Dexheimer – Community Police Officer
David Hart – lawyer, pastor, Northside resident
Dean Kirst – Adopt a School Partner Lakeview
Debie Evans – School Social Worker
Debra Minihan – 3rd Grade Teacher
Gregory Smith Jr – Student
Jacob Tisue – Director of Warner Park Community Center
Jamie Engen – 3rd Grade Teacher
Jean-René Watchou – Adopt-A-School Partner Christ Presbyterian
Jennifer Diebling – Teacher
Jennifer Hatch – Parent
Jill Jokela – Community member/previous parent
Jon Anderson – Adpot-A-School Partner Door Creek Church
Kiymiah Curtis – Student
Laurie Lee – Adopt-A-School Partner Door Creek Church
Manuel Garay – Staff
Margot Kennard -Grandparents group/ UW prof
Rebecca Kimball -Northside Alderperson
Rosie Gittens- ELL Teacher
Sandra Willis-Smith-parent
Sonia Spencer-Parent Liaison
Stacy Broach-Community School Resource Coordinator
Stephanie Drum – Parent
Stephanie Munoz – Catholic Charities, Building Bridges Program
Steven Skolaski – Rennebohm/Northside Early Childhood Zone
Tom Solyst -Executive Director Vera Court Neighborhood Center
Torrie Kopp Mueller-Parent
Jack Garner – Webcrafters
Joan Zepeda-Parent
Mary O’Donnell-City of Madison
Maria Villatoro- Parent
Maria Palicios-Parent
Pulcherie Ganjui-Parent
Maritza Hernandez-Parent
Kyisha Williams -Parent
Ignacia Mooney-Staff

Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening

Emma Young, via a kind reader:

It’s a little before three on a sunny Friday afternoon and Laugardalur Park, near central Reykjavik, looks practically deserted. There’s an occasional adult with a pushchair, but the park’s surrounded by apartment blocks and houses, and school’s out – so where are all the kids?

Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavik University. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”

We approach a large building. “And here we have the indoor skating,” says Gudberg.

State finalizing plan to give all Michigan public schools A to F grade

Brian McVicar:

Report cards carrying A to F grades have long been a fact of life for students. Now, Michigan’s schools could soon receive them, too.

The Michigan Department of Education is finalizing a new accountability system that would assign schools an A to F grade based upon standardized tests scores, graduation rates, whether students with a limited grasp of English are making progress and other factors.

However, at least one big question remains: how much weight should be given to each category?

Should standardized test scores count for the biggest chunk of a school’s grade? Or should factors like graduation rates, teacher longevity and chronic absenteeism have greater weight?

What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class

Joan Williams:

My father-in-law grew up eating blood soup. He hated it, whether because of the taste or the humiliation, I never knew. His alcoholic father regularly drank up the family wage, and the family was often short on food money. They were evicted from apartment after apartment.

He dropped out of school in eighth grade to help support the family. Eventually he got a good, steady job he truly hated, as an inspector in a factory that made those machines that measure humidity levels in museums. He tried to open several businesses on the side but none worked, so he kept that job for 38 years. He rose from poverty to a middle-class life: the car, the house, two kids in Catholic school, the wife who worked only part-time. He worked incessantly. He had two jobs in addition to his full-time position, one doing yard work for a local magnate and another hauling trash to the dump.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he read The Wall Street Journal and voted Republican. He was a man before his time: a blue-collar white man who thought the union was a bunch of jokers who took your money and never gave you anything in return. Starting in 1970, many blue-collar whites followed his example. This week, their candidate won the presidency.

It’s Not Okay For You To Pass Judgment On How Many Kids I Have

Cassandra Chesser:

Even better than these people are the ones who feel entitled to comment on my sex life. “You need to get a television!” or “Man, don’t you have a hobby?” Still other people think that it’s acceptable to lecture me on birth control and sterilization, or how we “need” to not have any more children. They also seem to think it’s appropriate to ask deeply personal questions. “Were they all planned? When are you going to get fixed? You don’t want any more, right?” As if the answers to these questions are anyone’s business but our own.

