Extreme Commuting

Bryan Miller:

“My wife always waits up, which is nice,” Mr. Ubert said. “Our little guy goes to bed at 9 p.m., which is not so cool, but he loves the backyard and neighborhood, so it’s completely worth it.”
 At first Mr. Ubert thought he would hate the commuting life, but that soon changed. “It’s really not so bad, and what we get in return is amazing.” What they get in return is a 3,100-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bath colonial on one rustic acre, for which they paid $375,000 last year.
 “It’s true, we are living the American dream, with deer running around in our yard, and bald eagles, too.”

Continuing to grow Madison School $pending: now nearly $20k / student

Karen Rivedal:

But board members Mary Burke and TJ Mertz offered cautions, urging the administration to be sure every possible building efficiency has been achieved before going to the voters again and every proposed project in any referendum under the plan truly advances the district’s central mission of providing a good education.

“My guess is if you asked parents, the vast majority of parents would give up the shiny-new for the best teacher (for their children) that that school had,” Burke said.

“We haven’t built a lot and we have a very high tax base per pupil,” Barry said. “That doesn’t mean (any potential renovations and upgrades) are free. But it does mean that from a balance-sheet perspective, we can support a reasonable amount of debt.”

The district’s plan also would expand the types of repairs and renovations tackled beyond traditional building and HVAC maintenance, facilities director Chad Wiese said. Instructional program needs also could be considered, such as library renovations and the creation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) spaces, along with athletic and co-curricular program needs, such as swimming pools and artificial turf.

Board members asked for a November update with more specifics, with a possible vote on the plan later in the coming school year. Staff members also are working on a list of possible bigger-ticket improvements — new school construction or major renovations — that could be paid for in referendums using bonds with 10- to 20-year payoffs.

Madison school spending and tax history (current budget is just under $500,000,000, or nearly $20,000 per student).

We spend far more than most, despite long term, disastrous reading results.

Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world

Nikil Saval:

The annual January gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos is usually a placid affair: a place for well-heeled participants to exchange notes on global business opportunities, or powder conditions on the local ski slopes, while cradling champagne and canapes. This January, the ultra-rich and the sparkling wine returned, but by all reports the mood was one of anxiety, defensiveness and self-reproach.

The future of economic globalisation, for which the Davos men and women see themselves as caretakers, had been shaken by a series of political earthquakes. “Globalisation” can mean many things, but what lay in particular doubt was the long-advanced project of increasing free trade in goods across borders. The previous summer, Britain had voted to leave the largest trading bloc in the world. In November, the unexpected victory of Donald Trump, who vowed to withdraw from major trade deals, appeared to jeopardise the trading relationships of the world’s richest country. Forthcoming elections in France and Germany suddenly seemed to bear the possibility of anti-globalisation parties garnering better results than ever before. The barbarians weren’t at the gates to the ski-lifts yet – but they weren’t very far.

Harvard University Faculty Group Proposes Banning All Social Clubs

Lukas Mikelionis:

A Harvard University task force has advised banning all students from joining any “fraternities, sororities, and similar organizations” in a bid to phase out the social groups entirely by 2022.

According to a faculty committee report released on Wednesday and obtained by The Crimson, the group suggests the ban could replace rules and penalties for students engaging in social clubs that are set to come into effect this coming fall. The report urges the ban be introduced in the fall of 2018.

“All currently enrolled students including those who will matriculate this fall will be exempt from the new policy for the entirety of their time at Harvard,” the report reads. “This will lead to a transition period, whereby USGSOs would be phased out by May 2022.”

The university has already announced a new policy prohibiting members of single-sex organizations from leadership roles and disqualifying them from academic fellowship recommendations.

New Wisconsin K-12 standards intended to spur interest in computer science careers

Jordan C. Axelson:

To address the need, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers last month approved Wisconsin’s Computer Science Standards for K-12 education. Wisconsin is the 10th state to establish such a model.

Each school district will have the choice to accept the standards in full, use them as a foundation to write their own version, or disregard them.

The document outlines learning objectives for students, but each district will decide on how to develop their own programs. Nationally, only 40% of schools now offer computer programming — and the standards are intended to help change that.

The standards propose integrating fundamental computer science concepts, such as using numbers or symbols to represent objects, into elementary school classrooms and progressing to technical courses in high school.

“It’s really important to start early,” said Dennis Brylow, associate professor of math, statistics and computer science at Marquette University and co-chair of the Computer Science Standards Writing Committee.

In middle school, students already begin to set themselves on STEM tracks or to pursue other career paths. “We really need students to not be afraid of these courses in th


Reading progress?

Is higher education biased against traditional Christians?

Robert Maranto;

In “Inside Graduate Admissions,” her study of graduate admission decisions at elite universities, University of Southern California education professor Julie Posselt relates the case of “Maria,” a minority applicant from a historically black college. Posselt observed a committee of professors judging Maria and other applicants. Although Maria scored in the 99th percentile on the verbal section of the Graduate Record Exams and the 82nd percentile of the quantitative section, “her educational background clearly had induced skepticism, and they subjected her file to a more stringent review.”

In jocular fashion, the committee chair and other professors berated Maria’s college and questioned her intellectual fitness, discounting standardized test scores and other objective criteria. Not surprisingly, the faculty rejected Maria, and though reluctant to judge fellow academicians, Posselt lamented, “whether Maria had received a fair hearing was debatable.”

New Kids on the Block: Understanding Developers Entering the Workforce Today

Julia Silge:

Another academic year has recently ended, bringing with it a new season of graduations to celebrate and a new crop of freshly-minted graduates entering the software industry. The 2017 Stack Overflow Developer Survey provides context and data for understanding developers who are just entering the workforce compared to more experienced developers. Let’s use this year’s survey results to gain a deeper understanding of these new graduates.

Not all professional software developers go to college, but most do. In our survey, 77.5% of professional developers had a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 92.4% had at least some college or higher. For this post, we want to look at new developers at the beginning of their careers, so we’ll look at professional developers with less than 1 year of experience (or in some cases, 1 or 2 years). The vast majority of these developers have college degrees or some college education, but it’s important to keep in mind that a university degree is not the only path to a career as a developer.

My University Treated Me Like a Criminal Over a Joke

Trent Bertrand:

For the past six years, I have taught an undergraduate course on international economics at Johns Hopkins University. Most of my students thought it was a very good course. So I was shocked when, on December 6, 2016, I was met at the door of my classroom by Johns Hopkins security personnel and barred from entering.

The next day, I received a letter from my dean suspending me from my teaching duties—just three classes before the end of the semester.

What had I done to cause such a reaction by the administration? I had told a joke when discussing off-shoring, the practice of firms shifting work abroad, often in search of lower wages. Here it is:

An American loses his job due to his work being off-shored. He is very depressed and calls a mental health hot line. He gets a call center in Pakistan where the call center employee asks, “What seems to be the problem?” The American responds that he has lost his job due to the work being sent overseas and states, “I am really depressed and actually suicidal.” The call center employee says, “Great. Can you drive a truck?”

The lecture on off-shoring took place several weeks earlier. The stated reason for my suspension was that three students (out of 68) complained that my joke had created a “hostile learning environment” in the class. That’s a charge most college administrators now take with the utmost seriousness.

The First Amendment.

“I keep my eyes on the scorecard,”

Monte Reel , Kae Inoue , John Lippert , Jie Ma , and Ania Nussbaum:

“I keep my eyes on the scorecard,” Ghosn tells them. Production, profit, growth—the bottom line. Diversions constantly arise, but he’s learned to manage the distractions, which he says assume different forms in different parts of the world. “In Japan,” he says, “people have a tendency to preserve other people. But if you start to look at people, and not your scorecard, you’re going to be in trouble. If you start to say, ‘He’s not very good, but, hey, he’s such a good person, and he’s nice, and he’s a stand-up guy,’ then you’re compromising.”
 It doesn’t take long for an indirect challenge to rise from the crowd: Can’t a modern executive do more than protect his bottom line? A Thai business consultant asks him to consider the example of driverless cars and the potential they have to ease congestion. Nissan is a leader in the field; it’s already selling its Serena model, with driver assistance, in Japan. But maybe, the man suggests, companies such as Ghosn’s should first introduce them to Bangkok and other underdeveloped cities, where rapid globalization has brought increased mobility but also haphazard urbanization and murderous traffic. Conventional business wisdom says companies should first test them in places with advanced infrastructures, but why shouldn’t Ghosn focus on the places where they’d do the most good? “Change the entire society,” the man urges Ghosn. “Disrupt!”

Another Big Enrollment Drop For Chicago Schools Drives Down Budget

Sarah Karp:

A WBEZ analysis of CPS data found that almost 200 principals asked for a share of the funds. But only $3.5 million of $20 million available was doled out to 43 schools. The analysis also showed that the small number of white, middle-class schools succeeded more than majority poor, black and Latino schools in getting the money back.

Last year, school district leaders were sharply criticized when they overhauled how money was given to schools. Rather than separate money for special education students, principals were given a lump sum of cash and told to use it to pay for both general education and special education students.

Madison spends just under $20k/student annually, about 29% more than Chicago.

Chicago plans to spend about $5.4B during 2017, or about $14,160 per student (381,349 students).

Maryam Mirzakhani’s Pioneering Mathematical Legacy

Siobhan Roberts::

The Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, who died on Friday, at the age of forty, was known to her colleagues as a virtuoso in the dynamics and geometry of complex surfaces—“science-fiction mathematics,” one admirer called it—and to her young daughter, Anahita, as something of an artist. At the family’s home, near Stanford University, Mirzakhani would spend hours on the floor with supersized canvases of paper, sketching out ideas, drawing diagrams and formulae, often leading Anahita, now six, to exclaim, “Oh, Mommy is painting again!”
Mirzakhani could be private and retiring, but she was also indomitable and energetic, especially at the blackboard. According to Roya Beheshti, an algebraic geometer at Washington University in St. Louis, and a lifelong friend—the two talked math, read math, and did math, sometimes competitively, for several years growing up—Mirzakhani’s passion was evident early on. “Maryam’s work was driven by a certain pure joy,” Beheshti told me. “A lot of people have been saying how humble she was, and that’s true. She was very humble. She was also really, really ambitious. From the very beginning, from a very young age, it was clear that she had very big goals.” When Mirzakhani was in sixth grade, in Tehran, a teacher discouraged her interest in mathematics, noting that she was not particularly talented, not at the top of the class. A quarter century later, in 2014, she became the first woman (and the first Iranian) to win the Fields Medal, math’s highest honor.

The Great Retail Apocalypse

Die Worker:

And therein lies the story of men’s knitwear. Over the last 75 years, the center of the industry has moved away from Scotland and gone to China and Italy. China competes on price; Italy competes on design. Scotland has struggled because it hasn’t been very good at either, instead just banging out the same classics year after year. The story isn’t too dissimilar from the one Antonio Ciongoli told me a few weeks ago, when I interviewed him about how he designs clothes. When he did his first Eidos collection, he found that the worst sellers included the quarter-zip sweaters and five-pocket chinos everyone told him he had to make. The reason is because they were buried under a mountain of all-too-similar designs from other brands. Today, his best sellers include a unique field jacket and belted cardigan, both of which are distinctive to an Eidos look.
 There’s a word for this: commodification. It’s when a market is so competitive products become nearly indistinguishable, so they primarily compete on price. Think of the difference between a blank white t-shirt and a Rick Owens “unstable” tee. There a million options for the first, so the price ceiling is low. Rick Owens’ tee, on the other hand, is much more unique, so it’s able to command higher prices.
 The difference is that now everything is being commodified. Fast fashion retailers can ripoff a runway look within a month; trends pass through the fashion ecosystem at light speed; and consumers can more easily comparison shop. When a guy is looking at a field jacket at J. Crew, he can compare it against the hundreds of options online, even while he’s in the store. All he needs is a WiFi connection.

Advocating K – 12 governance diversity

Molly Beck:

The office’s first charter school will be one aimed at helping teenagers recover from drug abuse, which was created by legislation passed this year. It will likely open next year.

