How a University Can Sell Its Soul: HASTAC’s Stanford Origins and the University’s Current Decision on Stanford University Press

Cathy Davidson:

“Austerity” When You Are Wealthier Than Just About Anyone

In the wake of the decision by the President and Provost of Stanford University to either (depending on which account you read and when) kill its scholarly press immediately or bring Stanford University Press (founded 1892) to a slow death by withdrawing its $1.7 million annual subsidy, a story (perhaps apocryphal) is making the rounds. It seems an important administrator at a different elite institution once said that his university spent less every year to subsidize their prestigious press than they did to fund a faculty dining hall. If my back of the envelope calculation of space on an expensive campus plus staff and food, etc, is at all accurate, this story could well be true–even if it isn’t. I suspect Stanford pays at least as much to subsidize its faculty dining spaces and other amenities not key to the University’s scholarly mission than it does to support scholarly publishing at Stanford University Press.

The point here is that $1.7 million a year, in the operating budget of an extremely expensive and well supported university, is pocket change. For a point of comparison, one scholar calculates that Stanford pays about $38 million a year to help subsidize the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; another notes that, if the 5% spending cap on Stanford’s $26 billion dollar endowment were raised to 5.1%, there would be 2.6 million more a year to spend on the the Press. And the University is in the midst of a major fund raising campaign.

Rein in the four horsemen of irreproducibility

Dorothy Bishop:

More than four decades into my scientific career, I find myself an outlier among academics of similar age and seniority: I strongly identify with the movement to make the practice of science more robust. It’s not that my contemporaries are unconcerned about doing science well; it’s just that many of them don’t seem to recognize that there are serious problems with current practices. By contrast, I think that, in two decades, we will look back on the past 60 years — particularly in biomedical science — and marvel at how much time and money has been wasted on flawed research.

How can that be? We know how to formulate and test hypotheses in controlled experiments. We can account for unwanted variation with statistical techniques. We appreciate the need to replicate observations.

Yet many researchers persist in working in a way almost guaranteed not to deliver meaningful results. They ride with what I refer to as the four horsemen of the reproducibility apocalypse: publication bias, low statistical power, P-value hacking and HARKing (hypothesizing after results are known). My generation and the one before us have done little to rein these in.

In 1975, psychologist Anthony Greenwald noted that science is prejudiced against null hypotheses; we even refer to sound work supporting such conclusions as ‘failed experiments’. This prejudice leads to publication bias: researchers are less likely to write up studies that show no effect, and journal editors are less likely to accept them. Consequently, no one can learn from them, and researchers waste time and resources on repeating experiments, redundantly.

Welcome to Mapping China’s Tech Giants

China Tech Map:

Chinese technology companies are increasingly important and dynamic international actors. They are making critical contributions in a range of areas, from cutting edge research to enabling connectivity for developing countries. Yet, their rapid expansion and growing influence also bring a range of strategic and policy challenges. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre has created a public database to map the global expansion of 12 key Chinese tech companies working across the telecommunications, internet & biotech sectors. It’s a tool for journalists, researchers, NGOs, policymakers and the interested public to better understand the enormous scale, complexity and increasing reach of some of China’s tech giants. On this website you’ll find:

The gender wars have begun. Here is the playbook.

Larry Kummer:

OkCupid study of men and women rating others attractiveness
Perhaps women are dissatisfied with an America overflowing with weak men. That would explain some of women’s support for open borders (e.g., see this survey of young women). The vast majority of migrants come from patriarchal societies. Many come from failed states where men treat women a bit like animals. Many new women want strong men, and will do what it takes to get them.

Men’s growing recognition of these things will shatter the current system. On January 1610, Galileo saw moons orbiting Jupiter – not Earth – and our conception of the universe changed. When men see how the new gender game works, America will change.

Another factor makes a counter-revolution possible. Women will – like iron filings near a magnet – reorient themselves deferentially in the presence of strong men. This effect begins in high school. Also, see radical feminists deferring to Islamic patriarchs, donning hijabs and ignoring their treatment of women. For example, Kathleen O’Day Wynne was Ontario’s first female premier of Ontario and the first openly gay head of government in Canada. When she visited the Masjid Toronto mosque, she wore a hijab and docilely sat in the back until given permission to speak. How would she have responded to such instructions by a Catholic priest?

Madison schools test limits of open government with private board member meetings

Chris Rickert:

Individually or in pairs, Madison School Board members spend hours each year in private “board briefings” with Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, discussing matters soon to come before the full board for votes that must be held in public.

Cheatham instituted the briefings after she was hired in 2013, and district administrators and some board members defend the practice.

But recent guidance from the state attorney general’s office cautions that such small, private gatherings of public officials risk running afoul of the state open meetings law, a current board member and attorney called them “on the line” legally, and a former board member stopped participating in them because he believes the public and board members should be able to hear policy discussions involving members and administrators.


Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, now around $20k per student.
What will be different, this time?

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

When China and the US wage a visa war against each other’s scholars, nobody wins

David Shambaugh:

In both countries’ cases, the internal security services – the Ministry of Public Security and FBI – have now come to play a determining role, instead of the Foreign Ministry and Department of State, in deciding who should be granted visas.

By denying or withholding visas from some of America’s leading China experts, the Chinese side has alienated precisely those who spend their lives working on informing the American public and policymakers, and who have impact on each.

China has thus turned potential allies into adversaries. Now, the US government is doing the same thing to China’s leading America hands. This only has negative consequences on each side.

Are Chinese students in the US really a national security threat?
For American and foreign scholars, the threat of visa revocation and not being able to visit China has made many carefully watch what they say and publish in the public domain – self-censorship – lest they be blacklisted.

For Chinese scholars now not being given visas to the US, the issue is not what they say or publish; rather, the US government (FBI) claims that they have links to China’s intelligence services and are “non-traditional collectors”, or they are increasingly viewed as “agents of influence” promoting the Communist Party and People’s Republic of China abroad.

What I Saw at Middlebury College

Dominic Aiello:

“At a meeting last week at Middlebury College, students upset and angry that conservative Ryszard Legutko had been invited to speak on campus were calmed and reassured by three administrators who apologized to the students for their feelings of discomfort, agreed that they had every right to feel aggrieved, and assured them there’s steps underway to ensure controversial right-wing speakers are not easily invited to campus in the future,” reported Jennifer Kabbany of The College Fix this week. “That according to a 40-minute recording of the meeting recorded surreptitiously by a student in the room…who said the three administrators at the meeting were Sujata Moorti, the incoming dean of the faculty, as well as Dean of Students, Baishakhi Taylor, and Renee Wells, director of education for equity and inclusion.”

The “student in the room” cited in this report—that was me. But before I discuss the controversy over Legutko, let me offer a brief flashback to February 6, 2019.

At the time, I was beginning my first semester of college as what Middlebury calls a “Feb”: Along with about 80 or 90 classmates, I was beginning my college education a semester late. I moved in while most of the campus was away on break, and spent the week getting to know the other Feb freshmen. It was essentially a week full of fun activities and bonding on an idyllic private liberal-arts college campus in rural Vermont. Along with everyone else, I was encouraged to believe that this is what the whole Middlebury experience would be like. And maybe, in times of yore, it was. But not in this era, when students are encouraged to experience campus life as one long sequence of ideologically-inflicted psychic traumas.

Losing Our Minds: Brain Drain across the United States

US Congress Joint Economic Committee:

Over the past 50 years, the United States has experienced major shifts in geographic mobility patterns among its highly-educated citizens. Some states today are keeping and receiving a greater share of these adults than they used to, while many others are both hemorrhaging their homegrown talent and failing to attract out-of-staters who are highly educated. This phenomenon has far-reaching implications for our collective social and political life, extending beyond the economic problems for states that lose highly-educated adults.

This report describes what this so-called “brain drain” looks like across the 50 U.S. states. We use data from the 1940 through 2000 decennial censuses and the 2010 and 2017 American Community Surveys to measure brain drain in each state.

We define a highly-educated “leaver” as someone in the top third of the national education distribution who resides in a state other than her birth state between the ages of 31 and 40. We then analyze brain drain using two measures: “gross” brain drain and “net” brain drain. Gross brain drain is defined as the share of leavers who are highly educated minus the share of adults who remain in their birth state (“stayers”) who are highly educated. Net brain drain is the share of leavers who are highly educated minus the share of entrants to a state who are highly educated.

Madison’s K-12 Governance Climate

David Blaska:

We see that the Madison Board of Education is going to take its show on the road next Monday, April 29, in a desperate attempt to evade the F-bombing mob that disrupts their every meeting.

They’re hoping that the race-baiters can’t find Chavez school, 3502 Maple Grove Drive, Madison, WI 53719. (Starting with a “meet and greet” at 5:15 p.m.) That’s on the outskirts of Verona! About as far as one can get from Doyle Administration on W. Dayton Street and still be in the MMSD!

xxozu0rf4ji11Maybe Freedom Inc. and Young, Gifted & Stupid don’t have GPS. Or that they won’t rent a bus to get there. If they did, would it be the crazy bus? After all, why should they obey the rules of the road? The crazy bus will lurch all over the road, the sidewalks, and front lawns of the white supremacists and their “Everyone is Welcome” signs in three languages. The crazy bus will break the speed limit, then block traffic at will.

The cops won’t stop them because Monica Adams, Bianca Gomez, Brandi Grayson, Nino Rodriguez, Amelia Royko-Maurer et al don’t trust the police.

Here’s an idea: camouflage Chavez elementary school! Put up a sign that says “Police Station.” Park a couple squad cars out in front.

Cap Times demands more school security while getting rid of cops!

David Blaska:

The CT attempts to cover its tracks with this bit of rhetorical gymnastics:

This goes far beyond debates about school resource officers. Though we respect the views of those who say that the officers should remain in the schools, we do not presume for a moment that they can or should be expected to provide the level of security that is required.


No, it STARTS with school resource officers. You want MORE security in the schools so you start by kicking uniformed police officers OUT of the schools because — SMACK! — they cannot be expected “to provide the level of security that is required”???

What, pray, tell, would provide the level of security that is required? The Capital Times never says.

The public focuses its attention on divides between schools, while tracking has created separate and unequal education systems within single schools.

Whitney Pirtle:

The segregation of America’s public schools is a perpetual newsmaker. The fact that not even 1 percent of the incoming freshman class identifies as black at New York City’s elite Stuyvesant High School made national headlines last month. And New York isn’t unusual. The minority gap in enrollment at elite academic public schools is a problem across America.

But more troubling, and often less discussed, is the modern-day form of segregation that occurs within the same school through academic tracking, which selects certain students for gifted and talented education (GATE) programs. These programs are tasked with challenging presumably smart students with acceleration and extra enrichment activities. Other students are kept in grade-level classes, or tracked into remedial courses that are tasked with catching students up to academic baselines.

Black students make up nearly 17 percent of the total student population nationwide. Yet less than 10 percent of students in GATE are black. A shocking 53 percent of remedial students are black. This disparity across tracks is what social scientists commonly call “racialized tracking”—in which students of color get sorted out of educational opportunities and long-term socioeconomic success.

K-12 Salary-to-spending ratios: State-by-state differences


The average teacher salary has been remarkably consistent over this period, even though spending has increased by 35 percent, and that has dropped the salary-to-spending ratio from 6.2 in 1990 to 4.5 in 2016. If salaries had risen at the same rate as spending, the average teacher salary by 2016 would have been more than $80,000 per year, versus a bit less than $60,000.

Salary-to-spending ratios: State-by-state differences

So the U.S. as a whole now has a salary-to-spending ratio of 4.5. Are there any differences at the state level? That might suggest that some states are making higher teacher salaries a priority. There are indeed differences. Here’s how it looks for 2015–2016.

Locally, Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 School District spends far more than most, now around $20,000 per student.

The Truth About Dentistry

Ferris Jabr:

In the early 2000s Terry Mitchell’s dentist retired. For a while, Mitchell, an electrician in his 50s, stopped seeking dental care altogether. But when one of his wisdom teeth began to ache, he started looking for someone new. An acquaintance recommended John Roger Lund, whose practice was a convenient 10-minute walk from Mitchell’s home, in San Jose, California. Lund’s practice was situated in a one-story building with clay roof tiles that housed several dental offices. The interior was a little dated, but not dingy. The waiting room was small and the decor minimal: some plants and photos, no fish. Lund was a good-looking middle-aged guy with arched eyebrows, round glasses, and graying hair that framed a youthful face. He was charming, chatty, and upbeat. At the time, Mitchell and Lund both owned Chevrolet Chevelles, and they bonded over their mutual love of classic cars.

San Francisco Had an Ambitious Plan to Tackle School Segregation. It Made It Worse.

Dana Goldstein:

Like many parents in San Francisco, Melvin Canas and Delfina Ramirez described applying to public kindergarten as a part-time job. They researched schools all over the city for their daughter, Cinthya; took unpaid hours off their jobs as cooks to tour over a dozen; and ultimately ranked 15 of them on her application.

San Francisco allows parents to apply to any elementary school in the district, having done away with traditional school zoning 18 years ago in an effort to desegregate its classrooms. Give parents more choices, the thinking was, and low-income and working-class students of color like Cinthya would fill more seats at the city’s most coveted schools.

But last month, Cinthya’s parents, who are Hispanic, found out she had been admitted to their second-to-last choice, a school where less than a third of students met standards on state reading and math tests last year. Only 3 percent were white.

