Category Archives: Uncategorized

WI Association of School Boards: Taxpayer Dollars at Work Against Taxpayers – Fighting Open Records: Resolution 13-16: Costs Associated With Open Records Requests

Wisconsin Association of School Boards (PDF), via a kind reader’s email:

Create: The WASB supports legislation to allow a public records authority to charge a requester for all of the actual, necessary and direct costs associated with complying with requests under the Public Records Law.
Rationale: The committee advanced this resolution to allow the membership to decide whether to go on record in support of allowing public records authorities, including school districts, to charge a requester for all of the actual, necessary and direct costs associated with complying with requests under the Public Records Law. (A recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision held that public records authorities are not authorized to charge a requester for the costs of redacting non-disclosable information contained in otherwise disclosable public records.)

Related: Madison Schools’ Report Cards Take a hit after data error and Where does MMSD get its numbers from?.
Open Records. Sunlight Foundation.
The publication of1996-2006 Madison Police call data occurred after a lengthy open records process. Perhaps the City is becoming more forthcoming?
https://data.cityofmadison.com/

What measures the best teacher? More than scores, study shows

Stephanie Simon:

Effective teachers can be identified by observing them at work, measuring their students’ progress on standardized tests – and asking those students directly what goes on in the classroom, according to a comprehensive study released Tuesday.
The three-year, $50 million Measures of Effective Teaching study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found it was difficult to predict how much students would achieve in a school year based on their teacher’s years of experience or knowledge of pedagogical technique.
But researchers found they could pick out the best teachers in a school and even predict roughly how much their students would learn if they rated the educators through a formula that put equal weight on student input, test scores and detailed classroom observations by principals and peers.

DNA Dreams — documentary

Steve Hsu:

What would happen if the gene was found that IQ determines us? And when people and animals could be easily cloned? Wait there a new world full of perfect people? And we want that world be? In China’s Pearl River Delta is that world in the making. On the outskirts of Shenzhen is BGI, recently the largest genetic research world. Working day and night here 4000 young scientists at mapping the DNA of plants, animals and humans. Knowledge of this code of life opens up many new possibilities. For instance, the eighteen year old high school dropout Zhao Bowen an international research team that wants to find the genes for intelligence. He works with the young, brilliant psychologist Yang Rui, that IQ tests decreases with gifted children and their blood samples to collect DNA. In a later lab work forty young people led by the 24-year-old Lin Lin a clone project, which includes fluorescent mini-pigs produces and clone factory will grow. Between the cloning of humans and animals exist ethical, but hardly practical differences. Which applications are in the offing as this knowledge will soon become common property? China has few legal obstacles to the life sciences and also to capital is not a defect. The young scientists can fully indulge their fascination. They are optimistic and want to progress. But reality is stubborn and it exists for them not only in bits, bytes and algorithms.

Math even mathematicians don’t understand (the sequel)

Kevin Hartnett:

On November 4 I published an article in the Ideas section about Shinichi Mochizuki, a mathematician who claims to have proved the ABC conjecture, one of the great unsolved problems in math. The only catch is that his proposed proof is written in mathematics so complex that literally no one in the world can evaluate its accuracy. Long, unintelligible tracts are not uncommon in mathematics and normally the math community chooses simply to ignore them — but in this case Mochizuki is so highly regarded that experts around the world have decided to puzzle it out, which could take years.
A few weeks later I received an email from a friend of a 90-year-old mathematician named Henry Pogorzelski, an emeritus professor at the University of Maine. The email explained that for the last half-century, Pogorzelski has toiled at a proof of the legendary Goldbach Conjecture and after decades of effort he believes he has it, though his work runs thousands upon thousands of pages, and no mathematicians can understand it or are even willing to invest the time to try to. Pogorzelski’s friend explained that he hoped I might write a story that would stir some interest in the professor’s work.
Though Pogorzelski is 50 years older and less internationally noted than Mochizuki, their careers have some surface similarities. After promising starts — early in his career Pogorzelski worked under the famed Andre Weil at the Institute for Advanced Study– they devoted themselves to solving big “named” problems in mathematics. (One difference is that by the time he embarked on solving ABC, Mochizuki had already solved enough hard problems to build up considerable credibility with his peers; Pogorzelski had no similar track record at the time he embarked on Goldbach.)

For Newly Minted M.B.A.s, a Smaller Paycheck Awaits

Ruth Simon:

Like many students, Steve Vonderweidt hoped that a master’s degree in business administration would open doors to a new job with a higher paycheck.
But now, about eight months after receiving his M.B.A. from the University of Louisville, Mr. Vonderweidt, 36 years old, hasn’t been able to find a job in the private sector, and continues to work as an administrator at a social-service agency that helps Louisville residents obtain food stamps, health care and other assistance. He is saddled with about $75,000 in student-loan debt–much of it from graduate school.

More teenage girls joining Hong Kong street gangs

Lana Lam:

A growing number of girls are muscling out the boys in Hong Kong’s teenage street gang culture, according to a charity that has been helping troubled youngsters for over two decades.
Social workers at Youth Outreach, who take in 200 children off the streets every night at their Sai Wan Ho drop-in centre, say that in their early teens girls are often physically stronger than boys and have a more mature personality, making them natural authority figures.
“A lot of the gang leaders are now girls and they are getting younger and more masculine,” said social worker Ted Tam Chung-hoi, 33, who has worked with Youth Outreach for 10 years.
Every night, the centre’s staff pick up children found out on the streets all over Hong Kong, especially in more remote districts such as Tin Shui Wai, Tuen Mun and Tseung Kwan O, and bring them back to the centre, which stays open from 9pm to 7am.

Students of math and physics may enjoy these 323 pages of notes by Alex Alaniz:

Alex Alaniz:

These are step-by-verifiable-step notes designed to take students with a year of calculus based physics who are about to enroll in ordinary differential equations all the way to doctoral foundations in either mathematics and physics without mystery. Abstract algebra, topology (local and global) folds into a useful, intuitive toolset for ordinary differential equations and partial differential equations, be they linear or nonlinear. The algebraist, the topologist, the theoretical physicist, the applied mathematician and experimental physicist are artificial distinctions at the core. There is unity.
Mathematician, you will see step-by-verifiable-step algebra, topology (local and global) in a unified framework to treat differential equations, ordinary, partial, linear and nonlinear. You will then see why the physicists created a great font of differential equations, the calculus of variations. You will see why the physicists care about both discrete and continuous (topological) Lie groups and understand what quantum mechanics is as a mathematical system from its various historical classical physical roots: Lagrangian mechanics, Hamiltonian mechanics, Poisson brackets. You will have the tools to understand the Standard Model of physics and some of our main paths forward to grand unified theories and theories of everything. With these notes you should never again be able to practice abstraction for the sake of abstraction. Physicist, you will not be held hostage to verbiage and symbology. You will see that mathematics has deep, unavoidable limitations that underlie physics, itself suffering unavoidable limitations. You will see unity, e.g., summing angular momentum in terms of tensor products and directions sums, ladder operators, Young’s tableaux, root and weigh diagrams as different codifications of the same thing. Neither of you have to take your required courses as exercises in botany and voodoo as exemplified by ordinary differential equations. You will have context and operational skills. As lagniappes you will have the calculus of variations, the fractional calculus, stochastic calculus and stochastic differential equations.

Cerebral circuitry: Researchers are focusing on whether gadgets are changing how our brains work as regards empathy and human interaction

April Dembosky:

I am flying. No plane, no wings, just me soaring over rooftops with a mild flip in my belly as I dip closer to the grid of city streets. I lean to the right to curve past a skyscraper, then speed up and tilt left to skirt by a tree. There has been an earthquake and I am looking for a lost child who is diabetic and needs insulin.
This is not a dream. I am awake, wearing my normal clothes – no cape or leotard – standing squarely on both feet in a room of the virtual reality laboratory at Stanford University.
About 70 test subjects have done the same simulation, half of them flying in a virtual helicopter, the other half granted the virtual superpower of flight. Half from each group have a mission: find and save the lost child.
After the simulation, head gear returned to a hook on the wall, a researcher reaches for her clipboard to ask a few questions. She accidentally knocks over a tin of pens. In sociology studies, this is a classic trick for measuring altruistic intent. The test subjects who flew Superman-style rushed to help clean up the spill. They responded four seconds faster and picked up two more pens on average than the helicopter passengers.

Deferring Six Figures on Wall Street for Teacher’s Salary

Scott Eidler:

Four years after the financial crisis, Wall Street hiring has remained weak, and many college graduates have searched for jobs and even careers in other fields. In the last several years, hundreds of such would-be finance professionals and management consultants have taken their high-powered ambitions and spreadsheet modeling skills to the classroom.
Teach for America, the 22-year-old nonprofit organization that recruits high-achieving college graduates to teach in some of the nation’s poorest schools for two years, in particular has garnered renewed interest among the business-oriented set. Teach for America says that its 2012 class contained about 400 recent graduates with a major in business or economics. Of those with professional experience, about 175 worked in finance.
Those participants include Zachary Dearing, 23, a recent graduate of M.I.T. Two summers ago, he was an intern at McKinsey & Company, and the year before, Goldman Sachs.

The 2012 “Borsuk Awards”

Alan Borsuk, via a kind reader’s email:

“Organization of the Year: Schools That Can Milwaukee. Unfortunately, anything that even smells of voucher and charter issues is controversial. Can’t we set that aside and stick to the quality of the work these folks are doing? If a school is working with Schools That Can, I can be confident it is a school that is determined to be outstanding. The organization, a nonprofit that coaches and trains school staffs, includes some of the most talented educators in town. They are working with more than 20 schools – MPS, charters and vouchers – and building a track record of success.”

All I learned in college was how to work for someone else

Stefan Kendall:

Recently, there have been a number of points and counter-points made about leaving college to join or found a start-up. The most popular point against leaving is that a degree will market you better to join big corporations.
And that’s exactly it.
College prepares you for a life of the corporate stooge, but it’s worse than that. Classes in college actively teach you lessons you must unlearn, and fail to teach you anything even marginally related to what it takes to run a company. If you want to work for someone else, college is great. Having a bachelors in Chemical Engineering and a minor in Drama prepares you *excellently* to get hired as a product manager at a product company. If you want to be an entrepreneur, though, you’re screwed.
Things I’ve unlearned
1. Plagiarism is bad.
Wrong! If the licensing is right, copy to your heart’s content. If you’re not in violation of copyright, trademark, or patent, you can do whatever you want with someone else’s creation. Sometimes they even give you permission. Did you find a real swell formula online? Did you know you can’t copyright formulas?

