The Dark Side of the Enlightenment

Yoram Hazony:

A lot of people are selling Enlightenment these days. After the Brexit vote and the election of President Trump, David Brooks published a paean to the “Enlightenment project,” declaring it under attack and calling on readers to “rise up” and save it. Commentary magazine sent me a letter asking for a donation to provide readers “with the enlightenment we all so desperately crave.” And now there’s Steven Pinker’s impressive new book, “Enlightenment Now,” which may be the definitive statement of the neo-Enlightenment movement that is fighting the tide of nationalist thinking in America, Britain and beyond.

Do we all crave enlightenment? I don’t. I like and respect Mr. Pinker, Mr. Brooks and others in their camp. But Enlightenment philosophy didn’t achieve a fraction of the good they claim, and it has done much harm.

Boosters of the Enlightenment make an attractive case. Science, medicine, free political institutions, the market economy—these things have dramatically improved our lives. They are all, Mr. Pinker writes, the result of “a process set in motion by the Enlightenment in the late 18th century,” when philosophers “replaced dogma, tradition and authority with reason, debate and institutions of truth-seeking.” Mr. Brooks concurs, assuring his readers that “the Enlightenment project gave us the modern world.” So give thanks for “thinkers like John Locke and Immanuel Kant who argued that people should stop deferring blindly to authority” and instead “think things through from the ground up.”

On Facebook and Privacy: Why Did We Give Our Data to Facebook in the First Place?

Krystal D’Costa:

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center reveals that most Americans online (~75%) understand the requirements for a strong password and that they should not conduct sensitive transactions on public WIFI, but beyond that, their online security literacy drops significantly. For example, only about 54% can identify a phishing attack (which suggests that half of adults online are clicking on suspicious links); only 39% understand the private browsing is not private from their ISP; and only 10% can identify an example of multi-factor authentication. What is surprising about this data is that while education is a factor in online security literacy, age is less so. Users aged 65 and older were seemingly just as knowledgeable as users in the age range of 18-29; while online literacy bias in general is weighted toward younger users, the Pew survey suggests that overall there is a shared standard of what we know and what we don’t know.

Our complicated relationship with Facebook is rooted in this murky understanding of online security and how the web works. When Facebook was founded in 2004 access was limited first to Harvard students and then opened to other colleges before extending to high school students and then the general public. From the very beginning the requirement for joining the site was rooted in transparency: you need a valid email address to join—in the early days of the platform, that meant an email address registered to the college you were attending—and you need to reveal your name. Connecting with others was dependent upon revealing a fundamental aspect of self, which countered the online expectations of an experience mediated by a username that afforded the individual some anonymity.

Through gradually widening circles of inclusion, Facebook normalized sharing facets of a person’s real identity. Sharing names in a closed social community such as a college campus is easy but as people move on and their offline networks grew wider, the business decision to open Facebook to everyone under this guise of increasing and maintaining connectivity and relevance to users eased user into sharing their names—and the other aspects of self—with a widening audience of both people and services.

Evolution of the English Alphabet

Useful Charts:

I made this chart last year as a bonus award on Kickstarter but am now making it available as a free download. Just right click on the above image (or long press on your mobile) and then select save.

UPDATE: I shared this on Twitter and it’s my first tweet to reach over 10k RT’s! Anyway, here’s a few comments based on the feedback I’ve received:

“Another nail in the coffin for learning styles” – students did not benefit from studying according to their supposed learning style

Christian Jarrett:

The idea that we learn better when taught via our preferred modality or “learning style” – such as visually, orally, or by doing – is not supported by evidence. Nonetheless the concept remains hugely popular, no doubt in part because learning via our preferred style can lead us to feel like we’ve learned more, even though we haven’t.

Some advocates of the learning styles approach argue that the reason for the lack of evidence to date is that students do so much of their learning outside of class. According to this view, psychologists have failed to find evidence for learning styles because they’ve focused too narrowly on whether it is beneficial to have congruence between teaching style and preferred learning style. Instead, they say psychologists should look for the beneficial effects of students studying outside of class in a manner that is consistent with their learning style.

Much more on “learning styles“, here

How to Level the College Playing Field

Harod Levy and Peg Tyre:

There is no easy fix. Creating economically diverse campuses is complicated and costly. Higher education did not cause and will not cure economic inequity. But as colleges struggle to come up with the right formula, the odds against children who come from families earning the median income or less actually graduating from college seem to grow more formidable.

The wealthy spend tens of thousands each year on private school tuition or property taxes to ensure that their children attend schools that provide a rich, deep college preparatory curriculum. On top of that, many of them spend thousands more on application coaches, test-prep tutors and essay editors. They take their children on elaborate college tours so that their children can “find the right fit” at schools with good names and high graduation rates. Enrollment strategists at these same schools seek applicants from areas where the data they buy confirms that income levels and homeownership are high.

Crispr’d Food, Coming Soon to a Supermarket Near You

Megan Molteni:

For years now, the US Department of Agriculture has been flirting with the latest and greatest DNA manipulation technologies. Since 2016, it has given free passes to at least a dozen gene-edited crops, ruling that they fall outside its regulatory purview. But on Wednesday, March 28, the agency made its relationship status official; effective immediately, certain gene-edited plants can be designed, cultivated, and sold free from regulation. “With this approach, USDA seeks to allow innovation when there is no risk present,” US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement.

The agency’s logic goes like this: Gene editing is basically a (much, much, much) faster form of breeding. So long as a genetic alteration could have been bred in a plant—say a simple deletion, base pair swap, or insertion from a reproductively compatible relative—it won’t be regulated. Think, changes that create immunity to diseases, hardiness under tough weather conditions, or bigger, better, tastier fruits and seeds. If you want to stick in genes from distant species, you still have to jump through all the hoops.

To Illustrate the Dangers of Cyberwarfare, the Army Is Turning to Sci-fi

Stephen Cass:

At first glance, Dark Hammer [PDF] looks a lot like any other science fiction comic book: On the front cover, a drone flies over a river dividing a city with damaged and burning buildings. But this short story in graphic form comes from the Army Cyber Institute at West Point, in New York. The ACI was set up to research cyber challenges, and it acts as a bridge between different defense and intelligence agencies and academic and industry circles.

“Our mission is to prevent strategic surprise for the army…to really help the army see what’s coming next,” explains Lt. Col. Natalie Vanatta, the ACI’s deputy chief of research. Dark Hammer is the first of four recently released comic books set in the near future that depict some of the emerging threats identified by the ACI. The books are free and downloadable by all, but they are primarily intended for “junior soldiers and young officers to get them to think about—well, what if the next 10 years doesn’t look like the last 80?” says Vanatta. The choice of format is unusual but far from unprecedented, she adds. “The army really has a large history of using graphic novels or fiction to help our workforce understand somewhat intangible concepts.”

Milwaukee schools braces for bruising budget battle; busing services, health care benefits could be pared

Annys Johnson:

The school board’s Committee on Accountability, Finance and Personnel will take up two other cost-saving proposals on Tuesday, including one to restructure employee health care benefits. According to the administration’s analysis, that proposal would save up to $17.4 million by:

Eliminating coverage of spouses who have access to insurance elsewhere or charge employees extra to keep them on their plan ($7.9 million).

Raising co-pays for doctors visits to $35, urgent care to $50 and emergency rooms to $175 ($4.3 million).

