Leading the News
PISA: US Teenagers’ Math Scores See Greatest Drop Since 2009.
The Wall Street Journal (12/6, Hobbs, Subscription Publication) reports that on Tuesday, the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) published its results, showing the US with an 11-point drop in its average math score, which the Journal points out was the most sizable decrease since 2009. US Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said, “We’re losing ground – a troubling prospect when, in today’s knowledge-based economy, the best jobs can go anywhere in the world. As the new PISA results show, U.S. students are scoring well behind their peers in top-performing nations.” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Acting Commissioner Peggy G. Carr said, “Mathematics remains the subject that the U.S. fares worst in, comparatively, and our students continue to score below the average for OECD member nations. We need to take a strong look at ourselves in mathematics.”
The AP (12/6, Kerr) quotes King as saying, “Students in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Minnesota aren’t just vying for great jobs along with their neighbors or across state lines, they must be competitive with peers in Finland, Germany, and Japan.” Carr added, “This pattern that we’re seeing in mathematics seems to be consistent with what we’ve seen in previous assessments … everything is just going down.” OECD Director for Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher said “high-performing countries do really well in math in three things: rigor, focus, and coherence.” NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said, “What do the PISA high-performing nations do differently than the United States? They invest in their students. They fully fund all of their schools, regardless of the ZIP code or community they are in.”
Reuters (12/6, Simpson) said that the US “average math score of 470 was down 17 points from 2009, and 20 points below the average of the countries taking part in the survey.” The report found “15-year-old U.S. students ranked 40th in the world in math last year out of 72 countries or cities.” Reuters adds, “A U.S. bright spot was Massachusetts. The state’s reading score would have tied for second behind Singapore, and its science showing tied for sixth.” The Boston (MA) Globe (12/6, Vaznis) focuses on Massachusetts’ results.
Politico Morning Education (12/6, Stratford) reports that King was in Massachusetts “to hail the state’s success with PISA – while noting that the nation as a whole is ‘losing ground.’” King said, “The PISA results announced today for Massachusetts didn’t happen instantly or by accident. It has taken years of people showing courage – principals, teachers, parents, students, and state and district leaders. It has taken years of overcoming challenges. It has taken years to make real and meaningful change happen. And it will take time to see the work we are continuing to do today truly pay off for students.” The Washington Post (12/6, Heim) says King called the PISA results “sobering news,” and the Los Angeles Times (12/6, Resmovits) says King “expressed disappointment” in the overall US results.
Weakening Link Between Socio-Economic status And Performance Shows Improving US Education Equity.Bloomberg News (12/6, Yadoo) said that out of 35 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, “the U.S. ranked 19th in science, 20th in reading and 31st in math as Asian countries including Singapore and Japan once again topped the charts.” The report also showed that “between 2006 and 2015, the percentage of so-called resilient students in the U.S. – teens from the bottom of the socio-economic ladder who manage to outperform their peers and rank among the top quarter of students internationally – grew by 12.3 points, the largest margin of the 72 countries and economies surveyed.” This weakening of the “link between socio-economic status and school performance” is “a sign of improving equity in American education,” Bloomberg adds.
Professor Asserts PISA Rankings Are “Flawed.” Valerie Strauss writes in the “Answer Sheet” blog of the Washington Post (12/6) that “Americans should not panic” about the PISA results because the rankings are “flawed,” according to Yong Zhao, a professor in educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Kansas. Zhao questioned whether its results “accurately capture the domains of expertise each individual needs for successful participation in the future society anywhere in the world.”
In a separate analysis, Ben Rosen of the Christian Science Monitor (12/6) says, “Some experts have consistently warned not to compare the US to other countries. They have said its educational system is too large and too varied.” However, “other experts have said some lessons can be learned from countries such as Finland.” For example, Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg said the answer to the Scandinavian countries’ success “may, in part, lie not in the classroom, but on the playground,” which “constitutes a significant part of individual growth and learning in Finnish schools.”
Schleicher Predicts Common Core Would Raise US Scores In Long Term. Emerson Collective senior fellow Amanda Ripley writes in “The Upshot” blog of the New York Times (12/6, Subscription Publication) that PISA researchers were proven correct in their pre-test prediction that the US “federal government’s ham-handed but consistent push to get states to prioritize their lowest-achieving students (under No Child Left Behind and other efforts) was likely to have some effect.” Ripley says the researchers’ accurate predictions suggest that raising standards for students results in improved scores. Schleicher said, “I’m confident the Common Core is going to have a long-term impact. Patience may be the biggest challenge.” The article notes that “President-elect Donald J. Trump and Betsy DeVos, his nominee for education secretary, have called for the repeal of the Common Core.”
The Week (12/6, Stanek) also editorializes that to improve scores for US teenagers, the Common Core, which is used by “every high-ranking nation in the PISA test, including Poland and South Korea,” is needed.