Pressure to Rein In Tuition Squeezes Colleges

Michael Corkery:

Private colleges are facing pressure to slow tuition hikes and boost aid, as families question the cost.
College officials say the long-held faith among many Americans that college is worth whatever it costs is starting to waver under the weight of lackluster job prospects, stagnant wages and a pileup of student debt.
The shift is already threatening to put stress on some schools’ finances. Average tuition this past year rose by the smallest percentage in at least 40 years among the 960 private schools that belong to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, which collectively enroll 90% of the students in private colleges. It climbed 3.9% to $29,305.

Life, death and sport: The best culture is not divorced from life, but our most profound way to make sense of it

Harry Eyres:

Maybe I’ve overvalued culture, retreated into its ivory tower too much as an escape from noisy, messy reality. I remember driving along the Westway out of London, past rows of what the cartoonist Osbert Lancaster called “bypass variegated” semi-detached houses, designed “to achieve the maximum of inconvenience … [using] the least attractive materials and building devices known to the past”, while listening to Mozart or Beethoven and finding the coexistence of angelic beauty and aesthetic disaster hard to reconcile.
Of course the best culture is not divorced from life, but the most profound way we have of making sense of it. Two of my musical highlights this year were dark, rich confrontations with mortality as interpreted by artists bringing all their life-experience to bear on music of almost unbearable poignancy: in one case by a young composer, aware of his limited time and raging against the dying of the light, the other by an elderly one looking back with nostalgia and infinite regret, but also with warmth and love.

Measures of Segregation

Scott Jaschik:

Court decisions dating to the 1950s theoretically ended racial segregation of higher education in the United States. But data to be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association show that the pace of desegregation has slowed over time. And in a finding that could be controversial, the study finds that states that ban the consideration of race in admissions may see the pace of desegregation accelerate.
The study is by Peter L. Hinrichs, an assistant professor of public policy at Georgetown University. He focuses on black and white students, not those in other racial and ethnic groups, and he examines “exposure” and “dissimilarity” (defined below) of black and white students as two measures of desegregation. Hinrichs uses federal data from every college, filed since the era in which desegregation started. He argues that these measures illustrate the extent to which colleges are truly desegregated, which may not be reflected simply by increases or decreases in black student enrollments (which can be concentrated at certain institutions).
Exposure is the percentage of black students at colleges attended by white students, and vice versa. Here he shows that from 1968, the typical white student attended a college that was 2.3 percent black. But by 2009, the typical white student attended a college that was 9.8 percent black. This percentage gain is much larger than overall black enrollment during this period, which also rose, from 5.5 percent to 13.7 percent.

Twelve States Receive Failing Grades from StudentsFirst

Motoko Rich:

In a report issued Monday, StudentsFirst ranks states based on how closely they follow the group’s platform, looking at policies related not only to tenure and evaluations but also to pensions and the governance of school districts. The group uses the classic academic grading system, awarding states A to F ratings.
With no states receiving an A, two states receiving B-minuses and 12 states branded with an F, StudentsFirst would seem to be building a reputation as a harsh grader.
Ms. Rhee said that the relatively weak showing reflected how recently statehouses had begun to address issues like tenure and performance evaluations. “We didn’t say in any way that we want to show people how bad it is,” she said in a telephone interview. “We wanted to show the progress that is being made, but in places where progress is slower to come, be very clear with leaders of that state what they could do to push the agenda forward and create a better environment in which educators, parents and kids can operate.”

Related: Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

Promoting Quality Teaching: New Policy Report from Accomplished California Teachers

Accomplished California Teachers:

Approximately one-third of all new teachers in the United States leave the profession within five years, and veteran teachers are leaving at ever higher rates. Teacher attrition, which has grown by 50 percent in the past 15 years, costs the nation roughly $7 billion a year for recruiting, hiring, and inducting new teachers. With this revolving door of teachers and the resulting hemorrhage of resources, schools suffer from instability and students lose out on the opportunity to learn from high-quality teachers.
Among the factors behind this high turnover are outdated teacher compensation systems and narrow career options for professional growth, according to a new report by Accomplished California Teachers (ACT), a teacher-leadership network based at Stanford.

Finally, EdTech That is Based on Real Research

Annie Murphy Paul:

Imagine you’re walking down the street when your phone buzzes. “What is the capital of Maryland?” it asks you. You know the answer but you can’t quite grasp it until all of a sudden you remember: “Annapolis.” The question prompted your brain just in time.
That is the scenario envisaged by the makers of software Cerego, which launched last week, writes Hal Hodson in New Scientist:
“It uses a basic principle of cognitive science called ‘spaced repetition’ to improve learning. To remember something long term, a student must return to it several times, increasing the interval between each revision. The concept isn’t new, but Cerego aims to harness the idea to let people learn anytime, anywhere.
‘The amount of information we need to retain is growing rapidly,’ says Cerego co-founder Andrew Smith Lewis. ‘Current solutions do a fine job of bringing information to the screen, but we’re not seeing much on how we learn.’ Smith Lewis says Cerego’s grand ambition is to ‘handle learning and relearning for the duration of the user’s lifetime.’

Higher ed: an obituary

New Criterion:

The fate of American higher education has been a central concern of The New Criterion from its very first issue in September 1982. About academia, as about other cultural institutions–the art museums, orchestras, media and entertainment industries, as well as the law and those social institutions through which the past perpetuates itself into the present–The New Criterion has cast a wary eye, celebrating the vital, where it can be found, but also criticizing the many signs of decadence and irresponsibility wherever they have been on display, which, alas, has been almost everywhere. When it came to the academic world, our chief complaints have revolved around the anti-Western politicization of intellectual life. We focused on the way ideology subjugated the life of the mind to the hermetic lucubrations of deconstruction, post-structuralism, and all the other increasingly quaint-sounding efforts to dismiss or subvert the main currents of what Matthew Arnold famously extolled as “the best that has been thought and said in the world.”

The Philosophy of Computer Science

Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy:

The Philosophy of Computer Science (PCS) is concerned with philosophical issues that arise from reflection upon the nature and practice of the academic discipline of computer science. But what is the latter? It is certainly not just programming. After all, many people who write programs are not computer scientists. For example, physicists, accountants and chemists do. Indeed, computer science would be better described as being concerned with the meta-activity that is associated with programming. More generally, and more precisely, it is occupied with the design, development and investigation of the concepts and methodologies that facilitate and aid the specification, development, implementation and analysis of computational systems. Examples of this activity might include the design and analysis of programming, specification and architectural description languages; the construction and optimisation of compilers, interpreters, theorem provers and type inference systems; the invention of logical frameworks and the design of embedded systems, and much more. Many of the central philosophical questions of computer science surround and underpin these activities, and many of them centre upon the logical, ontological and epistemological issues that concern it. However, in the end, computer science is what computer scientists do, and no exact formulaic definition can act as more than a guide to the discussion that follows. Indeed, the hope is that PCS will eventually contribute to a deeper understanding of the nature of computer science.

A greater role in math education for parents: mathematical reasoning at home

Katie Kormanik:

While policymakers, researchers and educators decide how our children learn math, parents don’t seem to be anywhere in the mix. Yet parents can and should play a greater role in their children’s math education. The problem is that most parents simply don’t know how. This situation is complicated by the fact that many parents struggled with math themselves, making it more difficult for them to help their children and often resulting in their inadvertently passing on their own math phobia.
One of the best things parents can do to improve their children’s math literacy is to regularly expose them to practical applications of math at home. This is not “teaching,” per se, as much as it is helping them develop mathematical reasoning on their own. What students observe, discover and learn outside the classroom can often benefit them more than what they learn in class. The former tends to be practical and applicable in real situations outside academia; the latter often focuses on the theoretical and the abstract. Parents can help merge these two realms.

What would you have to say to the (Seattle) superintendent?

Charlie Mas:

I don’t make a habit of asking the staff to do things so much as asking them for information. That’s because they don’t work for me and they aren’t accountable to me. I don’t hesitate to offer suggestions for action to the Board because they are accountable to the public and they are supposed to represent the public.
So if I had the opportunity to speak with the superintendent, I wouldn’t so much have suggestions for him as questions. They are big questions and perhaps some of them will be answered in the Strategic Plan. Perhaps not. The previous Strategic Plan was a management plan more than an academic plan. Is that what it’s supposed to be? The new Strategic Plan is shaping up to be more of an academic plan.

MoMath: Manhattan’s Museum of Mathematics

Lisa Grossman:

MATHEMATICS is awesome, full stop. That’s the philosophy behind a new museum opening next week in New York City.
The founders of the Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) know they have a fight on their hands, given the pervasive idea that the subject is boring, hard and scary. But they are determined to give mathematics a makeover, with exhibits that express an unselfconscious, giddy joy in exploring the world of numbers and forms.
“We want to show a different side of mathematics,” says museum co-founder Cindy Lawrence. “Our goal is to get kids excited, and show them the math they’re doing in school is just one tree in a whole huge forest.”
To this end, mathematics pervades every aspect of the design, sometimes in surprising places. Take the museum’s Enigma Café. At first glance, it looks like any other trendy, modern Manhattan cafe. But instead of coffee, puzzles will be served. And a careful look reveals that the floor is a 6-by-6 grid, the walls are made of Tetris-like puzzle shapes called pentominoes, and the tables are arranged as a knight would progress across a chessboard.
“We try to hide math everywhere,” says Lawrence.

State law change keeps Wisconsin principal evaluations under wraps

Matthew DeFour:

A change in state law creating a new teacher and principal evaluation system also exempts those evaluations from public disclosure, even though the public has previously had access to principal evaluations.
Open government advocates were unaware of the new exemption to the state’s open records law, but said the Legislature should revisit the principal evaluation issue.
“I hope that there would be some willingness to reassess this decision,” said Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. “There are few issues that matter more to ordinary people than the quality of their children’s education. For that reason the evaluations of the top school official, the principal, have traditionally been open, and we think they should stay that way.”
Jim Lynch, executive director of the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, said the group of state education leaders who designed the evaluation system recommended the records exemption in the law based on the purpose of the new system, which is not to compare educators.
“The focus of this is to have assessments meant for organizations to make human resources decisions and for people to learn and grow,” Lynch said. “That is done best in a confidential environment.”