Two UW System schools and other entities can now create charter schools throughout the state. The Senate budget would let Bennett’s office, any System college and any Technical College District Board authorize charter schools statewide.

The proposal also gives the UW Board of Regents oversight over donations given to Bennett’s office and how they are spent.

Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman for the UW System, said UW officials “continually look for ways to expand educational opportunities across Wisconsin, and the proposal would empower the (office) to be a part of our statewide (services to) Wisconsin students, families and communities

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison preparatory academy IB charter school.

What libraries lost when they threw out the card catalog

Michael Lindgren:

This book about card catalogues, written and published in cooperation with the Library of Congress, is beautifully produced, intelligently written and lavishly illustrated. It also sent me into a week-long depression. If you are a book lover of a certain age, it might do the same to you.

“The Card Catalog” is many things: a lucid overview of the history of bibliographic practices, a paean to the Library of Congress, a memento of the cherished card catalogues of yore and an illustrated collection of bookish trivia. The text provides a concise history of literary compendiums from the Pinakes of the fabled Library of Alexandria to the advent of computerized book inventory databases, which began to appear as early as 1976. The illustrations are amazing: luscious reproductions of dozens of cards, lists, covers, title pages and other images guaranteed to bring a wistful gleam to the book nerd’s eye.

Not adding up: Madison’s diverse student body is not matched by its teachers

Amber Walker:

MMSD also implemented new interviewing practices that assess not only a potential teacher’s knowledge in her content area, but her culturally responsive practices, including setting high and clear expectations for all students, acknowledging all students and connecting to students’ lives and cultural identity.

Hargrove-Krieghoff said the new competency and performance measures were a “game changer” for the district.

“We designed our overall set of competencies with those things in mind,” Hargrove-Krieghoff said.

In an emailed statement to the Cap Times, Cheatham reiterated her commitment to diversifying the district’s teaching staff.

“It is important to us as a district to have a staff that represents the diversity of our student population. It is common sense that students will benefit from interacting with and learning from teachers who look like them at school, and research supports it,” she said. “The benefits for African-American students to have even one African-American teacher in elementary school are long-lasting.”

Although Cheatham’s administration aims to increase the number of teachers of color in the district overall, some teachers are worried that change is not happening fast enough, particularly for African-American students.

Civics: Public Sector Unions and Elections

Bill Glauber:

The union provided to a USPS labor relations official lists of letter carriers to participate in the AFL-CIO’s Labor 2016 program. That program sought to “elect Hillary Clinton and pro-worker candidates across the country.”

The lists were sent to USPS middle managers, who interpreted them as directives, the investigation found. Despite objections by some local postal supervisors, the mid-level managers instructed those on the lists be allowed to take a leave.

Ninety-seven carriers participated in the program, mainly in six states, Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Letter carriers were reimbursed for the leave by the union’s political action committee.

Kopp, a union member, said he was concerned that his office in Marshfield would be short-staffed when a fellow employee announced he was going to take a leave for five weeks to do union activity. Kopp said a supervisor told him that he was going to deny the request because of staffing issues. Later, Kopp said the supervisor told him that “people higher up the chain” gave instructions to let the employee take a leave.

Dem Pitches Manufacturing as a ‘Cool’ Career Path

Karl Herchenroeder::

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) argued Wednesday that America should push receptive young people toward careers in manufacturing, an industry severely rattled by the Great Recession that represents about 9 percent of the workforce.

“We have to stop telling every young person that they’re going to go to college,” Cicilline said during a discussion at the Brookings Institution that touched on the industry’s decline in jobs and surging production.

President Trump’s appeal to the manufacturing sector during his presidential campaign was a deciding factor in the 2016 election, particularly in the Midwest, where discouraged workers continue to struggle in finding secure employment.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing unemployment was reported at 4.6 percent in January 2007, it climbed to 10.9 percent in January 2009 and hit a 10-year high at 13 percent in January 2010.

Bureau records also show that there were 17.5 million employed in manufacturing in 1987, but today there are only 12.4 million. Prior to the recession, in 2007, the industry counted 14 million workers. Though many experts are skeptical that those millions of jobs are ever coming back, due to automation and globalization, it’s anticipated that over the next decade the U.S. will be in need of 3.5 million manufacturing jobs, partly because of the Baby Boomer generation leaving the workforce. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, about 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled because of a skills gap.

This Is The Current State Of The American Workplace

Lydia Dishman:

According to the latest Gallup report on the American Workplace, a record 47% of the workforce says now is a good time to find a quality job, and more than half of employees (51%) are searching for new jobs or watching for openings. That may be due in part to lack of enthusiasm for their current job. Only one-third of U.S. employees said they are engaged in their work and workplace and about one in five fault their managers for failing to motivate them. But they also say that their employers aren’t really giving them compelling reasons to stay, with 91% reporting the last time they changed jobs, they left their company to do so.

Other top reasons workers are jumping ship, according to Glassdoor, are company culture, salary, or getting stuck in the same job for too long. On average, a 10% higher base pay is associated with a 1.5% higher chance the employee will stick around.

Just don’t look at millennials solely as the job-hoppers. A new report from Namely, an HR management platform, analyzed data from over 125,000 employees that busted this myth. Baby boomers are most likely to switch jobs, with a median tenure of just 2.53 years.

Sesame Workshop and IBM team up to test a new A.I.-powered teaching method

Sarah Perez:

The app also personalizes itself to individual children using adaptive assessments to determine the child’s current vocabulary range, then delivers learning experiences that focus on specific words. As the child continues to use the app, it will also adapt further to focus more heavily on those words and other areas that require additional attention.

The pilot program was the first phase of a longer term process that will examine whether or not a learning experience like this can demonstrably improve a child’s vocabulary. However, the initial findings are promising – after collecting 18,000 assessments from multiple choice questions over a two-week period, students appeared to have acquire new vocabulary as a result of the app.


Jon Schwarz

The combination of these two things is truly bizarre, because the Fed has more power than any institution over everything about work in America.

Here’s how the Fed does it:

The Fed largely sets short term interest rates. If it lowers interest rates it heats up the economy, because cheap money makes it easier for entrepreneurs to start new businesses, for old businesses to expand, and for everyone to borrow to buy expensive stuff like homes or cars. That in turn generates new jobs and lowers the unemployment rate. And low unemployment takes leverage away from employers and gives it to employees, making it far, far easier for everyone to get raises and demand decent working conditions.

Meanwhile, the 0.1 percent who actually own and operate the country generally do not want full employment — and keep a close eye on the Fed to make sure it doesn’t make it happen. Why? Straightforward class conflict. For instance, a current Ohio business owner who’s feeling pressure to raise wages to attract workers recently told the New York Times, “I sometimes wish there was actually a higher unemployment rate.” Full employment would also tend to raise the rate of inflation, thereby reducing the value of government and consumer debt — which is largely owned by the creditors at the top of the economic pyramid – and relieving the burden on all the debtors down below.

So the Fed sits right at the center of American politics. Yet for most of us, it might as well be invisible.

How can this be?

The explanation is a phenomenon known in anthropology as “social silence.” Here’s how Gillian Tett, the U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times, describes it:

Longtime Educator Offers Last Rites, Lays to Rest Tired Debate on Public School Choice

Dia Jones::

And this is why the Charter vs. Traditional School Argument is Dead.

Parent choice is a choice for educational freedom. Freedom, my brothers and sisters! Freedom for parents to enroll their children into the school of their choice despite location, race, ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, income, sexual orientation, sexual choice, nationality or disability.

So, everyone… Everyone who wants to remove the shackles of academic oppression of all children – gather ’round. Pick up a rose, a lily, because, yes, He’s the Lily of the Valley…Amen?

Or grab a handful of dirt and throw it on this pine box where this argument now resides. May

Why Americans Think So Poorly of the Country’s Schools

John Schneider:

Consider the impact on policy. If the nation’s schools are generally doing well, it doesn’t make much sense to disrupt them. But if they are in a state of decline, disruption takes on an entirely new meaning. Seizing on the presumed failures of the education system, reform advocates have pushed hard for contentious policies—expansion of charter schools, for instance, or the use of value-added measures of teacher effectiveness—that might have less traction in a more positive policy climate.

Perception also shapes the decisions people make about where to enroll their children. If the quality of public education is generally poor, then parents must compete for a small number of adequate schools—a competition that will be won by those with the greatest access to resources. As research reveals, residential segregation by income has increased in the past 20 years—driven chiefly by families with children seeking home in “good” school districts. If the average public school is of C or C- quality, this is rational behavior. But if most schools are good, segregation is being exacerbated by misperception.

“Continuing struggles in K-12 mean a lot of those young people are not college-ready.” One University President’s Candid Take On The Future Of Higher Ed

Anya Kamanetz::

Mitch Daniels went from running the state of Indiana, as its two-term Republican governor, to running its top flight public university, Purdue University, based in West Lafayette.

Since Daniels began his tenure in 2013, Purdue has made plenty of headlines. First, the school partnered with Gallup on an ambitious project touted as “the largest representative study of college graduates in U.S. history.” The goal? To find out what graduates really value about their educations. The takeaway: Fancy degrees don’t mean much for people’s well-being.

Earlier this year, Daniels also dropped a bombshell when he announced Purdue’s acquisition of Kaplan University. It was an unprecedented move for a public university to take over a for-profit, online college, especially given the for-profit sector’s recent regulatory troubles. Negotiations were conducted in secret, which Daniels said was necessary under federal investment rules.

Why Kaplan? It’s part of Purdue’s broader innovation agenda to offer students a more affordable, accessible, world-class education, says Daniels, though the deal’s critics saw things differently.

NPR sat down with Daniels to talk about how he sees his responsibility toward Indiana’s students today and in the future. The conversation has been edited and condensed.

Jane Jacobs on Transportation, Government Monopolies

The use of “gravy train” to describe public investment will resonate with those readers familiar with Toronto’s disgraced former mayor Rob Ford. Indeed, the general tone of Jacob’s piece – questioning the wisdom of public management of transportation – is more reminiscent of writing from the political right than the political left. As demonstrated frequently throughout Vital Little Plans, one of the most satisfying elements of Jacobs’ writing is her ability to scramble simplistic assumptions about political alignment and urban policy.

So if not the traditional right/left political divide, what motivated Jacobs’ pointed and repeated criticism of public transport management? Reading through the various selections in Vital Little Plans, it becomes clear that the common enemy she is attacking is top-down, centralized control of complex systems.

For followers of Jacobs, this should not come as a surprise. The founding ethos of her seminal work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, is that city success flows from the bottom up. There, she casts the villain as government planners who have a utopian vision of what cities should look like; they destroy functioning urban fabric because they are too far removed from its use to even notice that it is succeeding.

Here, in various selections from Vital Little Plans, Jacobs’ argument against public monopoly control of transportation is similar: a single government agency is liable to miss opportunities for innovation, be biased to the status quo, and ignore changing consumer demands.

Given her love of bottom-up organization and distributed decision making, I suspect that Jacobs would have been a supporter of ‘informal transit’ systems like collectivos, matatus, dollar vans, or jeepneys, although there’s no writing about them in this volume. Those systems tend to be composed of thousands of independent actors, each with a financial incentive to meet consumer demand, and without centralized control of routes or individual driver behavior. While that has often made them the enemy of public authorities, I imagine it would have made Jacobs a fan.

Andrew Salzberg

Monthly Federal Spending Tops $400B for First Time

Terence Jeffrey:

So far in fiscal 2017 (which began on Oct. 1, 2016 and will end on Sept. 30, 2017), the Treasury has brought in $2,507,820,000,000 in taxes and spent $3,030,903,000,000—running a deficit of $523,082,000,000.

Last year in June, the federal government spent $323,320,000,000—or $328,303,590,000 in constant 2017 dollars. The record $428,894,000,000 that the federal government spent this June is $100,590,410,000 more (in constant 2017 dollars) than last June’s spending.

The dramatic increase in spending from last June to this June was driven by increases in spending by the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services. It was also helped by the fact that the first day of July fell on a Saturday rather than a business day.

