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In Dublin with Wolfie!

I’m here in Dublin with my son Wolfie for a week. It’s absolutely amazing. To understand why you’ll need to know how we decided to come here in the first place.

It all started on St. Patrick’s Day, which my son happened to have off, and on which I happened to be procrastinating, so we got all dressed up:

st_patty_3

 

We really enjoyed the parade:

 

And so we talked about how, even though we’re only technically 25% and an eighth Irish, we’re actually, down deep, 100% Irish. We discussed blarney, the need for embellishment for a really good story, and he agreed that drunk people are funny and the musical tradition is friendly and fun. To celebrate we bought a flag:

st_patty_1

 

And then we cemented the deal with a meal at the Brooklyn Diner:

st_patty_2

 

Weeks went by. Wolfie mentioned Irish castles he’d seen on YouTube. Then he started getting really into flags, first getting the U.S., Irish, and Dutch flags on his door:

flags_1.JPG

 

And then with his amazing “draw a country, color it in with that country’s flag” project:

flags_2

You might notice he forgot Northern Ireland here. Oh well.

 

Long story short, Ireland became a small obsession for me and Wolfie. And, soon enough, when I walked him to school in the morning, at some point he’d ask me, ‘Mom, when can we go to Ireland and see the castles?’ and I’d say, ‘Yeah we should do that.’ Until one day, he asked me for maybe the fourth time that week and I said, ‘OK shit, I’ll go home and buy tickets.’ And I did.

So that’s the story of how we got here. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what we’ve done here so far. Spoiler: it’s been amazing.

Categories: Uncategorized

Guest post: Quatama Elementary

This is a guest post, converted from a letter to me, by Derek Osborne, a father of four and active participant in his community with a strong belief that real change happens at the local level. Derek is a data scientist at Intel where he works on a team that utilizes machine learning techniques to optimize the workforce at Intel. Prior to working at Intel, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Biophysics.

I moved to Hillsboro, Oregon four years ago with my wife and three kids after finishing my Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Like many parents when choosing a home, I checked on the school scores of the nearby elementary schools and there was a large variance in the Zillow school scores that are taken from greatschools.org. After house hunting for a long time, we finally found a home that was perfect for our family but it was in the school boundaries of Quatama Elementary that was ranked a 5 out of 10 and red. Asking around, other parents told us the reason was because there was low income housing in the area which was driving down the score. We felt that if the only issue with the school was that the school boundaries included low income housing, it shouldn’t stop us from buying the home. We could always transfer to a better school if we didn’t like the experience.

Over the following years we have loved all of our teachers, the principal, and our kid’s classmates and were baffled that it was scoring so low. During this time, we’ve met people that avoided the school when they moved in because of the score they saw on Zillow when they moved to the area. We also have had multiple friends move away because of the school’s ranking. When they would move, we’d ask what in the school do you dislike and they would acknowledge their personal experience was positive but they wanted to move to a “better” school. It was sad to see people trust a single digit score more than a personal experience.

Over this time, I’d check the same single digit ranking every year or so to see if it has gone up but it would remain the same. I felt that our school was a quality school and I was confused why the score never changed. What was even more baffling is that I started to dig into the scores published by the state that go into more detail and Quatama scored nearly the same or higher as its nearby high performing schools. After hearing some other parents say they wouldn’t let their kids go to Quatama, I felt that I needed to figure out why it was “rated low”.

I emailed greatschools.org and explained the situation and I got back a standard cut and paste answer but after a few emails insisting something was wrong they realized there was an error in their publishing system for Quatama. They have now updated the rankings and Quatama is now an 8 out of 10 and “green” which is comparable to its high performing peers. The perception that Quatama is a low performing school was completely erroneous and based off a math system gone wrong.

I’m now working with the principal to see if there is a way for us to measure how this rating has impacted the school. My thought that the same way there are bandwagon fans, there are bandwagon parents. Now that the school is rated higher, will the parents view of the school change? Will the parental support change over the next few years? If it does change, this will open up a large question about the morality of publishing overly simplified data.

Categories: Uncategorized

What’s Wrong With Letting Tech Run Our Schools

My newest Bloomberg View column is out!

What’s Wrong With Letting Tech Run Our Schools

You can see all my Bloomberg columns here.

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The Unhelpful Myth of Genius

I’ve got a new Bloomberg View column out:

A Mathematician’s Secret: We’re Not All Geniuses

 

See all my Bloomberg View columns here.

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Stacks Project Hoodies For Sale!

June 6, 2017 Comments off

Nerds, you’re in luck!

Hoodies black

We’ve designed Stacks Project Hoodies and they’re for sale. Please tell all your nerd friends to sign up by June 16th so we’ll have them printed in time for the Stack Project Workshop taking place in Michigan at the end of July.

Here’s the Google form, have at it!

Thanks to Wei Ho and Pieter Belmans for their help in organizing!

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Don’t Expect Tech to Care About Your Problems

I ranted against Silicon Valley “entrepreneurs” in my latest Bloomberg View column:

Don’t Expect Tech to Care About Your Problems:

Interplanetary travel is way more fun than accountability.

 

See all my Bloomberg View columns here.

Categories: Uncategorized

What If Robots Did the Hiring at Fox News?

My newest Bloomberg View column is out:

What If Robots Did the Hiring at Fox News?

 

See all my Bloomberg View columns here.

Categories: Uncategorized