April 19, 2014

10:03 PM | Bad News Water Bears
On episode 2 of Cosmos, Neil de Grasse Tyson shrinks “The Ship of the Imagination” and goes looking for the toughest animal on the planet, which has been through all 5 mass extinctions.  He even touches on the theory of Panspermia, that life on Earth might have started somewhere else, since these things have been shown to survive both high radiation and the cold vacuum of space. Though Tyson (of the Bronx, not Gallifrey) is essentially piloting a shinier Tardis, that has […]
3:02 AM | 1,000,000
By the way, sometime yesterday this blog received its millionth visit.

April 18, 2014

8:40 PM | The Worst Trends in Higher Education
There are trends in higher education that those of us of follow this sort of thing like to track. There’s an increasing focus on accountability. There are the ever-escalating cost. There’s lately a great deal of worry about how much varsity athletes are worth. There's a push to get more an more parts of higher education online. When Education Secretary Arne Duncan has his semi-regular "ask questions of the secretary" discussion on Twitter (an event, admittedly, not geared for […]
5:14 PM | Your Inner Fish: Stupid Design
Shubin did some neat bits on the first show that I don’t remember from the book (I always appreciate that kind of value-added filmmaking).  The time-lapse dissection of a human hand was especially cool, but my favorite one was the visit to the fish market to look at fish balls.  This was PBS, so they used the least offensive scientific word “gonads,” when they found them up near the heart.  Now, I already knew that human testicles have to descend through the […]
3:00 PM | Why Can't the Zombie-Focused Sociologist Get a Job?
An occasional topic here at College Guide has been the employment problem many aspiring academics have. Because American universities produce far, far more PhDs every year than there are tenure-track positions, many potential professors have hard time supporting themselves, despite their impressive credentials. And some people have a really hard time. Todd K. Platts writes at Inside Higher Ed about his situation: Like many recently minted Ph.D.s [his is from the University of Missouri] I am […]
2:35 AM | Are You Blogging Fargo Episode 1?
Yes, dear. Man-o-man, that Billy Bob Thornton gets him some some good monologues goin’ there.  Example: “Your problem is you spent your whole life thinking there are rules.  There aren’t.  We used to be gorillas.  All we had was what we could take and defend.  Truth is, you’re more of a man than you were yesterday. . . It’s a red tide, Lester, this life of ours.  The shit they mak [...]

April 17, 2014

10:39 PM | Teachers Have a Respect Problem. Guess Why?
There’s big lawsuit in California. With the backing of a group called Students Matter, nine public school students from across the state are suing, in Vergara v. California, arguing that state laws make it so hard to to fire bad teachers in public schools that many students, especially black and Hispanic ones, can't get a "basic" education. Plaintiffs says this is about ensuring teacher quality. The opponents say this is about the labor rights of teachers. But there’s a problem […]
9:40 PM | The Political Attractiveness of "Last-Dollar" Scholarships
The old adage about there being no such thing as a free lunch may hold true regarding a turkey sandwich on rye bread, but free lunches can happen in the world of higher education. An example of this is the growing number of “last-dollar” scholarships, in which private entities or state/local governments agree to cover students’ remaining tuition and fees after all federal grants have been provided. (Note that it does not cover room and board or living expenses—an […]
6:33 PM | Education Reform and "Teacher Haters"
I’ve been writing publicly about politics for a few years now, so I’ve become accustomed to a pretty steady stream of hate mail. It appears to come with the territory. And nothing—nothing—lights up my inbox with insults like writing about education reform. It would be one thing if folks objected to the substance of what I write—but most of the time, the emails are pure ad hominem attacks. They impugn my motives or call me a “teacher […]
3:20 PM | New York Kicks Off a New ELLs Conversation
New Yorkers are famous for their narcissistic myopia. Talk to a long-time resident, and you’ll hear just as much parochialism as any small-town stalwart. New Yorkers take it for granted that they embody the cutting edge. If you make it in New York, sure, you can make it anywhere, but—once you’ve made it—why would you bother leaving? And while this is almost always bluster beyond any semblance of reality, when it comes to education policy, New York has been grabbing all […]
2:00 PM | Do Water Pollution Tests Lead to "Dead Zones"?
The problem with pee: a scientist blows the whistle on sewage-treatment plants, claiming they harm water quality even when meeting official pollution-control limits.