In June 2016, the Department of Education spent $12,096,000,000 and by that point in fiscal 2016, it had spent $59,457,000,000. This June, the Department of Education spent $45,691,000,000 and so far this fiscal year, it has spent $90,206,000,000.

This year’s June Department of Education spending is $33,595,000,000 more than last year’s.

Paying Professors: Inside Google’s Academic Influence Campaign

Brody Mullins and Jack Nicas:

Google operates a little-known program to harness the brain power of university researchers to help sway opinion and public policy, cultivating financial relationships with professors at campuses from Harvard University to the University of California, Berkeley.

Over the past decade, Google has helped finance hundreds of research papers to defend against regulatory challenges of its market dominance, paying $5,000 to $400,000 for the work, The Wall Street Journal found.
Some researchers share their papers before publication and let Google give suggestions, according to thousands of pages of emails obtained by the Journal in public-records requests of more than a dozen university professors. The professors don’t always reveal Google’s backing in their research, and few disclosed the financial ties in subsequent articles on the same or similar topics, the Journal found.

David Brooks and the language of privilege

Robert Pondisco:

We are ruining America, notes dour New York Times columnist David Brooks, suddenly and considerably alarmed by a standard feature of American life, if not human nature—the tendency of the privileged and powerful to guard jealously every advantage they have been handed or earned. Brooks takes up his pen to offer a stinging rebuke: Members of the college-educated class, he writes, “have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.”

Brooks focuses his concern on the parenting style of privileged Americans, coining a brilliant neologism in the process, “pediacracy,” by which he means the determination of affluent parents to give their kids a leg up. “As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids,” he writes. Next come zoning laws that keep the poor and poorly educated out of well-off neighborhoods and excellent schools. Finally there’s access to elite colleges that cement the grip of top quintile families on the brass ring of their advantage.

Brooks, I think, confuses effects for causes. Mating, motherhood, and Middlebury are not the arenas where battles for opportunity are fought. They are the spoils of war accrued by those who’ve already won. He hits closer to the mark when he draws attention to “informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent.” His Timesman’s bubble thick as armor, he virtue signals, chiding himself for insensitivity when describing how he took “a friend with only a high school degree” (note to Times copy desk: it’s called a “diploma”) to a gourmet sandwich shop. “Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named ‘Padrino’ and ‘Pomodoro’ and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican,” Brooks writes.

An overdose, a young companion, drug-fueled parties: The secret life of USC med school dean

Paul Pringle, Harriet Ryan, Adam Elmahrek, Matt Hamilton and Sarah Parvini:

A week after the hotel overdose, a witness filed an anonymous complaint through a city website urging Pasadena authorities to investigate Puliafito and the police handling of the incident, according to a copy of the complaint obtained through the California Public Records Act.

Three days later, the same witness phoned the office of USC president Nikias and told two employees about Puliafito’s role in the hotel incident. The witness spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity.

Phone records confirm that the witness made a six-minute call to Nikias’ office on March 14, 2016, 10 days after the overdose.

A week and a half later, Puliafito resigned as dean.

Concerned that Pasadena police were not investigating, the witness then approached The Times. The newspaper asked the Police Department for its report on the overdose.

Harvard Law School Task Force Releases Findings, Students Dissent

Jamie Halper:

A year after racially-focused protests rocked Harvard Law School, a student, faculty, and alumni task force has recommended changes to improve diversity and inclusion across the school.

Though the task force was appointed by former Law School Dean Martha L. Minow, the school’s new dean, John F. Manning ’82, sent the report to Law School affiliates July 5, writing that he is “delighted” to have the opportunity to make use of the report’s findings. The report recommends that the school take additional steps to bolster advising programs, mental health resources, and financial aid at the school.

Manning wrote in an emailed statement that the report’s findings were extensive and gave him a significant amount to work with as he began his tenure as dean.

“The Task Force did a tremendous amount of work and made extensive findings and recommendations across a wide range of subjects touching on our academic community,” Manning said.

Law School professor Bruce H. Mann, who chaired the committee, said that the Task Force focused on identifying the opportunities and challenges that a law school as large and diverse as Harvard faces.

“The opportunities lie in bringing together people of different races, genders, ethnicities, gender identities, nationalities, political views, religious affiliations, incomes, career aspirations, and experiences to learn from and alongside one another and to engage in the free exchange of ideas that is essential to the rigorous pursuit of knowledge,” Mann said. “The challenges lie in creating the conditions that foster inclusion and respect for differences and that enable everyone to discuss, debate, and disagree on difficult issues and topics.”

The Easiest Way To Improve Test Scores That Has Nothing To Do With Studying

Rep Tim Ryan (Ohio):

Salad bars are one of the easiest ways for schools to meet nutrition standards. They empower students to try new fruits and vegetables and have been shown to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables. Combined, these efforts create the conditions for students to learn that carrots can be a substitute for candy bars and that it’s better to eat some hot peppers instead of a hot pocket.

My efforts are based on programs that I have seen up close and in person, like the Eatiquette program in Philadelphia where students participate in preparing, serving and cleaning up after the meal. They pass food around and engage in conversations to help them develop the pro-social skills future employers are looking for. Not only do these nutrition education programs benefit students by decreasing the number of overweight youth and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables they are eating, they also help students develop healthy eating habits so that they can do better in school because they are more energized and alert. Programs like this have been shown to improve the overall health of the student body and will create the opportunity to develop a healthier generation.

When 20 percent of school-aged children are obese and our country is losing over $240 billion in diabetes related costs, we have to prioritize our investments and policy to improve student health and wellness. Congress must act now so our children can succeed.


The cholesterol and calorie hypotheses are both dead — it is time to focus on the real culprit: insulin resistance

Maryanne Demasi,Robert H Lustig and Aseem Malhotra

Emerging evidence shows that insulin resistance is the most important predictor of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Aggressive lowering of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) has been the cornerstone of preventative cardiology for decades. Statins are widely used as the go-to solution for the prevention of heart disease owing to their ability to slash LDL-C levels, a ‘surrogate marker’ of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Indeed, statins are one of the most widely prescribed class of drugs in the world. But this phenomenon begs two questions: is the enthusiasm for aggressive lowering of LDL-C justified; and is pharmacotherapy superior to lifestyle intervention?

Over the years, medical guidelines have continually expanded the number of individuals for whom statin therapy is recommended. Proponents argue that statins are ‘life-savers’ and that ‘people will die’ if they discontinue their medicine[1],[2]. Prominent researchers from reputable universities have declared that ‘everyone over 50’ should be on a statin to reduce their risk of CVD and that even children with high LDL-C as young as 8 years should be afforded statin therapy[3].

Many Are Left Out of Teacher Union Decision-Making

Mike Antonucci:

I’m often asked why teacher unions skew so heavily towards the Democratic Party. This isn’t a mystery. Liberals are more active in the union, and though 12 years have passed since I wrote The NEA Pyramid, I believe it is still true that the larger a teacher union is, the more likely its leaders are to be liberal. If the overwhelming majority of decision-makers are Democrats, they are going to support Democratic policies and donate PAC money to Democrats. To expect them to support Republicans according to the percentage of Republican union members is naive.

Political leanings aside, the share of members who are actively involved in union activities is small. The last NEA survey I saw reported only 15 percent were “quite a bit” or “a great deal” involved. A full 36 percent were “not at all” involved.

How to (actually) keep your child’s brain safe

Nico Dosenbach:

As a society, we could do a lot more for the safety of our children if we focused on accident prevention instead of being consumed by irrational fears.

I am a child neurologist and neuroscientist, as well as the parent of a 4-year-old and a 19-month-old. My research and patient care revolve around childhood brain injury and how to prevent it.

Since having kids, I have noticed that my parenting concerns are strikingly different from those of many other parents. My kids get to eat loads of candy. They get to stay up late if they want to. They’re allowed to watch cartoons till they’ve had their fill. I don’t care if they use swear words. When they fall down, I don’t pick them up. If they’re eating dirt, I don’t stop them. I don’t really care if they get bitten by other kids at daycare – but if they do, I’d like them to bite back.

The truth about children and social media

Madhumita Murgia:

A few weeks ago, a report on the impact of social media on British children’s mental health caught my eye. In a survey of 1,500 young people across the UK, the Royal Society for Public Health explored how platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook stoked anxiety, depression and poor sleep in children.

The survey grabbed my attention because, over the past few months, I’ve been talking to schoolchildren and young teens about their digital lives in order to better understand what it means to be born into an online world.

Young people are tech insiders, but in a very different sense from those I am used to interviewing. They are social-media critics, digital-content connoisseurs, mobile natives. They aren’t loyal to the big technology giants such as Facebook or Microsoft. They have an encyclopedic knowledge of YouTube’s catalogue and Snapchat shortcuts, and are the harshest critics and earliest adopters of new consumer apps.

AI and “Enormous Data” Could make tech giants hard to topple

Tom Simonite::

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER record-breaking AI research study released by Google—this time with results that are a reminder of a crucial business dynamic of the current AI boom. The ecosystem of tech companies that consumers and the economy increasingly depend on is traditionally said to be kept innovative and un-monopolistic by disruption, the process whereby smaller companies upend larger ones. But when competition in tech depends on machine learning systems powered by huge stockpiles of data, slaying a tech giant may be harder than ever.
Google’s new paper, released as a preprint Monday, describes an expensive collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. Their experiments on image recognition tied up 50 powerful graphics processors for two solid months, and used an unprecedentedly huge collection of 300 million labeled images (much work in image recognition uses a standard collection of just 1 million images). The project was designed to test whether it’s possible to get more accurate image recognition not by tweaking the design of existing algorithms but just by feeding them much, much more data.

How I lost my 25-year battle against corporate claptrap

Lucy Kellaway:

The first example I can find comes from 1994 when I wrote an article mocking ugly business jargon, arguing that language had got so stupid that the pendulum must soon swing back and plain talking about business would shortly reassert itself. The words I objected to back then? Global, downsize, marketplace and worst of all, the mathematically nonsensical “110% committed”.

What an innocent age that was.

Fast forward to July 2017, and an entrepreneur sits down to write a blog post about his company. “We are focused 1,000,000% on positive, move forward, actionable efforts to help facilitate change.” When someone sent me this bilge last week, I read it and shrugged.

Over the past two decades, two things have happened. Business bullshit has got a million% more bullshitty, and I’ve stopped predicting a correction in the marketplace. I’m 110% sure there won’t be one.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Trustees Show Need for Social Security, Medicare Reforms

Concord Coalition:

According to the trustees, the general revenue subsidies for Social Security and Medicare will total $311 billion in 2017 — $27 billion for Social Security and $284 billion for Medicare. By 2027, the general revenue subsidy for both programs combined jumps to $971 billion.

The rising costs can be attributed to large numbers of retiring baby boomers, the lengthening American lifespan, and the continuing growth of health care costs. All this means the government must pay more each year just to provide the same level of services to more beneficiaries.

The trustees’ projections on how long the Medicare and Social Security trust funds will remain solvent often receive considerable public attention. Today’s reports say the Social Security trust funds will be exhausted in 2034, the same as last year’s report, while Medicare’s Hospital Insurance fund will be exhausted in 2029, one year later than projected last year.

It is important to remember, however, that the trust funds are merely internal government accounting mechanisms that do not provide meaningful information about these two programs’ sustainability as their growth puts increasing pressure on the overall federal budget.

A’s on the rise in U.S. report cards, but SAT scores founder

Greg Toppo:

Recent findings show that the proportion of high school seniors graduating with an A average — that includes an A-minus or A-plus — has grown sharply over the past generation, even as average SAT scores have fallen.

In 1998, it was 38.9%. By last year, it had grown to 47%.

That’s right: Nearly half of America’s Class of 2016 are A students. Meanwhile, their average SAT score fell from 1,026 to 1,002 on a 1,600-point scale — suggesting that those A’s on report cards might be fool’s gold.

The new findings come courtesy of two researchers: Michael Hurwitz of the College Board, the folks who bring you the SAT; and Jason Lee, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education.

Hurwitz called the rise of the A average “really stunning.”

The revelation comes as the USA’s public high schools graduate a record number of students: The average high school graduation rate now tops 83%, according to federal statistics.