Why Time Off Work Actually Improves Your Work and Life

Darius Forum:

What do you do when you feel tired or overwhelmed? Do you power through? Or do you take some time off?

In the past, I thought that you should always power through — no matter what. Now, I still think that way when it comes to life in general. You can’t quit taking care of yourself and your family.

A sense of responsibility is one of the most powerful motivators in life. But I’m not talking about a lack of motivation here.

I’m talking about taking time off work. But there’s still a massive taboo on taking time off. Some people think it’s for losers. Others think it’s about escaping your work.

After all, “If you love your work and life, why do you even need a break?”

Good point, smart ass. Here’s why time off actually IMPROVES your work and life.

In College Admissions Scandal, Families From China Paid the Most

Melissa Korn and Jennifer Levitz:

One Chinese family allegedly paid $6.5 million to William “Rick” Singer, the California-based college counselor who has admitted to masterminding the scheme, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Another was the family of a student—referred to in court filings as “Yale Applicant 1”—who paid $1.2 million to secure her admission to Yale University. The student is 21-year-old Sherry Guo, who moved to Southern California from China to attend high school, her lawyer confirmed.

The families have been of particular interest in the case because they allegedly paid far more than nearly all of the 33 parents currently facing criminal charges in the scheme. Many parents paid $250,000 to $400,000 for the illegal admissions services, including securing fraudulent test scores and bribing coaches to have their children designated as recruited athletes, prosecutors say.

Ms. Guo had her eye on Columbia University or Oxford University, said her lawyer, James Spertus of Spertus, Landes & Umhofer LLP in Los Angeles.

But Mr. Singer told her she would go to Yale University. It was a sure thing, he said, according to Mr. Spertus. An attorney for Mr. Singer, who has pleaded guilty to four felony charges, including racketeering conspiracy, declined to comment.

Gun violence in Philly: ‘An everyday mass shooting,’ Temple study finds

Aneri Pattani:

Yet the urban toll of gun violence is much higher — and in Philadelphia, a frequent event. Shootings in the city often take place in different neighborhoods and involve different residents. But for the victims’ communities and the hospitals responsible for treating them, having multiple bullet-ridden patients come to the emergency room all at once from various locations can be as devastating as the more widely reported single-site mass shootings.

A new study from Temple University found that Philadelphia has seen 244 clusters of three or more gunshot patients rushed to a single hospital at once in an 11-year period. On three occasions, six or more patients were brought in as a single cluster.

The study analyzed data from the Philadelphia Police Department on more than 14,000 firearm injuries between 2005 and 2015. Researchers looked at how many patients arrived at the same hospital within 15 minutes of each other — considered a patient cluster.

Seeing clusters of gunshot patients is a near daily occurrence in Philadelphia, said Jessica Beard, a co-author of the study and a trauma surgeon at Temple University Hospital. Doctors call the influx of patients “an everyday mass shooting.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Politicians Actively Working To Separate Chicago from Illinois To Create 51st State

Jack Davis:

Frustrated with the dominance of Chicago in Illinois politics, Republicans are proposing legislation to lop off the city from the rest of the state.

Having one city that has an inordinate influence on state politics has long prompted calls for a similar solution in New York state. The issues at stake go from money to power to a vast social gulf between city residents and rural ones.

The same gulf exists in Illinois as well, according to state Rep. Brad Halbrook, a Republican and strong supporter of jettisoning Chicago from a state where he said it is out of step with the rest of the population.

“Our traditional family values seem to be under attack at every angle,” he said, according to the State Journal-Register.

Halbrook has introduced a House resolution — Resolution 101 — asking Congress to take Chicago out of Illinois and make it a separate state. Five fellow lawmakers have signed on, but the measure is a long shot to even make it out of committee, according to the Journal-Register.

The Price of Teacher Mulligans: “I didn’t stop to ask myself then what would happen to all the kids who’d been left in the basement with the teacher who couldn’t teach” – Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama:

Without telling me, she went over to the school and began a weeks-long process of behind-the-scenes lobbying, which led to me and a couple of other high-performing kids getting quietly pulled out of class, given a battery of tests, and about a week later reinstalled permanently into a bright and orderly third-grade class upstairs, governed by a smiling, no-nonsense teacher who knew her stuff.

It was a small but life-changing move. I didn’t stop to ask myself then what would happen to all the kids who’d been left in the basement with the teacher who couldn’t teach. Now that I’m an adult, I realize that kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn. Their anger over it can manifest itself as unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t “bad kids.” They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances.

The Constitutionally independent Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, long lead by our new Governor, Tony Evers, has granted thousands of elementary reading teacher content knowledge waivers .

Wisconsin elementary teachers are, by law, required to pass the Foundations of Reading exam. This requirement – our only teacher content knowledge imperative – is based on Massachusetts’ highly successful MTEL initiative.

An emphasis on adult employment.

Study: Journalists need help covering misinformation: Madison’s K-12 taxpayer spending rhetoric vs reality

Daniel Funke:

A study published in Science Advances in January found that older people are more likely to share fake news stories. A Gallup and Knight Foundation survey from last year suggested that most Americans want technology companies to do more to fight misinformation. Other researchers have found that fake news is making college students trust all news less.

But how has online fakery affected journalists?

In a new study conducted by the Institute for the Future, a California-based nonprofit think tank, researchers found more than 80% of journalists admitted to falling for false information online. The data was based on a survey of 1,018 journalists at regional and national publications in the United States.

Perhaps more concerning: Only 14.9% of journalists surveyed said they had been trained on how to best report on misinformation.

A good place to start: financial misinformation. Reporters should always tell the whole story $518m in Madison school district 2018-2019 spending), not just taxpayer funded public rhetoric.

Materiality is also important (missing the big story, in this example).

Race and reporting: Why more journalists need to take us inside schools

Joshua Starr:

While superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, I once visited an elementary school that, on paper, was quite diverse. Fifteen years earlier, as part of an ongoing effort to stem white flight from the county, the district had created a magnet program within the school, and it had succeeded in attracting kids from a wide range of backgrounds.

As the principal led me on a tour of the school, I noticed that in one classroom after another, all of the students were Black and Latino, until, finally, we came to a room where almost every student was White.

“Oh, so this is where you keep the White kids,” I said to the principal, my New York sarcasm breaking through.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by what I saw. Across the country, numerous districts have tried to promote “integration” by using strategies that lead to diverse enrollments at the school level while providing separate and unequal educational opportunities within the building.

White, Black, and Latino kids may enter through the same schoolhouse door, but once inside, some turn down one hallway, and the rest go down another.

Which occupations are at highest risk of being automated?

Office of National Statistics:

Potential automation of occupations may have an impact on the labour market in future. Which jobs are most at risk, and what do we know about the people who do these jobs?

Around 1.5 million jobs in England are at high risk of some of their duties and tasks being automated in the future, Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis shows.

The ONS has analysed the jobs of 20 million people1 in England in 2017, and has found that 7.4% are at high risk of automation.

Automation involves replacing tasks currently done by workers with technology, which could include computer programs, algorithms, or even robots.

Women, young people, and those who work part-time are most likely to work in roles that are at high risk of automation.

It is important to understand automation as it may have an impact on the labour market, economy and society.

Poverty and paradise at the edge of America

Joe Kloc:

Innate had a big personality, but he was careful with it. He sometimes worried that he was speaking for the entire anchorage, which he often referred to as an “ever-giving society gumbo.” One morning, over a plate of grits, he declared that he’d said all he would about the anchor-outs, but he offered to take me to see a ninety-one-year-old man named Larry Moyer, who had lived in Richardson Bay for nearly fifty years. He’d been meaning to speak with Larry anyway, about some footage Larry had shot of Sausalito years ago that Innate wanted to use in a film he was making.

Innate put on his bathrobe and bowler hat, loaded a few bags into his motorboat, and shook the engine to life with a few pulls of the starter cord. He swept his long hair from his face and warned me not to try to shout over the motor’s roar. “The people onshore hear everything!”

Eliminating All Student Debt Isn’t Progressive – And Neither Is This Alternative

Preston Cooper:

Eliminating all student debt has become a fashionable idea on the left, prompting New York Times opinion columnist David Leonhardt to remind progressives that wiping away $1.5 trillion in student loans would be, in his words, “a giant welfare program for the upper middle class.”

He’s correct. An analysis by the Urban Institute shows that the top 25% of American households by income hold nearly half of all student debt—and the bottom 25% holds just a tenth of it. Canceling all outstanding student loan balances would therefore deliver $5 to rich Americans for every $1 given to poorer families. There’s nothing progressive about a policy like that. However, Leonhardt’s proposed alternative, expanding the income-based repayment program, suffers from the exact same flaw.

‘No surprise the Madison school behavior plan failed’

David Blaska:

A young man reached out to the Policy Werkes to relate his involvement in crafting the Madison school district’s Behavioral Education Plan. He asked that his name not be published as he wishes to have a career someday in Madison. This is his story:

As a Memorial high school student in the summer of 2015, I was approached to join an advisory committee on the Behavioral Education Plan’s classroom implementation plan. There were four meetings on the issue.The meetings’ goals were to simplify the BEP’s 20-something pages and nuances into something easy to adhere to by teachers and faculty whilst making decisions on the fly in the classroom. …

At one of the four meetings, there were was another student present although he was quiet and did not really share insight. One teacher was present for about 30 minutes at one of the meetings, but that was the only time an educator was ever present. Myself (a student in the district) and “community stakeholders” were the people who really were making up this committee.

… They were all lovely people to share insight with and they were generally interested in what I had to say. However, it became readily apparent that many of them had not had an honest view of a high school since the days when they themselves were students.

Playing hide and seek with school security

Some of them took part in the principal-for-a-day program the district runs which is not an accurate view of how our high school operated. This program specifically visits higher performing classes — honors or AP — and at that the classes were given a heads up to be on their best behavior.

… Students who were asked to leave the classroom and go to the office (either the dean or principal) … did not hesitate when given the opportunity to leave, which was a little bit of surprise to the stakeholders. But what really came as a surprise to them was the fact that the student did not actually go to the office.

These students would instead roam the hallways, mess around with their friends and create noisy distractions for students in classrooms actually trying to learn.

One teacher I talked to when trying to get insight for these meetings described incidents of these students practically playing hide and seek with school security for fun and to avoid going to class or to an administrators office.

Spending, achievement, taxes and Madison’s school climate

Naegassi Tesfamichael:

The School Board will also soon be the public face of a facilities referendum that MMSD is eyeing for the November 2020 election. The proposed facilities upgrades currently focus on East, La Follette, West and East high schools, which have an average age of 75 years old and have been identified as having significant deferred maintenance needs that have piled up over the years.

The price tag for the facilities plan is still unknown, but could range from $120 million to $280 million, according to plans presented to the School Board earlier this spring. The ask could be significant — in 2015, Madison voters authorized a $41 million school facility improvement plan that addressed needs across the district.

Pressure to pass a referendum of this size is on the district, as neighboring school districts have recently approved a slew of referendums for new schools and upgrades in the Middleton-Cross Plains, Verona Area and Sun Prairie school districts.

Students and parents from Madison West have been on a campaign of sorts to push the School Board to prioritize upgrades there. West is acknowledged as one of the most space-constrained high schools. The swimming pool lags behind current standards and has led to students developing health problems, according to several students who testified before the board.

Cheatham said the district is also attempting to look at facilities inequities, including identifying how to better serve areas that do not have a neighborhood school.

Though Vander Meulen said the board will have to manage its expectations for what it can accomplish this term, items such as improving facilities have to be prioritized.

“We can’t do everything all at once, but with some of the stuff happening at West right now with the tiles falling off the pool, we have to make sure nobody gets hurt,” Vander Meulen said.

The district plans to present an initial range of options for the referendum to the School Board in May. The School Board would need to authorize a referendum by May 2020 if it wanted to get the project on the November ballot.

“What we are looking at is a big, big project when you look at renovating four high schools that are all old,” Burke said. “We’re going to have to work to gather community support to get it passed … this almost could be a historic referendum in Madison.”

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts – now around $20k per student.

This despite long term, disastrous reading results.

Boy arrested at Madison La Follette after repeatedly groping 15-year-old girl, police say

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Madison police arrested a 16-year-old boy at La Follette High School on Wednesday morning after a girl told MPD the boy had groped her repeatedly over the course of several weeks in February.

The incidents occurred in multiple areas of the school, the girl told police. The student, 15, said she suffered pain and soreness from several incidents and became fearful of attending classes after the incidents. There were several times where she did not attend classes because of that fear.

Jefferson Middle School student arrested after allegedly attacking officers, Madison police say

Negassi Tesfamichael:

A 12-year-old girl was arrested after an altercation with two Madison police officers at Jefferson Middle School on Wednesday morning, according to Madison Police Department public information officer Joel Despain.

The student attempted to fight with the officers, striking one in the mouth and leaving another to be treated for whiplash and shoulder injuries.

Staff at Jefferson had called police after the student came to school when she was suspended and attacked a classmate while threatening another with a fire extinguisher. Police said the student threatened others with violence as well.

“School staff did all they could, but the child remained disruptive and refused to leave the property,” Despain wrote.

