This work disentangles aspects of teacher quality that impact student learning and performance. We exploit detailed data from post-secondary education that links students from randomly assigned instructors in introductory-level courses to the students’ performances in follow-on courses for a wide variety of subjects. For a range of first-semester courses, we have both an objective score (based on common exams graded by committee) and a subjective grade provided by the instructor. We find that instructors who help boost the common final exam scores of their students also boost their performance in the follow-on course. Instructors who tend to give out easier subjective grades however dramatically hurt subsequent student performance. Exploring a variety of mechanisms, we suggest that instructors harm students not by “teaching to the test,” but rather by producing misleading signals regarding the difficulty of the subject and the “soft skills” needed for college success. This effect is stronger in non-STEM fields, among female students, and among extroverted students. Faculty that are well-liked by students—and thus likely prized by university administrators—and considered to be easy have particularly pernicious effects on subsequent student performance.
Across the country, a flurry of new legislation aims to expand educational options during the pandemic and beyond. Iowa is on its way to passing a major school choice bill backed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Nebraska may bring opportunities for homeschooled students to play team sports and participate in public school extracurriculars. Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Washington state are also considering some positive changes.
In celebration of National School Choice Week, here’s a look at some of these reforms.
A new proposal from Reynolds establishes school choice in Iowa by granting state scholarships to public school students who want to attend private schools. “We do not believe this is a private vs. public school debate. It is simply a school choice for the parents to choose,” said Anne Rohling, president of St. Albert Catholic School and a strong supporter of the proposal. “Open enrollment in the public schools [has] allowed families the opportunity to seek out the best fit for their children. If this legislation will empower more families to have more choices, then we are in support of it.”
But the bill also faces strong opposition, in and outside the Iowa statehouse. The President of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP “says this could lead to segregation in some Iowa Schools,” reports CBS 2 Iowa. “We agree that parents should have the choice to enroll their child in a private or religious school, but not with public taxpayer funds,” said Council Bluffs Superintendent Vickie Murillo.
Larry Gray, director of the Council Bluffs Heartland Christian School, responded:
The presentation on the effectiveness of school choice coincides with more good news about more choices for parents who qualify for the state’s Private School Choice Programs. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction announced Thursday that 29 more schools will be participating in the programs next year:
These programs allow students with qualifying family incomes to attend a participating private schools for children in K4 through high school. The private school receives a state aid payment, or voucher, for each eligible student. The application period for the 2021-22 school year begins February 1, 2021.
A better way is to look at the trend among all Americans age 25 or older. In December 2019, 53 percent of these Americans with a high school education or less were employed. By December 2020, that dropped to 48 percent. That means that one out of every 20 has lost employment in the past year. A fifth of those losses occurred in November and December.
[The covid-19 recession is the most unequal in modern U.S. history]
These workers tend to be concentrated in the sort of industries that are most directly affected by government restrictions in response to covid-19, such as eating and drinking places, construction and hotels.
Such restrictions became more common over the winter. In November and December, 13 states and the District of Columbia closed or restricted nonessential businesses, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Seven states and D.C. closed indoor dining in the same time period.
Name: British landmarks.
Be more specific: No.
Appearance: Striking, historic, controversial.
Controversial? You’ll see.
What are we talking about? Plymouth Hoe and Devil’s Dyke in Sussex.
Lovely places. Marvellous views of the sea from the Hoe. And I had a very nice cream tea once near Devil’s Dyke. What a beautiful valley it is. Well, they’re both in big trouble.
With whom? The mighty Facebook, that’s who.
Why? Don’t play the innocent with me, squire. You know there’s a problem with hoe.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Facebook services (and instagram), including Madison.
Research from the Education Policy Institute and The Prince’s Trust said wellbeing and self-esteem were similar in all children of primary school age.
Boys and girls’ wellbeing is affected at the age of 14, but girls’ mental health drops more after that, it found.
A lack of exercise is another contributing factor – exacerbated by the pandemic, the study said.
According to the research:
One in three girls was unhappy with their personal appearance by the age of 14, compared with one in seven at the end of primary school
The number of young people with probable mental illness has risen to one in six, up from one in nine in 2017
Boys in the bottom set at primary school had lower self-esteem at 14 than their peers
The wellbeing of both genders fell during adolescence, with girls experiencing a greater decline, the report said.
For the past year, the shuttered San Francisco schools have been schools in name only, so perhaps it’s fitting that the school board has taken to occupying itself by tinkering with their names. The members of the city’s Board of Education, having largely quit the education business and rebranded themselves as amateur historians, found much of history unfit for the honor of association with their empty classrooms.
The school board voted late Tuesday to rename 44 schools in what is no mere correction of anachronistic monuments to racists and conquistadors. The cleansing extends to fully a third of the district’s campuses, sparing no name that, according to the internet research of the board and its emissaries, “significantly diminished the opportunities of those amongst us to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” as a board resolution put it.
Never mind that the name of the man from whom the board borrowed that phrase, Thomas Jefferson, was deemed no longer suitable for attachment to one of the city’s elementary schools.
We’re used to people freaking out whenever states consider creating private educational choice programs. The common refrain goes, “But it will drain money from our already underfunded public schools. It will break our budgets!” There are a lot of problems with the ethos and the pathos of that response worth digging into another day, but on its face, the data doesn’t back it up.
How much do states actually spend on private school choice programs, and how much is that in the context of total public education spending? This post breaks it down for you and ranks the states from highest spending share to lowest.
(For added context, see the national chart in this year’s edition of The ABCs of School Choice (also visible below), and for a refresher on how the calculations are made, see the inaugural spending share post from 2017.)
1. Florida (1)
ESA, Voucher (2), Tax-Credit Scholarships (2) | $1,146.0 million | 3.66% of Florida’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures |3.25% of Florida’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures
2. Wisconsin (3)
Vouchers (4) | $378.3 million | 3.49% of Wisconsin’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 2.89% of Wisconsin’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures
Until the San Francisco Unified School District board stripped Dianne Feinstein’s name from one of its public schools, we were unaware of the Senator’s service to the Confederacy. While the city’s mayor, she had replaced a vandalized Confederate flag that was part of a historical display outside City Hall. So now it’s goodbye to Dianne Feinstein Elementary School.
The Feinstein purge is among the banishments the board took Tuesday night when it voted 6-1 to rename 44 schools. The most absurd target is Abraham Lincoln, who waged the war that ended slavery. Also canceled were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Webster and Paul Revere.
The criteria used to come up with the list of villains is whether they had promoted slavery, genocide, the oppression of women or “otherwise significantly diminished the opportunities of those amongst us to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
But a name on a school is not a declaration of perfection. And a society that rummages through history to hold those of the past to the woke standards of today will soon have no heroes to honor.
I’ve seen screenshots of YouTube modifying dislikes of White House videos. I decided I would do a thorough analysis myself. I wrote a script to check video stats every 80 seconds for 24 hours – for all videos on White House’s YouTube channel.
While online education has become a necessity of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey found most Denver parents feel their children are learning less when seated in front of a computer versus in the classroom.
The survey of 647 Denver parents with school-age kids found 65% said their students were learning less online. That percentage was higher among parents with kindergarteners (80%) and elementary students (69%), while 60% of those with middle and high schoolers reported their students were learning less than if they were attending classes in-person.
On average, 23% of parents said their kids were learning about the same and 5% said they were learning more, according to the survey.
Over the past decade, a large and opaque industry has been amassing increasing amounts of personal data.1
A complex ecosystem of websites, apps, social media companies, data brokers, and ad tech firms track users online and offline, harvesting their personal data. This data is pieced together, shared, aggregated, and monetized, fueling a $227 billion-a yearindustry.
This occurs every day, as people go about their daily lives, often without their knowledge or permission.3,4 Let’s take a look at what this industry is able to learn about a father and daughter during a pleasant day spent at the park.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use predatory data mining services, such as Google and Facebook, including Madison.
This past fall, many public schools made the decision to go virtual as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this wasn’t the case for most private schools. In fact, according to the National Association of Independent Schools, only 5% of private schools went virtual as of October. This is driving demand for private schools across the country and in Wisconsin.
“I think parents have seen how different schools have responded to the COVID pandemic. Some systems and schools went into a self-protective mode and put student needs in a subordinate place,” said Charles Moore, principal of High Point Christian School in Dane County. “Others stepped into ‘harm’s way’ and delivered in-person education despite the potential dangers.”
High Point Christian School, with locations in Mount Horeb and Madison, welcomed 57 new families to their school this past fall. Many parents cited their desire for their children to learn in person as the main reason for coming to the school. But as we celebrate National School Choice Week this week, it’s important to consider ways to expand access to the choice programs so that low-income families can send their children to an in-person, private school if they so desire. Reforms that would make choice more accessible are longer enrollment periods, allowing children to enter the parental choice programs at any point in time — no matter what grade they are in — and eliminating enrollment caps.
High Point Christian School is part of the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP). This means there are vouchers available for students whose families make below 220% of the federal poverty limit to attend High Point, and other participating schools, at no cost.
Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
Three Madison Metropolitan School District staff members are vying to be the next Madison Teachers Inc. president.
One week after the most contentious presidential transition in generations, a much friendlier race is playing out with millions fewer voters.
“It is actually a very healthy part of our union to have these sorts of elections and to have these sorts of discussions,” said West High School dean of students Michael Jones, one of the three candidates. “The important thing is that the strength and the health of our union and our education community is there and we’re going to make sure that happens.
“I think we have a mutual respect for each other and an admiration.”
MTI members are voting this week for their choice. The top two vote-getters will advance to a second vote, which will take place next week.
Madison Teachers, Inc. demands virtual start to the school year.
After backlash from a November social media photo that showed a “thin blue line” flag displayed in the UW-Madison Police Department’s office, Police Chief Kristen Roman has banned officers from using thin blue line imagery while acting in an official police capacity.
Some see the controversial flag as a symbol of solidarity with police, but it has also been flown by white supremacists, including those who stormed the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 in an attempt to overturn the legitimate election defeat of former President Donald Trump. Five people, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, died in the riot.
In an email to UW-Madison Police staff that was released Tuesday, Roman said the flag has been “co-opted” by extremists with “hateful ideologies.” She said her department needs to distance itself from thin blue line imagery to build trust with the community.
“We must consider the cost of clinging to a symbol that is undeniably and inextricably linked to actions and beliefs antithetical to UWPD’s values,” she said in the Jan. 15 email.
