The UK outpost of Wired magazine today cited research by SMU computer science professor Tyler Moore, which found that 45 percent of online exchanges that change hard currency into the online currency Bitcoins end up closing.
More than that, if an exchange somehow gets large enough to justify staying in business, it soon becomes a prime target for cyberattacks.
The study said: “Exchanges handling 275 Bitcoins’ worth of transactions each day have a 20 percent chance of being breached, compared to a 70 percent chance for exchanges processing daily transactions worth 5570 Bitcoins.” Moore and Christin estimate that the median lifespan of any Bitcoin exchange is 381 days, with a 29.9 percent chance that a new exchange will close within a year of opening.
An extra risk for customers is losing their money from exchanges closing. Of the 18 closed exchanges, there was evidence that only six reimbursed their customers. Five did not, while there was not evidence enough to make a judgement regarding the remaining seven.
Anyway, yeah, maybe don’t trade in all your greenbacks for Bitcoins.
There’s a bill, House Bill 5, approved by the Texas House of Representatives and under consideration by the Senate, that would significantly reduce the number of exams a student must pass in order to graduate from a public high school. It would also lessen strict course requirements in English, math, and science that were designed to get students prepared for college enrollment. Instead, they’d have the option of taking more technical or business courses, if that’s where their interests lie.
Last night, Dallas ISD trustees voted, in a 5-4 split, to urge the Texas Legislature to amend the bill to “ensure all students are enrolled by default in rigorous, college-ready graduation pathways.” The board further said it would adopt local policies along these lines if the state does not.
House Bill 5 was sponsored by House Public Education Committee chairman Jimmie Don Aycock, of Killeen. His purpose behind the measure, he told the Texas Tribune last month, was to allow for better preparation for students who plan to go straight into the workforce, rather than into college after graduation:
Debate over the proposal, he said, centered on two questions.
“One, does everyone need to [earn] a four-year degree?” he said. “And two, does every kid need to take algebra II?”
His bill embraced the response of “not everyone, but a lot of them,” he said, adding that he was not convinced that algebra II was as strong predictor of college success as the legislation’s opponents suggested.
The rigidity of the current system forces a “one-size-fits-all” approach that can prevent students from exploring their interests, leaving them less engaged in school, Aycock said. And a lack of options for career training, he said, leaves a gap in the state’s workforce.
It’s that time of year again, when The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report issue their rankings of the top public high schools in the country. Dallas ISD continues to have magnet schools near the very top of both lists.
The Post is actually calling its rankings “America’s Most Challenging High Schools” and, with their methodology, that does seem a more fitting description than “best.” All they do is take the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced International Certificate of Education exams given at the school each year and divide that by the number of graduating seniors. They don’t care how well the kids do on those tests, even whether they pass at all. These Dallas-area schools finished in the top 100 (their national ranks are noted):
2) Science/Engineering Magnet, Dallas
3) Talented/Gifted Magnet, Dallas
5) Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, Dallas
20) Westlake Academy, Westlake
23) Uplift Education Summit Preparatory, Arlington
24) Uplift Education Peak Preparatory, Dallas
28) Uplift Education Williams Preparatory, Dallas
82) Highland Park, Highland Park ISD
Those three spots high up the list seem like quite an accomplishment for the campuses of charter school operator Uplift Education. (I spoke with the education nonprofit’s CEO, Yasmin Bhatia, last year about their approach.) But those Uplift schools score nowhere near that well on the U.S. News list, which claims to name the “Best High Schools.” Here’s Dallas’ representation, including the absolute best in the country.
In February, we reported on the Communities Foundation of Texas’ 60th anniversary and on the first of a three-part, commemorative series of “Cause-Minded Conversations” about Dallas-area public education. Yesterday, the folks at CFT assembled again for the second of the series’ conversations—this time engaging the topic of “disruptive innovations” in K-12 public education.
Moderated by KERA’s Krys Boyd, the discussion was informative; at times, entertaining; and—thanks to 17-year-old panelist Jonathan Gonzalez—even inspiring. Gonzalez is an Oak Cliff native and junior at Dallas ISD’s Trini Garza Early College High School. Its graduates receive not just their high school diplomas, but also up to two years’ worth of college credit, or an associate’s degree. It’s just the sort of unconventional program on which the conversation was focused.
In addition to Boyd and Gonzalez, sitting on the panel were Yasmin Bhatia, CEO of charter school operator Uplift Education; Mike McFarland, superintendent of Lancaster ISD; and Rosemary Perlmeter, co-founder and CEO of Teaching Trust, an education advocacy organization.