Civics: Henry Kissinger, Shouted Down at NYU, Addresses Yale’s WFB Society

Daniel Gelernter:

In his remarks at the Disinvitation Dinner, Kissinger pointed out that the First World War destroyed Europe’s confidence and sense of purpose, and that Europe has never recovered. A society needs great objectives to which it can apply itself with conviction, instead of being “obsessed with its own shortcomings.”

The students who object to Kissinger’s presence on campus are emblematic of this loss of confidence, and of that obsession. They hate the West (and in particular the United States) for suppressing and oppressing other cultures, ranging from the American Indians to the Communist Chinese.

But these students’ admiration and even espoused preference for non-Western cultures is not just a loss of confidence. It is also, oddly enough, an expression of belief in the universality of Western values. Because what these students are really saying is that they believe every culture has the same basic desires that we have: that all cultures want security and prosperity and are willing to respect the rights and interests of other cultures pursuing the same thing. This, as Kissinger writes in World Order, was the basis of our nuclear deal with Iran: Our assumption that what Iran really wants “is to negotiate in good faith on the premises of existing order and arrive at a reasonable conclusion.” We assume, in other words, that other cultures will think as we think, want what we want, and work with us towards this shared goal.

In this view, all cultures are basically Western in their desires, and are distinguishable from us only by their different traditions in language, clothing, or food — which is perhaps why these items are always the culprit in cases of “cultural appropriation.”

And this is an exceptionally, almost disarmingly naïve approach. I recently learned how a liberal friend of mine from New York was shocked to discover, on a visit to a Middle Eastern country that wasn’t Israel, that to be publicly identifiable as a Jew was not just unwise but could actually be dangerous. It had not occurred to him that a universal acceptance of other cultures was not itself a universal value.

The Big Fail: Why Bar Pass Rates Have Sunk To Record Lows

“From a dean’s standpoint, there is no greater tragedy than someone coming to law school—wanting to practice law—and not passing the bar,” [South Dakota Dean Thomas Geu] said. …

In the first in a series about the high percentage of law graduates failing the bar and the impact on law schools and the legal profession, examines how far rates have dropped in recent years and the reasons for the decline.

The falloff has been national in scope. The average score on the Multistate Bar Exam—the multiple choice portion of the test—sank to a 34-year low on the July 2018 administration, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

In California, the overall pass rate fell from 56 percent in July 2013 to 41 percent last July. Texas’ pass rate declined from 81 percent to 65 percent over that time period, while New York’s fell from 69 percent to 63 percent. Florida’s July 2018 pass rate was 67 percent—10 percent lower than five years earlier, while Pennsylvania’s July pass rate was 6 percent lower.

Does Empathy Have A Dark Side?

Jonathan Lambert:

Empathy seems like a good quality in human beings. Pure and simple.

It allows us to consider the perspective of others — to put ourselves in their shoes and imagine their experiences. From that empathetic vantage point, only good things can come, right?

Not necessarily, according to author Fritz Breithaupt. “Sometimes we commit atrocities not out of a failure of empathy but rather as a direct consequence of successful, even overly successful, empathy,” he writes in his forthcoming book The Dark Sides of Empathy.

Breithaupt, who directs the Experimental Humanities Lab at Indiana University, argues that empathy is a morally ambiguous capacity, one that can lead us astray if we don’t understand its many sides.

“Empathy is a riddle,” Breithaupt says. While it can enrich our lives, Breithaupt says our ability to identify with others’ feelings can also fuel polarization, spark violence and motivate dysfunctional behavior in relationships, like helicopter parenting.

There Are 23 Million ‘Missing’ Girls in The World Due to Sex-Selective Abortions

Carly Cassella :

While no country has a perfectly even sex ratio, normally researchers would expect roughly 105 male births to every 100 female births.

Compiling data from over 200 nations – including 10,835 observations, and 16,602 years of information – the authors noticed a shocking number of countries have strayed from this mark.

“The estimated regional baseline values differ significantly from 1.05 for the majority of the regions we study,” the authors write.

“In addition, almost half (88 out of 212) of the estimated country-level baseline values, accounting for ethnic difference across countries within a region, are significantly different from 1.05.”

Of those 88 countries with higher-than-normal ratios, the authors pinpointed a dozen that looked worrisome.

Civics: The Assange arrest is a warning from history

John Pilger:

Imagine Tony Blair dragged from his multi-million pound Georgian home in Connaught Square, London, in handcuffs, for onward dispatch to the dock in The Hague. By the standard of Nuremberg, Blair’s “paramount crime” is the deaths of a million Iraqis. Assange’s crime is journalism: holding the rapacious to account, exposing their lies and empowering people all over the world with truth.
The shocking arrest of Assange carries a warning for all who, as Oscar Wilde wrote, “sow the seeds of discontent [without which] there would be no advance towards civilisation”. The warning is explicit towards journalists. What happened to the founder and editor of WikiLeaks can happen to you on a newspaper, you in a TV studio, you on radio, you running a podcast.
Assange’s principal media tormentor, the Guardian, a collaborator with the secret state, displayed its nervousness this week with an editorial that scaled new weasel heights. The Guardian has exploited the work of Assange and WikiLeaks in what its previous editor called “the greatest scoop of the last 30 years”. The paper creamed off WikiLeaks’ revelations and claimed the accolades and riches that came with them.

Civics: Minnesota Secretary of State Unwilling to Provide Public Data to Minnesota Voters Alliance Despite Court Rulings

Megan Olson:

Secretary Simon is showing that he won’t hand over the simple public data that easy. His office said they will review the most recent Court of Appeals opinion “in anticipation of filing a petition for further review before the Minnesota Supreme Court.”

In 2016, around 26,000 of the total 355,000 registered voters in Minnesota had their voter eligibility challenged due to improper identification or previous felony charges. Minnesota is no stranger to voter fraud as it has a history of illegally allowing convicted felons to vote.

An attorney representing the Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA), Erick Kaardal, applauded the most recent ruling, saying “the public wants to have information … so we know what’s going on with the voting system so we can make it better.”

The ongoing legal battle will continue with Secretary Simon’s office anticipating filing for further review before the Minnesota Supreme court.

Sleep myths ‘damaging your health’

James Gallagher:

This is the myth that just won’t go away.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously had a brief four hours a night. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made similar claims, and swapping hours in bed for extra time in the office is not uncommon in tales of business or entrepreneurial success.

Yet the researchers said the belief that less than five hours’ shut-eye was healthy, was one of the most damaging myths to health.

“We have extensive evidence to show sleeping five hours or less consistently, increases your risk greatly for adverse health consequences,” said researcher Dr Rebecca Robbins.

These included cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, and shorter life expectancy.

Instead, she recommends everyone should aim for a consistent seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

US Workers Are Paying High Taxes. But Without Any of the Benefits.

Matt Bruenig:

The comprehensive measure shows that a married couple with two kids that makes the average wage pays over 43 percent of their income in compulsory payments of one sort or another. Health premiums are 26.4 of the 43.2 points.

Finally, we can go back to the OECD NTCP data and compare the US to other developed countries. When we do that, we find that only the Netherlands — with its compulsory private health insurance and compulsory private pension — has a higher labor tax burden by this measure.

Tsinghua University toughens punishment on student academic misconduct


China’s prestigious Tsinghua University has announced tougher punishment for serious academic misconduct by students with new rules that specify the consequences for violating academic integrity.

Students found to have engaged in plagiarism or forgery in their published papers will be expelled from the school, while violations in the past were sanctioned with a demerit on their school record.

Other academic misconducts include plagiarism or encroachment on other people’s academic achievements, distorting research results by others, falsifying research data, materials and literature reviews, fabricating or hiding the role of other researchers, and providing or using ghostwriting services.

Moral Crumple Zones: Cautionary Tales in Human-Robot Interaction

Madeleine Clare Elish:

As debates about the policy and ethical implications of AI systems grow, it will be increasingly important to accurately locate who is responsible when agency is distributed in a system and control over an action is mediated through time and space. Analyzing several high-profile accidents involving complex and automated socio-technical systems and the media coverage that surrounded them, I introduce the concept of a moral crumple zone to describe how responsibility for an action may be misattributed to a human actor who had limited control over the behavior of an automated or autonomous system. Just as the crumple zone in a car is designed to absorb the force of impact in a crash, the human in a highly complex and automated system may become simply a component—accidentally or intentionally—that bears the brunt of the moral and legal responsibilities when the overall system malfunctions. While the crumple zone in a car is meant to protect the human driver, the moral crumple zone protects the integrity of the technological system, at the expense of the nearest human operator. The concept is both a challenge to and an opportunity for the design and regulation of human-robot systems. At stake in articulating moral crumple zones is not only the misattribution of responsibility but also the ways in which new forms of consumer and worker harm may develop in new complex, automated, or purported autonomous technologies.

Commentary on the taxpayer supported Madison K-12 climate

David Blaska:

Would that there have been a few more courageous citizens. These names come to mind for lack of courage:

Dave Cieslewicz. The former mayor has condemned identity politics on his Isthmus column; he could have spoken up.

The Madison police union considered endorsing Blaska because he is the only candidate on the local ballot who speaks out for the police. But the union chickened out. Worse, the unionized cops endorsed Satya Rhodes-Conway, Progressive Dane, for mayor! She subscribes to every shackle the Berkeley consultants propose placing on police!

Madison Teachers Inc. None of the candidates you endorsed pleaded for patience until the police finished their investigation into the Whitehorse middle school incident. Instead, those candidates acquiesced with their silence as the superintendent and school board president Mary Burke threw “Mr. Rob” under the school bus and forced his resignation without once getting his side or the many witnesses who took his side, including the other students.

Sheriff David Mahoney foolishly endorsed Ali Muldrow even before the candidate filing deadline. Muldrow, of course, wrote Progressive Dane’s cops-out-of-schools manifesto. Mahoney is either a fool or and a shill.

The Madison Chamber of Commerce. No, Blaska did not make a direct appeal to these guys but at some point they’re going to have to jump in the mosh pit to save our schools.

Wisconsin State Journal for their non-endorsement for Seat #4. The edit page acknowledged “Blaska is right that a police officer should stay in each main high school to promote safety, and that disruptive students should be accountable for their actions. But he goes out of his way to provoke Madison liberals and score political points, while offering few solutions.”

Few solutions? Blaska was the only candidate on the April 2 ballot who strongly advocated:

abolishing the Behavior Education Plan;

returning control of the classroom to teachers,

and keeping cops in the schools.

All as the most effective way to ending the racial achievement gap and to allow teachers to teach and kids who want to learn to succeed.

Blaska also promoted more school district charters, whether instrumentality or not.

Yeah, all that was a provocation to Madison liberals. These are things MMSD can actually control and would have profound impact. Ask yourself this: what solutions did any of the other candidates propose? … Still waiting. … Other than Ali Muldrow’s dance classes for seventh graders? No, I can’t, either.

‘Behavior plan sets up kids for failure’


Middlebury College Cancels Conservative Philosopher’s Lecture on Totalitarianism

Alex Griswold:

Middlebury College has canceled a campus speech by conservative Polish Catholic philosopher Ryszard Legutko in response to planned protests by liberal activists.

A professor of philosophy at Jagiellonian University and a member of the European Parliament, Legutko was scheduled to speak Wednesday at the Vermont college’s Alexander Hamilton Forum, delivering a lecture entitled “The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies.” A member of the anti-Communist Polish resistance during the Cold War, Legutko warns that western democracy is also susceptible to creep towards totalitarianism.

But in the days leading up to the speech, some Middlebury students and professors wrote an open letter demanding the university rescind its sponsorship. The liberal activists took issue with Legutko’s pointed critiques of multiculturalism, feminism, and homosexuality, calling them “homophobic, racist, xenophobic, [and] misogynistic.”

“Inquiry, equity, and agency cannot be fostered in the same space that accepts and even elevates homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic discourse,” they demand. “Bigotry of any kind should not be considered a form of inquiry.”

A Giant Laid Low by Too Many Blows to the Head

Michael Powell:

Tall and imposing, indomitable even, 6-foot-8 with shoulders and a back broad enough to push a pickup truck.

He was a star lineman on a state championship team in high school and for the University of Colorado Buffaloes, where he set a team record for starts and minutes played. He was an Associated Press third-team all-American and played three years in the N.F.L.

Yet the word that jumps most quickly to mind when talking to Ryan Miller is “fragile.”

Hits, concussive and subconcussive, have laid him low. Head bursting, nausea rising, please shut off the lights, please. I interviewed Miller twice, our talks separated by 22 months, and he is doing better, which is not to suggest this thoughtful and soft-spoken 29-year-old is anywhere near what he wants to be.

When I met him in 2017 Miller had spent the previous hour in a darkened room, breathing slowly. He would get into his car and sit for hours, trying to remember where he intended to go. He would walk into airports, and lights and noise and crowds made him want to curl into a fetal ball. Since then he has gotten better with therapy and diet, and he has lost a lot of weight. He’s healthier, and yet. …

“I don’t live as much in fear of what will happen next, and it’s been a year since I have had a seizure,” he told me. “It’s been a long road. It still is a long road.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Colorado’s TABOR

Jon Caldara:

The analogy that works best for me to understand how the TABOR cap works is a whiskey barrel. Imagine the barrel holds the state budget. As tax revenues pour in we collect it in the barrel. The size of the barrel is the size of last year’s budget plus inflation and population growth.

Under our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights if more whiskey (taxes) flows into the barrel than the barrel can hold, the excess spills over and falls into the taxpayer’s mug. We call that our TABOR refunds.

