A Common Sense Media report finds about half of 11- to 17-year-olds get at least 237 notifications a day.

Erika Edwards and Kate Snow

A new report about kids and their smartphone use may offer other parents a warning: Children like Armita are inundated with hundreds of pings and prompts on their phones all day and all night — even when they should be paying attention in class or getting a good night’s rest.

It’s a “constant buzzing,” said Jim Steyer, the founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, a group that studies the impact of media and technology on kids and families. “They literally wake up and before they go to the bathroom, they’re on their phone.”

New research Common Sense Media releasedTuesday finds about half of 11- to 17-year-olds get at least 237 notifications on their phones every day. About 25% of them pop up during the school day, and 5% show up at night. 

In some cases, they get nearly 5,000 notifications in 24 hours. The pop-ups are almost always linked to alerts from friends on social media.

From the report:

The good news is that many young people have grown savvier about how their phones try to draw them in, and they’re taking steps to protect their digital well-being. But the business model of these apps and devices depends on users picking up their phones and engaging with them as much as possible, and it’s clear that young people are struggling to set boundaries. Helping kids develop digital well-being requires support from parents, educators, and the tech industry itself

Cornell University silent after prof receives ‘Courage in Education’ award

John Parker:

Despite its official ‘Freedom of Expression’ theme for the 2023 to 2024 academic year, Cornell University has remained silent after its professor won a “Courage in Education” Award in August for his commitment to advancing free speech and intellectual diversity at the Ivy League school.

“I believe that the reason they are not celebrating my award is because Cornell really has no interest in free speech, which leads to critical thinking, and which results to education, as opposed to indoctrination,” Randy Wayne, an associate professor at Cornell’s School of Integrated Plant Sciences, told Campus Reform.

Call to shut down Bristol schools’ use of app to ‘monitor’ pupils and families

Steven Morris:

Criminal justice and antiracist campaigners have raised concerns over an app being used by schools in Bristol to “monitor and profile” pupils and their families.

The app, which is being used by more than 100 schools, gives safeguarding leads quick, easy access to pupils’ and their families’ contacts with police, child protection and welfare services.

One of the concerns campaigners have is that the Think Family Education (TFE) app includes analysing which children could be at risk of exposure to criminality, which they argue risks leading to more discrimination against pupils from minority ethnic or working-class backgrounds.

Staff using the app have told the criminal justice campaign charity Fair Trialsthat they keep it secret from parents and carers, and admitted many would be concerned about it if they knew of it.

Commentary on US News College Rankings

Robert Morse and Eric Brooks

This table shows the relative percentage weights assigned to each ranking factor used in the 2024 Best Colleges rankings. Changes were made to the weights of multiple indicators as part of broader revisions to the methodology, explained here. In short, five ranking factors that were in the previous edition’s formula – alumni giving, class size, high school class standing, the proportion of instructional faculty with terminal degrees, and the proportion of graduates who borrowed federal loans – were removed from the formula to place greater focus on outcomes measures and to rely on data universally reported by schools or obtainable from third-party sources.

Anti-affirmative action group sues West Point over race-conscious admissions

Bianca Quilantan

“Instead of admitting future cadets based on objective metrics and leadership potential, West Point focuses on race,” the lawsuit said. “In fact, it openly publishes its racial composition ‘goals,’ and its director of admissions brags that race is wholly determinative for hundreds if not thousands of applicants.”

While the Supreme Court struck down race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it exempted military schools. A footnote in the high court’s June opinion acknowledged that the United States government contended that “race-based admissions programs further compelling interests at our Nation’s military academies.”

The justices said that because no military academy was a party, the opinion did not address the admissions issue at these schools “in light of the potentially distinct interests that military academies may present.”

This is why I call it the Homeless Industrial Complex

Kevin Dahlgren:

I have worked in homelessness services over two decades and it has never been easy. Verbal assaults are commonplace and even physical assaults have been known to happen. So is property damage,  threats, accusations, backstabbing and getting doxxed.  Reading this would make most people considering entering this field to change their minds. The homeless population are indeed a complex group of people and no two days are the same. Mental illness and addiction is prevalent as is childhood trauma that has effected about 90% of every homeless person I have ever met.  I’m not talking about the homeless though. I am talking about the ones that work professionally in the field. 

I started in the 1990s and things were different then. There were still differences of opinions but we always found a way to work together. Politics were rarely discussed and were irrelevant to the job we had. Homelessness was manageable too. It was not in every park or sidewalk, It existed in concentrated areas and the homeless services system, while not perfect we at least made a genuine effort to help.

Athletics and higher ed

Todd Milewski:

They won the bid for the indoor facility, which was included in the state budget with a proposed $285 million price tag that will be covered mostly by athletics program revenue funds. Athletic director Chris McIntosh called it “the largest capital project that we’ve ever tackled by a long shot.”

On cartography as historical argument

Benjamin Breen:

Last month, Anton Howes wrote about historians and our weakness for storytelling. I think many maps have a similar dangerous allure. They smooth over chronology and ignore the reality of overwhelming complexity that confronts anyone who has tried to answer a question by visiting a historical archive.

And then there are the really bad historical maps. Though my title is debatable, I believe that there really are maps — several maps, in fact— which can be pointed to as causal agents in World War I.

Teacher prep programs not on the same page as Wisconsin’s new reading law

Corrinne Hess:

But data shows that most teacher education programs at colleges and universities are still not fully teaching the science of reading. 

Instead of learning how to read through pictures, word cues and memorization, children will be taught using a phonics-based method that focuses on sounding out letters and phrases, with the hope of addressing the state’s lagging reading scores. 

Wisconsin’s new reading law doesn’t explicitly tell the universities how to teach. But it will prohibit the Department of Public Instruction from approving teacher education programs unless they include science-based early literacy instruction and do not incorporate three-cueing — a model that emphasizes that skilled reading should include using meaning and sentence structure cues to read new words.    

Wisconsin teachers who do not receive this training will not be eligible for a license beginning July 1, 2026.  

“I do believe that the universities have been one of the major causes of the problems we see in reading,” said State Rep. Joel Kitchens, R- Sturgeon Bay, one of the lead authors on the reading legislation. “They now seem to be moving in the right direction, but change is hard.”