Dallas Morning News: TX Should Learn From Singapore About Finding Great Teachers. The Dallas Morning News (12/6, Ayala) reports that Singapore “has dominated international rankings in education, with students regularly outperforming their peers in math, science and literacy.” According to Singapore officials, “the key to that success was simple: Hire only the best teachers.” National Institute of Education professor Ee Ling Low, who educates aspiring teachers, said, “Teaching is akin to nation building. It’s about survival.”
Analysis: PISA Data Shows Attendance, School Climate Impacts Achievement. Education Week (12/6, Blad) reports that the newest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results provide international data to show how “factors like school climate, attendance, and classroom management can affect a student’s academic achievement.” The PISA results also “show that poor attendance and a distracting learning environment correlate with lower test scores in nearly every country that participates in the exam.”
ED Ends Student Aid For Globe University, Minnesota School Of Business.
Relying on information in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (12/6, Brunswick), the AP (12/6) reports the US Education Department “says Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business will no longer be allowed to participate in federal student aid programs,” after “the schools committed fraud by misrepresenting their criminal justice programs and the transferability of credits to other institutions.” The AP adds that the aid ends on Dec. 31, and the “schools have until Dec. 20 to dispute the department’s findings.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education (12/6, Zamudio-Suaréz) quotes US Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell as saying in a press release, “Globe and MSB preyed upon potential public servants – targeting those with a sincere desire to help their communities.” The article notes that in September, “a Minnesota judge ruled that Globe and the Minnesota School of Business had committed fraudulent marketing and recruiting for their criminal-justice programs.”
Thousands Of Virginians May Unaware Of Their Eligibility For Student Loan Forgiveness.
The Washington Post (12/6, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that on Tuesday, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring “said his office is notifying about 5,300 people who attended a chain of defunct for-profit colleges of their eligibility for federal student loan forgiveness.” Evidence in the case against Corinthian Colleges over apparent predatory lending at several of its campuses, “is supposed to make it easier for students who enrolled in those schools to have their education debt canceled through what’s known as ‘borrower defense to repayment.’” About 250,000 students may “be eligible for debt relief,” however, only “82,000 people had filed claims as of early October, despite efforts by the Education Department to notify former students through mailings, email, partner organizations and other means.” Officials are now spreading the word that “anyone who was enrolled at one of the Everest or WyoTech programs listed on the department’s website can apply to have their federal student loans forgiven.”
WSJ Lists Northeast Colleges With Lowest Student-To-Faculty Ratios.
The Wall Street Journal (12/6, Subscription Publication) reports on five colleges that have a low ratio when it comes to students and faculty. They include Yale, Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, and Williams College. The universities have a six to one ratio, a measure from the US Education Department’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System used by the WSJ/THE Rankings in rating school resources.
Debt Collective Calls For Debt Relief Prior To Obama’s Departure.
Inside Higher Ed (12/6, Kreighbaum) reports that the Debt Collective “is calling on the Obama administration to provide debt relief for student loan borrowers who say they were defrauded by for-profit institutions before President Obama leaves office next year.” In a video posted by the organization, debt striker and former Corinthian Colleges student Pam Hunt says, “We’re appealing to you this one last time. This is, like, our last chance to get the justice we deserve.” She add, “Please forgive these debts before you leave office.”
Analysis: Borrowers Paying More Than Expected Through Student Loan Repayment Plans.
Consumer Reports (12/6, Rosato) reports that many student borrowers are “paying more than they expected” through “student loan repayment plans that allow them to reduce their monthly bill based on a percentage of their income.” Consumer Reports warns borrowers, “Even though you reduce the amount that you pay” monthly through these programs, “interest continues to accrue on the balance.” In addition, if a student loan is forgiven through such a repayment plan, the borrower will owe income taxes on that balance.
New Manufacturing Resource Center Launched At Utah University.
According to Deseret (UT) News (12/6, Lee), a new manufacturing resource center called the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center is opening at the University of Utah. The university received funding from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and will receive continued funding from federal and state government as well as local industry. The center was founded by two university engineering professors and “is designed to deliver services to small- and medium-size manufacturing companies by providing expertise in technology, worker education and how to develop relationships with potential investors.”
Research and Development
Robots Provide Police Departments New Option To End Standoffs.
NBC News (12/6, Sofge) reports that the success of the Dallas Police Department’s plan to use a robot to kill a suspect ending what was known as the “deadliest shooting attack on police in US history” and “the lack of any legal blowback following its deployment” has forced police chiefs and SWAT commanders to consider using this option in similar situations. According to NBC News, Ben Miller, a former member of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and current engineer at Draganfly, “sees lethal police robots as a little-used last resort, but a tactical option that’s suddenly plausible given recent standoffs.”
Northrop Grumman’s Tern UAS Moving Forward.
