Betsy DeVos’s Mission to Rescue Teachers Unions’ ‘Hostages’

Jason Riley:

The philanthropist and veteran school-reform advocate who served as education secretary under President Trump says the Covid pandemic was an inflection point. “During the last two years, the failings of the school system have been laid bare to families in a way like never before,” Betsy DeVos told me by phone on Monday. “I think it’s hastening the moment in time when we will be able to get significant policy change implemented to support families and kids rather than the system.”

That “system” is the subject of Mrs. DeVos’s new book, “Hostages No More: The Fight for Education Freedom and the Future of the American Child.” The title is taken from Horace Mann, the 19th-century politician and educator who is widely credited with founding the public-school apparatus. “We who are engaged in the sacred cause of education,” Mann once wrote, “are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause.” In a book that is part memoir and part school-reform manifesto, Mrs. DeVos makes a compelling case for freeing the hostages.

Innovative teachers tell me that unions don’t bother them but that unhelpful administrators do

Jay Matthews:

My favorite breakfast table reading, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, recently explained why teacher unions are preventing improvement in our schools. That conclusion was wrong, but, sadly, many people agree with it.

The June 7 editorial, “The Parental School-Board Revolt Continues,” celebrates recent election victories of school board candidates backed by parents. They want something done about school closings and curriculum they feel are hurting their kids.

Notes on Taxpayer supported Madison K-12 spending plans amidst declining enrollment

Scott Girard:

While there is a large influx of federal COVID-19 relief funding, officials have expressed hesitancy at using that one-time money for ongoing operational costs like salaries.

“You’re going to hear no argument from us that our teachers and our staff deserve better,” LeMonds said at one of MTI’s rallies in May. “The fiscal reality is, we are looking at a very regressive state budget and it has put us in a position where — I know our superintendent has mentioned this on several occasions — we’re needing to choose between what is right and what is right.”

Many other districts in the state, however, have already agreed to the 4.7% number, including the other four districts that along with MMSD make up the “big five” largest districts.

MTI has also asked for a $5 an hour increase in the salary schedule for special education assistants and school security assistants, who are hourly employees. That salary schedule is part of the Employee Handbook, which has changes approved by the School Board.

It cannot, however, be directly negotiated between MTI and MMSD under Act 10, which limited the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions.

Officials indicated during a discussion earlier this month, however, that they were looking to find some increase, with the full $5 an hour increase estimated to cost about $3.3 million.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

School Lunch Feedback

Ben Chapman:

School lunches in the U.S. can get a bad rap: pizza day is OK; everything else is meh. And schools regularly chew over the dispiriting stats on fare that goes from tray to trash. According to a USDA study, about a quarter of school food ends up in the garbage.

So now, Portland and a growing number of districts nationwide are revamping their menus by relying on the opinions of students themselves. Students can be unsparing food critics, Ms. McLucas said, as the carrot hot dog debacle in 2019 attested. That item, which consisted of a roasted vegetable placed inside a typical hot dog bun, lasted for one day before it was removed from the menu.

“Kids didn’t want the carrot,” she said.

Broadening the cafeteria menu is tricky. President Harry Truman signed the National School Lunch Act in 1946 and now more than 30 million students eat lunch at school. As popular as the program is, it isn’t known for its flair. Currently, the top two most popular items are cheese pizza and fried foods, with french fries a top “vegetable,” according to Harris School Solutions, an Ottawa-based technology provider that tracks data on school meals.

Would Universities Defend Dissident Voices?

Wall Street Journal:

Lively and Fearless Freedom

If I were to find myself in the cross-hairs of the social-media mob, any call for defense from my university would likely fall on deaf ears. Defending me amid such an attack would not serve the school’s interests. Colleges today are often more concerned with placating a political mob than being a robust and uninhibited venue for speech.

Any optimism should turn to pessimism when considering whether an institution will defend the right to express diverse and unpopular opinions. Outside academia, private businesses have no responsibility to defend their employees’ opinions, since their chief responsibility is their bottom line. But publicly funded universities have a duty to support the First Amendment, and even private universities should seriously uphold their role as places for the free exchange of ideas.

My university does not have to defend my ideas, but it must defend the freedom to express those ideas. All educational institutions should take a lesson from the University of Chicago and adopt the Chicago Principles: a commitment to recognize the responsibility to “promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.” Anything but a total commitment to these principles would be antithetical to the mission of an educational institution.

—Richard Hammond III, Ohio State University, political science and French

Governance: Notes on Bullying as a Tactic

Glenn Reynolds:

I’m not talking so much about the opinion itself. I’m talking about the Supreme Court majority’s demonstration that it will do what it thinks is right despite unprecedented pressure from the media, from Democrats in Congress, from “activist” groups and even from angry mobs and attempted assassins who show up at their homes.

This is a big deal. When, as reported by Jan Crawford, a coordinated bullying campaign flipped Chief Justice John Roberts’ position in NFIB v. Sebelius, the ObamaCare case from 2012, many observers, especially on the right, lost faith in the court’s independence. And the perception that the court could be bullied, naturally, was a guarantee that people would try bullying it again.

And they did, in spades. Activist groups sent mobs to protest at the homes of justices expected to vote to overturn Roe, even though that sort of pressure on federal judges is a crime. (Unsurprisingly, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice appears to have done nothing.) In an unprecedented breach of confidentiality, an insider at the court — we still don’t know who, for some reason — leaked a draft opinion that became a rallying point for Democrats and the left.

Faculty salaries drop a bit

AAUP:

  • From 2020–21 to 2021–22, average salaries for full-time faculty members increased 2.0 percent, consistent with the flat wage growth observed since the Great Recession of the late 2000s.
  • Real wages for full-time faculty fell below Great Recession levels in 2021, with average salary falling to 2.3 percent below the 2008 average salary, after adjusting for inflation.
  • Real wages for full-time faculty members decreased 5.0 percent after adjusting for inflation, the largest one-year decrease on record since the AAUP began tracking this measure in 1972.

The Billionaire Family Pushing Synthetic Sex Identities (SSI)

Jennifer Bilek:

One of the most powerful yet unremarked-upon drivers of our current wars over definitions of gender is a concerted push by members of one of the richest families in the United States to transition Americans from a dimorphic definition of sex to the broad acceptance and propagation of synthetic sex identities (SSI). Over the past decade, the Pritzkers of Illinois, who helped put Barack Obama in the White House and include among their number former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, current Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and philanthropist Jennifer Pritzker, appear to have used a family philanthropic apparatus to drive an ideology and practice of disembodiment into our medical, legal, cultural, and educational institutions.

I first wrote about the Pritzkers, whose fortune originated in the Hyatt hotel chain, and their philanthropy directed toward normalizing what people call “transgenderism” in 2018. I have since stopped using the word “transgenderism” as it has no clear boundaries, which makes it useless for communication, and have instead opted for the term SSI, which more clearly defines what some of the Pritzkers and their allies are funding—even as it ignores the biological reality of “male” and “female” and “gay” and “straight.”

The creation and normalization of SSI speaks much more directly to what is happening in American culture, and elsewhere, under an umbrella of human rights. With the introduction of SSI, the current incarnation of the LGBTQ+ network—as distinct from the prior movement that fought for equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, and which ended in 2020 with Bostock v. Clayton County, finding that LGBTQ+ is a protected class for discrimination purposes—is working closely with the techno-medical complex, big banks, international law firms, pharma giants, and corporate power to solidify the idea that humans are not a sexually dimorphic species—which contradicts reality and the fundamental premises not only of “traditional” religions but of the gay and lesbian civil rights movements and much of the feminist movement, for which sexual dimorphism and resulting gender differences are foundational premises.

More notes on Wayne Strong

David Blaska:

A political adversary once described the Head Groundskeeperhereabouts as the only survivor of a heart donor operation. Even so, the prothesis replacing the original equipment does bleed for the kids stealing cars in Madison. They are victims, alright. Victims of critical race theory.

This past Monday 06-20-22, four kids under age 15 hot wired an SUV and crashed it into a parked vehicle. (They can’t drive worth a lick, their morals are deplorable, but credit their ingenuity!) The previous week, four more kids crash a stolen car on the Beltline and fled into a movie theater, hoping to blend in. (Didn’t Lee Harvey Oswald try the same gambit?)

→ Police investigate increase in car thefts.

Which is why losing Wayne Strong hurts. Still have his yard sign when he campaigned for Madison school board. We recall his victory party when it seemed he would win until very late returns came in. (Where is Rudy Giuliani when you really need him?)

Wayne passed away Monday, too young at age 62. May explain why he originally heeded my exhortations to run for city council in Spring 2021 but backed out days later, saying the time was not right. Did not appreciate his health issues.

Wayne Strong was the very definition of a strong male role model.For decades he coached young men and women in the South Side Raiders football and cheerleader teams. In his day job at the Madison Police Department he rose to the rank of lieutenant. He was one of the original school resource police officers. The WI State Journal said of Wayne Strong:

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Civics: media influence and medicine

Paul Thacker:

I was on an email list of emergency physicians from around the country. One of the doctors wrote that a rumor was circulating that Genentech had funded part of the American Heart Association’s new building. He said the rumor just wasn’t true. 

I decided to look into it further, and spoke to Jerome Hoffman, at UCLA. He was one of the few physicians on an American Heart Association panel to evaluate tPA who didn’t take any money from Genentech. Hoffman also happened to be one of the few physicians who voted against promoting tPA for stroke.

I called the American Heart Association and found out that they were taking Genentech money, and when I asked them about any financial conflicts among their panelists, they said, “Oh, no, no, no. When we put people on a panel, we insist on financial disclosure.” 

I said, “Fine, would you send me those disclosures?” 

They said, “We don’t disclose disclosures.”

DICHRON: [Laughs] Disclosing disclosures would be a disclosure too far.

LENZER: [Laughs] Yeah! I had to figure out where the panelist’s money came from by searching through medical studies. Some doctors came clean when I called them, but a couple denied that they got money.

I’ll never forget one. He absolutely denied taking any money. And then I showed him that he was the principal investigator on a study funded by Genentech that he published in JAMA. And his answer was, “Oh, I forgot. I didn’t know I was listed as principal investigator on that study.” 

Some doctors get irate and deny conflicts of interest, yet I find out that they are getting millions of dollars from companies. When you start to ask questions … people who get the most aggressive and threaten to sue … Oh, it’s a red flag.

DICHRON: You’ve also gone after the media for failing to disclose the financial conflicts of the experts they quote. In 2008, you and Shannon Brownlee exposed The Infinite Mind, an award-winning radio series that ran on NPR stations. I used to listen that show all the time. 

You wrote for Slate about a program they ran on Prozac, and all three guests they interviewed had ties to Eli Lilly, which made Prozac. Well, first off, the show itself was funded in part by Lilly, and the host of the show, Dr. Fred Goodwin, also had Lilly ties.

