Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After One Year


The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), established in 2004, is the only federally-funded private school voucher program for low-income parents in the United States. This report examines impacts on achievement and other outcomes one year after eligible children were selected or not selected to receive scholarships using a lottery process in 2012, 2013, and 2014. The study found negative impacts on student achievement but positive impacts on parent perceptions of school safety, for those participating in the program. There were no statistically significant effects on parents’ or students’ general satisfaction with their schools or parent involvement in education.

Diminishing Returns for Tuition Discounting

Rick Seltzer:

Attracting students with tuition discounting has its limits — and one study suggests a surprisingly large number of small colleges and universities are flirting with those limits.

The study, which is being presented Friday at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting, looks at the practice and effects of tuition discounting over 10 years at a group of 448 small liberal arts colleges across the country. Tuition discount rates have risen substantially as institutions offer larger and larger scholarships and grants to students in order to entice them to enroll.

Financial aid leveraging.

College Students In Safe Spaces Aren’t Being Educated

Carol Swain:

College administrators who provide students with safe spaces are robbing them of a good education, retiring Vanderbilt University professor Carol Swain said Monday evening in her final lecture at the school.

The topic of her speech was “Political Correctness and the Decline of American Universities.” Swain, a nationally-known speaker and author who has taught law and political science at Vanderbilt since 1999, is famous for her bold Christian conservative views that have upset many on her university campus.

Swain said universities across the country are encouraging progressive groupthink at the expense of a free exchange of ideas, which has a moderating influence that tends to drive out extremes. It’s “a very dangerous thing to do,” she said.

Even though she disagrees with the idea of safe spaces, Swain said the irony is that it’s conservatives who would need them, because they are the ones being shamed into being compliant or silent. Those championing safe spaces don’t need the protections.

“They actually own the campus,” she said. “They run the campus.”

Borsuk: The bright spots in Milwaukee’s school scene don’t mask weak links

Alan Borsuk:

he best high school in Wisconsin? According to the U.S. News and World Report rankings, released several days ago, it is the Carmen High School of Science and Technology campus on Milwaukee’s south side. Which is a charter school.

One of the most disheartening and alarming developments on Milwaukee’s school scene this academic year? The closings of three Universal Academy for the College Bound schools, right in the middle of the school year and in fashions that raise a lot of questions. And they were charter schools.

I have trouble talking about the charter school “sector” in Milwaukee. I don’t think there is one. I think there are more than two dozen charter schools that offer the best and the worst of what is happening in local education. They don’t really operate as a unified group.

There must be lessons in this. Perhaps these are some of them:

Schools should be viewed one by one. There’s so much attention focused on how Milwaukee Public Schools is doing, or how voucher or charter schools are doing. But success levels are all over the place within each sector and quality is much better viewed as a school-by-school subject. (By the way, the Hmong American Peace Academy, HAPA, on the northwest side was the second highest rated high school in Wisconsin, in the view of U.S. News. It, too, is a charter school. The MPS press release announcing the high ratings of Carmen and HAPA didn’t include the word “charter,” which is still an ugly term to some within MPS and in the teachers union, since the schools don’t use teachers who are MPS employees.)

Ne-Yo Invests $2.3 Million In This Coding School To Help Black People Get Tech Jobs

Sean Collons:

Last week when we talked to one of Shine’s co-founders, Marah Lidey, we spoke about increasing diversity in tech.

With Google opening their Howard West campus, Uber taking flak for its lack of diversity and Hired showing just how uniform tech is with hard data, we wondered what she thought could be done to improve things.

“Talking about it is important,” Lidey said, “And that’s not enough, obviously, but it’s really something that needs to be emphasized because there’s still a lot of people who don’t want to talk about it.”

Milwaukee’s Carmen High school Tops Wisconsin via the US News ranking 

US News:

STEP 1 | Students perform better than expected in their state.

We looked at reading and math results for students on each state’s proficiency tests and then factored in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students, who tend to score lower.

STEP 2 | Disadvantaged students perform better than state average.

We compared each school’s math and reading proficiency rates for disadvantaged students – black, Hispanic and low-income – with the statewide results for these student groups and then selected schools that were performing better than their state averages.

STEP 3 | Student graduation rates meet or exceed a national standard

We excluded schools from consideration if their graduation rates were lower than 75 percent – a threshold that is higher than a federal law that requires states to give extra resources to schools below 67 percent.

Middleton is 577, Madison Memorial is ranked 1205, West 1831.

The digital revolution in higher education has already happened. No one noticed.

Clay Shirky:

The digital revolution in higher education has happened. In the fall of 2012, the most recent semester with complete data in the U.S., four million undergraduates took at least one course online, out of sixteen million total, with growth up since then. Those numbers mean that more students now take a class online than attend a college with varsity football. More than twice as many now take a class online as live on campus. There are more undergraduates enrolled in an online class than there are graduate students enrolled in all Masters and Ph.D. programs combined. At the current rate of growth, half the country’s undergraduates will have at least one online class on their transcripts by the end of the decade. This is the new normal.

Phonics works best to build comprehension

Joanne Jacobs:

Related image
Sounding out words is best way to teach reading concludes a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Teaching phonics “has a dramatic impact on the accuracy of reading aloud and comprehension,” reports Science Daily.

. . . researchers trained adults to read in a new language, printed in unfamiliar symbols, and then measured their learning with reading tests and brain scans.

Professor Kathy Rastle, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway said, “The results were striking; people who had focused on the meanings of the new words were much less accurate in reading aloud and comprehension than those who had used phonics, and our MRI scans revealed that their brains had to work harder to decipher what they were reading.”
In England, state-funded primary schools are required to use systematic phonics to teach reading rather than “whole-word” or meaning-based methods. The percentage of children meeting reading standards rose from 58 percent in 2012 to 81 percent in 2016.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Purdue to acquire Kaplan University, increase access for millions


Nearly 150 years ago, Purdue proudly accepted the land-grant mission to expand higher education beyond the wealthy and the elites of society,” President Mitch Daniels said. “We cannot honor our land-grant mission in the 21st century without reaching out to the 36 million working adults, 750,000 of them in our state, who started but did not complete a college degree, and to the 56 million Americans with no college credit at all.

“None of us knows how fast or in what direction online higher education will evolve, but we know its role will grow, and we intend that Purdue be positioned to be a leader as that happens. A careful analysis made it clear that we are very ill-equipped to build the necessary capabilities ourselves, and that the smart course would be to acquire them if we could. We were able to find exactly what we were looking for. Today’s agreement moves us from a standing start to a leading position.”

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act

Wisconsin DPI:

Section 8302 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA),1 requires the Secretary to establish procedures and criteria under which, after consultation with the Governor, a State educational agency (SEA) may submit a consolidated State plan designed to simplify the application requirements and reduce burden for SEAs. ESEA section 8302 also requires the Secretary to establish the descriptions, information, assurances, and other material required to be included in a consolidated State plan. Even though an SEA submits only the required information in its consolidated State plan, an SEA must still meet all ESEA requirements for each included program. In its consolidated State plan, each SEA may, but is not required to, include supplemental information such as its overall vision for improving outcomes for all students and its efforts to consult with and engage stakeholders when developing its consolidated State plan.

States are moving to cut college costs by introducing open-source textbooks

Keith Collins:

The University System of Maryland recently announced that it would be giving out 21 “mini-grants” to seven community colleges and five public four-year schools. The grants will go to “faculty who are adopting, adapting or scaling the use of OER [open educational resources] in Fall 2017 through high-enrollment courses where quality OER exists,” according to the announcement.

Open educational resources are materials like electronic textbooks that typically use licenses that are far less restrictive than traditional, copyrighted textbooks. That means they can be limitlessly duplicated and distributed to students, and even revised to suit the needs of a given class. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was a pioneer of this approach when it began making its course materials open to the public in 2001, using Creative Commons licenses and borrowing the ethos of open source programming.

Americans are now utterly intolerant of ever being told they’re wrong about almost anything

Tom Nichols:

Why can’t Americans agree about anything? The United States has survived through periods of great division and yet today we all now seem incapable of finding common ground on even the smallest issues. This is a problem that is approaching the level of a national crisis that threatens our democracy.

Some of this tendentiousness is part of an irascible American culture that is, paradoxically, woven into our greatness as a nation. Our willingness to speak our minds and rely on our own common sense has been central to an American character noted by Tocqueville and others since our founding as a nation.

On School Segregation And Expanding Madison’s Least Diverse School

Kate Taylor:

A look at the history of District 3, which stretches along the West Side of Manhattan from 59th to 122nd Street, shows how administrators’ decisions, combined with the choices of parents and the forces of gentrification, have shaped the current state of its schools, which, in one of the most politically liberal parts of a liberal city, remain sharply divided by race and income, and just as sharply divergent in their levels of academic achievement.

In 1984, two years before Ms. Shneyer started kindergarten, less than 8 percent of the district’s 12,321 elementary and middle school students were white. Not a single school was majority white, and the only school where white students made up the biggest group was P.S. 87 on West 78th Street. At the time, many white parents would not even consider their zoned schools. James Mazza, who served as deputy superintendent, and then superintendent of the district, from 1988 to 1997, recalled in an interview that parents would sometimes come into his office carrying a newspaper with the test scores of every school in the district and explain that they didn’t want to go to their zoned school because of its place on the list. Though scores are often used as a shorthand for quality, they correlate closely with the socioeconomic level of the children in a school.

Ms. Ortiz didn’t think having more white or upper-middle-class parents in the school would necessarily improve it, since she thought that they would mostly push for programs that benefited their own children. She said it seemed that Ms. Castellano-Folk already gave parents in the gifted program preferential treatment.

Others expressed positive feelings about the school.

Curiously, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools (Van Hise/Hamilton)…..

Ex Chicago Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett to be sentenced Friday in bribery case

Juan Perez, Jr:

Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty in October 2015 to steering more than $23 million in no-bid contracts to the SUPES Academy education consulting firm where she once worked in return for kickbacks, other perks and a promise of a lucrative job once her time as CPS CEO was over.

Prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of nearly 7 1/2 years for the disgraced educator, more than double the 3 1/2 years in prison that her attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang to consider.

Byrd-Bennett is scheduled to be sentenced hours after one of her co-conspirators, former education consultant Thomas Vranas. In a filing early this month, Vranas’ attorneys asked a judge to consider a sentence of three years of probation. Prosecutors will ask that Vranas instead serve a 39-month prison sentence.

Proposed Federal Tax Changes May Increase High Tax State Citizens Burden

Reid Wilson:

President Trump’s plan to overhaul the federal tax code threatens to fall disproportionately on residents of liberal-leaning states, a short-term boost for state governments that could turn into a long-term drag.