Please Stop, You’re Making Me Nervous
This started when we had our third child, a girl. We had two boys first, so when we got our girl, we were informed by virtually everyone we knew that this was a good thing, because now we had the perfect family, and could stop. When we got pregnant with our fourth, not many people said congratulations.

Letter from Newark Superintendent Chris Cerf to Newark Teachers Union President John Abeigon

Laura Waters:

This letter, copied in full below, is from Newark Superintendent Chris Cerf to John Abeigon, President of the Newark Teachers Union. I did not receive this letter from the NPS central office but from someone who wishes to remain anonymous. In this letter Cerf itemizes his frustrations with Abeigon’s allegedly irresponsible leadership, including manipulating perceptions of union members to improve his chances of winning re-election, failing to bargain the next contract in good faith, maligning security staff, lying to the media, being less than transparent about personal compensation, and fighting tenure charges against a teacher who called students “monkeys” and “stupid.”

Superintendent Cerf is clearly passionate about repairing relations with NTU leadership and finalizing a fair contract. I welcome a response from Mr. Abeigon and, if received, will publish it in full.

Peking University Loses Plagiarism Lawsuit

Matthew Walsh:

China’s most prestigious university has lost a legal case in which it claimed that a former student had plagiarized her Ph.D. dissertation, according to a court statement seen Wednesday by The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication.

Yu Yanru, a former doctoral student in history who had her dissertation annulled by Peking University (PKU) in January 2015, successfully argued that the school’s appraisal procedure for determining whether her work had been falsified was unfair and unlawful.

On Tuesday, PKU was ordered by the Haidian District People’s Court in Beijing to overturn the annulment, a move that had effectively voided Yu’s degree. The court said in its statement that China’s procedures for annulling degrees lacked clear guidelines, but that PKU “did not fully listen to Ms. Yu’s explanation and defense,” thereby violating “correct procedural principles.”

Commentary on US K-12 Governance

Alan Borsuk:

As expected, she spoke up for school choice. “Why in 2017 are we still questioning parents’ ability to exercise educational choice for their children?” DeVos said. “I’m a firm believer that parents should be empowered to choose the learning environment that is best for each of their individual children.”

But she was, at best, hazy on a host of education matters that will be big parts of what she is responsible for, assuming she is confirmed.

Her thoughts on protecting the rights of students with disabilities? She thought such matters should be left to the states. She admitted to being “confused” when it was pointed out that there was a long-standing federal law on this that she would be responsible for enforcing.

There’s an ongoing debate over whether it is better to measure the student performance (particularly among high-needs students) by how much progress they are making or by whether they meet specific standards for proficiency. Which does DeVos favor? You certainly couldn’t figure that out from her murky answer.

Isthmus Montessori School’s Madison K-12 Proposal

5.7MB PDF:

We submit this proposal to open MMSD’s first AMI Montessori school. Isthmus Montessori Academy, Inc. was founded in the goal of providing expanded access to Montessori as a brain-based scientifically developed method of education. We are inspired by MMSD’s direction and leadership, and are excited and prepared to join the district in providing vibrant and sustainable learning opportunities to the students of Madison.

Through this proposal, you will explore a method of education that engages families, promotes a culture of inclusion and respect, takes a solution-focused approach to student behavior, and inspires children to love learning and reach their highest potential. Decades of research and hundreds of public school districts have demonstrated the power of the Montessori method to accelerate academic and social outcomes for students of all backgrounds and abilities.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.

Additional documents: Evaluation PDF and BOE Memo.

Beijing study abroad program suspended indefinitely

Lsa Wang:

Stanford has announced that due to low enrollment, it will be indefinitely suspending its undergraduate overseas studies program in Beijing at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year.

This decision comes just months after the University’s consolidation of both the Chinese and Japanese majors and minors into one East Asian Studies program; both changes were made due to low interest and enrollment.

