Policymakers must reckon with a world in which companies invest in intangible assets

Martin Wolf:

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This transformation of the economy demands a rethink of public policy. Here are five challenges. First, frameworks for protection of intellectual property are more important. But this definitely does not mean these protections must be still friendlier to the owners of such property. Intellectual property monopolies may indeed be necessary, but, like all monopolies, they can be costly. Second, since synergies are so important, policymakers need to consider how to encourage them, including via policies on telecommunications and urban development. Third, financing intangibles is hard. For traditional collateral-backed bank lending, it is almost impossible. The financial system will need to change. Fourth, the difficulty of appropriating gains from investment in intangibles might create chronic under-investment in a market economy. Government will have to play an important role in sharing the risks. Finally, governments must also consider how to tackle the inequalities created by intangibles, one of which (insufficiently emphasised in this book) is the rise of super-dominant companies.

Messrs Haskel and Westlake have mapped the economics of a challenging new economy. It is a world in which many of the old rules do badly. We need to reimagine policy, carefully.

Oracle’s $43M Public High School


Tech companies ship all kinds of products to public schools: laptops, online writing programs, learn-to-code lessons and more.

Now Oracle, the business software services giant, is trying the opposite tack: bringing a public charter school to the company.

At its lush campus with a man-made lake here, Oracle is putting the finishing touches on a $43 million building that will house Design Tech High School, an existing charter school with 550 students. The sleek new school building has a two-story workshop space, called the Design Realization Garage, where students can create product prototypes. It has nooks in the hallways to foster student collaboration.

And when the school moves here in early January, Oracle employees will be available to mentor students in skills like business plan development and user-experience design.

“U.S. fourth-graders’ performance in reading literacy declined between 2011 and 2016” on the PIRLS

US National Center for Education Statistics::

The Progress In International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016 is the fourth administration of this international comparison since the initial administration in 2001. PIRLS is used to compare over time the reading skills of 4th-grade students and is designed to align broadly with reading curricula in the participating countries. The results, therefore, suggest the degree to which students have learned the reading concepts and skills likely to have been taught in school. In 2016, there were 58 education systems (including countries and other education systems) that participated at grade 4.

The focus of the report is on the performance of U.S. students relative to their peers in other education systems in 2016, and on changes in reading achievement since 2001. For a number of participating education systems, changes in achievement can be documented over the last 15 years, from 2001 to 2016.

In addition to framing the reading literacy of U.S. students within an international context, the report shows how the reading literacy of U.S. 4th-graders varies by student background characteristics and contextual factors that may be associated with reading proficiency. Following the presentation of results, a technical appendix describes the study design, data collection, and analysis procedures that guided the administration of PIRLS 2016 in the United States and in the other participating education systems.

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

Shocking Stat of the Day: From 80% of Kids to 9% in One Generation

Let Grow:

From the Policy Studies Institute work on “children’s independent mobility” in Britain comes this:


*Approximately half of children’s journeys were made on foot

*80% of 7- and 8-year-old children got to school unaccompanied by an adult



• 30% of children under ten years old are allowed to travel
alone to places (other than school) within walking distance

• 9% of 7- and 8-year-old children got to school
unaccompanied by an adult, whilst levels of car ownership and use were fairly similar

Why don’t we see this for what it is? A heist! We have STOLEN children’s freedom! They are transported from locked space to locked space like prisoners. And we are expected to be their jailers.

Lost Einsteins: The Innovations We’re Missing

David Leonhardt:

Much of human progress depends on innovation. It depends on people coming up with a breakthrough idea to improve life. Think about penicillin or cancer treatments, electricity or the silicon chip.

For this reason, societies have a big interest in making sure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to become scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs. It’s not only a matter of fairness. Denying opportunities to talented people can end up hurting everyone.

How the CIA made Google Inside the secret network behind mass surveillance, endless war, and Skynet—

Nafeez Ahmed:

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, western governments are moving fast to legitimize expanded powers of mass surveillance and controls on the internet, all in the name of fighting terrorism.

US and European politicians have called to protect NSA-style snooping, and to advance the capacity to intrude on internet privacy by outlawing encryption. One idea is to establish a telecoms partnership that would unilaterally delete content deemed to “fuel hatred and violence” in situations considered “appropriate.” Heated discussions are going on at government and parliamentary level to explore cracking down on lawyer-client confidentiality.

What any of this would have done to prevent the Charlie Hebdo attacks remains a mystery, especially given that we already know the terrorists were on the radar of French intelligence for up to a decade.

There is little new in this story. The 9/11 atrocity was the first of many terrorist attacks, each succeeded by the dramatic extension of draconian state powers at the expense of civil liberties, backed up with the projection of military force in regions identified as hotspots harbouring terrorists. Yet there is little indication that this tried and tested formula has done anything to reduce the danger. If anything, we appear to be locked into a deepening cycle of violence with no clear end in sight.

KIPP Houston, BBVA Compass reach $1.8M deal for campus naming rights

Jacob Carpenter:

L eaders of KIPP Houston and BBVA Compass on Monday celebrated a $1.8 million naming-rights agreement that will help fund the charter network’s newest campus.

Under the deal, which has been in the works for more than a year, the campus of KIPP Nexus on Houston’s northwest side will be called BBVA Compass Opportunity Campus. The agreement marks the first time a KIPP network has sold naming rights to a campus, continuing a slow-moving trend of schools selling naming rights to facilities as a way to generate revenue.

The Other Student Debt Crisis

David Scobey:

But the punitive policy is self-defeating. Far from strengthening repayment and retention, it erodes students’ capacity to persist, to graduate, to transfer or to re-enroll — and to repay what they owe. Most of those who stop out must soon add loan payments to the stressors that led to their unpaid balances in the first place. About one in six late payers have their accounts referred to collection agencies, which typically add fees of up to 30 percent.