So why haven’t we received our TABOR refunds in so very long? Well first we voted to use a much, much bigger barrel in 2005 when we passed Referendum C. But whiskey has been pouring into the barrel so fast we should have had lots of refunds even given the larger barrel.

A vote of the people can always increase the size of the barrel, but as every ballot questions for tax increases show over and over again since Ref C, we don’t want more whiskey or a larger barrel. What’s a greedy legislature to do?

Well, the legislature snuck in a spigot at the bottom of the barrel to let some of the whiskey out into a second barrel not subject to TABOR, so that barrel can never be filled enough to reach the top. When the legislature labels a revenue stream an enterprise fund or a tax increase as a “fee” it doesn’t need our consent at the ballot box.

So, they open the spigot and call it the Hospital Provider Fee, and we don’t get or refunds. They open it again and call it the Faster Fee on our car registrations, and we don’t get our refunds. Mill Levy Freeze, Growth Dividend, there are many names for this deceitful practice. The legislature is working to do it again by calling a payroll tax a “fee” for extended family leave.

Top journals retract DNA-repair studies after misconduct probe

Holly Else:

“This is terrible for the field, as it is for any field”, in particular because the investigator’s grants could have gone to more deserving researchers, says James Brown, a cancer researcher at the National University of Ireland Galway. Many scientists have used the Nature paper to build an understanding of DNA-repair processes mediated by a protein called KAT5 (also known as TIP60), he says.

The journals withdrew the studies on 11 April. In its retraction notice1, Science said that one author — Abderrahmane Kaidi, who was a cancer researcher at the University of Cambridge, UK, until 2013 — had falsified data used in the 2010 study. The journal had issued an expression of concern about the paper in September 2018.

Nature’s notice2 says that the authors are retracting their 2013 paper because the work has “issues with figure presentation and underlying data” and the authors “cannot confirm the results in the affected figures”. (Nature’s news team is editorially independent of its journal team.)

In a statement to Nature’s news team, Cambridge said that it had completed an investigation into Kaidi under its misconduct in research policy, and found that he had misrepresented and falsified data in both papers.

Schools usually focus on teaching comprehension skills instead of general knowledge—even though education researchers know better.

Natalie Wexler:

Every two years, education-policy wonks gear up for what has become a time-honored ritual: the release of the Nation’s Report Card. Officially known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, the data reflect the results of reading and math tests administered to a sample of students across the country. Experts generally consider the tests rigorous and highly reliable—and the scores basically stagnant.

Math scores have been flat since 2009 and reading scores since 1998, with just a third or so of students performing at a level the NAEP defines as “proficient.” Performance gaps between lower-income students and their more affluent peers, among other demographic discrepancies, have remained stubbornly wide.

Among the likely culprits for the stalled progress in math scores: a misalignment between what the NAEP tests and what state standards require teachers to cover at specific grade levels. But what’s the reason for the utter lack of progress in reading scores?

On Tuesday, a panel of experts in Washington, D.C., convened by the federally appointed officials who oversee the NAEP concluded that the root of the problem is the way schools teach reading. The current instructional approach, they agreed, is based on assumptions about how children learn that have been disproven by research over the last several decades—research that the education world has largely failed to heed.

The long-standing view has been that the first several years of elementary school should be devoted to basic reading skills. History, science, and the arts can wait. After all, the argument goes, if kids haven’t learned to read—a task that is theoretically accomplished by third grade—how will they be able to gain knowledge about those subjects through their own reading?

Censorship in a China Studies Journal

Elizabeth Redden:

Yet another account of censorship involving a China studies journal has come to light. And the scholars involved say this case involves an insidious “blurring of boundaries” where they were misled into thinking Western publishing standards would apply when in fact the journal in question was subject to Chinese government censorship.

Lorraine Wong and Jacob Edmond, both professors at the University of Otago, in New Zealand, have written an account of the censorship they encountered when they edited a planned special issue of the journal Frontiers of Literary Studies in China. The journal is published by the Netherlands-based publishing company Brill in association with the China-based Higher Education Press, an entity that describes itself on its website (in Chinese) as affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education. The journal’s editorial board lists scholars from major American and international universities — including Cornell University, Duke University, Harvard University, the University of California, Davis, and the University of Washington — and its editor in chief is based at New York University. The journal’s editorial office is located in Beijing.

Wong and Edmond wrote that the association with Brill, along with the involvement of leading scholars in the field on the editorial board, led them to mistakenly assume the publication standards would be akin to those of other journals in the field published in the U.S. What they found, however, was that the affiliation with the Higher Education Press and the location of the editorial office in Beijing means “the journal is subject to the full range of Chinese government censorship.”

Here’s the stunning percentage of Millennials who regret taking a loan for college

Carlos Garcia:

Student debt has become a key political issue as some Democrats have called for the government to make college free, and others want to forgive the mounting debt that many say are crippling them from obtaining success.

The poll shows that among those who thought that college was worth attending, 64 percent had already paid off their loans, and 48 percent were still paying off their loans.

The total student loan debt has been estimated at about $1.6 trillion.

Despite that attitude about college and the ballooning student debt, experts say Millennials don’t behave much differently from their forebears.

Chinese immigrants helped build California, but they’ve been written out of its history

Michael Hiltzik:

In 2014, the U.S. Labor Department formally inducted the Chinese workers who helped build the transcontinental railroad into its Hall of Honor, giving them a place in American labor history alongside union leaders such as Eugene V. Debs and A. Philip Randolph and champions of worker dignity such as Mother Jones and Cesar Chavez.

What was remarkable about that moment was that it took the nation 145 years to recognize Chinese immigrants’ role in building the nation.

From 1865 to 1869, as many as 20,000 Chinese laborers worked on the Central Pacific Railroad, which ran from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, Utah, where it was united with the Union Pacific Railroad in the golden spike ceremony marking the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Those workers accounted for as much as 90% of the Central Pacific workforce.

The Central Pacific could not have been built without them — and without the Central Pacific, the history of the American West and California in particular might have been very different. That’s a fact to be considered as the 150th anniversary of the golden spike ceremony looms just a month away, and as immigration again roils American politics.

Civics: A look at legislative sausage making

Rob O’Dell and Nick Penzenstadler:

The investigation reveals that fill-in-the-blank bills have in some states supplanted the traditional approach of writing legislation from scratch. They have become so intertwined with the lawmaking process that the nation’s top sponsor of copycat legislation, a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, claimed to have signed on to 72 such bills without knowing or questioning their origin.

For lawmakers, copying model legislation is an easy way to get fully formed bills to put their names on, while building relationships with lobbyists and other potential campaign donors.

For special interests seeking to stay under the radar, model legislation also offers distinct advantages. Copycat bills don’t appear on expense reports, or campaign finance forms. They don’t require someone to register as a lobbyist or sign in at committee hearings. But once injected into the lawmaking process, they can go viral, spreading state to state, executing an agenda to the letter.

Civics: UArts students protest professor Camille Paglia for comments on transgender people, sexual assault survivors

Anna Orso:

It was probably only a matter of time before the campus free speech debate landed in Camille Paglia’s lap. Again.

The University of the Arts professor and social critic, known for her critiques of modern feminism, last week had a lecture targeted by protesting students and alumni angry at comments she made in a YouTube video, posted in January about the #MeToo movement, that they contend perpetuates rape culture. They also were critical of comments that they call transphobic.

Now, a petition that’s garnered more than 800 signatures is demanding that the school remove her from the faculty and stop giving her a platform to speak.

Your Smartphone Apps Are Filled With Trackers You Know Nothing About

Owen Williams:

On mobile, tracking is generally performed through the use of a “software development kit” or SDK—a set of tools that helps app developers get something done faster. Many SDKs help developers debug their code or hook into useful services, but others help advertisers and marketing companies peer into your private life. Take the iHeartRadio app for example: Last fall, Medium reported that it contained code from Cuebiq’s SDK, which would permit user data to be sold for the purposes of ad tracking.

All of this should make you skeptical of marketing like Apple’s recent “privacy matters” campaign. While the company offers tools within Safari to block trackers on the web, it doesn’t offer any control over trackers embedded in apps that are distributed through the iOS App Store. Most people use the Google Chrome browser anyway, and it has even fewer privacy protections baked in. (Apple does ask developers to “respect user preferences for how data is used,” but good luck with that.)

SDKs present a solution to Apple’s pesky tracking restriction for advertisers. They can connect who you are between apps, provided the developer of each app uses the same SDK and the advertiser is able to use signals to figure out who you are. If we look at the top 200 apps on the iOS App Store, it’s interesting to see how broad the reach of most SDKs actually is.

The top 10 most commonly used SDK libraries in the top iOS apps, as reported by analytics firm Mighty Signal, are largely provided by Facebook (three out of 10) and Google (four out of 10). Google’s AdMob tools, for example, helps developers show advertising and track their users, and it’s integrated into 78% of the top apps on iOS—everything from the Holy Bible to LinkedIn. Facebook’s “Core Kit,” which provides access to the social platform’s features, is integrated into 61% of top apps. The list goes on.

Both of these SDKs allow Facebook and Google to track users beyond their desktop web browsers and automatically collect information like when you installed the app, each time you opened it, and what you purchased.

Civics: Bitter lessons 25 years after Waco, Texas, siege

James Bovard:

Twenty-five years ago today, FBI tanks smashed into the ramshackle home of the Branch Davidians outside Waco, Texas. After the FBI collapsed much of the building atop the residents, a fire erupted and 76 corpses were dug out of the rubble. Unfortunately, the American political system and media have never faced the lessons from that tragic 1993 day.

Fifty-one days before the FBI final assault, scores of federal Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents launched an attack on the Davidians’ home spurred by allegations that they had converted semi-automatic rifles to full-automatic capacity. The ATF’s lead investigator had previously rejected an offer to peacefully search the Davidians’ home for firearms violations. Four ATF agents and six Davidians were killed in the fracas on February 28, 1993. At least one ATF agent told superiors that the ATF fired first, spurring an immediate end to the official shooting review. But the media trumpeted the ATF storyline that its agents had been ambushed, entitling the feds to be far more aggressive in the following weeks.
What lessons can today’s Americans draw from the FBI showdown on the Texas plains a quarter century ago?

Purported good intentions absolve real deadly force.

Civics: The Courts Have Shown Too Much Deference to Unaccountable Government Officials

David McDonald:

The case in question, Jessop v. City of Fresno, concerns the alleged theft of $276,000 by City of Fresno police officers while carrying out a raid in search of illegal gambling machines. Pursuant to a warrant authorizing the officers to seize any such machines, as well as any money connected to the sale or control of them, the officers officially seized approximately $50,000.

In reality, according to appellants Micah Jessop and Brittan Ashjian, the officers stole an additional $276,000 in cash and rare coins for themselves. Jessop and Ashjian sued the officers for violating their right not to face unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment and their right to due process of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment. They hoped to find justice, but they were in for a rude awakening.

Both the trial court and the three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled that, because “appellants did not have a clearly established Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from the theft of property seized pursuant to a warrant, the City Officers are entitled to qualified immunity.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently, according to the Ninth Circuit, you don’t have a “clearly established” right to not have police steal your property while executing a search warrant (though you may be able to pursue a claim against the offending officers under state tort law, and the state is presumably still free to prosecute them).

The Looming Danger for Dissident Professors

Samuel Abrams:

2017, I asked a national sample of faculty and administrators, “How often, if at all, have you avoided expressing a particular point of view on an issue because you expected a negative reaction from other students or faculty?’ Two-thirds of conservative professors stated that they simply avoided sharing their opinions because of fear of negative reactions compared to just one-third of liberals. This significant difference is strong evidence that viewpoint diversity is being silenced. Conservative professors – an endangered minority on campus – are well aware of the possible ramifications of sharing their views and fear professional repercussions for disagreeing with their liberal faculty and administrative colleagues.

[How ‘Social Justice’ Undermines True Diversity]

Although Sarah Lawrence is proud of its extremely liberal bent, it turns out that I had a target on my back on my first day of teaching. I was told by various colleagues shortly after joining the community that I was a “diversity hire” because I was not an extreme progressive but an empirical social scientist who cares about facts and empirics and leans to the right. I could feel the derision and suspicion almost immediately from my colleagues, and relations deteriorated over time because I failed to virtue signal strongly enough to many. Working on the Sarah Lawrence campus began to feel like some uncomfortable high-school movie with powerful cliques and groups and me as the outcast. I would walk on campus and pass groups of faculty who would turn away as my views were regularly marginalized or ignored in various faculty and administrative settings.

Stephen Platt on Becoming a Historian of China

Jonathan Chatwin:

Can you tell us about how you became interested in Chinese history?

It was something of an accident, actually. When I graduated from college I got a fellowship to teach English for two years in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province. It wasn’t something I had planned in advance – I had never studied Chinese before, or taken any classes on the country’s history, but it seemed like an adventure. It was a powerful experience. I got hooked and decided to keep studying the language after I came home. In graduate school I migrated from English (which had been my undergrad major) to East Asian Studies, and then finally to Chinese History. This is probably the last thing my younger self could have imagined I would be doing at this age. As I see it, much of my work has touched on themes of travel and culture shock that date back to that post-college experience of finding a place for myself as an American in China.

