All posts by AdminsXss94m

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: US Debt Bombs Bursting

William Edstrom:

The severity of this debt collapse around in the USA, coupled with the impotence of the US government, the emperor has no clothes, their inability to mount a rescue of the US economy – because Fed Funds interest rates have been at 0% since December 2008, and cannot be lowered, and because the US Treasury already printed $4.5 trillion out of thin air (QE1, QE2 & QE3); more money printing on that scale will lead to hyper-inflation which will cause the US dollar to become worthless – will accelerate the economic collapse of the USA and worse. An example of worse is an increased likelihood of states such as Texas seceding from the Union.

Vast cultural differences between US regions – like the Rockies, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and West Coast – will be exacerbated during the USA’s economic collapse 2016-2021, which will increase the likelihood of states or even entire regions seceding from the overly-indebted economically collapsing USA. State defiance of national laws (e.g. marijuana laws) coupled with the far right movement (e.g. Tea Party, Libertarian Party) has set the stage for secession fever to catch fire against the capitol district, Washington DC.

Happily, the USA enjoys the ability to print money, at least until others no longer accept the great game. History is always useful.

Open data on campus

campus data:

Welcome to the Campus Data Guidebook!

We hope this can help you start your campus data project. This is a living document created by students from a variety of schools; we’d like to give you tips and share our stories. This book contains different experiences from various institutions, so we might not agree all the time, but we’re all striving towards the same goals. Figure out what works best for your school. As you work on campus data and overcome hurdles, send us a pull request to share your story. Help us fight for open data everywhere!

Average dissertation and thesis length, take two

R is my friend:

About a year ago I wrote a post describing average length of dissertations at the University of Minnesota. I’ve been meaning to expand that post by adding data from masters theses since the methods for gathering/parsing the records are transferable. This post provides some graphics and links to R code for evaluating dissertation (doctorate) and thesis (masters) data from an online database at the University of Minnesota. In addition to describing data from masters theses, I’ve collected the most recent data on dissertations to provide an update on my previous post. I’ve avoided presenting the R code for brevity, but I invite interested readers to have a look at my Github repository where all source code and data are stored. Also, please, please, please note that I’ve since tried to explain that dissertation length is a pretty pointless metric of quality (also noted here), so interpret the data only in the context that they’re potentially descriptive of the nature of each major.

The lowest taxed school districts in New Jersey

New Jersey Education Aid:

The following fifty districts have the lowest Local Tax Levies relative to their Local Fair Share.

As you can see, most of these districts are at the Shore. Thirty of the fifty are in Cape May, Atlantic, Ocean, or Monmouth Counties. These districts have very few students and large property valuations, hence no need to tax their residents very highly.

It isn’t something that gets a lot of attention, but Jersey Shore microdistricts districts are among the worst aid hoarders in New Jersey. In some cases they get tens of thousands of dollars per student when they need virtually nothing. Allenhurst, for instance, has four students and yet gets $47,475 in state aid! Allenhurst’s school tax rate is 0.0060! Cape May Point also has four students and yet gets $26,803. Cape May Point’s school tax rate is 0.0082.

How education lobbyists are schooling D.C. lawmakers


Among the biggest spenders on lobbying are the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, the two teachers’ unions.

The NEA spent $1.2 million during the first six months of 2015, second only among public employee unions to the $1.3 million lobbying bill paid by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group. AFT ranked fourth with $668,068.

Related: WEAC: $1,570,000 for four senators.

A dangerous myth about who eats fast food is completely false

Roberto Ferdman:

But there’s a problem with saying that poor people like fast food better than others. It’s not true.

New data, released by the Centers for Disease Control, show that America’s love for fast food is surprisingly income blind. Well-off kids, poor kids, and all those in between tend to get about the same percentage of their calories from fast food, according to a survey of more than 5,000 people. More precisely, though, it’s the poorest kids that tend to get the smallest share of their daily energy intake from Big Macs, Whoppers, Chicken McNuggets, and french fries.

A Look at What the Public Knows and Does Not Know About Science


A new Pew Research Center survey finds that most Americans can answer basic questions about several scientific terms and concepts, such as the layers of the Earth and the elements needed to make nuclear energy. But other science-related terms and applications, such as what property of a sound wave determines loudness and the effect of higher altitudes on cooking time, are not as well understood.

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

Why Bother Educating Smart Kids?

Chester Finn & Brandon Wright:

Why pay special attention to high-ability girls and boys? Won’t they do fine anyway? Shouldn’t we concentrate on kids with problems? Low achievers? Poor kids?

Good questions all, particularly when American education leaders (and their counterparts in most other advanced countries) are preoccupied with equalizing opportunity, closing gaps, and giving a boost to those most challenged—and when resources are chronically scarce. Yet such questions have two compelling answers.

Barbie Wants to Get to Know Your Child

James Vlahos:

It looked like a child’s playroom: toys in cubbies, a little desk for doing homework, a whimsical painting of a tree on the wall. A woman and a girl entered and sat down in plump papasan chairs, facing a low table that was partly covered by a pink tarp. The wall opposite them was mirrored from floor to ceiling, and behind it, unseen in a darkened room, a half-dozen employees of the toy company Mattel sat watching through one-way glass. The girl, who looked about 7, wore a turquoise sweatshirt and had her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. The woman, a Mattel child-testing specialist named Lindsey Lawson, had sleek dark hair and the singsong voice of a kindergarten teacher. Microphones hidden in the room transmitted what Lawson said next. ‘‘You are going to have a chance to play with a brand-new toy,’’ she told the girl, who leaned forward with her hands on her knees. Removing the pink tarp, Lawson revealed Hello Barbie.

Civics: They thought it was a bomb’: 9th grader arrested after bringing a home-built clock to school

Sarah Kaplan:

Fourteen-year-old Ahmed Mohamed just wanted to get noticed by his teachers.

Instead, he got arrested.

In an incident that has raised allegations of racism and made a Texas school district the target of online outrage, the ninth grader was pulled out of school in handcuffs after a digital clock he built himself was mistaken for a bomb.

Of “Bomb Clocks,” Engineers and the $70 Million High School Football Stadium

Bob Frump:

Of “Bomb Clocks,” Engineers and the $70 Million High School Football Stadium

Some 19.6 miles from the Texas school where a smart 14-year-old kid with a dream of being an engineer was arrested the other day, a high school is building a $20 million stadium for its football players.

And 30 miles in the other direction, stands a $60 million high school football stadium.

The smart money says that if the kid, Ahmed Mohamed, could juke and run a quick slant pattern, he would have gotten an A+ just for being able to tell time.

But that’s all speculative.

What we do know is that he was so smart that he was able to build an electronic clock at home, and so proud that he brought it in to school.

France bids to reverse tech brain drain

Hugh Schofield:

A popular French TV advert for pasta sauce from the 1980s showed a jolly rustic fellow chasing after a train that was laden with all sorts of lovely food.

“Reviens Leon! (Come back, Leon!),” shouts his portly wife. “I’ve got the same at home.”

Today the catchphrase “Reviens Leon!” has been commandeered for a very different campaign: to lure back to France the thousands of tech whizz-kids who spent the last decade fleeing abroad.

In an open letter in Le Monde, the heads of 10 successful French start-ups pleaded with Silicon Valley expatriates to book their return flights to Paris.

Education Law Center Files Complaint about DOE Bureaucracy; Can We Talk About Kids?

Laura Waters:

The members of New Jersey’s “review” of the Common Core State Standards are faced with a thankless task: fussing over highly-regarded academic standards that were successfully implemented in all the state’s public schools five years ago simply because this past summer Gov. Christie, in a desperate attempt to revive a dead presidential campaign, announced that the standards “weren’t working.”

NJ Spotlight reports today on the composition of the task force, which includes twenty-four people plus another seventy on subcommittees.

Here’s Emil Carafa, past president of N.J. Principal and Supervisors Association, member of the Education Leaders Cadre, and principal of Lodi High School:

Intelligent machines: Making AI work in the real world

Eric Schmidt:

As part of the BBC’s Intelligent Machines season, Google’s Eric Schmidt has penned an exclusive article on how he sees artificial intelligence developing, why it is experiencing such a renaissance and where it will go next.

Until recently, AI seemed firmly stuck in the realm of science fiction. The term “artificial intelligence” was coined 60 years ago – on August 31 1955, John McCarthy proposed a “summer research project” to work out how to create thinking machines.

