New taxpayer supported Madison K-12 superintendent to prioritize students’ mental, emotional health

Scott Girard:

The new Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent stressed the importance of community buy-in during his introductory press conferenceWednesday.

Carlton Jenkins, hired in early July, began in the role Aug. 4. He said he will focus on improving reading abilities, improving student mental health and rebuilding trust during his first year on the job, stressing the importance of conversations with the community.

“I’m not saying that we’re going to agree on everything,” Jenkins said. But “we’re not going to shy away from having tough conversations.”

Amid the ongoing pandemic, the former Memorial High School associate principal said social and emotional learning for students will be especially important, and the “community’s going to be big during this first year” in supporting students’ needs.

The board hired Jenkins over the other finalist, Carol Kelley of Oak Park School District 97 in Illinois, in its second search of the school year. Its choice from the first search, Matthew Gutierrez, rescinded his acceptance and chose to remain in his Texas school district to help it recover from the pandemic.

Logan Wroge:

A self-described “data geek,” Jenkins said he enjoys using the little bit of free time he has reading, spending time in the mountains and playing with his grandson.

“I would like to say thank you to the Madison community for demonstrating trust in myself to lead this wonderful staff as we continue on our journey and try to build on the momentum that has already started here,” Jenkins said.

New school year

As a top priority, Jenkins said Madison needs to “unapologetically” look at ways to improve reading outcomes in a district with wide racial achievement gaps; 9% of Black students scored proficient or higher in reading on a state exam in 2018-19 compared with 57% of white students.

Costs continue to grow for local, state and federal taxpayers in the K-12 space, as well:

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

(Note: “Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.)

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

From Covid to parenthood, judging each other is back with a vengeance

Robert Shrimsley:

An old friend has a theory. The way we look at other people’s responses to the Covid regulations reminds her of the early weeks of parenthood. Just as new parents respond viscerally to others behaving differently, so we are equally agitated by those taking a different approach to the virus.

One of the reasons we react so strongly to those following a different path is that to the judgmental — and if there is one thing this virus has made all of us it is more judgmental — the actions of others stand as a rebuke to our own choices.

Of course there is far more to it. The primary responses right now are driven by fear, anger and notions of fairness. The most frightened resent the less cautious; those more concerned with the social cost resent the fearful. Those struggling to cope resent the well-heeled demanding restrictions whose impact they cannot comprehend.

But there is definitely something to my friend’s theory. Her argument runs that in the first weeks of parenthood you feel you are being constantly judged by others, often people you do not know. Strangers feel entitled to advise you where you are going wrong and you sense disapproval everywhere.

As a new parent you are hurled into a world for which you are little prepared and your child-rearing choices feel like a statement of who you are. From the debates over epidurals to the arguments over breast milk and sleep training, every decision is a cause of angst.

Difficult.

Matthew 7:

1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Commentary on $, teacher, student, parent and community interests in Arizona

Arizona free enterprise club:

The would-be school year is fast approaching and thousands of parents across Arizona are panicking. 

How will their children learn this year?  When will they have a physical place to go?  Will parents be able to return to work?  Will they have to pay for tutors out of pocket? 

With most of the critical reopening decisions now in the hands of Superintendent Kathy Hoffman, school districts and ultimately the teachers’ union, it’s obvious now that crafting a system that works for parents and kids won’t be the top priority for the educational establishment.  Every decision from here on out will be to cater to the desires of administrators and teachers. Period.

Come August 17th, district school families will be forced to accept whatever dysfunctional Covid-schooling platform that is thrusted into their laps.  Parents of low-income families will be hit the hardest, especially those who can’t work from home. Special needs children will be hung out to dry. Kids in abusive households will continue to have no escape from a hostile environment.

And if any parent or taxpayer questions why their needs appear to be secondary to those of the educational establishment, they are immediately shouted down and told that they just want people to die.  So what if your child needs in person learning—you should just accept paying unlimited amounts in taxes to feed a substandard educational system that only adds to the chaos in your life.

K-12 Tax, Referendum & Spending Climate: In Coronavirus Bill, Democrats Push Massive Tax Cut For The Rich

Elle Reynolds:

As the White House and House and Senate leaders continue trying to decide how to distribute more deficit spending on items tagged “coronavirus,” Democrats have come under fire for pushing a $137 billion tax break for the wealthy. The proposal, which was also part of a 1,800-page bill the Democrat-led House passed in May, would remove the current $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions from federal taxes through 2021.

The richest Americans use this tax break, which effectively subsidizes high-tax states by lowering their fiscal burdens to high-income taxpayers. The Tax Policy Center, an affiliate of the Brookings Institution, estimated the proposal would give an average tax cut of $33,000 to the top 1 percent of income earners. Over half of the benefits of the proposal would go to that top 1 percent.

Costs continue to grow for local, state and federal taxpayers in the K-12 space, as well:

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

(Note: “Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.)

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Quincy Local Refuses to Endorse Massachusetts Teachers Association Reopening Statement

Mike Antonucci:

The Massachusetts Teachers Association has been active since the COVID-19 shutdown — surveying members, holding meetings and issuing guidelines and policies. The state union hasn’t been shy about providing bargaining instructions to local affiliates, some of which go beyond the standard problems associated with reopening.

Last week the MTA board of directors approved a policy statement, which it then sent to all locals, asking for them to hold a vote to endorse the statement. Here it is, in full:

Educators across Massachusetts miss their students and are eager to resume learning in person – as that is how education is supposed to be. Our greatest collective obligations, however, are to keep students, educators, families and communities out of harm’s way and to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 in our communities and across the state. Therefore, the districts and the state must demonstrate that health and safety conditions and negotiated public health benchmarks are met before buildings reopen.

The different abilities of communities to meet these standards reflect the profound inequality of our society by class and race. The legacy of structural racism through community disinvestment has left Black, Latinx and Indigenous students, educators and communities with higher risk factors and worse outcomes, all while depriving them of resources to meet these standards. Middle-class and affluent communities will be better suited to meet necessary health and safety benchmarks.

The space between our heads

Mark Dingemanse:

In a nondescript building in Seattle, a man sits strapped to a chair with his right hand resting on a touchpad. Pressed against his skull is a large magnetic coil that can induce an electrical current in the brain, a technique known as transcranial magnetic stimulation. The coil is positioned in such a way that a pulse will result in a hand movement. A mile away in another building, another man looks at a screen while 64 electrodes in a shower cap record his brain activity using electro-encephalography. Rough activation patterns are fed back to the computer so that he, by concentrating, can move a dot a small distance on the screen. As he focuses, a simple signal derived from the brain activity is transmitted to the first building, where another computer tells the magnetic coil to deliver its pulse. The first man’s hand jolts upward, then falls down on the touchpad, where the input is registered as a move in a video game. Then a cannon is fired and a city is saved – by two bodies acting as one.

As gameplay goes, the result might seem modest, but it has far-reaching implications for human interaction – at least if we believe the team of scientists at the University of Washington led by the computer scientist Rajesh Rao who ran this experiment. This is one of the first prototypes of brain-to-brain interfaces in humans. From the sender’s motionless concentration to the receiver’s involuntary twitch, they form a single distributed system, connected by wires instead of words. ‘Can information that is available in the brain be transferred directly in the form of the neural code, bypassing language altogether?’ the scientists wondered in writing up the results. A Barcelona team reached a similar result with people as far apart as India and France. With a gush of anticipation, they exclaim: ‘There is now the possibility of a new era in which brains will dialogue in a more direct way.’

The popular media has been quick to jump on the bandwagon as the prototypes make global headlines. Big Think declared brain-to-brain interfaces ‘the next great leap in human communication’. The tech entrepreneur Elon Musk speculated about how a neural prosthetic to be made by one of his own companies might ‘solve the data rate issue’ of human communication. The idea is that, given high bandwidth physical connectivity, language will simply become obsolete. Will we finally be able to escape the tyranny of words and enjoy the instant sharing of ideas?

Chicago-Area Leaders Call for Illinois to Abolish History Classes

NBC5 Chicago:

Leaders in education, politics and other areas gathered in suburban Evanston Sunday to ask that the Illinois State Board of Education change the history curriculum at schools statewide, and temporarily halt instruction until an alternative is decided upon.

At a news conference, State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford said current history teachings lead to a racist society and overlook the contributions of women and minorities.

Before the event Sunday, Rep. Ford’s office distributed a news release “Rep. Ford Today in Evanston to Call for the Abolishment of History Classes in Illinois Schools,” in which Ford asked the ISBOE and school districts to immediately remove history curriculum and books that “unfairly communicate” history “until a suitable alternative is developed.”

Politicians vs. Catholic Education

Wall Street Journal:

So were many religious schools including those in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “Our goal is to strike a balance between preventing the spread of COVID-19 and providing children with the education, nutrition, physical activity, and mental health benefits provided through the reopening of Catholic schools,” the Archdiocese Superintendent of Schools Paul Escala recently said.

Many parochial schools were struggling before the pandemic amid increased competition from charter schools that don’t charge tuition and a decline in religious vocations. Hundreds have closed over the past several years, and 90 have announced plans to do so in recent months amid declining collections from church parishioners that help fund teacher salaries and student scholarships.

Most parents who send their kids to Catholic schools aren’t wealthy, and many aren’t even Catholic. They scrimp and save to provide their kids with a quality education that includes religious values, as well as the discipline and civility that are often missing in public schools. While public schools have a monopoly, Catholic schools have to compete for students.

Higher Ed and the Fragmentation of America

Orrin Hatch:

Some physicists believe the cosmos is home to an infinite number of bubble-shaped, parallel universes. The same theory could describe today’s American politics.

Somewhere between the rise of cable news and social media, our shared sense of reality splintered. We live in an era of endless political narratives, in which the phrase “my truth” is supposed to be taken seriously. Algorithms built to confirm pre-existing biases shape our social media feeds and opinions. Living in our own bespoke information bubbles, Americans today cannot agree on the existence of facts, let alone what the facts are. All this has serious implications for public discourse on the most difficult issues facing society—from racial injustice to Covid-19.

We are living through an information revolution arguably more disruptive than Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press. Before Gutenberg, one narrative of reality predominated Western society. By democratizing access to the written word, the press overthrew Rome’s monopoly on ideas and allowed competing interpretations to proliferate. That took Europe from the Middle Ages to the modern era. It precipitated the Reformation, the Renaissance and the American Founding.

Read the Letter GOP Legislators Sent to Superintendents Pressuring Them to Reopen Schools

Upnorthnews:

A still unknown number of school superintendents across Wisconsin are receiving a letter from top Assembly Republicans –the people who control the purse strings to state education funds – strongly urging them to consider reopening their schools rather than opting for virtual learning this fall, according to a copy of the letter obtained by UpNorthNews.

The letter is being criticized as a power grab and a potential risk to educators’ and students’ health.

Dated July 29, the letter is signed by 47 of the Assembly’s 63 Republican members, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester; Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna; and Assistant Majority Leader Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma.

In it they say the state is “minimally obligated” to provide a sound education to state students and ask the superintendents “to consider opening your doors this fall to provide every student with an in-class experience.”

An Introduction to Statistical Learning

Gareth James, Daniela Witten, Trevor Hastie and Robert Tibshirani:

“An Introduction to Statistical Learning (ISL)” by James, Witten, Hastie and Tibshirani is the “how to” manual for statistical learning. Inspired by “The Elements of Statistical Learning” (Hastie, Tibshirani and Friedman), this book provides clear and intuitive guidance on how to implement cutting edge statistical and machine learning methods. ISL makes modern methods accessible to a wide audience without requiring a background in Statistics or Computer Science. The authors give precise, practical explanations of what methods are available, and when to use them, including explicit R code. Anyone who wants to intelligently analyze complex data should own this book.              Larry Wasserman, Professor, Department of Statistics and Department of Machine Learning, CMU.

Madison School District considers update to restraint and seclusion policy

Scott Girard:

The Madison Metropolitan School District is considering an update to its policy on restraint and seclusion of students after a state law change earlier this year.

Staff presented the proposal to the School Board Monday. Board members had a few questions about training and definitions, but generally supported the changes. They are expected to vote on the policy later this month.

The notification changes require districts to report data to the board and the state Department of Public Instruction, schools to provide a written report to parents, and principals to meet with staff or law enforcement involved in an incident. The new state law also prohibits the use of prone restraints, or those that involve staff taking a child to the floor to restrain them, and using rooms with a lock on the door for seclusion.

Physical restraint, according to the district’s definition in its presentation Monday, “means a restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to freely move their torso, arms, legs, or head.” A brief touch or hold of a student’s hand, arm, shoulder or back to comfort or redirect the student does not fit the definition.

Seclusion is “the involuntary confinement of a student, apart from other students, in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving,” according to the presentation.

MMSD’s policy update would also remove words like “reasonable” to describe some uses of physical restraint, and prohibit restraints that “obstruct the student’s circulation” like those that cause chest compression or place weight on the student’s neck or throat.

2005: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

1995-2006: Police Calls – Madison Schools.

Auburn lecturer’s anti-cop tweets ‘inexcusable’ as university ‘continues to assess’ his future

Howard Koplowitz:

Auburn University is assessing the future of a lecturer who tweeted anti-police profanity earlier this week as the school said the behavior is “inexcusable and completely antithetical to the Auburn creed.”

Jesse Goldberg, who was hired as a part-time lecturer of American literature and composition at Auburn, has since locked his tweets from being publicly seen, but WRBL reported that the incoming lecturer espoused anti-police views on his social media pages.

“F*ck every single cop. Every single one,” read one of Goldberg’s tweets, according to the station. “The only ethical choice for any cop to make at this point is to refuse to do their job and quit. The police do not protect people. They protect capital. They are instruments of violence on behalf of capital.”

Auburn condemned Goldberg’s social media activity in a statement Friday to AL.com.

“As stated earlier this week, Mr. Goldberg’s comments on social media are inexcusable and completely antithetical to the Auburn Creed. Higher education is built upon the premise of the free expression of ideas and academic dialogue, but Auburn has not and will never support views that exclude or disrespect others, including hateful speech that degrades law enforcement professionals. Mr. Goldberg was hired on a temporary, non-tenure-track assignment,” the university said.

