30 public schools in Chicago are named for slaveholders; surprised CPS promises changes

Lauren Fitzpatrick:

One of the city’s oldest public high schools, once heavily Jewish, for decades home to a nearly all-Black student body, it boasts fiercely proud alumni and a reputation for powerhouse athletics.

It’s named for the fourth chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, widely regarded as the most influential leader of the nation’s highest court, honored with his face on postage stamps and his name on law schools in Chicago and elsewhere.

Marshall also was a slaveholder his entire adult life, with at least 200 Black slaves on his Virginia plantations.

That part of Marshall’s history didn’t keep an all-white Chicago Board of Education from naming the school on West Adams Street in East Garfield Park for him when it opened 125 years ago.

“That’s our heritage,” says Anyiah Jackson-Williams, Marshall’s valedictorian from the class of 2020. “I’m African American. It really was a shocker to me. He’s one of the people that was a slave owner.”

Covid-19 Is Deadlier for People With Autism, Down Syndrome. Now Families Are Pushing Hard for Vaccines.

Alistair MacDonald and Caitlin Ostroff:

A higher Covid-19 death rate among people with autism, Down syndrome and other intellectual development disorders has sparked a lobbying effort by family members and caregivers to persuade states to give priority to the group in vaccine rollouts.

People with such disorders, who account for one in 50 Americans, are on average more than 2½ times as likely to die from Covid-19 as the wider U.S. population, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from 12 states. The analysis mirrors similar, recent studies. One study, conducted by nonprofit organization FAIR Health, found the group’s death rate is higher than many others already widely recognized as particularly vulnerable to the disease.

The higher rate is because many people with these disorders suffer from conditions such as respiratory and heart disease, which are known to contribute to lower rates of survival from Covid-19, medical experts say.

Inside Education Column: Madison’s Literacy Task Force: Reading Renaissance or Recycling?

Armand A. Fusco, Ed.D.
(Retired school superintendent, college administrator, columnist, author and consultant)
:

Before looking at the Madison disastrous reading problem, some reading background will be helpful to put it into an historical perspective to fully understand the problems and issues involved that are also national in scope. What’s important to note is that it’s not true of all students; the reading pandemic is a boy problem and particularly boys of color. Furthermore, reading is a long standing problem that has not been solved despite more research, dollars, and staffing.

Madison started to seriously look at its reading problem in the late 1990’s. What was known at that time about reading? A good place to start is with the testing data in 1998:

The NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) is considered the nation’s report card because it is a standardized and used nationally by school districts. Reading scores revealed that nationally 38% of 4th graders (41% male, 35% female), 26% of 8th graders (32% male, 19% female), and 23% of 12th graders (30% male, 17% female) scored “below basic” skills. “At all grades and for all levels, the reading performance of female students exceeded that of their male peers.” Obviously, gender is an absolutely critical factor in examining test data and resolving the reading pandemic; boys, like it or not, learn differently than girls. In fact, the average score for male 12th graders was lower than that in 1992; so boys are regressing rather than progressing. The alarm bells are ringing, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is listening!

One interesting outcome was a Chicago Tribune article, Schools Pay New Attention to Boys, “… many educators are reaching the same conclusion: boys are in crisis in America’s classrooms. Educators know that boys account for the overwhelming majority of behavior problems, dominate special education (primarily because of reading problems), and increasing numbers are on medication.”

When ethnic groups are compared, it reveals a far more alarming picture of reading performance across Education America. For example, in 8th grade, 18% of Whites, 18% of Asians, 39% of American Indians, 46% of Hispanics, and 47% of Blacks scored “below basic.” If “basic level” is included, just under 90% of minorities did not achieve at “proficient level” skills. Isn’t it logical to conclude that minorities are programmed for academic failure? True, but not quite right. 47% of blacks include boys and girls, but girls outscore boys. Braking this score down will reveal far more failures among boys than girls. How much longer can society afford to tolerate such disparity in reading achievement?

So any reading debate without regard to gender or ethnicity is really insane and mindless to put it in the bluntest possible terms. It simply does not address reality; but, more importantly, it is masking—not solving—the real problems.

Make no mistake about it, this is discrimination at its worst! How can the quest for equality be achieved when the results are dramatically unequal? Isn’t being trapped in the “bondage of illiteracy” the most intolerable and vicious form of discrimination?

The muckraker’s biography:

My name is Armand A. Fusco, Ed.D. a retired school superintendent, and I will be contributing a weekly column entitled The Muckraker (Unravelling the Educational Mystique) that will be dealing with all aspects of educational issues and problems based on 40 years of experience pre-K to college with an earned doctorate degree in educational administration.

I have held positions as a teacher, department head, school psychologist, counselor, Director of Guidance, Principal (elementary and secondary), and 3 years of a post-doctoral internship studying Total Quality Management.

After retiring in 1992 from public education, I was employed as Director of Teacher Interns and Professor of Education, at an inner city university until 2000. During this time, I started an educational column, Inside Education, that covered just about all aspects of education, followed by publishing two books, School Corruption: Betrayal of Children and the Public Trust 2005, and School Pushouts (Dropouts): A Plague of Hopelessness Perpetrated by Zombie Schools 2012. During the COVID months, I finished another book, Boys’ Academic Pandemic: Can’t Read, Can’t Learn to be published in 2021.

Among my efforts has been to help communities establish Volunteer Citizen Audit Committees to monitor local school practices and spending to determine if they are economical, efficient, and effective, and to shed light on the School to Prison Pipeline that impacts every community.

My education philosophy:

After serving over 40 years in all of the trenches of education what is evident is that there are a number of cancerous tumors in the system that make the issues and problems confusing and complex to alleviate or cure. The most serious is the use of generalized statistics that distort the reality of educational outcomes unless they are disaggregated by gender, race, age and location. For example, there is a constant drumbeat to reduce class size; yet, it has been reduced from 28 to 15. However, walking through any elementary school building will not find this average in the typical classroom with city school. classrooms being larger than suburban schools. At the high school level, class size ranges anywhere from six to thirty and beyond. All it indicates is that more staff has been added, but not just teacher staff. In other words, it provides a vastly distorted picture of the typical classroom size because there is no such thing; nevertheless, the class size drumbeat continues to beat.

Another cancer is the use of symptoms too often used as causes that hide the real truths. For example, the epicenter of the sad condition of education is located in about 800 districts (mostly inner city) out of 15,000, and, as a result, socio-economic conditions (poverty, housing, dysfunctional families, discrimination, etc.) are given as causes of educational failings when they are only contributing conditions to consider. So why should the rest of the parents, educators, taxpayers and policymakers in the remaining districts be concerned? Because the results and consequences from the 800 impact all communities spreading like a virus everywhere because it’s in these districts with failing schools that cultivate the school to prison pipeline that results in dropouts. These dropouts then make up to 80% of prison inmates, but the crimes they commit occur in every district not just the 800.. Worse yet is that five years after being released from their sentence, they return back to their prison cells after committing more crimes—misdemeanors to felonies. Who are these inmates? Primarily minority boys and that is why there is so little discussion about it because it would cause cries and claims of discrimination.

Free, online computer textbooks

Colin Gordon:

Below is a loosely-categorized collection of links to CS textbooks in a variety of areas that are freely available online, usually because they are one of the following:

• An open textbook (such as PLAI, SF, or the HoTT book)

• An older book that is out of print, for which the copyright has returned to the original author(s) (such as TTFP)

• An author’s own preprint or draft of a textbook. This includes cases where the author has made special arrangements with a publisher to host an electronic copy of a published text on their homepage while it remains in print.

Most of these I’ve only used for brief personal reference, and have not read in depth. The exceptions, those books I’ve spent considerable time with and highly recommend, are marked with asterisks.

I also include below a list of papers I consider good stand-alone introductions to certain topics, and a list of links to thorough special topics courses.

If you find one of the links below is broken or has moved, feel free to let me know.

Those with time to spare and looking to have less of it may enjoy browsing the QA call numbers in UPenn’s extensive listing of online books. Most of those listed here were found independently over the years, but I’ve just now (June 2020) learned of this excellent repository of links. I’ll add to the links below as I find promising books.

Commentary on Madison’s 2021 in person school plans, if any

Scott Girard:

I’m really glad to hear that. How has virtual learning gone for your two kids?

I have a first grader and a fifth grader, as I think we talked about last time and virtual learning for my fifth grader was going extremely poorly. And we made a decision in November to pull him out of public school. And he is now homeschooled. Which, you know, a lot of people have said, when I said that, “Oh, my gosh, how is that working for you while you’re working full time?” And I have to say it’s actually been less work, because we don’t have to sit with him constantly and keep him on task. Virtual school was really deeply challenging. And it’s going somewhat better for my first grader. But that’s because he has his grandma available to him as essentially a full time learning coach. And so he really does have a lot of hands-on support to help him do it.

Well, good for you all for making the decision you needed to for your kids.

Yeah, it was a difficult decision to make on several different fronts. And one of them was certainly that I really do feel strongly that I want to support my public school system and the state public school system but it just wasn’t working for him at all, wasn’t working for any of us.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

20 years

Peter Woit:

In many ways, twenty years of further failure have had less than no effect. Lubos Motl is still arguing that string theory is the language in which God wrote the universe, and Michio Kaku has a new book about to appear, in which it looks like string field theory is described by the God Equation. Ignoring these extreme examples, string theory remains remarkably well-entrenched in mainstream physics: for example, my university regularly offers a course training undergraduates in string theory, and prestigious $3 million prizes are routinely given for work on the subject. The usual mechanisms according to which a failed scientific idea is supposed to fall by the wayside for some reason have not had an effect.

While string theory’s failures have gotten a lot of popular press, the situation is rather different within the physics community. One reason I was interested in publishing the article in Physics Today was that discussion of this issue belongs there, in a place it could get serious attention from within the field. To this day, that has not happened. The story of my article was that I finally did hear back from Lubkin on 2/21/2001. She told me that she would talk to the Physics Today editor Stephen Benka about it. I heard from Benka on 5/6/2001, who told me they wouldn’t publish an article like that, but that I should rework it for publication as a shorter letter to the editor. I did this and sent a short letter version back to them, never heard anything back (a few months later I wrote to ask what had happened to my letter, was told they had decided not to publish it, but didn’t bother to let me know). In 2002 an editor from American Scientist contacted me about the article, and it ended up getting published there.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Companies are fleeing California. Blame bad government.

Bloomberg:

In recent years, San Francisco has seemed to be begging for companies to leave. In addition to familiar failures of governance – widespread homelessness, inadequate transit, soaring property crime – it has also imposed more idiosyncratic hindrances. Far from welcoming experimentation, it has sought to undermine or stamp out home-rental services, food-delivery apps, ride-hailing firms, electric-scooter companies, facial recognition technology, delivery robots and more, even as the pioneers in each of those fields attempted to set up shop in the city. It tried to ban corporate cafeterias – a major tech-industry perk – on the not-so-sound theory that this would protect local restaurants. It created an “Office of Emerging Technology” that will only grant permission to test new products if they’re deemed, in a city bureaucrat’s view, to provide a “net common good.” Whatever the merits of such meddling, it’s hardly a formula for unbounded inventiveness.