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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Schools spend $20 billion a year for equity training, but does it work?

Joanne Jacobs:

“None of the 42 large U.S. school districts interviewed . . . measure the impact of their training against metrics or evidence generated in an objective research study,” Lewis reports. “As a result, it’s hard to distinguish effective from useless diversity, equity and inclusion training.”

Tampa, where about half the students are Hispanic or black, “puts a heavy emphasis on equity and racial justice when allocating the $36 million it spends each year on professional development for educators,” she writes. Training includes “implicit bias, culturally relevant pedagogy and connecting with English-language learners.”

The district doesn’t know whether the training changes teachers’ beliefs, their teaching or student outcomes.

Lewis also visited a mostly black high school in Milwaukee, James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC), then led by Jineen McLemore Torres.

Decline in Independent Activity as a Cause of Decline in Children’s Mental Well-being: Summary of the Evidence

Peter Gray, David F. Lancy and David F. Bjorklund:

It is no secret that rates of anxiety and depression among school-aged children and teens in the US are at an all- time high. Recognizing this, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psy- chiatry, and Children’s Hospital Association issued, in 2021, a joint statement to the Biden administration that child and adolescent mental health be declared a “national emergency.”1
Although most current discussions of the decline in youth mental health emphasize that which has occurred over the past 10-15 years, research indicates that the decline has been continuous over at least the last 5 or 6 decades.2,3 Although a variety of causes of this decline have been pro- posed by researchers and practitioners (some discussed near the end of this Commentary), our focus herein is on a possible cause that we believe has been insufficiently re- searched, discussed, and taken into account by health practi- tioners and policy makers.
Our thesis is that a primary cause of the rise in mental dis- orders is a decline over decades in opportunities for children and teens to play, roam, and engage in other activities inde- pendent of direct oversight and control by adults. Such inde- pendent activities may promote mental well-being through both immediate effects, as a direct source of satisfaction, and long-term effects, by building mental characteristics that provide a foundation for dealing effectively with the stresses of life.

Fisk student protesters regroup as the university goes ahead with enrollment purge

Alexis Marshall

Fisk University set a Sept. 8 deadline for students to get their finances in line with a new policy. Those who don’t will have to leave campus.

Friday, Sept. 8 was the deadline for students at Fisk University to get their finances in order. Otherwise, the university will require them to leave campus this weekend under a new policy. 

Students need to have a balance under $1,500 or be on a payment plan — which can come with a steep down payment. 

Student organizers had been protesting for the university to extend the financial deadline. But Brynn Patterson, who’s been helping organize demonstrations, said she was told the cutoff was immoveable.

Two-parent households should be a policy goal.

Melissa Kearney:

Earlier this year, I was at a conference on fighting poverty, and a member of the audience asked a question that made the experts visibly uncomfortable.

“What about family structure?” he asked. “Single-parent families are more likely to be poor than two-parent ones. Does family structure play a role in poverty?”

The scholar to whom the question was directed looked annoyed and struggled to formulate an answer. The panelists shifted in their seats. The moderator stepped in, quickly pointing out that poverty makes it harder for people to form stable marriages. She promptly called on someone else.

I sighed. As an economist who studies inequality and families, I have often found myself in the same position as the questioner. I have suggested in similar settings that we need to consider how marriage and household structure affect children’s life outcomes, only to be met with annoyance or evasion.

I wouldn’t be productive enough for today’s academic system

Decca Aitkenhead:

Peter Higgs, the British physicist who gave his name to the Higgs boson, believes no university would employ him in today’s academic system because he would not be considered “productive” enough.

The emeritus professor at Edinburgh University, who says he has never sent an email, browsed the internet or even made a mobile phone call, published fewer than 10 papers after his groundbreaking work, which identified the mechanism by which subatomic material acquires mass, was published in 1964.

He doubts a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today’s academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said: “It’s difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964.”

Speaking to the Guardian en route to Stockholm to receive the 2013 Nobel prize for science, Higgs, 84, said he would almost certainly have been sacked had he not been nominated for the Nobel in 1980.

Notes on single parenting

Tyler Cowen:

So what does a Tyler Cowen pro-parent plan look like?  I can think of a number of candidates for interventions, but most of them don’t strike me as things you would advocate for either because of their limited effectiveness or their unintended consequences.  Some possibilities that I can think of:

  1. Parenting interventions in poor communities (i.e. an army of social workers descending on poor communities to teach parenting and advocate for children).
  2. Shorter/fewer prison sentences in order to allow more poor men to be present for their children and improve the sex ratio in poorer communities (thereby encouraging more committed relationships).
  3. Similarly – more drug decriminalization?  Less?
  4. Tax reforms of the kind advocated for by people like Brad Wilcox to encourage rather than penalize marriage.  (Seems like a good idea to me, but I don’t know how many people there really are out there who choose not to wed for tax reasons).
  5. Better/more jobs for working class men and all-out brutes?  (Seems like an obvious idea, but how?  More unions? Fewer?  More tariffs and less free trade?  Get rid of the Jones Act?  More immigration? Less?  A larger standing army?  A return to more vocational education as advocated for by people like Mike Rowe?)
  6. The re-churching of America?  If so, what are your suggestions for how to accomplish this (evangelical minds would like to know)?

“The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.”

Carl Cannon:

The concept of free speech dates to the 5thcentury B.C. in ancient Greece and was codified in America’s founding documents on Dec. 15, 1791, with the ratification of the Bill of Rights. The 45-word First Amendment prohibited Congress from “abridging freedom of speech, or of the press,” and has been long understood to include any branch of government.

James Madison, the drafter of the first 10 constitutional amendments, originally drafted a more fiery version of the First Amendment, one that included its underlying rationale: “The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.”

“Inviolable” is a powerful word, notwithstanding the fact that the right to speak and write freely has always come with various limitations. They range from libel and slander laws to national security secrets, obscenity statutes, and the notorious analogy popularized by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. of “falsely shouting ‘fire!’ in a theater and causing panic.”

Most citizens accept some of these caveats; others do not. But by overwhelming majorities, Americans generally still cherish their rights to free expression — at least in theory. A new poll on censorship by RealClear Opinion Research shows that 90% of voters in the United States express support for the Founders’ curbs on government power.