A Dry Run at a Socially Distanced Classroom

Anna McLoon and Sarah K. Berke:

To prepare for the upcoming fall semester, faculty members in the School of Science at Siena College tested three scenarios for a socially distanced classroom based on published guidelines from the New York State Governor’s Office and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Given our class sizes, we have had to plan for some students to take courses in person and a portion of the class to connect remotely. We took an empirical approach to: 1) evaluate how the classroom functions given recommended masking and six-foot spacing, 2) examine how easily in-person and remote students can interact, and 3) identify unforeseen logistical challenges.

We primarily did this for our own benefit, but the experience has proven highly valuable not only to us as participants but also to other colleagues at Siena. Thus, we’d like to share our impressions with the broader academic community.

Please note that we are not evaluating the safety of campus plans for fall 2020 — we have merely sought to discover the practical implications of the published guidelines upon our pedagogy. Indeed, many participants have significant concerns that even the current recommendations calling for reduced occupancy and masking might prove insufficient to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Global Implications of “Re-education” Technologies in Northwest China

Darren Byler:

The global COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that Chinese technology companies are at the cutting edge of surveillance innovation and predictive analytics. In April 2020, Amazon, the wealthiest technology company in the world, received a shipment of 1,500 heat-sensing camera systems from the Chinese surveillance company Dahua. Many of these cameras, which are worth approximately $10 million, will be installed in Amazon warehouses to monitor the heat signatures of employees and alert managers if workers exhibit COVID-19-like symptoms. Other cameras included in the shipment will be distributed to IBM and Chrysler, among other buyers. 

In 2017, Dahua received over $900 million to build comprehensive surveillance systems which supported a “re-education” system of extra-legal internment, checkpoints, and ideological training for Muslim populations in northwestern China. Since then, the U.S. Department of Commerce placed it on a list of companies banned from buying or selling in the United States. Yet despite the legal and ethical ramifications of buying products from Dahua, Amazon continues to do business with them. 

With the help of Dahua and hundreds of other private and public Chinese companies, as many as 1.5 million Uighurs and Kazakhs have been “disappeared” into a widespread system of “re-education camps” in the Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang).[1] Nearly all Uighurs and Kazakhs in China have an immediate family member who is, or has been, interned in this camp system. Uighurs now refer to themselves as a “people destroyed.” As I observed during a research trip to the region in 2018, many Uighur-owned businesses have closed across the country. Whole streets have been abandoned in Uighur towns and villages. Because of the re-education system, it is likely that within a single generation Muslim embodied practice and Turkic languages in Northwest China will cease to provide essential ways for Uighurs and Kazakhs to sustain their knowledge systems.[2] This process affects every aspect of their lives not only due to mass detentions, but also because of the way biometric and data surveillance systems supporting the camps have been used to monitor and transform their behavior.[3] 

With Budgets Under Pressure, Colleges Cut Country-Club Staples Like Golf and Tennis

Melissa Korn:

Colleges eager to cut costs amid a financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic have settled on an easy target: low-profile sports that don’t draw many spectators, attract a disproportionate number of white or foreign athletes and are relatively pricey to operate.

Schools ranging from highly selective private institutions like Stanford University to public institutions including the University of Connecticut and the University of Akron are scrapping varsity teams for sports such as rowing, fencing, tennis and squash.

The teams have small rosters and require expensive facilities. They also don’t make money for their schools. Dartmouth College, which is eliminating its golf program, will also shutter the Hanover Country Club after losing more than $1 million annually on the property.

Football and men’s basketball, which tend to be the biggest revenue drivers for Division I college athletics thanks to TV broadcast deals and ticket sales, aren’t being cut, though their fall schedules are shifting due to public health concerns.

Many universities are expecting lower tuition revenue as families face their own financial crises. They are also spending heavily on personal protective gear to try to bring at least some students back to campus safely this fall.

Pandemic Education Scholarships

Wall Street Journal:

Most of the GOP Senate’s $1 trillion pandemic spending proposal unveiled Monday isn’t money well spent. But it does have at least one useful idea: scholarships for children to attend the schools of their choice in the fall.

The bill would appropriate $70 billion for K-12 schools plus $5 billion that governors can spend at their discretion. Two-thirds of the K-12 funding is designated for schools that physically reopen. Those that continue online education don’t need more money for protective equipment and other safety supplies and will save money on overhead.

Here’s the innovation: Republicans also require that states share their K-12 funds with private schools based on the number of low-income students, and the bill authorizes state scholarships for students who attend private schools or are home-schooled. Many private schools are doing the work to reopen safely in places where public schools stay closed.

The Making of a College-Admissions Con Man

Jennifer Levitz and Melissa Korn:

Seventeen years before he pleaded guilty to running the nationwide college-admissions cheating scheme exposed by federal authorities last year in Operation Varsity Blues, William “Rick” Singer made a strong impression in Omaha, Neb., where he showed how far he was willing to go to propel a mediocre youth basketball team to victory.

Mr. Singer, who had already sold his first college-counseling business, was in Omaha in 2002 as part of a career detour into managing telephone call centers. When he arrived to take a job at the Omaha-based West Corporation, he volunteered to coach a slumping team of middle-schoolers at the Jewish Community Center. The young crew didn’t know what hit them.

Practices, once just an hour long, now ran for two or three hours. Mr. Singer raced along the sideline during games, cursing, barking orders and chewing out players who didn’t seem to be trying hard enough. The effort paid off. The second-rate squad began dominating the league, and former player Alex Epstein remembers his coach somewhat fondly: “I think he inspired me to want to get better because he was hard on us.”

But Mr. Singer pushed still harder. He encouraged the team to rack up embarrassing leads, he hounded referees. Mr. Epstein remembers him once challenging a parent from an opposing team to step outside. While prepping the JCC’s high-school boys’ team for a huge summer sports competition for Jewish athletes, he brought in a tall student whom the other teens suspected was a ringer from a local Catholic prep school, says a former player. “The kids were scared of him, and the parents were half-scared of him,” recalls Bob Franzese, then the JCC’s athletic director. “He wouldn’t take his foot off the gas. He took this as a personal challenge, and it went too far.”

Back-to-College Plans Devolve Into a Jumble of Fast-Changing Rules

Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn:

Spelman College announced on July 1 that the Atlanta campus would welcome back students to dorms and classrooms for the fall semester. Last week it reversed course. Classes would be online only.

In Waterville, Maine, Colby College plans to open most of its campus to students and faculty with one of the more ambitious testing protocols in higher education. The small school expects to administer about 85,000 Covid-19 tests this fall, including testing students, faculty and staff at least three times during the opening weeks of the academic term.

About 50 miles away, first-year students will be among the only ones on campus at Bowdoin College. “It was not prudent to bring everyone back,” said Clayton Rose, the college president. “We’re walking before we run.”

With fall semester just a few weeks away, the Covid-19 pandemic has stumped the brightest minds at universities across the U.S. There is no consensus about how college campuses are going to open, and what they will look like if they do. There are as many plans as there are institutions, and their guidebooks are being written in pencil, leaving families and students in limbo.

At stake are the health and well-being of more than 20 million students, faculty and staff—as well as billions of dollars in revenue from tuition, dormitories, dining halls and sports competitions. If colleges allow students back on campus, they could be inviting a public-health nightmare. Yet keeping classes online risks a drop in enrollment by students transferring elsewhere or sitting out the year. The University of Michigan, which plans to have students on campus, estimated this spring that its losses from the pandemic could reach $1 billion.

“College presidents are basically in an impossible situation,” said Robert Kelchen, an associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University. “If they announce they’re going online too soon, they run the risk of losing students and probably making some alumni mad at them. If they open up in person there are serious health concerns, and they run the risk of protests and a vote of no-confidence.”

Waunakee school board reverses decision on all-virtual start to school year

WKOW-TV:

The Waunakee Community School District Board of Education voted to reverse its decision on an all-virtual start to the school year.

During a meeting Monday night [video], members of the board talked about recent coronavirus numbers and learning options that would best fit the community.

In a 4-3 vote, the board was in favor of a four-day schedule for K-4 students. The younger children will have half-days, either AM or PM, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

During the meeting, parents expressed they were interested in having their kids attend in-person classes, especially at that young age.

“I believe that in-person schooling is in the best interest of the kids, and that’s what we need to be focused on,” one parent said.

However, some teachers expressed their concerns for students and members of the community.

“I am extremely concerned about the safety of our students, teachers and community members,” Molly Petroff, the music department chair said.

“Teachers have access to materials in their classrooms that are not available at home,” – despite million$ spent on Infinite Campus

Costs continue to grow for local, state and federal taxpayers in the K-12 space, as well:

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

(Note: “Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.)

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

School teachers from across the state protest for a virtual fall semester

Tamia Fowlkes:

Protesters from four of Wisconsin’s largest cities gathered Monday in a National Day of Resistance caravan to demand that legislators and superintendents make the fall 2020 academic semester completely virtual.

Educator unions, community organizations and advocates from Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee and Racine traveled to the Capitol, the state Department of Public Instruction and the state Department of Health Services.

“We have districts marching teachers and students into an unsafe position in which teachers and students are likely to contract COVID,” said Angelina Cruz, president of Racine Educators United. “It is unsafe, because our schools are not fully funded in a way that can address all of the safety concerns we have.”

The caravan, which started in Kenosha, traveled through Racine and Milwaukee before arriving in Madison about 1 p.m. Teacher unions from Beaver Dam, Cudahy, Greendale, Middleton, Oak Creek, South Milwaukee and St. Francis also joined the effort to push for virtual school in the fall.

Similar marches and caravans calling for safe schools took place in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

Organizers of the Wisconsin caravan wrote a letter July 20 to Gov. Tony Evers, Superintendent of Public Instruction Carolyn Stanford Taylor and Secretary of Health Services Andrea Palm, detailing their dissatisfaction with the state’s resources and social distancing practices in schools.

The growing COVID-19 outbreak has some teachers fearing for their lives, organizers said.

A Milwaukee attorney is offering free wills to teachers returning to classrooms in the fall, noted Tanya Kitts-Lewinski, president of the Kenosha Education Association and co-organizer of the protests. “Educators are afraid, to say the least,” she said.

“Teachers have access to materials in their classrooms that are not available at home,” – despite million$ spent on Infinite Campus

Costs continue to grow for local, state and federal taxpayers in the K-12 space, as well:

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

(Note: “Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.)

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 Schools’ fall plan includes Sept. 8 virtual start, MSCR child care for up to 1,000 kids

Scott Girard:

District administrators outlined the latest updates to the “Instructional Continuity Plan” Monday night for the School Board’s Instruction Work Group. Board members expressed appreciation to staff for their efforts and asked questions about engaging students and ensuring they get some social experiences despite the restrictions of the virtual environment.

The district announced July 17 it would begin the year virtually through at least Oct. 30 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It plans to re-evaluate the possibility for in-person instruction in the weeks ahead of each new quarter within the school year.

Staff moved abruptly to online learning this spring, along with many districts around the state and country as schools closed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. While its effectiveness got mixed reviews from families and staff, district officials hope that spending the next month focused on virtual learning and providing professional development to staff can help make the fall a better experience.

“We are focusing on the priority standards for students that are required to accelerate learning,” said assistant superintendent for teaching and learning Lisa Kvistad.

Logan Wroge:

Despite Madison students beginning the new school year with all-online learning, more than 1,000 elementary students could be inside school buildings in September under a district initiative to provide child care.

The Madison School District plans to offer child care for up to 1,000 students at 15 elementary schools and at the Allied Learning Center, potentially using federal COVID-19 relief money to pay for the $1 million initiative. Students in the school-based child care settings will still learn online using iPads and Chromebooks.

The district is also partnering with child care providers to run programs inside other elementary schools and at community sites for up to another potential 1,000 students, who the district would feed and transport.

“Teachers have access to materials in their classrooms that are not available at home,” – despite million$ spent on Infinite Campus

Costs continue to grow for local, state and federal taxpayers in the K-12 space, as well:

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

(Note: “Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.)

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Madison School Board approves members, plans for safety and security committee

Scott Girard:

Two weeks ago, the committee was set to include 14 people and not have the exclusionary practices bullet among its charges. But board member Ali Muldrow asked that the committee include disproportionality in its discussions, and other board members asked that the membership be expanded to ensure all high schools were well-represented.

According to the plan approved Monday, board member Savion Castro and board president Gloria Reyes will co-chair the committee. They will be joined by two students, two staff members and one parent from La Follette; two staff members from each of Memorial and East; and one staff member, one parent and one student from West.

2005: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

1995-2006: Police Calls – Madison Schools.

I’m a Nurse in New York. Teachers Should Do Their Jobs, Just Like I Did.

Kristen McConnell:

The other day my husband, a public-school teacher in New York City, got a string of texts from a work friend. After checking in on our family and picking up their ongoing conversation about books and TV shows, she wrote, “So, are we going on a teacher strike in the fall?”

“What!? No!” My husband is adamantly against a strike, because he understands on a deep, personal level his duty to serve his country in the classroom.

We have two young children, one of whom is developmentally disabled, and I’m an intensive-care nurse. Through the spring, I took care of COVID-19 patients at the hospital while he toggled between teaching on Zoom and helping our daughters through their own lessons. He knows that I did my part for society, and that now he should, too.

We wouldn’t be in this mess of uncertainty about the coming school year if the federal government had managed to control the virus; any glimmer of leadership from the president would have gone a long way. Grievances and fear are understandable. I support teacher-led campaigns to make sure that safety measures are in place. And any city or state experiencing a spike in cases should keep schools shut, along with indoor businesses.

What I don’t support is preemptively threatening “safety strikes,” as the American Federation of Teachers did in late July. These threats run counter to the fact that, by and large, school districts are already fine-tuning social-distancing measures and mandating mask-wearing. Teachers are not being asked to work without precautions, but some overlook this: the politics of mask-wearing have gotten so ridiculous that many seem to believe masks only protect other people, or are largely symbolic. They’re not. Nurses and doctors know that masks do a lot to keep us safe, and that other basics such as hand-washing and social distancing are effective at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

‘Wary’ Teachers Now Opposed to Both Online and In-Person Classes, Threaten To Strike

Andrew Sciascia:

With public school districts nationwide beginning to cancel in-person learning for the fall semester in answer to COVID-19 transmission fears, a number of teachers unions already are moving the goalposts.