The Beijing program, which allows undergraduate students to study at Peking University, one of China’s leading research institutes, was established in 2004. Enrollment, which was high at first and able to fill the 20 to 30 slots each year, steadily declined over time. Last spring, only eight students participated in the program.



3. When Plaintiffs Michelle Gregoire and Brandon Withers, two students at KCC, tried to distribute pocket-size copies of the United States Constitution in an open, generally accessible area of the campus outside the Binda Performing Arts Center, Defendants ordered them to stop because they had not first obtained a permit and because expression was only permitted in one location. When Mrs. Gregoire, Mr. Withers, and three associates sought to engage interested students in conversation about freedom and liberty on campus, Defendants claimed that they were impeding students’ access to education, even though they were not blocking sidewalks, impeding access to buildings, or pursuing students who were not willing to converse. When Plaintiffs politely informed KCC officials that they planned to continue to exercise their First Amendment rights, Defendants arrested Mrs. Gregoire and two of her associates, jailed them, and charged them with trespassing, charges that were quickly dismissed.

Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening

Emma Young:

It’s a little before three on a sunny Friday afternoon and Laugardalur Park, near central Reykjavik, looks practically deserted. There’s an occasional adult with a pushchair, but the park’s surrounded by apartment blocks and houses, and school’s out – so where are all the kids?

Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavik University. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”

The Price Of The K-12 Status Quo

David Harsanyi:

Actually, teachers unions are the only organizations in America that openly support segregated schools. In districts across the country — even ones in cities with some form of limited movement for kids — poor parents, most typically black or Hispanic, are forced to enroll their kids in underperforming schools when there are good ones nearby, sometimes just blocks away.

The National Education Association spent $23 million last cycle alone working to elect politicians to keep low-income Americans right where they are. Public service unions use tax dollars to fund politicians who then turn around and vote for more funding. The worse the schools perform, the more money they demand. In the real world we call this racketeering.

Yet according to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, it is people like DeVos who are “a grave threat” to the public schools “that made America great.”

Big Sugar’s Secret Ally? Nutritionists

Gary Taubes:

The first time the sugar industry felt compelled to “knock down reports that sugar is fattening,” as this newspaper put it, it was 1956. Papers had run a photograph of President Dwight D. Eisenhower sweetening his coffee with saccharin, with the news that his doctor had advised him to avoid sugar if he wanted to remain thin.

The industry responded with a national advertising campaign based on what it believed to be solid science. The ads explained that there was no such thing as a “fattening food”: “All foods supply calories and there is no difference between the calories that come from sugar or steak or grapefruit or ice cream.”

A Lawsuit over Google’s Student Data Mining Practices

Joe Mullin:

“Through this lawsuit, we want to know the extent of Google’s data mining and marketing of student information to third parties,” Hood said. “I don’t think there could be any motivation other than greed for a company to deliberately keep secret how it collects and uses student information.”

The complaint claims that through a child’s educational account, “Google tracks, records, uses and saves the online activity of Mississippi’s children, all for the purpose of processing student data to build a profile, which in turn aids its advertising business.” That gives Google an unfair edge over its competitors and violates Mississippi consumer protection law, say state lawyers.

Student Debt Payback Far Worse Than Believed

Andrea Fuller:

Many more students have defaulted on or failed to pay back their college loans than the U.S. government previously believed.

Last Friday, the Education Department released a memo saying that it had overstated student loan repayment rates at most colleges and trade schools and provided updated numbers.

Civics: The Post-Snowden Cyber Arms Hustle

Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley:

Just after lunchtime one day in February 2015, Manish Kumar entered the presidential palace in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott via the side gate—the one reserved for private business. His government SUV was driven by a gregarious man in a loose-fitting white robe, who navigated the vehicle toward the back of the compound, away from the main palace building’s soaring glass atrium and modern-looking turrets, which give it a Martha Stewart-meets-Gunga Din look. The driver pulled up to a smaller structure with a massive satellite dish on top, where Kumar was to meet Ahmed Bah dit Hmeida, an official with the innocuous-sounding title of counsellor to the president.