Schools fret as teens take to vaping, even in classrooms

Collin Binkley:

Sneaking a cigarette in the school bathroom? How quaint. Today’s teens have taken to vaping, an alternative to smoking that’s so discreet they can do it without even leaving the classroom.

Health and education officials across the country are raising alarms over wide underage use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products.

The devices heat liquid into an inhalable vapor that’s sold in sugary flavors like mango and mint – and often with the addictive drug nicotine. They’re marketed to smokers as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, but officials say they’re making their way to teens with surprising ease.

A new wave of smaller vapes has swept through schools in recent months, officials say, replacing bulkier e-cigarettes from the past. It’s now common in some schools to find students crowded into bathrooms to vape, or performing vape tricks in class.

U.S. is way behind other nations on workers’ readiness for jobs of the future, report says

Washington Post:

Guido Jouret, ABB’s chief digital officer, singled out the U.S. education system, which pushes students toward two- or four-year degrees. Colleges tend to be less nimble when it comes to keeping up with technological changes, and companies will seek workers who can adapt to cutting-edge developments.

Germany, in contrast, encourages technical training, which is generally more reactive to immediate employer needs. In that country, 60% of young adults train as apprentices in manufacturing, IT, banking, construction and other fields, compared with 5% in the United States.

“We lack this vocational training track,” said Jouret, who works in San Francisco.

Susan Lund, a labor economist at the global consulting firm McKinsey, said U.S. students tend to feel more pressure to take the university route, even if it’s outside their budget.

“Not everyone needs a four-year college degree,” she said. “We could do a lot to build more career pathways. Even just skill-credentialing to enable people to get a basic, entry-level job.”

In China, meanwhile, the government is updating public education to prioritize creativity, rather than acing standardized tests. One 2015 public policy experiment in Shanghai gave students another chance to take a college admission exam, which was meant to curb stress and reduce the focus on memorization.

“They are considering relaxing exam pressure,” Harry Patrinos, practice manager for education, East Asia and Pacific at the World Bank, is quoted as saying in the ABB report.

Economists say such efforts are aimed at training children and young adults to value independent thinking over regurgitation — a trait robots can’t yet replicate.

Then, there’s reading.

Long a center for Chinese studies, UW-Madison to host language, culture conferences this week

Pat Schneider:

Hundreds of scholars of Chinese language and culture will gather at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, long a center for Chinese studies, on May 5 and May 6 for a pair of prestigious international conferences.

It will be the 26th annual meeting for the International Association of Chinese Linguistics and the 20th International Conference on Chinese Language and Culture. Scholars from all over the world are expected to attend.

“UW-Madison has been one of the most important centers for Chinese studies for several decades,” said Hongming Zhang, a professor of Asian languages and cultures on campus and organizer of the conferences.

Minnesota Department of Human Rights reaches agreements with ten school districts, charter schools to reduce disparities in suspensions for students with disabilities, students of color, charges filed against 2 districts


Today, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) announced it has reached collaborative agreements with 10 Minnesota public school districts and charter schools to reduce the disparities in suspension and expulsion rates for students with disabilities and students of color and two school districts received charges of discrimination for educational discrimination.

The school districts and charter schools with settlement agreements include: Bloomington School District, Cass Lake-Bena School District, Mankato School District, North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale, Robbinsdale School District, Best Academy Charter School, Dugsi Academy Charter School, Mastery Academy Charter School, Prairie Seeds Academy Charter School , and St. Paul City Charter School. The Department is continuing negotiations with additional school districts and charter schools and anticipates announcing another round of Agreements in the coming weeks.

“I want to thank the leaders of these 10 districts and charter schools for coming to the table, having productive conversations, and identifying their own solutions tailored to their independent communities to address the state-wide problem of disparities in discipline. These leaders are not alone with dealing with these disparities—but they are the first to stand up, lean in and drive toward solutions. In our meetings with school districts and charter schools, we heard time and again that Minnesota can do more to support our educators and students to achieve success in the classroom and in life. Kids simply can’t learn if they are not in school. These agreements are a crucial step in ensuring we are doing all we can to help Minnesota students develop their interpersonal and learning skills so they can thrive,” said MDHR Commissioner Kevin Lindsey.

Emotional support animals proliferate at Yale

Jacob Sweet:

If you walked into the Grace Hopper College courtyard last year, you may have seen a cat on a leash. Last fall you might have seen a dog; this semester, there are two of them scurrying around Hopper.

These are emotional support animals. While Yale College does not allow students to live with pets on campus, University Policy 4400 allows students to live with emotional support animals, also called assistance animals, “on a case-by-case basis in a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability.”

Last year, there was one registered support animal on Yale’s campus, a kitten named Sawa. There are now 14 — a number that Sarah Chang, associate director of the Resource Office on Disabilities, expects to rise.
“If what has played out at other schools is true, then yes, [there will be] a lot more,” Chang said. “I do think we’re going to see a large increase in numbers, definitely.”

Emotional support animals require no training. They don’t even have to be dogs. Their purpose is to provide a therapeutic benefit through companionship. At Yale, there are emotional support dogs, emotional support cats and even an emotional support hedgehog. All members of the class of 2021 were asked on the first-year housing survey whether they would be agreeable to sharing a suite with a student who has an emotional support animal or service animal.

Explicit Questions Just The “Tip” of School Problems.

Juliette Dryer:

fter he found an inappropriate question in his daughter’s homework assignment.

Omar Austin told First Coast News that when his daughter, an eleventh grader at Westside High School, first read him the question, he thought it was a joke.

“Those type of questions should be left for reality TV and soap operas, not an eleventh grader’s anatomy class,” Austin said.

The question reads as follow:

In a medical first, drugs have reversed an inherited disorder in the womb

Antonio Reglado:

The injection of a protein at just the right moment during pregnancy appears to have spared a set of twins—and one other child—from being born without sweat glands.

The daring pregnancy intervention is being described as the first time a drug has been used to treat a developmental disorder in utero.

The experiment, described in a case report today in the New England Journal of Medicine, took place in Germany in 2016 at a clinic that specializes in rare, inherited skin diseases—particular one called XLHED, in which patients are born with fang-like front teeth and without the ability to sweat.

The problem: their bodies don’t produce a specific protein required to make sweat glands.

The German clinic, at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, had already participated in a clinical study testing a protein replacement treatment in young children.

But the drug did nothing for the children, the study was abandoned, and the drug maker, Edimer Pharmaceuticals, shut down.

With their way of life in jeopardy, dairy farmers search for ways to stabilize markets

Rick Barrett:

“It’s a fair representation of what true life is,” Stokes said. “I cannot expose my kids to anything more real than the struggles, the benefits and the responsibility we all take in it.”

That’s a tall order these days for many farmers. Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms in 2017, and about 150 have quit milking cows so far this year, putting the total number of milk-cow herds at around 7,600 — down 20 percent from five years ag

Watch: Roomful of Rich, White NYC Parents Get Big Mad at Plan to Diversify Neighborhood’s Schools

Anne Branigin:

In an effort to fight that trend, which has only gotten worse thanks to gentrification, rising income and wealth inequality throughout the city’s five boroughs, schools on the Upper West Side—one of the wealthiest and whitest sections of Manhattan—are looking to adopt a plan that would require all local middle schools to reserve a quarter of their seats for students who score below grade level on state English and math tests.

The plan is designed to make Upper West Side schools more reflective of New York City’s diverse demographics, and make sure underprivileged students have access to the sorts of advantages and resources that the neighborhood’s well-funded schools can provide.

Where is the outrage on Wisconsin‘s achievement gap? And Madison…

Alan Borsuk:

There was not much reaction and certainly no surge of commitment and effort.

Jump ahead to now. Everything that was true in 2004 remains true.

NAEP scores come out generally every two years and a new round was released a few days ago. The scores for Wisconsin stayed generally flat and were unimpressive. Wisconsin’s ranking compared to other states has slid gradually for many years. Broken down by ethnic and racial groups, Wisconsin does worse than the national averages in every grouping, including that white kids do worse than white kids nationwide.

But other places are making more progress than Wisconsin, and that, too, has been true for years. If you’re into this subject, you are betting I’m about to mention Massachusetts and Florida. You win. Both of those states have been determined, consistent, and rigorous overall in pursuing strategies to improve reading scores. They are far from perfect, but we ought to be learning more from them.

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

Wisconsin, unlike Massachusetts, has just one (barely) teacher content knowledge requirement, manifested by the Foundations of Reading examination.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has recently attempted to “dumb down” the Foundations of Reading requirement. The DPI is lead by Tony Evers, who is also running for governor.

A Capitol conversation on Wisconsin’s reading challenges (2011!).

“Too often, according to Mark Seidenberg’s important, alarming new book, “Language at the Speed of Sight,” Johnny can’t read because schools of education didn’t give Johnny’s teachers the proper tools to show him how”.

Students pressure Brown to invite more conservative speakers

Toni Airaksinen:

Unlike some other efforts to promote viewpoint diversity, SPEAK does not plan to directly invite conservatives or libertarians to lecture on campus. Instead, the coalition—which now includes roughly 20 students—aims to pressure the administration into doing the heavy lifting for them.

“Early on we decided that rather than try to invite a couple speakers ourselves, we would press the University to change the ideological makeup of the couple hundred speakers that they invite every semester,” Brigham told Campus Reform (emphasis his).

To do this, SPEAK researched the political affiliations of all 237 speakers the Brown University administration brought to campus in 2017, of which 95.4 percent were identified as having a “left-lean,” according to SPEAK’s inaugural March 21 report.

More specifically, of the 198 speakers who came to speak on American political topics in particular—times during which a speakers’ political affiliation might be more salient to students—93.4 percent leaned to the left.

Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Bill Lee Serving as Lead Trial Lawyer in Affirmative Action Lawsuit

Delano Franklin & Samuel Zwickel:

Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow William F. Lee ’72 is serving as the lead trial lawyer for an affirmative action lawsuit against the University and has recused himself from the Corporation’s discussions regarding the suit since he took on this role, Lee said in an interview Monday.

“About a year ago, I actually recused myself from any Corporation discussion of the case so that I can act as a lawyer for Harvard in the case,” Lee said.

“I literally step out of the room,” he added.

Lee has been a member of the 13-person Harvard Corporation since 2010. He is also a partner at WilmerHale, the law firm representing the University in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit in question was filed against the University in 2014 by the anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions. It alleges the College illegally discriminates against Asian Americans in its admissions process. The College has consistently denied the allegations, arguing it “does not discriminate against applicants from any group in its admissions processes.”

Acting in his capacity as the University’s lawyer, Lee penned an April 9 letter calling the Justice Department’s intervention in the lawsuit “perplexing” and “entirely unnecessary.” The Justice Department filed a briefing April 6 asking the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts to unseal previously confidential admissions documents and information.

The IQ trap: how the study of genetics could transform education

Philip Ball:

The appointment – followed, eight days later, by the resignation – of Toby Young to the board of the government’s new Office for Students in January was only the latest in a series of controversial interventions in education for the self-styled Toadmeister (Young’s Twitter handle). Having established his media profile on a platform of comments guaranteed to rile the “politically correct” (sexism, homophobia, that sort of thing), he began to reinvent himself as an educationalist through his initiatives on free schools – and he has been raising hackles in that sphere too. Things came to a head late last year when an article that Young wrote for the charity Teach First on intelligence and genetics was withdrawn from the organisation’s website on the grounds that it was “against what we believe is true and against our values and vision”. Young’s article summarised – rather accurately – the current view on how genes affect children’s IQ and academic attainment, and concluded that there is really not much that schools can do at present to alter these seemingly innate differences.