Most states have tied their tax codes closely to the federal code. Since the federal income tax was first levied in 1913, taxpayers have been able to deduct the state and local taxes they pay from their federal taxable income. Taxpayers who live in states with higher tax rates are able to deduct more from their federal taxes than those who live in states with lower rates

Those deductions cost the federal government more than $60 billion a year, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Trump has proposed ending that state and local tax deduction. Experts who reviewed Trump’s outline, issued Wednesday, said that will mean higher taxes for those who live in states with more progressive tax codes, like California, New York, Oregon and New Jersey.

“Individuals, particularly in high-tax states, would see their state tax burdens increase. The federal government is essentially subsidizing high tax rates in states like California and New York,” said Nicole Kaeding, an economist at the Center for State Tax Policy. “Those taxpayers would be impacted pretty directly by the Trump tax plans.”

Locally, Madison spends and taxes more than most, now around $18,000 per student annually. This, despite its long-standing disastrous reading results.

Madison School District affirms commitment to undocumented students and families

Amber Walker:

At Monday’s Madison School Board meeting, the board passed a resolution affirming its commitment to students and families who are immigrants, refugees or undocumented.

It was one of the first acts of service for the new School Board members, Kate Toews and Nicki Vander Meulen, who were sworn in at the beginning of the meeting.

The resolution declares that all schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District are a “safe place for its students and their families to seek help, assistance, and information if faced with fear and anxiety about immigration enforcement efforts.”

Hopefully, madison’s long-term disasters reading results will merit attention.

University of California administration is paying excessive salaries and mishandling funds, state audit says

Patrick McGeevey:

The administration of the University of California system pays top workers salaries and benefits significantly higher than that of similar state employees, and failed to disclose to the Board of Regents and the public that it had $175 million in budget reserve funds while it was seeking to raise tuition, a state audit found Tuesday.

The audit triggered a dispute with UC President Janet Napolitano, who said charges of hidden funds were false, while two members of the UC Board of Regents charged recommendations to give the Legislature budget authority over the Office of the President encroached on UC’s constitutional powers.

Harvard Law Schools’ Moneyball Moment


Starting with next year’s admissions cycle, Harvard Law school will launch a pilot program allowing applicants to apply with either the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), the standardized test that nearly all law schools have used for decades, or the GRE General Test (GRE), used by many graduate programs outside of law or medical school. …

[M]uch of what makes Harvard Harvard is the quality of the talent it is able to attract. The lure of Wall Street or Silicon Valley, the availability of capital for everything from biotech to software to social media start-ups, and the increasingly tenuous ROI for students ready to invest time and money in an expensive law degree are all siphoning off their share of recent college graduates who might otherwise have chosen law school.

It is to Harvard’s advantage to increase access to top talent and to be able to cast a wider net. As Jessica Soban, Harvard Law School’s Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Admissions, put it, “Harvard Law School works to eliminate barriers to legal education for top talent. We seek that talent from a variety of backgrounds: across different academic disciplines, different countries, and different socio-economic backgrounds.”

Alexander Grothendieck, the secret genius of mathematics

Gérard Lebrun:

I was intrigued by the unusual path of Grothendieck, the recently deceased mathematician genius who, after twenty years of work that garnered him the 1966 Field Medal (the Nobel Prize for mathematicians) brutally severed all links with the mathematical community and lived for 45 years in seclusion and solitude, devoting himself to meditation, the search for meaning, and introspection. I tried to understand.

Outside the circle of mathematicians who are still exploring the paths opened by this visionary, there is little documentation on Grothendieck, except for an account written by his own hand, a kind of a diary that he kept (intimate and at the same time “extimate”, since he sent a few copies to former colleagues or former students, and considered publishing it at one point, but didn’t find a publisher) – a very long diary of over a thousand pages entitled “Crops and Seeds: Reflections and Testimony about my Past as a Mathematician.” Although unpublished then, the text has already been making its way to readers. I will quote a few excerpts from it, so that you can learn about and appreciate the ideas of a man in search of the absolute.

Credentialism And Education

Ulrich Baer:

As a college professor and university administrator with over two decades of direct experience of campus politics, I am not overly worried that even the shrillest heckler’s vetoes will end free speech in America. As a scholar of literature, history and politics, I am especially attuned to the next generation’s demands to revise existing definitions of free speech to accommodate previously delegitimized experiences. Freedom of expression is not an unchanging absolute. When its proponents forget that it requires the vigilant and continuing examination of its parameters, and instead invoke a pure model of free speech that has never existed, the dangers to our democracy are clear and present.

NCTM Fooled Me Twice, but No More

Dan Dempsey:

Mark Twain : “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

Looking at the history of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) activity in pedagogies pushed, textbooks recommended, sorta-standards designed, points of emphasis made, switches of horses in midstream, and results, I say:

“It’s easier to fool the NCTM than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

While these days few persons argue with the push to increase student proficiency in the following:

#1 Procedural Fluency,

#2 Problem Solving, and

#3 Conceptual Understanding,

it remains to be seen if the NCTM can figure out the best ways to do that or even a pretty good way to increase proficiency. Given NCTM history, it is Buyer Beware with current NCTM advice.

In the late 1950s and 60s the push was “New Math,” which emphasized “Conceptual Understanding” and had little practice with few examples. [[death to “example-based instruction” could have been the sub-title]] … and it did not work.

The 1970s were a time of recognition of and attempted recovery from “New Math” damage.

Singapore’s Math Results, How Do They Do It?

Dan Dempsey:

Since the creation of “New Math” in the 1950s and delivery via the SMSG (School Mathematics Study Group) textbooks, the USA’s progressive math education establishments have believed that conceptual understanding is the holy grail of math instruction. Supposedly, once a child has conceptual understanding, math skills will be easier to acquire. Yet after 60 years of placing the cart before the horse, this plan is still not working well, but will anyone notice? The fact is that for most children the acquisition of math skills comes effectively via traditional instruction and practice with some memorization involved. Conceptual understanding comes later.

The Common Core thinkers have it backwards as well. Many school districts downplay the Content Standards and push the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice. This method has yet to demonstrate that it is an effective and efficient way to learn mathematics.

The eight Standards for Mathematical Practice are:

(1) Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them

(2) Reason abstractly and quantitatively

(3) Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others

(4) Model with mathematics

(5) Use appropriate tools strategically

(6) Attend to precision

(7) Look for and make use of structure

(8) Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

Notes and links: Singapore Math.

For Baskerville, economic progress is a real stretch

Joe Vanden Plan:

Most Wisconsinites probably are unaware their state has fallen behind Minnesota in key economic measures, but David Baskerville is trying to change that by promoting a “stretch goals” technique he developed for business clients.

Baskerville, a retired international business consultant now based in Madison, says Wisconsin needs a Kennedyesque “moon shot” to close the gap and overtake its Rose Bowl-starved neighbor to the west. His plan might not be quite that ambitious, but given the barriers he’s already encountered — elected officials don’t talk about it, the public education establishment is skeptical, and the citizenry has yet to be galvanized behind the concept — it’s no sure thing, either.

Baskerville, however, believes stretch targets could be one answer to addressing the gap in personal income between Minnesota and Wisconsin — now about $4,900 per capita — that has developed over the past 30 years. Baskerville notes that Minnesota now is ranked 10th nationally in this metric, while Wisconsin is 28th or 29th, depending on the year. About 35 years ago, the two states were bunched in the middle, with Wisconsin ranking 18th and Minnesota 19th.

After his business travels to Asia and European factories, he senses that American workers, especially young workers, are not as trainable as workers in other nations, and the superior performance of international students in math, science, and reading tests only confirm his reasons for concern.

“I come to it not as an economist or an educator, but as a guy who was born and raised here and worked for 40 years, mainly in international business, and retired back here to our hometown,” he explains. “I’m concerned that Wisconsin is not going in the right direction in terms of both its economy and its education.”


Project Owl: Google hopes to improve by better surfacing authoritative content and enlisting feedback about suggested searches and Featured Snippets answers.

Danny Sullivan:

The takeaway from this? As I said, it’s going to be very much wait and see. One reason things might improve over time is that new data from those search quality raters is still coming in. When that gets processed, Google’s algorithms might get better.
 Those human raters don’t directly impact Google’s search results, a common misconception that came up recently when Google was accused of using them to censor the Infowars site (it didn’t; they couldn’t). One metaphor I’m using to help explain their role — and limitations — is as if they are diners at a restaurant, asked to fill out review cards.
 Those diners can say if they liked a particular dish or not. With enough feedback, the restaurant might decide to change its recipes to make food less salty or to serve some items at different temperatures. The diners themselves can’t go back into the kitchen and make changes.
 This is how it works with quality raters. They review Google’s search results to say how well those results seem to be fulfilling expectations. That feedback is used so that Google itself can tailor its “recipes” — its search algorithms — to improve results overall. The raters themselves have no ability to directly impact what’s on the menu, so to speak, or how the results are prepared.

The First Amendment.

The Next to be Left Behind

Noah Rothman:

These days, somewhat paradoxically, Forgotten America is on everyone’s mind. Even before Donald Trump won the presidency by appealing to demographics and themes that effete, urban Americans found gauche, books like J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and John Judis’s The Populist Explosion focused elite minds on those left behind in the Great Recession’s “recovery.” Trump’s “Forgotten Man” was, however, forgotten long before 2008. By casting himself as a defender of the status quo ante—leaving it up to voters to determine for themselves precisely when their preferred “ante” was—Trump tapped into the political potency of nostalgia. The globalized information age is not done transforming the American economic landscape. Others will soon join the ranks of those left behind.
 The rise of Trump has focused the nation’s attention on the implosion of the Middle American plant town. Across the industrial Northeast and Midwest, working-class voters were left stranded in hollowed-out communities. That was only one stage of the modern economic metamorphosis. Another feature of the visible American marketplace may be about to collapse.

Intimidation Is the New Normal on Campus

Jonathan Haidt:

mages of fires, fireworks, and metal barricades crashing through windows made for great television, but the rioters who shut down Milo Yiannopoulos’s talk at the University of California at Berkeley didn’t just attack property. Fewer cellphone cameras captured the moments when they punched and pepper-sprayed members of the crowd, particularly those who seemed like they might be supporters of Yiannopoulos or Donald Trump.

Although the violence on February 1 was clearly instigated by outside agitators — “black bloc” anarchists who show up at events with their faces masked — at least some of the people behind the masks were Berkeley students who thought it was morally permissible to use violence to stop a lecture from taking place. As one student wrote afterward, “Violence helped ensure the safety of students.” Another asked, “When the nonviolent tactics [for stopping the talk] have been exhausted — what is left?”