Here are the 5 most important/intriguing/inspiring ideas from the evening:
In the past few weeks, I have been to more DISD schools than I have in my five years in Dallas. To distribute books for The Big Read Dallas, I’ve gone from Booker T. to Secondary DAEP (which, I honestly had never heard of before); from Thomas Jefferson to Spruce (though it’s a drive, the school has some of the best staff around); and from Irma Rangel to Townview (this school has one of the best views of downtown Dallas that I’ve ever seen). It’s been amazing to have the opportunity to interact with not only principals, teachers, and librarians, but also the students at these schools. As one co-worker asked me today, “Can we give away books to kids once a week every week?”
If you haven’t been to any of these schools or interacted with their students, now is your chance. DISD is giving tours of various feeder programs. Go here to see the dates/times/schools of the tours and to sign up. The people who are heading up this program have helped us a great deal with The Big Read. They’re passionate about the district and making it better for its students. You’ll have a good time.
Up To 50 Principals Will Be Replaced Next Year at Dallas ISD: New superintendent Mike Miles is planning a leadership overhaul. Many principals have retired or resigned. Trustees will now get a list of an additional 10 to 15 that are being forced out. But Miles has taken some heat from parents who have “ambushed” school administrators at meetings demanding to know why their principals are being let go.
Gov. Perry Preaches From Pulpit at First Baptist: The Texas Governor used the opportunity provided by the church’s dedication of its new buildings to tell the congregation they can’t “condemn certain lifestyles.” The comments raised some eyebrows considering they came from a politician who has been outspoken about issues like supporting a constitution amendment to oppose gay marriage.
Josh Hamilton’s Family Gets Extra Security for Final Game in Angels-Rangers Series: After the boos and the taunting Josh Hamilton took at the ballpark this weekend, the player’s wife requested extra security at the stadium and watched the final game of the series from a luxury box.
By all accounts, the Texas House last night approved a state budget relatively easily, on a vote of 135 to 12. The $193.8 billion measure now goes to a conference committee to fix the differences between it and the Senate’s version.
Highlights of the bill, according to the Texas Tribune account:
San Antonio Tries to Steal Dallas Teachers. Dozens of Dallas-area educators showed up for a recruiting fair hosted by the city of San Antonio at Dallas Public Library. SA is looking to hire for a new pre-kindergarten program. Considering Dallas ISD went through layoffs just last year, the appeal of a place investing more money in classroom instruction is understandable. (DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander tells KERA the administration is planning a 3 percent raise for teachers.)
Minister Calls For Boycott of Arlington. Rev. Kyev Tatum, president of the Texas Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is angry at school district leaders in Arlington for not taking swift action to fire a teacher he considers to be a racist. The teacher, who is white, has admitted that she poured pencil shavings into the mouth of a sleeping black student. (This makes her a jerk, sure, but a racist?) Tatum called for “all citizens of good conscience to not spend money in Arlington.” Considering the next item in this post, his boycott seems unlikely to get off to a strong start.
Opening Day at the Ballpark. The Texas Rangers dominated their last two games against the hapless Houston Astros, so they begin their home schedule today at 1 p.m. with a 2-1 record. There are many story-lines for the year’s first day of baseball in Arlington. Josh Hamilton is returning with the opposing Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Will Rangers fans boo him? (Yes. I mean, they did when he was struggling for the Rangers last fall, so why not now?) Also, the father of one of the Sandy Hook, Conn., shooting victims will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. (Robbie Parker told the Morning News it’ll be a thrill to be on a mound in front of a sellout crowd. ““But to know why [I’m] here … has been kind of tough.”) However, the question that’s perhaps on all minds is this: Will anyone dare tackle a solo attempt of the Beltre Buster?
Mavs’ Playoff Hopes Fading, So Mark Cuban Ups His Game. The Dallas Mavericks let a game against the Denver Nuggets slip away last night, and their record now stands at 36-39, dropping them further behind in the playoff race. So Cubes, as he did earlier this week, seized the opportunity to make a public statement that could distract attention away from the tough Mavs’ loss. This time he announced that he would be “honored” to have the NBA’s first openly gay player on his team.
This weekend the University of Texas at Dallas chess team will compete in its 13th consecutive Final Four championship in Washington, D.C. They’re going up against Webster University, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the University of Illinois and hope to capture their first national title since 2008.
“I’m excited to play with my teammates in the Final Four again. Our previous two appearances at this tournament may have been disappointing, as we lost both times by a half point, but it definitely pushed me and my teammates to improve our competitive level,” said UT Dallas chess team member and Grandmaster Julio Sadorra. “I think winning it this year would be really special because it’s my last Final Four and it’s been part of my dream as a chess player to lift the President’s Cup with the UT Dallas team.”