Increasing employee contributions for their health care to 7% for low-wage workers and as much as 19% for those earning $101,000 or more (up to $3.2 million).
Eliminating a long-term disability benefit that has cost the district about $2.3 million in premiums since January 2017, but reaped benefits for just four employees totaling $47,534 ($2 million).
The committee also will consider a proposal to explore the creation of near-site health clinics for employees that could save an estimated $700,000 annually.

25% of Madison’s 2014-2015 budget was spent on benefits.

Civics and free speech: Facebook To Tighten Grip On Political Ads, As Zuckerberg Heads To Hill

Griffin Connely:

Facebook will tighten its requirements to place political advertisements on its platforms and officially endorsed bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would regulate online ads, Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, announced Friday.

Zuckerberg’s announcement came four days before he is scheduled to speak to lawmakers in Washington.

In a Facebook post Friday, Zuckerberg officially endorsed the Honest Ads Act to regulate digital ads that could appear across the internet — including on social media like Facebook and Twitter.

Parent groups say YouTube defies underage data-collection laws

Daniel Cooper:

But YouTube is accused of avoiding this responsibility simply by saying that YouTube kids is only to be used by those over 13. The CCFC says that Google knows that YouTube is the most recognizable brand among kids aged between six and 12.

This is borne out, according to officials, because Google boasts to advertisers about how well it can access children. The CCFC also highlights programs like Google Preferred, where companies can pay more to get airtime on popular, rugrat-friendly channels.

Many school distrocts, including Madison, use Google (youtube parent) services.

EFF on Google data mining and student privacy.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Top 20% of Americans Will Pay 87% of Income Tax

Laura Sanders:

One of the least discussed parts of America’s income tax is how progressive it is, and the tax overhaul didn’t change that fact. In 2018, top earners will pay a higher share of income taxes.

The individual income tax matters—a lot—because it is the largest single source of U.S. revenue. And its share has risen in recent years. For 2018, it could raise 50% of total federal revenue, according to estimates from Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, up from about 48% last year.

So who pays what share of this tax?

IRS data aren’t available until long after people file, so estimates for 2017 and 2018 come from the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group.

They divided about 175 million American households into five income tiers of roughly 65 million people each. The income includes earnings from wages and investments plus untaxed amounts, such as from health coverage. These additions nearly double the income of people in the lowest tier and add about 20% for those in the highest tier.

On Teacher Compensation (Madison Spent 25% of its budget on benefits in 2014-2015)

Matt Barnum:

Others say the issue is one of priorities, pointing to big increases in nonteaching school staff, like aides, custodians, and counselors, and greater teacher retirement costs.
Higher pay means teachers are more likely to stay in the classroom. That’s linked to increased student achievement.

There’s a lot of variation in how much teachers are paid, with particularly low pay in Arizona, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Teacher pay ranges from an average of about $42,000 a year in South Dakota to nearly $80,000 in New York. Another report, from the Education Law Center, which supports more school funding, compares early career teachers’ pay (not including benefits) to pay for similarly educated young professionals in each state. In almost all cases, teachers are paid less. Teachers in Arizona made 73 percent of similar nonteachers, among the worst in the country. Teachers in Oklahoma (78 percent) and West Virginia (79 percent) didn’t have it much better. Kentucky teachers actually came out ahead of teachers elsewhere but still lagged behind nonteachers.

Higher pay means teachers are more likely to stay in the classroom. That’s linked to increased student achievement. The policy argument for paying teachers more is straightforward: You’ll attract and keep better teachers. That’s largely backed up by research. Several studies have shown that even relatively modest increases in teacher pay can decrease teacher turnover.

Unsustainable benefit growth”.

The Party

unit 9:

The Party is based on a concept by the author Lucy Hawking and is written by Sumita Majumdar, who drew on her own experiences as a person with autism in similar social situations. Throughout the film, viewers hear Layla’s thoughts, voiced by the autistic teenager Honey Jones. The storyline was developed after extensive focus groups and interviews with people on the autism spectrum as well as with input from the National Autistic Society, the Autism Research Trust and the University of Cambridge Autism Research Centre.

The visual and auditory effects in the film were based on scientific research about the kinds of symptoms seen in autistic individuals, such as difficulties with processing faces, and hypersensitivity to lights, loud noises and strong odours. Interviews conducted with autistic women also revealed they had issues with how things sound during a meltdown, including having difficulties distinguishing between sounds, hearing echoing voices and being unable to process the other information around them.

Middle-Class Families Increasingly Look to Community Colleges

Kyle Spencer:

“My parents don’t want to just throw money around now,” Ms. Shahverdian said as she walked across Pasadena’s 53-acre campus, heading toward her English class. “I’m getting a great education at a fraction of the cost.”

Community colleges have long catered to low-income students who dream of becoming the first in their families to earn a college degree. And for many, that remains their central mission. But as middle- and upper-middle-class families like the Shahverdians face college prices in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, more of them are looking for ways to spend less for their children’s quality education.

“This is about social norms,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University in Philadelphia. “More middle-class parents are saying, I’m not succumbing to the idea that the only acceptable education is an expensive one.”

Free Initiatives

In recent years, Pasadena City College has had a 320 percent increase in students whose parents make more than $100,000 a year, to 828 students last year from 197 in 2007. And it’s not alone.

Harvard Declares War on Orthodox Christianity The culture war intensifies.

Sohrab Ahmaria>:

Drive down Massachusetts Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares in the tony, hyper-educated city of Cambridge, and you will spot two handsome Episcopal churches located a few blocks apart. Both houses of worship are usually festooned with rainbow flags, Black Lives Matter banners, statements on transgender rights and so on. The churches epitomize what might be called “Harvard Christianity”—a Christianity that is fully conformed to modern liberalism and the opinions of the meritocrats who teach and study at the elite university nearby.

But other strands of Christianity—those that conform themselves to the faith’s timeless moral teaching and uphold its sexual anthropology—are not so welcome at the university. Indeed, Harvard is now determined to ostracize, censor, and ultimately root out orthodox Christianity from a university that was founded to train ministers in the Puritan tradition. That is the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the school’s little-noticed decision this year to suspend and defund the largest evangelical fellowship on campus.

Media Literacy Index 2018: Common sense wanted (reading would seem to be required

The Northwestern European countries have the highest potential for resilience to the impact of fake news due to the quality of education, free media and high trust among people. At the other extreme are the Balkan countries, which would be more vulnerable to the negative influence of fake news and the “post-truth” phenomenon mainly because of controlled media, deficiencies in education and the low level of trust among people.

These are the findings of a new edition of the Media Literacy Index by the European Policies Initiative (EuPI) of the Open Society Institute – Sofia. The index assesses the resilience potential to fake news in 35 European countries, using indicators for media freedom, education and trust in people. As the indicators have different importance, they are assigned different weight in the model. The media freedom indicators have the highest weight (Freedom House and Reporters without Borders) along with the educationindicators (PISA) with reading literacy having the highest share among them. The e-participation indicator (UN) and trust in people (Eurostat) have smaller weight relative to the other indicators.

According to the Index 2018 findings, the countries which are better equipped to deal with the impact of post-truth and fake news are the countries from Northwestern Europe – the Scandinavian states as well as the Netherlands, Estonia and Ireland. This coincides with the conclusions of other surveys and experts opinions, which single out these countries in regard to their capacity to tackle fake news. The countries with the lowest results are in Southeastern Europe – from Croatia to Turkey – along with their immediate neighbors Hungary and Cyprus. As a rule, the reasons for these results are the poor or mediocre performance in education as well as the controlled (not free) media. Such countries are most likely to be vulnerable to fake news and the ensuing negative effects.

