By timothy from Slashdot's just-keep-an-eye-on-'em-for-us department
theodp writes: Did you know that Microsoft has supported Harvard in creating a new version [of its wildly-popular CS50 course] called CS50 AP, designed specifically for secondary school educators?" asks a Microsoft Born to Learn Blog post. "If you might like to teach CS50 AP (and, in turn, AP CS Principles) in your own classroom this year," Harvard informs prospective teachers, "you are cordially invited to join us at one of our teacher training workshops to be held in various locations around the country and the world!" But before applications can be successfully submitted, teachers are required to respond to the following statement, and Harvard won't take 'No' for an answer: "Our friends at Microsoft are helping us distribute the teacher support materials for this version of CS50 for secondary school teachers and students. By checking the box below, you acknowledge that we may share the data you submitted through this form with them as part of this planning process." Microsoft is certainly calling the K-12 CS education shots these days — heck, the White House even let Microsoft President Brad Smith brief reporters about plans to spend $4B in tax dollars on a new CS for All K-12 initiative before the President told taxpayers about it. By the way, the CS50 AP Wiki contains a CS50x/CS50 AP Authorization and Release form which, among other things, requires camera-shy CS50 AP students to agree to "sit in a 'no-film' zone" if they do not want photos or videos of themselves used by Harvard to promote the Microsoft-supported course."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's people-like-to-ridicule department
sciencehabit writes: In 2014, a poll showed that just 49% of Americans agreed with the statement: "Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals." But it's difficult to tell whether those numbers measure ignorance about science, because belief in human evolution is closely tied to religious belief, especially in the United States. Yesterday, researchers at the annual meeting of AAAS, previewed data from a recent poll showing that when the word "human" is replaced with "elephant" in the evolution question, 75% of Americans agree — about 25 percentage points higher than before. Plus, the new elephant question does a better job of predicting general science knowledge than the human question, especially among those who say they don't believe in evolution. So it seems that America's dismal performance on past evolution polls can be blamed at least partially on this disbelief, rather than a lack of knowledge.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's will-make-sxsw-interesting department
AcidPenguin9873 writes: This past fall, the Austin City Council drafted regulations for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft requiring drivers to submit to fingerprint-based background checks, similar to other taxi services in Austin. Uber and Lyft threatened to leave the Austin market if the fingerprint-based background checks were passed. After lots of heated public comments and debate from both sides, the fingerprint requirements were passed by the council in December. Shortly thereafter, a PAC called Ridesharing Works for Austin was formed, and, with financial backing from Uber and Lyft, delivered a petition with over 25,000 valid signatures to the City that seeks to remove the fingerprint requirement. According to Austin city code, since the petition had enough valid signatures, the City Council was required to either adopt the language in the petition and remove the fingerprint requirement, or hold a referendum election on the issue. This past Thursday, the council declined to adopt the petition, so Austin voters will go to the polls in May to decide how Uber and Lyft should be regulated.
This case is quite interesting and raises a lot of questions. Uber and Lyft have said that their electronic tracking makes them safer than traditional taxi services, and so they shouldn't be subject to the same regulations. However, some citizens and council members don't like corporations strong-arming local government and effectively writing their own regulations. On the other, one of the council members who introduced the fingerprinting requirement had received campaign donations from at least one local taxi company, leading some to question her motives for introducing the stricter regulations for Uber and Lyft, and even going so far as to start a separate petition campaign to recall that council member. What does Slashdot think Austin should do?Read Replies (0)