There’s going to be a pep rally at 12:15 p.m. tomorrow in the school’s student union. To my surprise, UTD does in fact have cheerleaders. (See beginning of the video above. H/T Scoop blog)
Robert Rowling — owns the 90th-most expensive home in Dallas; is personally worth $4.9 billion — has donated $25 million to UT-Austin’s McCombs School of Business. The gift will be earmarked for the construction of the 458,000-square-foot Robert B. Rowling Hall, which will house the graduate programs of the business school.
“My family and I are passionate about the state of Texas, the University of Texas and creating educational opportunities in our state. Texas is the best place in the country to do business, and we hope this gift will encourage the best and the brightest to come to Austin to get their MBAs and be part of the phenomenon that is Texas,” Rowling said in a statement.
Rowling is the owner and chairman of TRT Holdings, which owns Omni Hotels & Resorts, Gold’s Gym , Tana Exploration Company and various other assets. In 2005, he was inducted into the McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame. Robert and his wife Terry, as well as their son Blake, are graduates of the school.
“Bob Rowling already has served his alma mater at the highest level of volunteer leadership, and with this gift, he and Terry enter the pantheon of the university’s most historically significant supporters,” UT-Austin President Bill Powers said in a statement. “This building itself will embody many traits that are key to business success — flexibility, common areas for interaction, and the ability to take advantage of evolving technology. And we are proud to have Bob Rowling’s name on it.”
I’ve told you about it before, but just a quick refresher: The Big Read Dallas is a citywide reading initiative. We’re asking the entire city to read Fahrenheit 451 in April and join us at various events throughout the month. We’ve tasked ninth- and tenth-grade DISD students to lead the charge, so we’re giving every single one of them a free special edition copy (that’s more than 21,000 books).
Next week, we’ll be distributing the books to the 29 high schools that have agreed to either host an assembly, a pep rally, or let us join their English classes. We’ve got an app on the way, DART buses with our posters are starting to run, and, soon, you’ll be seeing the wonderful PSAs that were produced by Reel FX. The above PSA is what we’re showing to students. It’s a little long to run on TV, so I thought we’d show it to you here. The man who put these together, Greg Sunmark, just moved here from Chicago. He’s our new best friend. Not only did he produce the PSAs, but he also did the voiceovers, wrote the music, and then performed the music. I think he’s a good addition to our city.
So, take a look at the PSA, then pick up a copy of Fahrenheit 451. We’re all reading it next month. You should join us.
Police Need Help Cracking Murder Case Involving Senior: A 79-year-old woman in East Dallas was found slain in her home Saturday, and police are turning to the public for help. There were signs of forced entry, but no word on whether the residence where the woman was found was burglarized. And Bernie Tiede’s locked up, so you can scratch him off the list of suspects.
Should UNT Dallas Open New Law School When Law Grads Can’t Find Jobs? That’s one of the questions put to Ellen Pryor, associate dean for academic affairs at the new UNT Dallas College of Law, which is set to open in the old Dallas City Hall in August 2014. Her answer? Well, yes, of course, but she adds that in the current economic and education environment, UNT Dallas is in a unique position to rethink the value and shape of legal education.
Trends: We Like Driving, Botox: The tranquility of the country and the distance between Dallas and Fort Worth contribute to the percentage of North Texans with “mega-commutes,” daily drives of at least 90 minutes and 50 miles. And all that driving makes the lunch hour one of the few times during the day to take care of little errands, you know, like face-lifts.
“Student protesters demonstrate in support of sit-in participants who were evicted from an SMU building,” 1972.
Share your own Ghosts of Dallas.
“Senator Hutchison will have important insights to share with our graduates,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said in a statement. “Her long and distinguished career in public service and her dedication to higher education are a testament to her commitment to providing a better life for all citizens and for our nation’s future leaders. She has helped SMU gain research funding for impactful projects in science and engineering.”
Last year the school welcomed former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the address.
The Legislature balked at putting so-called “outcomes-based funding” proposals into place last session, but did approve a measure authorizing the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop an outcomes-based funding model that could be used for 10 percent of its funding request for this session.
Branch said [Wednesday] that Texas “desperately needs more incentive” to up the number of graduates each year. He said that per year, an estimated 90,000 non-Texans are filling jobs that could be filled by Texans with the right credentials. “We need to do a better job of organically creating graduates in this state,” Branch said. “Texas needs stories that begin, have a middle and have an ending. … Taxpayers are looking to fund a story that has a completion.”
And that story would be funded based on graduation rates. Branch has now filed a bill that would tie 25 percent of school funding to outcomes and graduation rates, a move that has been approved or proposed in 25 other states.