The results of a study by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch may pave the way for a new medicine delivery system that could reduce the incidence of pre-term labor and premature birth by allowing physicians to treat the ‘fetus as the patient’. The study has been published in Science Advances.
It has long been suspected that pre-term labor is triggered by inflammation caused by a sick fetus. A new study by scientists at UTMB has proved the hypothesis by studying several important assumptions about the relationship between the health of a mother and her unborn child.
According to Dr. Ramkumar Menon, a Professor in UTMB’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Cell Biology, his team worked with ILIAS Biologics, Inc., a South Korean biotechnology company, to test their bioengineered exosomes as a delivery system for anti-inflammatory medicine directly to the fetus.
“Exosomes are natural nanoparticles or vesicles in our bodies, and we have trillions of them circulating through us at all times. By packaging the medicine inside a bioengineered exosome and injecting it into the mother intravenously, the exosomes travel through the blood system, cross the placental barrier and arrive in the fetus, where they deliver the medicine,” explains Dr. Menon.
In laboratory tests with mice, there were several steps prior to testing the drug delivery. First, Menon said it was important to prove that fetal cells, specifically immune cells, actually migrated through the mother’s body to her uterine tissues as well as to her, which can cause inflammation, the leading cause of pre-term labor.
Thanks to the hard work of a group of parents from the School District of Waukesha, shocking statistics were discovered around students’ performance in schools with virtual education.
Jan. 27, 2021
Rebecca, Stacy, and Kelly are three mothers concerned with the quality of education their children have been receiving throughout the 2020-2021 school year. After placing pressure on the school administration to release student performance data to them, they took the shocking information to the school board who were surprised by the very high levels of students failing a class. MacIver’s Abbi Debelack talks to the three mothers from the Waukesha School District about the impact virtual learning has had on their children, their frustrations with the strict quarantine guidelines, and how the school administration has sidelined their concerns.
It’s easy to knock (and a favored sport for some) Politico for focusing on horse race politics – but the debate about reopening schools has become horse race politics not substance so this is a pretty good overview:
President Joe Biden’s vow to reopen most schools during his first 100 days is crashing into demands of one of his party’s most powerful constituencies: teachers’ unions. And the friction is creating an early test for the Democratic Party’s commitment to following the advice of scientists when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.
That about covers it. And already reductionist claims that would have occasioned knowing clucking and tsk tsking had the chronically fact challenged Trump Administration made them are now greeted with crickets. John Bailey unpacks some of the weediness with the Wisconsin study and the idea that all we need is money, for instance, in his indispensable daily Covid newsletter (you can subscribe here).
The bottom line is the White House and CDC are not in the same place on reopening and there are a lot of politics. A few weeks ago such dissonance was seen as an existential threat to the republic, today a shrug. It’s entirely reasonable for political officials to disagree with scientists, we just shouldn’t be so situational about our response to it. And in general, this is not a great look for the sector. Let’s hope the White House is at least getting some concessions on other issues.
– Some people are dismissing the calls for ventilation to be a priority. This seems like a mistake given what we know about air quality in schools in general and then also the evidence on ventilation and Covid-19. Arguing against the idea that money is the only thing schools need to reopen is not the same as arguing money doesn’t matter for short and long terms response efforts here.
– Does not seem like we’re doing a good job disentangling a massive Covid-19 testing plan for schools as a confidence building measure versus as a public health strategy. And there is a lot of money in play at a time when equity strategies like targeted tutoring could also use an infusion of billions of dollars. There might be more cost effective ways to build public confidence?
School choice is the vehicle which will drive our nation’s poorest and most violent neighborhoods into peace and prosperity, which is why we celebrate this week as National School Choice Week. And the pandemic has only highlighted this by placing a devastating burden on already financially disadvantaged, inner-city families, particularly Black families, with many parents who are unable to work remotely. The final straw for many families, both around the nation and in Wisconsin, has been the unions’ insistence on keeping schools closed for an as-yet undetermined period of time.
So it is no wonder, that when remote learning was proposed for the second half of this school year going into 2021, parents protested in Wisconsin cities such as Racine, Kenosha and South Milwaukee. This phenomenon was seen in cities across the country, with parents protesting in Pittsburgh, Oklahoma City, New York City and Los Angeles. Black parents are coming to see how the teachers union sees their kids: As pawns.
The teachers union in Milwaukee is more than happy to keep its constituents home and drawing a paycheck from which they will automatically draw their union dues. And the more students they keep trapped in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), the greater number of teachers and staff will still be employed to pay those dues. There is no incentive to reform as long as the gravy train keeps running.
Not to say that MPS provides the best learning environment, either. Some of these schools sound like war zones, with teachers being physically and verbally attacked, and a complete lack of discipline and accountability. If I were a teacher who could draw a paycheck and not have to return to that environment, I wouldn’t be so quick to get back, either.
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden rescinded the Trump administration’s executive order prohibiting critical race theory (CRT) training for federal agencies and federal contractors. This is a sad reversal for Americans committed to colorblindness in public life. But while the president’s order is binding at the federal level, state legislators still have a say in the matter. They should not shrink from resisting this pernicious philosophy.
Critical race theory understands the world by viewing everything—society, economics, education, family, science—through the lens of “whiteness” and white racism. White people, according to CRT, drift in a kind of amniotic fluid of privilege and unearned gifts based on the brutal ideology of “white supremacy.” Critical race theory includes values such as hard work, objectivity, deferred gratification, family, and respect for the written word as intrinsically racist, and claims that by “centering” these values American culture relentlessly suppresses black achievement while boosting white mediocrity into advancement. The “theory”—unfalsifiable because any argument against it can be dismissed as an expression of “white fragility”—demands that whites relinquish their unearned societal privilege and work to uproot racism from their own minds and from society at large.
CRT training sessions have become standard across academia, public education, corporate America, and government. Highly paid experts in indoctrination conduct multi-day seminars explaining how racist attitudes infect even the purest intentions, and why white employees are and will always be racist.
That percentage-point rise is nearly double the largest annual increase in poverty since the 1960s. This means an additional 8 million people nationwide are now considered poor. Moreover, the poverty rate for Black Americans is estimated to have jumped by 5.4 percentage points, or by 2.4 million individuals.
The scholars’ findings put the rate at 11.8% in December. While poverty is down from readings of more than 15% a decade earlier, the new estimates suggest that the annual Census Bureau tally due in September will be higher than the last official, pre-pandemic level of 10.5% in 2019.
Giving just one day’s notice to the faculty governance chairs at its universities, the Kansas Board of Regents voted this week to allow for emergency employee terminations and suspensions. Tenured professors are no exception.
All nine voting regents approved the temporary policy, which takes effect immediately and expires at the end of 2022.
“In light of the extreme financial pressures placed on the state universities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, decreased program and university enrollment, and state fiscal issues,” any employee — including one with tenure — “may be suspended, dismissed, or terminated from employment by their respective university,” the policy says.
Previously, state institutions had to follow a specific process to declare financial exigency in order to shed tenured professors for budgetary reasons. This is consistent with norms established by the American Association of University Professors. Now through the end of next year, declaring exigency is not necessary. Universities only have to develop a policy framework for the board to approve. No existing campus policy hearing procedures need apply to these personnel decisions, either.
Kansas’s six state universities are reeling from a proposal by Governor Laura Kelly to slash state funding to higher education in 2022. The state universities face a 5.5 percent budget cut. This would be the most significant cut since 2009, Kansas State University president Richard Meyers wrote in a campus memo this week.
There are winners and losers in Wisconsin’s Open Enrollment program, but just who fits in either category may be a bit surprising.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty released its deep dive into the state’s Open Enrollment program last week. The report details a number of positives, a handful of negatives, and some suggestions to make sure that all kids in Wisconsin get a shot at a high quality education.
The report states there are net winners and net losers in the program. It’s not a reflection on the quality of education, rather it’s WILL’s measure of school districts that gain students through open enrollment and school districts that lose students.
WILL found that many low-income schools lose both students and state funding because of open enrollment, and that higher income schools usually attract those students.
“Between 2015 and 2019 the top 15 net winning districts each year saw net increases in enrollment of between 24%- 69%,” the report states. “The top 15 ‘net-losing’ school districts between 2015 and 2019 saw enrollment losses between 13% and 47%.”
WILL’s Jessica Holmberg said the numbers tell only part of the story.
Lieber’s guidance attends closely to all of these effects. The book explains in detail how to apply for need-based aid, how to use publicly available data sets (down to columns and rows) to predict the merit aid that students will most likely receive, and how to appeal and bargain for more. Lieber reminds parents that they may be substantially richer than the financial aid officers they are bargaining with, so that both decency and prudence counsel against making entitled demands. He also advises parents on how to save for college: Begin early, use the tax-preferred vehicles that states offer and commit future increases in income to college savings first. Don’t blame yourself if you end up with less than absolutely enough. And, most important, “try not to let the complexity of it all paralyze you into doing nothing at all to get ready.”
Lieber repeatedly visits the hierarchies that dominate both higher education and the jobs that colleges send their graduates to do. Students compete for admission to the most desirable colleges, and schools compete to enroll the most desirable applicants, in an absurdly intense two-way matching system. The engine draws fuel from the fact that hierarchies at work have grown alongside hierarchies in schools, so that it matters both that you go to college and which college you attend.
Days before Chicago Public Schools planned to reopen for all elementary school students, a teachers strike could shut down the nation’s third-largest school district.
The district and union are clashing over how to reopen schools safely, while cases of Covid-19 continue to ravage swaths of the city. The strike would be the second in two years.
The school system started in-person classes three weeks ago for pre-K and special-needs students and plans to launch in-person learning for all elementary schools on Monday. Teachers have been negotiating with the city over how to reopen the schools safely, but no agreement has been reached. The Chicago Teachers Union told members to stay home Wednesday and Thursday, forcing CPS to cancel those recently restarted classes.
The union has said it would strike, if the city retaliates by shutting teachers out of remote learning software, as it has warned of doing in letters sent to individual teachers.
Union leave policy results in public subsidy to labor unions, violates Constitution’s ban on compelled speech
The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a Notice of Claim, Thursday, on behalf of a Milwaukee resident challenging a Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) union leave policy. Under this policy, MPS pays public employees full wages and benefits to work for unions instead of the school district. This policy amounts to compelled speech because it forces Milwaukee taxpayers to subsidize labor union activities, which includes working on elections and lobbying. The policy also violates the Constitution’s requirement that all spending be for a public purpose and not for the benefit of a private entity, like a labor union.