These two traits – poor governance and animosity toward business – have collided calamitously with respect to the city’s housing market. Even as officials offered tax breaks for tech companies to headquarter themselves downtown, they mostly refused to lift residential height limits, modify zoning rules or allow significant new construction to accommodate the influx of new workers. They then expressed shock that rents and home prices were soaring – and blamed the tech companies.

School Went Online This Year, Including MIT’s Swimming Test

Jem Bartholomew:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology swim test—a 100-yard paddle required to graduate—hung over Megan Ochalek for four long years.

“I procrastinated taking it for seven semesters, despite many, many angry texts from my mom,” said Ms. Ochalek, 22 years old, a mechanical engineering major.

She was about to dive in last spring—her last semester before graduating—when the pandemic struck. Other schools with swim requirements such as Cornell, Dartmouth and Columbia waived their tests. MIT took another approach: It decided to go virtual with an online “conceptual swim class” to test student buoyancy.

In normal times, the swim test acts as a rite of passage for new MIT recruits, ensuring students better known for their brains can also ace aquatics. The requirement began in 1948 in response to drowning casualties during World War II.

The virtual class, which is just for seniors, tests students with a quiz and has five essay questions on subjects such as how they would react to trouble in different types of water. Students have to cite texts from the American Red Cross. Questions include: What are three ways to ensure safe diving? (Answer: Water at least 9-feet-deep, care with funnel-shaped home pools, and never drink and dive.) Or, How do you self-rescue after falling through ice? (As a final step, once back on the surface, roll away from the break.)

The Bipartisan Moral Rot of America’s Institutions

Gerard Baker:

In politics, in business, in the cultural discourse that plays out on a never-ending doom loop on our screens and in our heads, the year has been marked by the triumph of cynical expediency, the relentless pursuit of self-interest dressed up as public-spirited principle.

Political leaders, business chiefs and the media and entertainment figures they ventriloquize have grasped their opportunities in this tempestuous year to advance their own causes. A pandemic, urban violence, the machinery of electoral democracy—all carefully repurposed and packaged in a gauzy wrapping of useful lies to ensure above all else their gain.

Pandemic Leads Dozens of Universities to Pause Ph.D. Admissions

Melissa Korn:

The coronavirus pandemic threw doctoral programs, like nearly everything else, into disarray. Now some department chairs see an opportunity for reform.

In what is perhaps the largest recalibration ever in academic graduate programs, more than 140 doctoral programs across dozens of schools are saying they won’t admit new students for fall 2021. Ph.D. programs in seven of eight Ivy League schools are pressing pause, and so are others at the University of Chicago, University of Minnesota and University of Washington.

The triple-digit tally comes from a list that the Chronicle of Higher Education is maintaining, as well as reports from other schools not included there.

A K-12 Windfall

Wall Street Journal:

Education will get a whopping $82 billion, about $54 billion of which will go to K-12 schools though many are closed and employ fewer staff. That’s about as much as the federal government spends on K-12 in a normal year.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district recently raised spending (and property taxes) substantially via fall, 2020 referendum.

Executive Order on Expanding Educational Opportunity Through School Choice

Whitehouse.gov

The prolonged deprivation of in-person learning opportunities has produced undeniably dire consequences for the children of this country.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that school attendance is negatively correlated with a child’s risk of depression and various types of abuse.  States have seen substantial declines in reports of child maltreatment while school buildings have been closed, indicating that allegations are going unreported.  These reductions are driven in part by social isolation from the schoolteachers and support staff with whom students typically interact and who have an obligation to report suspected child maltreatment.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also found that school closures have a “substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and families.”  Additionally, a recent survey of educators found student absences from school, including virtual learning, have nearly doubled during the pandemic, and as AAP has noted, chronic absenteeism is associated with alcohol and drug use, teenage pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, and suicide attempts.

School closures are especially difficult for families with children with special needs.  Schools provide not only academic supports for students with special needs, but they also provide much-needed in-person therapies and services, including physical and occupational therapies.  A recent survey found that 80 percent of children with special needs are not receiving the services and supports to which they are entitled and that approximately 40 percent of children with special needs are receiving no services or supports.  Moreover, the survey found that virtual learning may not be fully accessible to these students, as children with special needs are twice as likely to receive little or no remote learning and to be dissatisfied with the remote learning received.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Public health bodies may be talking at us, but they’re actually talking to each other

Megan McArdle:

If you watch the YouTube video of the now-infamous November meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, you’ll hear Chairman José Romero thank everyone for a “robust discussion.” Shortly thereafter, the committee unanimously agreed that essential workers should get vaccinated ahead of the elderly, even though they’d been told this would mean up to 6 percent more deaths. This decision was supported in part by noting that America’s essential workers are more racially diverse than its senior citizens.

On Dec. 20, after the public belatedly noticed this attempted geronticide, the advisory panel walked it back, so I need not point out the many flaws of this reasoning. Instead, let’s dwell on the equally flawed process by which the committee reached its decision, because that itself is a symptom of much deeper problems that have plagued us since the beginning of the pandemic.

As James Surowiecki, author of “The Wisdom of Crowds,” pointed out, when a large group acts as though a complicated problem is a no-brainer, that doesn’t mean the solution is obvious; it means something has gone badly wrong. The specific failure might be as banal as groupthink or as worrying as the possibility that some of the gushing endorsements were due less to deep conviction than fear of offending professional colleagues.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Twin Cities schools glad to reopen, but small towns bristle at rules

Josh Verges:

New state guidance that will enable Minnesota’s youngest learners to head back to school next month is getting cheers from urban districts, jeers from rural schools and a mixed response from teachers.

Within hours of Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement Wednesday that elementary schools soon can operate at full capacity, even as coronavirus case rates remain high, some of the state’s largest school districts said they’d move as quickly as possible.

Anoka-Hennepin, Osseo, Elk River and Robbinsdale all said Wednesday that they would resume a full-time, in-person schedule for grades 2 and under on Jan. 19, with grades 3 to 5 joining them two weeks later.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Bond Boom Comes to America’s Colleges and Universities

Juliet Chung and Melissa Korn:

Faced with a rapid deterioration in their finances in 2020, America’s colleges and universities issued a record amount of bonds this year.

It is a stressful time for higher education. The coronavirus pandemic worsened existing pressures on tuition and auxiliary revenue, with international students opting to study outside the U.S. and money from room and board drying up as schools keep classes online. At the same time, demand for financial aid and costs related to providing protective gear and Covid-19 testing have jumped.

Hoping to address possible shortfalls and take advantage of ultralow rates, universities have flooded the market with debt. With few places to get a return in the bond market, investors have scooped up the issues, which in some cases offer yields of 2% or 3% for debt that matures in 15 to 30 years.

The higher-education sector “becomes attractive because it’s under pressure,” said Daniel Solender, who oversees tax-free fixed-income investments at asset manager Lord Abbett & Co., referring to rising yields on higher-education bonds as schools’ ability to navigate the pandemic came into question. The firm added more than $300 million to its holdings of such bonds this year.

“There are a lot of high-quality institutions with great reputations, great balance sheets, that will find a way to make it through this environment,” he said.

Closing classrooms may cost school districts thousands of students for years to come

Will Flanders & Ben DeGrow:

In the spring, many families were willing to give schools the benefit of the doubt as they adjusted to distance-learning programs, but it looks like time has run out on that goodwill. Part of the frustration is tied to students’ learning losses in key subjects such as math. Even more significant, perhaps, are concerns about mental health and child care.

Fewer parents are now “completely satisfied” with their children’s education; their number fell by 10 percentage points since last year, according to a Gallup poll. Parents across the country have expressed their dissatisfaction by voting with their feet: States from Colorado to Georgia have experienced substantial declines in public school enrollment.

How well do officials’ decisions to keep schools closed explain these enrollment declines? One recent study in Wisconsin attempted to find out. Using data from the more than 400 school districts in the state, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty found that districts that went fully virtual saw a 3 percent decline in enrollment, on average, once other factors were accounted for.

Many students who left public schools enrolled in the state’s private school choice programs, where a significant number of schools maintained in-person instruction even as traditional public schools shut down. The biggest enrollment declines occurred in the grade levels that have the most difficult time with virtual learning – kindergarten and pre-kindergarten.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Milwaukee Public Schools is slow-walking at a time when the COVID crisis demands urgency. Students may suffer

Alan Borsuk:

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “slow-walking” as “acting in a deliberately slow manner” that delays or prevents progress.

I looked it up because I was thinking about the Milwaukee Public Schools system. Hmmm. We could argue over whether the Milwaukee School Board and the MPS administration are deliberately acting slowly. I’m not good at reading minds and I don’t know much about what goes on behind the scenes.     

The year the ruling class got woke

Tom Slater:

For me, the defining image of 2020 was also the funniest: that of Democratic lawmakers in the US taking the knee, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, draped in Ghanaian kente cloth.

Watching thoroughly establishment politicians, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer to the fore, literally kneeling before the new woke politics was striking. It provoked so many questions, not least if Pelosi and Schumer (80 and 70 respectively) would be able to rise again unassisted.

But this absurd attempt at virtue-signalling – which provoked mockery rather than plaudits, even among those it was meant to impress – made one thing clear: that wokeness is the new orthodoxy, and the old elites know this.

Divisive, identitarian ideas around race, gender and sexuality have of course been gaining ground in elite circles for some time. The idea that Western societies are not simply affected by bigotry, but defined by it and built on it, had been gaining ground in academia for decades. 

The rise of campus censorship and student intolerance is in many respects an off-shoot of this ideology, which holds that words wound and that free speech and reason are just covers for white domination – and which seems to generate Salem-like hysteria among its adherents.

Covid-19 Is Deadlier for People With Autism, Down Syndrome. Now Families Are Pushing Hard for Vaccines.

Alistair MacDonald and Caitlin Ostroff:

A higher Covid-19 death rate among people with autism, Down syndrome and other intellectual development disorders has sparked a lobbying effort by family members and caregivers to persuade states to give priority to the group in vaccine rollouts.

People with such disorders, who account for one in 50 Americans, are on average more than twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as the wider U.S. population, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from 12 states. The analysis mirrors similar, recent studies. One study, conducted by nonprofit organization FAIR Health, found the group’s death rate is higher than many others already widely recognized as particularly vulnerable to the disease.

The higher rate is because many people with these disorders suffer from conditions such as respiratory and heart disease, which are known to contribute to lower rates of survival from Covid-19, medical experts say.

Family members and caregivers are concerned that the vulnerable won’t be prioritized for vaccines despite the high death rates. They say people with these conditions have been consistently ignored by officials throughout the pandemic and the disorders are little understood even by medical professionals, making diagnoses and treatments more difficult.