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

Life Inside China’s Social Credit Laboratory

Simina Mistreanu :

Rongcheng was built for the future. Its broad streets and suburban communities were constructed with an eye to future expansion, as the city sprawls on the eastern tip of China’s Shandong province overlooking the Yellow Sea. Colorful billboards depicting swans bank on the birds — one of the city’s tourist attractions — returning there every winter to escape the Siberian cold.

In an attempt to ease bureaucracy, the city hall, a glass building that resembles a flying saucer, has been fashioned as a one-stop shop for most permits. Instead of driving from one office to another to get their paperwork in order, residents simply cross the gleaming corridors to talk to officials seated at desks in the open-space area.

At one of these stations, Rongcheng residents can pick up their social credit score.

In what it calls an attempt to promote “trustworthiness” in its economy and society, China is experimenting with a social credit system that mixes familiar Western-style credit scores with more expansive — and intrusive — measures. It includes everything from rankings calculated by online payment providers to scores doled out by neighborhoods or companies. High-flyers receive perks such as discounts on heating bills and favorable bank loans, while bad debtors cannot buy high-speed train or plane tickets.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: How Your Social Class Affects Where You’ll Move

Richard Florida:

But the conventional wisdom masks a deeper trend: America’s geography continues to be reshaped by a polarized pattern of socioeconomic sorting. This process is driven by a selective population shift of the most affluent, the best-educated, and the young to expensive coastal metros like the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Seattle, and the New York–Boston–Washington corridor, with the less affluent and less educated flowing into cheaper Sunbelt metros, and the even less advantaged trapped in Rust Belt areas.

That is the basic pattern documented in a new analysis by urban economist Issi Romem, who charts the socioeconomic status of the domestic migrants to and from America’s largest metro areas between 2005 and 2016. Romem finds a selective class-based sorting of Americans. Those moving to expensive coastal metros, according to his analysis, have significantly higher incomes and higher levels of education than those moving out, and are considerably younger.

Reputation inflation explains why Uber’s five-star driver ratings system became useless

Alison Griswold:

How did Uber’s ratings become more inflated than grades at Harvard? That’s the topic of a new paper, “Reputation Inflation,” from NYU’s John Horton and Apostolos Filippas, and CEO Joseph Golden. The paper argues that online platforms, especially peer-to-peer ones like Uber and Airbnb, are highly susceptible to ratings inflation because, well, it’s uncomfortable for one person to leave another a bad review.
 The somewhat more technical way to say this is that there’s a “cost” to leaving negative feedback. That cost can take different forms: It might be that the reviewer fears retaliation, or that he feels guilty doing something that might harm the underperforming worker. If this “cost” increases over time—i.e., the fear or guilt associated with leaving a bad review increases—then the platform is likely to experience ratings inflation.
 The paper focuses on an unnamed gig economy platform where people (“employers”) can hire other people (“workers”) to do specific tasks. After a job is completed, employers can leave two different kinds of feedback: “public” feedback that the worker sees, and “private” reviews and ratings that aren’t shown to the worker or other people on the platform. Over the history of the platform, 82% of people have chosen to leave reviews, including a numerical rating on a scale from one to five stars.

If Adults Won’t Grow Up, Nobody Will

Peggy Noonan:

I have spent the past few days watching old videos of the civil-rights era, the King era, and there is something unexpectedly poignant in them. When you see those involved in that momentous time, you notice: They dressed as adults, with dignity. They presented themselves with self-respect. Those who moved against segregation and racial indignity went forward in adult attire—suits, dresses, coats, ties, hats—as if adulthood were something to which to aspire. As if a claiming of just rights required a showing of gravity. Look at the pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. speaking, the pictures of those marching across the Edmund Pettus bridge, of those in attendance that day when George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door and then stepped aside to the force of the federal government, and suddenly the University of Alabama was integrated. Even the first students who went in, all young, acted and presented themselves as adults. Of course they won. Who could stop such people?

I miss their style and seriousness. What we’re stuck with now is Mark Zuckerberg’s .

Facebook ’s failings are now famous and so far include but are perhaps not limited to misusing, sharing and scraping of private user data, selling space to Russian propagandists in the 2016 campaign, playing games with political content, starving journalism of ad revenues, increasing polarization, and turning eager users into the unknowing product. The signal fact of Mr. Zuckerberg is that he is supremely gifted in one area—monetizing technical expertise by marrying it to a canny sense of human weakness. Beyond that, what a shallow and banal figure. He too appears to have difficulties coming to terms with who he is. Perhaps he hopes to keep you, too, from coming to terms with it, by literally dressing as a child, in T-shirts, hoodies and jeans—soft clothes, the kind 5-year-olds favor. In interviews he presents an oddly blank look, as if perhaps his audiences will take blankness for innocence. As has been said here, he is like one of those hollow-eyed busts of forgotten Caesars you see in museums.

But he is no child; he is a giant bestride the age, a titan, one of the richest men not only in the world but in the history of the world. His power is awesome.

Justice Department Probes Colleges’ Early-Decision Admission Practices

Melissa Korn:

The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into whether communications among officials at competing colleges about early-decision applicants violate antitrust laws, the latest in a series of investigations the federal government has launched into higher-education admission practices in recent months.

The Justice Department sent letters to a number of colleges and universities this week asking that they preserve emails and other messages detailing agreements with other schools regarding their communications with one another about admitted students and how they might use that information.

It wasn’t clear how many schools received the letters. The news was reported Friday evening by Inside Higher Ed.

Many elite colleges admit upward of 40% of their first-year classes through early admissions, including binding early-decision programs under which applicants commit to attending the school if accepted. In another early-admissions option, some institutions bar students from applying early to other private colleges, but allow them to submit early applications to public universities.

In a letter dated April 6, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department asked schools to preserve documents that detail formal or informal agreements to share the identities of accepted students with people at other colleges.

Don’t Look to the State to Keep Social Media Companies From Imposing Ideological Conformity

JD Tuccille:

This wouldn’t be the first time, of course. YouTube has implemented a policy against “hate speech”—a grab-bag category that includes vile stuff, such as explicit racism, but which is so amorphous that it can easily encompass anything that raises a moderator’s hackles. “There is a fine line between what is and what is not considered to be hate speech,” YouTube acknowledges, and the company ended up apologizing after newly hired staff pulled the plug on right-wing videos and whole accounts that didn’t violate anything other than somebody’s sense of propriety.

Ditching “hate speech” became a popular goal for tech companies last summer, after lethal political violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. To that end, Twitter—which once described itself as “the free speech wing of the free speech party”—implemented a creepy Trust and Safety Council to “ensure that people feel safe expressing themselves on Twitter.” Inevitably, that resulted in a purge of not just open bigots, but also people with edgy politics or trollish behavior.

Facebook, which warns that speech that “attacks people based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or disease is not allowed” ran into its own trouble trying to parse among vigorous debate, run-of-the-mill meanness, and forbidden hate speech. ProPublica reviewed more than 900 posts alleged to violate such content rules and found that Facebook’s “content reviewers often make different calls on items with similar content, and don’t always abide by the company’s complex guidelines.” In response, the social media giant noted the difficulty in distinguishing between hateful and heated in “content that may be controversial and at times even distasteful” but which “does not cross the line into hate speech.”

Civics, Free Speech and the media-political complex

Matt Welch:

YouTubeIf Jesus was right about how ye shall know them by their fruits, then we might have a good test case for gleaning what the journalism establishment (such as a thing exists) considers an important threat to a free press.