Civics: New York Times vs Twitter, round two

Eriq Gardner:

Some of America’s most august media companies are struggling to get reporters off social media, where advocacy and backbiting have become a reputational risk. A series of legal tests could make that much harder.

Related: The motion has been brought by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The ACLU supports the motion as an amicus. The RCFP has set up a page devoted to its efforts to unseal the records here. SDNY prosecutors resist it.

Civics: Andrew Yang abortion commentary on political rhetoric vs actions

Ann Althouse

A key I use to understanding puzzles like this is: People do what they want to do. What have they done? Begin with the hypothesis that what they did is what they wanted to do. If they postured that they wanted to do something else, regard that as a con. Work from there. The world will make much more sense.

2013: Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lead a vote to eliminate the filibuster for Judicial nominees in 2013.

Roll Call:

The Senate voted, 52-48, to effectively change the rules by rejecting the opinion of the presiding officer that a supermajority is required to limit debate, or invoke cloture, on executive branch nominees and those for seats on federal courts short of the Supreme Court.

Three Democrats — Carl Levin of Michigan, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas — voted to keep the rules unchanged.

The move came after Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., raised a point of order that only a majority of senators were required to break filibusters of such nominees. Presiding over the Senate as president pro tem, Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont issued a ruling in line with past precedent, saying that 60 votes were required. Leahy personally supported making the change.

Voting against Leahy’s ruling has the effect of changing the rules to require only a simple majority for most nominations.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin voted in favor of eliminating the filibuster.

More, here

Obama Promised To Sign The Freedom Of Choice Act On Day One, Hasn’t Touched The Issue Since

Notes:

I’m trying to understand this new Marist poll, which was conducted on June 24th and 25th. The Supreme Court decision came out on the morning of June 24th. Of course, there was also the leak of what turned out to be the majority opinion. That happened on May 2nd.

In the May 12 memo, Meta said it had previously allowed open discussion of abortion at work but later recognized that it had led to “significant disruptions in the workplace given unique legal complexities and the number of people affected by the issue.” The policy had led to a high volume of complaints to the human resources department, and many internal posts regarding abortion were taken down for violating the company’s harassment policy, the memo said.

I know motherhood is not easy. It is a profoundly daunting task to be charged with the spiritual and physical well-being of tiny humans. I also know that most law firms (and most jobs) might not joyfully celebrate an infant’s contributions to a discussion. Tragically, the availability of abortion has made the workplace less friendly to women and mothers. Even in the best of circumstances, being a parent is demanding. And it becomes infinitely harder for single mothers, like my mom, many of whom do not have the support of a family, community, or church. Yet the abortion-on-demand regime imposed by Roe v. Wade is no answer. As Chief Justice Roberts pointed out at oral argument in Dobbs, the United States is less protective of the unborn than almost any nation in the world. Only a few countries (six to be precise) allow for elective, on-demand abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy—including the United States along with China and North Korea. Not a single European nation goes as far as Roe, and most countries either do not allow elective abortions or limit abortions to twelve weeks.

Of course, it’s also perfectly obvious that these sex-strike organizers are doing exactly what social conservatives want: abstaining from sex unless they are open to the gift of life. And what a kick in the head it would be if it turned out that what makes sex as valuable to a women as it is to a man is this potential for creating a child.

Flashback: When Biden opposed Roe; when Trump supported it

Hysteria and covid

Brad Neaton:

But then of course it was only a few weeks later that the rational playbook was thrown out the window and pseudoscience and magical thinking were widely adopted to justify shutting down society and quarantining even the healthy.

“This is just mind-boggling: This is the mother of all quarantines,” University of Michigan medical historian Howard Markel was quoted as saying in the Washington Post. “I could never have imagined it.” 

“The first and golden rule of public health is you have to gain the trust of the population, and this is likely to drive the epidemic underground,” saidLawrence O. Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University. “The truth is [these] kinds of lockdowns are very rare and never effective.”

Notes on Catholic School Enrollment

Matt Barnum:

Catholic schools are serving tens of thousands fewer students than they were before the pandemic, indicating that these schools have typically not been the destination for students across the U.S. forgoing public schools.

Catholic enrollment cratered during the 2020-21 school year, when those schools saw their biggest enrollment decline in many decades. In the most recent school year, Catholic schools experienced a substantial, but incomplete, enrollment rebound.

Advocates for Catholic education say the schools — which have been hemorrhaging students for decades — need to capitalize on the one-year uptick to keep new families and win over others.

“When I see this data from a Catholic school perspective, I think it’s a hopeful sign because it means we have, as Catholic school leaders, the potential to regrow enrollment and to build back up from a point that had been a historic low,” said Kathleen Porter-Magee, superintendent of a network of Catholic schools in New York City and Cleveland.

Notes on Cameras Everywhere

Pete Warden

So, that’s why I believe we’re going to end up in a world where we’re each surrounded by thousands of cameras. What does that mean? As an engineer I’m excited, because we have the chance to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives. As a human being, I’m terrified because the potential for harm is so large, through unwanted tracking, recording of private moments, and the sharing of massive amounts of data with technology suppliers.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Chicago Loses a Business Citadel

Wall Street Journal:

In 2020, $2.4 billion in net adjusted gross income moved to Florida from Illinois, about $298,000 per tax filer. Illinois has lost about 60,000 black residents in the last decade, while Florida has gained 280,000.

Mr. Griffin has spent tens of millions of his personal fortune trying to rescue Illinois from bad progressive governance. Maybe he figures it’s time to cut his losses.

Civics: Inflation and Politics:

Joel Kotkin:

Yet the left’s own agenda still could dominate the future. In France’s presidential and legislative elections, former Trotskyist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his alliance did exceptionally well among young people, particularly in the heavily immigrant working-class banlieues. His politics are, if anything, well to the left of the traditional Socialists, now essentially extinct. Even the ill-fated Jeremy Corbyn won more than 60 per cent of the under-40 vote in the 2017 UK election, while the Conservatives got just 23 per cent. In Germany, the Green Party enjoys wide support among the young, and seems likely to push the European giant further to the left. Similarly, in Britain inflation is also stirring labour to action, as evidenced by the rail strikes, which could set a new pattern in the coming months.

Even in America, socialism is gaining adherents, particularly among the young. In the 2016 primaries, the openly socialist Bernie Sanders outpolled Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined among under-30 voters, a performance he repeated in the early 2020 primaries. Indeed, millennials – now the nation’s largest voting bloc – say that they prefer socialism to capitalism.

The persistent labour shortages seem likely to continue – by 2030, Korn Ferry projects there will be a deficit of at least six million workers. It did briefly create higher wages for workers, but much of that has been overcome by inflation. Overall, in the US at least, the workers’ share of national output, which rose briefly during the pandemic, has fallen back to historic lows. Many are not even taking jobs on offer in the ‘gig’ economy, where pay and hours are often uncertain. The end of lockdowns did little to slow the ‘great resignation’ as more Americans left the workforce, expanding the pressure on welfare benefits for those who choose not to work.

Notes on China’s birthRate and economic prospects

Peter Zeihan:

A replacement birthrate is 2.1 children per woman. China slipped below that in the 1990s. Birthrates in Beijing and Shanghai are now the lowest in the world. China’s labor force and overall population peaked in the 2010s, heralding the fastest increases in labor costs in the world. Ever. The average Chinese citizen aged past the average American citizen sometime around 2018. Recent analysis by the South China Morning Post of data from the Chinese census authority suggests China’s population will be half the size in 2050 compared to today.

It’s (far) worse than it sounds. Nearly all of China’s 600 million-strong population growth since 1970 isn’t from more births, but from longer lifespans and fewer deaths. Any disruptions in the flows of foods and fuels that enable modernity will earn the Chinese another “world’s best” title; Not only is China the fastest-aging population in human history, soon it will also be the fastest-collapsing.

Even that assumes nothing else goes even a little bit wrong.

China also imports the vast majority of its energy as well as the inputs used to grow its food. China depends on trade to keep its population not simply wealthy and healthy, but alive. Remove international links, and Chinese mortality levels will rise even as baked-in demographic trends mean birthrates will continue to fall.

What might we see break first?

Whether We Say It or Not, Our Culture Provides Cover for Groomers

Pedro Gonzalez:

Last week, Hawaii high school teacher Alden Bunag was arrestedand made his initial court appearance on June 16. Among other things, he admitted to prosecutors that he made a sex video with a 13-year-old boy who was a former student and sent it to others, including another teacher in Philadelphia.

This sordid case has brought to the fore of the culture war the terms “grooming” and “groomer” to describe efforts to sexualize children. The controversy around them stems from the fact that they cut to an uncomfortable truth: those championing the latest sexual revolution often have sexual improprieties they project onto others, as was the case with Bunag, whose social media posts display outspoken opposition to the use of the word “groomer.”

This story began last year with a different investigation. Federal agents received a tip about a teacher, Andrew Wolf of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, a private school in Philadelphia, who had allegedly uploaded child pornography.

One of the most-used tools on the internet is not what it used to be. Google

Charlie Warzel:

Virtually everything I found was unhelpful, so we did the old-fashioned thing and called a professional. The emergency came and went, but I kept thinking about those middling search results—how they typified a zombified internet wasteland.

In February, an engineer named Dmitri Brereton wrote a blog post about Google’s search-engine decay, rounding up leading theories for why the product’s “results have gone to shit.” The post quickly shot to the top of tech forums such as Hacker News and was widely shared on Twitter and even prompted a PR response from Google’s Search liaison, Danny Sullivan, refuting one of Brereton’s claims. “You said in the post that quotes don’t give exact matches. They really do. Honest,” Sullivan wrote in a series of tweets.

Brereton’s most intriguing argument for the demise of Google Search was that savvy users of the platform no longer type instinctive keywords into the search bar and hit “Enter.” The best Googlers—the ones looking for actionable or niche information, product reviews, and interesting discussions—know a cheat code to bypass the sea of corporate search results clogging the top third of the screen. “Most of the web has become too inauthentic to trust,” Brereton argued, therefore “we resort to using Google, and appending the word ‘reddit’ to the end of our queries.” Brereton cited Google Trends data that show that people are searching the word reddit on Google more than ever before.

Civics: declining trust in legacy media

Joe Concha:

“In 2004, one reporter in eight lived in New York, Washington, or Los Angeles,” Schieffer notes in his must-read book “Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News.” “That number is now down to one-in-five who live in those three places.”

Schieffer saw another problem: The massive decrease of local reporters due to shrinking budgets. 

He writes, “While no solutions seem obvious, there is general agreement throughout the industry that if local newspapers go away and some entity does not rise to do what we have come to expect of them—that is, keep an eye on local government—we will experience corruption at levels we have never seen.”