A bursar’s hold, in short, is less likely to serve as the opening of a negotiation than as the closing of a door. It blocks the student’s access to past and future credits and the college’s access to revenues. “Strictly enforcing unpaid balances,” conclude the researchers at EAB, “is a lose-lose proposition for institutions and students.”

Beneath these impacts on revenues and retention lies a more basic problem. The punitive policy misrecognizes students, leading institutions to ignore much of what they know or could easily discover about those who owe money. Four-fifths stop out in good academic standing. Most have completed and paid for credits in previous semesters. And what they owe averages 10 to 20 percent of their unsettled bill.

The Death of Scholarship Leftists are limiting academic work to demonstrations of leftist dogma

Warren Treadgold:

Not so long ago, leftists on campus insisted that there was no discrimination against conservatives in academic hiring. They claimed professors were hired on the basis of merit (and “diversity”), and few if any meritorious (or “diverse”) conservatives wanted to be professors anyway. The left now has a new and better argument for not hiring or tolerating conservative professors, formulated by a former conservative—the University of Pennsylvania’s Damon Linker. Writing in the Week in August 2017, Linker claims that conservatives are not hired as professors in the humanities because they cannot produce “scholarship,” which “in our time is defined as an effort to make progress in knowledge.” Such progress requires addressing “the concerns of the present.” Specifically, Linker wrote that scholarship is needed “on such topics as ‘Class in Shakespeare,’ ‘Race in Shakespeare,’ ‘Gender in Shakespeare,’ ‘Transgender in Shakespeare,’” and so on. The problem, according to Linker, is that conservatives prefer to write on themes like “Love in Shakespeare” or “God in Shakespeare,” and “centuries of people have written and thought about” such things.

Improving Palliative Care with Deep Learning

Anand Avati*, Kenneth Jung, Stephanie Harman, Lance Downing, Andrew Ng, Nigam Shah:

We build a program using Deep Learning to automatically identify hospitalized patients having palliative needs

While 80% of Americans prefer to spend their final days in their home, only 20% actually do. More than 60% of deaths in the US happen in an accute care hospital, most of the patients receiving aggressive care in their final days. We build a program using Deep Learning to identify hospitalized patients with a high risk of death in the next 3-12 months by only inspecting their Electronic Health Record data. Such patients are automatically brought to the attention of the Palliative Care team with notifications. This helps the Palliative Care team to be engaged early enough to ensure patients have their Goals of Care recorded, and provide their services while it is still meaningful.

The Closing of the American Mind

Jacob Hamburger:

Allan Bloom was an elitist. He saw himself as a champion of excellence in an age of vulgarity. While a professor at the University of Chicago between 1979 and 1992, he sought to immerse his students in only the most classic works of philosophy and literature. Someone looking to define the “Western canon” could do worse than to dig up his course syllabi. In his personal style, he embodied high culture nearly to the point of caricature. His friend Saul Bellow captured him in the novel Ravelstein as a man who wore expensive European suits, lived in a Hyde Park apartment lavishly decorated with French art, and bragged of listening to Mozart on a state-of-the-art stereo system. A lifelong Francophile, he made regular jaunts to Paris over the course of four decades. Yet Bloom insisted that for all his erudition, he was merely a product of America’s democratic promise. Well into his fifties, he often spoke of himself as a simple “Midwestern boy,” the Indiana-born son of Jewish immigrants who received the best gift a meritocratic democracy could offer: a great education. Bloom thought of himself as proof that, thanks to its universities, anyone can make it in America.

So when thirty years ago Bloom addressed a group of Harvard students and faculty as “fellow elitists,” he was not being entirely ironic. The quip came in response to controversies surrounding his 1987 best seller The Closing of the American Mind, which defended an idiosyncratic vision of higher education in the United States. Bloom saw the liberal education traditionally offered at exclusive colleges and universities as the fulfillment of democratic ideals, but condemned his fellow professors for having abandoned this crucial responsibility. Closing received an onslaught of criticism for its “elitism,” particularly from fellow academics such as Richard Rorty and Martha Nussbaum, who also observed correctly that his book was at times rambling, historically sloppy and philosophically one-sided. Bloom in turn accused his critics of projecting their own intellectual privilege onto him. “‘Elite’ is not a word I care for very much,” Bloom explained. “It is imprecise and smacks of sociological abstraction.” But no matter how elites are defined—whether in terms of wealth, prestige or knowledge—it is clear that “bad conscience accompanies the democrat who finds himself part of an elite.” Bloom pushed back against this bad conscience by suggesting that academic elitism was in fact healthy for American democracy.

Like Tocqueville, whom he admired and cited incessantly, Bloom aimed to explore the ways in which the democratic principles of liberty and equality shape American society. Unlike the French aristocrat, however, Bloom based his observations on a far smaller sample: college students “materially and spiritually free to do pretty much what they want with the few years of college they are privileged to have—in short, the kind of young persons who populate the twenty or thirty best universities.” Bloom believed these students represented the best of a democratic society, mainly because they enjoyed an unparalleled form of liberty. One of the fundamental guarantees of democratic society is the freedom of self-determination, or the “pursuit of happiness.” Bloom saw the proper exercise of this freedom as something that a philosophical education can help teach—the pursuit of happiness, after all, presumably involves attempting to know what happiness is. An education in the humanities, like Chicago’s Core curriculum, allowed undergraduates to devote four years to literature and philosophy. Under the guidance of wise teachers and classic texts, they learned to challenge their most deeply held beliefs according to the highest standard of reason. This philosophical overhaul of the self, what Bloom referred to as “liberal education,” amounted to no less than the perfection of democratic autonomy. Not only, then, could elite college students choose a rewarding professional career after graduation, but more importantly, they had been given the most “authentic liberation” a democracy can provide.