According to The New York Times, educators in the hard-hit states of Florida and California might be “wary of returning to class” this back-to-school season, but that concern hasn’t stopped them from shooting down alternatives such as virtual learning.

Widely promoted as the logical alternative to traditional learning, online video instruction was a go-to for many public institutions when coronavirus-related lockdowns first took effect in late March. Several major teachers unions now argue, however, that the practice was stressful, distracting and detrimental to learning — and they want to see their educators provided with alternatives or a reduction in labor hours this fall should virtual learning become the standard.

Railing against such requests Friday, Corey DeAngelis, the director of school choice at the Reason Foundation, a nonprofit libertarian think tank based in Los Angeles, told The Western Journal that the teachers unions’ moving of the goalposts with regard to re-opening is “almost beyond parody,” perfectly highlighting a deep need for competition in the primary education sector.

The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free

Nathan Robinson:

This means that a lot of the most vital information will end up locked behind the paywall. And while I am not much of a New Yorker fan either, it’s concerning that the Hoover Institute will freely give you Richard Epstein’s infamous article downplaying the threat of coronavirus, but Isaac Chotiner’s interview demolishing Epstein requires a monthly subscription, meaning that the lie is more accessible than its refutation. Eric Levitz of New York is one of the best and most prolific left political commentators we have. But unless you’re a subscriber of New York, you won’t get to hear much of what he has to say each month. 

Possibly even worse is the fact that so much academic writing is kept behind vastly more costly paywalls. A white supremacist on YouTube will tell you all about race and IQ but if you want to read a careful scholarly refutation, obtaining a legal PDF from the journal publisher would cost you $14.95, a price nobody in their right mind would pay for one article if they can’t get institutional access. (I recently gave up on trying to access a scholarly article because I could not find a way to get it for less than $39.95, though in that case the article was garbage rather than gold.) Academic publishing is a nightmarish patchwork, with lots of articles advertised at exorbitant fees on one site, and then for free on another, or accessible only through certain databases, which your university or public library may or may not have access to. (Libraries have to budget carefully because subscription prices are often nuts. A library subscription to the Journal of Coordination Chemistry, for instance, costs $11,367 annually.) 

Of course, people can find their ways around paywalls. SciHub is a completely illegal but extremely convenient means of obtaining academic research for free. (I am purely describing it, not advocating it.) You can find a free version of the article debunking race and IQ myths on ResearchGate, a site that has engaged in mass copyright infringement in order to make research accessible. Often, because journal publishers tightly control access to their copyrighted work in order to charge those exorbitant fees for PDFs, the versions of articles that you can get for free are drafts that have not yet gone through peer review, and have thus been subjected to less scrutiny. This means that the more reliable an article is, the less accessible it is. On the other hand, pseudo-scholarhip is easy to find. Right-wing think tanks like the Cato Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education, the Hoover Institution, the Mackinac Center, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation pump out slickly-produced policy documents on every subject under the sun. They are utterly untrustworthy—the conclusion is always going to be “let the free market handle the problem,” no matter what the problem or what the facts of the case. But it is often dressed up to look sober-minded and non-ideological. 

It’s not easy or cheap to be an “independent researcher.” When I was writing my first book, Superpredator, I wanted to look through newspaper, magazine, and journal archives to find everything I could about Bill Clinton’s record on race. I was lucky I had a university affiliation, because this gave me access to databases like LexisNexis. If I hadn’t, the cost of finding out what I wanted to find out would likely have run into the thousands of dollars.  

Why Professors Are Writing Crap That Nobody Reads

NewsinAsia:

The world economic news through last week must have sent shockwaves across North and South Block where India’s ministries of finance, defence and external affairs — and the Prime Minister’s Office — are located. The post-pandemic world order is knocking on the doors.

On Friday, the European Union released the preliminary estimates of the Eurozone economies’ performance in the second quarter of 2020. The 19-member bloc’s GDP contracted by 12.1%. This followed Germany’s announcement Thursday of its largest drop in GDP (10.1%) since it began keeping quarterly records half a century ago.

Germany is Europe’s powerhouse and alone generates almost a quarter of the EU’s GDP. This is how a German commentator at Deutsche Welle surveys the gathering storms:

“Neither the stock market crash nor the oil price shock could achieve what a tiny virus has done. The fruits of 10 years of growth were wiped out within weeks.

“The German economy collapsed in March but the Federal Statistics Office has said that the full force of the crisis is only now being reflected in the numbers. A 10 percent decline in the second quarter. There has never been anything like it.

TikTok and the Law: A Primer (In Case You Need to Explain Things to Your Teenager)

Robert Chesney:

Has ByteDance had such an opportunity over the past 8 months, as the currently-pending CFIUS review has progressed? I’m not in a position to know, but I strongly suspect that they have. The review has gone on for quite some time, and that may well reflect an ongoing process of evidentiary disclosures and submissions. In short: ByteDance may well be in the midst of receiving all the process that is due to it. Of course, ByteDance could still sue, objecting that it deserved more process than it got and that the ultimate CFIUS determination was arbitrary despite the process that was given. I’m doubtful, however, that they will prevail on either dimension. Sooner or later, in other words, the litigation would run its course and the divestiture order would probably still stand.

IEEPA is another example of Congress delegating to the executive branch an aspect of its constitutional control over foreign commerce. Think of it as a general pre-delegation of authority to impose embargoes as well as more-targeted sanctions against foreign entities—backed by criminal law sanctions—for a broadly-defined array of circumstances in which the president determines that U.S. national interests are at stake. (For a deep-ish dive into IEEPA, check out Episode 133 of the National Security Law Podcast). When the president wants to use this authority, he first must issue a public proclamation of a “national emergency” on a particular situation or subject, under the National Emergencies Act. This opens the door to using IEEPA itself. Under IEEPA, the president (or the executive branch entity acting on the president’s behalf through a further delegation) can investigate, regulate or simply prohibit—that is, ban—an array of activities involving a sanctioned entity (including payments, notably) and can freeze the assets of that entity (thereby prohibiting all dealings with the foreign entity’s interests in those assets). Sometimes this authority is exercised by the president only to the extent of creating a specific sanctions regime, with the actual sanctioning of particular entities to be done at a later date (if it is done at all). At other times, the creation of the sanctions regime is accompanied by at least an initial set of designations of specific entities.

Civics: US homeland security surveilling journalists covering Portland protests

Ed Pilkington:

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been surveilling the work of American journalists reporting on the unrest in Portland, Oregon, circulating “intelligence reports” on them to other federal agencies in a move that has been decried as a clear violation of the constitutional right to a free press.

The Washington Post obtained the intelligence reports which were compiled by the unit within DHS known as the “office of intelligence and analysis”. The newspaper said the reports were distributed in the past week to law enforcement and other agencies.

They referred specifically to two prominent US journalists whose reporting had revealed the disarray within the Trump administration’s contentious deployment of federal agents to quell protests in Portland.

One of the journalists, Mike Baker of the New York Times, had disclosed a leaked DHS memo that discussed the confusion prevalent among the federal agents sent to Portland. The memo showed that the camouflaged officers had little understanding of the nature of the demonstrations they were being asked to police.

The second journalist was Benjamin Wittes, who edits the national security blog Lawfare. He had also published leaked DHS documents, one of which was a memo warning the department’s officials not to disclose information to reporters.

Less stress, better grades: With schools closed, some kids thrive

Andrew Campa:

Those annoying puffy spots under the eyes of eighth-grader Natalie Alvarez began to disappear, followed by the 10 a.m. hunger bouts and the midafternoon yawns — much to the Carson girl’s delight and surprise.

At first, Natalie, 14, had resisted the distance learning thrust upon her when schools closed amid the coronavirus emergency.

“I was worried about the distractions of being home with my mom and my sister and doing extra chores,” Natalie said. “But then things changed.”

Things changed, too, for Marcos Adame, whose grades improved because he could spend more time on problematic subjects. They changed for Sebastian Hernandez, 15, who has more energy, and for 10-year-old Jacob Lalin, who discovered he could mix schoolwork with Lego.

At a time when many of their peers struggle with isolation, uneven online teaching or lack of access to computers, a fraction of students have discovered that distance learning can offer a unique kind of relief — and they have thrived.

Educators and school psychologists stress that campus closures and the suspension of in-class learning have exacted harm on children, especially those who are not fortunate enough to have a quiet, comfortable study space or whose families are coping with deep hardships and illness brought on by the pandemic.

Natalie, Marcos and and others have adapted well in part because their schools were experienced with online learning, and they had home support to help them.

Weingarten: Teacher strikes possible in Arizona, Florida, Texas

Juan Perez:

Weingarten’s warning comes a day after the union president announced that coronavirus-related strikes are on the table, adding fresh tension to the debate over reopening schools.

The union, which represents 1.7 million educators in the United States, adopted a resolution this month that says schools should only open in places where the average daily community infection rate among those tested for the coronavirus is below 5 percent and the transmission rate is below 1 percent.

Educators are not going to be able to teach kids “if people are scared to death,” Weingarten said Wednesday. “And if people die while they are educating kids, you eviscerate any credibility that you would have going forward about whether or not a school is safe.”

The union also said schools can only reopen if staff at high risk for serious health problems from contracting Covid-19 have access to special accommodations and local authorities have plans to shut down schools if infections spike. The group’s demands for school safeguards include rules for physical distancing and face coverings, resources to sanitize facilities, as well as updates for ventilation and building systems.

Woke Colleges Are Assembly Lines for Conformity

Charles Lipson:

Don’t be fooled by universities’ incessant chatter about “diversity.” Most are poster children for ideological conformity and proud of it. The faculty, students, and administrators know it. Indeed, many welcome it since their views are so obviously right and other views so obviously wrong. They believe discordant views are so objectionable that no one should express them publicly.

What views are now considered beyond the pale? They almost always involve ordinary political differences. We are not talking here about direct physical threats. Those are already illegal, and universities rightly deal with them. They don’t have to face neo-Nazi marches. Nor is anyone advocating such noxious ideas as genocide, slavery, or child molestation. Speech about those subjects might be legal, but virtually nobody is making the case for them. That is not what the fight for freedom of speech on campus is about. It is about the freedom to voice—or even hear—unpopular views on topics such as merit-based admissions, affirmative action, transgender competition in women’s sports, abortion, and support for Israel.

These are perfectly legitimate topics, and students ought to be free to hear different ideas about them. They are hotly contested topics in America’s body politic. That’s how democracies work. Not so on college campuses, where the “wrong views” are not just minority opinions. They are verboten, and so are the people who dare express them. Challenging this repressive conformity invites condemnation, severs friendships, and threatens careers. It is hardly surprising that few rise to challenge it.

‘Are They Setting My Children Up for Failure?’ Remote Learning Widens Education Gap. S

Tawnell Hobbs:

After schools shut down in March, LaKenya Bunton would get home around 7 a.m. from an overnight quality-control job at a factory, doze for a few hours, then become teacher to her 16-year-old son, Amarrius.

Her son, a rising sophomore, had received no remote-learning materials from his school and didn’t hear from most of his teachers. Ms. Bunton’s method included collecting Amarrius’s cellphone and handing him the day’s work: a packet of practice college-prep questions she printed from the internet.

“I’m educating him the best way I can,” said Ms. Bunton, a 41-year-old single mother. “I don’t want him to be behind.”

With the next academic year quickly approaching, school districts and parents everywhere are racing to figure out how to resume learning during the coronavirus pandemic—with the interruption that upended the last school year beginning to look like a longer-term disruption. Los Angeles’s school system said Monday it will start the year online, while New York City recently announced a plan to bring students back to classrooms part time. Districts have to weigh the potential public-health risks of bringing students into classrooms against the shortcomings of remote-learning programs, which schools hastily rolled out in the spring with generally dismal results.

Many (Madison) area private schools offering in-person learning this fall

Scott Girard:

As the 2020-21 school year approaches, private schools are taking advantage of smaller enrollments and fewer buildings to plan in-person learning while area public schools are focusing on virtual learning.

And since the Madison Metropolitan School District announced July 17 it would start the year entirely virtually, some private schools are seeing an increase in enrollment interest.

“My phone and email are off the hook right now,” said St. Dennis Catholic School principal Matt Beisser, whose school will offer parents a choice of in-person or virtual school. “The uptick is there.”

Lighthouse Christian School, which will also offer its parents a choice, has received 15 to 20 requests since MMSD’s announcement, “some only until MMSD (goes) back to in-person,” principal Tia Sierra wrote in an email.

The interest in private schools comes as the Madison district works on details of how it will improve its virtual-learning program — created in just weeks amid an unprecedented situation this spring — as it received mixed reviews from parents and students. Many other districts in Dane County have followed suit, though a few are going to offer a choice for some form of in-person instruction.

Many local private schools, meanwhile, are pushing ahead with an option for in-person schooling, as long as Public Health Madison & Dane County doesn’t order all schools closed as it did this spring.

“Teachers have access to materials in their classrooms that are not available at home,” – despite million$ spent on Infinite Campus

Costs continue to grow for local, state and federal taxpayers in the K-12 space, as well:

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

(Note: “Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.)

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Chicago sees 139% jump in murders, uptick in shootings in July 2020: police

Carly Behm:

Murders more than doubled last month in Chicago compared to the same month last year, according to new data released by Chicago police. 

Shootings also increased compared July 2019. 

Still, police reported that overall crime in the city has decreased so far this year. 

The 105 murders reported in July are a nearly 139% increase from the 44 reported in July 2019, according to police data released Saturday. The 406 shooting incidents last month were a 75% increase from the 232 reported in the same month-to-month comparison. 

The Sun-Times reported 106 homicides across the city in July, bringing the total number of homicide cases this year to 430 as of Friday night. 

Murders are up 51% from the same point last year, along with a 47% increase in shootings, police said.

Last month, 573 people were shot in the city — at least 58 of them juveniles, including a 9-year-old boy killed by gunfire Friday night as he played outside on the Near North Side, according to Sun-Times records. 

The month’s youngest shooting victim was a 3-year-old girl who was struck July 22 while riding in her family’s car in South Shore.

Data isn’t just being collected from your phone. It’s being used to score you.

Harvey Rosenfield and Laura Antonini:

Operating in the shadows of the online marketplace, specialized tech companies you’ve likely never heard of are tapping vast troves of our personal data to generate secret “surveillance scores” – digital mug shots of millions of Americans – that supposedly predict our future behavior. The firms sell their scoring services to major businesses across the U.S. economy.

People with low scores can suffer harsh consequences.

CoreLogic and TransUnion say that scores they peddle to landlords can predict whether a potential tenant will pay the rent on time, be able to “absorb rent increases,” or break a lease. Large employers use HireVue, a firm that generates an “employability” score about candidates by analyzing “tens of thousands of factors,” including a person’s facial expressions and voice intonations. Other employers use Cornerstone’s score, which considers where a job prospect lives and which web browser they use to judge how successful they will be at a job.

Brand-name retailers purchase “risk scores” from Retail Equation to help make judgments about whether consumers commit fraud when they return goods for refunds. Players in the gig economy use outside firms such as Sift to score consumers’ “overall trustworthiness.” Wireless customers predicted to be less profitable are sometimes forced to endure longer customer service hold times.

Auto insurers raise premiums based on scores calculated using information from smartphone apps that track driving styles. Large analytics firms monitor whether we are likely to take our medication based on our propensity to refill our prescriptions; pharmaceutical companies, health-care providers and insurance companies can use those scores to, among other things, “match the right patient investment level to the right patients.”

Civics: ‘Mr. Jones’ and the deadly consequences of shoddy journalism

Sonny Bunch:

About 50 minutes into “Mr. Jones,” Agnieszka Holland’s new film about Joseph Stalin’s manmade famine that killed millions in Ukraine, there’s a 30-minute vision of hell as terrifying as that in any horror movie.

British journalist Gareth Jones (James Norton) has defied his Soviet handlers and smuggled himself into the Ukrainian countryside, the supposed breadbasket of Europe, in the dead of winter. He quickly realizes something is desperately wrong in this part of the Soviet empire: Starving people grab for scraps of an orange peel he discards on a train; a man trades Jones a heavy winter coat in subzero temperatures for a loaf of bread.

When he disembarks, he sees just why this famine is so severe. Stalin’s men are loading up all the grain on trucks and shipping it to Moscow. The Soviet miracle — the ability in the 1930s to rapidly stand up manufacturing in multiple sectors while the rest of the world struggled to get back on its feet during the Great Depression — has been built on the backs of these people. And those backs are breaking under the weight of Stalin’s supposedly Utopian society.

A College Degree Is No Guarantee of a Good Life

Arthur Brooks:

I magine a young man, a senior in high school. His academic performance has never been over the top, but he’s done well enough. Among his classmates, the assumption is that all of them will go to college. However, just as his parents are about to send the deposit check to a college where he has been accepted, the young man admits to himself and his parents that he doesn’t want to go—not now, maybe never. To him, college sounds like drudgery. He wants to work, to earn a living, to be out on his own.

What should he do? What should his parents do?

This is not a hypothetical situation for many families—and it wasn’t for mine, either. Our oldest son was valedictorian of his high school class and went to a top university. But right about this time two years ago, our second son told us he wasn’t interested in college. My wife and I consider ourselves free thinkers and are willing to entertain almost any new idea. But we are hardly neutral on the college question: I am a college professor; my father was a college professor; his father was a college professor, too. Some say college is different from real life. For our family, college is real life—it’s the family business.

K-12 Tax, Referendum & Spending Climate: U.S. Gets a Debt Warning From Fitch as Stimulus Battle Rages

Benjamin Purvis:

One of the world’s major credit-rating companies fired a warning shot regarding the U.S.’s worsening public finances on Friday, just as lawmakers in Washington contemplate spending more to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Fitch Ratings revised its outlook on the country’s credit score to negative from stable, citing a “deterioration in the U.S. public finances and the absence of a credible fiscal consolidation plan.” The country’s ranking remains AAA.

“High fiscal deficits and debt were already on a rising medium-term path even before the onset of the huge economic shock precipitated by the coronavirus,” Fitch said. “They have started to erode the traditional credit strengths of the U.S.”

Unemployment has skyrocketed and the U.S. economy just notched up its worst quarter on record, with pandemic-related shutdowns helping drive an annualized gross domestic product contraction of 32.9% in the three-month period through June. And with infections still spreading rapidly in many states, the virus’s damaging impact on output looks set to continue.

Teachers have access to materials in their classrooms that are not available at home,” – despite million$ spent on Infinite Campus

Costs continue to grow for local, state and federal taxpayers in the K-12 space, as well:

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

(Note: “Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.)

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

‘Like in the Cultural Revolution’: Hong Kong’s educators fear being purged

Verna Yu:

For thousands of university professors and teachers in Hong Kong, the coming weeks will be a nervous time as they prepare for a new academic year.

In just a month’s time, universities, schools and even kindergartens across the city will be placed under unprecedented scrutiny as they resume classes for the first time after the national security law passed in July, amid calls for the “bad apples” among teachers to be purged.

Teachers and schools have come under scathing attack from government officials and the pro-establishment camp since the anti-government protest movement roiled Hong Kong a year ago. In language reminiscent of China’s Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976, professors and teachers have been widely blamed for “poisoning” young minds with an allegedly heretical and radical agenda, and for producing a young generation antagonistic towards the authorities.

Just in the past week, two academics active in politics have been dismissed. This took place the same week as the arrests of four student activists on national security charges and the disqualification of 12 pro-democracy candidates for the legislative election.

Benny Tai, a law professor and one of the founders of the 2014 “umbrella” occupy movement much vilified in the Chinese state press, was fired by the University of Hong Kong on Tuesday. Tai was jailed last year on public nuisance charges for leading the civil disobedience movement.

At the University of North Texas, the Mob Comes Calling for a Music Theorist

Samantha Harris:

Chances are you have never heard of the music theorist Heinrich Schenker or the Journal of Schenkerian Studies, a publication at the University of North Texas (UNT) devoted to “all facets of Schenkerian thought, including theory, analysis, pedagogy, and historical aspects.” But that journal, and, in particular, the UNT music-theory professor Timothy Jackson, who oversees it, are now at the center of a controversy that goes to the heart of whether we are truly a free society. Can people speak their minds, or will those who express dissenting opinions be destroyed by a mob they can neither challenge nor resist?

In the most recent issue of the Journal of Schenkerian Studies, Jackson published a critique of a plenary address given by the music theorist Philip Ewell to the Society for Music Theory. Ewell posited “a ‘white racial frame’ in music theory that is structural and institutionalized.” In particular, Ewell accused Schenker (1868–1935) of being racist, therefore suggesting that his work in music theory is tainted.

For Jackson to have questioned Ewell’s thesis and defended Schenker against the charge of racism was seen as nothing short of heresy. UNT graduate students and faculty, as well as music professors across the country, are now demanding that Jackson be investigated, his journal shut down, and his position eliminated. A group of graduate students in UNT’s Division of Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology issued a statement calling on the university to “hold accountable every person responsible for the direction of the publication” of the journal. “This should also extend to investigating past bigoted behaviors by faculty,” they wrote, “and, by taking this into account, the discipline and potential removal of faculty who used the [Journal of Schenkerian Studies] platform to promote racism. Specifically, the actions of Dr. Jackson — both past and present — are particularly racist and unacceptable.” A group of UNT faculty piled on, circulating a petition “endors[ing] the call for action” by the graduate students.

Think Cancel Culture Doesn’t Exist? My Own ‘Lived Experience’ Says Otherwise

Colin Wright:

Of course, it’s absolutely true that wealthy cancel-culture targets such as J. K. Rowling get enormous attention. But that’s not just because of their wealth and fame: It’s because their stories act as a stand-in for the many other, more obscure, figures who’ve been mobbed in the press, on campuses, on social-media forums, and in arts and literary subcultures. The vast majority of cancel culture’s victims are people you’ve never heard of, who don’t have the means to fight back, or who have learned to keep quiet so they don’t lose whatever reputation or job security they still have.

I know, because I was once one of them.

This isn’t the first time I’ve alluded publicly to my ordeal. I’ve spoken about it on Twitter and various podcasts. But the ongoing effort to deny cancel culture’s existence has convinced me that I need to lay out my own experience in a more systematic way.

In 2008, I decided to pursue a career as an academic biologist. Science in general, and evolutionary biology in particular, had been a passion from a young age. Even as an undergraduate, I maintained a blog that I used to debunk pseudoscience, and critique creationism and Intelligent Design. I was outspoken, and sometimes launched headlong into debates with Christian conservatives. Creationists and IDers frequently told me I was wrong or stupid, but my critics never called me a bigot.

This changed, however, when I started graduate school in 2013. This was an environment where I didn’t have to worry about right-wing creationists. Rather, the pseudoscience I observed was coming from the other side of the political spectrum—especially in the form of “Blank Slate” proponents who argued (falsely) that sex differences in human personality, preferences, and behavior are entirely the result of socialization.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Many Americans Are Getting More Money From Unemployment Than They Were From Their Jobs

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Jasmine Mithani:

The United States is not known for its generosity to the unemployed. But the coronavirus crisis has transformed our system for compensating jobless workers. As tens of millions of workers suddenly became unemployed, Congress passed an expansive relief package with an unprecedented $600-per-week supplement for jobless workers. The goal was to replace their wages so they could survive the economic lockdown.

As a result, though, many people may now be eligible for substantially more money while unemployed than they made while they were working. A new analysis by Peter Ganong, Pascal Noel and Joseph Vavra, economists at the University of Chicago,1 uses government data from 2019 to estimate that 68 percent of unemployed workers who can receive benefits are eligible for payments that are greater than their lost earnings. They also found that the estimated median replacement rate — the share of a worker’s original weekly salary that is being replaced by unemployment benefits — is 134 percent, or more than one-third above their original wage. A substantial minority of those workers, particularly in low-wage professions like food service and janitorial work, may end up receiving more than 150 percent of their previous weekly salary.2

Americans Who Mainly Get Their News on Social Media Are Less Engaged, Less Knowledgeable

BY AMY MITCHELL, MARK JURKOWITZ, J. BAXTER OLIPHANT AND ELISA SHEARER:

The rise of social media has changed the information landscape in myriad ways, including the manner in which many Americans keep up with current events. In fact, social media is now among the most common pathways where people – particularly young adults – get their political news.

A new Pew Research Center analysis of surveys conducted between October 2019 and June 2020 finds that those who rely most on social media for political news stand apart from other news consumers in a number of ways. These U.S. adults, for instance, tend to be less likely than other news consumers to closely follow major news stories, such as the coronavirus outbreak and the 2020 presidential election. And, perhaps tied to that, this group also tends to be less knowledgeable about these topics.

Through several surveys over the last nine months, the Center’s American News Pathways project has been exploring the connection between Americans’ news habits and what they hear and perceive about current events. One important aspect of this project is taking a deeper look at the pathways, or platforms, Americans use most often to access news – such as news websites or apps, social media, local, cable and network TV, radio, or print.

As of late last year, 18% of U.S. adults say they turn most to social media for political and election news. That’s lower than the share who use news websites and apps (25%), but about on par with the percent who say their primary pathway is cable television (16%) or local television (16%), and higher than the shares who turn to three other pathways mentioned in the survey (network TV, radio and print).

To further explore the influence of this relatively new entry into the news ecosystem, this report studies the characteristics of U.S. adults who rely on social media as their main pathway to political and election news, in comparison with the six other groups.

Demographically, U.S. adults who rely most on social media for news tend to be younger, are less likely to be white and have lower levels of education than those who mainly use several other platforms.

The Captive Mind and America’s Resegregation

Andrew Michta:

Czesław Miłosz, a future Nobel Prize-winning poet who had just defected from Poland, began work in 1951 on a book called “The Captive Mind.” Even as Stalinist totalitarianism tightened its grip on Eastern Europe, many Western European intellectuals lauded the brave new world of Soviet communism as a model for overcoming “bourgeois forces,” which in their view had caused World War II. Living in Paris, Miłosz wrote his book, which was published in 1953, to warn the West of what happens to the human mind and soul in a totalitarian system.

Miłosz knew from experience, having lived through the Communist takeover, how totalitarianism strips men and women of their liberty, transforming them into “affirmative cogs” in service of the state and obliterating what had taken centuries of Western political development to achieve. Totalitarianism not only enslaved people physically but crippled their spirit. It did so by replacing ordinary human language, in which words signify things in the outside world, with ideologically sanctioned language, in which words signify the dominant party’s ever-changing ideas of what is and is not true.

Commentary on support for America’s (world leading $) government run K-12 schools

Johan Neem:

As parents opt out, could we see eroding support for public education? Based on my research as a historian of American education, I fear so. The reason is simple. In a country that has long been hostile to big government, public schools succeeded because almost every family was a stakeholder.

At the time of the American Revolution, education was not considered a public good. Parents were responsible for educating their own children. But, many Revolutionary-era leaders argued, a democracy requires all citizens to be educated, and this requires providing tax support for new public schools.

Americans then were skeptical. Many were unwilling to pay taxes to educate other families’ children. Tax collectors sometimes faced physical threats when they went out to collect school taxes! Although American leaders — Thomas Jefferson among them — spoke eloquently about the need to equalize access to education, their words were not enough. It was not until a critical mass of Americans started sending their kids to the new public schools that schooling really took off. As more parents sent their kids to public schools, others wanted in. And over time, the bulk of families in a community had a reason to pay taxes for public schools: Their children or grandchildren attended. In short, public support for public schooling was forged through the schools themselves.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

New program brings learning, interaction for 3rd and 4th graders at Penn Park

Scott Girard:

A group of eight third- and fourth-graders sat around a bucket of water on a recent Wednesday morning, waiting for Richard Jones Jr. to drop in a cantaloupe and watch whether it would float or sink.

Before Jones Jr. made the drop, he asked the students: Sink or float? They needed to make a guess — or, as it’s called in the scientific method process they were learning, a hypothesis. A mix of responses filled the air as they observed the next step in the method — experiment — and eventually the final step: a conclusion about what made certain foods float.

The lesson was one of many the group will learn this summer through the S²MARTLY in the Park summer learning program, sponsored by Mt. Zion Baptist Church and led by a group of educators hoping to help students avoid a “summer slide” amid an unprecedented time in education. The activities are focused on science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — and taught three mornings a week over a three-hour, outdoor class at Penn Park.

They also highlight successful African Americans in STEM and other fields to create a culturally relevant curriculum for the mostly Black students in the program.

Libraries lend books, and must continue to lend books: Internet Archive responds to publishers’ lawsuit

Brewster Kahle:

Yesterday, the Internet Archive filed our response to the lawsuit brought by four commercial publishers to end the practice of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the digital equivalent of traditional library lending. CDL is a respectful and secure way to bring the breadth of our library collections to digital learners. Commercial ebooks, while useful, only cover a small fraction of the books in our libraries. As we launch into a fall semester that is largely remote, we must offer our students the best information to learn from—collections that were purchased over centuries and are now being digitized. What is at stake with this lawsuit? Every digital learner’s access to library books. That is why the Internet Archive is standing up to defend the rights of  hundreds of libraries that are using Controlled Digital Lending.

The publishers’ lawsuit aims to stop the longstanding and widespread library practice of Controlled Digital Lending, and stop the hundreds of libraries using this system from providing their patrons with digital books. Through CDL, libraries lend a digitized version of the physical books they have acquired as long as the physical copy doesn’t circulate and the digital files are protected from redistribution. This is how Internet Archive’s lending library works, and has for more than nine years. Publishers are seeking to shut this library down, claiming copyright law does not allow it. Our response is simple: Copyright law does not stand in the way of libraries’ rights to own books, to digitize their books, and to lend those books to patrons in a controlled way.  

Our Educational Colonialism

Chris Arnade:

Federalization is about imposing a dominant ideology and worldview, and in the case of our educational policy it is about imposing “front rowness”— the idea that everyone should aspire to becoming a tenured professor or a widget engaged in a resume arms race with the rest of the world.

It is a system built by intellectual elites who want everyone to be like them, and humiliates everyone else. It is a system that says anything that can’t be learned in an advanced placement class isn’t that important, like being a good member of the community, or family, or church. Those things are impediments to success. Staying home to care for your parents rather than rushing off to Princeton is an unnecessary speed bump on your way to having your best career!

Those who fundamentally don’t buy into this ideology, which is most of the working class, end up sitting in the back row of whatever school, distracted and frustrated. Throwing spitballs at whoever because they don’t take easily to set theory, or Algebra, or Henry James or Nathaniel Hawthorne. Because they don’t enjoy memorizing whatever they have to memorize for the next standardized test.

They are kids who just want to learn a skill to get a job. Because they are really good with their hands and good with tinkering, always have been. Or they are really good with animals, or good at getting stuff to grow, or they have ‘always been good at caring for people, noticing when someone is a little off and need to be checked on. Like, I always been good that way, especially with my Grandma, who shines up when she sees me come to play checkers. So maybe I will go into nursing you know. But I keep getting D’s in math and history, but if I can get over that hurdle, I sure would love to be a nurse.’

City of Madison attempt to remove ‘Police free schools’ street mural blocked by protesters

Elizabeth Beyer & Emily Hamer:

West Dayton Street outside of the Madison School District administration building became the latest field where protesters and city employees faced off in a battle of wills Friday morning.

The city’s Streets Division crew attempted to remove a mural on the road that read “Police free schools,” which was painted onto the asphalt by Madison youth in June, when a group of demonstrators arrived to protect the work.

The paint-removal process stopped partway through the “P” in “Police” due to concerns for the safety of both the city workers and the protesters, City of Madison streets and recycling coordinator Bryan Johnson said in a statement.

According to Johnson, the city wants to remove the painting on the street because it causes a traffic hazard by covering the double yellow traffic lines and obscuring the pedestrian crossings.

“It is already apparent that this will be an expensive project as removing paint from just one street is expected to cost approximately $8,000,” Johnson said. “The Streets Division will continue to work on ways to address safety issues in the areas where streets have been painted.”

Madison Deputy Mayor Katie Crawley said methods of keeping the city streets safe while compromising with the protesters will be revisited and discussed with city staff and others.

Starting this fall, the Madison School District will no longer station police officers at any of the city high schools after a unanimous vote by the School Board at the end of June to cancel its contract with the Madison Police Department. The motion went before the Madison City Council in July, which upheld the decision.

Former Madison SRO: Removing police from schools unlikely to reduce arrest disparity

Shezad Baloch:

Corey Saffold served as a school resource officer for four years at Madison West High School. We asked about the implications of the end of the SRO program and removal of Madison police officers from the schools. Now the head of security at Verona Area School District, he repeatedly said he is only speaking on behalf of what he experienced as an individual.   

Madison365: When and where did you serve as a School Resource Officer? 

Corey: Madison West High School. I served for four years. The Madison Police Department only allows their officers to work four years then they like to give somebody else a chance to get in. There isn’t any good reason behind it. I think the reason is that there are other officers that like the schedule (of working in a school) and they try to get in there too.  In my opinion, if he or she is doing good then the SRO should stay there. This is how most other police districts do it, but Madison police do not. After four years he or she comes out, which I don’t think is smart but nonetheless their officers are out of schools now. So again, it doesn’t matter.  

Madison365: What were the key responsibilities of SROs and what sort of education and training did you get to fulfill these responsibilities?

Corey: The responsibilities are varied and it really depends on the type of system you are operating in. So when I was an SRO I really focused on education. Key responsibility for me was educating students that got into legal trouble, instead of charging them or punishing them. So my responsibility was a little different. I did that as cases naturally came to me. If there was a student that stole from the Co-op right around the corner I would immediately put a plan in place or they would pay for whatever it was. Then I would educate them on why this behavior cannot continue because my key responsibility was to think of any and every opportunity to respond restoratively. 

Madison365: Did you get training to do this or is it your own way of working?

Corey: No. It is really my own way of working. There is not much training that comes with having the desire to do restorative practices. It is up to the individual officer. Either you have the desire or you don’t. Which is why the success of the School Resource Officer program depends on three things—the culture of the police department, the program that is set up for the officer to work within, and the individual officers him or herself. The reason is that the individual officer has to really focus on restorative practices. He or she should have a desire to do everything in his power or her power to avoid arresting and citing students. Now there are going to be some instances that rise to the level where you have to arrest and give citations, but for the most part, you should be able to work around that, but that’s going to depend on that individual officer wanting to accomplish that, wanting to do it. 

Madison365: Are SROs sufficiently trained for healthy and appropriate interventions? Can they identify a problem when it is to do with mental health rather than criminal behavior?

Corey: The police department in general receives training like trauma-informed care or mental health training. I don’t know that there is anything separate that the SROs receive to work in the high schools. That’s why the vetting process for SROs is crucial, because you really have to pick a person that already has that understanding and training. The training you are referring to really is a department-wide training and officers receive it through the department, not necessarily because he or she is an SRO.

Madison365: What would you say will be the biggest challenges facing Madison high schools now that SROs are no longer being used?

Corey: I don’t know that there will be a problem. Once schools are back in session, things may start off normally, with the exception of COVID-19 or you may see a need to call the police. If a large incident arises and those extra resources like the social workers, counselors, behavior specialists, etc., need help, police will need to be called. That may happen on occasion and there isn’t anything unusual about that. The problem is now you don’t have that officer in school that has relationships with students.  The officer that responds could really listen to administration and really try to figure out restorative practices for the students, or he or she could not. Now you don’t know what type of response you’ll get, whereas if you have an officer in the school you know what their response would be. Hopefully, you have a good one that works with the administration. In Madison, they will argue that the presence of an officer in school is too traumatic based on the current climate of policing in our country, and I totally understand that. So it really is a hard question to answer.  All we can do is wait and see.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The Virus May Strike Teachers Unions

David Henderson:

If you have school-age children, you may be wondering if they’ll ever get an education. On Tuesday the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest education union, threatened “safety strikes” if reopening plans aren’t to its liking. Some state and local governments are insisting that public K-12 schooling this fall be conducted online three to five days a week and imposing stringent conditions on those students who actually make it to the classroom.

Yet there are three reasons to be optimistic about the future of education….

“An emphasis on adult employment“. (2009!)

Put down the banjo, Timmy: study finds learning music won’t make children smart

Jack Dutton:

But after analysing data from 54 studies conducted on 6,984 participants between 1986 and 2019, Dr Sala’s team found music training was ineffective at enhancing cognitive or academic skills, regardless of the skill type, participants’ age and duration of music training.

The authors found studies with high-quality design, such as those which used a group of active controls – children who did not learn music but instead learned a different skill, such as dance or sports, for example – showed no effect of music education on cognitive or academic performance.

“Our study shows that the common idea that ‘music makes children smarter’ is incorrect,” said Dr Sala, the lead author.

How I Wrote, Crowdfunded, and Independently Published a Book in 2020

Blake Boles:

In May 2020 I independently published my fourth book, Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School? This was the third time I’ve self-published, and I feel like I now have a strong grasp of the process. This blog post documents the entire 17-month process of writing, crowdfunding, and launching the book into the world.

If you’re thinking about writing your own book or self-publishing, then you’ll find clear utility in this article. (Also see my 2012 post on the subject.) If not, you may simply enjoy reading a walk-through and post-mortem of my creative process.

Viewpoint Diversity Gets a Boost as Families Flee Public Schools

JD Tuccille:

Earlier this year, The New York Times looked at different editions of the same public-school textbooks published in California and Texas and found them spun in opposite directions to suit the ideological tastes of the dominant political factions in those states. It was a handy summary of the long-raging curriculum wars that have seen politicians and activists battling to present their preferred interpretations of the world to the captive audiences in America’s classrooms.

Those are wars which many families will escape this fall as the pandemic and school closures push parents to assume responsibility for teaching their own children and, not incidentally, to pass along their own views and not those prepackaged by government officials. For all the damage COVID-19 and the fumbling human responses to the virus are doing, viewpoint diversity may actually get a boost.

America’s public-school textbooks, the Times story explained, reflect the country’s polarization.

“The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides,” Dana Goldstein wrote for the Times in January of this year. “Classroom materials are not only shaded by politics, but are also helping to shape a generation of future voters,” she added.

Former Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes: August 3, 2013

“The notion that parents inherently know what school is best for their kids is an example of conservative magical thinking.”; “For whatever reason, parents as a group tend to undervalue the benefits of diversity in the public schools….”

Civics: What happened to an America where you could freely speak your mind?

John Kass:

It is happening in newsrooms in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles. And now it’s coming for me, in an attempt to shame me into silence.

Here’s what happened:

Last week, with violence spiking around the country, I wrote a column on the growing sense of lawlessness in America’s urban areas.

In response, the Tribune newspaper union, the Chicago Tribune Guild, which I have repeatedly and politely declined to join, wrote an open letter to management defaming me, by falsely accusing me of religious bigotry and fomenting conspiracy theories.

Newspaper management has decided not to engage publicly with the union. So I will.

For right now, let’s deal with facts. My July 22 column was titled “Something grows in the big cities run by Democrats: An overwhelming sense of lawlessness.”

It explored the connections between soft-on-crime prosecutors and increases in violence along with the political donations of left-wing billionaire George Soros, who in several states has funded liberal candidates for prosecutor, including Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

Soros’ influence on these races is undeniable and has been widely reported. But in that column, I did not mention Soros’ ethnicity or religion.

I Went to Disney World

Graeme Wood:

Earlier this month, Walt Disney World began reopening, following almost four months of closure due to the pandemic. I flew to Orlando to experience the magic. The week I arrived, Florida had registered the highest single-day case count of any state thus far. In Orlando’s airport, I felt a vague sense that Floridians considered such statistics a source of secret pride, as if they had set a record for fattest alligator or ugliest serial killer or most senior citizens in a golf cart. The airport where I had started my day, in Connecticut, had required masks, and everyone wore them. Here in Florida, some passengers went totally unmasked, but most wore masks in a defiant fashion, either slung under their chin or with their nostrils gaping out over the top, sucking and spewing potentially viral particles with every breath. A friend who lives a couple of hours away in St. Petersburg likens this latter style to “wearing a condom that covers only the shaft.”

Disney World is in Florida only in the sense that Vatican City is in Italy, or the Principality of Monaco is in France. All the land that touches Disney World is Florida, but it is its own polity, with its own infrastructure, its own transportation, and, to a surprising extent, its own laws and regulations. Florida law applies, of course, but on Disney property—which covers more than 25,000 acres, about 50 times the size of Monaco—you can go weeks without seeing an employee of the local, state, or federal government. When you are at the Disney parks and resorts, you see no letter carriers, no police officers, no city bus drivers—just tens of thousands of Disney employees (always called “cast members”), who recognize no authority higher than Walt Disney (1901–66), the eternal líder máximo.

When you arrive in Orlando, your transit through Florida lasts only minutes. You emerge from the miasma of the airport and reach a check-in counter for the “Magical Express,” a free direct bus to Disney World. The counter resembles the passport-control desk of a benevolent and well-run nation, perhaps Norway or Japan. Upon reciting your name and confirmation number, you cease interacting with non-Disney entities for the rest of your stay. The woman who welcomed me—through a properly worn mask and face shield, plus a layer of plexiglass—gave me a pleasant wave as I walked up. On a typical day before the pandemic, I was told by another tourist, thousands of people would pass through this check-in area. Today there was no line at all.

Harvard, Hong Kong, and China

Harry Lewis:

But Hong Kong was a free city. I lectured on liberal education at universities there and advised Hong Kong U on its Common Core curriculum. I made friends there, and the academics took seriously their mandate to make the “two systems” philosophy work. Occasionally some stooge of the mainland government would make his presence known at a talk I was giving, but for the most part the audience behaved the way I expect college audiences to behave.

Then came the passage a few weeks ago of the “The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.” (Link here to a Canadian site with the English language text of the law.) It is impossible to overstate the scope and significance of this law. The four offenses are described as “secession,” “subversion,” “terrorist activities,” and “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security,” each with a broad definition and a broadening rider, for example: “A person who incites, assists in, abets or provides pecuniary or other financial assistance or property for the commission by other persons of the offence under Article 22 of this Law shall be guilty of an offence.” Penalties are up to life imprisonment. The whole law is to be administered by a special force, not by Hong Kong police. 

And there is more. Companies that violate the law can be shut down. Turning in others may lighten your sentence. You don’t have to be in Hong Kong to commit an offense under the law. In fact, most ominously, “This Law shall apply to offences under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.”

The Rise of Synthetic Audio Deepfakes

Nisos:

Can Audio Deepfakes Really Fake a Human?

Audio deepfakes are the new frontier for business compromise schemes and are becoming more common pathways for criminals to deceptively gain access to corporate funds. Nisos recently investigated and obtained an original attempted deepfake synthetic audio used in a fraud attempt against a technology company. The deepfake took the form of a voicemail message from the company’s purported CEO, asking an employee to call back to “finalize an urgent business deal.” The recipient immediately thought it suspicious and did not contact the number, instead referring it to their legal department, and as a result the attack was not successful.

Nisos investigated the phone number the would-be attacker used and determined it was a VOIP service with no owner registration information. It was likely simply acquired and used as a “burner” for this fraud attempt only. While there was no actual voicemail message associated with the number, we made no attempt for live contact with the owner of the phone number for legal reasons.

Wisconsin High Performance School Deserts

Jessica Holmberg & Will Flanders:

Educational quality varies extensively across the state of Wisconsin. While some students have ready access to high-performing public, private, and charter schools, many areas of the state are high-performing school deserts—where families have few high-performing school options to help push their child forward. In this study, WILL utilizes statistical analysis and our new school mapping tool to locate the areas of Wisconsin where these deserts exist. We identify areas with no high-performing schools by looking at WILL’s performance rankings, which place schools on a level playing field with respect to demographics. Using this metric, we find that Wisconsin still has a long way to go in ensuring that all its children have access to a rigorous education.

Wisconsin has 134 ZIP codes with up to 40,112 school-age children with no high-performing school options within 10 miles. 134 ZIP codes across 49 counties have no high-performing school options—public, charter, or private—within 10 miles. High performing school deserts represent regions of the state lacking educational equity and opportunity.

High-performing school deserts are most common in rural areas. While urban schools are often the focus of education policy makers, this report sheds light on the many rural regions of Wisconsin without high-performing school options. Shawano County (11) and Langlade County (7) lead the way with the most ZIP codes without easy access to high-performing schools. Another eight Wisconsin counties have four or more ZIP codes without high-performing school options.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

How ‘Nice White Parents’ illustrates a powerful way of covering school inequality

Alexander Russo:

Over the few days, the political right has been in an uproar over Nice White Parents, the Chana Joffe-Walt-reported and -hosted podcast that premiers today, via Serial and the New York Times.

“Disintegrationists are now claiming that if you are a good parent who wants to educate your child in the best possible way, you are inherently racist because you are exacerbating racial inequality,” tweeted Ben Shapiro. “This holds only if you are white.”

The response is perhaps understandable, given the show’s inflammatory name given to the series and and promotional copy blaring that “if you want to understand what’s wrong with our public education system, you have to look at what is arguably the most powerful force in our schools: White parents.”

However, it’s progressive parents who should feel targeted. They’re the ones being scrutinized here. To understand why American schools are so broken and uneven, as Joffe-Walt reports it, we have to look closely at the beneficiaries of the system, those who make and shape the rules, whose preferences influence policy and worry politicians — and those who have the option to move or pay for private school if they are not pleased.

In big cities like New York City, the “nice white parents” are likely to be liberal.

Taxpayers have funded Madison’s K-12 school district well above most other public schools. Yet, we recently expanded our least diverse schools – despite space in nearby facilities.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

It’s official: Madison school district won’t have sports in fall; eyes spring opportunity

Jon Masson:

Madison Metropolitan School District athletic directors made it official Wednesday night that the district won’t offer fall sports and won’t offer sport-specific virtual or in-person coaching during the traditional fall dates.

In addition to not holding any fall athletics in person, the district is discouraging students from gathering outside of school grounds to train through Oct. 30.

The expected announcement came during a districtwide virtual meeting broadcast on YouTube on Wednesday night.

The district will look to provide opportunities in the spring based on WIAA guidance for schools that cannot play fall sports and that reflects the district’s school model and public health guidance, according to a release from the school district.

Majority of surveyed rural Wisconsin schools say masks not mandated, lean to reopening in fall

Logan Wroge:

A majority of rural Wisconsin school districts surveyed earlier this summer said they wouldn’t require students and staff to wear face masks and are leaning toward reopening school buildings in some capacity for the fall.

The Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance sent a survey to the organization’s 157 members in June to gauge what the school districts were planning for the new school year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Kim Kaukl, executive director of the organization.

Seventy rural school districts the Alliance represents responded. Wisconsin has 421 school districts.

“In talking with my (superintendents) and looking at the results, I think there’s so much uncertainty right now,” Kaukl said. “I think everybody understands face-to-face is the best, but we also have to look at the health and safety for our students, our staff and our parents. That really puts a lot of our folks in a quandary.”

Kaukl cautioned plans within the districts could have changed since they responded to the survey, especially because the bulk of responses were returned between mid-June and early July, when positive coronavirus cases in Wisconsin began to grow.

Americans Aren’t Making Babies, and That’s Bad for the Economy

Peter Coy:

Pandas and white rhinos aren’t the only creatures that are unsuccessful at mating in captivity. The folk wisdom that humans will copulate when left with nothing else to do—dubbed the blackout babies theory—surfaces regularly in the immediate aftermath of disasters, but the baby boom never materializes.

The Covid-19 pandemic spawned predictions that stay-at-home orders would eventually deliver a baby bump. Yet far from having more children than usual, Americans are expecting fewer.

In bedrooms across the U.S., couples are making decisions that, in the aggregate, could prove as consequential for the long-term health of our economy as those taken by policymakers in Washington. Fewer children now means fewer consumers, workers, and taxpayers in the future. In other words, a smaller economy than otherwise—though also a smaller environmental footprint, which brings its own rewards.

‘I Wish You Bad Luck.’ Read Supreme Court Justice John Roberts’ Unconventional Speech to His Son’s Graduating Class

Katie Reilly:

Now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.

New report shows arrests, citations at MMSD high schools in 2019-20 remain disproportionate

Scott Girard:

A new report from the Madison Metropolitan School District shows that police interactions with students continued recent trends in 2019-20, with few citations and arrests but Black students making up a disproportionate number of those.

While the data come with caveats — most notably that the in-person school year was three months shorter than normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic — the report outlines statistics for Madison Police Department officers responding to each of the four comprehensive high schools, including interactions with students that resulted in arrests and citations.

The numbers were low compared to the student population, but among those who were arrested or cited, a disproportionate number were once again Black students. The data include incidents involving the school resource officers stationed at each of the four schools as well as officers who responded to a school campus for a call.

The report, which covers Sept. 1, 2019, through March 13, 2020, comes about a month after the School Board voted unanimously to end the more-than-20-year-old SRO program amid a nationwide reckoning with systemic racism, especially in policing. Board member Ali Muldrow cited the ongoing disparities ahead of her vote.

“Over the course of the entire lifespan of this program of policing in schools, a majority of students every year to be arrested in school are African American children,” Muldrow said June 29. “Policing in schools has had an impact in terms of racial profiling within education.”

2005: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

1995-2006: Police Calls – Madison Schools.

This May Be The Worst Season Of Summer Melt In Memory. Here’s How Some Colleges Are Fighting It.:

Chronicle:

[T]thousands of students [are] reconsidering their college plans, in what many enrollment officials fear will be the worst season of “summer melt” in memory. Some are finding that they can no longer afford their first choice; others are questioning whether an online or hybrid education is worth the price of an in-person one. Some are staying home out of concerns for their health, or the health of family members.

In a national survey conducted this spring, one in six high-school seniors who before the pandemic expected to attend a four-year college full time said that they will choose a different path this fall. A majority expected either to take a gap year or enroll part time in a bachelor’s program (35 percent each), while smaller percentages planned to work or attend a community college.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Goldman Warns the Dollar’s Grip on Global Markets Might Be Over

John Ainger and Liz McCormick:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. put a spotlight on the suddenly growing concern over inflation in the U.S. by issuing a bold warning Tuesday that the dollar is in danger of losing its status as the world’s reserve currency.

With Congress closing in on another round of fiscal stimulus to shore up the pandemic-ravaged economy, and the Federal Reserve having already swelled its balance sheet by about $2.8 trillion this year, Goldman strategists cautioned that U.S. policy is triggering currency “debasement fears” that could end the dollar’s reign as the dominant force in global foreign-exchange markets.

While that view is clearly still a minority one in most financial circles — and the Goldman analysts don’t say they believe it will necessarily happen — it captures a nervous vibe that has infiltrated the market this month: Investors worried that this money-printing will trigger inflation in years ahead have been bailing out of the dollar and piling furiously into gold.

“Gold is the currency of last resort, particularly in an environment like the current one where governments are debasing their fiat currencies and pushing real interest rates to all-time lows,” wrote Goldman strategists including Jeffrey Currie. There are now, they said, “real concerns around the longevity of the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency.”

How a flawed idea is teaching millions of kids to be poor readers

Emily Hanford:

Molly Woodworth was a kid who seemed to do well at everything: good grades, in the gifted and talented program. But she couldn’t read very well.

“There was no rhyme or reason to reading for me,” she said. “When a teacher would dictate a word and say, ‘Tell me how you think you can spell it,’ I sat there with my mouth open while other kids gave spellings, and I thought, ‘How do they even know where to begin?’ I was totally lost.”

Woodworth went to public school in Owosso, Michigan, in the 1990s. She says sounds and letters just didn’t make sense to her, and she doesn’t remember anyone teaching her how to read. So she came up with her own strategies to get through text. 

Strategy 1: Memorize as many words as possible. “Words were like pictures to me,” she said. “I had a really good memory.”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

I Survived Cancellation at Princeton

Joshua Katz:

Now is the time to debate with renewed vigor existential questions of what counts as justice and how to fashion an equitable society. But the stifling of dissent is impeding the search for answers and driving people who disagree still further apart. Because students like to push boundaries and professors like to argue, colleges and universities are a crucible.

Take the university where I teach, Princeton. The campus—or at least the online campus, in the age of the coronavirus—has been in uproar since early July over a letter of demands to the administration signed by hundreds of my faculty colleagues, and especially over my response to that letter. I was immediately denounced on social media and condemned publicly by my department and the university president. At the same time, the university spokesman announced ominously that the administration would be “looking into the matter further.” On July 14, the Journal’s editorial board commented: “Princeton is demonstrating how a lack of leadership enables the cancel culture.”

“spending more money than ever with absolutely no idea what the result will be”

Betty Peters, via a kind email:

America will, I expect, be spending more money than ever with absolutely no idea what the result will be.  And what about the families, the parents and children–who have no real choices because the various governors are making “shooting from the hip” decisions that affect all citizens.  Even  church schools have no choices as long as Covid 19 rules.  In AL parents don’t know day to day whether a teacher or student will be diagnosed with covid and the school (or daycare) will be shut down for 2 weeks. 

The only real solution is homeschooling with a competent parent or parent substitute.  But how many families can fit into this scenario?  Churches are being shut down so how can their school umbrellas work, much less their schools? 

I welcome ideas and prayers.  I have a 5 year old grandson so I do have skin in the game.  But all of us have “skin in the game of education” because we care about the children of today who will be the citizens and parents and government of tomorrow.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Madison Superintendent hire Carlton Jenkins tells Black leaders he’s ‘ready to go to work’

Logan Wroge:

Former School Board member James Howard, who also served as president, said the district’s No. 1 challenge is the low reading outcomes for Black children, where only 9% of scored proficient on a state assessment.

“Before our kids can succeed academically … we have to do something about our reading scores,” Howard said.

Jenkins said if the “collective wisdom” of the community, the district and the university can’t change the outcomes for students of color “then I think we have to blame ourselves,” adding accountability starts with him.

“This is one time we don’t have a honeymoon period. We got to get to work,” he said.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

US universities announcing online Fall 2020

Kmjn.org

A list of four-year universities in the United States who’ve announced that their fall 2020 undergraduate classes will be taught all or almost all online, sorted by date of announcement.

There’s variation within the plans in the list. Some are exclusively online, while others plan to have a limited number of in-person courses, e.g. science labs. Also, some universities plan to have the dorms and on-campus services open at reduced capacity, while others plan to have the campus mostly closed.

May 5 – California State University system: “our planning approach will result in CSU courses primarily being delivered virtually for the fall 2020 term, with limited exceptions”.

June 11 – University of California Irvine (Irvine, CA): “Almost all undergraduate courses will be delivered in a remote format in the fall quarter. A few exceptions are being evaluated, and consist of specialized upper-division labs, specific clinical and experiential courses, and some design courses in Engineering.”

June 15 – Harvard University (Cambridge, MA): “regardless of where our students are living, whether on campus or at home, learning will continue to be remote next year, with only rare exceptions” (Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes the undergraduate college).

Why Australia is doubling fees for arts degrees

Alisa Purbasari Horton:

That’s supported by a survey conducted by The University of Melbourne investigating the experiences of first-year students between 1994 and 2014. When students were asked their main reason for enrolling, intrinsic interest in their subject consistently ranked highest, ahead of improving job prospects. In 1994, 94% considered interest in their field as an important reason to study, a figure that went up to 96% in 2014.     

“I think the idea that you can persuade the student who is interested in philosophy to go and become an engineer is just not how this is going to work,” says Joel Barnes, a public history researcher at University of Technology Sydney. Then there are also reasons beyond interest and job prospects that go into a student’s choice to pick a field of study. For example, those with learning disabilities may face additional challenges if they were forced to pick courses that don’t correspond with how they learn best, or isn’t taught in a way that is conducive to their learning. 

Sheehy points out that prior education reforms in Australia made law degrees more expensive, yet universities continue to see a consistent increase in law graduates. Conrad Liveris, a labour market economist, told ABC News that while the change may prompt more students to at least think about studying job-ready courses, “whether they continue with that is another thing”.   

Some Countries Reopened Schools. What Did They Learn About Kids and Covid?

Eric Niler:

But the question of how likely children are to spread it to teachers, staff and other students still hasn’t been settled. One large new study from South Korea found children under the age of 10 appear to not transmit the virus very well. While it’s not exactly clear why, the pediatric infectious disease experts contacted by WIRED say that it’s perhaps because young children expel less air that contains the virus and are shorter, so any potential respiratory droplets are less likely to reach adults. A study published in April by researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston suggests that younger kids haven’t developed the molecular keys that the virus exploits to enter the body and wreak havoc on the respiratory system, microscopic structures known as ACE2 receptors.

But older students are more like adults in their ability to transmit the virus, according to the South Korea study, which makes school opening decisions tougher. Should administrators allow only elementary students to attend in person, while middle and high schoolers stay online at home? If they do, will younger children be able to keep their masks on all day or stay six feet apart? What about the psychological effects of continued isolation on teens, who many parents believe are already racking up too much screen time during the pandemic shutdown and now are facing months of online learning?

The CDC announced school reopening guidelines on Thursday that call for officials to reopen classrooms this fall, based on the idea that children do not become as sick from Covid-19 and are less likely to spread it as adults, and to belay any emotional and psychological harm from the disruption of schools staying closed. The agency issued these new guidelines after President Donald Trump attacked initial rules that called for desks being set 6 feet apart, staggered lunches, and temperature screenings, as being too costly and burdensome.

Dimitri Christakis helped draft a separate set of reopening guidelines for US schools in a report for the National Academy of Sciences released July 15. It says schools should take steps to reopen for younger students in grades K-5 and those of all ages who have special needs. Christakis says that with appropriate social distancing, hand-washing and protective masking, the risk to teachers, staff and students in a school can be reduced.

“With those additional precautions, primary school teachers should feel comfortable going to school,” says Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “Those are the kids for which in-person learning is so important. We should prioritize these kids.”

At the same time, Christakis admits there are still some unknowns about transmission among school-age children. “We don’t have the answer to what extent children transmit the virus in general, and in particular in a school setting,” he says. “This is called the ‘novel coronavirus’ for good reason. It is acting very differently than most respiratory viruses and many other coronaviruses. Children appear to be less affected directly, and potentially less likely to transmit.”

Mayor Walsh, give Brenda Cassellius a chance to lead Boston Public Schools

Joan Vennochi:

Can this superintendent be saved?

As she marks her first anniversary as head of Boston Public Schools, Brenda Cassellius is getting a lesson in the local version of “trauma-informed teaching.” This learning strategy is supposed to take trauma into account and help students get past it. But here, it means a superintendent is put through the trauma of being undermined by various interest groups, and then by a mayor who caves into them. The lesson ends with the scuttling of a feather-ruffling proposal in favor of the status quo.

For Cassellius, trauma came in the form of a scathing letter from an association that represents the city’s high school leaders, complaining bitterly about a still-in-the-works reform plan. Mayor Martin J. Walsh then used the very public platform of a radio show to tell Cassellius to meet with the complainers. A summary of unflattering findings of a survey from an association representing principals of Boston’s K-8 schools was also obtained by the Globe.

The New Accountability Assignment

Michael Petrilli:

The spring of 2020 will forever be known as the season when tens of millions of American families took a crash course in homeschooling. Eventually we’ll learn whether this mass experiment in “remote learning” leads to durable changes in the U.S. education system, such as more students taking some of their courses online or opting out altogether from school as we know it. In the meantime, the massive digital footprint this experiment has created can provide fresh insights into how students spend their days. Here’s one project we could launch immediately: Let’s start collecting information about the assignments schools are asking pupils to complete and use that information, in addition to test scores and survey results, to evaluate educational quality.

It’s no secret that for years now, policymakers, researchers, and educators have been searching for additional school-quality measures to accompany standardized test scores. The quest for valid and reliable indicators has included a range of options, such as chronic absenteeism rates and access to challenging coursework. Some of this is wrongheaded and merely an attempt to avoid public oversight. It may well be an attempt to go back to the days when schools were judged by the size of their budgets or credentials of their teachers, rather than the outcomes of their students. As my colleague Chester E. Finn, Jr. has argued, tests may be the messengers, but accountability itself is the message that so many in education really want to shoot.

Regardless, it is certainly the case that data from large-scale testing is far from perfect, and that supplementing it with other strong performance measures could do a lot of good. For one, it could counteract some of the perverse incentives built into our current approach, especially the narrow focus on English language arts and math instruction. And the added metrics might get closer to the kinds of information that parents say they value. For example, some states and scholars have embraced school climate surveys, the most comprehensive of which poll parents, teachers, and students about their experiences, academic and otherwise. Several instruments have shown promise and can reliably identify which schools are nailing it with student engagement.

The Brave New World of Chemical Romance

Brian Gallagher:

Love drugs harken back to fairytale fantasies about potions and spells, but the notion isn’t purely fiction. The authors of Love Drugs—Julian Savulescu, an Oxford philosopher, and Brian Earp, a Yale doctoral candidate in philosophy and psychology—make plain that our brain’s love, lust, and attachment systems can be affected by real-life neuro-technologies. With cogent arguments, vivid experimental detail, and engaging storytelling, the authors show that chemical interventions to foster, enhance, and diminish love will only become more sophisticated as scientists discern the biochemical nature of the romantic bond.

Aficionados of Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception and Brave New World will find Love Drugs both entertaining and sobering. In fact, Love Drugs was almost titled Brave New Love. “There is a part of me that still prefers Brave New Love,” Earp says. “I think a lot of people think this is a pro-love drugs book. We tried not to do that. This is not ‘science will fix all of our problems.’ A title like Brave New Love says, ‘There’s a real danger here.’ Maybe if I could wave a magic wand I’d go back to Brave New Love. But it is what it is.”

I was excited to speak to Earp, a research fellow in the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at Oxford. I first learned of him in 2011 from YouTube. At the time, Earp was getting his master’s degree in psychology at Oxford, which was where philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris happened to be giving a talk on his then-new book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values. Earp, skeptical of the ostensible novelty of his thesis, incisively asked him to defend it. The recording of the exchange has almost 2 million views. In our conversation, Earp didn’t disappoint. He was as thoughtful and careful and smart in his responses to me as I expected him to be.

Commentary on The taxpayer supported Madison School District’s online Teacher Effectiveness

Emily Shetler:

Almost immediately after the Madison School District joined other districts across the country in announcing a return to online instruction instead of bringing students back to the classroom for the fall semester, posts started popping up on Facebook groups, Craigslist, Reddit and the University of Wisconsin-Madison student job board seeking in-home academic help.

Parents taxed by trying to do their own jobs from home while monitoring their children’s school work are looking for tutors, nannies, even retired teachers to help them navigate what could be several more months of virtual education.

“I think one of the important things that everyone needs to understand is right now, parents are in just an untenable position, all the way around, every parent,” said Madeline Hafner, executive director of the Minority Student Achievement Network Consortium at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Many families are teaming up with neighbors to pool resources and form “learning pods” for the school year. But research indicates when families can afford to do so turn to tutoring and educational services in their homes, it can affect the academic success of all students.

Mike, who asked for his last name to be withheld, was initially considering forming a learning pod with a small group of neighbors and hiring a teacher to help with virtual learning through the 2020-2021 school year.

But now he is planning to take his children out of MMSD and renting a house in Columbia County where he can send his children to in-person classes before returning to Madison next June. Otherwise, his family will adopt “some sort of home school curriculum.” 

Ann Althouse:

But if it’s hard to figure out, then the least privileged families — the ones the experts are supposedly so concerned about — will be impaired in doing what they might be able to do on their own to close the achievement gap. The experts are working hard to drive home the message that you can’t do it, that your kids are losing out, that you need the public schools, and that those other people over there — the privileged people — are taking advantage again and their advantage is your disadvantage.

IN THE COMMENTS: ellie said:

I am a homeschool mom who normally utilizes a cooperative. We cannot meet in our building this year due to covid. I’ve set up a “pod” in my home. It was easy. All the moms got together and talked over what our kids needed for the year, then we divided the classes. Each mom took what they were good at or could reasonably handle. No money involved at all for us. We set a schedule for 2 days a week, and the other days, work is assigned for home.

“Teachers have access to materials in their classrooms that are not available at home,” – despite million$ spent on Infinite Campus

Costs continue to grow for local, state and federal taxpayers in the K-12 space, as well:

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

(Note: “Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.)

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“Teachers have access to materials in their classrooms that are not available at home,” (1) – despite million$ spent on Infinite Campus

Taxpayers have spent millions on Infinite Campus:

Integration separates us from the competition. We are not just an SIS, we are an LMS, food service, district communicator, finance, human resources, and much more…all within a single product.

2012 (!) Madison School District Infinite Campus Usage Memorandum.

Across our middle and high schools, a number of you have utilized the Infinite Campus grade book.
Parents,guardians and other youth service providers appreciate the information regarding student progress. This year, the MMSD opened an online student enrollment option for families. The feedback is clear, a high percentage of MMSD families utilize Infinite Campus. The Research and Evaluation Department has analyzed the number of Infinite Campus grade book entries in all of our schools and it is evident to me that we have yet to reach our full implementation by having all teachers using the Infinite Campus grade book and consistently updating student progress. Therefore, it is my expectation that all teachers follow the below guidelines as we enter the 12-13 school year.

Notes and links on the Madison School District and Infinite Campus.

(1) via Logan Wroge’s recent Madison School Board Summary.

Madison School District to use some federal COVID-19 relief funds for online math instruction (Fall 2020 Referendum tax & Spending increase plans continue)

Logan Wroge:

The Madison School District will spend close to $500,000 out of the $8.2 million the district estimates it will receive from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to shore up its mathematics instruction for elementary and middle school students.

Using CARES Act money, the district plans to:

• Purchase $143,808 in individual math kits for elementary students;

• License for one year at $211,750 for all elementary students learning math;

• License the i-Ready platform for one year at $122,190 for middle school mathematics.

According to memos on the online platforms, i-Ready and DreamBox will be core teaching components to “hybrid and virtual learning environments.”

Middle schools have been using i-Ready for the past two years, but the use expanded in the spring when the platform’s developer allowed all Madison students to access it, according to a memo.

“Teachers have access to materials in their classrooms that are not available at home,” said a memo on the purchase of elementary math kits. “Purchasing the students kits will provide essential resources to all students to engage in online learning with lessons provided by their teacher.”

The $2 trillion CARES Act included $30.7 billion for K-12 and higher education institutions to respond to the financial constraints and needs of the pandemic.

The School District expects to receive funds from two pots of money for K-12 schools. Kelly Ruppel, the district’s chief financial officer, said the district estimates it will be able to use $8.2 million of the $9.1 million slated to go to Madison, depending on how much private schools within the district boundaries are eligible to receive.

Costs continue to grow for local, state and federal taxpayers in the K-12 space, as well:

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales.

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

(Note: “Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.)

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 202
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)

– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

WILL questions racially separated Madison west high school meetings on race

Benjamin Yount:

“It is head-spinning that a public school in Wisconsin would adopt racial segregation as a tool to confront racism in the twenty-first century. It is an affront to the hard-fought progress our country has made,” Esenberg said. 

The letter explained further: “By associating racial segregation with ’emotional safety and security,’ the school communicated to students and families that racial integration somehow detracts from ’emotional safety and security.’ That is the polar opposite of the message that should be communicated right now,” the letter stated.

“West’s broad classification of all students into ‘white students’ and ‘students of color’ undoubtedly alienated many students who do not fit neatly into these racial categories. If the goal is for students of different races and ethnicities to ‘build empathy and community for each other’ and to “make individual and collective connections,” racial segregation is the worst possible model; only an integrated discussion would allow students to hear and learn from each other,” Esenberg wrote.

Australian regulator says Google misled users over data privacy issues

Paulina Duran, Nikhil Nainan:

The move comes as scrutiny grows worldwide over data privacy, with U.S. and European lawmakers recently focusing on how tech companies treat user data.

In court documents, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accused Google of not explicitly getting consent or properly informing consumers of a 2016 move to combine personal information in Google accounts with browsing activities on non-Google websites.

“This change … was worth a lot of money to Google,” said commission chairman Rod Sims. “We allege they’ve achieved it through misleading behaviour.”

The change allowed Google to link the browsing behaviour of millions of consumers with their names and identities, providing it with extreme market power, the regulator added.

“We consider Google misled Australian consumers about what it planned to do with large amounts of their personal information, including internet activity on websites not connected to Google,” Sims said.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.

Why Marxist Organizations Like BLM Seek to Dismantle the “Western Nuclear Family”

Bradley Thomas:

One of the most oft-cited and criticized goals of the Black Lives Matter organization is its stated desire to abolish the family as we know it. Specifically, BLM’s official website states:

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

This idea isn’t unique to BLM, of course. “Disrupting” the “nuclear family” is a commonly stated goal among Maxist organizations. Given that BLM’s founders have specifically claimed to be “trained Marxists,” we should not be surprised that the organization’s leadership has embraced a Marxian view of the family.

But where does this hostility toward the family originate? Partly, it comes from the theories of Marx and Engels themselves, and their views that an earlier, matriarchal version of the family rejected private property as an organizing principle of society. It was only later that this older tribal model of the family gave way to the modern “patriarchal” family, which promotes and sustains private property.

Clearly, in the Marxian view, this “new” type of family must be opposed, since the destruction of this family model will make it easier to abolish private property as well.

Early Family Units in Tribal Life

Frederick Engels’s 1884 book The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State provides a historical perspective of the Marxian view of the development of the modern Western family unit and its relation to property rights. (Engels, of course, was the longtime benefactor of and collaborator with Marx.)

In reconstructing the origins of the family within a Marxian framework, Engels traces back to the “savage” primeval stage of humanity that, according to his research, revealed a condition in which “unrestricted sexual intercourse existed within a tribe, so that every woman belonged to every man, and vice versa.”

Under such conditions, Engels explained, “it is uncertain who is the father of the child, but certain, who is its mother.” Only female lineage could be acknowledged. “[B]eing the only well known parents of younger generations,” Engels explained, women as mothers “received a high tribute of respect and deference, amounting to a complete women’s rule [gynaicocracy].”

Furthermore, Engels wrote, tribes were subdivided into smaller groups called “gentes,” a primitive form of an extended family of sorts.

“The notion that parents inherently know what school is best for their kids is an example of conservative magical thinking.”; “For whatever reason, parents as a group tend to undervalue the benefits of diversity in the public schools….”

Edgewood College reinstates terminated faculty following appeals process

Yvonne Kim:

Edgewood College has reinstated the positions of all six Edgewood College professors who were initially terminated in May.

One anonymous professor and English and ethnic studies professor Huining Ouyang learned this week that the Board of Trustees decided to rescind their termination notices, while communications professor Bonnie Sierlecki had not yet directly heard the results of her appeal at the time of publication. Though Ouyang plans to return to the college, both she and Sierlecki cited opaque and confusing communication from administrators throughout the appeals process. 