Your books tend to offer historical accounts alternating between Chinese and Western perspectives. Can you speak to the differences in the research necessary to offer these two different perspectives? Presumably the archival and language challenges make the Chinese research a more labor-intensive process?

It depends. For my Taiping book (Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom), the sources in Chinese often outstripped anything I had for my Western characters. For example, there was a new edition of Qing general Zeng Guofan’s collected works in 16 volumes, so I had access to every memorial he ever wrote, all of his family correspondence, his writings on military tactics, and a far more complete diary than had been available before. By comparison, someone like Frederick Townsend Ward on the Western side, as interesting as he was, left hardly any reliable records behind. He was quite difficult to write about, whereas with Zeng Guofan I could know just what was happening to him on each day of a campaign, and read his thoughts as he wrote letters in anticipation of a battle. The sections on him practically wrote themselves. As far as the language issue, while it’s always easier to read in your native language, neither English nor Chinese has a monopoly on vivid sources, so you just work with the best of what you find.

Gene-Edited Babies: What a Chinese Scientist Told an American Mentor

Pam Belluck:

“A lot of people wish that those who knew or suspected would have made more noise,” said R. Alta Charo, a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who co-led a 2017 national committee on human embryo editing.

But she said scientists were not necessarily complicit if instead of trying to stop rogue experimenters, they advised them to follow ethical and research standards in hopes that institutions would intervene.

Rice University has been investigating Michael Deem, Dr. He’s Ph.D. adviser, because of allegations that he was actively involved in the project; he had said publicly that he had been present during parts of it. Dr. Deem’s lawyers issued a statement strongly denying the allegations.

Dr. He emailed Dr. Quake months before the gene-edited babies were born.

YouTube’s New Fact-Check Tool Flagged Notre Dame Fire Coverage And Attached An Article About 9/11

Ryan Broderick:

It’s unclear how the Notre Dame livestreams triggered the panel, but a spokesperson for YouTube said the “information panels” with links to third-party sources like Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia are activated by an algorithm.

“These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call,” the spokesperson added. “We are disabling these panels for livestreams related to the fire.”

According to a link inside the disclaimer, the information panel is a feature that is currently only available to users in the United States and South Korea. The help page adds that the panel will appear alongside videos related to the topic, regardless of opinions or perspectives in the footage.

The moderation of YouTube livestreams has been a problem for the platform.

Civics: Invasion-of-Privacy Case Tests Limits to Investigative Reporting in California

Helen Christophi:

After two years of legal wrangling, a California judge will soon decide if there is enough evidence to try two anti-abortion activists who surreptitiously recorded Planned Parenthood staff supposedly arranging the sale of aborted fetal tissue, in a case some fear will hamstring journalists who go undercover to expose wrongdoing.

In 2017, state prosecutors charged Center for Medical Progress (CMP) activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt with 15 felony counts each of invasion of privacy over the covert recordings, which they shot at abortion-industry conferences and restaurants by posing as employees of a fake fetal-tissue procurement company. The pair then posted the videos online.

Planned Parenthood contends the footage was heavily edited to dupe viewers into believing it traffics in tissue obtained from late-term abortions, touching off a wave of violence by anti-abortion activists that culminated in the 2015 murder of three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

The pair’s attorneys and state prosecutors will finally square off in San Francisco County Superior Court on April 22, where for two weeks they will present evidence gathered so far to Judge Christopher Hite who will decide if a trial is warranted. None of the parties’ attorneys returned requests for comment on this story.

The Student-Debt Crisis Hits Hardest at Historically Black Colleges

Josh Mitchell and Andrea Fuller:

Historically black colleges and universities helped lift generations of African-Americans to economic security. Now, attendance has become a financial drag on many of their young graduates, members of a new generation hit particularly hard by the student-debt crisis.

Students of these institutions, known as HBCUs, are leaving with disproportionately high loans compared with their peers at other schools, a Wall Street Journal analysis of Education Department data found, and are less likely to repay those loans than they were…

The Death of an Adjunct

Adam Harris:

A bald eagle in flight is elegance to behold. The sudden, violent flaps of its wings are broken by sublime extension as it locks onto a breeze and glides. Occasionally, 10 blocks north of the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan, you can spot a bald eagle overhead in Fort Tryon Park. There, Thea Hunter could often be counted among the bird’s admirers—typically while walking her dog, Cooper, a black Labrador retriever.

Thea loved the park, a bastion of calm amid the city’s constant hum, and she reveled in the chance encounters she had with eagles there. Often, even in the middle of winter, she would wrestle out her phone to call a friend. Some birds flap, flap, dive, she would explain, while others catch a current and soar. It was remarkable, really, that bald eagles were there at all, as they had once been so close to extinction.

When her friends try to find a way to talk about why she’s not here anymore, they pause, and then they pause again. She, perhaps, would have explained it gracefully. We don’t know how to talk about death, she would have said. It’s a fact of life that we’re tense about. It’s a natural part of the cycle, one that can be hastened by circumstance. And those circumstances, her friends seethe, were the hardships Thea faced as an adjunct professor, as a member of academia’s underclass.

To be a perennial adjunct professor is to hear the constant tone of higher education’s death knell. The story is well known—the long hours, the heavy workload, the insufficient pay—as academia relies on adjunct professors, non-tenured faculty members, who are often paid pennies on the dollar to do the same work required of their tenured colleagues.

Will Tocqueville’s Dilemma Crash America? – Tablet Magazine

Bryan Garsten:

The fundamental challenge that Tocqueville’s book poses to American dogma arises from his refusal to assume that equality and freedom are always mutually reinforcing. The American creed since the Declaration of Independence and especially since Lincoln has linked the two values, assuming that an increase in one naturally accompanies an increase in the other. Tocqueville suggested that we tend to ignore the threats that equality poses to freedom. Freedom was not, like equality, a naturally expanding feature of society. Nor was it a necessary consequence of equality of conditions.

It is too simple to say that Tocqueville presented equality and freedom as principles sometimes in tension with one another. His point was different. Equality was not merely a moral principle. Nor was it merely a material fact. More fundamentally, equality was a passion that gave rise to a certain dynamic in politics. Freedom, on the other hand, he portrayed as a set of skills and habits that required practice, an art that could be learned but also forgotten. The danger of democratic life, Tocqueville thought, was that the passion for equality would lead us to stop practicing the art of freedom.

To see how equality works as a passion, we have to notice the fundamental effect of looking at any actual social world with the ideal of equality in mind. You will see mostly inequalities. In fact, it seems that the more inequalities we succeed in eliminating, the more remaining inequalities stand out and the more striking they become. As society becomes more equal, the pressure for yet more equality does not subside but instead grows stronger:

How America’s College-Closure Crisis Leaves Families Devastated

Michael Vasquez and Dan Bauman:

All across the United States, colleges are disappearing.

As a result, the lives of students and their families have been plunged into unexpected crisis. A Chronicle analysis of federal data shows that, in the last five years, about half a million students have been displaced by college closures, which together shuttered more than 1,200 campuses.

That’s an average of 20 campus closures per month. Many of those affected are working adults living paycheck to paycheck, who carried hopes that college would be their path to the middle class.

Most are age 25 or older. About one in four are at least 35 years old.

“ONE class left,” Lisa La More wrote on Facebook last month, after the for-profit college she attended, the Art Institute of California’s San Diego campus, shut down. “Less than 3 weeks from my BS in Graphic and Web. 6 years of my life WASTED. I am 48 years old, with teenage kids. What am I supposed to do now?”

College closures don’t just disproportionately hurt older students. They have severely hit low-income students, too: Nearly 70 percent of undergraduates at closed campuses received need-based Pell Grants. Black and Hispanic students also bear the brunt. About 57 percent of displaced students are racial minorities.

Most of the closures have one thing in common: It was a for-profit college that shut down. Among the more than 1,230 campuses that closed, 88 percent were operated by for-profit colleges. For-profit colleges represent only about one-tenth of U.S. college enrollment, but they account for nearly 85 percent of students displaced by closures in the last five years, according to The Chronicle’s analysis. That adds up to roughly 450,000 displaced for-profit college students.

“and to educate the users – make sure people don’t just ‘do what the AI says’.

Ben Evans:

What does that mean in practice? My favorite example is the tendency of image recognition systems to look at a photo of a grassy hill and say ‘sheep’. Most of the pictures that are examples of ‘sheep’ were taken on grassy hills, because that’s where sheep tend to live, and the grass is a lot more prominent in the images than the little white fluffy things, so that’s where the systems place the most weight.

A more serious example came up recently with a project to look for skin cancer in photographs. It turns out that dermatologists often put rulers in photos of skin cancer, for scale, but that the example photos of healthy skin do not contain rulers. To the system, the rulers (or rather, the pixels that we see as a ruler) were just differences between the example sets, and sometimes more prominent than the small blotches on the skin. So, the system that was built to detect skin cancer was, sometimes, detecting rulers instead.

A central thing to understand here is that the system has no semantic understanding of what it’s looking at. We look at a grid of pixels and translate that into sheep, or skin, or rulers, but the system just sees a string of numbers. It isn’t seeing 3D space, or objects, or texture, or sheep. It’s just seeing patterns in data.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

The University Is a Ticking Time Bomb

Aaron Hanlon:

News of the death of Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor of French at Duquesne University, went viral in 2013. The circumstances of her final months painted a jarring picture of how dire a professor’s living conditions could be. Before Vojtko learned her semester-to-semester contract would not be renewed, she was earning less than $25,000 per year for teaching eight courses, without health insurance or retirement benefits, and living on the edge of homelessness. Just as Duquesne told her to clear out her office, she learned from her doctor that she had six months to live, as the cancer she’d been battling got worse. Shortly after losing her job, she suffered cardiac arrest and died in the hospital two weeks later, at age 83. “For a proud professional like Margaret Mary,” wrote Vojtko’s lawyer, the termination of her tenuous contract “was the last straw.”

Even as obscene tales of adjunct woe lay bare the cruelty of adjunctification, the percentage of contingent faculty members continues to rise. At the time of Vojtko’s death, those working without the possibility of tenure — and in many cases on a course-by-course, semester-to-semester basis, without salary or benefits — made up about two-thirds of all college instructors in America. Today, that figure is closer to three-fourths. Depending on the type of institution, one- to two-thirds of the vast faculty majority working without the prospect of permanent employment can’t count on having a job for more than a year at a time.

Appeals to empathy and outrage gin up so much hot, concentrated concern — witness the outrage after Vojtko’s death, and the more recent death of Thea Hunter, an adjunct professor of history — but inevitably, like the smallest of stars, such concentrated concern ends up dying a quiet death. We need to fundamentally reconceptualize the battle against adjunctification, shifting away from pity or outrage and toward arguments that universities themselves deny at their own peril.

Homeschooled children are far more socially engaged than you might think

Kate Burton And Eileen Slater:

2011 and 2017, the number of children homeschooled in Australia grew by more than 80%. In Queensland, it nearly quadrupled during this period. This suggests one in 200 Australian students were home educated in 2017.

Some people believe homeschooled children miss out on socialising with others and are sheltered from the normal pressures of life. Many question how parents can cultivate important aspects of social development such as resilience and effective interpersonal skills in their children if they are not being exposed to peers in a typical school setting.

The “socialisation question”, as it is known in homeschooling research, is frequently encountered by homeschooling families.

We conducted a survey that captured data on various aspects of the homeschooling experience, including socialisation. A total of 385 parents or guardians from across all Australian states and territories, who were homeschooling 676 children, responded to the questionnaire. We then conducted interviews with 12 homeschooling parents/guardians.

Purged by Press Release: First Responders, Free Speech, and Public Employment Retaliation in the Digital Age

George Scovill:

As racial tensions rise in the United States, government employers, like their private-sector counterparts, have several legitimate interests in distancing themselves from an employee’s opinion, especially when an employee’s opinion is discriminatory. For example, employers have an interest in shielding other employees from hostile work environments and protecting themselves from liability for a hostile work environment.

Municipalities, in particular, have a compelling interest in regulating police officers’ speech. Repugnant police officer views, if published, could ostensibly interfere with a police department’s ability to effectively or efficiently deliver public safety services to the city. The law must balance the city’s compelling interests in public safety, however, with a police officer’s right to free speech. The rapidly evolving pace of technological advances that enable instantaneous social media communication, and create records of online speech, exacerbate the need for an accurate balance.

Brooklyn parents sue to stop mandatory measles vaccinations

Aaron Katersky, Meghan Keneally:

A group of parents in Brooklyn are seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent mandatory measles vaccinations from taking effect.

The parents’ lawsuit against the New York City Department of Health called the emergency order “arbitrary and capricious” and the measures it necessitates “drastic.”

The order, issued by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last week, demands that all persons, starting at the age of 6 months old, who live, work or attend school within the specified zip codes of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, be vaccinated.

The parents who are suing argued “there is insufficient evidence of a measles epidemic or dangerous outbreak to justify” forced vaccinations and they accused the city of failing to take the least restrictive measures to end the outbreak.

Our Expensive, Manipulated Public High Schools

Jeffrey Ludwig:

Teacher unions got on board with the idea that inner-city schools fail not because of the racism of the teachers, the premise of Kozol’s first book, but because they have less money to spend than more successful suburban schools. Give us as much money as the best suburban schools, the unions say, and we will produce successful urban schools. Since the 1990s, it has become a mantra of the liberal mindset that if we throw enough money at a social problem, we will solve that problem. In America, the Almighty Dollar (a regular liberal alternative to Almighty God) can buy us out of our dilemmas. The faults Mr. Kozol saw in Boston could be solved if we “invested” more in our schools, in our youth, in the urban poor, and in “creative programs” to renew the practices of our failing schools.