That affair is now coloured by the disclosure that Young had advocated “progressive eugenics” as a way to boost intelligence in a 2015 article in the Australian magazine Quadrant. The flames were fanned by Private Eye’s account of how Young attended what was widely labelled a “secret eugenics conference” at University College London that featured speakers with extremist views.

Count Dankula and the death of free speech

Brendan O’Neill:

On freedom of speech, Britain has become the laughing stock of the Western world. People actually laugh at us. I recently gave a talk in Brazil on political correctness and I told the audience about the arrest and conviction of a Scottish man for publishing a video of his girlfriend’s pug doing a Nazi salute for a joke and they laughed. Loudly. Some of them refused to believed it was true. I found the news report on my iPhone and showed them. They laughed again. Brazilians, inhabitants of a nation not that long out of military dictatorship, are shocked at how illiberal Britain has become.

As we should be, too. Censorship in this country is out of control. Yesterday, that ‘Nazi pug’ man, Martin Meechan, often referred to by his YouTuber name Count Dankula, received his sentence for making a joke in a video: an £800 fine. A criminal record and a fine for taking the piss out of a pug. Or as the law defines it, in the 2003 Communications Act Mr Meechan was charged under, for being ‘grossly offensive’. The British state now punishes citizens for offensive humour, for tasteless jokes. Let’s hope no cop ever overhears the off-colour joke you might make in the pub or you could be had up for jokecrimes, too. We should be as alarmed about this as my Brazilian audience was.

“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” — Clay Shirky

Kevin Kelly:

Unions, or example. Unions were a brilliant solution to the problem of capital management which tended to exploit uncapitalized workers. But over time as capital increased in complexity, unions complexified as well, until unions needed management. The two became one system — union/management. So now the problem with unions is that they are locked into the old framework, the old system. They inadvertently perpetuate the continuation of the problem (management) they are the solution to because as long as unions exists, companies feel they need management to offset them, and so the two became co-dependent. In effect problems and solutions tend become a single system.

Real People Are Turning Their Accounts Into Bots On Instagram

Alex Kantrowitz:

In late February, an Instagram account called Viral Hippo posted a photo of a black square. There was nothing special about the photo, or the square, and certainly not the account that posted it. And yet within 24 hours, it amassed over 1,500 likes from a group that included a verified model followed by 296,000 people, a verified influencer followed by 228,000, a bunch of fitness coaches, some travel accounts, and various small businesses. “I really love this photo,” one commented.
 The commenter wasn’t a bot; nor were any of the accounts that liked the black square. But their interest in it wasn’t genuine. These were real people, but not real likes — none of them clicked on the like button themselves. Instead, they used a paid service that automatically likes and comments on other posts for them. Instagram says this is against its terms of service, but it continues to operate. It’s called Fuelgram and, for a few dollars a month and access to your Instagram log-in credentials, it will use the accounts of everyone who paid that sum to like and comment on your posts — and it will use yours to do the same to theirs.
 In other words, Fuelgram creates fake engagement from real Instagram accounts. And it’s quite effective. Fuelgram makes posts appear more popular than they are, tricking Instagram’s algorithm into spreading them further, sometimes right into the service’s high-profile Explore tab. And there’s a reasonable chance there’s one in your feed right now, because Fuelgram is just one of a number of Instagram-juicing services available today, and the photo-sharing platform’s engagement-rewarding algorithm incentivizes people to use it.

A Silicon Valley coding school — with no teachers

Hannah Kuchler:

Wearing a black hoodie and a beaded bracelet on his tattooed arm, Ian Liu-Johnston tells me how he landed his first job as a software engineer at LinkedIn.

He told the interviewers he had hacked his college, the Holberton School in San Francisco. “They thought it was awesome,” he says.

The hacking showed he was skilled at finding problems in systems. First, he had hacked into the software that marked students’ work, to play at manipulating his grades. Then he discovered the source code for an extra project and figured that, since the hack showed his engineering skills, it was “appropriate” to use the map of how the software worked to get the extra credit. Finally, he set an alarm on the school’s computers to play Moby’s “Bring Sally Up”, a popular accompaniment to push-up challenges, at the school’s daily 11.30am meeting.

Which State Will Be the First to Suffer Fiscal Collapse?

Dan Mitchell:

Technically, I don’t think bankruptcy is even possible since there’s no provision for such a step in federal law.

But it’s still an interesting issue, so I decided to create a poll on the question. To make it manageable, I limited the selection to 10 states, all of which rank poorly in one of more of the surveys listed above. And, to avoid technical quibbles, the question is about “fiscal collapse” rather than bankruptcy, default, or bailouts. Anyhow, as they say in Chicago, vote early and vote often.

Madison O’Keeffe Middle School students work with local restaurants for ‘Top Chef’-style competition

Amber Walker:

Love the squash curry from Lao Laan-Xang or the duck fat fries from A Pig in a Fur Coat? Some Madison middle school students are learning to prepare some of the city’s favorite dishes while raising money to improve their school.

On Thursday, Georgia O’Keeffe Middle School will host its third annual “Top Chef” fundraiser. The event is free and open to the public and takes place at the school, 510 S. Thornton Ave., from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Over 30 O’Keeffe students trained with local chefs to learn how to prepare a dish for the competition. Similar to the Bravo television show of the same name, a panel of celebrity judges will sample each dish and decide which group will earn the “Top Chef” title.

How Europe’s New Privacy Rules Favor Google and Facebook

Sam Schechner and Nick Kostov:

When the European Union’s justice commissioner traveled to California to meet with Google and Facebook last fall, she was expecting to get an earful from executives worried about the Continent’s sweeping new privacy law.

Instead, she realized they already had the situation under control. “They were more relaxed, and I became more nervous,” said the EU official, Věra Jourová. “They have the money, an army of lawyers, an army of technicians and so on.”

‘Being Not-Rich’: Low-Income Students at Michigan Share Savvy Advice

Emma Kerr:

An online guide to “Being Not-Rich” on the University of Michigan’s flagship campus has been annotated with dozens of comments and suggestions from students and faculty and staff members since the Google Doc began spreading in January.

Eager contributors have suggested the best part-time jobs in Ann Arbor, warned of tax pitfalls to work-study programs, and recommended good deals for eating and drinking: Taco Tuesday at Cantina, $1 well drinks at Rick’s American Cafe.

At a university with a median family income of $154,000 — highest among its peer institutions — the guide fills a need for help in sifting through resources and making connections to other low-income students.

“There’s this assumption that everyone here is wealthy,” Lauren Schandevel, a junior and a creator of the guide, told The Chronicle. “Most of the resources here are geared toward that kind of student. U of M hasn’t been able to accommodate these new students coming in who might not be the traditional, legacy, white, affluent students.”

The key aspect of the guide is its accessibility, Schandevel said. Some of the advice is anecdotal, but all of it, she said, is based on experience.

The last man who knew everything

Matthew Walther:

Baring-Gould was born in Exeter in 1834 to the daughter of an admiral and a former lieutenant in an Indian cavalry regiment. Much of his early life was spent in continental travel with his family. A sickly child, he attended school for two noncontiguous years and was otherwise instructed by private tutors. After taking his degree from Clare College, Cambridge, he worked briefly as a schoolmaster before receiving Anglican orders in 1864. By this time he had already begun his immense writing career, contributing 17 installments of Orœfa-dal, a novel about medieval Iceland, to a magazine edited by friends.

Readers will naturally ask how it was possible for one man to accumulate such a wide and various mass of knowledge, and to distill it into millions of published words. The two activities cannot be understood independently; in the age of instant publication via the internet it has become a cliché, but Baring-Gould seems to have been the sort of person who really did go through life without ever having an unpublished, or at least unwritten, thought. He wrote compulsively, with an almost inhuman energy, sitting down — or rather getting up: He was an early proponent of the standing desk phenomenon — to work every day and not leaving off until he felt he had finished. His daily quota was invariably one complete chapter, which often meant as much as 3,000 words. When he had completed a book, he would make his own fair copy and send it off to the publishers. Within a week he would be working on something else. It was this need to write that seems to have been the driving force behind his reading as much as his insatiable curiosity.

It would have been very easy to have written a biography of so prolific a writer that read like a puffed up, if judiciously annotated bibliography. Tope manages somehow to avoid such an obvious pitfall by placing her subject in the political and religious context of his era without allowing him to be subsumed into history or his work.

The result is among other things a very moving, if to modern ears somewhat exasperating, love story. Baring-Gould met his wife, Grace, while serving as curate of Horbury Bridge in Yorkshire. The daughter of a mill hand, she was considered by her eventual husband’s ecclesiastical superior somewhat unsuited to the role of vicar’s wife and was sent to York to receive instruction in the art of being a middle-class Englishwoman. To this tutelage she meekly submitted, and the couple were married in 1868. Together they had 15 children, of whom all but one survived to adulthood. When his wife died in 1916, Baring-Gould asked that her tombstone be engraved with the phrase Dimidium animae meae (“Half my soul”).

Schoolhouse sex assault

Associated Press:

Student-on-student sexual assault is not just a problem on college campuses. It threatens thousands of kids a year in elementary, middle and high schools across America. Rich or poor, urban or rural, no type of school is immune.

The great exodus out of America’s blue cities

Kristin Tate:

A route from California to Texas, for example, is more than twice as expensive as a route from Texas to California. Want to go from Los Angeles to Dallas? $2,558. Returning back? $1,232. Texas is the No. 1 state people move trucks to, with states like Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Colorado rounding out the top 10. The states people are fleeing? New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois — and at the top, California.

These facts are not coincidences. In fact, in 2016 the Golden State lost almost 143,000 net residents to other states — that figure is an 11 percent increase from 2015. Between 2005 and 2015, Los Angeles and San Francisco alone lost 250,000 residents. The largest socioeconomic segment moving from California is the upper-middle class. The state is home to some of the most burdensome taxes and regulations in the nation. Meanwhile, its social engineering — from green energy to wealth redistribution — have made many working families poorer. As California begins its long decline, the influx outward is picking up in earnest.

Teacher Compensation and Strike sentiment

Education Next:

A new NPR/Ipsos poll finds that just 1 in 4 Americans believe teachers in this country are paid fairly and 3 in 4 Americans believe that teachers have the right to strike.

The 2017 EdNext Poll found that the public’s views on teacher pay sometimes changed when respondents were given accurate information about what teachers are currently paid.

When asked whether teacher salaries should be raised, no fewer than 61% of Americans are in favor. But when told what teachers currently earn, the level of support drops to 36%

This finding has persisted over time.

Just as per pupil spending is much higher than people think, so is the average teacher paid much better than members of the public estimate. When respondents were asked in 2016 to estimate the average teacher salary in their state, their guesses were, on average, 30% lower than the $57,000 average teacher pay reported by the National Education Association, the organization that collects the best available information on this topic.

Inasmuch as people, on average, think teacher salaries are quite low, it should come as no surprise to learn that a strong majority of respondents think they should rise. In 2016, when we asked a randomly selected subgroup of our respondents whether teacher salaries should increase, 65% favored the idea (see Figure 11a). But when members of another random subgroup were first told the average teacher salary in their state, only 41% wanted to hand out pay raises (see Figure 11b). The same pattern obtains among Democratic and Republican partisans. Seventy-six percent of uninformed Democrats wanted a salary increase but only 49% of the informed ones did. For Republicans, these percentages were 52% and 33%, respectively. Information even had its effects on teacher opinion. Eighty-nine percent of the uninformed teachers, but just 79% of the informed, favored a pay raise for themselves and their colleagues. These “information effects” on opinions about teacher salaries have been observed every year from 2008 to 2016.

