Facebook admits to nearly as many fake or clone accounts as the U.S. population

Patrick Kulp:

Amid the distraction of Facebook’s blockbuster earnings this week, the company quietly admitted to hosting more phony accounts than previously revealed.

The social network upped its estimate of the portion of fake accounts from 2 to 3 percent and the number of duplicates from 6 to 10 percent, Business Insider first reported.

That means that as many as 270 million of the platform’s 2.1-billion-strong user base could be fraudulent or duplicated — a population verging on the size of the United States.

Facebook said the change was due to better tools for tracking illegitimate activity rather than a sudden spike in fishy sign-ups.

How Many Robots Does It Take to Fill a Grocery Order?

Jing Cao:

The U.K.’s biggest online grocer hit a milestone this year: Ocado Group Plc put together an order of 50 items, including produce, meat and dairy, in five minutes. Fulfilling a similar order at one of the company’s older facilities takes an average of about two hours. The secret: a fleet of 1,000 robots that scurry about a warehouse snatching up products and delivering them to human packers.

The breakthrough and ones like it could help propel the grocery business into the modern era. The industry wants to make buying food online as simple and commonplace as purchasing clothes or consumer electronics. But fulfilling fresh food orders quickly, reliably and profitably is devilishly hard. Even Amazon.com Inc., which recently acquired Whole Foods Market, hasn’t cracked the code and recently halted its Amazon Fresh service in several U.S. states.

Ocado, founded 17 years ago in the London exurb of Hatfield, says automation is the only way to handle individualized grocery orders in large volumes. The robots are the latest addition to Ocado’s automation arsenal; the company also sells software and hardware to other retailers.

The Yale historian has become a prominent critic of liberalism. But what’s he for?

Jon Baskin:

Samuel Moyn looks suspiciously like a teenager. The impression is momentarily belied by his impressive résumé: At the age of 45, Moyn is teaching his first semester as a professor of history and law at Yale University, following appointments at Harvard and Columbia. Moreover, even for an adult scholar, Moyn has well-informed views on a startling diversity of topics. Slumped across a chair in jeans and Converse in his Harvard law office last winter, he ricocheted from the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (the topic of Moyn’s dissertation and first book) to theories of political economy — something Moyn has devoted more attention to since the 2008 financial crisis — to Jonathan Littell’s 2009 novel The Kindly Ones, which Moyn called “intentionally sickening and an unquestionably brilliant success” in a review for The Nation.

On the other hand, Moyn has a social-media habit rivaling that of most teenagers.

“It’s more important for you to see Moyn’s Facebook page than the interior of his house,” says Thomas Meaney, a former student of Moyn’s at Columbia. “He basically lives there. It’s like he publishes his own magazine.”

‘In a world of social media and emojis, complex writing opens doors and expands horizons’

Kevin Stennard:

Who are the enemies of higher-order thinking? For a start, there’s Twitter, with its character limit, and before that there was PowerPoint, with its bullet-point format. Not to mention emojis. Digging further back, the indictment includes email and even – let’s show our age – telegrams. Stop.

Complex thinking is inextricably intertwined with writing. Discourage extended writing and you damage deeper thought. This is the premise of the “Writing Revolution”, a teaching programme pioneered by Judith Hochman and subject of an Atlantic magazine article in 2012. Now Hochman has co-authored a book setting out her programme, focusing on exercises that encourage sentence expansion in young writers. Conjunctions and dependent clauses enable writers to link, expand on and qualify simple ideas.

Psychologist Donald Olson argued, along similar lines, that writing is more than a tool for thinking – it actually creates the conditions for higher-order thinking. It is through reading and writing that we master the ability to link and qualify concepts, and apply the “rules” of logical argument.

Why Haven’t You Left School?

Zak Slayback:

Two years in and I dropped out. And this started with asking myself, “Why haven’t I dropped out of college?”

A Quick Disclaimer
Before getting into my personal story of leaving school, I want to note that I love learning. Most discussions over the relative value of staying in versus leaving school focus on whether somebody truly values learning. Advocates of the latter allow themselves to be painted as anti-intellectuals, people opposed to the liberal arts, hyper-practical handymen just concerned with what will be marketable in the future. Get rid of that idea right now. Learning and schooling are not the same thing. Sometimes the best learning takes place in school, but that’s increasingly not the case when opportunity costs are taken into account. Even more, classroom learning and schooling don’t have to be the same thing. You can drop out of college and still enjoy classroom learning. (In fact, you can get the learning for free by auditing classes.)

If you love learning but aren’t crazy about school, this chapter is for you.

WeWork Is Launching a Grade School for Budding Entrepreneurs

Irene Plagianos :

WeWork says its mission is to help people do what they love. Now the office-sharing giant is testing that ethos on a smaller clientele: kindergartners.

The $20 billion startup, built on a vast network of hip co-working spaces where entrepreneurs and freelancers rent desks, is making its move into children’s education, launching a private elementary school for “conscious entrepreneurship” inside a New York City WeWork next fall. A pilot program of seven students, including one of the five young children of WeWork Cos. founders Adam and Rebekah Neumann, is under way.

“In my book, there’s no reason why children in elementary schools can’t be launching their own businesses,” Rebekah Neumann said in an interview. She thinks kids should develop their passions and act on them early, instead of waiting to grow up to be “disruptive,” as the entrepreneurial set puts it.

The Great College Loan Swindle

Matt Taibbi:

On a wind-swept, frigid night in February 2009, a 37-year-old schoolteacher named Scott Nailor parked his rusted ’92 Toyota Tercel in the parking lot of a Fireside Inn in Auburn, Maine. He picked this spot to have a final reckoning with himself. He was going to end his life.

Beaten down after more than a decade of struggle with student debt, after years of taking false doors and slipping into various puddles of bureaucratic quicksand, he was giving up the fight. “This is it, I’m done,” he remembers thinking. “I sat there and just sort of felt like I’m going to take my life. I’m going to find a way to park this car in the garage, with it running or whatever.”

Nailor’s problems began at 19 years old, when he borrowed for tuition so that he could pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Maine. He graduated summa cum laude four years later and immediately got a job in his field, as an English teacher.

But he graduated with $35,000 in debt, a big hill to climb on a part-time teacher’s $18,000 salary. He struggled with payments, and he and his wife then consolidated their student debt, which soon totaled more than $50,000. They declared bankruptcy and defaulted on the loans. From there he found himself in a loan “rehabilitation” program that added to his overall balance. “That’s when the noose began to tighten,” he says.

Interview with Founder and CEO of DiDi, Cheng Wei. Part I: Understanding DiDi and Data

Harbinger China:

Starting your own business is about creating value for your customers. Technological advances will create massive value for users in every industry. Most of the past 2000 years were the agricultural era, and the development of technology and society was so low that it was impossible for the average person with life expectancy of 50 to 70 years to witness any significant advancement in technology, so it is only reasonable that there have been no waves of start-up in the past.
 Few events in history had as much an impact as the Industrial Revolution and the Internet Revolution. So, it is no wonder that both eras witnessed a spate of innovations and start-ups. Right now, there is nothing as influential as the Internet. Artificial intelligence is dominating the second round of the Internet Revolution, and in the future we might see more advancements in life sciences and space technology.
 The Internet is meant to connect. Through connections, efficiency is improved, and value is created and distributed through the industries. Taobao stands for connecting people with products, Baidu for connecting people with information, and Tencent for connecting people with one another… And I hope when people talk about connecting people with cars, they will think of DiDi. Connections form platforms, which then collect big data, and as a result we look to artificial intelligence to be more efficient in utilizing these data. This is why AI is the second round of the Internet Revolution.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison’s ongoing spending growth

Dean Mosiman:

As Madison readies to make final budget decisions, new estimates have decreased the city’s tax base, meaning taxes on the average home will be higher than initially thought.

Mayor Paul Soglin proposed an operating budget in early October, and on Oct. 23 the city’s Finance Committee made amendments and approved a $314.3 million spending plan for next year.

But a lower-than-estimated tax base means the city must raise the tax rate to cover that spending, creating a higher-than-expected hit for the average home.

Madison’s taxpayer supported schools plan to spend nearly $20,000 per student during the 2017-2018 school, despite long term disastrous resding results.

Madison Student outcomes: Corporate Remedies…

Judy Newman:

He said he’s also committed to helping residents of lower-income areas nearby obtain skills to get jobs at Exact. The company has said it will conduct an internship, apprenticeship and training program aimed at disadvantaged youth and unskilled adults in the neighborhood, working with the Urban League of Greater Madison’s Park Edge/Park Ridge Employment and Training Center on Gammon Road, a few blocks away.

“We think, over time, there will be a lot of employees who will be able to work for Exact Sciences. We think we can have a strong impact on the community,” Conroy said.

Documents given to the Madison City Council in October show wages at the new lab will range from $31,200 a year to more than $100,000 a year. Three-fourths of the jobs will pay $15 to $25 an hour, or $31,200 to $52,000 a year.

The project will get $2.5 million in tax incremental financing from the city of Madison — with some conditions attached. The first $1.8 million will be provided when Exact shows it has spent at least that much on the project. The other $688,000 will be postponed until the lab is built and occupied and it has at least 125 full-time-equivalent employees.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending nearly $20,000 per student.

The Disappearing American Grad Student

Nick Wingfield:

The dearth of Americans is even more pronounced in hot STEM fields like computer science, which serve as talent pipelines for the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft: About 64 percent of doctoral candidates and almost 68 percent in master’s programs last year were international students, according to an annual survey of American and Canadian universities by the Computing Research Association. In comparison, only about 9 percent of undergraduates in computer science were international students (perhaps, deans posit, because families are nervous about sending offspring who are barely adults across the ocean to study).

Many factors contribute to the gap, but a major one is the booming job market in technology. For the most part, Americans don’t see the need for an advanced degree when there are so many professional opportunities waiting for them. For some, the price is just too high when they have so much student debt already.

“You can believe that U.S. bachelor’s students, if they’re good, can go get a job at Microsoft or Google with a bachelor’s degree,” said Edward D. Lazowska, a professor of computer science at the University of Washington.

How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met

Kashmir Hill:

In real life, in the natural course of conversation, it is not uncommon to talk about a person you may know. You meet someone and say, “I’m from Sarasota,” and they say, “Oh, I have a grandparent in Sarasota,” and they tell you where they live and their name, and you may or may not recognize them.

You might assume Facebook’s friend recommendations would work the same way: You tell the social network who you are, and it tells you who you might know in the online world. But Facebook’s machinery operates on a scale far beyond normal human interactions. And the results of its People You May Know algorithm are anything but obvious. In the months I’ve been writing about PYMK, as Facebook calls it, I’ve heard more than a hundred bewildering anecdotes:

Small Houston charter school pays top dollar to leader, owns luxury condo

Jacob Carpenter:

For more than a decade, the leaders of Accelerated Intermediate Academy have run their small Houston charter school on a lean budget, paying teachers below-average salaries and educating kids in modest facilities resembling portable trailers.

At the same time, the school’s superintendent, Kevin Hicks, has drawn an annual salary of about $250,000 – a seemingly outsized sum given its roughly 275 students and 20 employees. The school is also sitting on a condo appraised at $450,000 and recently reported $12.5 million in cash reserves, records show.

“Wow. He definitely could have put more into the school,” Kennessa Johnson, a former teacher at the charter, said of Hicks. “It was extremely basic in the school. There weren’t even any windows.”

The school’s spending has raised questions about the management of the southwest Houston charter, which has received more than $55 million in taxpayer dollars since opening in 2001, a Houston Chronicle investigation has found.

When did fiction become so dangerous?

Lionel Shriver:

The assignment of books for review has always been haphazard. Fellow fiction writers can be tempted either to undermine the competition, or to flatter colleagues who might later judge prizes or provide boosting blurbs. There are no clear qualifications for book reviewing — perhaps publication, but most of all, because reviewers are paid for their text but not for the many hours it takes to read the bleeding books, a willingness to work for atrocious wages.

Mitigating the gravity of this matter? Aside from the authors whose work is on the block, almost no one reads book reviews, and I say that as someone who writes a fair number. It’s a publishing truism that ‘reviews don’t sell books’ — although negative ones can un-sell books. With lose-lose odds like that, why books are ever shipped out for review is anyone’s guess.

The lofty New York Times seeks to prevent literary back-scratching by making reviewers swear on pain of excommunication that they are not friends with the author (the test being whether you’ve dined together). With young adult titles, Kirkus, an American trade journal that can influence library and bookshop orders, has raised the moral purity bar still further.

The art of the diary

Caroline Crampton:

On 28 February 1972 at 5.50am, Frank Aycliffe recorded an important decision. “I think my uncertainty of whether to go to the hairdressers’ has been solved,” he wrote. “I have decided not to, but wait and see what things are like in another month’s time.”

Aycliffe put his deliberations in his diary. It was later transcribed by his daughter and, after his death, donated to the Great Diary Project, set up in 2007 to “provide a permanent home for unwanted diaries of any kind”. He wasn’t a famous or notable person, but this record of his life’s small, seemingly inconsequential details is now preserved at the Bishopsgate Institute in east London, alongside at least 7,500 other diaries and journals. They can be consulted by the public at any time, and a selection has recently been on display at Somerset House as part of an exhibition titled Dear Diary: A Celebration of Diaries and their Digital Descendants.

The impulse to create a personal narrative and record it can be traced back centuries – it is inextricably linked with how we think about life and existence. Marcus Aurelius, the second-century philosopher, is often credited as the author of the first example of what we would now call a diary. This work, today referred to as Meditations, originally had the Greek title Ta eis heauton, which translates roughly as “to himself”. It comprises personal notes on philosophical ideas, particularly in relation to Stoicism (a key tenet of which is self-knowledge). On the page, he plots thoughts about how to live a better life through maxims such as “put an end once and for all to this discussion of what a good man should be, and be one”.

On Trump, Democrats, Transgenderism, and Islamist Terror

Camille Paglia:

For a quarter century, I have been calling for comparative religion to be made the core curriculum of higher education. (I am speaking as an atheist.) Knowledge of the great world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Judeo-Christianity, Islam—is the true multiculturalism. Everyone should have a general familiarity with the beliefs, texts, rituals, art, and shrines of all the major religions. Only via a direct encounter with the Qu’ran and Hadith, for example, can anyone know what they say about jihad and how those strikingly numerous passages have been interpreted in different ways over time.

Right now, too many secular Western liberals treat Islam with paternalistic condescension—waving at it vaguely from a benevolent distance but making no effort to engage with its intricate mixed messages, which can inspire toward good or spur acts of devastating impact on the international stage.

‘Digital’ Is Not the Opposite of ‘Humanities’

Sarah E. Bond, Hoyt Long, and Ted Underwood:

ver the past 15 years, the humanities have undergone dizzying changes. Scholars are now blogging, learning to code, writing collaboratively, and mining vast digital libraries. Many of these changes are bound up with computers, and observers often characterize them collectively as “digital humanities.” But so far, digital humanities hasn’t become a separate field or even a distinct school of thought. The term is a loose label for a series of social and intellectual changes taking place in humanistic disciplines.

Disciplinary change is always controversial, and the attack on DH has become a recognized genre. Timothy Brennan’s recent article, “The Digital-Humanities Bust,” is the latest of these pieces. What troubles him about DH, he says, is that it harbors “an epistemology.”

Brennan is willing to accept that computers can help with strictly linguistic problems: “compiling concordances,” for example, or “deciphering Mayan stelae.” But he dismisses the idea that they can help address the core questions of the humanities. He writes:

Torsten Schimanski, “The Response to the Skills Gap Issue: Apprenticeships!” 15 November Madison Event (noon) at Madison College

UW Center for European Studies:

Torsten Schimanski is Director of Open Enrollment Training for the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP), a non-profit organization dedicated to the improvement and success of manufacturing companies in New Jersey. Previously, Mr. Schimanski served as the Head of the Training and Learning Center for Festo Didactic, a global player in the field of industrial automation and education. His expertise is in the field of apprenticeship program development. He is an advocate for dual-education paid-apprenticeship concepts. He began his own career with an apprenticeship in banking and finance in Germany. Torsten Schimanksi offers to address such issues as the skills gap and talent development. He will deal with the challenges faced by industry in the U.S. when it comes to job training.

Ten lessons

Gian-Carlo Rota

For several years, I have been teaching 18.30, differential equation, the largest mathematics course at MIT, with more than 300 students. The lectures have been good training in dealing with mass behavior. Every sentence must be perfectly enunciated, preferably twice. Examples on the board must be relevant, if not downright fascinating. Every 15 minutes or so, the lecturer is expected to come up with an interesting aside, joke, historical anecdote, or unusual application of the concept at hand. When a lecturer fails to conform to these inexorable requirements, the students will signify their displeasure by picking by their books and leaving the classroom.
Despite the lecturer’s best efforts, however, it becomes more difficult to hold the attention of the students as the term wears on, and they start falling asleep in class under those circumstances should be a source of satisfaction for a teacher, since it confirms that they have been doing their jobs. There students have been up half the night-maybe all night-finishing problem sets and preparing for their midterm exams.

Four courses in science and engineering each term is a heavy workload for anyone; very few students fail to learn, first and foremost, the discipline of intensive and constant work.

An Economic Geography of the United States: From Commutes to Megaregions

Garrett Dash Nelson:

The emergence in the United States of large-scale “megaregions” centered on major metropolitan areas is a phenomenon often taken for granted in both scholarly studies and popular accounts of contemporary economic geography. This paper uses a data set of more than 4,000,000 commuter flows as the basis for an empirical approach to the identification of such megaregions. We compare a method which uses a visual heuristic for understanding areal aggregation to a method which uses a computational partitioning algorithm, and we reflect upon the strengths and limitations of both. We discuss how choices about input parameters and scale of analysis can lead to different results, and stress the importance of comparing computational results with “common sense” interpretations of geographic coherence. The results provide a new perspective on the functional economic geography of the United States from a megaregion perspective, and shed light on the old geographic problem of the division of space into areal units.

Alice Dreger on How Branding Stifles Academic Freedom: Half Hour of Heterodoxy #15

Chris Martin:

Alice Dreger is an historian of medicine and science, a sex researcher, and an advocate of academic freedom. She is the author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice. In this episode, I talk to her about why she blames university brand management, and the corporatization of academia more broadly, for the policing of research, which has now become common in academic life. We talk about how the increasing reliance on external research funding has spurred attention to university brand management, and Alice also presents her recommendations for what to do if you are caught up in an academic controversy.

Africa’s artists step from shadows of colonialism and into the limelight

Miriam Mannak:

This meant that Ghanaians tried and, to a large extent, managed to hold on to certain valuable traditions. Some attempts were successful. “If you’d go to Kumasi [the capital city of the Ashanti region, in southern Ghana] people wear traditional clothing, which they will wear whilst at work and going to the shops.”

Kissi adds that most traditional dances are still performed in a traditional way, too. “Dance and music students at the University of Ghana need to be part of a traditional dance troupe and learn from master drummers,” he says. “They are trained by these master drummers, like in the past. It is a difficult training process.”

Kissi has recently organised workshops of African mask-making, dancing and drumming for World Cultures Festival 2017 – Vibrant Africa, organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

The Other Foucault

Bruce Robbins:

The lectures, diverging as they often do from the books that made Foucault famous, only added to the controversy. They are—along with various manifestos, unpublished drafts, interviews, and other miscellaneous writings—now also the subject of two fascinating new books by Stuart Elden: Foucault: The Birth of Power and Foucault’s Last Decade. In the former, Elden tries to soothe some of the long-standing tensions between Foucault and Marx, in part by displaying hidden continuities between Foucault’s early work on madness and knowledge and his later work on power. In the latter, Elden deals with the 10 years after Foucault finished the manuscript of Discipline and Punish and began (on the same day!) The History of Sexuality. He shows how much of Foucault’s interest in sexuality was actually an interest in governmentality, or technologies of rule. When Foucault talked about subjectivity, Elden argues, he was also talking about the formation of subjects in the political sense, or how human beings become subjected to power.

Elden doesn’t claim that his answers are definitive. He notes that more than half of the 110 boxes of Foucault’s papers, classified by France as a national treasure and held at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, remain closed to researchers, thus leaving all interpretations provisional. But one collateral payoff of his close look at Foucault’s career is what he reveals of Foucault’s own confusions and uncertainties about his project and what he was really trying to do.

Reading Elden, one gets to watch one of the last century’s most celebrated thinkers in the unfamiliar role of a stumbling dissertation writer, hesitantly trying out different answers to that dreaded question: “What is your basic idea?”

The American mind continues to close

Jonathan Kay:

On December 10, 1982, a then-obscure academic from the American Midwest took to the pages of National Review magazine with a lengthy indictment of America’s intellectual class. Though this was the height of the Reagan Revolution — a heady time for the Review’s conservative editors and readers — the author had nothing to say about tax cuts or defence policy. Instead, he peppered his argument with references to Socrates and Nietzsche. A typical applause line was: “The Bible and Plutarch have ceased to be a part of the soul’s furniture.”

Yet the piece hit a nerve. And in time, it grew into a bestselling book that made the author — Indianapolis-born philosopher and classicist Allan David Bloom — an academic celebrity.

Much of Bloom’s success no doubt was owed to his book’s inspired title, The Closing of the American Mind. But the timing was perfect, too, arriving on shelves in the fall of 1987, when political correctness was just becoming an acute force for censorship. I was a college student at the time. And reading Bloom’s book helped convince me that, no, it wasn’t just me: something really was wrong with the way my generation was being educated and politically programmed.

Bloom was especially repelled by relativism, which he described as “the consciousness that one loves one’s own way because it is one’s own, not because it is good.” Though he was hardly the first postwar critic to abhor the fragmenting of cultural life and the marginalisation of the Western canon, Bloom went deeper with his analysis, showing how the emerging obsession with identity politics (as we now call it) left students glum and aimless — brimming with grievances, while lacking the sense of common purpose that once animated higher learning.

The author died in 1992, just before the advent of the world wide web exacerbated many of the problems he described. Social media, in particular, has reduced attention spans — making it difficult to teach students classic texts that are not immediately relevant to modern forms of self-identification. At the same time, these networks allow activists to shame heterodox ideas on a peer-to-peer basis.

‘Okay to be White’ Stickers Crop Up at Harvard, Around Country

Graham W. Bishai:

More than a dozen handmade stickers reading “It’s okay to be white” surfaced around Harvard Square Wednesday, prompting Cambridge officials to remove them and a Harvard Law School Dean to denounce the signs as “provocations intended to divide us.”

The stickers appeared to be part of a campaign started on the forum website 4chan, which called upon followers to put up posters with the message in their area on Halloween night. The author of the original post on the site wrote that they hoped the “credibility of far left campuses and media gets nuked” as a result of the incident, adding that they could help achieve a “massive victory for the right in the culture war.”

Similar stickers were spotted in a handful of places around the country Wednesday morning.

“It seems likely that these anonymous postings, made in the middle of the night, were provocations intended to divide us from one another,” Law School Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells wrote in an email sent to Law students Wednesday after the stickers were spotted at Wasserstein and Hastings Halls.

Poll finds high housing cost is barrier to college education in California

Nanette Asimov:

UC Men’s Octet sing next to Sather Gate at UC Berkeley on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif.

The problem with California’s public colleges and universities is not in the quality of their academic offerings — it’s that the schools don’t do enough to help students find affordable places to live, according to a new statewide survey about higher education.

That’s the view of a large majority of Californians — 85 percent — who participated in the Public Policy Institute of California’s annual survey of attitudes on the state’s public higher-education systems.

Most of the 1,703 residents who answered questions in English or Spanish by phone last month said they like the quality of education provided by community colleges, California State University and the University of California — more than 63 percent in each case.

Hunt for Ming dynasty admiral Zheng He’s lost treasure ship heats up in Indian Ocean

Stephen Chen:

During an epic naval battle between Chinese and local forces off the coast of Sri Lanka more than 600 years ago, a massive treasure ship laden with gold, precious gems and religious artefacts was scuppered and sank to the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

According to the history books, the vessel (or vessels – no one knows for sure exactly how many ships might have sunk) was part of the fleet of Chinese admiral Zheng He, one of the greatest maritime adventurers of all time. But while stories of his exploits abound in Chinese texts, no hard evidence has ever been found to prove the existence of his ships.

That, however, could be about to change, as researchers are set to embark on an archaeological expedition that they believe could not only settle a centuries-old debate, but also yield a hoard of lost Ming dynasty (1368-1644) treasure.

School choice advocate Howard Fuller’s views are shifting on what’s best for Milwaukee kids

Alan Borsuk:

He called Trump “despicable” and said, “This man and what he’s done is qualitatively different than anything else I’ve seen.”

“Not to take a stand is to co-sign on the injustice,” he said.

None of this was what prompted my visit to Fuller’s office at Marquette University, where he has held the title “distinguished professor” since he resigned as superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools in 1995.

The Institute for the Transformation of Learning, which he heads, was for years a booming operation, with involvement in school-related initiatives and school choice advocacy in Milwaukee and nationwide. The organization is now pretty much just Fuller.

Clemson’s Colin Kaepernick moment

Dion J. Pierre:

Stewart maintains that the complaints against him are “exaggerated.” The embattled VP said that racial animus at the South Carolina school triggered the impeachment controversy. And that the report that detailed his alleged misconduct was leaked in retaliation for his refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at a meeting of student senate. In an interview with the Anderson Independent Mail Stewart was defiant:

“This is a social lynching…There’s a deeper systemic issue in which people are choosing what they want to hear, choosing what they want to believe exists and that’s why sitting for the pledge was so important,” he said.

But Clemson SGA senators said that the question before the governing body is one of fitness, not race. Stewart “abused his power” as an RA when he violated his female residents’ privacy.

How natural is numeracy?


Why can we count to 152? OK, most of us don’t need to stop there, but that’s my point. Counting to 152, and far beyond, comes to us so naturally that it’s hard not to regard our ability to navigate indefinitely up the number line as something innate, hard-wired into us.

Scientists have long claimed that our ability with numbers is indeed biologically evolved – that we can count because counting was a useful thing for our brains to be able to do. The hunter-gatherer who could tell which herd or flock of prey was the biggest, or which tree held the most fruit, had a survival advantage over the one who couldn’t. What’s more, other animals show a rudimentary capacity to distinguish differing small quantities of things: two bananas from three, say. Surely it stands to reason, then, that numeracy is adaptive.

But is it really? Being able to tell two things from three is useful, but being able to distinguish 152 from 153 must have been rather less urgent for our ancestors. More than about 100 sheep was too many for one shepherd to manage anyway in the ancient world, never mind millions or billions.

The cognitive scientist Rafael Núñez of the University of California at San Diego doesn’t buy the conventional wisdom that ‘number’ is a deep, evolved capacity. He thinks that it is a product of culture, like writing and architecture. ‘Some, perhaps most, scholars endorse a nativist view that numbers are biologically endowed,’ he said. ‘But I’d argue that, while there’s a biological grounding, language and cultural traits are necessary for the establishment of number itself.’

‘The idea of an inherited number sense as the unique building block of complex mathematical skill has had an unusual attraction,’ said the neuroscientist Wim Fias of the University of Gent in Belgium. ‘It fits the general enthusiasm and hope to expect solutions from biological explanations,’ in particular, by coupling ‘the mystery of human mind and behaviour with the promises offered by genetic research.’ But Fias agrees with Núñez that the available evidence – neuroscientific, cognitive, anthropological – just doesn’t support the idea.

If Núñez and Fias are right, though, where does our sense of number come from? If we aren’t born equipped with the neural capacity for counting, how do we learn to do it? Why do we have the concept of 152?

Millennials to Small Cities: Ready or Not, Here We Come

Tim Henderson:

Tyler and Alissa Hodge, two of the hundreds of young professionals who have moved here in recent years, noticed that despite the influx there was not a single city-style coffee shop downtown.
 So the couple opened one in May, with sofas, baked goods and local micro-roaster beans, adding a play area as a nod to the family-friendly culture of this southern Indiana city and their own three children.
 “The 18- to 35-year-olds expect something like that, but they just didn’t have it,” said Tyler Hodge, 32, who used crowdfunding to help finance the shop. The same tactic was used for a rock climbing gym opened in September by a group of young engineers who, like Hodge, spend their weekdays working at Cummins Inc., the diesel engine company that is the city’s largest employer.
 “There’s not that much to do here for the young people,” said Juan Valencia, a 25-year-old Colombian immigrant who is one of the founders of the climbing gym. “We think this will help.”

If House Republicans Get Their Way, These Colleges Would See Their Endowments Taxed

Ben Myers and Brock Read:

In a sweeping plan to rework the tax code unveiled on Thursday, Republicans in the House of Representatives floated a new strategy for raising revenue: Tax college endowments.

Some college endowments, that is.

Deep within the plan — look here, on Page 75 — is the language that spells out which institutions would be affected. The bottom line: Only the most-affluent colleges need worry. Colleges would be subject to the tax, set at 1.4 percent of net investment income, only if their endowment assets total at least $100,000 per student.

‘We can’t compete’: why universities are losing their best AI scientists

Ian Sample:

It was the case of the missing PhD student.

As another academic year got under way at Imperial College London, a senior professor was bemused at the absence of one of her students. He had worked in her lab for three years and had one more left to complete his studies. But he had stopped coming in.

Eventually, the professor called him. He had left for a six-figure salary at Apple.

“He was offered such a huge amount of money that he simply stopped everything and left,” said Maja Pantic, professor of affective and behavioural computing at Imperial. “It’s five times the salary I can offer. It’s unbelievable. We cannot compete.”

It is not an isolated event. Across the country, talented computer scientists are being lured from academia by private sector offers that are hard to turn down. According to a Guardian survey of Britain’s top ranking research universities, tech firms are hiring AI experts at a prodigious rate, fuelling a brain drain that has already hit research and teaching. One university executive warned of a “missing generation” of academics who would normally teach students and be the creative force behind research projects.

Commentary On Proposed Tax Changes And Higher Education

Eric Kelderman:

In broad terms, the bill would eliminate or consolidate a number of tax deductions meant to offset the costs of higher education for individuals and companies, including the Lifetime Learning Credit, which provides a tax deduction of up to $2,000 for tuition, a credit for student-loan interest, and a $5,250 corporate deduction for education-assistance plans.
The bill proposes new taxes on some private-college endowments and on compensation for the highest-paid employees at nonprofit organizations, including colleges and nonprofit academic hospitals. The plan would also tax the tuition waivers that many graduate students receive when they work as teaching assistants or researchers.

Perhaps most significant, the bill would result in many fewer people itemizing their deductions for charitable gifts. Higher-education experts warned that that change could lead to a steep decline in donations to colleges.

How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom

Natasha Singer & Danielle Ivory:

Silicon Valley is going all out to own America’s school computer-and-software market, projected to reach $21 billion in sales by 2020. An industry has grown up around courting public-school decision makers, and tech companies are using a sophisticated playbook to reach them, The New York Times has found in a review of thousands of pages of Baltimore County school documents and in interviews with dozens of school officials, researchers, teachers, tech executives and parents.

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

Math Forum

Connected Math

Discovery Math

Singapore Math

Reading Recovery

Madison Teacher / Student Relationships and Academic Outcomes?

Karen Rivedal:

“Kids aren’t going to be able to take risks and push themselves academically, without having a trusting support network there,” said Lindsay Maglio, principal of Lindbergh Elementary School, where some teachers improved on traditional get-to-know-you exercises in the first few weeks of school by adding more searching questions, and where all school staff are engaged in community-building lessons in small-group sessions with students taking place at set periods throughout the year.

While noting that getting to know their students is already “something we do feel strongly about,” fourth-grade teacher Beth Callies, now in her 11th year at Lindbergh, said she saw value in a districtwide strategy emphasizing it. “It’s a good push to remind us,” Callies said.

Beyond asking her students to describe themselves through traditional questions such as choosing what animal or what TV show they would like to be, and where they would like to take a vacation and why, Duernberger also invited them to free-associate this year by responding to the line: “I wish my teacher knew this about me.”

Common ground
The students’ answers, which they also read to each other in a follow-up exercise, were as varied as their life stories. Students said they liked to go camping, had two brothers, worked hard, could read-upside down, and had two dogs at home before mom gave one away.

Teachers have been encouraged to mine a book by educator Zaretta Hammond known as “Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain” for new techniques and deeper understanding of the issue. At Lindbergh, Maglio built time into the school day for all staff to meet once a week for 40 minutes with students in small groups “to build community and work on trust,” with possible lessons on topics such as resolving conflicts or bullying.

“It’s really based off the issues that kids are having, so there’s not a set structure (for the weekly sessions),” Maglio said. “We just need to think about being more purposeful in how we plan for all our students. It might be working for 80 percent of students, but we need to think more about the ones we may be struggling to reach.”

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending more than most – now nearly $20,000 per student.

Math Forum

Connected Math

Discovery Math

Singapore Math

Reading Recovery

Where the STEM Jobs Are (and Where They Aren’t)

Steve Lohr:

The national priority in education can be summed up in a four-letter acronym: STEM. And that’s understandable. A country’s proficiency in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is vital in generating economic growth, advancing scientific innovation and creating good jobs.

The STEM campaign has been underway for years, championed by policymakers across the ideological spectrum, embraced in schools everywhere and by organizations ranging from the YWCA to the Boy Scouts. By now, the term — first popularized and promoted by the National Science Foundation — is used as a descriptive identifier. “She’s a STEM,” usually meant as a compliment, suggests someone who has a leg up in the college admissions sweepstakes.

Much of the public enthusiasm for STEM education rests on the assumption that these fields are rich in job opportunity. Some are, some aren’t. STEM is an expansive category, spanning many disciplines and occupations, from software engineers and data

Information disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy making

Claire Wardle, PhD Hossein Derakhshan:

This report is an attempt to comprehensively examine information disorder and its related challenges, such as filter bubbles and echo chambers. While the historical impact of rumours and fabricated content have been well documented, we argue that contemporary social technology means that we are witnessing something new: information pollution at a global scale; a complex web of motivations for creating, disseminating and consuming these ‘polluted’ messages; a myriad of content types and techniques for amplifying content; innumerable platforms hosting and reproducing this content; and breakneck speeds of communication between trusted peers.

The direct and indirect impacts of information pollution are difficult to quantify. We’re only at the earliest of stages of understanding their implications. Since the results of the ‘Brexit’ vote in the UK, Donald Trump’s victory in the US and Kenya’s recent decision to nullify its national election result, there has been much discussion of how information disorder is influencing democracies. More concerning, however, are the long-term implications of dis-information campaigns designed specifically to sow mistrust and confusion and to sharpen existing socio- cultural divisions using nationalistic, ethnic, racial and religious tensions.

Washington Education Association’s School Funding Campaign Is Being Funded by NEA

Mike Antonucci:

Last month the Washington State Supreme Court held a hearing to determine the level of the state government’s compliance with the court’s 2012 McCleary ruling.

In that decision the court ruled the state had failed to meet its duty under the state constitution to provide school districts with enough resources to cover the costs of a basic education. Since 2014 the state government has been held in contempt of court for failing to come up with a legislative fix.

The state budget passed this year provided $7.3 billion in additional K-12 spending over the next four years. But public school interest groups say that’s not enough. The Washington Education Association has led the charge, lobbying for class sizes of 15-17 students in K-3, starting teacher salaries of $54,000 and annual cost of living increases.

Let’s Waste College on the Old

Paul Glasteris:

Usually, when a demographic group is significantly underrepresented on elite college campuses, we consider it a problem. But there is one such problem that almost no one seems to notice or care much about. Nearly 30 percent of college undergraduates are adults, defined by the United States Department of Education as 25 years old or older. But at Stanford, the share of undergraduates who are adults is 1.2 percent; at Yale, 0.7 percent; at Princeton, 0.6 percent; at the University of Chicago, 0.2 percent.

This blatant discrepancy hasn’t drawn any sustained attention even from liberal elites who otherwise tend to notice these things. That’s a testament to the notion many of us carry around in our heads, often based on our own experience, that colleges are places filled with fresh-faced young people who recently graduated from high school. But outside of elite colleges that image is less and less accurate in higher education today.

The pool of graduating high school seniors is shrinking as the huge millennial generation ages. Meanwhile, more and more people who didn’t go to college, or who went but didn’t finish, are realizing that their lack of a degree is keeping them from getting ahead. Many of these adult students are veterans cycling out of the military after years of service.

Poll: 71% of Americans Say Political Correctness Has Silenced Discussions Society Needs to Have, 58% Have Political Views They’re Afraid to Share


The Cato 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey, a new national poll of 2,300 U.S. adults, finds that 71% Americans believe that political correctness has silenced important discussions our society needs to have. The consequences are personal—58% of Americans believe the political climate prevents them from sharing their own political beliefs.

Democrats are unique, however, in that a slim majority (53%) do not feel the need to self-censor. Conversely, strong majorities of Republicans (73%) and independents (58%) say they keep some political beliefs to themselves.

Profs blast proposal to weaken tenure at U of Arkansas

Nikita Vladimirov:

“Cause is defined as conduct that demonstrates the faculty member lacks the willingness or ability to perform duties or responsibilities to the University,” the proposed policy reads, noting that tenured faculty can be disciplined or dismissed for eight core reasons, including “unsatisfactory performance” and demonstrating a “pattern of disruptive conduct or unwillingness to work productively with colleagues.”

University spokesman Nate Hinkel told The Chronicle of Higher Education that the proposed language is part of an effort to align the broader policy with “current law and best practices.”

Public and Private School Segregation in the District of Columbia

Kinga Wysienska-Di Carlo and Matthew Di Carlo::

A large and long-standing body of research documents the segregation of U.S. schools by race and income, but relatively few of these studies include private schools. This is partially because of the lack of data on private schools, and also because most desegregation efforts have focused on public schools.

That said, private schools serve roughly one in ten of the nation’s school children, with higher proportions in many big cities. Attempts to describe school segregation without including private schools may therefore be missing a significant part of the picture.

Analysis: Teachers Unions Will Argue in Court That ‘Agency Fees’ Don’t Fund Political Activities. But They’re Saying Something Different to Members

Mike Antonucci:

Last week Union Report reported on a directive sent by the National Education Association listing “8 essentials” that should shape local collective bargaining agreements if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns agency fee laws in the coming Janus case. Such laws allow unions to collect payments from non-members, ostensibly to cover the costs of contract negotiation.

Oral arguments in the case may occur as early as January. Plaintiffs will argue that agency fees levied by public-sector unions are unconstitutional because bargaining with the government is a form of political advocacy with which they may not agree.

The unions will argue that engagements with the government as an employer are fundamentally different from those with the government as sovereign, and that workplace “coherence” makes it necessary for non-members to subsidize the majority position. They will claim that fee-payers are not supporting unions’ political speech in any meaningful way.

Related: Rachel Cohen:

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten met one-on-one with then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon back in March, following the announcement of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts and plan to craft a $1 trillion infrastructure package. The Intercept learned of the meeting, which has not been previously reported, independent of Weingarten or Bannon. It was instigated through a mutual friend and appeared to be part of Bannon’s effort to realign the parties, according to Weingarten.

“Look, I will meet with virtually anyone to make our case, and particularly in that moment, I was very, very concerned about the budget that would decimate public education,” Weingarten said. “I wanted it to be a real meeting, I didn’t want it to be a photo-op, so I insisted that the meeting didn’t happen at the White House.”

Weingarten didn’t take notes at the meeting, which was held at a Washington restaurant, but told The Intercept she and Bannon talked about “education, infrastructure, immigrants, bigotry and hate, budget cuts … [and] about a lot of different things.”

She came away a bit shook. “I came out of that conversation saying that this was a formidable adversary,” she said.

Why Do We Still Commute?

Greg Rosalsky:

Over the last year, many companies have ended their liberal work-from-home policies. Firms like IBM, Honeywell, and Aetna joined a long list of others that have deemed it more profitable to force employees to commute to the city and work in a central office than give them the flexibility to work where they want. It wasn’t supposed to be this way—at least according to Norman Macrae.
 In 1975, when personal computers were little more than glorified calculators for geeks and the Internet was an obscure project being developed by the United States government, Macrae, an influential journalist for The Economist who earned a reputation for clairvoyant prophesies—including the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of Japan—made a radical prediction about how information technology would soon transform our lives.
 Macrae foretold the exact path and timeline that computers would take over the business world and then become a fixture of every American home. But he didn’t stop there. The spread of this machine, he argued, would fundamentally change the economics of how most of us work. Once workers could communicate with their colleagues through instant messages and video chat, he reasoned, there would be little coherent purpose to trudge long distances to work side by side in centrally located office spaces. As companies recognized how much cheaper remote employees would be, the computer would, in effect, kill the office—and with that our whole way of living would change.

The Improbable Origins of PowerPoint

David Brock:

With PowerPoint as well as its predecessors, the motif of the slide was, of course, lifted directly from the world of photography. Some presentation programs actually generated 35-mm slides for display with a slide projector. In most cases, though, the early programs created slides that were printed on paper for incorporation into reports, transferred to transparencies for use on overhead projectors, or saved as digital files to be displayed on computer monitors.

The upshot was that personal computer users of the 1980s, especially business users, had many options, and the market for business software was undergoing hypergrowth, with programs for generating spreadsheets, documents, databases, and business graphics each constituting a multimillion-dollar category. At the time, commentators saw the proliferation of business software as a new phase in office automation, in which computer use was spreading beyond the accounting department and the typing pool to the office elites. Both the imagined and actual users of the new business software were white-collar workers, from midlevel managers to Mahogany Row executives.

PowerPoint thus emerged during a period in which personal computing was taking over the American office. A major accelerant was the IBM Personal Computer, which Big Blue unveiled in 1981. By then, bureaucratic America—corporate and government alike—was well habituated to buying its computers from IBM. This new breed of machine, soon known simply as the PC, spread through offices like wildfire.

Hyper Brain, Hyper Body: The Trouble With High IQ

Neuroscience news:

A new study in the journal Intelligence reports that highly intelligent people have a significantly increased risk of suffering from a variety of psychological and physiological disorders.

Lead author of the study, Ruth Karpinski, says the findings have implications both for the study of intelligence and for psychoneuroimmunology, which examines how stress responses to the environment influence communication between the brain and immune system.

“Our findings are relevant because a significant portion of these individuals are suffering on a daily basis as a result of their unique emotional and physical overexcitabilities. It is important for the scientific community to examine high IQ as being front and center within the system of mechanisms that may be at play in these dysregulations,” she says.

Setting the record straight on Dougco schools commUNITY candidates’ positions

Krista Holtzmann:

Considering the consequential nature of the upcoming Douglas County school board election to our students, it is imperative that the public receives all the facts. As a member of the commUNITY candidate team, which includes Anthony Graziano, Kevin Leung, Chris Schor and myself, I can attest to our positions on several issues:
We fully support quality public school choice for all students, including charter, magnet, neighborhood, online and home schools.
We do not support vouchers. Using taxpayer dollars to pay private schools is irresponsible. The community loses oversight and accountability, and these schools can legally discriminate.
We support and value all Douglas County schools, including charter schools. It is time we stop pitting our schools against each other and operate as a healthy and strong community committed to serving all our students.
Voters have two clear choices this election — candidates who support public schools and those who want to continue the failed reforms. Students have been harmed by the drop in academic achievement, skyrocketing teacher turnover and infighting. We want to build back our district, while our opponents want to continue on its current destructive path.
Our opponents are supported by special interest groups and hidden outside money in excess of half a million dollars. Americans for Prosperity has admitted to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to advance their national pro-voucher agenda in Douglas County.

Commentary on Bill Gates and Common Core

Joy Pullman:

“Based on everything we have learned in the past 17 years, we are evolving our education strategy,” Gates wrote on his blog as a preface to a speech he gave last week in Cleveland. He followed this by detailing how U.S. education has essentially made little improvement in the years since he and his foundation — working so closely with the Obama administration that federal officials regularly consulted foundation employees and waived ethics laws to hire several — began redirecting trillions of public dollars towards programs he now admits haven’t accomplished much.

“If there is one thing I have learned,” Gates says in concluding his speech, “it is that no matter how enthusiastic we might be about one approach or another, the decision to go from pilot to wide-scale usage is ultimately and always something that has to be decided by you and others the field.” If this statement encompasses his Common Core debacle, Gates could have at least the humility to recall that Common Core had no pilot before he took it national. There wasn’t even a draft available to the public before the Obama administration hooked states into contracts, many of which were ghostwritten with Gates funds, pledging they’d buy that pig in a poke.

But it looks like this is as close to an apology or admission of failure as we’re going to get, folks. Sorry about that $4 trillion and mangled years of education for American K-12 kids and teachers. Failing with your kids and money for eight years is slowly getting billionaire visionaries to “evolve” and pledge to respect the hoi polloi a little more, though, so be grateful.

Dons, donors and the murky business of funding universities

John Lloyd:

The University of Oxford is in constant need of money — and it takes an approach to raising it that oscillates between the severe and the relaxed. Those familiar with its procedures say many would-be donors have been turned away. No names are given, outside of senior common room gossip. “Oxford doesn’t need to compromise,” says Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the independent Buckingham University. “People want to be associated with it.” But that confident sense that the great universities will do the right thing has been called into question by a Swedish academic who has thrown down the gauntlet to one of Oxford’s most prominent donors.

For many centuries the deal has been clear: donations buy gratitude and even a named chair or library, but no rights to influence the running of the institution. In return, barring evidence of illegality, the university will not probe the funder’s finances. “You don’t have to like sponsors,” says the Canadian scholar Margaret MacMillan, an admired contemporary historian and former warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford. “But if they don’t interfere with your teaching and your choice of colleagues, then the rest is their own affair.”

Is there a civilization war going on?

Joel Kotkin:

Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.” — Arnold J. Toynbee

From the heart of Europe to North America, nativism, sometimes tinged by white nationalist extremism, is on the rise. In recent elections, parties identified, sometimes correctly, as alt-right have made serious gains in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, pushing even centrist parties in their direction. The election of Donald Trump can also be part of this movement.

Why is this occurring? There are economic causes to be sure, but perhaps the best explanation is cultural, reflecting a sense, not totally incorrect, that western civilization is on the decline, a movement as much self-inflicted as put upon.

Two longtime nonpartisan Wisconsin research groups announce merger

Matthew DeFour:

Two of Wisconsin’s oldest nonpartisan research organizations — which combine for nearly 200 years of distilling state and local fiscal and policy issues — are joining forces at the end of the year.

The Madison-based Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, founded in 1932, and the Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum, founded in 1913, plan to merge while maintaining offices in both cities.

Alliance president Todd Berry is retiring at the end of the year and forum president Rob Henken, 54, will lead the new, yet-to-be-named organization.

Civics require accuracy.

I’ve long appreciated The Wisconsin text pair alliances interest and ability and diving into local and state spending information.

Why should we care?

Our nearly $500,009,000 Madison school District enjoys discussing only part of their annual expenditures, that is their “operating budget”.

Taxpayers fund the entire budget.

The era of easily faked, AI-generated photos is quickly emerging

Dave Gershgorn::

Three years ago, after an argument at a bar with some fellow artificial intelligence researchers, Ph.D student Ian Goodfellow cobbled together a new way for AI to think about creating images. The idea was simple: one algorithm tries to generate a realistic image of an object or a scene, while another algorithm tries to decide whether that image is real or fake.

The two algorithms are adversaries–each trying to beat the other in the interest of creating the final best image–and this technique, now called “generative adversarial networks” (GANs) has quickly become a cornerstone of AI research. Goodfellow is now building a group at Google dedicated to studying their use, while Facebook, Adobe, and others are figuring out how to use the technique for themselves. Uses for data generated this way span from healthcare to fake news: machines could generate their own realistic training data so private patient records don’t need to be used, while photo-realistic video could be used to falsify a presidential address.

College Advice I Wish I’d Taken

Susan Shapiro:

I enjoyed going to college at the University of Michigan, an hour from home, but my secret humiliation is: I was the type of mediocre student I now disdain. As a freshman, I cared about my friends, my boyfriend and my poetry. Or, I cared about what my boyfriend thought of my friends, what my friends thought of him, and what they thought of my poetry about him. Here’s what I wish I’d known and done differently:

A’S ARE COOL AND COME WITH PERKS As a student, I saw myself as anti-establishment, and I hated tests; I barely maintained a B average. I thought only nerds spent weekends in the library studying. Recently I learned that my niece Dara, a sophomore at New York University with a 3.7 G.P.A. (and a boyfriend), was offered a week of travel in Buenos Aires as part of her honors seminar. I was retroactively envious to learn that a 3.5 G.P.A. or higher at many schools qualifies you for free trips, scholarships, grants, awards, private parties and top internships. At 20, I was too busy freaking out when said boyfriend disappeared (after sleeping with one of said friends). Students certainly don’t need to strive obsessively for perfection, but I should have prioritized grades, not guys.

Facebook’s 2016 Election Team Gave Advertisers A Blueprint To A Divided US

Alex Kantrowitz::

“We typically help marketers across all verticals understand audiences this way, and we briefly used this framework to help inform how a small number of marketers built their campaigns,” a Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, adding the pitch had been removed as part of a “regular refresh.” Said the spokesperson, “these segments are no longer available.”

A senior Democratic operative who’s run extensive digital political campaigns suggested political targeting options of the sort Facebook offered might be particularly intriguing to people looking to sow discord in the political system. “Any legitimate, aboveboard organization that is trying to actually win an election is going to have a much higher set of standards,” the operative told BuzzFeed News. “This type of approach is almost exclusively designed for nonpolitical professional people who want to mix it up,” or cause chaos.

Committee on police in schools hears student demands and grapples with next steps

Amber Walker:

The Madison School Board’s ad-hoc committee on educational resource officers is about halfway through its 15-month process to review, evaluate and make recommendations about the use of police in schools.

At its most recent meeting last Wednesday, committee members heard about 40 minutes of public comments. Most of the remarks were from members of Freedom Inc., a Madison-based organization focused on socioeconomic and political change for communities of color.

The group’s Freedom Youth Squad, made up mostly of Madison Metropolitan School District students and recent graduates, reiterated their demands from previous ERO committee meetings: No police in schools, community control over school discipline and more resources poured into youth advocates, counselors and teachers to work with youth of color in a culturally-specific way.

$63 Trillion of World Debt in One Visualization

Jeff Desjardins:

If you add up all the money that national governments have borrowed, it tallies to a hefty $63 trillion.

In an ideal situation, governments are just borrowing this money to cover short-term budget deficits or to finance mission critical projects. However, around the globe, countries have taken to the idea of running constant deficits as the normal course of business, and too much accumulation of debt is not healthy for countries or the global economy as a whole.

The U.S. is a prime example of “debt creep” – the country hasn’t posted an annual budget surplus since 2001, when the federal debt was only $6.9 trillion (54% of GDP). Fast forward to today, and the debt has ballooned to roughly $20 trillion (107% of GDP), which is equal to 31.8% of the world’s sovereign debt nominally.

Get On the Bus or Get Under It: Shouting Down Free Speech at Rutgers

J Oliver Conway:

The quiet suburb of New Brunswick, New Jersey, felt more like East Berlin, or Belfast, when I visited on the evening of October 2nd. The student center of Rutgers University had been transformed into a loose approximation of Checkpoint Charlie. After passing through the obligatory picket line (“Are you one of the speakers?” a student protester asked me suspiciously), visitors were screened by a gauntlet of police officers and security guards, who inspected our bags for weapons before allowing us into the building’s auditorium.

The occasion for this atmosphere of impending confrontation was a panel discussion – “Identity Politics: The New Racialism on Campus?” – sponsored by the left-libertarian British political website Spiked. As part of its “Unsafe Spaces” American tour, Spiked has convened a series of panels at American colleges this fall to discuss questions of identity politics, free speech, and viewpoint diversity on campus.

If panels of writers and tweedy intellectuals don’t strike terror into your heart, then you aren’t an administrator at American University, the Washington, D.C. college scheduled to host the first event a week earlier. It disinvited Spiked at the last minute after a campus women’s group claimed (with apparent seriousness) that the event on feminism and Title IX constituted hate speech and would incur “violence and trauma” on listeners. Evidently Rutgers has more spine.

How the U.K. Prosecuted a Student on Terrorism Charges for Downloading a Book

Ryan Gallagher:

On the first day of the trial, Josh Walker wore a long navy jacket, a white shirt, beige pants, and black shoes. He stood outside the courthouse clutching a cigarette and shivering slightly in the cold morning air. “I’m beginning to feel nervous now,” he said, glancing toward the entrance of the court building.

Last summer, Walker traveled from London to Syria, where he joined the Kurdish-led YPG militia in its fight against the so-called Islamic State. After serving with the group for some six months, Walker returned to England, where he was charged under an anti-terrorism law.

Do Parents Value School Effectiveness?

Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Parag A. Pathak, Jonathan Schellenberg, Christopher R. Walters :

School choice may lead to improvements in school productivity if parents’ choices reward effective schools and punish ineffective ones. This mechanism requires parents to choose schools based on causal effectiveness rather than peer characteristics. We study relationships among parent preferences, peer quality, and causal effects on outcomes for applicants to New York City’s centralized high school assignment mechanism. We use applicants’ rank-ordered choice lists to measure preferences and to construct selection-corrected estimates of treatment effects on test scores and high school graduation. We also estimate impacts on college attendance and college quality. Parents prefer schools that enroll high-achieving peers, and these schools generate larger improvements in short- and long-run student outcomes. We find no relationship between preferences and school effectiveness after controlling for peer quality.