Breaking Defense (12/6, Whittle) profiles the Northrop Grumman Tern UAS, which it deems “one of the oddest military drones,” which has revived the concept of tailsitter aircraft. The concept, first tried in 1951, “proved impractical with a human pilot inside,” but is moving forward by “foregoing the pesky pilot inside the aircraft.” Tests of the two prototypes, currently under construction at a cost of $150 million, are set to be conducted in 2018.
If successful, the Tern would allow all US Navy ships to function as aircraft carriers, according to the Daily Mail (12/6). The article also reports Air Force General Hawk Carlisle said recently that laser weapon technology is likely to be installed on fighter aircraft “very soon,” and that the “day is a lot closer than I think a lot of people think it is.”
Apple To Commence Publication Of AI Research.
Bloomberg News (12/6, Webb) reports that Apple announced Monday that it will now permit its artificial intelligence teams to publish research papers, “marking a significant change in strategy that could help accelerate the iPhone maker’s advances in deep learning.” Bloomberg notes that Russ Salakhutdinov, an Apple director of AI research, made the announcement at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference, adding that the company hired Salakhutdinov from Carnegie Mellon University in October and observing that its erstwhile prohibition against publishing research has impaired its ability to hire the best researchers, who are often unwilling to work in secretive environments where they cannot openly interact with colleagues.
Business Insider (12/6, Shead) reports that competitors such as Google and Facebook already allowed employees to publish research in numerous fields, including AI, and notes that Yann LeCun, Facebook’s AI director, told BI only last month that Apple’s walled-off approach to research could hinder its ability to top AI researchers, and that Facebook attracts talented software engineers by offering them the possibility of openly publishing their work, noting that researchers assume that they will publish their work, which is “very important for a scientist because the currency of the career as a scientist is the intellectual impact,” and researchers’ failure to publish could “basically ruin their career.”
Wave Power Remains Relatively Unresearched Alternative Energy Source.
U.S. News & World Report (12/6, Duggan) reports that “while solar and wind energy seem to get the majority of the media headlines, an entire segment of the alternative energy sector is looking away from the sun and skies and focusing its attention on the power of the world’s oceans.” The report says that Ocean Power Technologies “has secured two new contracts worth more than $1.2 million with Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding and the U.S. defense department” for the firm’s “latest PowerBuoy device, the PB3.” However, “according to George Hagerman, senior research associate at Virginia Tech, wave energy has a lot of ground to make up to compete with solar, wind or fossil fuel energy.” US News says the US “Department of Energy seems to recognize the risks of wave energy investment at this” early stage with a spokesman saying “the department is evaluating the viability of different types of marine and hydrokinetic energy devices.”
Study: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Result In More Frequent, Intense Rainstorms.
The New York Times (12/6, Schlossberg, Subscription Publication) reports that a new study by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at current levels, “across the country, rainstorms may become more frequent and intense,” with the largest increases occurring “in the Northeast and the Gulf Coast.” According to the study, “these intense storms could become five times as frequent,” and “when they do happen, there could be up to 70 percent more rain, potentially turning a heavy but not catastrophic storm into something closer to a biblical flood.” Meanwhile, regions such as the Pacific Northwest, which is “already quite wet, and the central United States, might become drier on average, but even there extreme rainfall is likely to intensify,” meaning a potential for “an increased risk of droughts and of flash floods.”
Researchers Use Stellerator To Demonstrate Fusion Feasibility.
The Daily Caller (12/6, Follett) reports that German engineers from the Max Planck Institute “may have unlocked a secret of nuclear fusion, according to a new research paper published Tuesday.” The researchers found that “fusion reactors are feasible by determining that an experimental reactor was generating the right kind of magnetic field to trap plasma for long enough for nuclear fusion to occur.” The scientists “confined the hot plasma in a magnetic field with a device called a ‘stellarator.’” The scientific team was “led by American physicist Dr. Sam Lazerson of the Department of Energy and the German scientists.”
UConn Professor: EM Drive Has “Slim” Possibility Of Holding Up To Further Testing.
UConn Today (12/6, Poitras) interviews engineering professor Brice Cassenti, “an expert in advanced propulsion systems,” about NASA’s “long-awaited research paper on the controversial EM Drive propulsion system” that “could radically change the way humans travel in space.” NASA recently published the paper in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ peer-reviewed Journal of Propulsion and Power. According to Cassenti, an EM Drive “uses electromagnetic waves…to produce thrust,” making the propulsion system “unique because the device uses no traditional fuels or propellants.” While he asserts that “the probability of this holding up under further analysis and testing appears slim,” Cassenti concedes that “Newton’s laws have already been shown not to apply at high relative speeds (where special relativity applies), in large gravitational fields, and with very small scale molecules.” He argues in favor of testing the EM Drive on earth before launching a mission to test it in space, citing the expense of a space mission.
