I’m always failing to connect the dots
It’s a simple rule for white men: If you’re invited to be part of a panel, or a faculty, or a board of directors, or a conference, conclave, cabal, colloquy, council, coven or club, it’s your job to first ask whether or not everyone else invited was also white and also male. If so, then you say, “No, thank you,” until that changes. Simple. Follow that rule or else crap like this is your fault.
10 hours ago
Piketty Day Notes - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
OK, that’s my meta analysis of why Piketty has made such a splash. But let me conclude by saying something about why I was so bowled over by this book. Obviously I share the widespread sense that we’re learning something very important about the past and future of inequality. But there’s something else: this analysis isn’t just important, it’s beautiful. Piketty gives us something we didn’t know we needed — a sweeping, elegant integration of growth theory, the factor distribution of income, and the personal distribution of income and wealth. He even (in work linked to but not presented in the book) shows how to derive the power laws that we know govern the distribution of income and wealth at the top, and shows how r-g determines the crucial exponents.

And my admiration is only reinforced by my sheer, green-eyed professional jealousy. What a book!
Supply, Demand, and Unemployment Benefits - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
Ben Casselman points out that we’ve had a sort of natural experiment in the alleged effects of unemployment benefits in reducing employment. Extended benefits were cancelled at the beginning of this year; have the long-term unemployed shown any tendency to find jobs faster? And the answer is no.
2 days ago
Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others | Informed Comment
10. There is nothing you can do about white terrorists. Gun control won’t stop them. No policy you could make, no government program, could possibly have an impact on them. But hundreds of billions of dollars must be spent on police and on the Department of Defense, and on TSA, which must virtually strip search 60 million people a year, to deal with other terrorists.
2 days ago
Generation Z - Charlie's Diary
If you follow this blog you already know my views on how we have created a security panopticon surveillance state the like of which would have given the East German Stasi wet dreams. Generation Y have come of age in this state; to the Millennial generation, East Germany probably looks like a near-utopia. (You have a 90% chance of your phone conversations not being bugged, and the state will pay for your education, housing, and healthcare! What's not to like?)
2 days ago
Blended Learning, But The Data Are Useless - EdTech Researcher - Education Week
The dashboards present too much data, or data that is too obvious. Teachers know when a kid can't read. They don't need software to tell them that. They need to know the most pressing challenge a child has with reading that a teacher might be able to remediate. The balance between being useful and being overwhelming is quite hard. (One administrator offered the plaintive cry, "I feel like a human API," which was terribly funny if you know what an API is and what an accountability officer at a charter management organization does for a living.)
2 days ago
Occupy was right: capitalism has failed the world | Books | The Observer
"I began with a straightforward research problematic," he says in elegant French-accented English. "I began to wonder a few years ago where was the hard data behind all the theories about inequality, from Marx to David Ricardo (the 19th-century English economist and advocate of free trade) and more contemporary thinkers. I started with Britain and America and I discovered that there wasn't much at all. And then I discovered that the data that did exist contradicted nearly all of the theories including Marx and Ricardo. And then I started to look at other countries and I saw a pattern beginning to emerge, which is that capital, and the money that it produces, accumulates faster than growth in capital societies. And this pattern, which we last saw in the 19th century, has become even more predominant since the 1980s when controls on capital were lifted in many rich countries."
3 days ago
Three Expensive Milliseconds
We’re giving huge sums to the financial industry while receiving little or nothing in return.
3 days ago
P.S. Choosing a College and Major during Times of Structural Unemployment
Yes, I realize I said I was done posting. And, in general, I am. Yet I’ve found it’s much harder to stay quiet in the face of harmful propaganda than I thought it would be. So I’m going to alter my position a tad: I’ll post when I can’t not.
4 days ago
Wall Street, The City, And Austerity - NYTimes.com
And there were these guys with beards and cheap suits telling everyone that to understand what was going on you needed to know macroeconomic theory and a lot of musty old economic history. I suppose Wall Street and City guys could have decided to sit down and read textbooks and history books; yeah, right. It was much more natural for them to defend their turf, to declare that book learning was beside the point, that they knew markets and how markets worked and could tell you that those deficits were putting us in grave danger.
5 days ago
Shorter discourse on the internet since I can remember: Credentialed Elite: People who disagree with me cannot even be said to have the boorish manner of Yalies. The rest of us: Oh fuck off you stupid git. Credentialed Elite: I am horrified at your opposition to civilized discourse.
5 days ago
bbum's weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Fire: The Media Machine Kinda Sucks
Well, it would be if any of the news reports were correct. Even individual reports started out claiming that 3 houses were destroyed with a paragraph or two later claiming that a bulldozer arrived to tear down the two houses that were destroyed with one house receiving cosmetic damage (Uh… that my house’s entire electrical subsystem is melted and the laundry room is a black pit of doom doesn’t seem cosmetic).