Hey Computer Scientists: Stop Hating On The Humanities

Emma Pierson:

AS A COMPUTER science PhD student, I am a disciple of big data. I see no ground too sacred for statistics: I have used it to study everything from sex to Shakespeare, and earned angry retorts for these attempts to render the ineffable mathematical. At Stanford I was given, as a teenager, weapons both elegant and lethal—algorithms that could pick out the terrorists most worth targeting in a network, detect someone’s dissatisfaction with the government from their online writing.

49 Years Later, A Teacher Reflects On Integrating An All-White School In Miami-Dade

Rowan Moore Getty:

The iconic images of school integration show determined black students making their way through jeering white crowds, just to take their seats in class. And at the head of those classes, teachers who were part of a workforce every bit as segregated as the student body.

After the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, teachers represented another, lesser-known, facet of the decades-long push for integrated schools.

The AI Cargo Cult

Kevin Kelly:

In contradistinction to this orthodoxy, I find the following five heresies to have more evidence to support them.

Intelligence is not a single dimension, so “smarter than humans” is a meaningless concept.

Humans do not have general purpose minds, and neither will AIs.

Emulation of human thinking in other media will be constrained by cost.

Dimensions of intelligence are not infinite.
Intelligences are only one factor in progress.

Charter schools meet demand for better education

Los Angeles Daily News:

A new labor-backed study charges that California charter schools are opening schools where they aren’t needed, but parents – not special interests or governmental bodies – should be the final judges.

The report from In the Public Interest criticizes charters for opening in areas where there is existing classroom space in traditional public schools, criticizes them for using public funds for their facilities – as they are entitled to do under Proposition 39, passed by voters in 2000 – and alleges that they are misusing funds.

“Paying for more schools than are needed wastes taxpayer dollars,” the report states. “Furthermore, an oversupply of schools serves to undermine the viability of any individual school.”

The study claims that the growth of charter schools has led to an “overproduction of schools” by focusing on available desk space, but this exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding of the basic economic concepts of supply and demand. Demand is not determined by how many things you can produce; it is determined by how many things you produce that people are actually willing to consume.

And, increasingly, traditional public schools are becoming better at producing empty desk space than well-educated graduates, as more and more parents have come to the conclusion that these schools are not working, and thus have enrolled their children in charter schools to offer them better opportunities.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The French, Coming Apart A social thinker illuminates his country’s populist divide.

Christopher Caldwell:

For those cut off from France’s new-economy citadels, the misfortunes are serious. They’re stuck economically. Three years after finishing their studies, three-quarters of French university graduates are living on their own; by contrast, three-quarters of their contemporaries without university degrees still live with their parents. And they’re dying early. In January 2016, the national statistical institute Insée announced that life expectancy had fallen for both sexes in France for the first time since World War II, and it’s the native French working class that is likely driving the decline. In fact, the French outsiders are looking a lot like the poor Americans Charles Murray described in Coming Apart, failing not just in income and longevity but also in family formation, mental health, and education. Their political alienation is striking. Fewer than 2 percent of legislators in France’s National Assembly today come from the working class, as opposed to 20 percent just after World War II.

Unlike their parents in Cold War France, the excluded have lost faith in efforts to distribute society’s goods more equitably. Political plans still abound to fight the “system,” ranging from the 2017 Socialist presidential candidate Benoît Hamon’s proposals for a guaranteed minimum income to those of his rival, former economics minister Emmanuel Macron, to make labor markets more flexible. But these programs are seen by their intended beneficiaries as further proof of a rigged system. The welfare state is now distrusted by those whom it is meant to help. France’s expenditure on the heavily immigrant banlieues is already vast, on this view; to provide yet more public housing would be to widen the invitation to unwanted immigrants. To build any large public-works project is to do the same. To invest in education, in turn, is to offer more advantages to the rich, who’re best positioned to benefit from it. In a society divided as Guilluy describes, traditional politics can find no purchase.

Clemson admin proposes ideological litmus test for student gov

Mitchell Gunter:

A Clemson administrator has proposed requiring student government candidates to pass an “intercultural competency” test before being permitted to run for or hold office.

The “intercultural competency” test requirement for Student Government candidates who wish to run for office was just one of the ideas Altheia Richardson, Clemson’s Director of the Gantt Multicultural Center, proposed in a recent presentation to Clemson Undergraduate Student Government (CUSG) Senate. As an alternative, Richardson also suggested group training for CUSG members once elected.

Civics: Spying On Politicians

Marci Wheeler:

Furthermore, we have no visibility what US policymakers in the past have done with intelligence collected on political parties. We certainly have no current limits on what Trump can do with it; we’ve always given the President great discretion on such issues, in the name of ensuring a unified foreign policy. And there are plenty of ways Trump’s administration could intervene to help Le Pen beyond just leaking any derogatory information on Macron.

All this is not to say that GRU’s reported continued attempts to hack democratic targets is not a concern (indeed, I’m at least as worried that FSB is conducting similar intelligence collection without the same easily identifiable tracks).

But it is to say that, particularly in the era where Donald Trump sets this country’s foreign policy, we need to be a lot more mindful of NSA’s own far more considerable ability to steal information on democratic candidates.

Do You Read Differently Online and in Print?

Paul LaFarge:

A thousand years later, critics fear that digital technology has put this gift in peril. The Internet’s flood of information, together with the distractions of social media, threaten to overwhelm the interior space of reading, stranding us in what the journalist Nicholas Carr has called “the shallows,” a frenzied flitting from one fact to the next. In Carr’s view, the “endless, mesmerizing buzz” of the Internet imperils our very being: “One of the greatest dangers we face,” he writes, “as we automate the work of our minds, as we cede control over the flow of our thoughts and memories to a powerful electronic system, is … a slow erosion of our humanness and our humanity.”

There’s no question that digital technology presents challenges to the reading brain, but, seen from a historical perspective, these look like differences of degree, rather than of kind. To the extent that digital reading represents something new, its potential cuts both ways. Done badly (which is to say, done cynically), the Internet reduces us to mindless clickers, racing numbly to the bottom of a bottomless feed; but done well, it has the potential to expand and augment the very contemplative space that we have prized in ourselves ever since we learned to read without moving our lips.

“Some of the highest estimates of returns to pre-K ed are probably not generalizable to a broader program”

Timothy Taylor:

When describing how many economists at least try to think about the problems of the world, I often repeat the title of a lovely little book that Alan Blinder wrote back in 1988: Hard Heads, Soft Hearts: Tough-minded Economics For A Just Society. In the context of expanding provision of pre-kindergarten programs, even a modest degree of soft-heartedness cries out for trying to assist small children who, through no action or fault of their own, otherwise seem likely to start school well behind their peers. But hard-headedness (and curiousity) demands that such programs be evaluated.

For a readable overview of what is actually known, rather than hoped, a useful starting point is “The Current State of Scientific Knowledgeon Pre-Kindergarten Effects” what was put together by a “Pre-Kindergarten Task Force of interdisciplinary scientists” convened by the Brookings Institution and the Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy. The participants are: “Deborah A. Phillips of Georgetown University, Mark W. Lipsey of Vanderbilt University, Kenneth A. Dodge of Duke University, Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, Daphna Bassok of the University of Virginia, Margaret R. Burchinal of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Greg J. Duncan of the University of California-Irvine, Mark Dynarski of the Brookings Institution, Katherine A. Magnuson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Christina Weiland of the University of Michigan “

The World’s Most Beautiful Mathematical Equation

Richard Friedman:

I was doing KenKen, a math puzzle, on a plane recently when a fellow passenger asked why I bothered. I said I did it for the beauty.

O.K., I’ll admit it’s a silly game: You have to make the numbers within the grid obey certain mathematical constraints, and when they do, all the pieces fit nicely together and you get this rush of harmony and order.

Still, it makes me wonder what it is about mathematical thinking that is so elegant and aesthetically appealing. Is it the internal logic? The unique mix of simplicity and explanatory power? Or perhaps just its pure intellectual beauty?

Cal State’s Growth in Hiring of Managers Exceeds Other Staff, Audit Finds

Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz:

The California State University system has increased its hiring of managers at a steeper rate than its hiring of other employees over the past 10 years, according to a new state audit.

And in a report on the audit released on Thursday, the state auditor, Elaine M. Howle, wrote that the system could not sufficiently explain why it needed all the new managers, including deans, head coaches, and vice presidents, among other positions.

From the 2007-8 to the 2015-16 fiscal years, the system’s growth rate for full-time managers was 15 percent, but the growth rate for its non-faculty support staff was 6 percent and for faculty members was 7 percent, the audit shows.

Daniel Suarez AMA (ask Me Anything)


Hi Reddit! I used to write code for an audience of machines, but then I self-published my first thriller, Daemon, which went on to become a NYT bestseller. Now I write books full-time.

Here is proof: https://twitter.com/itsDanielSuarez/status/856534367933317120

My latest sci-fi thriller, Change Agent ( http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/536914/change-agent-by-daniel-suarez/ ), explores the implications of CRISPR genetic editing technology. I’m ready to answer your questions about that or other topics.

Let’s do this!

Update: I’m going to stick around to answer some of these remaining questions.

Let me say how much fun this has been, and I greatly appreciate your questions!

Update #2: Wow — just looked up and realized the time. I have to go. But I am constantly amazed by my readers. Whenever I meet you at events, I invariably think how fortunate I am to have such a thoughtful readership. I will always endeavor to deserve you. Thank you, one and all!

Boston charter school educator named national teacher of the year

James Vaznis:

Sydney Chaffee’s (center) classroom lessons at Codman Academy Charter School in Dorchester focus on the intersection of history and literature.

By James Vaznis GLOBE STAFF APRIL 20, 2017
At Codman Academy Charter School in Dorchester, Sydney Chaffee likes to put the spotlight on her students during a weekly schoolwide assembly — having them write the scripts, act out the skits, and fully take charge of an event that is integral to the Codman’s identity.

But on Thursday morning, in the midst of school vacation week, it was Chaffee who stepped into the spotlight, with the announcement that she had been named National Teacher of the Year, making her the first Massachusetts educator to receive the top award in teaching.