Related: When A stands for average.

Middle school report cards. deja vu

=Replacing My Kid’s College Fund with a “Start Something” Fund

Robbie Allen::

Recently, I wrote about how the future job prospects for my two-year-old son may not be the rosiest. Also, I don’t have the best opinion about the future of our higher education system even though I decided to go back to get my third post-undergraduate degree. That’s led me to rethink how to position the future, post-high school world to my kids.

The first time I heard the word entrepreneur was after I left college. My father worked in manufacturing at AT&T (and Lucent) for thirty years. My mom worked at a hosiery plant. Needless to say, we didn’t have a very entrepreneurial family. I was the first person in my family to go to a four-year college. In my family, you graduated high school (or not — my father made it to 10th grade), get a job at the local plant down, and wait for retirement.

Education Department Civil rights office will return to being a ‘neutral’ agency

Caitlin Emma::

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she is “returning” the Office for Civil Rights “to its role as a neutral, impartial, investigative agency.”

In a July 11 letter to Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, DeVos asserted that the department’s civil rights arm under the Obama administration “had descended into a pattern of overreaching, of setting out to punish and embarrass institutions rather than work with them to correct civil rights violations and of ignoring public input prior to issuing new rules.”

As part of the changes she is implementing, the civil rights office would no longer issue “new regulations via administrative fiat,” as the Obama administration did, she wrote.

DeVos’ letter, which lays out a far less activist philosophy for the civil rights office, came in response to a letter sent late last month by 34 Senate Democrats, who blasted her for a series of actions they said had “diminished” civil rights enforcement. The lawmakers asked DeVos for a host of information by July 11, including a list of civil rights investigations that have been closed or dismissed since the Trump administration began. DeVos didn’t provide any of the information in her response.

Murray sent DeVos another letter on Friday repeating her request for the information. She did not address DeVos’ assertions about the actions taken by the Obama-era civil rights office.

DeVos wrote that the agency is “unwavering in its commitment” to defend students’ civil rights. But during the Obama administration, the office “all too often handled individual complaints as evidence of systematic institutional violations,” she wrote. Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, told the office’s regional directors in June to stop doing just that.

The other problem with cultural codes in a meritocracy

Daniel Drezner::

Based on my own conversations, it would seem that most traditional D.C. wonks look at most of the Trump family and see a bunch of wealthy, not-very-bright boors who do déclassé things like eat their steaks well-done and with ketchup. Indeed, there is a whole conservative genre defending the Trumps for some of their gauche tendencies. Most of the Trumps gleefully ignore the cultural codes that Brooks describes, because they are rich enough to not care.

Then we get to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and the narrative switches.

The rest of the Trumps might scream bridge and tunnel, but Jared and Ivanka have undeniably mastered the cultural codes of the educated class. It is hard to read a profile of either of them without words like “polished” or “poised” appearing.

Take the opening sentences to Jill Filipovic’s Politico essay from May: “Ivanka Trump is the poised, polished face of a chaotic White House, a bright young mother who many suspect is a voice of reason and moderation among the Steve Bannon acolytes in the West Wing, whispering socially liberal values in her daddy’s ear.” Look at the Post’s Style Section profile of Ivanka from this month: “Ivanka Trump’s office: clean, white, quiet. A zone of punctual start times and promptly offered water bottles, and a conference table at which she conducts meetings. A short, winding walk away from her father’s Oval Office downstairs.” Or as T.A. Frank noted in Vanity Fair, “let’s agree that one of the finest qualities of Jared Kushner is his tailoring. The fit is so good. Even with bespoke work, that’s hard to achieve.”

What makes maths beautiful?

Cal Flyn:

Maryam Mirzakhani did not enjoy mathematics to begin with. She dreamed of being an author or politician, but as a top student at her all-girls school in Tehran she was still disappointed when her first-year maths exam went poorly. Her teacher believed her – wrongly – to have no particular affinity with the subject.

Soon that would all change. “My first memory of mathematics is probably the time [my brother] told me about the problem of adding numbers from 1 to 100,” she recalled later. This was the story of Carl Gauss, the 18th-century genius whose schoolteacher set him this problem as a timewasting exercise – only for his precocious pupil to calculate the answer in a matter of seconds.

The obvious solution is simple but slow: 1+2+3+4. Gauss’s solution is quicker to execute, and far more cunning. It goes like this: divide the numbers into two groups: from 1 to 50, and from 51 to 100. Then, add them together in pairs, starting with the lowest (1) and the highest (100), and working inwards (2+99, 3+98, and so on). There are 50 pairs; the sum of each pair is 101; the answer is 5050. “That was the first time I enjoyed a beautiful solution,” Mirzakhani told the Clay Mathematics Institute in 2008.

How economics became a religion Its moral code promises salvation, its high priests uphold their orthodoxy. But perhaps too many of its doctrines are taken on faith. By

John Rapley:

Although Britain has an established church, few of us today pay it much mind. We follow an even more powerful religion, around which we have oriented our lives: economics. Think about it. Economics offers a comprehensive doctrine with a moral code promising adherents salvation in this world; an ideology so compelling that the faithful remake whole societies to conform to its demands. It has its gnostics, mystics and magicians who conjure money out of thin air, using spells such as “derivative” or “structured investment vehicle”. And, like the old religions it has displaced, it has its prophets, reformists, moralists and above all, its high priests who uphold orthodoxy in the face of heresy.


Over time, successive economists slid into the role we had removed from the churchmen: giving us guidance on how to reach a promised land of material abundance and endless contentment. For a long time, they seemed to deliver on that promise, succeeding in a way few other religions had ever done, our incomes rising thousands of times over and delivering a cornucopia bursting with new inventions, cures and delights.

Author shelves California teacher tenure bill; surprise alternative emerges

John Fensterwald:

The latest attempt in the Legislature to lengthen the probation period for new teachers has stalled for the year. On Wednesday, the author of a bill to add an optional extra probationary year pulled her bill amid the surprise emergence of a competing bill by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, a candidate for state superintendent of public instruction.

Thurmond’s Assembly Bill 1164 adopts the position of the California Teachers Association, which is expected to support his candidacy, and appeared last week as an alternative to a bill by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego. Her bill would extend the standard two-year probation to a third year for those teachers “on the bubble,” showing potential but needing further help and supervision. Thurmond’s bill also would permit a third probationary year, but contains conditions and restrictions, advocated by the teachers’ unions but criticized by school districts, that aren’t in Weber’s bill.

Education specialist Qiana Holmes-Abanukam wants to ‘plant a seed’ in homeless youth

Amber walker:

Currently, I am the education specialist for The Road Home. Before, I was a housing case manager, but I spent a half of my time with homeless families trying to connect them to the schools, advocating for their kids in the schools, and helping them find resources in the neighborhood, community centers and other programs around the city. Other case managers were also doing a lot of work around education, too.

I just thought it would be great if we worked to have a holistic approach to end homelessness so our clients could have someone who navigated education full-time and be able to answer their questions.

I go to meetings (at schools) with parents, and if a parent can’t make it, they usually give me a release of information to go on their behalf. Attending meetings takes away a lot of time from a parent’s work day, especially if they don’t have flexible schedules. I hear a lot of educators thinking parents don’t want to be involved, but the reality is we don’t live in a society where every parent has a flexible schedule.

Free robot lawyer helps low-income people tackle more than 1,000 legal issues

Katie DuPere:

Shady businesses, you’re on notice. This robot lawyer is coming after you if you play dirty.

Noted legal aid chatbot DoNotPay just announced a massive expansion, which will help users tackle issues in 1,000 legal areas entirely for free. The new features, which launched on Wednesday, cover consumer and workplace rights, and will be available in all 50 states and the UK.

The Taylor Review Of Modern Working Practices

Matthew Taylor::

The work of this Review is based on a single overriding ambition: All work in the UK economy should be fair and decent with realistic scope for development and fulfilment. Good work matters for several reasons: • Because, despite the important contribution of the living wage and the benefit system, fairness demands that we ensure people, particularly those on lower incomes, have routes to progress in work, have the opportunity to boost their earning power, and are treated with respect and decency at work. • Because, while having employment is itself vital to people’s health and well-being, the quality of people’s work is also a major factor in helping people to stay healthy and happy, something which benefits them and serves the wider public interest.• Because better designed work that gets the best out of people can make an important contribution to tackling our complex challenge of low productivity.

The nation’s whole K-12 education system is artificial, so why not give automatons a chance?

Tyler Cowen:The pioneer in robot education so far is, not surprisingly, Singapore. The city-state has begun experiments with robotic aides at the kindergarten level, mostly as instructor aides and for reading stories and also teaching social interactions. In the U.K., researchers have developed a robot to help autistic children better learn how to interact with their peers.

I can imagine robots helping non-English-speaking children make the transition to bilingualism. Or how about using robots in Asian classrooms where the teachers themselves do not know enough English to teach the language effectively?

A big debate today is how we can teach ourselves to work with artificial intelligence, so as to prevent eventual widespread technological unemployment. Exposing children to robots early, and having them grow accustomed to human-machine interaction, is one path toward this important goal.

In a recent Financial Times interview, Sherry Turkle, a professor of social psychology at MIT, and a leading expert on cyber interactions, criticized robot education. “The robot can never be in an authentic relationship," she said. "Why should we normalize what is false and in the realm of [a] pretend relationship from the start?” She’s opposed to robot companions more generally, again for their artificiality.

Do Kids Care If Their Teachers Are Certified? Should Parents

Alina Adams:

Last week, New York City schools received two pieces of contradictory news, which made for an interesting contrast in how teachers are viewed.

In the first, the Department of Education will now require principals to staff vacancies with teachers from the Absent Teacher Reserve, also known as “the rubber room,” where pedagogues who have been let go from previous positions and haven’t managed to find another are paid their full salary to sit and do nothing because they cannot be fired, even in cases of misconduct or incompetence.

In the second, SUNY proposed regulations that would allow some charter schools to certify their own teachers, rather than requiring Education Master’s degrees and certification exams, the way that traditional public schools do.

The response to the latter was predictably hysterical.

But at no point were the following realities addressed:

Related: MTEL.

DHS Goes Biometric, Says Travelers Can Opt Out Of Face Scans By Not Traveling


The DHS has decided air travel is the unsafest thing of all. In the wake of multiple fear mongering presidential directives — including a travel ban currently being contested in federal courts — the DHS has introduced several measures meant to make flying safer, but in reality would only make flying more of a pain in the ass.

The government has argued in court that flying is a privilege, not a right, and the DHS seems hellbent on making fliers pay for every bit of that privilege. We’ve seen laptop bans introduced as a stick to push foreign airports to engage in more security theater and a threat to rifle through all travelers’ books and papers to ensure nobody’s reading explosive devices.

You’re Not the Customer; You’re the Product

Quote Investigator:

Richard Serra? Carlota Fay Schoolman? Steve Atkins? Tom Johnson? Andrew Lewis? blue_beetle? Tim O’Reilly?
 Dear Quote Investigator: For decades the most powerful mass medium has been television. The internet has dramatically shifted our access to information. Nowadays, society reflects upon itself by using internet search engines. Yet, both of these fundamental channels of communication, access, and synthesis are primarily supported by advertising. A pithy expression explicates the resultant skewed perspective:
 You’re not the customer; you’re the product.

It’s not just Republicans who feel increasingly sour on colleges and universities

Emily Jashinsky::

But among all adults, not just self-identified Republicans, Pew found 36 percent also say colleges and universities are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country — that’s up 10 percent since 2010. Similarly, the percent of all adults who say colleges and universities are having a positive effect on the way things are going in the country has declined from 61 to 55 percent in the same time period.

While tuition is frozen for University of Wisconsin campuses, student fees and room and board keep climbing

Karen Herzog:

University of Wisconsin students and their families also pay for room and board at least the first year, plus about $1,000 more a year toward student unions, recreation centers, organizations and services such as mental health counseling.
Add up “other” costs beyond tuition — not including books and miscellaneous expenses — and a year at UW-Madison or UW-Milwaukee this fall will cost 8% more than it did in fall 2013, when tuition for resident undergraduates was first frozen. Costs have gone up 10% at both UW-Green Bay and UW-Eau Claire, and 13% at UW-Stevens Point. The average for four-year campuses is up 8.5%.
The details of little-known mandatory student fees — which have been rising along with room and board on UW campuses against the backdrop of a much-touted, five-year tuition freeze — are buried in complex operating budgets most families never see.