The Quote: WILL Deputy Counsel, Dan Lennington, said, “The Constitution guarantees everyone the right to speak, and also the right not to speak. This policy forces Milwaukee taxpayers to pay for the speech and political activities of labor unions by paying teachers and other employees full wages and benefits to work for unions. Taxpayer money should be spent on educating students, not helping labor unions.”
The findings show that schools can teach kids without worsening the pandemic rates, Falk said, and “it’s just been so bolstering. We are carrying on, but it’s not causing significant problems at all.”
The study, produced by Falk and a team of colleagues, “COVID-19 Cases and Transmission in 17 K-12 Schools — Wood County, Wisconsin, August 31-November 29, 2020,” was released Tuesday by the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.
Kia Leger’s 10-year-old daughter received one-on-one reading tutoring two or three days a week in the Athol Royalston Regional School District, until schools went remote in mid-March. The child’s hours of reading instruction diminished dramatically in the spring, with no more one-on-one time. “She was regressing from the very get-go,” Leger says.
The district provided one month of tutoring in the spring, but it was from a social studies teacher, not a reading specialist. For summer school, her daughter was only offered math.
Geher invited professor Jonathan Haidt, founder of Heterodox Academy and a firm believer in freedom of speech for all, to give a talk at the school. Haidt gave his presentation, arguing that academia cannot be devoted to the search for truth if it also has a political agenda. Geher found Haidt’s talk to be very enlightening and persuasive and was shocked to find that quite a few people in the New Paltz academic community were outraged by it.
For some reason, many people were “genuinely angry” over Haidt’s arguments for academic objectivity and tolerance.
Wanting to learn why many on campus reacted as they did, Geher and his research team came up with an idea to study the motivations of faculty members. Their concept was to survey academics, asking them how they prioritize five academic values: academic rigor, knowledge advancement, academic freedom, students’ emotional well-being, and social justice. The objective was to see if academic values were related to the individual’s field, political orientation, gender, and personality.
Geher and his team obtained responses from 177 professors. The results were not at all surprising. They showed, inter alia, that women had a stronger commitment to social justice and student emotional well-being than did men, and faculty who regarded themselves as “agreeable” placed more emphasis on student well-being and social justice than did those who didn’t see themselves as especially agreeable—those in the latter group placed greater emphasis on student learning and academic rigor.
What the research seems to show is that professors who have an underlying devotion to social justice are not particularly interested in academic rigor and the advancement of knowledge.
More Porirua children are riding bikes, thanks to a unique local collaboration. A national initiative, Bikes in Schools is gathering pace in six primary schools in Titahi Bay and East Porirua, offering cycling for all, and setting the wheels in motion for benefits beyond biking.
Principal of Titahi Bay School Kerry Delaney joins Kathryn Ryan to explain why “it’s the best thing that’s ever happened” in her school. Also joining, Chris Te’o, founder and leader of USO Bike Ride, a community group supporting Pasifika and Māori families to ride bikes.
The Trump years had something for almost everyone. Progressives had the satisfaction of righteousness and a justification for daily outrage. What they didn’t have were policy victories, although they might have had a few if they could have refrained, even for a few days, from treating the president as illegitimate. For conservatives, the case was exactly reversed: They had some major policy wins, but at the cost of frequent embarrassment and dismay at the president’s offensive behavior and self-defeating logorrhea.
The worst of his conduct took place after the 2020 election and seemed to fulfill progressive commentators’ allegation that Donald Trump was carrying out an “assault on democracy.” Mr. Trump’s refusal to accept defeat, culminating in demands that Vice President Mike Pence overturn a lawful election on no legal authority, occasioned a debacle that may haunt the Republican Party, and the country, for years.
My name is Dan Cunningham and the letter below is written by my son. I have been sending him text books and looking for answers on the internet to keep his interest up. He has progressed so far on his own and now he needs direction and assistance from a professional in mathematics. Any advice or assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated.
My name is Travis Cunningham, I’m 25, I’ve been in prison for the past 6 years, and I’m self-taught in mathematics. I began with a list of courses required in a standard undergraduate curriculum and studied the required texts from each course. I covered the basics in this way before branching off into my own interests, beginning with partial differential equations and eventually landing in scattering theory.
I began studying mathematics because it was fun and interesting (and passed the time), but it has since become so much more. The progress that I’ve made, combined with the observation that I am capable of at least understanding research in my fields of interest, has compelled me to take the next step into conducting research of my own, and my current goal is to make advances of publishable value. I am just beginning in this process, yet already I have made progress studying scattering resonances. At the moment, I’m working on a number of problems related to resonance counting. In particular, my primary focus is on “inverse resonance counting”: By assuming an asymptotic formula for the resonance counting function (as well as some other results concerning distribution), my goal is to determine properties of the potential. Similarly, in the case of a surface with hyperbolic ends, the goal is to determine properties of the surface from knowledge of an exact asymptotic formula for the counting function. My primary resources at present are Mathematical Theory of Scattering Resonances by Dyatlov and Zworski, and Spectral Theory of Infinite-Area Hyperbolic Surfaces by Borthwick.
There are now social media categories of “good” bad and “bad” bad, depending on the age, flags, insignia, look, and fashion of the thugs. Good mobs hate Trump agendas, bad ones do not. Good “white” people who are programmed correctly vote for Biden; bad “white” people who voted for Trump need deprogramming. Again, how that would proceed presumably is under discussion.
The high-brow New York Times runs good fashion hype on the cool violent Antifa look; the low-brow New York Post of course does not run bad glamor encomia to the crazed violators of the Capitol.
Meanwhile, foreign terrorist leaders like Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted freely their death threats to Israel. In Internet wokespeak, to call for the death of millions is a mere statistic.
The Madison School District, where the issue has drawn public scrutiny in recent years, reported using restraint or seclusion 1,259 times on students during the 2019-20 school year, including 233 incidents involving students with disabilities. On a per-pupil basis, that ranked 40th among the state’s school districts.
The report is the first of its kind provided on a statewide scale in Wisconsin after 2019 revisions to a decade-old law. Public schools, private schools participating in a voucher program for students with disabilities and private schools where students are placed by public districts are now required to report the information.
State law defines restraint as a restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of students to freely move their torso, arms, legs or head, and seclusion as the involuntary confinement of students, apart from other students, in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving.
More than half of Wisconsin schools restrained or isolated students to control their behavior during the last school year, according to data released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) this week.
The data, which was collected because of changes to the state law on restraint and seclusion, also shows that elementary school students and students with disabilities were more likely to be restrained or secluded. The 30 schools that reported the most seclusion incidents were all elementary schools.
Joanne Juhnke, advocacy specialist in special education with Disability Rights Wisconsin, said the practices are more common for lower grades because of the students’ size and the “relative ease of physically overwhelming” smaller children. However, it comes with a particular cost to elementary school-aged kids.
“These are happening with young children, children with whom this is an impressionable time, and can cause emotional harm, to be physically overpowered or shut in a blank little room that they’re prevented from getting out of,” she said.
State law defines restraint as a restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of students to freely move their torso, arms, legs or head; and seclusion as the involuntary confinement of students apart from other students in a room or area that they are physically prevented from leaving. It’s meant to be used as a last resort, and to manage a crisis rather than as a disciplinary measure, said Barb Van Haren, assistant state superintendent for the Division for Learning Supports at DPI.
From the spread of COVID-19 and the wave of state-imposed closures that followed to the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the unrest that ensued, 2020 was a year in which American institutions flailed and failed. And few failures were bigger or more apparent than those of public-sector unions.
By pushing to keep schools closed even as evidence mounted that in-person classes were relatively low-risk and remote learning was ineffective, teachers unions failed students and parents. By pushing to protect bad cops in the wake of multiple scandals, police unions failed the public they were sworn to protect. And in the process, America got a glimpse of what public-sector unions, regardless of the profession they represent, really do.
Unions that represent government employees seek to maintain an image of themselves as protectors of common institutions that can be relied upon to serve the public interest. But the upheavals of 2020 made clear that the priority for public-sector unions is the opposite: to protect the interests of taxpayer-funded employees, especially when those interests diverge from those of the public they nominally serve.
— John Lauritsen (@JDLauritsen) January 27, 2021
Meanwhile, Fairfax County, VA:
We are pleased to share that more than 22,000 Fairfax County Public Schools teachers and employees have already been able to schedule their first shot.
The Broward School District has scoured Facebook pages of teachers working remotely to catch them partying and traveling despite COVID-19 fears.
The Broward School District has scoured Facebook pages of teachers working remotely to catch them partying, traveling and failing to wear masks at a time the educators say COVID-19 makes it too risky for them to return to campus.
One teacher is pictured at her daughter’s destination wedding in Jamaica. Another attended a political rally for Joe Biden. Others were pictured with cocktails in restaurants or enjoying a Disney or beach vacation with family or friends.
The district used about 40 pages of research about remote teachers during an arbitration hearing last week with the Broward Teachers Union, which challenged the district’s decision to end remote work assignments for most teachers.
“If individuals on remote assignment can go to a Biden rally or to Animal Kingdom or to a luncheon, they can safely return to in-person teaching,” Stephanie Marchman, a lawyer representing Broward Schools, said during a hearing Friday.
The effort amounts to “spying” on its employees, according to the Broward Teachers Union, which argued that the information is irrelevant since there were no conditions for what teachers could do while working remotely. Union lawyer Mark Richard also said the employees are doing activities encouraged by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a proponent of keeping businesses open.
An emphasis on adult employment.
On Thursday, teachers and staff at Los Gatos Union School District received a tantalizing offer in their emails: a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of schedule.
According to investigative news outlet San Jose Spotlight, Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Gatos offered district Superintendent Paul Johnson and staff the vaccine as a “gesture” of kindness after the district raised funds for a program to provide frontline workers meals.
“The COO of the hospital says we can access the appointments … and has cleared [Los Gatos schools] staff to sign up under the healthcare buttons,” the email from Johnson to district staff obtained by Spotlight read. Educators are part of Phase 1B in California and Santa Clara County, behind frontline staff, nursing home residents and those 65 and older.
Teachers, per the email, were told to impersonate health care workers despite the threat of perjury — with the approval of COO Gary Purushotham — in order to obtain access to the vaccine. “Remember to register under healthcare initially,” Johnson’s note read.
Open schools. Close indoor dining.
When to keep schools open, and how to do so, has been an issue plaguing the response by the United States to the pandemic since its beginning. President Biden vowed to “teach our children in safe schools” in his inaugural address.