It’s hard to see how Milwaukee Public Schools benefits from hostility toward its own charter schools

Alan Borsuk:

As a second, less tangible factor, some of the charter schools get very good academic results. For example, Milwaukee Excellence Charter School, one of the schools receiving a reduced renewal Dec. 17, had the highest score of any Milwaukee school on the statewide school report card in 2018. In 2019, it had the second highest score in MPS. (This year, there were no report card scores because the COVID-19 outbreak eliminated statewide testing in the spring.) 

The MPS committee that reviewed the school’s performance recommended a five-year renewal for that school and the other two that came before the board. Still, the board changed each to three, while making it clear they were not criticizing the schools.  

Milwaukee College Prep operates four schools in low-income neighborhoods on the north side with just over 2,000 students. It has outperformed MPS in reading and math year after year.  

But, amid unhappy dealings with MPS, the charter renewal process for College Prep is on hold now and the school network is applying to switch its charters to UWM. That could occur before the next school year, and it would cost MPS more than $4 million a year in revenue, plus the loss of students whose test scores raise the overall MPS results.  

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

More info is available about which college majors pay off, but students aren’t using it

Washington Post:

When the University of Texas system teamed up with the Census Bureau to show how much money graduates earn, broken down by major and campus, the idea was to help future students make good choices.

College is, after all, a huge investment, with costs consumers often criticize and toward which many have to borrow. If they knew that one major results in higher salaries than others — or that graduates from one university earn more than those with the exact same degree from another — wouldn’t they make the higher-paying choice?

The University as the Woke Mission Field: A Dissident Women’s Studies Ph.D. Speaks Out

Samantha Jones:

I have a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies, but I’m not woke anymore. I write under a pseudonym because, if my colleagues were to find out about my criticisms of this field, I would be unable to find any employment in academia. That someone who critiques the axioms of a field of study feels compelled to write under an assumed name tells you everything you need to know about the authoritarianism underpinning this ideology. I no longer believe that the fundamental ideas of Women’s Studies, and of Critical Social Justice more generally, describe reality; they are at best partial explanations—hyperbolic ideology, not fact-based analysis. I have seen this ideology up close and seen how it consumes and even destroys people, while dehumanizing anyone who dissents.

I’m sad to say it, but I believe that Critical Social Justice ideology—if not beaten in the war of ideas—will destroy the liberal foundation of American society. By liberal I mean principles including, but not limited to, constitutional republican government, equality under the law, due process, a commitment to reason and science, individual liberty, and freedom—of speech, of the press, and of religion. Because Critical Social Justice ideology is now the dominant paradigm in American academia, it has flowed into all other major societal institutions, the media, and even corporations. Far from being counter-cultural, Critical Social Justice ideology is now the cultural mainstream. A diverse spectrum of liberals, libertarians, conservatives, and all others who, to put it bluntly, want the American constitution to continue to serve as the basis for our society have to team up to prevent this ideology from destroying our country.

I became “woke” around 2003, so I have nearly two decades of experience with Critical Social Justice ideology. As the oldest daughter in a working-class family with six kids, neither of my parents had a college degree, although my mom had taken some community college classes. My high school teachers emphasized the importance of going to college. While I wasn’t sure what opportunities a college education would bring, I decided that it would best to attend, given the urgency with which all the teachers and guidance counselors discussed college as a necessity. I was a good, not great, student, who scored highly very highly on the verbal component of standardized tests. I loved literature and writing, so I figured that I’d get a bachelor’s degree in English literature, then maybe find a job as an administrative assistant and write in my free time. For a seventeen year-old girl who wasn’t especially ambitious, it seemed like a decent plan. At least it was better, I thought, than continuing to work part-time as a waitress. And through a combination of scholarships and part-time work, I realized that I’d be able to complete a bachelor’s degree without incurring any debt.

The Kids are Not Alright: A Response to Rod Dreher’s Article Regarding Generation Z Sexuality

The Flaming Eyeball:

Another factor in all of this is the mental health crisis. It’s hard to attract a date when you are depressed and just want to lay in bed all day. Among the young, clinical neuroses such as depression and anxiety are being treated at record levels, often with libido-suppressing drugs. At many colleges, a third or more of students have mental health diagnoses, up to over 40% at the worst. It is also worse among young women. At some schools where the problem is worst, 48% of female undergraduates have been diagnosed with at least one mental health condition in their lives, along with 32% of males. 26% of undergraduates in the official survey have been diagnosed with two or more mental health conditions. (https://boynton.umn.edu/sites/boynton.umn.edu/files/2019-09/CSHS-2018-UMN-Twin-Cities.pdf) This is a major crisis, which has hardly received any attention at all. Attending many in-person campuses in America in this day and age is literally living in a mental asylum. This was true at the end of the last decade: it’s undoubtedly worse this year because of COVID, as universities imprison students in their rooms with no tuition discount. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/09/business/colleges-coronavirus-dormitories-quarantine.html) When I visited my university, it was the only place I have ever seen where most people, including the students, wear their masks outside, terrified of death from the flu. The mental problems often lead to overeating, which makes people obese, cutting, which leaves terrifying scars on people’s limbs, and social withdrawal, which makes it hard to meet people. People are also more paranoid: a significant fraction of college-age girls interpret behavior as simple as basic compliments about their appearance as sexual harassment. Each of these changes makes the people of my generation less attractive and less willing to pursue. When you add them together you get a picture of sluggish, isolated, tortured paranoiacs, for whom sex and romance are the least of their worries.

Schools Rethink Covid Rules. ‘We’re Over-Quarantining Kids Like Crazy.’

Robbie Whelan:

Superintendent Jonathan Cooper this summer helped write a fall reopening plan for his southwestern Ohio school district with a rule based on the state’s policy: Any student potentially exposed to Covid-19 in Mason City Schools had to quarantine for two weeks, no exceptions.

This fall, he began rethinking it.

A growing body of research and data suggested the virus wasn’t spreading widely in schools. An email from a star football player who had been sidelined from a playoff game became a turning point. The student, senior Brady Comello, had been seated in class, masked, near another student who later tested positive.

“I am so upset right now that I have to miss my first playoff game and possibly my last high school game ever,” Mr. Comello wrote, pleading for Mr. Cooper to reconsider the rule.

Even with coronavirus cases beginning to rise again across the country, student quarantines were more stringent than they needed to be, Mr. Cooper decided. He forwarded the email to Gov. Mike DeWine with his own appeal for an exception. The office denied his request.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Teacher Shortage Compounds Covid Crisis in Schools

Valerie Bauerlein and Yoree Koh:

School districts are recruiting parents as substitute teachers, online class sizes are soaring to 50 children or more and bus drivers are baby-sitting classrooms. Some are considering allowing asymptomatic teachers who were exposed to Covid-19 to continue to show up.

Public-school employment in November was down 8.7% from February, and at its lowest level since 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That includes teachers who quit, retired early or took leaves of absence due to the pandemic, and layoffs of support staff such as teachers’ aides and clerical workers. The staffing crunch leaves teachers educating children in person and online simultaneously, deep-cleaning their own classrooms and taking turns as crossing guards.

The consequences are burnout for teachers, frustration for parents and scant progress for students.

The shortage isn’t uniform nationwide, but rather concentrated in some regions and specialties. More than 40 states reported shortfalls in math, science and special education in 2018, but fewer states reported shortages in elementary grades, according to the latest federal data. There are shortages in particular places, from cities with a high cost of living to rural areas with low teacher pay.

Wingra School winter solstice observance brings light, hope to dark times

Pamela Cotant:

he winter solstice — a time to celebrate light and rebirth of the sun on the longest night of the year — took on new meaning this year for Wingra School.

In anticipation of today’s winter solstice, Wingra families walked with candles on a spiral path outside the school beneath a crescent moon on Thursday and Friday.

“It is a time to obviously honor the changing of the seasons and the year and we are preparing to leave for winter break,” said Debbie Millon, head of the school. “(This year) we are in pretty dark times.”

Given the “dual pandemic of COVID and systematic racism,” Millon said she hoped walking the path would be an opportunity to think about connections with others and acknowledge that no one is separated from the work of dismantling racism.

Two Madison Parents: Why reopen MMSD schools now, and at what cost?

Sarah & Ben Jedd:

On March 15, when the Madison Metropolitan School District shuttered buildings and sent students home, Dane County had eight cases of COVID-19. On Dec. 17, when MMSD superintendent Carlton Jenkins hosted a forum via Zoom to discuss reopening our schools, the county had over 3,000 positive cases this month alone. Nevertheless, MMSD argues that it is safe for kids to return to school in January.

As parents of four MMSD students, we wonder: Why is it safe now, at the height of the pandemic and cold and flu season, for students to go back to school? Just last month, an East High School student lost his life to COVID-19. How many more students and teachers will join him if schools open their doors? How many sick children and staff are acceptable to Dr. Jenkins and MMSD administration?

Why open schools now when hospitals are reaching capacity? And how many students and teachers are the district willing to sacrifice?

Why open schools now without funding from the federal government to provide PPE, hazard pay for teachers, enhanced broadband capabilities, and adequate COVID-19 testing? Why open now when half of all Dane County residents with COVID-19 don’t know where they contracted the illness? Why now when children have been home for nine months and a vaccine is imminent?

If we were going to ignore science and metrics and pack students into crowded classrooms, why didn’t we do that in April? Why, when MMSD administration has to discuss reopening schools over Zoom because it’s not safe to meet in person, would we open schools now?

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Hans Christian Heg kept the joy of Christmas alive

Wisconsin State Journal:

If you’re lonely or sad this Christmas because the pandemic has kept you from gathering with loved ones, let Hans Christian Heg cheer you up.

Heg was the Wisconsin abolitionist and Civil War hero whose statue was toppled on the state Capitol grounds last June in Madison. Rioters didn’t seem to know or care about Heg’s noble life when they dismantled his bronze likeness and threw it in Lake Monona.

But Heg, whose statue is being restored and reinstalled, can teach us a lot about the spirit of Christmas and making the most of difficult times.

Heg was colonel of the 15th Wisconsin Infantry, which trained at Camp Randall in Madison before heading south in 1862 to fight for the Union Army. More than 12,000 Wisconsin soldiers — including Heg — gave their lives to help preserve our nation and end slavery.

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

There is much, much less intellectual diversity now than there was one hundred years ago

Throne & Altar:

It is impossible to imagine someone like Oswald Spengler arising in the intellectual world of today, much less his becoming a cultural sensation. The Overton window has not merely shifted Left but drastically narrowed. Even Leftists were much more interesting and diverse one hundred years ago–one cannot imagine a character like Georges Sorel in today’s world either. One hundred years ago, the ideological landscape was a dizzying array of communists, Fabian socialists, anarcho-syndicalists, guild socialists, laissez faire classical liberals, nationalist liberals, distributists, agrarians, and Carlists. And when I say that these groups existed, I mean not as a couple of isolated dissidents unable to propagate their doctrines, the way dissidents exist today, but rather that they had significant followings and were able to participate in the great debate about how society should be organized. The metaphysical debate, too, was much more open, as it was an age of positivist, but also of spiritualism, Bergsonianism, and the neo-scholastic revival. Today, we have a consensus with enthusiastic support from nearly all writers, and the few whose support is less that enthusiastic know that it is professional suicide to openly question it.

