“the US government has lost control of essential functions of national governance”

John Robb:

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Defeat. Three years ago, the US evacuated Afghanistan (it even featured people falling from the landing gear of departing planes), driven from the country by a ragtag militia it had spent $2.5 trillion ‘rebuilding.’ Now, the US attempt to punish Russia for interference in US elections by extending NATO membership to Ukraine has turned into a disaster. Ukraine, despite massive amounts of aid from the US and NATO, is on the verge of disastrous defeat. 
  • Debasement. In a misguided attempt to defend Israel against genocide charges (that the vast majority of the world supports), the US is actively undermining the ICJ (International Court of Justice) and defunding the relief agencies it built to be the centerpiece of the post-WW2 rules-based order. PS: a good ally would have prevented Israel from saying and doing the things it did to protect it from itself, not enable it.
  • Delusion. The US southern border has collapsed, and the US government has found itself incapable of stopping it. Over ten million people from around the world (from China to India to Uzbekistan to Venezuela) have illegally entered the US over the last three years, with no end in sight.

The current US strategic collapse isn’t due to a lack of information, bureaucratic processes, funding, or physical capabilities. It was an inevitable outcome of the ongoing failure of national decision-making. More specifically, it is a failure of something in decision-making called ‘orientation.’ Let’s dig in.

——

Unfortunately, rather than allow traditional US orientation to guide our actions in the new century, America was misled by those promoting flimsy theoretical constructs, false loyalties, and naive ideologies.

Civics: “The fourth branch is arresting another journalist today for embarrassing the regime”

Rep. Thomas Massie:

Breanna Morello:

in just a few moments, journalist Steve Baker (@TPC4USA) will be turning himself in to the Dallas FBI field office.

He is being arrested for his coverage of January 6.

The charges are currently unknown.

I’ll be covering everything from inside the courtroom later today.

And:

JUST IN: A federal judge has found former CBS/Fox reporter Catherine Herridge in civil contempt of court, fining her $800 a day until she reveals the source of a story that is the subject of a defamation/leak lawsuit.

Deeper Dive:

and:

Germany was accused of a “flagrant abuse of intelligence” after revealing that British soldiers are supporting Ukrainian forces launching long-range Storm Shadow missiles…

And:

Those who pontificate about “threats to our democracy” should take a hard look at the threats to freedom of the press.

Winchester Public Schools will hire outside evaluator to review its early literacy instruction

Mandy McLaren:

Under fire from parents who say the district’s reading curriculum fails its most vulnerable students, Winchester Public Schools will hire an outside evaluator to review its current literacy practices, Superintendent Frank Hackett said Tuesday night.

During a evening School Committee meeting, Hackett called the move a “critical” and “urgent” priority.

“This is really us acknowledging that we need to strengthen our early literacy program,” Hackett said.

Eugenics

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is moving forward with the installation of a plaque in Van Hise Hall that would explain the legacy of the building’s namesake, Charles Van Hise, and his promotion of eugenics.

Eugenics is selective breeding, often by forced sterilization, to remove “undesirables” from society, such as people of color and those with disabilities.

The intent of the plaque is to spark a broader conversation about a relatively unknown and painful chapter in state history, and the university’s role in it, said Kacie Luccini Butcher, director of the UW-Madison Public History Project who conducted research on the topic.

Who was Charles Van Hise?

Van Hise received four degrees from UW-Madison, including the first Ph.D. degree granted by the university. He is the university’s longest serving leader, serving as president from 1903 until his death in 1918. During his tenure, UW-Madison established a graduate division, founded a medical school and increased its faculty from 200 to 750 professors.

—-

Margaret Sanger (Planned Parenthood) and eugenics.

Abigail Shrier’s astute and impassioned analysis of the mental-health crisis afflicting American adolescents

Kay Hymowitz:

Shrier’s new book Bad Therapy, an astute and impassioned analysis of the mental-health crisis now afflicting adolescents, may cause a similar emotional meltdown in some corners of American culture. Shrier’s target is more expansive than it was in Irreversible Damage; she aims her fire at the therapeutic mindset that pervades not just the offices of psychologists and counsellors, but elementary, middle, and high school classrooms, best-seller lists, middle-class homes, and government agencies. It’s a pernicious development because a therapeutic mindset easily paralyzes kids’ natural defenses and resilience, hence the crisis we confront today. Assuming a Bad Therapy backlash comes, it is unlikely to be as heated as it was in the case of Irreversible Damage—therapists, who have the most to lose if Shrier’s analysis were to win out, are a more sedate crowd than trans activists—but one hopes that for the sake of the rising generation, any pushback won’t prevent people from heeding the warnings of this important book. 

A comprehensive look at K-12 taxpayer funds and outcomes

Aaron Garth Smith, Christian Barnard And Jordan Campbell

Public education is grappling with an unprecedented set of challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For starters, nationwide public school enrollment is down by over 1.2 million students compared with pre-pandemic levels, including losses exceeding 5% in New York, Oregon, and Mississippi. 

Research suggests that families are increasingly choosing homeschooling or private schools, with demographic factors—such as drops in school-age populations—also contributing to enrollment declines. Because states generally tie funding to student counts, this could have substantial effects on school district budgets.

Students also fell behind during COVID-19, with 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress results showing historic losses for 4th and 8th graders in both reading and math.

—-

Aaron Smith:

  1. There isn’t a consistent relationship between education funding growth and student outcomes across states.

For example, New York had a substantial increase in per-student funding between 2002 and 2020—ranking first in the nation at 70.2% growth.

Despite the increased spending, New York’s NAEP scores were largely flat during that period, including declines in both 4th and 8th grade reading scores.

The Collegiate War Against Merit

Richard Vedder:

A story in Inside Higher Ed last week revealed that two more Ivy League schools, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania, have stoppedpublishing “dean’s lists” that recognize high levels of academic achievement. As one anonymous Penn alumnus put it, “The war against individual achievement continues unabated.” Other Ivies (e.g., Brown and Harvard) had already abandoned—or never really embraced—the concept of recognizing merit in this manner.

Why is this happening? As Inside Higher Ed interpreted it, “Some universities are working to address a culture of perfectionism on campus, where students feel pressured to earn the highest grades, participate in the most extracurriculars or land the most elite internships.”

Much of higher education is contemptuous of the values that produced American exceptionalism.Let’s stamp out excellence, the pernicious act of striving to do better, learning more, and becoming more productive students and citizens. In short, let’s show disdain for the attributes that made the United States the most prosperous nation in the world and attracted millions of Americans to its shores.

Additionally, if we reduce published indicators or even our knowledge of student success or potential, we can better disguise our efforts to get around the Supreme Court’s mandate, in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, that colleges stop employing blatant racial discrimination in admissions. This no doubt is a factor in many elite schools abandoning the SAT or ACT as a requirement for admission. (Kudos to Dartmouth and Yale, however, for recently restoring test requirements.) To some college administrators, ignorance is bliss.

How one school scaled up science of reading professional development

Kara Arundel:

In 2018-19, the first year that Lori Webster was director of Mountain Mahogany Community School, the previous school year’s data showed only 32% of students in grades 3-8 were proficient in reading, she said.

To improve reading proficiency rates, the K-8 public charter school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, “started very small,” Webster said. 

She hired Alexandra Wilcox, a parent at the school, as a reading interventionist, who became trained in using science of reading approaches, which explicitly teaches students the connections between letters and sounds. 

As Wilcox started using those approaches with the youngest students in grades K-2, other teachers became interested in the science of reading training. The school also switched its reading and writing curricula, altered its school schedule and changed instructional routines in classrooms — all to support the focus on improved literacy.

The efforts are producing results. In 2022, 52% of students grades 3-8 tested proficient in reading. About 230 students attend the K-8 school.

The Story Of A Homeschool Co-Op: Great Oaks Are Growing In Rural Kentucky

Beanie Geoghegan:

Since the 2017-18 school year, homeschooling has increased exponentially in almost every state. The school closures during the pandemic served as a catalyst to entice more families to explore educating their children at home permanently. While school districts in large cities saw parents choosing homeschooling due to concerning contentin the curriculum, rural school districts experienced their own homeschool exodus. In Pulaski County, KY, a district with fewer than 7,800 students, there has been a 75 percent increase in homeschooling since 2017. The reasons for the decision vary, but the overarching message is that parents are reclaiming their roles in their children’s education. 

How Was Great Oaks Born? 

In Campbellsville- a little town in Kentucky with a population of just over 11,000 people- about 90 miles south of Louisville, the idea of homeschooling fell on fertile soil, grew strong roots, and is developing into a mighty oak tree. In fact, this homeschool co-op was born out of the concern two mothers had about their own children’s education. They aptly named the co-op “Acorns To Great Oaks,” which has grown to serve 50 families and 115 children across Green, Taylor, and Adair counties. 

Wisconsin DPI Reading Curriculum Evaluation list

The taxpayer funded Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s early literacy review, as a result of Act 20. (Letter to Leaders). Letter to JFC

Early Literacy Curriculum Comparison “At a Glance”

ELCC Center for Collaborative Classroom Ratings

American Reading Company (ARC)

ELCC Ready 4 Reading Ratings

Voyager Passport Intervention

ELCC Into Reading

Wilson Language Training

CKLA Amplify Education

Raz Plus Learning A-Z, LLC

ELCC CKLA

Ready 4 Reading (Scholastic)

Into Reading (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

UFLI Ventris (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Writing A-Z (Learning A-Z LLC)

EL Education K-3 Imagine Learning

ELCC Wonders

Exact Path Edmentum

Connections OG in 3D The Apple Group

Just the Reader Decodeables Just Right Rider

Wonders Mcgraw Hill

ELCC EL by Open Up

Open Court Reading McGraw Hill

Bridge to Reading Foundational Skills Hagerty

Superkids

Early Literacy Curriculum Council Rating Form

Magnetic Reading Curriculum Associates

Vendor Self Assessment Rubric

EL Education K-3 Open Up Resources

My view Savvas Learning

ELCC Benchmark

Benchmark Education Advance Benchmark Education Company

Open Court

Phonics to Reading Sadlier

IMSE

My View

Bookworms Reading & Writing K-3Open Up Resources

Kindercorner & Reading Roots Reading Wings – Success for All Foundation, Inc.