On Tuesday, federal health officials weighed in with a call for returning children to the nation’s classrooms as soon as possible, saying the “preponderance of available evidence” indicates that in-person instruction can be carried out safely as long as mask-wearing and social distancing are maintained.
But local officials also must be willing to impose limits on other settings — like indoor dining, bars or poorly ventilated gyms — in order to keep infection rates low in the community at large, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in the journal JAMA.
School administrators must limit risky activities such as indoor sports, they added. “It’s not going to be safe to have a pizza party with a group of students,” Margaret Honein, a member of the C.D.C.’s Covid-19 emergency response team and the first author of the article, said in an interview. “But outdoor cross-country, where distance can be maintained, might be fine to continue.”
Related: Catholic schoolswill sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
Academic publishing is famously brutal. You might have a great manuscript that is under review then is rejected based on comments of one anonymous reviewer who thinks that you use too many exclamation points. Or a reviewer who is bitter because you didn’t cite his particular work. Or a reviewer who didn’t really read the manuscript and who goes on to criticize your work for neglecting some important statistical process that you, in fact, implemented plainly and correctly.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
I know, because I have published more than 100 academic pieces in my career to date. I’ve pretty much been through it all.
From this context, I will say that the most difficult paper that my team (the New Paltz Evolutionary Psychology Lab) and I have ever tried to publish was a paper on the topic of political motivations that underlie academic values of academics.
That paper, inspired by a visit to our campus from NYU’s Jonathan Haidt, founder of the Heterodox Academy, was, a bit surprisingly to us, so controversial that it was rejected by nearly 10 different academic journals. Each rejection came with a new set of reasons. After some point, it started to seem to us that maybe academics just found this topic and our results too threatening. Maybe this paper simply was not politically correct. I cannot guarantee that this is what was going on, but I can tell you that we put a ton of time into the research and, as someone who’s been around the block when it comes to publishing empirical work in the behavioral sciences, I truly believe that this research was generally well-thought-out, well-implemented, and well-presented. And it actually has something to say about the academic world that is of potential value.
The same day Ms. Ward launched her fundraising campaign, reports emerged detailing Airbnb’s new “trait analyzer” algorithms that compile data dossiers on users, decides whether you’ve been bad or good, gives you a score, and then “flag and investigate suspicious activity before it happens.”
The Evening Standard reported on Airbnb’s patent for AI that crawls and scrapes everything it can find on you, “including social media for traits such as ‘conscientiousness and openness’ against the usual credit and identity checks and what it describes as ‘secure third-party databases’.”
They added, “Traits such as “neuroticism and involvement in crimes” and “narcissism, Machiavellianism, or psychopathy” are “perceived as untrustworthy.” Further:
The insect apocalypse has captured headlines, but the situation is more nuanced than that. Scientists find an increase in the overall numbers of arthropods in the Arctic, but a decline in diversity. Certain habitats in the Arctic are also affected more than others.3 In Puerto Rico, insect declines initially attributed to climate change may have resulted instead from hurricanes.4 Some insect species have even increased in numbers—mainly those that are tolerant of human activities or that benefit from associating with humans or from climate change.
Despite that, the general trend is negative as climate change, habitat destruction (in the form of deforestation, urbanization, and intensification of agriculture), and pesticides take their toll. These forces are overtaking the insects. They are coming so quickly that even these spectacularly successful evolutionary improvisers do not have time to escape. It’s often difficult for scientists to identify a single contributing factor. A new paper, introducing a special issue on the plight of insects, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, referred to the decline of these tiny creatures as “death by a thousand cuts.”5
TUYA’S COLLECTION of bongs occupies an entire bookshelf in her immaculate little flat, though she does not smoke marijuana—she just likes the way they look. Her weaknesses, alcohol and pills, landed her in a homeless shelter in Helsinki for three years. But since 2018 she has had an apartment of her own, thanks to a strategy called “housing first” with which Finland has all but eliminated homelessness.
Akbar has no such luck. Last month the Afghan migrant stood in the mud of a camp outside Paris, brushing his teeth at a hose that served as a communal shower. For two months Akbar had been living in a tent city of 3,500 Asian and African migrants, hoping to apply for refugee status.
But the offer to make schools safer comes months after data from Europe and the United States indicates that schools aren’t hot beds of infection. “Two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus,” Anya Kamenetz noted for NPR last October.
“The best available data suggests that infection rates in schools simply mirror the prevalence of covid-19 in the surrounding community,” Emily Oster, a Brown University economics professor, wrote in November.
“The default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep the children in school or to get them back to school,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, commented on November 29. While Fauci has flip-flopped on this issue, he repeatedly returns to the idea that schools should be open to teach children.
Nevertheless, many government schools across the country remain closed or only intermittently open. That’s largely a result of opposition by teachers unions, who raise bogus safety fears. Even now, unions in Minneapolis and St. Paul resist reopening and the union in Chicago plans to strike over the issue.
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) this weekend vetoed Joe Biden’s plan to reopen schools during his first 100 days by voting to continue remote learning indefinitely. The union is taking kids hostage to extract more money from Congress with no guarantee that it will release them if it does.
Chicago’s Board of Education had required K-8 teachers to show up at schools on Monday to prepare for a return to in-person instruction on Feb. 1. The union doesn’t care. Seventy-one percent of CTU voting members rejected a return to in-person learning until schools are “safe”—meaning whenever teachers feel like going back.
The district has installed air purifiers in classrooms, conducted ventilation tests, increased cleaning and procured rapid testing, among other things. It will begin vaccinating teachers next month. There’s no excuse for teachers not to return to classrooms.
“Students in over 130 private and parochial schools and over 2,000 early learning centers across the city have been safely learning in their classrooms since the fall, and we must provide that same option to our families who, through no fault of their own, have been unable to make remote learning work for their children,” Chicago Public Schools said. “We’ve seen grades, attendance, and enrollment drop significantly for many of our students in recent months, and the impact has been felt most by our Black and Latinx students.”
After the union vote, the district postponed teachers’ start-date until Wednesday to provide time “to resolve our discussions without risking disruption to student learning.” Haven’t district leaders read the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”? Accommodating unreasonable demands leads to more unreasonable demands.
Related: Catholic schoolswill sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
One option is to rigorously fact check everything you read, but that’s cumbersome and still bottoms out somewhere. I found errors in the Stat article, but then took reports from the CDC at face value. More importantly, you just don’t have the time.
Instead, I propose a much simpler solution: don’t read the news.
Could it be that simple? Surely there are serious repercussions for being so dangerously and completely uninformed?
Here are some of the headlines on the front page of the New York Times:
I compiled those on January 18th when I wrote a first draft of this post. On the 25th as I prepare to publish, it’s not much better:
Wow! how can you not click those? How did Joe do it? What’s the one flaw of his stimulus plan? What are these tiny chores I can use to improve my life? Why won’t Bryan Cranston play Trump?
This is not news. It’s clickbait, and it’s bad for you. I don’t mean to pick on the NYT. It’s among the best of the popular outlets, and it is still horrible.
Here’s Aaron Swartz writing in 2006:
It does not include specific regulations for art or dance studios, and Nemeckay said her business was among about 20 studios that collectively tried to get answers from Public Health Madison and Dane County about what they were allowed to do, but that the agency either gave them conflicting information or refused to answer their questions because it had been sued over the mass gathering restrictions.
“So we are stuck trying to figure it out on our own,” she said.
Public Health says in its complaint that it learned Dec. 7, 8 and 11 that the studio was continuing to hold indoor dance classes and warned it in a message on Dec. 11 that holding the ballet would violate the public health order. Nemeckay said she never received that message and hadn’t heard of the complaint against her business until told of it by the State Journal.
She said that in nine months, five people involved in activities at the studio have tested positive for the coronavirus, but that none of the infections were traced back to the studio.
Each of the 119 counts is punishable by a $200 fine, plus court costs. Most of the counts pertain to children dressed for parts in the ballot and are described by what part they’re playing, such as “Mouse #3”, the clothes they’re wearing or the color of their hair. None of the people involved are mentioned by name.
Madison assistant city attorney Marci Paulsen said she has drafted 41 summons and complaints related to violations of local COVID-19 restrictions — 39 in Madison Municipal Court and two in circuit court for violations that happened outside of the city.
“Elections have consequences.”
Six of the seven candidates to become Wisconsin’s next state superintendent of public instruction participated in a forum Wednesday night focused on funding and equity.
The Association for Equitable Funding hosted the virtual forum with candidates Steve Krull, Jill Underly, Sheila Briggs, Troy Gunderson, Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams and Deb Kerr. Candidate Joe Fenrick was unable to attend.
Voters will narrow the field to two candidates in the Feb. 16 primary election. The final two candidates will be on the April 6 ballot, with the winner becoming the leader of the state’s Department of Public Instruction.
Below, in the first order they were asked a question at the forum, is a brief summary of each candidate and some quotes from each from the forum.
Days after winning the November election, Joe Biden announced the names of those staffing his transition. Big Tech landed prominent spots. Among the hundreds of personnel on the agency review teams serving the president-elect, there was one from Uber, two from Amazon, and one from Google. And then there were two people from Rebellion Defense, a shadowy defense startup.
The announcement sent Washington insiders scrambling to look up the company. No major defense contractors appeared on the list. “It’s sure odd that a year-old startup like Rebellion winds up with two employees serving on a presidential transition team,” Ken Glueck, the executive vice president of the tech company Oracle, told me.
What is Rebellion Defense? With a Star Wars allusion as its name, this firm is not your typical contractor. Rebellion launched in the summer of 2019 to craft artificial-intelligence (AI) software for the defense industry. Trade publications gushed about how innovative it was. It quickly raised $63 million, with the conspicuous backing of its board member Eric Schmidt. Schmidt is best known as the former CEO of Google, but he’s also a billionaire investor and an influential consultant to key government bodies.
More from Jonathan Guyer
Schmidt serves as chairman of an advisory board to the White House and Congress called the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. From official positions, he has advocated for the Defense Department and intelligence agencies to adopt more machine-learning technology. Meanwhile, as a venture capitalist, he has invested millions of dollars in more than a half-dozen national-security startups that sell those very technologies back to the government.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.
Bets and bonds are tools for handling different epistemic states and levels of trust. Which makes them a great fit for negotiating with small children!