6 days ago
Yet another bad idea - Charlie's Diary
Now, here's the fictional angle: what if Vladimir Putin were to woo and wed Sarah Palin?

Would that not be the ultimate Republican two-headed presidential ticket? It would add a new depth and emotional je ne sais quoi (that's Foreign for "fuck me, I'm outa here") to the whole affair. For the first time we'd see a president and vice president who see eye to eye on everything, except when they're doing it doggie-style. (And now you won't be able to get rid of that mental image: share and enjoy!) And it's tantalizingly close to coming true, or just plain coming. Mr Putin is currently newly single after a couple of decades of marriage; I'm sure that if, on meeting, the ultimate Republican political power couple saw magic in each other's eyes, Todd would do the decent thing and remove himself from the picture via an uncontested divorce (if necessary with a little help from the KGB).
8 days ago
Virginia’s Medicaid expansion fight: More proof that the Commonwealth is broken.
Government can only work if the folks running it at least pretend that it can work. But the sheer nihilism on display in Richmond shows what happens when you convince yourself that government can fix nothing. It’s not a coincidence that the end result of the impasse may be that the government shuts down altogether. It’s the Commonwealth that is broken here—not the Medicaid expansion.
8 days ago
Clean The Damn Streets
I'm a bad person for not participating in the regular annual or semi-annual citizen street cleaning activities here in the urban hellhole, but it's really time for the powers that be to recognize that cleaning the damn streets is part of their responsibility. Volunteerism is lovely, but it isn't a substitute for regular and guaranteed government action. Also, too, street cleaning machines.
12 days ago
The Randroids' very, very good day
This is the best of all possible worlds for Austerians. They have a recovered private sector rolling in profits, high unemployment keeping wages suppressed and government starved of the kind of services that make people vote for politicians who will raise taxes to pays for them stay home.
12 days ago
Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors | PandoDaily
The new report, from the taxpayer watchdog group Good Jobs First, shows how Chicago’s roughly 150 “tax increment financing” (TIF) districts divert property taxes out of schools and public services and into what is now known as Chicago’s “shadow budget.” That’s a slightly nicer term for what is, in practice, Emanuel’s very own sovereign wealth fund.
13 days ago
Errol Morris on Rumsfeld, the truth and “The Unknown Known” - Salon.com
I see “The Unknown Known” as a story about the decay of public life, and as the tragic-farcical second act to Morris’ Oscar-winning 2003 “The Fog of War.” In that film, Robert S. McNamara, another former defense secretary who drove a war that went bad, sincerely tries to wrestle with his historical legacy. There’s considerable obfuscation and self-justification in McNamara’s conversations with Morris, but if LBJ’s onetime strategic genius also retails bullshit, it’s on a much higher intellectual plane. McNamara, who died in 2009, was deeply troubled by the moral questions of the Vietnam era, and was too intelligent to pretend that nothing had gone wrong. For Rumsfeld to ask himself questions he couldn’t answer – to admit that his conduct was driven by “unknown knowns,” or entirely wrongheaded assumptions — would be an unacceptable admission of weakness. He may look like yesterday’s man from the perspective of 2014, but that’s just the hair. In our age of political bluster, bogus certainty and gobbledygook, they should build him a monument on the National Mall.
14 days ago
A working class disarmed
Jane McAlevey, the ace labor organizer and author of Raising Expectations (And Raising Hell)—just about to appear in paperback from Verso—says that her mentor, Jerry Brown of 1199 New England, used to say that workers should strike at least once every two years just to remind them of their power. Those were the days.
15 days ago
Process, Religious Liberty, and Contraception | MattBruenig | Politics
For instance, one thing you could do is never spend any tax money on anything. It is totally possible (although perhaps not advisable) to finance all fiscal policy with dollars printed by the Federal Reserve. This would include paying for contraception and even paying for abortions (which is something that we are not supposed to do with “taxpayers” money, suggesting that (3) is procedurally impermissible for abortion, though not for contraception — figure that one out). Financing all fiscal policy with printed dollars would cause inflation when the economy is operating at capacity, but the government could offset that by taxing people an amount equal to the printed dollars it spent and then taking the money it taxed and destroying it.
16 days ago
The Hobby Lobby case is all about power, not religious liberty - The Week
In other words, why is Hobby Lobby objecting to this specific insurance plan and not the entire insurance company's practices? And why not protest female employees spending Hobby Lobby-earned money on those very same contraception types? If this is a hard-line moral case about preventing culpability of any kind in the use of abortifacient birth control, then Hobby Lobby really should be scouring each of those eventualities to extricate itself totally from blame. Instead, it's opting for the very mild, ambiguously helpful "solution" of removing itself only from payment of one particular type of plan.