In one corner we have a must-run cookie-cutter anti-“fake news” promotional video ordered up by the conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group to its most-in-the-nation 193 local-TV-news outlets, at a time when the company’s controversial merger with Tribune Co. is being held up by anti-trust regulators at the Justice Department. In the other we have a Sex Trafficking Act passed overwhelmingly by Congress (388-25 in the House, 97-2 in the Senate) despite being vociferously opposed on free speech grounds by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and reliable civil libertarians such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the latter of whom warned that “Civic organizations protecting their right to free speech could be [ruined] by their more powerful political opponents” and that subsequently there could be “an enormous chilling effect on speech in America.”

The relationship between money and happiness

Visual Capitalist:

Are richer countries also the happiest?

This chart compares GDP per capita with the self-reported happiness of citizens In each country.

The resulting correlation Is quite clear, especially early on In a country’s development. However, as GDP per capita rises, this relationship tends to have a tot more variance – and certain regions and countries become obvious outllers that are worth Investigating In more detail.

Planned liberal arts cuts at UW-Stevens Point fan right-left debate on higher education

Pat Schneider:

Critics of the proposal say it is evidence of the UW System’s move toward becoming more technical college than university, part of a retreat from higher education supported by conservatives across the country.

“There’s a certain part of society that views higher education as job training and ignores the larger calling of higher education to provide an educated electorate and citizenry,” said Andy Felt, a UW-Stevens Point math professor and president of the local chapter of AFT-Wisconsin, a labor union without collective bargaining rights. There’s a part of the Republican Party, Felt said, that resists adequately funding public education, K-12 and higher education, at the levels required to fulfill its higher calling.

Civics: Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggers

Cary O’Reilly:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to monitor hundreds of thousands of news sources around the world and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers.”

It’s seeking a contractor that can help it monitor traditional news sources as well as social media and identify “any and all” coverage related to the agency or a particular event, according to a request for information released April 3.

The data to be collected includes a publication’s “sentiment” as well as geographical spread, top posters, languages, momentum, and circulation. No value for the contract was disclosed.

Madison’s K-12 Governance & Discipline Climate: Teacher Union View

Andrew Waity, Karen Vieth, Andrew Mayhall, Cari Falk, Kira Fobbs, Jessica Hotz, Michael Jones, Kerry Motoviloff, and Peter Opps:

Superintendent Cheatham,

We saw the article in the Wisconsin State Journal on Monday, March 26th and found the tone of your quotes in the article disturbing and provocative. We have heard similar concerns from MTI membership.

The primary concerns center around the impression given that MMSD staff is not engaging in proactive work around student behavior, and are engaging in actions that fail to “warn” students before more serious behaviors occur. The article on the front page appeared to place blame on educators in schools.

The reality is that MTI members, leaders and staff have been calling for more interventions, more support and more accountability for student behaviors at the lower tiers. The call for changes to the current climate in our schools is resounding across MMSD. We know that you have heard this as well in your visits to schools. The idea that staff is not intervening with students out of fear or for other reasons is a willing and political deflection of responsibility from administrators (primarily non-school based) onto teachers and other staff in our schools. Our data and other measures of climate are a product of many factors that include a sense of frustration around a lack of consistently effective supports for our staff and students around behavior education.

We fully recognize a need to change outcomes for our students and the need to engage in work that reduces disparities around achievement and discipline. The way to do this is to develop systems that increase shared accountability and maximize supports at the individual student and classroom level. Engaging in shared leadership that includes staff, students, families, community and administration is critical, and that level of collaboration doesn’t currently exist here.

If the WSJ article represented your sentiments inaccurately then you should clarify to MMSD staff and the public. Your words do matter a great deal to your staff. We look forward to hearing from you.


MTI Board of Directors

Andrew Waity, Karen Vieth, Andrew Mayhall, Cari Falk, Kira Fobbs, Jessica Hotz, Michael Jones, Kerry Motoviloff, and Peter Opps


Gangs and school violence forum.

Madison Teachers, Inc

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Madison spends nearly $20,000 per student, far more than most K-12 Districts.

And, the comics have weighed in:

by Alan Talaga and John Lyons.

Asian-Americans Suing Harvard Say Admissions Files Show Discrimination


A group that is suing Harvard University is demanding that it publicly release admissions data on hundreds of thousands of applicants, saying the records show a pattern of discrimination against Asian-Americans going back decades.

The group was able to view the documents through its lawsuit, which was filed in 2014 and challenges Harvard’s admissions policies. The plaintiffs said in a letter to the court last week that the documents were so compelling that there was no need for a trial, and that they would ask the judge to rule summarily in their favor based on the documents alone.

The plaintiffs also say that the public — which provides more than half a billion dollars a year in federal funding to Harvard — has a right to see the evidence that the judge will consider in her decision.

Harvard counters that the documents are tantamount to trade secrets, and that even in the unlikely event that the judge agrees to decide the case without a trial, she is likely to use only a fraction of the evidence in her decision. Only that portion, the university says, should be released.

Same Course, Different Ratings

Colleen Flaherty:

A new study in PS: Political Science combines elements of prior research on gender bias in student evaluations of teaching, or SETs, and arrives at a serious conclusion: institutions using these evaluations in tenure, compensation and other personnel decisions may be engaging in gender discrimination.

“Our analysis of comments in both formal student evaluations and informal online ratings indicates that students do evaluate their professors differently based on whether they are women or men,” the study says. “Students tend to comment on a woman’s appearance and personality far more often than a man’s. Women are referred to as ‘teacher’ [as opposed to professor] more often than men, which indicates that students generally may have less professional respect for their female professors.”

The Ivy League Students Least Likely to Get Married

Kevin Carey:

Although the university is coy about the exact number of Tiger-Tiger marriages, Princeton tour guides are often asked about matrimonial prospects, and sometimes include apocryphal statistics — 50 percent! Maybe 75! — in their patter. With an insular campus social scene, annual reunions and a network of alumni organizations in most major cities, opportunities to find a special someone wearing orange and black are many.

People care about matrimony for good reason. Society has been profoundly shaped by what academics call assortative mating: the tendency of people to marry others resembling themselves. Educationally assortative mating rose for decades after World War II, as more people went to college and more good jobs were reserved for college graduates. Income inequality is now significantly driven by well-paid college graduates marrying one another, and by poorly paid high school dropouts doing the same.

But a recent analysis of education and economic mobility complicates this story. At Princeton, and in the American higher education system as a whole, there remains a strong correlation between marriage and economic class. Even for college graduates, where you’re going depends a lot on where you came from.

Increasingly skeptical students, employees want colleges to show them the money

Jon Marcus:

This club doesn’t organize intramural sports or plan keg parties or produce the yearbook. It pores over dense financial documents to examine how the university handles its money. One kind of risky deal they unearthed, the students in the group say, cost the school more than $130 million at a time when tuition was increasing much faster than the national average.

Across the state, at the University of Michigan, lecturers and graduate students negotiating for higher salaries and benefits have been drilling into that institution’s operating budget, finding what they say is a $377 million surplus it’s enjoying from their comparatively low-paid labor.

Social Media Use 2018: Demographics and Statistics

Aaron Smith and Monica Anderson:

Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users.

As has been the case since the Center began surveying about the use of different social media in 2012, Facebook remains the primary platform for most Americans. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) now report that they are Facebook users, and roughly three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook.

Big data reshapes China’s approach to governance Pursuit of digital transformation a key challenge to democratic political systems

Sebastian Heilmann:

When China’s Communists hold their 19th Party Congress in October, the choreography of the event will be as stiff as ever and broadcast the image of a rigid and unchanging political system. This image is wrong. With the help of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, the Chinese leadership is thoroughly reshaping its approach to economic and social governance. China’s determined pursuit of the digital transformation presents a fundamental challenge to democratic political systems.