A few weeks ago Anna (4y) wanted to play with some packing material. It looked very messy to me, I didn’t expect she would clean it up, and I didn’t want to fight with her about cleaning it up. I considered saying no, but after thinking about how things like this are handled in the real world I had an idea. If you want to do a hazardous activity, and we think you might go bankrupt and not clean up, we make you post a bond. This money is held in escrow to fund the cleanup if you disappear. I explained how this worked, and she went and got a dollar:
Federal repression got a seal of approval from an organization long renowned for its uncompromising defense of free speech. Scott Michelman, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington D.C. office, told the Post:
It’s no question that closing off public spaces, even for a limited time, affects people’s ability to exercise their free-speech rights, but at the same time, the government is permitted to carry out temporary targeted closures of common areas when they have a good reason and aren’t trying to favor one viewpoint over another. If they close the Mall for the inauguration based on a threat, the First Amendment doesn’t prohibit that. If they close the Mall for all of 2021 because there was a threat in January, that is very likely to be overly restrictive.
Very likely? At least the ACLU didn’t endorse shutting down the Mall for the entirety of Biden’s presidency. But neither the federal government nor the District of Columbia government provided clear evidence of an imminent threat that would justify shutting down the Mall and effectively banning protest throughout the vast “Green Zone” that the feds had declared for the Biden inauguration.
The ACLU sounded happy to see protests suppressed so long as pro-Trump activists were kept off of the streets and the Mall. Michelman explained: “It can be just as chilling for many would-be demonstrators to know that they’re going to be met with violent counterprotesters as it would be if they were to be met with state violence. Nobody wins when insurrectionists storm the Capitol and wanton violence plays out on the streets of the nation’s capital. That’s not free speech, and that’s not conducive to anyone’s free speech.”
The overwhelming majority of middle and high school students in Japan are required to wear uniforms, and so it’s no surprise that Japanese schools tend to have lots of other rules governing students’ personal appearance. One that’s been attracting controversy in recent years, though, is a requirement at some schools that all students must have black hair.
The ostensible reason for the rule is that almost all Japanese people have naturally black hair, and so they’ll only have non-black hair if they’ve chosen to dye it a different color. Such willful, discretionary standing out from the norm is seen as a distraction and/or lack of earnestness according to orthodox Japanese values, and thus counterproductive to the collective student body’s academic development.
However, an incident in 2017 sparked debate when it highlighted that requiring students to have black hair and forbidding them to dye it aren’t always one and the same, and in fact can sometimes be complete opposites. You’ll notice in the last paragraph that we sad almost all Japanese people have naturally black hair, and that’s because some of them don’t. While it’s relatively rare, some Japanese people are born with hair that has a natural brown tint to it, and one such girl who was attending high school in Osaka was forced to dye her naturally brown hair black, resulting in damage to her scalp and prompting a 2.2 million-yen lawsuit against the school.
We find that the most commonly-used scenarios in climate research have already diverged significantly from the real world, and that divergence is going to only get larger in coming decades. You can see this visualized in the graph below, which shows carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels from 2005, when many scenarios begin, to 2045. The graph shows emissions trajectories projected by the most commonly used climate scenarios (called SSP5-8.5 and RCP8.5, with labels on the right vertical axis), along with other scenario trajectories. Actual emissions to date (dark purple curve) and those of near-term energy outlooks (labeled as EIA, BP and ExxonMobil) all can be found at the very low end of the scenario range, and far below the most commonly used scenarios.
My 4- and 8-year-old are closer now than they were before the pandemic — I hear the sounds of giggling wafting from their bedroom several times a night. But the more time my girls spend together, the more they fight, too.
The most common battlegrounds for my kids are perceived injustices and jockeying for position. The most absurd instance of the latter was when we were waiting to get flu shots this past fall. The girls got into a brawl over who received the first shot. My older daughter “won” that argument, but it was only as she was walking toward the pharmacist’s door that she realized a shot was not actually a prize.
Chicago Teachers Union members have voted to defy Chicago Public Schools’ reopening plans and continue working from home Monday because of health and safety concerns.
City officials had said in recent days they would view the collective refusal of in-person work as a strike, but in response to Sunday’s vote results said they will delay the scheduled return of thousands of teachers and staff until Wednesday “to ensure we have the time needed to resolve our discussions without risking disruption to student learning.”
The CTU’s move to reject in-person work marks the culmination of a months-long fight between the union and the nation’s third-largest school system over how and when to reopen schools during the pandemic — a disagreement that threatens to plunge the city’s education into deeper turmoil if a deal isn’t reached over the next few days.
Related: Catholic schoolswill sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
Roughly three months into the financial aid application cycle, the number of Wisconsin high school seniors who have completed the FAFSA is down 13% from the same time last year, according to U.S. Education Department data analyzed by the National College Attainment Network (NCAN), a nonprofit trying to close equity gaps in higher education.
The decline is even worse at schools that serve a large number of low-income students and students of color.
The Madison School District moved its outreach online and by phone, said Mindy Willard, the district’s school counseling coordinator.
Counselors created “senior launchpads” on their websites, where students could access how-to videos, informational links and a checklist of tasks to be completed before graduation. The district also has regular social media blasts and a monthly newsletter with reminders that mention the FAFSA.
“Kids typically have access to their counselor down the hall,” Willard said. “Being virtual just adds another layer. (Counselors) are still accessible but not as accessible as ‘let me just walk into their office.’”
In normal years, the district’s FAFSA completion rate has been 45 to 50%, she said.
NCAN data shows the districtwide completion rate is down about 6% from this time last year.
Related: Catholic schoolswill sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
The reminders of pandemic-driven suffering among students in Clark County, Nev., have come in droves.
Since schools shut their doors in March, an early-warning system that monitors students’ mental health episodes has sent more than 3,100 alerts to district officials, raising alarms about suicidal thoughts, possible self-harm or cries for care. By December, 18 students had taken their own lives.
The spate of student suicides in and around Las Vegas has pushed the Clark County district, the nation’s fifth largest, toward bringing students back as quickly as possible. This month, the school board gave the green light to phase in the return of some elementary school grades and groups of struggling students even as greater Las Vegas continues to post huge numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths.
Superintendents across the nation are weighing the benefit of in-person education against the cost of public health, watching teachers and staff become sick and, in some cases, die, but also seeing the psychological and academic toll that school closings are having on children nearly a year in. The risk of student suicides has quietly stirred many district leaders, leading some, like the state superintendent in Arizona, to cite that fear in public pleas to help mitigate the virus’s spread.
In Clark County, it forced the superintendent’s hand.
“When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn’t just the Covid numbers we need to look at anymore,” said Jesus Jara, the Clark County superintendent. “We have to find a way to put our hands on our kids, to see them, to look at them. They’ve got to start seeing some movement, some hope.”
Adolescent suicide during the pandemic cannot conclusively be linked to school closures; national data on suicides in 2020 have yet to be compiled. One study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the percentage of youth emergency room visits that were for mental health reasons had risen during the pandemic. The actual number of those visits fell, though researchers noted that many people were avoiding hospitals that were dealing with the crush of coronavirus patients. And a compilation of emergency calls in more than 40 states among all age groups showed increased numbers related to mental health.
Related: Catholic schoolswill sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
The economic effects of COVID-19 could prove deadlier than the disease itself.
So says just-released research, which concludes that the total lives lost to the virus in the U.S. may “far exceed those immediately related to the acute COVID-19 critical illness…The recession caused by the pandemic can jeopardize population health for the next two decades.”
The new working paper, by authors at Duke University, Harvard Medical School, and the Johns Hopkins University business school, focuses on the almost instantaneous unemployment of millions of workers in March and April. The unemployment rate jumped from nearly the lowest in 50 years to the highest since the current measurement system began in 1948. While it has come down, it’s still at its highest rate since the recovery from the 2008–09 financial crisis.
We’ve talked a lot about how the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has affected many places of work, but it might surprise you to know that it’s been very hard on higher education. Throughout the country, colleges and universities are slashing budgets, furloughing employees and imposing hiring freezes. And as in other fields, those conditions are especially tough on those at the beginning of their careers, graduate students and newly-minted grads seeking their first academic positions.
But a new book makes the case that graduate education was in trouble long before the pandemic. Ph.D.s can take years to complete, about half of students never finish, and job prospects are diminishing. The book is called “The New PhD: How To Build A Better Graduate Education.” And in it, two scholars with long histories in the academic world offer their views on the problems facing graduate education from admissions to advising and what needs to be done to make it a better experience for students and more productive for the economy.
A subcommittee of the Kansas Board of Regents voted Wednesday to endorse a one-year policy making it easier for state universities to suspend, dismiss or terminate employees, including tenured faculty members, without initiating the process of formally declaring a financial emergency.
The extraordinary proposal unanimously forwarded to the full Board of Regents was based on financial damage to the University of Kansas, Kansas State, Wichita State and three other state universities by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another issue was Gov. Laura Kelly’s decision in June to cut higher education appropriations by $35 million and her recommendation last week to the Kansas Legislature for a $27 million reduction in state aid to the universities. The Board of Regents asked the governor to restore the $35 million and hold the line in the new state budget.
It’s a question I ask myself a lot, and I bet you do too. On the one hand I really want to push myself. I’m ambitious, I want to leave it all out on the field—some of my peak work moments have come from times when I’ve pushed myself to a place where I didn’t think I could go. We all have more ability to adapt to stress and pressure than we think we do.
On the other hand, I want to be kind to myself. I wonder how much the drive to push myself is really just a drive to make up for something that I feel is missing or inadequate—and whether pushing myself will actually fill the hole. I also sometimes wonder whether letting myself off the hook is just laziness masquerading as self-care. It’s hard to tell.
But importantly, I wonder whether pushing myself might, in fact, kill me. Constant pressure creates chronic stress, and there’s all sorts of scientific studies that show that chronic stress is really bad for you. It makes you more susceptible to heart disease, it makes it harder to recover from illnesses, it can affect your sleep, and it can even affect your working memory.
There’s also all sorts of literature (and conversations on Twitter) that says that stress is actually good for you.
In the 1998 Hollywood thriller Enemy of the State, an innocent man (played by Will Smith) is pursued by a rogue spy agency that uses the advanced satellite “Big Daddy” to monitor his every move. The film — released 15 years before Edward Snowden blew the whistle on a global surveillance complex — has achieved a cult following.
It was, however, much more than just prescient: it was also an inspiration, even a blueprint, for one of the most powerful surveillance technologies ever created. So contends technology writer and researcher Arthur Holland Michel in his compelling book Eyes in the Sky. He notes that a researcher (unnamed) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California who saw the movie at its debut decided to “explore — theoretically, at first — how emerging digital-imaging technology could be affixed to a satellite” to craft something like Big Daddy, despite the “nightmare scenario” it unleashes in the film. Holland Michel repeatedly notes this contradiction between military scientists’ good intentions and a technology based on a dystopian Hollywood plot.