“I feel like college is more a game to make money for other people, instead of giving an education to me.”

Yvonne Abraham:

We’re used to hearing these kinds of stories about for-profit colleges that take money from vulnerable students and make big, empty promises about lucrative new careers. But what happened at this small liberal arts college isn’t so different from what a DeVry or Trump University would do: Mount Ida made promises to incoming freshmen like Madeline that officials there knew, or should have known, they very likely couldn’t keep.

How the heck did this happen? Where was Mount Ida’s Board of Trustees in all of this? They’re supposed to ensure college officials make sound decisions, and yet somehow, the school crashed into a financial wall and consented to a distress sale. No way should they have let this drag on until it was too late for faculty to find other jobs for September and for many students to find other suitable schools.

Why doesn’t the state’s Board of Higher Education — which found out about the school’s woes in the newspaper, for heaven’s sake — have the power and resources to keep a closer eye on small private colleges? The Legislature must give the board ways to look behind the sunny talk from presidents like Mount Ida’s Barry Brown.

And how is it that UMass, which has just scored a sweet deal, still isn’t bending over backward to offer stranded students clear and practical ways to complete studies they began at their ailing school in Newton?

It’s time for everybody to step up here. Small colleges are increasingly vulnerable to closure as the population of 18-year-olds shrinks. This could keep happening.

Madeline McClain is going to be OK. Her second-choice school renewed its offer. But there will be no vet tech studies there, and she’ll pay $11,000 more. Still, she and her mother consider themselves lucky, compared to families whose kids have nowhere else to go or no way to pay for it.

The 18-year-old has had a schooling in cynicism no one her age should endure.

Why I Left Academic Philosophy

Rachel Williams:

Have you ever spent two years pouring your heart and soul into a project that only three people will ever see? In academia, we call that your “dissertation.”

Philosophers spend a lot of time writing things and trying to get them published in journals nobody reads — not even other philosophers — because in order to get a job, you need to have these papers and journals on your C.V.

Those two years you spent every day working on that paper — all that effort reduced to a single line on a C.V., just to ever-so-slightly improve your odds of getting a good job as you compete against people who also have those lines on their C.V.

Nobody reads this stuff because most of the journals are behind paywalls so expensive that only large libraries at academic institutions can afford to access them (and even then, many university libraries are cutting some journals off for budget reasons). Even within the halls of academia, where people do have access, there are simply so many papers published every year, even within niche fields, that nobody has time to read anywhere close to all the papers/books being published, especially considering the amount of reading it takes just to teach classes, etc.

To censor the internet, 10 countries use Canadian filtering technology, researchers say

Matthew Braga, Nahlah Ayed, Dave Seglins, Julian Sher, Michelle Gagnon:

His activism ended with his arrest — but started, he has said, with the censorship of his popular online discussion forum. Experts now say it was blocked with help from Canadian technology that has repeatedly found itself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

As part of a globe-spanning investigation released Wednesday, researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab say they have found fresh evidence that internet-filtering technology developed by Waterloo, Ont.-based Netsweeper is being used in 10 countries to censor access to news, religious content, LGBTQ+ resources, and political campaigns.

India and Pakistan, both parliamentary democracies, are two notable entries in a list of regimes that includes the UAE.

Finland to end basic income trial after two years

Jon Henley:

Europe’s first national government-backed experiment in giving citizens free cash will end next year after Finland decided not to extend its widely publicised basic income trial and to explore alternative welfare schemes instead.

Since January 2017, a random sample of 2,000 unemployed people aged 25 to 58 have been paid a monthly €560 (£475) , with no requirement to seek or accept employment. Any recipients who took a job continued to receive the same amount.

The government has turned down a request for extra funding from Kela, the Finnish social security agency, to expand the two-year pilot to a group of employees this year, and said payments to current participants will end next January.

It has also introduced legislation making some benefits for unemployed people contingent on taking training or working at least 18 hours in three months. “The government is making changes taking the system away from basic income,” Kela’s Miska Simanainen told the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

The scheme – aimed primarily at seeing whether a guaranteed income might incentivise people to take up paid work by smoothing out gaps in the welfare system – is strictly speaking not a universal basic income (UBI) trial, because the payments are made to a restricted group and are not enough to live on.

Related: Venezuela food riots.

Quick Facts About the Silicon Valley Microschool That’s Disrupting Education

Kerry Elson:

It’s like a regular school, but much smaller. In fact, it’s so small that there’s only room for our own children and our friends’ children.

Tuition is $50,000 per year (financial aid not available at this time).

Daniel Gumbiner’s The Boatbuilder follows Eli Koenigsberg, who’s never faced a challenge he couldn’t push through—until a concussion leaves him with headaches and a weakness for opiates.

We call our school Puer Minima Insulated Arca Archa, which is Latin for “Tiny Insulated Child Box.”

Highest Court In Mass. Finds Cap On Charter Schools Constitutional

Max Larkin:

Keri Rodrigues is one of those people. She’s an education activist who supported Question 2 in 2016. Now, she runs Massachusetts Parents United — an advocacy group supported in part by the pro-charter Walton Foundation. She has two sons who have tried and failed to get seats in a charter school. “Watching your own children have to suffer in a school that’s underperforming — and knowing that it’s the result of a political turf war… it’s crushing. It’s devastating.”

The five anonymous student-plaintiffs in the case dismissed by the SJC are in that same cohort. All five attend traditional public schools in Boston that rank in the bottom 20 percent of all state public schools when it comes to test scores. And all five students tried — and failed — to gain admission to better-performing charter schools with many more applicants than they have seats.

The plaintiffs argued that missed opportunity amounted to a violation of their shared right to an adequate public education, or to equal protection under the laws, as laid out in the state constitution.

The best school district in the United States?

Neerav Kingsland:

Below is an email (pasted with permission) from Scott Pearson, the head of the Washington DC Public Charter School Board.

On this blog, as well as on twitter, we debate a lot about regulation. We have a lot to figure out and these debates help me get smarter.

But leaders on the ground have to lead, always with imperfect information and complicated local contexts.

The DC Public Charter School Board has chosen to regulate the charter community fairly tightly on performance, but more loosely on other inputs. As Scott notes in his letter, over 40 charters have closed in Washington DC over the past decade. While I don’t know if this is right for every community, the DC charter community is providing a lot of great options for tens of thousands of children, and they have undoubtedly made DC a better city.

The continuity of the DC charter community’s success also reinforces my belief in the importance of non-profit governance. It’s hard to think of a better school district in the country, and I’m highly confident that a primary key to their success is their structure: the DC Public Charter School Board regulates and non-profits operate.

It’s a winning formula for kids.

District Judge Generally Rejects Plea Bargaining

Eugene Volokh:

From U.S. v. Stevenson, decided earlier this month by Judge Joseph R. Goodwin of the federal district court for the southern district of West Virginia:

On June 26, 2017, I rejected the proffered plea agreement in United States v. Charles York Walker, Jr. after determining that it was not in the public interest. On October 10, 2017, I rejected the proffered plea agreement in United States v. Antoine Dericus Wilmore after determining that it also was not in the public interest. In both opinions, I stated that it is the court’s function to prevent the transfer of criminal adjudications from the public arena to the prosecutor’s office for the purpose of expediency at the price of confidence in and effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

Round and Round and Round and Round we go

Wisconsin Center for Education Research (Twitter):

Research shows that ability grouping helps underrepresented students become included in gifted programs. @MSANachieve #MSANinstitute shrink the excellence gap.

Closing Poverty-Based Excellence Gaps: Conceptual, Measurement, and Educational Issues,” Jonathan A. Plucker and Scott J. Peters, Gifted Child Quarterly Vol 62:

“Ability Grouping

Although often unpopular because of its association with tracking, ability grouping has been shown to increase the number of underrepresented students identified as high achieving over time (e.g., Card & Giuliano, 2014; Gentry, 2014; Robinson, 2008). The hypothesized mechanism for these effects is that grouping strategies tend to narrow the range of achievement that any single teacher is expected to instruct in a general classroom setting (see Firmender, Reis, & Sweeny, 2013; Peters, Rambo-Hernandez, Makel, Matthews, & Plucker, 2017), although Rogers and Feller (2016) have recently provided evidence that minimizing peer comparisons between low- and high-performing students may also facilitate positive grouping benefits.”

English 10

Small Learning Communities

High School Redesign

TAG Lawsuit

“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT! (2006!)


Pankaj Ghemawat and Steven Altman (PDF):

Proceeding to country-level results, the ten most glob- ally connected countries in 2015 were (in descending order): the Netherlands, Singapore, Ireland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and the United Arab Emirates. On the depth dimension of the index, which compares countries’ inter- national flows to the sizes of their domestic economies, the most deeply connected economies were: Singapore, Hong Kong SAR (China), Luxembourg, Ireland, and Bel- gium. On the breadth dimension, which evaluates the extent to which countries’ international flows are dis- tributed globally or more narrowly focused, the leading countries were: the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Japan.

Roughly 70% of the variation in countries’ observed levels of global connectedness can be explained based on structural characteristics such as their sizes, levels of economic development, and geographic remoteness. The countries that most outperformed expectations on the depth dimension of global connectedness, in particular, were: Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Mozambique.
Comparing the global connectedness of advanced versus emerging economies reveals the former to be far more connected than the latter. On trade depth, advanced and emerging economies are roughly at parity, but ad- vanced economies are about four times as deeply inte- grated into international capital flows, five times as much on people flows, and nine times with respect to information flows. The rising proportion of economic activity taking place in emerging economies continues to prompt international flows to stretch out over greater distances (and to become less regionalized), but this shift toward interactions over greater distances has deceler- ated since the crisis years.

This report also introduces two new city-level globaliza- tion indexes: “Globalization Hotspots” and “Globaliza- tion Giants.” While these new indexes cover the same four pillars as the DHL Global Connectedness Index, dif- ferent (and fewer) component measures are used due to more limited availability of city-level data.

Survey data suggest that the phenomenon of globaloney extends to breadth—in this context via people underes- timating the extent to which distances and differences between countries constrain international flows. In a sur- vey of Harvard Business Review readers, 68% of respondents agreed with the quote from Thomas Friedman’s bestselling book The World is Flat that we have witnessed the creation of “a global, Web-enabled playing field that allows for… collaboration on research and work in real time, without regard to geography, distance, or in the near future, even language.”16

Actual international activity, however, still turns out to
be strongly dampened by distance. The average distance between two countries around the globe is roughly 8,500 km, but the flows covered on the breadth dimension of
the DHL Global Connectedness Index average a distance
of only 4,963 km. Figure 1.2 provides a somewhat more sophisticated take on the same pattern by comparing the distance traversed by specific types of flows to how far those flows would be expected to travel if distance and cross- country differences had ceased to matter.17 On average, this sample of flows went only 58% as far as they would in a “flat” world.

Alternative link.

On Education Governance and Outcomes

Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

Distilling the conversation with @bryan_caplan hosted by

1) There has been a traditional separation between:

+ “liberal education” for free men, (liber), who didn’t work for a living, &

+”technical education”, for those who labor.