Some Employers Eschew Hiring Coding School Graduates.
In a more than 2,300-word feature, Bloomberg News (12/6, McBride) reports some Silicon Valley employers say they disregard degrees from coding schools because they may fail to teach “the big-picture skills that employers say they want,” and because training their graduates “often requires hours of hand-holding by more experienced staff.” While coding schools were once “heralded as the answer to the technology industry’s prayers,” many now say the schools’ quality of education “varies widely,” with some activists calling for increased oversight of the programs.
Coca-Cola Among Atlanta-Area Companies Hiring In December.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (12/6) reports on several metro Atlanta companies looking to bring new workers on this month; among them is Coca-Cola. Right now there are “more than 80 openings in Atlanta and Alpharetta in the administrative, human resources, information technology, legal, engineering, logistics, manufacturing and maintenance departments.”
Trump: Boeing Contract To Build Next Air Force One Should Be Canceled Due To Costs.
President-elect Trump on Tuesday said that Boeing’s contract to build the next Air Force One should be canceled due to the high cost of the program. Media coverage of Trump’s statements overwhelmingly did not focus on the President-elect’s budget related explanation, instead speculating as to other possible reasons – including what is characterized as anti-business positions, a personal preference for his own plane, and being upset with Boeing – without providing concrete evidence as support. Cable news (and particularly Fox News) was the exception, with some analyses placing Trump’s statement in the context of a business decision and negotiation tactic.
NBC Nightly News (12/6, story 4, 2:20, Hall) reported that Trump is “sparking a new controversy over Air Force One after once again taking to social media to criticize an American business.” The Wall Street Journal (12/6, Cameron, Paletta, Subscription Publication) reports the statement expands Trump’s efforts to influence industrial policy after he previously has criticized companies for moving jobs overseas.
Bloomberg Politics (12/6, Levin) reports that Trump tweeted early Tuesday, “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” Trump, according to the Washington Post (12/6, Davenport), later told reporters that the cost of the plan “is totally out of control.” Trump added, “It’s going to be over $4 billion for Air Force One program, and I think it’s ridiculous. I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.” The Huffington Post (12/6, Walsh, Wilkie) quotes Trump spokesman Jason Miller as saying the next administration is “going to look for ways to save money.” Miller added that there will be “more specifics after” Trump takes office.
Bloomberg Politics (12/7, Cirilli) reports that sources say Boeing executives have told Trump’s team that the cost of the new plane could be less if the government reduces the requirements. Bloomberg says that the company “reached out to Trump’s staff” following the President-elect’s tweet. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on Fox News’ Hannity (12/6), “Donald Trump is a businessman who understands how to control costs to be successful, and taking over the role as CEO of the United States is a $4 trillion budget and he’s looking at $4 billion and saying, ‘Is this the best we can do? Let’s shave the cost. Let’s use our taxpayer dollars wisely.’ … Why are we spending $4 billion if the plane really should be a $2 billion plane?” On FNC’s Tucker Carlson Tonight (12/6), The Federalist’s Bre Payton said she believes Trump’s statement “is really more of a negotiation tactic.” Payton said she “appreciate[s] a President-elect who is going to baluk at the sticker price” and this is the “second time in a week he has really gone after a domestic company and said basically, you know, you do this or you’re going to be punished.” Rep. Sean Duffy said on CNN’s The Situation Room (12/6) that Trump “is talking about American tax dollars.” Duffy added that it is “incumbent upon [Trump] to make sure the next fleet of air force one is consistent with what he finds appropriate as a cost structure.”
Roll Call (12/6, Braun) reports that the Air Force originally in 2015 set the budget for the new planes at $1.65 billion, “but current estimates have varied.” Roll Call adds that President Obama “suspended a similar contract” for new Marine One helicopters in 2009 and “cit[ed] exorbitant costs.” The Hill (12/6, Neidig) reports White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest “questioned Trump’s portrayal of the arrangement.” Earnest said, “Some of the statistics that have been cited, shall we say, don’t appear to reflect the nature of the financial agreement between Boeing and the Department of Defense.” Earnest added, “I think the American people would expect that future US presidents would benefit from unique and upgraded capabilities while they are traveling and representing the interests of the United States around the world.” Under the headline “The Inaccuracies In Donald Trump’s Air Force On Tweet,” the Washington Post (12/6, Kessler) says “there are a number of inaccuracies in his tweet.” The Post provides a list of what it considers “inaccuracies” and an explanation.
The Los Angeles Times (12/6, Hennigan) reports that Trump “took aim at Air Force One” by criticizing the cost of the program. The New York Times (12/6, Shear, Subscription Publication) reports that Trump’s statement “appeared to come out of the blue” as the President-elect “had not focused” on the cost of the future plan during the campaign. The Times adds that Trump’s “criticism of the contract” has “raised the possibility that he might prefer to keep flying his own, well-appointed 757” as president. However, the Time says the Secret Service and Defense Department “might object to Mr. Trump keeping his own airplane” due to the communications equipment that Air Force One carries.