Chaffee’s selection made history in another way: She appears to be the first charter-school teacher to win, although a handful of those from alternative, magnet, and private schools have received the honor, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers, a professional organization that runs the 65-year-old competition.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940

Raj Chetty, David Grusky, Maximilian Hell, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert Manduca and Jimmy Narang:

We estimated rates of “absolute income mobility”—the fraction of children who earn more than their parents—by combining data from U.S. Census and Current Population Survey cross sections with panel data from de-identified tax records. We found that rates of absolute mobility have fallen from approximately 90% for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in the 1980s. Increasing GDP growth rates alone cannot restore absolute mobility to the rates experienced by children born in the 1940s. However, distributing current GDP growth more equally across income groups as in the 1940 birth cohort would reverse more than 70% of the decline in mobility. These results imply that reviving the “American dream” of high rates of absolute mobility would require economic growth that is shared more broadly across the income distribution.

Madison School District budget data.

K-12 Civil Rights Data Issues

Nathan Hansen:

Despite collecting the information, by law, for more than 40 years, public schools continue to struggle to report accurate and comparable civil rights data to the Department of Education.

“The issue is whether different districts are providing the same type of data and working on the same definition,” said outgoing Sparta Superintendent John Hendricks, when asked about comparing his district’s attendance data with other districts.

Sparta Superintendent John Hendricks

He said it was only valid to compare Sparta attendance figures among district schools, not across district lines.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has been collecting data on the nation’s public school districts since 1968 when Congress passed the first laws mandating the reporting. The office collects information broken down by race and gender on such topics as advanced placement enrollment, student and teacher absenteeism, disciplinary action and bullying, producing almost 2,000 variables in the process.

Wisconsin DPI link.

Neuroscience can now curate music based on your brainwaves, not your music taste

Nona Tepper:

Companies and composers have begun using software to make music customized to your brainwaves. Soon you will be able to plug in your headphones, lean back in your chair, and relax to a playlist so synchronized with your brain’s chemistry that it increases your productivity, sleep quality, and even fights anxiety.

The frequency at which your brain resonates defines your state of mind. Need to chill out? Try alpha activity. Or what about a pre-workout pep-up? Pop on some beta waves.
As consumer desire for personalized information and outcomes increases, the ability to listen to music that is literally in tune with your brain will provide a whole new business opportunity in the world of music streaming.

Students demand Pomona rescind offer to prof because she’s white

Toni Airaksinen:

Students at Pomona College have published a demand letter urging administrators to rescind their offer to hire Sociology Professor Alice Goffman because she’s white.

The “Letter to the Pomona College Sociology Department,” published last Friday argues that by hiring Goffman, the administration has neglected their commitment to promoting diversity and supporting women of color.

“This practice is detrimental to Pomona’s goal of supporting students of color.”

Reviewing Madison School District Financial Practices

Karen Rivedal:

Fralin said the financial review stemmed from a district initiative in November or December that started as a general attempt to get “better clarity on our financial protocols at the school level” but was soon narrowed to just Black Hawk and the district’s central office because officials “wanted to go deeper at Black Hawk.”

Fralin declined to identify specific red flags at Black Hawk that prompted the deeper review, only noting, “We had some questions about how some of the financial vehicles were being used.”

Fralin said the review should be finished “very shortly” and promised to report the results to Black Hawk parents and staff soon after. The Wisconsin State Journal has also requested the results of the review under the state’s open records law.

Fralin also confirmed that after hearing the parents’ concerns about money missing from the T-shirt fund, he authorized sending Black Hawk $1,000 from the district “since (the T-shirt fund) is still part of the review and we don’t want students to go without” in the meantime.

Much more on the District’s $460M budget, here.

Where College Seniors Are Falling Short

Kelsey Gee:

Parents rejoice: 2017 is shaping up to be another healthy year for college hiring.

The latest forecast from the National Association of Colleges and Employers finds that employers expect to hire 5% more graduates than they brought on last year, the eighth year in a row that companies say they are increasing their college hires.

Yet a separate survey of employers and college seniors suggests that, when it comes to courting recruiters, the Class of 2017 has some homework to do.

This year’s job-seeking seniors are ill-prepared for the job hunt and many coveted positions, concludes a survey of roughly 400 employers and 400 college students conducted by iCIMS Inc., a recruiting-software company. Among other things, employers reported that one-third of all applications for entry-level roles come from unqualified candidates.

More than 60% of employers in the survey said applicants ought to be more familiar with the company and industry, and must ask better questions in interviews. Plus, those employers say, three out of four applicants fail to send thank-you notes after interviews.

On Madison’s Lack Of K-12 Governance Diversity: “Cheatham declined to address that question”

Chris Rockert:

Attendance, graduation rates and college enrollment were generally on the upswing beginning five to seven years before Hancock started moving toward selective enrollment. More to the point for Madison and West High is that improvements began happening at Hancock before Boran took over or even worked there.

Regardless of who or what is responsible for Hancock’s performance, though, that performance is not universally good. Test scores and the growth in test scores at Hancock, for example, are below national averages. The average ACT score last year was 16.9, or below the Chicago district average of 18.4.

Despite spending around $18k/student annually – far more than most K-12 government school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Related: an emphasis on adult employment.

107 cancer papers retracted due to peer review fraud

Cathleen O’Grady:

The journal Tumor Biology is retracting 107 research papers after discovering that the authors faked the peer review process. This isn’t the journal’s first rodeo. Late last year, 58 papers were retracted from seven different journals— 25 came from Tumor Biology for the same reason.

It’s possible to fake peer review because authors are often asked to suggest potential reviewers for their own papers. This is done because research subjects are often blindingly niche; a researcher working in a sub-sub-field may be more aware than the journal editor of who is best-placed to assess the work.

But some journals go further and request, or allow, authors to submit the contact details of these potential reviewers. If the editor isn’t aware of the potential for a scam, they then merrily send the requests for review out to fake e-mail addresses, often using the names of actual researchers. And at the other end of the fake e-mail address is someone who’s in on the game and happy to send in a friendly review.

Fake peer reviewers often “know what a review looks like and know enough to make it look plausible,” said Elizabeth Wager, editor of the journal Research Integrity & Peer Review. But they aren’t always good at faking less obvious quirks of academia: “When a lot of the fake peer reviews first came up, one of the reasons the editors spotted them was that the reviewers responded on time,” Wager told Ars. Reviewers almost always have to be chased, so “this was the red flag. And in a few cases, both the reviews would pop up within a few minutes of each other.”

Bullied To The brink

Valerie Wells:

Three young Galveston County residents — with so much ahead of them — took their own lives after being bullied by peers and people they knew. This series — Bullied to the Brink — is about problems and possible solutions to what experts call a crisis.

Chip Conley:

I also learned that my best tactic was to reconceive my bewilderment as curiosity, and give free rein to it. I asked a lot of “why” and “what if” questions, forsaking the “what” and “how” questions on which most senior leaders focus. I didn’t know any better. Being in a tech company was new for this old fart. My beginner’s mind helped us see our blind spots a little better, as it was free of expert habits. We think of “why” and “what if” as little kid questions, but they don’t have to be. In fact, in my experience it can be easier for older people to admit how much we still don’t know. Paradoxically, this curiosity keeps us feeling young. Management theorist Peter Drucker was famously curious. He lived to age 95, and one of the ways he thrived later in life was by diving deeply into a new subject that intrigued him, from Japanese flower arranging to medieval war strategy.

Although some older folks in the tech world feel they have to hide their age, I think doing that is a missed opportunity. Being open helped me succeed in tech; I’ve spent a lifetime being curious about people and things, which, I guess, means I’m well-read and well connected. I’m not sure there’s anyone in Airbnb who’s been asked to chat by a more diverse collection of employees. I always did my best to respond with an enthusiastic yes to these invitations. And I’m grateful. Because if I were to plot all of those conversations across the various islands (or departments) of the company, you’d see a rich web of relationships and knowledge. This served me even more as a strategic advisor to the founders, since I had a real sense of the pulse of the company and its various teams.

Will Forcing High School Kids to Make a Post-Graduation Plan Actually Help Them?

Will Greenberg:

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel got a lot of attention two weeks ago when he announced a new graduation requirement for high school seniors: They would have to have a plan. Starting with the class of 2020, Chicago Public School students will be required to show proof of their next step after graduation—such as a college acceptance letter or a job offer. It may seem like a good motivational tool, but in a city where access to resources depends on your neighborhood, and where budget cuts have strained existing programs, some observers consider the mayor’s proposal “deeply insulting.”

“It spits in the face of everything we know about CPS right now.”
So says Stacy Davis Gates, the political and legislative director for the Chicago Teacher’s Union, who adds, “It spits in the face of everything we know about CPS right now.”

Emanuel announced the proposal (“Learn. Plan. Succeed: A Degree For Life”) in early April. Students will have to show a school counselor that they have a post-secondary plan. It needn’t be college or a job: A kid also can enlist in the military or find an apprenticeship or a “gap-year” program, among other options. There are exceptions for students facing special circumstances, including incarceration. Emanuel wants to “make 14th grade universal,” as he told CBS. Graduates of the school system, meanwhile, are automatically eligible to attend the City Colleges of Chicago.

CMU CS: 15-883: Computational Models of Neural Systems


This course is an in-depth study of information processing in real neural systems from a computer science perspective. We will examine several brain areas, such as the hippocampus and cerebellum, where processing is sufficiently well understood that it can be discussed in terms of specific representations and algorithms. We will focus primarily on computer models of these systems, after establishing the necessary anatomical, physiological, and psychophysical context. There will be some neuroscience tutorial lectures for those with no prior background in this area.

I used to support legalizing all drugs. Then the opioid epidemic happened

German Lopez:

By the time I began as a drug policy reporter in 2010, I was all in on legalizing every drug, from marijuana to heroin and cocaine.

It all seemed so obvious to me. Prohibition had failed. Over the past decade, millions of Americans had been arrested and, in many of these cases, locked up for drugs. The government spent tens of billions of dollars a year on anti-drug policies — not just on policing and arresting people and potentially ruining their lives, but also on foreign operations in which armed forces raided and destroyed people’s farms, ruining their livings. Over four decades, the price tag for waging the drug war added up to more than $1 trillion.

Yet for all the effort and cost, the war on drugs had little to show: Drug use had actually trended up over the past several years, and America was in the middle of the deadliest drug crisis ever in the opioid epidemic.

The Countries Most (and Least) Likely to be Affected by Automation

Michael Chui, James Manyika and Mehdi Miremadi:

Around the world, automation is transforming work, business, and the economy. China is already the largest market for robots in the world, based on volume. All economies, from Brazil and Germany to India and Saudi Arabia, stand to gain from the hefty productivity boosts that robotics and artificial intelligence will bring. The pace and extent of adoption will vary from country to country, depending on factors including wage levels. But no geography and no sector will remain untouched.