They were among six faculty whose positions were eliminated May 27 as a step to meet “changing student needs.” Though the three others have since left the college, the Board decided to rescind all six terminations “in order to allow for a review of the entire process” and work toward a more comprehensive growth strategy, according to an email from Board chairwoman Lucy Keane to the Academic Rank Committee on Thursday.

“The Board felt that the best opportunity for those groups to work together was to move the focus away from a decision made in the past and put our focus and attention in the future,” Keane said in the email. “We look forward to a time of healing and for our new President to use this new-found time and space in a constructive way.”

How the Child Care Crisis Will Distort the Economy for a Generation

Zack Stanton:

Schools across the U.S. are closed because of the coronavirus, and unlikely to reopen safely anytime soon. Parents are exhausted from constant, round-the-clock care while trying to work from home; some have chosen to leave their jobs, or switch to part-time work, just to take care of their kids. And kids themselves are slipping behind academically.

Now comes the bad news: We haven’t seen the worst of it yet.

When the economist Betsey Stevenson looks at the pandemic-era economic crisis, she sees a long-simmering child care crisis that has suddenly surged to the foreground of people’s lives—and whose true scope we’ve barely begun to reckon with. Its potential to inflict lasting damage to the economy is enormous, and it’s getting short shrift in the recovery plans coming out of Washington.

“The work of recovering from it will not end just because we have a vaccine,” says Stevenson, a labor economist at the University of Michigan and former member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “We are making choices right now about where we will be as an economy in 20 years, in 30 years, based on what we do with these kids.”

Among those most likely to be affected are working mothers, who shoulder an outsize share of child care responsibilities, and have suddenly had far more work dropped in their laps. Women already need to make difficult choices between work advancement and their family roles, which can bring down their incomes over time; Stevenson expects the crisis to make that conflict sharply worse: “The impact of the child care crisis on women’s outcomes is going to be felt over the next decade.”

Analysis: Michigan Teachers Union & Its Health Insurance Trust Raked In at Least $11 Million in Small Business Bailout Money

Mike Antonucci:

When I wrote that the National Education Association and its state affiliates were big business, I got it only half-right. It turns out they are small business, too.

Under public pressure, the federal government released a partial list of fund recipients from the Paycheck Protection Program, a project created as part of a package of economic relief for businesses suffering under COVID-19 shutdowns. Managed by the Small Business Administration, the program is “designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.” If the money is used for that purpose, the low-interest loan will be forgiven.

The definition of “small business” turned out to be an expansive one. It didn’t take reporters long to discover that 16 billionaires received the loans, as well as the Catholic Church and, even worse, charter schools.

It’s this last group that led to breathless stories in The New York Timesand The Washington Post, but both newspapers failed to notice that another group also took advantage of government largesse: labor unions.

Unions and their subsidiaries on the government’s list received a minimum of $26 million and may have gotten as much as $51 million. By far the largest recipients among those unions were the Michigan Education Association and the health insurance subsidiary it created, the Michigan Education Special Services Association. They received a combined minimum of $11.4 million.

“An emphasis on adult employment“.

Cancel culture takes the fun out of life, says comedian John Cleese

Rollo Ross:

Cleese last month called the BBC “cowardly and gutless” for temporarily taking down an episode of “Fawlty Towers” that made fun of Germans and World War Two and also featured a character using a racial slur.

Cancel culture “misunderstands the main purposes of life which is to have fun,” Cleese told Reuters, referring to the trend in which people are ostracized because of behavior or remarks seen as objectionable.

“Everything humorous is critical. If you have someone who is perfectly kind and intelligent and flexible and who always behaves appropriately, they’re not funny. Funniness is about people who don’t do that, like Trump,” he said, referring to the U.S. president.

With most UW classes still online this fall, students hold out hope for reduced tuition

Kelly Meyerhofer:

As University of Wisconsin System students grapple with the realization that most of their classes will again be online this fall, many hold out hope for some form of tuition relief to offset what they see as an inferior learning experience.

UW-Madison student Brielle Schnowske enrolled in five courses this fall semester, two of which include a weekly face-to-face discussion. The rest of the incoming senior’s coursework will be online, which she described as the “right call” to limit the spread of COVID-19. But like most every college student, she wants a break in tuition because she said her online classes this spring were nowhere near the quality she experienced in her face-to-face classes.

“I think one of the biggest parts of college is obviously meeting people in class and engaging with others, but also being able to talk to the professor before or after lecture to ask questions,” she said. “I think that adds a lot to the experience, because otherwise I feel like I could have been doing online classes that are way cheaper somewhere else.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Joel Kotkin Q&A on ‘The Coming of Neo-Feudalism’

Carl Cannon:

Let’s start at the beginning, Joel. In talking about your new book, “The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class,” do you literally fear that liberal capitalism is losing out to economic “feudalism”? And please put that word feudalism in a modern context for our readers.

The parallels are striking. In the long centuries after the feudal era — let’s say starting around 1200 ACE — there was a slow, but gradual rise of upward mobility and growing power to the middle class. In the 20th century this progress was extended to the working class. Despite its many crises, liberal capitalism provided a better way of life and higher expectations not only for Americans, but also Europeans, Japanese, east Asians, including China, Canada, Australia and even some developing countries.

That progress stalled in the 1970s in the West, as wealth began to concentrate in fewer hands and income growth all but ended for the vast majority. Instead, we see the rise of two classes that parallel the feudal structure. One is the oligarchy, notably in Silicon Valley, and the other is a modern version of the clerisy; one replicates the military aristocracy that rose after the end of the Roman Empire; the other, the powerful priesthood of the Catholic Church. Meanwhile the middle class, what I call the property-owning yeomanry, has declined while the ranks of the new serf class — essentially those with no hope of achieving property ownership or a shot to move into the middle class — have expanded.

This is the essence of neo-feudalism.

You sound the alarm about the fate awaiting the “global” middle class, but the book’s epicenter is in California. You have a contrarian opinion of the prevailing view, which was recently expressed this way by progressive writers Peter Leyden and Ruy Teixeira: “Cali­fornia is the future of American politics.” Apparently, you no longer believe that’s something to celebrate. 

I have lived in California for nearly a half century. When I came here, it was the land of opportunity. Sure, there was poverty but also a lot of upward mobility. People came here to make their lives better. Now California suffers large-scale middle- and working-class out-migration and the highest poverty rate, adjusted for costs, of any state. Inequality, as James Galbraith and others have found, is about as steep as anywhere.

Our once-dynamic politics are frozen in place. California’s thriving two-party system morphed into a one-party state dominated by tech oligarchs, public employees, and green activists. The state’s Republican Party, which once loomed over the nation, has withered into a small Trumpist cult with perhaps 40% support at best.

China drafts new rules to ensure foreign teachers protect national ‘honour’

Nathan VanderKlippe:

China is sweeping foreigners into its demands for political conformity with a draft policy for international teachers that mandates ideological training sessions, prescribes a new tracking system to monitor conduct and threatens to punish those accused of damaging the country’s dignity.

The draft policy, released Tuesday for a month of comment, formalizes expectations for foreign teachers who work in China, many of whom have already been instructed to avoid classroom discussion of subjects the Chinese Communist Party considers sensitive – forbidden topics that include the Tiananmen Square massacre, the status of Taiwan and the mass incarceration of Uyghurs.

In doing so, education authorities have made clear new political oversight requirements for international schools in China, where dozens of institutions are backed by Canadian provinces.

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Education is an important component of Canadian trade with China and a key sector for foreign passport holders in the country; between 30 and 40 per cent of the international work force in China is employed in education, according to China Services International, a state-backed foreign recruitment firm.

Rutgers English Department to deemphasize traditional grammar ‘in solidarity with Black Lives Matter’

Alex Frank:

The English Department at Rutgers University recently announced a list of “anti-racist” directives and initiatives for the upcoming fall and spring semesters, including an effort to deemphasize traditional grammar rules.

The initiatives were spelled out by Rebecca Walkowitz, the English Department chair at Rutgers University, and sent to faculty, staff and students in an email, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix.

Walkowitz sent the email on “Juneteenth,” which celebrates the commemoration of emancipation from slavery in the United States.

Titled “Department actions in solidarity with Black Lives Matter,” the email states that the ongoing and future initiatives that the English Department has planned are a “way to contribute to the eradication of systemic inequities facing black, indigenous, and people of color.”

One of the initiatives is described as “incorporating ‘critical grammar’ into our pedagogy.”

It is listed as one of the efforts for Rutgers’ Graduate Writing Program, which “serves graduate students across the Rutgers community. The GWP’s mission is to support graduate students of all disciplines in their current and future writing goals, from coursework papers to scholarly articles and dissertations,” according to its website.

Teaching Isn’t About Managing Behavior

Christopher Emdin:

In the fall of 2001, armed with an undergraduate science degree and a rushed teaching credential, I stood in front of a sea of Black and brown middle-school students in the Bronx and announced that I was their teacher. On the first day of school, I told them, “This is my class. I am going to be teaching you science and math. You will listen, you will work hard, and you will be respectful.” I had practiced these lines in the mirror for weeks. My shoulders were back, my hands were in my pockets, and my teacher scowl had been perfected. Everything I had been told about how to teach—that success was only attained in a quiet, contained classroom, and you had to be tough to maintain it—was contained in those few lines.

A few weeks later, I was walking the aisles of the classroom while my students were working quietly on math problems, when loud sirens began to penetrate the walls. Thinking it was just another police car or ambulance, I yelled at my students to focus. In that moment, ensuring that they were not yielding to distractions was my biggest concern. But the sirens persisted for longer than usual. Students looked up at me with concern; my brows tightened in a scowl that forced their eyes back to their notebooks. I knew that no math was happening, but as long as no eyes were lifted from the page, I felt successful. Then the phone rang.

Laws Protecting Private Employees’ Speech and Political Activity Against Employer Retaliation: Cross-Cutting Questions

Eugene Volokh:

Before I get into the specifics of the various state and local statutes, let me flag some questions that different legislatures have answered differently (and, in some instances, that some legislatures haven’t expressly addressed).

[1.] Criminal Liability, Civil Liability, or Both?

Some of the statutes expressly provide for civil liability, some for criminal liability, and some for both. But courts generally treat these sorts of criminal statutes as also generating a private right of action, either as a matter of statutory interpretation or as an application of the “wrongful discharge in violation of public policy” tort.

[2.] Coverage for Existing Employees or Also for Applicants?

Some of the statutes expressly cover all employer decisions. Others only cover discharge or discipline of current employees rather than refusal to hire applicants. Note, though, that the California Supreme Court has read its statute as covering discrimination in hiring, even though the statutory text refers just to actions with regard to “employee[s].”

[3.] Application Only to Established Policies, or Also to Individual Employment Decisions?

Some of the statutes expressly cover all employer actions, but others cover only policies restricting speech. Such policies need not be published ones; an accepted course of conduct would suffice.[1]

The question is whether the statutes that ban speech-restrictive “polic[ies]” should also apply to individual incidents of discrimination, animated by an employer’s concerns at that moment rather than by some coherent general plan. The Louisiana Supreme Court has answered the question yes, holding that the ban on enforcing any “rule, regulation or policy” restraining political activity extends to individual firing decisions made even without any express policy. “[T]he actual firing of one employee for political activity constitutes for the remaining employees both a policy and a threat of similar firings.” On the other hand, the California Supreme Court has defined “policy” as “[a] settled or definite course or method adopted and followed” by the employer, and a California federal district court has specifically concluded that an individual retaliatory decision does not suffice to show the existence of a “rule, regulation, or policy.”

A belief in meritocracy is not only false: it’s bad for you

Clifton Mark:

This is to say nothing of the fortuitous circumstances that figure into every success story. In his book Success and Luck (2016), the US economist Robert Frank recounts the long-shots and coincidences that led to Bill Gates’s stellar rise as Microsoft’s founder, as well as to Frank’s own success as an academic. Luck intervenes by granting people merit, and again by furnishing circumstances in which merit can translate into success. This is not to deny the industry and talent of successful people. However, it does demonstrate that the link between merit and outcome is tenuous and indirect at best.

According to Frank, this is especially true where the success in question is great, and where the context in which it is achieved is competitive. There are certainly programmers nearly as skilful as Gates who nonetheless failed to become the richest person on Earth. In competitive contexts, many have merit, but few succeed. What separates the two is luck.

In addition to being false, a growing body of research in psychology and neuroscience suggests that believing in meritocracy makes people more selfish, less self-critical and even more prone to acting in discriminatory ways. Meritocracy is not only wrong; it’s bad.

How Iceland Got Teens to Say No to Drugs

Emma Young:

The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. “This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,” says Milkman. “I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.”

If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical wellbeing of millions of kids, not to mention the coffers of healthcare agencies and broader society. It’s a big if.

“I was in the eye of the storm of the drug revolution,” Milkman explains over tea in his apartment in Reykjavik. In the early 1970s, when he was doing an internship at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City, “LSD was already in, and a lot of people were smoking marijuana. And there was a lot of interest in why people took certain drugs.”

Independent Madison charter Milestone Democratic School designed ‘by youth, for youth’

Logan Wroge:

In 2017, Anderson and a partner approached the UW System’s Office of Educational Opportunity about starting an independent charter. The school’s design team was formed the next year, and Milestone received approval from the System in 2019 to open as Madison’s third independent charter.

Independent charters are tuition-free, public schools authorized by government entities other than school districts and not under the supervision of local school boards. The other two in Madison are One City Schools and Isthmus Montessori Academy.

For 2020-21, Milestone is seeking a minimum enrollment of 30 students across grades seven through 12 and has a cap of 64 students in total, said Anderson, who will serve as an adviser. So far, fewer than 20 students are going through the enrollment process.

The first day of school is Aug. 27, but enrollment can happen throughout the school year, he said.

Despite its remote start, Milestone recently signed a five-year lease to take over the former Madison Media Institute building, 2758 Dairy Drive, on the city’s Southeast Side.

Milestone Democratic School operates on less than half the per student taxpayer funds (redistributed state and federal tax funds) as the Madison School District, which deeply harvests local property taxes.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed (independent) Madison Preparatory IB charter school.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Curated Education Information