MPS teachers fight back on proposals to close budget gap

Clara Hatcher:

The Committee on Accountability, Finance and Personnel also endorsed eliminating long-term disability benefits, something just four employees accessed in 2017. The committee did not act on other proposals, including eliminating coverage of spouses who have access to insurance elsewhere or charge employees extra to keep them on their plan and raising copays for doctor visits to $35, urgent care to $50 and emergency rooms to $175 ($4.3 million).

The committee also recommended cost-of-living raises of 2.13% for employees.

On Becoming an American Writer

Alexander Chee :

There’s another Alexander Chee in my mind, the one who I would be if I’d only had access to regular dental care throughout my career, down to the number of teeth in my mouth. I started inventing him on a visit to Canada in 2005 when I became unnerved by how healthy everyone looked there compared to the United States, and my sense of him grows every time I leave the country. I know I’ll have a shorter career for being American in this current age, and a shorter life also. And that is by my country’s design. It is the intention.

I have been to convenience stores where I see people working with untreated injuries, and when I leave, I get panhandled in the parking lot by someone in a chain-store uniform who is unable to afford the gas to get home on the last day before payday​—​someone with two jobs, three jobs. Until recently, I struggled to get by, and yet I am in the top twenty percent of earners in my country. I am currently saving up for dental implants—money I could as easily use for a down payment on a house. But I’m not entirely sure I’ll see the end of a mortgage or that any of us will.

Have we made progress on achievement gaps? Looking at evidence from the new NAEP results

Michael Hansen, Elizabeth Mann Levesque, Diana Quintero, and Jon Valant

Last week, the National Assessment Governing Board and National Center for Education Statistics released results from the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Often referred to as “the Nation’s Report Card,” these results provide a bi-annual barometer on how states and the country as a whole are performing in the classroom. This year’s results are particularly noteworthy because they are from the final NAEP administered before implementation of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In this sense, these results reflect a boundary in the timeline of education policy, demarcating the end of the NCLB era and the beginning of the ESSA era.

The release itself and the early commentary on the results so far has largely highlighted the overall flat trend lines among the nation’s schoolchildren. Though the early NCLB era did see some improvements in student achievement, it appears that this progress has largely stalled during the latter half of the period. Moreover, a dip in performance in the 2015 assessment has persisted in the current results, suggesting it was no statistical anomaly.

Telated: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Chicago’s gun-toting students outnumber those of New York, Los Angeles: study


The prevalence of self-reported gun possession by high school freshmen and sophomores in Chicago averaged 9 percent between 2007 and 2013, compared with 6 percent in Los Angeles and 4 percent in New York, according to data from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

During that period, the percentage of surveyed students who reported having carried a gun was generally on the rise in Chicago, while dropping sharply in Los Angeles and remaining mostly flat in New York City.

The study also found a strong correlation between trends of self-reported student firearm possession and how safe the students said they felt in each of the three largest U.S. cities.

Specifically, students in Chicago reported being exposed to a higher level of risk factors for violence, such as bullying, schoolyard fights, drug abuse and even general feelings of despair, the study said.

What’s Not Included in Facebook’s ‘Download Your Data’

Nitasha Tiku:

When members of Congress asked Mark Zuckerberg earlier this month who owns Facebook users’ personal data, the Facebook CEO had a convenient response. Eight times during his testimony, he cited a feature called “Download Your Data,” to show that Facebook users really are in control.

“Yes, Congressman. We have a ‘download your information’ tool. We’ve had it for years,” Zuckerberg told US representative Jerry McNerney (D-California). “You can go to it in your settings and download all of the content that you have on Facebook.”

It’s true that users can download and review a lot of information with the tool, including status updates, messages they thought were deleted, drafts of videos that were never published, facial-recognition data, a list of people they unfriended, and, for some Android users, a list of phone calls and text messages. One reporter’s reaction after using the tool: “Yikes.” Wikileaks, Julian Assange, and alt-right provocateurs recommend giving it a whirl. And, just ahead of new, tougher European privacy rules, Facebook made some upgrades, including the ability to download your history of searches inside Facebook and location history, which were previously only viewable in a user’s Activity Log.

After Facebook scrutiny, is Google next? (Many Schools use Google Services)

Ryan Nakashima And Matt O’brien:

YouTube said Friday that it has made “significant changes to how we approach monetization” with “stricter policies, better controls and greater transparency” and said it allows advertisers to exclude certain channels from ads. It also removes ads when it’s notified of problems running beside content that doesn’t comply with its policies. “We are committed to working with our advertisers and getting this right.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: breaking up California

Robin Abcarian:

The question is, what is really underlying this urge to disrupt?

As I read the Cal 3 website, my eyes glazing over at the bromides about lower taxes, safe streets and a stronger education system, the only concrete concept that jumped off the page at me was this: “Areas like Sacramento are currently run by powerful special interest groups like the Teachers’ Union. Creating three new states will help put the power back into the hands of the constituents.”
Is union busting a good reason to break up labor-friendly California?
Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers and a former history and government teacher at Manual Arts High School, doesn’t think so.
“One of the things that makes California so exciting is that we have people from all over the world here, and this is a way to divide that up, and segregate more and also to push back on … progressive tax reform and legislation that speaks to the diversity of California,” he said.

Civics: Comcast Really Wants You to Know (Via NBC) That It Cares

David Boddiger:

“This is creepy & humiliating: MSNBC devotes almost 8 minutes of airtime on @Morning_Joe to heralding the humanitarianism of its corporate owner Comcast, complete with Comcast executives touting themselves under the chyron ‘COMAST CARES DAY,’” Greenwald tweeted.

“Citation Needed” podcast co–host Adam Johnson chastised Sharpton for comparing Comcast’s corporate volunteerism with Nelson Mandela’s lifetime of human rights and civil rights work.

“Comcast property MSNBC having its nominally independent analysts and hosts doing a cultish Comcast commercial was bad enough but Al Sharpton claiming Comcast was carrying on the work of Nelson Mandela was uh something else,” Johnson wrote.

But MSNBC wasn’t alone in covering Comcast Cares Day. NBC affiliates across the nation “pitched in.” NBC Bay Area, for example, ran a PR–sounding segment that was a lot like all of the other ones. So did NBC 5 in Fort Worth, TX, NBC 10 in Philadelphia, NBC 4 in Los Angeles, NBC 5 in Chicago, and NBC Connecticut, to name a few. Other media outlets joined in, including ABC’s WTXL in Tallahassee, FL, The Denver Post, and The Tennessean, among others.

Who Will the Evergreen Mob Target Next?

Debra Soh:

Heather Heying
On April 12, 2017, Evergreen observed a “Day of Absence,” during which white members of the school community were “invited” to leave the campus as part of an exercise designed to “explore issues of race, equality, allyship, inclusion, and privilege.” In the run-up to the event, an Evergreen professor of biology, Bret Weinstein, wrote an email in which he expressed opposition to the idea that self-segregation was a useful exercise. Weinstein became a target of student protestors, and at one point was forced to avoid campus while they searched for him in parked cars. He and his wife, Heather Heying, also a professor of biology at Evergreen at the time, sued the college for failing to protect them. As part of the half-million-dollar settlement, both resigned from their teaching positions.

This month’s report summarizes the unraveling of campus life in the aftermath of Weinstein’s email. But in regard to analyzing why all of these events transpired, the report’s authors double-downed on the same narrative originally peddled by the university. Overarching blame is placed on nebulous factors such as “racial tensions,” “social inequities,” and “the speed and potency of social media.” The authors also victim blame, complaining that Weinstein “took advantage of this situation to make a national news story out of it through high-profile interviews with national media, including the FOX News Network.”

Law School Wellness


Every law student has met a lawyer who cannot help but offer the advice, “Don’t go to law school.” The misery in the legal profession is seemingly ubiquitous. The mental health crisis facing modern lawyers has been reported so extensively, it barely needs repetition. Yet the causes have been woefully overlooked.

Why hasn’t Harvard taken responsibility for its contribution to this professional malaise? Last year, we pushed Harvard Law School to begin an annual mental health survey to measure the welfare of the student body. We began writing law school-specific survey questions based on our experience as students and worked with university health researchers and administrators to publicize the survey.

The results presented a grisly reality. Among 886 respondents, 25 percent reported suffering from depression. For context, according to the CDC, 7.7 percent of individuals aged 20 to 39 from the general population suffer from depression. 24.2 percent of Law School survey respondents reported suffering from anxiety, and 20.5 percent said they were at heightened risk of suicide. 66 percent of respondents said that they experienced new mental health challenges during law school. Nearly 61.8 percent said they had frequent or intense imposter syndrome experiences at school and in measuring social connectedness, 8.2 percent stated they had zero people they could open up to about their most private feelings without having to hold back.

Do markets create poverty, as a Washington Post op-ed argued, or has market exchange led to the greatest reduction in poverty the world has ever seen?

Chelsea Follett:

Is capitalism a coercive system that creates poverty, as a recent op-ed in the Washington Post argued, or is it a system of voluntary exchange that has led to the greatest reduction in poverty the world has ever seen?

According to the article, “capitalism is a coercive economic system that creates persistent patterns of economic deprivation,” and should be altered through the introduction of a universal basic income. While a guaranteed income is an interesting policy proposal with pros and cons, the article’s claims that capitalism is coercive and creates economic deprivation are both unfounded.

First, let us consider whether capitalism is “coercive.” The author writes,

Inside A Divisive Fight Over How A Top Progressive Think Tank Handled Sexual Harassment

Sarah Mimms:

But only an hour after the Access Hollywood tape was made public, top officials at CAP received an exit memo from a young woman who’d just quit detailing the sexual harassment she experienced from Benton Strong, a manager on her team — harassment, she wrote, that management already knew about — and how she faced retaliation for reporting it.

“I surely expected better out of an organization that housed a national campaign on sexual assault.”
In the email, the junior staffer, who asked that BuzzFeed News refer her to as Mary, which is part of the woman’s formal name, wrote that “on several occasions, myself and others on the team felt as if reporting had been a mistake and that the retaliation, worsening of already tenuous team dynamics, and treatment by supervisors outweighed the seemingly positive act of reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.” When contacted about this story, the woman confirmed the authenticity of the exit memo, but declined to comment further, except to respond on Saturday to a statement from CAP.

“CAP’s culture obscures its mission,” Mary wrote, toward the end of her memo. “All of this to say, I surely expected better out of an organization that housed a national campaign on sexual assault.”

How one school district is working to meet the emotional needs of its students

Alan Borsuk:

The Brown Deer district deserves praise for its commitment, going back years, on these fronts. The two schools in the district, the middle/high and the elementary, each with about 800 students, have long been involved in character education programs, which led to making a campaign around “The Brown Deer Way” of treating others and conducting yourself in school a core part of the schools’ identities.

And the schools have gone to lengths to train staff, to allow staff to focus on these concerns and to bring in partners from nonprofit organizations, including mental health providers. Yet school leaders will be the first to say they don’t have enough of the tools they really should have.

Brown Deer itself has changed a lot in recent decades. It is a highly diverse community. Just over a quarter of the students in the two schools are white and more than 40% are considered “economically disadvantaged.”

Charter Schools Are Not A “Republican” Thing History shows Democrats have supported charters from the very beginning

Peter Cook:

As I noted earlier this week, a group of anti-reform activists in Colorado recently passed an amendment to the state Democratic Party platform opposing the Colorado chapter of Democrats for Education Reform and calling on the organization drop “Democrats” from its name.1

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time DFER has been attacked by groups from within its own party. Much of the ire directed at DFER is due to its support for public charter schools, which opponents portray as a part of a Republican plot to dismantle public education.