In our research we took a detailed look at 46 countries, representing about 80% of the global workforce. We examined their automation potential today — what’s possible by adapting demonstrated technologies — as well as the potential similarities and differences in how automation could take hold in the future.

Underprivileged student quota at top schools has improved access to education


Underprivileged student quota at top schools has improved access to education

Students from rural areas walk into Nantong Middle School, East China’s Jiangsu Province on June 6, 2015, to sit Tsinghua University’s 2016 independent recruitment program which is for rural candidates. Those who pass the program receive bonus points on the college entrance exam. Photo: IC

Wang Tian, an 18-year-old girl from one of the most underdeveloped counties in Northwest China’s Qinghai Province, never anticipated studying law at the prestigious Peking University.

The stunning twist in her life is largely thanks to a national program to provide poor rural students with the chance to access top universities.

With vast disparities in teaching standards among different regions, high school graduates from underdeveloped areas have very little chance of making it into the best universities.

A sweeping reworking of the higher education system has worked to change this and students from underdeveloped areas now compete on a more equal footing with those from more affluent parts of the country.

Enrollment quotas have increased the recruitment of students from central, western and remote rural areas.

How vouchers transformed Indiana: Private schools now live or die by test scores, too

Dylan Peers McCoy:

With Central Christian cut off from hundreds of thousands of dollars in state aid, board members contemplated closing the school.

Losing voucher dollars was “catastrophic,” said David Sexauer, who served on the board before taking over as head of school this year. “If it wasn’t for the fact that the church was willing to step in and help us kind of keep going, we would’ve had to close our doors.”

Ultimately, Central Christian Academy had its grade revised upward to an A because of changes to the way Indiana evaluates schools and its own improved passing rate on state tests. Now, instead of closing down, the school is hoping another round of solid scores this year will allow it to begin accepting vouchers again.

“The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure”

Matt Taibi:

Many of the government officials who were involved in the decisions surrounding the GSE conservatorship are now in the private sector, working on proposals for much-anticipated GSE reform.

Without getting too deeply into the weeds of this even more complicated tale, government officials have been working with Wall Street lobbyists for years on a plan to have a consortium of private banking interests step into the shoes of Fannie and Freddie.

If this concept actually goes through, it would be the unlikeliest of coups for Wall Street. Having nearly triggered a global depression eight years ago, the usual-suspect, too-big-to-fail banks would essentially be put in control of the same housing markets they all but wrecked last time around.

This would be a nonstarter politically, the ultimate public-relations disaster, were it not for the fact that Fannie and Freddie are about the only companies on earth less popular than the Wall Street banks. Still, replacing the one with the other would be madness by any objective standard.

Are the gory details of that plan what the government is working so hard to keep under seal?

We may never know. Judge Sweeney has yet to rule on the vast majority of the documents, and there’s no guarantee that she will ultimately unseal the remainder of the material. We may never find out what the government was so keen on keeping secret.

The only thing that is clear is that there’s something odd going on, with the Obama administration asserting privilege over a volume of papers so large, it would make Nixon blush.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” says David Thompson of Cooper and Kirk, one of the attorneys fighting to unseal the material.

Related: sharing only part of Madison’s $460,000,000 k-12 budget.

“We Know Best”…


For my money the best analysis of what happened was inadvertently penned by Hugh Trevor-Roper in his 1967 essay on “The Crisis of the 17th Century”. Trevor-Roper argued that the mid-17th century saw a succession of revolts, right across Europe, of the “country” against the “court”. The court had become ever more bloated and self-satisfied over the decades. They existed on tributes extracted from the country but treated the country as collection of bigots and backwoodsmen. Many members of Europe’s court society had more to do with each other than they did with their benighted fellow-countrymen. The English civil war, which resulted in the beheading of a king and the establishment of a Republic, was the most extreme instance of a Europe-wide breakdown

A familiar topic, unfortunately.


Alex Emmons:

IN HER FIRST APPEARANCE representing the American public before the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2015, Amy Jeffress argued that the FBI is violating the Fourth Amendment by giving agents “virtually unrestricted” access to data from one of the NSA’s largest surveillance programs, which includes an untold amount of communications involving innocent Americans.

The NSA harvests data from major Internet companies like Facebook, Google and Apple without a warrant, because it is ostensibly “targeting” only foreigners. But the surveillance program sweeps up a large number of Americans’ communications as well. Then vast amounts of data from the program, including the Americans’ communications, are entered into a master database that a Justice Department lawyer at the 2015 hearing described as the “FBI’s ‘Google’ of its lawfully acquired information.”

The FBI routinely searches this database during ordinary criminal investigations — which gives them access to Americans’ communications without a warrant.

Jeffress, a former federal prosecutor now serving as an independent “friend of the court,” expressed frustration over the casualness with which the FBI is allowed to look through the data. “There need be no connection to foreign intelligence or national security, and that is the purpose of the collection,” she told Thomas Hogan, then the chief judge of the court. “So they’re overstepping, really, the purpose for which the information is collected.”

How Three Howard Graduates Are Breaking Tech’s Glass Ceiling With On-Demand Haircuts

Sean Collins:

The tech crowd knows — the last few years, every elevator pitch around has started with the phrase, “It’s Uber for…”

Three black women have a new spin on the Uber for x concept, and it’s a dope one.

You’re busy, you’re running errands, doing school work, living life — how are you supposed to have the time to sit around in a barbershop waiting half the day to get a fresh cut?

You don’t have to worry about it with HausCall, a new service that brings the barber to you.

Formed by Howard graduates Morgan Winbush, Killian Lewis and Crystal Allen-Washington, HausCall works like this: you download the app, and can either book on demand or schedule an appointment. Barbers are sorted by user rankings; like in ridesharing apps, you can track your barber as they make their way to your location. Payment and tips are all done through the app as well.

Law Profs to Antitrust Enforcers: To Rein in Super-Platforms, Look Upstream

Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice Stucke:

When it comes to antitrust enforcement, we largely focus on the dangers corporations with too much market power pose to parties like consumers. But of equal, if not greater, concern today are the dangers the super-platforms—like Facebook, Google, and Amazon—pose to the supply side, namely those, including authors, who create the content that the super-platforms use to turn massive profits through ad sales. Ultimately, consumers lose out when content suppliers, forced to accept unreasonable terms, have less to invest in quality content.

Chess Tactics Explained in English

Ward Farnsworth’s Predator at the Chessboard

1. The first part explains chess tactics: how to make moves that win the other player’s pieces or that lead to checkmate. Everything is explained progressively and in plain English. You can read it by clicking anyplace in the table of contents below. The headings can be expanded one at a time by clicking on the [+] signs, or click here to expand all of them at once. There are 20 chapters, about 200 topics within them, and over 1,000 positions discussed.

Calcutta to Bihar: an artist’s journey

Asian and African studies blog

As part of the Visual Arts collections at the British Library, we hold an extensive collection of drawings, sketches and watercolours by amateur British and European artists who travelled through the Indian subcontinent. In 2015, we acquired a wonderful little sketchbook, measuring a mere 80 x 204 mm, by an unknown artist who documented his/her journey from Calcutta to Bihar in the winter of 1849. Unfortunately, none of the sketches are signed or offer any details regarding the artist’s identity. The sketchbook contains 12 double-sided pages, each filled with sketches in either pen-and-ink or done in watercolours. The subjects include topographical views, portraits studies of locals, as well as documentation of crafts and transportation methods. Each illustration is annotated by the artist providing details of the subjects and documenting the shades of colour – such as ‘very white’ or ‘yellowish’. It is most likely that this incomplete series of sketches were preparatory studies that could be worked up at a later stage.

“Kids who have only the basic skills are in deep trouble.”

Alan Borsuk:

That is a quote from Marc Tucker, president and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, who keynoted the session in Madison at which about 60 educators, politicians, business people and others considered what Wisconsin can and should do with recommendations such as the ones from the task force.

Calling for stronger curriculum and higher expectations, Tucker sounded remarkably optimistic for someone who described a lot of reasons to be worried about the state of education. In a world where educational success is increasingly linked to economic success, the U.S. is puttering along in the middle of the global pack. Wisconsin is an example of a place where many students are achieving only that basic level of skills and where low-paying jobs and weak economic success are keys to the forecast for coming decades without substantial improvement.

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

The Decline of Black Business And what it means for American democracy.

Brian Feldman:

At the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., a hallway of glass display cases features more than a century of black entrepreneurial triumphs. In one is a World War II–era mini parachute manufactured by the black-owned Pacific Parachute Company, home to one of the nation’s first racially integrated production plants. Another displays a giant time clock from the R. H. Boyd Publishing Company, among the earliest firms to print materials for black churches and schools. Although small, the exhibit recalls a now largely forgotten legacy: by serving their communities when others wouldn’t, black-owned independent businesses provided avenues of upward mobility for generations of black Americans and supplied critical leadership and financial support for the civil rights movement.

This tradition continues today. Last June, Black Enterprise magazine marked the forty-fourth anniversary of the BE 100s, the magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s top 100 black-owned businesses. At the top of the list stood World Wide Technology, which, since its founding in 1990, has grown into a global firm with more than $7 billion in revenue and 3,000 employees. Then came companies like Radio One, whose fifty-five radio stations fan out among sixteen national markets. The combined revenues of the BE 100s, which also includes Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, now totals more than $24 billion, a ninefold increase since 1973, adjusting for inflation.

18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day in 1970, expect more this year

Mark Perry

Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.

3. The day after the first Earth Day, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”

4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”

Obfuscating Madison K-12 Spending, redux


Overall, the district’s operating budget for the 2017-2018 school year would rise $8.4 million over the current school year to $389.7 million, according to the proposal.

The budget for the first time also will include spending made possible through a referendum that voters approved in November to permanently raise the district’s annual revenue limit authority by $26 million over four years.

Revenues also will be boosted by an extra $9.27 million through a new agreement with the city of Madison giving the school district access to surplus funds being generated by a successful Downtown tax incremental district.

Revenues from both sources will be “critically important,” Barry said, in funding instruction and stabilizing school staffing levels after back-to-back years of personnel reductions totaling about 150 jobs.

An increase in school funding from the state for next year also is possible, if Walker’s two-year budget plan — calling for $200 more per student in the first year of the biennium and $404 in the second year — is adopted by lawmakers this summer. However, the school district would only receive that added money, estimated at $16 million over two years, if the board complies with Walker’s concurrent directive to require employees to pay no less than 12 percent of their health insurance premiums.