If 2020 confirmed one thing, it was the centrality of the dollar to the global economy. U.S. hegemony may already have passed us in a political and strategic sense, but U.S. financial influence is proving more enduring. This is reassuring in the sense that the U.S. Federal Reserve has once again acted as a responsive and generous steward of the dollar-based financial system. But it is also a cause of puzzlement and frustration.
While China and Russia experiment with alternatives to the dollar-based payment system, in Europe the buzzword of the day is “strategic autonomy.” Given the increasing aggression of Washington’s financial sanctions, compounded by the capriciousness of the presidency of Donald Trump, this is hardly surprising. It is an obvious reaction to the weaponization of interdependence.
The pandemic has emphasized the importance of having many educational options available to families. Private schools, which have been more willing to keep their doors open than public schools throughout the pandemic, are one such critical option. Open enrollment into neighboring districts that may offer an alternative model of education are another one. Yet for far too many families, these options, that best fit the needs of their children, remain out of reach. Instead, families are forced to continue to fund their local public schools with tax dollars, even as they refuse to open at the behest of unions. A new bill from Senator Dale Kooyenga seeks to change that, at least for the 2021–22 school year.
WILL has long been a proponent of increasing the income limit for the WPCP. Currently, only families who make less than 220% of the federal poverty limit are eligible to participate in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP). The WPCP offers families a voucher to send their children to participating private schools throughout the state at no additional cost. While the program is laudable in it’s goal to serve low-income families, the bottom line is that the cost of private education is out of the realm of possibility for many in the middle class as well. While Wisconsin has relatively low-cost private schools compared to the rest of the country, the average annual cost for an elementary school is $3,445 and the average cost of high school is $8,110 according to the most recent data available. These are expenses that often only the wealthiest can afford.
People considering the economic impact of school closings have primarily focused on lost wages and productivity due to parents missing work, but a much greater cost lies ahead. Years from now the U.S. economy will lose trillions when those students who have fallen behind during remote learning enter the workforce. Kids must make up for lost learning, and the best option is summer school.
Here’s the problem. Under normal circumstances, school makes kids smarter; it literally raises IQs by ensuring practice in critical thinking, and by teaching factual knowledge that gives kids something to think critically about. Research shows that there’s an IQ cost when a child misses a year due to illness. When jurisdictions increase the drop-out age, the average IQ of the affected generation increases. These and other data have alternative explanations, but when combined they show that students gain between one and five IQ points each year they attend school.
In the third decade of the 21st century, the Social Register still exists, there are still debutante balls, polo and lacrosse are still patrician sports, and old money families still summer at Newport. But these are fossil relics of an older class system. The rising ruling class in America is found in every major city in every region. Membership in it depends on having the right diplomas—and the right beliefs.
To observers of the American class system in the 21st century, the common conflation of social class with income is a source of amusement as well as frustration. Depending on how you slice and dice the population, you can come up with as many income classes as you like—four classes with 25%, or the 99% against the 1%, or the 99.99% against the 0.01%. In the United States, as in most advanced societies, class tends to be a compound of income, wealth, education, ethnicity, religion, and race, in various proportions. There has never been a society in which the ruling class consisted merely of a basket of random rich people.
In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope team gave the world the first glimpse of what a black hole actually looks like. But the image of a glowing, ring-shaped object that the group unveiled wasn’t a conventional photograph. It was computed — a mathematical transformation of data captured by radio telescopes in the United States, Mexico, Chile, Spain and the South Pole1. The team released the programming code it used to accomplish that feat alongside the articles that documented its findings, so the scientific community could see — and build on — what it had done.
It’s an increasingly common pattern. From astronomy to zoology, behind every great scientific finding of the modern age, there is a computer. Michael Levitt, a computational biologist at Stanford University in California who won a share of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on computational strategies for modelling chemical structure, notes that today’s laptops have about 10,000 times the memory and clock speed that his lab-built computer had in 1967, when he began his prizewinning work. “We really do have quite phenomenal amounts of computing at our hands today,” he says. “Trouble is, it still requires thinking.”
Since colleges and universities announced last summer that they would be opening their doors to students, critics have argued that doing so was irresponsible and would lead to infections and deaths in nearby communities.
New peer-reviewed analysis released today in Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering [Are College Campuses Superspreaders? A Data-Driven Modeling Study] suggests that, for some colleges, the link was indeed present.
When he and his male classmates talk about going to college, said Debrin Adon, it always comes down to one thing.
“We’re more focused on money,” said Adon, 17, a senior at a public high school here. “Like, getting that paycheck, you know?” Whereas, “if I go to college, I’ve got to pay this much and take on all this debt.”
That’s among the many reasons the number of men who go to college has for years been badly trailing the number of women who go. And the Covid-19 pandemic has abruptly thrown the ratio even more off balance.
While enrollment in higher education overall fell 2.5 percent in the fall, or by more than 461,000 students compared to the fall of 2019, the decline among men was more than seven times as steep as the decline among women, according to an analysis of figures from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Traditional newspapers never sold news; they sold an audience to advertisers. To a considerable degree, this commercial imperative determined the journalistic style, with its impersonal voice and pretense of objectivity. The aim was to herd the audience into a passive consumerist mass. Opinion, which divided readers, was treated like a volatile substance and fenced off from “factual” reporting.
The digital age exploded this business model. Advertisers fled to online platforms, never to return. For most newspapers, no alternative sources of revenue existed: as circulation plummets to the lowest numbers on record, more than 2,000 dailies have gone silent since the turn of the century. The survival of the rest remains an open question.
Led by the New York Times, a few prominent brand names moved to a model that sought to squeeze revenue from digital subscribers lured behind a paywall. This approach carried its own risks. The amount of information in the world was, for practical purposes, infinite. As supply vastly outstripped demand, the news now chased the reader, rather than the other way around. Today, nobody under 85 would look for news in a newspaper. Under such circumstances, what commodity could be offered for sale?
During the 2016 presidential campaign, the Times stumbled onto a possible answer. It entailed a wrenching pivot from a journalism of fact to a “post-journalism” of opinion—a term coined, in his book of that title, by media scholar Andrey Mir. Rather than news, the paper began to sell what was, in effect, a creed, an agenda, to a congregation of like-minded souls. Post-journalism “mixes open ideological intentions with a hidden business necessity required for the media to survive,” Mir observes. The new business model required a new style of reporting. Its language aimed to commodify polarization and threat: journalists had to “scare the audience to make it donate.” At stake was survival in the digital storm.
A member of the high school security staff discovered what appeared to be a smoke detector cover that was altered to house a recording device located in the coach’s office on Jan. 8. The staff member contacted the school principal, who then contacted district officials and law enforcement.
Upon further investigation, it was discovered there was evidence a camera may have been installed in the smoke detector with the approval of district staff in September 2019 in an effort to document “an employee discipline issue related to work rule violations,” according to the statement.
This use of surveillance equipment is a direct violation of district policy, Jenkins said in the statement.
“I am outraged a policy of this nature would be violated,” he said. The district has launched an investigation into the matter through a local law firm.
The request for the camera installation took place under interim Superintendent Jane Belmore, but she did not approve or know of the request, district spokesperson Tim LeMonds said.
It does not appear at this point in the investigation to be related to cases involving former East High School business and marketing teacher David M. Kruchten, who is charged with transporting seven minors to Minnesota with the intention of creating child pornography and attempting to create child pornography by using hidden cameras in 2019. Members of East High’s DECA business club found the hidden cameras in their hotel rooms.
There have been many important numbers in this pandemic but one has come to tower over the rest: the reproduction rate. The R number, as everyone calls it, has been used by the government to justify imposing and lifting lockdowns. Indeed while there are many important numbers — gross domestic product, parliamentary majorities, interest rates — few can compete right now with R. Which is why it’s strange that so little is ever said about what it actually is.
I don’t mean what it represents. As most of us know, R is an estimate, a range rather than a single figure, of how many people the average person with Covid passes the virus onto. Anything above one and the spread of the disease is growing;
13. Rather, I am concerned about institutional legitimacy. When you have a country divided into two tribes, and one tribe increasingly dominates most major cultural institutions, regardless of why, those institutions will gradually lose legitimacy within the other tribe.
14. Imagine instead of liberals and conservatives, the U.S. was divided between Catholics and Protestants. Each group did about equally well in elections, but the Catholics dominated the media, the arts, the universities, and so on. Would this be socially healthy, or a recipe for future civil conflict? If a demagogue–a former Catholic, no less–arose among the Protestants talking about the fake Catholic news and insisting that the Catholic establishment was going to, and eventually did plot to prevent his election, would you expect all the Protestants to believe the establishment from which they are excluded, or would a significant fraction be inclined to believe “one of their own?”
15. For the reasons stated above (and I repeat) our major cultural institutions should try to assimilate right-leaning people into their staffs and leadership. How they would do so, on what terms, and how they would overcome the objections of their own tribe are beyond the scope of this post. But the first order of business is to recognize the problem, and try to overcome it. (And, by the way, not by hiring from among the 2% or so of the population that is strongly libertarian leaning like I am, which would not do much to resolve the underlying problem.)
The United States begins 2021 under a continuing state of emergency. Rather, it begins the new year under fifty-one different states of emergency, one for each state plus the District of Columbia.
In Colorado this has resulted in conflicting, inconsistent, and arbitrary rules. Businesses are punished not for bad outcomes but for daring to defy the rules. Having suspended the liquor licenses of a number of restaurants for daring to remain open, the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Liquor Enforcement Division sent a letter to those restaurants’ suppliers, “strongly encouraging” them not to do business with the miscreants. Never mind that restaurants as a whole have been the scene of few outbreaks. A national chain that has been associated with some outbreaks remains open for business.
State constitutions grant their chief executives the power to declare states of emergency, and to assume special powers to meet that emergency. Many of those state constitutions limit the scope or duration of those powers; Colorado’s constitution does not. If the governor chooses not to end the state of emergency, the legislature must pass a joint resolution ending it.
Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
U.S. News & World Report conducts overall rankings and peer rankings of law schools. This Article reports the findings of a first-of-its-kind study designed to measure whether peer rankings are affected by a law school’s ideological reputation. The extreme disparity uncovered — combined with consistent findings in studies that measure other forms of ideological bias in legal academia — make a strong case for the existence of a conservative penalty and liberal bonus in law school rankings. This Article concludes by proposing a simple solution to circumvent this particular manifestation of ideological bias.