16 days ago
CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says - The Washington Post
“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”
16 days ago
GDP etc. in a deep funk
By the way, here’s a graph of actual real U.S. GDP and its major components relative to their long-term (1970–2007) trendlines through the end of 2013. Note how things fell off a cliff in the recession. GDP, consumption, and government spending are all about 15% below where they’d be had they continued to grow in line with their long-term trend. (The hysteria over out-of-control government spending looks ludicrous in the light of this graph.) Investment is about 25% below where it “should” be. thanks largely to the housing collapse, though it’s staging something of a recovery. The other components have yet to begin closing the gap, because the recovery’s been so weak.
17 days ago
Share Your Story about the Common Core Tests
I am writing with exciting news about testingtalk.org, a national website created to gather on-the-ground feedback about the new Common Core tests being piloted this spring.
17 days ago
This Public School Principal Decides to Homeschool His Youngest | Diane Ravitch's blog
John Paul is a bright and energetic boy. He was born with a heart defect, and at two years old had open heart surgery. As traumatic as that experience was for my wife and me, it didn’t seem to have any long lasting impact on him. He is a little spitfire. At least he was. He no longer likes going to school. In fact he hates going to school. It is not his teacher, as one of our older children had the same teacher and had a fantastic experience. It is the developmentally inappropriate standards and the “rigorous” demands placed on 5 year old children that has changed. Kindergarten is supposed to be a time of exploratory learning and developing social skills. Unfortunately, it has become an assembly line environment of “drill and kill”. The inane assignments that lack any sort of creativity have crushed his love of school.
17 days ago
Inspirations from Iceland: Reflections on the USA | Linda F. Nathan
Imagine a land where pre-school education is guaranteed. Think of music teachers in most elementary schools and choirs in most secondary schools. Imagine a noticeable cleanliness of the hallways and classrooms. In many schools shoes aren’t worn inside because the staff doesn’t want the raw winter weather ruining the floors and making everything filthy. Imagine Iceland.
17 days ago
What These American Educators Learned in Finland | Diane Ravitch's blog
Naturally, as educators we found Finnish schools to be very attractive, and yet we never lost our faith in the American public schools that had prepared us- the very schools to which we had also dedicated our professional lives. Quite plainly, the successes we saw in Finland should occur in the United States. Not only that, we were made aware that the entire design and implementation of the Finnish school system was based on American education research! As a matter of fact, the United States generates eighty percent of the research in education worldwide. If American education research is a good enough to base the design of one of the very most successful public education systems in the world, why is it not good enough to use in the United States? Furthermore, if we had the answers in the United States, why were we traveling to Finland to find our own answers?
17 days ago
The Skills Zombie
Yet the skills story just keeps showing up in supposedly informed discussion. Again, I think that this is because it sounds like the kind of thing serious people should say.
19 days ago
Ford responds beautifully to Cadillac's right-wing diatribe, by @DavidOAtkins
It's no use pretending there isn't a culture war in this country. And it's no use pretending that some transcendent politician is going to fix it and unite everyone.
19 days ago
Doing Big Data and Analytics Right
But for various reasons, the Big Data world is surprisingly unscientific, surprisingly data illiterate, surprisingly uncritical of its own products. I hear supposed data scientists quoting the long debunked claim that Obama won the 2012 election through use of Big Data (unclear and unlikely). They latch on to the same story about Target predicting pregnancy, which remains, years later, an anecdote that has never seen external scrutiny. They cite Netflix, even though Netflix has walked back from a purer data approach, handtooling micro-genres to make results more meaningful.
19 days ago
Jack Schneider: Public Schools Outperform Private and Charter Schools But No One Knows It
The problem is that it is expensive to build a brand identity. Why should public schools spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to compete with the charters or with each other, when all that money should go towards paying for the arts, smaller classes, supplies, and other needed resources?
20 days ago
Teacher: How New Jersey Is Trying to Break Its Teachers
I have to teach my students the content needed to improve on the SGO so I can keep my job, which apparently consists of collecting even more SGO data.
20 days ago
The Small Business Owner’s Case for a Higher Minimum Wage
The way these big companies are able to generate profits while selling things so cheap is by externalizing certain costs that we small businesses can’t externalize. These companies, alone or in aggregate, have the resources to produce goods in areas with lax environmental regulations, externalizing some of their production costs onto the environment. They can transport the goods from these remote places over subsidized roads using subsidized fuel, externalizing those costs as well to the taxpayer while undercutting the local production of goods within communities.