Conventional twin studies overestimate the environmental differences between families relevant to educational attainment

Tobias Wolfram & Damien Morris

Educational attainment (i.e., ultimate years of education completed) is a key variable in the behavioural sciences because of its effectiveness in predicting a wide variety of important life outcomes. Despite being a measure that can be calculated from a single questionnaire item (e.g., “what is the highest qualification you’ve obtained?”) educational attainment (EA) is one of the best predictors of occupational status and income1, longevity and health outcomes2, and the risk of receiving a criminal conviction3. The qualities needed to advance through the modern secondary and tertiary education system appear to be useful for navigating a wide variety of challenges that life throws at individuals in advanced industrial economies.

One of the most established findings in the social sciences is that EA tends to run in families—a result which has widely been interpreted as evidence of persistent inequality in environmental opportunity and the “social reproduction” of socioeconomic advantages4,5,6,7,8. However, as noted by Jencks and Tach “the size of the correlation between the economic status of parents and their children is not a good indicator of how close a society has come to equalising opportunity… In particular, we must separate the contributions of genes” (p.2-3)9. From the 1970 s twin studies began to show evidence that the variation in EA had a substantial genetic component10,11. Two studies published in the last decade have sought to summarise the results of the international twin literature that has accumulated since then: a meta-analysis by Branigan et al.12 and a mega-analysis by Silventoinen et al.13 (see Supplementary Note 1). Both studies converged on similar results, estimating mean heritability at 40%–43% and mean shared environmental influence at 31%–36%. These heritability estimates are low relative to other highly correlated cognitive outcomes such as adult general cognitive ability (60%–80%)14,15,16 or adolescent school grades ( ~ 60% at age 16)17. However, the estimates of shared environmental influence are especially conspicuous, being among the highest for any behavioural trait investigated in adults.

20 October Event: Cara Fitzpatrick, author of “The Death of Public School”


Please join us for an “On the Issues” program at 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 20, 2023, at Marquette Law School. A new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning education journalist Cara Fitzpatrick takes up the rise of the school choice movement across the United States. The Death of Public School: How Conservatives Won the War over Education in America goes back to the beginning of advocacy for school vouchers and charter schools and chronicles the path to today. Milwaukee, home to the first urban voucher program in the United States, is a major focus of the book.

Fitzpatrick won a Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for a series of stories she wrote about school segregation in Florida. She is now an editor for Chalkbeat, a national online education reporting organization.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

“There’s a Solzhenitsyn quote that at some point we wondered if we were allowed to talk about the experiences of our own lives”

Matt Ellison:

Kirn’s 2001 novel Up in the Air was made into the critically-acclaimed 2009 film starring George Clooney. His memoir Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever chronicles his own adventure going from rural Minnesota to the Ivy League. Lately, he co-hosts the podcast America This Week and is the co-founder of County Highway, a new print magazine about America in the form of a nineteenth-century newspaper.

In late June, I flew to Montana and drove out to meet Kirn at his home in Livingston, on the Yellowstone River, where he’s lived for 33 years. Livingston’s last industry, a local sawmill, fully shuttered a few years ago, and the town now sustains itself on summer tourists to Yellowstone National Park.

Downtown Livingston could be confused for a Hollywood backdrop, which suits its resident part-time Writers Guild of America screenwriter. He tells me he’s on strike for “the duration” and can’t talk to the producer of the new film he’s writing. He’s also working on a new book that’s a travelog of his road trip across the Mountain West during the pandemic.

Between meals in Livingston’s hipper cafes and a long drive out into the mountains in his pickup truck, I ask Kirn how it was that the big American story got so far off script.

The 74 Interview: Melissa Kearney on ‘The Two-Parent Privilege’

Kevin Mahnken:

Melissa Kearney begins her new book, The Two-Parent Privilege with a scene from an academic conference she attended a few years ago. 

After days speaking with colleagues about declining U.S. employment and social mobility, the University of Maryland professor asked whether scholars should give more thought to the condition of families. Given their centrality to children’s life prospects, she reasoned, the policy community seemed oddly disengaged from discussions about parenting and household structure. In particular, the gradual increase in one-parent homes didn’t receive expert scrutiny in proportion with its importance to schooling and workforce preparation. 

As Kearney expected, her inquiry was met with an uncomfortable quiet. In her experience, while social scientists were willing to acknowledge America’s undeniable trend toward single parenting, especially among the poor and working class, they were reluctant to weigh its consequences — and somewhat skeptical that anything could be done about it. Compared with subjects like taxation, welfare and finance, she writes, families are a seldom-discussed “elephant in the room.”

The Band of Debunkers Busting Bad Scientists

Nidhi Subbaraman

An award-winning Harvard Business School professor and researcher spent years exploring the reasons people lie and cheat. A trio of behavioral scientists examining a handful of her academic papers concluded her own findings were drawn from falsified data.

“Once you see the pattern across many different papers, it becomes like a one in quadrillion chance that there’s some benign explanation,” said Simmons, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the trio who report their work on a blog called Data Colada. 

Simmons and his two colleagues are among a growing number of scientists in various fields around the world who moonlight as data detectives, sifting through studies published in scholarly journals for evidence of fraud. 

At least 5,500 faulty papers were retracted in 2022, compared with 119 in 2002, according to Retraction Watch, a website that keeps a tally. The jump largely reflects the investigative work of the Data Colada scientists and many other academic volunteers, said Dr. Ivan Oransky, the site’s co-founder. Their discoveries have led to embarrassing retractions, upended careers and retaliatory lawsuits. 

Neuroscientist Marc Tessier-Lavigne stepped down last month as president of Stanford University, following years of criticism about data in his published studies. Posts on PubPeer, a website where scientists dissect published studies, triggered scrutiny by the Stanford Daily. A university investigation followed, and three studies he co-wrote were retracted.

Type 2 diabetes rates in US youth rose 62% after COVID pandemic began, study suggests

Mary Van Beusekom

Rates of new-onset type 2 diabetes climbed 62%—and type 1 diabetes increased 17%—among US youth after the COVID-19 pandemic began, especially in Black and Hispanic children, according to a study published yesterday in JAMA Network Open.