What happened? Is this just the natural evolution of intellectual life–one school wins the debate, and then consensus is achieved? One does not see nearly the same contraction between 1820 and 1920. The center shifted Left (Jacobins became Bolsheviks, and Legitimists became Social Catholics) but the spread remained wide. Arguably, the spread of beliefs had been increasing with time since the Renaissance.

School choice activists upset COVID-19 stimulus bans governors from funding vouchers

Carrie Sheffield:

School choice advocates are upset that the new stimulus package adopted by Congress provides $54 billion for K-12 schools that governors are prohibited spending for “vouchers, tuition tax credit programs, education savings accounts, scholarship programs, or tuition assistance programs for elementary and secondary education.”

Studies, including one highlighted by the Brookings Institution, show that minority parents, including black and Latino Democrats, are more supportive of school choice than white Democrats. 

The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund was created in March with the COVID-19 CARES Act, the earlier coronavirus stimulus bill. Some governors used GEER funding to begin or widen school choice programs.

The New York School District That Used Facial Recognition Now Has To Stop

Caroline Haskins:

On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a moratorium on facial recognition and biometric technology from public and private schools in the state until at least July 2022. One of the few districts in the country to use facial recognition in its schools, Lockport City School District, will comply with the facial recognition moratorium, the Lockport Journal reported.

That doesn’t appear to be the first choice of the administrators of the western New York district. Documents obtained by BuzzFeed News via public record requestshow that they argued in a slide presentation that when it comes to facial recognition, “history is on our side.”

It’s unclear who gave the presentation, where, or when. But it has a clear pro-surveillance message.

“Where and by whom ‘Latinx’ is used has helped spur the complaints that it may alienate working-class Latino communities (especially those that speak Spanish)…”

Ann Althouse:

The top-rated comment over there — by someone who identifies himself as “a Latino” — is “‘Latinx’ was created in America by people apparently not happy that Spanish is a gender-specific language. It’s a fake-Spanish word that wasn’t created by and isn’t used by Latinos to describe themselves. It’s a shortcut used to identify a huge and very diverse group of people. That term is offensive and people need to stop using it.”

“Latinx” is doomed. The people who are using it seem especially vulnerable to the charge that it’s offensive. 

Why British Kids Went Back to School, and American Kids Did Not

Chris Cook:

The day I visited St. Thomas the Apostle School in Peckham, South London, a new shutdown was announced for Britain’s capital. But the comprehensive—a public high-school, in American parlance—was open. It was freezing: Doors were propped open for ventilation. Pupils chattered in the playground while wearing face coverings emblazoned with the school logo. For all that, the experience felt surprisingly normal. In-person attendance has been at more than 90 percent for most of the term. Out front, some boys were playing a very serious game of soccer. Others messed around with basketballs.

St. Thomas is the sort of school that, in the United States, has largely offered hybrid or remote teaching. A study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education estimated that only 8 percent of U.S. urban school districts had returned to full in-person instruction in November. Outside the inner cities, only 22 percent of U.S. suburban school districts were running in-person schooling, and only 64 percent of rural districts.

How Americans Came to Distrust Science

Andrew Jewett:

Science is under fire as never before in the United States. Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump and his Republican allies dismiss the findings of health experts as casually as those of climate scientists. Indeed, conservatives sometimes portray scientists as agents of a liberal conspiracy against American institutions and values. Since the 1990s GOP leaders have worked to limit the influence of scientists in areas ranging from global warming to contraception to high school biology curricula.

Before the 1920s, many Americans viewed science as a kind of “people’s knowledge,” a practical, commonsense mode of reasoning that stood against all forms of elite authority.

But it is not just conservatives who question scientific authority in the United States. Alarm at many applications of biological research, for example, crosses party lines. This impulse usually targets genetic engineering and biotechnology, but it also fosters skepticism toward vaccination and other medical practices. Across the political spectrum, citizens tend to pick and choose among scientific theories and applications based on preexisting commitments. They are frequently suspicious of basic research procedures as well; many believe that peer review and other internal policing mechanisms fail to remove powerful biases. Conservatives often charge that peer review enforces liberal groupthink, while some progressives say it leaves conventional social norms unexamined.

An Anti-Racist Education for Middle Schoolers

Robby Soave:

K-12 students in large public school districts across the country spent much of the fall semester at home, a less-than-ideal result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Zoom learning was hardly the only significant change to the education system. Some school districts are embracing trendy but dubious ideas about how to fight racism in the classroom.

The San Diego Unified School District, for instance, moved this fall to abolish its traditional grading system. Students will still receive letter grades, but they won’t reflect average scores on papers, quizzes, and tests. Under the new system, pupils will not be penalized for failing to complete assignments or even show up for class, and teachers will give them extra opportunities to demonstrate their “mastery” of subjects. What constitutes mastery is not quite clear, but grades “shall not be influenced by behavior or factors that directly measure students’ knowledge and skills in the content area,” according to guidance from the district.

District officials evidently believe that the practice of grading students based on average scores is racist and that “anti-racism” demands a learning environment free of the pressure to turn in assignments on time. As evidence for the urgency of these changes, the district released data showing that minority students received more Ds and Fs than white students: Just 7 percent of whites received failing grades, compared to 23 percent of Native Americans, 23 percent of Hispanics, and 20 percent of black students.

Civics: Would the ACLU Still Defend Nazis’ Right To March in Skokie?

Nick Gillespie:

In 1977, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) went to court to defend the rights of American neo-Nazis to march through the streets of Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago home to many Holocaust survivors. The group defended the Nazis’ right to demonstrate and won the case on First Amendment grounds, but 30,000 members quit the organization in protest.

The Skokie case cemented the image of the ACLU as a principled defender of free speech. The following year, Ira Glasser was elevated from head of the New York state chapter to the national organization’s executive director, a position he would hold for the next 23 years. Now he’s the subject of a new documentary, Mighty Ira, that celebrates his time leading the charge against government regulation of content on the internet, hate speech laws, speech codes on college campuses, and more.

Retired since 2001, Glasser says he’s worried about the future of both free expression and the organizations that defend it. In 2018, a leaked ACLU memo offered guidelines for case selection that retreated from the group’s decadeslong content-neutral stance, citing as a reason to decline a case “the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values.” Glasser fears that, by becoming more political and less absolutist when it comes to defending speech, the ACLU might be shrugging off its hard-won legacy.

2,000 Parents Demand Major Academic Publisher Drop Proctorio Surveillance Tech

Edward Ongweso, Jr.:

On Friday, digital rights group Fight for the Future unveiled an open letter signed by 2,000 parents calling on McGraw-Hill Publishing to end its relationship with Proctorio, one of many proctoring apps that offers services that digital rights groups have called “indistinguishable from spyware.”

As the pandemic has pushed schooling into virtual classrooms, a host of software vendors have stepped up to offer their latest surveillance tools. Some, like Proctorio, offer technologies that claim to fight cheating by tracking head and eye movements, without any evidence that their algorithms do anything but make students anxious (and thus perform worse). Others rely on facial recognition technology, which is itself rife with racial bias, and have regularly failed to verify the identities of students of color at various points while taking state bar exams, forcing the test to end.

Proctorio is one of a few companies that has come under scrutiny from privacy groups not only for invasive surveillance, but exhaustive data extraction that collects sensitive student data including biometrics. The company is perhaps unique in its attempts to silence critics of its surveillance programs. Proctorio has deployed lawsuits to silence critics, forcing one University of British Columbia learning technology specialist to exhaust his personal and emergency savings due to a lawsuit meant to silence his online criticisms of the company. Proctorio has also targeted students and abused Twitter’s DMCA takedown process to further suppress valid criticisms of its proctoring software.

Evidence of COVID-19’s Impact on K-12 Education Points to Critical Areas of Intervention

Anna Saavedra:

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers at USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) began tracking social, economic, and education outcomes among Americans through its nationally-representative online panel, the Understanding America Study (UAS)  with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Science Foundation. Between April and October 2020 we administered five rounds of questions to approximately 1400 households with at least one child in Kindergarten-12th grade, asking about COVID-19’s effects on K-12 education. We collected five waves of data from these same parents between April and October 2020, and we will continue to administer questions over the coming months.

Below are the key findings we have found thus far.

At the Beginning of the Pandemic, We Found Large Disparities in Educational Experiences

In April 2020, only about two-thirds of households with income less than $25,000/year had computers and internet access available for children’s remote learning, compared to 91% of families with household incomes of $75,000-$149,000, and 98% of those above $150,000.

K-12 Tax & spending Climate: A Reckoning Looms for Commercial Real Estate—and Its Lenders

Brian Graham:

Many banks are concentrated in and dependent on commercial property lending. Banks hold half of all commercial real-estate loans. The 5,000 or so U.S. community banks, with about a third of total assets, are two to three times as concentrated in commercial real-estate lending as the approximately 30 larger banks.

Problems in commercial real estate can hurt banks in two ways. Losses on existing loans can damage earnings directly, and a correction can reduce future lending volumes, impairing an important driver of earnings. Based on what we know now, things don’t look good.

Neiman Marcus and at least 28 other major retailers have filed for bankruptcy. Hotel occupancy is down 32%. The Journal reported last month that world-wide airline capacity in October was down 58% from 2019. Apartment rent levels have collapsed 15% to 25% in large cities including New York, San Francisco, Boston and Seattle. Suburban shopping malls have been devastated.

A recent Citigroup report on 400 properties in the retail and hotel sectors found an average decline in value of 27%. The stock prices of real-estate investment trusts, companies that own equity in commercial properties, are down 42% for retail properties since the most recent valuation prior to the pandemic onset in March. Office-property REITs are down 36% and lodging property REITs are down 50%—all despite the recent stock-market rally on vaccine news.

How the School Reopening Debate Is Tearing One of America’s Most Elite Suburbs Apart

Norene Malone:

It was mid-August. The playgrounds of Brookline, Massachusetts, had finally reopened, and so the news spread fast. Sharon Abramowitz had resigned from the school committee. If a lab wanted to manufacture a school committee member to help the 7,800-student Brookline School District through the COVID crisis, it probably would’ve ended up with Abramowitz. The sociologist-anthropologist-epidemiologist had studied Ebola, written interagency guidelines about what community engagement should look like during a crisis, and, after the district shut down in March, spent 40 hours a week in volunteer meetings on Zoom trying to make a safe reopening feasible. But now she was moving full time to her second home in Vermont.