Since 2004, approximately 1,800 newspapers have shut down because of the collapse of print advertising and readers turning to more convenient online consumption. Fewer reporters and editors has resulted in less trust as news gathering becomes more and more confined to two or three cities. 

Overall, according to Pew, just 29 percent of U.S. adults say they have at least a fair amount of trust in the information they receive. In 1976 in the post-Watergate era, trust in the media stood at 72 percent, or 43 points higher.

Post-recall S.F. school board rescinds vote to cover controversial Washington High mural

Jill Tucker:

The San Francisco school board voted Wednesday to nullify a previous board decision to cover up a controversial mural at Washington High School. The move followed nearly three years of legal battles, debate and controversy.

In a 4-3 vote, the board followed a judge’s order to vacate their previous decision to cover the historic fresco, which features the life of George Washington and includes images of slavery and white settlers stepping over a dead Native American.

The original controversy over covering the mural, which grabbed international headlines, pitted the issue of racial equity against artistic freedom and historic preservation at a time of reflection over race and reparations for historic atrocities and public displays associated with America’s ugly past.

The board majority initially voted to paint over the mural in 2019 before reversing course and deciding to cover it up with curtains or panels. That decision was challenged in court and the district lost. The district then appealed, but later decided to settle the case and abide by the judge’s ruling.

The Future is Vast: Longtermism’s perspective on humanity’s past, present, and future

Max Roser:

‘Longtermism’ is the idea that people who live in the future matter morally just as much as those of us who are alive today.11 When we ask ourselves what we should do to make the world a better place, a longtermist does not only consider what we can do to help those around us right now, but also what we can do for those who come after us. The main point of this text – that humanity’s potential future is vast – matters greatly to longtermists. The key moral question of longtermism is ‘what can we do to improve the world’s long-term prospects?’.

Advocating “data first” DIE: diversity, inclusion and equity

Roland Fryer:

One of the most important developments in the study of racial inequality has been the quantification of the importance of pre-market skills in explaining differences in labor market outcomes between Black and white workers. In 2010, using nationally representative data on thousands of individuals in their 40s, I estimated that Black men earn 39.4% less than white men and Black women earn 13.1% less than white women. Yet, accounting for one variable–educational achievement in their teenage years––reduced that difference to 10.9% (a 72% reduction) for men and revealed that Black women earn 12.7 percent more than white women, on average. Derek Neal, an economist at the University of Chicago, and William Johnson were among the first to make this point in 1996: “While our results do provide some evidence for current labor market discrimination, skills gaps play such a large role that we believe future research should focus on the obstacles Black children face in acquiring productive skill.”

Recently, I worked with a network of hospitals determined to rid their organization of gender bias. The basic facts were startling: Women earned 33% less than men when they were hired and their wages increased less than men once on the job. Yet, accounting for basic demographic variables known about individuals prior to hiring, these differences decreased by 74%. A problem remained, but it was an order of magnitude smaller than the unadjusted numbers implied.

Find the root causes of bias

Social scientists tend to categorize bias into one of three flavors: preference, information, and structural. Preference bias is good old-fashioned bigotry. If company A prefers group W over group B then they will hire and promote them more even if they are similarly qualified.

Information bias arises when employers have imperfect information about workers’ potential productivity and use observable proxies, like gender or race, to make inferences (gender stereotypes are a classic example).

Structural bias occurs when companies institute practices, formally or informally, that have a disparate impact on particular groups, even when the underlying practices are themselves group blind. Employee referral programs can fall into this category.

A ruling in just one sport is part of a broader cultural cascade

Ethan Strauss:

On Monday, Wetzel wrote a Yahoo! column on a ruling that appears to resolve the Lia Thomas saga. His insight on this issue is the key one, in my opinion. It not only explains what the recent ruling means, but tells you what’s about to go down in all kinds of sports. 

Quite suddenly, according to Wetzel, we’re about to see one of those preference cascades I often mention. A domino has tipped over and bureaucracies around the world are now unapologetically dismantling a movement so powerful that nobody at ESPN dared question it openly. Last week, it was impossible to fight. This week, it’s impossible to save. That’s one hell of a shift. 

There’s an upshot to all of it, far beyond the sports specific aspect Wetzel noticed. Wokeness, successor ideology, political correctness, whatever you want to call it, it’s vulnerable. Indeed, it was just stopped cold by a federation based in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland. If what looks indomitable one day in America can get completely wrecked by bureaucrats off of Lake Geneva on the next, then what does that mean? What other seemingly strong causes, movements and mainstream political assumptions are actually built on the softest sand?

What you may not know—but should—about the Nation’s Report Card

Chester Finn:

How can state and national policymakers and education leaders gauge the academic setbacks that young Americans suffered due to Covid-forced school shutdowns? How can they see whether achievement gaps between groups of students are widening or narrowing? How can we tell whether eighth graders in Missouri do better or worse in math or reading than their peers in Michigan and Maine?

We answer such questions about K–12 achievement almost entirely thanks to a little-known but vital test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a.k.a. “NAEP” or the “Nation’s Report Card.”

RIP Wayne Strong, a citizen!

Nicholas Garton

Retired Madison Police Lieutenant Wayne Strong, 62, passed away Monday, leaving many who knew him in the community shocked and saddened. Strong was a beloved presence in the lives of youths he mentored, people he worked with and community organizations he was involved with.

“He’s just one of those people who is irreplaceable,” said David Dahmer, an editor with Madison365 who knew Strong in several capacities over multiple decades. “He was always just very kind, generous, and thoughtful. He was a great mentor for the young people in the community.”

Strong’s fingerprints were all over the community. He was co-director of the Southside Raiders, a youth football team that focused on much more than just football. The Raiders instilled the values of self-esteem, teamwork, character, education, and safety in the youths who participated in the football and cheerleading programs.

Strong spent 24 years as a Madison police officer and was involved with the Southside Raiders for 27 years. He also ran for Madison School Board on multiple occasions and he was a member of the Wisconsin State Journal’s editorial board. Strong was involved in organizations such as Just Dane, The Road Home, and the YWCA.

Former Madison Police chief Noble Wray said that he worked with Strong since the early 1990s and that Strong’s passion for serving the community was still as strong as ever.

WiSJ

Strong was one of the city’s first school-based police officers. He believed strongly that getting to know students and staff as an officer walking the halls was the best way to understand and defuse trouble.

When an East High mom who opposed police officers in schools disagreed with Strong on social media about a State Journal editorial he had posted, Strong met in person with her. After a cordial discussion, they still didn’t agree. But they understood each other’s perspectives much better than before.

Notes on K-12 Governance Battles: Georgia Edition and Oconomowoc

Nicole Carr:

Nearly 900 school districts across the country have been targeted by anti-CRT efforts from September 2020 to August 2021, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, San Diego, found. Teachers and district equity officers surveyed and interviewed for the report “often described feeling attacked and at risk for discussing issues of race or racism at all, or promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in any way. Equity officers told us that at times they feared for their personal safety.”

The report also stated: “Only one equity officer described a year free of anti ‘CRT’ conflict.”

“It makes me very sad for my colleagues,” said Cicely Bingener, one of the UCLA researchers and a longtime elementary school educator.

Using local media coverage and lawsuits, ProPublica has identified at least 14 public school employees across the country, six of them Black, who were chased out in part by anti-CRT efforts in 2021. Some of the educators resigned or did not have their contracts renewed, while others were fired by school boards where elections had ushered in more politically extreme members.

Robert Zimmerman

When parent Alexandra Schweitzer began challenging publicly the use of inappropriate sexual materials in the elementary schools in Oconomowoc Area School District (OASD) in Wisconsin, the school board made what appeared to be some minor superficial changes in its policy without really addressing her concerns.

Above all, school district officials would not confirm unequivocally that these materials — many of which advocated the queer agenda on gender — had been removed. Unsatisfied with this response, Schweitzer expanded her campaign.

Oversight scarce as billions in COVID aid poured into California schools

Robert Lewis & Joe Hong:

A CalMatters investigation found that schools had wildly different approaches to stimulus spending — from laptops to shade structures to an ice cream truck. No centralized database exists to show the public exactly where the money went. 

When the pandemic closed schools in March 2020 – abruptly ending classes and stranding children and working parents – leaders in Washington and Sacramento scrambled to provide relief.

The result was a series of stimulus measures that allocated $33.5 billion in state and federal funds to California’s K-12 schools to address the devastation of the pandemic. It was a staggering amount of one-time funding for the state’s cash-strapped schools, equal to a third of all the money they got the year before the pandemic. 

Imagine your boss giving you a check equal to four months of your salary and telling you to spend it quickly or risk giving it back. For schools, this was money for things like laptops, air filters and mental health counselors – money to help kids.

But much of the funding has come with limited oversight and little transparency, according to a CalMatters investigation. No centralized state or federal database exists to show how schools have spent this money. And data from the districts’ quarterly spending reportsprovided to the state are so broad as to be virtually useless in tracking this COVID relief money.

Oversight scarce as billions in COVID aid poured into California schools

Robert Lewis & Joe Hong:

A CalMatters investigation found that schools had wildly different approaches to stimulus spending — from laptops to shade structures to an ice cream truck. No centralized database exists to show the public exactly where the money went. 

When the pandemic closed schools in March 2020 – abruptly ending classes and stranding children and working parents – leaders in Washington and Sacramento scrambled to provide relief.

The result was a series of stimulus measures that allocated $33.5 billion in state and federal funds to California’s K-12 schools to address the devastation of the pandemic. It was a staggering amount of one-time funding for the state’s cash-strapped schools, equal to a third of all the money they got the year before the pandemic. 

Imagine your boss giving you a check equal to four months of your salary and telling you to spend it quickly or risk giving it back. For schools, this was money for things like laptops, air filters and mental health counselors – money to help kids.

But much of the funding has come with limited oversight and little transparency, according to a CalMatters investigation. No centralized state or federal database exists to show how schools have spent this money. And data from the districts’ quarterly spending reportsprovided to the state are so broad as to be virtually useless in tracking this COVID relief money.

Oversight scarce as billions in COVID aid poured into California schools

Robert Lewis & Joe Hong:

A CalMatters investigation found that schools had wildly different approaches to stimulus spending — from laptops to shade structures to an ice cream truck. No centralized database exists to show the public exactly where the money went. 

When the pandemic closed schools in March 2020 – abruptly ending classes and stranding children and working parents – leaders in Washington and Sacramento scrambled to provide relief.

The result was a series of stimulus measures that allocated $33.5 billion in state and federal funds to California’s K-12 schools to address the devastation of the pandemic. It was a staggering amount of one-time funding for the state’s cash-strapped schools, equal to a third of all the money they got the year before the pandemic. 

Imagine your boss giving you a check equal to four months of your salary and telling you to spend it quickly or risk giving it back. For schools, this was money for things like laptops, air filters and mental health counselors – money to help kids.

But much of the funding has come with limited oversight and little transparency, according to a CalMatters investigation. No centralized state or federal database exists to show how schools have spent this money. And data from the districts’ quarterly spending reportsprovided to the state are so broad as to be virtually useless in tracking this COVID relief money.

Oversight scarce as billions in COVID aid poured into California schools

Robert Lewis & Joe Hong:

A CalMatters investigation found that schools had wildly different approaches to stimulus spending — from laptops to shade structures to an ice cream truck. No centralized database exists to show the public exactly where the money went. 

When the pandemic closed schools in March 2020 – abruptly ending classes and stranding children and working parents – leaders in Washington and Sacramento scrambled to provide relief.

The result was a series of stimulus measures that allocated $33.5 billion in state and federal funds to California’s K-12 schools to address the devastation of the pandemic. It was a staggering amount of one-time funding for the state’s cash-strapped schools, equal to a third of all the money they got the year before the pandemic. 

Imagine your boss giving you a check equal to four months of your salary and telling you to spend it quickly or risk giving it back. For schools, this was money for things like laptops, air filters and mental health counselors – money to help kids.

But much of the funding has come with limited oversight and little transparency, according to a CalMatters investigation. No centralized state or federal database exists to show how schools have spent this money. And data from the districts’ quarterly spending reportsprovided to the state are so broad as to be virtually useless in tracking this COVID relief money.

Surprise! Students learned less when they were remote

Cory Turner:

Not everyone agrees. Some parents who saw their kids struggle while trying to learn remotely believe “learning loss” fits — because it captures the urgency they now feel to make up for what was lost.

“It would mean so much for parents if somebody would acknowledge it. ‘You know, we have learning loss,’ ” says Sheila Walker, a parent in Northern California. “Like our board, they don’t even use those words. We know we have learning loss, so how are we going to address it?”

Max Weber’s six principles of bureaucracy?

Patrick Ward:

In our time, terms like “bureaucracy” and “authority” have mostly negative connotations.

This was not the case at the start of the 20th century. In fact, when sociologist Max Weber developed his management theories detailing the “characteristics of bureaucracy,” they were considered groundbreaking and novel among academics and business managers alike.1

In spite of modern distaste for the term, most businesses are still modeled on bureaucratic principles, and most large corporations display at least some characteristics of bureaucracy, as defined by Weber.

In this article, we’re going to discuss the Management Theory of Max Weber, including the following:

Civics: The Federal Bureau of Tweets: Twitter Is Hiring an Alarming Number of FBI Agents

Mint press:

Twitter has been on a recruitment drive of late, hiring a host of former feds and spies. Studying a number of employment and recruitment websites, MintPress has ascertained that the social media giant has, in recent years, recruited dozens of individuals from the national security state to work in the fields of security, trust, safety and content.

Chief amongst these is the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The FBI is generally known as a domestic security and intelligence force. However, it has recently expanded its remit into cyberspace. “The FBI’s investigative authority is the broadest of all federal law enforcement agencies,” the “About” section of its website informs readers. “The FBI has divided its investigations into a number of programs, such as domestic and international terrorism, foreign counterintelligence [and] cyber crime,” it adds.

For example, in 2019, Dawn Burton (the former director of Washington operations for Lockheed Martin) was poached from her job as senior innovation advisor to the director at the FBI to become senior director of strategy and operations for legal, public policy, trust and safety at Twitter. The following year, Karen Walsh went straight from 21 years at the bureau to become director of corporate resilience at the silicon valley giant. Twitter’s deputy general counsel and vice president of legal, Jim Baker, also spent four years at the FBI between 2014 and 2018, where his resumé notes he rose to the role of senior strategic advisor.

With Chicago Public Schools enrollment falling, the Chicago Board of Education is about to take up plans to build a new high school near Chinatown.

Nader Issa, Sarah Karp and Lauren FitzPatrick:

Does Chicago even need this school?

Until Tuesday, the Chicago Public Schools had provided little information about the proposal — not even such basic information as the location, attendance boundaries or the city’s analysis of the effects that the school would have on a school system whose enrollment has been shrinking.

Amid Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s reelection campaign, CPS had put the proposed new high school into its capital budget with little public engagement, no land secured at a proposed site and big questions about who would attend the school.

As CPS officials ask the Board of Education to approve their $70 million share of the project Wednesday on top of $50 million from the state, they have yet to make a case — beyond the clamoring from the area for a school — for whether Chinatown, the South Loop and Bridgeport’s needs to justify spending so much of the school system’s resources on a new building amid plummeting enrollment citywide.

“It’s difficult to advocate for the needs of one community and balance the needs of surrounding communities,” said Grace Chan McKibben, an advocate for the new school and head of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community. “Because Chicago is so segregated, and life in Chicago is so highly regionalized.”

Though the school set to open in 2025 also would serve students from the South Loop and Bridgeport, among the most compelling arguments for the new school has been the burgeoning Chinatown community’s desire for an educational hub. Often described as the country’s only growing Chinatown, the community recently was drawn into Chicago’s first Asian American majority ward. Home to thousands of immigrant families, the neighborhood has at least doubled in population since 2000.

The Hysterical Style in the American Humanities

Joseph Keegin:

The subsequent controversy, however, had little to do with Janega’s assessment; rather, it centered on the fact that her review appeared in the first place. Mary Rambaran-Olm, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, took to Twitter to denounce LARB for “torpedoing” a review of the book she had written for the publication some weeks before — one that chastised Gabriele and Perry for their “white-centrism” and “Christocentrism” and for “rely[ing] on their whiteness for authority.” Rambaram-Olm asserted that because the LARB editors are friendly with the book’s authors, they wanted to “whitewash” her negative assessment (pun, I suspect, intended). Denunciations, angry tweet threads, and Twitter account deletions followed while leagues of outsiders, like rubberneckers passing a flaming car crash, looked on and thought: What in the world is going on here?

This wasn’t the first time a political controversy launched the otherwise sleepy world of medieval studies into the public eye. In 2017 the University of Chicago historian Rachel Fulton Brown incurred the ire of her colleagues in medieval studies by writing a blog post called “3 Cheers For White Men” and promoting the alt-right media personality Milo Yiannopoulos and his extravagant contrarian junket through America’s universities, the “Dangerous Faggot” tour. The Brandeis medievalist Dorothy Kim penned a few lengthy blog posts about Fulton Brown’s “problematic” opinions, Fulton Brown responded on her own blog, and Kim followed with an article for Inside Higher Ed accusing her adversary of “intimidation,” “harassment,” “manipulat[ing] the concept of free speech to operate as a dog whistle,” and leaving “her open to deadly violence” akin to the murder of Heather Heyer at the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally.

Supreme Court strikes down Maine’s ban on using public funds at religious schools

Amy Howe:

Two Maine families went to court, arguing that the exclusion of schools that provide religious instruction violates the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. On Tuesday, the justices agreed. Roberts suggested that the court’s decision was an “unremarkable” application of prior decisions in two other recent cases (both of which Roberts wrote): Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, in which the justices ruled that Missouri could not exclude a church from a program to provide grants to non-profits to install playgrounds made from recycled tires, and Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, holding that if states opt to subsidize private education, they cannot exclude private schools from receiving those funds simply because they are religious.

In this case, Roberts explained, Maine pays tuition for some students to attend private schools, as “long as the schools are not religious.” “That,” Roberts stressed, “is discrimination against religion.” It does not matter, Roberts continued, that the Maine program was intended to provide students with the equivalent of a free public education, which is secular. The focus of the program, Roberts reasoned, is providing a benefit – tuition to attend a public or private school – rather than providing the equivalent of the education that students would receive in public schools. Indeed, Roberts observed, private schools that are eligible for the tuition benefit are not required to use the same curriculum as public schools, or even to use certified teachers. He suggested that the state’s argument was circular: “Saying that Maine offers a benefit limited to private secular education is just another way of saying that Maine does not extend tuition assistance payments to parents who choose to educate their children at religious schools.”

Roberts similarly rejected the state’s argument that the tuition-assistance program does not violate the Constitution because it only bars benefits from going to schools that provide religious instruction. Although Trinity Lutheranand Espinoza focused on organizations’ religious status (rather than on whether the organizations would be using government funds for religious purposes), those rulings did not hold that states could make funding for private schools hinge on whether the schools provide religious instruction, Roberts explained. To the contrary, Roberts indicated, there is no real distinction between a school’s religious status and its use of funds for religious purposes.

Civics & Governance: “It’s Hard to Fill a Bathtub When the Drain is Wide Open.”

Greg Walcher:

That is precisely what has happened at Lake Powell, yet the report has been largely ignored. It should be required reading for everyone concerned about the Colorado River.

Lake Powell was created for the primary purpose of administering the Interstate Compact – ensuring the Upper Basin states can deliver the water they are required to send downstream, even in dry years. It was completed in 1966 and finally filled to its 27 million acre-foot capacity by 1980. But since 2000, the water level has dropped 94 feet, even though the Upper Basin states have consistently used only 60 percent of their entitlements. The lake holds barely 10 million acre-feet today.

In reservoirs designed for multi‐year carryover storage, “declines are expected in dry years, and recovery is expected in wet years.” But at Lake Powell, “When large inflows do occur, current operational rules immediately trigger large releases.” In the extremely wet year of 2011, for example, inflow at Lake Powell was five million acre-feet above average. But the Bureau immediately opened the gates and sent it all downstream to Lake Mead, benefitting California, Las Vegas, and fish. No wonder Lake Powell cannot recover during wet years.

The report acknowledges that several dry years contributed to the water level drop, “but ultimately it is the operational rules that are slowly but surely draining Lake Powell.” Under the Interstate Compact and in international treaty, the Bureau was supposed to release about 8.3 million acre feet per year for the Lower Basin and Mexico. But in all but four years between 2000 and 2018, the agency released more than that, a cumulative total of 11 million acre-feet beyond what is required. “Had those excess releases remained in Lake Powell, the lake level would not have declined,” as the report notes.

Useful. So much of reporting fails to inquire. Stenography reigns.

Boston slams new state schools plan as moving sides ‘further apart’ as receivership looms

Sean Phillip Cotter:

Boston Public Schools, which has narrowed its ostensibly nationwide superintendent search down to one current and one recent former BPS administrator, is beset on all sides by poor student outcomes, yawning socioeconomic achievement gaps, reports of increased violence in and around school buildings, declining enrollment and snarled student transportation strategies.

The commissioner originally brought the city a proposal in May as receivership talk intensified — but the city viewed it as asking too much while offering too little. Wu and company — after testifying publicly against receivership at a DESE board meeting a few days later — volleyed back its own proposal, suggesting some deadlines for improvements and specific changes in concert with support both in infrastructure and cash from the state.