For the study, Kaiser Permanente researchers tracked rates of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among health system members aged 0 to 19 years in southern California with no history of diabetes from January 2016 to December 2021. 

“Youth-onset diabetes is a serious chronic health condition, placing individuals at risk for early complications, comorbidities, and excess mortality, in particular among those who develop type 2 diabetes and those from racial and ethnic minority groups such as non-Hispanic Black individuals,” the study authors wrote.

Students’ Cognitive and Emotional Development during the Transition from High School to Design School

Steven Faerm:

This qualitative study examines both the cognitive and emotional development of design students as they transition from high school to the first year of design school. The study investigates this through the lenses of multiple constituents, including design school undergraduates, educators, directors, scholars, and current program structures. This study also considers the future of design education and what kind of experience might best prepare students for their transition into design school. Through a literature review, interviews, focus groups, survey, and the evolving industry, the transitional experience is contextualized. This study aims to provide both pre-college and undergraduate programs, educators, and directors with information for how they can improve their students’ transition into undergraduate design programs.

More and….

New College Launches ‘Odyssey’ Course Days Before Fall Semester

Johanna Alonso

Less than a week before classes start, New College of Florida has added a new class on Homer’s Odyssey to the course catalog, according to emails provided to Inside Higher Ed. The course is targeted at first-year students and offers all attendees a complimentary dinner, served by food trucks, each class—as well as a free copy of Robert Fagles’s translation of the epic poem. The college hopes to enroll as many as 90 students in the course.

The Office of the Provost emailed NCF’s faculty on Aug. 22 seeking “section leaders”—who needn’t have knowledge of the text—to lead the discussion portion of the course and one-time “guest lecturers” to present The Odyssey through the viewpoint of their discipline. The college will pay them stipends of $8,000 and $500 respectively, according to the email.

Ryan Terry, vice president of communications and marketing, wrote in an email that the course was developed at the last minute because “the faculty were off contract until last week.” He also noted that the stipends, books and food trucks will be funded “like any other course—a combination of state and federal funds, private donations, and tuition revenue.”

The course is a beta test for possible inclusion into the “core curriculum” that interim president Richard Corcoran has suggested he wants to develop at New College as part of Governor Ron DeSantis’s plan to remake the liberal arts institution with a conservative bent. The college is also planning to beta test a course on data visualization in the spring that will include the same perks as the Odyssey class. Terry confirmed that if the courses are permanently added to that curriculum, the college will continue to offer students who sign up dinner and free books.

We did an analysis of the Google antitrust trial. Last week, over half of the trial was held behind closed doors because the judge, Amit Mehta, is deferring to Google on the need for secrecy.

Matt Stoller:

In other words, Mehta is deferring to Google on the need for secrecy.

But this Google trial? By far the most important moment was when Judge Mehta denied a third-party motion to broadcast a publicly accessible audio feed of the trial for fear that information Google wishes wouldn’t be disclosed become public. Indeed, Google lawyers have explicitly argued that the judge should avoid allowing documents to become public solely because it is “clickbait.” To put it differently, the search giant literally argues material should stay sealed merely because if that material is interesting. Imagine if Bill Gates, or say, a routine defendant in any case, could have availed himself of that innovative legal argument!

These arguments should be laughed out of court. And yet, Mehta takes them seriously, which has led to an almost-entirely private trial, deadeningly boring to the public because key documents have been deleted and the important or embarrassing moments are held in secret. 

As a result of this monumental decision, the trial is now only available to people who can go to the court in D.C. And yet, even if you can come to the courthouse, it’s hard to see the trial because huge portions are fully sealed. There is often no clear indication beforehand of how long the trial will be sealed for. And when court ends a sealed session and re-opens to the public, it often resumes within a couple minutes of opening the door to the courtroom. This means anyone who wants to watch the public portions of the trial just has to wait outside the courtroom to see when it re-opens. Moreover, even though you can watch the trial from the courtroom or a public overflow room, unless you are in the media room, electronic devices are not allowed.

Commentary on UW system $pending, Governance and Politics

Tom Still

A recent analysis of the UW-Madison Data Digest noted there were 35,184 undergraduates in total on campus in 2022-23. The breakdown showed 17,703 Wisconsin residents paying $10,976 in tuition and fees; 3,114 Minnesota reciprocity students paying roughly the same; and 14,367 non-residents from other states paying $39,427 in tuition and fees. Those out-of-state students also spend money on housing, food and other needs that largely stays in Wisconsin.

If the nonresident rate is the “market rate” — meaning, there are plenty of non-Wisconsin students willing to pay it — Wisconsin resident students are being subsidized by their out-of-state colleagues. While not everyone from outside Wisconsin pays the full sticker price due to scholarships and other support, the total subsidy is at least $500 million. That subsidy is helping to keep Wisconsin campuses affordable for Wisconsin students.

Continued friction between the Capitol and the campuses sends a poor marketing message to parents, high school counselors and students outside Wisconsin’s borders. That will ultimately hurt recruitment of smart, out-of-state students who could be a part of the state’s workforce.

Third, Wisconsin’s public universities don’t exist in a noncompetitive bubble. They must compete for research dollars and faculty talent just like other state and private systems. It’s already an uphill fight in both categories; unbuilt facilities and threats of salary freezes don’t help.

Lawmakers certainly have their beefs with the UW System when it comes to DEI administration and barriers to free speech. Some campuses have far more well-paid DEI staff than student numbers would suggest are needed, according to a July report by the Badger Institute. On the “free speech” side of the equation, when was the last time a conservative Republican official of any rank showed up to speak on the Madison campus without risk of getting shouted down?

The myth of the myth of learning styles

Ned Batchelder:

In “Advice to beginners” I said, “Learn how you learn,” and many people stepped up to tell me that learning styles are a myth. I know the research about learning styles, but people are over-applying it to dictate how people should learn.

If you haven’t heard about the theory and its debunking, you can read about it in The Atlantic or Education Next. Briefly: the theory was that some people were inherently visual learners, while others were textual learners, among other kinds. This has been proven untrue.

