Search Wisconsin teacher, school salaries 2019-20


Search salary, benefit and assignment data for all Wisconsin school employees. Click on an employee’s name for additional detail on experience and education. Note some employees have multiple entries because they split their time between multiple positions.

Estimation of US Children’s Educational Attainment and Years of Life Lost Associated With Primary School Closures During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH, Wil Van Cleve, MD, MPH2; Frederick J. Zimmerman, PhD3:


Based on the current understanding of the associations between school disruption and decreased educational attainment and between decreased educational attainment and lower life expectancy, is it possible to estimate the association between school closure during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and decreased life expectancy of publicly educated primary school–aged children in the United States?

Findings  This decision analytical model found that missed instruction during 2020 could be associated with an estimated 5.53 million years of life lost. This loss in life expectancy was likely to be greater than would have been observed if leaving primary schools open had led to an expansion of the first wave of the pandemic.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 


The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Civics: Stunning Findings on Campaign-Finance Law

Zac Morgan:

New research illustrates how public opinion, often misinformed, has served as a basis for courts to bless the restriction of First Amendment liberties.

You may think the Bill of Rights safeguards our liberties from the whims of public opinion. After all, as Justice Robert Jackson observed in the 1943 case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, “[t]he very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.”

Well, you’d be wrong, as we’re reminded by David M. Primo and Jeffrey D. Milyo’s latest work, Campaign Finance and American Democracy: What the Public Really Thinks and Why It Matters. In this welcome addition to the discourse on the country’s campaign-finance system, the authors’ research illustrates the ways in which public opinion, often misinformed, has served as a basis for courts to bless the restriction of First Amendment liberties.

The Constitution says: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” Yet the Supreme Court carved out an exception, allowing such a law if it deters the “appearance of corruption spawned by the real or imagined coercive influence of large financial contributions.” That exception comes from Buckley v. Valeo, the landmark 1976 case in which the Supreme Court struck down key provisions in the Federal Election Campaign Act while upholding others, including contribution limits.

Candidate Q&A: Milton School Board

Emily Hamer:

What is the best way to improve student literacy?

Crull-Hanke: Early childhood includes getting the parents involved in reading and giving them strategies to use with their children. Having a balanced literacy program which includes oral, guided, and independent reading, writing, and repetitive use of phonics and site words. Middle school age would be to get books in their hands instead of phones!

Hall: I think the best way to improve student literacy is to meet the individual student where they are at. At the same time, we need to challenge each student to do their best. While electronics have their place, I feel we need to get books and print media back into the hands of students.

Hoffman: In Milton we collect a great deal of data on students of all grade levels in the area of literacy. We have the ability to analyze the data and identify standards that are in need of improvement. Concentrating instruction in these areas for students of all learning abilities is the best way to improve literacy and academic achievement.

Holterman: We need parental involvement and one-on-one interaction with students. We start early in the pre-K/elementary setting and maintain both reasonable class sizes as well as a reasonable staff-to-student ratio. Additionally, we measure progress among students and assign additional resources if we identify kids that are struggling to keep up.

Candidate Q&A: River Valley School Board


Why should voters elect you instead of your opponent?

Flint: My opponent has closed four schools and shipped our kids and resources to Spring Green with no plan to fix the problem. Division, bitterness, declining enrollment, open enrollment is what we are left with. We need a plan! We can’t keep asking the taxpayers to pay more for bad management.

Nelson: I have served on the board for 27 years. I have attended the State Education Convention and other valuable training many times. I know the history behind what has happened in our district over the years and I can help our district continue to be the great district it is.

What is the most pressing issue in your community and how would you address it?

Flint: Enrollment! Advertising and increasing our state and federal stats by increasing our reading scores so the other 60% can be proficient would go a long way. Good schools and good special education programs bring people to communities. Arena had a 23% increase in enrollment! Too bad they closed it.

Nelson: We need to continue to build on the great school district that we have. We are preparing our children for jobs that don’t even exist yet. We need to work with local businesses and post-high school educators to have our students career-ready.

Why Modern Feminism Wants To Get Rid Of The Family

SG Cheah:

Why the Nuclear Family Is the Feminist Public Enemy No. 1

Feminist theory states that the patriarchy is the reigning status quo of society. Therefore, to move towards a superior form of society, a revolution is necessary because women have to rise up and overthrow the patriarchy.

Keep that thought in mind, and you will understand why the lunatic fringe of the radical feminist movement truly believe that they’re victims of the patriarchal oppression of the cis-gendered, straight, white male.

This is why leading feminist thinker Jessica Valenti said, “Feminism is a structural analysis of a world that oppresses women, an ideology based on the notion that patriarchy exists and that it needs to end.” The only way to eliminate female oppression, feminists believe, is to change men and society, essentially disintegrating and reorganizing society in order to completely transform it.

Oberlin College planning to lay off 108 employees in its dining services and custodial departments

Dave O’Brien:

The effort will save the college an estimated $2 million per year, it announced Tuesday.