As summer turned into fall, the school district was melting down. Parents largely wanted their kids learning in person, but it looked like Brookline wasn’t going to pull it off, even though the wealthy town just outside of Boston probably has the highest infectious-disease-expert-per-capita rate in the country. Abramowitz was fed up. “Sorry to be all UNICEF about it,” Abramowitz, who does work for UNICEF, said when we spoke in September, “but education is a fundamental human right for all children.”

2021 K-12 Adult School Climate….

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

How Claude Shannon Invented the Future

Quanta:

Science seeks the basic laws of nature. Mathematics searches for new theorems to build upon the old. Engineering builds systems to solve human needs. The three disciplines are interdependent but distinct. Very rarely does one individual simultaneously make central contributions to all three — but Claude Shannon was a rare individual.

Despite being the subject of the recent documentary The Bit Player — and someone whose work and research philosophy have inspired my own career — Shannon is not exactly a household name. He never won a Nobel Prize, and he wasn’t a celebrity like Albert Einstein or Richard Feynman, either before or after his death in 2001. But more than 70 years ago, in a single groundbreaking paper, he laid the foundation for the entire communication infrastructure underlying the modern information age.

Shannon was born in Gaylord, Michigan, in 1916, the son of a local businessman and a teacher. After graduating from the University of Michigan with degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics, he wrote a master’s thesis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that applied a mathematical discipline called Boolean algebra to the analysis and synthesis of switching circuits. It was a transformative work, turning circuit design from an art into a science, and is now considered to have been the starting point of digital circuit design.

The Death and Life of an Admissions Algorithm

Lilah Burke:

In 2013, the University of Texas at Austin’s computer science department began using a machine-learning system called GRADE to help make decisions about who gets into its Ph.D. program — and who doesn’t. This year, the department abandoned it.

Before the announcement, which the department released in the form of a tweet reply, few had even heard of the program. Now, its critics — concerned about diversity, equity and fairness in admissions — say it should never have been used in the first place.

“Humans code these systems. Humans are encoding their own biases into these algorithms,” said Yasmeen Musthafa, a Ph.D. student in plasma physics at the University of California, Irvine, who rang alarm bellsabout the system on Twitter. “What would UT Austin CS department have looked like without GRADE? We’ll never know.”

Affluent Families Ditch Public Schools, Widening U.S. Inequality

Nic Querolo and Leslie Patton:

One is thriving after switching from online public school to in-person private education. The other is struggling, stuck in her virtual classroom.

The lives of these two girls, Ella Pierick and Afiya Harris, encapsulate the growing divide in U.S. education as more affluent parents flee public schools.

In Connecticut, enrollment fell 3%. Colorado reported a similar decline, with the steepest losses in one of its wealthiest counties. Chicago’s rosters dipped 4.1%, the most in 20 years.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Censorship at John’s Hopkins

Benjamin Zeisloft:

Johns Hopkins University’s student newspaper staff retracted an article featuring a university study claiming that COVID-19 did not significantly increase the U.S. death rate.

The newspaper’s editor stated that it was brought to their attention that the article was being used to spread “dangerous inaccuracies” online.

Johns Hopkins University’s student newspaper, the News-Letter, reported on a university presentation stating that COVID-19 “had no effect on the percentage of deaths of older people” and that the virus “has also not increased the total number of deaths” in comparison to historical data. However, the paper later removed the article, stating that it had been used to support “dangerous inaccuracies” on social media.

Assistant Director for the university’s Applied Economics program Genevieve Briand critically analyzed the net effect of COVID-19 on deaths in the United States based on historical data. Using information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Briand identified the percentages of total deaths per age category both before and after the pandemic began. 

Against “exorbitant tuition rates”

Columbia Students:

We are a group of Columbia University students representing all schools and programs, undergraduate and graduate, across the university, including affiliate schools such as Barnard and Teachers College. We are taking action to address several key fronts on which the University is acutely failing its students and the local community, which have only been exacerbated by the inaction with which the administration has met popular demands and referendums in the past ten months.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, students immediately began demonstrating against the injustice of exorbitant tuition rates, which constitute a significant source of financial hardship during this economic depression. As national protests of an unprecedented scale expressed outrage over structural racism, Mobilized African Diaspora and the nearly 1500 supporters of its demands called for the University to address its own role in upholding racist policing practices, damaging local communities, and inadequately supporting Black students. Last semester, almost a thousand students, faculty, and alumni signed on in support of full divestment from fossil fuels, along with referendums at Barnard and Columbia College in which students voted overwhelmingly to divest from companies involved in human rights violations. Finally, the University continues to refuse to meet the demands of thousands of academic student-workers when it comes to fair wages, healthcare, international student protections, robust grievance procedures, closed shop, and union recognition for MA and undergrad student-workers.

More Than 70 West Point Cadets Accused Of Cheating In Academic Scandal

Vanessa Romo & Tom Bowman:

Seventy-three suspected cheaters, one critical mistake.

Dozens of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point were caught cheating on a calculus final exam in May after they all made the same errors on the test, according to officials.

Instructors at the Army’s premier training ground for officers revealed the academic scandal on Monday, saying it’s the worst they’ve seen since the 1970s.

So far, 59 cadets out of a suspected 73 have admitted to taking part in the scam in which the students “shared answers and made the same mistakes,” Lt. Col. Chris Ophardt, a West Point spokesman told NPR.

The test was administered remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Four cadets have resigned and another eight, who say they’re innocent of any wrongdoing, will face a full hearing led by seniors at the academy. The cases against two others initially implicated in the scheme have been dismissed for lack of evidence.

Cadets who commit to the rigorous military academy agree to abide by a strict honor code that holds them up to a high standard in exchange for free tuition and a $10,000 annual stipend to every student, in addition to the opportunity to become some of the nation’s top military leaders.

The exclusive clinic used by members of Congress got an extra $5 million in the latest spending bill.

Lee Fang:

In a flurry of last-minute legislating over coronavirus relief, congressional leaders abandoned hazard pay for essential workers and emergency funding for local governments that may be on the brink of municipal bankruptcy. 

But lawmakers did find funding to dramatically increase the budget for the exclusive government-run health clinic that serves Congress. 

The Office of Attending Physician, which provides medical services to lawmakers, received a special boost of $5 million, more than doubling its annual budget, which is currently around $4.27 million. 

The increase in funding to the OAP, if passed, is the third budget hike Congress has provided to its own health clinic over the last year. The 2019 omnibus provided an increase in funding to the OAP, along with the CARES Act, which passed this past March. 

The OAP, described as “some of the country’s best and most efficient government-run health care,” employs several physicians and nurses to provide on-call treatment to legislators on Capitol Hill. The new funding is justified by new services required for confronting the pandemic, though the office also provides lawmakers with the services of a chiropractor, on-site physical therapy, radiology, routine examinations, and a pharmacist.

Child-Driven Parenting: Differential Early Childhood Investment by Offspring Genotype

Asta Breinholt & Dalton Conley:

A growing literature points to children’s influence on parents’ behavior, including parental investments in children. Further, previous research has shown differential parental response by socioeconomic status to children’s birth weight, cognitive ability, and school outcomes – all early life predictors of later socioeconomic success. This study considers an even earlier, more exogenous predictor of parental investments: offspring genotype. Specifically, we analyze (1) whether children’s genetic propensity towards educational success affects parenting during early childhood; and (2) whether parenting in response to children’s genetic propensity towards educational success is socially stratified. Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Survey of Parents and Children (N=7,738), we construct polygenic scores for educational attainment and regress cognitively stimulating parenting behavior during early childhood on these polygenic scores. We use a range of modeling strategies to address the concern that child’s genotype may be proxying unmeasured parent characteristics. Results show that parents provide more cognitive stimulation to children with higher education polygenic scores. This pattern varies by socioeconomic status with college-educated parents responding less to children’s genetic propensity towards educational success than non-college-educated parents do.

This is the Stanford vaccine algorithm that left out frontline doctors

Eileen Guo and Karen Hao:

When resident physicians at Stanford Medical Center—many of whom work on the front lines of the covid-19 pandemic—found out that only seven out of over 1,300 of them had been prioritized for the first 5,000 doses of the covid vaccine, they were shocked. Then, when they saw who else had made the list, including administrators and doctors seeing patients remotely from home, they were angry.

During a planned photo op to celebrate the first vaccinations taking place on Friday, December 18, at least 100 residents showed up to protest. Hospital leadership apologized for not prioritizing them, and blamed the errors on “a very complex algorithm.” 

“Our algorithm, that the ethicists, infectious disease experts worked on for weeks … clearly didn’t work right,” Tim Morrison, the director of the ambulatory care team, told residents at the event in a video posted online.

LSAC: The Fall 2020 Law School Class … And An Early Look At The Incoming Fall 2021 Class

Kellye Testy:

Not only did a class of law students graduate in 2020 amid the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new class also just began their studies during this “one-of-a-kind” year. What do we know about this intrepid group? Each fall, LSAC works closely with the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and law schools across the United States to compile enrollment data for the incoming class of law students. This aggregated “Standard 509” data provides a snapshot of the size and make-up of the incoming class, including number of students, full- and part-time status, racial, ethnic, and gender information, as well as LSAT score and undergraduate GPA by quartiles for each law school. This data also provides an opportunity to look at areas of progress and emerging trends that could affect the future of legal education and our justice system more broadly. …

How Autism and Invention Are Connected

Simon Baron-Cohen:

On the face of it, we shouldn’t expect any link between a neurological disability and one of the crowning talents of our species. But new research is revealing a surprising connection between autism and the uniquely human capacity for invention.

As the archaeological record shows, our ancestors started inventing things 70,000 to 100,000 years ago. This was when humans evolved the capacity to seek patterns—particularly to spot and experiment with the basic cause-and-effect relationship of if-and-then. With the development of this ability came the earliest examples of jewelry making (75,000 years ago) and the first bow-and-arrow (71,000 years ago). By around 44,000 years ago, we find the first evidence of counting.

A student debt jubilee could kickstart US economic recovery

Rana Foroohar:

Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at https://www.ft.com/tour.
https://www.ft.com/content/e309ed81-5949-4d46-909f-a4ff04ccd7b5

Millennials have overtaken baby boomers as America’s largest bloc, and they and those younger than them will comprise nearly as many voters as all older generations combined in G7 countries by the end of the decade.

But large swaths of younger Americans reject the country’s political system. Research by the Centre for the Future of Democracy shows that a far lower percentage are supportive of democracy than boomers, Gen X, or, of course, the interwar generation. Perhaps that’s because they have so little economic stake in the system. Millennials make up close to 25 per cent of the population but hold only around 3 per cent of US wealth. Boomers, who held 21 per cent of wealth at the same period in their lives, still control the vast majority.

That’s one key reason that Democrat Joe Biden campaigned for president on cancelling $10,000 of student debt for every federal borrower, a $400bn proposition. Crushing student debt — the average four-year college graduate has $30,000 of it — prevents young people from buying homes, cars and other consumer goods. That is, in turn, a major headwind for the economy.