Those opponents include groups like the American Federation of Teachers, New York State United Teachers (an AFT affiliate), and Alliance for Quality Education (which receives – surprise! – major funding from AFT), who together launched a website calling DFER and its supporters “Democrats in name only,” while insinuating that the organization is a kind of political Trojan Horse backed by wealthy GOP donors like the Koch Brothers and Betsy DeVos.

Tactical Tech tells us what they would have asked Mark Zuckerberg

Marlene Melchior:

In Part 2: Diehm discusses the “echo chamber” effect of Facebook’s interface. He says that while Zuckerberg made “apologetic commitments” and rolled out an interface with new privacy controls, ultimately “there’s no transparent way of actually assessing whether or not this interface either works better or even has any meaningful effect on the underlying data collection within Facebook.” Lawrence says she would have liked to ask about Facebook’s algorithms.

The Pressures of Masculinity


The Pressures of Masculinity

Stephanie Ruhle sits down with a group of exceptional young men, giving them a chance to express how they’re handling societal pressure to ‘man up.’

Libraries Can Be More Than Just Books

Matt A.V. Chaban:

For all of Sunset Park’s celebrated taquerias, dim sum parlors and picturesque piers, the most popular destination in that neighborhood might just be the local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Despite its squat concrete frame and fluorescent lights — a far cry from the neighboring brownstones — the library draws a capacity crowd most days.

On a recent afternoon, students from down the block and around the world scribbled out homework, studied with tutors, practiced English and honed their chess skills. On the walls, posters promoted not just reading but citizenship services and business-planning classes. Parents and children alike sat at banks of computers, indulging in a world of knowledge that many New Yorkers take for granted.

Discipline and punish

The Economist:

WHEN the gunshots sounded outside Houston Elementary School, Rembert Seaward and Darryl Webster, the principal and the school social worker, scrambled to the ground and ducked for cover. But one young pupil remained standing and then started to laugh—“It’s nothing but some gunshots,” they recall him saying. He told them that he would regularly play with his father’s TEC-9, a brand of semi-automatic pistol. “You think they’re just six, what life experiences could they have?” says Mr Webster. “You’d be surprised. There’s no normalcy.” Nearly every pupil attending Houston Elementary in Washington, DC, is poor and many have a parent in jail. Some live in homeless shelters and have never had a birthday party, until Mr Webster hosts one. Unsurprisingly, misbehaviour is common. But unlike many other schools, disruptive pupils are hardly ever suspended. “We need to teach them that there is some degree of love in the world,” Mr Seaward says.

Across the country school principals and teachers—both in traditional public schools and charter schools—are rethinking their approach to suspensions and expulsions for bad behaviour. In the past few years many of the largest school districts have revised their policies to reduce suspensions. Liberal reformers, citing racial disparities in suspension and the criminalisation of young black men, would like to see further reductions. Defenders of the old disciplinary model, including Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, think that the pendulum has swung too far and is harming school safety. Both reach well beyond the current evidence.

China’s Car Revolution Is Going Global


On a bright spring day in Amsterdam, car buffs stepped inside a blacked-out warehouse to nibble on lamb skewers and sip rhubarb cocktails courtesy of Lynk & Co., which was showing off its new hybrid SUV.

What seemed like just another launch of a new vehicle was actually something more: the coming-out party for China’s globally ambitious auto industry. For the first time, a Chinese-branded car will be made in Western Europe for sale there, with the ultimate goal of landing in U.S. showrooms.

Private colleges look for repeal of endowment tax

Andrew Kreighbaum:

But a group of private colleges still has its sights set on overturning a new endowment tax passed as part of that bill over the objections of higher ed advocates.

The endowment tax was one of a number of punitive measures included in the legislation that either sought to generate new revenue from higher ed institutions or strip tax benefits for students and student loan borrowers.

After intense lobbying from college groups and student organizations, almost all of those provisions were dropped from the final legislation. The endowment tax remained, however. And although the scope of the provision was seriously narrowed between the introduction of the bill and its final passage — the number of affected institutions dropped from 250 to just 28 — higher ed organizations see the tax as bad policy and precedent setting.

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


1. Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015). This is equivalent to $120,000 in government monies, subsidies, & special tax treatment per undergraduate student, or $6.93 billion per year.

The Chinese Communist Party Is Setting Up Cells at Universities Across America

Bethany Allen-Ibrahimian:

In July 2017, a group of nine Chinese students and faculty from Huazhong University of Science and Technology participating in a summer program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) formed a Chinese Communist Party branch on the third floor of Hopkins Hall, a campus dormitory.

The group held meetings to discuss party ideology, taking a group photo in front of a red flag emblazoned with a hammer and sickle, according to a July 2017 article and photos posted to the Huazhong University website. The students’ home institution had sent four teachers on the trip, directing them to set up the party cell to strengthen “ideological guidance” while the students were in the United States.

This college professor gives her students extra credit for going on dates

Lisa Bonos:

About 12 years ago, Boston College philosophy professor Kerry Cronin added an unorthodox task to her syllabus: Ask someone out on a date, where there will be no alcohol or physical contact.

Sounds far easier than a research paper, right? A lot more fun, too.

But when Cronin first gave this assignment, she says her students talked a lot about asking someone out but didn’t follow through. (Later, she tweaked the assignment to give a two-week deadline.) “I realized at that point that the social script of dating was really long gone,” Cronin said over the phone recently. Because hookup culture has become so dominant on college campuses, Cronin says, going on a date has become “a weirdly countercultural thing to do.”

Civics: Dr. John Plunkett, RIP. He told the truth about bad forensics — and was prosecuted for it.

Radley Balko:

It’s a convenient diagnosis for prosecutors, in that it provides a cause of death (violent shaking), a culprit (whoever was last with the child before death) and even intent (prosecutors often argue that the violent, extended shaking establishes mens rea.) According to a 2015 survey by The Washington Post and the Medill Justice Project, there were about 1,800 SBS prosecutions between 2001 and 2015, with 1,600 resulting in convictions.

But in the late 1990s, Plunkett — a forensic pathologist in Minnesota — began to have doubts about the diagnosis. He started investigating cases in which children had died in a manner similar to the way accused caregivers had described the deaths of the children they were watching — by short-distance falls. What he found alarmed him. In 2001, Plunkett published a study detailing how he had found symptoms similar to those in the SBS diagnosis in children who had fallen off playground equipment. It was a landmark study. If a short-distance fall could produce symptoms similar to those in SBS cases, the SBS diagnosis that said symptoms could only come from shaking was wrong. By that point, hundreds of people had been convicted based on SBS testimony from medical experts. Some of them were undoubtedly guilty. But if Plunkett was right, some of them almost certainly weren’t.

A Marquette Professor Fights for His Speech Rights

Margot Cleveland:

He was fired for comments his contract clearly protects.
‘Written perhaps by the ghost of Orwell.”

That is how Wisconsin supreme-court justice Michael Gableman described the Marquette University Faculty Hearing Committee (FHC) report that led to the 2015 termination of tenured professor John McAdams.

Yesterday the court considered whether Marquette had breached its employment contract with McAdams when it fired him for criticizing, in a blog post, philosophy instructor Cheryl Abbate. Abbate had told a student he could not state his opposition to same-sex marriage in her ethics class because “some opinions are not appropriate.”

After Marquette fired McAdams, he sued the university, arguing that his termination violated Marquette’s promise that it would not “impair the full and free enjoyment of [faculty members’] legitimate personal or academic freedom of thought, doctrine, discourse, association, advocacy or action.” Marquette also assured McAdams and other faculty members that “dismissal will not be used to restrain faculty members in their exercise of academic freedom or other rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.” (Marquette is a private college and so is not bound by the First Amendment directly.)

Notwithstanding these broad contractual protections, a lower court threw out McAdams’s lawsuit against the Jesuit university, refusing to second-guess the FHC’s conclusion “that Mr. McAdams violated his core obligations as a tenured professor when he used his blog needlessly and recklessly to harm [Abbate].” And on appeal to the Wisconsin supreme court, Marquette’s attorney, Ralph Weber, maintained that the Milwaukee-based university was well within its rights to fire McAdams and that the court should defer to the FHC’s findings.

In India, high-pressure exams are creating a student suicide crisis

Sirin Kale:

To prepare, students from across India travel to the historic northern city of Kota, spending months or even years away from their family and home. Whether the children of manual labourers or business tycoons, all have travelled to Kota for one reason: academic glory.

Kota is the epicentre of India’s private coaching industry. Here, students enrol at one of the many for-profit residential institutes that prepare teenagers for their university entrance exams. For months, even years, teens who’ve barely left their parental homes before live alone, in austere hostel rooms, cramming morning, noon, and night in the hope of a secure, financially lucrative future. They leave their hostel rooms early in the morning to avoid the midday heat and walk down cracked pavements to stuffy classrooms, where they crouch over desks. At lunchtime they wolf chutney-filled dosas before returning to their desks to cram some more. The most studious return to their hostel rooms and study alone, well into the night.

Shutdown of Texas Schools Probe Shows Trump Administration Pullback on Civil Rights

Annie Waldman:

Beside a highway in Bryan, Texas, tucked between a motorcycle bar and the county jail, stands a low-slung, sprawling complex with tinted windows, sandstone walls and barbed wire lining parts of its roof. A roadside sign identifies it as the Brazos County Juvenile Justice Center.

One Friday afternoon last October, after an incident at nearby Arthur L. Davila Middle School, a police officer arrested 13-year-old Trah’Vaeziah Jackson and brought her to the juvenile detention facility. She cried as employees patted her down, cut off her hair extensions, and took her photo and fingerprints. She was served dinner — chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and an apple in a styrofoam box with a carton of milk — but had no appetite.

In the shower room, guards applied thick anti-lice shampoo to Trah’Vaeziah’s hair. As she washed and combed it, clumps fell out. Afterwards, she reluctantly changed from her school clothes, a T-shirt and jeans, into the detention uniform, an orange shirt with matching shorts. Then she was locked in her cell, which contained a sink, a toilet, and, instead of a bed, a stuffed blue mat atop a brick base. High on the wall was a sliver of a window, but she wasn’t tall enough to see outside.

When a college goes under, everyone suffers. But faculty at Mount Ida feel a particular sense of betrayal following its abrupt closure announcement.

Colleen Flaherty:

Bad news is often obvious in retrospect: unremarkable events become harbingers; seemingly unrelated developments become signs.

That isn’t the case, however, for the faculty at Mount Ida College, which announced April 6 that it is closing at the end of the semester. Instead, the soon-to-be-unemployed professors say, there were signals — including from the administration — that the college was doing well, or at least better than it had in some time.

The incoming freshman class had the highest grade point average in years, for example. There were also the 12-month faculty contracts delivered in March, assuring annually assigned professors and, by extension, their tenured colleagues, that the college would at least live to see another year.

Why Invest in Cities? There’s Always Another Boise Urbanists hoped for greater density and transit. Instead people are fleeing to midsize metros.

Conor Sen:

Urbanists thought their moment had finally arrived. Those who favor increased urban density and transit options believed the housing bust and the great recession could end decades of development centered on automobiles and suburban sprawl, shifting planners’ focus more to cities, density and transit.

The advocates for this model point to California as the inevitable result of inaction. If you try to grow without increased density and transit you’ll end up with the traffic of Los Angeles and the home prices of San Francisco. Yet the negative effects of political inaction do not make political action inevitable. Another possibility is … Boise.