21 days ago
Do These People Live In This World, Know Actual Humans
I'll mostly stick to the mens, though of course it isn't just the mens, but in all of this nonsense discussion of contraception I really just wonder what the hell is wrong with people. Have these people ever had sex? Do they know any women? Have they not ever given much thought to why they haven't Duggar-sized their familes? Do they not realize that just about every fertile sexually active woman has had a miscarriage at some point (whether those women knew it or not)?
22 days ago
Why everyone is talking about Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century - The Week
That is why Piketty has made such a huge impact: He has starkly and convincingly outlined the stakes for future generations. Either we'll have a new birth of reformed capitalism, with his preferred progressive wealth tax and other institutions, or we'll have wealth concentration on such a colossal scale that it will threaten the democratic order.
23 days ago
CURMUDGUCATION: The Coming Teacher Shortage
For many of this generation (depending on the lucky or unlucky draw of a local district), a teacher is someone who helps students get ready for big tests. A teacher is someone who delivers a prepared program-in-a-box; they don't develop units or create material or do anything except open the box and unpack what's inside.
23 days ago
the top of the world - bookforum.com / current issue
But the major frustration of the book is political. Piketty clearly shows that short of depression and war, the only possible way to tame the beast of endless concentration is concerted political action. The high upper-bracket tax rates of the immediate postwar decades couldn’t have happened without serious fears among elites—fresh memories of the Depression, threats from strong domestic unions, competition on a global scale with the USSR, which, for all its problems, was living proof that an alternative economic system was possible. As those things waned, upper-bracket taxes were lowered, wages and benefits were cut, and capital’s increased mobility led to increased competition among jurisdictions to offer a “favorable investment climate”—meaning weak regulations, low wages, and minimal taxes. All these trends have contributed to the concentration of capital over the last thirty years, as wealth and power have shifted upward on an enormous scale. None of these features will be reversed spontaneously. Nor will they be altered through “democratic deliberation”—several times Piketty notes the hefty political power of the owning class—or improved educational access, as Piketty actually urges at one unfortunate point. Brushing up the working class’s skill set is no match for the power of r > g.
23 days ago
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire or (The Pathological Lies of the Charter Movement) | The Public Educator
Here we have an AstroTurf non-profit asking for contributions from ill informed, but sympathetic citizens. I know some people may fall for this sob story of how these poor children are being deprived of an education by our evil Mayor. One wonders who is paying this organization to run such a campaign of lies and misinformation. If you look at the Trustees of this organization alone, one knows that their pockets are deep. In addition, they are playing dirty by making believe they are a grassroots organization of parents whose children are being deprived of an education. Last I heard, public education is still compulsory and there is always a place (unlike our charter friends). Well, I think we should play dirty too. Folks, in case you are interested, the number that called me from the Northeast Charter School Network is 518 712-4492. We should all call that number and leave them a nice message in order to call out their lies. You might even get Bianca’s mom and ask her about her daughter’s school commute from Albany to New York City.
24 days ago
Gosh Damn! That’s a Bad VAM! | kafkateach
Speaking of coming out of the VAM closet, I managed to hunt down the emails of about ten other bottom dwellers as posted by the Florida Times Union. I was attempting to conduct a minor survey of what types of teachers end up getting slammed by VAM. Did they have anything in common? What types of students did they teach? As of this moment, none of them have returned my emails. I really wanted to get in touch with “The Worst Teacher in the State of Florida” according to VAM. After a little cyber stalking, it turns out she’s my teaching twin. She also teaches ninth grade world history to gifted students in a preIB program.  The runner up for “Worst Teacher in the State of Florida” teaches at an arts magnet school.  Are we really to believe that teachers selected to teach in an IB program or magnet school are the very worst the state of Florida has to offer? Let me tell you a little something about teaching gifted students. They are the first kids to nark out a bad teacher because they don’t think anyone is good enough to teach them. First they’ll let you know to your face that they’re smarter than you and you stink at teaching. Then they’ll tell their parents and the gifted guidance counselor who will nark you out to the Principal. If you suck as a gifted teacher, you won’t last long.
24 days ago
"Who is going to love and take care of Alaska?"
The state’s willingness to do business with Exxon was like having your parents rent the basement to the guy who date raped you on prom night. Am I clear? The fact Governor Parnell wants to give them positions of power is like having said rapist adopt you. I suppose there should be no surprise. The governor was lobbyist and lawyer for big oil…I use the term “was” lightly.
24 days ago
On marijuana as on so much else, progressives are always right but never respected. by @DavidOAtkins
But at no point will the people who were right all these decades get credit for being right. At no point will they be treated seriously, nor will all the braying jackasses who claimed decriminalization would spell the end of the American way of life receive the scorn and marginalization they so richNoly deserve.