When I said “learn how you learn,” I meant for learners to take an active role in choosing what their path should be. I’m not talking about the four modalities from the debunked “learning styles” myth. There are many effective ways to learn how to program, and you have to choose your way. There are lots of possible choices:

Inadequate literacy coverage in New York City


In the third installment of our series on literacy coverage, one of the parents featured in “Sold a Story” describes a dispiriting media response to problems at his daughter’s New York City school that continues to this day.

By Alexander Russo

Even before the pandemic, New York City parent Lee Gaul had sensed something seemed off about his daughter Zoe’s reading. “She would use a word that was completely wrong even if it conveyed the same idea,” he told me in a recent interview.

Then, like many other parents, he saw what was being taught in Zoe’s classroom during remote learning.

Looking around for answers to what was going on, Gaul eventually came across Emily Hanford’s documentary “At a Loss for Words” and found out that his daughter’s school was— like many other NYC DOE schools—using the Lucy Calkins (TCRWP) “balanced literacy” approach to teaching reading.

There was even a picture of Calkins schmoozing with the administrative staff in the familiar halls of his daughter’s school.

Trying to get some media attention to address the problems he was seeing, Gaul tried contacting several major local news outlets to tell them about the situation.

But no reporters ever got back to him with substantive interest until he was contacted by APM Reports’ Hanford.

The Cambridge Law Corpus: A Corpus for Legal AI Research

Andreas Östling, Holli Sargeant, Huiyuan Xie, Ludwig Bull, Alexander Terenin, Leif Jonsson, Måns Magnusson, Felix Steffek

We introduce the Cambridge Law Corpus (CLC), a corpus for legal AI research. It consists of over 250 000 court cases from the UK. Most cases are from the 21st century, but the corpus includes cases as old as the 16th century. This paper presents the first release of the corpus, containing the raw text and meta-data. Together with the corpus, we provide annotations on case outcomes for 638 cases, done by legal experts. Using our annotated data, we have trained and evaluated case outcome extraction with GPT-3, GPT-4 and RoBERTa models to provide benchmarks. We include an extensive legal and ethical discussion to address the potentially sensitive nature of this material. As a consequence, the corpus will only be released for research purposes under certain restrictions.

Notes on preschool expulsions

Natalie Eilbert and Madison Lammert:

Children in Wisconsin state-funded prekindergarten programs — which include those within child care programs, schools and other settings — are five times likelier to be expelled than students in the state’s K-12 schools, a novel 2005 study found.

And nearly two decades later, the tides don’t appear to be changing. In a 2021 survey, most Wisconsin early education professionals reported an increase in behavioral challenges.

Read part one:Wisconsin preschoolers are 5 times more likely to be expelled than K-12 students, but why?
Encompass program more than triples its retention rate

Before Encompass established the Child and Classroom Advocate Program in 2018, its expulsion rate was on the rise for years. Families didn’t always have the resources to set their children up for success — whether due to financial stress or limited access to early intervention programs. This affected classroom dynamics, Encompass executive director Missy Schmeling said.

Children acted aggressively at younger ages — often just 2 or 3 years old — leaving teachers at a loss. Encompass leadership knew it had to improve retention since children have better long-term outcomes when they can stay in child care settings.

Bright spots, inadequate literacy coverage,


The big education story of the week is the surge of promising test score results being reported by districts including Denver, Chicago, Clark County (Las Vegas), and Massachusetts — a surprising bright spot to take into the new school year (Denver GazetteChalkbeat ChicagoLas Vegas Review JournalBoston HeraldWBURBoston Globe).

“It’s not all doom and gloom,” writes AL.com’s Trish Crain, who reported one of the stories featured in the innovations section below. “There are actually a lot of bright spots. It just depends on which lens you’re using.”

To be sure, scores aren’t up a lot, in both math and reading, or everywhere. In many cases, they aren’t yet back up to where they were pre-pandemic and won’t be anytime soon without a big push in 2023-24 (Oregonian). “At the rate of improvement seen from 2022 to 2023,” notes the Globe, “it would take eight more years for students to fully recover to their pre-pandemic achievement levels.”

U.S. has world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households

Stephanie Kramer:

For decades, the share of U.S. children living with a single parent has been rising, accompanied by a decline in marriage rates and a rise in births outside of marriage. A new Pew Research Center study of 130 countries and territories shows that the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households.

Almost a quarter of U.S. children under the age of 18 live with one parent and no other adults (23%), more than three times the share of children around the world who do so (7%). The study, which analyzed how people’s living arrangements differ by religion, also found that U.S. children from Christian and religiously unaffiliated families are about equally likely to live in this type of arrangement.

PowerPoint Culture

Tim Harford:

This is odd, since few people love PowerPoint. Hotel Regina is a five-minute walk from the Louvre, but PowerPoint is a universe away from fine art. Gaskins and his colleague Dennis Austin, who passed away earlier this month, managed to create a product that was cheap, ubiquitous to the point of inescapability and widely reviled. How did bad PowerPoint triumph? And what can we learn from that victory?

One lesson is that when it comes to technology, we’re lazy. We reach for the nearest familiar tool without thinking about whether it’s the right one for the job, or even thinking clearly about what the job is. Are we trying to think through a problem? Get a discussion going? Show people that worth-a-thousand-words picture? We skip that vital contemplative step and load up a slide template instead. Because everyone can use PowerPoint, everyone does. That is how highly paid managers, engineers and lawyers end up fussing about fonts and colour palettes.

One can see this by observing much the same tendency in our lazy, indiscriminate use of PowerPoint’s sibling, Excel. Type “SEPT1” or “MARCH1” into Excel and the software will automatically convert those inputs into dates. That is usually fine, but unfortunate if you were a genetics researcher referring not to dates, but to the genes with those names.

The gene autocorrect problem was spotted nearly 20 years ago and appears to be getting worse. The proportion of genetics papers with autocorrect errors was estimated in 2020 to have reached 30 per cent. The Human Gene Name Consortium decided to rename the genes in question, wisely accepting that this would be easier than weaning researchers away from Excel.

The gene autocorrect problem was spotted nearly 20 years ago and appears to be getting worse. The proportion of genetics papers with autocorrect errors was estimated in 2020 to have reached 30 per cent. The Human Gene Name Consortium decided to rename the genes in question, wisely accepting that this would be easier than weaning researchers away from Excel.

