“data malfeasance involving Imperial College and Neil Ferguson”

Phil Magness:

Huge discovery this morning showing data malfeasance involving Imperial College and Neil Ferguson.

Almost exactly 1 year ago I wrote an article on how a team of researchers at Uppsala University had adapted Ferguson’s UK model to Sweden, and yielded preposterous results – e.g. a prediction of over 90K dead if they did not go into lockdowns. My article made waves over in the UK, and Ferguson himself was grilled about it in testimony before the House of Lords. This caused Imperial College to fire off a bunch of tweets and statements disavowing any connection to the Uppsala adaptation of their model. It wasn’t their product, they insisted, and Imperial itself had never claimed between 40-100K deaths would result in Sweden

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

In the Beginning, There Were Taxes

Michael Keen and Joel Slemrod:

In Scoop, Evelyn Waugh drew on his experiences in 1930s Abyssinia to imagine tax collection in fictional Ishmaelia:

It had been found expedient to merge the functions of national defense and inland revenue in an office then held in the capable hands of General Gollancz Jackson; his forces were in two main companies, the Ishmaelite Mule Tax-gathering Force and the Rifle Excisemen with a small Artillery Death Duties Corps for use against the heirs of powerful noblemen…Towards the end of each financial year the general’s flying columns would lumber out into the surrounding country on the heels of the fugitive population and return in time for budget day laden with the spoils of the less nimble; coffee and hides, silver coinage, slaves, livestock, and firearms.

It was from simple plundering of much this kind that today’s often mind-numbingly complicated tax systems evolved. Taxation may be one of the few things in our lives that our ancestors would recognize from theirs.

Something recognizable as taxation doubtless began as simple plunder in the mold of General Jackson, long before Ptolemaic Egypt or even ancient Sumer. Elements of plunder continued over the centuries. In the Roman Empire, victories were sometimes spectacular enough to allow remission of all other taxes for that year. In England, a primary function of the Domesday Book of 1087 was to provide the newly installed Norman conquerors with a record of exactly how much they had acquired. Plunder continued through the conquest of resource-rich South America, though the plunderers themselves were occasionally plundered: Francis Drake’s capture of the Spanish treasure ships (and other piracy against the Spanish in 1577–80) brought Queen Elizabeth I the equivalent of about one year of her ordinary income.

Federal Student Loan Policy: Payment forbearance costs $5 billion a month, as the affluent benefit

Wall Street Journal:

The great stu­dent loan scam rolls on, mostly out of pub­lic sight. But oc­ca­sion­ally the ugly fis­cal facts ap­pear as they did this week at a Sen­ate Bank­ing hear­ing.

The Cares Act al­lowed stu­dent loan bor­row­ers to de­fer pay­ments with­out ac­cru­ing in­ter­est through last Sep­tember. Pres­i­dents Trump and Biden have both used emer­gency ex­ec­u­tive power to ex­tend the for­bear­ance. Now bor­row­ers don’t have to make pay­ments un­til at least Oc­to­ber, and mean­time their bal­ances won’t in­crease.

Effective Digital Communications; K-12? Madison is adding bricks & mortar despite flat to declining enrollment

Christopher Mims:

It’s a sunny, breezy morning in Eugene, Ore., a place best known for access to the great outdoors, a history of environmental activism and being the birthplace of Nike . I’m standing outside a nondescript, one-story industrial space, speaking with Mark Frohnmayer, chief executive of Arcimoto, maker of a three-wheeled electric vehicle it calls a “fun utility vehicle.”

Only I’m not in Oregon. I’m still stuck at home, on the opposite coast, relying—like many of us—on an ever-growing array of tools that allow me to do my job remotely. In this case, I’m getting a tour of Arcimoto ’s factory via FaceTime. Mr. Frohnmayer is carrying “me” around on an iPhone, pointing things out, getting me up close to machinery, parts and half-finished vehicles, and fielding my questions. For me, it turns out to be a reasonable facsimile of actually being there. Minus the eight-hour flight and stay at a Dow Jones-approved discount hotelwith continental breakfast, that is.

This is how Mr. Frohnmayer and his team have been giving factory tours to investors, customers and suppliers since the pandemic began. It works well enough that Mr. Frohnmayer wants to keep doing it after the pandemic ends, because it comes with no loss in productivity due to travel days.

Thanks to cloud-based collaborative tools of every description—not just Zoom—the pandemic has led to a reset in office culture, from in-person to remote or hybrid. Surprisingly, there’s also been a reset for workers that almost no one thought could do their jobs remotely, including field service engineers and emergency medical personnel. 

While these changes explain trends within the post-pandemic workplace, they also demonstrate a new way forward for relationships between businesses. Many examples come from the most hands-on industry of all: manufacturing. Workers still have to show up at a factory and assemble products, and quality control may demand overseas travel from time to time, but many other activities—including investment due diligence, relationship-building with suppliers and customers, and even research and development—have unexpectedly and perhaps permanently gone remote.

How a Bathroom Log Helped One Middle School Understand Its Literacy Issues

Seth Feldman:

Reading isn’t just a set of skills. The most important factor in helping middle schoolers overcome literacy issues is creating strong relationships with students and families. As an administrator, I’m always using assistive technology to help guide curricular decisions and working to build structure so that students can access their education, but my best educators are the ones who stay laser-focused on developing meaningful relationships.

How to Support Struggling Readers in Middle School

The embarrassment of having a hard time reading can lead to evasive behavior and hopelessness. Here’s how my school steps in.

At the age of 13, around 65 percent of students who play competitive sports quit that sport and try a new sport. It’s because they stop winning or adopt some notion that they aren’t good enough. The same goes for reading. At Bay Area Technology School, we’ve found that 7th and 8th grades are the most crucial years in terms of making sure that kids don’t feel hopeless about their reading ability.

If we can identify struggling readers and keep them motivated, we can turn them around in life-changing ways. They might not be reading Faulkner or Shakespeare, but they can read their high school textbooks and graduate from high school. The challenge for our educators is that, by 7th grade, students might be hiding their challenges behind coping mechanisms that keep them from being discovered. Here’s how we find and help our middle schoolers who have trouble with reading.

Out on Good Behavior: Teaching Math while Looking Over Your Shoulder

Barbara Oakley:

Out on Good Behavior: Teaching Math while Looking Over Your Shoulder, by Barry Garelick. We greatly enjoyed and got a lot out of this brief, sardonic memoir of an outstanding math teacher in an era when teaching math in public schools is becoming increasingly divorced from what neuroscience has revealed about how students actually learn math. Garelick’s witty observations give a sense of what’s going on in a way that would be difficult for most parents to discover—and some of Garelick’s observations are priceless: “I once told my eighth-grade algebra class that my classroom is one place where they won’t hear the words ‘growth mindset’—to which the class reacted with wild applause. Someone then asked what my objections to ‘growth mindset’ were. I said I didn’t like how it was interpreted: Motivational cliches like ‘I can’t do it…yet’ supposedly build up confidence leading to motivation and success. I believe it’s the other way around: success causes motivation more than motivation causes success. [Or, as researchers Szu-Han Wang and Richard Morris have noted: “we rapidly remember what interests us, but what interests us takes time to develop.” And this Slate Star Codex article about growth mindset remains timeless.]

Garelick presciently observes: “Where students frequently see through ineffective educational fads, people in education—after buying into such theories—see what they want to see.” Out on Good Behavior is well worth reading if you care about what your child is learning—or not learning—in school, particularly when it comes to math.

Much more on Barry Garelick, here.

West Point Scraps Second-Chance Program After Major Cheating Scandal

Ed Shanahan:

Responding to its worst academic scandal in decades, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point will scrap a program that provided a second chance to cadets who violated the honor code that is central to its mission, officials said on Friday.

The program, which the academy adopted in 2015, was sharply criticized by some West Point graduates in December after officials disclosed that 73 cadets had been accused of cheating on a calculus exam last spring.

Commentary.

Understanding quantum computing through drunken walks

Dylan Miracle and Dr. César A. Rodríguez-Rosario:

Quantum computing is the biggest revolution in computing since… computing. Our world is made of quantum information, but we perceive the world in classical information. That is, there is a whole lot going on at small scales that are not accessible with our normal senses. As humans we evolved to process classical information, not quantum information: our brains are wired to think about Sabertooth cats, not Schrodinger’s cats. We can encode our classical information easily enough with zeros and ones, but what about accessing the extra information available that makes up our universe? Can we use the quantum nature of reality to process information? Of course, otherwise we would have to end this post here and that would be unsatisfying to us all. Let’s explore the power of quantum computing then get you started writing some of your own quantum code.

Graphs

Sourcetarget:

It’s Leonard Euler’s 314th birthday today. In network circles the grandfather of graph theory is perhaps best known for his 1735 solution to the problem known as the Seven Bridges of Königsberg. Using novel graph theory techniques Euler was able to show that a route across the seven bridges without crossing the same one twice was impossible.

Euler’s work was fundamental for graph theory and I find it delightful to overlay the original problem statement over the roads and bridges that make up Königsberg, now Kaliningrad, today.

US Research University Supremacy

Tyler Smith:

At the turn of the 19th century, American universities were mostly under-resourced, regional schools. By World War II, they had become research leaders on the global stage, attracting the world’s best scientists.

In a paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, economists W. Bentley MacLeod and  Miguel Urquiola say that the US universities’ ascendancy in research started earlier than many people believe. 

Just after the Civil War, two innovators found a successful formula. Johns Hopkins and Cornell made key reforms that started attracting the best research talent—and the large sums of money needed to keep it. 

Today, reformers would like to tweak practices like tenure that helped create this virtuous circle. But Urquiola says they should keep a few important tradeoffs in mind.

Urquiola recently spoke with the AEA’s Tyler Smith about the history of the US university system and what today’s education policymakers can learn from it.  

Civics: Facebook Censorship

Shant Mesrobian and Zaid Jilani:

Now, it appears that Facebook is once again putting its thumb on the scale, and it has to do with another New York Post article. Users worldwide are reporting that they can’t share a New York Post story about a Black Lives Matter co-founder buying several real estate properties, including a $1.4 million California home, on any of Facebook’s services (Facebook’s social network, Instagram, and Messenger all appear to be impacted):

Daniel Villarreal:

When Newsweek reporters attempted to post a link to the Post’s story, the action couldn’t be completed. The following message also appeared: “Your post couldn’t be shared, because this link goes against our Community Standards. If you think this doesn’t go against our Community Standards let us know

Many taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Facebook services, including Madison.

Opting your Website out of Google’s FLoC Network

Paramdeo Singh:

The FLoC Header

The primary way an end-user can avoid being FLoC’d is to simply not use Chrome, and instead choose a privacy-respecting browser such as Mozilla Firefox .

But website owners can also ensure that their web servers are not participating in this massive network by opting-out of FLoC.

To do so, the following custom HTTP response header needs to be added:

Many taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Google services, including Madison. YouTube censorship.

Can teaching be improved by law?

Robert Pondisco:

If there’s one lesson education policymakers might have learned in the last twenty-five years, it’s that it’s not hard to make schools and districts do something, but it’s extremely hard to make them do it well. There has always been at least a tacit assumption among policy wonks that schools and teachers are sitting on vast reserves of untapped potential that must either to be set free from bureaucratic constraints or shaken out of its complacency. Those of us who have spent lots of time in classrooms watching teachers trying their best and failing (or trying hard and failing ourselves) often find those assumptions curious. Compliance is easy. It’s competence that’s the rub.

Last week, North Carolina’s Democratic governor signed into law a bill that mandates, among other things, that schools in the state use a phonics-based approach to reading instruction. Dubbed the “Excellent Public Schools Act,” the law, which enjoyed strong bipartisan support, requires teachers to be trained in the “science of reading” and to base their reading instruction on it. Despite my inherent skepticism that policy alone can move classroom practice in the right direction, I’m having a hard time finding fault with what North Carolina has done.