24 days ago
I look at the pools I find. After all of the years that I’ve done this, I still can’t believe the glaring despair in it all. Once a haven for family, friends and loved ones. A sign of prosperity and mild affluence. A respite on a hot summer day. Children. Cookouts. An American dream… gone horribly wrong somehow. We take it and flip it. If only for a brief moment. These pools become a haven once again. Creativity. Positive power… Opportunity. Glimpses.
27 days ago
Postal banking: USPS can and should start offering financial services.
The United States Postal Service has a problem. People aren’t sending as much mail as they used to. That means less postage revenue and difficulty paying the bills. Right now, the USPS has three main ideas about how to fix that. One is to increase stamp fees. Another is to reduce expenses by closing post offices and ending Saturday mail delivery. The third is competing head-to-head with Federal Express and UPS in parcel delivery. These are perfectly reasonable ideas, but they’re also limited ones. To keep USPS viable and vital, it’d be helpful to add a fourth idea from outside most Americans’ conception of what postal delivery is all about: basic banking and payment services.
28 days ago
NAHBS 2014, Charlotte
In this show the takaway was; Fixxies are dead and Bosch electric motors are here. Bang.
28 days ago
Teachers: life inside the exam factory | Education | The Guardian
Unfortunately, this academic year will be her last. Now that the government has raised teachers' retirement age, she could carry on for at least 10 years, but she wants out. Drama is being sidelined, she says, and teaching is falling into a cold fog of targets, endless new "strategies" and the idea that someone's education is reducible to a set of results.
4 weeks ago
The intelligence budget is on a "need to know" basis. And the citizens don't need to know.
So the Progressive Caucus puts out a budget in which the numbers all add up, the deficit is cut, people are put to work, kids are educated and old people are taken care of and it's declared dead on arrival by all the pundits. Why? Because it raises taxes on millionaires --- which is such an outrageous proposal it might as well have been a proposal to fund the government with unicorn spit.
5 weeks ago
Your High School Transcript Could Haunt You Forever - Viktor Mayer-Schönberger & Kenneth Cukier - The Atlantic
Think about records of student activism being stored and made available to prospective employers when an individual applies for a job a quarter of a century later. Today past records are very hard to access, save for high-profile individuals. But in the future this information will be routinely accessible for everyone. And it may not be just “snapshot” data like standardized college admissions tests—it may be every scrap of data related to our progress as a student, from amount of sick days and visits to the guidance counselor, to number of pages read and passages underlined in Huckleberry Finn.
5 weeks ago
Piketty on Economists
To put it bluntly, the discipline of economics has yet to get over its childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation, at the expense of historical research and collaboration with the other social sciences. Economists are all too often preoccupied with petty mathematical problems of interest only to themselves. This obsession with mathematics is an easy way of acquiring the appearance of scientificity without having to answer the far more complex questions posed by the world we live in. There is one great advantage of being an academic economist in France: here, economists are not highly respected in the academic and intellectual world or by political and financial elites. Hence they must set aside their contempt for other disciplines and their absurd claim to greater scientific legitimacy, despite the fact that they know almost nothing about anything.
5 weeks ago
Edward Snowden: 'The NSA set fire to the internet. You are the firefighters' | Technology | theguardian.com
“Remember, adding security is easier for new companies than it is for the big incumbents. The big guys can’t deliver security to their users, because they’re hampered by their business-models. You can tell customers that if they give you $5 a month for encrypted communications, no one will be able to watch them. Many people will be willing to pay for that.”
5 weeks ago
ANOTHER LOST YEAR - Detroit Data and Democracy Project
As I dug through the MEAP results on the Michigan Department of Education’s website that day—confirming that DPS students had scored behind the state average in all 18 tested categories, typically by 20 percentage points or more—I made a discovery I had not anticipated:  in most categories, children in Detroit’s public elementary and middle schools had fallen even farther behind their state peers since 2009.  That year (2009) was the year that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared Detroit “ground zero” for education reform, and the State once again took away local democratic control of Detroit’s schools. 
5 weeks ago
ACLU report shows record high racial disparities in school discipline rates
A report issued by the ACLU of Rhode Island today shows that Rhode Island’s public schools last year disproportionately suspended black students at the highest rates in nine years, while white students were suspended at record low rates. Like black children, Hispanic students remained severely over-suspended, with these disparities reaching all the way to the lowest grades. In addition, students generally – including elementary school children – were given out-of-school suspensions at alarming rates for minor disciplinary infractions
5 weeks ago
Presenting: The Baffler SAT
If the aim is to more closely align the SAT with real-world skills, then we’re going to need a better revamp than this. The New Baffler SAT will measure students’ real-world-readiness by focusing on only one skill: their ability to bullshit.