At the end of January, pandemic-related student loan relief is scheduled to end, and the 43m Americans who have student loans will have to start paying them back unless further relief is approved. And so, the idea of a student loan jubilee — this term for mass debt forgiveness comes from the Old Testament — is once again on the front burner. It is a good idea — but only if debt relief is targeted to those who really need it, and accompanied by a host of other reforms.

De Blasio to destroy New York’s top public schools to run an experiment in diversity

Libby Emmons:

Ending selective admissions for top performing public middle schools in New York will disadvantage the city’s brightest and highest achieving students as well as those who are not academically gifted.

New York had 1.1 million public school students, though that number has now shrunk to 900,000 or so, and they are not all academically gifted. Most of the kids who have left the public school system since the pandemic are from low-income families. Those who are not academically gifted, or even who are not academically driven, are not stupid, bad, or in need of having all the super smart kids descend on their classes.

De Blasio and the United Federation of Teachers believe that because the diversity at the top performing middle and high schools does not reflect the ethnic and racial makeup of the city, there’s something wrong with these schools. Instead of being pleased that the city is able to serve the most academically gifted students with free, world-class educations, de Blasio and the UFT think they need to destroy those programs and replace them with, well, nothing.

As Eliza Schapiro wrote in The New York Times, “In doing this, Mr. de Blasio is essentially piloting an experiment that, if deemed successful, could permanently end the city’s academically selective middle schools, which tend to be much whiter than the district overall.” Most of the city’s top achieving students, however, are Asian.

Related: English 10.

Middleton-Cross Plains School Board votes to return grades K-4 to in-person classes with blended model

Elizabeth Beyer:

The Middleton-Cross Plains School Board voted unanimously Monday to return grades K-4 to in-person instruction with a blended learning model in February.

The board will revisit a vote to bring back students in older grades during their Feb. 8 meeting after they’ve had the opportunity to observe virus mitigation measures in school buildings.

The district decided to consider a return to in-person learning following new recommendations from Public Health Madison and Dane County that call for a phased approach for reopening based on new protocol instead of COVID-19 metrics.

“We decided early in the fall to strictly adhere to these recommendations, therefore we have remained in a virtual setting,” Superintendent Dana Monogue said. “The updated guidance provided by Public Health Madison and Dane County a week ago is a significant departure from the previous information we were basing our decisions upon.”

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Alanis Morissette on unschooling her kids: ‘We create opportunities for them to learn’

Annie Martin:

Morissette has three kids, daughter Onyx Solace, 4, and sons Ever Imre, 9, and Winter Mercy, 16 months, with her husband, Mario “Souleye” Treadway. The couple use unschooling, a type of homeschooling that emphasizes the learner’s interests rather than a set curriculum, to teach their children.

On Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Morissette described her method of unschooling and said it can be a “daunting” experience.

“It’s different for everyone,” the star said. “For us, it’s very child-led, not in that we’re asking them to be parentified or lead the way or anything,”

“We create opportunities for them to learn, little pods of paint and otherwise, and we follow them,” she added. “So they might be interested in something for an hour and a half, and that’s great. They might be interested in something for 30 seconds and then we’re done.”

Morissette said she and her family ascribe to Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences.

“When someone says, ‘Oh, that person’s so smart,’ it’ll be often answered with, ‘Smart how?’ There’s so many different kinds of smart,” she said.

Some U.S. Colleges Cut Tuition, Ending Relentless Price Spiral

Janet Lorin:

Oberlin College, in Ohio, has cut its tuition by $10,000 for all new students. Nearby Denison University is offering an even better deal for Ohio residents: a $100,000 scholarship over four years. And Davidson College, in North Carolina, has frozen its tuition for the first time in a quarter-century.

The Covid-19 pandemic has upended college life — and college finances — for millions. Now, in a sign of what might lie ahead, it also has begun to check the relentless rise in prices that has strained family finances and pushed the nation’s combined student debt to over $1.7 trillion, as admission deans stare down fewer high school graduates.

“The pendulum may be swinging a little bit toward the consumer side,” said Steve Frappier, director of college counseling at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta. “But that’ll also depend on the selectivity of the school and the financial health of the school.”

This year has already been one of unrivaled chaos for admissions offices, with many devising workarounds for students unable to visit campus in person and waiving standardized-test requirements. Freshman enrollment is down 13% this year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which called the decline “unprecedented.”

It’s not yet clear whether large universities with robust endowments and high demand will follow suit. Princeton University in New Jersey cut tuition 10% for undergraduates for the current academic year because the pandemic significantly diminished the student experience. The Ivy League school, one of the richest U.S. universities, is expected to set the 2021-2022 price in April.

Civics: Curiosity is not licit

Reform Club:

But this rule is exceptionally new. Those curious about the surprising outcomes of previous elections were not starved of explanation as they are today. When Democrats made accusations in 2016 of election interference, they were not, as are Republican accusations today, rejected out of hand. And when they continued making them in 2017, Americans still forbore from dismissing them outright. When they persisted in 2018, and in 2019, I must say I began to feel Democrats had begun to impose rather excessively on our credulity. And when their evidence was officially found wanting, I confess I searched, without success, for some expression of gratitude for their fellow Americans’ years of patient attention. 

But I maintain that we Americans did the right thing: Our countrymen, though of profoundly different opinions, sincerely believed in their cause. We could not do less than to consider their cause on the merits. If a man “was such a rogue,” said Samuel Johnson, “as to make up his mind upon a case without hearing it, he should not have been such a fool as to tell it.” As it proved, the Democrats’ cause proved to be bosh. But no one could have told them so without first having heard them out. We might have hoped they would make their case in less time than the three years they indulged. But a mind is another country, and who can say how long will be the travels through it. And to their credit, Democrats subjected their claims to the crucible of investigation, evidence, and trial, where it was found disproved, publicly and finally. Together, we reached closure. Consensus, it is to be hoped, will follow.

Worries grow over treatments that can leave children sterile

The Economist:

In 2018 andrea davidson’s 12-year-old daughter, Meghan, announced she was “definitely a boy”. Ms Davidson says her child was never a tomboy but the family doctor congratulated her and asked what pronouns she had chosen, before writing a referral to the British Columbia Children’s Hospital (bcch). “We thought we were going to see a psychologist, but it was a nurse and a social worker,” says Ms Davidson (both her and her daughter’s names have been changed). “Within ten minutes they had offered our child Lupron”—a puberty-blocking drug. “They brought up the drug directly with our child, in front of us, without discussing it with us privately first.” There was no mention of other mental-health issues, which are known to increase the likelihood of gender dysphoria, the feeling that you are in the wrong body. “There was no therapy on offer and we were just brushed aside when we raised it.”

The Effect of Computer-Assisted Learning on Students’ Long-Term Development

Nicola Bianchi, Yi Lu and Hong Song:

In this paper, we examine the effect of computer-assisted learning on students’ long-term development. We explore the implementation of the “largest ed-tech intervention in the world to date,” which connected China’s best teachers to more than 100 million rural students through satellite internet. We find evidence that exposure to the program improved students’ academic achievement, labor performance, and computer usage. We observe these effects up to ten years after program implementation. These findings indicate that education technology can have long-lasting positive effects on a variety of outcomes and can be effective in reducing the rural–urban education gap.

Unethical Reading and the Limits of Empathy

Namwali Serpell and Maria Tumarkin:

Maria Tumarkin, who was born in Soviet Ukraine and emigrated to Australia as a teenager, everywhere exhibits in her work the hard-­won knowledge that authentic civic-mindedness often produces, and requires, an estrangement from consensus and the deadening language of common sense. Tumarkin’s fourth book, Axiomatic (2019), challenges reflexive frameworks of grief and trauma, offering instead the specificity of individual lives in their entanglement with the lives of others. Such vigilance is a quality Tumarkin shares with the Zambian novelist, critic, essayist, and scholar Namwali Serpell. Author of the critical study Seven Modes of Uncertainty (2014); of the novel The Old Drift (2019), a multigeneric, multigenerational exploration of Zambia’s history and future; and, most recently, of Stranger Faces (2020), a series of linked essays, Serpell displays throughout her work a rigorous attention to affect, aesthetics, and ethics, and how they are enmeshed with our individual and collective histories.

To Mitigate Racial Inequity, the CDC Wants To Vaccinate Essential Workers Before the Elderly

Robby Soave:

Deaths from COVID-19 are overwhelmingly concentrated among the elderly, and thus it would seem obvious that vaccinating older Americans should be a top priority. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released guidance suggesting that millions of essential workers should receive the vaccine before many people 65 and older.

Part of the reason for this, according to a CDC report, is to mitigate and racial and ethnic “health inequities.” Older Americans are disproportionately white, whereas the essential worker category includes a larger percentage of racial minorities and low-income people.

“Older populations are whiter, ” Harald Schmidt, a professor of ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times. “Society is structured in a way that enables them to live longer. Instead of giving additional health benefits to those who already had more of them, we can start to level the playing field a bit.”

Augmented Reality and the Surveillance Society

Mark Pesce:

First articulated in a 1965 white paper by Ivan Sutherland, titled “The Ultimate Display,” augmented reality (AR) lay beyond our technical capacities for 50 years. That changed when smartphones began providing people with a combination of cheap sensors, powerful processors, and high-bandwidth networking—the trifecta needed for AR to generate its spatial illusions. Among today’s emerging technologies, AR stands out as particularly demanding—for computational power, for sensed data, and, I’d argue, for attention to the danger it poses.

Unlike virtual-reality (VR) gear, which creates for the user a completely synthetic experience, AR gear adds to the user’s perception of her environment. To do that effectively, AR systems need to know where in space the user is located. VR systems originally used expensive and fragile systems for tracking user movements from the outside in, often requiring external sensors to be set up in the room. But the new generation of VR accomplishes this through a set of techniques collectively known as simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). These systems harvest a rich stream of observational data—mostly from cameras affixed to the user’s headgear, but sometimes also from sonar, lidar, structured light, and time-of-flight sensors—using those measurements to update a continuously evolving model of the user’s spatial environment.

Middleton, Verona parents plan Monday protests in favor of in-person learning

Stephen Cohn:

Parents at Verona High School and in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District are planning separate protests Monday in favor of returning to in-person learning next semester.

A peaceful protest to reopen schools for in-person learning has been scheduled by the Bring Kids Back Verona Area Schools Facebook page. Organizers said they plan to protest Monday night at the district’s next board meeting.

A rally is also scheduled to start at Middleton High School on Monday at 1 p.m. as students, parents and community members are planning to walk to the MCPASD administration building on Park Lawn Place. Organizers told News 3 Now there will be no gathering or speeches scheduled for safety concerns, and face coverings and social distancing will be required.