Taxpayers fund the district’s entire budget, which was about $460,000,000 last year. That’s around $18k/student, far more than most K-12 organizations, despite long standing, disastrous reading results.

I wonder why Ms Rivedahl did not tell the complete story.

We Few, We Miserable Few

Heather MacDonald:

Black students at Pomona College and neighboring schools in Claremont, California, have published an open letter declaring their hostility to free speech—other people’s free speech, that is. The letter shows that the faculty of the Claremont colleges are failing in their most basic educational duties.

The manifesto, written by “We, few of the Black students here at Pomona College and the Claremont Colleges,” was triggered by a statement on academic freedom by outgoing Pomona College President David Oxtoby. Oxtoby’s statement in turn responded to a student blockade that tried to shut down a talk on policing I was supposed to give at Claremont McKenna College on April 6. Leave aside for a moment the signatories’ unblemished ignorance regarding free speech and the role of unfettered discourse in creating their own liberties. Viewed purely formally, the letter is a major embarrassment to the faculty of Pomona and the Claremont colleges.

Facebook’s algorithm isn’t surfacing one-third of our posts. And it’s getting worse

Kurt Gessler:

Starting in January of this year, we at the Chicago Tribune started to anecdotally see a fairly significant change in our post reach.

We weren’t seeing a huge difference in post consumption or daily average reach, but we were just seeing more misses than hits. At the Tribune, we have a fairly stable and predictable audience. We had around a half million fans at the end of March and have seen slow but steady growth in the last year. Most Facebook posts fell into the 25,000 to 50,000 reach range — with a few big successes and few spectacular failures each day, usually based on the quality of the content or the quality and creativity of the share.

But starting earlier this year, we started to see far more misses. And not reaches in the low 20,000’s but 4,000 reach or 6,000 reach. Digital Editor Randi Shaffer was one of the first to notice.

America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People

Lynn Paramore:

You’ve probably heard the news that the celebrated post-WW II beating heart of America known as the middle class has gone from “burdened,” to “squeezed” to “dying.” But you might have heard less about what exactly is emerging in its place.

In a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, draws a portrait of the new reality in a way that is frighteningly, indelibly clear: America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates.

Two roads diverged

In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the “FTE sector” (named for finance, technology, and electronics, the industries which largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good jobs, and sleep soundly knowing that they have not only enough money to meet life’s challenges, but also social networks to bolster their success. They grow up with parents who read books to them, tutors to help with homework, and plenty of stimulating things to do and places to go. They travel in planes and drive new cars. The citizens of this country see economic growth all around them and exciting possibilities for the future. They make plans, influence policies, and count themselves as lucky to be Americans.

Madison currently spends about $18k/student, far more than most taxpayer funded school districts.

California Panel endorses bill aimed at reducing number of college students in remedial classes

Larry Gordon:

Reformers have scored legislative progress in their efforts to enroll many more California community college students in credit-bearing courses instead of remedial classes, with placements based on high school grades rather than just placement exams.

Critics decry remedial classes as dead ends that often lead to students dropping out. Students too often feel trapped in remedial courses even though they might have done well if they were admitted directly into credit classes that count toward their diplomas, according to researchers.

The Crucible of the Application Process

Dillon Bowen:

This essay is about my experience with the application process—specifically how I was repeatedly encouraged to alter my applications to conform with far-Left political ideology. These alterations would ostensibly bolster my chances of being accepted to and receiving funds for graduate programs.

It’s worth noting, at this point, that my political ideals tend to lean left. I’ve voted for the Democratic candidate in every national election since age 18, I’m deeply concerned about social issues including women’s rights, LGBT+ issues, and racial discrimination, and I believe that redistributing wealth through government intervention is fundamental to a healthy economy. At the same time, I don’t think the political Left is correct about everything and often find myself disagreeing with the far-Left narrative, especially as it is currently instantiated in the world of academia. Unfortunately, my experience with the applications process convinced me that the viability of my candidacy was largely predicated on hiding these disagreements from applications reviewers.

As a brief disclaimer, none of what I say here should be interpreted as a criticism of my advisors – not of their job performance and especially of their personal predilections. If anything, I think they did their jobs well. Given what I perceive as the entrenched far-Left political ideology in the world of academia, I’m confident that their advice improved my applications in the eyes of review committees. I can honestly say that by the end of the process, I felt as if the only way to be considered a serious candidate – by the Rhodes Trust, Harvard Admissions, etc – was to present myself and my proposed research as conforming entirely to a far-Left political narrative.


Micah Lee & Lauren Feeney:

Planning on going to a protest? You might not be aware that just by showing up, you can open yourself up to certain privacy risks — police often spy on protesters, and the smartphones they carry, and no matter how peaceful the demonstration, there’s always a chance that you could get detained or arrested, and your devices could get searched. Watch this video for tips on how to prepare your phone before you go to a protest, how to safely communicate with your friends and document the event, and what to do if you get detained or arrested.

Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy (Chromebooks)

Frida Alim, Nate Cardozo, Gennie Gebhart, Karen Gullo,
and Amul Kalia:

Case Study: A California Parent Caught Off-Guard by Chromebooks

Katherine W. was seven years old, in the third grade, when her teacher first issued Google Chromebooks to the class. Katherine’s father, Jeff, was concerned. Jeff feared that Chromebooks and G Suite for Education use might come at the cost of his daughter’s privacy. He negotiated with his daughter’s teacher so she could use a different computer and not have to use a Google account. But as third grade came to a close, the district made clear that there would be no exception made the next year.

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the data that students often use to log into Google services—like name, student number, and birthday—can’t be shared with third parties—including Google—without written parental consent.

But the district never sought written consent from Jeff or his wife. The district provided no details about the types of devices students would be required to use or the data that would be collected on students. Rather than allowing Jeff to sign his daughter up for the Chromebook program, the district consented on his behalf, making the device mandatory for Katherine—with no ability to opt out. This means that Katherine is required by the school to use Google with a personalized Google account, and Google can create a profile of her—that is, a dossier of information that vendors collect on users for advertising, market research, or other purposes—and use it for commercial purposes the moment she clicks away from G Suite for Education.

Jeff went through several emails and a tense meeting before the district agreed to provide Katherine with a non-Google option for fourth grade—but once again declared that such an accommodation would not be possible for fifth grade.

That’s when EFF reached out to the district. Our legal team drafted a letter to the district to outline the privacy concerns associated with school-issued Chromebooks. The letter urged the district to permit “all students—if their parents so decide—to use alternative devices, software, and websites, for the upcoming school year and every year.”

For Jeff, the biggest concern isn’t just the data Google collects on students. It’s the long-term ramifications for children who are taught to hand over data to Google without question.

As Jeff explained it, “In the end, Google is an advertising company. They sell ads, they track information on folks. And we’re not comfortable with our daughter getting forced into that at such an early age, when she doesn’t know any better.”

3. Parent Concerns About Data Collection and Use

When parents’ questions went unanswered, they were left with serious data concerns, particularly when devices and ed tech programs came home with students. Parents who responded to the survey were particularly concerned about personally identifiable information (PII) that could be used to identify a specific student, such as first/last name, birth date, student ID, graduation date, address, etc.

One Utah public school parent summed up a range of concerns:

Schools should not require students to use tools that involuntarily, or without express parental permission, collect data on students. This includes internal processing of data in order to “improve products,” understanding user behavior to promote advertising, and sharing data with third parties.

A parent from a Maryland public school had suspicions about data collection, retention, and eventual use by ed tech companies:

They are collecting and storing data to be used against my child in the future, creating a profile before he can intellectually understand the consequences of his searches and digital behavior.

Parents were also conscious of the possibility that their children’s data would be shared, sold, or otherwise commodified in the “untapped industry of selling students’ information for advertising and profiling.” The details were generally unclear, as school privacy policies said “not a word about how our kids’ learning is essentially becoming Google’s data.” One Maryland parent wrote:

The school system does not even acknowledge that our child’s data is being collected and possibly sold.

Within schools themselves, respondents observed practices that threatened to reveal students’ PII on a smaller scale. Poor login and password management practices using PII were of particular concern. One California public school used students’ birthdates as passwords. According to another parent:

The passwords are defaulted to student ID. Students are not allowed to change these passwords, and they have received emails stating that students are to stop attempting to change passwords. The student ID numbers are printed, unredacted, on schedules handed out to students and, per my child, “follow a pattern that is easily guessed.”

When students came home with their school-issued devices and online homework, parents’ data concerns extended from students’ data to the family’s home networks and devices. In addition to imposing surveillance on students at home as well as in the classroom,14 ed tech had the potential to make other members of the household feel vulnerable. One public school parent in Pennsylvania wrote about their student accessing ed tech services on a personal device:

I have no idea how to find out the extent of information they [ed tech providers] have access to on our personal computers.

Another parent in a Virginia public school was concerned about their student using a school-issued device at home:

The students are required to use the laptops at home for assignments, but that could expose our home networks to the school system.

Parents’ concerns above highlight the extent to which student privacy violations may go beyond the classroom. Student data—or, more broadly, data collected on students in the course of educational activities at school, at home, and elsewhere—may interact with advertising, drive inferences and profiles about individual students, or be shared with third parties.

Calculus Made Easy (1914)

Silvanus P Thompson PDF Book:

CONSIDERING how many fools can calculate, it is surprising that it should be thought either a difficult or a tedious task for any other fool to learn how to master the same tricks.

Some calculus-tricks are quite easy. Some are enormously difficult. The fools who write the text— . books of advanced mathematics—and they are mostly clever fools—seldom take the trouble to show you how easy the easy calculations are. On the contrary, they seem to desire to impress you with their tremendous cleverness by going about it in the most diflicult way.

Being myself a remarkably stupid fellow, I have had to unteach myself the difficulties, and now beg to present to my fellow fools the parts that are not. hard. Master these thoroughly, and the rest wm follow. What one fool can do, another can.



THE preliminary terror, which chokes ofl’ most fifth- form boys from even attempting to learn how to calculate, can be abolished once for all by simply stating what is the meaning—in common-sense terms—of the two principal symbols that are used in calculating.

These dreadful symbols are: (1) d which merely means “a little bit of.”

Thus dm means a little bit of w; or du means a little bit of u. Ordinary mathematicians think it more polite to say“ an element of,” instead of “ a little bit of.” Just as you please. But you will find that these little bits (or elements) may be considered to be indefinitely small.

(2) I which is merely a long S, and may be called (if you like) “ the sum of.” Thus Ida: means the sum of all the h’ttle bits

Where did language come from?

Cormac McCarthy:

call it the Kekulé Problem because among the myriad instances of scientific problems solved in the sleep of the inquirer Kekulé’s is probably the best known. He was trying to arrive at the configuration of the benzene molecule and not making much progress when he fell asleep in front of the fire and had his famous dream of a snake coiled in a hoop with its tail in its mouth—the ouroboros of mythology—and woke exclaiming to himself: “It’s a ring. The molecule is in the form of a ring.” Well. The problem of course—not Kekulé’s but ours—is that since the unconscious understands language perfectly well or it would not understand the problem in the first place, why doesnt it simply answer Kekulé’s question with something like: “Kekulé, it’s a bloody ring.” To which our scientist might respond: “Okay. Got it. Thanks.”

Why the snake? That is, why is the unconscious so loathe to speak to us? Why the images, metaphors, pictures? Why the dreams, for that matter.

A logical place to begin would be to define what the unconscious is in the first place. To do this we have to set aside the jargon of modern psychology and get back to biology. The unconscious is a biological system before it is anything else. To put it as pithily as possibly—and as accurately—the unconscious is a machine for operating an animal.

The E-Scraper and E-Monopsony

Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice Stucke:

An e-monopsonist and his cousin the e-scraper are robbing an upstream bank. The alarm is triggered. The nearby antitrust enforcer, seeing them holding bags of cash, asks: ‘Have you seen any suspects running away from the scene?’
Let us unpack this tale’s moral.

With the rise of Google, Amazon, Facebook and other ‘super-platforms,’ we tend to look down rather than up. It seems like Google, Amazon, and Facebook are using their power in the marketplace to deliver great value to us — wrestling lower prices from producers in the case of Amazon, bringing news onto a single platform in the case of Facebook, and organizing the world’s information, in the case of Google.

While these companies appear to be furthering our interests, a closer look reveals how these super-platforms may wield their power downstream to harm us, the consumer. As our book Virtual Competition explores, the super-platforms can use our personal data to better price discriminate and their disincentive to protect our privacy (and promote technologies that do).

Less discussed, but of significant concern, are the upstream effects of these super-platforms. They are in fact harming many of the companies from whom they buy or acquire content — and that harm ultimately harms us. Our competition laws deal with this kind of buyer power. These concerns, however, are often low on the enforcement agenda due to the indirect effects on consumer welfare. In the digital age, that urgently needs to change.

Many schools and universities use Google, amazon and Fakebook services, including Madison.


Rachel Chanter

Printing and the Mind of Man (PMM) is a landmark publication in the study of books and their place in culture. First published in 1967, PMM was based on the 1963 exhibitions of the same name held in London which sought to examine the the impact of printed books on the development of western civilisation. It included over 650 examples of printing and printing technology documenting the influence of print on the development of Western world. It soon became an important reference work for book collectors and remains an indispensable resource for booksellers, librarians and bibliophiles today. You can find very fine illustrated copies of PMM, complete with protective slip case, here.

Tracing Spam: Diet Pills from Beltway Bandits

Brian Krebs:

According to Guilmette, whoever Dan is or was at Gtacs.com, he got his account compromised by some fairly inept spammers who evidently did not know or didn’t care that they were inside of a U.S. defense contractor which specializes in custom military-grade communications. Instead, the intruders chose to use those systems in a way almost guaranteed to call attention to the compromised account and hacked servers used to forward the junk email.
 “Some…contractor who works for a Vienna, Va. based government/military ‘cybersecurity’ contractor company has apparently lost his outbound email credentials (which are probably useful also for remote login) to a spammer who, I believe, based on the available evidence, is most likely located in Romania,” Guilmette wrote in an email to this author.
 Guilmette told KrebsOnSecurity that he’s been tracking this particular pill spammer since Sept. 2015. Asked why he’s so certain the same guy is responsible for this and other specific spams, Guilmette shared that the spammer composes his spam messages with the same telltale HTML “signature” in the hyperlink that forms the bulk of the message: An extremely old version of Microsoft Office.

“what will save workers is educational reform” – Perhaps, Given Governance Diversity

Entique Dans:

Society’s approach to the relationship between men and robots, taking the definition of robot as broadly as possible, tends to be somewhat apocalyptic: robots will steal our jobs and create a dysfunctional society where manual labor and tasks of little added value or the three Ds have been replaced: in short, a largely negative vision of the future.

And then of course there are those people who still ask whether we are really in the midst of a process of replacing people with robots? Of course we are. In fact, robots have been taking work away from people for many years.

Madison has continued to support non diverse K-12 governance despite long term, disastrous reading results and spending more than most, now around $18,000 per student.

A majority of the Madison school board rejected the proposed Madison preparatory academy IB charter school and the studio school.

To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Property Taxes?

Morgan Scarboro:

As a colleague explained last year, states tax real property in a variety of ways. Some states impose a rate or millage on the full fair market value of the property, while others impose it on a given percentage of the market value or even based on income potential.

Reliance on property taxes also varies across states. North Dakota (which derives much of its revenue from severance taxes) relies the least on property taxes, at only 11.5 percent of its state and local tax collections. New Hampshire, by contrast, relies most heavily on property taxes, at 66.1 percent of total state and local tax collections.

However, a heavy reliance on any given tax does not equate to a high tax burden overall. New Hampshire, for example, has the highest reliance on property taxes but the 44th lowest tax burden in the country, as the state does not levy a sales tax or a tax on wage income. Texas, the state with the fifth highest reliance on property taxes, has the 46th lowest tax burden in the country. Texas does not levy a corporate or individual income tax (though it does have a harmful business tax in the form of the Margin Tax).

Opinion: House Members (all Politicians) Should Take Civics Tests

Jonathan Allen:

“I pay for myself,” an annoyed Mullin said when one of the attendees suggested that he worked for the folks in the district. “I paid enough taxes before I got there [to Congress] and continue to, through my company, to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go.”

Marie Antoinette couldn’t have put it better.

His buffoonish and politically tone-deaf assertion that he’s doing constituents a favor by working for them is actually one of two recent examples of lawmakers failing to understand the nature of their jobs. It follows on the equally absurd claim by Florida GOP Rep. Ted Yoho that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes works for President Donald Trump.

Telling children ‘hard work gets you to the top’ is simply a lie

Hashi Mohamed:

t is a common promise made to the next generation. “If you work hard, and do the right thing, you will be able to get on in life.” I believe that it is a promise that we have no capacity to fulfil. And that’s because its underlying assumptions must be revisited.

Imagine a life living in quads. You attend a highly prestigious school in which you dash from one quad to the next for your classes. You then continue on to yet another prestigious institution for your tertiary education, say Oxford or Cambridge University, and yet more quads with manicured lawns. Then you end up in the oasis of Middle Temple working as a barrister: more manicured lawns and, yes, you guessed it, more quads. You have clearly led a very square and straight life. Effortlessly gliding from one world to the next with clear continuity, familiarity and ease.

Now contrast the above oasis with the overcrowded and under-performing schools of inner cities, going home to a bedroom which you share with many other siblings. A home you are likely to vacate when the council can’t house you there anymore. Perhaps a single-parent household where you have caring duties at a young age, or a household where no one works. A difficult neighbourhood where the poverty of ambition is palpable, stable families a rarity, and role models very scarce.

Madison’s achievement gap: a stubbornly ‘stable trend’

Abigail Becker:

The state of education in Madison is stuck.

For the past eight to 10 years, data and test scores have consistently shown disparities between black and white students that are closely linked to socioeconomic divides.

The achievement gap—a disparity in test scores between the performance of students in groups broken down by race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status—is moving forward little by little in Madison but not for enough students.

Madison schools are showing there are more students who are proficient in reading and math, according to a second annual school district report released July 27, although a significant racial achievement gap remains.

“Everything we do in our district is aimed at raising student achievement for all and addressing the gaps in opportunity that we believe lead to gaps in student achievement,” Cheatham said at a press conference held in Elvehjem Elementary School’s library. “We want to be a model for what a successful thriving public school district looks like, and together I believe we’re well on our way.”

Millennials aren’t job-hopping any faster than Generation X did

Richard Fry:

In January 2016, 63.4% of employed Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1998, reported that they had worked for their current employer at least 13 months. In February 2000, somewhat fewer 18- to 35-year-olds (59.9%) – most of whom are today’s Gen Xers – reported similar job tenure. Looking at young workers with longer tenures, 22% of Millennial workers had been with their employer for at least five years as of 2016, similar to the share of Gen X workers (21.8%) in 2000.

One factor that may be contributing to Millennials staying with employers longer is their relatively high levels of education, which is typically associated with longer tenure. Among 25- to 35-year-old workers in 2016, 38% of Millennial men and 46% of Millennial women had completed at least a bachelor’s degree. The Gen X workforce back in 2000 had significantly lower levels of educational attainment: 31% of male 25- to 35-year-old workers had finished college, as had only 34% of female workers.

Can Parents Sue If Their Kid Is Born With the ‘Wrong’ DNA?

Kristen Brown:

It’s a nightmare scenario straight out of a primetime drama: a child-seeking couple visits a fertility clinic to try their luck with in-vitro fertilization, only to wind up accidentally impregnated by the wrong sperm.

In a fascinating legal case out of Singapore, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that this situation doesn’t just constitute medical malpractice. The fertility clinic, the court recently ruled, must pay the parents 30% of upkeep costs for the child for a loss of ‘genetic affinity.’ In other words, the clinic must pay the parents’ child support not only because they made a terrible medical mistake, but because the child didn’t wind up with the right genes.

At a time when rapidly advancing science and technology puts things like genetically engineering embryos to prevent disease in the realm of reality, the case sets an intriguing precedent. First, it places a monetary value on the amount of DNA that a child shares with their parents. And it suggests that the base genetic makeup of a child can actually be ‘wrong.’

Why Do Ivy League Schools Get Tax Breaks? How The Richest US Colleges Get Richer

David Sirota and Josh Keefe:

During his successful quest to win Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, Donald Trump told the state’s voters that colleges are fleecing taxpayers and enriching Wall Street.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that universities get massive tax breaks for their massive endowments,” he told a crowd in suburban Philadelphia. “These huge multi-billion dollar endowments are tax-free, but too many of these universities don’t use the money to help with tuition and student debt. Instead, these universities use the money to pay their administrators, or put donors’ names on buildings, or just store the money away. In fact, many universities spend more on private equity fund managers than tuition programs.”

Trump promised to make universities’ tax breaks contingent on schools’ willingness to reduce tuition prices — and lawmakers are now considering bills to do just that. New data released this week could fuel those legislative initiatives.

According to a study by Stanford University scholar Charlie Eaton, universities are using their endowments to haul in more than $19 billion in tax subsidies every year. The analysis, which compiled data from 1976 to 2012, found that as the tax expenditures have flowed to college endowments, those endowments have exponentially grown — and have funneled billions to Wall Street money managers who make big fees off the pools of cash.

Despite the tax breaks and the flood of cash to Wall Street, many of the universities that benefit from the subsidies have refused to use their additional endowment resources to expand enrollment, admit more low-income students or lower their tuition rates.

Related: Ivy League Summary: Tax Break Subsidies And Government Payments.

Teachers, Police Priced Out of America’s Big Metro Areas

Laura Kusisto:

Rising home prices are putting America’s largest metropolitan areas out of reach for teachers, police officers and other big slices of the U.S. workforce.

Teachers in the Denver and Austin metro areas could afford just 13% of the homes for sale in those markets, according to a study released Wednesday by real-estate website Trulia. That is down from 20% and 16%, respectively, in 2014.

In all, teachers can afford less than 20% of the homes for sale in 11 of the 93 major U.S. metro areas studied.

The numbers underscore the challenges major metro regions face as home prices shoot beyond what workers in many industries can afford. It essentially leaves workers with a choice of leaving those areas or facing long commutes to work.

Stunning College Dorms, Preposterous Luxury | Raising Teenagers

Jane Parent:

If you’ve been on a college campus recently, you may have noticed that college dorms have definitely changed since you went to college. Not to sound like one of those embroidered pants-wearing curmudgeonly alums walking around campus grumbling about how good we had it and how we had to walk ten miles uphill in the snow to get to class, but one thing really irks me—the luxury college dorms and amenities are ridiculous. Lazy rivers, granite counter tops, omelet stations, en suite bathrooms, free on demand cable. As a parent and tuition payer, I can’t help but wonder: have we all gone insane? Why are we funding this extravagance?

The absurdity of it all really hit me this spring when we toured the honors housing at a large public university. The prospective students and parents were shown into the college dorms demo suite. We parents all gazed, mouths agape, at the two bedroom suite: each room had a double bed, its own closet, and opened into a spacious furnished living space, with a granite counter kitchenette on one side, and on the other a granite counter double sink bathroom, with its own private shower and toilet (so your student is spared that nasty inconvenient walk down the hall to the communal bathroom).

Black college students could benefit from Trump’s worker visa order

William Douglas:

Science and technology students at the nation’s historically black colleges could get a boost from President Donald Trump’s executive order aimed at altering a visa program that brings highly skilled workers to the United States.

Leaders and advocates for historically black colleges and universities have been monitoring the immigration and jobs debate, telling the Trump administration and congressional lawmakers that so-called science, technology, engineering and math graduates from HBCU schools are readily available to fill high-tech jobs that are currently going to foreign workers.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., who hosted a gathering of black college presidents in Washington, said Trump’s order “as a byproduct could help some of the HBCU graduates.”

“I think it can be a good thing,” added Walker, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, whose district includes N.C. A&T State University. “I want to see what comes of this, and maybe later on this year we’ll have a better idea.”

Trump signed an order Tuesday dubbed “Buy American, Hire American,” which instructs the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Labor and State to recommend new rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse.

Universities require scholars pledge commitment to diversity

Kate Hardiman:

Universities are increasingly relying on “diversity statements” for faculty hiring and promotion, according to a new report from the Oregon Association of Scholars.

These statements have strong ties to liberal ideology, such as the assumption of group victimization and claims for group-based entitlements, effectively making them “partisan litmus tests” to “weed out non-left wing scholars,” the association states in its report.

The association notes that many schools now link to articles explaining how to craft a diversity statement, which include affirmations that a professor will “keep the white students from dominating all classroom discussions,” or “reflect a commitment to queer visibility,” or teach students “not to thoughtlessly reproduce the standard white and Western model of legitimate knowledge.”

Mission Versus Organization: Instead of debating charters vs. public schools, focus on educating kids

Dan Katzir and Marcia Aaron:

There is one reason that someone chooses to dedicate his or her life to education as a teacher, administrator or community advocate: a sincere, deeply held belief that making a difference in the lives of children is the best way to build equity and move our society forward. Every educator and advocate shares that goal.

Why, then, do we so often fall into the trap of treating education as just another partisan fight?

On both sides of the charter vs. traditional public school debate, heated political rhetoric has infiltrated the speech of people who should be united by a desire to help kids. On behalf of four public Charter School Networks – Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Green Dot Public Schools and KIPP LA – representing over 35,000 students in some of our most economically distressed neighborhoods, we are calling for a ceasefire.

Commentary On The Recent Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Election

John Nichols:

The DeVos interventions are not about improving public education; they are about pushing a political agenda that is rooted in ideological obsessions rather than an understanding of how to improve schools. As the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights noted with regard to DeVos: “She has never been an educator or worked directly with children and families in public schools. She has never led a school, district or state agency tasked with educating students. She has never been a public school parent or a public school student. This lack of experience makes her uniquely unfamiliar with the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s students, families, educators and schools.”

DeVos and her ilk have succeeded in politicizing the education debate to such an extent that historically nonpartisan contests have seen clear divides between candidates who defend public education (and are often backed by Democrats, progressives and teacher unions) and candidates who align with the DeVos agenda (and who are often backed by Republicans, social conservatives and corporate interests that favor privatization).

Much more on Tony Evers, here.

How are Wisconsin students doing?


Mission Vs Organization: Shades Of Cutting Strings….

Valerie Strauss:

“Their priorities are distorted. We need to make a decision to put kids first. Especially when they’re savings is about $500,000 to $750,000, when they’re paying out a million dollars on, on public relations specialists and on lobbyists, a million dollars.”

Former Superintendent Art Rainwater frequently attempted to kill Madison’s strings program.

Like Albuquerque, Madison long had a lobbyist. Do they have one today?

Madison, with “plenty of resources” spends about $18,000 per student annually – well above the national average.

An emphasis on “adult employment“.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: General Motors plant closes, residents emerge from the Great Recession into an uncertain future

Alyssa Shuman:

Television crews from as far away as the Netherlands and Japan had come to film this moment, when the oldest plant of the nation’s largest automaker turned out its last.

Janesville, Wis., lies three-fourths of the way from Chicago to Madison along Interstate 90. The county seat of 63,500 people is the home town of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R) — an old United Auto Workers town in a state led by a new generation of conservative, Gov. Scott Walker (R). It is a Democratic town still, though the economic blow that befell Janesville is the kind of reversal of fortune that drove many working-class Americans to support Donald Trump for president.

The assembly plant began turning out Chevrolets on Valentine’s Day 1923, and, for 8½ decades, the factory, like a mighty wizard, ordered the city’s rhythms. The radio station synchronized its news broadcasts to the shift change. Grocery prices went up along with GM raises. People timed their trips across town to the daily movements of freight trains hauling in parts and hauling away finished cars, trucks and SUVs.

And so, when the plant stopped in the midst of the Great Recession, the people of Janesville — even as they began to reinvent themselves and their town — clung to a faith that GM would reopen the plant so their future could be like their past. Over time, though, people began to confront a question they had not considered before: What choices to make when there were no more good choices left?

The De-Professionalization of the Academy

Alex Southwell:

In the fall of 2005, I began working as a full-time faculty member in the General Studies program at Hudson University. I was promoted to full Professor last year. Thus, the tale I tell does not represent sour grapes. Rather, what follows is a jeremiad decrying the direction that academia has taken in order to underscore the threats posed to academic integrity and institutional legitimacy. Over twelve years, I have watched with increasing dismay and incredulity as academic integrity, fairness, and intellectual rigor have eroded, with the implicit endorsement of administration and faculty alike. I have witnessed the de-professionalization of the professoriate—hiring policies based on tokenized identity politics and cronyism, the increasing intellectual and ideological conformity expected from faculty and students, and the subsequent curtailment of academic freedom.

Just to be clear, most of my faculty colleagues are well-educated, bright, and dedicated teachers. Some are also worthy scholars or creative authors. Yet, in addition to cronyism, the program’s hiring practices have been significantly compromised, especially as a result of the premium that the university has recently placed on “diversity.”

How many jobs really require college?

Devin Helton:

It is the conventional wisdom in some circles that we need to send even more people to college. As Bill Gates wrote, “America is facing a shortage of college graduates…By 2025, two thirds of all jobs in the US will require education beyond high school.”

I am very skeptical of this point of view. In a previous post, I argued that many professional jobs (architect, manager, lawyer) have no natural need to require three to seven years of tertiary schooling. Rather, the strict requirements are due to credentialing laws that restrict entry into the profession and prop up wages.

For this post, I decided to go through a master spreadsheet of employment in the United States and make my own assessment of what percent of jobs truly require college. I sorted each occupation in one of the following buckets:

Grade School or Less Needed – Beyond reading, writing and basic math, no education is needed for this job. Any job specific training takes less than six months. Examples: truck driver, cook, massage therapist, hair stylist, or orderly.

School Choice Commentary

Jason Blakely:

Buoyed by Donald Trump’s championing of a voucher system—and cheered on by his education secretary Betsy DeVos—Arizona just passed one of the country’s most thoroughgoing policies in favor of so-called “school of choice.” The legislation signed by Governor Doug Ducey allows students who withdraw from the public system to use their share of state funding for private school, homeschooling, or online education.

Making educational funding “portable” is part of a much wider political movement that began in the 1970s—known to scholars as neoliberalism—which views the creation of markets as necessary for the existence of individual liberty. In the neoliberal view, if your public institutions and spaces don’t resemble markets, with a range of consumer options, then you aren’t really free. The goal of neoliberalism is thereby to rollback the state, privatize public services, or (as in the case of vouchers) engineer forms of consumer choice and market discipline in the public sector.

The Real Reason Black Kids Benefit From Black Teachers

David Jackson:

For black students, having even one black teacher can make a huge difference. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which found that that black boys who had a black teacher during their elementary school years were less likely to drop out of high school. It also linked the presence of black teachers to kids’ expectations of attending college.

I wasn’t surprised to hear this. I’m one of a small fraction of black teachers in my district. I know that, as much as many would like to think that good intentions and talent are the only important qualities for educators, students respond differently to teachers whom they can relate to.

The week before the study was released, I showed my ninth graders a film about Kalief Browder, a black teenager who was arrested at age 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack, spent three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime and died by suicide after his release. I was moved by the impassioned mini-essays about police brutality and stop-and-frisk my students produced and the honest experiences they shared. I realized it’s not just that my students live these topics every day. It’s also that they are teenagers who have seen me interact with law enforcement during our trips off campus. They trusted me because they knew I lived them as well.