5 weeks ago
The Dark Power of Fraternities - The Atlantic
Andaverde’s case seemed to me to be an isolated tragedy, until I sent away to the Latah County courthouse for a copy of the complaint and discovered within it this sentence: “Amanda’s fall was the second fall of a student from an upper-story fraternity house window at the University of Idaho within approximately a two-week period.” This struck me as an astonishing coincidence. I looked into the matter and found that, indeed, a 20-year-old man named Shane Meyer had fallen from the third-floor window of the Delta Tau Delta house just 12 days before Andaverde’s fall from SAE; not surprisingly, the police reported that “alcohol may have been a factor.” He, too, had been airlifted to Seattle, and incredibly, the two fought for their lives in the same critical-care unit at Harborview Medical Center. I became intrigued by this kind of injury and began to do some more checking into the subject. I discovered that two months after Andaverde’s fall, a 20-year-old student at Washington State—“quite intoxicated,” in the laconic assessment of a local cop—pitched forward and fell from a third-floor window of Alpha Kappa Lambda, escaping serious injury when his fall was broken by an SUV parked below. That these three events were not greeted on either campus by any kind of clamoring sense of urgency—that they were, rather, met with a resigned sort of “here we go again” attitude by campus administrators and with what appeared to be the pro forma appointment of an investigative task force—sparked my interest, and so it was that I entered the bizarre world of falls from fraternity houses, which, far from being freakish and unpredictable events, are in fact fairly regular occurrences across the country.
5 weeks ago
Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science
Wolfram refers incessantly to his "discovery" that simple rules can produce complex results. Now, the word "discovery" here is legitimate, but only in a special sense. When I took pre-calculus in high school, I came up with a method for solving systems of linear equations, independent of my textbook and my teacher: I discovered it. My teacher, more patient than I would be with adolescent arrogance, gently informed me that it was a standard technique, in any book on linear algebra, called "reduction to Jordan normal form", after the man who discovered it in the 1800s. Wolfram discovered simple rules producing complexity in just the same way that I discovered Jordan normal form.
5 weeks ago
Facebook cops are a horrible idea - Salon.com
I am all for corporations being good citizens of their communities, but private bankrolling of public cops sets a horrible precedent. For starters, it presents obvious conflict-of-interest challenges. How will police departments treat Facebook employees who might be caught in criminal behavior, when their own budget is partially paid for by Facebook? Everyone involved is swearing up and down that nothing of the sort will ever happen, but if this model spreads, there are bound to be abuses.
6 weeks ago
Debo Adegbile: Senate blocks Obama’s pick to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
But the campaign to discredit Adegbile isn’t just a referendum on what discrimination means today in America and how we’re permitted to correct it.  It’s also a referendum on the most basic premise of any functioning legal system: that even the guilty deserve representation and that the justice system cannot operate if we don’t work to correct systemic injustice. As the president of the American Bar Association, James R. Silkenat, was forced to explain to the Senate Judiciary Committee, “a fundamental tenet of our justice system and our Constitution is that anyone who faces loss of liberty has a right to legal counsel. Lawyers have an ethical obligation to uphold that principle and provide zealous representation to people who otherwise would stand alone against the power and resources of the government—even to those accused or convicted of terrible crimes.”
6 weeks ago
Teaching with strep throat and working in fear: Kaplan course’s ugly underside - Salon.com
“Their strategy is just to make the work environment really terrible,” Kaplan teacher and Newspaper Guild union activist Paul Hlava charged in an interview late last week. “So that all of us who were around when the union started leave.” Hlava alleged he and his co-workers had faced illegal wage theft and aggressive union-busting in the months before they formed a union (“really, really terrifying”), and punitive policy changes ever since. “Even after Kaplan teachers voted overwhelmingly to join our union,” Newspaper Guild of New York union president Bill O’Meara charged in an email, ”Kaplan management is still refusing to negotiate a reasonable contract for their teachers.”
6 weeks ago
More History Ignored by Common Core Advocates – @ THE CHALK FACE
Early in my career, when a veteran educator wanted to dump cold water on the latest quick fix being dumped on us, the word “OBE” was enough to invite ridicule. That punch line has been forgotten, so it’s time for a new one? The likely candidate for the next generation of teachers is, “Did you hear the one about Common Core?”