I’m generally not keen to impose my preferred flavors of curriculum and instruction on schools, despite some well-defined opinions on such matters. But if there’s an exception, it’s early childhood literacy with curriculum and instruction grounded in the science of reading. The foundational role of proficient decoding and comprehension in academic success suggests that, while it might make sense to let a thousand flowers bloom in curriculum, instruction, and school models—vive la différence!—we have no more important shared task than getting kids to the starting line of basic literacy from the first days of school. So if I have any lingering technocratic impulses left, they’re limited to early childhood literacy and the “science of reading.” But the open question is whether literacy laws—from mandating phonics to third grade retention policies—can have a beneficial effect on classroom practice.

Related: My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

Parenting, 2021

Bari Weiss:

I was planning to publish a roundup today of the many thoughtful responses to Paul Rossi’s essay. I’m going to save that post for Sunday, because I was just sent this letter that has my jaw on the floor. It was written by a Brearley parent named Andrew Gutmann.

If you don’t know about Brearley, it’s a private all-girls school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It costs $54,000 a year and prospective families apparently have to take an “anti-racism pledge” to be considered for admission. (In the course of my reporting for this piece I spoke to a few Brearley parents.)

Gutmann chose to pull his daughter, who has been in the school since kindergarten, and sent this missive to all 600 or so families in the school earlier this week. Among the lines:

If Brearley’s administration was truly concerned about so-called “equity,” it would be discussing the cessation of admissions preferences for legacies, siblings, and those families with especially deep pockets. If the administration was genuinely serious about “diversity,” it would not insist on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

I’m pasting the whole thing below.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

“They can be manipulated, chosen and framed . . . to support whatever arguments the communicator wants to make,”

Jemima Kelly:

From the point of view of health risks, the raw oyster that Sir David Spiegelhalter is in the process of releasing from its shell and preparing to slide into his mouth probably wasn’t the safest bet. But from the perspective of sheer pleasure, after a year of restrictions and restraint, it feels like the perfect choice. He chews it a few times — the correct way to eat an oyster — and slurps it down, beaming. “Oh, lovely!”

Besides, his nickname might be “Professor Risk” but if there’s one thing the 67-year-old Spiegelhalter wishes he’d done more of over the years, it’s throwing caution to the wind. “My one regret in my life is that I haven’t taken enough risks,” he tells me wistfully. “I’ve been too cautious — in my career, in my travels. I wish I’d done far more adventurous things.”

Google Privacy issues – Australian Court

ACCC:

The Court ruled that when consumers created a new Google Account during the initial set-up process of their Android device, Google misrepresented that the ‘Location History’ setting was the only Google Account setting that affected whether Google collected, kept or used personally identifiable data about their location. In fact, another Google Account setting titled ‘Web & App Activity’ also enabled Google to collect, store and use personally identifiable location data when it was turned on, and that setting was turned on by default.

The Court also found that when consumers later accessed the ‘Location History’ setting on their Android device during the same time period to turn that setting off, they were also misled because Google did not inform them that by leaving the ‘Web & App Activity’ setting switched on, Google would continue to collect, store and use their personally identifiable location data.

Many taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Google services, including Madison. YouTube censorship.

“The future is certain but history is unsettled”

RFA:

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has set up a hotline for people to report each other to the authorities for failing to toe the party’s freshly revised line on matters of history.

The Cyberspace Administration said in a post to its official Weibo account on April 9 that people should use the number “to report erroneous online remarks relating to historical nihilism.”

The move is to “create a good public opinion environment” regarding China’s history since the CCP took power in 1949, the post said.

To help those who may be unsure of which opinions are the “correct” ones, the CCP has also published a handy guide in the form of a book titled A Brief History of the Communist Party of China.

Published to mark the party’s centenary this year, the revised history plays down the cautious diplomatic approach of late supreme leader Deng Xiaoping in the wake of international sanctions following the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, instead highlighting his comments to former U.S. president Richard Nixon in November 2019.

Deng told Nixon that China would never “beg” for sanctions to be lifted, the book says.

Wisconsin lawmakers should allow parents to direct redistributed K-12 billion$ from American Rescue Plan

Institute for Reforming Government, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin, Federation for Children School Choice, Wisconsin Action ExcelinEd in Action, Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy Badger Institute, FreedomWorks and Building Education for Students Together:

Dear Governor Evers, Speaker Vos, Majority Leader LeMahieu, and State Superintendent Stanford Taylor,

At last Thursday’s Joint Education Committee hearing on how to spend the American Rescue Plan’s billions of dollars in supplemental funding for K-12 education, a common, bipartisan theme emerged: policymakers in Wisconsin must find ways to help students who have fallen behind, failed courses, and gone missing. In response, our organizations are calling on lawmakers, to the greatest extent possible, to utilize the American Rescue Plan’s $1.5 billion in new K-12 funding to support course access for struggling students. This could:

1. Allow parents to choose the courses that best fit the needs of their children at the school they currently attend.

2. Fund after school, summer school, and other courses that meet each child’s individual needs and help them get caught up and ready to excel.

3. Ensure accountability by allowing only course providers—including other traditional public, private, or public charter schools, dual enrollment courses through universities or technical colleges, or other private providers such as tutors—to receive full payment only if the student successfully completes the course.

Wisconsin K-12 At a Crossroads: Before the pandemic, our reading scores were below the national average. Wisconsin’s racial achievement gaps consistently rank near the largest in the nation. The K-12 system simply prevented too many students from realizing the American Dream.

Our organizations are deeply concerned that COVID-19 has exacerbated the achievement gap while simultaneously lowering outcomes across the board, even for many students who once earned solid A’s. More troubling, Wisconsin public school enrollment has dropped by 25,000 in a single year. While some of those students simply fled schools that were closed in favor of private options that were teaching in person, many others are simply missing. For those who are logging into virtual learning, failure rates are skyrocketing. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel survey of 60 school districts in Wisconsin concluded that 90% of the districts had higher failure rates than the year prior. Around one in three students at Milwaukee Public Schools, according to the district, failed the fall semester. At Wausau Public Schools, around one in four middle school and high school students failed a course (a quadruple increase from the prior year).

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

Commentary on the 2021 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Election

Will Flanders and Libby Sobic:

For many years, Wisconsin has reserved the position of state superintendent of schools for someone steeped in union politics and promising the status quo. But over the past year, COVID-19 has turned many such situations on their heads and polarized politics in a way never seen before. The superintendent election that took place across Wisconsin last week was not excused from the COVID-effect. For once in a long while, the status quo candidate—Jill Underly—faced a very serious challenge from Debb Kerr who, for focusing on getting students back in the classroom and promising to treat all school sectors equally, became the reform candidate overnight.  Unfortunately for Wisconsin students, Underly prevailed. But the race exposed a growing schism on the left around the issue of education reform.

In the primary, Underly garnered support from the teachers unions by expressing her skepticism on school choice, and proposing a freeze on the programs that would effectively eliminate the option for countless kids around the state. Kerr supported working with the voucher and charter sectors, and viewing all sectors as part of a broader team working to improve educational outcomes for Wisconsin students.

In the past it was possible on the national level and in Wisconsin to receive support from the teachers unions while also allowing school choice. For instance, Arne Duncan, President Obama’s secretary of education, a supporter of education reform in its most tepid forms,  endorsed Kerr in the last week before the election. However, these Democrats are finding themselves increasingly ostracized from the party’s mainstream when forced to address educational issues. For instance, Duncan’s endorsement of Kerr quickly led to a tweet from Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan claiming that Duncan was a “bad” Secretary of Education for supporting options like charter schools. Pocan also called voucher supporters a “cult.”

Much more on Kerr vs. Underly, here.

A lawsuits over race based scholarships

Kelly Meyerhofer:

State law restricts program eligibility to African American, American Indian, Hispanic and some Southeast Asian students.

WILL argues the program criteria amounts to racial discrimination — which is prohibited by the state constitution — because students who are Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, North African, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or white don’t qualify.

“It’s hard to see a statute that is more discriminatory based on race than this one,” WILL deputy counsel Dan Lennington said. “We’re interested in pursuing cases where people are treated differently because of their race and this is one of the worst offenders.”

Officials with the Higher Educational Aids Board did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

Civics: Warrantless Government Surveillance

The Economist:

The notion of putting cameras on orbiting drones to catch malefactors was born on the battlefields of Iraq, where American armed forces wanted to nab people leaving bombs on roadsides. Ross McNutt, a former air-force engineer, founded Persistent Surveillance Systems (pss) to offer the same service to American cities (and others, such as Juárez) struggling with high murder rates. pss drones flew over parts of Baltimore, most recently in May-October 2020. St Louis, among America’s most violent cities, also considered but is poised to reject pss’s services, which raise difficult questions about how much surveillance Americans are willing to tolerate in exchange for the promise of safer streets.

Civics: Political Class Stock Trading

Mish:

Purchase of Stock Via Call Options

Barron’s reports Nancy Pelosi’s Husband Bought Roblox, Microsoft Stock

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband just disclosed he bought Roblox stock the day it went public, and acquired Microsoft stock through options.

The Barron’s article is behind a paywall. Fox News also reports the same thing: Pelosi’s Husband Bought $10M in Microsoft Shares Through Options. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband purchased millions of dollars worth of Microsoft (MSFT) and Roblox (RBLX) shares last month, new financial disclosures form reveal.

Paul Pelosi exercised call options and paid $1.95 million to buy 15,000 shares of Microsoft at a strike price of $130 on March 19, according to an April 9th filing with the House clerk. That same day, Pelosi, who owns and operates a California venture capital investment and consulting firm, paid $1.4 million for 10,000 shares valued at $140 apiece.

Since Pelosi made the purchase, Microsoft share prices have climbed from about $230 to roughly $255 – an increase of close to 11% – after the company secured a lucrative government contract worth nearly $22 billion to supply U.S. Army combat troops with augmented reality headsets. The deal was announced on March 31.

Civics: Big Corporations Now Deploying Woke Ideology the Way Intelligence Agencies Do: As a Disguise

Glenn Greenwald:

The British spy agency GCHQ is so aggressive, extreme and unconstrained by law or ethics that the NSA — not exactly world renowned for its restraint — often farms out spying activities too scandalous or illegal for the NSA to their eager British counterparts. There is, as the Snowden reporting demonstrated, virtually nothing too deceitful or invasive for the GCHQ. They spy on entire populations, deliberately disseminate fake news, exploit psychological research to control behavior and manipulate public perception, and destroy the reputations, including through the use of sex traps, of anyone deemed adversarial to the British government.

But they want you to know that they absolutely adore gay people. In fact, they love the cause of LGBT equality so very much that, beginning on May 17, 2015 — International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia — they started draping their creepy, UFO-style headquarters in the colors of the rainbow flag. The prior year, in 2014, they had merely raised the rainbow flag in front of their headquarters, but in 2015, they announced, “we wanted to make a bold statement to show the nation we serve how strongly we believe in this.”

Part 3 Discipline: What can schools do to reduce disciplinary problems?

Armand A. Fusco, Ed.D.:

“The key to greater learning begins with knowing how to manage a classroom.” What must be added is “how to manage a school” and “how to manage a school district.” Solving disciplinary problems cannot be done in the classroom alone. Reigning in disciplinary problems must begin with leadership at the school and district levels.

What’s reassuring is that there is no need to “reinvent the wheel.” All of the “how-to” has been developed by a variety of experts and confirmed by numerous studies. One such example is Schoolwide and Classroom Discipline developed by The Northwest Regional Laboratory. It provides an abundance of practical solutions, has pages of references, and it’s free.

According to Harry K. Wong, How to be an Effective Teacher, the most common mistake teachers make in disciplining is that they don’t do classroom management—“they present lessons, and if something goes wrong, they discipline.” There is nothing mystical about classroom management. Simply stated, classroom management is the practices and procedures that allow teachers to teach and students to learn. Aren’t teachers trained in effective classroom management techniques? No! That’s why discipline is rated the number one problem by classroom teachers, and it’s the reason why classroom management seminars are so popular.

In one such seminar conducted by Fred Jones, who has written three books on classroom management, a teacher asked a rather profound question: “Why weren’t we given this information about classroom discipline 20 years ago?”

Part 2: Can Corporal Punishment Bring Back Discipline?