Even if politics were responsive, policy changes take years or decades to achieve results — and individuals and families planning their lives don’t have that kind of time. “California needs to change its housing policies” might well be true, but that won’t make a home in the Bay Area any cheaper tomorrow.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Global debt is at historic highs and governments should start cutting levels now, the IMF says

Cheang Ming :

Global debt hit its highest levels ever and governments should take actions to reduce their indebtedness while the going is still good, the International Monetary Fund said.

Total debt levels globally came in at a record $164 trillion in 2016, amounting to 225 percent of the world economy’s gross domestic product, according to the IMF’s April Fiscal Monitor. That level of debt was 12 percentage points steeper than the last historic high seen in 2009 immediately after the global financial crisis.

Those findings, taken together with the business cycle upswing, meant that governments should build buffers and cut public debt levels to face “challenges that will unavoidably come in the future,” Vitor Gaspar, director of the fiscal affairs department at the IMF, told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche.

Election Year K-12 Tax & Spending Rhetoric

Tom Kertscher:

Evers says that despite a recent increase in school funding, Walker “has taken over a billion dollars from the public schools.”

In Walker’s first year as governor, he cut school aid by $426.5 million from the previous year, Doyle’s final year as governor.

Because it took five years to get school funding back to that base level, it can be argued that Walker “took” a total of $1.17 billion from schools over that period.

But since then, Walker has increased school funding to the point that the deficit, in comparison to the base year, is $183.6 million.

For a statement that contains only an element of truth, our rating is Mostly False.


SIS on Tony Evers and Scott Walker

Campaign Websites: Tony Evers (lots of others running in the August 14, 2018 Democrat Party Primary) and Scott Walker.

Madison spends nearly $20,000 per student, despite long term, disastrous reading results.

Decades-Old Graph Problem Yields to Amateur Mathematician

Evelyn Lamb:

In 1950 Edward Nelson, then a student at the University of Chicago, asked the kind of deceptively simple question that can give mathematicians fits for decades. Imagine, he said, a graph — a collection of points connected by lines. Ensure that all of the lines are exactly the same length, and that everything lies on the plane. Now color all the points, ensuring that no two connected points have the same color. Nelson asked: What is the smallest number of colors that you’d need to color any such graph, even one formed by linking an infinite number of vertices?

The problem, now known as the Hadwiger-Nelson problem or the problem of finding the chromatic number of the plane, has piqued the interest of many mathematicians, including the famously prolific Paul Erdős. Researchers quickly narrowed the possibilities down, finding that the infinite graph can be colored by no fewer than four and no more than seven colors. Other researchers went on to prove a few partial results in the decades that followed, but no one was able to change these bounds.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: US Debt

David Harsanyi:

But, of course, it’s somewhat unfair to measure debt in this way. Presidents not only inherit the spending and compounding interest of previous administrations, but they deal with unforeseen circumstances that can lead to debt, like war and recession. Others, on the other hand, benefit from strong economies and a dose of luck. So the better question to ask is, “What situation is responsible for most new long-term spending?” The answer seems pretty obvious: one-party rule.

Presidents don’t pass budgets, Congress does. When the GOP held the majority in the House for most of Obama’s two terms, they mitigated the explosion of debt. If Congress had adopted the contours of Obama’s budgets, as Democrats almost certainly would have if they were in power, the former president’s record on debt would have been far worse. According to the CBO, the 2016 White House proposal would have added $6.6 trillion in deficits over ten years. And who knows what kind of costly programs Democrats would have adopted had they been unopposed.

The same can be said of Bill Clinton, who benefited greatly from a conservative Congress that curbed his worst instincts. Not so much George W. Bush (and, for now, Donald Trump), who rely on a largely pliable GOP.

Moreover, most big-ticket items (before the Obama administration’s norm-busting expansion of government-centered health-care) had some bipartisan buy-in. Other times, as with George W. Bush’s expansion of Medicare, Democrats had argued that it wasn’t generous enough. It’s not as easy to assign blame as we’d like — though, other than military spending bills, I can’t think of any spending Democrats thought was too generous. While there may be fluctuations in how fast debt grows, the broader picture tells us that we are on an ascending — and accelerating — debt trajectory, no matter who’s in charge.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: A debt crisis is on the horizon

Michael J. Boskin, John H. Cochrane, John F. Cogan, George P. Shultz and John B. Taylor:

We live in a time of extraordinary promise. Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, 3D manufacturing, medical science and other areas have the potential to dramatically raise living standards in coming decades. But a major obstacle stands squarely in the way of this promise: high and sharply rising government debt.

President Trump’s recently released budget is a wake-up call. It projects that this year, a year of relatively strong economic growth, low unemployment and continued historically low interest rates, the deficit will reach $870 billion, 30 percent greater than last year.

For years, economists have warned of major increases in future public debt burdens. That future is on our doorstep. From this point forward, even if economic growth continues uninterrupted, current tax and spending patterns imply that annual deficits will steadily increase, approaching the $1 trillion mark in two years and steadily rising thereafter as far as the eye can see.

Who Has More of Your Personal Data Than Facebook? Try Google

Christopher Mims:

As justifiable as the focus on Facebook has been, though, it isn’t the full picture. If the concern is that companies may be collecting some personal data without our knowledge or explicit consent, Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL -1.11% Google is a far bigger threat by many measures: the volume of information it gathers, the reach of its tracking and the time people spend on its sites and apps.

New regulations, particularly in Europe, are driving Google and others to disclose more and seek more permissions from users. And given the choice, many people might even be fine with the trade-off of personal data for services. Still, to date few of us realize the extent to which our data is being collected and used.

“There is a systemic problem and it’s not limited to Facebook,” says Arvind Narayanan, a computer scientist and assistant professor at Princeton University. The larger problem, he argues, is that the very business model of these companies is geared to privacy violation. We need to understand Google’s role in this.


Google also is the biggest enabler of data harvesting, through the world’s two billion active Android mobile devices.

Since Google’s Android OS helps companies gather data on us, then Google is also partly to blame when huge troves of that data are later used improperly, says Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University.

A good example of this is the way Facebook has continuously harvested Android users’ call and text history. Facebook never got this level of access from Apple ’s iPhone, whose operating system is designed to permit less under-the-hood data collection. Android OS often allows apps to request rich data from users without accompanying warnings about how the data might be used.

To be listed in Google’s Android app store, developers must agree to request only the information they need. But that doesn’t stop them from using “needed” data for additional purposes.

Designers call the ways marketers and developers cajole and mislead us into giving up our data “dark patterns,” tactics that exploit flaws and limits in our cognition.

February Bar Exam Performance Hits Record Low

Karen Sloan:

A decline in the average MBE score from the February 2018 bar exam does not bode well for pass rates, which are beginning to trickle out.

Performance of law graduates taking the attorney licensing test in February has hit the lowest point in more than a decade, while scores for those taking the exam during the more popular July session have been on the upswing.

According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, the average score on February’s Multistate Bar Exam—the 200 multiple-choice question portion of the test used by all jurisdictions—fell 1.3 points from the previous year, to 132.8. That’s the lowest average in more than 10 years, and marks the fourth straight year that the February average declined.

Universities and colleges struggle to stem big drops in enrollment

Jon Marcus:

Behind the deceptive quiet of a small college campus in the summer, things are buzzing at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Faculty at the 175-year-old liberal-arts school, which has about 1,700 undergraduates, are preparing new majors in high-demand fields including data analytics and computational neuroscience. Admissions officers are back from scouting out prospective students in China, India and Pakistan. Recruiters have been on the road closer to home, too, in Cleveland and Chicago. In the athletics department, work is under way to add two sports and a marching band.

More money has been put into financial aid, the process of transferring to the college is being streamlined, and the ink is still wet on contracts with Carnegie-Mellon University and a medical school to speed Ohio Wesleyan students more quickly to graduate degrees. The number of internships is being expanded, along with short-term study-abroad opportunities. The university is considering freezing, lowering or slowing the rate of increase of its tuition and fees, which are now $44,690.

The Plight of University Presses

Steven Lubet:

The Kentucky General Assembly recently passed a budget that reduces funding for higher education by 6.25 percent, and will require cuts of as much as $24 million at the two major state universities. Numerous programs may have to be shuttered as a consequence, most likely including the University Press of Kentucky (UPK), which stands to lose its entire state subsidy.

That would be a shame, because UPK is widely admired for its publications in regional, Civil War, and Military history. A relatively small press, with only about 60 books per year, UPK has won twelve Frederick Jackson Turner awards, which speaks to the extremely high quality of its work. UPK is also unique in that it is affiliated with multiple in-state universities and colleges, both public and private, rather than exclusively with the University of Kentucky.

UPK is not the first university press to come under fire. In 2012, the new president of the University of Missouri announced plans to close the University of Missouri Press, which is another high-quality regional press – having published important works on Langston Hughes and Mark Twain. A public uproar saved the press and its $400,000 annual subsidy from the university.

The University Press of Kentucky receives a state subsidy of $672,000, which pays seven employee’s salaries. All other expenses are covered through annual book sales, which include important works on Kentucky and Appalachia.

University presses are often attractive targets for budget hawks, as many of their publications are highly specialized, and often quite esoteric. Scholars, of course, recognize the importance of publishing academic work that is often the product of decades of research. While the more prominent university presses – such as Oxford, Harvard, and Chicago – are not in danger, the smaller presses play an equally important role in disseminating new and meaningful scholarship.

State: Chicago ‘Delayed and Denied’ Special Ed Services For Kids

Sarah Karp:

A state investigation found “systemic problems” with special education in Chicago Public Schools that “delayed and denied” services to children, according to a report released by the Illinois State Board of Education Wednesday.

State board of education members were briefed Wednesday on the report, the culmination of an extensive investigation into Chicago Public Schools’ special education program.

A “public inquiry” team appointed by the state began investigating CPS late last year after a WBEZ series on problems with special education and after advocates demanded action.

Advocates alleged that a recent overhaul of special education by the school district led to delays and cutbacks in services for students. The program serves about 50,000 children and costs the school district about $900 million annually.

Penn State’s 98-Year-Old Outing Club Is No Longer Allowed to Go Outside “Student safety in any activity is our primary focus.”

Lenore Skenazy:

What’s more dangerous: rugby, or a walk in the woods? At Pennsylvania State University, the administrators apparently think it’s the latter.

The student “Outing Club,” which has gone backpacking, kayaking, and hiking in state parks over the course of its 98-year-existence, will no longer be allowed to host outdoor events after administrators conducted a risk assessment, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“The types of activities in which [Penn State Outing Club] engages are above the university’s threshold of acceptable risk for recognized student organizations,” according to an official announcement.

A key issue for administrators was that the Outing Club frequently visit locations with poor cell phone coverage. This wasn’t an issue during the Coolidge administration, but now that cell phones exist, students are apparently expected to remain glued to them at all times.

“Student safety in any activity is our primary focus,” Lisa Powers, a Penn State spokeswoman, told The Post-Gazette.

Thanks to Beyoncé, All Eyes Are on Black Colleges. A Historian Says They Should Capitalize on the Hype.

Julian Wyllie:

The Chronicle spoke with deGregory on Monday about what the performance means for public perceptions of black colleges. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. It’s a media freakout for people reacting to Beyoncé’s use of black imagery. What’s the big deal here?

A. For members of the HBCU community, it is a source of affirmation of all that we know and love about the HBCU experience. It’s a demonstration that popular culture, whether consciously or unconsciously, values the HBCU within a historical framework. It also makes the case for our contemporary relevance and is made easier when popular culture adopts expressions of our campus cultures.