When there is scientific disagreement or uncertainty, the government must never pretend there is consensus and certainty

Jay Bhattacharya And Martin Kulldorff

On July 4, our Independence Day, Judge Terry Doughty issued a preliminary injunction ordering the federal government to immediately cease contact with social media companies, which it had been urging to censor protected free speech. Evidence unearthed in the Missouri v. Biden case, in which we are co-plaintiffs, has revealed a vast federal enterprise dictating to social media companies who and what to censor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Surgeon General’s office, the National Institutes of Health, the FBI, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House itself were all closely involved.

You can get a good sense of what ideas the government finds threatening from its priority list of what it does not want Americans to talk about freely: the pandemic, vaccines, wars, concerns about election fraud and Hunter Biden’s laptop.

In the Missouri case, depositions of government officials and the discovery of email exchanges between the government and social media companies show an administration willing to threaten the use of its regulatory power to harm social media companies that do not comply with censorship demands.

Research shows people who speak another language are more utilitarian and flexible, less risk-averse and egotistical, and better able to cope with traumatic memories

David Robson:

As Vladimir Nabokov revised his autobiography,Speak, Memory, he found himself in a strange psychological state. He had first written the book in English, published in 1951. A few years later, a New York publisher asked him to translate it back into Russian for the émigré community. The use of his mother tongue brought back a flood of new details from his childhood, which he converted into his adopted language for a final edition, published in 1966.

“This re-Englishing of a Russian re-version of what had been an English re-telling of Russian memories in the first place, proved to be a diabolical task,” he wrote. “But some consolation was given me by the thought that such multiple metamorphosis, familiar to butterflies, had not been tried by any human before.”

Over the past decade, psychologists have become increasingly interested in using such mental metamorphoses. Besides altering the quality of our memories, switching between languages can influence people’s financial decision-making and their appraisal of moral dilemmas. By speaking a second language, we can even become more rational, more open-minded and better equipped to deal with uncertainty. This phenomenon is known as the “foreign language effect” and the benefits may be an inspiration for anyone who would like to enrich their mind with the words of another tongue.

What if Wisconsin stopped making childcare pointlessly costly?

Patrick McIlheran

Gov. Tony Evers may not get this, so he griped Thursday about how the Legislature didn’t heed his summons to show up in a special session and approve his idea to pour fuel onto the bonfire that is childcare costs.

Instead, the Legislature came, refused to make the problem worse, then went back to considering better ideas.

The argument between the Democrat governor and the Republican majorities in the Legislature isn’t over whether parents need some help with costly childcare — which, if you use center-based care, can be more expensive than college tuition, a report noted Thursday.

Rather, it’s how to help, and over the meaning of “temporary.”

Atop its usual childcare subsidies given to parents, Wisconsin’s government for three years passed along $600 million in grants to childcare providers under the “Child Care Counts” program, a federal dollar-gusher meant to keep childcare centers afloat as pandemic lockdowns kept parents at home. The pandemic is past, and the temporary aid is reaching its expected end — after not merely keeping providers afloat but allowing wages in the industry to rise.

Evers insists that Wisconsin taxpayers need to take over, turning the temporary surge into a permanently higher baseline. Over the three years in which flowed those $600 million in extra federal subsidies, Wisconsin’s existing childcare subsidies to parents amounted to $871 million: This was not just a little extra help.

North Carolina embraces school choice

Tyler Cowen:

North Carolina’s budget for the new biennium would expand school choice across the state to an unprecedented level.

The budget, slated for votes Thursday morning, would enlarge the piggybank for the Opportunity Scholarship Program — the state’s voucher that enables families to choose a private school education for their children — to $520 million by the 2032-2033 fiscal year.

“Expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program would not only be a game changer for North Carolina families, giving parents a real choice on where they attend schools, the new legislation would help to redefine public education and underscore that not all state-funded education has to be publicly funded, administered and delivered,” said Dr. Robert Luebke, director of the Center for Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation.

Notes on K-12 $pending and Governance: Wisconsin Edition

David Blaska:

Jill Underly is Wisconsin’s superintendent of public instruction. The position is elected for four years on the Spring non-partisan ballot along with city alders and circuit court judges. We are one of only 12 states to elect them.

One of Jill Underly’s predecessors was Tony Evers, now governor of Wisconsin. A Democrat. If there has been a conservative superintendent of public instruction in Wisconsin, it was long ago. Nonetheless, Jill Underly claims the position is non-partisan. She was endorsed by the teachers union, which gives all its campaign donations to Democrats. (Underly was good for $18,000.)

Thursday 09-21-23, Supt. Jill Underly gave her State of Education speech in the capitol. It was Woke boilerplate. The state’s chief school marm portrayed Wisconsin public schools as impoverished, even after the Republican legislature boosted education spending by $1.2 Billion dollars. Democrats wanted twice that. It’s never enough. Supt. Underly defended the Woke agenda.

Our children’s communities – their classrooms – are also some of the most inclusive and equitable places in our state. … Affirming the lives of our black, Indigenous, and students of color matter is not political. It is a statement of fact.

— Jill Underly, State of Education
What does that even mean? How is a life “affirmed”? Ms. Underly’s prepared remarks used the word “diversity” (or some form thereof) 10 times, “equity” 4 times, “inclusion” 2. At the other end of the scale: “Discipline” 0, “responsibility” 0, and “achievement” 0.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Amid mass layoffs, BU Center for Antiracist Research accused of mismanagement of funds, disorganization

Molly Farrar and Lydia Evans

The $43 million, according to 2021 budget records obtained by The Daily Free Press, includes general support, such as the $10 million from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, as well as donations for specific projects.

The document, which is not an all-inclusive list of donors, also lists TJ Maxx’s foundation, Stop & Shop and Peloton as donating over a million dollars.

Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of “How to Be an Antiracist,” Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and a history professor at BU, founded the Center three years after he founded the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. 

Kendi talked to BU Today when BU’s Center first launched in 2020. 

“My hope is that it becomes a premier research center for researchers and for practitioners to really solve these intractable racial problems of our time,” Kendi said to BU Today. “Not only will the center seek to make that level of impact, but also work to transform how racial research is done.”