Commentary on Wisconsin’s K-12 Tax & Spending increase climate

Will Flanders:

There were 71 referenda on the ballot around the state this spring. Voters only approved 42 of them—a 60.56% passage rate. While this number may seem relatively high, it is actually extremely low in comparison to recent years. The figure below shows the referenda passage rate over the last ten years.  Spring and fall passage rates are combined for ease of understanding.

Madison Receives More Redistributed Federal Taxpayer Funds; $70,659,827 (!)

Fears of Technology Are Fears of Capitalism

Ted Chiang:

I tend to think that most fears about A.I. are best understood as fears about capitalism. And I think that this is actually true of most fears of technology, too. Most of our fears or anxieties about technology are best understood as fears or anxiety about how capitalism will use technology against us. And technology and capitalism have been so closely intertwined that it’s hard to distinguish the two.

Let’s think about it this way. How much would we fear any technology, whether A.I. or some other technology, how much would you fear it if we lived in a world that was a lot like Denmark or if the entire world was run sort of on the principles of one of the Scandinavian countries? There’s universal health care. Everyone has child care, free college maybe. And maybe there’s some version of universal basic income there.

Now if the entire world operates according to — is run on those principles, how much do you worry about a new technology then? I think much, much less than we do now. Most of the things that we worry about under the mode of capitalism that the U.S practices, that is going to put people out of work, that is going to make people’s lives harder, because corporations will see it as a way to increase their profits and reduce their costs. It’s not intrinsic to that technology. It’s not that technology fundamentally is about putting people out of work.

Commentary on Incumbent school board member election losses (unopposed in Madison…)

Samantha West, Alec Johnson and Rory Linnane:

Tricia Zunker said she knows school board presidents sometimes have a target on their backs. It’s part of the job, she said.

But as Zunker led the Wausau School District board over the past year, she said, “People were so cruel, you’d think I personally brought the pandemic here.”

Angry citizens scrawled messages about her on sidewalks around town. A board president in a neighboring district wrote on Facebook that she was “a waste of physical space on the planet.”

Tuesday’s election brought the coup de grace: Of seven candidates seeking four seats on the board, Zunker finished sixth. Three winners, all newcomers, ran as a bloc against what they called Wausau’s “virtual and hybrid learning nightmare.”

After a year in which parents’ frustrations put schools in the spotlight more than ever, board elections were unusually contentious and partisan. Across the state, many voters opted for change.

Incumbents lost in suburban districts such as Oak Creek-Franklin, and more urban districts such as Green Bay. Those who unseated incumbents criticized reopening plans, transparency and current board members’ political leanings.

Not every district elected candidates pushing for more in-person learning, though. Christina Brey, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Education Association Council representing educators around the state, said the issue swung both ways.

In more urban areas, like Milwaukee and Green Bay, voters favored candidates who were in favor of more cautious reopenings and enjoyed the support of local teachers unions. In other districts, support from teachers was the kiss of death. 

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

Civics: (2010) Obama wins the right to detain people with no habeas review

Glenn Greenwald:

Few issues highlight Barack Obama’s extreme hypocrisy the way that Bagram does. As everyone knows, one of George Bush’s most extreme policies was abducting people from all over the world — far away from any battlefield — and then detaining them at Guantanamo with no legal rights of any kind, not even the most minimal right to a habeas review in a federal court.  Back in the day, this was called “Bush’s legal black hole.”  In 2006, Congress codified that policy by enacting the Military Commissions Act, but in 2008, the Supreme Court, in Boumediene v. Bush, ruled that provision unconstitutional, holding that the Constitution grants habeas corpus rights even to foreign nationals held at Guantanamo.  Since then, detainees have won 35 out of 48 habeas hearings brought pursuant to Boumediene, on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to justify their detention.

A New Map of All the Particles and Forces

Natalie Wolchover:

All of nature springs from a handful of components — the fundamental particles — that interact with one another in only a few different ways. In the 1970s, physicists developed a set of equations describing these particles and interactions. Together, the equations formed a succinct theory now known as the Standard Model of particle physics.

The Standard Model is missing a few puzzle pieces (conspicuously absent are the putative particles that make up dark matter, those that convey the force of gravity, and an explanation for the mass of neutrinos), but it provides an extremely accurate picture of almost all other observed phenomena.

Dismissive reviews: A cancer on the body of knowledge

Richard P. Phelps:

Observers describe the quantity of research information now produced variously as “torrent,” “overload,” “proliferation,” or the like. Technological advances in computing and telecommunication have helped us keep up, to an extent. But, I would argue, scholarly and journalistic ethics have not kept pace.

As a case in point, consider the journal article literature review. Its function is twofold: to specify where new information fits within the context of what is already known; and to avoid unknowingly duplicating research projects the public has already paid for. Paradoxically, however, information proliferation may discourage honest and accurate literature reviews. Research information accumulates, which increases the time required for conducting a thorough literature review, which increases the incentive to avoid it.  

Most dismissive reviews that I have encountered are raw declarations. A scholar, pundit, or journalist simply declares that no research on a topic exists (or couldn’t be any good if it did exist). No mention is made of how or where (or, even if) they searched. Certain themes appear over and over, such as:

The root of the problem: Many editors do not review literature reviews for accuracy. As a result, an author can write anything about earlier work on a topic — including misrepresentations of the work of rivals. 

No More College Admission Test?

Critically Speaking podcasts:

Over the last few years, a number of colleges and universities have dropped the requirement for all or part of the SAT or ACT exam as part of their admissions requirements.   This movement appears to be increasing. It’s logical to wonder about the large-scale implications of eliminating the requirement of these tests, the benefits, and the downsides. In today’s episode, Therese Markow and Dr. Richard Phelps, discuss this trend of eliminating standardized tests, the origins of this movement, and the potential consequences we may see as a result of these changing requirements. 

Ivy League received $168 million from Congress during third round of ‘relief’ funding

Sophie Mann:

This week, our award is going to the United States Congress for allocating nearly $170 million  for emergency funding to be distributed among Ivy League universities, some with endowments larger than the total assets managed by some mid-size investment funds.

The most recent “coronavirus relief bill” cost just under $2 trillion, placing significant upward pressure on the already-skyrocketing national debt. The Biden administration’s opening salvo was criticized for being packed with spending only tenuously related to the pandemic, including $86 billion to bail out union pension funds and $1.5 billion for Amtrak (a pet cause of President Biden, dubbed “Amtrak Joe” during his Senate years for his daily rail commutes between Washington and his Wilmington, Del. home).

KEY FINDINGS:

1. Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015). This is equivalent to $120,000 in government monies, subsidies, & special tax treatment per undergraduate student, or $6.93 billion per year.

Civics: How We Discovered Google’s Social Justice Blocklist for YouTube Ad Placements

Leon Yin and Aaron Sankin:

And there has been considerable research and analysis into demonetization, which is when YouTube prohibits specific videos or channels from running ads. For instance, a research project conducted by the people behind the YouTube channels Sealow, Nerd City, and YouTube Analyzed uploaded thousands of videos and found that the company demonetized those with the words “gay,” “lesbian,” and some other words associated with the LGBTQ community. In an article about the research, Vox quoted an unnamed Google spokesperson saying that the company tests to ensure the algorithm it uses for ad blocking isn’t biased and that the company does not “have a list of LGBTQ+ related words that trigger demonetization.”

Our investigation did not focus on demonetization but rather on apparent steps taken by Google to prevent advertisers from deliberately placing ads on YouTube videos the company finds are related to certain words and phrases.

In our first investigation in this series, we found that Google does a poor job of blocking advertisers from targeting hate YouTube videos on the Google Ads portal. It allowed companies to find videos related to more than two-thirds of our list of hate phrases—and we got around the blocks for all but three phrases. (YouTube responded by adding some, but not all, of the words and phrases it missed to its blocklist.)

An Interview with Outgoing Madison School Board Member (and President) Gloria Reyes

David Dahmer:

As president, Reyes has been the face and often the spokesperson of the Madison School Board during some very trying and challenging times including the COVID-19 pandemic and the canceling of in-person classes, the hiring of new MMSD superintendent twice (Dr. Matthew Gutierrez rescinded his acceptance of the job before MMSD started over from scratch to hire now-Superintendent Dr. Carl Jenkins), the temporary firing last year of a Madison West High School security guard that drew international attention, and a facilities and operation referendum process. Those are to just name a few.

“It all started when Dr. Jen Cheatham announced that she was leaving for another opportunity and I knew right then that this would spark a transition and an opportunity for our school district,” Reyes says. “It’s a loss, but also an opportunity to explore who our new leader could be. We launched a really transparent, engaged process to hear what the community wanted to see in their next leader.”

MMSD hired Dr. Matthew Gutierrez who was leading the school district in Seguin, Texas, but the COVID-19 pandemic began and Guitierrez rescinded his acceptance and decided that he could not leave his school district during such a challenging time.

“I feel like he was going to be an amazing leader for us, but COVID hit and we found ourselves without a superintendent while going through the pandemic and closing schools and moving to virtual learning,” Reyes says. “That was also a very challenging time for us and our students, our teachers, our school administrators and our staff to go through a whole year in virtual learning. It’s been challenging for everyone including our parents and our families.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

Style & Substance

Wall Street Journal Weekly Writer Commentary:

Think of it this way: If you want to calculate how much money you have made in 2021, you start at zero, and then Jan. 1’s data is the first “change.” You don’t start counting on Jan. 2.

(And while we are on the topic, the stylebook notes that we use hyphens only when the phrase precedes the noun: year-to-date expenses. Otherwise: expenses for the year to date. Use the abbreviation YTD only in tabular material.)

WSJ Newsletter

Notes on the News

The news of the week in context, with Tyler Blint-Welsh.

This is similar to an issue we used to sometimes have with reporting on the performance of new stock offerings. The rise in a new stock must be calculated from the offering price (the price that was set on the initial public offering), not on the first trade or the first day’s close. Otherwise, we are capturing only a part of the true movement in the stock from its base price.

How Netflix is creating a common European culture

The Economist:

“BARBARIANS”, A NETFLIX drama set 2,000 years ago in ancient Germania, inverts some modern stereotypes. In it, sexy, impulsive, proto-German tribesmen take on an oppressive superstate led by cold, rational Latin-speakers from Rome. Produced in Germany, it has all the hallmarks of a glossy American drama (gratuitous violence and prestige nudity) while remaining unmistakably German (in one episode someone swims through a ditch full of scheisse). It is a popular mix: on a Sunday in October, it was the most-watched show on Netflix not just in Germany, but also in France, Italy and 14 other European countries.

Moments when Europeans sit down and watch the same thing at roughly the same time used to be rare. They included the Eurovision Song Contest and the Champions League football, with not much in between. Now they are more common, thanks to the growth of streaming platforms such as Netflix, which has 58m subscribers on the continent. For most of its existence, television was a national affair. Broadcasters stuck rigidly to national borders, pumping out French programmes for the French and Danish ones for the Danes. Streaming services, however, treat Europe as one large market rather than 27 individual ones, with the same content available in each. Jean Monnet, one of the EU’s founding fathers, who came up with the idea of mangling together national economies to stop Europeans from killing each other, was once reputed to have said: “If I were to do it again from scratch, I would start with culture.” Seven decades on from the era of Monnet, cultural integration is beginning to happen.

Macron to close Ena, training school of French elite

Leila Abboud:

To reform the senior civil service, the government will also abolish the system by which people are initially assigned to the most prestigious government jobs based on their ranking at Ena graduation, and instead give them roles based on needs and skills.

Macron first promised to abolish Ena, which has produced four of France’s seven presidents since 1958 and is his own alma mater, in 2019 in response to the anti-establishment gilets jaunes protests.

The decision shocked the French elite and divided public opinion — some saw it as a long overdue move to help fix an unequal society while others decried it as a cynical gesture pandering to populists.

Last year the government appeared to soften its stance and floated the idea of replacing Ena with a new institution while retaining the brand for international purposes such as the training of EU staff. That approach has now been adopted as Macron prepares for presidential elections next spring with his popularity dented by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ena was founded in 1945 under Charles de Gaulle with the aim of training civil servants drawn from all social classes through entrance exams and assigning jobs based on performance rather than wealth or connections.

Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction

Mairead Small Staid:

“I read books to read myself,” Sven Birkerts wrote in The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age. Birkerts’s book, which turns twenty-five this year, is composed of fifteen essays on reading, the self, the convergence of the two, and the ways both are threatened by the encroachment of modern technology. As the culture around him underwent the sea change of the internet’s arrival, Birkerts feared that qualities long safeguarded and elevated by print were in danger of erosion: among them privacy, the valuation of individual consciousness, and an awareness of history—not merely the facts of it, but a sense of its continuity, of our place among the centuries and cosmos. “Literature holds meaning not as a content that can be abstracted and summarized, but as experience,” he wrote. “It is a participatory arena. Through the process of reading we slip out of our customary time orientation, marked by distractedness and surficiality, into the realm of duration.”

Writing in 1994, Birkerts worried that distractedness and surficiality would win out. The “duration state” we enter through a turned page would be lost in a world of increasing speed and relentless connectivity, and with it our ability to make meaning out of narratives, both fictional and lived. The diminishment of literature—of sustained reading, of writing as the product of a single focused mind—would diminish the self in turn, rendering us less and less able to grasp both the breadth of our world and the depth of our own consciousness. For Birkerts, as for many a reader, the thought of such a loss devastates. So while he could imagine this bleak near-future, he (mostly) resisted the masochistic urge to envision it too concretely, focusing instead on the present, in which—for a little while longer, at least—he reads, and he writes. His collection, despite its title, resembles less an elegy for literature than an attempt to stave off its death: by writing eloquently about his own reading life and electronic resistance, Birkerts reminds us that such a life is worthwhile, desirable, and, most importantly, still possible. In the face of what we stand to lose, he privileges what we might yet gain.

A Medical Student Questioned Microaggressions. UVA Branded Him a Threat and Banished Him from Campus.

Robby Soave:

Kieran Bhattacharya is a student at the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine. On October 25, 2018, he attended a panel discussion on the subject of microaggressions. Dissatisfied with the definition of a microaggression offered by the presenter—Beverly Cowell Adams, an assistant dean—Bhattacharya raised his hand.

Within a few weeks, as a result of the fallout from Bhattacharya’s question about microagressions, the administration had branded him a threat to the university and banned him from campus. He is now suing UVA for violating his First Amendment rights, and a judge recently ruled that his suit should proceed.

On “we know best”: How I Became a Libertarian The consequences of intervention are rarely what we expect or desire.

Meir Kohn:

I did not become a libertarian because I was persuaded by philosophical arguments — those of Ayn Rand or F. A. Hayek, for example. Rather, I became a libertarian because I was persuaded by my own experiences and observations of reality. There were three important lessons.

The first lesson was my personal experience of socialism. The second was what I learned about the consequences of government intervention from teaching a course on financial intermediaries and markets. And the third lesson was what I learned about the origin and evolution of government from my research into the sources of economic progress in preindustrial Europe and China.

Lesson 1. My Personal Experience of Socialism

In my youth, I was a socialist. I know that is not unusual. But I not only talked the talk, I walked the walk.

Growing up in England as a foreign‐ born Jew, I did not feel I belonged. So, as a teenager, I decided to emigrate to Israel. To further my plan, I joined a Zionist youth movement. The movement I joined was not only Zionist: it was also socialist. So, to fit in, I became a socialist. Hey, I was a teenager!

What do I mean by a socialist? I mean someone who believes that the principal source of human unhappiness is the struggle for money — “capitalism” — and that the solution is to organize society on a different principle — “from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” The Israeli kibbutz in the 1960s was such a society. The youth movement I joined in England sent groups of young people to Israel to settle on a kibbutz. When I was 18, I joined such a group going to settle on Kibbutz Amiad.

A kibbutz is a commune of a few hundred adults, plus kids, engaged primarily in agriculture but also in light industry and tourism. Members work wherever they are assigned, although preferences are taken into account. Instead of receiving pay, members receive benefits in kind: they live in assigned housing, they eat in a communal dining hall, and their children are raised communally in children’s houses, and can visit with their parents for a few hours each day. Most property is communal except for personal items such as clothing and furniture, for which members receive a small budget. Because cigarettes were free, I soon began to smoke!

Kibbutz is bottom‐ up socialism on the scale of a small community. It thereby avoids the worst problems of state socialism: a planned economy and totalitarianism. The kibbutz, as a unit, is part of a market economy, and membership is voluntary: you can leave at any time. This is “socialism with a human face” — as good as it gets.

The growing privacy concerns around using transcription services like Otter.ai, Descript, and Trint

Lucas Lee:

When Michael Lista went to stay 10 days at a lonely, one-storey motel in Emerson, Manitoba, he overpacked. His suitcase was full to the brim with clothes he didn’t end up wearing. It turned out that all he needed were his travel essentials—a pair of jeans, a pair of boots, a parka, and most important, a beat-up Sony voice recorder, complete with scratches on its small LED screen and dust in the crevasses of the speaker grilles. For Lista, a self-described Luddite, that palm-sized device is his baby; the single-most important tool for his line of work.

His room at the motel was a relic of a past long gone. A frayed, low-pile carpet lined the floor, the beige wallpaper stained by humidity and the passage of time. Lista had no complaints, though, for two reasons: the first being that the kind folks that managed the motel charged less than $50 per night. The other reason was because the Maple Leaf Motel was exactly where Lista intended to be. His goal was to tell the story of his next-door neighbours: asylum-seekers who, fearing President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration regime, fled the United States and ended up in a small town with a population of fewer than 700, some 200 metres north of the border.

Lista chronicled the story of refugees like Ahmed, a gay man who endured capsizing migrant boats, deadly spiders, a robbery, and imprisonment during his three-year journey from Ecuador to southern Winnipeg. He shared the story of a young man named Koffi, who feared deportation back to Ghana. Emerson, being so close to the U.S. border, was a town filled with Odyssean tales like these, of the people who were forced to cross the lines of legality to escape the perilousness of their home country. And because their stories so often involved breaking immigration laws, Lista had a concern: would he be putting his sources in jeopardy simply by speaking with them?

SAFS McGill

Press Release:

A new association has been formed at McGill University to serve faculty, staff, and students who believe in academic freedom and are concerned about the cancel culture now operating in universities.

SAFS McGill, a freshly minted chapter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, has launched itself online under the rubric, THINKSPACE: A SAFE PLACE FOR REASON.  

Its founding members, drawn from across the University, recognize the solemn duty of academics to pursue knowledge and understanding wherever that leads, and to disseminate their findings without fear or favour. That sometimes means questioning received wisdom or challenging powerful interest groups or rejecting premature closure of debate.  They are committed to a free marketplace of ideas that contend through rational enquiry rather than through pressure tactics. 

SAFS McGill has the following goals:

The Dunning-Kruger Effect Shows Why Some People Think They’re Great Even When Their Work Is Terrible

Mark Murphy:

Pat is a programmer at a large software company. At best, he’s a middling performer; his code is a mess (initializing variables that are never used, using variable names no one else understands, etc.), he takes longer than he should, and he doesn’t even remember his own code months later.

But Pat’s poor coding skills aren’t his most annoying attribute. What frustrates his manager the most is that Pat is absolutely convinced that he’s a great programmer. Last month was Pat’s performance review, and after receiving a low score from his manager, Pat incredulously argued:

“I’m one of the best programmers in this department! What kind of rating scale are you even using if someone with my talent can get a low score? There’s no way that your performance review form is accurately assessing my abilities. Or maybe you’re just assessing a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with actually being a programmer!”

If you’ve ever dealt with someone whose performance stinks, and they’re not only clueless that their performance stinks but they’re confident that their performance is good, you likely saw the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action.

Back to School: The Effect of School Visits During COVID-19 on COVID-19 Transmission

Dena Bravata, Jonathan H. Cantor, Neeraj Sood & Christopher M. Whaley:

Schools across the United States and the world have been closed in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, the effect of school closure on COVID-19 transmission remains unclear. We estimate the causal effect of changes in the number of weekly visits to schools on COVID-19 transmission using a triple difference approach. In particular, we measure the effect of changes in county-level visits to schools on changes in COVID-19 diagnoses for households with school-age children relative to changes in COVID-19 diagnoses for households without school-age children. We use a data set from the first 46 weeks of 2020 with 130 million household-week level observations that includes COVID-19 diagnoses merged to school visit tracking data from millions of mobile phones. We find that increases in county-level in-person visits to schools lead to an increase in COVID-19 diagnoses among households with children relative to households without school-age children. However, the effects are small in magnitude. A move from the 25th to the 75th percentile of county-level school visits translates to a 0.3 per 10,000 household increase in COVID-19 diagnoses. This change translates to a 3.2 percent relative increase. We find larger differences in low-income counties, in counties with higher COVID-19 prevalence, and at later stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How do we know the history of extreme poverty?

Joe Hasell and Max Roser:

The poverty researcher Martin Ravallion spent decades researching how poverty can be measured and which policies can help us in our fight against poverty. The summary of his work is his monumental book ‘The Economics of Poverty: History, Measurement, and Policy’.

The first chapters of this book present a detailed history of global poverty and how the research of poverty has developed. The very big-picture of the long-run decline of extreme poverty he summarizes in the following figure. The chart shows that the share of the world population living in extreme poverty declined continuously over the last two centuries.

What is this chart based on? How do we do know that just two centuries ago the majority of the world population lived in conditions that are similar to the living conditions of the very poorest in the world today as this chart indicates? And how do we know that this account of falling global extreme poverty is in fact true?

It is the research of hundreds of historians who have carefully assembled thousands of quantitative estimates that inform us about us about people’s living conditions that give us this global perspective on the history of poverty.

“and I would create a more robust communications team to foster improved public relations”- Jill Underly on Wisconsin taxpayer funded K-12 Governance

Molly Beck:

One of the most influential lawmakers over the state budgeting process said he wouldn’t support increasing funding for the state education agency because its new leader elected Tuesday was heavily backed by Democrats and teachers unions. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, made the statement just an hour after Pecatonica School District Superintendent Jill Underly was elected state schools superintendent, a position that oversees the state Department of Public Instruction.  

Vos went to war with Underly immediately after her election after outside spending fueled by Democratic groups set a record for state superintendent races, which are supposed to be nonpartisan but aren’t as more political groups spend to back candidates and state parties promote them. 

“… the teachers union owns the DPI; not the parents or the students or the taxpayers. Count me as someone who isn’t going to support putting another nickel into this unaccountable state bureaucracy,” Vos tweeted on Tuesday, an hour after the Associated Press called the race for Underly over former Brown Deer School District Superintendent Deb Kerr.

In response, Underly said she wants to work with the Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers to “help all kids — no matter how their parents vote.”

“I think it’s clear from yesterday’s results that supporting our local schools and our children isn’t a partisan issue,” she said in a statement. “There’s plenty of common ground here, as I’ve already said I want resources to flow to schools, to help with mental health, credit recovery, staffing, and more.”

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

School Choice Support Soars

AFC:

Parents and families have been on a rollercoaster when it comes to K-12 education in the time of COVID-19. A new poll from Real Clear Opinion Research finds overall support for school choice is increasing as parents need more options than ever.

Major findings:

– 71% of voters back school choice. This is the highest level of support ever recorded from major AFC national polling with a sample size above 800 voters.

– 65% support parents having access to a portion of per-pupil funding to use for home, virtual, or private education if public schools don’t reopen full-time for in-person classes.

Statement from John Schilling, President of the American Federation of Children:

“The continued very strong support among voters for school choice and spending flexibility for parents of school-aged children is a clear message for policymakers. Parents and families are demanding greater choice in K-12 education and they expect policymakers to put the needs of students ahead of the special interests who are bound and determined to protect the status quo.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

Writing tools I learned from The Economist

Ahmed Soliman:

I learned writing from The Economist. Back home, it wasn’t easy to learn English. No one in my social circle was fluent in the language and I couldn’t afford a private tutor. The best I could do was to create my own syllabus. The kiosk near my house had, to my surprise, the newspaper1. I’d save my allowance to buy whatever issue was on the stand. I’d divide each issue into two units: New Vocabulary and Writing Tools. I’d then memorize the novel words and apply the newly-discovered sentence structures to my essays. I kept doing this for three years.