6 weeks ago
You don’t know the meaning of #dontbackdown – @ THE CHALK FACE
My sacrifices are small compared to so many others in the struggle.  But the work we do is what real “transformational change” looks like.   We teach social justice to our students in the classroom and then we model those efforts in the real world.  We fight against all the injustices, from housing, to mass incarceration, to a broken legal system which criminalizes youth of color, to workers’ rights, to inequality, to access to health care.   And for the record, the educators I have met through this activism work are the best damn teachers I’ve ever seen.
Edreformers, giving students underprepared privileged novices is not transformational change.  “Doing” a few years of “service” in high-needs classrooms is not transformational change.  Cramming test prep and low-quality deficit model pedagogy down the throats of our kids is not transformational change.   Viciously closing down neighborhood schools and replacing them with undemocratic, privately-run, non-unionized schools is not transformational change.  Partnering with the very elite forces which perpetuate inequality in our society is not transformational change.
6 weeks ago
Food stamps or firearms: which is worse in the hands of a drug dealer?
To review, in the first and third paragraphs we learn that police arrested a suspected drug dealer in possession of food stamps. Not until the tenth paragraph do we learn that police arrested a suspected drug dealer in possession of an assault rifle and a handgun.
6 weeks ago
Eva Moskowitz finds her big-time 'friend' | Capital New York
I hate to keep having to show how this whole thing has been reframed in this conversation. Harlem Success had the majority of their schools approved and retained. The three that were denied either entailed elementary schools being placed in high schools or expanding an existing charter school into a special needs school that received an A rating on environment even when Mayor Bloomberg made the decisions; It would have put the most at risk students out of their school, which once was the entire building and has been taken over year by year making it 11 rooms now. The proposal would have over 5 years shrunk the school until it no longer existed. It also was 135% usage of the building by the conservative DOE analysis. So these choices by the Mayor are not just blind anti-charter school, but are pro-child.
6 weeks ago
CORE: Huge victory for Saucedo teachers, parents and students yesterday. | Fred Klonsky
This is the first “ISAT test week” that I have not seen a student cry or break down in front of me, saying “No hablo ingles. Por que tengo que tomar este examen (I don’t speak english, why do I have to take this test)?”
6 weeks ago
Peter Greene: Why the “Reformers” Will Lose
We talked about the issue of money and profits. She said, to my shock, “There are people on both sides looking to make money.” I waved my hand across the room of education activists and said, Who here is making money? The teachers making $40,000 a year? The parents? Everyone here paid their own way, or we supplemented their expenses. We have no corporate sponsors. We have no union sponsors. Who is making money?” I am still waiting for an answer.
6 weeks ago
Learning Is Not One Thing
People miss this. People get to thinking learning is a very specific type of action, that there is some atomic theory of learning. But ultimately the only thing that truly holds “learning to change a tire”, “learning how to think like a geographer”, “learning how to do long division”, “learning the importance of imaginary numbers”, and “learning to love again” together is that all concern a change in capacity and behavior. They are unified, certainly, but in the way that treating flesh wounds is related to treating cancer.
6 weeks ago
Whose Waterloo is it anyway? (Hint: not ours ...) - Hullabaloo
Today is a good day to just read good writers and eschew the twitter craziness and overwrought cable gasbags. If nothing else it will do wonders for your mental health.
6 weeks ago
Newark, NJ: Larger Class Sizes and Unqualified Teachers – Perfect Together
Decades before Cory Booker donned his superhero Underoos and tweeted his enthusiasm for code.org, Logo programming was being taught by outstanding Newark teachers in dozens and dozens of Newark elementary schools. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the Newark Public Schools were one of the leading centers of innovation in educational computing. All of that is long gone after decades of test-score-raising gimmicks imposed by political charlatans from outside of the community.
6 weeks ago
Mark Woods: My VAM is much less exact but far more accurate | members.jacksonville.com
“I said, ‘Who do I really admire? Who do I want to be like?’ ” she said. “I looked at five teachers. Four had negative scores.”
6 weeks ago
EduShyster: Newly Released Documents Show Links Between Charters and TFA
The handover of public schools to private management would not be possible without the availability of the reserve army of eager and unquestioning TFA, who are willing to work long hours and won’t stay around long enough to ask for a pension.
6 weeks ago
Baby boomer humor’s big lie: “Ghostbusters” and “Caddyshack” really liberated Reagan and Wall Street - Salon.com
So, the political equation is obvious, right? We of the left own the imagery of subversion and outsiderness. It’s ours. Every time a stupid old white guy gets humiliated in a TV commercial for choosing Brand X, we know it’s because the people at Brand Y secretly support universal health insurance and a nice little pop in the minimum wage. Right?
6 weeks ago
The Left doesn't just need better tactics. It needs a return to better ideas. by @DavidOAtkins
We have to at some point start the conversation about rebuilding an effective middle class in the 21st century. Politicians like Elizabeth Warren are proving that it can be both popular and effective. The longer we wait, the harder it will be.