A week after the layoffs, BU announced Wednesday that they received complaints “focused on the center’s culture and its grant management practices.”

Idaho Law School And Two Former Deans Settle Discrimination Case With Former Tenured Professor For $750,000


A federal judge in Idaho approved the settlement on Wednesday, ending more than four years of litigation. Plaintiff Shaakirrah Sanders, who is Black, sued the law school and former law dean Mark Adams in June 2019 alleging that she had been passed over for leadership roles and denied raises that were offered to white male colleagues. She later added former interim law dean Jerrold Long to the suit.

Sanders, who left Idaho Law in July, and is now the associate dean for antiracism and critical pedagogy at Penn State Dickinson School of Law, also claimed that Idaho law school administrators retaliated against her raising concerns about pay disparities and discrimination with the university’s human resources department and with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“I feel tired from the fight, but I feel proud of myself that I stood up,” Sanders told Reuters on Friday.

The Bvp47 – a Top-tier Backdoor of US NSA Equation Group

Language lab:

In a certain month of 2013, during an in-depth forensic investigation of a host in a key domestic department, researchers from the Pangu Lab extracted a set of advanced backdoors on the Linux platform, which used advanced covert channel behavior based on TCP SYN packets, code obfuscation, system hiding, and self-destruction design. In case of failure to fully decrypt, It is further found that this backdoor needs the check code bound to the host to run normally. Then the researchers cracked the check code and successfully ran the backdoor. Judging from some behavioral functions, this is a top-tier APT backdoor, but further investigation requires the attacker’s asymmetric encrypted private key to activate the remote control function. Based on the most common string “Bvp” in the sample and the numerical value 0x47 used in the encryption algorithm, the team named the corresponding malicious code “Bvp47” at the time.

Pandemic Fraud Hits a New Height

Wall Street Journal:

The new figure comes from a report released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The finding is a rebuke to the Biden Administration, which had previously put the fraud total as low as $45 billion based on surveys of state programs. Congressional Republicans suspected the estimates were low and asked GAO to conduct its own study.

The agency reached its estimate by assessing a sample of more than 2,500 unemployment insurance payments issued from 2020 to 2023. The Labor Department’s previous tally relied largely on adding confirmed fraud cases reported by states, but GAO auditors say that produced a massive undercount. The oversight agency assumed a higher, more plausible fraud rate by comparing unemployment insurance to similar federal programs.

The $135 billion finding places the pandemic unemployment program in a new tier of government disaster. Fraud claimed 11% to 15% of the nearly $900 billion that Washington paid out over three years. The theft rate is another demerit for a program that caused incredible harm even when it worked as planned. Federal and state governments provided an incentive for millions of people not to work with a $600 weekly jobless bonus in 2020 and up to 79 weeks of total unemployment benefits.

Repairing the damage Columbia’s Teachers College did to American kids will take years

Robert Pondiscio

I’ve come to bury Lucy Calkins, not to praise her.

Columbia University’s Teachers College announced this month what once seemed unthinkable: It’s “dissolving” its relationship with Calkins, sending the controversial literacy guru and her cash-cow publishing and consulting empire packing.

The divorce came a few months after the New York City Department of Education made the equally dramatic announcement that henceforth all the city’s elementary schools would be required to adopt one of three approved reading programs, none of which were Calkins’ “readers workshop” model, which has dominated reading instruction in city schools for the past quarter-century.

Dominated but didn’t improve reading ability in any meaningful way, particularly among the city’s black and Hispanic students. 

About two-thirds of New York’s Asian and white students passed the most recent round of state reading tests. 

For black and Hispanic students, the figure was closer to one-third making the grade.

I’ve been a persistent Calkins critic for 20 years, ever since I was trained in her methods as a Bronx public-school teacher, where I saw its shortcomings firsthand. 

I shed no tears over her long-overdue defenestration. But it’s a mistake to think simply showing Lucy the door will bring an overnight change in city schools’ reading scores. 

To be sure, any of the three phonics-based reading programs the DOE is imposing on its elementary schools represents an improvement over Calkins’ methods.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

5 Benefits Of Marrying Long Before You Own A House And Establish A Successful Career


Amanda Marcotte, a feminist writer infamous for describing Hallmark movies as “fascist propaganda,” penned an article in the Salon on Tuesday warning young women not to marry young. Using the Lauren Boebert “Beetlejuice” theater scandal as a hook, Marcotte argued that, “Marrying someone off before they’ve grown up doesn’t confer maturity and happiness.”

One could say that about just about anything. Nothing in this life, not even blissful feminist singlehood and child-free eternities, always “confer maturity and happiness.”

Take it from a 23-year-old woman a little over a year into married life: getting married young is a beautiful thing with real benefits. Here are five of them.

Eugene Volokh, Who Graduated From UCLA At Age 15, Is Retiring From UCLA At Age 56 To Join The Hoover Institution

Paul Caron:

Next year, I’ll become a Professor of Law Emeritus at UCLA School of Law, after 30 years of teaching, and move (effective July 1, 2024) to the Hoover Institution at Stanford, where I’ll be a Senior Fellow—essentially like a permanent, tenured research faculty position, but with no teaching obligations.

Technically, I’ll be “retiring” from UCLA. But at the ripe old age of 56, I will not be at all retiring from scholarship—I’ll just be doing the same sort of research, public commentary (of course, including blogging), and occasional litigation as I have been doing at UCLA, but with more institutional support. Until June 30, 2024, I will be a Visiting Fellow at Hoover, while I finish my full-time obligations to UCLA.

I will continue to have complete academic freedom and security of employment (provided for expressly by the Hoover faculty contract, the same way as it is by Stanford for its tenured faculty members). As to this blog, this of course also means continued editorial independence, which I care about very much.

I expect I’ll probably feel pretty much at home ideologically at Hoover, which is on balance an institution of the center-right. Naturally, I’m sure that there will be much my colleagues and I will disagree on, as there of course has been at UCLA—but that is the nature of a healthy academic institution. (For whatever it’s worth, my sense is that the median ideological views at Hoover are much closer to the median American voter than are the median ideological views at the median top 20 U.S. law school.)