Along with the protest, more than 200 people have signed on to an open letter to MCPASD’s school board making several requests of the upcoming spring semester. Those requests include the MCPASD Superintendent developing a plan with a timeline giving an option for all grades to return to in-person instruction by the end of next February, as well as asking the board to work with Public Health Madison and Dane County to revise their guidance around distancing that allows a full-day, full-week return to schools for all grades.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

When You Can’t Just ‘Trust the Science’

Ross Douthat:

what the slogan implied was often much more dubious: a deference to the science bureaucracy during a crisis when bureaucratic norms needed to give way; an attempt by para-scientific enterprises to trade on (or trade away) science’s credibility for the sake of political agendas; and an abdication by elected officials of responsibility for decisions that are fundamentally political in nature.

The progress of coronavirus vaccines offers good examples of all these issues. That the vaccines exist at all is an example of science at its purest — a challenge posed, a problem solved, with all the accumulated knowledge of the modern era harnessed to figure out how to defeat a novel pathogen.

But the further you get from the laboratory work, the more complicated and less clearly scientific the key issues become. The timeline on which vaccines have become available, for instance, reflects an attempt to balance the rules of bureaucratic science, their priority on safety and certainty of knowledge, with the urgency of trying something to halt a disease that’s killing thousands of Americans every day. Many scientific factors weigh in that balance, but so do all kinds of extra-scientific variables: moral assumptions about what kinds of vaccine testing we should pursue (one reason we didn’t get the “challenge trials” that might have delivered a vaccine much earlier); legal assumptions about who should be allowed to experiment with unproven treatments; political assumptions about how much bureaucratic hoop-jumping it takes to persuade Americans that a vaccine is safe.

Meritocracies Are Unfair – And That’s The point

Outlookzen:

There is a common perception that a meritocracy is the most fair way to run society. That because we are avoiding bias and favoritism and picking candidates purely based on their capabilities and achievements, a meritocratic system is the most fair of all. 

Such a belief is hogwash. There’s nothing “fair” about not selecting the surgeon who lost his arm in a car accident, and is now trying desperately to hold on to his career. There’s nothing fair about the fact that some people are born into good circumstances which confer a tremendous headstart in life. There’s nothing fair about the fact that so many of society’s most accomplished individuals grew up in upper-middle-class families that nurtured them, raised them well, and gave them access to highly regarded schools and teachers.

A meritocracy never was, and never will be, “fair”. And that’s the whole point.

School Choice Talent Show

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Public Schools Are Losing Their Captive Audience of Children

JD Tuccille:

Insisting that “the push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism and misogyny,” the Chicago Teachers Union is fighting plans to return children to the city’s public school classrooms. Not only is the union seeking an injunction to keep kids at home, but it says “all options are going to be on the table”—an implied threat of a strike in an already chaotic year—if it’s not happy with the school board’s decision.

Amidst a multitude of such battles across the country, it’s no wonder that families weary of being held hostage to other people’s decisions are abandoning government schools to enroll their kids in private institutions or to teach them at home. That shift is likely to permanently transform education in the United States in a way that lets children experience diverse approaches and viewpoints.

School and union officials in Chicago differ over their reading of public opinion tea leaves. The board points to the 37 percent of students whose families have opted for in-person teaching, while the union flips that around to emphasize that a majority of families want to delay reopening. But both sets of data indicate the same thing: people have different risk tolerances and come to varying conclusions about the right way to educate their children. Uniform, top-down approaches inevitably leave large numbers of them dissatisfied and looking for something that better suits their needs.

Fleeing New Yorkers resulted in an estimated $34 billion in lost income -study

Jonnelle Marte:

Millions of people have moved out of New York City during the pandemic, but at the same time, millions of others with lower incomes have taken their place, according to a study released on Tuesday.

All told, a net 70,000 people left the metropolitan region this year, resulting in roughly $34 billion in lost income, according to estimates from Unacast here, a location analytics company.

About 3.57 million people left New York City this year between Jan. 1 and Dec. 7, according to Unacast, which analyzed anonymized cell phone location data. Some 3.5 million people earning lower average incomes moved into the city during that same period, the report showed.

How to kill the university

Thesephist:

Humans are culture creation machines. We stumble on some idea or thought, share it with other humans, and if the idea sticks and spreads faster than we forget about it, it becomes embedded in the way we do things together in the future. These are your inside jokes, your traditions and your cults. Many such ideas disappear as soon as they come, like fashion trends and popular culture. Some great ones stick around for a while and influence history, like Jazz or the Enlightenment. The few most powerful ones, like religion and democracy, embed themselves into the DNA of civilization, and they become institutions, inseparable from the species that conceived of it in the first place. Institutions are much harder to replace than other kinds of culture, because they go beyond simply being a part of life, and take root as an infrastructural piece of the way we navigate the world. They are fabric, more than threads. These institutions are pieces of culture immortalized. There’s nothing inherently inevitable about them – they are immortalized into humanity by virtue of their staying power in the way we live, and by how effectively they spread themselves amongst our communities.

One important invention of civilization is the university – a place with cultural and economic implications so complex I couldn’t possibly do it justice in one blog post. The university is an invention – there’s nothing fundamentally inevitable about it. The university is also an object of culture – universities play different roles in society and economy and life in different parts of the world, and at different points in history. The university is arbitrary in this way, but it’s also fundamental to the way the world works. The four-year research university has weaved itself deep into the fabric of society, from immigration and visa policies to the way science gets done to the coming-of-age culture in most developed countries. If it’s not an institution of civilization today, it’s rapidly becoming one.

Postdocs under pressure: ‘Can I even do this any more?’

Chris Woolston:

During a two-year stint as a postdoctoral researcher in computational micro-biology at the University of Liverpool, UK, Adrian Cazares suffered despite his successes. “I published papers but I wasn’t happy,” he says. “[Postdocs] are under so much pressure all the time. We take it to every part of our lives. It really started to affect my mental health.”

Cazares, who in February started his second postdoc — this one at the European Bioinformatics Institute on the Wellcome Genome Campus near Cambridge, UK — was one of more than 7,600 researchers in 93 countries who responded to Nature’s first-ever survey of postdoctoral scientists. The self-selecting survey, which ran in June and July, included a series of questions designed to illuminate postdocs’ quality-of-life issues, including -mental health, working hours and experiences of discrimination and harassment (see ‘Nature’s postdoc survey’).

Direct Instruction may not be rocket science but it is effective

Kevin Donnelly:

Teachers should be teachers, not facilitators, when it comes to educating schoolchildren.

NOEL Pearson may not be an educationalist by training but when it comes to his advocacy of Direct Instruction and knowledge about what best works in the classroom, he outshines most academics in teacher training institutes and universities.
Since the late 1960s and early 70s, beginning teachers have been taught that more formal, structured and teacher-directed models of classroom interaction are outdated and ineffective.
In the jargon much loved by academics, teachers are called on to be facilitators and guides by the side. Whether associated with what was known as child-centred learning, or its more recent cousin, personalised learning, the assumption is that children must take control and direct their own learning.
Open classrooms, children working in groups, teachers no longer standing at the front of the room and lots of noise and activity are all manifestations of this progressive and new-age model of classroom interaction.

Memorisation and rote learning are condemned as drill and kill, whole language, where beginning readers are told to look and guess and phonics and phonemic awareness go out the window, reigns supreme and mental arithmetic and reciting poetry are obsolete.

There’s only one problem: what has become the current orthodoxy in teacher education is the least-effective and most costly in terms of energy and time. Best illustrated by a US study titled Project Follow Through that evaluated various models ranging from child-centred to teacher-directed, the most successful method of teaching is Direct Instruction.
The more traditional approach involves carefully structured, highly focused lessons where teachers are in control, where children are given a clear and succinct idea of what needs to be mastered and where there is immediate feedback.

Madison, rhetorically, is contemplating the use of phonics, after decades of disastrous reading results.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

The Dalton Gang Shoots Itself

Rod Dreher:

The Dalton School is an elite school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that has long prided itself on its “progressive” values. Progress comes at a price: tuition for its K-12 program is over $54,000 a year. Naturally Dalton has been at the forefront of declaring its progressive bona fides over race and “antiracism,” and declaring its own need for more repentance, but now the Bolsheviks within are storming the Winter Palace.

A hundred Dalton teachers are revolting over the school’s plan to reopen, and have issued a set of demands to the school. Some students are joining. What do they want? Gosh, what don’t they want? Excerpts:

Here is a link to the original text of the ransom note, which most of the Dalton faculty have signed. As Scott Johnston, who broke the news on his blog, comments:

The demands for additional staffers alone would add millions of dollars to Dalton’s annual budget. Siphoning off 50% of donations would dry up funding. Eliminating AP classes (referred to as “leveled courses”) would destroy college admissions. It’s not an exaggeration to say these demands, if implemented, would destroy Dalton altogether. According to insiders, much damage has already been done.

The Top Retractions of 2020

Retraction Watch:

As 2020 was the year of the pandemic, COVID-19 loomed large in the world of retractions, too. According to our tracker in early December, 39 articles about the novel coronavirus have been retracted from preprint servers or peer-reviewed journals so far—a number we’re confident will grow. (That number does not include the retraction of an article from a Johns Hopkins student newspaper claiming that COVID-19 has had “relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.”) That’s out of a total of more than 1,650 retractions catalogued to date in 2020. Here are our picks for the most significant pandemic-related retractions:

1The most spectacular flameouts involved a pair of articles that appeared in two of the world’s most prestigious medical journals. Both The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine were forced to remove articles that relied on data from a questionable firm called Surgisphere, which refused to share its results with coauthors and the editors involved. (The Lancet also retracted and replaced an editorial it had published that had cited the ill-fated paper.) Before it was discredited, the paper in The Lancet had tremendous influence, leading to the suspension of clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine. A third, influential Surgisphere study was taken down from the SSRN server at the request of a coauthor. The withdrawal of the preprint, which was about potential benefits of the antiparasitic drug ivermection, received little fanfare, let alone a retraction notice.

“Being capable of thinking quantitatively — it’s the single most important thing,” says the former NFL lineman.

Jennifer Chu:

It’s been nearly two years since John Urschel retired from the NFL at the age of 26, trading a career as a professional football player at the height of his game for a chance at a PhD in mathematics at MIT. From the looks of it, he couldn’t be happier.

The former offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens is now a full-time graduate student who spends his days in Building 2, poring over academic papers and puzzling over problems in graph theory, machine learning, and numerical analysis.

In his new memoir, “Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football,” co-written with his wife, journalist and historian Louisa Thomas, Urschel writes about how he has balanced the messy, physically punishing world of football, with the elegant, cerebral field of mathematics.