Technological innovation may be tilting the systemic competition between models of political and economic governance in China’s favour. Ten years ago, the internet revolution seemed to present a threat to authoritarian rulers. Today, the Big Data revolution plays into their hands.

China’s Communist Party has embraced this opportunity and is equipping the country’s political system with the hardware and software that the digital transformation provides. In this reconfigured system, central co-ordination and control, termed “top-level design” by the Xi Jinping leadership, are intended to become an asset, not a restraining factor, for technological innovation, economic performance and political stability.

K-12 Governance Climate: Milwaukee

Will Flanders:

Of course, not all blame should lay with Driver herself. The job of Milwaukee superintendent is, quite simply, hamstrung from pursuing most meaningful reform by a school board that is beholden to the interests of the teachers union. Expectations for big, bold reforms that could improve the academic outcomes for Milwaukee’s students weren’t all that likely from Driver, or anyone in that position.

Nevertheless, how should Driver’s term be evaluated? Perhaps what will be emphasized most by Driver’s supporters is that all Milwaukee schools moved out of “failing” status on the state report card. However, it is important to emphasize that this was less a result of improvement in the schools than a result of changes to the report card that took student poverty into account.

Citizens by Degree

Scott Jaschik:

The female share of college enrollments has been going up and up, to the point where women now make up a majority of undergraduates and in many graduate and professional programs. Many attribute this growth to societal changes and federal gender-equity laws. A new book, however, argues that several other laws may have had a significant and typically ignored impact. Those laws not only didn’t seek to promote the education of women, but their unintended consequences may have horrified some of their congressional sponsors. The impact of these laws is significant, the book argues.

Economic Mobility in the United States

Erin Currier, Joanna Biernacka-Lievestro Diana Elliott, Sheida Elmi, Clinton Key, Walter Lake, Sarah Sattelmeyer:

The principle of equal opportunity holds so distinguished a place in U.S. history that it even appears in drafts of the country’s founding documents.1 This idea has been interpreted in various ways, but it is typically understood to mean that success should depend on hard work, that opportunities to get ahead should not be affected by the circumstances of birth, and that the labor market should allow for free and open competition among children from all social origins.

But is the United States realizing this frequently expressed commitment to equal opportunity? According to a recent survey, only 64 percent of Americans now believe that opportunities for mobility are widely available, the lowest percentage in the roughly three decades the question has been tracked.2 Concern is also growing among scholars and policymakers that the ideal of equal opportunity, which has always been difficult to realize, is not being pursued as effectively as circumstances demand. This sense has been partly fueled by research, much of it by The Pew Charitable Trusts, showing that those born into the top or bottom of the economic ladder are quite likely to remain there as adults.3

Given the substantial body of research on economic mobility, one might imagine that little remains unknown. This is not the case. Although it is well established that a person’s income is related to that of his or her parents, some uncertainty remains about exactly how strong this relationship is. Among studies that rely on the intergenerational elasticity (IGE), the estimates of mobility range widely, making it difficult to reach a consensus on how evenly or unevenly opportunity is distributed. (For an explanation of the IGE, see the sidebar on Page 2.)
In previous research, the IGE estimates have varied widely, with recent estimates based on administrative data ranging from as low as 0.34 to as high as 0.6.4 Because of this variability, the actual level of economic persistence across generations remains unclear.5

The hypocrisy in MIT’s moralizing

The Tech:

The Yemen crisis has been dubbed by Amnesty International “the forgotten war,” so perhaps it is fitting that MIT conveniently experienced some amnesia regarding Saudi-led injustices as it leapt at the chance to build high-profile, and likely profitable, connections with a foreign power. This most recent controversy surrounding MIT fits a foul pattern which has come into relief in an era featuring increased emphasis on morality and social duty: the MIT administration has reliably commented on political matters when it is easy to do so, but it has strategically chosen to remain silent on matters of injustice for which it shares culpability.

The administration has made clear its support of DACA students, ensured that high school students could peacefully protest without jeopardizing their chances of admission, spoken out against President Trump’s early-2017 travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, and criticized the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA. Yet, in the case of MBS’s visit, MIT has not publicly justified its decision to hold this forum in the face of the online petition or in-person protest, instead only publishing a news article praising the potential of the forum to expand Saudi Arabia’s economy. Many people have speculated that MBS is using his trip to the U.S. to rebrand himself as a positive, transformative force for Saudi Arabia and consequently pave over his human rights violations. By holding this forum and further developing its relationship with Saudi Arabia, the MIT administration is sending the signal that it not only approves of MBS’s rebranding mission, but it is even willing to actively participate in it. The administration is demonstrating that it is open to building relationships that empower war criminals, as long as it can expand its global influence in the meantime.

‘A Nation at Risk’ Turns 35: Schools Leaders, Including Five Former Education Secretaries, to Headline Summit on Report that Launched a Movement

Laura Fay:

“A Nation at Risk”, the damning report that sparked the modern education reform movement, turns 35 this year. The Ronald Reagan Foundation and Institute is marking the anniversary with a daylong summit to discuss progress since the report’s release and the future of American education.

The report, released during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, warned of a “rising tide of mediocrity” in American schools that demanded national attention.

The Reagan Institute Summit on Education, slated for April 12 in Washington, D.C., will convene a diverse group of education and political leaders, including Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, State Superintendents John White of Louisiana and Carey Wright of Mississippi, and Télyse Masaoay, a Vanderbilt University student, among others.

Civics: The Supreme Court’s Continuing Immunity Crusade

Will Baude:

However, I was somewhat heartened to see a dissent by two Justices (Sotomayor and Ginsburg). The dissent argued that the majority had “misapprehend[ed] the facts and misapplie[d] the law,” and that a jury could have found that the use of deadly force was clearly unreasonable. The dissent also went on to make a second point, however, one that I think is quite important to emphasize:

related: prosecutor immunity in action.

Civics: evidence of mobile snooping devices around DC

Tal Kopan:

The Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that it has detected evidence of mobile snooping devices around Washington, DC.

The devices could be the work of foreign governments or entities, however, DHS hasn’t determined their origin, the agency said in a letter. At issue are what are known alternatively as Stingrays, IMSI catchers or cell-site simulators. The devices essentially act as fake cellphone towers, and as mobile devices connect to them, the devices are able to snoop on the traffic that goes through.

Democrats should do more to support striking teachers

Osita Nwanevu:

Thousands of teachers and sympathetic demonstrators in Oklahoma gathered on Tuesday, for a second straight day, at Oklahoma’s state Capitol to demand higher teacher pay and increased education funding. The protests were sparked by Oklahoma’s Republican governor, Mary Fallin, signing a bill last week that increased teachers’ pay by 15 to 18 percent—not enough, walkout supporters say, for teachers who are often stuck paying for school supplies out of pocket, in a state that pays teachers well below the national average.

There were similar scenes in Kentucky on Monday, when thousands of teachers and sympathetic demonstrators rallied at the state Capitol in Frankfort in opposition to significant changes to public pensions attached to a sewage bill and passed speedily Thursday night by Republicans in the Legislature. Efforts to overhaul the state’s pension system have been contentious for some time. In October, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said that opponents of his pension reform efforts lacked “the sophistication to understand what’s at stake” in negotiations.