April 16, 2014

9:59 PM | Using Better Metrics to Build Better Schools
Envision runs a group of three charter high schools in the Bay Area. They champion, as many schools do these days, “deeper learning” and “21st century skills.” Envision enacts this philosophy through a “Know-Do-Reflect” process that uses projects, portfolios and presentations to integrate assessment with learning. They prompt students to turn the lens both inward and outward. The students are asked to self-assess their own progress, and through the portfolio […]
4:53 PM | April Showers Bring Winter Soldiers
Last night was rainy and cold for April, and I was alone.  So after watching part of the first episode of Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish until 6:15 or so, I popped over to Lucky 32 for supper — smoked salmon and breaded , deep-fried balls of mashed potatoes.  I’m always saying to my students that there’s no such thing as perfection in this world, but that meal was pretty damned close.  Given the weather and my recent illnesses, I was definitely in the mood […]
1:41 PM | CBO Finds Third Consecutive Year of Good News on Pell Costs
Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office announced some more good news for members of Congress: For the third consecutive year, the Pell Grant funding cliff is smaller and further away than we thought. After a few shaky years of funding during the recession, the updated CBO baseline will surely come as welcome news to lawmakers facing midterm elections and a tight budget. But should Congress start celebrating just yet? Not quite. The new CBO estimates prove Congress has bought some time, but […]
8:15 AM | Debt, Pensions and Capitalisation: Funding schol comms innovation
One of the things that has been bothering me for some time is the question of finding the right governance and finance models for supporting both a core set of scholarly communications infrastructures and shared innovation spaces. In this post I wanted to think about how we bridge the funding gap from promising pilot to community infrastructure and how debt financing might play a role.

April 15, 2014

10:14 PM | CCDBG Reauthorization a Must for House Republicans
At least in recent years, Congress is usually where educational improvements go to die. But last month, the Senate passed a reauthorization bill for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Senators sent the bill over to the House, where Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) held a hearing. But what happens next remains to be seen. This week, I published an op-ed in The Hill urging House Republicans to give the bill a second look. I listed four reasons the members […]
7:19 PM | California Among the Worst in Awarding Degrees to Hispanics
With a population more than twice as Hispanic as the national average, California has a lower-than-average proportion of Hispanics with college or university educations, and no institution among the top five for awarding them degrees, according to a new study. The state is 38 percent Hispanic, compared to the national average of 17 percent. But only 16 percent of adults aged 25 or older have degrees, compared to the national average for Hispanics of 20 percent, the study, by the advocacy […]
1:55 PM | Challenges and Best Practices for Scaling Home Visiting Programs
Strum the American heartstrings, and you’ll hear a familiar triad of affections: baseball, apple pie, and parenthood. Americans are eager parents—our birth rates, while falling, remain well above many other developed countries. We so revere the practice of parenting, however, that we generally accept that it must necessarily be sacred to the point of magic. “You can’t legislate morality,” goes the truism; most legislators put “parenting” in that same […]

April 14, 2014

10:52 PM | Whoa! Do 45 Federal Programs Really Fund Early Care and Education?
Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, a bill that would help expand state pre-K programs. While there is support among Senate Democrats for the bill, there is less among Senate Republicans. Instead, Senate Republicans want to streamline existing programs and give states much more flexibility in their provision of birth-to-5 early education programs. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), […]
3:01 PM | Not Your Daddy’s Falcon
My son and his friend agreed that Falcon was the coolest character in The Winter Soldier.  This was not the red-and-white Falcon with a telepathic link to his pet bird.  This Falcon wore black, and his wings were metal, and he carried machine guns.  Boy, I can’t wait until it’s their turn to be the Daddy whose comics are not good enough. Which is really just me being grumpy, because the new Falcon actually was pretty cool.  ”More of a […]
8:29 AM | £50 million in the wrong direction?
So £50m is going to be spent on extending GP opening hours. Inevitably this means that patients will find it harder to see their own doctor (even if they know who he or she is). This flies in the face of what we increasingly know to be important about continuity of care. NHS England recently ...read more

April 13, 2014

2:23 PM | Robust Predictive Control
My wife and I were both sick from some nameless fever-inducing alien virus all last weekend.  Fairly horrible.  Not Agent Coulson, “Let me die, please just let me die” horrible, but not pleasant at all.  Thus the flashback. I tried to read a couple of papers about sleep, including A new theoretical approach to the functional meaning of sleep and dreaming in humans based on the maintenance of ‘predictive […]

April 11, 2014

10:59 PM | Should There Be Gainful Employment for College Athletes?
College athletics, particularly the big-revenue sports of NCAA Division I football and basketball, have been in the news lately for less-than-athletic reasons. The recent push by the Northwestern football team to unionize has led to further discussion of whether college athletes* should be compensated beyond their athletic scholarships. And the University of Connecticut’s national championship team in men’s basketball comes a year after they were banned from the tournament due to […]
7:02 PM | How's that Cooper Union Tuition Plan Working Out? Not So Well.
Recently Cooper Union, the New York City college that didn't charge tuition, decided after a series of bad financial and real estate decisions over the last decade or so (and constructing flashy buildings like that thing, below), to give up and start charging kids to learn. Founder Peter Cooper said the school should be as “free as air and water” when he helped create the institution back in 1859. Charging tuition is, of course, what almost all colleges in America do, but it […]
12:07 AM | Community Colleges Increasingly Adding Bachelor’s Degrees
CLEARWATER, Fla. - In a high-ceilinged classroom, bright sun poking through the blinds and reflecting off the whiteboard, eight students lug heavy textbooks to their desks and prepare for this afternoon’s lesson: proteins. It’s an unusually small group for a bachelor’s degree-level course in biology. At four-year universities, classes like this are often taught in large and impersonal lecture halls, and might have hundreds of students. But this is not a university. There […]

April 10, 2014

8:32 PM | Despite the National Labor Relations Board Ruling, We Might Never Pay College Athletes
The world’s higher education pundits have recently become very interested in the ruling by the National Labor Relations board that Northwestern University football players could organize to form a union. Does this mean that in the future college athletes will get salaries? Perhaps, but there’s a very easy (and very attractive) tactic for colleges to take to avoid paying their athletes: stop giving them athletic scholarships. The NLRB states that the players can try to form a union […]
6:10 PM | Three Things That Will Make a School Bad
Conventional wisdom has it that schools with high concentrations of poverty are bad. But when a team of researchers from University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) studied every third grader in the Philadelphia public schools, they found strong student achievement in some schools with high concentrations of poverty. The low-achieving schools were ones with high concentrations of homelessness and child abuse. Not only did the performance of the students […]
10:03 AM | Are you afraid of happiness? Take the quiz and find out.
Underlying most of the traditional research on happiness is the assumption that personal happiness is a valuable goal that should be actively pursued.You’re not ‘happy’?  Well, that‘s a cause for concern! UNhappiness, on the other hand, is to be prevented, avoided or eliminated at all costs. Many people look to self-help, coaching or therapy because […]The post Are you afraid of happiness? Take the quiz and find out. appeared first on Your Brain Health.
4:24 AM | Math blog roundup
Lots of good stuff happening in math blogging! Matt Baker is blogging!  Lately:  an appreciation of Robert Coleman, and Riemann-Roch for graphs. Frank Calegari is blogging!  Actually he’s been blogging for a while but there’s tons of good stuff on here lately.  Two recent posts that tie in closely with my own interests:  The congruence […]
12:54 AM | Shallow dive in Seattle big data projects
Seattle has a rich resource of both data-driven research projects and scientists who enjoy designing tools that mine data. I was asked to talk about that big data heritage here in Seattle as part [More...]
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