I like the writing style of The Economist for many reasons: the most important is that it’s easy to understand their point. Writing to be understood might be an obvious requirement of a readable article, but often I find myself occupied with deciphering form instead of digesting content. Not so with the British newspaper: its writers understand that form exists only to serve content. It’s okay to internally admire one’s word choices and sentence structures, but writers should be a little less selfish in their writing, especially nonfiction.

These are 6 writing tools I learned from The Economist. As you’ll see, they exist to serve, not confuse, the reader.

Why Computers Won’t Make Themselves Smarter

Ted Chiang:

In the eleventh century, St. Anselm of Canterbury proposed an argument for the existence of God that went roughly like this: God is, by definition, the greatest being that we can imagine; a God that doesn’t exist is clearly not as great as a God that does exist; ergo, God must exist. This is known as the ontological argument, and there are enough people who find it convincing that it’s still being discussed, nearly a thousand years later. Some critics of the ontological argument contend that it essentially defines a being into existence, and that that is not how definitions work.

God isn’t the only being that people have tried to argue into existence. “Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever,” the mathematician Irving John Good wrote, in 1965:

Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an “intelligence explosion,” and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control.

The idea of an intelligence explosion was revived in 1993, by the author and computer scientist Vernor Vinge, who called it “the singularity,” and the idea has since achieved some popularity among technologists and philosophers. Books such as Nick Bostrom’s “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies,” Max Tegmark’s “Life 3.0: Being Human in the age of Artificial Intelligence,” and Stuart Russell’s “Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control” all describe scenarios of “recursive self-improvement,” in which an artificial-intelligence program designs an improved version of itself repeatedly.

Large socio-economic, geographic and demographic disparities exist in exposure to school closures

Zachary Parolin & Emma Lee:

The coronovirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has prompted many school districts to turn to distance or at-home learning. Studies are emerging on the negative effects of distance learning on educational performance, but less is known about the socio-economic, geographic and demographic characteristics of students exposed to distance learning. We introduce a U.S. School Closure and Distance Learning Database that tracks in-person visits across more than 100,000 schools throughout 2020. The database, which we make publicly accessible and update monthly, describes year-over-year change in in-person visits to each school throughout 2020 to estimate whether the school is engaged in distance learning. Our findings reveal that school closures from September to December 2020 were more common in schools with lower third-grade math scores and higher shares of students from racial/ethnic minorities, who experience homelessness, have limited English proficiency and are eligible for free/reduced-price school lunches. The findings portend rising inequalities in learning outcomes.

Madison Receives More Redistributed Federal Taxpayer Funds; $70,659,827 (!)

Molly Beck:

The $797 million allocated for Milwaukee amounts to $11,242 per student — the second-highest distribution of COVID-19 relief funding. On the lowest end, the McFarland School District in suburban Madison will receive $107 per student, according to an analysis released by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Republicans who control the state’s budget-writing committee pressed state education officials Tuesday on the dispensation of federal relief, which was made under a formula that relies heavily on the concentration of children living in poverty — which is 83% of Milwaukee’s student body.

Joint Finance Committee co-chairman Sen. Howard Marklein compared Milwaukee’s massive allocation for its nearly 71,000 students to what was received by school officials in Lancaster, which is receiving $2,213 for each of its 962 students.

“Is that fair?” Marklein asked State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who oversees the DPI and testified before the finance committee on Tuesday.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts. This, despite tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

Deja Vu: Taxpayer supported Madison high schools moving toward eliminating standalone honors courses for ninth, 10th grades

Scott Girard:

Madison Metropolitan School District high schools plan to move away from “standalone honors” courses for freshmen and sophomores in the next few years, with an Earned Honors system expected to replace them.

The goal, MMSD leaders told the School Board Monday, is to bring rigor to all classrooms for all students and give more students access to the level of learning that goes on in standalone honors classrooms. Disparities in the demographics of standalone honors classrooms are driving the change, with ninth grade moving to entirely Earned Honors by the 2022-23 school year and 10th grade the following year.

“We should see high level of rigor and an equal quality of programming across every single one of our classrooms,” executive director of curriculum and instruction Kaylee Jackson said.

The Earned Honors system, which began in MMSD for ninth-graders in 2017-18 and expanded to 10th grade the next year, allows students an “opportunity to earn honors designation at the end of each semester/course by meeting predetermined criteria,” according to the district’s presentation. That opportunity is offered across all classrooms, rather than students needing to enroll in honors-specific classes that can be intimidating for students of color who are unfamiliar with them, have been given low expectations by staff or do not see students who look like them in those classrooms.

“This is about levelling the playing field of providing access for all,” co-chief of secondary schools Marvin Pryor said.

East High School principal Brendan Kearney, who expressed support for the change along with the other three comprehensive high school principals, recalled his first day of teaching at the school. His first class, he said, was non-honors and included just one white student, whereas in his second-hour honors class, there were about three students of color, “and that’s in a school that’s fully two-thirds students of color.”

“Whatever the intentions, whatever the efforts that have been made, our current honors system has the effect of sorting students by race, by ethnicity, by language and by disability,” Kearney said.

Deja Vu: one size fits all, 2007 Madison… English 10.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

Advocating K-12 Governance Diversity

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

The economics of falling populations

The Economist:

BUBONIC PLAGUE killed between one and two thirds of Europeans when it struck in the 14th century. Covid-19, mercifully, has exacted nothing like that toll. Its demographic impact, however, is likely to be significantly larger than the nearly 3m tragic deaths so far attributed to the coronavirus thanks to an associated, worldwide baby bust. Births fell by about 15% in China in 2020, for example, while America recorded a 15% drop in monthly births between February and November of last year. As a consequence, the pandemic may have brought forward the projected date of peak global population by as much as a decade—into the 2050s. A shrinking planetary population might seem like a wholly welcome thing given the world’s environmental challenges. But fewer people may also mean fewer new ideas, yielding a very different sort of future than optimists tend to imagine.

Humankind did not attain a population of 1bn until the 19th century, but the total then grew rapidly. A second billion was added by the 1920s, and nearly six more in the hundred years since. Plenty of fretting has accompanied this explosion; “The Population Bomb”, a book by Paul Ehrlich published in 1968 (between billions three and four), warned of looming global famine. Most projections before the pandemic, however, suggested that global population would plateau in the latter half of the 21st century. Some analysts have argued that our numbers will not just stabilise but decline. In “Empty Planet”, a book published in 2019, Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson, two Canadian journalists, wrote that as fertility rates fall—a clear trend across rich and emerging economies—they tend ultimately to sink below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. Nearly half the world’s people now live in countries with fertility rates below replacement levels. Barring an unforeseen demographic detour, global shrinkage looms.

Madison’s Randall Elementary School gets creative to share music performances during virtual learning

Scott Girard:

When COVID-19 shut down schools in March 2020, the third- and fifth-graders at Randall Elementary School had performed their annual choir concert.

Fourth-graders were not so lucky, and the class didn’t get its performance last year. Music teacher Mark Harrod wanted to make a performance, even if it had to be virtual, a priority for this year’s fifth-grade class.

Just as they were ready to put together a lip sync video project like some of the school’s staff had done last year, Harrod discovered that students could record audio into Seesaw, the application students use for virtual learning, and he could download it as MP3 files. As soon as he figured it out, he decided, “We’re scrapping the lip sync and we’re going to actually sing songs.”

Genes, Ideology, and Sophistication

Nathan P. Kalmoe and Martin Johnson:

Twin studies function as natural experiments that reveal political ideology’s substantial genetic roots, but how does that comport with research showing a largely nonideological public? This study integrates two important literatures and tests whether political sophistication – itself heritable – provides an “enriched environment” for genetic predispositions to actualize in political attitudes. Estimates from the Minnesota Twin Study show that sociopolitical conservatism is extraordinarily heritable (74%) for the most informed fifth of the public – much more so than population-level results (57%) – but with much lower heritability (29%) for the public’s bottom half. This heterogeneity is clearest in the Wilson–Patterson (W-P) index, with similar patterns for individual index items, an ideological constraint measure, and ideological identification. The results resolve tensions between two key fields by showing that political knowledge facilitates the expression of genetic predispositions in mass politics.

“An emphasis on adult employment “

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

S.F. school board may reverse its vote to rename 44 schools

Jill Tucker:

Just over two months after voting to rename 44 schools, the San Francisco school board is poised to reverse that decision Tuesday to avoid costly litigation.

The upcoming vote represents the latest development in a months-long initiative that culminated amid the pandemic. In late January, the board voted 6-1 to change dozens of school names associated with slavery, oppression, genocide and colonization as public schools districtwide remained closed.

The process began in 2018 with a resolution to create a committee to advise the board. The committee ultimately recommended changing 44 school names, including Lincoln, Washington, Mission and Balboa high schools, as well as Alamo, Jefferson and Serra elementary schools.

Many communities supported the effort, with parents saying it was hurtful to have their children wearing school sweatshirts with the name of James Denman, a former district superintendent who denied education to Chinese students, for example.

Others considered the effort too far-reaching and expensive, with no cost estimate on what it would take to rebrand more than three dozen school sites. Examples across the country put the price tag at somewhere between $20,000 and several million dollars per school, depending on the school’s size, signage and other items related to the previous name, like band uniforms.

A moment for humility and a new path forward on reading

Kareem Weaver:

Where is the humility? Where is the institutional courage to admit mistakes and move forward?

Individuals in leadership positions often derive their credibility from being the most knowledgeable person in the room, the unquestioned oracles of knowledge. This moment in education, however, requires leaders who will publicly position themselves as the best learners, not the best knowers. The sector has to reacquaint itself with the science of reading, unlearn some habits, suspend beliefs, and be vulnerable enough to embrace the inevitable learning curve. It will take grace and humility.

The NAACP considers reading proficiency to be a civil rights issue because The Information Age requires literacy to participate fully in a society that pushes nonreaders, systematically, to its margins. Given this, the education sector’s willingness to ignore the neuroscience and research consensus about literacy instruction is worth examining. What allows universities to have internal debates about science and methods that have long been settled? Why would dyslexia receive scant attention in an American credentialing program? Why would thousands of K-12 systems continue to use curricula that, even the authors now acknowledge, must be revised to address deficiencies in core elements of literacy instruction? And why would K-12 systems ignore mountains of evidence showing that foundational reading skills are undertaught?

The same universities who claim to be leading research institutions are eerily silent about their failure to apply the research in preparing teaching candidates. Likewise, the K-12 institutions with mission statements citing equity have systematically created a resource gap where those without money to overcome inadequate instruction are consigned to the margins of society while their better-resourced peers seek tutors or more appropriate school placements. Rather than address these issues, we have focused on untangling America’s racial quagmire – as if these things are mutually exclusive. We seem oblivious to the impact race and class have on our tolerance for student failure and our willingness to promote external control narratives that undermine collective teacher efficacy and obfuscate the central issues: we have not provided direct, systematic, explicit instruction to teach reading; neither curricula nor materials have been evidence-based; professional development dollars have not been used well; assessment has been misunderstood and abused; interventions haven’t been timely; and the dearth of humility from leaders and institutions have limited the possibility of effective change management.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

‘No singing, eat in silence’: How Japanese schools have stayed open despite the pandemic

Tomohiro Osaki:

This is the first in a two-part series on how the nation’s schools continued with in-person classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The upbeat theme song of popular anime series “Lupin the Third” reverberated throughout the building of a Tokyo elementary school on a recent balmy afternoon. The music came from a courtyard where a bevy of sixth graders had taken center stage and were playing accordions, metallophones and keyboards — instruments that don’t generate droplets — under the mesmerized gaze of an audience of hundreds of schoolchildren.

The performance by the final-year students at Funabori Elementary School in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward took place under the state of emergency in early March — just weeks before their graduation — as a way for them to say thank you to the younger pupils and teachers they would leave behind.