The CBS Evening News (12/6, lead story, 2:40, Pelley), ABC World News Tonight (12/6, story 6, 2:35, Muir), and USA Today (12/6, Bomey) connect Trump’s tweet to an earlier report that Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg criticized Trump’s rhetoric on trade due to concern that a trade war could hurt his company’s business. USA Today highlights that the tweet “came just over an hour” after a Chicago Tribune (12/6) story quoted Muilenburg and “it was not immediately clear whether Trump” had read the story. The Seattle Times (12/6, Gates, Baker) reports Trump’s tweet “has shocked Boeing and cast doubt on what was expected to be a lucrative crowing order for the 747 jumbo jet.” The Times says Trump’s “out-of-the-blue statement suggests some animosity toward Boeing.” Trump, according to the Times, “has criticized ‘corporate welfare’ such as the Export-Import Bank backing that supports many Boeing jet sales to foreign airlines” and the President-elect “has assailed Boeing for sending work to China.” Politico (12/6, Nelson) reports that Trump’s most recent financial disclosure from May shows that he held between $50,001- and $100,000 of Boeing stock in 2015, but Miller said Tuesday that the President-elect sold all of his stocks last June.
The Washington Times reports that Boeing responded to Trump’s comments with a statement that said it is “currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serves the unique requirements of the President of the United States.” Boeing added that the company “look[s] forward to working with the US Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best planes for the President at the best value for the American taxpayer.”
WPost, WTimes Analyses: Trump Is “Unnerving” Corporate America. The Washington Post (12/6, Harwell, Helderman) reports on its front page that Trump’s “style, including his opaque personal financial dealings and his sudden shots at certain companies, has helped unnerve a corporate America that traditionally craves stability.” The Post adds that some business executives and economists “have worried whether executives can speak their minds about the president-elect or his policies without fear of facing Trump’s rage.”
The Washington Times (12/6, Miller) similarly reports that Trump’s “hard-bargaining style also is rattling some American businesses.” The Times says Trump’s moves have been “entirely unpredictable – a quality that tends to unnerve financial markets.”
Harman Invests In Navdy’s Heads-Up Displays.
Bloomberg News (12/6) reports Harman’s first investment “since agreeing to sell itself to Samsung” is in Navdy, “a startup that makes projection displays” for cars. Bloomberg notes the companies will begin selling “co-branded devices next year.” Bloomberg adds that Navdy’s heads-up display could incorporate messages like the car needing a mechanic, “which could drive purchases of Harman’s auto parts.”
Digital Trends (12/6, Wiggers) reports Navdy’s display had only been available through its website, but now will be “made available through” Harman’s “automotive partners.” In addition Digital Trends notes that Harman and Navdy will jointly add “new software functionality,” and “hardware design” updates over the coming years.
Fortune (12/6, Korosec) reports the deal will give Harman exclusive distribution rights for a co-branded product. Fortune adds that Harman’s investment was likely around $15 million in the company. Fortune adds that Navdy has already surpassed its own initial expectations of $1 million in sales, instead taking in about 20,000 orders worth $7 million since the company began accepting pre-orders in summer of 2014. Fortune adds that Navdy’s heads-up display “can broadcast phone alerts and text messages, map routes, and music information in a crisp image that seems to float right in front of the driver.”
Audi Launches First Vehicle-To-Infrastructure System.
Business Insider (12/6, Muoio) reports a few Audi cars – “the A4, Q7, and A4 allroad models built after June 1, 2016” – became the first to successfully employ “a vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication system,” according to Scott Keogh, president of Audi America. The cars are now equipped “with a timer that will tell you when the light will change” on Las Vegas roads. Keogh said it was “the first time you’re going to have a car that’s actually connected to the infrastructure. This is where the world is heading.” Business Insider notes Audi collaborated with “the Las Vegas government to link 1,000 traffic lights” to the network. Business Insider adds that “the timer is displayed in the instrument cluster,” but disappears about three seconds out from the change “to discourage people from racing each other.” Audi hopes to “expand the program to other cities throughout 2017 and beyond.”
High Court Rules In Favor Of Samsung In Dispute With Apple.
USA Today (12/6, Wolf) reports the US High Court “ruled Tuesday that Samsung’s violation of Apple’s smartphone design patents can involve only a component, rather than the entire product – a decision that means Samsung may not have to pay penalties reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars.” USA Today calls “the unanimous decision from Justice Sonia Sotomayor…a much-needed victory for Samsung, beset with problems ranging from smartphones that burst into flames to washers with exploding tops.” The New York Times (12/6, Liptak, Subscription Publication) notes Sotomayor “said an article of manufacture may sometimes be the entire product sold to consumers – here, Samsung’s phones – and sometimes be the components found to have infringed a design patent.”