This study produced strong evidence for the existence of a conservative penalty and liberal bonus in law school peer rankings. Because these rankings are the leading factor in the overall rankings, this results in a similar conservative penalty and liberal bonus there as well. This finding is consistent with other research on ideological bias in legal academia. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to the problem of ideological bias in law school rankings. Removing the peer score from the overall ranking calculation will better inform prospective law students, reduce inefficiencies in the hiring market, and contribute to greater ideological diversity in law schools and legal scholarship
It’s hard to imagine the internet without Wikipedia. Just like the air we breathe, the definitive digital encyclopedia is the default resource for everything and everyone — from Google’s search bar to undergrad students embarking on research papers. It has more than 6 million entries in English, it is visited hundreds of millions of times per day, and it reflects whatever the world has on its mind: Trending pages this week include Tanya Roberts (R.I.P.), the Netflix drama Bridgerton, and, oh yes, the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
It was also never meant to exist — at least, not like this.
Wikipedia was launched as the ugly stepsibling of a whole other online encyclopedia, Nupedia. That site, launched in 1999, included a rigorous seven-step process for publishing articles written by volunteers. Experts would check the information before it was published online — a kind of peer-review process — which would theoretically mean every post was credible. And painstaking. And slow to publish.
“It was too hard and too intimidating,” says Jimmy Wales, Nupedia’s founder who is now, of course, better known as the founder of Wikipedia. “We realized… we need to make it easier for people.”
On December 22, 2020 a single-mother and her son, who is a high school student at a public charter school, filed a civil rights lawsuit in the US District Court of Nevada. Schoolhouse Rights is proud to help support the plaintiffs’ landmark litigation. The student and his mother argue that he was coerced, under a “Critical Race Theory / Intersectionality”-based curriculum, to make statements contrary to his personal conscience and beliefs, and he was retaliated against when he objected conscientiously. The case states that this “coercive and intrusive behavior compelled [the plaintiff’s] protected speech and invaded his privacy, violating his constitutional rights under the First Amendment and his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.” We believe this civil rights case to be the first of its kind across the nation.
Today the recurring nightmare in schooling, more often than not, is the mantra, ”I’m going to sue you…Trepidation for yet another lawsuit and concern for the many wasted hours and dollars that will be spent on a frivolous lawsuit is described very personally by a superintendent in, I’m Calling My Lawyer” (James Wasser), School Administrator [magazine], AASA (The School Superintendent Association), 10/2007:
The fear of being sued has forced public school teachers and administrators to re- evaluate what they do and modify traditional curricular activities and co-curricular programs. It’s simply easier and certainly less expensive to modify or eliminate programs than to have to deal with the worry of lengthy litigation…
To minimize frivolous litigation against school districts, we have to understand what motivates people to sue in the first place. The most common motivators include one or more of these factors: failure to communicate; lack of understanding or knowledge; passion and emotions; stubbornness and pride; and greed…
Student issues often escalate into expensive lawsuits because students and parents perceive teachers and administrators as being unreachable or insensitive. As emotions rise, so do the number of lawsuits…
Rather than face the threat of time-consuming, frivolous litigation, teachers often cave to parental demands. Too often teachers find the time and expense needed to defend grading an essay paper with a D compared to a C-minus is simply not worth it…
Evaluating teacher performance is another area where administrators have become increasingly more cautious over the years. Internal challenges from staff often become more disruptive to the school environment and pose a greater threat of time and money than those from students and parents. Once we were sued for changing an administrator’s title, even though the salary and responsibilities remained the same…
The American legal system makes it easy to file a lawsuit regardless of the merit of the case. Unfortunately, public schools always will be vulnerable to legal challenges by students, parents and staff.
Lawsuits in a district usually involve issues of policies, procedures and practices dealing with staff, students, parents and include not only what was done, but sometimes even what was not done. In some cases they are justified, but often they are frivolous claims.
The News: With the approach of National School Choice Week, January 24-29, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) provides a first of its kind look at Wisconsin’s open enrollment program, arguably Wisconsin’s largest and most popular school choice program. Wisconsin’s open enrollment program serves more than 62,000 Wisconsin students who choose to attend public schools outside of their designated attendance zone. This new study charts the history of the program, the fiscal and enrollment impacts on school districts, and recommendations for reform.
Diving Deeper: For more than 20 years, Wisconsin’s open enrollment program has provided a vital option for Wisconsin families seeking public school options beyond their designated attendance zone. WILL’s new study, Public School Choice in Wisconsin: A Work in Progress, by Jessica Holmberg and Will Flanders, details the growth and impact of Wisconsin’s open enrollment program.
• The open enrollment program is Wisconsin’s largest school choice program. More than 62,000 students across the state participated during the 2018-19 school year. This is approximately 20,000 more than the next largest choice program—private school choice (43,000). The program continues to grow between .3 and .6% each year.
• Parents make open enrollment decisions based on academics. With controls for a number of other variables, Forward Exam proficiency predicts positive open enrollment into a district.
The Chicago Teachers Union on Wednesday evening decided to ask its 25,000 members to vote on a resolution that rejects in-person learning until they come to an agreement with the school district.
The resolution opens the door to Chicago’s second teachers strike in two years. Members can vote Thursday until Saturday evening.
This ratchets up the pressure on the school district to finalize a reopening agreement with the union even as both sides seem intent on avoiding a strike. A walkout could leave upwards of 280,000 children unable to attend even remote classes in the middle of a pandemic.
The resolution before teachers and staff will ask them, in response to a “serious unfair labor practice,” to collectively refuse to report to school buildings. Staff would offer to continue to teach remotely. A relatively small group of staff are working in buildings now and a larger group are required back on Monday to prepare for elementary school students to return on Feb. 1
Here’s where a potential strike comes in: If the school district starts locking out staff who refuse to teach in-person classes, as they already have, the resolution authorizes a strike until a deal can be reached. That means all CPS staff, including high school teachers who have not been called back yet, would not log into their virtual classroom.
Related: Catholic schoolswill sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
Kids in need of remedial support already were vulnerable before the pandemic. Now they’re facing educational ruin.
By Sarah Carr Globe Staff,Updated January 19, 2021, 9:32 a.m.
Over the past six months, I interviewed 15 families with struggling readers between the ages of 7 and 12 to better understand the impact of school closures on children’s ability to learn to read. The families come from a range of racial groups and income levels; some parents are unemployed or incarcerated, while others earn six-figure salaries. The families’ children attend traditional public schools, charter schools, and private schools. They live in Boston, Worcester, Athol (in Central Massachusetts, with a median household income of $50,000), and suburban communities including Arlington and Winchester (where the median household incomes are $117,000 and $160,000, respectively). Despite their different circumstances and backgrounds, all of these families desperately needed the education system to work during the pandemic so their children could master reading before starting middle school. Instead, they ran into the harsh truth that literacy is not always treated as the public good it should be.
As the one-year anniversary of mass school closures approaches, the question of how to make up for lost time becomes increasingly urgent. Loeb, of the Annenberg Institute at Brown, says many districts are overwhelmed by the logistics of reopening schools, and desperately require help shoring up their academic offerings. To help increase tutoring access, Annenberg created the National Student Support Accelerator, which will pilot tutoring projects this winter in about nine school districts across the country, including in Providence. The districts were allowed to choose the kind of tutoring that would be most useful, according to Loeb, with nearly all selecting reading support for kindergartners through third-graders, or math tutoring for older students. Annenberg’s aim is to make the tutoring available to any student who needs additional academic help. Yet for the foreseeable future, most struggling readers will only have access to what their families can pay for. Or negotiate from school districts. And wrangling services out of districts is a challenge even for a stay-at-home parent with experience battling bureaucracies, such as Medford’s Maureen Ronayne.
Related: Catholic schoolswill sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
In a year of educational crisis, fall report cards brought more worrisome news. Failing grades are on the rise across the country, especially for students who are learning online. The results threaten to exacerbate existing educational inequities: students with failing grades tend to have less access to advanced courses in high school, and a failing grade in even one 9th-grade course can lower a student’s chances of graduating on time.
A national scan of news reports and school district documents, combined with data from educator surveys, shows:
• Rates of failing grades have increased significantly across the country.
• Students from low-income households, students who are learning English, and students learning online are often most affected.
• Many teachers had to navigate a shift in district grading policies with limited support.
Addressing the problem won’t be easy, but school systems should be wary of quick fixes like credit recovery programs, which can further diminish students’ learning opportunities. Instead, schools must rethink student progress and dramatically increase support for those who are falling behind.
Dramatic rise in Fs can be seen across the country.
Related: Catholic schoolswill sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
“The [Racine Unified School] District seems intent on returning students too soon, but has not publicly announced a date,” an introduction to the survey reads. “We ask that you join the voices of other teachers and say ‘we are prepared to do whatever it takes to to maximize the preservation of life, health and safety of of students, families and staff in our community!'”
The survey includes such loaded questions as “Can we count on you to join fellow educators in a car caravan/funeral procession on Sat. Jan. 23rd in Racine to highlight returning teachers to the building is unsafe.”
Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
In late December the Associated Press reported that 2020 was on track to become the deadliest year in U.S. history with the total number of deaths forecast to rise 15 percent compared to 2019, primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were also several other smaller contributory factors, however, including higher death tolls from heart & circulatory diseases as well as from the country’s opioid crisis. The U.S. also experienced its most violent year in decades with an unprecedented rise in homicides. The Gun Violence Archive reported that more than 19,000 people died in shootings or firearm-related incidents in 2020, the highest figure in over two decades.
New Orleans-based crime analyst Jeff Asher took a closer look at the number of murders in 57 major American cities and he found that the number of offenses grew in 51 of them. He only focused on agencies where data was available and most of them had figures through November or December of 2020. Growth in violent crime varied by city with Seattle seeing a 74 percent spike in homicides between 2019 and 2020 while Chicago and Boston saw their offenses grow 55.5 percent and 54 percent, respectively. Elsewhere, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas saw growth in their murder offences, albeit at a slower pace of less than 20 percent.
Top universities are already lobbying the incoming Biden administration to reverse a Trump-administration policy that required colleges to fully disclose foreign donations and halt investigations into alleged violations.
The American Council on Education (ACE), a lobbying group led by former Obama-administration official Ted Mitchell, is asking President-elect Joe Biden to “halt expanded reporting requirements” for contracts and foreign donations to universities. ACE represents nearly all of the major universities in the country, including top Democratic donors such as Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of California system. The council called for federal regulators to abandon ongoing investigations into university coffers despite revelations that top universities hid billions of dollars in donations from foreign powers.