The Baltimore Cops Studying Plato and James Baldwin

David Dagan:

Sitting in a classroom one day in September, a police officer studied a passage from James Baldwin’s 1966 essay on policing in Harlem, “A Report from Occupied Territory,” and read a few lines out loud: “Some school children overturned a fruit stand in Harlem. This would have been a mere childish prank if the children had been white … but these children were black, and the police chased them and beat them.”

An instructor, standing in the back of the room, pressed the cop for his reaction: “Tell me, does that give you any basis for our understanding of any modern circumstance?”

It was humanities hour at the city police department’s in-service training facility, and Detective Ed Gillespie was presiding, a gun on his hip and literature on his lips. Officer training is front and center in the national conversation about police reform, with advocates and progressive police departments alike promoting lessons on de-escalation, implicit bias, and the like. Gillespie thinks cops need something else, too: the humanities. In his classes, he teaches them Plato, Steinbeck, Dostoevsky, and Baldwin.

Federico García Lorca has often been criticized for exoticizing marginalized groups, but this translation finds new depth in his handling of race.

Bécquer Seguín :

In Poet in Spain, a new volume of translations of Federico García Lorca’s poetry by Sarah Arvio, we see a wide-ranging exhibition of Lorca’s curiosity about marginalized groups—from his fascination with 14th-century Persian poetry in The Tamarit Divan to his idealization of Andalusia’s Romani history in Gypsy Ballads. “I think that being from Granada inclines me toward a sympathetic understanding of persecuted peoples. Of gypsies, of blacks, of Jews, … of Moors, which we all carry inside,” he said in an interview in 1931.

Statements like these sometimes sit uncomfortably in the minds of contemporary readers for good reason. Lorca’s earnest interest in race as a subject can sometimes seem misguided, its simultaneous fixation on the essence, victimhood, and grandeur of other racial identities troubling. Such criticisms certainly have some truth to them. But it’s also true that Lorca’s poetry turned a sharp lens on Spain’s cultural diversity at a moment when Francisco Franco’s regime would soon push for ethnic and regional identities to be subsumed under a single idea of Spanishness. Whether revisiting Lorca’s views on race was Arvio’s main intention in composing this new volume, it’s hard to say. But her selection, deliberately or not, records the beginning, middle, and end of his poetic excavation of an alternative, multiethnic Spanish history.

How Reuters’s Revolutionary AI System Gathers Global News

Technology Review:

“The advent of the internet and the subsequent information explosion has made it increasingly challenging for journalists to produce news accurately and swiftly.” So begin the research and development team at the global news agency Reuters in a paper on the arXiv this week.

For Reuters, the problem has been made more acute by the emergence of fake news as an important factor in distorting the perception of events.

Nevertheless, news agencies such as the Associated Press have moved ahead with automated news writing services. These report standard announcements such as financial news and certain sports results by pasting the data into pre-written templates: “X reported profit of Y million in Q3, in results that beat Wall Street forecasts … ”

So there is significant pressure on other news agencies to automate news production. And today, Reuters outlines how it has almost entirely automated the identification of breaking news stories. Xiaomo Liu and pals at Reuters Research and Development and Alibaba say the new system performs well. Indeed, it has the potential to revolutionize the news business. But it also raises concerns about how such a system could be gamed by malicious actors.

How the Index Card Cataloged the World

Daniela Blei:

Like every graduate student, I once holed up in the library cramming for my doctoral oral exams. This ritual hazing starts with a long reading list. Come exam day, the scholar must prove mastery of a field, whether it’s Islamic art or German history. The student sits before a panel of professors, answering questions drawn from the book list.

To prepare for this initiation, I bought a lifetime supply of index cards. On each four-by-six rectangle, I distilled the major points of a book. My index cards—portable, visual, tactile, easily rearranged and reshuffled—got me through the exam.

Animated gifs on frugality regulations published


The top anti-graft body of the Communist Party of China (CPC) released 16 animated gifs on the eight-point frugality code to mark the fifth anniversary of the code’s release on Sunday. The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) published the gifs on its website, featuring the content and the significance of the code.

and here they are-http://www.ccdi.gov.cn/yw/201712/t20171203_112964.html 八项规定表情包来啦!, on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the release of the “8 regulations”

Indiana Should Lower the Compulsory Schooling Age

Shawnta Barnes:

The compulsory school age dictates when children must attend school according to each state’s law. In Indiana, the compulsory school start age is seven. Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, released her areas of focus for the next legislative session and lowering the compulsory age from seven to five is one of her priorities. I agree the age should be lowered, but I think we should aim for six instead five.

According to data pulled by Education Commission of the States and released in their November 2017 report, the most common school start age is six.

Parents protest over vermin infesting South Side elementary school

Juan Perez:

A persistent rodent problem and a string of failed health inspections at a South Side elementary school drove infuriated parents and community members to protest the building’s conditions on Thursday morning, leading to a brief confrontation outside the school.

“Our children should not even be in the building with mice,” Mollison Elementary School council member Yolanda Redman said, shortly after a group of adults was barred from entering the building. “This wouldn’t happen in any other community. It wouldn’t happen in Lincoln Park, it wouldn’t even happen in Hyde Park — and that’s right down the street.”

Civics: Apple, Google and Censorship on China


Apple has come under fire for cooperating with Chinese authorities in removing apps that give users there uncensored communications. In November, Apple complied with government orders to pull Microsoft Corp.’s Skype phone and video service from the Chinese version of its popular app store. Cook used an earnings call with investors to justify such moves, saying it obeyed the laws of the markets where it operates.