It’s turned out to take a bit longer than one summer. We’re now entering the seventh decade, and just starting to see real progress.

Welcome To Academic Torrents

Academic Torrents:

Currently making 9.16TB of research data available.

Sharing data is hard. Emails have size limits, and setting up servers is too much work. We’ve designed a distributed system for sharing enormous datasets – for researchers, by researchers. The result is a scalable, secure, and fault-tolerant repository for data, with blazing fast download speeds. Contact us at joecohen ‘@’

Impact of smartphones on behaviour in lessons to be reviewed

An investigation into how to train teachers to tackle poor pupil behaviour will be expanded to cover wider issues such as the use of mobile phones and other devices in schools, Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced today (13 September 2015).

In June, the government expert former teacher Tom Bennett to lead a review into how initial teacher training prepares teachers for tackling low-level disruption in class – but now his role will be expanded to look at all of the challenges of managing behaviour in 21st-century schools.

Appropriately used, technology can offer opportunities to enhance the educational experience of pupils – devices such as tablets and smartphones are used by many schools to aid teaching. Teachers, however, have reported that the growing number of children bringing personal devices into class is hindering teaching and leading to disruption.

The Story Of Scrabble

Hephzibah Anderson:

Fancy a game of Lexiko? Or how about Alph? Appropriately enough for a word game, it was only when Scrabble acquired the name millions now know it by that it really started to take off, spawning special sets for kids and travellers, tournaments with fat cash prizes, a television show – even a dirty-word version.

Today, more than 150 million sets have been sold in 29 languages. It has found its way into one in three American homes and an estimated 30,000 games are started around the world every hour – which is an awful lot of rainy afternoons and otherwise congenial family gatherings ruined by spats over whether ‘za’ is a legitimate word or not.

For Silicon Valley Hopefuls, Is College Irrelevant?

Kathryn Joyce:

On a sunny day in July, some 35 budding computer science students sat in a large room with beige walls and blocks of tables arranged into nine group work stations. The room was a temporarily commandeered art gallery in New York City, directly underneath the city’s High Line park, in a now-gentrified neighborhood that was once the seedy heart of Bohemia. Below the tables snaked power strips secured to the floor with electrical tape. Above them, a sea of adolescent faces — overwhelmingly male — stared intently into their MacBooks, typing and occasionally reaching for bowls of snacks that seemed rarely out of reach.

Bye Bye Blackboards

From Einstein and Others:

Blackboards were wiped after use: they were meant for immediate communication, not for record. Even as they were being used, their messages were continuously revised, erased and renewed. But when Einstein came to Oxford in 1931, he was already an international celebrity. After one of his lectures a blackboard was preserved and has become a kind of relic. It is the most famous object in this Museum.

Computers ‘do not improve’ pupil results, says OECD

Sean Coughlan:

Investing heavily in school computers and classroom technology does not improve pupils’ performance, says a global study from the OECD.

The think tank says frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results.
The OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher says school technology had raised “too many false hopes“.

Tom Bennett, the government’s expert on pupil behaviour, said teachers had been “dazzled” by school computers.

How new data-collection technology might change office culture


The giant Japanese conglomerate Hitachi has also developed what it calls Human Big Data, a wearable device that is outfitted with sensors and collects data 50 times per second.

Hitachi says the data gathered from the device is used to gauge the happiness of the group.

Meanwhile, Seattle-based Volometrix is hoping to help large companies bump up their efficiency rates by offering a service that scrapes the address and subject fields of email and calendar appointments from employees, and then aggregates the data to chart how workers are spending their time and with whom.

Volometrix counts Boeing, Facebook, Qualcomm and Seagate among its clients.

Charter advocates back closing badly performing peers

Martha Woodal:

It may sound counterintuitive, but two Philadelphia organizations that favor expanding successful charter schools are calling for changes to make it easier to close charters with poor academic track records.

In a position paper scheduled to be released Friday, the Philadelphia Charters for Excellence and the advocacy arm of the Philadelphia School Partnership call on the School Reform Commission and the legislature to streamline the closing of charters that are chronically low performers.

Now, they say, the process can drag on for years “while students attending these low-performing schools continue to receive a substandard education.”

Equal governance standards for the far more numerous traditional government schools?

Understanding The Biocode

Dawn Field:

n case you weren’t paying attention, a lot has been happening in the science of genomics over the past few years. It is, for example, now possible to read one human genome and correct all known errors. Perhaps this sounds terrifying, but genomic science has a track-record in making science fiction reality. ‘Everything that’s alive we want to rewrite,’ boasted Austen Heinz, the CEO of Cambrian Genomics, last year.

It was only in 2010 that Craig Venter’s team in Maryland led us into the era of synthetic genomics when they created Synthia, the first living organism to have a computer for a mother. A simple bacterium, she has a genome just over half a million letters of DNA long, but the potential for scaling up is vast; synthetic yeast and worm projects are underway.

Two years after the ‘birth’ of Synthia, sequencing was so powerful that it was used to extract the genome of a newly discovered, 80,000-year-old human species, the Denisovans, from a pinky bone found in a frozen cave in Siberia. In 2015, the United Kingdom became the first country to legalise the creation of ‘three-parent babies’ – that is, babies with a biological mother, father and a second woman who donates a healthy mitochondrial genome, the energy producer found in all human cells.

Companion app promises you’ll never walk home alone again

Samantha Rhodes:

It’s 11:30 p.m. and you’re walking home alone from the library. You’ve heard that some areas are unsafe. You think about texting a roommate to let her know that you’re on your way back, but decide not to because it really isn’t that far of a walk. Besides, this wouldn’t exactly be of help if you ran into trouble. Instead, you just hope that no one will bother you.

Now however, Companion, a free app developed by five University of Michigan students, gives that friend you reached out to the ability to actively participate in ensuring your safety.

Recent Federal Student Loans Look A Lot Like Subprime Mortgages


“Federal student loans made in recent years resemble the toxic subprime mortgage loans that helped cause the Great Recession, new data show,” according to The Huffington Post.

“Rather than paying down their balances after leaving school, borrowers with recent federal student loans are experiencing an increase in debt as they fail to make enough payments to offset the accumulating interest on their loans.

The situation parallels subprime mortgages before the financial crisis, when lenders gave borrowers loans they couldn’t afford by allowing them to make payments that didn’t actually reduce their balances.



In the endless typing of modern life, from filing reports at work to composing papers for school — let alone our nonstop texting, online messaging, and commenting— we rarely hold a pen or pencil to paper anymore. Though our phones may be ubiquitous, only our handwritten words can physically mark a place or object. To those who know us best, our handwriting bears our personality and reveals our identity, even without signing our names. And in certain cultures, handwriting is even an art form. From hastily scrawled reminders to painstakingly lettered invitations or heartfelt love notes, some sentiments are still most poignantly expressed by hand.

Gaps in Earnings Stand Out in Release of College Data

Kevin Carey:

Colleges give prospective students very little information about how much money they can expect to earn in the job market. In part that’s because colleges may not want people to know, and in part it’s because such information is difficult and expensive to gather. Colleges are good at tracking down rich alumni to hit up for donations, but people who make little or no money are harder and less lucrative to find.

On Saturday, the federal government solved that problem by releasing a huge set of new data detailing the earnings of people who attended nearly every college and university in America. Although it abandonded efforts to rate the quality of colleges, the federal government matched data from the federal student financial aid system to federal tax returns. The Department of Education was thus able to calculate how much money people who enrolled in individual colleges in 2001 and 2002 were earning 10 years later.

The Math I Learned After I Thought Had Already Learned Math


True story: it’s possible to fly through your own secondary math education – honor roll bumper sticker on your mom’s minivan and all – but miss some of the Very Big Ideas of secondary math.

For one example: in our last post on simplifying rational expressions, the process of turning a lengthy rational expression into a simpler one, Bill F writes:

Another benefit of evaluating both expressions for a set of values is to emphasize the equivalence of both expressions. Students lose the thread that simplifying creates equivalent expressions. All too often the process is seen as a bunch-of-math-steps-that-the-teacher-tells-us-to-do. When asked, “what did those steps accomplish?” blank stares are often seen.

Past a certain point, those operations are trivial. But it’s only past a point much farther in the distance that the understanding – these two rational expressions are equivalent – becomes trivial.