The CBS Evening News (12/6, story 8, 0:25, Pelley) called the ruling “a blow to Apple,” and NBC Nightly News (12/6, story 8, 0:20, Hall) referred to “a rare defeat in the smartphone wars today for the tech giant Apple.”
Samsung Chief Questioned In South Korean Corruption Scandal.
On Tuesday, South Korean lawmakers questioned nine business leaders allegedly involved in a fraud and corruption scheme that could bring down the nation’s president. Media coverage focused extensively on Samsung Electronics’ only heir, Lee Jae-young, and how he was “admonished” and “reprimanded” in televised questioning.
The Korea Herald (12/6) reports Samsung Electrics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong received about 80 percent of the questioning in a hearing before the South Korean National Assembly, its “largest parliamentary probe on South Korea’s industrial titans ever.” The hearing, broadcast live on television, placed the Samsung heir “at the center” of the national scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye and her friend, Choi Soon-sil.
Bloomberg News (12/6, Kim) says along with Lee, prosecutors summed eight other business leaders, including Samsung Electronics group chairman Lee Kun-hee, Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin, and SK Group’s Chey Tae-won, for their alleged involvement in the corruption scheme. The business heads controlled companies that amassed combined annual sales exceeding $800 billion. Lee was the youngest business leader questioned by the 18 lawmakers.
Billboard Magazine (12/6) published an article by the AP (12/5, Lee) that explains Park’s scandal has increased scrutiny over the ties between South Korean politicians and the family-controlled businesses, or chaebol. Because Samsung donated the largest amount to the non-profit foundations and also sponsored Choi’s family outside of the foundations, “Lee faced most of the questions from both ruling and opposition party lawmakers.” Lee was “shouted down and admonished” on a broad array of issues, including why Samsung sponsored Choi, how the company treated its ill employees, how Lee accumulated his wealth, and why Lee met one-on-one with Park. Lee frequently claimed he could not recall or was unaware of many details but “repeatedly apologized.”
The Washington Post (12/6, Fifield) reports Lee, “arguably South Korea’s most powerful man, sat like a chastened schoolboy before the National Assembly on Tuesday while angry lawmakers reprimanded him one after another.” Lee was grilled by lawmakers “for an extraordinary 13 hours over the conglomerate’s role in a widening political scandal that threatens to bring down” Park. Samsung, along with LG and Hyundai Motor, are accused of involvement in a “cash-for-favors scheme in which they donated about $70 million to two foundations” established up by Park’s confidante, Choi.
On its website, CNN Money (12/6, Pham) reports Lee denied involvement in the foundation donations and that he “was only briefed after the fact.” He also alleged that Park asked Samsung “to support the development of culture, sports and tourism” and called Samsung’s support of certain equestrian activities “a mistake.”
BBC News (UK) (12/6) explains lawmakers accused Samsung of donating $3 million for Choi’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, to use on equestrian training in exchange for governmental support of Samsung’s “controversial merger that effectively strengthened the position of de-facto company head Lee.” About $850,000 of that money was allegedly spent on a horse. Lee confirmed the company’s donations and payment for the horse but denied that the donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi were made “in exchange for something.” Lee also apologized for Samsung’s involvement and said it would “take all responsibility” if found at fault.
Reuters (12/5) reported the “hours of questioning” constituted “the first time such a large group of major Korean corporate chieftains has appeared for a parliamentary hearing.” Reuters noted that a vote on Friday will determine whether Park is impeached.
Equinix Will Buy Verizon’s American Data Centers.
Reuters (12/6) reports Verizon will sell 29 data centers to Equinix Inc. for $3.6 billion as Verizon attempts to “streamline its business” after divesting “a chunk of its landline business and a portfolio of wireless towers last year.” Reuters notes that Equinix, already the “world’s biggest provider of data centers,” continues to grow its “presence in the Americas” with the deal, which includes data centers in 15 metro areas across the United States and Latin America.
USA Today (12/6, McCoy) reports Verizon is not selling off its “managed hosting and cloud offerings,” nor the company’s “data center services delivered from 27 sites” across Europe, Canada, and the Asia-Pacific region. USA Today notes that the deal, expected to be completed in the middle of next year, is another step in Verizon’s shift to “mobile video and advertising as it moves towards completing its $4.83 billion deal for Yahoo.” USA Today also notes that Equinix stands to gain from the deal by speeding up its “penetration of the enterprise and strategic market sectors, including government and energy.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Trump Invites Tech Leaders To Summit In New York.
USA Today (12/6, Guynn, Swartz) reports that President-elect Trump has invited tech industry leaders to a Dec. 14 roundtable in New York. The invitation to the summit was sent by “Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and transition team adviser Peter Thiel.” It comes as the industry, which “bet heavily on Hillary Clinton,” is “looking to build bridges to the incoming administration.” The New York Times (12/6, Shear, Davis, Subscription Publication) said on its “Transition Briefing” blog that there might be “a touch of combativeness” during the summit, given that the tech industry “was almost universally opposed to Mr. Trump,” and his “transition team and cabinet posts draw much more heavily from Wall Street than Silicon Valley.”
WSJournal: Google Scrambling To Preserve Its Influence During Trump Administration. The Wall Street Journal (12/6, Subscription Publication) says in an editorial that Google has posted a job opening in Washington for “Conservative Outreach and Public Policy Partnerships” to serve as the company’s liaison to “conservative, libertarian and free market groups.” Citing the frequent visits buy Google lobbyists and executives to the Obama White House, the Journal says the company likely planned to have similar influence in a Clinton Administration, but now finds itself scrambling.
Google To Power Data Centers Entirely With Renewable Energy Next Year. The New York Times (12/6, Hardy, Subscription Publication) reports that Google announced Tuesday that “all of its data centers around the world will be entirely powered with renewable energy sources sometime next year.” Over the last decade, the company has participated in “a number of large-scale deals with renewable producers, typically guaranteeing to buy the energy they produce with their wind turbines and solar cells.”
School Director In PA Urges Financial Accountability For Cyber Charters.
Haverford Township School Director Lawrence A. Feinberg writes in the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News (12/6) to urge transparency and financial accountability in school leadership, particularly targeting leaders of cyber charter schools. Feinberg says his school “board has had significant concerns about spending tax dollars on cyber charters whose academic performance has consistently been dismal, both under No Child Left Behind’s Adequate Yearly Progress measure, and, for the past four years, the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile scores.”
Falkenberg: DeVos Must Consider “Quality And Accountability” In Supporting Charter Schools.
Columnist Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle (12/6, Falkenberg) writes that “for those of us who still believe in public education as the great equalizer,” these are “scary times,” for which “the outlook didn’t get any sunnier with President-elect Donald Trump’s recent selection of billionaire Michigan school-choice lobbyist Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education.” Falkenberg says this “isn’t because she’s a champion of choice,” but “because she doesn’t seem to care an awful lot about quality.” Falkenberg opines that “charters with failing ratings continue to operate.” Yet, Falkenberg touts the success of many charter schools in Texas, which she says have succeeded because recent reforms have made them “more accountable.” Falkenberg concludes by urging DeVos to consider “quality and accountability” as “part of the school-choice conversation.”
Jeb Bush Lauds “Extraordinary Choice” Of Betsy DeVos.
Dr. Susan Berry writes in Breitbart (12/6) that Jeb Bush expressed support for Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos as his Education Secretary, quoting him as saying, “President-elect Trump made an extraordinary choice with Betsy DeVos.” Bush said, “I cannot think of a more effective and passionate change agent to press for a new education vision, one in which students, rather than adults and bureaucracies, become the priority in our nation’s classrooms.”
Editorial: DeVos A “Great Pick To Fix Education” Due To Support Of School Choice. The Investor’s Business Daily (12/6) editorializes that the US’ declining math scores demonstrate the negative impact of the growing influence of teachers’ unions, writing that the “government-union monopoly on education” has been detrimental to learning. The editorial says “the unions, in particular, have done their best to stifle meaningful reforms, such as charters, vouchers and home-schooling, that would lift test scores and make our kids globally competitive.” Yet, IBD says Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos as his Education Secretary “is a glimmer of hope” because “she strongly supports local standards,” opposing “the one-size-fits-all Common Core” while supporting home-schooling and charter schools.
Henderson: Choice Of DeVos As Education Secretary Is “Contrary To Reason.” In a Detroit Free Press (12/6, Henderson) column, Stephen Henderson says that President-elect Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary is “inappropriate” and “contrary to reason.” Henderson blames DeVos for the poor quality of Detroit’s education system, which he says has the country’s “largest urban network of charter school” but “what remains in short supply is quality.”
Caterpillar CEO Discusses Possible Repercussions Of 35 Percent Trade Tariffs.
CNBC (12/6) correspondent Steve Liesman reported Caterpillar chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman questioned whether possible 35 percent tariffs placed on imports to the US under President-elect Trump could spark retaliatory tariffs from nations like China. Oberhelman said the tariffs may sound good for exporters but could close the US out of other markets. Oberhelman urged Trump to implement policies “where we all win on trade,” Liesman quoted.
Congress Finds Agreement On Water Infrastructure Improvements Bill.
Politico Morning Transportation (12/6) reports “maritime interests are celebrating” Congressional agreement on the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. The bill authorizes “30 new Army Corps of Engineers projects, including ports, levees and a key Everglades restoration effort,” and “ensures that ports will get not just a great share but also a greater amount of revenues each year from the Harbor Maintenance Tax.”
H-1B Visa Reform May Make More Progress Under Trump.
The Atlantic (12/5, Campbell) discussed efforts to reform the H-1B visa program in order to close the loophole that allows companies to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor. The article reported that while current reform efforts have stalled, “the new administration – and a new Congress – might have better luck moving things forward,” mentioning that Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has opposed the H-1B visa program in the past, “is now poised to take over the Justice Department as President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general.” Southern California Edison is listed among firms that laid off American employees and replaced them with foreign workers using the H-1B visa program.
Two Illinois Seniors Are Finalists In NASA Competition.
The Chicago Sun-Times (12/6, Olsen) reports Kyle Bodie and David Frey, mechanical engineering students at Northern Illinois University, have made it to the final stage of NASA’s Space Race Startup Challenge. The duo and their team are competing to win “$1.2 million in seed money” to launch their “proposed company, Maverick Drone.” The proposed company would “offer a program called ‘Mission Improbable,’ which is designed to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning for students from fifth grade to high school seniors.”
College Students Teach Fifth-Graders In Indiana To Extract Strawberry DNA.
The AP (12/6) reports, “Over the past two weeks, students in Logansport’s Ivy Tech Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa honors society” in Indiana “have been teaching local fifth-graders about DNA and how food has changed over time.” The college students conducted a DNA extraction experiment with elementary school students, who were “tasked with smashing up a strawberry and figuring out how to find the many strands of DNA inside.”
The Preschool Place And Kindergarten Introduces Kids To STEAM Learning.
The Bridgewater (NJ) Patch (12/6, Tarrazi) reports on the Preschool Place and Kindergarten on North Bridge Street, Bridgewater, which “is enriching preschoolers’ skills and knowledge in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) in all their classes, but is particularly proud of its new program called ‘Inventor’s Workshop.’” Director Carol Rubnitz said, “Preschoolers are incredibly curious and love to investigate, discover and design. Young children generate an endless number of questions, and their curiosity motivates them to find answers. These are traits we develop in our Inventor’s Workshop along with a wonder for discovery learning. Our preschoolers understand activities such as predicting, investigating, observing, classifying and making evidence based conclusions. We are creating lifelong learners with early STEAM skills and knowledge necessary for later success.”
Waco School Discrict Pushes STEM With Pre-K Students.
The Education Dive (12/6, Mathewson) reports, “In the last two years, the pre-K program in Texas’ Waco Independent School District has dramatically expanded the time students spend on” STEM-related tasks. The district’s early childhood education coordinator, Mary Konrad, said “that in 2014, teachers reported spending just two minutes per day on STEM instruction, while by the spring of 2015, they reported spending an average of 36 minutes per day – an increase of 6,120 minutes per year.” Waco teachers have “adopted the STEMscopes Early Explorer program, which is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, and they engage parents so they can continue conversations about STEM at home.”
Long Island Student, Two Teammates Win $20K In Siemens Competition.
Newsday (NY) (12/6, Lytle) reports on Long Island student Alice Wu, who along with her teammates Katherine Cao of Mequon of Wisconsin, and William Hu of Saratoga, California, won a $20,000 scholarship in the “Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology’s team category on Tuesday.” The team took fifth place. The top $100,000 prize went to “individual competitor Vineet Edupuganti, 17, of Portland, Oregon, who developed a biodegradable battery, and the team of twin sisters Adhya and Shriya Beesam, 16, of Richardson, Texas, who were motivated by their uncle’s illness to build a predictive model for diagnosing schizophrenia.”
WeatherSTEM Offers Hand-on Learning To Technology School Students.
The Lakeland (FL) Ledger (12/6, Ferguson) reports that “on Tuesday, a WeatherSTEM unit that tracks data 24 hours a day for wind, wind speed, temperature, dew point, soil moisture and ultraviolet radiation, among many other things, was installed at” Daniel Jenkins Academy in Florida. An environmental science teacher at the school said the unit would be useful for studying, because it “makes the learning hands-on and informational.” The article says WeatherSTEM was founded by “one of the software pioneers for Florida Virtual Schools, as a way to give back and keep students engaged.”
Tuesday’s Lead Stories
• Education Secretary King Visits RI For Computer Science Education Week.
• Online Bachelor’s Programs Venturing Into Science Courses.
• TSA Would Save Money By Waiving PreCheck Fees For Frequent Travelers, Analysis Finds.
• Study Ranks Indiana Near Bottom For Gender Equality.
• US Helps European Authorities Bust Global Cyber Theft Ring.
• Mubadala Aerospace CEO: Strata To Break Even In 2018.
• New NSF, NSTC Initiatives Aim To Bolster Computer Science Education.