Oberlin College is not the only four-year liberal arts college to take measures to improve its finances. Across the country, the number of college-age youths is shrinking as the population ages. That also means undergraduate enrollment is down, which in turn shrinks the amount colleges receive in tuition payments.

Fewer students are expected to graduate high school in the coming years, with a story at from fall 2018 saying the decline already has taken place in the Midwest and Northeast, where there are more small, private colleges than in other regions of the U.S.

The late Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen predicted last decade that up to 50 percent of American universities would either close or go bankrupt within 10 years.

He and higher education writer Michael Horn explained in a 2013 New York Times article that “a host of struggling colleges and universities — the bottom 25 percent of every tier, we predict — will disappear or merge in the next 10 to 15 years,” Horn wrote in an article for Forbes in December 2018.

Eagle School sixth-grader Maya Jadhav wins Badger State Spelling Bee for second year

Howard Hardee:

After competing against nearly 50 of the top young spellers in Wisconsin, 11-year-old Maya Jadhav won the Badger State Spelling Bee on Saturday for the second year running.

The Fitchburg phenom won the competition and a ticket to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland by correctly spelling “panchax,” a common aquarium fish native to southern Asia. Maya, a sixth-grader at Eagle School, also took top honors last year as a fifth-grader and won third place in 2018.

Following her victory, Maya admitted that she had been “pretty nervous” ahead of Saturday’s Badger State Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Wisconsin State Journal.

“I really wanted to go to nationals, because I went last year,” she said, adding that anything less would have been a disappointment.

Adding to the perceived pressure, only the first-place winner is proceeding to the national competition. In previous years, a few of the top finishers in Wisconsin moved on.

Maya’s parents, Nitin Jadhav and Terra Theim, said they’ll make another family trip out of going to nationals in late May. Jadhav said his daughter takes the competition “very seriously.” Last year, Maya made it to the final round and tied for 41st place in the country.

Privacy and 1st and 3rd party cookies

In-Person Requests Are More Effective Than Electronic Ones

Vanessa Bohns:

Imagine you need people to donate to a cause you care about. How do you get as many people as possible to donate? You could send an email to 200 of your friends, family members, and acquaintances. Or you could ask a few of the people you encounter in a typical day—face-to-face—to donate. Which method would mobilize more people for your cause?

Despite the reach of email, asking in person is the significantly more effective approach; you need to ask six people in person to equal the power of a 200-recipient email blast. Still, most people tend to think the email ask will be more effective.

In research Mahdi Roghanizad of Western University and I conducted, recently published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, we have found that people tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via text-based communication, and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication.

In one study, we had 45 participants ask 450 strangers (10 strangers each) to complete a brief survey. All participants made the exact same request following the exact same script; however, half of the participants made their requests over email, while the other half asked face-to-face.

We found that people were much more likely to agree to complete a survey when they were asked in-person as opposed to over email. These findings are consistent with previous research showing that people are more likely to comply with requests in person than over email.

How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results

Kirsten Grind, Sam Schechner, Robert McMillan and John West:

More than 100 interviews and the Journal’s own testing of Google’s search results reveal:

  • Google made algorithmic changes to its search results that favor big businesses over smaller ones, and in at least one case made changes on behalf of a major advertiser, eBay Inc., contrary to its public position that it never takes that type of action. The company also boosts some major websites, such as Inc. and Facebook Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.
  • Google engineers regularly make behind-the-scenes adjustments to other information the company is increasingly layering on top of its basic search results. These features include auto-complete suggestions, boxes called “knowledge panels” and “featured snippets,” and news results, which aren’t subject to the same company policies limiting what engineers can remove or change.
  • Despite publicly denying doing so, Google keeps blacklists to remove certain sites or prevent others from surfacing in certain types of results. These moves are separate from those that block sites as required by U.S. or foreign law, such as those featuring child abuse or with copyright infringement, and from changes designed to demote spam sites, which attempt to game the system to appear higher in results.
  • In auto-complete, the feature that predicts search terms as the user types a query, Google’s engineers have created algorithms and blacklists to weed out more-incendiary suggestions for controversial subjects, such as abortion or immigration, in effect filtering out inflammatory results on high-profile topics.
  • Google employees and executives, including co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have disagreed on how much to intervene on search results and to what extent. Employees can push for revisions in specific search results, including on topics such as vaccinations and autism.
  • To evaluate its search results, Google employs thousands of low-paid contractors whose purpose the company says is to assess the quality of the algorithms’ rankings. Even so, contractors said Google gave feedback to these workers to convey what it considered to be the correct ranking of results, and they revised their assessments accordingly, according to contractors interviewed by the Journal. The contractors’ collective evaluations are then used to adjust algorithms.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: US housing wealth is growing for the oldest and wealthiest Americans, at the expense of everybody else

Dan Kopf

Since the 1970s, coastal US cities have implemented laws that make it impossible for housing supply to equal demand. Proponents of these laws argue they are important for historic preservation, environment protection, and the livability of cities. Conveniently, such laws also happen to inflate the housing prices of many of their supporters—mainly the old and wealthy, who are the clear winners of these kinds of market-constraining regulations.
A new working paper (pdf) from the economists Edward Glaeser of Harvard University and Joseph Gyourko of the University of Pennsylvania shows exactly how much the winners have gained. The researchers analyzed household survey data from 1983 to 2013 (the last year data was collected), and found that housing wealth increased “almost exclusively among the wealthiest, older Americans.”