“Much has been said of the potential downsides of AI, but I don’t worry about machines thinking like humans. I worry about people thinking like machines,” he said. “We all have to work to infuse technology with humanity, with our values.”

The Six Laws of Technology Everyone Should Know

Christopher Sims:

Three decades ago, a historian wrote six laws to explain society’s unease with the power and pervasiveness of technology. Though based on historical examples taken from the Cold War, the laws read as a cheat sheet for explaining our era of Facebook, Google, the iPhone and FOMO.

You’ve probably never heard of these principles or their author, Melvin Kranzberg, a professor of the history of technology at Georgia Institute of Technology who died in 1995.

What’s a bigger shame is that most of the innovators today, who are building the services and tools that have upended society, don’t know them, either.

Fortunately, the laws have been passed down by a small group of technologists who say they have profoundly impacted their thinking. The text should serve as a foundation—something like a Hippocratic oath—for all people who build things.

1. ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral’

Michael Sacasas:

Dr. Melvin Kranzberg was a professor of the history of technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the founding editor of Technology and Culture. In 1985, he delivered the presidential address at the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology in which he explained what had already come to be known as Kranzberg’s Laws — “a series of truisms,” according to Kranzberg, “deriving from a longtime immersion in the study of the development of technology and its interactions with sociocultural change.”

I’ll list and summarize Kranzberg’s laws below, but first consider this argument by metaphor. Kranzberg begins his address by explaining the terms of the debate over technological determinism. He notes that it had become an “intellectual cliche” to speak of technology’s autonomy and to suppose that “the machines have become the masters of man.” This view, which he associated with Jacques Ellul and Langdon Winner, yielded the philosophical doctrine of technological determinism, “namely, that technology is the prime factor in shaping our life-styles, values, institutions, and other elements of our society.”

Wisconsin Accountability System Under the “Every Student Succeeds Act”

American Institutes for Research (AIR):

Wisconsin annually differentiates across all public schools based on scores for the individual federally-required accountability measures (not annual summative ratings for all schools/all students based on all indicators). Schools for comprehensive support and improvement, targeted support and improvement, and additional targeted support and improvement are identified using the following composite index (see also “School Improvement Categories”).

WI also proposes to maintain a “separate” state accountability system that incorporates additional accountability measures and generates an annual 1 to 5 star rating (see Appendix D of the Wisconsin ESSA State plan for additional details).

WI provides 3 composite index weighting schemes: schools in which English learners (ELs) make up at least 10% of the population, school in which ELs are less than 10% of the population but the minimum N size is met, and schools that do not meet the minimum EL N size.

Summary of State Accountability Snapshots.

Much more on the “Every Student Succeeds Act“.

Underscores, Optimization & Arms Races A dozen years ago, the web started to reshape itself around major companies like Google. We can understand the genesis of today’s algorithmic arms race against the tech titans just by looking at a single character.

Anil Dash:

By the time we realized that we’d gotten suckered into a neverending two-front battle against both the algorithms of the major tech companies and the destructive movements that wanted to exploit them, it was too late. We’d already set the precedent that independent publishers and tech creators would just keep chasing whatever algorithm Google (and later Facebook and Twitter) fed to us.
 Now, the challenge is to reform these systems so that we can hold the big platforms accountable for the impacts of their algorithms. We’ve got to encourage today’s newer creative communities in media and tech and culture to not constrain what they’re doing to conform to the dictates of an opaque, unknowable algorithm. We have to talk about the choices we made in those early days, even at risk of embarrassing ourselves by showing how naive we were about the influence these algorithms would have over culture.

Sara Goldrick-Rab wins Grawemeyer Award in Education

Janet Cappiello:

A Temple University professor who conducted painstaking research into the modern struggle to pay for a college education in the United States has won the 2018 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor in Temple University’s College of Education, published her findings in her award-winning 2016 book, “Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid and the Betrayal of the American Dream.”

In it, Goldrick-Rab finds that U.S. students have been left behind by soaring costs combined with a financial aid system that has not kept up with demand. The result is a generation that, during a time when a college education is ever more important, is unable to get ahead because of crushing debt and unfinished degrees.

Is it time to change the undergraduate curriculum?

Charles Day:

My two oldest nieces, Miriam and Sarah, are both 16. Later this year, they will start their respective searches for a place at college in earnest. Their experiences will be different, not just because Miriam is interested in science and Sarah is interested in teaching. Miriam lives in Conwy, an ancient town of 15 000 people in North Wales. Sarah lives in Olney, a Maryland suburb of 34 000 outside Washington, DC.
When it comes to undergraduates, the university systems of the UK and the US are significantly different. In the UK, students typically study just one subject for three years—physics, in my case. In the US, students spend less time studying a major; more on other subjects.

100 Black Men of Madison organizes toy drive for high school students who take care of their siblings

Amber Walker:

As some of Madison’s high school students balance classes, jobs and home responsibilities, two local organizations are lending a hand to ease their burden this holiday season.

The Madison chapter of 100 Black Men, in partnership with the United Way of Dane County, organized “Christmas for Children With Responsibilities.” The toy drive is for Madison high school students who are the primary caregivers for their younger siblings.

Now in its second year, the drive collects gift cards, new toys, books and games for kids ages 0-12. Care packages are assembled and discreetly distributed to the high school students to give to their younger siblings.

Much more on the 100 Black men, here.

Post-Act 10 teacher workforce stabilizes, but exodus of younger teachers troubling, study says

Annysa Johnson

According to the report released Friday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Forum, Wisconsin still has fewer teachers than it did before Act 10, which curtailed collective bargaining for public school teachers and most other public employees. However, overall turnover has diminished, and the supply of new teachers is sufficient to fill those slots, the report says.