It’s an annual tradition that always touches the hearts of teachers about to send off students, but this year the concert took on an even greater emotional significance: In an academic year that saw the COVID-19 pandemic wipe out a sports festival and other major school events, it was the first all-school gathering that teachers at Funabori Elementary had managed to pull off, albeit with a plethora of restrictions.

“We usually hold this performance in our gymnasium, but we can’t do that anymore because no all-school gathering is allowed in one place under the board of education’s guidelines,” principal Mio Sato said.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: How Lower-Income Americans Get Cheated on Property Taxes

NY Times:

Local governments are failing at the basic task of accurately assessing property values, and there is a clear and striking pattern: More expensive properties are undervalued, while less expensive properties are overvalued. The result is that wealthy homeowners get a big tax break, while less affluent homeowners are paying a higher price for the same public services.

Let’s Compare: Madison and Middleton Property Taxes

“We have relied too much on the impersonal and abstract “power tools” of data science to do this work”

Chris Moradi & Bryan Bischof:

Beginning today, we’re moving into the future by starting the artisanal, small-batch data science movement. Going forward, every calculation performed, every datum accessed and stored, and every visualization drawn will be done by hand.

As part of this transition, we’re replacing our existing platform tools with new ones. We have begun the process of moving our existing S3 data warehouse to C3 (calligraphic card catalog) where each record will be stored on a hand-written card. We’ve replaced our GPUs with our new HPC (human processing cohort)—our staff of mathematicians who will perform all computations by hand using pencil and paper. They have already begun training a new BERT model which we hope will be done by 2025 or perhaps sooner with early stopping due to hand cramps. Instead of the artificial dropout implemented in many deep-learning frameworks, this approach includes natural dropout due to coffee and bathroom breaks. Our data visualization experts have begun transitioning from D3 to 3-D pop-up books and flipbooks for animations. Finally, we’ve moved our APIs to ECS (elaborate call service) where each request is communicated via phone call that gets routed through our switchboard to a locally-sourced, free-range data scientist to make the prediction.

We’re excited about the new path ahead of us and look forward to other data science organizations joining this movement. Someday our work will not only be the result of the careful problem framing, data analysis, and coding that we practice today; it will be imbued with the craftsmanship and sense of purpose that only comes when all work is done slowly and deliberately by hand. Going forward we’ll live by the motto: “Move slow and make things.”

This High Schooler Invented Color-Changing Sutures to Detect Infection

Theresa Machemer:

Dasia Taylor has juiced about three dozen beets in the last 18 months. The root vegetables, she’s found, provide the perfect dye for her invention: suture thread that changes color, from bright red to dark purple, when a surgical wound becomes infected.

The 17-year-old student at Iowa City West High School in Iowa City, Iowa, began working on the project in October 2019, after her chemistry teacher shared information about state-wide science fairs with the class. As she developed her sutures, she nabbed awards at several regional science fairs, before advancing to the national stage. This January, Taylor was named one of 40 finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the country’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

As any science fair veteran knows, at the core of a successful project is a problem in need of solving. Taylor had read about sutures coated with a conductive material that can sense the status of a wound by changes in electrical resistance, and relay that information to the smartphones or computers of patients and doctors. While these “smart” sutures could help in the United States, the expensive tool might be less applicable to people in developing countries, where internet access and mobile technology is sometimes lacking. And yet the need is there; on average, 11 percent of surgical wounds develop an infection in low- and middle-incoming countries, according to the World Health Organization, compared to between 2 and 4 percent of surgeries in the U.S.

Milwaukee School Board guide: Here’s what you need to make an informed vote with no incumbents running for four open seats

Rory Linnane:

About half of Milwaukee voters will elect new school board members April 6, with no incumbents running for four open seats.

Two of the races have only one candidate on the ballot: Walker’s Point Center for the Arts executive director Marcela Garcia for the south side District 6 seat now held by Tony Baez; and recently retired Milwaukee Public Schools teacher Harry Leonard for the southwest District 7 seat held by Paula Phillips.

The north side District 4 seat is contested between Silver Spring Neighborhood Center Opportunity Youth Program Director Aisha Carr and North Side Rising organizer Dana Kelley.

Running for District 5 on the east side are Alex Brower, director of Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans; and Jilly Gokalgandhi, Equity in Education team member at American Family Insurance Institute.

Brower and Kelley, members of the Milwaukee chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, are running on a socialist slate and are backed by the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA), the union for MPS staff.

Income Inequality In America Is Lower Than It Was 50 Years Ago

Phil Gramm & John Early:

Its rise is an illusion created by the Census Bureau’s failure to account for taxes and welfare.

The refrain is all too familiar: Widening income inequality is a fatal flaw in capitalism and an “existential” threat to democracy. From 1967 to 2017, income inequality in the U.S. spiked 21.4%, and everyone from U.S. senators to the pope says it’s an urgent problem. Yet the data upon which claims about income inequality are based are profoundly flawed.

We have shown on these pages that Census Bureau income data fail to count two-thirds of all government transfer payments—including Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and some 100 other government transfer payments—as income to the recipients. Furthermore, census data fail to count taxes paid as income lost to the taxpayer. When official government data are used to correct these deficiencies—when income is defined the way people actually define it—“income inequality” is reduced dramatically.

Bills Increase Access to Wisconsin Open Enrollment, Expanding Public School Choice

Jessica Holmberg:

Gov. Evers recently signed two bills that increase public school choice in Wisconsin. SB 109 and SB 110 specifically aim to remove barriers to accessing Wisconsin’s largest school choice option, the Open Enrollment Program, by expanding access to virtual schools. The program allows over 65,000 students to access a public school district outside their own without living within the district’s boundaries.

Senate Bill 109, introduced by Senators Ballweg, Testin, and Feyen, further expands access by allowing students to apply to both fully virtual charter schools and fully virtual programs for the 2021-2022 school year. Senate Bill 110, introduced by Senator Ballweg, makes permanent changes to the law by eliminating the three-district application limit for fully virtual charter schools.

Under current law, students may submit applications to up to three public school districts outside their own during the February 1st – April 30th application period. Unfortunately, if a student is denied by all three districts, by law they must wait until the following school year to re-apply. Additionally, current law does not specifically permit students to attend a fully virtual program using open enrollment.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

Randi Weingarten Says Her AFT Has Been ‘Trying to Reopen Schools Since Last April.’ What the Union’s Locals Actually Did

Mike Anotunucci:

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, raised some eyebrows March 19 during an interview on the Black News Channel. While discussing her union’s response to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distancing guidelines for students, she said, “We’ve been trying to reopen schools since last April.”

Her choice of month was timed to the release last year of AFT’s “A Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities” on April 29, 2020. With the union having jumped on the school reopening movement so early, according to Weingarten, surely there are many cases of AFT local affiliates at the forefront of the effort.

The teachers in almost all of America’s largest urban school districts are represented by AFT affiliates. After 11 months of school closures, we have a treasure trove of evidence of how they reacted to many and varied reopening plans. Even among the districts where schools eventually reopened, AFT unions offered more resistance than cooperation.

Let’s start with the largest: New York City and the United Federation of Teachers. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo shuttered schools in May 2020 for the remainder of the school year, UFT released a statement supporting his decision.

Graduation

Beach High School:

If you earn a diploma when you’re younger than 18, you gain freedom from the law that compels you to go to high school, you also get out from under the laws that restrict your hours when you work and require you to have a work permit, and you gain independent access to community colleges. (You gain these advantages when you turn 18 just because of your age.)

You can earn a diploma by submitting a portfolio. I’m using the word “portfolio” here to refer to the collection of things you submit, not necessarily to refer to documents enclosed in a fancy leather binding.

Here are two basic combinations of things that can make up your portfolio. Each of the items is explained further on.

Religious fervour is migrating into politics

The Economist:

TO START THE holiest week in the Christian calendar, Joe Biden is expected to attend Palm Sunday mass at Holy Trinity in Georgetown. He is the most religiously observant president since Jimmy Carter. Considering how organised religion is collapsing, this is yet another way in which his presidency is a throwback.

He presides over a country in which more people claim to have “no religion” than to be Catholic or evangelical Christian. Yet unlike European countries, America is not becoming clearly less devotional as its churches retreat. Even Americans who have abandoned churchgoing are likelier to say they pray and believe in God than German or British Christians. They have rejected the institutions of religion, in other words, but not the religious urge—including a yearning for moral certainty and communal identity—that churches and synagogues have traditionally catered to.

Part 2 Discipline: Can corporal punishment bring back discipline?

Armand Fusco:

What is the real underlying reason why schools put up with disrespectful, outrageous and uncivil student behaviors? Unfortunately, the culture of victimology is the insidious philosophy that permeates the school and the societal landscape e.g. troubled kids are not responsible for their actions—they are viewed, instead, as victims of school and society’s injustices.

A book by psychotherapist Alice Miller, The Truth Will Set You Free, claims that: “all human wretchedness, from terrorist atrocities to everyday unhappiness…can be traced back to childhood ill-treatment—specifically humiliating punishment inflicted on children by their parents.” There is only one problem with this philosophy—it is not based on provable facts because there are too many variables that take place that cannot be separated out as being a factor or not.

Sacrificing the education of the vast majority by acceding to the anti-social behavior of undisciplined students may seem like an irrational system, but that is the system. As a result, the need to placate those who believe that undisciplined behaviors are justified put at risk the education of the majority of students who want to learn. So what’s really happening is that the majority of students then become the victims because they are cheated out of a better education. Since there is absolutely no logic or common sense to this lunacy, “desperation” sets in and forces desperate actions to be considered.

An essay, The Need to Change the U.S. Education System, is most forceful in stating: “The first thing American education system needs is appropriate corporal punishment to enforce regulations.” Of course, the present societal culture and political correctness find such an approach abhorrent, but there is a creeping attempt to bring back the use of corporal punishment.

Part 1 Discipline: Has school discipline become undisciplined?

Underly: “I support Eliminating the Foundations of Reading (FORT)” Teacher Test

Transcript [Machine Generated PDF]:

Deborah Kerr: [00:43:53] Um, whose turn is it to go first? Okay. That’s fine. Yeah, we’re pretty good at figuring this out. Um, [00:44:00] so that’s one thing we can do. Um, yes, I support the FORT. I fo I support the Praxis test. So you gotta think about something. Why do these things cause barriers and prevent people from getting certified? And so as a superintendent, I’ve always had to help aspiring teachers who, who needed to either pass the Praxis test or get more additional training on the FORT.

[00:44:23] And so. This starts with the teacher preparation programs. Okay. We need to start talking about, um, these kinds of tests earlier on in the scope and sequence of the coursework and making sure that our teachers are immersed in these kinds of situations that will help allow them to do better. These are standards for making sure that we have the highest quality teachers in the classroom.

[00:44:46] So what I did in Brown deer is I had a couple of teachers who needed to pass the fork test. Um, the problem with that is when you take the fourth test and you fail it, you have to pay again. You don’t just take the part that you didn’t pass. [00:45:00] And so I believe we need to work on that, but also I made sure our reading specialists help to tutor.

[00:45:06] Those two teachers that needed extra support because they didn’t get it for whatever reason at the university level. So I do believe that we have to have standards. We want the best and the brightest into our classroom, but sometimes just like students, they need a different approach and they need more time.
[00:45:23] Thank you.

[00:45:27] Jill Underly: All right. Um, as far as the Foundations of Reading (FORT) test is concerned, I would support eliminating it. And I’ll tell you why. I believe it’s an unnecessary hoop. Um, it makes it difficult and much harder for people to become teachers, particularly when we are already struggling. Right. With recruiting and retaining teachers.

[00:45:45] Um, we need to trust our education preparation programs to prepare the kids. I mean, these programs are certified by the department of public instruction. Um, they have to go through a rigorous certification process to be officially, you know, To be able to [00:46:00] officially endorse teachers to get their licenses.

[00:46:02] Um, I do know that representative Travis Tranel who’s from my area of Southwest Wisconsin, was successful in getting the legislature to suspend, um, the foundations of reading tests for special education teachers. And I think that says a lot, you know, these are barriers. And we need to eliminate barriers, um, for good people, um, who are intelligent and kind and compassionate to become teachers.

[00:46:26] Um, you can still be a good teacher and you could still be a good teacher of reading. Um, if you can’t pass a standardized test, so I would be in favor of eliminating it. Thanks.

mp3 Audio.

While working for the DPI in Madison, Ms. Underly sent her children to a private school.

The Foundations of Reading, [SIS links] Wisconsin’s one elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirement is (was) an attempt to improve our K-12 students’ disastrous reading results.

The foundations of reading is Wisconsin’s only teacher content knowledge requirement. It is based on Massachusetts’ successful MTEL program.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

Governance Diversity: Freedom to Learn

Joanne Jacobs:

The more a state provides parents with the freedom to choose their child’s school the better the state’s students score on the National Assessment of Education Outcomes (NAEP),” writes Patrick Wolf on Project Forever Free.

His University of Arkansas research team created an Education Freedom Index ranking each state, then correlated access to private and public school choice, public charter schools and homeschooling to achievement in reading and math.

Arizona ranks first, followed by Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, Idaho and Michigan.

“distribute millions of atlases to every elementary school student in the United States.”

C. Lee Shea:

Yet today Nauru, Vanuatu, Motunui, and Bucatini are places that most Americans would struggle to find on a map. To address this problem, Congress should back the $13 billion Pacific Geographic Assurance Initiative, which would enable the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to distribute millions of atlases to every elementary school student in the United States.

On teaching mathematics

VI Arnold:

Mathematics is a part of physics. Physics is an experimental science, a part of natural science. Mathematics is the part of physics where experiments are cheap.

The Jacobi identity (which forces the heights of a triangle to cross at one point) is an experimental fact in the same way as that the Earth is round (that is, homeomorphic to a ball). But it can be discovered with less expense.

In the middle of the twentieth century it was attempted to divide physics and mathematics. The consequences turned out to be catastrophic. Whole generations of mathematicians grew up without knowing half of their science and, of course, in total ignorance of any other sciences. They first began teaching their ugly scholastic pseudo-mathematics to their students, then to schoolchildren (forgetting Hardy’s warning that ugly mathematics has no permanent place under the Sun).

Since scholastic mathematics that is cut off from physics is fit neither for teaching nor for application in any other science, the result was the universal hate towards mathematicians – both on the part of the poor schoolchildren (some of whom in the meantime became ministers) and of the users.

Michael I. Jordan explains why today’s artificial-intelligence systems aren’t actually intelligent

Kathy Pretz:

THE INSTITUTE Artificial-intelligence systems are nowhere near advanced enough to replace humans in many tasks involving reasoning, real-world knowledge, and social interaction. They are showing human-level competence in low-level pattern recognition skills, but at the cognitive level they are merely imitating human intelligence, not engaging deeply and creatively, says Michael I. Jordan, a leading researcher in AI and machine learning. Jordan is a professor in the department of electrical engineering and computer science, and the department of statistics, at the University of California, Berkeley.

He notes that the imitation of human thinking is not the sole goal of machine learning—the engineering field that underlies recent progress in AI—or even the best goal. Instead, machine learning can serve to augment human intelligence, via painstaking analysis of large data sets in much the way that a search engine augments human knowledge by organizing the Web. Machine learning also can provide new services to humans in domains such as health care, commerce, and transportation, by bringing together information found in multiple data sets, finding patterns, and proposing new courses of action.

“People are getting confused about the meaning of AI in discussions of technology trends—that there is some kind of intelligent thought in computers that is responsible for the progress and which is competing with humans,” he says. “We don’t have that, but people are talking as if we do.”

Some higher-income families leaving Philly public schools in search of in-person learning

Miles Bryan:

When the Philadelphia Board of Education devoted its entire March 18 meeting to public comment, it was flooded with children and parents pleading for one thing: open classrooms for all kids, as soon as possible.

“This is hard to say, but it’s been tough for me to make friends. Trying to get to know another person from behind the screen isn’t the same,” said Abigail Gorman, an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Girard Academy of Music Program (GAMP) in South Philadelphia. “Is this really the best we can do?”

Many of the parents who spoke that night were affiliated with “Philadelphians for Open Schools,” a group formed in February to pressure the school district to reopen classrooms more quickly. Right now, only children enrolled in pre-K through second grade are back in the classroom two days a week.

The group is the mouthpiece for a small but influential constituency in public school politics: higher-income parents with the means to send their children to private schools, or to move to the suburbs.

On Facebook, the group’s roughly 300 members — the majority of whom send their children to elementary schools in affluent neighborhoods or magnet high schools — share frustrations with remote learning, and post links to stories about suburban and out-of-state districts with faster reopening plans.

Legislators Override Kentucky Governor’s Veto of School Choice Bill

Eric Boehm:

Lawmakers in Kentucky successfully overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of a school choice bill, opening several avenues for families in the state to pursue a better education for their children.

The new law, originally House Bill 563, allows students in Kentucky public schools to switch school districts, and it creates a new tax-advantaged education savings program for families to use for private school tuition, to pay for tutoring, or to cover other educational expenses. The most controversial part of the proposal was the creation of a $25 million scholarship fund—to be filled by donations from private businesses, for which they would receive state tax credits—that students in Kentucky’s largest counties can tap to help pay for private school tuition.

In vetoing the bill last week, Beshear, a Democrat, repeated tired arguments from teachers unions and public school superintendents who fear the erosion of their monopoly control over the state’s education spending.

Thankfully, the Republican-controlled state legislature wasn’t listening. The state House voted 51-42 on Monday evening to override Beshear’s veto and the state Senate followed suit with a vote of 23-14 shortly afterward. (In Kentucky, overriding a veto does not require a supermajority vote.)

“Lawmakers ultimately did the right thing for students, and for the first time, Kentucky families will have access to the schooling options they deserve to find the best fit for their kids,” says Robert Enlow, president and CEO of EdChoice, an organization that backed the bill.

ICE’s Fake College Defrauded Students, Then Deported Them. The Biden Admin Is Defending the Scheme.

Billy Binion:

In January 2016, the University of Farmington was born. By 2018, more than 600 students had enrolled, paid tuition, and matriculated. Come January 2019, the entire student body received formal correspondence from the college: The school was not actually a school at all.

It was a ruse, conceived by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and executed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), allegedly to crack down on “visa fraud.” Richly ironic is that the fraudulent operations were set up and maintained by the government itself, which duped immigrants into applying for student visas that would then be revoked when the curtain came up on the scheme. In the same letter, the students—who had just found out they were not, in fact, real students—were given one last instruction. They would need to leave the country immediately, or face arrest and deportation.

“I was in complete shock. I didn’t understand what to do,” says Suraj, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity. He moved to the U.S. in 2015 to attend Northwestern Polytechnic University, where he earned a degree and nabbed a job as an IT business consultant. With his student visa set to expire, he decided to apply for a master’s program, which is when he found Farmington, located in southeast Michigan near where he lived at the time.

Civics: Senators Offer to Let NSA Hunt Cyber Actors Inside the US

Patrick Tucker:

A bipartisan group of senators offered to help expand the National Security Agency’s authorities allowing the spy agency to hunt domestically for signals intelligence against foreign adversaries that U.S. officials have said are behind a string of recent attacks, like the recent SolarWinds hack. 

Several members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday voiced their support for expanded authorities for the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command to conduct more intelligence gathering domestically, something that the Biden administration already is exploring, according to Gen. Paul Nakasone, who leads both agencies. 

Committee members heaped praise on Nakasone for his efforts to secure the 2020 elections from foreign interference. The NSA and Cyber Command conducted some two dozen operations to protect U.S. infrastructure and target adversaries in the runup to November, Nakasone said. Eleven of those were “hunt forward” operations, taking place in networks in foreign countries, at those countries’ invitation. 

“We’ve likely overestimated the protective health benefits of school closures and underestimated the costs for children.”

John Bailey:

One year after nationwide public school closures, a growing body of medical research and the firsthand experiences of school systems worldwide can provide a sound basis for determining a reopening strategy. This report examines the collective findings of more than 120 studies and considers their implications for current decisions. These studies cover a wide array of topics, including risks for children, transmissibility concerns, and the impact of school reopenings on community spread.

Key Findings

• The vast majority of research from around the world suggests that children comprise a small proportion of diagnosed COVID-19 cases, develop less severe illness, and have lower mortality rates.

• Studies suggest attending school does not increase risk to children, particularly if health protocols are followed.

• Evidence points to schools mirroring the transmission rates of their communities. Schools themselves do not appear to drive community transmission.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

Culture, Status, and Hypocrisy: High-Status People Who Don’t Practice What They Preach Are Viewed as Worse in the United States Than China

Mengchen Dong:

Status holders across societies often take moral initiatives to navigate group practices toward collective goods; however, little is known about how different societies (e.g., the United States vs. China) evaluate high- (vs. low-) status holders’ transgressions of preached morals. Two preregistered studies (total N = 1,374) examined how status information (occupational rank in Study 1 and social prestige in Study 2) influences moral judgments of norm violations, as a function of word-deed contradiction and cultural independence/interdependence. Both studies revealed that high- (vs. low-) status targets’ word-deed contradictions (vs. noncontradictions) were condemned more harshly in the United States but not China. Mediation analyses suggested that Americans attributed more, but Chinese attributed less, selfish motives to higher status targets’ word-deed contradictions. Cultural in(ter)dependence influences not only whom to confer status as norm enforcers but also whom to (not) blame as norm violators.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts and tolerating long term, disastrous reading results, a majority of the Madison School board aborted the planned independent Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, in 2011.

Yet, Kaleem Caire persevered, supported by many seeking a diverse K-12 governance environment, now moving much of One City schools to a large Monona facility.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

Musical notation branded ‘colonialist’ by Oxford professors hoping to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum

Craig Simpson:

Musical notation has been branded “colonialist” by Oxford professors hoping to reform their courses to focus less on white European culture, The Telegraph can reveal.

Academics are deconstructing the university’s music offering after facing pressure to “decolonise” the curriculum following the Black Lives Matter protests.

The Telegraph has seen proposals for changes to undergraduate courses, in which some staff question the current curriculum’s “complicity in white supremacy”.

Professors said the classical repertoire taught at Oxford, which spans works by Mozart and Beethoven, focuses too much on “white European music from the slave period”.

Documents reveal that faculty members, who decide on courses that form the music degree, have proposed reforms to address this “white hegemony”, including rethinking the study of musical notation because it is a “colonialist representational system”.

Teaching notation which has not “shaken off its connection to its colonial past” would be a “slap in the face” for some students, documents state, and music-writing studies have been earmarked for rebranding to be more inclusive.

Schools gone woke: a view from America

Artillery Row:

am an American educator who began teaching nearly two decades ago. During that time, I have taught at some of the most prestigious private secondary schools in the United States. Starting about five years ago, these schools began to be consumed by woke ideology.

When I say “consumed by woke ideology” I mean that these schools are obsessed with sophomoric and divisive notions of diversity, equality, and justice; increasingly hostile to freedom of expression; addicted to cancelling anything that offends the woke movement; and prioritising activism over understanding as the goal of education.

The pendulum will not swing back because the woke movement is not a pendulum; it is a steamroller

I am writing this letter to alert those we may describe as “sleep-wokers”. A sleep-woker is one who has not taken the woke creed to heart, yet nevertheless tacitly complies with the linguistic, pedagogical, political, and moral imperatives of wokeness. Sleep-wokers go through the motions; they are like religious folk who say prayers without thinking, attend worship services without engaging, and perpetuate dogmas without believing. I was a sleep-woker. In some ways, due to a combination of timidity and tiredness, I still am.

Sleep-woking, like sleepwalking, is very dangerous. While sleep-woking, an English teacher can unwittingly help cancel Chaucer, Keats and Conrad in the name of decolonisation. A biology teacher might find herself obliged to deny important differences between the sexes. A football coach will not be able to cheer on a player after a strong tackle, as strength and physical violence smack of toxic masculinity.