New York State spent $22,366 per pupil in 2016, which was a 14% increase in expenses from 2012. As recently as 1995, the expenditure was $9,500 per pupil. These increases have mainly been in the areas of salary, benefits, and support services.

However, as per pupil expenditures have skyrocketed over the decades, so has the increase in school bureaucracies, and declines in SAT and ACT scores for college admissions. In fact, the College Board in 1995 readjusted its SAT scoring so scores in both math and reading were skewed significantly upward. Other scoring “adjustments” have been made over the years to improve score results.

Madison spends about $20k per student, far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Civics: The U.S. Government’s Indictment of Julian Assange Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedom

Glenn Greenwald and Micah Lee:

The indictment of Julian Assange unsealed today by the Trump Justice Department poses grave threats to press freedoms, not only in the U.S. but around the world. The charging document and accompanying extradition request from the U.S. government, used by the U.K. police to arrest Assange once Ecuador officially withdrew its asylum protection, seeks to criminalize numerous activities at the core of investigative journalism.

So much of what has been reported today about this indictment has been false. Two facts in particular have been utterly distorted by the DOJ and then misreported by numerous media organizations.

The first crucial fact about the indictment is that its key allegation — that Assange did not merely receive classified documents from Chelsea Manning but tried to help her crack a password in order to cover her tracks — is not new. It was long known by the Obama DOJ and was explicitly part of Manning’s trial, yet the Obama DOJ — not exactly renowned for being stalwart guardians of press freedoms — concluded that it could not and should not prosecute Assange because indicting him would pose serious threats to press freedom. In sum, today’s indictment contains no new evidence or facts about Assange’s actions; all of it has been known for years.

The other key fact being widely misreported is that the indictment accuses Assange of trying to help Manning obtain access to document databases to which she had no valid access: i.e., hacking rather than journalism. But the indictment alleges no such thing. Rather, it simply accuses Assange of trying to help Manning log into the Defense Department’s computers using a different username so that she could maintain her anonymity while downloading documents in the public interest and then furnish them to WikiLeaks to publish.

Warrant provides details of Madison East High sexual assault; principal apologizes for security chief’s comments

Logan Wroge:

Hernandez said schools should be sensitive to the traumas of students and staff and provide services for not only physical, but also emotional health.

The boys, both 15, have been arrested and charged in juvenile court with felony second-degree sexual assault and fourth-degree sexual assault, which is a misdemeanor. One boy is also charged with kidnapping, and the other is charged with being party to a crime of kidnapping.

According to a search warrant filed Monday in Dane County Circuit Court:

The girl told police she and another boy were in school on April 10 after classes ended, and she perceived a statement from the boy as asking if she wanted to have sex with him. The girl said she was waiting for her father to pick her up, and he grabbed her backpack and ran into a bathroom.

She followed him into the bathroom, telling police they were friends and she thought the boy was “playing.”

A second boy entered the bathroom, the girl told police, and they both blocked her from leaving before raping her as she attempted to push them away.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

Inside the Academic Destruction of the University of Tulsa

Jacob Howland:

Harvard Business School professor recently predicted that up to half of all American colleges and universities will go bankrupt in the next ten to 15 years. While this may be a worst-case scenario, universities have for years been offering an increasingly inferior product at unsustainably high prices to an ever-more skeptical group of prospective students. Many institutions below the top tier are scrambling to respond to the collapse of the higher-education bubble by jettisoning the liberal arts and pumping up the practical ones: health care, computer science, business, and other technical fields that promise to yield jobs immediately after graduation. This approach has been employed in a particularly crude and short-sighted manner at the University of Tulsa, where a new administration has turned a once-vibrant academic institution with a $1.1 billion endowment and a national reputation in core liberal arts subjects into a glorified trade school with a social-justice agenda. Our story is worth telling, because we have been hit by a perfect storm of trends currently tearing through the American academy: the confident ignorance of administrators, the infantilization of students, the policing of faculty, the replacement of thinking with ideological jargon, and the corporatization of education.

I arrived at TU in 1988, the same year Thomas Staley left to head the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. As TU’s provost, Staley had aggressively recruited serious scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Programs in English, history, and politics were particularly robust; Harvard’s Department of Government devoted a regular column in its newsletter to the activities of our political theorists. Professors critiqued their colleagues’ work, audited one another’s courses, and hosted informal lectures on subjects like pre-Raphaelite painting, medieval monasticism, and the economy of the Italian city-states. Faculty reading groups—some with 15 or more participants, including members of the wider Tulsa community—studied Heidegger’s Being and Time, Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws, Montaigne’s Essays, and Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Undergraduates in our Honors Program studied literary, philosophical, religious, and historical classics from ancient Greece to the twentieth century and capped off their education with serious, substantial senior theses. My first decades at TU were a time of intellectual ferment and growth for faculty and students alike.

But it became clear some years ago that TU was in financial trouble. Faculty have had no raises since 2015. That same year, President Steadman Upham (whose compensation in 2014 exceeded $1.2 million) informed the campus community that the university was providing athletics with a $9 million annual subsidy. The total deficit in 2016 was $26 million. For nine months in 2016–2017, the university ceased to contribute to faculty retirement accounts—effectively, a 9 percent cut in pay. In September 2017, 5 percent of the nonfaculty workforce was laid off. In December 2017, Moody’s downgraded $89 million of TU’s parity revenue bonds and $57 million of student-housing revenue bonds. Around the same time, it was revealed that TU had for years been running a structural deficit of about $16 million. Athletics accounted for most of the total loss; TU’s law school and Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum, which the university has managed since 2008, made up much of the rest.

4.25.2019 Madison Educational Partnership Symposium

Madison Education Partnership:

At this interactive and informative event, MMSD partners and leading researchers from UW-Madison will address pressing research questions as well as engage with attendees to dive deeper into the practice and policy implications of MEP research.

MMSD speakers include Ricardo Jara, Beth Vaade, and Culleen Witthuhn.

UW-Madison speakers Katie Eklund, Beth Graue, Eric Grodsky, Katie Ostrander, and Bob Mathieu.

Together we will explore recent research around early learning and student attendance. While 4K is a strong program, MEP research indicates ways the program can be further strengthened to more powerfully equip students, advance equity, and ease transitions to kindergarten. Likewise, while school attendance matters, MEP research shows that it matters in ways we don’t necessarily expect. What do MEP’s nuanced findings suggest about attendance policy and student tracking?

Attend and add your ideas to the policy/practice mix.

China releases new syllabus for military courses in universities


Chinese authorities have issued a revised syllabus for military theory and training courses in universities, according to the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Friday.

The document, which was jointly released by the MOE and the national defense mobilization department under the Central Military Commission, asked colleges to add military courses into their training and teaching programs, set specific credit for such courses, and record performance results into students’ archives.

Military courses are compulsory for college students, it said, adding that the courses should be included into the national education supervision system and inspection on the development of such courses should be conducted on a regular basis.

Civics: We need to make hard decisions now about what will truly benefit current and future Americans.

David Frum:

This system just accreted, reaction upon reaction, yesterday’s crisis leading to today’s improvisation, in turn laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s crisis.

Under present immigration policies, the U.S. population will exceed 400 million by 2050. Nobody is seriously planning for such population growth—building the schools and hospitals these people will need, planning for the traffic they will generate. Nobody is thinking very hard about the environmental consequences, either. The average American causes the emission of almost 17 tons of carbon dioxide each year, quadruple the annual emissions of the average Mexican and 45 times the emissions of the average Bangladeshi.

The question before the United States and other advanced countries is not: Immigration, yes or no? In a mobile world, there will inevitably be quite a lot of movement of people. Immigration is not all or nothing. The questions to ask are: How much? What kind?

Too little immigration, and you freeze your country out of the modern world. Too much, or the wrong kind, and you overstress your social-insurance system—and possibly upend your democracy. Choose well, and you build a stronger, richer country for both newcomers and the long-settled. Choose badly, and you aggravate inequality and inflame intergroup hostility. How we choose will shape the future that will in its turn shape us.

II. A Recipe for Social Discord

It’s Time to Charge the Hill, Plant the Flag and Stand Up for Kids. Again.

Chris Stewart:

The system is rigged and we know it. God help us if we can’t straighten our backs, clear our heads and focus on the signal—student achievement—through the noise of the intentionally divisive and overheated rhetoric that has become the norm.

Although we’ve faced significant challenges, we can count more victories than defeat. Over the past 25 years, education reform has produced new schools, better tools for understanding how students are doing and new ways of preparing talented teachers. More than anything, this movement has brought attention to the unequal results for children living at the margins of society. Let’s not forget our progress. Let’s fight for more of it.

This isn’t a moment to give up, to cut and run, or wade in a sea of self-doubt. As some of our people retreat or surrender, I see the need for others to charge the hill, plant the flag and stand up for children as only moral people can do.

I want to bring to Education Post a results-focused plan to build a truly nonpartisan and ideologically diverse forum where parents, teachers and activists—across lines of class, race and geography—feel heard and valued, and can collectively demand the best possible educational options appropriate for their families. I firmly believe the only way to win the battle for hearts and minds is to respect the differing needs of parents and allies who may disagree with some of our politics, but agree every child deserves the opportunity to learn and achieve.

Students accused of sexual assault are suing colleges — and winning most of the time

David Jesse:

Nearly a year after having what he claimed was consensual sex and she claimed was assault, the two Aquinas College students were back together, this time separated by a curtain.

For 50 minutes, they appeared in front of a panel of employees of the college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In a 10-minute opening statement, the male student defended himself against charges he had sexually assaulted the female student. The female student offered no opening statement.

A few questions from the panel later, the hearing was done. Six days later, the male student was expelled. Ten months later, he filed a federal lawsuit. Several months after that, Aquinas settled the lawsuit. Those involved are barred from talking about the case by the agreement.

In suing, the Aquinas student joined a growing tide of male students, accused of sexually assaulting fellow students, who have lodged federal lawsuits against their schools, alleging discrimination and violations of their due process rights.

the college class on how not to be duped by the news

James McWilliams:

To prepare themselves for future success in the American workforce, today’s college students are increasingly choosing courses in business, biomedical science, engineering, computer science, and various health-related disciplines.

These classes are bound to help undergraduates capitalize on the “college payoff”, but chances are good that none of them comes with a promise of this magnitude: “We will be astonished if these skills [learned in this course] do not turn out to be the most useful and most broadly applicable of those that you acquire during the course of your college education.”

Sound like bullshit? If so, there’s no better way to detect it than to consider the class that makes the claim. Calling Bullshit: Data Reasoning in a Digital World, designed and co-taught by the University of Washington professors Jevin West and Carl Bergstrom, begins with a premise so obvious we barely lend it the attention it deserves: “Our world is saturated with bullshit.” And so, every week for 12 weeks, the professors expose “one specific facet of bullshit”, doing so in the explicit spirit of resistance. “This is,” they explain, “our attempt to fight back.”

The problem of bullshit transcends political bounds, the class teaches. The proliferation of bullshit, according to West and Bergstrom, is “not a matter of left- or rightwing ideology; both sides of the aisle have proven themselves facile at creating and spreading bullshit. Rather (and at the risk of grandiose language) adequate bullshit detection strikes us as essential to the survival of liberal democracy.” They make it a point to stress that they began to work on the syllabus for this class back in 2015 – it’s not, they clarify, “a swipe at the Trump administration”.

Related: Madison’s high school graduation rate data and “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

The Simpson Street Free Press was awarded the 2019 Media Openness Award, or “Mopee,” by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council

Wisconsin Watch:

Wisconsin’s largest newspaper and a small Madison paper produced mostly by teens are among the honorees of the 2019 Openness Awards, or Opees, bestowed annually by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, along with awards to a Wausau-based citizens environmental group and a state senator who is seeking to end his colleagues’ ability to destroy records at will.

Meanwhile, the Opees recognized both Racine Alderwoman Sandra Weidner and the city of Racine, for being on opposite sides of the same issue. Weidner was honored for blowing the whistle on her city’s extraordinary effort to suppress public records, for which it received negative recognition from the Council in the form of another award.

The awards, announced today in advance of national Sunshine Week (, March 10-16, are meant to recognize outstanding efforts to protect the state’s tradition of open government, and highlight some of the threats. This is the 13th consecutive year that Opees have been given.

Much more on the excellent Simpson Street free press, here.

Commentary on Madison’s K-12 School Discipline and Racism Climate

Chris Rickert:

Billed as a question-and-answer session on the use of physical restraint of students and special education services in the Madison schools, a forum Tuesday showcased the deep suspicion many local racial justice activists have about the school district’s ability to serve children of color.

Brandi Grayson, who has been active in local Black Lives Matter and police-reform efforts, said she organized the event as part of a plan to create a “rapid response team” of parents who would respond to incidents of racism and abuse in the schools, record those incidents in a database and give parents of children of color the resources and know-how to sue local school districts.

She referred to a physical confrontation in February between former Whitehorse Middle School staffer Robert Mueller-Owens, who is white, and an 11-year-old female black student as a case in which the girl was “brutalized,” and said she wanted the youth in attendance Tuesday at the First Unitarian Society to “build analysis of how institutional and structural racism operates.”