Still, the report noted a troubling trend: a rise in the number of teachers who leave the profession before retirement age, particularly in the first five years.

In Wisconsin and especially Milwaukee, the departure of teachers in their 20s, 30s and 40s is growing steadily and accounts for the largest share of teacher turnover, according to the study — a trend that over time could put a greater pressure on teacher demand than that already created by shortages in the teacher pipeline.

Much more on Act 10, here.

A Call to Reform Undergraduate Education

Colleen Flaherty:

What was once a challenge of quantity in American undergraduate education is increasingly a challenge of educational quality. In other words, getting as many students as possible to attend college means little if they’re not learning what they need to and — crucially — if they don’t graduate. That’s the recurring message of a new report, “The Future of Undergraduate Education, The Future of America,” from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

More than a challenge, the report says, delivering on educational quality and completion is a must — not only for institutions but the country. The U.S. is more diverse and technology based than ever, and workers can expect to change careers multiple times, it says, perhaps eventually transitioning to jobs that don’t yet exist. College-educated Americans also enjoy a higher quality of life than their high school-educated peers across a variety of measures and are more able to pay off college debt.

Simply put, the report says, “The completion of a few college courses is not a sufficient education in the 21st century.”

Civics: Uber’s use of encrypted messaging may set legal precedents

Paresh Dave, Heather Somerville:

Top executives at Uber Technologies Inc used the encrypted chat app Wickr to hold secret conversations, current and former workers testified in court this week, setting up what could be the first major legal test of the issues raised by the use of encrypted apps inside companies.

The revelations Tuesday and Wednesday about the extensive use of Wickr inside Uber upended the high-stakes legal showdown with Alphabet’s Inc (GOOGL.O) Waymo unit, which accuses the ride-hailing firm of stealing its self-driving car secrets.

Can these Chicago high schools survive?

Juan Perez Jr. and Jennifer Smith Richards :

Between classes, Theron Averett Jr. walks past rooms stacked with empty desks and an off-limits area where he’s heard there’s an empty swimming pool. “I’ve never seen it,” he says. He climbs a stairwell where a rainbow-colored mural carries a two-word message for Tilden High School’s students: “Dream Big.”

Averett was one of 250 students enrolled this year at the South Side campus, which Chicago Public Schools says has room for about 1,900 students.

Dwindling enrollment has cut Tilden’s budget. The school now offers only a small slate of classes. Tilden’s football team forfeited most of its season for a lack of players, leaving homecoming without a game to celebrate. Last year’s graduating class, on average, scored 14.5 on the ACT, far short of what’s considered college-ready.

In Chicago, where funding follows students, Tilden is one of more than a dozen shrinking neighborhood high schools that has been starved of resources, leaving students like Averett to prepare for their futures in largely empty buildings that can make dreaming big a daily struggle.

“Why should we go without because of our student body?” asked Averett, who dreams of attending college and pursuing a career in law enforcement. “I feel like it’s unfair. We should get the high school treatment too. But, you know, it is what it is.”

The algorithms that seduce our children

Hannah Kuchler:

This holiday season, a seven-year-old called Ryan could be compiling your child’s Christmas list. By piling toys into a kid-sized hillock of consumerism, this YouTube sensation has attracted 9.7 million subscribers. “Ryan ToysReview”, started by his parents when Ryan was just three and a half, enjoys one of the largest followings on YouTube, on a par with popular influencers such as Zoella. Ryan now has his own Android app and has signed a deal with Pocket.Watch, a kid’s entertainment company, to create books and merchandise.

In his most famous video, which has almost 800 million views, his mum wakes Ryan from a red car-shaped bed, merchandise from the Disney movie Cars. She presents him with a Cars-branded egg the size of a pilates ball. Emerging from under a blanket with a Cars motif, he picks up an inflatable Cars-themed mallet and breaks the egg open to reveal toys. Behind the camera, his mother whoops and commentates.

Ryan ToysReview is one of a new youthful YouTube genre — others are EvanTubeHD and Hailey’s Magical Playhouse. Ryan himself makes the most of the memes that you only know if you have a small YouTube-watcher: the “surprise egg” with a grand reveal, the bad kid/bad baby joke, or the finger family, where he pretends his fingers are people. These memes help children to discover his channel. And once they have watched one surprise egg video, YouTube’s algorithm serves up more in the “Up Next” sidebar, where “surprise egg” has more than 10 million results.

The tech industry is under scrutiny for how its algorithms manipulate adults but little attention has been paid to how algorithms seduce children, who are far more susceptible than their parents. Children often lack the self-control or even the means to change the channel.

Elite colleges are making it easy for conservatives to dislike them

Jack Goldsmith, Adrian Vermeule:

Drew Gilpin Faust, the president of Harvard University, has been lobbying in Washington against a Republican proposal to tax large university endowments and make other tax and spending changes that might adversely affect universities. Faust says the endowment tax would be a “blow at the strength of American higher education” and that the suite of proposals lacks “policy logic.” Perhaps so, but they have a political logic. We hope that Harvard and other elite universities will reflect on their part in these developments.

The proposed tax and spending policies aimed at universities are surely related to the sharp recent drop in support by conservatives for colleges and universities. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, 58 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the way things are going in the country, a figure that has grown significantly in the past two years. This development likely reflects four related trends.

First is the obvious progressive tilt in universities, especially elite universities. At Harvard, for example, undergraduate students overwhelmingly identify as progressive or liberal and the faculty overwhelmingly gives to the Democratic Party. Even Harvard Law School, which has a handful of conservative scholars and a new conservative dean, is on the left end of law school faculties, which are themselves more progressive than the legal profession.

Some people really benefit from hearing advice that everyone knows

Patrick McKenzie

Your idea is not valuable, at all. All value is in the execution. You think you are an exception; you are not. You should not insist on an NDA to talk about it; nobody serious will engage in contract review over an idea, and this will mark you as clueless.

Technologists tend to severely underestimate the difficulty and expense of creating software, especially at companies which do not have fully staffed industry leading engineering teams (“because software is so easy there, amirite guys?”)

Charge more. Charge more still. Go on.

The press is a lossy and biased compression of events in the actual world, and is singularly consumed with its own rituals, status games, and incentives. The news necessarily fails to capture almost everything which happened yesterday. What it says is important usually isn’t.

Stanford University data glitch exposes truth about scholarship

Nanette Asimov:

Leaked documents from a Bermuda-based law firm, Appleby, show that schools have increasingly turned to secretive offshore investments, which let them swell their endowments with blocker corporations, and avoid scrutiny. (Max Whittaker/The New York Times)
A student discovered in February that the files were accessible to all business school students and employees, and informed the school about the vulnerability. He also downloaded the information and spent months studying financial aid data from 2008 to 2015. The result was a 378-page statistical analysis that revealed the difference between the school’s claim of fairly awarded scholarships and what it had actually been doing.

“All fellowships are need-based,” claims the school’s website, which was updated on Wednesday. Before then, the site included an assurance that the business school “does not offer merit-based scholarships.”

But it does discriminate — often favoring female applicants, international students, and those with backgrounds in finance, says the report by Adam Allcock, a Stanford business school student from the United Kingdom who found and analyzed the data. The school “represents its financial aid system to students as ‘non-merit-based,’ while operating it as ‘merit-based’ by secretly rating students and manually deciding how much (scholarship money) they should receive,” Allcock wrote in the analysis obtained by The Chronicle. He asked that the report not be shared publicly because he has returned the data to the school, which has not disputed its findings.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: playground for elites

Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox:

The revival of America’s core cities is one of the most celebrated narratives of our time—yet, perhaps paradoxically, urban progress has also created a growing problem of increasing inequality and middle-class flight. Once exemplars of middle-class advancement, most major American cities are now typified by a “barbell economy,” divided between well-paid professionals and lower-paid service workers. As early as the 1970s, notes the Brookings Institution, middle-income neighborhoods began to shrink more dramatically in inner cities than anywhere else—and the phenomenon has continued. Today, in virtually all U.S. metro areas, the inner cores are more unequal than their corresponding suburbs, observes geographer Daniel Herz.

Signs of this gap are visible. Homelessness has been on the rise in virtually all large cities, including Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, even as it declines elsewhere. Despite numerous exposés on the growth of suburban poverty, the poverty rate in core cities remains twice as high; according to the 2010 census, more than 80 percent of all urban-core population growth in the previous decade was among the poor. For all the talk about inner-city gentrification, concentrated urban poverty remains a persistent problem, with 75 percent of high-poverty neighborhoods in 1970 still classified that way four decades later.

The Model Book of Calligraphy (1561–1596)

Public Domain Review:

Pages from a remarkable book entitled Mira calligraphiae monumenta (The Model Book of Calligraphy), the result of a collaboration across many decades between a master scribe, the Croatian-born Georg Bocskay, and Flemish artist Joris Hoefnagel. In the early 1560s, while secretary to the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I, Bocksay produced his Model Book of Calligraphy, showing off the wonderful range of writing style in his repertoire. Some 30 years later (and 15 years after the death of Bocskay), Ferdinand’s grandson, who had inherited the book, commissioned Hoefnagel to add his delightful illustrations of flowers, fruits, and insects. It would prove to be, as The Getty, who now own the manuscript, comment, “one of the most unusual collaborations between scribe and painter in the history of manuscript illumination”. In addition to the amendments to Bocksay’s pages shown here, Hoefnagel also added an elaborately illustrated section on constructing the letters of the alphabet which we featured on the site a while back.

Does D.C. Charter Schools’ Autonomy Come at the Cost of Public Accountability? (How does this compare with traditional school governance?)

Rachel Cohen:

On a Monday night in late April, the D.C. Public Charter School Board convened for its monthly meeting with plans to vote on new charter school applications. One network, DC Preparatory Academy, submitted two requests for expansion: one to increase their student enrollment ceiling, and one to open a new elementary and middle school campus. Founded in 2003 and already operating five campuses, DC Prep is considered among the highest performing charter networks in the city. It was no surprise when the Charter Board’s staff recommended that the board vote in favor of the school’s proposals.

Yet around three hours into the meeting, when it finally came time to vote, board members started asking DC Prep leaders surprisingly tough questions. Board chairman Darren Woodruff noted that at DC Prep’s elementary campus in Anacostia, the out-of-school suspension rate stood at 6.9 percent, nearly double the charter sector’s average. And DC Prep’s Edgewood middle school campus, he said, had an out-of-school suspension rate of 27.9 percent, up from 18 percent the year before. For special education students, the suspension rate was dramatically higher—45 percent.

Woodruff was particularly troubled by the kindergarten suspensions. “I am struggling mightily to understand the logic behind suspending out-of-school 5-year-olds,” said Woodruff. “… I have been in education now for over 30 years and I can’t come up with an explanation that makes sense. I would love to hear anyone from your organization justify a 40 percent suspension rate for 5-year-olds who have disabilities. That’s the reason I will not vote for the expansion.”

The Two-Board Knot: Zoning, Schools, and Inequality

Salim Furth:

Old Town Road traces a choppy, swerving path that marks the southern edge of Trumbull, Connecticut. It is shaded by maples and oaks that frame the sensible New England homes of an affluent suburb. Across the double yellow lines of Old Town Road are similar homes in the city of Bridgeport, one of the poorest places in Connecticut.