Center for Collaborative Classrooms

Great Minds Wit and Wisdom with Really Great Reading

Being a Reader Center for Collaborative Classroom

ELCC ARC

OG Plus IMSE (Institute for Multi-Sensory Education)

ELCC Successfor all

## Curious “terms of use” .

via Jenny Warner.

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Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

How Sweden proved the world wrong about lockdown

Fredrik Andersson and Lars Jonung

The evidence is clear: authoritarian restrictions did not save more lives.

In 2020, countries across the world followed in the footsteps of China and locked down hard against Covid-19. Liberties were drastically curtailed. As was economic activity, forcing governments to borrow tens if not hundreds of billions of pounds each to keep businesses and furloughed workers afloat. 

In Europe, one notable exception to this was Sweden. The Swedish government, despite facing heavy criticism, decided against imposing tight restrictions on social activity. The evidence now overwhelmingly suggests that Sweden made the right choice. 

Did lockdown restrictions do more harm than good? Did they even work at all? We tried to answer these questions in a recent paper for the journal, Economic Affairs. We looked at how different OECD countries in Europe, including the UK, fared during the pandemic – both in terms of the economy and excess deaths. We took a particular interest in Sweden.

Although we could not explore every possible impact of the various lockdown measures, our conclusions were straightforward: countries that imposed more lockdown measures did not experience lower excess death rates. In fact, Sweden had one of the lowest excess death rates towards the end of the pandemic, with fewer people dying compared with a normal pre-pandemic year.

—-

Related: Taxpayer funded Dane County Madison Public Health mandates.

Waiting for an analysis of the long term costs of taxpayer supported Dane County Madison Public Health “mandates”

A Professor Claimed to Be Native American. Did She Know She Wasn’t?

Jay Captain King:

To outsiders, the term “Pretendian” might sound ugly or be discomforting. There is no universal standard for determining who is a “real” Native American and who is not. Native identity is a legal and political classification, based on filial lineage and tribal citizenship. Tribal nations have their own rules for enrollment, and some are more open than others. The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, for example, requires twenty-five per cent Akwesasne Mohawk blood; the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma mandates that an ancestor be on its 1937 roll and have an eighth Pawnee blood. The Cherokee Nation, one of the two largest Native groups in the United States, will accept anyone who can prove some lineal descent in specific records.

A massive increase in foreign money and students on American campuses is driving radicalization and subsidizing institutional failure

Neetu Arnold:

Something new and peculiar stands out about the wave of anti-Israel student activism that has rocked American university campuses since October: There is a visibly more radical element to these protests. Student activists almost seemed to take glee in Hamas’ massacre of innocent civilians—when they weren’t denying that it happened at all. The antisemitic rage struck a different tone than the typical anti-Israel fare that has become a central part of American student activism since Students for a Democratic Society formed in the 1960s.

So what changed? The answer is clear to anyone who watched the videos: these student protests are no longer composed solely of left-wing American students steeped in critical theory and post-colonial ideology. The protests are now havens for foreign students, especially those from Arab and Muslim countries, with their own set of nationalist and tribal grievances against Israel and the United States. In some cases, such foreign students appear to lead the protests in their pro-terrorism chants—some of which are in Arabic, or translations of Arabic slogans.

Vending machine error reveals secret face image database of college students

Ashley Belanger:

Canada-based University of Waterloo is racing to remove M&M-branded smart vending machines from campus after outraged students discovered the machines were covertly collecting facial-recognition data without their consent.

The scandal started when a student using the alias SquidKid47 posted an image on Reddit showing a campus vending machine error message, “Invenda.Vending.FacialRecognitionApp.exe,” displayed after the machine failed to launch a facial recognition application that nobody expected to be part of the process of using a vending machine.

Open-Source Software Is Worth a Lot More Than You Pay for It

Tyler Cowen:

Free products that users can modify and share may well be the greatest “public goods” markets have ever produced.

Standard neoclassical economic theory holds that goods and services with widespread benefits get produced only if their maker can charge customers for them. Open-source software — defined as “something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible” — unquestionably has widespread benefits, yet it is free. Think of the Mozilla Firefox browser, VLC Media Player, the Python programming language or Linux-based operating systems. Many companies, including Meta and Mistral, are pioneering open-source AI.

“The truth, which will come out in the course of this case, is that the Times paid someone to hack OpenAI’s products,” the motion to dismiss explains”

Ernesto Van der Sar

The OpenAI defendants continue their motion to dismiss by noting that AI is yet another technical evolution that will change the world, including journalism. It points out that several publishers openly support this progress. 

For example, OpenAI has signed partnerships with other prominent news industry outlets including the Associated Press and Axel Springer. Smaller journalistic outlets are on board as well, and some plan to use AI-innovations to their benefit. 

The Times doesn’t have any agreements and uses this lawsuit to get proper compensation for the use of its work. However, OpenAI notes that the suggestion that its activities threaten journalism is overblown, or even fiction.

The unintended consequences of test optional

David Deming:

Last week, Yale followed Dartmouth’s lead and announced that they would once again require applicants to submit standardized test scores for college admissions. Moving in the opposite direction, the University of Michigan declared that their temporary test-optional policy would remain permanent for future classes.

The Yale announcement cited as a rationale something that we found very clearly in our own study of college admissions – SAT/ACT scores, while not perfect, are fairer to low-income applicants than essays, extracurriculars, and other parts of the application. They sum it up nicely: “Our researchers and readers found that when admissions officers reviewed applications with no scores, they placed greater weight on other parts of the application. But this shift frequently worked to the disadvantage of applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds.” 
Yale emphasizes the relative fairness of college test scores. Test optional advocates might respond that they are not against SAT/ACT scores, they just want to empower students to make their own choice. Choice is good, right? 

the Montgomery County State’s Attorney has criminally charged me for a satirical tweet. Here’s how it happened:

Tacoma Torch:

At 1:00 a.m. on the morning of February 21, my wife and I woke up to the sound of loud banging. We were terrified. We went downstairs half-dressed and were alarmed to see flashing lights in our driveway and several deputies of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office on our front porch banging on our door. I asked them what they could possibly be doing at this hour, and they said they were there to serve me with a Peace Order that had been filed by a well-known, local political pundit and online troll, Ryan Miner, of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Also, Miner somehow convinced a district court commissioner to approve “criminal harassment” charges he filed against me. My crime? I ridiculed him in a tweet. 

The tweet, made through my satirical publication, the Takoma Torch on February 2, said, “Ryan Miner Pokes Head out of Ground, Sees Laura Stewart Running for Board of Education, Six More Weeks of Being a Misogynist Shit Head” (this was posted on Groundhog Day, if you missed the joke).

ABA May Revise Diversity Accreditation Standard To Increase ‘Identity Characteristics’ From Three (Gender, Race & Ethnicity) To 14

TaxProf:

The American Bar Association has decided to continue mulling over potential revisions to Standard 206, which governs diversity and inclusion within law schools, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action.

Under the proposal recommended by the Standards 205/206 Working Group, amendments to Standard 206from the ABA Standards Committee on Wednesday, the Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar voted during its Thursday meeting in Louisiana to further consider the revisions at this time.

Under the proposal recommended by the Standards 205/206 Working Group, amendments to Standard 206 would include changing the standard title from “Diversity and Inclusion” to “Access to Legal Education and the Profession,” and shifting the overall focus of the verbiage away from underrepresented groups and more toward providing access to “all persons.”

Notes on Fake Research

The Economist:

Huang Feiruo was once a respected scientist who studied ways to make pigs gain weight more quickly. He ran government-funded research projects at Huazhong Agricultural University in the central city of Wuhan. But last month 11 of his graduate students accused him of plagiarising the work of other academics and fabricating data. He had also, they said, put pressure on them to fake their own research. On February 6th the university announced that it had fired Mr Huang and retracted some of his work.

Scientific fraud is all too common in China. Bad incentives are a big part of the problem. Chinese universities typically reward researchers with promotions and funding based on the quantity of papers they publish, not the quality. That has got results. In 2017, for the first time, China published more scientific papers than any other country. It has kept the top spot ever since. But while some of the research has been cutting-edge, much has been dodgy.

Teacher Survey on Gender vs birth sex and slavery

Matt Barnum:

When it comes to race, most U.S. public-school teachers think students should be taught that the legacy of slavery affects Black Americans today and that parents shouldn’t be able to opt their children out of lessons on racism, according to Pew.

At the same time, most educators don’t think schools should teach that a child’s gender can be different from the child’s birth sex. Teachers say this topic usually doesn’t come up in class anyway, the national survey shows.

Meanwhile, more than 40% of teachers said that the high-profile discussions about classroom content have had a negative impact on their jobs. Seven in 10 teachers think that, as a group, they don’t have enough influence over what they teach.

The results shed light on how teachers across the country are reacting to debates and new policies about what should—and should not—be taught in public schools.

“Which gives us pause. We need educators who aren’t cookie cutter. Because what they’re doing ain’t workin”

David Blaska:

Public school bureaucrats talk in a code all their own. According to Abbey Machtig’s excellent account in the Wisconsin State Journal, Gothard promises courses in “critical ethnic studies.” Sounds like emulating higher education’s various grievance studies, which is what got us into this mess in the first place. Teaching victimhood excuses and perpetuates failure.

Gothard is quoted to say instruction must be “culturally relevant… and adaptive in an equitable way … through their lived experiences … to unpack trauma that student have experienced.” Buzz buzz.

A previous State Journal education reporter assured her readers that Madison public schools do not teach critical race theory. Ms. Machtig, perhaps breaking with the received progressive canon, chooses to quote a parent whom, The Werkes believes, is representative:

—-

Kayla Huynh

The Madison Metropolitan School District’s newly hired superintendent will be paid nearly $300,000 a year plus moving expenses, travel allowances and 87 sick days including unused time off from a decade ago.

The School Board unanimously approved the two-year agreement with Joe Gothard in a Monday evening meeting with no discussion. 

——

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

A growing number of researchers are criticizing an overemphasis on auditory skills

Jill Barshay:

Educators around the country have embraced the “science of reading” in their classrooms, but that doesn’t mean there’s a truce in the reading wars. In fact, controversies are emerging about an important but less understood aspect of learning to read: phonemic awareness. 