Challenging the Link Between Early Childhood Television Exposure and Later Attention Problems: A Multiverse Approach

Matthew McBee, Rebecca Brand & Wallace Dixon:

In 2004, Christakis and colleagues published an article in which they claimed that early childhood television exposure causes later attention problems, a claim that continues to be frequently promoted by the popular media. Using the same National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 data set (N = 2,108), we conducted two multiverse analyses to examine whether the finding reported by Christakis and colleagues was robust to different analytic choices. We evaluated 848 models, including logistic regression models, linear regression models, and two forms of propensity-score analysis. If the claim were true, we would expect most of the justifiable analyses to produce significant results in the predicted direction. However, only 166 models (19.6%) yielded a statistically significant relationship, and most of these employed questionable analytic choices. We concluded that these data do not provide compelling evidence of a harmful effect of TV exposure on attention.

How U.S. media lost the trust of the public

Saman Malik, Sarah Peterson:

A global pandemic, historic anti-racism protests and a turbulent U.S. presidential election had Americans glued to their screens in 2020 like never before. Cable news ratings soared, online news subscriptions increased and the amount of time we all spent online broke records.

But as people consumed more news, they also began to trust the media less, surveys showed. According to a recent Gallup survey, the percentage of Americans with no trust in the mass media hit a record high in 2020: only nine per cent of respondents said they trust the mass media “a great deal” and a full 60 per cent said they have little to “no trust at all” in it.

The American media landscape has become increasingly polarized over the last few decades. 

Education Secretary: It’s Too Soon to Say If Schools Can Reopen by Fall

Alex Nextel:

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said it’s “premature” to determine if schools can resume in-person instruction this fall, despite a growing body of evidence that shows students can safely return to the classroom.

In a Wednesday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Cardona said the rate of COVID-19 transmission in a community would play a role in determining whether K-12 students will receive face-to-face instruction. Hayes pressed Cardona for the Education Department’s stance on whether remote learning should continue at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

An Interview with Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Milwaukee Press Club [Machine Translation]:

[00:31:11] If we had had the opportunity to, um, put restrictions on what businesses were open and closed as we did earlier in the pandemic. One of the things that is true about Wisconsin, That is not true about nearly all of the 49 other States is that because of the actions of the (Wisconsin) Supreme court in May, when we hit surges in July and hit surges in the fall, the huge surge we had in the fall, we did not have the same tools in our toolbox as many other States, when those huge surges hit States like Florida and Texas, they were able to close or to.

[00:31:54] Well, first to close bars and restaurants and places where people were congregating and then [00:32:00] eventually to open them up with limited occupancy, but the state of Wisconsin did not have those same tools. And I think those, that was a huge issue in terms of, um, the incredible surge that this state saw, particularly in the fall months.

Texas COVID Cases Drop to Record Low Nearly Three Weeks After Mask Mandate Lifted

– Via the Financial Times.

Johns Hopkins Data Summaries: California Florida Minnesota New York Texas Wisconsin

mp3 audio

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

12 Private College Presidents Earned Over $2 Million In 2018

Chronicle:

These data show the total compensation received by chief executives in two sectors: (1) public college and university systems, from the 2010-11 through the 2016-17 fiscal years, and in the 2018 and 2019 calendar years; and (2) private colleges, from 2008 through 2017.

All individuals who served as chief executive during those periods, including interim and acting leaders, are included. Oftentimes, more than one chief executive served at an institution during a given year. Presidents who served less than the full year are noted. Compensation values for all employees reflect the compensation earned from the institution (and associated foundations) across a full fiscal or calendar year, regardless of the role or roles held by those employees during the full year.

Information about presidents’ tenures and prior employment were obtained from college websites, newspaper archives, or university offices. Photographs were obtained from university websites.

Paul Erdős posed and solved problems in number theory and other areas and founded the field of discrete mathematics.

MacTutor:

Paul Erdős came from a Jewish family (the original family name being Engländer) although neither of his parents observed the Jewish religion. Paul’s father Lajos and his mother Anna had two daughters, aged three and five, who died of scarlet fever just days before Paul was born. This naturally had the effect making Lajos and Anna extremely protective of Paul. He would be introduced to mathematics by his parents, themselves both teachers of mathematics.

Paul was not much over a year old when World War I broke out. Paul’s father Lajos was captured by the Russian army as it attacked the Austro-Hungarian troops. He spent six years in captivity in Siberia. As soon as Lajos was captured, with Paul’s mother Anna teaching during the day, a German governess was employed to look after Paul. Anna, excessively protective after the loss of her two daughters, kept Paul away from school for much of his early years and a tutor was provided to teach him at home.

The situation in Hungary was chaotic at the end of World War I. After a short while as a democratic republic, a communist Béla Kun took over, and Hungary became a left wing Soviet Republic. Anna was at this time made head teacher of her school but when the Communists called for strike action against Kun’s regime she continued working, not for political reasons but simply because she did not wish to see children’s education suffer.

“Tracking YouTube’s Manipulation of the White House Channel’s Dislikes”

81m.org

It is true that Biden won the most votes cast for a U.S. presidential candidate, amassing about 81 million votes.

– USA Today

Such a popular president should have some truly epic YouTube numbers. Let’s keep track. I’m sure we won’t see anything weird happening, such as dislikes being thrown out in the wee hours of the morning.

YouTube is owned by Google, a service that many taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts support.

How Does a Baby Bust End?

Ross Douthat:

The declining American birthrate is a frequent preoccupation of this column, and over the years that I’ve been writing about the problem it’s only gotten worse, with the apparent Covid-19 baby bust a punctuation mark.

But with the pandemic’s end inspiring various forms of optimism, hopes of faster growth and scientific breakthroughs, it’s worth considering what optimism about the future of fertility might look like. Because if you assume that dynamism and growth are desirable things (not everyone does, but that’s a separate debate), then for the developed world to be something more than just a rich museum, at some point it needs to stop growing ever-older, with a dwindling younger generation struggling in the shadow of societal old age.

U.S. News Issues THIRD Version Of Law School Rankings In Advance Of Their Public Release On Tuesday

Paul Caron:

For the overall ranking, U.S. News removed the metric for ratio of credit-bearing hours of instruction provided by law librarians to full-time equivalent law students [.25%, reducing the library weighting to 1.75%] and increased the weighting for the bar passage rate indicator [by .25%, for a new total of 2.25%]. As a result, we recalculated the rankings.

Piano Practice Software Progress

Jacques Mattheij:

First an apology. I started this project because during the first 9 months of the COVID-19 pandemic business was down to a fraction of what it was before then, and I had a lot of time on my hand. But that has changed now and there is a lot of work in my ‘day job’, so I don’t have a whole lot of time to work on the piano software (or to play piano, for that matter). Even so I try to play at least an hour every day, just to unwind from the work, and while doing that I make notes of the things that I think should be improved.

So slowly but steadily there have been a number of subtle but important changes to the way the software works. The first thing that I noticed is that when importing certain midi tracks into PianoJacq it would sometimes really mess up the splitting of the notes across the hands if this had not already been done in the track itself. This is highly irritating because the score then looks terrible and you can’t really play the piece from it. That’s solved now so if you had issues importing certain files then maybe try again.

Then, it was asked, multiple times to label the scores with the names of the notes. This is a trivial thing to do, but what I really wanted is not that trivial: to label the score also with the names of the chords. I spent a day or two on WikiPedia getting the names and offsets of all the chords that I could find and turned them into a huge table with a little bit of software that could then, given a set of notes tell you which chord that is. Lots of help from pilot users there to point out errors in the tables, special mention to Ludwig Weinzierls who helped track down a particularly nasty case of a misidentified chord. The speed slider was another oft repeated request, I made the range ‘down’ a lot lower, you can now go to 1/5th of real time speed to help you to practice really hard passages, and I added some visual feedback to help determine how fast the slider has been set.

Incredible Shrinking Income Inequality Its rise is an illusion created by the Census Bureau’s failure to account for taxes and welfare.

Phil Gramm and John Early:

The refrain is all too familiar: Widening income inequality is a fatal flaw in capitalism and an “existential” threat to democracy. From 1967 to 2017, income inequality in the U.S. spiked 21.4%, and everyone from U.S. senators to the pope says it’s an urgent problem. Yet the data upon which claims about income inequality are based are profoundly flawed.

We have shown on these pages that Census Bureau income data fail to count two-thirds of all government transfer payments—including Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and some 100 other government transfer payments—as income to the recipients. Furthermore, census data fail to count taxes paid as income lost to the taxpayer. When official government data are used to correct these deficiencies—when income is defined the way people actually define it—“income inequality” is reduced dramatically.

We can now show that if you count all government transfers (minus administrative costs) as income to the recipient household, reduce household income by taxes paid, and correct for two major discontinuities in the time-series data on income inequality that were caused solely by changes in Census Bureau data-collection methods, the claim that income inequality is growing on a secular basis collapses. Not only is income inequality in America not growing, it is lower today than it was 50 years ago.

While the disparity in earned income has become more pronounced in the past 50 years, the actual inflation-adjusted income received by the bottom quintile, counting the value of all transfer payments received net of taxes paid, has risen by 300%. The top quintile has seen its after-tax income rise by only 213%. As government transfer payments to low-income households exploded, their labor-force participation collapsed and the percentage of income in the bottom quintile coming from government payments rose above 90%.

2020 World Press Freedom Index : A decisive decade for the future of journalism

Morgane Bougouin:

The Press Freedom Index is a ranking of 180 countries published yearly by Reporters Without Borders on the basis of countries’ press freedom results according to the organization’s own assessment. This ranking attempts to reflect the degree of freedom that journalists, media, and netizens have in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to respect this freedom.

The World Press Freedom Index is composed of a number of indicators, which are :

Biden stocks cabinet with prep school grads

Jon Levine:

The silver spoons comes in all colors and creeds.

While President Biden has largely delivered on his promise to assemble the most diverse cabinet in US history, there has been considerably less attention paid to his advisers’ economic diversity.

Many of his top cabinet officials come from money and attended ritzy private schools that serve as the traditional breeding ground for the American elite of both parties.

“Democrats abandoned the working class many years ago,” Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at MIT and iconic left-wing thought leader told The Post when asked to assess the Biden leadership lineup.

Antony Blinken, Biden’s Secretary of State, was a child of privilege who graduated from NYC’s Dalton School, where tuition today runs $55,210. Tom Vilsack, Biden’s Secretary of Agriculture, graduated from Pittsburgh’s tony Shady Side Academy, a $53,000-a-year boarding school. Katherine Tai, Biden’s pick for US Trade Representative, went to the famed Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. ($46,490). Susan Rice, now serving as Biden’s Director of the Domestic Policy Council, was valedictorian of National Cathedral School, a D.C day school for girls ($47,350). Marty Walsh, Biden’s pick for Labor Secretary, attended Bostons’ Newman School where parents shell out a cool $27,000 a year.

Trends in U.S. Adult Physiological Status, Mental Health, and Health Behaviors across a Century of Birth Cohorts

Hui Zheng, Paola Echave:

Morbidity and mortality have been increasing among middle-aged and young-old Americans since the turn of the century. We investigate whether these unfavorable trends extend to younger cohorts and their underlying physiological, psychological, and behavioral mechanisms. Applying generalized linear mixed effects models to 62,833 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1988-2016) and 625,221 adults from the National Health Interview Surveys (1997-2018), we find that for all gender and racial groups, physiological dysregulation has increased continuously from Baby Boomers through late-Gen X and Gen Y. The magnitude of the increase is higher for White men than other groups, while Black men have a steepest increase in low urinary albumin (a marker of chronic inflammation). In addition, Whites undergo distinctive increases in anxiety, depression, and heavy drinking, and have a higher level than Blacks and Hispanics of smoking and drug use in recent cohorts. Smoking is not responsible for the increasing physiological dysregulation across cohorts. The obesity epidemic contributes to the increase in metabolic syndrome, but not in low urinary albumin. The worsening physiological and mental health profiles among younger generations imply a challenging morbidity and mortality prospect for the United States, one that may be particularly inauspicious for Whites.

Curated Education Information