Q. Who is the affirmation for? Is it affirmation for people who don’t know about these colleges, or those who don’t care and ignore HBCUs?

A. These expressions have been a part of HBCU culture for as long as they have existed, but until there’s an event in popular culture that signals some interest, we are not seen as popular culture. I think that is a fair assessment, given that we know Beyoncé grew up in a town [Houston] that is dominated by HBCU band culture. Her father is, of course, a historically black college and university graduate, having graduated from Fisk University, where he sat on the board. So it’s not as though she’s unfamiliar with black colleges.

Civics: Michael Cohen, Attorney-Client Privilege and the Crime-Fraud Exception

Paul Rosenzweig:

The world is awash in “hot takes” on the news that President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is under criminal investigation. On Monday, the FBI executed a search warrant at his home, his office and a hotel room that he rented. Claims are already resonating that the search violated Trump’s attorney-client privilege and reflect more excess from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (Trump himself called the search a “disgrace” and again threatened to fire Mueller.) I want to take a step back and offer a few more thoughts that, perhaps, shed a little light on the attorney-client issue.

(As an aside, before doing so, I want to note the absurdity of Trump blaming Mueller for the search. As many others have pointed out, Mueller referred the matter to the Justice Department, where the investigation was assigned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. That office (run by a Trump appointee) then procured the warrant—with the approval of a magistrate judge—and worked with the FBI to conduct the search. In this regard, the special counsel’s actions and the Justice Department referral are completely unlike the Starr investigation on which I worked many years ago. There, Attorney General Janet Reno kept expanding the Starr investigation into new areas—mostly, I think, as a matter of convenience. Here, the department seems intent on cabining the Mueller investigation to the scope it was originally initiated for—and to also be willing to spin off unrelated matters to the relevant local U.S. attorney’s office. That’s a good example of the system functioning as it should—and it certainly is no “disgrace.”)

The No. 1 trait highly charismatic people all share

Jonathan Blumberg:

The skills you need for social success

In January, van Hippel gave a talk at the Fred Rhodewalt Social Psychology Winter Conference in Park City, Utah, during which he presented the five distinct yet intertwined elements that he believes “behavioral flexibility” depends on.

“These are the mental skills that we believe underlie socially successful responses in general, and charisma in particular,” says von Hippel. “We already have some evidence for the left two boxes [and top box] … and we’re working on the right two boxes.”

Dem Delegates’ Hypocritical Message on Ed Reform: Toe the Union Line…or Keep Your Mouth Shut

Mike Vaughn:

“Folks are being pushed to the edges on the right and left on politics,” longtime Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg is quoted in Chalkbeat as saying at a Gates Family Foundation event held on Friday to discuss Denver’s successful model of education reform. “Part of what we’ve been able to do in Denver for some time is to reject the orthodoxy of the left and right.”

The next day, the “orthodoxy of the left” had its say.

The Colorado Democratic delegates held their state assembly on Saturday and approved a minority-proposed amendment to their education platform: “We oppose making Colorado’s public schools private or run by private corporations or becoming segregated again through lobbying and campaigning efforts of the organization called Democrats for Education Reform and demand that they immediately stop using the party’s name Democrat in their name.”

That’s one shaky, insecure, and misleading push to the left edge. And it’s a platform that this member of the Democratic Party won’t set foot on.

DFER is firmly against “making Colorado’s public schools private” or “becoming segregated again.” They lobby and campaign forcefully and successfully to make education more equitable: to increase funding, to increase the quality of schools, and to empower all families with the right to choose the best school for their child—especially African-American and Latino families in underserved neighborhoods who have traditionally been denied any educational choices.

Parents in poorer countries devote more time to their kids’ homework

The Economist:

HOMEWORK is the bane of a child’s life. It can also weigh heavily on parents, who either struggle to get their charges to finish it, or even worse, must brush up on their own rusty skills to help out. Parental involvement in education contributes to a child’s eventual success. A new report by the Varkey Foundation, an educational charity, shows how much time parents put in to their children’s education. The survey looked at 29 countries and found that parents in emerging economies spend much more time helping with homework than their counterparts in richer countries.

CDC surveys in the 1990s, never publicly reported, indicate nearly 2.5 million defensive uses of guns a year.

Brian Doherty:

Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck conducted the most thorough previously known survey data on the question in the 1990s. His study, which has been harshly disputed in pro-gun-control quarters, indicated that there were more than 2.2 million such defensive uses of guns (DGUs) in America a year.

Now Kleck has unearthed some lost CDC survey data on the question. The CDC essentially confirmed Kleck’s results. But Kleck didn’t know about that until now, because the CDC never reported what it found.

Kleck’s new paper—”What Do CDC’s Surveys Say About the Frequency of Defensive Gun Uses?”—finds that the agency had asked about DGUs in its Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 1996, 1997, and 1998.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Commentary on Federal Taxpayers Subsidizing some states

Adam Ashton:

They’re the Californians who will lose a collective $12 billion because the new law caps a deduction they have been able to take for paying their state and local taxes, according to a new analysis by the Franchise Tax Board.

Very wealthy Californians earning more than $1 million a year will pay the lion’s share of that money, with 43,000 of them paying a combined $9 billion.

But some middle-class Californians will pay more, too.

What’s a good response to “It’s fine, I’ve got nothing to hide online”?

David Piper:

Whenever I try to explain my concerns about online data privacy to other people (family and friends, mostly), the most common response I get is:
“Oh it’s fine, Facebook/Google/etc can collect whatever they want, I don’t have anything to hide.”

I try to explain that the kind of data collection (and use/sale) we see from these businesses can be a much bigger concern than just “Facebook knows where I work”, but I can never really articulate my thoughts well.

Cornell Law Professors Join Strengthening Push For Due Process On Campus

Ashe Schow:

Colleges and universities typically fall back on the defense that at least they followed their own policies when denying a male student due process rights. But Cornell isn’t even doing that. Professor Sheri Lynn Johnson, who filed the brief, asserts that Cornell didn’t provide an accused student the right “to test his accuser’s account of events and credibility by having a disciplinary hearing panel ask his accuser proper questions that he proposes,” which is granted to students in Cornell policy.

Although the brief specifically addresses this policy in one case, the professors note they are “concerned more generally with whether Cornell respects this and other procedural protections in its Title IX policy going forward and whether courts properly interpret the policy.”

The specific case included in the brief involves the pseudonymous John Doe and his accuser, referred to as Sally Roe. Sally made inconsistent statements throughout the investigation and hearing, and even though John submitted questions to the hearing panel to be asked of her, none of his questions were asked.

Big Data Blacklisting

Margaret Hu:

“Big data blacklisting” is the process of categorizing individuals as administratively “guilty until proven innocent” by virtue of suspicious digital data and database screening results. Database screening and digital watchlisting systems are increasingly used to determine who can work, vote, fly, etc. In a big data world, through the deployment of these big data tools, both substantive and procedural due process protections may be threatened in new and nearly invisible ways. Substantive due process rights safeguard fundamental liberty interests. Procedural due process rights prevent arbitrary deprivations by the government of constitutionally protected interests. This Article frames the increasing digital mediation of rights and privileges through government-led big data programs as a constitutional harm under substantive due process, and identifies the obstruction of core liberties with big data tools as rapidly evolving and systemic.

Civics: Expertise in Journalism: Factors Shaping a Cognitive and Culturally Elite Profession

Jonathan Wai1 and Kaja Perina:

What qualities are important in the development of journalism expertise? And how can the study of elite journalists shed light on our understanding of expertise more broadly? This study examined a sample of 1,979 employees of The New York Times (NYT) and The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), arguably two of the most influential papers in the U.S. and the world. Almost half of the people who reach the pinnacle of the journalism profession attended an elite school and were likely in the top 1% of cognitive ability. This means top 1% people are overrepresented among the NYT and WSJ mastheads by a factor of about 50. Placed in the context of other elite occupations, this provides evidence for the influence of the cognitive elite across a wide variety of expertise, including domains that provide prestige and influence rather than monetary rewards. Roughly 20% attended an Ivy League school. Writers were drawn from higher-ranking schools, reflecting higher cognitive ability than demonstrated by editors’ schools. Almost all elite journalists graduated from college, and the majority did not major in journalism (roughly 80% of typical journalists graduate from college). Only a handful of select schools feed the mastheads of the NYT and the WSJ, suggesting the importance of networks. Data on typical journalists were analyzed to provide characteristics of editors and reporters/correspondents. This approach shows that cognitive ability should be accounted for in more comprehensive theoretical models of expertise and that deliberate practice cannot be the full explanation of success. It also provides a unique test of the generality of expertise models into more nontraditional expertise domains such as journalism and other occupations and ultimately may shed light on the extent to which general cognitive ability, the role of selective institutions, opportunity, and other factors may play in expertise development broadly.

On Civic Apathy

Petula Dvorak:

This is after the revelation earlier this year that more than 900 students — a third of the capital’s entire graduating class — were not eligible for the diplomas they were given.

Add to that the bombshell last week that the school system is full of residency fraud — a good chunk of the kids who come to D.C. schools don’t even live in the city. This is happening at the highest levels, investigations showed. The executive assistant to former schools chancellor Kaya Henderson, Angela Williams-Skelton, hauled her grandkids from their Frederick, Md., home to a D.C. public school every day, right under the chancellor’s nose.

And then we have the resignation of one of Bowser’s most influential and prestigious appointments, the schools chancellor picked to follow Henderson, Antwan Wilson. He resigned because of the way his daughter got to leapfrog hundreds of D.C. students on a waitlist to get into the school she wanted.

Washington, DC is hardly unique.

Madison spends nearly $20,000 per student, yet has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

10 Things Teachers DID NOT Have to Deal With 10 Years Ago

Jeremy Adams:

Something is wrong—very, very wrong. Teachers across the country at all grade levels, in all subjects, teaching a wide variety of student populations, can sense it. There is a pulse of dysfunction, a steady palpitation of doom that the path we are on is not properly oriented.

There is a raw and amorphous anxiety creeping into the psyche of the corps of American teachers.

We may have trouble pinpointing the exact moment when something in our schools and broader culture went wildly astray, leaving in its wake teachers sapped of optimism and weighted with enervate comprehension. The following is a small sampling—this list could easily have been twice as long if my conversations with fellow teachers are any indication—of problems that teachers were not facing ten years ago.

Civics: Forget Comey and McCabe. Support FBI whistleblower Terry Albury

Trevor Timm:

For the past three weeks, two former FBI officials—Andrew McCabe and James Comey—have received wall-to-wall media coverage and substantial monetary support from people across the United States in the form of donations and books sales following their feuds with President Trump. But it’s a third former FBI official, unknown to virtually anyone—Terry Albury—who faces actual jail time from the Trump Justice Department and is far more deserving of the support of journalists everywhere.

A few weeks ago, Albury, a former FBI special agent based out of Minnesota, became the second person the Trump administration—after Reality Winner—prosecuted for allegedly leaking documents to the media. Critically, one of the documents he is assumed to have leaked directly impacts journalists’ rights and press freedom.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Feds Taxed and Borrowed $4.47 Trillion Since Last Tax Day; $13,737 for Every Man, Woman, Child in USA

Terrence Jeffrey:

The federal government has taxed and borrowed $4,474,356,967,081 since Tax Day 2017, according to statements published by the U.S. Treasury.

That $4,474,356,967,081 in taxing and borrowing equals approximately $13,737 for each of the 325,719,178 people living in the United States as of July 2017.

In 2017, the tax filing deadline was April 18. As of that day, according to Table IV in the Daily Treasury Statement, the federal government had brought in $1,668,245,000,000 in tax revenues. For the entire fiscal year, which ended on September 30, 2017, the federal government would collect $3,314,894,000,000 in taxes, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement.

Commentary on Edina’s curriculum and climate


Katherine Kersten is a Senior Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, the think tank that I run. In the Fall 2017 issue of our magazine, Thinking Minnesota, she wrote a long, thoroughly documented expose of leftist political indoctrination and bullying of nonconforming students, teachers and staff in the Edina, Minnesota public school system. She did a follow-up story in the Winter 2018 issue of the magazine. Because of their quality and depth of reporting, these articles (along with an op-ed by Kathy in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on the same subject) triggered a vigorous local debate.

The issue of left-wing indoctrination in the schools is, of course, of national interest, and Kathy’s articles began to attract attention from national news outlets, as well. The Weekly Standard commissioned a piece by Kathy which greatly expanded the national reach of the story. Kathy’s Weekly Standard article was featured on the Drudge Report. Links to the article were tweeted by prominent conservatives like Brit Hume. Fox’s Dana Perino included it in her weekly reading list. Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist whose recent book was the #1 best seller on Amazon for several weeks, discussed it. The piece became one of the Weekly Standard’s most-read articles of 2018.

Many popular web sites linked to, and discussed, Kathy’s various Edina articles, including, of course, Power Line. In addition, national web sites including Real Clear Politics, InstaPundit (three times), Fox News, the Kansas City Star, the Independent Women’s Forum, Intellectual Takeout, Education News, Breitbart, The American Conservative, PJ Media, Erick Erickson in the Macon, Georgia Telegraph, Legal Insurrection, Frontpage Magazine, Hot Air, Alpha News, and many more.

In addition, Kathy appeared on television on Fox & Friends, and on Dennis Prager’s radio show, and was also a guest on a number of local radio programs across the country. Her stories about indoctrination and bullying in the Edina schools truly had gone national.

Thus, I was not surprised to get an email from Solvejg Wastvedt, a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio, on March 5. Ms. Wastvedt said that she wanted to interview me. She wrote:

‘Teaching is bending us out of shape — in a good way’

Lucy Kellaway:

I am now two-thirds of the way through my training year and my report card to myself remains mixed. The good news is that I am surviving. Although I quite often go to bed at 8.30pm feeling half dead, during waking hours I am more alive than I have felt in decades.

The profession is known to be exhausting, but is so in a peculiar way. The hours are no worse than in most professional jobs but every second is at full tilt. In my old life I would waste hours cyber skiving, which left me restive and grumpy. Now I view a spare five minutes before a lesson as an oasis of free time — long enough to do some printing, go to the loo and enter half a dozen behaviour points into the system. The reward for such intensity is that the day appears to be over 20 minutes after it began.

As well as surviving (which I count as a victory) I’m also positively good (or at least improving) at various things. I learn names easily and talk to students nicely. I am making my peace with technology, with the vagaries of the photocopier, the whiteboard and the snipping tool no longer defeating me.

Equally my workings on the board have gone from catastrophic to rather good. The way I lay out a simultaneous equation is a thing of beauty.

Who’s Reading Your Email?

Lindsay McKenzie:

In 2016, two faculty members at the University of Rochester filed a sexual harassment complaint against their colleague T. Florian Jaeger.

The two faculty members, Richard Aslin and Jessica Cantlon, said they were whistle-blowers, acting to protect their students from a potentially predatory professor. They expected support from their institution, but, they said, they didn’t get it.

After insisting that the university’s two internal investigations into Jaeger (which both found no evidence of wrongdoing) had been flawed, Aslin and Cantlon said the university administration turned on them.

Both faculty members had their university email accounts searched by administrators in an apparent attempt to find information that might be used to discredit them, they said.

The searches took place without their knowledge or consent and were likely in violation of the university’s IT privacy policy, said Aslin.

“Of course, the university has the authority to look at emails under appropriate circumstances, such as if there were suspicion of a crime, but we were whistle-blowers,” said Aslin. He described the email search as a “creepy” invasion of privacy with “no good cause.”

Perhaps more troubling than the search was what the institution did with the messages, said Cantlon.

Cantlon only found out that her email had been searched after her department chair, Greg DeAngelis, confronted her with a pile of printouts containing messages between Cantlon and several colleagues that criticized the way DeAngelis had handled Jaeger.

Commentary on CUNY Speech Climate

Greg Piper:

The City University of New York School of Law is blatantly misrepresenting what happened when its students confronted and heckled a visiting law professor, he told the New York Law Journal.

Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law said those hecklers did indeed take away both his rights and those of students who came to hear him at the Federalist Society chapter-sponsored event.

It wasn’t just a “reasonable exercise of free speech” that Blackman (below) tolerated by engaging with them for eight minutes, as Dean Mary Lu Bilek put it:

Jeffco Schools Have Massively Betrayed Parents’ Trust

Tom Coyne:

According to a recent report, “86% of Colorado parents surveyed believe their child is on track to meet the goals and expectations for learning at his or her grade level” (“Hearts and Minds of Parents in an Uncertain World” by Learning Heroes).

Most of these parents are dead wrong.

It isn’t hard to see why they are so overconfident. Parent-teacher meetings are usually short, with a brief review of student grades that are usually good. The fact that grade inflation is now rampant in K-12 is never mentioned (e.g., “Measuring Success” by Hurwitz and Lee and “High School Grade Inflation” by Zhang and Sanchez).

So parents remain blissfully ignorant of the true state of student achievement, and the heavy lifetime price their children will pay for school districts’ betrayal of their trust.

Palantir Knows Everything About You Peter Thiel’s data-mining company is using War on Terror tools to track American citizens. The scary thing? Palantir is desperate for new customers.

Peter Waldman, Lizette Chapman, and Jordan Robertson:

It all ended when the bank’s senior executives learned that they, too, were being watched, and what began as a promising marriage of masters of big data and global finance descended into a spying scandal. The misadventure, which has never been reported, also marked an ominous turn for Palantir, one of the most richly valued startups in Silicon Valley. An intelligence platform designed for the global War on Terror was weaponized against ordinary Americans at home.

Founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel and some fellow PayPal alumni, Palantir cut its teeth working for the Pentagon and the CIA in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company’s engineers and products don’t do any spying themselves; they’re more like a spy’s brain, collecting and analyzing information that’s fed in from the hands, eyes, nose, and ears. The software combs through disparate data sources—financial documents, airline reservations, cellphone records, social media postings—and searches for connections that human analysts might miss. It then presents the linkages in colorful, easy-to-interpret graphics that look like spider webs. U.S. spies and special forces loved it immediately; they deployed Palantir to synthesize and sort the blizzard of battlefield intelligence. It helped planners avoid roadside bombs, track insurgents for assassination, even hunt down Osama bin Laden. The military success led to federal contracts on the civilian side. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services uses Palantir to detect Medicare fraud. The FBI uses it in criminal probes. The Department of Homeland Security deploys it to screen air travelers and keep tabs on immigrants.

Police and sheriff’s departments in New York, New Orleans, Chicago, and Los Angeles have also used it, frequently ensnaring in the digital dragnet people who aren’t suspected of committing any crime. People and objects pop up on the Palantir screen inside boxes connected to other boxes by radiating lines labeled with the relationship: “Colleague of,” “Lives with,” “Operator of [cell number],” “Owner of [vehicle],” “Sibling of,” even “Lover of.” If the authorities have a picture, the rest is easy. Tapping databases of driver’s license and ID photos, law enforcement agencies can now identify more than half the population of U.S. adults.

JPMorgan was effectively Palantir’s R&D lab and test bed for a foray into the financial sector, via a product called Metropolis. The two companies made an odd couple. Palantir’s software engineers showed up at the bank on skateboards. Neckties and haircuts were too much to ask, but JPMorgan drew the line at T-shirts. The programmers had to agree to wear shirts with collars, tucked in when possible.

The Future of Elite Schools, Continued

James Fallows:

That being said, my best friend at Harvard is my therapist. Or maybe my psychiatrist, whom I see monthly at student health, and who recently comforted me with an age-old adage: “it’s better to be from Harvard than at Harvard.”

They were surprised I had not heard that saying before. Apparently, I’m not alone in my disdain for the realities of student life in the Ivy League.

I could fill a book with the conversations I’ve had with my mental healthcare providers. A chapter on the social isolation I’ve felt here; on what I should do with my life; on the merits and drawbacks of exclusively affinity group events at an already departmentalized school; on the unhealthy stress of crippling student loans, and my brewing envy (and resentment) of those without them.

* * *

I applied to Harvard seeking academic opportunity, personal validation, and of course, a prestigious pedigree. I was nearing completion of a two-year research fellowship, and, having been painfully pre-med in college, I was finally ready to admit that medicine was not for me (I don’t like hospitals).

I still craved a mission-driven career, and decided the passion for public health I had cultivated as an undergrad warranted further exploration. After informational interviews with numerous public health professionals, who told me the field was dominated by alumni of the highest ranked schools, I made the choice to only apply to top programs for my master’s—a degree required for consideration in most public health doctoral programs.

Denying Genetics Isn’t Shutting Down Racism, It’s Fueling It

Andrew Sullivan:

Last weekend, a rather seismic op-ed appeared in the New York Times, and it was for a while one of the most popular pieces in the newspaper. It’s by David Reich, a professor of genetics at Harvard, who carefully advanced the case that there are genetic variations between subpopulations of humans, that these are caused, as in every other species, by natural selection, and that some of these variations are not entirely superficial and do indeed overlap with our idea of race. This argument should not be so controversial — every species is subject to these variations — and yet it is. For many on the academic and journalistic left, genetics are deemed largely irrelevant when it comes to humans. Our large brains and the societies we have constructed with them, many argue, swamp almost all genetic influences.

Humans, in this view, are the only species on Earth largely unaffected by recent (or ancient) evolution, the only species where, for example, the natural division of labor between male and female has no salience at all, the only species, in fact, where natural variations are almost entirely social constructions, subject to reinvention. We are, in this worldview, alone on the planet, born as blank slates, to be written on solely by culture. All differences between men and women are a function of this social effect; as are all differences between the races. If, in the aggregate, any differences in outcome between groups emerge, it is entirely because of oppression, patriarchy, white supremacy, etc. And it is a matter of great urgency that we use whatever power we have to combat these inequalities.

Campus governance commentary

Kyle Smith:

Except if you tell them they’re jeopardizing their financial aid or their housing. Then they fold immediately.

The extent of student fortitude was mapped out in a natural experiment conducted at New York University last week, when students vowed to occupy a student center around the clock (it normally closes at 11 p.m.) until their demands for a meeting with the board of trustees were met. A photo in the Village Voice showed seated students blocking access by taking up most of the space on a stairway. The underlying ideals appeared to be the usual dog’s breakfast of progressive fancies — something about divesting from fossil fuels, and also allegations of unfair labor practices.

NYU administrators showed little patience for the activists disrupting the proceedings at the Kimmel Center for University Life. But how to dissolve the protest? It turned out that there was no need to bring in the police. Ringing up the students’ parents was all it took. The phone calls advised parents that students who interfered with campus functions could be suspended, and that suspensions can carry penalties of revoked financial aid or housing. The students “initially planned to stay indefinitely,” notes the Voice’s report. “Instead, the students departed within forty hours.”