Reminders and summer school

Karen Rivedal:

Timely text messages in the summer about key dates and must-do tasks help ensure more high school graduates make it to their chosen colleges in the fall, the Madison School District has learned in a three-year study funded by a Madison-based nonprofit here and in two other cities.

The program, which backers say helped increase enrollment in two-year colleges by 3 to 9 percentage points, essentially works by keeping high school counselors active in the lives of their former students during the three months after they’ve graduated.

“We do a hand-off (to colleges), more so than a (drop) and we’re done,” said Jen Wegner, the Madison district’s director for personalized pathways and career/technical education.

Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women on Top

Belinda Luscombe:

Masterfile / Radius Images / Corbis
The fact that the average American working woman earns only about 8o% of what the average American working man earns has been something of a festering sore for at least half the population for several decades. And despite many programs and analyses and hand-wringing and badges and even some legislation, the figure hasn’t budged much in the past five years.

But now there’s evidence that the ship may finally be turning around: according to a new analysis of 2,000 communities by a market research company, in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., the median full-time salaries of young women are 8% higher than those of the guys in their peer group. In two cities, Atlanta and Memphis, those women are making about 20% more. This squares with earlier research from Queens College, New York, that had suggested that this was happening in major metropolises. But the new study suggests that the gap is bigger than previously thought, with young women in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego making 17%, 12% and 15% more than their male peers, respectively. And it also holds true even in reasonably small areas like the Raleigh-Durham region and Charlotte in North Carolina (both 14% more), and Jacksonville, Fla. (6%).

University Press of Kentucky Celebrating 75 Years


The University Press of Kentucky (UPK) is an award-winning and much-admired press widely known for its publishing excellence in the areas of Appalachian cultural history, military history, and the Civil War, along with more contemporary topics like horseracing and whiskey-making. UPK is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, representing a consortium of Kentucky’s state universities, five of its private colleges, and two historical societies — and the press celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
So, why would Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin want to spoil the celebration and shut the press down?

Sadly, as part of a sweeping budget-cutting measure, Governor Bevin has proposed that 70 small programs in the state budget be completely eliminated, along with across-the-board cuts to public higher education that would include the University Press of Kentucky budget. That budget? $672,000, which pays employee salaries — all other expenses are covered through book sales. In contrast, the annual salary of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari? $8 million.

Online Program Management: Spring 2018 view of the market landscape

Phil Hill:

Nearly two years ago I wrote two blog posts giving a high-level view of the Online Program Management (OPM) market landscape. This is a growing but messy market, and the market changes since mid 2016 call for an updated view.

OPM providers are for-profit organizations that help non-profit schools develop online programs, most often for Master’s level programs. These companies provide various services for which traditional institutions historically have not had the experience or organizational capability to fully support, at least for fully-online programs and often for non-traditional student populations. Some examples of the services include marketing & recruitment, enrollment management, curriculum development, online course design, student retention support, technology infrastructure, and student & faculty call center support.

The OPM market has historically been known for a full-service, revenue-sharing model, based on the premise that most traditional institutions are not only operationally unprepared to offer online programs at scale but also are not set up to invest in online programs up front. There are extensive costs, particularly in marketing and recruitment as well as curriculum and course design, that cause most scalable online programs (that is, those designed with the intent and infrastructure to allow more than just a few dozen students) to require investment over the first several years, before tuition revenue catches up. Rather than requiring the institution to spend sizable up-front money without a guarantee of repayment, revenue-sharing OPM vendors provide this financing themselves – which is in itself an expensive proposition. It often takes three to five years for an OPM company to become profitable for any online program, which is why they often require 10-year or even longer contracts.

Gloria Reyes wins the one Contested Madison School Board seat.

Karen Rivedal:

“Sometimes we get to the point where it’s a detriment in our community because we are so scared of being called racist,” Reyes said. “We have to call that out, get over it and be able to move on as a community to help support all students. And we have to have a diverse representation on the school board. It’s important.”

Reyes has called for active-shooter response training for school staff and for beefing up school security infrastructure to help keep students safe. She also has supported keeping police officers in the four main high schools, an issue that has risen in prominence after a first semester in which disciplinary problems led to a 32 percent rise in high school suspensions locally and after a mass shooting in a Florida high school galvanized students nationwide in support of stricter gun controls.

As deputy mayor, Reyes handles issues related to public safety, civil rights and community services.

Amber Walker:

Before joining the mayor’s office in 2014, Reyes was a Madison Police detective. She started Amigos en Azul — Spanish for Friends in Blue — a group dedicated to improving relations among police officers and the Latino community. She also played a pivotal role in establishing the youth court system on the city’s south side.

During her campaign, Reyes supported keeping police officers in schools and advocated for restorative justice practices. As a Madison School Board member, Reyes said she plans to make school safety her “first priority” during the first few months of her term.

Much more on the 2018 Madison school board election, here.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Why Americans are avoiding the doctor

Richard Eisenberg:

Between a third and a half of people age 45 to 59 and a quarter of those 60+ went without needed health care in the past year due to its cost, according to a troubling new survey from the West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago.

“We were surprised by the magnitude of the findings,” said Dr. Zia Agha, chief medical officer at the West Health Institute, a nonprofit applied medical research organization based in San Diego. “And 80% of the people we surveyed had health insurance, so just having insurance does not make you immune to health care costs.”

The researchers at West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago (a nonpartisan research institution) interviewed 1,302 adults. Their findings were released at the American Society on Aging’s 2018 Aging in America conference in San Francisco.

Age 45 to 59 skipping health care
Specifically, the survey found these results for people age 45 to 59 (members of Generation X and boomers) as a result of health care costs:

Related: $37B and growing back door electronic medical record taxpayer subsidies since 2009.

Civics: A Betrayal: The teenager told police all about his gang, MS-13. In return, he was slated for deportation and marked for death.

Hannah Dreier:

when he sat slouched in his usual seat by the door in 11th-grade English class. A skinny kid with a shaggy haircut, he had been thinking a lot about his life and about how it might end. His notebook was open, its pages blank. So he pulled his hoodie over his earphones, cranked up a Spanish ballad and started to write.

He began with how he was feeling: anxious, pressured, not good enough. It would have read like a journal entry by any 17-year-old, except this one detailed murders, committed with machetes, in the suburbs of Long Island. The gang Henry belonged to, MS-13, had already killed five students from Brentwood High School. The killers were his friends. And now they were demanding that he join in the rampage.

Classmates craned their necks to see what he was working on so furiously. But with an arm shielding his notebook, Henry was lost in what was turning out to be an autobiography. He was transported back to a sprawling coconut grove near his grandfather’s home in El Salvador. In front of him was a blindfolded man, strung up between two trees, arms and legs splayed in the shape of an X. All around him were members of MS-13, urging him on. Then the gang’s leader, El Destroyer, stepped forward. He was in his 60s, with the letters MS tattooed on his face, chest and back. A double-edged machete glinted in his hand. He wanted Henry to kill the blindfolded man.

What does preservice teacher quality tell us about entry and retention in the profession?

Robert Vagi Margarita Pivovarova, and Wendy Miedel Barnard:

Recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers has been a long-standing policy issue as states work to alleviate chronic teacher shortages as well as close achievement gaps. Importantly, evidence points to teacher quality as the most important school-based factor that affects student achievement. Unfortunately, it is often difficult for school and district leadership to identify high-quality teachers who will remain in the classroom, especially among those who are just entering the profession and in the first years of employment.