6 weeks ago
The False Markets of Market Based Reforms
Yes, it is reasonable that we might experiment with public subsidies to private providers, be it through direct private management under district contract, or via upstarts like charters (by their original intent). And yes, it is reasonable to test out alternative pathways to teaching. But when we start forcibly shuttering the public system, under the facade of federally promulgated state policies, and replacing the only true public option with private providers who then establish exclusive arrangements for alternatively prepared short-term staff, we’ve gone too far. When we start claiming that these shifts are happening due to free market forces and public demand, well… then we’re just full of crap.
6 weeks ago
Why preschool critics are wrong
Inexplicably, Whitehurst fails to recognize a large number of studies (once again including well-implemented randomized trials) that compare one form of preschool education to another to study the effects of curriculum, length of day, and other features.  When such studies find lasting differences due to the type of preschool program, from the end of kindergarten to the end of high school, they add to the evidence that high-quality preschool education per se has long-term effects.  This literature includes studies (here, here, and here) over many years, some begun decades ago with very long-term follow-ups and some very recent with much shorter follow-ups.[4]  These studies also add to the evidence for successful scale up in large-scale public programs.
6 weeks ago
Why is Andrew Cuomo trying to elect Republicans? - Hullabaloo
I don't think I've ever seen a more perfect example of the "dysfunction" of the Democratic Party elite. It's bad enough that a leader with presidential ambitions even thinks this way. But to go so far as to publicly stab his own party in the back so that he can enact a conservative economic agenda says everything you need to know about where the center of the Democratic Party is today.
6 weeks ago
NAESP | National Association of Elementary School Principals
In New Hampshire, where the new accountability system will rely substantially on a bank of complex performance tasks developed and scored by teachers with support from the state, deputy commissioner Paul Leather explains, “We want to move forward on a continuum toward deeper assessment that is more challenging for students and teachers. We are aiming eventually to have a system where the students create their own tasks and teachers score them with common rubrics.”
7 weeks ago
Nilay Patel: ‘The Internet Is Fucked’
So there’s the entire problem, expressed in four simple ideas: the internet is a utility, there is zero meaningful competition to provide that utility to Americans, all internet providers should be treated equally, and the FCC is doing a miserably ineffective job. The United States should lead the world in broadband deployment and speeds: we should have the lowest prices, the best service, and the most competition. We should have the freest speech and the loudest voices, the best debate and the soundest policy. We are home to the most innovative technology companies in the world, and we should have the broadband networks to match.
7 weeks ago
Beardsley: New York’s Teacher Evaluation System Is Useless
“One of the biggest drawbacks of such teacher evaluation systems is that they have literally no instrumental value; that is, no states across the country have yet figured out how to use these data for instrumental or change-based purposes, to inform the betterment of schools, teacher quality, and most importantly students’ learning and achievement, and no states yet have plans to make these data useful. These systems are 100% about accountability and a symbolic accountability more accurately that, again, has little to no instrumental value.
7 weeks ago
Walking in their shoes
Well over 50 elected and public officials, candidates for office, reporters, teachers, parents and students participated in the Providence Student Union’s “Walk in Their Shoes” Challenge yesterday morning, carrying weighted backpacks and trudging three miles through the snow and ice covered streets of Providence, dodging traffic and crossing busy intersections to experience the daily routine of Classical High School sophomore Natalia Rossi.
7 weeks ago
El Niño may make 2014 the world’s hottest year yet – Quartz
The ten warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. The odds of this happening by chance alone are something like 1-in-21.6 billion, or about the same as guessing the serial number on a $1 bill exactly without looking at it first. It almost makes you wonder if something else is at work here…
7 weeks ago
January 2014 was the fourth-warmest January on record.
Yep, the last month in which Earth’s average temperature was below the 20th-century average was during the Reagan administration. February 1985, to be exact: “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner was the No. 1 song in the country. Sally Field had just been nominated for best actress for Places in the Heart. The author of this piece celebrated his fourth birthday party. That’s a long time for a planet to run a fever.
7 weeks ago
An Interview with Tony Misiano: Replacing Modular Parks
In Largo, we were supposed to pour a big flat slab and re-use about 50% of their old modular equipment. We were skeptical about this plan, so we got an estimate from a local scrap metal collector to get rid of the ramps. I designed new concrete features for those areas and presented the city with a price breakdown. Basically, explaining that scraping the ramps would bring in nearly $6000. Plus with the reduction in the flatwork we came out even. The park is a total success and they are now planning on having us do another skatepark on the other side of town by next year!
7 weeks ago
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