English Letter Frequency Counts: Mayzner Revisited

Peter Norvig:

On December 17th 2012, I got a nice letter from Mark Mayzner, a retired 85-year-old researcher who studied the frequency of letter combinations in English words in the early 1960s. His 1965 publication has been cited in hundreds of articles. Mayzner describes his work:

I culled a corpus of 20,000 words from a variety of sources, e.g., newspapers, magazines, books, etc. For each source selected, a starting place was chosen at random. In proceeding forward from this point, all three, four, five, six, and seven-letter words were recorded until a total of 200 words had been selected. This procedure was duplicated 100 times, each time with a different source, thus yielding a grand total of 20,000 words. This sample broke down as follows: three-letter words, 6,807 tokens, 187 types; four-letter words, 5,456 tokens, 641 types; five-letter words, 3,422 tokens, 856 types; six-letter words, 2,264 tokens, 868 types; seven-letter words, 2,051 tokens, 924 types. I then proceeded to construct tables that showed the frequency counts for three, four, five, six, and seven-letter words, but most importantly, broken down by word length and letter position, which had never been done before to my knowledge.

and he wonders if:

perhaps your group at Google might be interested in using the computing power that is now available to significantly expand and produce such tables as I constructed some 50 years ago, but now using the Google Corpus Data, not the tiny 20,000 word sample that I used.

The answer is: yes indeed, I am interested! And it will be a lot easier for me than it was for Mayzner. Working 60s-style, Mayzner had to gather his collection of text sources, then go through them and select individual words, punch them on Hollerith cards, and use a card-sorting machine.

Chris Christie’s education reform plan: Part II

Laura Waters:

School funding is never just about dollars and cents. Instead, it subsumes a whole slew of issues, including educational needs, politics, economic constraints, and public perception. New Jersey’s 2013 Education Adequacy Report, issued last week by Ed. Comm. Cerf, incorporates one other factor: the Christie Administration’s education reform agenda.
New Jersey funds most schools through local property taxes and, historically, this has led to vast educational inequities between poor and rich districts. After all, wealthy communities have a much higher tax base to devote to public education.
A series of Supreme Court decisions, known as Abbott v. Burke, ordered that N.J.’s poorest school districts be given enough state money – from N.J.’s first income tax — to even out those inequities. In 2008, the Corzine Administration passed the new School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), which tried to render the Abbott designations obsolete through a new formula in which “the money follows the child,” regardless of zip code.
Part of our new system of education funding (which is on a sort of probationary status after challenges from Education Law Center) is that the Commissioner must present an annual Educational Adequacy Report that specifies the amount of money needed to “adequately” educate a child for the year.
Here’s the bottom line, courtesy of NJ Spotlight: “the base proposal for funding is $11,009 per child in fiscal 2014, up almost $500 from this year.” However, adds Spotlight, “certain at-risk students will see decreases in funding by as much as $1,000 per year.”

After Arrest, a Wider Inquiry on SAT Cheating

Jenny Anderson:

When Samuel Eshaghoff, a 19-year-old sophomore at Emory University, was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly accepting money to take the SAT for six Long Island high school students, testing officials said it was an isolated event. But school officials and prosecutors disagree, and a continuing investigation is focusing on other schools and students.
“I do believe it’s more systemic than just Great Neck North,” said Kathleen M. Rice, the district attorney for Nassau County.
Ms. Rice brought criminal charges against Mr. Eshaghoff and misdemeanor charges against six current and former Great Neck North students who said Mr. Eshaghoff took the test for them. Five of the six said they paid him a fee of up to $2,500. Mr. Eshaghoff has pleaded not guilty. She said she was investigating two other schools and various other test takers. She said the cheating problem was widespread, a sentiment echoed by school administrators and superintendents.
“As tests have become higher-stakes tests, as the competition between kids for scholarships and college entrance has increased, the likelihood of kids looking for ways to beat the system — to cheat — has increased,” said Henry Grishman, superintendent of Jericho Public Schools on Long Island, which has 3,200 students.

Like math? Thank your motivation, not your IQ

Tia Ghose:

Looks like Tiger Mom had it half-right: Motivation to work hard and good study techniques, not IQ, lead to better math skills, a new study shows.
But there’s a catch: The findings, published this month in the journal Child Development, show that keeping children’s heads in the math books by force probably won’t help.
The analysis of more than 3,500 German children found those who started out solidly in the middle of the pack in the fifth grade could jump to the 63rd percentile by eighth grade if they were very motivated and used effective learning strategies, said lead author Kou Murayama, a psychology researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles.

An F for effort on holding down college tuition

Charles Lane:

At the University of Minnesota, the number of employees with “human resources” or “personnel” in their job titles has grown from 180 to 272 since the 2004-05 academic year. Since 2006, the university has spent $10 million on consultants for a vast new housing development that is decades from completion. It employs 139 people for marketing, promotions and communications. Some 81 administrators make $200,000 per year or more.
In the past decade, Minnesota’s administrative payroll has gone up three times as fast as the teaching payroll, and twice as fast as student enrollment.

School-business analogy is off

Thomas Zachek:

Schools are not like businesses.
Analogies drive our thinking. It can be helpful to see complex or unfamiliar concepts in terms of the simple or familiar. But analogies also can be faulty and deceptive.
One of the most common, yet most misleading, analogies in current vogue is the notion that schools are like businesses or should be. Even school administrators who should know better talk about “the business model.”
Schools are fundamentally unlike businesses, and what applies to one doesn’t necessarily apply to the other.
Businesses are funded by revenue they generate, and their success is defined and measured by their profit. Schools are funded by an outdated and problematic revenue formula based on property taxes. A highly successful school may be just as hurting for revenue as a poor one. Consequently, schools are beholden to taxpayers in a way that no business is. What business has ever had to beg the public for permission to modernize or add on?

Lindsay Unified students blazing their own paths to higher achievement

Benjamin Riley:

Those of us who travel in education reform circles hear a lot of skepticism about whether traditional school districts can truly innovate.
Yet, more than five years ago, a small rural school district in the Central Valley that serves predominately English language learners from low-income families reimagined its entire strategic approach to education and learning. And now, Lindsay Unified School District may just win a $10 million “Race to the Top-District” grant from the federal government.
You see, a few years back the leadership of Lindsay Unified started asking provocative questions about the traditional method of schooling, where students progress based on a preset length of time and are given simple letter grades at the end of their courses. Questions such as:

Milwaukee Public Schools moving forward to meet challenges

Gregory Thornton:

When I became superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools in July 2010, I knew the district – like many other urban school districts – faced deep financial challenges. But I had confidence that the Board of School Directors, administration and staff understood the urgency and were committed to make tough decisions to secure the district’s financial future for the 79,000 students we serve.
An independent, third-party analysis of MPS finances released recently by the Public Policy Forum found the tough decisions made by the district over the past two years are showing signs of paying off. MPS’ fiscal condition has improved significantly, with savings of nearly $400 million. While much of the Public Policy Forum report focused on past years, the real story is the future of MPS and the continued efforts of the district to move forward to address additional fiscal challenges.
Four key factors are the root causes of MPS’ financial pressures: rising health care costs; increased legacy costs for retiree benefits; declining enrollment, which results in less revenue; and the high level of dependency on state and federal funding, which can be very volatile and complicates MPS’ ability to be in control of its own financial future.

UW-Platteville experiences enrollment boom

Karen Herzog:

The fastest-growing campus in the University of Wisconsin System has a tri-state advantage.
Nestled in the rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin, 20 miles from the Iowa and Illinois borders, UW-Platteville’s enrollment has ballooned 39% since it began offering a tuition break to students from neighboring states who pursue high-demand fields.
Under the Tri-State Initiative, which started in 2005, students from Illinois and Iowa majoring in agriculture, business, criminal justice, education, engineering, industrial technology, math and science pay the same tuition and fees as Wisconsin residents – $7,463 this year – plus $4,000. That’s $4,573 less than students from other states pay, with the exception of Minnesota, whose residents benefit from the Wisconsin-Minnesota Reciprocity Agreement and pay $7,829.
It’s an especially sweet deal for Illinois residents, whose own state schools generally cost significantly more than UW-Platteville, officials said. Of the 7,822 undergraduates who enrolled at Platteville this fall, about 15% were from Illinois and about 5% from Iowa – a total of 1,489 students.

A collection that identifies California as a world apart: Early maps depicting the region as an island draw academics

Larry Gordon:

Something was unusual about the 1663 map of the Western Hemisphere.
Yes, much of the North and South American coasts followed contours geographers would recognize today. And in California, Santa Catalina, Santa Barbara and Point Reyes were clearly marked. But wait! What was that body of water marked Mare Vermiglio, or Red Sea, separating California from the mainland? And why was California a big carrot-shaped island?
That geographic oddity caught the attention of Glen McLaughlin, an American businessman who was browsing through antique maps at a shop in London in 1971. He bought it — and began pursuing a quirky and expensive passion that would lead him to devote an entire room in his San Jose-area home to what is believed to be the largest private collection of such maps.
“It was not a very pretty map, but it had the concept that California was a very different place, a special place,” McLaughlin recalled about that first purchase.

The Secular Faith: The results of our obsession with fairness are comical, as when schools legislate equal valentine outcomes for students every Feb. 14.

Meghan Clyne:

If the U.S. Treasury received a dollar every time President Obama demanded that the rich pay their “fair share” to eliminate our deficits, the problem might take care of itself. After incessant use on the campaign trail, the line is again getting a workout in negotiations over the fiscal cliff. It is a surefire rhetorical tactic: Who could possibly argue against fairness?
Stephen Asma is willing to try. Contemporary society, he argues in “Against Fairness,” is obsessed with fairness, which he takes to mean a universal egalitarianism and its attendant ideologies and practices, including meritocracy, redistribution and utilitarian ethics. Our “hunger for equality” prohibits favoritism, Mr. Asma says, but this great leveling also razes the virtues that arise from favoritism–duty, honor, loyalty, compassion–leaving us with a shallow notion of the good.
Mr. Asma’s breezy book reads as a series of episodic reflections on the fairness question, each from a different perspective–scientific, anthropological, cultural and political. The author, a philosophy professor at Columbia College in Chicago, believes that we should ditch our fairness-based morality in favor of an ethics based on “tribes,” which he defines as any “us in a milieu of thems,” the most obvious bonds being those of blood and friendship. Mr. Asma thus cheerfully defends nepotism, preferential hiring and patronage politics, our resistance to which, he says, “encourages the civic success of a whole population of detached, expedient eunuchs.”

