Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - October 3 Edition

Policing, Mentors

"Geoffrey Alpert has, since 1975, been researching how police conduct themselves, and one finding borne out in his work is that many police officers see themselves as “warriors” against crime. He’s seen that dynamic on display as he’s studied studied racial profiling and the use of force in some of the nation’s most controversial departments, including in Miami and Los Angeles.

Alpert, who is a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of South Carolina, has advised police departments throughout the country on how to reduce the use of force and increase trust between the public and law enforcement. One change he commonly recommends is for police officers to provide more constructive criticism to each other.

For The Atlantic’s series on mentorship, “On the Shoulders of Giants,” I spoke with Alpert about how the balance of affirmation and criticism plays out in police departments, as well as in conversations with his own students. The interview that follows has been edited for length and clarity."

Technology, Prosthetics, Inspiration

Today’s feel-good story:

Higher Education, Testing

"The GRE’s shortcomings haven’t gone unnoticed by admissions committees, which in recent years have pushed to reduce reliance on the exam scores. Even the ETS is encouraging programs to de-emphasize GRE scores and not use them as cutoffs. Some programs at the University of California, Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown University recently dropped GRE requirements. In 2015, the president of the American Astronomical Society wrote an open letter urging the chairs of departments in the field to rethink the role of the GRE. In response, several astronomy programs, including Harvard’s, removed the test from their physics requirements.

The latest to bail is the University of Michigan’s Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) program. “For a long time there was really no point in discussing [it],” says professor Scott Barolo, PIBS director, since students needed the score for pre-doctoral grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. But in 2010 the NIH dropped its GRE requirement, and NSF followed suit in 2015. “So it became clear that there were no institutional or funding barriers to reconsidering this decision,” says Barolo. After debating the issue at a town hall session, PIBS announced on August 18 that it would drop the GRE starting next year."

Housing Affordability

"Gov. Jerry Brown has finalized lawmakers’ most robust response to California’s housing affordability problems in recent memory.

The “15 good bills” Brown signed into law here Friday morning include a new fee on real estate transactions and a $4-billion bond on the 2018 ballot that together could raise close to $1 billion a year in the near term to help subsidize new homes for low-income residents.

"It is a big challenge. We have risen to it this year,” Brown said.

The governor signed the legislation surrounded by lawmakers and advocates at Hunters View, a $450-million project in San Francisco that is redeveloping what was once crumbling public housing into new homes for 700 low- and middle-income families. Speakers at the ceremony hailed the package of bills as a sea change in how the state handles housing issues.

“Today California begins a pivot from a housing-last policy to a housing-first policy,” said Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who wrote one of the key measures.

Still, the array of new laws Brown signed Friday will hardly put a dent in the state’s housing problems. Developers need to build about 100,000 new homes each year beyond what’s already planned, simply to keep pace with California’s population growth.

Here’s a rundown of how the bills aim to address different factors that add to the state’s housing problems:"

Identity Protection, Cell Phones

Click on the title to watch the video. 

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