While the vast majority of teachers in the U.S. enter the profession upon receiving roughly four years of traditional university-based training, research that links preservice teacher experiences to their performance and retention once they are in the labor force is lacking. This overlooks the fact that much of our country’s investment in improving teacher quality happens during teachers’ preservice training. Moreover, recent evidence suggests that the context of a student’s preservice teaching is associated with important consequences for their later employment outcomes.

Our recent study adds to a small but growing body of literature that uses data from teachers’ preservice training to better understand how they fare in the classroom after graduation. We were interested in whether a measure of preservice teacher quality could predict entry and retention in the profession. Our data included over 1,100 graduates of a teacher preparation program housed at a large, state university. In addition to having information collected by the university, we were able to track these graduates’ employment using data from the state department of education. Students enrolled in this program complete a year-long student teaching residency that enables them to enter the labor force with the professional experience of a second-year teacher. During the residency, student teachers receive four formal observations by university-trained coaches who assign them evidence-based scores that are later combined into an overall score of effectiveness. This comprehensive score is based on several indicators including student teachers’ instructional and professional practices. Student teachers are expected to respond to their coach’s feedback after each observation and demonstrate improvement over time. We used the score from preservice teachers’ final assessments as an indicator of overall quality and readiness to enter the profession.

Related: NCTQ.

Landless Americans Are the New Serf Class

Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox:

The suburban house is the idealization of the immigrant’s dream—the vassal’s dream of his own castle. Europeans who come here are delighted by our suburbs. Not to live in an apartment! It is a universal aspiration to own your own home. —Los Angeles urbanist Edgardo Contini

For the better part of the past century, the American dream was defined, in large part, by that “universal aspiration” to own a home. As housing prices continue to outstrip household income, that’s changing as more and more younger Americans are ending up landless, and not by choice.

The share of homeownership has dropped most rapidly among the key shapers of the American future—millennials, immigrants, minorities. Since 2000, the home ownership among those under 45 has plunged 20 percent. In places like Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Indianapolis, and elsewhere, households with less than the median income qualify for a median-priced home with a 10 percent down payment, according to the National Association of Realtors. But in Seattle, Miami, and Denver, a household needs to make more than 120 percent of the median income to afford such median-priced house. In California, it’s even tougher: 140 percent in Los Angeles, 180 percent in San Diego, and over 190 percent in San Francisco.

Where You Go to College Doesn’t Matter in Your Career

William Stixrud:

When my daughter Jora was in high school, she went to a talk I gave on the adolescent brain, during which I pointed out that high school grades don’t predict success very well. On the way home she said, “Great talk, Dad, but I bet you don’t really believe that bit about grades.” I assured her that I did. To prove it, I offered to pay her $100 if she got a ‘C’ on her next report card — in any subject.

We’ve all heard the familiar anxiety-inducing nostrums: That a screw-up in high school will follow you for the rest of your life. That if you don’t get into Harvard or Yale, you’ll never reach the c-suite. That the path to success is narrow and you’d better not take one false step. I have come to think of this unfounded belief system as what we psychologists call a “shared delusion.”

Beware the Academic Vanity Honeypot

Virginia Heffernan:

A few weeks ago, I got a direct message on Twitter from one Larry Summers. Yes, the Larry Summers, if that nasty little aquafresh checkmark beside @LHSummers was to be believed.

Larry Summers of Harvard. Larry Summers of the World Bank. Larry Summers of the Treasury Department, for the love of god. Secretary Summers, President Summers. Receiver of medals for epochal contributions to macroeconomics, public finance, labor—not to mention his rare insight into women’s gender-borne intellectual shortcomings.

Yes sirree, Lawrence Henry Summers was just casually DM’ing me, because, well, he’d read an article of mine and found it astute. And now Larry Summers wanted feedback from me on an article of his.

Election Day

Wisconsin State Journal editorial:

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, seven spring elections have been held since 2000 with ballots similar to today’s, featuring a contested high court race but no presidential primary. During those seven elections, voter turnout has averaged just 21.5 percent of the voting-age population.

Voters can and should do better than that today. And in Madison, at least, lots of early voting suggested more interest than usual.

Madison school board candidates Anna Moffit and Gloria Reyes.

England has become one of the world’s biggest education laboratories

The Economist:

ASH GROVE ACADEMY, a state primary which sits in Moss Roe, a poor suburb on the outskirts of Macclesfield, is an excellent school. Recently, its team won a local debating tournament, besting fancier rivals; its pupils are exposed to William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde; lessons are demanding and there are catch-up sessions for those who fall behind. Most important, teaching is based on up-to-date research into what works in the classroom. It is the sort of school that ministers dream of replicating across the country.

But how to do so? When the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition came to power in 2010, it set about freeing schools from local-authority control. International studies have suggested that such freedom improves results. But giving teachers autonomy doesn’t automatically mean that all will make good decisions. So in 2011 the government provided a grant of £135m ($218m) to establish the Education Endowment Fund (EEF), a laboratory for education research which would provide teachers with the information to make smart choices.

Apprenticeships: Useful Alternative, Tough to Implement

Gail Heriot:

A college education is not everyone’s cup of tea. The United States needs other ways to instill job skills in the younger generation. The German apprenticeship system is sometimes viewed as an appealing alternative. But substantially increasing apprenticeship opportunities in the United States may not be as easy or inviting as it sounds. The German model depends for its success on strong unions and professional licensing requirements. Applying the German method to the United States would require huge — and, for some, hugely unpopular — changes to the structure of the economy.

Successfully expanding the availability of apprenticeships in the United States will therefore require real thought. Any American-style apprenticeship model will need to deal effectively with the age-old problem of the “runaway apprentice” — the apprentice who leaves his employer after the employer has invested time and energy in training him, but before the apprentice has been useful enough to make the employer’s investment worthwhile.

Who doesn’t read books in America?

Andrew Perrin:

Several demographic traits correlate with non-book reading, Pew Research Center surveys have found. For instance, adults with a high school degree or less are about five times as likely as college graduates (37% vs. 7%) to report not reading books in any format in the past year. Adults with lower levels of educational attainment are also among the least likely to own smartphones, even as e-book reading on these devices has increased substantially since 2011. (College-educated adults are more likely to own these devices and use them to read e-books.)

Adults with annual household incomes of $30,000 or less are about three times as likely as the most affluent adults to be non-book readers (36% vs. 13%). Hispanic adults are about twice as likely as whites (38% vs. 20%) to report not having read a book in the past 12 months. But there are differences between Hispanics born inside and outside the U.S.: Roughly half (51%) of foreign-born Hispanics report not having read a book, compared with 22% of Hispanics born in the U.S.

Shetland Islanders are sick of being misplaced on maps

The Economist:

It is 100 miles north-east from John O’ Groats to the Shetland Islands, a windswept outpost of 23,000 souls. Yet on many maps it looks about the same distance east, with the islands transported in an enclosed box to nearer the mainland, so that less space is taken up by sea. Locals are unhappy, and Tavish Scott, their Lib Dem MSP, has proposed an amendment to a bill devolving power to the islands that would require the Scottish government to place the islands “accurately” in official publications. “Given the amount we’ve put into the exchequer over the past 40 years with oil and gas revenues, it’s about frickin’ time they put us in the right place,” he says.

How Life Outside of School Affects Student Performance in School

Brian A. Jacob and Joseph Ryan:

This report presents findings from a unique partnership between the University of Michigan and the State that allowed us to match the universe of child maltreatment records in Michigan with educational data on all public school children in the state. We find that roughly 18 percent of third-grade students have been subject to at least one formal investigation for child maltreatment. In some schools, more than fifty percent of third graders have experienced an investigation for maltreatment. These estimates indicate that child abuse and neglect cannot simply be treated like a secondary issue, but must be a central concern of school personnel.