Students from elite colleges march off to jobs at the big banks and consulting firms less by choice than because of a rigged recruiting game that the schools themselves have helped to create.

Amy Binder:

In 2010, Bastian Nichols moved into his freshman dorm at Harvard without much thought of what he would do after graduation. He felt sure that in time he’d find a career that matched his passions (among them, journalism and travel), but while in college he would experiment at becoming “a more interesting person.”* His concentration in psychology and comparative literature matched his general philosophy. So did his choice of summer jobs, which ranged from leading a bike trip through Austria and working in a theater in Croatia to doing post-production work in an Italian film company.

Yet, as senior year approached, Nichols began to feel anxious about life after Harvard. He described being “scared because I was like, ‘Crap, I’ve got a year left, and I just don’t even know what I could possibly do.’” Feeling he had few choices, in the early weeks of his senior year Nichols began working with Harvard’s Office of Career Services to find a job in management consulting. Much to the dismay of peers who thought that at least he would be a holdout, he will begin his job at one of the country’s top three consulting firms this fall.

The Decline of Marriage


By abandoning the norm of marriage we end up with fewer children. This ultimately leads to economic crisis, as fewer workers translates to reduced growth and not enough tax revenue to support social welfare systems. Governments may try to mitigate this by taking in immigrants to replace natives who refuse to have children, but this solution too involves a number of trade-offs. A nation may get some cheap workers to bolster the economy. It may also get more economic inequality, the destruction of working class industries, ethnic strife, and eventually cultural dilution and degradation.

In theory the government could drastically cut spending and the wider society could choose not to take in immigrants and instead adjust itself to a reduced population without economic strife. This is extremely difficult but technically possible. The problem is that it is at best a temporary solution. Japan for example will see it’s population reduced by half by the end of the century. Eventually, the society will simply cease to exist. Adjusting to a shrinking population is the equivalent of a society rolling over and dying, but making itself comfortable first. If a civilization seeks to have a future, it eventually has to solve the problem of birthrates and get to a replacement level.



In this independent discussion paper, we examine investment in arti cial intelligence (AI), describe how it is being deployed by companies that have started to use these technologies across sectors, and aim to explore its potential to become a major business disrupter. To do this, we looked at AI through several lenses. We analyzed the total investment landscape bringing together both investment of large corporations and funding from venture capital and private equity funds. We also reviewed the portfolio plays of major internet companies, the dynamics in AI ecosystems from Shenzhen to New York, and a wide range of case studies. As part of our primary research, we surveyed more than 3,000 senior executives
on the use of AI technologies, their companies’ prospects for further deployment, and AI’s impact on markets, governments, and individuals. This report also leverages the resources of McKinsey Analytics, a global practice that helps clients achieve better performance through data. The research was conducted jointly with Digital McKinsey, a global practice that designs and implements digital transformations.

In addition to identifying a gap between AI investment and commercial application, which
is typical of early technology development curves, we found that the new generation of AI applications is based on the foundation of digitization. Leading sectors in digital tend to be leading sectors in AI, and these are predicted to drive growth. We also found that AI has the potential to accelerate shifts in market share, revenue, and pro t pools—all hallmarks of digitally disrupted sectors. This report leverages two MGI analyses of digitization, Digital America: A tale of the haves and have-mores, published in December 2015, and Digital Europe: Pushing the frontier, capturing the bene ts, published in June 2016. These reports introduced the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) Industry Digitization Index, which combines dozens of indicators to provide a comprehensive picture of where and how companies are building digital assets, expanding digital usage, and creating a more digital workforce. This report also builds on MGI’s work on advanced analytics, The age of analytics: Competing in a data-driven world, published in December 2016, and on automation, A future that works: Automation, employment, and productivity, published in January 2017, as well as Arti cial intelligence: Implications for China, published in April 2017; and an April 2017 Digital McKinsey report, Smartening up with arti cial intelligence (AI): What’s in it for Germany and its industrial sector?

Tim Slekar: Next Step in Wisconsin’s War on Teachers

Diane Ravitch Blog, via a kind reader:

“The TEACHERS OUR CHILDREN DESERVE will never enter our schools through the dismantling process of deregulating the profession and intentionally lowering standards. The standards were put in place to guarantee a level of expertise.

“In summary,



Tim Slekar testified to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction that the teacher shortage is a “manufactured crisis” and it will not be solved by lowering standards.

He is a one-man crusade, fighting for the integrity of the teaching profession in a state led by hostile actors. The people of Wisconsin deserve better leadership but they won’t get it until they vote Scott Walker and his malignant enablers out of office.

Dean of Yale Law School: Campus Free Speech Is Not Up for Debate

Heather Gerken:

In this, the summer of our discontent, many college presidents are breathing a sigh of relief that they made it through a politically fraught spring without their campuses erupting. Nobody wants to be the next Middlebury or Claremont McKenna, where demonstrations disrupted controversial speakers.

Law deans, in sharp contrast, have reason to be cheery. Their campuses have been largely exempt from ugly free-speech incidents like these. Charles Murray, the controversial scholar whose speech drew violent reaction at Middlebury, has spoken at Yale Law School twice during the past few years. Students and faculty engaged with him, and students held a separate event to protest and discuss the implications of his work. But he spoke without interruption. That’s exactly how a university is supposed to work.

Don’t Get it Twisted, Professor

Erika Sanzi

And now she is the Mom-in-Chief and Executive Director of Massachusetts Parents United, an organization she founded based on the belief that ordinary parents are not being heard or even included in hugely important conversations that involve their children. She decided, based on her experience, that there wasn’t an organization doing an effective enough job actually “speaking parent” and in order to make a real difference for kids, she wanted that to change. And even after just a few short months, MPU is making a difference.

Why Education?

Keri came to believe in education reform because of her own personal experience as a mother of a child who had a terrible kindergarten experience. He was suspended from school more than 25 times during that first year of school and the school’s inability or unwillingness to meet his needs drove her into education advocacy. Yes, a former union organizer decided that she would battle anyone and everything who stood in the way of children getting the schools they deserve, including unions. And her commitment has been unwavering ever since.

In favor of K-12 Governance Diversity

Nicholas Kristof::

So far, it seems it can — much better. An interim study just completed shows Bridge schools easily outperforming government-run schools in Liberia, and a randomized trial is expected to confirm that finding. It would be odd if schools with teachers and books didn’t outperform schools without them.
 If the experiment continues to succeed, Liberia’s education minister would like to hand over “as many schools as possible” to private providers. Countries in Asia and others in Africa are also interested in adopting this model.
 The idea of turning over public schools to a for-profit company sparks outrage in some quarters. There’s particular hostility to Bridge, because it runs hundreds of schools, both public and private, in poor countries (its private schools in other countries charge families about $7 a month).

Madison, unfortunately, continues with a non diverse K-12 system, now spending nearly $20k annually per student. This, despite long term disastrous reading results.

Right now Turkish GSM networks play a message of the President on any phone call

ycombinator news:

Turkey reached another milestone of propaganda thanks to the total control of the communications.
Right know when you make a phone call using your mobile phone, before ringing starts citizens are forced to listen to 10 seconds voice recording of the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Here is a demonstration: https://twitter.com/sendika_org/status/886343590208835584

Here is a Twitter search that will provide you with many more videos showcasing the issue: https://twitter.com/search?f=videos&vertical=default&q=erdoğan%20telefon&src=tyah

Here is a report by BBC(Turkish edition): https://twitter.com/bbcturkce/status/886351634888085505

The message is about the anniversary of the unsuccessful coup attempt believed to be orchestrated by Gulenists(previous allies of the president, currently branded as Terrorists ) that took place on 15.06.2016, claiming the lives of more than 200 civilians and led to uncontested power grab by the President.

Right now Turkey is one of the most hostile countries for the journalists. Wikipedia is banned since a while.

How Act 10 contributes to teacher shortages — and how it doesn’t

Alan Borsuk::

But there is a lot more at work than Act 10 when it comes to attracting and keeping people in teaching.

The roots of the shortages were showing up before 2011. For example, it was already getting challenging to find math and science teachers.

The number of people in college-level programs to train teachers has fallen sharply, but the drop began before Act 10. And, the percentage declines in some other states, where there was no Act 10, are higher than in Wisconsin.

It is hard to pin down numbers of how many veteran teachers have quit or retired early because of Act 10. Some years, in some places, turnover has been high. But teachers quit for many reasons.

Much more on Act 10 and the attempt to reduce Wisconsin’s weak teacher content knowledge requirements.

Student-Evaluated Out of TenureAmerican U scholar says provost cherry-picked negative student ratings of her teaching to deny her a promotion

Colleen Flaherty::

Carolyn Brown, an assistant professor of journalism at American University, says it’s her ethical duty to hold her students to high standards, especially the kinds of firm deadlines they’ll face in their careers. So she wonders why American is denying her tenure over some moderately lower than average student evaluations of her teaching, which she says are linked to her at-times unpopular rigor — not poor teaching.

So do many of her colleagues, who have appealed to Scott Bass, provost, on her behalf.

“Denying her tenure after six years based on the clearly specious basis of teaching evaluations is clearly wrongheaded,” John C. Watson, associate professor and director of the journalism division, said this week. “That’s as a matter of principle, and more specifically in terms of what’s happening at the university today.”

Records show that America’s flagship universities are doling out an average of $175,088 per year for administrators tasked with leading their diversity efforts.

Anthony Gockowski:

On average, each administrative position, generally identified as some variation of a chancellor, provost, or dean, earns $175,088—though at least 15 such officials earn well over $200,000 annually, including two administrators who earn more than $300,000 annually.

University of Virginia Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity Marcus Martin, for instance, earns $349,000 annually (the highest of any salary identified by Campus Reform), while University of Texas at Austin Vice President for Diversity and Engagement Gregory Vincent pulls in a comparable $331,000 per year.

The digital divide between urban and rural areas remains, and some question government grants aimed at addressing it

Rick Barrett::

It’s getting easier to find high-speed internet service in rural Wisconsin, yet there are still places where a robust online connection is as elusive as the Hodag, a mythical creature that legend says prowls the Northwoods.

What’s more, critics of government grants aimed at boosting the service across the country say much of the money is being spent on internet speeds that are obsolete.

When the service providers focus on short-term profit, rather than building the best possible network, it’s not good for rural America, said Christopher Mitchell with the Institute for Local Self Reliance, a Minneapolis nonprofit that helps communities with internet access issues.
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“I don’t blame the providers any more than I blame tigers when they maul humans. They are what they are. The problem is that government policy lets them do it,” Mitchell said.

The Federal Communications Commission defines high-speed internet, or broadband, as an online connection capable of handling at least 25 megabits per second of download data. That’s more than adequate for streaming a video and downloading documents.

In Wisconsin, the average download speed is 37.7 megabits per second for a wired connection, according to new figures from Ookla, a Seattle technology firm.

That’s up 42% from June 2016, but it’s still slower than the national average of 69 megabits per second.

Machine Learning (ML) generates “correct” mouth/speech movement from audio training. “AI Creates Fake Obama”

Charles Choi:

Computer scientists at the University of Washington previously revealed they could generate digital doppelgängers of anyone by analyzing images of them collected from the Internet, from celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Arnold Schwarzenegger to public figures such as George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Such work suggested it could one day be relatively easy to create such models of anybody, when there are untold numbers of digital photos of everyone on the Internet.
The researchers chose Obama for their latest work because there were hours of high-definition video of him available online in the public domain. The research team had a neural net analyze millions of frames of video to determine how elements of Obama’s face moved as he talked, such as his lips and teeth and wrinkles around his mouth and chin.

Here’s how New Orleans elementary schools did on standardized tests this spring

Marta Jewson:

The Louisiana Department of Education released English, math and science standardized test results for elementary schools throughout the state on Wednesday.