3D improves test scores in the classroom

Nigel Brown & Leo Kent:

A recent study has revealed that 3D technology dramatically improves concentration and learning in the classroom. The study, which introduced 3D projectors and provided 3D glasses to class members, was conducted by researchers at the International Research Agency on behalf of Texas Instruments.
Improving learning rates
Led by Professor Anne Bamford, the study showed that 86% of pupils improved from the pre-test to the post-test in the 3D classes, compared to only 52% who improved in the 2D classes.
In the 3D in Education White Paper, Professor Bamford wrote, “Individuals improved test scores by an average of 17% in the 3D classes, compared to only an 8% improvement in the 2D classes between pre-test and post-test. The teachers commented that the pupils in the 3D groups had deeper understanding, increased attention span, more motivation and higher engagement.”

Mother who kept girl from school given hard lesson

Winnie Chong:

A single mother has been ordered into Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre for two months after keeping her daughter from school.
Kung Lai-kung, 48, not only wasted public resources with her long-running defiance of an Education Bureau order but also denied her daughter two years of schooling, said Fan Ling deputy magistrate Cherry Hui Shuk-yee.
The secondary-age student was kept away from school from September 1 last year to May, the court heard. She was also stopped from attending school previously.
Kung had rejected the school where her daughter was allocated a place, insisting on a slot in a top- line Band 1 secondary school.

Yet Another Rankings Fabrication

Scott Jaschik:

Tulane University has admitted that it sent U.S. News & World Report incorrect information about the test scores and total number of applicants for its M.B.A. program.
The admission — as 2012 closed — made the university the fourth college or university in that year to admit false reporting of some admissions data used for rankings. In 2011, two law schools and one undergraduate institution were found to have engaged in false reporting of some admissions data.
A statement issued by Tulane said that it discovered the problem when preparing a new set business school data for U.S. News and found that numbers, “including GMAT scores and the number of applications, skewed significantly lower than the previous two years. Since the school’s standards and admissions criteria have not changed, this raised a concern that our data from previous years had been misreported.”

Rhode Island Schools Spend $2 Billion-Only Half Goes to the Classroom

Stephen Beale:

School districts in Rhode Island spend more than $2 billion annually, but barely half that money has made it into the classroom, state data shows.
For fiscal year 2009–the most recent year for which detailed data is available–52.1 percent of the $2,135,367,785 spent on local education went towards instruction. The remaining 48 percent was for instructional support, operations, administrative costs, and expenses for other commitments, according to data available from the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). (See below charts.)
“Only 52 percent is going into the classroom,” said Jim McGwin, the president of the North Kingstown Taxpayers Organization. “That seems small.”
McGwin, who has 30 years of experience in the business world evaluating balance sheets and operations, said school districts on average should be spending a minimum of 60 percent of their funds on their core function: teaching children in the classroom.

Math in a Child’s World: Policy and Practical Challenges for Preschool Mathematics

EdSource:

Several studies have shown that basic math concepts acquired at a preschool level–including counting, sorting, and recognizing simple patterns and shapes–are the most powerful predictors of later learning, even more than reading.
But preschools face many challenges in implementing a high quality math curriculum, including:
The paucity of math content in preschool teacher preparation;
The uneven quality or lack of professional development and in-service learning opportunities for teachers;
Linking what children learn in preschool with what they are expected to learn in the K-3 grades;
The barriers imposed by “math anxiety” among many preschool teaching staff

New NJ Special Education Ruling: Providing Appropriate Services to Kids with Autism

Laura Waters:

A special education case came through the transom last week, courtesy of a group of parents in Millburn, New Jersey. The case pinpoints a few percolating problems in NJ’s special education arena, particularly school districts’ struggles to provide adequate services to kids with a diagnosis of autism. This case, J.S. and K.S. v. Millburn Township Board of Education (not yet online, but I’ve posted it here for reference) touches on some districts’ reluctance to classify kids as autistic, the politics of district/parent negotiations, and the role of our consortium of private education schools.
This December 7th ruling involves a young girl, referred to in court documents as A.C., and the services offered to her by Millburn Public Schools, an Essex County district that is rated as a “J” District Factor Group, the wealthiest possible designation. In October 2008, the child’s parents approached the district because of concerns with her speech and social development. A.C. had just turned three years old and, under federal and state law, was eligible for special education services through her local school district.
To any informed lay reader, A.C. displayed clear signs of autistic-like symptoms. Most of her speech was unintelligible. She made little or no eye contact, rocked back and forth, exhibited repetitive behavior, showed no evidence of imaginary play, had no interest in peers, and recited scripts from “Dora the Explorer” episodes.

UW a great value in public education, survey says

Bill Novak:

If Wisconsin students and parents are looking for one of the best values in the country in higher education, stay at home.
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has ranked UW-Madison 13th in its list of the 100 best values in public colleges, the second year in a row the state’s flagship university has been ranked in that spot.
The survey tapped North Carolina as the best value in public education for the 12th year in a row, or since the survey started.
The publication looked at data from close to 600 public four-year colleges and universities to come up with the survey results, based on criteria such as admission rates, percentage of student returning to school as sophomores, student-faculty ratios, tuition, financial aid and low average debt at graduation.

50 Things

MIT Admissions:

As you begin your college experience, and I prepare for my 10-year college reunion, I thought I’d leave you with the things that, in retrospect, I think are important as you navigate the next four years. I hope that some of them are helpful.
Here goes…
Your friends will change a lot over the next four years. Let them.
Call someone you love back home a few times a week, even if just for a few minutes.
In college more than ever before, songs will attach themselves to memories. Every month or two, make a mix cd, mp3 folder, whatever – just make sure you keep copies of these songs. Ten years out, they’ll be as effective as a journal in taking you back to your favorite moments.

Statistics vs. Machine Learning, fight!

Brendan O’Connor:

10/1/09 update — well, it’s been nearly a year, and I should say not everything in this rant is totally true, and I certainly believe much less of it now. Current take: Statistics, not machine learning, is the real deal, but unfortunately suffers from bad marketing. On the other hand, to the extent that bad marketing includes misguided undergraduate curriculums, there’s plenty of room to improve for everyone.
So it’s pretty clear by now that statistics and machine learning aren’t very different fields. I was recently pointed to a very amusing comparison by the excellent statistician — and machine learning expert — Robert Tibshiriani. Reproduced here:

Madison schools starting to embrace ‘restorative justice’ for problem behavior

Pat Schneider:

The Madison School District is betting that restorative justice practices — giving people in conflict the opportunity to hear each other’s side of the story in an attempt to heal a rift — are a powerful tool in making schools safer, more productive places.
Following a two-year pilot project at La Follette High School and Black Hawk and Sennett middle schools, the district has entered into an agreement with the YWCA Madison to extend the program to East High School as well as Sherman, O’Keeffe, and Whitehorse middle schools.
The school district has allocated $164,420 for payment to YWCA, which trains staff and helps run restorative practice circles, and made restorative practices part of its plan to close the achievement gap between students of color and white students.
To hear the students at Sennett Middle School tell it, restorative practices hold a lot of potential for helping students do better in school and for building more positive relationships.

Do online courses spell the end for the traditional university?

Carole Cadwalladr:

Two years ago, I sat in the back seat of a Toyota Prius in a rooftop car park in California and gripped the door handle as the car roared away from the kerb, headed straight towards the roof’s edge and then at the last second sped around a corner without slowing down. There was no one in the driver’s seat.
It was the prototype of Google’s self-driving car and it felt a bit like being Buck Rogers and catapulted into another century. Later, I listened to Sebastian Thrun, a German-born professor of artificial intelligence at Stanford University, explain how he’d built it, how it had already clocked up 200,000 miles driving around California, and how one day he believed it would mean that there would be no traffic accidents.
A few months later, the New York Times revealed that Thrun was the head of Google’s top-secret experimental laboratory Google X, and was developing, among other things, Google Glasses – augmented reality spectacles. And then, a few months after that, I came across Thrun again.

5 Most Inspirational Videos of 2012

Geoffrey James:

These five short videos will remind you what’s important in life and work.
This has been a difficult few days for everybody, especially for those of us who have children in primary school.
I had already selected the following five clips as the most inspirational and motivational videos of the year.
I think they are testament to the fact that the human spirit is greater than tragedy and to remind us that the reason we all work so hard is because we want to make a difference in the world.

The Schoolmaster

Dana Goldstein:

David Coleman is an idealistic, poetry-loving, controversy-stoking Rhodes Scholar and a former McKinsey consultant who has determined, more than almost anyone else, what kids learn in American schools. His national curriculum standards and pending overhaul of the SAT have reignited a thorny national debate over how much we should expect from students and schools, and how much is out of their control.
On a hot June morning in suburban Delaware, in the chintzy, windowless ballroom of a hotel casino, David Coleman stood at a podium reciting poetry. After reading Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” a classic example of the villanelle form, Coleman wanted to know why green is the only color mentioned in the poem, why Thomas uses the grammatically incorrect go gentle instead of go gently, and how the poet’s expression of grief is different from Elizabeth Bishop’s in her own villanelle, “One Art.”
“Kids don’t wonder about these things,” Coleman told his audience, a collection of 300 public-school English teachers and administrators. “It is you as teachers who have this obligation” to ask students “to read like a detective and write like an investigative reporter.”

Why Kids Should Grade Teachers

Amanda Ripley:

Nubia Baptiste had spent some 665 days at her Washington, D.C., public school by the time she walked into second period on March 27, 2012. She was an authority on McKinley Technology High School. She knew which security guards to befriend and where to hide out to skip class (try the bleachers). She knew which teachers stayed late to write college recommendation letters for students; she knew which ones patrolled the halls like guards in a prison yard, barking at kids to disperse.
If someone had asked, she could have revealed things about her school that no adult could have known. Once Nubia got talking, she had plenty to say. But until that morning of her senior spring, no one had ever asked.
She sat down at her desk and pulled her long, neat dreadlocks behind her shoulders. Then her teacher passed out a form. Must be another standardized test, Nubia figured, to be finished and forgotten. She picked up her pencil. By senior year, it was a reflex. The only sound was the hum of the air conditioning.

Milwaukee Public Schools needs a new backbone & A Few Useful Madison Data Points

George Lightbourn:

The Public Policy Forum recently published a new report (4MB PDF Link) that, like many previous reports from a variety of think tanks, casts doubt on the fiscal future of Milwaukee Public Schools. However, the PPF report added an interesting twist by throwing down a challenge to state and local political leadership.
It is time “to define where MPS fits into Milwaukee’s education framework,” they concluded, and to “define and secure the resources needed to effectively fulfill that role.”
In other words, quit complaining about MPS and do something. The district, beset with long-term budget woes, is rapidly losing students whose parents want safer, better schools.
Generations of School Boards, superintendents and sympathizers have decried the inadequacy of state school aids. True or not, the more important question is: Will there be more money? While state aid will likely increase, it’s unlikely to match the expectations of some people, including Mayor Tom Barrett. The price tag to fix the state aid “funding flaw” as the mayor advocates is $50 million. Even on his best day, I doubt the mayor could convince the Legislature to write a check for that kind of money.