That’s the technical name for showing children how to break down words into their component letter sounds and then fuse the sounds together. In a phonemic awareness lesson, a teacher might ask how many sounds are in the word cat.  The answer is three: “k,” “a,” and “t.” Then the class blends the sounds back into the familiar sounding word: from “kuh-aah-tuh” to “kat.” The 26 letters of the English alphabet produce 44 phonemes, which include unique sounds made from combinations of letters, such as “ch” and “oo.” 

Medical schools and CRT

CRT in Education

The medical schools below consist of all 155 U.S.-accredited medical schools. As with our higher education database, some have embraced CRT explicitly, while others have a continuum of programming, such as “antiracism”, “equity”, and “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” that does not easily fit into a Yes/No construct. We provide information from which you can make the most informed decision possible.

Is There Any Remedy When You’re Censored?

Philip Hamburger

It’s said that for every right there’s a remedy. Three cases before the Supreme Court will test whether that’s true for the freedom of speech.

In National Rifle Association v. Vullo, a New York state official took aim at gun advocacy by threatening regulatory hassle for bankers and insurers that continued to do business with the NRA. Recognizing the threat, they dumped the organization. Now that the official, Maria Vullo, is being sued, she claims that under the qualified-immunity doctrine, she can’t be ordered to pay damages.

Late Blooming Polymaths

Robin Hanson:

There is a big literature on the ages at which intellectuals peak in life. The rate of publishing papers peaks about tenure time. Physical sciences peak earlier than social sciences. And per paper, each one has an equal chance to be a person’s best paper, regardless of at what age it was written. 

Being a polymath, I’ve posted lots on the topic of polymaths over the years. Seen as a production rather than a consumption strategy, polymathing is mainly looking for and building on connections one finds between distant intellectual areas. And while I haven’t seen data to confirm it, my personal experience suggests a hypothesis: polymaths peak later in life.

Why? Because our key intellectual strategy of looking for connections between areas should work better as we learn more areas. And I feel like I see this in my own life. While my stamina and raw speed or intensity of thought is probably declining with age, knowing more things makes it easier for me to learn the basics of each new area. When I seek concrete examples of things, I have a far larger library to draw on, and I find closer better examples more easily. And when I ponder a puzzle, I can find many more analogies and kinds of explanations to consider. Furthermore, I better know roughly want to expect re what sorts of connections won’t yet have been found, which are how valuable, and what it would take to test them or get folks to listen about them. 

What makes a literary city?

Nilanjana Roy:

One of the unexpected pleasures of travelling as an author is the sense of feeling immediately at home in an unknown city because it has libraries, bookshops, a culture of reading and creating spaces for readers.

I’ve felt this on first visits to great cities such as New York and London, but also in places such as Dublin or Kozhikode in Kerala, which last year became one of Unesco’s 53 Cities of Literature — and India’s first.

When I visited two years ago, Kozhikode was hosting an exuberant festival for writers across India on its magnificent beach, on the legendary Malabar Coast. It has nurtured Malayalam authors, from SK Pottekkatt to MT Vasudevan Nair and Indu Menon, and has a remarkable 550 libraries, over 70 publishers, and about 100 bookshops strung out across lanes fringed with coconut palms.

Most of all, though, Kozhikode felt welcoming because it so gladly made space for readers as part of the ebb and flow of city life.

Cities have to apply to be a Unesco City of Literature, a list that includes obvious choices such as Edinburgh, Iowa City and Beirut, but also more unexpected places, from to Taif in Saudi Arabia to Lviv in Ukraine, which has since transformed itself into a hub for refugees and those affected by the war. The Unesco committees rate applicants on factors such as quality and quantity of publishing, number of bookshops, literary festivals and events, and an active translation scene.

“one-stop-shop’ for information about Wisconsin’s PUBLIC schools”

WILL

Here, you can view trends in enrollment, proficiency, and a host of other information.

ACT Score
This is the average composite score in the district for students who took the ACT. The highest possible score is 36.0. With few exceptions, high school juniors in Wisconsin are required to take the ACT. This does not include the ACT Aspire results. Original data can be found here.

Choice Enrollment 
The number of students in the district who participate in one of the state’s parental choice programs. Choice enrollment is attributed to the district where the choice school is located. Original data can be found here.

Chronic Absenteeism
A student is considered chronically absent if they miss more than 10% of the schooldays possible, and have been enrolled for more than 90 days. Lower numbers in our ranking are indicative of lower rates of chronic absenteeism. Original data can be found here

District Proficiency
There are several levels of proficiency in DPI’s data. A child is considered proficient in a subject if they score “proficient” or “advanced” on the state’s Forward exam. A child is considered not proficient if they score “basic” and “below basic” in the subject on the Forward exam. Students who did not take the test are included as “Not Proficient” in the same manner that DPI reports the results. Additional information on how these categories are created is found here.  Original data can be found within the report cards here.

DPI Report Card Rating
The categorical grade assigned to the district from DPI on a five-point scale with the categories: “Fails to Meet Expectations,” “Meets Few Expectations,” “Meets Expectations,” “Exceeds Expectations,” and “Significantly Exceeds Expectations.” Original data can be found here.

Wisconsin DPI Commentary on Reading Curriculum

Wisconsin Public Radio’s Kate Archer Kent interviews Laura Adams:

mp3 audio. Transcript.

Literacy momentum stalls in Wisconsin (DPI): Why would Wisconsin’s state leaders promote the use of curriculum that meets “minimal level” criteria, instead of elevating the highest-quality: Karen Vaites:

Last week, the nine-member ELCC submitted its recommendations: four curricula widely praised for their quality (Bookworms, Core Knowledge, EL Education, and Wit & Wisdom). Literacy leaders cheered the selections. Personally, I consider it the best state list we’ve seen.

Just two days later, Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) issued a statement asking the Joint Finance Committee to approve a rather different list of 11 options… the list of curricula that earn “all-green” ratings on EdReports. Conspicuously omitted from DPI’s list: Bookworms, a curriculum with the most persuasive studies showing that it improves reading outcomes – but which earned a widely-questioned yellow review on EdReports.

The average quality of the DPI list was markedly lower than the ELCC list, something that even DPI acknowledged. Laura Adams of the DPI told CESAs,“The two different lists represent two different perspectives. The Council’s list represents a judgment of quality, while DPI’s list represents a floor of those materials that meet the requirements, even at a minimal level.”

Jill Underly didn’t attend the meetings, so she missed these conversations. Frankly, her absence from ELCC meetings speaks volumes. If DPI felt urgency about children’s reading success, or even about the review timelines, one would have expected Underly to make time for ELCC meetings. Underly’s late-breaking objections have not sat well with close watchers of the process.

See How Student Achievement Gaps Are Growing in Your State

Chad Aldeman

The easing of No Child Left Behind in 2012 set off a decline that is still being felt. Maybe it’s time to bring back accountability

Achievement scores fell in the wake of COVID-19. That story has been well told …

But what’s less well-known is that achievement scores had already suffered a lost decade before the pandemic hit.

Literacy momentum stalls in Wisconsin (DPI): Why would Wisconsin’s state leaders promote the use of curriculum that meets “minimal level” criteria, instead of elevating the highest-quality

Censorship at Penn

Aaron Sibarium:

The former president of the University of Pennsylvania, Liz Magill, who resigned in December after telling a congressional panel that calls for genocide of Jews did not necessarily constitute bullying or harassment, signed off last year on sanctions for a professor who had criticized diversity initiatives.

Magill accepted the recommendations of a Penn hearing board in August to suspend Amy Wax, a tenured law professor, for a year at half pay and to strip her of a named chair, according to a report from Philadelphia Inquirer and documents obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon.

Wax had a long record of controversial statements that the school claimed violated its anti-discrimination policies, including her criticisms of diversity, equity, and inclusion officials, who she claimed “couldn’t be scholars if their life depended on it.”

Ending The Ivy League’s Tax Dodge

Helen Santoro:

Within a one-mile radius in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sit Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — academic institutions that together boast $74 billion in endowment funds. Based on the size of these “rainy-day funds” alone, the two universities, with a combined student body of 37,000, have enough wealth to rival Ghana, with a population of 35 million. 

The kicker? These private universities are educational institutions, meaning that for most of their history, they have been exempt from federal and state income taxes. 

Massachusetts lawmakers want to change that. State legislators are considering a groundbreaking bill that would impose a 2.5 percent annual excise tax on private college and university endowments that are larger than $1 billion. The resulting $2.5 billion raised each year would be more than enough to cover the tuition of every undergraduate student currently attending public colleges and universities in the state.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harvard announce a substantial cost reduction program soon”

Bill Ackman

The substantial majority of the @Harvard endowment is invested in illiquid assets, principally private equity, real estate, and venture capital. Not reflected on the balance sheet are commitments to new funds of the same type.

Like most endowments, @Harvard models expectations of fund distributions when considering its liquidity and when making future commitments.

Harvard also makes assumptions about inflows from alumni donations.

The model likely did not predict a decline in liquidity events from private equity, real estate, and venture capital and the dramatic decline in donations. That is likely why Harvard announced this recent bond offering, which is being done in a substantially higher interest rate environment than where the funds could have been raised a couple of years ago.

Mary Poppins’ UK age rating raised to PG due to discriminatory language

Kevin Rawlinson:

Mary Poppins has had its age rating lifted to a PG by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) almost 60 years after it was first released.

The film’s rating has been upgraded from U – which signifies no material likely to offend or harm – to one advising parental guidance due to the use of discriminatory language, the Daily Mail reported.

It was changed because of a derogatory term for the Khoikhoi, a group of people who were among the first inhabitants of southern Africa.

Classifiers picked up on the term used by the character Admiral Boom – first as a reference to people not onscreen, then as a reference to the film’s child stars when their faces are blackened with soot.

“We understand from our racism and discrimination research … that a key concern for … parents is the potential to expose children to discriminatory language or behaviour which they may find distressing or repeat without realising the potential offence,” a BBFC spokesperson told the Mail.

“making free tuition available to all students going forward”

Joseph Goldstein:

The 93-year-old widow of a Wall Street financier has donated $1 billion to a Bronx medical school, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, with instructions that the gift be used to cover tuition for all students going forward.

The donor, Dr. Ruth Gottesman, is a former professor at Einstein, where she studied learning disabilities, developed a screening test and ran literacy programs. It is one of the largest charitable donations to an educational institution in the United States and most likely the largest to a medical school.

The fortune came from her late husband, David Gottesman, known as Sandy, who was a protégé of Warren Buffett and had made an early investment in Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate Mr. Buffett built.

Paper Exams in the “ai” era

Kelly Meyerhofer:

Harshner ran his other students’ work through the AI detector. He said eight of the 40 assignments, or 20%, came back with an 85% chance or higher of AI-generated work. The facts hit him like a gut punch.

“Honestly, like, you want to think what you’re doing matters,” Harshner said. “You want to think that at least in some part all the work you’re putting in actually impacts people’s lives.”

AI is disrupting colleges across the country, offering shortcuts for students and uncomfortable questions for professors. Tools like ChatGPT can, in a matter of seconds, solve math problems, write papers and craft code on command.

“It’s entirely changed the way I teach,” Harshner said.

Harshner’s writing-intensive course was previously heavy on take-home essays. He now has students write their papers during class. Not only does he outline an AI ban on his syllabi but he also has students sign a contract agreeing not to use it, even for generating ideas or paper outlines.

“You have to take steps to, you know, kind of push back on this,” Harshner said, adding he believes AI is a “threat to higher education in real, meaningful ways.”

Notes on Handwriting & Cursive

Brian Schrader:

I’m a software developer; I make my living on a computer. In this age there just isn’t much reason for me to bother improving my handwriting.

I’ve thought that for years. While like most people my age, I learned to write in cursive in school (and to write in general) I’d essentially stopped using such an all-important skill in my daily life, save for the odd sticky-note here and reminder scribble there.

Biden’s Student Loan Boast: The Supreme Court ‘Didn’t Stop Me’

Wall Street Journal:

He’s not really cancelling anything because he’s transferring the debt from the borrowers it benefited to the taxpayers who will finance it with higher taxes or interest payments on the rising national debt.

Under his Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan, President Unstoppable is offering loan forgiveness through income-driven repayment plans. Borrowers used to be expected to pay 10% of the portion of their discretionary income that exceeds 150% of the federal poverty level ($22,590 for individuals) for 20 years after which their loans are forgiven. The Biden plan reduces the payments to 5% of their discretionary income above 225% of the poverty level.

Students Aren’t the Obstacle to Open Debate at Harvard

Tarek Massed:

Professors hear a great deal these days about how hard it is to get our students to listen to, much less to engage with, opinions they dislike. The problem, we are told, is that students are either “snowflakes” with fragile psyches or “authoritarians” who care more about their pet causes than about democratic values such as tolerance, compromise and respect for opposing points of view.

Students at Harvard, where I teach, returned from winter break in January to an institution that appeared determined to tackle this problem head-on. An email from the undergraduate dean reminded them that “The purpose of a Harvard education is not to shield you from ideas you dislike or to silence people you disagree with; it is to enable you to confront challenging ideas, interrogate your own beliefs, make up your mind and learn to think for yourself.”

To that end, the university launched the “Harvard Dialogues,” a series of events “designed to enhance our ability to engage in respectful and robust debate.” But so far, the effort seems to consist of little more than talking about talking, with events with titles like “Coming Together Across Difference: Finding Common Ground Across Identities and Political Divides” and “Constructive Dialogue in the Age of Social Media.” Absent from this agenda are real discussions about the actual things that divide us, such as abortion, climate change and Israel-Palestine.

How Dartmouth Keeps Its Cool

Emma Osman:

Like nearly every other school in America, Dartmouth College is struggling with the breakdown of civil discourse and free expression. Students tend to self-censor or shout down views they don’t like.

“I don’t want safe spaces, I want brave spaces,” says Dartmouth President Sian Beilock in a phone interview. At the start of the winter term in January, the Hanover, N.H., college launched the Dartmouth Dialogues program.

Ms. Beilock says the program aims to convince students and professors that being challenged is crucial to education. “The idea is to be around the brightest minds and to be pushed and to be a little uncomfortable,” she says. “Even if you’re not going to change your mind, the ability to hone your arguments and to think differently from different perspectives, these are skills and tools of higher education.”

The Dartmouth Dialogues program will begin in the classroom. Faculty are already being trained on how to guide debate—particularly when a topic is likely to become charged. Ms. Beilock’s hope is that students will learn to disagree respectfully and take that skill with them when they leave the classroom. Starting in the fall, new students will be given similar training. These types of training sessions sometimes elicit eye-rolls from students, but by consistently reminding students that disagreement is OK, Ms. Beilock believes that the college can “create the environment to get this right.”

“Flipping a coin would actually be better” for identifying struggling readers

Christopher Peak:

The first thing Havah Kelley noticed was her son’s trouble with the alphabet. The San Francisco mom reviewed letters with him for hours at a time, reciting their names and tracing their shapes. But Kelley’s son couldn’t write most of them on his own. He reversed them or scrawled incoherent shapes. Halfway through his kindergarten year, his teacher said he still couldn’t recognize some letters on sight. 

But that teacher told Kelley not to fret. She said she’d given the boy San Francisco Unified School District’s go-to reading test: the Benchmark Assessment System. His reading level on the test had landed within the appropriate range for his age. The teacher said he probably just needed time to catch on. 

Kelley, a single parent living in Bayview, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, knew something wasn’t right. That year, in 2017, she asked the school to test her son for a learning disability. She said they gave her the runaround; their reading test, after all, showed her son was doing fine. 

Near the end of first grade, the school finally agreed to do a more comprehensive evaluation. The results showed her son was so far behind his peers in reading and writing that he fit the profile for dyslexia. The Benchmark Assessment System had been — and would continue to be — wrong about how well he could read. 

Another new Madison k-12 Superintendent

Kayla Huynh

In his new role, Gothard will oversee the second largest school district in Wisconsin, which serves over 26,000 students in 52 schools and has a nearly $600 million annual budget. He’ll take over at a challenging time, with COVID-19 federal funding set to expire and the board determining the 2024-25 budget.

Gothard will also be responsible for carrying out Wisconsin’s Act 20, a law that is set to make sweeping changes across the state in how schools teach 4-year-old kindergarten through third grade students how to read. The act requires districts to shift to a “science of reading” approach that emphasizes the use of phonics. 

Using pandemic funds, Gothard created a similar program in 2021 at St. Paul Public Schools in an effort to improve the district’s lagging reading scores. The program pairs struggling students with educators who specialize in science-based reading instruction. 

——

Abbey Machtig:

He spent two years as an assistant superintendent of secondary schools in Madison and was a semifinalist in the Madison School District’s search for a new superintendent in 2013, with the board ultimately hiring Jennifer Cheatham.

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Literacy momentum stalls in Wisconsin (DPI): Why would Wisconsin’s state leaders promote the use of curriculum that meets “minimal level” criteria, instead of elevating the highest-quality

Karen Vaites:

All eyes have been on Wisconsin, where politics threaten to stall promising curriculum improvement efforts. 

The Badger State’s Act 20 literacy bill was one of the bright spots in a flourishing national legislative phase. The bill had a refreshing focus on all aspects of literacy, and recognized the importance of curriculum in fostering change. Act 20 called for the convening of an expert Early Literacy Curriculum Council (ELCC) to identify a set of recommended ELA curricula; only these programs would be eligible for state subsidy.

The ELCC – which includes a high-performing superintendent, practitioners immersed in reading research, and dyslexia advocates whose children suffered under previous DPI choices – has real stakes in Act 20’s success. And the stakes are high: Wisconsin has the largest gap in reading outcomes for Black vs white students of any state. 

Last week, the nine-member ELCC submitted its recommendations: four curricula widely praised for their quality (Bookworms, Core Knowledge, EL Education, and Wit & Wisdom). Literacy leaders cheered the selections. Personally, I consider it the best state list we’ve seen.

Just two days later, Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) issued a statement asking the Joint Finance Committee to approve a rather different list of 11 options… the list of curricula that earn “all-green” ratings on EdReports. Conspicuously omitted from DPI’s list: Bookworms, a curriculum with the most persuasive studies showing that it improves reading outcomes – but which earned a widely-questioned yellow review on EdReports.

The average quality of the DPI list was markedly lower than the ELCC list, something that even DPI acknowledged. Laura Adams of the DPI told CESAs,“The two different lists represent two different perspectives. The Council’s list represents a judgment of quality, while DPI’s list represents a floor of those materials that meet the requirements, even at a minimal level.”

——-

Jill Underly didn’t attend the meetings, so she missed these conversations. Frankly, her absence from ELCC meetings speaks volumes. If DPI felt urgency about children’s reading success, or even about the review timelines, one would have expected Underly to make time for ELCC meetings. Underly’s late-breaking objections have not sat well with close watchers of the process.

—-

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

K-12 Tax & $pending Climate: In US terms, he turned a 1.2 trillion-dollar annual deficit into a 400 billion surplus. In 9 and a half weeks.

Peter st Onge:

How did he do it? Easy: he cut a host of central government agency budgets by 50% while slashing crony contracts and activist handouts.

For perspective, if you cut the entirety of Washington’s budget by 50%, you’d save a fast 3 trillion dollars and start paying off the national debt.

It turns out it can be done, and the world doesn’t collapse into chaos.

Deficits aren’t the only win Milei’s logged. He’s slashed crony regulation, got rid of currency controls, and recently slashed rent prices by removing controls — that actually led to a doubling of apartments for rent in Buenos Aires, slashing rent costs.

Wisconsin DPI vs learning to read

Jenny Warner:

Last week, Wisconsin’s expert Early Literacy Curriculum Council recommended the highest-quality list we have seen from any state.

Then @WisconsinDPI tried to overrule them, for no sound reason.

More.

The nine-member Early Literacy Curriculum Council reviewed and recommended four curriculums. The council includes six members chosen by the Republican majority leaders of the state legislature, and three chosen by state Superintendent Jill Underly. 

In addition to the Early Literacy Council’s review, the DPI conducted its own review, which diverged in part from the council. It rejected one of the council’s recommendations (Bookworms Reading & Writing for K-3), and added others that the council hadn’t rated. 

DPI is recommending the following programs:

American Reading Company K-3 (ARC
Core, 2017)

Being a Reader (K-2nd, 2021; 3rd, 2023) & Being a Writer (K-3rd., 2014) with Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics & Sight Words (SIPPS,

2020) (Center for the Collaborative Classroom)

Benchmark Education Advance (Benchmark Education Company, 2022)

Core Knowledge Language Arts K-3 (CKLA,
Amplify Education, 2022)

EL Education K-3 Language Arts (Open up
Resources, 2017)

EL Education K-3 (Imagine Learning LLC,
2019)

Into Reading, National V2 (Houghton
Mifflin Harcourt, 2020)

myView Literacy Elem. Reading Curriculum (Savvas Learning Company, 2025)

Open Court (McGraw Hill, 2023)

Wit and Wisdom (Great Minds, 2020) with PK-3 Reading Curriculum (Really Great Reading)

Wonders (McGraw Hill, 2023)

The Joint Committee on Finance has 14 working days to schedule a meeting to review the proposed curriculum recommendations. The committee will then make any changes and approve the list. If it does not notify the DPI that it’s scheduled a meeting, the department can adopt the recommendations as is.

——

Unsurprising, unfortunately. “an emphasis on adult employment”.

——

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Civics: About The 1793 Hamilton Document!

Josh Blackman & Seth Barrett Tillman

Long-time readers may remember the Hamilton Imbroglio of 2017. The New York Times covered it in Adam Liptak’s September 2017 piece titled “‘Lonely Scholar With Unusual Ideas’ Defends Trump, Igniting Legal Storm.” That title sounds somewhat similar to Charlie Savage’s February 2024 New York Times article titled, A Legal Outsider, an Offbeat Theory and the Fate of the 2024 Election.” Some things never change. If you want a summary of the prior 2017 saga, we provided details in Part IV of our ten-part series (pp. 484-520). 

Around the same time that debates arose about which of two competing documents Alexander Hamilton, in fact, signed in 1793, Professor Jed Shugerman and Professor Gautham Rao also wrote a Slate article explaining why Hamilton would not have listed President Washington as a person holding “any civil office or employment under the United States.” Their argument was premised on the Constitution’s Sinecure or Ineligibility Clause. The clause provides: “No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been [i]ncreased during such time.” U.S. Const. Art. I, Sect. 6, Cl. 2. In short, Shugerman and Rao explained that since there was no concern that the presidency could trigger a violation of the Sinecure Clause, Hamilton did not list the presidency and the president’s compensation. 

We reviewed that argument at the time, but we chose not to respond. Why? In September 2017, Shugerman, Rao, and their three co-authors (collectively the “Legal Historians”) retracted their claims about which purported Hamilton-signed document was authentic. We had thought that had ended the matter. This is not to say that we did not have other complaints and grievances against them. We did. We had hoped that they’d review their writings for completeness and accuracy and make coordinate changes and retractions. We did not wish to engage in overreach by embarrassing them with each and every error they had made. And we rightly feared that our making other demands, after they retracted on the issue of authenticity, would put us in a bad light. Their argument in Slate was just one such argument—an argument that they should have retracted in 2017. 

Civics: Media Blackout on a student murder

Tyler Durden:

That media blackout obfuscates the reality that unfettered immigration into the US presents an innate threat to citizens. Since the 2021 fiscal year, Border Patrol has arrested 43,674 criminal non-citizens. US Customs And Border Protectiondefines the term criminal non-citizen as any individual who has been convicted of one or more crimes either in the US or abroad before behind interdicted by immigration officials. The metric also discounts criminal convictions abroad for crimes not illegal in the US. Of those 43,674 criminal non-citizens arrested, violent crimes accounted for over of their 8,000 preexisting convictions. Murder convictions related to 165 of those arrests, while sex crime convictions comprised nearly 10 times that amount with 1,210 having been documented by Border Patrol. Despite being on the books, these figures have received as little coverage by legacy media outlets as Riley’s murder has.

Although the media establishment remains silent about the murder of Laken Riley, it can do little to silence the uproar against the Biden administration’s manufactured immigration crisis.Even staunch supporters of the Democratic Party have come to express their disapproval of how the border is being handled amid approval ratings for Biden falling to all-time lows. What the coverage surrounding Riley’s murder reflects is that there are no lengths the mainstream media will go to in order to push the political agenda fueling the immigration crisis, proving that innocent American lives are little more than political capital when it comes to pushing that agenda.

Notes on teacher qualification reforms

Seattle Times:

What about the gold standard of teaching, National Board Certification? Washington spends about $70 million annually encouraging pursuit of this status with salary-boosting incentives. Yet Dan Goldhaber, a professor at the University of Washington and one of the country’s preeminent researchers on teacher quality, found that board certification results in only modest gains to student learning — about five weeks’ acceleration in middle school math, at best.

Bottom line: It is almost impossible to predict good teachers until they are standing in front of a roomful of kids. And once employed, it is difficult to remove those who are ineffective. Washington’s teacher-evaluation tool, which includes classroom observations and student growth, rates virtually every educator as “Proficient” or “Distinguished.”

Student outcomes suggest otherwise. With only 39% of all kids at grade level in math, and 51% able to read or write appropriately, state educators have work to do.

Teacher-qualification reforms here have focused on boosting diversity, but other regions are making very different choices. Goldhaber points to Washington, D.C., as a particularly dramatic example.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: California’s Growing Budget Deficit

Wall Street Journal:

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) on Tuesday increased this year’s projected state budget shortfall to $73 billion—nearly twice as much as Gov. Gavin Newsom forecasted last month. Ouch. Mr. Newsom has ambitions to reside in Washington, D.C., and based on his deficits it looks like he’d fit right in.

Tech companies based in California have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the bull market. Artificial intelligence chip maker
Nvidia
’s stock price has increased by roughly 50% since November. The top 1% of California taxpayers pay about half of the state’s income taxes, and state revenue usually rises and falls with capital gains.

The mystery is why this isn’t happening this year. The LAO notes that tax collections in recent month have deteriorated, rather than improved. “Recent revenue collections data reflect even further weakness relative to [earlier] estimates,” the analyst notes. Corporate tax collections were a third lower in December relative to the year before.

Shirky principle

Effectiviology;

The Shirky principle is the adage that “institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”. More broadly, it can also be characterized as the adage that “every entity tends to prolong the problem it is solving”.

For example, the Shirky principle means that a government agency that’s meant to address a certain societal issue may hinder attempts by others to address the issue, in order to ensure that the agency remains relevant. Alternatively, the agency may become so focused on the current way in which it addresses the issue that it will fail to adopt better new solutions as they become available, thus prolonging the issue.

The Shirky principle has important implications in various domains, so it’s important to understand it. As such, in the following article you will learn more about this principle, and see what you can do about it in practice.

Why Google Searches Are Turning Up Some Wrong Answers

Nicole Nguyen:

This adds a new layer onto tricks that spoil your searches, including misleading targeted ads and low-quality websites built to appear atop the results page. At best, this clickbait is annoying. At worst, it can lead you to scams intended to get your credit-card number and other personal information.

Here’s a quick example: When I wanted to switch the Google account I use for Gmail, I searched “how to change default Google account.” The top result, with large highlighted text, led to an article posted to LinkedIn.

The author was Morgan Mitchell, content manager at
Adobe
. Mitchell has bylined 150 articles, all of them written in search-friendly Q&A format. Lots of those articles include customer-service phone numbers, the go-to solution for more complex problems—and for less tech-savvy users.

Trouble is, Mitchell doesn’t exist. And the phone number in the article didn’t belong to Google or Adobe. Likely, Mitchell is just a figment of some AI’s imagination, and the number is a way to con unsuspecting users.

Why One School District Spent $1 Million Fighting a Special-Education Student

Sara Randazzo:

The district said it sometimes must litigate against parents because demands for special services at private schools can be so excessive that administrators have to be cautious about establishing costly new precedents. Roughly 10% of the district’s 38,000 students have a learning disability.

The case offers a window into the growing number of high-stakes legal fights around the country to resolve special-education disputes. Nearly 46,500 formal complaints or mediation requests were filed nationwide in 2021-22, according to the most recently available federal data. That is up 27% from the prior year.

Many parents and educators say the system is inaccessible to all but the most savvy and well-resourced families, and that even court wins bring intense emotional and financial tolls.

Half of College Grads Are Working Jobs That Don’t Use Their Degrees

Vanessa Fuhrman and Lindsay Ellis:

Roughly half of college graduates end up in jobs where their degrees aren’t needed, and that underemployment has lasting implications for workers’ earnings and career paths.

That is the key finding of a new study tracking the career paths of more than 10 million people who entered the job market over the past decade. It suggests that the number of graduates in jobs that don’t make use of their skills or credentials—52%—is greater than previously thought, and underscores the lasting importance of that first job after graduation.

Of the graduates in non-college-level jobs a year after leaving college, the vast majority remained underemployed a decade later, according to researchers at labor analytics firm Burning Glass Institute and nonprofit Strada Education Foundation, which analyzed the résumés of workers who graduated between 2012 and 2021.

More than any other factor analyzed—including race, gender and choice of university—what a person studies determines their odds of getting on a college-level career track. Internships are also critical.

The findings add fuel to the debate over the value of a college education as its cost has soared—and whether universities are producing the kind of knowledge workers that employers say they need.

DEI Invades Community Colleges Too

Santi Tafarella:

‘Diversity, equity and inclusion” has pervaded higher education, and not only elite universities. I teach English at Antelope Valley College, a two-year school in northern Los Angeles County, and serve on an Academic Senate committee. Jennifer Zellet, the college president, has asked the committee to endorse the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Glossary of Terms, a 12-page document published by the California Community Colleges system.

The glossary is really a manifesto, meant to guide campus administrators and leadership in policy formation, hiring, faculty evaluations and even course outlines of record. It commits them to a radical, racially charged ideology. “Merit,” for instance, is defined as “a concept that . . . is embedded in the ideology of Whiteness and upholds race-based structural inequality. Merit protects White privilege under the guise of standards . . . and as highlighted by anti-affirmative action forces.” “Colorblindness,” the glossary declares, “perpetuates existing racial inequities and denies systematic racism.”

The definition of “white supremacy” commits the school to anticolonialist ideology: “A historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by White peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.”

Taxpayer Funded Middleton-Cross Plains School District has been “criticized for offering a whites only racism class”

Rachel Bowman:

A Wisconsin school district has been criticized for offering a whites only racism class that encourages participants to explore their ‘privilege, whiteness and racism.’

In an email shared on social media, Director of Student, Family and Staff Engagement at Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, Mr. Tony R. Dugas, invited the community to participate in a ‘powerful’ 10-week ‘Witnessing Whiteness’ series ‘meticulously crafted for white individuals committed to anti-racism work.’

Parents Defending Education is now filing a discrimination complaint to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District for offering the course.

The complaint claims the class violates Title VI and the 14th Amendment because it uses federal funding for discrimination on the basis of race and national origin.

Parents Defending Education Vice President Caroline Moore told DailyMail.com: ‘Specifically targeting students based on race or sex is blatant discrimination and has no place in public schools.’

Minnesota Taxpayer funding and teacher compensation

Anthony Lonetree:

St. Paul teachers are seeking pay increases far beyond those sought in recent years, but the potential funding source they point to is unusual, too: $54 million in new state aid to the district.

They don’t have to venture far to know there’s success in that strategy.

Union leaders in three suburban districts whose contracts have been eyed with envy by the St. Paul rank-and-file have secured deals worth nearly the same amount of money that their school systems received as part of last year’s historic $2.2 billion state investment in schools. That much-heralded boost included funds designated specifically to special-education students and English language learners.

Throughout this bargaining cycle, teachers unions have been angling for a share of that overall investment, saying the pay hikes being negotiated now are an overdue boost to teacher compensation, and in turn, a strengthening of recruitment and retention efforts at a time of morale-sapping shortages. But the handsome packages also are putting districts in an all-too-familiar belt-tightening mode.

Civics: “You see, communism arose in large part due to the efforts of evil journalists”

Balaji:

You see, communism arose in large part due to the efforts of evil journalists. Here are six examples.

1) First, John Reed. He was Lenin’s favorite journalist. His fallacious account of the Bolshevik Revolution whitewashed their murderous takeover and earned him a burial spot on the Kremlin Wall.[1,2] Journalists like Reed are the reason Russians were forced to dig the White Sea canal with their bare hands.[3]

2) Next, Walter Duranty. A New York Times employee, Duranty covered up the Ukrainian Holodomor and helped make the case for FDR’s diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union — which at the time was like the US recognizing ISIS. Today of course the same Ochs-Sulzberger family that owns the NYT — and which profited from helping starve Ukrainians to death in the 1930s — has reinvented itself as the champion of Ukraine, without ever paying a cent of reparations.[4]

3) Next, Edgar Snow — Mao’s favorite journalist. Did you ever wonder how China went communist? After all, communist ideology isn’t indigenous to China. What happened is that Mao received funding and training from the Soviets, and an enormous propaganda boost from journos like Snow, who wrote Red Star over China to mislead people about the raw evil of the Maoist regime.[5]

4) Now we come to Herbert Matthews, Castro’s favorite journalist and another New York Times employee. In 1957 Castro’s communist terrorists seemed defeated and on the run. But Matthews ran a hagiographical article on Fidel in the Times that helped immeasurably with recruiting. Thanks to his help, Castro flipped Cuba to communism and almost caused a nuclear war with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Just another day’s work for the New York Times! [6]

Are leading scientists just making stuff up? Vinay Prasad breaks down the cancer research scandal.

By Oliver Wiseman and Vinay Prasad

A top cancer surgeon at Columbia University is under scrutiny after one of his research papers was retracted for containing suspect data. Twenty-six other studies by Dr. Sam S. Yoon, who conducted his research at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, have been flagged as suspicious by a British scientific sleuth called Sholto David. David raised the alarm after spotting the same images across different articles that described wholly different experiments. He has also found duplications and manipulated data in papers published by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston that have since been retracted. 

This news shocked me: leading scientists at some of the most respected research centers in the world, working on the very important and well-funded fight against cancer are. . . making stuff up. That seems bad. Really bad. And it poses a lot of unsettling questions, like whether we can really trust medical research at all. But maybe I am missing something. In search of reassurance, I called up an expert: oncologist, UCSF professor, the author of more than 500 academic papers, and Free Press contributor Vinay Prasad

Here’s an edited version of our conversation. (Spoiler alert: I was not reassured.) 

Vinay, how worried should we be about the problem of fraud in cancer research? 

Extremely worried. There’s something very unique about all these papers that allows people to find the fraud, and that is they report the raw data, in the form of images. Most papers, though, do not contain images. The data is all hidden. The researchers only provide a summary of the data. You have to worry how much fraud you’d find if everybody provided all the raw data. I suspect you’d find a gargantuan amount of fraud. This is merely the tip of the iceberg. 

Why Writing by Hand Is Better for Memory and Learning

Charlotte Hu:

Engaging the fine motor system to produce letters by hand has positive effects on learning and memory

Handwriting notes in class might seem like an anachronism as smartphones and other digital technology subsume every aspect of learning across schools and universities. But a steady stream of research continues to suggest that taking notes the traditional way—with pen and paper or even stylus and tablet—is still the best way to learn, especially for young children. And now scientists are finally zeroing in on why.

A recent study in Frontiers in Psychology monitored brain activity in students taking notes and found that those writing by hand had higher levels of electrical activity across a wide range of interconnected brain regions responsible for movement, vision, sensory processing and memory. The findings add to a growing body of evidence that has many experts speaking up about the importance of teaching children to handwrite words and draw pictures.

Can Billions of Dollars in Prize Money Solve the World’s Problems?

Ben Cohen:

Innovation isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think about a sanitation department.

But a few years ago, when New York City officials found themselves in the market for a better garbage can, they followed a strategy to spark creativity that has worked for centuries, producing breakthroughs from the oceans to the heavens and everywhere in between.

They started a contest.

By setting a goal and engaging the crowd for help with all sorts of tricky problems—driverless cars, missions to space, trash cans—organizations can find novel solutions in places they never would have looked and from people they never would have asked.

Last week, I wrote about the Vesuvius Challenge, a $1 million competition with the goal of using artificial intelligence and machine learning to read 2,000-year-old papyrus scrolls. I’m still thinking about the way a bunch of students pulled off the seemingly impossible—and not just because using modern technology to crack an ancient mystery is undeniably amazing. It’s also because the success of this contest should inspire a lot more contests.

Should we citizens debate debt (taxes, grandchildren burdens, spending and outcomes)?

A.J. Bayatpour:

As MPS asks taxpayers for $252 million in April, I asked (taxpayer funded Milwaukee K-12) Superintendent Keith Posley about national testing data (NAEP) that show Milwaukee 4th graders have been scoring worse than the average big city district for more than a decade (deeper dive).

(His response):

“We have made things happen for children.”

John Gedmark:

This particular program — a satellite system in GEO — is classified, but we know from an earnings call that Northrop Grumman did a $2 billion reduction “related to the termination”

That’s right, more than $2 billion for a single satellite.

David Blaska:

The school district is planning to hit up taxpayers for $1 billion — one Billion with a capital B dollars — in referenda over the next 20 years to go carbon neutral.

MMSD can’t teach or keep young Javon safe but it’s going to replace that Swedish girl’s perpetual scowl with a Mona Lisa smile.

US Debt Clock 24 February 2024:

Debt per citizen: $101,978. Debt per taxpayer: $265,178

Over the last 4 years alone, total US debt is officially up $11 trillion and counting. At the current rate, we will see $40 trillion in US debt by 2026 and that assumes a “soft landing.”

The Madison Literary Club hopes to host a substantive fall event featuring Wisconsin 2024 US Senate candidates discussing the current debt situation, how we arrived here and what should be done about it.

debt is money owed (learn more).

Debt has many uses, from very useful to wasteful. Infrastructure such as roads, sewers, water systems and our current home ownership system is built on hopefully the wise use of debt – often secured, that is collateralized by an asset such as a home (mortgage). It can also be a way to quickly waste funds and generate fee income for the financial food chain.

Finally, I’ve heard a number of complaints over the years from the farming community about bailout policies and agriculture crises over the years. Of course, farm subsidies, particularly toward large organizations and interests, are part of the mix as well.

Aimed at fools, misinformation research suppresses dissent and launders partisan opinions into a fake consensus on controversies.

Paul Thacker:

Misinformation Researcher Sander van der Linden Caught Lying and Spreading Misinformation

Examined in detail, the van der Linden episode highlights growing evidence that “misinformation research” is just politics dressed up in academic garb to suppress and censor dissent on controversial topics.

The kerfuffle kicked off a few weeks back when Sander van der Linden whipped up a brawl on X with Nate Silver, perhaps because Silver has 3.3 million followers and van der Linden has around 15K and was hoping to attract some attention to himself. Days after the spat began, van der Linden was exposed for having edited Wikipedia pages to promote himself and his research. But more on that later.

In the first round, van der Linden promoted an article from years back, calling the possibility of a lab accident a racist conspiracy theory. Virologists and disinformation “experts” promoted this line for years, until too much evidence squirted out showing that it never made sense. Plus, why is it “racist” to say the pandemic started in a Chinese lab and not in a Chinese market that sells wild animals?

It’s a narrative that never made any sense and was obviously designed to shut down discussion by labeling people “racist.”

“Misinformation has become a completely incoherent concept,” Silver wrote. “A game of ‘I’m rubber, you’re glue.’”

Why Jimmy Can’t Read in Chicago

Erin Geary:

The letter of the day is B: Bureaucracy, benefits, and billions

The school reading wars have raged since the 1800s and consists of two camps: Those who believe that children learn to read through phonics and those that believe that children read using a whole language approach. A third recent addition to the ongoing battle over how to teach reading skills is referred to as balanced literacy, which combines the best of both phonics and whole language.

In preschool and kindergarten after recognizing each letter of the alphabet both in lower and upper case, phonics teaches that letters have their own corresponding sounds and that some consonants can be blended to form new sounds. Children are not taught letter sounds in alphabetical order, rather pupils ate instructed in an order of hierarchal importance based on frequency. First, for example, teachers may start letter sounds based on each child’s name before moving on to the letters: s, t, p, n, i, and a. It’s quite easy to make numerous words from these initial letters, their sounds, and rhyming words—sit, pit, nit, sat, pat, sin, pin, tin, etc. Words can easily be deconstructed by their individual letter sounds then brought together as a word: S-i-t, sit.

Naturally, not all words in the English language can be decoded in this way, and these words are the ones known as sight words (e.g. the, she, said), which must be memorized. Teachers have been using the 220 Dolch sight words, which were considered the most frequently used sight words seen by readers (excluding nouns) for kindergarten through the second grade since they appeared in the 1930s. The Fry list, first appearing in 1957 and updated in 1980, focused its attention on the1,000 most frequently used words beyond grade two. Both lists need children to memorize rather than sound out words, which is a whole language approach.

Civics: “The FBI’s “highly credible” source is now presented as a brazen liar, a boaster, a profiteer”

Kimberley Strassel:

It’s not as if Mr. Smirnov is alone. The FBI enabled the “dossier” hoax by swallowing a compilation of fabulist claims presented to it by “confidential human source” Christopher Steele. It was aware Mr. Steele was working for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, had evidence he was blabbing to the press, and had been presented with a pile of tabloid-like accusations, yet chose to forgo any vetting and instead present him to a court as a credible source. Mr. Steele’s nonsense—coming at a time FBI leadership fretted over a Donald Trump presidency—was nonsense the FBI wanted to hear.

Special counsel John Durham later filed charges against Igor Danchenko, one of Mr. Steele’s subsources, presenting powerful evidence that he lied to the FBI in 2017 interviews by fabricating sources and information. Yet a jury acquitted Mr. Danchenko after FBI agents testified that while they couldn’t verify his claims, never made him take a polygraph test, and feared he was lying, they nonetheless trusted him. Mr. Danchenko’s credibility—coming at a time when the FBI’s reputation risked further collapse—was a credibility the FBI found useful to back.

Google’s push to lecture us on diversity goes beyond AI

Douglas Murray:

If you ask the program to give you an image of the Founding Fathers of this country, the AI will return you images of black and Native American men signing what appears to be a version of the American Constitution.

At least that’s more accurate than the images of popes thrown up. A request for an image of one of the holy fathers gives up images of — among others — a Southeast Asian woman. Who knew?

Some people are surprised by this. I’m not.

Several years ago, I went to Silicon Valley to try to figure out what the hell was going on with Google Images, among other enterprises.

Because Google images were already throwing up a very specific type of bias.

If you typed in “gay couples” and asked for an image search, you got lots of happy gay couples. Ask for “straight couples” and you get images of, er, gay couples.

—-

And.

Civics: “CBS faces uproar after seizing investigative journalist’s files”

Jonathan Turley:

“Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.” Those words, from CBS icon Edward R. Murrow, came to mind this week after I spoke with journalists at the network. 

There is trouble brewing at Black Rock, the headquarters of CBS, after the firing of Catherine Herridge, an acclaimed investigative reporter. Many of us were shocked after Herridge was included in layoffs this month, but those concerns have increased after CBS officials took the unusual step of seizing her files, computers and records, including information on privileged sources. 

The position of CBS has alarmed many, including the union, as an attack on free press principles by one of the nation’s most esteemed press organizations.

I have spoken confidentially with current and former CBS employees who have stated that they could not recall the company ever taking such a step before. One former CBS journalist said that many employees “are confused why [Herridge] was laid off, as one of the correspondents who broke news regularly and did a lot of original reporting.” 

That has led to concerns about the source of the pressure. He added that he had never seen a seizure of records from a departing journalist, and that the move had sent a “chilling signal” in the ranks of CBS.

A former CBS manager, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that he had “never heard of anything like this.” He attested to the fact that, in past departures, journalists took all of their files and office contents. Indeed, the company would box up everything from cups to post-its for departing reporters. He said the holding of the material was “outrageous” and clearly endangered confidential sources.

Black History Month Is More Complicated Than It Seems

Lance Morrow:

How does a person who isn’t black think about Black History Month? With respect? With reverence? With guilt? Curiosity? Indifference?

It depends partly on that person’s own history—on when and how his family arrived in America. Those whose predecessors were present during the wickedness of slavery, and all that followed, will have a livelier sense of the black-and-white binaries of the story than immigrants lately arrived from, say, Kazakhstan. A white New Englander whose ancestors made a fortune in the slave trade, or a Southerner whose forbears exploited black African labor on cotton or rice plantations, will understand the burden of that history. Those whose people came through Ellis Island—potato-famine Irish, Eastern European Jews, Hungarians, Italians—won’t have the same haunted sense of the American past.

I am inclined toward reverence—for black history, for the literature and spiritual rhetoric (the Southern preacherly strain, with its tremendous cadences), and for black music, which is the most powerful and characteristically American music. The black American story is rich, painful, dramatic, triumphant—and shaming to the American conscience.

My great-grandfather Albert P. Morrow, a Pennsylvanian of Scotch-Irish stock, was 18 when he enlisted in the Union Army in spring 1861. He fought as a cavalry officer in every major battle, including Gettysburg, in the eastern theater of the war. He was wounded three times and captured three times (and freed in prisoner exchanges). He served in Virginia under the young George Custer. If my great-grandfather had accepted Custer’s later invitation to join the Seventh Cavalry, he might have died in 1876 at the Little Big Horn, and with him my line of Morrows.

Civics: American prosperity rests on equal justice. Delaware and New York judges have called it into question.

Jeb Bush and Joe Lonsdale

Every American has a right to be critical of Mr. Trump’s politics—one of us ran against him in 2016—or Mr. Musk’s public persona. But equality before the law is precious, and these rulings represent a crisis not only for the soundness of our courts, but for the business environment that has allowed the U.S. to prosper. If these rulings stand, the damage could cascade through the economy, creating fear of arbitrary enforcement against entrepreneurs who seek public office or raise their voices as citizens in a way that politicians dislike. 

In Delaware, Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of the Court of Chancery ordered the unwinding of five years of Mr. Musk’s incentive-based compensation at Tesla, which had been approved by 80% of the company’s shareholders. The plaintiff, Richard Tornetta, held nine shares in 2018—worth about $200 then and $2,000 today, after the execution of the compensation plan that supposedly injured him. 

Mr. Musk’s compensation plan awarded him stock bonuses tied to earnings and stock-value benchmarks, which many critics thought he could never meet. When he did, he received $56 billion, enriching shareholders like Mr. Tornetta along the way. Judge McCormick has yet to say how she wants the pay package unwound, but Mr. Tornetta’s lawyers could petition her for a percentage of the $56 billion as a fee for having succeeded in their challenge. Mr. Musk’s performance at Tesla enriched all shareholders, but Judge McCormick’s ruling may primarily enrich Delaware trial lawyers.

The Idiocy of America’s Racial Classification System

Glenn Reynolds:

David Bernstein is a law professor at George Mason University and the author of Classified:  The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America.  The book is a fascinating look at the disconnect between racial classifications as they are routinely employed in 21st Century America and, well, reality.  It’s fascinating that many categorizations and terms that we take for granted today are quite recent innovations, and aren’t particularly rooted in any sort of cultural or biological or historical ground.  As the Supreme Court weighs affirmative action in higher education this term, it’s likely that Bernstein’s book will be influential.  I asked him a few questions.

1.  So we spend a lot of time talking about race and ethnicity in America, but it seems like the basic thesis of your book is that we have no idea what we’re talking about.  Is that right?

Americans typically make two primary errors about race. The first is that the racial classifications we use in common parlance–Black, White, Asian, Native American, Hispanic—are somehow natural and arose spontaneously. Very few of us realize that the US government codified them in 1977 in a formal federal law called Statistical Directive No. 15. Before that, almost no one called people of Spanish-speaking descent “Hispanics.”  What we now call “Asian Americans” were nothing like a coherent group; Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino Americans had distinct cultures and significant history inter-group conflict. Americans from India were typically classified as “white” or “other,” but a last-minute lobbying campaign resulted in them being added to the Asian American group.

Relatedly, very few Americans are familiar with the scope of the federal classifications and how their definition. For example, Hispanics are officially an ethnicity, not a race, but the media often treats them as a racial group. Contrary to popular belief, “Hispanic” includes Spaniards, but not Brazilians. The government defines indigenous people from Spanish-speaking countries as having Hispanic ethnicity, but thanks to lobbying from Native American tribes, are not “Indians” and have no racial box that fits them. Arab Americans, Iranians, Armenians, and other people from Western Asia are white, not Asian or Middle Eastern (there is no such official classification).

Civics: Journalist sues UW-Madison for rejecting request for name, image, likeness consulting contract

Kelly Meyerhofer:

A journalist sued the University of Wisconsin-Madison and its fundraising arm after the university denied his request for an athletic department consulting agreement that could shed more light on the name, image and likeness era of college athletics.

The lawsuit could also potentially answer a larger question about whether public university foundations are subject to Wisconsin’s public records law.

“There’s no good reason why UW-Madison should be using its foundation to effectively offshore public records,” journalist Daniel Libit told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Spokespeople for both UW-Madison and the UW Foundation said they hadn’t received the complaint and wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.

UW-Madison, UW Foundation deny records request for Altius contract

Libit, a UW-Madison alumnus who writes for Sportico, filed the lawsuit Wednesday after UW-Madison rejected his records request last fall. He asked for a copy of the contract UW-Madison had with Altius Sports Partners, a firm other large universities have hired to support student-athletes who can now profit from endorsement deals they strike.

UW-Madison told Libit it had no records because the UW Foundation had the contract. The foundation also didn’t provide the contract, saying it was a private entity exempt from Wisconsin’s public records law.

“We have made things happen for children.”

AJ Bayatpour

As MPS (Milwaukee Public Schools) asks taxpayers for $252 million in April, I asked Supt. Keith Posley about national testing data (NAEP) that show Milwaukee 4th graders have been scoring worse than the average big city district for more than a decade.

—-

and:

For reference, 10 points is about the equivalent for one year’s worth of learning. In 2022, Milwaukee was 20 points lower than the average big city district in 4th grade reading and math results. The gap has worsened over the last decade:

——

Plus:

When the media reports that spending in MPS has “fallen far behind inflation,” they are cherry-picking one year of data to make the claim: pre-Great Recession. Real $ over time has largely kept up with inflation, and districts saved billions with Act 10.

More:

This is an interesting outtake from @CBS58’s Milwaukee Public Schools referendum story!

In contrast, here is Miami’s former superintendent in 2015, post-recession, in the midst of making Miami America’s best big district, closing gaps, spending $7,500 less per child than MPS.

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Here Are the Secret Locations of ShotSpotter Gunfire Sensors

Dhruv Mehrotra and Joey Scott

According to the document, SoundThinking equipment has been installed at more than a thousand elementary and high schools; they are perched atop dozens of billboards, scores of hospitals, and within more than a hundred public housing complexes. They can be found on significant US government buildings, including the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC.

More than 12 million Americans live in neighborhoods with at least one ShotSpotter sensor, according to a WIRED analysis of the document’s sensor locations. According to the file, which includes the geographic coordinates of each ShotSpotter microphone, sensors can be found in 84 metropolitan areas and 34 states or territories in the United States. Nine cities have more than 500 sensors installed, including Albuquerque, New Mexico; Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Using population estimates from the most recent five-year American Community Survey (ACS), WIRED collected demographic information from every Census block group—clusters of blocks that generally have a population of between 600 to 3,000 people—with at least one sensor.

Advocating College Admission Exams

Matt Bruenig:

One thing I have not said in my prior writing on this topic is that, in part due to my own experience, I find the argument that these tests are an equalizing force that allows low-income students to demonstrate themselves to be way more plausible than a lot of other people seem to.

The anti-test discourse tends to present the tests as inegalitarian because (1) poor kids have less test preparation resources available to them than rich kids and (2) for this and other reasons, poor kids perform worse on the tests than rich kids on average.

The first point seems to be a bit overrated. Expensive test preparation basically consists of taking practice exams and then reviewing what you got wrong. This can be done inexpensively on your own and it’s not clear that it actually increases scores all that much.

The second point is correct, but is confused.

How smart do you have to be to get a degree? How much school do you need?

Cremieux:

Are schools failing us? Are we getting dumber?

What if I told you that the population mean was 100 throughout the entirety of the series in this image? Well, it really is.

The only thing that changed was that education increased. As education increased, some of the more intelligent people who would have attained lower levels of educational attainment moved up to the higher ones, bringing both groups down in the process. This is the “Will Rogers Phenomenon,” best encapsulated by the whimsical line “When the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, they raised the intelligence level in both states!”

The Will Rogers phenomenon is a real thing that shows up all the time. For example, during the Great Migration, African American migrants who left the South had more European admixture than those who stayed behind, but less European admixture than those already living in the North. You might have seen this recently:

Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Diversity Efforts at Top High School

Jess Pravin::

The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down a case seeking to block selective public schools from using race-neutral admissions policies that conservative activists argue are illegally designed to increase Black and Hispanic enrollment.

The case, involving Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., was seen as a follow-on to the court’s decision in June ending affirmative action in university admissions. It more directly involved a 2007 ruling that barred school boards from promoting integration by using race as a factor in pupil assignments but that suggested officials could consider the racial impact of broader policies such as where to build new campuses.

Tuesday’s order, which, as is typical, was unsigned and provided no explanation, leaves school authorities free to pursue measures that may promote integration without classifying individual students by race. Two conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, dissented from the decision not to hear the case.

The Cost of Car Ownership Is Getting Painful

Joe Pinker:

One place Americans still can’t get relief from inflation is behind the wheel.

Many of the costs related to car ownership continued to outpace the consumer-price index last month. Car insurance premiums rose 20.6% in January from a year earlier. A trip to the mechanic, the price of a parking space, and highway tolls are also up, offsetting the savings from one of the big exceptions, falling gas prices.

The ballooning costs for that car in the driveway can squeeze budgets. Transportation is Americans’ second-biggest expense, after housing, and one that is hard to cut.

62% of Americans Lack College Degree. Can They Solve the Labor Shortage?

Lauren Weber:

American companies are hung up on the diploma.

Facing a long-term labor shortage, employers are looking to expand the pool of potential workers. One group—people without a college degree—holds particular promise. They make up nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population over 25, and traditionally have been ineligible for many managerial and technical positions.

A push by some companies to eliminate degree requirements has opened the door to more candidates. Yet the share of jobs that went to those candidates barely budged after the requirement was lifted, according to a new analysis.

There are several explanations for the plodding progress, from automated screening tools that favor college graduates to the difficulty of changing hiring managers’ long-held beliefs about the value of a bachelor’s degree.

Many employers say they know time and demographics aren’t on their side. Baby boomers are aging out of the workforce, U.S. birthrates are low, and shifting immigration policies make it difficult to count on reinforcements from abroad. Meanwhile, college enrollment is on the decline. Only 38% of Americans over age 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Wrong Ideas about Teacher Pay, Happiness May Keep Students from the Profession

Chad Aldeman:

They also found that many young people who decide not to pursue teaching give low pay as the main reason. But when the Get the Facts Out team followed up and asked what salary would make them reconsider, the students gave numbers that were in line with current teacher compensation. 

In other words, more young people could be convinced to pursue teaching careers in math and science if they were exposed to accurate data. The researchers point to common misperceptions around salary and job satisfaction that are keeping young people from becoming educators. 

Simpson Street Free Press writer wins award

Capital Times Summary

Sandy Flores Ruiz, a senior and student editor at Simpson Street Free Press, won first place in the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation’s annual Civics Games contest.

Flores Ruiz said she chose to focus on former Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his “Red Scare” tactics because it reminded her of how stifled students often feel when they want to talk openly about controversial topics. Her essay notes that a famous television journalist showed courage in exposing McCarthy while many others stayed silent.

“Talent Density”

Coinbase

Creating a more talent dense environment not only requires us to hire and retain top performers, but to also take an intentional approach for underperformance. Balancing across these dimensions is the responsibility of every Coinbase manager, and ensuring we achieve and maintain a new standard of excellence at all levels of the company is critical to our success. 

To reinforce this, we are creating stronger executive accountability.  Beginning in 2024 we are tying a measure of talent density to each executive team member’s individual performance rating.

Civics: “…the Supreme Court blocked it. But that didn’t stop me.”

Rick Eisenberg:

Ignoring the law is a threat to democracy because the law was enacted by democratic means. If the executive just ignores it, our democratic republic has turned into an elective dictatorship. The “elective” won’t long remain.

More:

The Biden administration has mastered the art of constitutional avoidance: use the back door to accomplish what it couldn’t do under the Constitution.

If Trump had uttered these same words, they’d call it a “threat to our Republic.”

35 More Academic Scandals

Christopher Brunet

Some of these scandals are from a few months ago, some are from this week. 

1: Northwestern Cancels Former Trustee 

I am partial to boosting fellow Substack writers, so I am starting with this one about Northwestern..

2: Northwestern pimps out cheerleaders (allegedly)

I am putting this second because it is also about Northwestern, and I try to group similar scandals. 

This Northwestern cheerleader filed the lawsuit back in 2021, alleging she ‘‘suffered sexual assaults and harassment at multiple events by fans, alumni and donors’.’

3: Retraction at the Journal of Accounting and Economics

11: Pisa 2009 Parental Education is miscoded

This is great work by SEBASTIAN JENSENyou should subscribe to his Substack:

Delaware lowers bar pass score, eases path for lawyer licensing

By Sara Merken

Delaware’s top court on Tuesday lowered the score required to pass the state’s bar exam and adopted other changes to lawyer licensing requirements in the state, which is a major hub for business litigation.

The Delaware Supreme Court said in a statement that the changes include reducing the “cut” score from a scale of 145 to 143 on the bar exam and offering the test twice a year instead of once.

The number of essays on the exam is also being reduced from eight to four, which will shorten the test duration from its current two and a half days to two days, according to a memo from the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners, whose recommendations the court adopted. The number of essay topics will also decrease.

The adjustments will take effect before July’s bar exam. The exam will also be offered in February beginning in 2024, the court said.

Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr in the court’s announcement called the changes a “modernization” of the admission process to better match requirements in other states rather than a “lowering of standards.” He said the revisions will help the state stay competitive in attracting legal talent.

State Media: Wisconsin edition?

Ken Wysocky:

But it’s time to recalibrate expectations in the wake of a recently introduced bill that would have the state pay $1 million annually to fund a journalism fellowship program. The program would pay 25 newspaper reporters an annual salary of $40,000 in an effort to bolster local news coverage in communities underserved by newspapers.

The bill is one of three related measures introduced by Sen. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) and Reps. Jimmy Anderson (D-Fitchburg) and Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire).

The second bill would create a Civic Information Consortium Board (CICB), a group that would oversee a new nonprofit corporation called the Wisconsin Civic Information Consortium Inc. (WCIC). In partnership with the University of Wisconsin System, the corporation would award grants to fund “local news and media projects.”

The third bill would provide an income tax credit for newspaper subscribers, equal to 50 percent of a subscription cost, capped at $250 per person per year.

The trio of bills, reportedly supported by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, raises some troubling issues. Should the state stick its nose in the media business, even in a tangential way? Should it be propping up failing industries? How would the process of selecting the 25 reporters — and the newspapers, for that matter — be kept apolitical? And what about potential conflicts of interest when these reporters cover state legislative issues?

Random Admissions Above the Bar

Jon Klick:

Instead, Penn should set a standardized test score floor and then randomly choose its admittees from the pool of applicants meeting that requirement.  That’s it; that’s the application process.  Setting a floor helps make sure the matriculating class has the requisite cognitive ability to succeed but otherwise limits concerns about ideology being privileged over academic merit.  Random selection (as opposed to just taking the highest test scores) recognizes that standardized tests may be too blunt to make fine distinctions among students and generates a campus population that approximates the population of smart young adults along many more dimensions than we currently consider.

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More.

Schools and political agendas

Rebecca Kleefisch:

Reform-minded school board associations are appearing countrywide, with around 30 new groups emerging since the National School Boards Association (NSBA) asked for federal law enforcement intervention against moms and dads who attended school board meetings to stand up for their kids.

There’s a better way to train educators.Learning lags with new teachers. Many quit.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Attorney General Merrick Garland even issued a directive to create an FBI task force to investigate after the NSBA essentially accused moms and dads of being terrorists. The NSBA tried to retract its statement and apologized to its members but not the parents, who were just worried about schools prioritizing political objectives over academic excellence.

National School Board Association wages ideological war

Curated Education Information