Nearly half of the 64 Orleans Parish public elementary schools recorded a higher percentage of LEAP tests at mastery level or higher than in 2015. That’s in line with statewide growth.

State schools Superintendent John White said scores generally held steady across Louisiana.

The figures are based on tests taken rather than students because most students are tested in English, math and science, but some may miss one test or another.

In 2015, the state implemented new standards for English and math and raised its benchmark of proficiency from a score of basic, the middle of five levels, to mastery, the second-highest.

Google Academics Inc. Update

Google Transparency:

Since our release Tuesday of our Google Academics Inc. report, we have heard a wide range of feedback. We wanted to address the points made in one place.

Many, if not most, agreed with the need for us to shine a light on Google’s funding of academic research with a bearing on the policy sphere, and of corporate funding more generally. Some sent Google-funded papers that should be included in the database; other academics objected to the inclusion of their work in the tally of papers and took issue with aspects of our methodology.

Here are some of the issues raised and our thinking on them. There’s no single way to do this, and we’re necessarily limited by the information Google, academics and institutions themselves disclose. However, it’s an evolving document so we plan to keep updating our database with new information as we receive it. Broadly, the main questions raised were:

Some authors felt that only those who had directly received Google money should be included. They argued that working for an institution that receives funding from Google should not merit inclusion in the list. However, we felt that would give an incomplete picture of the ways in which Google funds academic research that can advance its public policy positions. Google funds many universities, programs and departments, and our analysis of correspondence obtained through open-records requests makes clear that many academics at places like George Mason University are regularly called upon by Google’s public policy office to aid its positions, even if they do not receive funding as individuals. Studies have found that “other types of financial ties besides direct sponsorship can have an effect on results,” so omitting them would obscure the ways in which Google attempts to influence research.

Slaying the ‘math monster’: It’s not about numbers, it’s about learning how to think

Celia Storey :

The tweet that raced around the internet before truth had time to put on its shoes was this: In a delicatessen in Pittsburgh, a mysterious sign had appeared adjuring customers to “Please Refrain From Discussing Mathematics While Waiting in Line.”

People in Pittsburgh couldn’t find this deli (because it’s in Connecticut). Nevertheless humorous folks felt free to decide it was a real sign posted by a real lunchman tired of having his totals second-guessed by know-it-alls. Wasn’t it?

Well, no. Nothing like that (see accompanying story). But the thing is, that explanation was plausible. These cashiers these days, they can’t do the math, right?

But who can? Math is too hard. Only numbers-people can do it.

Again, not true. But as a statement of a common belief? Mmm, could be.

Denise LeGrand sees evidence in restaurants, in stores. Maybe she’s out with friends and it’s time to split the bill, work out the tips. “It scares people, problem-solving in general,” she says.

Before cash registers made deducting discounts a matter of knowing which icon to tap, she often helped sales clerks tally her bill. Meanwhile, she was thinking, “How do they take care of their finances? How do they do a budget?”

But then, LeGrand is one of those numbers-people. She runs the Mathematics Assistance Center (MAC) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and teaches calculus in the department of mathematics and statistics. And by the way, she’s dismayed by how people react when they learn her profession — “You’re a math teacher? Oh, I hated that.”

Beyond Boundaries: Deeper Reporting on School Attendance Zones

Marquita Brown::

When Baltimore County school officials wanted to move boundary lines in 2015, some parents predicted declining property values and voiced fears of sending their children to school with “those kids.”

Liz Bowie, a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, pushed for clarity on the coded language. Doing so, she told a packed room at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar, is crucial to news coverage of school boundaries and the often related issues of segregation, class bias, and equity.

“The key is to really keep asking parents and community members, when you talk about property values, what do you really mean?” Bowie said. “When you’re talking about ‘those kids’, what are you afraid of about ‘those kids’? What are ‘those kids’ going to do to your kids?”

In Bowie’s reporting for Bridging the Divide, a recent Sun series that included a look at the impact of changes in school boundaries, she pressed parents and community members to truthfully answer a crucial question: “What’s really at the heart of your fear?”

Curiously, Madison recently expanded its knees diverse schools.

This New MIT Master’s Program Doesn’t Require A College Or High School Degree

Fred Thys:

Right now, MIT selects most graduate students pretty much the same way other universities do: Students usually have to have a college degree. They have to take standardized tests, like the GRE. They must send letters of recommendation and submit their earlier grades.

Esther Duflo thinks MIT can find a better way.

“The GRE is not very informative, because no one who comes to MIT doesn’t have a near-perfect GRE anyways,” Duflo says.

Letters of recommendation, Duflo adds, are only useful if they come from people and universities that MIT faculty are familiar with. “So, in practice, if you come from the University of the Middle of Nowhere, we have no way to judge the quality of your application, and therefore that creates a lot of barriers.”

“establishment’s intellectual exhaustion”, Is there a coastal elite 2.0, or are we all finished?”

Greg Jaffe:

Sullivan was going on about the “growing” and “scary” divide in the country when a law student from a rural town in Kentucky interrupted his monologue: “Coming from a flyover state, it is difficult for me to even be on the same wavelength as the people I grew up with.”

The student’s confession brought Sullivan back to his own upbringing in Minnesota. He was 13 when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. A few months later, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, eager to meet with some average Americans, visited a home in Sullivan’s Minneapolis neighborhood. Sullivan remembered Latvian and Estonian Americans protesting for Baltic independence along the Soviet premier’s motorcade route. He felt a sense of what America could mean to the world.

As a candidate, Trump had rejected the very idea of American exceptionalism as an unnecessary burden. “I don’t think it’s a very nice term. We’re exceptional. You’re not,” Trump had said at a tea party rally in Texas. “I want to take everything back from the world that we’ve given them. We’ve given them so much.”

Sullivan increasingly thought that the antidote to Trumpism was a full-on embrace of American exceptionalism of the sort he had felt in Minnesota. “We need something audacious that’s rooted in our national DNA; who we are as a people,” he said. “There needs to be a call to arms that can motivate people.”

But he struggled to describe his idea in detail. To spur his thinking, he read a dense 1890 essay by military strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan, making the case for America as a global naval power. He studied historian Stephen Kinzer’s book, “The True Flag,” on Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the birth of the American empire.

He played with ideas that he hoped might resonate in Minnesota or Kentucky. “Our exceptionalism is rooted in the idea that we have the ability to innovate and solve hard problems — climate change, pandemics, nuclear proliferation,” he posited at one point. Maybe America’s exceptional mission was rooted in an unshakable commitment to a strong and growing middle class, he suggested a few weeks later.

But none of these formulations seemed big, audacious or inspiring enough.

Sullivan often insisted that he had developed his views about the world at “a public high school in Minneapolis.” But he is also unquestionably a product of Washington’s insular foreign-policy elite.

Seventh grader, far ahead of her class, punished for taking too many courses

Jay Matthews:

In a compelling piece for the Washington City Paper, D.C. high school teacher Rob Barnett has confessed his anguish at passing students who haven’t mastered the content of his math courses and described his radical solution.

It’s called mastery learning. Barnett recorded all of his lessons, put them online and let each student move through them at his or her own pace. “They must show they understand one topic before advancing to the next,” he said. “I think of myself not so much as a teacher but as a facilitator of inquiry.”

This method is not new. I remember a Virginia high school that tried it 20 years ago. Barnett identified charter schools in Yuma, Ariz., and Chicago that are having success with it. It is a logical way to deepen the education of our children and, as Barnett discovered in his classes, inspire initiative. “They learn to assess their own understanding, to ask for help when they need it, and to teach themselves and their peers without my guidance,” he said.

Push to give school vouchers to middle-income families hits wall

Molly Beck::

“The governor supports the K-12 education budget he introduced to the Legislature five months ago,” spokesman Tom Evenson said when asked if Walker would support the proposal. “It provides a $649 million increase in funding for our schools, bringing funding for K-12 to an all-time high. After visiting nearly 50 public schools this year, the governor has seen overwhelming support for his plan.”

Walker’s budget did not include the proposal to increase income eligibility for vouchers, and Evenson did not say whether Walker would sign a budget that included an increase.

Beyer said Vos thinks “it’s unfortunate that Senate Republicans refuse to give more families the opportunity to choose the best school for their children.” Jim Bender, a lobbyist for School Choice Wisconsin, said lawmakers’ haven’t had much energy to discuss anything other than transportation.

Joint Finance Committee co-chairman Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said the matter is still up in the air.

Raising the income limit to 300 percent of the federal poverty level would put the income limits for the statewide program on par with the older voucher systems in Milwaukee and Racine.

The statewide program has been questioned by Democrats in part because the majority of students using the vouchers were already enrolled in private schools.

Here’s How Anti-Conservative Academic Discrimination Works

David French::

As I read the story, I had an immediate sense of déjà vu. I’ve litigated cases like this before, I’ve evaluated cases like this before, and I’m familiar with the extraordinary double standards that define how academic freedom works in modern higher education. Perhaps UCLA is right. Perhaps it has even-handedly applied its alleged “incredibly high” standards and has fired popular left-wing lecturers in part because they’ve pushed their views too much on their students. Perhaps it routinely fires even popular teachers for poor teaching performance. In other words, perhaps it’s different from the vast majority of colleges and universities — schools that have consciously and unconsciously created entire systems of anti-conservative discrimination. First, let’s discuss the challenge of even finding a job in higher education. It’s difficult enough for even well-qualified leftists, but often academic departments define academic positions in such a way that effectively excludes the conservative point of view. Look at this current job posting at Harvard’s divinity school. It’s for a tenure-track professor of “religion, violence, and peace-building.” There’s nothing inherently conservative or liberal about the topic. Indeed, it fascinates me, but hidden within the job description is this gem of a sentence:

K-12 Tax And Spending Climate: Explaining the decline in US entrepreneurship

James Pethokoukis:

From Axios reporter Kim Hart: “The birth rate of new companies collapsed with the Great Recession, and the number of firms that opened during the recovery period is lower than that of any other post-recession period.”

I should note the piece uses analysis from the Economic Innovation Group (EIG). Its analysis from earlier this year, “Dynamism in Retreat,” speculates the startup decline stems from “declining population growth, a sharp decline in startup capital (notably home equity) during the recession, and changes to the regulatory environment,” according to Hart.

Math. It’s not just for breakfast any more.

David Burkehead:

This is just simple math. People compare some “big ticket” item with “small ticket” items and don’t mention how the very large numbers of those small ticket items add up, or how very little the large ticket item would really stretch among the many to whom those small ticket items apply.

So when someone says “if we can afford X, then surely Y isn’t too expensive” take a closer look. Just how much of those “Y” do we have to buy and how much is the total cost?

Related: Math Forum audio and video.

Personalized Learning for Every Student: How 2 Very Different School Systems Pursued a District-Wide Strategy

Beth Hawkins:

The buzz that attends to personalized learning these days is inevitably followed by a little potential buzzkill. Can the model, in which students follow their own academic path at their own speed, work on a large scale?

By definition, personalized learning is idiosyncratic, and common wisdom has held that because of their flexibility, public charter schools have the advantage when it comes to using technology as a tool to engage each student according to their passions. School districts, the supposition has been, are too rigid to easily enable truly individualized learning.

A RAND Corp. study released earlier this week came to no firm conclusion on this point, though it jibed with past reports on the elements and school settings in which personalized learning seems to flourish. With this in mind, the study’s authors suggested that anyone hoping to take a look at early, district-wide implementation turn to three distinct school systems: Piedmont, Alabama; Georgia’s Fulton County; and Horry County, South Carolina.

Simpson Street Free Press At 25

Lauren Hill:

This summer, Simpson Street Free Press is celebrating 25 years of efforts tackling Madison’s educational achievement gaps through its out-of-school literacy programs. Three assistant editors represented the organization at a Rotary Club of Madison South luncheon Monday, sharing SSFP’s plans for its 25th year.

SSFP is a literacy program based in South Madison dedicated to addressing the city’s educational disparities. Almost 300 students ages eight through 18 write and publish their own articles for six different newspapers, including two bilingual publications. Students also participate in book clubs, internships, writing workshops and even receive math and physics tutoring through the program.

The idea behind SSFP is based on the research-supported notion that what young students do during their out-of-school time is just as important to their education as in-school learning, explained SSFP assistant editor and UW-Madison senior Taylor Kilgore.

If you’re not a white male, artificial intelligence’s use in healthcare could be dangerous

Robert Hart::

The consequences of this oversight are pernicious. Women are far more likely to suffer the deleterious side effects of medication than men. Pregnant women get sick, but the consequences of taking many medications when pregnant are chronically understudied, or worse yet, unknown entirely. Women are far less likely to receive the correct treatment for heart attacks because their symptoms do not match “typical” (read: male) symptoms.
If evidence-based medicine is already far less evidence-based for anybody who is not a white male, how can the use of this unmodified data do anything other than unwittingly perpetuate this inequality? If we want to use AI to facilitate a more personalized medicine for all, it would help if we could first provide medicine that works for half the population.

The effects of this data can be even more insidious. AI systems often function as black boxes, which means technologists are unaware of how an AI came to its conclusion. This can make it particularly hard to identify any inequality, bias, or discrimination feeding into a particular decision. The inability to access the medical data upon which a system was trained—for reasons of protecting patients’ privacy or the data not being in the public domain—exacerbates this. Even if you had access to that data, the often proprietary nature of AI systems means interrogation would likely be impossible. By masking these sources of bias, an AI system could consolidate and deepen the already systemic inequalities in healthcare, all while making them harder to notice and challenge. Invariably, the result of this will be a system of medicine that is unfairly stacked against certain members of society.

California Bar Examiners Stripped Of Authority To Determine Passing Score On State Bar Exam

Staci Zaretsky:

As thoroughly reported here at Above the Law, bar exam passage rates have plummeted across the nation for the past several years. In California in particular, test-takers’ performance has been outstandingly poor, prompting a chorus of critics to demand that the state’s cut score be lowered so that more law school graduates will be able to pass the exam and become practicing attorneys. As it stands, California’s required passing score of 144 is higher than that of 48 other states, with only Delaware’s cut score being higher. For decades, California’s bar exam has been referred to as the hardest in the country, but year in and year out, data has revealed that to be untrue. With the state’s mean scaled MBE scores continuing to be higher than the national average, it seems that California’s bar exam is simply the most difficult to pass thanks to its arbitrarily high cut score.

Winning is banned at more than half of primary school sports days: Pupils compete in teams despite 82% of parents wanting a traditional event

Sarah Harris::

More than half of primary schools are holding non-competitive sports days that fail to announce ‘winners’, according to a new survey.

They host events where individual children are not singled out to compete but instead work in teams and are recognised simply for taking part.

The findings have been revealed in a poll by Families Online which warns that youngsters must learn that ‘losing is completely ok’.

Fifty-seven per cent of parents surveyed said their children’s infant and primary schools hold sports days with a ‘non-competitive theme’.

Thoughts on Janesville: “many people who went to Blackhawk didn’t finish what they were studying for a whole lot of reasons”

I recently read, with interest, Amy Goldstein’s book Janesville.

The work is a worthwhile look at Janesville’s history, including George Parker (Parker Pen) and Joseph A. Craig (brought GM to Janesville).

Goldstein revealed the workforce’s culture, opportunity and ultimate cost of the shutdown. She also dwelled quite a bit on Congressman Paul Ryan and Governor Scott Walker, with a bit on his predecessor, Jim Doyle.

If I have one criticism, it is Goldstein’s heavy emphasis on the politicians is, in my view an error.

Breann Schossow:

Workers Attend Blackhawk Technical College For Retraining

Goldstein: In this country, the notion of what to do when jobs go away often is, ‘Go back to school to learn to do something else.’ It’s just a very popular idea. So almost 2,000 people in Janesville went to Blackhawk Tech in the couple years after all this work went away.

The question of what is success, I thought, was a very interesting question as I was getting to know people in town, because, as I said, many people who went to Blackhawk didn’t finish what they were studying for a whole lot of reasons.

Either financial reasons or because they found that being a student, they weren’t cut out to do that. But even people who (were cut out for it) sometimes found that they just couldn’t find a decent job in what they had been studying.

… Blackhawk Tech tried very, very hard with their students.

I mean, they set up all kinds of programs to try to make it easier for factory workers to turn themselves into students, but I think it’s a hard situation when you don’t always have enough jobs of the right kind or enough jobs at all on the other end.

I don’t think it is an indictment of retraining programs broadly, but I think it does suggest that in a community that’s still having a hard time pulling enough jobs into itself, that retraining alone can’t solve everything.

Students are Better Off without a Laptop in the Classroom

Cindi May::

As recent high school graduates prepare for their migration to college in the fall, one item is sure to top most students’ shopping wish lists: a laptop computer. Laptops are ubiquitous on university campuses, and are viewed by most students as absolute must-have items, right alongside laundry detergent, towels, and coffee pots.

Without question, personal laptops can enhance the college experience by facilitating engagement with online course material, providing access to sources for research, maximizing internship searches, and even improving communication with friends and parents. Many students also opt to bring their laptops to class so that they can take notes, view online lecture slides, and search the web for course-related material. This practice, it turns out, may be a mistake.

New research by scientists at Michigan State University suggests that laptops do not enhance classroom learning, and in fact students would be better off leaving their laptops in the dorm during class. Although computer use during class may create the illusion of enhanced engagement with course content, it more often reflects engagement with social media, YouTube videos, instant messaging, and other nonacademic content. This self-inflicted distraction comes at a cost, as students are spending up to one-third of valuable (and costly) class time zoned out, and the longer they are online the more their grades tend to suffer.

Study finds pay for public college presidents up 5.3 percent

Collin Binkley:

Presidents of U.S. public colleges and universities saw their earnings climb by 5.3 percent last year, with several of them topping $1 million, according to an annual survey.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s study of more than 150 college presidents found that their average annual pay increased in fiscal year 2016 to $501,000.

Among the top earners were eight public university presidents whose total compensation exceeded $1 million, up from five the year before, the study found. Most of them come from the nation’s largest schools and university systems.

AI Is Making It Extremely Easy for Students to Cheat

Pippa Biddle:

Denise Garcia knows that her students sometimes cheat, but the situation she unearthed in February seemed different. A math teacher in West Hartford, Connecticut, Garcia had accidentally included an advanced equation in a problem set for her AP Calculus class. Yet somehow a handful of students in the 15-person class solved it correctly. Those students had also shown their work, defeating the traditional litmus test for sussing out cheating in STEM classrooms.

Garcia was perplexed, until she remembered a conversation from a few years earlier. Some former students had told her about an online tool called Wolfram|Alpha that could complete complicated calculations in seconds. It provided both the answers and the steps for reaching them, making it virtually undetectable when copied as homework.

Should NOLA Parents be More Supportive of the White Teachers that Teach their Children?

Second line:

Let me begin by stating that I am a strong proponent for having more teachers that are representative and reflective of the population that it serves. I believe race match is a significant and valuable contributor to student performance and success.

Translation: black teachers + black kids = potentially more support and opportunities.
But in the city of New Orleans, this is not our reality. Until school talent search teams employ recruitment methods that better address the issue of limited black teaching staff, this will be our reality for some time.

The NOLA public school system has had its struggles and discussions were in place to revamp the district, but when Katrina happened in 2005, the revamp was expedited. NOLA students needed schools and charters became the answer. In the process, teachers were fired or displaced. This made charter schools both the hero and the villain at the same time.

Complete Guide to the Top 17 School Bus GPS Tracking Systems

Stephen Schroeder:

Wouldn’t it be great if you were able to see your child’s bus on a map, know if it is running late, get an ETA estimate of its arrival, get notifications if it is behind schedule, and get alerted in case of emergency?

How about even being able to see that your child is confirmed to be on the bus so you know they are safe and en route as expected?

With today’s quickly developing systems these features and many more are giving parents and school administrators more peace of mind, control and efficiency in the critical effort of transporting children safely to and from school.

Let’s explore the top 17 school bus tracking systems and applications and see what they each have to offer:

Thoughts on Janesville: “many people who went to Blackhawk didn’t finish what they were studying for a whole lot of reasons”

I recently read, with interest, Amy Goldstein’s book: Janesville.

The work is a worthwhile look at Janesville’s history, including George Parker (Parker Pen) and Joseph A. Craig (brought GM to Janesville).

Goldstein revealed the workforce’s culture, opportunities and the shutdown’s ultimate cost. Further, she dwelled extensively on Congressman Paul Ryan and Governor Scott Walker, with a bit of time on his predecessor, Jim Doyle.

If I have one criticism, Goldstein’s heavy emphasis on the politicians is, in my view an error. Government in and of itself cannot create sustainable jobs on the scale of a large manufacturer and its supply chain. It (using taxpayer funds) can create – hopefully on our behalf – an environment conducive to sustainable entrepreneurs.

Goldstein’s look at the funds spent on retraining and the downstream effectiveness, or lack thereof, at Blackhawk Technical College is likely most interesting to readers.

Related: Amy Goldstein:

But even under such favorable circumstances, I wondered, how easily can a vocational college teach laid-off people a new identity, as well as new skills? What does it take for a campus to absorb droves of worried, angry factory workers who were out of school, in most cases, for a few decades and may not have liked school as kids? Most fundamentally, does retraining succeed in an environment in which work remains scarce—at least in places like Janesville, where, despite intense economic development efforts the past few years, the number of jobs remains about as low as at any time since the recent recession began?

These were questions that drew me to Wisconsin a year before a native son would bound onto the Republican presidential ticket. They led me to the kitchen tables and back decks of people struggling to regain their footing, to Blackhawk’s classrooms and counselors’ offices, to the United Auto Workers hall and the local job-placement agency. Finally, they led me into a Wisconsin agency, two blocks from the state capitol in Madison, in a quest for unemployment claims and wage records to bore into the most central question of all: How are laid-off people who went to Blackhawk to retrain faring at finding new work? What kind of pay are they getting?

In the end, I found certain successes. But from the many people I’ve met and from an analysis of the state records, most of what I discovered was sobering. It suggests that, even if the US economy as a whole is gradually reviving, the bruises to individual workers and individual communities can be deeper than job training can readily heal. “Retraining, yes,” Chris Pody, who directs Blackhawk’s Career Center, which helps students choose what to study and learn how best to look for jobs, told me the first time we met. “But the question has been—and hasn’t been answered—for what?”

Bob Borremans runs the Rock County Job Center in Janesville, which is the county seat. The warren of offices and cubicles that occupies a former K-Mart is part of the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, a regional funnel for the federal job-hunting and job-training money that flows through every state and into communities around the country. With a white beard and a sly sense of humor, Borremans has a doctorate and the kind of independence of thought that can come with being within sight of retirement. For nearly two decades, he was a senior administrator at Blackhawk and, in his job now, has been instrumental in virtually every initiative in the past few years to try to bring jobs and assistance to town. “Looking back on it, we may have trained too many people, because there weren’t enough jobs,” Borremans told me one day. “People are experiencing a double whammy. They lost their jobs. They went to school to get skills, and they still can’t get jobs.”

Locally, Madison College’s spending has nearly doubled over the past decade.

Breann Schossow:

Workers Attend Blackhawk Technical College For Retraining

Goldstein: In this country, the notion of what to do when jobs go away often is, ‘Go back to school to learn to do something else.’ It’s just a very popular idea. So almost 2,000 people in Janesville went to Blackhawk Tech in the couple years after all this work went away.

The question of what is success, I thought, was a very interesting question as I was getting to know people in town, because, as I said, many people who went to Blackhawk didn’t finish what they were studying for a whole lot of reasons.

Either financial reasons or because they found that being a student, they weren’t cut out to do that. But even people who (were cut out for it) sometimes found that they just couldn’t find a decent job in what they had been studying.

… Blackhawk Tech tried very, very hard with their students.

I mean, they set up all kinds of programs to try to make it easier for factory workers to turn themselves into students, but I think it’s a hard situation when you don’t always have enough jobs of the right kind or enough jobs at all on the other end.