Civics: City apologizes, settles public records lawsuit with Isthmus

Dylan Brogan:

Madison assistant city attorney Roger Allen has apologized for the police department taking more than a year to fulfill an open records request from Isthmus, saying the request accidentally “fell through the cracks.” He says the city is working to make sure that delays like this won’t happen again.

“This [delay] was an outlier and, quite frankly, was embarrassing both to the records section in MPD and to my office,” Allen tells Isthmus.

The request for police records was made in December 2016 but not filled until after Isthmus and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed a lawsuit on Feb. 1, 2018. The city then turned over the records, which resulted in the March 8 article “Shielded.” The piece examined how the police department handled an internal investigation of Officer Stephen Heimsness.

Tom Kamenick, deputy counsel and open government specialist for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, or WILL, calls the settlement a victory for public access to government records.

The Guardian view on intelligence genes: going beyond the evidence


umans are fascinated by the source of their failings and virtues. This preoccupation inevitably leads to an old debate: whether nature or nurture moulds us more. A revolution in genomics has poised this as a modern political question about the character of our society: if personalities are hard-wired into our genes, what can governments do to help us? This is a big, creepy “if” over which the spectre of eugenics hovers. It feels morally questionable yet claims of genetic selection by intelligence are making headlines.

This is down to “hereditarian” science, a field dominated in this country by Robert Plomin, a psychologist at King’s College London. His latest paper claimed “differences in exam performance between pupils attending selective and non-selective schools mirror the genetic differences between them”. With such a billing the work was predictably greeted by a raft of absurd claims about “genetics determining academic success”. What the research revealed was the rather less surprising result: the educational benefits of selective schools largely disappear once pupils’ innate ability and socio-economic background were taken into account. It is a glimpse of the blindingly obvious – and there’s nothing to back strongly either a hereditary or environmental argument.

Nazi Germany and the fall of law

Jonathan P. Baird:

Back on Feb. 16, the New Hampshire Bar Association held its annual mid-year meeting. This year the program was a little different. Instead of the usual continuing legal education event, the bar brought in two historians, Anne O’Rourke and Willliam Meinecke Jr., from the United States Holocaust Museum to look at how German lawyers and judges responded to the destruction of democracy and the establishment of the Nazi state.

Their presentation showed that the worst horrors of the Nazi regime did not arrive full-blown. Rather, the road to fascism was taken in gradual incremental steps, each one preparing the way for the next.

While German lawyers and judges might have opposed Hitler’s authority and the legitimacy of the Nazi regime, they failed to do so. Not only did they fail, they collaborated and interpreted the law in ways that broadly facilitated the Nazis’ ability to carry out their agenda.

Admittedly, there was a very narrow window to dissent. Courts interpreted every appearance of coolness toward the regime as a breach of professional standards. Insufficient enthusiasm for the regime could be a basis for getting disbarred.

Why the crypto-backdoor side is morally corrupt

Robert Anderson:

rypto-backdoors for law enforcement is a reasonable position, but the side that argues for it adds things that are either outright lies or morally corrupt. Every year, the amount of digital evidence law enforcement has to solve crimes increases, yet they outrageously lie, claiming they are “going dark”, losing access to evidence. A weirder claim is that those who oppose crypto-backdoors are nonetheless ethically required to make them work. This is morally corrupt.

Red-State Teacher Unrest Just Keeps Spreading

Ed Kilgore:

Eight Kentucky school districts — including those in Louisville and Lexington — are closed today as teachers stay home to protest the GOP legislature’s destructive “reforms” of their pension system. Oklahoma teachers are planning to strike on Monday despite winning a $6,100 pay raise. And Arizona teachers rallied at the state capital on Wednesday and are threatening to strike if their demands for major pay raises and restoration of education funding cuts are not met.

As this wave of unrest among teachers spreads nationally, it’s clear it has been inspired by the nine-day strike that won West Virginia teachers (and other state employees) a pay raise earlier this month. But there’s something more fundamental going on than copycat protests. We’re seeing a teacher-led backlash against years, and even decades, of Republican efforts at the state level to cut taxes and starve public investments. This is very clear in Oklahoma, where a quick pay raise the legislature passed this week is deemed by teachers to have missed the larger point:

Locally, Madison spends far more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student.

K-12,Tax & Spending climate: 10 years after the crisis

Reporting by Cezary Podkul. Produced by Gabriel Gianordoli, Jess Kuronen, Tyler Paige, Peter Santilli and Hanna Sender. :

The financial crisis and the massive federal response reshaped the world we live in. Though the economy is in one of its longest expansions and stock indexes have hit new highs, many people across the political spectrum complain that the recovery is uneven and the markets’ gains aren’t fairly distributed. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at some of the most eventful aspects of the response and how we got to where we are today.

The teen who built a prosthetic arm for his dad


The teen who built a prosthetic arm for his dad

Robbie Frei is passionate about the potential of 3D printing. After all, he’s seen its potential first-hand.

Robbie’s father is a Marine veteran who lost part of his right arm in Iraq. One challenge was that he couldn’t play video games with his children. So Robbie designed a 3D-printed adapter for him. He’s since made the design available for anyone in the world to download. The 18-year-old has heard back from several people who have used the adapter – including a 21-year-old Air Force veteran and a man whose daughter has cerebral palsy.

Since then, Robbie has also made a prosthetic for his dad that not only has fingers and can move, but that, like the adapter, could be affordably 3D-printed.

“You design one thing and can email it to someone else… and you’re helping people all over,” Robbie says. “That’s the power of engineering.”

The D.C. lottery is intended to give all kids a fair shot at a top school. But does it?

Perry Stein:

Sabrina Gordon knows that any lottery is a fluky game of odds. But she needs to believe that the school lottery is different.

The single mother lives in a poor area of Southeast Washington and refuses to enroll her 10-year-old son, Trevonte, in their neighborhood school, Johnson Middle, where he has a guaranteed slot.

So Gordon joins the thousands of families across the city anxiously awaiting results of the city’s competitive school lottery this week — a system that highlights the bleak reality that the demand for high-performing schools in the District far exceeds the supply.

The lottery has been a long-standing source of tension, with wealthy families hiring consultants to navigate the school choices and nonprofits emerging to ensure that disadvantaged families know how to maximize their options. The lottery was thrust into the spotlight last month when D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson was forced to resign amid outrage that he bypassed the lottery so his daughter could transfer to Wilson High, which has a wait list of more than 600 students. Now, because of that scandal, the school lottery is likely to draw more scrutiny than ever.

Controlling the Web Is the Dream (and the Nightmare)

Stephen Carter:

Russia’s recent declaration that it is prepared to operate its own internet should the West cut off access has struck some observers as more Putinesque bellicosity, which indeed it might be. But Moscow’s desire to build a web it can control is the dream of authoritarians everywhere. And not all the authoritarians are in government.

Regulating the flow of information has been the goal of every tyrant ever since Emperor Qin Shi Huang burned the books in 213 B.C. in the hope that later generations would believe that history had begun with his reign. 1 Nowadays one country after another wants the ability to control its own intranet — or at least to throw a kill switch.

Shutting off the web has proved easier than many imagined. When Hosni Mubarak’s regime ordered Egyptian telecoms to close down their internet service during the Arab Spring of 2011, traffic slowed to just about zero. Nowadays China’s Great Firewall is the best-known effort to restrict what a population can find online, but countries around the world are doing their best to follow Beijing’s example.