Digital Decay

Ernie Smith:

Today in Tedium: A quarter-century ago, one of the first major search engines came to life on the internet as an experiment of sorts—a public test of a server manufacturer’s primary product that anyone with a web connection could take a part in. The experiment, for a time, proved more successful than anyone could have ever imagined. But the problem was, it was an experiment at heart that was never intended to be a business—and that meant better suited companies would eventually topple this innovation. Eventually, it would ensure that this cutting-edge idea would become a part of the past. But nobody is going to encase the innovations of 1995 and 1996 in amber on the internet: Time does not stand still, and neither do web sites, no matter how important they are or once were. But it would sure be nice if we could. It’s with that in mind that I write about AltaVista, Digital Equipment Corporation, web domains, and how important history can turn into the basis of some random company’s crass marketing scheme. Today’s Tedium, in honor of AltaVista’s 25th anniversary this week, laments the loss of its original home to the gods of search engine optimization. Do not expect a backlink.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: A California Plan to Chase Away the Rich, Then Keep Stalking Them A proposed wealth tax would apply for a decade to anyone who spends 60 days in the state in a single year.

Hank Adler:

California’s Legislature is considering a wealth tax on residents, part-year residents, and any person who spends more than 60 days inside the state’s borders in a single year. Even those who move out of state would continue to be subject to the tax for a decade—a provision that calls to mind the Eagles’ famous “Hotel California” lyric: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

The California Constitution probably allows a statewide wealth tax on residents, but any effort to create a tax capable of reaching across state borders is likely to run afoul of the U.S. Constitution. Taxing someone who spends only 60 days in the state in any single year—and extending that tax over an ensuing decade—would be something new under the sun.

Each year this tax net would gather up a new crop of taxpayers for the next decade. The range of people it proposes to ensnare is staggering: every student attending college in California, anyone having a major medical procedure at a California hospital and needing an extended in-state recovery period, and those who spend two months in California away from New York or London winters. Under California tax law, there is no distinction between a nonresident from Minnesota and a nonresident from Dubai.

Assembly Bill 2088 proposes calculating the wealth tax based on current world-wide net worth each Dec. 31. For part-year and temporary residents, the tax would be proportionate based on their number of days in California. The annual tax would be on current net worth and therefore would include wealth earned, inherited or obtained through gifts or estates long before and long after leaving the state.

Civics: ‘New York Times’ Retracts Core Of Hit Podcast Series ‘Caliphate’ On ISIS

David Folkenflik:

The New York Times has retracted the core of its hit 2018 podcast series Caliphate after an internal review found the paper failed to heed red flags indicating that the man it relied upon for its narrative about the allure of terrorism could not be trusted to tell the truth.

The newspaper has reassigned its star terrorism reporter, Rukmini Callimachi, who hosted the series.

Caliphate relayed the tale about the radicalization of a young Canadian who went to Syria, joined the Islamic State and became an executioner for the extremist group before escaping its hold.

Canadian authorities this fall accused the man, Shehroze Chaudhry, of lying about those activities. He currently faces criminal charges in a federal court in Ontario of perpetrating a terrorism hoax.

“We fell in love with the fact that we had gotten a member of ISIS who would describe his life in the caliphate and would describe his crimes,” New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet tells NPR in an interview on Thursday. “I think we were so in love with it that when we saw evidence that maybe he was a fabulist, when we saw evidence that he was making some of it up, we didn’t listen hard enough.”

How I Got a Computer Science Degree in 3 Months for Less Than $5000

Miguel Rochefort:

In 2012, I dropped out of college, where I was studying computer science, after just one semester. I already knew how to program and I thought I’d never need a degree.

Over the years, I found myself complaining a lot about it. I saw many opportunities, especially abroad, that were out of reach because I didn’t have the required papers. I felt ready for graduate school but couldn’t get admitted. I had to work harder to prove myself to employers. Although I never noticed any serious gap in my knowledge, I felt that something was missing. I started to resent my decision.

In June 2020, I attended a virtual Slate Star Codex meetup. As usual, I complained about not having a degree. This is when I first heard about Western Governors University (WGU). Apparently, their online programs had no speed limit and students could graduate as quickly as they could pass all the exams. I was skeptical, so I did some research.

To the brain, reading computer code is not the same as reading language

Anne Trafton:

In some ways, learning to program a computer is similar to learning a new language. It requires learning new symbols and terms, which must be organized correctly to instruct the computer what to do. The computer code must also be clear enough that other programmers can read and understand it.

In spite of those similarities, MIT neuroscientists have found that reading computer code does not activate the regions of the brain that are involved in language processing. Instead, it activates a distributed network called the multiple demand network, which is also recruited for complex cognitive tasks such as solving math problems or crossword puzzles.

However, although reading computer code activates the multiple demand network, it appears to rely more on different parts of the network than math or logic problems do, suggesting that coding does not precisely replicate the cognitive demands of mathematics either.

“Understanding computer code seems to be its own thing. It’s not the same as language, and it’s not the same as math and logic,” says Anna Ivanova, an MIT graduate student and the lead author of the study.

Evelina Fedorenko, the Frederick A. and Carole J. Middleton Career Development Associate Professor of Neuroscience and a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, is the senior author of the paper, which appears today in eLife. Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Tufts University were also involved in the study.

Is This the End of ‘Three Cueing’?

Sarah Schwartz:

Cueing has, for decades now, been a staple of early reading instruction.

The strategy—which is also known as three-cueing, or MSV—involves prompting students to draw on context and sentence structure, along with letters, to identify words. But it isn’t the most effective way for beginning readers to learn how to decode printed text.

Research has shown that encouraging kids to check the picture when they come to a tricky word, or to hypothesize what word would work in the sentence, can take their focus away from the word itself—lowering the chances that they’ll use their understanding of letter sounds to read through the word part-by-part, and be able to recognize it more quickly the next time they see it.

A better way to search through academic literature

Inciteful:

Find the most relevant literature, faster

The vast majority of academic search engines focus on “importance” (as measured by number of citations) and keyword matching to retrieve their results. They typically show you stats about who the papers cite and who cites those papers.

But there is value and information in the underlying structure that citations provide and it is almost always ignored. Inciteful flips that on it’s head by making citations the center of it’s search process by:

Commentary on Jill Biden’s Dissertation

Kyle Smith:

Jill Biden’s embarrassing 2006 dissertation, which I mocked here and extensively quoted here, is essentially a weakly argued 20,000-word op-ed that offers zero hard evidence for her policy proposals, which are that Delaware Tech (her employer at the time) should beef up its Wellness Center, add a student center, and offer lots of counseling and mentorship to students in order to increase retention rates, which she says were about two-thirds at her institution, about par for community colleges.

Everything is based on anecdotes or soft data, such as the results of insipid surveys she sent out asking Delaware Tech students whether …

California teachers unions mobilize against Democratic school reopening bill

Mackenzie Mays:

California teachers unions are demanding that the Legislature maintain pandemic restrictions on school reopenings and have begun mobilizing against a Democratic bill introduced last week that could force schools to reopen in March.

In separate letters to legislative leaders, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers urge lawmakers to avoid rushing to reopen K-12 schools as Capitol momentum builds to address learning loss and education inequities. Most of the state’s 6 million public schoolchildren remain at home with distance learning.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Books Map of quotation marks in European languages

Jakub Marian:

We are all familiar with English quotation marks: “these” (double) and ‘these’ (single). The American style (and the prevalent style in the UK up until the beginning of the 20th century) prescribes double quotation marks for non-nested quotations, whereas contemporary British publishers lean towards single quotation marks (where single quotation marks, also called inverted commas, are used almost exclusively in fiction).

Nevertheless, the differences between American English and British English, as interesting as they may be, are not the topic of this article. There are five main types of quotation marks, which could be called English, French, German, Polish, and Swedish, represented by different colours on the map below:

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Fleeing New Yorkers resulted in an estimated $34 billion in lost income -study

Jonnelle Marte:

Millions of people have moved out of New York City during the pandemic, but at the same time, millions of others with lower incomes have taken their place, according to a study released on Tuesday.

All told, a net 70,000 people left the metropolitan region this year, resulting in roughly $34 billion in lost income, according to estimates from Unacast here, a location analytics company.

About 3.57 million people left New York City this year between Jan. 1 and Dec. 7, according to Unacast, which analyzed anonymized cell phone location data. Some 3.5 million people earning lower average incomes moved into the city during that same period, the report showed.

Civics: End insider privileges by renewing the freedoms to build, to work, to sell, and to learn.

Edward L. Glaeser:

February 2019 Harris poll found that roughly half of younger Americans would “prefer living in a socialist country.” Millennials may not fully grasp the consequences of the government owning the means of production, but they certainly don’t like how American capitalism is working for them. They have a point. Over the past 40 years, insiders have increasingly captured the American economy—from homeowners opposed to new housing construction near them to incumbent firms that benefit from the overregulation of employment to interest groups that have transformed the federal government into the equivalent of a pension system with a nuclear arsenal. The young are usually outsiders; the bill for the insiders’ triumph has been laid in their laps.

The Covid-19 pandemic reinforces this dynamic. Middle-aged teachers, protected by powerful unions, Zoom their classes from the comfort of their homes, and students get lost in the shuffle. The mortality risk of the disease to the young is tiny; yet they are told to give up the freedom of their youth to protect the rest of us. The irony is particularly bitter because America’s lockdown policies did little to protect the most vulnerable older Americans who live in nursing homes.

State superintendent agrees students are being “robbed” of their education; lawmakers can help by providing every student $3,000 in direct assistance

Liv Finne:

As reported in The Seattle Times, State Superintendent Reykdal said Washington’s children are receiving a “sh-tty” education right now. This highest education official in Washington state is openly acknowledging that kids are feeling “robbed” of the education we have promised them. The legislature needs to step in and help families with direct educational assistance.

Districts across the state have withdrawn education services from Washington’s families. According to the state superintendent’s office, only five percent of students live in districts where more than 75 percent of their students receive in-person instruction. Most district officials are providing only remote learning, and have shut down the child care services they provided families before the pandemic. To keep food on the table, many working families have been forced to pay for expensive child care.

Let’s review some specifics. In Seattle the average monthly cost of child care is $1,680. A family with two children is paying $3,360 a month for child care. I recently spoke to the father of two girls in the public schools. He and his wife are essential workers. They have been paying child care since the school shut down in March. His savings are being depleted, and his future, and that of his children, are in jeopardy.     

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

School Choice: Better Than Prozac

Wall Street Journal:

Teachers unions have pushed to shut down schools during the pandemic no matter the clear harm to children, just as they oppose charters and vouchers. Now comes a timely study suggesting school choice improves student mental health.

Several studies have found that school choice reduces arrests and that private-school students experience less bullying. One reason is that charter and private schools enforce stricter discipline than traditional public schools. Choice programs also allow parents to pull their kids out of public schools if they are struggling and send them to schools that are safer or a better cultural fit.

The new study in the journal “School Effectiveness and School Improvement” is the first to examine the link between school choice and mental health. The Cato Institute’s Corey DeAngelis and Western Carolina University economist Angela Dills analyze the correlation between adolescent suicide rates and the enactment of private-school voucher and charter programs over the last several decades.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyz