The telling things Barack Obama wrote — and didn’t mention — about his education policies in new memoir

But on one important issue that proved to be a flashpoint — education policy — he doesn’t have much to say. The memoir’s index shows references to education policies on only four of 701 narrative pages — and none are more than a few sentences. What he doesn’t address says at least as much as what he does.

Meanwhile, his vice president, Joe Biden, will become president of the United States on Jan. 20, and the Biden education agenda will be compared not only to that of Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did but also to Obama’s.

Biden has so far laid out an education reform agenda that does not resemble Trump’s or Obama’s, and he has promised to be a friend to public educators — but many are waiting to see what he actually does after being disappointed by Obama.

Obama’s education agenda surprised many of his supporters, who had expected him to address inequity in public schools and to deemphasize high-stakes standardized testing, which had become the key metric to hold schools accountable under the 2001 federal No Child Left Behind law.

But Obama did not. Instead, he allowed Education Secretary Arne Duncan to push a strident education reform program that made standardized testing even more important than NCLB had, and that became highly controversial across the political spectrum for different reasons. Critics called it “corporate reform” because it used methods more common in business than in civic institutions, such as using big data, closing schools that under-performed, and eliminating or weakening of teacher tenure and seniority rights.

Duncan’s reforms came primarily through the $4.3 billion competitive grant program called Race to the Top. It essentially coerced states to open new charter schools, evaluate teachers by students’ standardized test scores and adopt common standards in math and English language-arts standards.

Some of the policies had no chance of working to improve schools. For example, the effort to use student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers was slammed repeatedly by assessment experts as being neither reliable nor valid. It led to a continued narrowing of the curriculum, which had started under No Child Left Behind, and to some cockamamie teacher evaluation schemes where some educators were evaluated by students they didn’t have and subjects they didn’t teach. (Really. You can read about that here.)

The Common Core State Standards initiative, which started out with bipartisan support, was intended make sure students in every state taught and assessed on the same standards — and most states did adopt them. Initially the Core was implemented so quickly places that teachers had no time for serious professional development or to devise new curriculums and lessons that met the standards.

The initiative was blasted by some who said its creation — funded by Bill Gates — involved too little research, public dialogue, or input from educators. Early education experts said some of the standards for the earliest grades were developmentally inappropriate — and they were later modified. And then there was preposterous

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‘I didn’t feel I fitted in’: why Gypsies, Roma and Travellers don’t go to university | Universities

One day at school, Jack* was accosted by his teacher while he was putting his coat on and getting ready to leave the classroom. “Leave it there,” she insisted in front of his classmates. “We donated you that. Your mum didn’t have enough money to buy you a coat.” When he argued back – his mum, a successful public sector employee, had bought the coat for him before term – he was given detention for a week.

The same teacher referred him for an ADHD diagnosis without telling his parents. Sarah*, his mother, has worked in educational special needs, and questioned the teacher’s decision. She learned the diagnosis stemmed from a high score on a maths test, which had been deemed suspicious “considering his background”.

Throughout his school career, 12-year-old Jack has had to get used to micro-aggressions such as these. “That behaviour is quite constant,” says Sarah. “Would she have done that with another child, or is it because he’s a Traveller?”

Jack’s experience is not unique. In a recent report from the Traveller Movement, two-thirds of Irish Travellers said they been bullied by teachers, with one in five saying this made them leave school. This is one of the many reasons why just 3-4% of pupils from Traveller, Gypsy or Roma (GRT) backgrounds attend university compared with 43% of their peers, according to Kings College London research. The numbers are thought to be getting worse rather than better, although this is difficult to measure given so many GRT students conceal their identities for fear of racism.

Another barrier is cultural. Some GRT pupils’ parents experienced patchy schooling themselves, and don’t always value education or struggle to support their children with schoolwork. Jack is lucky because although Sarah didn’t attend school growing up, she had the opportunity to go to college, where she received distinctions across the board.

“The issue now is that he’s starting secondary school, and most Traveller boys don’t go. They normally go out to work with their dad,” she says. “He feels a bit torn. They’re saying ‘we’re old enough, we don’t have to’, and I’m saying ‘actually, you’re really bright, you do really well, you enjoy it’.”

So when Sarah spotted an Instagram post offering free online tutoring for pupils from GRT backgrounds during coronavirus, she leapt at the chance. Within weeks, she noticed a transformation. “It’s the attitude towards education that’s changed.”

The project is part of Rom Belong, a pioneering programme run by King’s College London and the Traveller Movement. It aims to help more bright GRT pupils like Jack get into university, and support them when they arrive. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, most of its work had to be suspended, leading the team to worry that these hard to reach communities could drift even further away from education.

But they rapidly rolled out online tutoring and discovered it to be even more effective than face-to-face. The project funds free Amazon Fire tablets and dongles for families since they are

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Betelgeuse went dark, but didn’t go supernova. What happened?

Astrophysicist Miguel Montargès has a clear memory of the moment the stars became real places to him. He was 7 or 8 years old, looking up from the garden of his parents’ apartment in the south of France. A huge, red star winked in the night. The young space fan connected the star to a map he had studied in an astronomy magazine and realized he knew its name: Betelgeuse.

Something shifted for him. That star was no longer an anonymous speck floating in a vast uncharted sea. It was a destination, with a name.

“I thought, wow, for the first time … I can name a star,” he says. The realization was life-changing.

Since then, Montargès, now at the Paris Observatory, has written his Ph.D. thesis and about a dozen papers about Betelgeuse. He considers the star an old friend, observing it many times a year, for work and for fun. He says good-bye every May when the star slips behind the sun from the perspective of Earth, and says hello again in August when the star comes back.

So in late 2019, when the bright star suddenly dimmed for no apparent reason, Montargès was a little alarmed. Some people speculated that Betelgeuse was about to explode in a brilliant supernova that would outshine the full moon. Astronomers know the star is old and its days are numbered, but Montargès wasn’t ready to see it go.

“It’s my favorite star,” he says. “I don’t want it to die.”

Other researchers, though, were eager to watch Betelgeuse explode in real time. Supernovas mark the violent deaths of stars that are at least eight times as massive as the sun (SN: 11/7/20, p. 20). But astronomers still don’t know what would signal that one is about to blow. The outbursts sprinkle interstellar space with elements that ultimately form the bulk of planets and people — carbon, oxygen, iron (SN: 2/18/17, p. 24). So the question of how supernovas occur is a question of our own origins.

But the explosions are rare — astronomers estimate that one occurs in our galaxy just a few times a century. The last one spotted nearby, SN 1987A, was more than 33 years ago in a neighboring galaxy (SN: 2/18/17, p. 20). Betelgeuse is just one of the many aging, massive stars — called red supergiants — that could go supernova at any moment. But as one of the closest and brightest, Betelgeuse is the one that space enthusiasts know best.

So when the star started acting strangely at the end of last year, Montargès and a small band of Betelgeuse diehards aimed every telescope they could at the dimming giant. Over the following months, the star returned to its usual brightness, and the excitement over an imminent supernova faded. But the flurry of data collected in the rush

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The Indonesian meteorite which didn’t sell for $1.8m

a young man taking a selfie: Josua Hutagalung with his precious find

© Josua Hutagalung
Josua Hutagalung with his precious find

The story made headlines around the world – a meteorite crashes through the roof of an Indonesian villager’s home and turns out be worth millions, changing his life forever.

It was suggested that the find was worth $1.8m (£1.36m), making the man an overnight millionaire – and if he wasn’t, they debated whether he’d been short-changed selling it to US buyers.

But neither of those things is true. The meteorite is not worth millions, and no-one has been ripped off.

This dream come true is not quite as it first seemed.

A rock falls on a house…

Let’s get back to the actual story – fairy tale or not, it is fascinating. Josua Hutagalung, a coffin maker in a village in Sumatra, was minding his own business in early August when he heard a noise from above and – seconds later – a loud crash coming from his house.

At first, Josua was too scared to check what it was: the unknown object had come through his roof with such speed and force that it had cut right through the metal roofing and buried itself 15cm (6ins) deep into the soil floor.

He eventually dug out a strange small boulder weighing about 2kg (4.4lb).

“When I lifted it, it was still warm,” he told the BBC’s Indonesian service. “That’s when I thought that the object I was lifting was a meteorite from the sky. It was impossible for someone to throw a rock that big on to the roof of the house.”

It’s not every day that a boulder from space crashes through your roof, so Josua posted pictures of the exciting find on Facebook. And the news began to travel, far beyond his village, through Sumatra and Indonesia before reaching international ears.

Meteorites are essentially ancient rocks that have hurtled through space and – by pure chance – crash landed on earth.

Unsurprisingly, there is scientific interest in them. Questions range from where they come from to what they’re made of and what they can tell us about the universe.

Added to this is collectors’ interest. Meteorites are more than four billion years old – older than our own planet – so it’s easy to see the fascination they hold.

And it was these collectors who became interested in Josua’s stone, eager to buy it. But in August, global travel was all but shut down because of Covid and getting on a quick flight to Indonesia was impossible.

That’s when some potential buyers in the US contacted fellow meteorite enthusiast Jared Collins, an American living in Indonesia, and asked whether he could help.

He made it to Sumatra, met Josua and inspected the boulder for authentication and to make sure it was properly stored. Contact with water, for instance, would have quickly damaged the meteorite.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to hold something that is a genuine, physical remnant from the very early stages of the creation of

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Looks like that ‘Election Day asteroid’ didn’t smack us after all

Artist’s concept of a near-earth asteroid.


Oreo stashed its cookies in an asteroid-proof doomsday vault for nothing. 

There’s been much ado about tiny asteroid 2018 VP1 and how its path was going to bring it super close to Earth on Nov. 2, the day before the contentious US election. That timing earned it the not-quite-accurate nickname “Election Day asteroid.”

It appears the asteroid didn’t hang around long enough to leave a mark on the night sky. According to current data and observations, it passed by and went on its merry way.

Planetary astronomer Michael Busch dropped an update on Twitter on Monday. “There was apparently nothing on the infrasound and atmospheric flash monitors today,” Busch wrote. “2018 VP1 has, as expected, flown past Earth.”

The asteroid had a mere 0.41% chance of impacting Earth’s atmosphere. The dainty size of the asteroid meant it was no threat. In an Oct. 30 update on the asteroid’s trajectory, Asteroid Institute astrodynamicist Allan Posner said it would look like “a very nice shooting star in the sky” if it did happen to burn up. 

With no reports of a fireball, initial indications seem to suggest 2018 VP1 will live to see another day. 

Earth was never in danger from the asteroid, but its scheduled visit to our neighborhood fit in with the ongoing weirdness of a year filled with political strife and pandemic stress. It seems 2018 VP1 had the good sense to nope out of here from a safe distance away.

Source Article

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UNC, Gamecocks didn’t shake up NC, SC college football poll

One of the few good things about this very bad year is that, in the ACC, football divisions have temporarily vanished, allowing for the less-restrictive kind of scheduling that playing in a pandemic mandates. Remember, divisions came to be only because the conference wanted to ensure no shortage of Florida State-Miami ACC championship games.

Fifteen years later, we’re still waiting for the first FSU-Miami conference title game.

Over the years, the formation of the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions — which were always arbitrary, anyway — have proven to be a meddlesome burden that gets in the way of any other set-up that would lead to more equitable scheduling. Divisions, too, have led to things that just don’t make any sense whatsoever: Like, for instance, Duke and N.C. State rarely playing anymore.

And so Saturday was, in this non-division season, a mini-throwback to the way things used to be. In the ACC, we were treated to a trio of games that hardly ever happen anymore: Virginia-Wake Forest. North Carolina-Florida State. And, yes, N.C. State and Duke.

Why is it that two schools that are 25 miles apart were playing each other for only the fourth time since 2003? Divisions. That’s why. Of course, the actual game between the old rivals — a game described as “drunk” by many on social media — made the argument that maybe they shouldn’t play more often than this. To that we say, “nonsense.” The delightful sloppiness that was Duke and N.C. State on Saturday would be more enjoyably consumed on a regular basis.

Down with divisions. And onto Week 6 of the All-Carolinas poll:

1. Clemson (5-0, 4-0 ACC)

Previous ranking: 1

Last week: W at Georgia Tech, 73-7

Up next: vs. Syracuse, Saturday

The Tigers could’ve scored 100 points if they’d wanted to on Saturday at Georgia Tech. Yes, it was that bad, that one-sided. By halftime, Clemson had scored 52, already. Another season, another march toward the College Football Playoff that appears more like a mere formality at this point. The only question is whether Clemson will be tested at all before then.

2. North Carolina (3-1, 3-1 ACC)

Previous ranking: 2

Last week: L at Florida State, 31-28

Up next: vs. N.C. State, Saturday

What is it about Mack Brown and Florida State? He’s had a hall of fame career, is the most victorious of all active coaches and has led a Tar Heel resurgence in his short time back in Chapel Hill. But now he’s 0-10 against FSU, which happens to be his alma mater. The defeat Saturday had to be the most stunning. Spoiler alert: UNC will likely still be OK.

3. N.C. State (4-1, 4-1 ACC)

Previous ranking: 3

Last week: W vs. Duke, 31-20

Up next: at North Carolina, Saturday

A top 25 match-up between the Wolfpack and Tar Heels, in football? It’ll happen Saturday, and for only the third time — and first since 1993. State will be without quarterback Devin Leary, and that doesn’t bode well

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Kelly: Myles Gaskin says Dolphins’ wandering eye didn’t inspire his career game vs. Jets

What’s worse than finding out the person you’re dating is flirting with another?

a group of baseball players on a field: Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin runs for yards against the Jets during Sunday's game at Hard Rock Stadium.