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

New Revelations on Donations and Admissions

Scott Jaschik:

UCLA knew in 2014 about gifts that were perceived to assure admission of athletes. And its officials talked to Rick Singer, ringleader in Operation Varsity Blues, about such concerns.

When the admissions scandal broke last month and a coach at the University of California, Los Angeles, was among those charged with accepting bribes, UCLA announced that he had been placed on leave. Shortly after that, the coach resigned. UCLA issued a number of statements about the integrity of its admissions system, notwithstanding what one of its coaches has been charged with doing.

One of the statements said that donations can’t influence the admissions process. “As a public institution, UCLA and all other campuses in the University of California system admit students solely based on the merits of their achievements. UCLA does not consider parents’ or relatives’ history of donations to the university in the admission process,” said the statement.

A report in the Los Angeles Times Friday evening, however, said that in 2014 UCLA was aware of instances in which the parents of athletes made donations to UCLA’s athletics department in return for the admission of their children.

Civics: Journalism is at risk not just from government but from media types who see their jobs as protecting the powerful from embarrassment.

JD Tuccille:

The political class and certain media circles have been celebrating over of the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. To watch their respective reactions is to recognize that, too often, the two groups see themselves as one and the same. Their interests and opinions coincide, and they don’t like having their authority challenged by loose-cannon journalists who reveal inconvenient secrets and expose the powers-that-be to unwelcome scrutiny.

On April 11, British police dragged Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy that had shielded him for years from Swedish sexual assault charges (later dropped) and, mostly, from the wrath of the U.S. government over WikiLeaks’ work with now-imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Together, Assange and Manning exposed state secrets including a U.S. helicopter attack that killed civilians, close ties between the government of Pakistan and the Taliban, and diplomatic cables revealing the U.S. government’s private positions to be very different from those presented to the public.

Assange was “arrested on behalf of the United States authorities,” police announced last Thursday. A new Ecuadorian administration, interested in closer relations with the U.S. and leery of transparency because of reports that have implicated the current president in corruption, seems to have been the precipitating factor.

Local media can be cheerleaders, as well.

Gifted classes may not help talented students move ahead faster

Jill Barshay:

One of the big justifications for gifted-and-talented education is that high achieving kids need more advanced material so that they’re not bored and actually learn something during the school day. Their academic needs cannot be met in a general education class, advocates say. But a large survey of 2,000 elementary schools in three states found that not much advanced content is actually being taught to gifted students. In other words, smart third graders, those who tend to be a couple grade levels ahead, are largely studying the same third-grade topics that their supposedly “non-gifted” classmates are learning.

The survey found that instead of moving bright kids ahead to more advanced topics, gifted classrooms are preoccupied with activities to develop critical thinking and creativity, such as holding debates and brainstorming. The third most common focus in gifted curriculums is to give students more projects and games, so-called “extension activities” that are tangentially related to their grade-level content. Accelerated math instruction ranked 18th on a list of 26 items that gifted curriculums could focus on. Advanced reading and writing instruction ranked 19th. Teaching academic self-confidence, leadership skills and social emotional learning all ranked higher than teaching above grade level content.

“Teachers and educators are not super supportive of acceleration,” said Betsy McCoach, one of the researchers and a professor at the University of Connecticut. “But it doesn’t make sense to pull kids together to do the same thing that everyone else is doing.”

Go to a Cheap College — or None at All

James Piereson & Naomi Schaefer Riley:

When customers visit an Enterprise Rent-a-Car establishment for the first time, they are often pleasantly surprised to be waited on by a staff of young managers, typically in their 20s, well dressed, polite, and efficient. The situation is much in contrast to many operations that employ middle-aged managers and hire young people to work their way up doing routine tasks. At Enterprise, the youngsters actually run the show, and they do it very well. And it is not an accident. Enterprise adopted a policy several years ago of hiring young college graduates to staff their local rental agencies. It is a policy that is paying off both for the company and for the young employees, who quickly learn the ins and outs of managing an office.

Enterprise offers more entry-level jobs for college graduates than almost any other employer in the United States. Last year they hired 8,500 for their management-training program, 40 percent more than the next highest employer. But according to a recent cover story in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Enterprise does not concern itself with questions such as where its trainees went to college, what they majored in, or even how well they did when they were there. “We recognize that great talent can come from all types of institutions, all types of majors and backgrounds,” Marie Artim, Enterprise’s vice president for talent acquisition, explained.

As the Chronicle notes, “to the company, a college degree matters mostly because it suggests that a candidate has acquired the right mix of skills to succeed in an entry-level job — and to move up the ladder from there.” Instead, the company simply takes a bachelor’s degree to signify that applicants can engage in some degree of critical thinking, problem solving, and juggling different responsibilities at the same time.

Why the US still won’t require SS7 fixes that could secure your phone

Andrea Peterson:

Yet decades later, SS7 and other components of the nation’s digital backbone remain flawed, leaving calls and texts vulnerable to interception and disruption. Instead of facing the challenges of our hyper-connected age, the FCC is stumbling, according to documents obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and through extensive interviews with current and former agency employees. The agency is hampered by a lack of leadership on cybersecurity issues and a dearth of in-house technical expertise that all too often leaves it relying on security advice from the very companies it is supposed to oversee.

CSRIC is a prime example of this so-called “agency capture”—the group was set up to help supplement FCC expertise and craft meaningful rules for emerging technologies. But instead, the FCC’s reliance on security advice from industry representatives creates an inherent conflict of interest. The result is weakened regulation and enforcement that ultimately puts all Americans at risk, according to former agency staff.

While the agency took steps to improve its oversight of digital security issues under the Obama administration, many of these reforms have been walked back under current Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, has consistently signaled that he doesn’t want his agency to play a significant role in the digital security of Americans’ communications—despite security being a core agency responsibility since the FCC’s inception in 1934.

The FCC’s founding statute charges it with crafting regulations that promote the “safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communications,” giving it broad authority to secure communications. Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and many legal experts argue that this includes cyber threats.

All our righteous scumbags

Sam Thielman:

Julian Assange—the guy who graduated, like, seven years ago, but can finally grow a beard—has now shown up to the party, and promptly been asked to leave. On Thursday, as Assange was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London by UK authorities to face possible extradition to the US, press freedom advocates all seemed to sigh heavily and in unison—like parents forced to pick up their hard-partying kids.

Press-freedom cases are a mangy bunch. Drill deep enough into the stories of the people mentioned above and you will see that all of them were prosecuted or otherwise punished for some bizarre and tasteless variation on an activity journalists have to perform every day. And for better or worse, we have to be on their team.

Assange has been credibly accused of rape, twice—once by a woman who is now seeking to have her case reopened in Sweden. Assange also distributed emails and documents that had been stolen from the Democratic National Committee and the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, some of which were then altered, probably by the Russian security service the GRU or one of its proxies, as part of an initiative by the Russian military to support the election of Donald Trump.

The problem for free-press advocates is that Assange is being indicted by a federal grand jury for something else entirely. A March 2018 indictment, unsealed on Thursday, alleges that, in 2010, Assange went beyond the behavior case law is generally understood to allow of journalists: he offered to help US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning break the encryption on a password in the hopes of acquiring further sensitive information. She had already sent information about activity in Iraq and Afghanistan to him for publication and dissemination to other publishers around the world.

Brooklyn parents sue to stop mandatory measles vaccinations

Aaron Katersky,Meghan Keneally:

A group of parents in Brooklyn are seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent mandatory measles vaccinations from taking effect.

The parents’ lawsuit against the New York City Department of Health called the emergency order “arbitrary and capricious” and the measures it necessitates “drastic.”

The order, issued by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last week, demands that all persons, starting at the age of 6 months old, who live, work or attend school within the specified zip codes of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, be vaccinated.

The parents who are suing argued “there is insufficient evidence of a measles epidemic or dangerous outbreak to justify” forced vaccinations and they accused the city of failing to take the least restrictive measures to end the outbreak.

The State of American Trade Schools

Chuck Thompson:

This is a golden time for postsecondary trade and tech schools. Not just because they’re becoming more profitable than ever. But because, at least according to some, they’re finally shaking off the stigma that has dogged their students, instructors, and administrators for so long. Over the past year, media from The Wall Street Journal to PBS have hailed technology schools and programs as harbingers of a new economy and reformers of a postsecondary education system that’s become over-priced, over-valued, and often irrelevant.

Statistics are a big part of the story. Between 1988 and 2018, the cost of a four-year college degree increased by 213 percent at public schools and 129 percent at private schools. Over the same period, wages for most Americans remained stagnant. Meanwhile, unemployment rates among young college graduates have grown from 4.3 percent in 2000 to 5.6 percent in 2017. Young male college graduates have been particularly hard hit. Their unemployment rate spiked from 4.1 percent in 2000 to 7.1 percent in 2017. At the same time, a scarcity of skilled workers has led to a nationwide labor shortage that’s resulted in increased wages for a number of blue-collar occupations. The lesson for many is obvious.

“We are lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist,” says Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe, summing up a widespread viewpoint for Fox News.

“Higher-education appropriations now exceed those before the recession in only six states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, New York, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.”

Eric Kelderman, via a kind reader:

In 11 states, higher-education appropriations have not recovered at all from the worst years of the Great Recession, according to an annual report released on Tuesday by the association of State Higher Education Executive Officers.

Nationally, said the 2018 “State Higher Education Finance” report, state appropriations per student remained essentially flat from the 2017 to 2018 fiscal years. “Following five straight years of growth in state support, there was nearly no national change in state and local per-student support for higher education after adjusting for inflation,” the study found.

Tuition revenue, which had risen in all but two of the past 25 years, also remained flat compared with the previous fiscal year, the report said. State spending on student financial aid increased by nearly 9 percent, the fourth consecutive increase, according to the study.

Forward Analytics to Provide Quality, Non-Political Research with Ultimate Goal of Good Public Policy

Wisconsin Counties Association, via a kind reader:

Changing demographics. Millennials. The state’s fiscal health. Birth rates. Job creation. The list of issues that impact the direction and trajectory of our state is seemingly endless.

To filter the noise and assemble the chaos into usable information, the Wisconsin Counties Association is proud to introduce their new research division, Forward Analytics.

“We created this new component of WCA to provide our state and local policy makers with nonpartisan analysis of issues affecting the state,” said WCA Executive Director Mark D. O’Connell. “Our mission is a simple one: to use the very best data available to highlight challenges facing Wisconsin; then share this information to assist our policymakers in understanding that data so they can make informed policy decisions which could help position us for future success.”

Forward Analytics is led by WCA Director of Research and Analytics Dale Knapp, who brings more than two decades of research experience in economics and public policy to the Association. Prior to helping create Forward Analytics, Knapp spent 18 years with the nonpartisan and well-respected Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, including 15 years as Research Director.

He has been nationally recognized, including a “Most Distinguished Research Award” from the Governmental Research Association for his work on the methods Wisconsin used to calculate prevailing wage.

Milwaukee teachers union appears poised for new era of political influence

Annysa Johnson:

“We expect people to keep their word,” said Mizialko, whose union’s political action committee donated at least $10,000 to the winners in the latest school board races. “We expect people to have a backbone and live out the values they espouse.”

Endorsements or not, MPS board members say they are unlikely to vote in lock-step on every issue, especially in an era of competing priorities and tight budgets.

The AI Race Is Wide Open, If America Remains Open

Joy Danton’s Ma:

Much ink has been spilled on the artificial intelligence (AI) race between the United States and China, leading to a whole lot of hand-wringing on how America can maintain its edge.

The answer actually isn’t that difficult. America ought to double down on what it’s best at: importing foreign talent. That’s because among the main building blocks of a competitive AI ecosystem—data, policy, companies, and hardware—talent is the one area in which the United States definitively leads over China.

Let’s take a closer look at where America stands in terms of AI talent globally and the foundation of its current advantage.

“that $119 million voucher cost represents just 1 percent of Wisconsin’s $11.5 billion in total local, state, and federal public-school funding”

Vicki Alger and Martin Lueken:

Secondly, Pope’s latest perennial request to the LFB asks for only the program’s costs and doesn’t ask for a single voucher program savings calculation. That omission, however, didn’t stop dozens of media outlets from repeating the ominous headline that vouchers, along with charter schools, “consume $193 million in state aid.” Those outlets also failed to mention that an adjustment to the Milwaukee voucher program’s so-called “funding flaw” has been phasing out its general aid cost for years and will be eliminated by 2024-25. Eliminating that cost, currently $42 million, reduces the Pope report’s combined $119 million voucher programs cost by more than one-third.

Even so, that $119 million voucher cost represents just 1 percent of Wisconsin’s $11.5 billion in total local, state, and federal public-school funding – at most a snowflake effect on public schools, not the negative “snowball effect” Pope describes.

What’s more, whenever students leave a public-school district, a portion of its funding is reduced no matter where they enroll next. In fact, the number of Wisconsin students transferring to other districts through open enrollment alone far outnumbers voucher students, nearly 61,000 transfer students compared to 40,000 voucher students. And that number doesn’t include students whose families moved out of state.


“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Madison spends far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, now around $20,000 per student.

Governor Evers lead the Wisconsin DPI for many years. That constitutionally independent taxpayer supported organization has issued thousands of mulligans to elementary reading teachers.