The Trouble With Digitizing History

Fast Company:

Driving through the Dutch countryside near the town of Hilversum, I have an overwhelming feeling that the surrounding water will wash out the road, given that my car is almost level with it. So it’s surprising that the Netherlands’ main audiovisual archives at the Sound and Vision Institute reside in a multilevel underground structure here, ostensibly below sea level.

Sound and Vision, together with two other national institutions, finished digitizing the bulk of the Netherlands’ audiovisual archives last year, for a cost of $202 million over seven years. The project ran smoothly and transparently, digitizing 138,932 hours of film and video, 310,566 hours of audio, and 2,418,872 photos.

The art of writing: Omission

John McPhee:

At Time in the nineteen-fifties, the entry-level job for writers was a column called Miscellany. Filled with one-sentence oddities culled from newspapers and the wire services, Miscellany ran down its third of a page like a ladder, each wee story with its own title—traditionally, and almost invariably, a pun. Writers did not long endure there, and were not meant to, but just after I showed up a hiring freeze shut the door behind me, and I wrote Miscellany for a year and a half. That came to roughly a thousand one-sentence stories, a thousand puns.

I am going to illustrate this with one, and only one, example. A person riding a bicycle on a street in Detroit fell asleep at the handlebars. My title was “Two Tired.”

From Somaliland to Harvard

Nicholas Kristoff:

— OF the millions of young men and women settling into college dorms this month, one of the most unlikely is Abdisamad Adan, a 21-year-old beginning his freshman year at Harvard. Some of his 18 siblings are illiterate and never went even to first grade, and he was raised without electricity or indoor plumbing by an illiterate grandmother in a country that doesn’t officially exist.

Yet he excelled as he studied by candlelight, and he’s probably the only person in Harvard Yard who knows how to milk a camel

Interviews With Fascinating Mathematicians

donald J. Albers and Gerald L. alexanderson:

How do the words of mathematicians, dis- cussing their work, their careers, their lives, become known to a larger audience? There are, of course, biographies and autobiogra- phies of mathematicians going as far back as Pythagoras. There are letters galore. Some off-the-cuff remarks have been preserved (e.g., those of Lagrange). Thus, authentic words of bygone mathematicians are not dif- ficult to come by, and out of them it would be easy to construct an imaginative mock interview:

When an outsider arrives to shake up a school system, a tightrope walk follows

Dale Russakoff:

When an outsider arrives to shake up a school system, a tightrope walk follows
By Dale Russakoff
PUBLISHED: September 10, 2015 – 6:30 pm EDT
PHOTO: Stephanie Snyder/Chalkbeat
What could $100 million do for an urban school district plagued by low performance, a slow-moving bureaucracy, and deep student poverty? That’s what Newark set out to learn in 2010, when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg pledged that sum to the small city’s schools. Journalist Dale Russakoff followed the twists and turns of that process and in “The Prize,” out this week, she documents the politics, policy shifts, and unfulfilled promises of the $100 million gift.
This excerpt comes from early in superintendent Cami Anderson’s tenure, which began after officials couldn’t agree on a hire and former New York State Education Commissioner John King turned the job down, and illustrates the characteristics of urban education that she hoped to upend in Newark as well as the consequences of that upending. Many of those consequences — including intense community opposition to school closures and the concentration of especially high-needs students in certain district schools — have unfolded in New York City as well. Read to the end for a chance to win your own copy of Russakoff’s book.
The Newark Public Schools has its headquarters in a drab, ten-story downtown office building occupied mostly by state agencies. The school district fills the top three floors, crowned by the superintendent’s suite and a photo gallery of its many occupants stretching back to 1855. The early leaders sport high collars, bushy mustaches, and wire-rimmed glasses. Over time, styles change, but through 118 years and eleven superintendents, two things remain constant: everyone in the photographs is white, and everyone is male.

Madison has long resisted substantive governance change, illustratedby its long term, disastrous reading results.

Civics: U.S. Drops Charges That Professor Shared Technology With China

Matt Apuzzo:

But months later, long after federal agents had led Dr. Xi away in handcuffs, independent experts discovered something wrong with the evidence at the heart of the Justice Department’s case: The blueprints were not for a pocket heater.

Faced with sworn statements from leading scientists, including an inventor of the pocket heater, the Justice Department on Friday afternoon dropped all charges against Dr. Xi, an American citizen.

It was an embarrassing acknowledgment that prosecutors and F.B.I. agents did not understand — and did not do enough to learn — the science at the heart of the case before bringing charges that jeopardized Dr. Xi’s career and left the impression that he was spying for China.

End of the road for journalists? Tencent’s Robot reporter ‘Dreamwriter’ churns out perfect 1,000-word news story – in 60 seconds

He Huifeng:

Chinese social and gaming giant Tencent published its first business report written by a robot this week, ramping up fears among local journalists that their days may be numbered.

The flawless 916 -word article was released via the company’s portal, an instant messaging service that wields much sway in China, a country now in the throes of an automation revolution.

“The piece is very readable. I can’t even tell it wasn’t written by a person,” said Li Wei, a reporter based in the southern Chinese manufacturing boomtown of Shenzhen.

It was written in Chinese and completed in just one minute by Dreamwriter, a Tencent-designed robot journalist that apparently has few problems covering basic financial news.

Is College Tuition Really Too High?

Adam Davidson:

To understand the feeling of crisis that many see in higher education right now, it’s useful to start with some figures from 40 years ago. In 1974, the median American family earned just under $13,000 a year. A new home could be had for $36,000, an average new car for $4,400. Attending a four-year private college cost around $2,000 a year: affordable, with some scrimping, to even median earners. As for public university, it was a bargain at $510 a year. To put these figures in 2015 dollars, we’re talking about median household income of $62,000, a house for $174,000 and a sticker price of $21,300 for the car, $10,300 for the private university and $2,500 for the public one.

A lot has changed since then. Median family income has fallen to about $52,000, while median home prices have increased by about two-thirds. (Car prices have remained steady.) But the real outlier is higher education. Tuition at a private university is now roughly three times as expensive as it was in 1974, costing an average of $31,000 a year; public tuition, at $9,000, has risen by nearly four times. This is a painful bill for all but the very richest. For the average American household that doesn’t receive a lot of financial aid, higher education is simply out of reach.

Wisconsin DPI’s Ongoing Assessment Process (those Who Brought Us The WKCE)

Molly Beck:

State education officials have tapped a former state lawmaker’s company to create a new exam for Wisconsin elementary and middle school students, replacing the problematic Badger Exam that students took for the first and last time this spring.

The state is negotiating a contract with Minnesota-based Data Recognition Corporation to build a test called the Wisconsin Forward Exam that will still be aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English and math, despite Gov. Scott Walker’s opposition to them.

Susan Engeleiter, chief executive officer and president of DRC, was the Republican Senate minority leader in the 1980s. She also ran an unsuccessful campaign against former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat, in 1988.

Much more on DPI’s multi-million dollar WKCE disaster.

Intel to End Sponsorship of Science Talent Search

Quentin Hardy:

The contest, called the Science Talent Search, brings 40 finalists to Washington for meetings with leaders in government and industry and counts among its past competitors eight Nobel Prize winners, along with chief executives, university professors and award-winning scientists.

Over the years, the award for work in so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — has made national headlines and been an important indicator of America’s educational competitiveness and national priorities. When it was started as an essay competition in 1942, its first topic was “How science can help win the war.” The male winner, or “Top Boy,” went on to develop an artificial kidney. The “Top Girl” became an ophthalmologist. A single winner was first named in 1949.



Architect Lior Ben-Shitrit designs an innovative space where children with learning disabilities can shine

“They push them into classrooms so that they will sit quietly like everyone else, and they simply can’t do this,” says Michal Hazan, director of the “Darca” high school in Kiryat Malachi in southern Israel, about the disturbing reality that students with learning disabilities and ADHD face. In a trial that began last week at the start of the school year, a new special classroom was designed for 55 students suffering from these disabilities. This is a small project, 60 square meters in total, but when entering the new classroom it’s easy to spot the differences: a wall made of vegetation, balls instead of chairs, transparent walls and moving tables on wheels.

Bullying Causes Teen Suicide, But What Causes Bullying?

Dr Hurd:

Schools have long since lost sight of what education actually is. Government schools are particularly guilty. Public schools are government schools. If we called them what they are — government schools — many of us might not be so prone to defend them.

By their very definition, the purpose of nationalized, federally subsidized government schools is to turn out “good little citizens” — as the government currently in power defines them.
Bear in mind that this is neither a Republican nor a Democrat issue. Each party stands ready to get its turn in the sun and utilize the coercive apparatus of the federal regulatory and funding structure in an attempt to assert their visions, priorities and will into the minds of young people. Social engineering (right wing or left wing) imposed on children, propped up by government coercion, subsidies and mandatory attendance laws … It’s truly the intellectual equivalent of child abuse.

Contrary to principles of education discovered and articulated by geniuses like Maria Montessori, most schools approach education collectively, not individually. We utilize the German model, based on the kind of thinking that gave rise to Hitler, nationalism and fascism; there’s nothing American about it. A distinctively American approach to education would be based on individualism, for-profit and competitive excellence, and parental choice in a totally free marketplace. Innovation and genuine diversity would be the dominant themes in a privatized education marketplace. We presently have none of those things.

Children are not taught to learn in their own ways at paces they can personally handle, while still adhering to objective standards of truth, fact and knowledge. Instead, we strive for normalcy, as defined by the rulers in charge. We seek out teachers who pursue master’s degrees in the nonspecific (and indefinable) field of “education,” while knowing little or nothing about the subjects they’re expected to teach. We require teachers to teach for the sake of nationalized tests, more in the pursuit of attaining scores that make the schools look collectively good rather than actually catering to the highly individualized, while still objective, process of learning and thinking.

Teaching Taste

Kartik Agraram:

Basically, my student now indents just like any other programmer (to the extent that anybody should care about it) but knows why he does so, the concrete benefit he derives from it. He is open to changing his habits in the face of changing circumstances, and not to dwell overly on minor local details compared to the prize: understanding what this program does.

Once I happened upon this happy result — learning useful skills without harmful metaheuristics — I noticed that the same arc has been playing out in parallel along several other frontlines. My student used to use single-letter variable names, and now he’s starting to use words in some situations. He’s starting to add comments. He went from having no comments, to commenting every line (including, yes, “increment x”), to noticing that that wasn’t useful. Ok, he might take a few decades to figure out that one. I’m looking forward to seeing the same dynamic evolve in where he draws his function boundaries.

Justices receive political contributions from lead party in charter school lawsuit

Washington policy center :

New research finds that some justices on the state supreme court have received political contributions from a lead party in a key lawsuit now before the court.

Parties in the case, League of Women Voters, Washington Education Association, et al vs State of Washington, are asking the court to strike down Washington’s charter school law, passed by voters in 2012, and bar children from attending a charter public school.

Charter schools are community-based public schools that operate independently of central district management. They are tuition-free and open to all students. In Washington, charter schools are designed to help poor families and children underserved by traditional schools.

Charter schools are popular with low-income parents who see education as the path to a better future for their children. Demand far exceeds supply. While 10 charter schools are set to open, the Charter School Commission this year rejected applications from 12 community charter school groups, leaving 4,900 children to wait for a future round of approvals.

Related: WEAC: $1.57 million for four senators.

University Of Iowa Gets President That Faculty Dislike

Kelli Woodhouse:

Come November, the University of Iowa will have a businessman with little experience in academe at its helm — and many faculty members and others in Iowa City aren’t happy about it.

The Iowa Board of Regents on Thursday unanimously appointed former IBM senior vice president Bruce Harreld as Iowa’s next president, despite outspoken criticism of Harreld as lacking the necessary qualifications to lead a university.

Harreld was one of four publicly announced finalists for the position and the only one without experience in higher education administration. He is a consultant who formerly worked as an executive at IBM, Kraft General Foods and Boston Market Company restaurants. His higher education experience is limited to eight years as an adjunct business professor at Harvard University and Northwestern University.

Faculty members have expressed concerns that Harreld lacks the knowledge and skills to work under a shared governance model and understand the complexities of leading a multibillion-dollar academic and research organization. Many worry that he will view the institution with a corporate mind-set, and that he will allow the regents to make the wrong changes to the university.

“Bruce Harreld is taking on the presidency under an enormous cloud and it’s going to take a lot of work to begin to make his presidency work effectively and to gain the trust of the community,” said Ed Folsom, an English professor who served on the presidential search that produced Sally Mason, whose retirement in August created the vacancy that the board is filling. “The fear of a good part of the university community is that he is assuming a presidency that … looks to the Board of Regents for guidance and approval, rather than looking to the university community for guidance and approval.”

Why Data Matters

Rishawn Biddle:

Two things can be said about California’s state government when it comes to its efforts on school data. The first? That the Golden State has always blundered when it comes to developing robust comprehensive data systems that can be easily used by families, school leaders, researchers, and policymakers. As I reported seven years ago in A Byte At the Apple: Rethinking Education Data for the Post-NCLB Era, bureaucratic incompetence, failures to fully fund development of data systems, and the byzantine structure of state education governance have all combined to ensure that none of California’s data systems provide the comprehensive longitudinal data that is needed to spur systemic reform. Little wonder why California only implemented four of the 10 standards for high-quality data systems set by the Data Quality Campaign in 2012 — and why it hasn’t participated in the organization’s evaluations for the past two years.

The second: That affiliates of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, along with traditional districts within the Golden State, have worked together to make it even harder for families or anyone to gain any data on school and student performance at all, much less anything that is simple-yet-comprehensive. Four years ago, the Big Two successfully convinced Gov. Jerry Brown to kibosh development of the CalTIDES teacher performance data system (and ending efforts to use objective student test score growth data in evaluating how instructors are improving student achievement). Last year, the Big Two and traditional districts successfully convinced Brown and state legislators to pass Assembly Bill 484, which all but gutted the state’s accountability systems — under the guise of implementing Common Core reading and math standards — by eviscerating all but four of the state’s battery of exams.

Princeton’s School of Hard Knocks

Virginia Postrel:

Worrying about the angst of high-achieving students has become a minor industry. “America’s culture of hyperachievement among the affluent” has led to suicides, depression, and anxiety among college students, suggested a July New York Times feature. “These cultural dynamics of perfectionism and overindulgence have now combined to create adolescents who are ultra-focused on success but don’t know how to fail,” wrote Julie Scelfo. The rhetoric of concern barely conceals contemptuous disapproval.

In this popular narrative, America’s best college students are making themselves miserable trying to please pushy parents and grab lucrative jobs. They’re soulless grinds — the products of insensitive parenting and a sick culture. This fable leaves no room for intellectual enthusiasm or the pride of seeing oneself as smart and accomplished. It assumes every activity these students pursue is instrumental, undertaken merely to look good on an application for the next stage in their upward climb. Their drive for success, it suggests, cloaks an ignoble lust for fame or money. The moralism of this tale may flatter the tellers, but the story itself largely misses a deeper underlying struggle on elite campuses.

Of white bread, papier-mâché, and the original “education reformer”

Mike Vaughn:

CPS runs Consuella B. York Alternative School, a school located inside the jail at 26th and California. I was there to visit an art class and write a story about it for the Chicago Educator, a newspaper that CPS started when Mayor Richard M. Daley first took control of the school system and named Paul Vallas as its first CEO.

The students at York are not guilty of anything. They are awaiting “adjudication” on an arrest charge. Some are there for a couple days, others much longer.

I felt out of place. First of all, it was an art class involving papier-mâché. I don’t have an artistic cell in my body (not to mention that I’ve always had a thing against papier-mâché because of its pretentious, “Hey, look at me!” spelling). Second of all, I was pretty much an alien to the guys in the class—a creature from a very pale planet that prides itself on lame haircuts.

But 10 minutes in, we were just a bunch of guys hanging out, doing papie…um, an art project, and talking about Michael Jordan, school, movies, and whatever else came up. They were smart, funny, friendly, and great company (not to mention, very forgiving of my hair).

Will kids ditch education to make $15 an hour? Opponents behind new billboard say so

Payton Davis:

The prospect of earning $15 an hour might encourage young adults to ditch endeavors in education if nationwide efforts to raise the minimum wage come to fruition, a Times Square billboard indicates.

“What? I get $30,000 a year with no experience or skills?” reads the sign featuring a young man with headphones in and cap turned around. “Who needs an education or hard work when Gov. Cuomo is raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour?”

Inside Facebook’s plan to build a better school

Casey Newton:

Looking back, Mike Sego says, he was always meant to work in education. His dad taught fifth grade for 37 years, three of his older siblings were K-12 teachers, and he spent free time as a kid grading papers for fun. But like so many people who arrive in Silicon Valley after college, Sego first started working in tech. He worked on The Sims, and later got to know Mark Zuckerberg when his virtual pets game, (fluff)Friends, was one of the first hits on Facebook’s new games platform. Around that time, Zuckerberg had become interested in education as part of his philanthropy, donating $100 million to Newark schools in 2010. After a stint as CEO of Gaia Interactive, Sego decided to turn his attention to education. He called Zuckerberg and asked if they could work together.

Inevitable, given cost disease and Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

An Alternative View on Charter Schools and Backfill

Robin Lake:

Paul has legitimate concerns about the “backfill” issue (whether charter schools should be required to take students mid-year or after traditional entry grades), concerns that are grounded in his research with Gail Foster and Tamar Gendler at RAND back in the 80s. High Schools with Character is one of the best things I’ve read about the importance of school-level coherency and is foundational reading at CRPE. Paul is worried that by asking the most effective, “high-output” charter high schools to backfill, they will begin to look like traditional comprehensive high schools, compromising high standards and the learning opportunities for high-achieving students.

We at CRPE have always believed that the real promise of chartering rests on the ability of the school to act as a focused, results-oriented organization. A school should be able to define a clear vision of the skills, character, and competencies of its graduates, and it should be able to define how instruction, culture, and resources are aligned in support of producing those kinds of graduates. It is essential that everyone in the school community—teachers, students, parents, and even the cafeteria staff—is on board with that plan. Focus and coherency are especially important at the high school level, where student interests, skills, and behaviors can vary dramatically. Trying to respond to those diverse needs led us to where we are today, with comprehensive high schools that often produce award-winning football teams and jazz bands but struggle to ensure that every student leaves on a path to success.

From Russia With Math

Anna Kuchment:

Every parent with an appreciation of science wants her child to love math. But not all of us are equipped to help them see the beauty in numbers.

Last year my daughter, who is going into 4rd grade, came home and announced for the first time that she “hates” math. So I went in search of an afterschool program that might inspire her to change her attitude.

I discovered “Math Circles,” informal math clubs for kids run by mathematicians who often hail from the former Soviet Bloc. The small groups spend their time working out problems, solving various riddles and puzzles, and going on math field trips to places like art museums.

Math circles originated in Eastern Europe more than a century ago but did not arrive in the United States until quite recently – one account dates their arrival to the launch of a math circle in Boston in 1994. Today, there are more than 200 groups across the country.

Sebastian Thrun: The pioneer of Google’s autonomous cars wants to teach people how to face the future

The Economist:

“BECAUSE of the increased efficiency of machines, it is getting harder and harder for a human to make a productive contribution to society,” says Sebastian Thrun. This is what you might expect to hear from the man who suggested Google’s controversial Street View project to photograph the world’s roadsides, who developed the company’s eerie self-driving cars and who founded the secretive Google “skunk-works” project responsible for Glass, a wearable computer that resembles spectacles. Yet that does not mean Mr Thrun is in thrall to the march of the machines. “To the extent we are seeing the beginning of a battle between artificial intelligence (AI) and humanity, I am 100% loyal to people,” he says.

Via handwriting analysis, scholar discovers unknown Magna Carta scribe

Angela Becerra Vidergar:

Scholars have long thought that the Magna Carta was issued by the king in the Chancery, the king’s central court, written by his scribes there and then sent out to other locations in the shires, or counties, of England.

According to Treharne, her research suggests the Salisbury Magna Carta was not just received and preserved at Salisbury, but that the Salisbury Magna Carta was written at Salisbury by one of the cathedral’s own scribes. She recently co-published her findings with University of Glasgow historian Andrew Prescott.

Treharne, a professor of English at Stanford, says that knowing about this difference in authorship “changes the way we think about the transmission of texts in the Middle Ages from the court.”

Instead of the charter being something passive that the king produced and sent out from the central court to be put away in satellite locations, Treharne says versions of the charter “were written in the regions and then taken to the court for sealing by the king’s Great Seal.”

Purdue’s new student loan program literally invests in their students

Payton Alexandrr:

An innovative model of tuition financing from Purdue University in Indiana is poised to disrupt the student loan industry, solve the debt crisis, and open the possibility of higher education and well-paid careers to millions.

Beginning in 2016, University President Mitch Daniels wants to allow private investors to invest in the success of Purdue students using a new financial model: Income Share Agreements (ISA).

ISAs allow private investors to buy shares of a student’s future income for a fixed period of time in exchange for covering the cost of tuition – an idea that has the potential revolutionize the student loan industry. This idea is not new.

Kids & the future of robotics: wires, duct tape & dreams

Tammy Mannetta:

Where are the robots? By now, they were supposed to be everywhere: cleaning our homes, replacing our pets, and saving our lives. The optimistic 50s futurist would be terribly let down by today’s robots. The year 2001 passed without any deep space travel, never mind HAL, and it’s nearly 2019 and we’re far from developing Blade Runner’s replicants. Sure, Curiosity is up finding nitrates on Mars, and there are some pretty sophisticated military robots in the works.

But the robots we’ve got in our homes are a lot simpler than we expected. While I was researching robots for Tinybop’s new app, The Robot Factory, one thing became increasingly clear: we’ve got Big Hero dreams and we live in a Roomba world.

Schools ‘demand money from parents’

Hannah Richardson:

At least 100 schools in England are pressurising parents or demanding they contribute financially to budgets, potentially in breach of the law, research suggests.

The British Humanist Society (BHA) found many were state faith schools.

Schools in England are permitted to seek voluntary donations from parents, but must make it clear there is no obligation to contribute.
The government said any claims of rules being breached would be examined.

LA Unified board picks Hazard Young to find next superintendent

Mike Szymanski:

The LA Unified school board yesterday picked the search firm to find the district’s next superintendent, completing a relatively speedy process that suggests the members want a successor in place when Ramon Cortines steps down in December.

The search process began Sunday, when the board narrowed the field to two head-hunter firms from five and was completed last night following a long day of meetings, in public and private.
After some discussion and a decision not to delay the actual selection, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Rosemont, Ill. prevailed in a unanimous vote over Leadership Associates of La Quinta, Calif. Hazard Young projected the highest cost, $160,000, of any of the five firms bidding, but its executives promised that they would deliver a choice of candidates “who meet your criteria” for the job.

What is tuition discounting and why do colleges do it?

Higher Ed Professor:

Tuition discounting is growing in higher education. Yet, by the very nature of the practice, the concept is confusing to prospective students as well as people who have spent their careers working in colleges and universities. A recent report by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) suggests that tuition discount rates are at an all-time high. The report further argues that the strategy is unsustainable and many institutions will have to reconsider their approach to discounting. But all of this raises the question: what is tuition discounting and why do colleges do it?

Related: Financial aid leveraging.

The bachelor’s to Ph.D. STEM pipeline no longer leaks more women than men: a 30-year analysis

David I. Miller and Jonathan Wai:

For decades, research and public discourse about gender and science have often assumed that women are more likely than men to “leak” from the science pipeline at multiple points after entering college. We used retrospective longitudinal methods to investigate how accurately this “leaky pipeline” metaphor has described the bachelor’s to Ph.D. transition in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in the U.S. since the 1970s. Among STEM bachelor’s degree earners in the 1970s and 1980s, women were less likely than men to later earn a STEM Ph.D. However, this gender difference closed in the 1990s. Qualitatively similar trends were found across STEM disciplines. The leaky pipeline metaphor therefore partially explains historical gender differences in the U.S., but no longer describes current gender differences in the bachelor’s to Ph.D. transition in STEM. The results help constrain theories about women’s underrepresentation in STEM. Overall, these results point to the need to understand gender differences at the bachelor’s level and below to understand women’s representation in STEM at the Ph.D. level and above. Consistent with trends at the bachelor’s level, women’s representation at the Ph.D. level has been recently declining for the first time in over 40 years.

Mark Twain’s Memory Builder Game

Dave Thomson:

On August 18, 1885 Mark Twain patented his Memory-Builder, a game board aimed at developing memory for dates and facts. The game board measured approximately 9 x 13 1/2 inches and about 1/4 of an inch thick. The game and instructions (see below), which were written by Twain, were glued on the top front and back of the game board. The game came supplied with a package of straight pins of different colors. Several models were test marketed in 1891 but failed to capture the public’s fancy, possibly because Twain’s instructions were too complicated. According to one critic, “The game looked like a cross between an income tax form and a table of logarithms (Meltzer, p. 193).”

How to Tell Science Stories with Maps

Greg Miller:

Maps are amazing for their ability to show us something we can’t see directly, from the path of the Curiosity rover on Mars, to the tangle of underground fracking wells in North Dakota, to clusters of unvaccinated schoolchildren in California. For journalists, maps can be both a powerful data-visualization tool and a reporting tool.

“Maps are some of the most information-dense ways of communicating data,” says Len De Groot, director of data visualization at the Los Angeles Times. People understand maps intuitively because they use them in their everyday lives, De Groot says. “You can do a lot in a map because people already understand the fundamentals—unlike, say, a scatterplot.”

Maps can also reveal relationships and stories that aren’t otherwise apparent. In the mid-2000s, De Groot was part of a team at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that mapped FEMA disbursements after several hurricanes, including Hurricane Frances, which struck in 2004. “We didn’t start with any agenda, we were just doing the standard where’s-the-money-going thing,” he says. “To our surprise there was one zip code in Miami where we saw there was a spike in payouts in areas where we knew there was very little damage.” That led to a broader investigation by the paper, which revealed widespread fraud and got the paper nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and ultimately led to policy changes at FEMA.

How The Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive

Josh Giesbrecht:

ecently, Bic launched a campaign to “save handwriting.” Named “Fight for Your Write,” it includes a pledge to “encourage the act of handwriting” in the pledge-taker’s home and community, and emphasizes putting more of the company’s ballpoints into classrooms.

As a teacher, I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could think there’s a shortage. I find ballpoint pens all over the place: on classroom floors, behind desks. Dozens of castaways collect in cups on every teacher’s desk. They’re so ubiquitous that the word “ballpoint” is rarely used; they’re just “pens.” But despite its popularity, the ballpoint pen is relatively new in the history of handwriting, and its influence on popular handwriting is more complicated than the Bic campaign would imply.

The Case for Teaching Ignorance

Jamie Holmes:

IN the mid-1980s, a University of Arizona surgery professor, Marlys H. Witte, proposed teaching a class entitled “Introduction to Medical and Other Ignorance.” Her idea was not well received; at one foundation, an official told her he would rather resign than support a class on ignorance.

Dr. Witte was urged to alter the name of the course, but she wouldn’t budge. Far too often, she believed, teachers fail to emphasize how much about a given topic is unknown. “Textbooks spend 8 to 10 pages on pancreatic cancer,” she said some years later, “without ever telling the student that we just don’t know very much about it.” She wanted her students to recognize the limits of knowledge and to appreciate that questions often deserve as much attention as answers. Eventually, the American Medical Association funded the class, which students would fondly remember as “Ignorance 101.”

The top ten most unexpected words added to the online Oxford dictionary

By Lucy Clarke-Billings:

Awesomesauce, Grexit and manspreading have all made the cut

The online Oxford dictionary has added 1,000 new words to its database.

The latest additions have been announced, highlighting the things British people have been talking about in the summer of 2015, such as inconsiderate commuters, solidified waste and unacceptable service charges.

Here are ten of the most unexpected words on the list:

As Coursera Evolves, Colleges Stay On and Investors Buy In

Jeffrey Young:

Three years ago everyone was talking about Coursera, which had begun partnering with some of the world’s most elite colleges to offer free courses. There was overheated hype, as pundits speculated that it could be a magic bullet to bring down college costs. And there were tough questions, as people wondered what the goal was for partner colleges, and how the Silicon Valley company could make enough revenue on free courses to survive.

Today the MOOC hype has dissipated, but the company’s leaders say Coursera has found a way to make money, and that partner colleges have found a clear reason to participate. Those answers, the company announced on Tuesday, were enough to convince investors to give a fresh infusion of $60 million in venture-capital funds.

The Hidden Bias of Science’s Universal Language

Adam Huttner Koros:

Newton’s Principia Mathematica was written in Latin; Einstein’s first influential papers were written in German; Marie Curie’s work was published in French. Yet today, most scientific research around the world is published in a single language, English.

Since the middle of the last century, things have shifted in the global scientific community. English is now so prevalent that in some non-English speaking countries, like Germany, France, and Spain, English-language academic papers outnumber publications in the country’s own language several times over. In the Netherlands, one of the more extreme examples, this ratio is an astonishing 40 to 1.

An Alternative View on Charter Schools and Backfill

Robin Lake:

Paul has legitimate concerns about the “backfill” issue (whether charter schools should be required to take students mid-year or after traditional entry grades), concerns that are grounded in his research with Gail Foster and Tamar Gendler at RAND back in the 80s. High Schools with Character is one of the best things I’ve read about the importance of school-level coherency and is foundational reading at CRPE. Paul is worried that by asking the most effective, “high-output” charter high schools to backfill, they will begin to look like traditional comprehensive high schools, compromising high standards and the learning opportunities for high-achieving students.

We at CRPE have always believed that the real promise of chartering rests on the ability of the school to act as a focused, results-oriented organization. A school should be able to define a clear vision of the skills, character, and competencies of its graduates, and it should be able to define how instruction, culture, and resources are aligned in support of producing those kinds of graduates. It is essential that everyone in the school community—teachers, students, parents, and even the cafeteria staff—is on board with that plan. Focus and coherency are especially important at the high school level, where student interests, skills, and behaviors can vary dramatically. Trying to respond to those diverse needs led us to where we are today, with comprehensive high schools that often produce award-winning football teams and jazz bands but struggle to ensure that every student leaves on a path to success.

The Bright Students Left Behind

Chester Finn & Brandon Wright:

A great problem in U.S. education is that gifted students are rarely pushed to achieve their full potential. It is no secret that American students overall lag their international peers. Among the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, whose students took the PISA exams in 2012, the U.S. ranked 17th in reading, 20th in science and 27th in math.

Less well known is how few young Americans—particularly the poor and minorities—reach the top ranks on such measures. The PISA test breaks students into six levels of math literacy, and only 9% of American 15-year-olds reached the top two tiers. Compare that with 16% in Canada, 17% in Germany and 40% in Singapore.

Practical Rocketry


The first rockets ever built, the fire-arrows of the Chinese, were not very reliable. Many just exploded on launching. Others flew on erratic courses and landed in the wrong place. Being a rocketeer in the days of the fire-arrows must have been an exciting, but also a highly dangerous activity.

Today, rockets are much more reliable. They fly on precise courses and are capable of going fast enough to escape the gravitational pull of Earth. Modern rockets are also more efficient today because we have an understanding of the scientific principles behind rocketry. Our understanding has led us to develop a wide variety of advanced rocket hardware and devise new propellants that can be used for longer trips and more powerful takeoffs.

Rocket Engines and Their Propellants

Most rockets today operate with either solid or liquid propellants. The word propellant does not mean simply fuel, as you might think; it means both fuel and oxidizer. The fuel is the chemical rockets burn but, for burning to take place, an oxidizer (oxygen) must be present. Jet engines draw oxygen into their engines from the surrounding air. Rockets do not have the luxury that jet planes have; they must carry oxygen with them into space, where there is no air.
Solid rocket propellants, which are dry to the touch, contain both the fuel and oxidizer combined together in the chemical itself. Usually the fuel is a mixture of hydrogen compounds and carbon and the oxidizer is made up of oxygen compounds. Liquid propellants, which are often gases that have been chilled until they turn into liquids, are kept in separate containers, one for the fuel and the other for the oxidizer. Then, when the engine fires, the fuel and oxidizer are mixed together in the engine.

Sorting The World’s Numbers

Ericca Klarriech:

Neil Sloane is considered by some to be one of the most influential mathematicians of our time.

That’s not because of any particular theorem the 75-year-old Welsh native has proved, though over the course of a more than 40-year research career at Bell Labs (later AT&T Labs) he won numerous awards for papers in the fields of combinatorics, coding theory, optics and statistics. Rather, it’s because of the creation for which he’s most famous: the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences (OEIS), often simply called “Sloane” by its users.

How Coursera Cracked The Chinese Market

Coursera announced in July that they crossed 1 million registrations as China became their second largest market, overtaking India. Most U.S. consumer Internet companies have a hard time breaking into China.

Cultural differences and the Internet firewall are a huge barrier to entry. Even tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter have pulled out or found themselves on the wrong side of the Chinese firewall. So how did Coursera, a relatively young company, achieve this significant milestone?

The very slow increase of literacy in England, 1580-1920

Max Roser:

Empirical View

In general in the past, when education rates rose, democratization and industrialization of the society also increased. This is also true for early European societies where democratic and industrial societies first emerged. The rise of science and the abundance of creativity that characterise modernity has roots that reach far back into the past.

# The Spread of Literacy in Europe before 1800

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Why Didn’t Higher Education Protect Hispanic and Black Wealth?

William R. Emmons , Bryan J. Noeth:

College-educated families usually earn significantly higher incomes and accumulate more wealth than families headed by someone who does not have a four-year college degree. The income- and wealth-boosting effects of education apply within all racial and ethnic groups. Higher education may also help “protect” wealth, buffering families against major economic and financial shocks and mitigating adverse long-term trends. Based on two decades of detailed wealth data, we conclude that education does not, however, protect the wealth of all racial and ethnic groups equally.
Compared to their less-educated counterparts, typical white and Asian families with four-year college degrees withstood the recent recession much better and have accumulated much more wealth over the longer term. Hispanic and black families headed by someone with a four-year college degree, on the other hand, typically fared significantly worse than Hispanic and black families without college degrees. This was true both during the recent turbulent period (2007-2013) as well as during a two-decade span ending in 2013 (the most recent data available).

Why didn’t higher education protect Hispanic and black family wealth from either short-term turbulence or long-term competitive pressures? Job-market difficulties specific to Hispanic and black college graduates probably played a role, especially over the longer term. Financial decision-making appears even more important in explaining large wealth declines among Hispanic and black college-educated families during the Great Recession and its aftermath.

Higher education typically boosts income and wealth. The first row of Table 1 shows differences in 2013 median income between families with college degrees and families without. The median income among all families headed by someone with a degree was 2.4 times the median income among families headed by someone without such a degree. The ratio was somewhat larger among whites and Asians than among blacks and Hispanics, but all were within the range of two to three times.

Table 2 shows that higher education is even more strongly associated with wealth accumulation. The typical college-educated family had between three and 10 times more wealth than its racial or ethnic counterpart without a degree. The white and Asian wealth ratios shown in the table are noticeably larger than those of blacks and Hispanics. One reason why the income and wealth ratios are highest among white and Asian college graduates is that they are more likely than black or Hispanic college graduates to have graduate or professional degrees. Advanced degrees typically provide significantly higher earnings and are strongly associated with greater wealth accumulation.1

It begins early with Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.

The decline and fall of the American university is written in 25-page course syllabi.

Rebecca Schuman:

hen I was an undergrad in the ’90s, there was little more exciting than the first day of class. What will my professor be like? What books will I be reading? How many papers will I have to write? Answers came readily, in the form of a tidy one-page document that consisted solely of the professor’s name and office hours, a three-sentence course description, a list of books, and, finally, a very brief rundown of the assignments (papers, exams) and their relevant dates. This was a course syllabus in 1996, and it was good.

Government Considering Legal Action Against Former Sallie Mae Loan Servicer

<A href=””>Molly Hensley-Clanc</a>: <blockquote><i>The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering taking legal action against Navient Corp., the country’s largest student loan servicer and a former division of Sallie Mae, after an investigation into the company’s disclosures and late fees. The company disclosed the threat of legal action in a filing today.

Any legal action against Navient could be a significant blow to the company, which was spun off from the student loan giant Sallie Mae partially in an attempt to repair its battered image as a loan servicer. Last year, the two companies were ordered to pay a $60 million settlement over allegations that they had denied benefits to military service members.</i></blockquote> 

The treatment of autistic children in the 20th century was shocking

The Economist:

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. By Steve Silberman. Avery; 544 pages; $29.95. Allen & Unwin; £16.99.

EVERYTHING about autism, which is among the most common and the most slippery of mental conditions, is contested. The American Psychiatric Association, which determines what ailments American insurance companies will pay to treat, classifies it as a disorder. Many parents of autistic children are desperately searching for a cure, and find themselves easy prey for people who overpromise, selling remedies that have no scientific basis. Plenty of other people think that autism—which is characterised, among other things, by an inward focus that makes it hard to abide by the conventions of social behaviour—is not a disorder at all, and therefore has no need of a cure. America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention thinks that one in 68 children in the country have at least a touch of autism, which if true means there are more autistic Americans than Jewish ones. This too is contested.

School-Loan Reckoning: 7 Million Are in Default

Josh Mitchell:

Nearly 7 million Americans have gone at least a year without making a payment on their federal student loans, a high level of default that suggests a widening swath of households are unable or unwilling to pay back their school debt.

As of July, 6.9 million Americans with student loans hadn’t sent a payment to the government in at least 360 days, quarterly data from the Education Department showed this past week. That was up 6%, or 400,000 borrowers, from a year earlier.

Judge said the ‘intelligent, educated, ambitious’ 16-year-old from east London was suffering ‘psychological and emotional harm’

Henry Austin :

After B was removed from a flight to Turkey in December 2014 and made a ward of court, Mr Justice Hayden said her parents had appeared to co-operate with police and social workers to stop her and her siblings accessing online terrorist propaganda. But when counter-terrorism officers searched the family home in June, they found “a plethora of electronic devices” including those belonging to the father, containing Isis material.
These included pictures of beheadings and material on bomb-making and how jihadists should “hide” their identities. This showed the parents had carried out “a consummately successful deception” of the authorities, he said.
Of the girl, he added: “I can see no way in which her psychological, emotional and intellectual integrity can be protected by her remaining in this household.”

North Dakota looks to address teacher shortage by cutting through red tape

Rob Port:

“Community experts” are people with expertise and training in a given subject who don’t have a specific teaching degree. An example would be someone with a four-year music degree getting a job as a music teacher despite not having a teaching degree. Or perhaps someone with experience in the building trades taking over a shop class.

It’s an emergency rule, and must be approved by Gov. Jack Dalrymple, but so far this seems to be something that will likely happen. That’s a good thing.

The only real problem is that we weren’t already doing this as a matter of permanent policy.

“Content knowledge is just half of what it takes to be a good teacher,” Baesler said in a Fargo Forum article about her initiative.

Telegraph cheers success of state schools, but has it fudged the figures?

Richard Adams and Helena Bengtsson:

Hold the front page: it turns out that the best state schools in England are genuinely very good – and even as good as their famous independent peers. This won’t surprise the families of children who for many years have attended state schools and received an excellent education. But it appears to have come as a shock to the editors of the the Daily Telegraph and Spectator – hence the headline “State pupils put private schools in the shade”.

Yet the chairman of the Independent Schools Council, Barnaby Lenon, called the comparison “grossly unfair”. While appeals to fairness jar coming from an organisation whose schools charge £12,000 a year per pupil, he has a point. What the Spectator and Telegraph have done is crudely compare the top 500 state sixth forms with almost every private school that offers A-levels. The research involved a few simple clicks on the Department for Education’s performance tables.

Clinton’s $350 billion College Spending Growth Plan

Wall Street Journal

The plan—dubbed the “New College Compact” and estimated to cost $350 billion over 10 years—would fundamentally reshape the federal government’s role in higher education by offering new federal money, but with strings attached.

States would have to increase their own spending on higher education, and universities would be required to control spending, though the Democratic presidential front-runner hasn’t yet worked out details. Families still would be required to contribute, but students wouldn’t have to take out loans to attend public schools.

Commentary, including Mark Cuban.

US National Debt.

The end Of Walking

Antonia Malchik:

In 2011, Raquel Nelson was convicted of vehicular homicide following the death of her four-year-old son. Nelson, it’s crucial to note, was not driving. She didn’t even own a car. She and her three children were crossing a busy four-lane road from a bus stop to their apartment building in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. She’d stopped on the median halfway across when her son let go of her hand and stepped into the second half of the road. Nelson tried to catch him but wasn’t fast enough; she and her two-year-old daughter were also injured.

The driver admitted to having alcohol and painkillers in his system (and to being legally blind in one eye) and pleaded guilty to the charge of hit-and-run. He served six months in prison. For the crime of walking three tired, hungry children home in the most efficient way possible, Nelson faced more jail time than the man who had killed her son.

I am writing from a position of privilege. Not white or middle-class privilege – although I am both of those things and those facts play a role in my privilege – but rather, the privilege Americans don’t realise they’ve lost in a nearly Orwellian fashion: I can open the door of my home, take my kids by their hands, and meet almost any need by lifting my feet and moving forward. Food, schools, social centres, books, playgrounds, even doctors and dentists and ice cream – nearly everything our family uses daily is within about a mile’s walk of home and well-served by wide, uncrowded sidewalks.

Grad-School Loan Binge Fans Debt Worries

Josh Mitchell:

Virginia Murphy borrowed a small fortune to attend law school and pursue her dream of becoming a public defender. Now the Florida resident is among an expanding breed of American borrower: those who owe at least $100,000 in student debt but have no expectation of paying it back.

Ms. Murphy pays just $330 a month—less than the interest on her $256,000 balance—under a federal income-based repayment program that has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing entitlements. She plans to use another federal program to have her balance forgiven in about seven years, a sum set to swell by then to $300,000.

Job Market, Student Debt Keep Millennials With Parents

Rob Williams:

For the millions of parents who wonder when their adult kids will move out of the basement, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has some insights about what’s holding back the millennial generation.

The lackluster jobs market, housing affordability, student debt and delayed marriage may keep a lid on household formation for years to come, according to the New York-based bank’s analysis.

“The share of young people living with their parents has increased relative to pre-recession rates for all labor force status groups, not just the unemployed and underemployed,” said Jan Hatzius, head economist at Goldman. “The share of 18- to 34-year-olds living at home might not fully return to pre-recession rates.”

Homeschooling in the City Frustrated with the public schools, middle-class urbanites embrace an educational movement

Matthew Hennessey:

For Wade and her husband, and for city dwellers with concerns ranging from classroom environment to the Common Core, public school is out of the question. And for them, as for many urban middle-class families, paying hefty private school tuition is not a realistic option, either. “It wasn’t so much a decision of what we were going to do—it was what we weren’t going to do,” she says. In the end, the Wades opted to homeschool. “Homeschooling is in some ways the easiest option. We’re driving our children’s education. We’re giving up a lot to do it, but in the end we thought it would make us most satisfied.”

At first, the Wades knew no other homeschoolers, and, like many young parents in the city, they had no family nearby, so they prepared themselves to go it alone. Before too long, however, they found a growing network of urban homeschoolers. “In a city like this, you can find your tribe,” says Wade. “You can find your homeschoolers. And there are a lot of us.”

Not so long ago, homeschooling was considered a radical educational alternative—the province of a small number of devout Iowa evangelicals and countercultural Mendocino hippies. No more. Today, as many as 2 million—or 2.5 percent—of the nation’s 77 million school-age children are educated at home, and increasing numbers of them live in cities. More urban parents are turning their backs on the compulsory-education model and embracing the interactive, online educational future that policy entrepreneurs have predicted for years would revolutionize pedagogy and transform brick-and-mortar schooling. And their kids are not only keeping pace with their traditionally schooled peers; they are also, in many cases, doing better, getting into top-ranked colleges and graduating at higher rates. In cities across the country, homeschooling is becoming just one educational option among many.

No Cheating Allowed

Philip Lemon:

Recently, a number of students on Khan Academy found a way to cheat by taking hints offline and not having them counted towards their online profile. When going through exercises on Khan Academy you answer the problems given to you and receive feedback on whether your answer was correct or incorrect. If you get stuck on a problem you are able to take hints and have that problem counted as incorrect. Check out this exercise if you want to try it yourself. The images below show the user getting a correct answer and taking a hint respectively.

Technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed, says 140 years of data

Katie Allen:

In the 1800s it was the Luddites smashing weaving machines. These days retail staff worry about automatic checkouts. Sooner or later taxi drivers will be fretting over self-driving cars.

The battle between man and machines goes back centuries. Are they taking our jobs? Or are they merely easing our workload?

A study by economists at the consultancy Deloitte seeks to shed new light on the relationship between jobs and the rise of technology by trawling through census data for England and Wales going back to 1871.

Musings on Math


When Pure Math is explained to non-mathematicians, the audience always asks “Why?” and “Of what use is it?” The result is that mathematicians always have to motivate their explanations and give applications for the results:

Pure Number Theory is motivated by applications in cryptography,

Pure Calculus is motivated by applications in ballistics and weather forecasting,

Pure Combinatorics is motivated by analysis of computer networks and data processing,

Pure Statistics is motivated by life assurance, insurance and gambling,
Pure Linear Algebra is motivated by optimization problems and Google’s Page Rank algorithm.

The truth is far simpler. Mathematicians are solving puzzles, and some of those puzzles don’t come from the real world at all, and can’t be motivated in that way.

Why do we care that there are only five Platonic Solids? The true answer is because there is an answer, and it would be intolerable not to know it.

Why do we care if every even number from 4 onwards can be written as the sum of two primes? Answer: We don’t, really. But not knowing is an itch to scratch, and who knows what might turn up in our efforts to solve the problem.

It was said by E.C.Titchmarsh:

College Tenure Has Reached Its Sell-By Date


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has come under fire from academics nationwide for calling on his state’s Board of Regents to reconsider the scope of tenure in its university system. Evaluations of faculty members “should be based on performance,” he said this summer, “they should be based on merit.”

With state universities struggling to keep up with rising costs and technological change, one would expect administrators and educators to at least consider proposals that would save money and encourage change.

Definitive Guide To Computer Assisted Translation Tools


Firstly, just to be clear, this article is not about tools designed for the use of cats. That would be a different article. CAT stands for Computer Assisted Translation, and refers to the various productivity tools available to the 21st century translator. CAT is not the same as machine translation, where a translation is produced (often badly) by a computer.

Rather, CAT tools help to automate easily-automatable parts of the translation process, leaving the human (that’s you) to focus on the real business of translating. As an example, a CAT tool might help you to automatically translate all instances of «Le Comte de Monte Cristo» as “The Count of Monte Cristo”, saving you from doing the leg(finger)work. Or it might suggest a pre-defined translation of a technical term or brand name, stored in a Translation Memory (we’ll come to these later), saving you from searching for the correct translation each time you come across it.

Learning New Information is Easier When it is Composed of Familiar Elements

Carnegie Mellon psychologists uncover critical relationship between working memory and strength of information ‘chunks’.

People have more difficulty recalling the string of letters BIC, IAJ, FKI, RSU and SAF than FBI, CIA, JFK, IRS and USA. The well-established reason is that the amount of information we can hold in our short-term or working memory is affected by whether the information can be “chunked” into larger units.

New research by Carnegie Mellon University psychologists takes this learning principle one step further by uncovering how the strength – or familiarity – of those chunks plays a crucial role. Published in Psychonomic Bulletin Review, they show for the first time that it is easier to learn new facts that are composed of more familiar chunks.

James Harrison won’t let his sons accept participation trophies

Michael David Smith:

Anyone who’s ever watched Steelers linebacker James Harrison play football knows that he’s an intense competitor who wants to win at all costs. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Harrison is passing along that intense competitiveness to his sons.

Harrison took to social media this weekend to lash out at the idea that his sons should receive participation trophies simply for playing sports, saying that when he found out his sons were given such trophies, he demanded that they be sent back. Harrison believes that a trophy should be something you earn by being the best, not something you receive just for trying.

Status Quo Reigns: Commentary On Madison’s K-12 Governance Atrophy

Chris Rickery:

At the top of that list might be the district’s decision to continue basing pay and some employment decisions on seniority and degree attainment, even after 2011’s Act 10 would have made it easy to end those practices.

Research has generally found that teachers with advanced degrees don’t improve student performance, and past a teacher’s fifth year or so, neither does seniority. Both can make it harder to retain and reward teachers of color.

The district has also shown little interest in a year-round school calendar, despite research showing the “summer slide” is real and disproportionately affects poor students.

It offers summer school for students who are falling behind, which might be good — or might serve to further stigmatize an already stigmatized group by singling them out as the ones “dumb” enough to need summer school.

Later starts to middle and high school could help, as research has been building for years that adolescents’ brains aren’t ready to learn early in the morning.

Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended a school start time of no earlier than 8:30 a.m. for middle and high schoolers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention echoed that recommendation last week.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Studying selfies: USC’s #SelfieClass examines what online photos say about us

Tanya Abrams, Raul Alcantar and Andrew Good:

Selfies have become the cultural artifacts of our time, the digital mosaic that reveals how society views gender, race, class and sexuality in the 21st century.

In USC’s #SelfieClass — formally known as “Writing 150: Writing and Critical Reasoning: Identity and Diversity” — freshman students critically examine society’s influence on self-identity and how selfies reflect and affect the global culture in which we live.