But now the latest response from Riley, showing up last Friday, June 17, took what city officials already viewed as “receivership lite” and made it, in their view, even a bit heavier.

According to a copy of the updated DESE proposal obtained by the Herald, it does draw closer to the city in some respects, including giving the school district and city more say in what auditors are hired and pushing back a couple of time horizons.

But it is also true that the DESE offering also moves away from the city in other ways. For one, the new proposal now adds a DESE staffer to oversee the district’s data collection in addition to the DESE-hired independent auditor that was already proposed — a move that the city panned in the letter as “a version of top-down control” beyond what the city is comfortable with. It also adds rapidly upcoming deadlines, like an Aug. 15 mark for a plan to achieve various special-education improvements.

I’ve long found the Madison Mayor’s generally hands off approach to our well funded K-12 system surprising, given our long term, disastrous reading results.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Wisconsin Lutheran Sues City of Milwaukee For Unlawful Property Tax Assessment

WILL-Law:

The News: Attorneys with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee on behalf of Wisconsin Lutheran High School after the City unlawfully assessed the school for $105,000 in property taxes. The City is trying to tax Wisconsin Lutheran for a campus building that is owned by the school and used for student housing and other educational purposes. The lawsuit was filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel Lucas Vebber, said, “State law provides a property tax exemption for educational and religious institutions like Wisconsin Lutheran. The City of Milwaukee’s attempt to assess the school for more than $100,000 for this property is clearly unlawful.”

Wisconsin Lutheran President, the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Fisher, said, “This is an important issue for our school. We have a huge gap between what we receive in vouchers and our actual costs to educate our teens. We would much rather spend the $105,000 educating our students than paying for an improper tax. We are praying that our money can be restored to us so we can use it to further the ministry of our school.”

Notes on plagiarism

Phillip Magness:

So it turns out that my earlier suspicionsabout possible academic integrity issues in Kevin M. Kruse’s scholarship were warranted. After finding hints of borrowed textual structures and word phrasing in a 2015 book by the Princeton historian, I decided to take a closer look at some of his other work. I turned to his 2005 book White Flight, which was the basis of Kruse’s essay in the 1619 Project. Another suspiciously-similar passage popped up in its opening chapter, which prompted me to check the dissertation that the book derived from. In short order, I discovered that Kruse appears to have plagiarized large blocks of text from two other books by scholars Ronald Bayor and Thomas Sugrue. The details are written up here in Reason.

The discoveries about Kruse’s dissertation came as a shock to the political activist wing of the history profession, where Kruse is a well-known social media star famous for his “Historian here…” twitter threads that purport to correct both real and imagined errors of fact and interpretation by conservative-leaning political commentators. Most conceded that the evidence looked very bad for Kruse, but more than a few of his online fans redirected their ire at me personally for having discovered the similarities. Unfortunately, their decision to “shoot the messenger” was expected. In today’s hyper-politicized academy, evidence is almost wholly subordinate to a far-left ideological narrative.

Madison police identify 3 suspects in alleged racially motivated attacks

Chris Rickert:

Madison police spokesperson Stephanie Fryer on Friday released a statement saying the attacks reported to city police appeared to be random but committed by the same group of people.

The next day, police announced they had arrested four people in the cases but didn’t provide their names until Tuesday. Police typically do not provide the names of people they arrest who are under 17 because they are considered juveniles under Wisconsin criminal law.

Civics: Why can’t the Biden Administration tell the truth about the nonprofit that has funded the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

Paul Thacker:

In an email responding to Ms. Leasure, UC Davis researcher Jonna Mazet wrote that the primary cause for the increase in EHA’s budget was personnel costs, adding that Peter Daszak’s “compensation increased by 24% from last year.”

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Who to believe: these emails or your lying eyes?

Desptite emails showing UC Davis researchers paid EcoHealth Allliance with DARPA monies, the research agency has their story and they’re sticking to it. “Consistent with DARPA’s previous statement, the agency has never funded EcoHealth Alliance directly, nor indirectly as a subcontractor,” wrote a DARPA spokesperson to The DisInformation Chronicle.

These latest revelations add to a growing body of evidence that the Biden Administration is not interested in reviewing activities by the EcoHealth Alliance. In 2020, the NIH created a thunderstorm of disapproval when it shut down an EcoHealth Alliance grant; 77 Nobel Laureates criticized the Trump administration for pulling the coronavirus research.  “We believe that this action sets a dangerous precedent by interfering in the conduct of science and jeopardizes public trust in the process of awarding federal funds for research,” they wrote.

This October, 18 months after the grant was terminated, the NIH notified Congress that EcoHealth Alliance had failed to comply with the timely submission of a research progress report for the grant. Since the NIH terminated that grant in 2020, the agency has awarded EcoHealth Alliance $4.2 million in funding for 4 different projects.

Central banks try to block attempts by poor countries to use digital currency to upend monetary norms.

Ben Shreckinger

"We accept Bitcoin" is announced at a barber shop in Santa Tecla, El Salvador.

In Argentina, a runaway inflation rate that is now close to 60 percent has led citizens to embrace cryptocurrency. It also led President Alberto Fernández to openly toy with making Bitcoin legal tender before the government’s recent commitment to the IMF to crack down on cryptocurrency. 

The IMF, whose work on cryptocurrency includes recent consultations with India on that country’s forthcoming policy framework, has called for a coordinated international government response to the rise of cryptocurrency. Though the fund has discouraged the use of a crypto network like Bitcoin as a currency, it has encouraged national central banks to explore the use of Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology for digital upgrades to their own sovereign currencies. A transition to central bank digital currencies, knowns as CBDCs, would be less disruptive to existing monetary arrangements than the changes sought by cryptocurrency backers.

On Tuesday, the Bank for International Settlements, an international body owned by the world’s central banks, launched its own latest salvo against cryptocurrency with a new report arguing that fragmentation in the world of cryptocurrency means that “crypto cannot fulfil the social role of money.” 

Instead, the report called for updating the national and supranational currencies overseen by its members. “There is more promise,” it states, “in innovations that build on trust in sovereign currencies.” 

In the meantime, the conflicts brewing between developing countries and global financial powers over digital money are also exposing the rifts within each.

Pave paradise, put up a parking lot

Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky

California would not exist in anything like its modern form without massive engineering. Largely dominated by desert, flammable, dry chaparral and high mountains, California depends on human-created technology to bring water to its bone-dry coast. It taps distant dams for the bulk of its electricity and food and would have never grown its population without this manufactured transformation of its natural environment. “Science,” as the University of California’s second president, Daniel Coit Gilman, put it, “is the mother of California.”

The Origins of Environmental Politics

Modern environmentalism rose in California, starting with the unsuccessful attempt by The Sierra Club to halt the flooding of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite to supply water to largely waterless San Francisco. This struggle presaged an almost endless succession of battles across the state over land use, energy, and water development. When the Sierra Club’s solutions seemed too tame, the Friends of Earth, also founded in San Francisco, generally pushed more extreme policies.

Over the last few decades, California greens have evolved. They started as largely conservationist, with a bipartisan base of affluent middle-class homeowners, who looked askance at development near their neighborhoods. By the late 1960s, however, the green agenda became increasingly shaped by visions of a dystopian future, epitomized by Stanford’s Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 Population Bomb, with its predictions of mass starvation on a global scale.

Ecotopia, published in 1975 through an obscure press, by Ernest Callenbach, an equally obscure movie critic, sold a million copies. The cult classic was followed with a 1981 prequel, Ecotopia Rising. These two books tell the story of a successful secession by greens in the northern coastal areas from the rest of the polluted, dystopic United States on the other side of the Sierra.

Civics: Legacy Media, the political class and “the narrative”

Brendan O’Neill:

We shouldn’t be surprised. When it comes to political violence, there’s always an extraordinary double standard. So when then Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords was targeted in a mass shooting in Tucson in 2011, armies of commentators pinned the blame on Sarah Palin and other right-wingers who engage in heated political rhetoric. Yet when a Bernie Sanders supporter shot up a charity congressional baseball game in Virginia in 2017, hitting the Republican congressman Steve Scalise, among others, there was very little of that kind of commentary. There’s identitarian hypocrisy, too. Acts of mass violence carried out by white, far-right hate-mongers will linger in the media conscience for years. But hateful acts carried out by members of allegedly oppressed minorities – such as the Christmas parade massacre in Waukesha last year or the numerous acts of anti-Semitic and anti-Asian violence carried out by African American men in recent years – are downplayed, and swiftly forgotten. It’s all about the political use of violence. If an act of violence serves the woke elite’s narratives about hierarchies of oppression and the scourge of whiteness and the dangers of right-wing rhetoric, it will be blown up. If it doesn’t, it won’t be. The act itself (and its victims) only matters to the extent that it can be exploited to fortify the moral domination of the new elites.

This is the real reason that the alleged attempted murder of Kavanaugh has ‘dropped off’ the media and political radar – because it isn’t useful. On the contrary, it’s a problematic event given it threatens to complicate the simplistic narratives that underpin elite consensus. It is especially pesky that this incident should have occurred in the run-up to the ‘January 6’ hearings, which have morphed into a fact-lite, highly politicised showtrial of Trumpian rhetoric and how words can allegedly cause violence. So whose words ‘caused’ the alleged act of attempted murder against Kavanaugh? If Trump’s vague statements on 6 January 2021 can be said to have caused a riot, can the Kavanaugh-bashing of the pro-Roe commentariat and of upper-middle-class protesters be seen as the instigator of Roske’s alleged attempted murder? If Trump saying he loves his supportive protesters was the reason the storming of the Capitol took place, was Chuck Schumer’s 2020 comment to Kavanaugh on the issue of abortion – ‘You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price’ – the reason the attempted murder of Kavanaugh happened?

Sharron Davies: ‘The trans debate is toxic. It’s made my life hell. But female athletes must speak up’

Owen Slot:

It is 42 years since Sharron Davies won a silver medal in the Moscow Olympic swimming pool, yet she is still driven by the injustice that she did not get the gold. She had the option thereafter of making peace with her past and putting it behind her, but has elected instead to raise her voice louder than ever. Even the death threats will not silence her.

This is where the transgender debate in sport has got to. Davies has campaigned vociferously for transgender women to be prevented from joining female competition. You might have thought on Sunday when Fina, swimming’s world governing body, banned transgender athletes from women’s elite events that her argument was won and her job was done. Far from it.

Is Our Fiscal System Discouraging Marriage? A New Look at the Marriage Tax

Elias Ilin, Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Melinda Pitts:

We develop, apply, and test a new measure of the marriage tax – the reduction in future spending from getting married – using SCF and ACS data. Our measure incorporates all major and most minor U.S. tax and benefit programs. And it assumes clone marriage – marrying oneself – to ensure the living-standard loss from marrying is unaffected by spousal choice. Our calculated high and highly variable marriage taxes materially reduce the probability of marriage particularly for low-income females with children.

Civics: math challenges at the New York Times + “the narrative”

Jonathan Adler:

Court commentary, whether by news organizations and research organizations, always focuses on the number of active judges when seeking to characterize the ideological or political balance of a circuit court. Indeed, even organizations with an interest in exaggerating conservative influence on federal courts, such as Balls & Strikes, do not count senior judges when tabulating the ideological balance of a court — nor, for that matter, did the New York Times itself, which followed the convention of only counting active judges in prior news stories discussing the balance of circuit courts. Thus it is quite odd that the NYT chose to include senior judges in its count here (and did so not just with the D.C. Circuit, but with the Fifth Circuit as well, which would be considered conservative whether or not one counts senior judges).

These were not my only concerns with the NYT story. It compared the number of judges appointed by President Biden thus far (68) with the total number appointed by Donald Trump (231). The proper comparison would have been to the number Trump had appointed at this point in his term (42).

In terms of the narrative of a conservative legal juggernaut, the story noted the legal challenges to the Biden Administration’s Social Cost of Carbon, but failed to mention that those challenges have been unsuccessfulthus far (including on the shadow docket). It also suggested the Supreme Court is poised to overrule Chevron, but failed to mention the Supreme Court passed up that opportunity last week in this term’s biggest Chevron case.

Making the Grade (But Not Disclosing It): How Withholding Grades Affects Student Behavior and Employment

Eric Floyd and Sorabh Tomar and Daniel Lee

We study the effects of grade non-disclosure (GND) policies implemented within MBA programs at highly ranked business schools. GND precludes students from revealing their grades and grade point averages (GPAs) to employers. In the labor market, we find that GND weakens the positive relation between GPA and employer desirability. During the MBA program, we find that GND reduces students’ academic effort within courses by approximately 4.9%, relative to comparable students not subject to the policy. Consistent with our model, in which abilities are potentially correlated and students can substitute effort towards other activities in order to signal GPA-related ability, students participate in more extracurricular activities and enroll in more difficult courses under GND. Finally, we show that students’ tenure with their first employers after graduation decreases following GND.

STEM and US Competitiveness

Dylan Patel:

Even if the startups and production facilities were in the US, there is now a severe shortage of skilled workers in the field. By 2025, this shortage is projected to be as high as 300,000 workers. Educated and skilled personnel is a cornerstone of innovation, and without them, the job cannot be done.

Most Americans who pursue a higher education do so in a non-STEM field. While not a negative in and of itself, this is a huge concern when viewed in light of the expected growing shortage of skilled workers in the semiconductor industry.

Teachers say they’re pushed to pass students who skipped class all year

Susan Edelman and Melissa Klein:

Administrators at a Queens high school are demanding that teachers pass undeserving students – including some they’ve never even seen, fed-up educators told The Post.

The teachers at William Cullen Bryant High School in Long Island City say the pressure comes as the school year is about to end and they are asked to promote students who have skipped classes and done little or no work.

“I have gotten numerous complaints from teachers that they feel forced to promote students they do not think should be promoted,” Georgia Lignou, a Bryant HS teacher and UFT chapter leader wrote last week in a letter to Principal Namita Dwarka and other faculty members. The Post obtained a copy.

“This happens when at this time of the year with less than a week of classes left, administration is reaching out to us sometimes about students we have never seen,” she wrote. “We do not feel that a student who was absent for most of the year and has failed previous marking periods can possibly achieve mastery at this time of the year.”

The issue of AWOL students getting a pass is not unique to Bryant High School, which has 2,100 students and boasts legendary singer Ethel Merman and ex-schools chancellor Joel Klein among alumni

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”

“We simply can’t ignore fundamental realities of our biology and expect positive outcomes for society”

Colin Wright:

The effort to resist gender ideology is reality’s last stand. We simply can’t ignore fundamental realities of our biology and expect positive outcomes for society. Pronoun rituals are extremely effective at normalizing and institutionalizing the abolition of biological sex in favor of gender identity. These rituals take advantage of people’s confusion and compassion to achieve compliance. But the time for politeness has long passed. The only proper response to the question “What are your pronouns?” is to reject the premise and refuse to answer.

Civics: Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez waged a six-day war of attrition over a colleague’s retweet of an off-colour joke.

Kat Rosenfield:

What quickly became clear, however, is that the joke was not the point. The problem was what it represented: the mere tip of an imagined vast, sexist iceberg lurking below the surface. Some claimed that it signalled the hidden sexism of the reporter, Dave Weigel, who retweeted it; others, including Sonmez, insisted that it was symbolic of a deep-seated culture of misogyny in the Washington Post itself. This type of projection is intrinsic to such online controversies: nobody ever makes a one-off mistake, everything is part of pattern. (When John Roderick, now better known as Bean Dad, tried to create a teachable moment by getting his daughter to work out the machinations of a can opener without help, internet scolds were so incensed that they reported him to Child Protective Services.)

We watched the action like a TV show: the callout, the apology, the suspension of the colleague (for a full month without pay) when the apology was deemed insufficient, the escalating demands from Sonmez (who not only supported Weigel’s suspension, but wanted everyone who publicly criticised her public criticism to be professionally sanctioned as well). All this, combined with a series of leaks from inside the increasingly-exasperated Washington Post leadership apparatus, built to a climax as hotly-debated as theseries finale of LOST. How could they possibly fire her? How could they possibly not?

Every one of these meltdowns, from the dad with the can opener to the reporter with an ax to grind, owes its existence to an ongoing erosion of interpersonal trust. Consider how suspicious one has to be, how consumed by paranoid cynicism, to see a veteran reporter retweet an off-colour joke and declare it not an isolated error in judgment, but a definitive glimpse of the darkness that lurks inside his heart.

Never mind that the man in question has worked with and mentored women who loudly attest to his decency. Never mind the countless positive interactions amassed over the course of a 20-year career. The mask has slipped, the jig is up, the retweet is not just a retweet but a revelation. What kind of person finds a joke like that funny? A woman-disrespecter, that’s who! And having telegraphed his true disposition toward his female colleagues, surely the person in question is unfit to remain employed.

Oakeshott’s Countercultural Education

Elizabeth Corey:

Martyn Thompson has observed correctly that nearly everything Oakeshott wrote had something to do with education, or at least implied a certain vision of it. His most explicit thoughts about education appear in a collection of arresting and sometimes beautiful essays, edited by Timothy Fuller, entitled The Voice of Liberal Learning. Although Oakeshott is known as a political philosopher, not so much as a philosopher of education, he had radical and fresh views about university education that were unusual in his day and even more so in ours.

Those of us who are involved in liberal education are often put on the defensive by adversaries. These adversaries want to professionalize or politicize the universities; and sometimes they reject or refuse to understand “knowledge as an end in itself,” to borrow John Henry Newman’s famous formulation. Even certain allies—earnest lecturers prone to giving well-intentioned but tedious exhortations about the goods of the humanities—sometimes do more harm than good in their attempts to inspire young people to pursue a life (or at least an interval) of learning. Contemporary writing about liberal education thus often tends toward the defensive, the preachy, or the simply boring.

Oakeshott’s vision of liberal learning, in contrast, offers the prospect of intellectual and moral adventure. His essays are full of varied and enticing invitations to self-understanding. He suggests that individuals might achieve an elegant fluency in thought and speech that comes through learning the “languages” or “modes” of history, science, practical life, and aesthetics.

Charter school climate: “It doesn’t even mention that there is a dissent”

Pettier vs Charter Day School:

The majority misses the whole purpose of the development of charter schools…. It is essentially dismissive of what charter schools might have to contribute, prejudging them as miscreants that must be brought to heel…. 

The very idea of a different model of schooling has drawn the ire of the public education establishment. As this case shows, any challenge to prevailing educational convention is met by circling the wagons…. 

Student dress codes in particular are unsettling to those who believe, as plaintiffs do here, that they connote feminine inferiority. See Majority Op. at 28. The codes are founded upon ideals of “chivalry,” a word which to the majority suggests male condescension toward women and the need of women for male protection, which in turn robs women of their dignity and independence. Id. at 28–29.

Governance: Cashiered Navy Officers (consequences! No Mulligans?)

Jeff Schogol:

The Navy believes it is worth publicly disclosing whenever admirals in particular have been disciplined for misconduct in order to maintain the public’s trust and confidence in the Department of the Navy’s integrity, Mommsen said. Generally, that standard also applies in cases when allegations of misconduct against commanding officers, executive officers, and senior enlisted leaders have been adjudicated.

Joey Roulette and Eric M. Johnson:

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell sent an email saying the company had investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved” with the letter, the New York Times said.

The newspaper said Shotwell’s email said employees involved with circulating the letter had been fired for making other staff feel “uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views”.

Focus:

It was the third mission for SpaceX in just over 36 hours. The company launched 53 of its Starlink internet satellites on Friday (June 17) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and lofted a radar satellite for the German military from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Saturday (June 18).

Ian Ward:

For one, elites, even when they try to act on public opinion, often have no idea what the public actually wants. At the same time, these studies suggest that studying the defects in elite decision-making may be the first step to correcting them — since at least in some cases, elites are still responsive to public opinion.

Preparing children for the 21st century

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Leaked Audio From 80 Internal TikTok Meetings Shows That US User Data Has Been Repeatedly Accessed From China

Emily Baker-White:

The recordings, which were reviewed by BuzzFeed News, contain 14 statements from nine different TikTok employees indicating that engineers in China had access to US data between September 2021 and January 2022, at the very least. Despite a TikTok executive’s sworn testimony in an October 2021 Senate hearing that a “world-renowned, US-based security team” decides who gets access to this data, nine statements by eight different employees describe situations where US employees had to turn to their colleagues in China to determine how US user data was flowing. US staff did not have permission or knowledge of how to access the data on their own, according to the tapes.

“Everything is seen in China,” said a member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department in a September 2021 meeting. In another September meeting, a director referred to one Beijing-based engineer as a “Master Admin” who “has access to everything.” (While many employees introduced themselves by name and title in the recordings, BuzzFeed News is not naming anyone to protect their privacy.)

The recordings range from small-group meetings with company leaders and consultants to policy all-hands presentations and are corroborated by screenshots and other documents, providing a vast amount of evidence to corroborate prior reports of China-based employees accessing US user data. Their contents show that data was accessed far more frequently and recently than previously reported, painting a rich picture of the challenges the world’s most popular social media app has faced in attempting to disentangle its US operations from those of its parent company in Beijing. Ultimately, the tapes suggest that the company may have misled lawmakers, its users, and the public by downplaying that data stored in the US could still be accessed by employees in China.

Oconomowoc Schools Issue Legal Threat to Parent for Criticizing Age-Inappropriate Material in Classroom; School district hired law firm to send cease and desist letter to local parent

WILL:

The News: The Oconomowoc Area School District (OASD) issued a cease and desist letter to a local parent and activist threatening her with a defamation lawsuit for statements she made in public forums about the use and accessibility of age-inappropriate material. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued a letter to the Oconomowoc Area School District’s attorneys, on behalf of Alexandra Schweitzer, making clear that her public statements do not meet the legal standard for defamation and that her speech is protected by the First Amendment.

The Quotes: WILL President and General Counsel, Rick Esenberg, said, “The Oconomowoc Area School District’s attempt to silence a local mom with legal threats is inappropriate and troubling. The District’s accusations of defamation are weak. This tactic needs to be called out for what it is: bullying a critic.”

Alexandra Schweitzer, recipient of OASD’s cease and desist letter, said, “If the school district wanted to silence me, they have failed. School districts need to know that parents won’t back down and legal threats won’t deter us from looking out for our kids.”

Dr. Elana Fishbein, Founder & President, No Left Turn in Education, said, “Bullying a parent into silence is a dangerous precedent to set in a free society. No Left Turn in Education stands with Alexandra Schweitzer and any American parents petitioning their school boards on matters relating to the education of their children.”

As professors struggle to recruit postdocs, calls for structural change in academia intensify

Katie Langin:

“For the first time I feel my type of job is less rewarding, more frustrating,” says Donna Zhang, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Arizona who is trying to hire multiple postdocs. “To find qualified people, it’s way more difficult than it used to [be]. … It’s very bad.”

For junior faculty members such as Mason, who is going up for tenure next year, the frustrations are even more acute. Her research was already impacted by pandemic-induced lab shutdowns and supply chain disruptions. Cost increases for lab supplies ate into her startup funding. She was excited when she received two grants last year, but now recruiting challenges are adding to her worries. “Any slowing of hiring people is a big stress,” she says.

The current situation is counter to what some predicted 2 years ago when the pandemic hit and faculty job openings dried up. At the time, the fear was that postdocs would stay in their positions longer, leaving few openings for new Ph.D. graduates. But that doesn’t seem to be a concern today. The faculty job market rebounded in 2021, according to a preprint posted on bioRxiv last month. And the wider labor market has seen dramatic changes because of what some are calling “the Great Resignation.”

Civics: The Assange persecution is the greatest threat to Western press freedoms in years. It is also a shining monument to the fraud of American and British self-depictions.

Glenn Greenwald:

The eleven-year persecution of Julian Assange was extended and escalated on Friday morning. The British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, approved the U.S.’s extradition request to send Julian Assange to Virginia to stand trial on eighteen felony charges under the 1917 Espionage Act and other statutes in connection with the 2010 publication by WikiLeaks of thousands of documents showing widespread corruption, deceit, and war crimes by American and British authorities along with their close dictatorial allies in the Middle East. 

This decision is unsurprising — it has been obvious for years that the U.S. and UK are determined to destroy Assange as punishment for his journalism exposing their crimes — yet it nonetheless further highlights the utter sham of American and British sermons about freedom, democracy and a free press. Those performative self-glorifying spectacles are constantly deployed to justify these two countries’ interference in and attacks on other nations, and to allow their citizens to feel a sense of superiority about the nature of their governments. After all, if the U.S. and UK stand for freedom and against tyranny, who could possibly oppose their wars and interventions in the name of advancing such lofty goals and noble values?

Having reported on the Assange case for years, on countless occasions I’ve laid out the detailed background that led Assange and the U.S. to this point. There is thus no need to recount all of that again; those interested can read the granular trajectory of this persecution here or here. Suffice to say, Assange — without having been convicted of any crime other than bail jumping, for which he long ago served out his fifty-week sentence — has been in effective imprisonment for more than a decade.

Cognitive endurance…

Christina L. Brown, Supreet Kaur, Geeta Kingdon & Heather Schofield

Schooling may build human capital not only by teaching academic skills, but by expanding the capacity for cognition itself. We focus specifically on cognitive endurance: the ability to sustain effortful mental activity over a continuous stretch of time. As motivation, we document that globally and in the US, the poor exhibit cognitive fatigue more quickly than the rich across field settings; they also attend schools that offer fewer opportunities to practice thinking for continuous stretches. Using a field experiment with 1,600 Indian primary school students, we randomly increase the amount of time students spend in sustained cognitive activity during the school day—using either math problems (mimicking good schooling) or non-academic games (providing a pure test of our mechanism). Each approach markedly improves cognitive endurance: students show 22% less decline in performance over time when engaged in intellectual activities—listening comprehension, academic problems, or IQ tests. They also exhibit increased attentiveness in the classroom and score higher on psychological measures of sustained attention. Moreover, each treatment improves students’ school performance by 0.09 standard deviations. This indicates that the experience of effortful thinking itself—even when devoid of any subject content—increases the ability to accumulate traditional human capital. Finally, we complement these results with quasi-experimental variation indicating that an additional year of schooling improves cognitive endurance, but only in higher-quality schools. Our findings suggest that schooling disparities may further disadvantage poor children by hampering the development of a core mental capacity.

Civics: Taxpayer Supported Censorship, continued

Michael Shellenberger:

“The tech companies have to stop allowing specific individuals over and over again to spread disinformation.”

After an Axios reporter asked, “Isn’t misinformation and disinfo around climate a threat to public health itself?” McCarthy responded, “Oh, absolutely… We are talking, really, about risks that no longer need to be tolerated to our communities.” 

McCarthy pointed specifically to those who criticized the failure of weather-dependent renewables during the blackouts in Texas in February 2021. But many of those criticisms were factual. Over the last decade in Texas, investors sunkover $53 billion on weather-dependent energy sources, mostly wind turbines, which alongside frozen fossil fuel plants were largely unavailable during the cold snap in February. That was only partly because of the cold and mostly because of low wind speeds.

Notes on Discovery

Eric Gilliam:

Since the last article on WW2-era German science was so well-received, I’ve decided to keep the theme of great pieces of scholarship about scientific history going. This week’s post is largely drawn from the essays of Gerard Holton. Holton’s work is, similar to the scholarship covered in the previous post, criminally under-talked about in the progress studies community. The Holton essays I talk about in this post, largely written between the early 1950s and 1970s, have lasting relevance today.1

Holton would have been best described as a scientific historian; however, as you’ll see in the modeling section of this post, his contributions go beyond that of an ordinary historian. The application of his physicist’s mind and toolkit to the problem of scientific innovation was incredible. Nowadays, we might consider him a social scientist who studied science itself, an early progress studies scholar. And a great one.

In this post I’ll go over:

Sitting in a classroom all day doesn’t work for many kids

Colleen Hroncich:

Some of the innovative education models that are exploding recognize this fact. Forest schoolshybrid schoolsunschooling, and microschools typically offer children flexible ways to learn that can help keep them more engaged than they would be in a conventional classroom.

Another option for students who are looking for a more hands‐​on approach to education is vocational‐​technical school, also known as career and technical education or CTE. This can be particularly important in states like Massachusetts that have no private school choice programs, such as tax credit scholarships or education savings accounts.

Fortunately for students in the Bay State, most of Massachusetts’s voc‐tech schools are producing impressive results. According to Jamie Gass, Director of the Center for School Reform at Pioneer Institute, a 1993 education reform law had a huge impact on voc‐tech schools. “At that time, voc‐tech schools were some of the lowest performing schools,” he says. “Because of their focus on occupational education, they were highly resistant to standards and tests. Eventually they embraced it, though, and they’ve seen the biggest gains of pre‐existing schools.”

Many Districts Doing Less This Summer to Make Up for Lost Learning

Lisa Chu & Christine Pitts:

Despite national attention on bolstering summer school options for students who lost learning time during the pandemic, most large districts have not expanded or improved their 2022 summer programming, according to a review by the Center on Reinventing Public Education. 

Even after an additional year to plan and more federal recovery dollars available, districts’ 2022 summer programs are mostly the same as last year, or have decreased in type and scope, based on our review of summer learning plans for 100 of the nation’s large and urban districts.

Among the 50 districts that publicly post budget documents detailing their American Rescue Plan spending, just 28 are directing federal relief money toward summer school this year, as of our review May 10.

Forget College. Skilled Trades Are the Future of the U.S. Economy

Joel Kotkin:

America is suffering from a worker shortage, but a more persistent and perhaps even urgent problem is the profound lack of skills among younger Americans. American elite universities may still be still regarded as the world’s best, but for most young people, the educational system—from grade school to graduate school—is something of a failure, a critical engine of persistent inequality and diminished competition on the international stage.

This crisis in competence predates the pandemic. So does the very related labor shortage. The percentage of firms reporting shortages of labor more than doubled between 2015 and 2020, to 70 percent. Low birthrates among millennials has created what the forecasting firm EMSI describes as a “demographic drought,” as U.S. population growth between 16 and 64 has dropped from 20 percent in the eighties to less than 5 percent last decade. By 2028, Korn Ferry projects there will be a deficit of at least six million workers.

But the bigger problem is not just numbers; consider that our competitors, notably China, face even more challenging demographics. The big issue is the lack of skills throughout the workforce. From grade to graduate schools, our education is deteriorating.

Civics: China bank protest stopped by health codes turning red, depositors say

Engen Tham:

A protest planned by hundreds of bank depositors in central China seeking access to their frozen funds has been thwarted because the authorities have turned their health code apps red, several depositors told Reuters.

The depositors were planning to travel to the central province of Henan this week from across China to protest against an almost two-month block on accessing at least $178 million of deposits, which has left companies unable to pay workers and individuals unable to access savings. read more

Nebraska Leaves the National school board association

Molly Ashford:

The board of directors for the Nebraska Association of School Boards voted Saturday to formally cut ties with a national organization that spurred controversy last year by calling for federal investigation into threats made against school board members.

This decision comes less than a month after the Nebraska association’s executive committee voted to recommend canceling its membership in the National School Boards Association, a federation of state associations that advocates and lobbies on public education issues.

Saturday’s decision adds Nebraska to a growing list of state school board associations that have distanced themselves or completely cut ties with the NSBA. In a text message, Nebraska association President Brad Wilkins confirmed that they will not pay dues to the NSBA this year. The money would have been due by June 30.

The Espionage Act was passed today in 1917. It helped destroy the Socialist Party of America and quashes free speech to this day.

Chip Gibbons:

The Espionage Act was passed today in 1917. It helped destroy the Socialist Party of America and quashes free speech to this day.

Last week, a little over an hour after the Interceptnonepublished a story about a classified National Security Agency report concerning Russian election interference, Reality Winner, the alleged leaker, was arrested and charged under the Espionage Act.

In recent years, the Espionage Act has been used as a statutory sword against whistleblowers. Donald Trump allegedly told former FBI director James Comey he wanted to prosecute journalists under the statute.

But historically, the Espionage Act is perhaps most significant not for its role in persecuting whistleblowers, but for crushing dissent during World War I.

Nowhere was this crackdown felt more acutely than within the Socialist Party (SP). While never on par with some of its international counterparts, the SP was a genuine mass party that elected countless local officials, sent two members to Congress on its own ballot line, and fostered a vibrant socialist press that reached millions. Its longtime standard-bearer, Eugene Debs, was a nationally known figure.

Ongoing lawfare in Oberlin College’s Loss in the Gibson Bakery Matter

William Jacobson:

As of this writing the court’s electronic docket does not reflect any amicus briefs filed in support of the Gibsons. Oberlin College will have a chance to respond as to the cross-appeal request for jurisdiction.

You may be wondering about the status of the Gibsons’ attempt to collect on the surety bond posted by the college to prevent execution (i.e., collection efforts) on the judgment, which we detailed in Oops – Gibson’s Bakery Seeks To Execute On $36 Million Appeal Bond Since Oberlin College Failed To Obtain Stay Of Appeals Court Mandate. As of this writing, the only filings I see in the trial court docket are an entry of appearance for the surety company and a motion for additional time to respond.

We will, of course, continue to follow the appeal and the surety bond collection effort.

Prenda raises $20M led by 776 to build tech to run K-8 microschools

Ingrid Lunden:

Education took some significant twists and turns when the COVID-19 pandemic descended on the world. We saw a surge of new users, and new tools, around online learning; but we also saw a number of people and organizations more basically start to rethink how to get the best out of learning environments overall. (In fact, education went through many of the same changes as many enterprise verticals facing digital transformation around newly distributed teams, in that regard.)

Today, a startup called Prenda, which has built a platform to enable one permutation of delivering education — by way of tuition-free microschools of 10 students or fewer — is announcing $20 million in funding to expand its business and its vision.

Carnegie Mellon’s Tuition and Spending Increases

Alexa Schwerha:

Carnegie Mellon University will issue a one-time payment to select employees meant to alleviate the impact of inflation at the same time it is increasing undergraduate tuition by 4% to $59,864.

A singular $1,500 payment will be delivered by the end of the month to select employees to provide relief for the increased cost of food, gas, energy, and transportation.

“The goal is to assist employees in addressing the impacts of inflation that have been so prevalent over the past several months,” University President Farnam Jahanian stated in a staff-wide message on Tuesday.

Simultaneously, the university estimates that first-year students will have to pay $76,660 for the 2022-2023 academic year. That number includes rates for a “standard double room” and a “traditional first-year meal plan.”

Faculty and staff hired prior to July 1, including temporary staff, will be eligible to receive the payment. However, the website lists a slew of staffers who are ineligible to receive relief: union members, interns, and part-time adjuncts.

Biden Administration Sues a City Over “Rampant Overspending on Teacher Salaries”

Ira Still:

How much has Rochester been “overspending?” The website Seethroughny.com, a project of the Empire Center for Public Policy, lists 717 Rochester City School District Employees who earned more than $100,000 in 2019. The district has about 25,000 K-12 public school students, according to the state of New York. Spending runs about $20,000, a little below the statewide average. Whether that amounts to “overspending” probably depends on one’s view of how much the children are learning, and also one’s view of whether the students could learn more, and how much more, if more money were spent.

The teachers may point out that they earn less the SEC staff, who average more than $200,000 a year, according to the FederalPay.org, which tracks government pay. Though the SEC may counter that its lawyers can earn much more at corporate law firms, a consideration that may be less applicable to Rochester teachers.

In practice, the legal aspects of the case will probably turn more on considerations about disclosure to potential bond buyers than about the details of the spending on teacher salaries.

Even so, the mere mention of securities law and bondholders as potential tools to curb school district “overspending” is intriguing, especially when the action comes under a president who campaigned promising to increase school spending so as to pay teachers “competitive salaries.” For years, reformers have complained that teachers unions capture school boards and run school systems for the benefit of adults rather than children. Now a different set of influential adults—bondholders—is, in a way, asserting, via the SEC, its own claim that could be a countervailing force.

SEC Press Release.

“This article has been amended since publication to clarify the ACLU’s position was in a tweet rather than their statement”

Edward Luce:

In contrast, voters think they know what the party believes about illegal immigration, defunding the police, transgender participation in girls sports and Zoom-biased teachers’ unions. Most do not like these stances. This applies as much to non-white as to white voters.

As Ruy Teixeira, a veteran political scientist, says: the Democratic brand is “somewhere between uncompelling and toxic to wide swaths of American voters, who might potentially be their allies”. The fact that Teixeira is saying this ought to make Democrats take notice. He was co-author of the seminal book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, which argued that racial trends would make Democratic rule inevitable. This remains an article of faith among election consultants. Yet Texieira has changed his mind.

Alison Collins, the head of San Francisco’s education board who was ejected earlier this year, said that “‘merit’ is an inherently racist construct designed and centred on white supremacist framing”. Such thinking drove Collins to switch San Francisco’s biggest selective school from merit-based application to a lottery system. Liberals nationwide are pushing to end standardised tests altogether. Yet most voters, including African Americans, reject this as the soft bigotry of low expectations.

But its upper echelons are dominated by a white college-educated activist class that is used to talking with itself.

Civics: Twitter, fake news, bots and “shadow bans

Andrea Stoppa:

In particular, Musk asked for clarification about whether Twitter engages in “shadow bans” to limit the visibility of some users and their content. In 2018, Twitter stated that it does not use the technique and that any apparent “bans” were the result of technical problems.

But a year later, Twitter updated its terms of service to say that it may obscure the content of some users at its discretion. And in a paper published last year, three European researchers analyzed more than 2.5 million Twitter accounts, looking for cases where the visibility of a user’s posts appeared to have been reduced. They said they found “a good indicator of the presence of groups of shadow-banned users on the service.”

Twitter leadership is aware of such problems, but instead of confronting them, it has vilified Musk. That’s a mistake. Twitter’s long-term survival depends not just on its finances, but on the level of trust it inspires users and advertisers. If the platform is infested with bots, spam and fake accounts, the user experience deteriorates. If users have doubts about how the algorithm suggests topics or if some users believe Twitter silences them because of their ideas, Twitter cannot ignore the call for transparency and accountability.

Event: A look at taxpayer funded Wisconsin School Performance

June 20, noon CT

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued the fourth edition of the Apples to Apples report, a definitive and objective analysis of Wisconsin school performance across sectors. This year’s report, the first in three years due to pandemic disruption of the Forward Exam, finds that Milwaukee’s choice and charter schools continue to perform better, on average, than traditional public schools in Milwaukee. But the pandemic has taken a toll as proficiency rates across all schools, statewide, has dropped below 40% for the first time.

Join WILL Director of Education Policy & Legal Counsel Libby Sobic and Research Director Will Flanders for a noon webinar as we dive deeper into our findings and how Wisconsin school choice options continue to provide a performance advantage when demographics of a school are accounted for.Time

Jun 20, 2022 12:00 PM in Central Time (US and Canada)

Milwaukee taxpayer funded union leave teacher political activity policy changed

WILL:

The Milwaukee Public School Board voted to amend a union leave policy, subject of a lawsuit from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), to make clear that employees may only use such time for activities that are politically and ideologically “view-point neutral.” WILL sued the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) in July, on behalf of a Milwaukee taxpayer, alleging the previous wording of the policy amounted to a violation of the First Amendment’s ban on compelled speech. As a result of this amendment, WILL recently stipulated to a dismissal of the case.

The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel, Lucas Vebber, said, “We are pleased that the MPS Board took efforts to clarify this policy. Taxpayers now have a better understanding of how these public resources are being used and what oversight is in place.”

WILL client, Dan Sebring, said, “I am pleased that this policy has been clarified. When I left public office and people asked me why, I told them that I’ve found that I can be more effective as an activist than a public official – and this is case in point!”

Civics: Political Consequences of the Protestant Reformation, Part III

Frances Fukuyama:

The social contract establishing the state is an agreement on the part of citizens to give up their natural freedom to deprive others of their lives, in return for protection of their own rights. The horizon of politics was thereby lowered: instead of seeking the good life, as determined by religious doctrine, the modern state would seek merely to preserve life itself and relegate disputes over the good life to private life. Though Hobbes and Locke represented different sides in an enduring controversy between English liberals and conservatives, the conceptual distance separating them was not great. John Locke accepted Hobbes’ natural right framework, and argued that governments could also violate those rights, leading to a right on the part of citizens to resist governments that did not receive popular consent. Political legitimacy in liberal societies would henceforth be based on “consent of the governed.” Locke directly influenced Thomas Jefferson and the American Founding Fathers, who declared their independence from Britain on the basis of the protection of their rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Liberalism originated in a pragmatic compromise between religious factions that understood that they would be better off settling for religious tolerance than seeking their maximal goals of a religiously grounded polity. But the stability of this system depended also on the emergence of ideas that legitimated a regime preserving individual rights. Individualism was deeply ingrained in English culture from well before the Reformation, but the Reformation’s emphasis on inner faith cemented the view that all human beings were autonomous agents who were subject to God’s grace as individuals. In later years the religious component underlying notions of agency would erode, but the individualism would remain as a foundational principle of modern Western civilization.

Act 10 and ongoing political battles

Bill Lueders

The issue has come up in a different form before. In 2011 La Follette, at the direction of a Dane County judge, refused to publish the passed version of Act 10, the state law kneecapping public employee unions. The state Supreme Court, then as now dominated by conservatives, ruled that the judge had exceeded her jurisdiction in putting a hold on the law, meaning there was nothing to preclude La Follette from publishing the bill. Two years later, the Legislature passed a bill that stripped the secretary of state of the power to delay publication of new laws.

Loudenbeck’s campaign did not respond to an inquiry for this article asking whether she believes the statute cited by Schroeder gives the secretary of state legal authority to deny an election result by refusing to sign and whether she would have sought to use this authority to block the 2020 election result.

The third GOP contender for secretary of state on the Aug. 9 ballot, Daniel Schmidtka, also did not respond to the same query. He declares on his website that the “mission” of his campaign is “abolishing the Wisconsin Election Commission and returning oversight and certification of elections to the Secretary of State.”

Much more on Act 10, here.

Parents are worried kids don’t spend enough time outdoors: poll

Brooke Steinberg

Alaska, Arizona, Missouri, North Dakota and Wyoming parents are able to get their kids outside for an average of six hours a week.

Reasons parents encourage their children to play outside included getting fresh air (51 percent), taking a break from screen time (47 percent) and exercise (42 percent).

Of the parents surveyed, 75 percent said creating memories of playing outdoors with their children is a top priority. More than three-quarters agreed that most of their time growing up was spent playing outside, while just under three-quarters feel that kids in this generation don’t appreciate the outdoors as much as their generation.

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