View the complete Public Policy Forum report on the Milwaukee Public Schools, here (4MB PDF).




















It would be interesting to see a peer comparison (State, National & Global) of Madison, as well.

The maths of exam marks

Chris Cook:

At the moment, the Department for Education is considering changes to the league tables and the exam system. This seems an opportune moment to make a simple point about qualification-awarding and accountability: English school examinations are subject to measurement error in a really big way.
Here is a simple thought experiment to flesh it out. Imagine a class of 100 students. Let us specify that each one has a “true” ability that means that one pupil should get one point, one pupil should get two, one should get three and so on – up to 100 marks. Now, let’s award this class one of 10 grades: 90+ gets you an A, 80+ a B and so on.
Let us assume that the tests are perfect. If that were the case, you would get ten individuals in each grade. Easy enough. But what happens if we start introducing errors into the test? We can do that with a set of exotically named (but very simple) “Monte Carlo” estimates, which I calculated using this simple spreadsheet.

2013 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent and Madison School Board Candidates

Patrick Marley & Erin Richards:

“I’ve been frustrated with the fact that our educational system continues to go downhill even with all the money the Legislature puts into it,” he said.
Pridemore said he will release more details about his educational agenda in forthcoming policy statements and has several education bills in the drafting phase. Asked if he believed schools should have armed teachers, he said that was a matter that should be left entirely to local school boards to decide.
Evers, who has been school superintendent since 2009, is seeking a second term. He has previously served as a teacher, principal, local school superintendent and deputy state schools superintendent.
Wisconsin’s education landscape has undergone some major changes during his tenure, including significant reductions in school spending and limits on collective bargaining for public workers that weakened teachers unions, which have supported Evers in the past.
Evers wants to redesign the funding formula that determines aid for each of Wisconsin’s 424 school districts and to provide more aid to schools. Also, he wants to reinvigorate technical education and to require all high schools to administer a new suite of tests that would offer a better way to track students’ academic progress and preparation for the ACT college admissions exam.

Don Pridemore links: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming. Incumbent Tony Evers: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming.
Matthew DeFour:

School Board president James Howard, the lone incumbent seeking re-election, faces a challenge from Greg Packnett, a legislative aide active with the local Democratic Party. The seats are officially nonpartisan.
Two candidates, low-income housing provider Dean Loumos and recently retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong, are vying for Moss’ seat.
The race for Cole’s seat will include a primary on Feb. 19, the first one for a Madison School Board seat in six years. The candidates are Sarah Manski, a Green Party political activist who runs a website that encourages buying local; Ananda Mirilli, social justice coordinator for the YWCA who has a student at Nuestro Mundo Community School; and T.J. Mertz, an Edgewood College history instructor and local education blogger whose children attend West High and Randall Elementary schools.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Don’t allow phony retirements

The Wisconsin State Journal

The findings of a recent state audit should remind state leaders — and their constituents — that the Legislature still needs to fix the “double dip.”
Taxpayers deserve tighter rules to guard against abuse, something the audit confirmed.
Double dipping allows public workers to “retire” and then return to their jobs just 30 days later to collect full-time salaries and pension income at the same time.
In the worst cases, some public employees — often top managers — have returned and stayed in their six-figure, full-time jobs for years after supposedly “retiring.” That costs more money, both in longer guaranteed pension payments and higher salaries than what younger, new hires in those positions would likely earn.

The Best Speech About Education — Ever

Nick Morgan:

Every now and then a speech comes along that reminds me why public speaking is still essential and why I said back in 2003 that the only reason to give a speech is to change the world.
Today, Mike Johnston is a state senator from Colorado, but his passion is education, and it was ignited as a Teach for America teacher in the Mississippi delta in 1997. From that came a searing book, In the Deep Heart’s Core, about the terrible challenges facing teachers and learning in that state. Johnston moved on to become the principal of a school for challenged kids in Colorado.

Our creative director waxes lyrical about The Orchestra

Theo:

A delight to behold – a feast for the eyes, the ears, and the heart.
The Orchestra is quite simply the most beautiful thing my company has ever made. Beautiful in every sense of the word. It’s filled with beautiful music. It’s filled with beautiful images. And it communicates its subject more beautifully than anything I’ve ever seen before.
Anything? Yes, anything.
Sure, there may be more beautiful paintings, more beautiful poems, or more beautiful sunsets. But I’m talking about things whose purpose is to communicate a sizable body of knowledge, to teach me something interesting about the world, to expand my horizons and deepen my understanding. I cannot think of anything, anywhere, in any medium, ever, that has done this as beautifully as the interactive experience we call The Orchestra.

Jerry Brown pushes new funding system for California schools

Kevin Yamamura:

Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing hard to overhaul California’s convoluted school funding system. His plan has two major objectives: Give K-12 districts greater control over how they spend money, and send more dollars to impoverished students and English learners.
Studies show that such children require more public help to reach the same level of achievement as their well-off peers. But as rich and poor communities alike clamor for money in the wake of funding cuts, Brown’s plan could leave wealthy suburbs with fewer new dollars than poorer urban and rural districts.
That makes perfect sense, said Michael W. Kirst, president of the State Board of Education and a Stanford University professor who co-wrote a 2008 paper that became the model for Brown’s proposal.
“Low-income people have less resources to invest in their children,” Kirst said. “A lot of investment comes from parental ability to buy external things for their kids that provide a better education. In the case of low-income groups, they can’t buy tutors, after-school programs or summer experiences.”

Worst College Majors for Your Career

Kiplingers:

Make no mistake: An undergraduate degree can improve your employment prospects and paycheck size. A high school graduate earns 40% less than someone with a bachelor’s degree and is more than twice as likely to be unemployed. But not all college majors are created equal. In fact, grads with certain majors sometimes fare worse in the labor force than workers who stopped studying after high school.
Considering the time and expense that goes into earning a college degree, knowing whether your course of study is a career-killer is powerful knowledge indeed. That’s why we analyzed the jobless rates and salaries for graduates with the 100 most popular majors to come up with our list of the ten worst values in college majors.

Special Team: Chy Johnson & Her Boys

Rick Reilly:

How about a little good news?
In the scrub-brush desert town of Queen Creek, Ariz., high school bullies were throwing trash at sophomore Chy Johnson. Calling her “stupid.” Pushing her in the halls.
Chy’s brain works at only a third-grade level because of a genetic birth defect, but she knew enough to feel hate.
“She’d come home every night at the start of the school year crying and upset,” says her mom, Liz Johnson. “That permanent smile she had, that gleam in her eye, that was all gone.”
Her mom says she tried to talk to teachers and administrators and got nowhere. So she tried a whole new path — the starting quarterback of the undefeated football team. After all, senior Carson Jones had once escorted Chy to the Special Olympics.
“Just keep your ear to the ground,” Liz wrote to Carson on his Facebook page. “Maybe get me some names?”
But Carson Jones did something better than that. Instead of ratting other kids out, he decided to take one in — Chy.

Study: Education Extends Longevity–Except for Black Males

Barbara Peters Smith:

The human longevity bonanza that gives newborns today three decades more of life expectancy than they would have had a century ago appears to have no real stopping point.
Now researchers are trying to determine how U.S. society should change to accommodate so many longer, healthier lifespans, and why one group of white Americans does not seem to be benefiting from the trend.
Published in the August issue of Health Affairs and reported widely in the media, the researchers’ study found that while everybody else is living longer, non-Hispanic white women without high school diplomas have actually lost five years of life expectancy and their male counterparts lost three years.

Why Education Emancipation is the Moral Imperative of our Time

C. Bradley Thompson:

These are–to be sure–radical claims, but they are true, and the abolition of public schools is an idea whose time has come. It is time for Americans to reexamine–radically and comprehensively–the nature and purpose of their disastrously failing public school system, and to launch a new abolitionist movement, a movement to liberate tens of millions of children and their parents from this form of bondage.1
Twenty-first century Abolitionists are confronted, however, by a paradoxical fact: Most Americans recognize that something is deeply wrong with the country’s elementary and secondary schools, yet they support them like no other institution. Mention the possibility of abolishing the public schools, and most people look at you as though you are crazy. And, of course, no politician would ever dare cut spending to our schools and to the “kids.”
For those who take seriously the idea that our public schools are broken and need to be fixed, the most common solutions include spending more money, raising standards, reducing class size, issuing vouchers, and establishing charter schools. And yet, despite decades of such reforms, our schools only get worse.

National Education Reform: School Choice Equals Opportunities For Hispanics

John Benson:

The Latino population is one of many groups affected by a national education reform. One of the most discussed programs is that of school choice, which varies from state to state, and offers families the opportunity to choose a school for their children other than the one assigned by geographic default.
Take for instance in Indiana, where a private-school choice program has more than 9,300 students involved.
“There’s a fairly extensive sort of tiered school choice/voucher program in its second year where based on income, kids could qualify for partial or full dollar amounts of what the state would spend on them in their district,” Indiana Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs Executive Director Daniel Lopez tells VOXXI. “It could be applied either partially or fully to a private school of their choice.”
Lopez said the program can be compared to a similar initiative in Florida, the only difference being the Hoosier State impacts more students. He added that enrollment is growing, which is a result of advocates spreading the world out in the Latino

5 Things to Know Before Taking Out a Student Loan

Josh Mitchell:

Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal reports that the federal lending program designed to make college education available to everyone is creating a pile of debt so large it is fanning worries that it has become too easy to borrow too much.
Looking to take out a student loan? Here are five things to know.
1. Research what aid is available to you–including scholarships, state and federal grants, and then federal loans. Meet with your school’s financial-aid counselor to learn these options. Visit the government’s website. The private website www.Finaid.org also has good resources.
2. Know the terms of your loans. What is the interest rate, what is the repayment period, and when precisely will payments begin? More importantly, find out what your expected monthly payment will be upon graduation. The financial aid counselor should be able to provide this. Also, learn about the federal government’s income-based repayment program.

A tutorial from the business school of life

Michael Skapinker:

We cover many subjects in this section: new working patterns, women in management, immigrant start-ups, the future of computing, empowering staff, business’s responsibility to society. It is a wide spread and it is unusual to find it all in just one person.
But all these themes run through the life of Dame Stephanie Shirley – child refugee, software pioneer and crusading philanthropist – who, at the age of 79, has published her autobiography.
It is called Let IT Go, the capitalised middle word a play on “it” and “information technology”, which is a slightly limp introduction to the book’s bracing start.
Dame Stephanie was among the last of the 10,000 German, Austrian, Polish and Czech children allowed into the UK, without their parents, as the second world war loomed. Aged five, she and her older sister tumbled on to the platform at London’s Liverpool Street station, flotsam in a “river of exhausted, bewildered, tear-stained faces”.

College Football’s Big-Money, Big-Risk Business Model

Rachel Bachman & Matthew Futterman:

On one side are the nation’s largest universities, which face sharp declines in public funding. On the other, the cable and broadcast television networks, which are struggling to hold on to viewers and advertisers.
Like dynastic rulers desperate to protect their holdings, the two sides have engineered an alliance. The schools have offered up their most marketable asset, college football. The networks have agreed to marry the sport to the most important segment of their audience: the millions of viewers across the country who can still be counted on to drop whatever they are doing to watch live sports.
As a dowry, TV has agreed to pump about $25.5 billion in rights fees into college conferences and their member schools over the next 15 years. That includes a recent deal for ESPN to televise major-college football’s first playoff–a four-team bracket launching in 2014–that is valued at $5.6 billion over 12 years. The schools, meanwhile, are doing whatever is needed to maximize what they can command from TV: playing more games, jumping to new conferences, abandoning long-standing rivalries, dismantling the old system of postseason bowl games and, last June, approving that first-ever playoff.

How to make computer science courses better

Sophie Chou:

As I sit here working on a project in lieu of going to class for the umpteenth time, I realized with sudden clarity that perhaps the current way that Computer Science is taught in universities is not the optimal way. Large lecture halls, clunky languages- it’s a bad sign when even a die-hard “learning for learning’s sake” student skips class on a regular basis.
anyway, a few thoughts on how I would change the structure of Computer Science courses to maximize efficiency + interest and minimize pain:
STOP TEACHING JAVA.
Seriously. I have never, ever been required to interview in a specific language at any company (even the “big names”), and if the people you’re talking to are deadset on Java, you probably don’t want to work there anyway. C is a much, much better “lower” level language for really grasping the way programming works, and Python is a much, much more fun language if you want to lower the barriers to entry and get students making things right away.

New Apps Show The Music Education Revolution Is Just Getting Started

John Paul Titlow:

Music will never be the same. But you knew that. You see it everyday when you share a playlist from Spotify or Songza, comment on a SoundCloud waveform or discover an artist who, as it turns out, got their start not in some Brooklyn dive bar, but on YouTube. Both the creation and distribution of music have been radically altered by technology.
So too has the way people learn how to play it.
This revolution is still young. As neat as some of this stuff is, innovation in music education is just beginning to heat up, and a handful of recent apps point to a future where learning music is easier, more accessible and even fun.
That technology is changing music education isn’t exactly breaking news. Music lessons come installed with GarageBand on every new Mac and app stores are overflowing with portable software that teaches music theory and guitar chords. Earlier this year, the New York Times ran a feature detailing how music teachers are using Skype and other digital communication tools to interface with students regardless of their physical location, a phenomenon that opens up new possibilities for teachers and learners alike. Meanwhile, sites like Coursera and Berklee Music offer comprehensive university-level classes in everything from songwriting to record production.

Is big disruption good for urban school districts?

Jay Matthews:

My colleague Emma Brown has been looking closely at Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s plans to close one of every six traditional D.C. public schools.
In one piece, she cited activists who raised the possibility that the education system of our nation’s capital might, as a consequence of the downsizing, be split in two: Charter schools would rule the low-income neighborhoods, while regular public schools would thrive only in the affluent areas where achievement rates remain high.
This is not some wild nightmare. Education finance lawyer Mary Levy, a careful and longtime analyst of D.C. schools, said at one meeting: “What we are rapidly approaching is a [public school system] concentrated west of Rock Creek Park and perhaps around Capitol Hill, and a separate charter school system filled by lottery in most of the rest of the city.”
This is upsetting to many D.C. residents and people in the region who work or have lived in the city. But to some reformers, it is a great opportunity, a way to let parent choice energize the schools and give urban children more chances for success.

Football BCS Rankings, if Academics Mattered

New America Foundation:

The college football Bowl Championship Series rankings have been announced, but what would the list look like ranked instead by the teams’ academic achievement? The New America Foundation’s Education Policy Program today released its sixth annual BCS Academic Bowl rankings aiming to show just that.
The rankings use information collected by the NCAA — federal graduation rates and academic progress — to track educational success, not in-game performance. New America’s BCS Academic Bowl looks at data from the top 25 teams in the Bowl Championship Series’ final standings to rank their academic prowess.
New America’s analysis found:

Amsterdam schools to bring in ‘no toking zones’

Associated Press:

Eberhard van der Laan’s introduction of a law that in other countries either already exists or seems so obvious it wouldn’t even require a rule is the result of the Netherlands’ unique drugs policy. Under the “tolerance” principle, marijuana is technically illegal here, but police can’t prosecute people for possession of small amounts.
That’s the loophole that made possible Amsterdam’s famed “coffee shops” – cafes where marijuana is sold openly. But it has also had the unwanted side effect that Dutch children are frequently exposed to the drug in public areas.
City spokeswoman Iris Reshef says schools have always forbidden pot, but found it difficult to enforce the policy when students smoked on or near campus and challenged administrators to do anything about it.
“It’s not really what you have in mind as an educator, that children would be turning up for class stoned, or drunk either for that matter,” she said. “But it has been a problem for some schools.”

Ten myths about gifted students and programs for gifted

Carolyn Coil:

American educators have struggled for more than 40 years to define giftedness. Yet even now, there is no universally agreed upon definition of what it means to be gifted. U.S. federal law defines gifted students as those who perform or who show promise of performing at high levels in any one of five categories: general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability or visual/performing arts.
Beyond that definition, there are no specific national criteria for identifying gifted and talented students nor does federal law provide funding or mandates for identification of these students or programming for them. This definition is left to the states.
The result has been a wide variety of state definitions and methods for the identification of gifted children. Some states have specific definitions for giftedness, while others have none. Some states require programs for gifted students, while others do not.

Open source groups warn Greece will waste millions on school software

Gijs HILLENIUS:

Advocates of free and open source are warning that the Greek government is going to waste millions of euro on proprietary software licences for the country’s schools. They are calling on the Ministry of Education to cancel its latest procurement.
“Favouring proprietary software while ignoring the potential of open source, constitutes a choking of the educational process.”
The ministry published a request for tender in November, seeking suppliers of 26,400 laptops, 1760 servers and 1760 wifi access routers. The value of the contract is set at just over 15 million euro. The purchase will be partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
The ministry is asking for laptops and servers that can run either a ubiquitous proprietary operating system or Linux. But, say the Greek Linux User Group (Greeklug) and Eel/lak, a Greek open source advocacy organisation founded by 25 universities and research centres, the technical requirements clearly favour proprietary solutions over open source. “The specification is a copy of the proprietary vendor’s e-mail and office software.”

Can Rocketship Launch a Fleet of Successful, Mass-Produced Schools? (Opening in Milwaukee later in 2013)

PBS NewsHour:

JEFFREY BROWN: Now we look to a California education experiment called the Rocketship Model that involves teachers, kids and parents and aims to expand one day to serve a million students.
NewsHour’s special correspondent for education, John Merrow, has our report.
JOHN MERROW: The Model T was the first, the first innovative and affordable car available to the masses. Others had built good cars, but Henry Ford figured out how to build a lot of them. He and his moving assembly line proved that quality can be mass-produced.
Mass production is a problem the auto industry solved over 100 years ago, but it’s an issue our education system has yet to figure out. America has lots of terrific schools. People open great schools every year, but typically open just one. Nobody has figured out how to mass-produce high-quality, cost-effective schools.
John Danner is the latest to give it a shot. He created an innovative charter school model with replication in mind. Charter schools receive public funding, but are privately managed and operate outside of the traditional public system.
…..
JOHN MERROW: New Orleans, Nashville, Indianapolis, and Memphis have all approved charters for Rocketship schools to be built in their cities. Next year, two new schools will open in San Jose and one in Milwaukee. Danner plans to have 46 schools up and running in five years, with a vision of someday serving 50 cities and a million students. If he succeeds, Rocketship could become the Model T of education.

Notes and links on Rocketship’s arrival in Milwaukee.

The author of “Alex’s Adventures in Numberland” tells us about popular attempts to explain the history of counting and numbers

Malba Tahan

Your first choice is in Portuguese.
A fascinating property of maths is that it is totally international and never goes out of date. So if you write a maths classic it is a classic for ever, everywhere. This Brazilian book links my past life in Brazil with maths. The literal translation of the Portuguese title is ‘The Man Who Calculated’ but the English version is called The Man Who Counted. There are editions in many other languages too.
The author Malba Tahan is a fictional character, the pen name of Júlio César de Mello e Sousa, and the book is set in Arabia as a mixture of One Thousand and One Nights and a maths book – it’s coming out of the most populous Catholic country in the world and yet it’s as much a love story to Arab culture as to maths itself. There were lots of Arab immigrants in Brazil and they love Arab culture – one of the most popular fast food chains is called Habib’s. The story here is presented as if the author, who I believe only went to Lisbon once and virtually never left Brazil, has just stumbled upon or discovered this Arab text.

A free school under a bridge in India



NBC News:

Founder of a free school for slum children Rajesh Kumar Sharma, second from right, and Laxmi Chandra, right, write on black boards, painted on a building wall, at a free school run under a metro bridge in New Delhi, India. At least 30 children living in the nearby slums have been receiving free education from this school for the last three years.

How I learned a language in 22 hours

Joshua Foer:

“What do you know about where I come from?” That was one of the first questions I ever asked Bosco Mongousso, an Mbendjele pygmy who lives in the sparsely populated Ndoki forest at the far northern tip of the Republic of Congo. We were sitting on logs around a fire one evening four years ago, eating a dinner of smoked river fish and koko, a vitamin-rich wild green harvested from the forest. I’d come to this hard-to-reach corner of the Congo basin – a spot at least 50km from the nearest village – to report a story for National Geographic magazine about a population of chimpanzees who display the most sophisticated tool-use ever observed among non-humans.
Mongousso, who makes his living, for the most part, by hunting wildlife and gathering forest produce such as nuts, fruits, mushrooms and leaves, had teeth that had been chiselled to sharp points as a child. He stood about 1.4m (4ft 7in) tall and had a wide, wonderful grin that he exercised prolifically. He considered my question carefully.

The Mind of Students

What is on the minds of our students? We mostly have no idea. The Edupundits all seem to agree that the most important variable in student academic achievement is teacher quality. But isn’t the most important variable in student academic achievement really student academic work in the end?
The teacher can know a lot about her subject, can speak well, tell wonderful stories, have good control over the class, and so on, but if the student is thinking about something else, what is the result?
I have known first-rate teachers whose students didn’t do any work academically and mediocre teachers who had some students who achieved a lot academically.
All those hundreds of people spending many millions of dollars and countless months of effort on teacher assessment never seem to wonder what is going on in the minds of our students in a given class. How many times has an evaluator, visiting a class to judge the work of a teacher, ever thought to ask a few students, in those moments, what they know about the current subject, or even what they are thinking about at the time?
The Hindus say the mind is like a drunken monkey, and even a sober mind is pulled in many directions at once, by memories, worries, ideas, desires, impressions of all kinds, and even, occasionally, by the subject matter of the class the student is sitting in. But the point is that while we are teaching, even though we may get a student question from time to time, or we may ask a student for a comment from time to time, during the vast majority of the time we spend teaching, we have not the slightest insight into what is occupying the minds of almost all of our students while we are teaching our brains out.
A recent study found (mirabile dictu) that students who don’t come to class learn less than students who do. But the fact is that even when students do come to class, their attention and their minds may very well be absent from class. There are countless objects of interest to distract the minds of students from the current work of any class as presented by the teacher.
This is not to say that wonderful teachers cannot draw and hold the attention of almost all the students in their class for amazingly long stretches. But students have many concerns, both personal and academic. Not only the next athletic event, or personal relationship, but even the subject matter of the next class or the last class may occupy the minds of some or many of our students while we teach.
Teaching and learning are at least as subtle and complex as brain surgery, and the surgeon has one single anaesthetized patient, and the help of four or five other professionals, while the teacher may have thirty conscious high school students and no one to watch for signs of student distraction, if any…As every teacher knows it is ridiculously easy for a student to show every sign of serious attention while their mind is actually kilometers away on some other matter entirely.
Stitching knowledge and ideas into the existing mental and memory frameworks of students is a lot more difficult and intricate an undertaking than most of those designing teacher assessment projects even want to think about, but it is the actual daily venture of our teachers.
My main interest and experience are with history at the high school level, so I am not sure what bearing my suggestions would have for calculus, chemistry, or Chinese language courses. But I believe that the attention of our history students can be captured and rewarded by asking them to read at least one good complete history book each year, and to write one serious Extended Essay-type history research paper each year while they are in high school.
If they read and report on a good history book, the chances are that they will have given it their attention, and learned some history from it. If they write a 6,000-word history research paper (and I am regularly publishing 8,000-15,000-word papers by secondary students from 46 states and beyond), they will clearly have had to give the historical subject of their research their attention, and they will have learned some history (see: student academic achievement) in the process.
Of course, we should continue to try to recruit and retain the top 5% of college graduates as our school teachers, and we should encourage them to teach their hearts out. But unless we begin to look more closely in an effort to discover what, academically, is going on in the minds of students, we will continue to ignore the main engines of academic work in our schools. I hope one or two of our more elite and well-funded Edupundits may give this idea a passing thought or two.
—————————–
“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org
Varsity Academics®
www.tcr.org/blog

What grade would you give public schools?

James Causey:

Fact: There are some really good Milwaukee Public Schools. Another fact: There are some that even the district’s superintendent says need improvement. To be fair, the same facts also apply to voucher schools.
There are a number of factors that contribute to a school’s success. Successful schools have engaged parents along with an equally motivated student body and teachers. Struggling schools often lack parental support and more often than not have behavioral problems that impede learning.
If I were to ask you to assign a letter grade to public schools in Milwaukee, what grade would you give them?
A survey asked 1,200 city residents that question, and 70% gave the public schools a “C” or worse.
And when asked who is responsible for a child’s failure, 64% of respondents said it was the parents and the students. Only 10% said it was the teachers’ fault and only 5% blame the school as a whole.
I’m not surprised by the study’s findings because the struggling schools in the district usually receive the most press while, unfortunately, the best schools fail to receive the recognition they deserve.

Knowledge is less a canon than a consensus

David Shaywitz:

In 1870, German chemist Erich von Wolf analyzed the iron content of green vegetables and accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing data from his notebook. As a result, spinach was reported to contain a tremendous amount of iron–35 milligrams per serving, not 3.5 milligrams (the true measured value). While the error was eventually corrected in 1937, the legend of spinach’s nutritional power had already taken hold, one reason that studio executives chose it as the source of Popeye’s vaunted strength.
The point, according to Samuel Arbesman, an applied mathematician and the author of the delightfully nerdy “The Half-Life of Facts,” is that knowledge–the collection of “accepted facts”–is far less fixed than we assume. In every discipline, facts change in predictable, quantifiable ways, Mr. Arbesman contends, and understanding these changes isn’t just interesting but also useful. For Mr. Arbesman, Wolf’s copying mistake says less about spinach than about the way scientific knowledge propagates.

USC doctoral student unravels ‘tin whisker’ mystery

Jeff Stensland:

Americans love their electronics, and millions will undoubtedly receive everything from flat-screen TVs and e-readers to video games and coffee makers this holiday season. Over time, even the best of these devices inexplicably stop working. Often it’s not worth the time and money to have them repaired, but the nagging question of “why” still lingers long after they’re thrown in the trash.
Yong Sun, a mechanical engineering doctoral student at the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing, has solved part of the puzzle.
Little-known culprits of this electronic destruction, tiny killers that leave no evidence the human eye can detect, are microscopic strands known as “whiskers.” These hair-like fibers of metal grow out of the tin used as solder and coating on many electronic circuits. The presence of these whiskers can cause short-circuits since they act as bridges to conduct electricity to closely-spaced parts, a problem expected to become more prevalent as devices are designed smaller and smaller.

Kyle Neddenriep rates his favorite 10 Indiana high school sports venues

Cody Zeller:

Indianapolis Star high school insider Kyle Neddenriep has traveled the state to cover his beat. From Muncie to Evansville, here are his 10 favorite venues:
The Reitz Bowl, Evansville: When it comes to high school football, there’s no better place to watch a playoff game on a chilly fall evening. Originally built in 1921 with seating for 10,000 fans, the Reitz Bowl is nestled next to the Ohio River, making for a gorgeous view from the press box. I covered Cathedral’s semistate game at Reitz at the end of the 2009 season and was blown away by the experience. I think Cathedral was, too, as Reitz won 31-10.
One of the things I’ll remember most was the walk from my car up the hill and through a neighborhood to the stadium entrance. Most of the houses on the tree-lined streets were dressed up with football signs and banners. It felt like something out of “All the Right Moves.” I can’t imagine there are many better atmospheres for football in the country, let alone the state.

The Changing Classroom: Collaboration is king in Menomonee Falls schools

Erin Richards:

It was early spring this year in Menomonee Falls when the school district brought together area business leaders, district teachers and administrators, college deans and chamber of commerce representatives to talk about an important issue: the local skills gap.
Particularly for this community rich with manufacturing and industry, that meant talking about health care jobs that would need to be filled at Community Memorial Hospital, and the need for trained workers in area manufacturing plants – and the school district’s role in preparing that labor force.
But unlike similar meetings where conversations fizzle after coffee or lunch, the ideas took root. The school district now aims to rebuild its technical education program from graduation backward, coordinating with a lead local manufacturer and Waukesha County Technical College to revamp curriculum and push new content down to the middle school level that will support that high school work.
At a time when budgets are tight and schools are under increasing pressure to strengthen student performance, collaborative efforts with other districts or nonschool entities are drawing attention as ways to either save money or create better opportunities for children.

Long-form writing is alive and kicking

Simon Schama:

All of you out there sounding off about the tweetification of English can relax. The 2012 Bodley Head/FT non-fiction Essay Prize, for writers aged 35 or under, yielded a harvest of essays so rich in imaginatively chosen subject matter and in spirited style that there can be no doubt that long-form non-fiction is very much alive and kicking. Somewhere between the expansiveness of the blogosphere with its indulgence of loose, spontaneous free association, and the straitjacket of the strict-deadline column, the essay as an art of written thought survives and flourishes. Hazlitt and Orwell can stop revolving in their tombs.
Some 400 submissions were received, in a wide range of voices from whimsically informal (a musing on scarecrows) to the sternly tutorial (what’s the point of foreign correspondents?). But all were stamped with the distinctive tone of their authors. The strongest followed the models of the classic essayists by beginning with a glimpse of the concrete (in both senses in the case of Enver Hoxha’s recycled Albanian bunkers) and moving outwards to bigger, deeper meditations on the human condition.

Like the neighborhood, not the school? Author understands your problem.

Jay Matthews:

In my 30 years writing about schools, one reader question outnumbers all others: “I like where I live, but I have kids now and the local school doesn’t look good to me. What should I do?”
I tell them how to investigate their neighborhood school. I explain that children of education-focused parents learn much no matter what school they attend. Then I advise them to go with their gut. Even if everybody thinks their local school is great, if it doesn’t feel right they should send their kids elsewhere.
I’ve done a long magazine piece and lots of columns on this, but I have never seen the issue dissected as well as in a new book by Washington-area parent Michael J. Petrilli, “The Diverse Schools Dilemma: A Parent’s Guide to Socioeconomically Mixed Public Schools.” It is deep, up to date, blessedly short (119 pages) and wonderfully personal. He shares all the frustrations and embarrassments he and his wife suffered while looking for schools for their two young sons.

Common Core: The Totalitarian Temptation

Jonah Goldberg
Liberal Fascism
New York: Doubleday, 2007, pp. 326-327
…Progressive education has two parents, Prussia and John Dewey. The kindergarten was transplanted into the United States from Prussia in the nineteenth century because American reformers were so enamored of the order and patriotic indoctrination young children received outside the home (the better to weed out the un-American traits of immigrants). One of the core tenets of the early kindergarten was the dogma that “the government is the true parent of the children, the state is sovereign over the family.” The progressive followers of John Dewey expanded this program to make public schools incubators of a national religion. They discarded the militaristic rigidity of the Prussian model, but retained the aim of indoctrinating children. The methods were informal, couched in the sincere desire to make learning “fun,” “relevant,” and “empowering.” The self-esteem obsession that saturates our schools today harks back to the Deweyan reforms from before World War II. But beneath the individualist rhetoric lies a mission for democratic social justice, a mission Dewey himself defined as a religion. For other progressives, capturing children in schools was part of the larger effort to break the backbone of the nuclear family, the institution most resistant to political indoctrination.
National Socialist educators had a similar mission in mind. And as odd as it might seem, they also discarded the Prussian discipline of the past and embraced self-esteem and empowerment in the name of social justice. In the early days of the Third Reich, grade-schoolers burned their multicolored caps in a protest against class distinctions. Parents complained, “We no longer have rights over our children.” According to the historian Michael Burleigh, “Their children became strangers, contemptuous of monarchy or religion, and perpetually barking and shouting like pint-sized Prussian sergeant-majors…Denunciation of parents by children was encouraged, not least by schoolteachers who set essays entitled ‘What does your family talk about at home?'”
Now, the liberal project Hillary Clinton represents is in no way a Nazi project. The last thing she would want is to promote ethnic nationalism, anti-Semitism, or aggressive wars of conquest. But it must be kept in mind that while these things were of enormous importance to Hitler and his ideologues, they were in an important sense secondary to the underlying mission and appeal of Nazism, which was to create a new politics and a new nation committed to social justice, radical egalitarianism (albeit for “true Germans”), and the destruction of the traditions of the old order. So while there are light-years of distance between the programs of liberals and those of Nazis or Italian Fascists or even the nationalist progressives of yore, the underlying impulse, the totalitarian temptation, is present in both.
The Chinese Communists under Mao pursued the Chinese way, the Russians under Stalin followed their own version of communism in one state. But we are still comfortable observing that they were both communist nations. Hitler wanted to wipe out the Jews; Mussolini wanted no such thing. And yet we are comfortable calling both fascists. Liberal fascists don’t want to mimic generic fascists or communists in myriad ways, but they share a sweeping vision of social justice and community and the need for the state to realize that vision. In short, collectivists of all stripes share the same totalitarian temptation to create a politics of meaning; what differs between them–and this is the most crucial difference of all–is how they act upon that temptation.

============
“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org
Varsity Academics®
www.tcr.org/blog

Housewife, “Gold Miss,” and Equal: The Evolution of Educated Women’s Role in Asia and the U.S.

Jisoo Hwang:

Abstract: The fraction of U.S. college graduate women who ever marry has increased relative to less educated women since the mid-1970s. In contrast, college graduate women in developed Asian countries have had decreased rates of marriage, so much so that the term “Gold Misses” has been coined to describe them. This paper argues that the interaction of rapid economic growth in Asia combined with the intergenerational transmission of gender attitudes causes the “Gold Miss” phenomenon. Economic growth has increased the supply of college graduate women, but men’s preference for their wives’ household services has diminished less rapidly and is slowed by women’s role in their mothers’ generation. Using a dynamic model, I show that a large positive wage shock produces a greater mismatch between educated women and men in the marriage market than would gradual wage growth. I test the implications of the model using three data sets: the Japanese General Social Survey, the American Time Use Survey, and the U.S. Census and American Community Survey. Using the Japanese data, I find a positive relationship between a mother’s education (and employment) and her son’s gender attitudes. In the U.S., time spent on household chores among Asian women is inversely related to the female labor force participation rate in husband’s country of origin. Lastly, college graduate Korean and Japanese women in the U.S. have greater options in the marriage market. They are more likely to marry Americans than Korean and Japanese men do, and this gender gap is larger among the foreign born than the U.S. born.

Benchmarking school systems

Chris Cook:

One question I get asked a lot is: “You say that Frewmanackshire is a terrible local authority. How do you know? Do you know what we are working with?” etc etc. It is true that schools with radically different intakes cannot be usefully compared. So I thought I would let you in on how I benchmark schools, and supply you with two jolly new maps.
What I do for secondary schools, is run a simple regression – that is to say, I fit a simple line through all the pupils’ school results in the country after asking it to account for the children’s ethnicity, poverty and prior test results. Unlike other models, the regression contains precisely zero information about the schools – only data about the children.
I work out what FT score each child would get if their fate were the national average for that kind of child. Then you can see who is under- or over-performing. By definition, this kind of approach is zero-sum (the computer will run its lines through the middle of the pack). Someone will always be behind. But it’s helpful to see who is weaker and stronger.

Graduates find success teaching in Chilean schools

Thomas Jerome Baker:

Enseña Chile, a programme backed by Anglo American that puts high-flying graduates in the classroom teaching some of Chile’s most vulnerable students, is achieving remarkable results. Enseña Chile selects and trains high-calibre university graduates to teach in state schools in vulnerable communities across the country. Photograph: Anglo American
Education is a hot issue in Chile.
The country is fiercely debating the best way to create the schools and universities it needs as it transitions to an economy that relies as much on the skills and talent of its people as on its natural resources.
Although classroom performance is among the best in Latin America and public spending on education has increased seven fold in the past 20 years, experts say there is a wide gap between the privately schooled rich and the majority who are too often failed by municipal education.

A sad attack on Advanced Placement

Jay Matthews:

Nearly all of us are experts about something — Yorkshire terriers, Redskins quarterbacks, California native plants, whatever. Even obscure subjects have fans.
My obsession is the Advanced Placement program, those college-level courses and tests for high school students. I have studied AP for 30 years. I am saddened, as all devotees are, by outbursts of misinformation about my topic. The most recent example is an essay on TheAtlantic.com by former AP government and politics teacher John Tierney, entitled “AP Classes Are a Scam.”

Colleges join the food-truck craze, launching their own trucks to offer students convenience and variety — and to keep their dining dollars on campus

Jessica Teich:

The tantalizing aromas of earthy empanadas and tangy barbecue chicken mingling in the air lure a small crowd to the rumbling, bright red truck parked smack in the middle of Northeastern University’s Snell Library Quad.
Outside the Hungry Hungry Husky food truck, students and professors jockey to scan the menu. Reaching up to a delivery window for a heaping tray of pita chips and some fresh guacamole, Lauryn Coccoli gushes, “Ah, you’re the best, thank you so much!” She is met with an appreciative nod by a worker inside the school’s food truck.
“Whenever he’s here, I’m here,” says Coccoli, a graduate student at Northeastern. “It’s absolutely convenient, cost-effective, and the food’s great; it tastes better and is cheaper than in there,” she says, gesturing to the Curry Student Center, which houses nearly 10 food court eateries.

Schoolhouse to Courthouse

Donna Lieberman:

KENNETH screwed up. The 11th grader made a crude joke about the police officers in his Bronx high school — and an officer overheard.
“What did you say?” the officer demanded. “Say it again and I’m going to punch you in the [expletive] mouth.”
“You can’t [expletive] touch me,” said Kenneth, who has Asperger syndrome.
And so it began …
The officer pulled out his nightstick, with one hand, grabbed Kenneth (whose name I’ve changed) by the throat with the other, and pushed him against the wall. Then he pinned the boy’s arms behind his back and pulled him, by the neck of his hoodie, down the fourth-floor hallway.

Readers’ cures for bad teaching of writing

Jay Matthews:

The teaching of writing is one of the great weaknesses of American schools. It is also the only one about which I, as a paid manufacturer of sentences, am competent to give personal advice.
I think students would benefit from one-on-one editing by their teachers. This is rare, but teachers and students who have done it tell me that it works for them as well as it did for me when I was a beginning journalist.
They like my idea of a required one-semester high school English course called Writing and Reading. Each student would produce a written piece each week and have it edited by the teacher for 10 minutes. The rest of the week, students would work in class on their next essay or read whatever they like while their classmates are edited. This spares teachers from marking up essays at home. Just 10 minutes of editing a week per student does not seem like much, but such personal contact is powerful. By the end of a semester, that would total nearly three hours of personal editing per kid, unheard of in schools today.

What Should Children Read?

Sara Mosle:

Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Tipping Point” and a New Yorker staff writer, told me how he prepared, years ago, to write his first “Talk of the Town” story. “Talk” articles have a distinct style, and he wanted to make sure he got the voice straight in his head before he began writing. His approach was simple. He sat down and read 100 “Talk” pieces, one after the other.
The story nicely illustrates how careful reading can advance great writing. As a schoolteacher, I offer Mr. Gladwell’s story to students struggling with expository writing as evidence that they need not labor alone. There are models out there — if only they’ll read them!
Mr. Gladwell’s tale provides a good lesson for English teachers across the country as they begin to implement the Common Core State Standards, a set of national benchmarks, adopted by nearly every state, for the skills public school students should master in language arts and mathematics in grades K-12.

Patriotic education distorts China world view

Jamil Anderlini:

After 21-year-old Cai Yang was arrested in September for beating a Toyota-driving Chinese compatriot with a bicycle lock during an anti-Japanese protest, his mother tried to explain his actions.
“The education at school always instils the idea that Japanese are evil people and if you turn on the television most of the programmes are about the anti-Japanese war,” Yang Shuilan said. “How can we possibly not resent the Japanese?”
Apart from the fact that Cai’s 50-year-old victim was Chinese not Japanese, Ms Yang makes a valid point.
In the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and the fall of the Soviet Union, China’s leaders concluded that the Communist party needed to improve its “thought work”. So they launched a new “patriotic education” campaign that continues to this day.
The selective teaching of history – emphasising the brutality of foreign invaders and ignoring atrocities or mistakes by China’s leaders – is intended to boost the party’s legitimacy by cultivating a nationalistic, anti-western victim mentality among young Chinese.

Special Education teachers are an aging population: Local schools see shortage in speech and language pathologists and occupational therapists

Corrie Pelc:

California is currently facing as shortage of qualified teachers – including special education teachers – according to an article printed in September on US News on NBCNews.com.
The article cited a report, “Greatness by Design” released by the California Department of Education in September – a report designed to help improve how teachers are recruited, trained and mentored – that states “there are still shortages of qualified teachers in fields such as special education.”
Dr. Pia Wong, department chair for the Department of Teaching Credentials and professor at California State University Sacramento, says one reason for the shortage is teachers retiring without anyone to fill their positions. “When you look at the average age of teachers in special (education) and general education, it’s an aging population,” she explains. “Based on when people typically do retire or can retire, we know in the next 10 years we’re going to see very high numbers of retirement.”