The St. Paul school board is being asked Tuesday night to sign off on nearly $1.3 million in wage-and-benefit increases for many of the district’s highest-paid employees.
The agreement spans the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years and covers 25 members of Superintendent Joe Gothard’s administrative team.
The group is not represented by a union, leaving many of the terms of its agreements to mirror those in contracts previously negotiated by the district’s bargaining units — most notably the St. Paul Federation of Educators.
Joe Nathan and Peter Hendricks, two former members of a district community budget committee, said they have concerns about the pay proposal. With the pandemic creating enrollment and budget challenges, Nathan said “this is exactly the wrong time now” for such a package.
In recent days, Nathan, who’s known as a school choice advocate and champion of effective schools, posted individual wages and benefits for 24 administrators on Facebook pages representing various city and school communities. Each administrator had a salary of $107,000 or more; 16 collected an additional $2,200 to $6,000 per year in longevity pay; and 17 had $6,000 car allowances, according to the data.
It is probably fair to say that Americans are highly polarized right now. Public schooling is likely a reflection of, and contributor to, that division. A reflection, because political control of schools is likely to replicate the divisions and animosities of the electorate. A cause, because public schooling requires people with diverse views and backgrounds to engage in political combat to determine whose values, views on history, and more, will be taught.
Cato’s Public Schooling Battle Mapcatalogues values and identity‐based conflicts – highly personal battlegrounds versus, say, fights over school budgets – in public schools. We started documenting such conflicts in the 2005-06 school year, but it was a few years later that we started regular, consistent collection and launched the Map. What follows is a basic summary of what the Map contains.
Note that the Map almost certainly under counts conflicts, perhaps significantly. Entries are only obtained from searches of media reports. That means the Map does not include (1) any battles that generate media reports we do not see, (2) battles that occur but receive no media coverage, and (3) people who feel aggrieved by school policies or curricula but do not challenge them in open forums. Also, the years reflect when a conflict began. Years before 2006 with very few battles contain only conflicts we discovered in later years but that originated in those years.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when we lost control of what we see, read—and even think—to the biggest social-media companies.
I put it right around 2016. That was the year Twitter and Instagram joined Facebook and YouTube in the algorithmic future. Ruled by robots programmed to keep our attention as long as possible, they promoted stuff we’d most likely tap, share or heart—and buried everything else.
Bye-bye, feeds that showed everything and everyone we followed in an unending, chronologically ordered river. Hello, high-energy feeds that popped with must-clicks.
At around the same time, Facebook—whose News Feed has been driven by algorithms since 2009—hid the setting to switch back to “Most Recent.”
The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court, on behalf of two Dane County residents, challenging the Dane County health department’s legal authority to issue sweeping restrictions on all aspects of life in Dane County. This lawsuit is substantially similar to an original action WILL filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in November 2020. The Court voted not to grant WILL’s original action, 4-3, without addressing the merits of the case, but four Justices indicated the claims had substantial merit.
The Quote: WILL Deputy Counsel, Luke Berg, said, “Dane County’s health department has enacted some of the strongest restrictions in Wisconsin without any express sanction from local elected officials. This lawsuit asks the court to rein in the ability of local, unelected health officers to unilaterally issue sweeping restrictions.”
Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
The council voted 13-4 against an appeal the private Catholic high school filed last year seeking to overturn a denied permit to install four field lights — the latest chapter in a years-long saga that has pitted the school’s desire to improve the Goodman Athletic Field against neighborhood concerns about noise and light pollution.
For more than three hours, a parade of opponents and supporters of Edgewood pled their case to the City Council, with both sides presenting their arguments via slideshows and claiming the other was relying on “misinformation.”
To supporters of the Near West Side school, getting lights at the athletic field is viewed as a matter of fairness and would allow students to compete in night football and soccer games on their own campus instead of traveling around the county to play on rented fields.
Seven candidates who want to be the state’s next top school chief in the upcoming spring elections collectively raised more than $200,000 last year.
The seven candidates will face off in the Feb. 16 primary. The top two finishers will vie for a four-year term as state school superintendent in the April 6 elections. The winner succeeds Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who is not running for election. Taylor was appointed state school superintendent in 2019 to fill out of the term of Tony Evers after he became governor.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the candidates and their 2020 fundraising:
Deborah Kerr, a retired Brown Deer School District superintendent, accepted $68,460 and had about $50,140 in her campaign account as of Dec. 31.
Sheila Briggs, an assistant state school superintendent, raised about $53,300 and had about $44,345 in her campaign coffers at year’s end.
Jill Underly, Pecatonica Area School District superintendent, raised about $38,330 and had about $20,525 in her campaign account as of Dec. 31.
Troy Gunderson, retired West Salem School District superintendent, raised $20,505 and had $13,240 in his campaign coffers on Dec. 31.
Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams, director of Gov. Tony Evers’ Milwaukee office, raised about $18,320 and had about $7,840 in her campaign account at year’s end.
Joe Fenrick, a Fond du Lac High School science teacher, raised about $8,600 and had about $8,575 in his campaign account on Dec. 31.
Steve Krull, principal of the Garland Elementary School in Milwaukee, raised about $3,460 and had about $2,450 in his campaign account as of Dec. 31.
Here are the contributors who gave $1,000 or more to the candidates in 2020, according to a preliminary review of their campaign finance reports. The employers of these contributors were identified by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign because state law no longer requires candidates to identify the employers of their large donors:
Ted Kellner, of Mequon, retired founder of Fiduciary Management, and his wife, Mary, $5,000,
Gary and Janet Henseler, of Racine, owners of Accounting & Business Services, Inc., $5,000,
Michael Perrone, of Antioch, Ill., president of The Deli Source, and his wife, Karen, $5,000,
Cristal Bemont, of Redwood City, Calif., chief executive officer of Talend, about $1,900,
Patrick English, of Wauwatosa, chairman of Fiduciary Management, about $1,400,
Michael Kass, Brown Deer police chief, $1,000,
Kathy Wilson, an optometrist in Ringwood, Ill., $1,000,
The campaign committee of GOP State Sen. Alberta Darling, of River Hills, $1,000,
In addition to the contributions, Kerr loaned her campaign $21,000.
Lillian Lowery, of Yardley, Penn., $1,000,
Katie Rainey, of Madison, a Department of Public Instruction director, $1,000,
Pamela Arp, of DeForest, retired, $1,000,
James Dahlberg, of Madison, University of Wisconsin emeritus professor of biochemistry, $1,000,
Anupam Mishra, Hillsborough, Calif., a director at Aspire Public Schools, $1,000,
Bonnie Dykman, of Monona, retired Madison public school teacher, $1,000.
In addition to the contributions, Briggs made about $3,000 in in-kind contributions and loans to her campaign.
Jill Gaskell, of Blanchardville, a Pecatonica school board member, $1,200,
Charles Semko, of Munster, Ind., $1,000,
Jeff Semko, a Crown Point, Ind. attorney, $1,000,
Kaye Gilbertson, of Barneveld, owner of J&R Underground, $1,000.
In addition to the contributions, Underly made loans and in-kind contributions to her campaign totaling about $11,200.
Del Gunderson, of Colfax, a retired accountant, $5,000,
Jill Gunderson, of West Salem, a retired teacher, $4,000,
Trevor Gunderson, a St. Paul, Minn. attorney, $1,500,
Cheryl Gunderson, a Minneapolis, Minn. paralegal, $1,000,
William Hubbard, of Monroe, a retired teacher, $1,000.
In addition to the contributions, Troy Gunderson made $2,480 in in-kind contributions to his campaign.
Doris Reaves, of Milwaukee, retired, $1,000.
In addition to the contribution, Hendricks-Williams contributed $10,000 to her campaign.
Fenrick made loans and contributions to his campaign totaling about $7,600.
Pamela Gustafson, Milwaukee public school teacher, $1,000.
Testing students’ reading and math skills this spring will be challenging. Many will be at home, some with inadequate technology and Internet access. Others are “missing” from remote education. Some groups, including teachers’ unions, want Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to waive testing for K-8 students for a second year.
Testing is essential to assess the pandemic’s “catastrophic” damage and figure out how to repair it, editorializes the Washington Post.
How can schools create plans to make up for Covid-related learning losses if those losses haven’t been measured? Wouldn’t knowing which students have been most adversely affected be helpful in directing resources for mitigation efforts? Don’t parents have a right to know whether their sons and daughters are achieving?
Cardona has supporting testing students in the spring with a focus on improving learning rather than accountability, reports the Post.
Nearly half of Canada’s population has a big roadblock ahead of them when it comes to post-pandemic economic recovery — and it’s not the novel coronavirus but a fundamental set of skills for daily life.
Poor reading, writing and numeracy skills in adults make up a literacy gap in Canada with consequences for both democracy and the economy. Experts say the gap is due in part to an abundance of jobs in the past that do not require the daily use of reading comprehension and information synthesis skills.
Two professors at Texas A&M University are facing sanctions after “serious misconduct” was revealed following a report by Campus Reform.
Following an investigation into two Texas A&M University professors’ conduct and classroom behavior, launched just days after Campus Reform’s reporting, one professor has reportedly been fired and another disciplined, according to The Eagle.
Campus Reform reported on the social media posts and classroom behavior of anthropology professor Filipe Castro. Castro celebrated the news of Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) contracting COVID-19 and hoped that President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence would contract the virus too, in addition to calling Trump a “fat klansman.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) told her social media followers earlier this week that Democrats in Congress might respond to the Capitol riot with some sort of “media literacy” initiative.
The phrase media literacy ordinarily implies helping individuals make sense of the media landscape, but AOC seems to have more in mind than that: She suggested “we’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so that you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation.”
AOC suggests adding “media literacy” as a mandate for a congressional “truth and reconciliation” committee pic.twitter.com/sv7UXMwvaO
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 13, 2021
It’s true that both traditional media and social media sometimes spread “disinformation and misinformation.” But the federal government has no formal role to play in suppressing its spread. The First Amendment explicitly bars Congress from infringing on freedom of the press or freedom of speech, and the Supreme Court has recognized no exceptions for disinformation. If the government could ban disinformation, after all, it could use that as a cover for banning speech that is not actually false but merely critical of the government, or of specific politicians. Recall that Democrats swiftly denounced The New York Post‘s report on Hunter Biden’s foreign connections as “disinformation,” even though many underlying aspects of the story have since been confirmed.