Don’t expect less of low-income minority students and their families

Esther Cepeda

We’ve heard for years that when it comes to African-Americans, Hispanics and low-income minority communities in general, expectations for academic achievement are low.

Indeed, the Center for American Progress found in 2014 that 10th-grade teachers thought African-American students were 47 percent, and Hispanic students were 42 percent, less likely to graduate college than white students.

But parents and families of these students disagree. They want public schools to be rigorous and to set high expectations for their children.

According to a new nationwide survey conducted by the Leadership Conference Education Fund on the attitudes and aspirations of African-American and Hispanic parents — who were interviewed in person and via landline and cellphone, in both English and Spanish — a third of African-Americans and a quarter of Latinos do not believe that the nation’s schools are really trying to educate low-income students in their communities.

This belief goes hand in hand with these parents’ certainty that their students should be challenged more in school than they currently are to help ensure they are successful later in life.

This could be a potentially groundbreaking insight if we can get it into the heads of teachers.

You see, educators insist they have a particularly difficult time teaching low-income and minority students because these kids tend to show up in classrooms lacking the fundamentals of a stable home — reliable schedules, quiet places to study, nutritious meals, enough sleep, the ability to control impulses — that set them up for success in the classroom

If a child doesn’t do homework and does not participate constructively in class or show the adults in school respect — perhaps because the child does not have the basic routines and resources a college-educated teacher might expect at home — it becomes easy for teachers to believe that his or her parent must not care about the child’s education.

According to Wade Henderson, the Education Fund’s president, not only are minority parents (which his group calls “new majority parents,” since students of color are the new majority in schools) highly interested in their children’s education, they are “a sophisticated group of respondents who are savvy consumers of public education, want more funding for schools and more rigor for their kids.”

Interestingly, though one might have expected such a survey to confirm that African-American and Hispanic parents prioritize racial issues at school — due to news headlines about violence in schools and the school-to-prison pipeline — the parents who responded actually listed good teachers as the No. 1 important quality, by far, of a great school. Good core curricula and parental involvement rounded out the top three.

Not to say that diversity is completely unimportant to these families — it is in the eighth spot on a list of nine factors for ensuring great schools — but it certainly takes a back seat to the same qualities that white parents expect from their schools: adequate funding, low class size and high standards.

A full 90 percent of both African-American and Latino parents said that they believe expectations for low-income students should be either the same or higher than those of other students.

And both minority groups take personal responsibility quite seriously, saying that when low-income students succeed, it is mostly because of the support they receive at home. Their student’s own hard work is seen as the next biggest reason, while few parents cited schools as the driving factor in a low-income student’s success.

This is, potentially, a revelation for school systems, administrators and teachers who have for years equated poor educational outcomes for students with a lax attitude at home about academic potential.

If the results of this survey truly reflect the mindset of minority parents, then it bodes well for schools to partner with them. After all, education leaders are always talking about how crucial parents are to the task of catalyzing changes necessary to ensure low-income community schools meet their academic potential.

At a bare minimum, these findings should provide education policymakers a new lens through which to view low-income and minority students: Don’t underestimate them — and don’t expect less of their parents and families, either.

If schools endeavor to push these kids harder and expect them to achieve on par with their white peers, they are likely to find that parents, too, will rise to the challenge of helping their students succeed.


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.

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.

How Germany abolished tuition fees

Sean Coughlan:

More than a million young people will be enrolling in universities in England and Germany this autumn.
But in financial terms their experience couldn’t be more different.
In Germany tuition fees have been abolished, while England has the most expensive fees in Europe, with every indication that they are likely to be allowed to nudge even higher.

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.

Why college students are now smoking more pot than cigarettes

Ariana Eunjung Cha:

Daily marijuana use among U.S. college students is rising, and, for the first time since data has been collected, their use of pot has surpassed cigarette smoking, according to a new national survey.

In 2014, 5.9 percent of of college students were smoking marijuana daily or near-daily. That compares with 3.5 percent in 2007.

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.

Kids These Days: Growing Up Too Fast Or Never At All?


On the cover of the April issue of The Atlantic there’s a picture of a boy who could be 6 or 7. He’s looking to the right toward an adult, whose hand he’s holding. He’s also wearing a helmet and knee pads. And — for further protection — he has a pillow strapped to his torso.

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.

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