Facebook Showed Me My Data Is Everywhere And I Have Absolutely No Control Over It

Katie Notopoulos:

Welcome to the most bewildering — and most interesting — page in your Facebook settings: the list of brands that either have your data or have paid someone who has your data. This page is meant to offer Facebook users a glimpse at whose radar they may be on — which is good! But the reality is that this list is so confusing — why the heck does a Maserati dealership in Scottsdale, Arizona have my email or phone number? If they were any good at targeting ads, they could take one look at my location, occupation, or literally anything about me, and conclude there’s no way I’m buying a Maserati anytime soon.

It turns out this long list of advertisers represents several sides of digital advertising that extends beyond Facebook: traditional ad targeting, influencers and sponsored content, and advertisers on Facebook who leverage personal data from the giant data brokers.

1. Places where you’re actually a customer: The first group is what you’d expect to see. For example, mine has places I’ve shopped online, like Target and JetBlue, as well as web services I use, like Hulu, Venmo, and Fandango.

2. Sponcon influencers who post ads for a company that has your email: My list includes a bunch of pages for lifestyle bloggers who have done sponsored posts for ThirdLove bras. The thing is, I don’t follow any of these influencers — so why are they on my page? I had to think back: Once, I provided my email for a quiz to find my “true bra size” from ThirdLove. So when ThirdLove promoted a post by an influencer using a customer list (that I was now on), those influencers then appeared on my advertiser list. Confusing! No customer data is actually transferred between ThirdLove and the influencer, according to a representative for ThirdLove.

Governments should celebrate the boom in private education

The Economist:

IF SPENDING IS a measure of what matters, then the people of the developing world place a high value on brains. While private spending on education has not budged in real terms in the rich world in the past ten years, in China and India it has more than doubled. The Chinese now spend 5% of household income on education and the Indians 4%, compared with 2.5% for the Americans and 1% for the Europeans. As a result, private schooling, tuition, vocational and tertiary education are booming in developing countries (see our Special report).
Since brainpower is the primary generator of progress, this burst of enthusiasm for investing in human capital is excellent news for the world. But not everybody is delighted. Because private education increases inequality, some governments are trying to stop its advance. That’s wrong: they should welcome it, but spread its benefits more widely.
Education used to be provided by religious institutions or entrepreneurs. But when governments, starting in Prussia in the 18th century, got into the business of nation-building, they realised they could use education to shape young minds. As state systems grew, private schooling was left to the elite and the pious. Now it is enjoying a resurgence, for several reasons. Incomes are rising, especially among the better off, at the same time as birth rates are falling. In China the former one-child policy means that six people—two parents and four grandparents—can pour money into educating a single child. The growth of the knowledge economy means that the returns to education are rising at the same time as the opportunities available to those without any schooling are shrinking.

Students, Graduates May Be Next Targets of College-Admissions Scandal Investigation

Melissa Korn and Jennifer Levitz:

Though federal authorities have said many of the students who allegedly benefited from the scheme by landing spots at top colleges didn’t know about their parents’ activities, court papers suggest at least some did. Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said when the charges in “Operation Varsity Blues” were announced a month ago that the investigation was ongoing and students remained part of that probe.

“There was a pretty wide range of how parents tried to play this,” Mr. Lelling said at the time, adding that in one case a defendant and his daughter were allegedly on a conference call with the ringleader of the cheating scam.

In another example, the older daughter of one pair of defendants, Manuel and Elizabeth Henriquez, allegedly received a score of 1900 out of a possible 2400 on the October 2015 test, up by 320 points from the best mark she had received previously. Mark Riddell, the test-taking whiz who mastermind William “Rick” Singer paid to fix wrong answers for students, told authorities he “gloated” with the girl and her mother about getting away with cheating on the test, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Wisconsin Poll on Tax, Spending, Choice and Accountability

Bethany Blankley:

While 59 percent of respondents supported Evers’ plan to increase public school funding by $1.4 billion, support fell to 39 percent when respondents learned the increase in spending comes with no academic accountability, the polls found.

In response to Evers’ budget proposal, Madison–Co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance, Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said in a statement, “Wisconsin can’t afford Tony Evers’ budget. He’s spending our record surplus and billions more. His budget increases spending by $1,000 for every resident in the state, raises taxes, and eliminates the reforms that worked over the last eight years. Governor Evers is digging another hole that Republicans will again have to fill.”

The majority polled support public charter schools: 68 percent of Hispanics, 66 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of blacks, and 61 percent of residents from Metro Milwaukee counties.

More respondents support school voucher programs than those who oppose them. Supporters include 66 percent of blacks, 60 percent of Hispanics, 59 percent from Metro Milwaukee counties, and 53 percent of Millennial/Generation Z respondents.

The Rise of Outrage Culture and why it’s a damaging force to our society

Julian A:

The problem is that conservatives almost seldom attempt to ruin people’s lives for their political beliefs. Political correctness serves as the left’s stronghold, shaming tactics and de-platforming serving as the siege weapons. For people who are all about “Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” and “Working hard to get ahead”, right-wingers seem to be happy having their own Bastille get stormed by the outrage mob.

A liberal teacher would never lose his job for saying that he’s pro-choice, yet a conservative one can definitely find himself unemployed if he says he’s pro-life. Educational institutions are non-surprisingly left-leaning, but even the private sector you can get trouble for having the wrong opinion. The worst part about this discrimination is that it’s often completely legal.

Mulligans for Elementary Reading Teachers; permanent exemption proposal

Wisconsin Reading Coalition:

A bill is circulating in both houses of the Wisconsin legislature that would permanently exempt special education teachers from having to pass the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT). Prospective special educators would merely have to take one course in reading and reading comprehension, receive some unspecified coaching, and compile a portfolio. There is nothing that would make this course any more rigorous than existing reading courses. On completion of their teacher preparation program, they would be eligible for a Tier II license,on the pathway to a Tier III lifetime license without ever passing the FORT. The most needy students would receive the least qualified teachers.

Rep. Tranel and Sen. Marklein, the sponsors of LRB 1180/1 and LRB 2735/1, are seeking other legislators to sign on as co-sponsors by noon on Thursday, April 18th. Please take a moment today to contact your legislators with your concerns, and ask them not to sign on. Find your legislators here:

Wisconsin Reading Coalition has sent a blanket email to all legislators. The text is attached. Please feel free to use it to help you craft some comments.

Wisconsin Reading Coalition is a grassroots organization of families, educators, school administrators, higher education staff, tutors, psychologists, speech and language pathologists, attorneys, and other concerned Wisconsinites who advocate for changes in reading instruction that will improve student outcomes. 

One of the statutory provisions WRC supports is the requirement that elementary teachers, reading teachers, reading specialists, and special education teachers pass the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT) before becoming licensed teachers. It is undeniable that teachers who know more can teach more effectively. The FORT assesses basic knowledge about reading and teaching reading that is essential for all teachers, but especially those who are responsible for beginning and struggling readers. Of course, there are many other skills and many other areas of knowledge that are important to being a well-rounded educator, but an individual who cannot pass the FORT is not qualified to teach beginning or struggling readers. 

Ever since the FORT requirement was passed in 2011, adult special interest groups have been pressuring DPI and the legislature to lessen its impact. Our educator preparation programs are simply not doing a good job of teaching reading, and the FORT failure rate is higher than desired. 

DPI has responded by offering a variety of emergency licenses, licenses with stipulations, and most recently Tier I licenses that allow individuals to become teachers without passing the FORT. Teachers still cannot attain a Tier II or Tier III lifetime license without passing this exam. However, because Tier I licenses are infinitely renewable, a teacher can go through an entire career without passing the FORT. The sole exception is special education teachers, who are required by federal IDEA law to be “highly-qualified.” These teachers currently must pass the FORT within 3 years of entering the classroom.

The legislature has responded by creating FORT exemptions for certain teachers coming from out-of-state, as well as those who have been educated in the American Board online program. These individuals are allowed to skip the FORT entirely and move forward to Tier II and Tier III lifetime licenses. 

Now the legislature is being asked to take up LRB 1180/1 and LRB 2735/1, which will allow special educators to become fully licensed without ever passing the FORT. In place of the FORT, this legislation would merely require one reading course covering all five major components of reading, unspecified interaction with a coach, and compiling of a personal portfolio. The content of the course is not specified and, in any event, a one-semester course is not enough to cover all five components of reading in sufficient depth. Nothing assures us that this “rigorous” course will be any different from the reading coursework already required, or that it will be taught by anyone with deeper knowledge of reading science. It cannot be assumed that the holding of a master’s degree or reading specialist license makes a coach highly-qualified, and there is nothing to indicate the extent of the coaching. The design, content, and evaluation of the portfolio, which takes the place of the FORT, is not specified. 

In short, all this legislation accomplishes is to exempt special education teachers from passing the FORT. While this may solve the adult dilemmas of teachers who cannot pass the FORT and district administrators who have a dwindling pool of job applicants, it is done at the expense of our most vulnerable children in special education. Where they should have the most qualified teachers, they will now receive the least qualified. 

76% of our 4th grade special education students perform at the Below Basic level on the NAEP reading assessment. That is the equivalent of being functionally illiterate. The FORT requirement was enacted in part to begin turning around this shameful story of Wisconsin education. Allowing a three-year grace period for a special educator to pass the FORT is already a major concession to adult interests. Supporting this legislation guarantees that special education students’ needs will continue to go unmet. We ask you to support disabled students by voting NO on a FORT exemption for special education teachers. 

A series of college reading courses that is based on the science of reading will prepare prospective teachers to pass the FORT, and will expand the qualified job applicant pool without sacrificing special education students. The FORT should not be approached as a hurdle to overcome by memorizing terms and using study guides. Rather, it should be a demonstration that the future teacher has learned sufficient information and gained sufficient skills from a series of reading courses and practicum experiences to be an effective teacher. WRC urges both the legislature and DPI to explore long-overdue changes in teacher preparation for the benefit of our teachers, our schools, and our students.  

Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers:

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction “DPI”, lead for many years by new Governor Tony Evers, has waived thousands of elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirements. This, despite our long term, disastrous reading results.

Chan Stroman tracks the frequent Foundations of Reading (FoRT) mulligans:

Our long term, disastrous reading results.

Wallace Hall, University of Texas Admissions Whistleblower, Receives Apology

Michael Poliakoff:

In response to the recent nationwide college admissions scandal, the Student Government of the University of Texas–Austin has proposed an apology to Wallace Hall—a former member of the University of Texas System’s Board of Regents. Mr. Hall was an early whistleblower concerning admissions corruption in 2011, and faced harsh criticism for requesting application documents to investigate. Some attempted to argue (oddly) that he was overstepping his role as a trustee, and a controversial impeachment process against him began. Impeachment attempts were not successful, and Mr. Hall’s claims were validated in 2015 when an investigation found widespread admissions corruption.

Want to learn a new skill? Take some short breaks


“Everyone thinks you need to ‘practice, practice, practice’ when learning something new. Instead, we found that resting, early and often, may be just as critical to learning as practice,” said Leonardo G. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., senior investigator at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and a senior author of the paper published in the journal Current Biology. “Our ultimate hope is that the results of our experiments will help patients recover from the paralyzing effects caused by strokes and other neurological injuries by informing the strategies they use to ‘relearn’ lost skills.”

The study was led by Marlene Bönstrup, M.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Cohen’s lab. Like many scientists, she held the general belief that our brains needed long periods of rest, such as a good night’s sleep, to strengthen the memories formed while practicing a newly learned skill. But after looking at brain waves recorded from healthy volunteers in learning and memory experiments at the NIH Clinical Center, she started to question the idea.

The waves were recorded from right-handed volunteers with a highly sensitive scanning technique called magnetoencephalography. The subjects sat in a chair facing a computer screen and under a long cone-shaped brain scanning cap. The experiment began when they were shown a series of numbers on a screen and asked to type the numbers as many times as possible with their left hands for 10 seconds; take a 10 second break; and then repeat this trial cycle of alternating practice and rest 35 more times. This strategy is typically used to reduce any complications that could arise from fatigue or other factors.

Civics: Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries:

It is unclear how often these search requests have led to arrests or convictions, because many of the investigations are still open and judges frequently seal the warrants. The practice was first used by federal agents in 2016, according to Google employees, and first publicly reported last year in North Carolina. It has since spread to local departments across the country, including in California, Florida, Minnesota and Washington. This year, one Google employee said, the company received as many as 180 requests in one week. Google declined to confirm precise numbers.

The technique illustrates a phenomenon privacy advocates have long referred to as the “if you build it, they will come” principle — anytime a technology company creates a system that could be used in surveillance, law enforcement inevitably comes knocking. Sensorvault, according to Google employees, includes detailed location records involving at least hundreds of millions of devices worldwide and dating back nearly a decade.

The new orders, sometimes called “geofence” warrants, specify an area and a time period, and Google gathers information from Sensorvault about the devices that were there. It labels them with anonymous ID numbers, and detectives look at locations and movement patterns to see if any appear relevant to the crime. Once they narrow the field to a few devices they think belong to suspects or witnesses, Google reveals the users’ names and other information.

‘‘There are privacy concerns that we all have with our phones being tracked — and when those kinds of issues are relevant in a criminal case, that should give everybody serious pause,” said Catherine Turner, a Minnesota defense lawyer who is handling a case involving the technique.