© John McCall/South Florida Sun Sentinel/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS
Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin runs for yards against the Jets during Sunday’s game at Hard Rock Stadium.

That’s the reality tailback Myles Gaskin had to stomach this past week while the Miami Dolphins pursued Le’Veon Bell after he was released by the New York Jets and was picking between the Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs.

Bell eventually signed with the defending Super Bowl Champions with the hopes that he’ll contribute to Kansas City’s postseason run, and Gaskin said he didn’t used Miami’s flirtation with a three-time Pro Bowler as motivation.

Gaskin, a 2018 seventh-round pick who used training camp to earn a contributing role this season, delivered his best NFL performance on Sunday.

Gaskin gained 91 rushing yards on 18 carries, and contributed 35 yards on four receptions in Sunday’s 24-0 victory over the Jets.

That’s a total of 126 yards from the former University of Washington standout, who is pushing to gain the respect most NFL starters possess.

“He’s been playing well these first six weeks. Guys on our team are motivated to play, period,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said when asked if Miami’s pursuit of Bell provided a little added motivation to Gaskin. “They don’t need any extra motivation.”

Gaskin personifies the type of player Flores is trying to build the Dolphins with: underdogs who are driven to work harder than the man next to them, and put on blinders to do it.

That type of work ethic is what allowed Gaskin to leapfrog Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, the two veterans the Dolphins added this past offseason, on the depth chart.

So far this season Gaskin has gained 340 yards on 82 carries, and averages 4.1 yards per carry.

He also ranks second on the team in receptions, bringing in 27 passes, which he’s turned into 182 yards.

Heading into Sunday’s game against a dejected Jets team, who had been battling some injuries on defense, the Dolphins were averaging just 3.7 yards per carry, which ranks 30th.

And even worse than that was the yards per carry average from the team’s top three tailbacks — Gaskin, Breida and Howard — who collectively are averaging just 2.8 yards per carry on 109 carries in the first five games.

“We ran the ball effectively at times,” Flores said about Sunday’s performance, which delivered 110 rushing yards on 25 carries. “Like everything else, we’ll improve in that area. Myles in tough. He’s a competitor. Hopefully we can keep building.”

According to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been a champion for Gaskin, the defensive front the Jets were giving the Dolphins encouraged Miami to check into runs, and Gaskin capitalized on them.

“He’s a guy that just continued to work really hard. The improvement he made from last year to his year is awesome,” Fitzpatrick said, comparing Gaskin to his rookie season, where he didn’t play until the

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Two Dead Satellites Could’ve Collided Last Night. Thankfully, They Didn’t.

From Popular Mechanics

  • LeoLabs, a company that tracks space junk in Earth’s orbit, announced it was monitoring a potential collision of two objects on October 16.

  • The objects—a defunct Soviet satellite and a discarded Chinese rocket stage—have a combined mass of approximately 6,170 pounds.

  • Experts fear the collision could spur a chain reaction of collisions, kicking the Kessler Syndrome into effect.

Update 10/16/20: Fortunately, it seems that the Soviet Parus 64 satellite and CZ-4C rocket stage whizzed by each other without incident. No additional debris was detected, according to a tweet from LeoLabs.

On Tuesday, LeoLabs, a company that monitors the paths of space junk in low-Earth orbit, announced on Twitter it was tracking a potential conjunction—that’s space-speak for a mid-orbit crash—tonight between a defunct Soviet satellite and a discarded Chinese rocket stage.

“This is a potentially serious event. It is between 2 large objects and at high altitude, 991km,” former astronaut and LeoLabs co-founder Ed Lu tweeted. “If there is a collision there will be lots of debris which will remain in orbit for a long time.”

🌌 You love our badass universe. So do we. Let’s nerd out over it together.

The combined mass of the two objects, which are expected to zip past each other at a whopping relative velocity of about 32,900 miles per hour, is an estimated 6,170 pounds. LeoLabs has since updated its models … and things are looking grim.

According to the company’s latest calculations, the objects are expected to come within 80 feet of each other (±59 feet). The probability of a collision is greater than 10 percent. If the satellites collide, the impact could spread a network of debris throughout low-Earth Orbit.

One of the objects is Parus 64 (Kosmos 2004), a Soviet navigation satellite, which launched on February 22, 1989 and weighs around 1,700 pounds. (It also has a 55-foot-long gravity boom, according to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophyics, who tracks space junk.) The other is a Chinese-made CZ-4C rocket stage, which is about 2o feet long and is suspected to have launched in 2004.

LeoLabs noted the CZ-4C rocket stage will pass over one of the company’s New Zealand-based radars shortly after the expected close approach. This should provide enough data to reveal the

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