I don’t think it is an indictment of retraining programs broadly, but I think it does suggest that in a community that’s still having a hard time pulling enough jobs into itself, that retraining alone can’t solve everything.

Ideally, our increasingly expensive education system should focus on the essentials: reading, math and science. Madison continues to tolerate long term, disastrous reading results.

There has been some discussion about a reduction in our economy’s dynamism. Matt Stoller and Tyler Cowen are worth following. Cowen has written two books of note:

The Complacent Class

Average is Over


The Return of Monopoly.

A recent propublica report worth reading:

President Obama promised to fight corporate concentration. Eight years later, the airline industry is dominated by just four companies. And you’re paying for it..

Together, we can transform the federal budget

Concord Coalition::

Why we need your help to change budget decisions
When faced with a challenge as complex as the nation’s fiscal future, it can be easy to feel helpless and discouraged. The numbers involved can seem intractable and the problems may seem daunting. But there are things YOU can do to help America’s fiscal future!

One of Concord’s main goals is to stimulate honest discussions about federal finances that transcend partisan politics. We are determined to communicate with and empower American citizens to change the direction in which the country is headed.

Here is what we can do
The Concord Coalition can help you start this discussion with your neighbors, colleagues, and representatives. Whether you are interested in attending an event, hosting an event, contacting your representatives, or just reaching out to your friends, Concord has staff and publications to support your initiatives.

It is easy to stay involved! Attend Concord events in your state, educate others, and join our social networks.

The Facebook Algorithm Mom Problem

Chris Aldrich::

Here’s what’s happening
 I write my content on my own personal site. I automatically syndicate it to Facebook. My mom, who seems to be on Facebook 24/7, immediately clicks “like” on the post. The Facebook algorithm immediately thinks that because my mom liked it, it must be a family related piece of content–even if it’s obviously about theoretical math, a subject in which my mom has no interest or knowledge. (My mom has about 180 friends on Facebook; 45 of them overlap with mine and the vast majority of those are close family members).
 The algorithm narrows the presentation of the content down to very close family. Then my mom’s sister sees it and clicks “like” moments later. Now Facebook’s algorithm has created a self-fulfilling prophesy and further narrows the audience of my post. As a result, my post gets no further exposure on Facebook other than perhaps five people–the circle of family that overlaps in all three of our social graphs. Naturally, none of these people love me enough to click “like” on random technical things I think are cool. I certainly couldn’t blame them for not liking these arcane topics, but shame on Facebook for torturing them for the exposure when I was originally targeting maybe 10 other colleagues to begin with.

With Amazon on the rise and a business tycoon in the the White House, can a new generation of Democrats return the party to its trust-busting roots?

Matt Stoller:

On July 15, 2015, Amazon marked the twentieth anniversary of its founding with a “global shopping event” called Prime Day. Over the next 24 hours, starting at midnight, the company offered special discounts every ten minutes to the 44 million users of Amazon Prime, its members-only benefit program. The event was astonishingly successful: Amazon made 34 million Prime sales that day, nearly 20 percent more than it had on Black Friday, the traditional post-Thanksgiving buying bonanza. The company received almost 400 orders per second—all on a single, ordinary day in the middle of summer.

Statement on Antiracist and Social Justice Work in the Writing Center

University of Washington – Tacoma::

[The UW Tacoma Writing Center’s “Statement on Antiracist and Social Justice Work in the Writing Center,” highlighted in the story below, has been misrepresented by issues-oriented blogs based in other states. Read more: “Response to Inaccurate Reports about the UW Tacoma Writing Center.”]

The UW Tacoma Writing Center has taken significant steps towards standing against racism in the field of writing. With its new antiracism and social justice statement, the Center starts a conversation on the discrimination and alienation that often go unnoticed in academia. As the statement urges, “there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,” and with this in mind, the Center aims to ensure that through compassion and careful consideration, staff do not inadvertently embrace racist practices.

Spearheaded by Writing Center Director Dr. Asao Inoue—who is also an associate professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences and director of university writing—the statement is very much influenced by Inoue’s research on racism in writing assessments. In his 2015 book, Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future, Inoue considered the many ways in which racism becomes apparent in academia, as well as proposed that only through the acknowledgment of structures of racism could they begin to be dismantled. Dr. Inoue, who has received two Outstanding Book Awards—the first in 2014 for Race and Writing Assessment and again in 2017 for Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies—from the Conference on College Composition and Communication, has dedicated his career to the study of rhetoric and composition, in order to better understand and work to solve racial inequity in academia.

Every student, regardless of their background, comes to college with a different collection of experiences, said Dr. Inoue. “The anti-racism statement is a document that took over a year to collaboratively create with writing center professional staff and student writing consultants. It was officially put up and incorporated in our work in the fall of 2016, so we are just beginning.” Dr. Inoue contends that in order for something to become anti-racist, there must first be an earnest discussion of how racism has produced certain standards of education or systems themselves. As a result of the pervasiveness of racism, Inoue argues, its presence must be acknowledged on a systemic level, and thus this statement was born.

Rob Shimshock:

“Linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,” proclaims the writing center’s statement. “Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.”

In the introduction to its “commitment” section, the Tacoma Writing Center pledges to “listen and look carefully and compassionately for ways we may unintentionally perpetuate racism or social injustice, actively engaging in antiracist practices” before making nine specific promises to students.

“We promise to emphasize the importance of rhetorical situations over grammatical ‘correctness’ in the production of texts,” announces the poster. “We promise to challenge conventional word choices and writing explanations.”

In an article accompanying the poster, the University of Washington, Tacoma revealed Friday that Dr. Asao Inoue, director of the writing center, is behind the new push for social justice.

On his Tacoma faculty page, Inoue states that he does “research that investigates racism in writing assignments.” Meanwhile, the professor’s Twitter presence indicates no love for President Donald Trump:

K-12 Tax and Spending Climate: Fiscal Policy Remains Unsustainable

Concord Coalition::

In 1994, less than two years after the founding of The Concord Coalition, President Bill Clinton appointed then-senators Bob Kerrey (D-NE) and Jack Danforth (R-MO) to lead the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. The two senators — now Concord co-chairs — and their commission produced a report in which 30 of the 32 members agreed that “current trends are not sustainable.”

While much has changed in the past 25 years, this fundamental reality has not: Federal budget policy remains on an unsustainable track, driven by structural forces that increase federal spending faster than revenues.

It is true that for a while, things were headed in the right direction. Deficits steadily declined in the mid-1990s and budget surpluses emerged in 1998. However, this favorable trend ended in 2002 when a combination of tax cuts, military spending and a mild recession plunged the budget into deficits again.

Policy decisions and a much deeper recession that began in 2008 led to even worse deficits. At the height of that recession in 2009, the federal government ran its first annual deficit greater than a trillion dollars.

Robotics industry growing faster than expected

Frank Tobe:

Two reputable research resources are reporting that the robotics industry is growing more rapidly than expected. BCG (Boston Consulting Group) is conservatively projecting that the market will reach $87 billion by 2025; Tractica, incorporating the robotic and AI elements of the emerging self-driving industry, is forecasting the market will reach $237 billion by 2022.

Both research firms acknowledge that yesterday’s robots — which were blind, big, dangerous and difficult to program and maintain — are being replaced and supplemented with newer, more capable ones. Today’s new, and future robots, will have voice and language recognition, access to super-fast communications, data and libraries of algorithms, learning capability, mobility, portability and dexterity. These new precision robots can sort and fill prescriptions, pick and pack warehouse orders, sort, inspect, process and handle fruits and vegetables, plus a myriad of other industrial and non-industrial tasks, most faster than humans, yet all the while working safely along side them.

Reimagining the Humanities: Proposals for a New Century

David Bell:

IN 1922, Austrian art historian Josef Stryzgowski lectured in Boston on “The Crisis in the Humanities as Exemplified in the History of Art.” In 1964, British historian J.H. Plumb published a volume of essays entitled The Crisis in the Humanities. Between 1980 and 2000 a “crisis in the humanities” was discussed more than a hundred times in the pages of major scholarly journals. Is there anything new to be said about it? Has the hypochondriac finally come down with a life-threatening disease?

Certain forms of apprehension do seem built into the very structure of the modern humanities. I found no record of Stryzgowski’s lectures, but Plumb’s complaints from 1964 sound familiar: overspecialization; triviality; insularity; fragmentation; and opaque, overly technical writing. Just two years later, a certain James Newcomer, professor of English at Texas Christian University, identified a threat to the humanities almost identical to the one classicist and philosopher Martha Nussbaum warns about in her 2010 Not for Profit: “Since the sciences are … exerting a dominant influence on the activities of the universities, the humanities are in danger of being forced into practices … that can end only in diminishing still further their effectiveness in modifying the character and the customs of our society.” And in 1975, a writing teacher named Mel Topf discussed much the same list of problems that Harvard professor Louis Menand sees as critical in his 2010 Marketplace of Ideas: “declining public support, declining enrollments as students turn away from the liberal arts to professional studies, and overproduction of Ph.D.’s.”

The reasons for these continuities are obvious. The modern university is in some ways a strange place for the humanities. On large campuses filled mostly with pre-professional students imbibing the technical skills demanded by industrial and postindustrial economies, philosophy can feel like an exotic luxury. Making bored, ill-prepared adolescents skim unwillingly over the surface of great literature can forever associate it in their minds with unwelcome toil. Judging scholars in the humanities rigidly on the basis of “productivity” and “citations,” as if their insights were precisely quantifiable, can quickly destroy the very qualities that “peer review” is supposed to foster. And subjecting the most exhilarating adventures of the human mind to endless, microscopic analysis in minor publication after minor publication, as demanded by systems of promotion and tenure, easily degenerates into intellectual embalming. But these discordances between the humanities and the university system go back to the creation of modern universities in the nineteenth century and the idea that departments of English and philosophy should function along roughly the same lines as departments of chemistry and mechanical engineering. Can the humanities survive in these settings, let alone flourish?

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: American Health Care Tragedies Are Taking Over Crowdfunding

Suzanne Woolley:

Crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe and YouCaring have turned sympathy for Americans drowning in medical expenses into a cottage industry. Now Republican efforts in Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare could swell the ranks of the uninsured and spur the business of helping people raise donations online to pay for health care.

But medical crowdfunding doesn’t have to wait for Congress to act. Business is already booming, and its leaders expect the rapid growth to continue no matter what happens on the Hill.

“Whether it’s Obamacare or Trumpcare, the weight of health-care costs on consumers will only increase,” said Dan Saper, chief executive officer of YouCaring. “It will drive more people to try and figure out how to pay health-care needs, and crowdfunding is in its early days as a way to help those people.”

Zip code better predictor of health than genetic code

TH Chan:

In St. Louis, Missouri, Delmar Boulevard marks a sharp dividing line between the poor, predominately African American neighborhood to the north and a more affluent, largely white neighborhood to the south. Education and health also follow the “Delmar Divide,” with residents to the north less likely to have a bachelor’s degree and more likely to have heart disease or cancer.

Pointing to Delmar as an example, Melody Goodman, an assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, recently spoke to a Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) audience about the links between segregation and poor health. An HSPH alumna, Goodman gave the keynote address at the first annual symposium sponsored by the Department of Biostatistics Summer Program in Quantitative Sciences. She told the audience at the July 24, 2014 event, which was held at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, “Your zip code is a better predictor of your health than your genetic code.”

Getting Their Goats / Mills College’s use of hoofed herd draws less-than-gruff response from Teamsters

Rick DelVeccio:

The Teamsters are complaining that Oakland’s Mills College took jobs away from working men and women and gave them to goats.

The union’s top official in the East Bay has told college officials that Mills may have violated its work agreement with the Teamsters when, instead of dispatching union workers to clear and haul away brush, it assigned the task to a herd of 500 goats with the four-footed brush clearance crew Goats R Us.

The college has three choices, says Teamsters Local 70 Secretary-Treasurer Chuck Mack, if it wishes to avoid a formal grievance:

It could agree to not enter into any future goat contracts without first discussing the matter with the union.

An emphasis on adult employment.