Last July, Trumbull’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved a zoning change to allow a 202-unit apartment complex to replace a vacant office building a few blocks away from Old Town Road. Key to getting approval was that the apartment building was designed with only one- and two-bedroom units; the developer estimates that only 16 school-age children will live among the 202 new units.1 For Trumbull’s residents, eager to maintain their school district’s third-in-the-state ranking,2 a larger influx of potentially poor students might have been a deal-breaker.

According to Zillow’s estimate, the three-bedroom house at 1230 Old Town Road could sell for $287,000. Across the street in Bridgeport, a very similar home at 1257 Old Town Road is worth only $214,000. The Zillow interface helpfully informs the prospective buyer that any children living at 1230 Old Town Road have the right to attend Frenchtown Elementary School, rated 9 out of 10 by GreatSchools. Children on the south side of the street attend the Cross School, which rates a 2,3 and is part of the worst municipal school district in the state, according to the state’s own ranking.4

Madison’s non diverse K-12 governance model rejected the proposed indepedent Madison Preparatory IB Charter School. This, despite spending more than most (now nearly $20,000 per studentf) and tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

House GOP To Cap Amount Of Student Loans For Law School, Eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Douglas Belkin,
Josh Mitchell and
Melissa Korn

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives this week will propose sweeping legislation that aims to change where Americans go to college, how they pay for it, what they study and how their success — or failure — affects the institutions they attend.

The most dramatic element of the plan is a radical revamp of the $1.34 trillion federal student-loan program. It would put caps on borrowing by parents and students and eliminate some loan-forgiveness programs for students. …

As part of its plan to slow the growth of federal student loans, graduate students and parents of undergraduates would face so-far-unspecified caps on how much they could borrow for tuition and living expenses—instead of borrowing whatever schools charge. The change could cut into enrollment and potentially siphon off billions of dollars a year from universities.

The bill would also end loan-forgiveness programs for public-service employees, who currently can make 10 years of payments and then have their remaining debt forgiven, tax-free.

It would preserve an option known as “income-driven repayment,” which ties borrowers’ monthly bills to their earnings, but would eliminate the ability of borrowers to have balances forgiven under them. Currently, borrowers can make payments of 10% or 15% of their discretionary incomes—as determined by a formula—and have remaining balances forgiven after 20 or 25 years. Under the bill, borrowers would pay 15% of discretionary incomes for as long as it took to cover the amount they would have paid under a 10-year standard repayment plan. Current participants in both programs would be grandfathered in.

Confessions from A Recovering Academic; Or, The Problems with Proffered Solutions To N.J.’s Segregated Schools (with apologies to Emily Dickinson)

Laura Waters:

The Civil Rights Project has a new academic paper out called “New Jersey’s Segregated Schools Trends and Paths Forward,” a follow-up to a report on the same subject supplemented by new data from 2010-2015. This release of this report has been dutifully covered by N.J. traditional media outlets (see the Star-Ledger, NJ Spotlight,, NJ Today) by reciting a few talking points: N.J. is more diverse than it used to be — there’s a “remarkable increase in the proportion of students attending multiracial schools over the past twenty-five years” — but we’re still the sixth most segregated school system in the nation; one-fourth of Black students attend schools where enrollment is 90 percent non-white; the Abbott rulings, which direct vast amounts of money towards 31 poor districts, (some no longer poor) erased funding inequities (um, not really) but did nothing to integrate schools;

Marriage-material Style: How China’s Young Females Hunt Husbands Through Self-Betterment

Elephant Room:

For the majority of us including me and Yan, the persons in these photos are entirely different individuals with unique backgrounds and life trajectories. Besides the facts that they are all pretty and relatively young, what else? What’s the point of placing them together at the beginning of an article (Elephant Room is not a platform for showcasing pretty young Asian girls, in case you are new…) ?

Well oh well, Ladies and Gentlemen –

May we have the honor to introduce you Marriage-material Style 好嫁风, an emerging Chinese fashion and life style aims to educate, help and incubate young females to become – well guess what – marriage materials.

Estonian official: Cyber must be part of core military education

Aaron Mehta:

NATO’s nations need to work to incorporate cyber training into their overall military strategy as opposed to treating it as a specialty, according to a top Estonian military official.

“The knowledge of cyber must be spread out into a larger, conventional force,” Col. Kaupo Rosin, Estonia’s chief of military intelligence, told Defense News during a recent visit here.

Rosin raised his concern that within Estonia, the military academies are not teaching cyber in that context. That’s part of a broader trend that has stretched across NATO’s members in which cyber is seen as a specialty and not part of an integrated, core curriculum.

Cornell University Is Investigating This Controversial Research About Eating Behaviors

Stephanie Lee:

Cornell University has launched an investigation into the work of Brian Wansink, the food behavior and marketing expert who has come under fire for scientific misconduct allegations over the last year, BuzzFeed News has learned.

“An internal investigation by the University is underway, in compliance with our internal policies and any external regulations that may apply,” Vice President for University Relations Joel Malina said by email on Tuesday.

The school declined to share any more details, including exactly when the investigation began, how many papers are being reviewed, or whether the investigation involves the federal Office of Research Integrity.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison’s high property taxes

Ann Althouse:

One of many reasons we left Seattle after my husband retired was for lower property taxes,” writes mockturtle in the comments to my post about the GOP tax bill, where I mention that Meade and I pay more than $17,000 in property taxes on our house in Madison.

We’re still here, so that means that so far with think it’s worth it, but the high property tax does bother us, and when we think about where else we might want to live, taxation is a factor. But I care a lot about living somewhere that is interesting to me, and I want a house where I can walk out the door and, right from that point, have many interesting walks.

One of the places I’d consider is the one mockturtle says she left: Seattle. Washington State has the benefit of no income tax, but obviously the revenue must be found in some other way.

Sure, there are lots of places with low taxes, but name one where I’d enjoy living. We have many things here that we love, and I would not move to a worse place. $17,000 is a lot, but only the last $X thousand is spent on things I’d carve off the budget if I were given the power to structure the whole thing. And if they tried to hand that power over to me, I wouldn’t even take it. That’s not my line of work and not my expertise or my joy in life.

Madison schools spend far more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student. This, despite long term, disastrous reading results.

What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages

James Manyika, Susan Lund, Michael Chui, Jacques Bughin, Jonathan Woetzel, Parul Batra, Ryan Ko, and Saurabh Sanghvi :

The technology-driven world in which we live is a world filled with promise but also challenges. Cars that drive themselves, machines that read X-rays, and algorithms that respond to customer-service inquiries are all manifestations of powerful new forms of automation. Yet even as these technologies increase productivity and improve our lives, their use will substitute for some work activities humans currently perform—a development that has sparked much public concern.

Building on our January 2017 report on automation, McKinsey Global Institute’s latest report, Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation (PDF–5MB), assesses the number and types of jobs that might be created under different scenarios through 2030 and compares that to the jobs that could be lost to automation.

The results reveal a rich mosaic of potential shifts in occupations in the years ahead, with important implications for workforce skills and wages. Our key finding is that while there may be enough work to maintain full employment to 2030 under most scenarios, the transitions will be very challenging—matching or even exceeding the scale of shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing we have seen in the past.

A Comprehensive List of How Texans Mispronounce Places With Spanish Names

John Nova Lomax:

The Texas map draws inspiration from as many cultures as any state in America. There’s Czech: Praha, Moravia, Dubina. And German: Breslau, New Baden, New Ulm, and New Braunfels, to name just a few. Scattered across the landscape are small towns with names coming from the Polish (Panna Maria), Swiss (New Bern), Norwegian (Oslo), Danish (Danevang) and Russian (Marfa, Odessa) pioneers who got there first. Plus, to visit most of the great European cities, you never have to leave the Lone Star state: We’ve got Paris, Rome, Athens, New London, Berlin, and Dublin (plus Edinburg if you’ve forgive the un-Scotsman-like spelling).

But aside from family names and others deriving from English and Native American sources (Comanche, Quanah, and anything with Caddo attached), Spanish is the most common wellspring of inspiration for our place names. Often as not, we Texans butcher it, whether we are referring to a town or a street or a river. (Although maybe not so often as those Californians do.)

Yes, we get a few right. We completely nail Laredo, Del Rio, Seguin, Comal (as in the county), and aside from some emphasis and flattened vowels, mostly do okay with El Paso, San Antonio, Bandera, and Concho (again, as in the county). Bosque County is sort of a typically Texan hybrid: locals pronounce it “boskie,” which is close to the Spanish “bose-kay,” but not all the way there, yet nevertheless much closer than “bosk” or “boss-cue,” to rhyme with barbecue.

Little House, Small Government

Vivian Gornick:

Caroline Fraser’s Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder is an impressive piece of social history that uses the events of Wilder’s life to track, socially and politically, the development of the American continent and its people. The frontier, by definition, has always been a place just beyond the point where land meets sky. In America that longing to move beyond the horizon, which is common to all cultures, became not only synonymous with an idea of the national character, but a vital ingredient in the American brand of democracy. The historian Frederick Jackson Turner ardently believed, in fact, that “that restless, nervous energy, that dominant individualism” attributed to the frontier was the major influence on American democracy’s development.

What the people in the covered wagons did not grasp was that to a large extent they were pawns in the hands of political and business interests—especially those of the railroads—that needed to see ground broken across the entire continent. The pioneers never understood the hucksterism behind the “go west, young man” rhetoric that urged them to go where none had gone before, with no hard knowledge of what actually lay before them. All the pioneers knew—in their fantasies, that is—was that just over the horizon lay adventure, opportunity, possible wealth, and certain freedom.

The first Homestead Act, passed in 1862, promised 160 acres of uninhabited land (forget the Native Americans who were actually there) to anyone who would clear and farm it for a good five years. And indeed, by the turn of the twentieth century 270 million acres of land—about 10 percent of the American continent—had been given away to 1.6 million people. What the Act did not say was that to reach this land one had to journey through hell; live for years like an animal; and then deal forever with the torments of wolves, blizzards, tornadoes, failed crops, swarms of locusts, isolation, and penetrating loneliness. The unpublicized reality was that more lives were broken on the frontier than prospered, more homesteads abandoned, more miners exploited and cheated, more ranchers killed as they defended their cattle. Nevertheless, the settlers kept coming and coming and coming. For the most part they were people like Wilder’s father, Charles Ingalls, a man who saw the trek west as a chance to reimagine himself every time his homesteading failed (which it did repeatedly) and the family was back in the covered wagon, heading out once more into the place where others were not.

Frugal alum gives Thomas More students 13 million reasons to say thanks

Jim Stingl:

In life, Leonard Gigowski ran a corner grocery store. The bachelor loved ballroom dancing and pigeon racing.

In death, he found a way to help generations of students pay their tuition at St. Thomas More High School, his own alma mater back when it was called St. Francis Minor Seminary.

This quiet and frugal man left $13 million in a scholarship fund that covers up to half the tuition for needy students who don’t qualify for the private school choice program and its state aid payments.

“He lived a very simple life, nothing extravagant whatsoever in his lifestyle. For the most part, he saved his money and wanted to provide a legacy, which he did,” said Larry Haskin, Leonard’s lawyer and friend who helped him set up the Leonard Gigowski Catholic Education Foundation.