A 10 year old girl and Madison’s naked bike ride

Hope Karnopp

A spokeswoman for the Madison Police Department said Thursday there were no updates in the case. Police had planned to reexamine the case if more information became available and discuss internet safety with the girl and her mother if they were identified.

The police department’s Special Victims Unit reviewed the photo depicting the girl’s participation but determined Wisconsin’s statutes on possession of child pornography did not apply because the photo was not sexual in nature. Police also determined a statute relating to exposing a child to harmful material or narrations did not apply.

But Tiffany and Fitzgerald disagreed with police, organizers and legal experts that because the purpose of the event was not sexual, local ordinances and state laws would likely not apply.

“The laissez-faire attitude of all parties, such as the organizer, the attendees, and the Wisconsin Attorney General, underscores the need for the federal government to intervene and act to protect our children from this perverse behavior,” the lawmakers said in their letter.

Many of the students who left traditional public schools in 2020 have not returned

Duey Stroebel:

A couple months after the bipartisan agreement over shared revenue and education were enacted we are already seeing the effects. Besides the record increase in public school resources of $1.2 billion, the deal included the passage of Act 11, which significantly increased state payments to school choice and charter schools. Until earlier this year, voting on education alternatives had almost always fallen along party lines, even though the area of the greatest usage of education alternatives has been Democrat-dominated Milwaukee.

Act 11, which I was privileged to author in the Senate, has laid down a bipartisan marker acknowledging educational alternatives are here to stay in Wisconsin. Five Democrats supported Act 11 on the floor, creating legislative super majorities in both chambers. Moreover, a Democrat governor, who considers himself to be the champion of public education, signed it.

K-12 Tax & $pending Climate: US $33T Federal Debt implications


Moreover, even if a Republican *could* recapture the presidency, they’d be stuck with the flaming bag of dog poop that is DC’s financial position — $33T+ of debt and counting[1]. And you actually don’t want to be at the helm when this thing crashes.[2]

So, if Republicans were smart, they’d understand what areas they’re strong on, and focus there, rather than putting all their hopes on Hail Mary passes for national control.

Schumer Wants a Cut of AI

Andy Kessler:

Sen. Chuck Schumer, who’s never seen a camera he didn’t want to jump in front of, held a closed-door meeting last week on artificial intelligence. What? Closed? To me, it suggests an agenda beyond paving the path to a fantastic future. At the meeting, Elon Musk warned that AI is a “civilization risk.” Mr. Schumer declared, “We can’t be like ostriches and put our heads in the sand.” They sound more like dodo birds.

One clue to the hidden agenda: Besides Mr. Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, OpenAI’s CEO and other techies, the attendees included union leaders such as Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, Liz Shuler of the AFL-CIO, Meredith Stiehm of the Writers Guild and two tech critics with “Humane” in their company names. Ugh. It looked like the ghosts of economics past had come to spook the spirit of economics future.

So of course it was held behind closed doors. It was as if the nascent AI companies were called into a meeting with a tough guy named Spike who listens and then says, “You wouldn’t want anything to happen to your nice companies there, would you?” Or as if the union representatives of the horse-drawn-trolley conductors, rail-gauge manufacturers and manure sweepers were sitting in car-design meetings, demanding full employment for their guilds.

Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Politicians might have demanded to tax horses based on speed. Back then, no one appreciated the potential for those rickety automobiles to transform the economy. We’re at the same juncture with AI today.

UW-Madison students enrolled in data monitoring experiment without ability to opt out

Cormac LaLiberte:

Thousands of students and instructors were informed by email earlier this month that they or at least one student in their course had been enrolled in a data monitoring experiment without the ability to opt out.

The pilot program, Learner Activity View for Advisors (LAVA), notifies advisors of potential patterns of low academic performance. Instructors and students are not allowed to opt out of the program, Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning John Zumbrunnen wrote in an email obtained by The Daily Cardinal.

Approximately 2,800 students are enrolled in the program, according to Zumbrunnen’s email. 

The two indicators of potential academic problems are if a student’s grades are in the bottom quartile of the class or if they have an assignment more than five days overdue. A student must have one of these outcomes in two or more classes for it to be flagged by LAVA.

Commentary on “AI” and the education experience

Andy Haldane:

I am suffering from PESD (post-examination stress disorder). This is a new condition — indeed, I have just invented it — but it afflicts millions of parents whose children are put through the psychological mangle of school examinations.

The trauma is, of course, not confined to parents. Pity the students each year facing trial by examination, followed by weeks waiting on the verdict. Little wonder there is an epidemic of wellbeing and mental health problems among the young.

In the UK, a terrifying one in five young people aged 17 to 24 were reported as having a probable mental health disorder in 2022. Of course, not all are rooted in education and examinations. But the correlation is strikingly high between the incidence of mental health problems and low educational attainment in young people. It can be seen, too, in surveys of wellbeing — as many as a quarter of young people leave education loathing, rather than loving, learning. It would be hard to think of a worse endowment.

This means those departing education with fewest skills are also least likely to engage in life-long learning. And it means the gaps in attainment in early years are likely to widen over time, becoming chasms in adult opportunity and income. Education can entrench inequality, rather than redress it.

What could be done to close those chasms? A good start would be to rethink the metrics of success. Currently, examination results and school league tables are paramount. But if the key arbiter of later-life success is learning attitudes and experiences, rather than outcomes per se, it would be better to target those directly by measuring pupil wellbeing.

Commentary on “ai” and legacy media

Scott Girard:

One example Scheufele sees of potential use to journalists: sorting through exceedingly large databases or sets of emails obtained through open records requests, with the technology able to “extract patterns that can serve as the basis of solid journalism.”

Chen said one of her major concerns is who is coming up with the rules around AI and its use. Right now, it’s mostly politicians and technology companies themselves having the conversations.

NSA’s Backdoor Key from Lotus-Notes


Before the US crypto export regulations were finally disolved the export version of Lotus Notes used to include a key escrow / backdoor feature called differential cryptography. The idea was that they got permission to export 64 bit crypto if 24 of those bits were encrypted for the NSA’s public key. The NSA would then only have the small matter of brute-forcing the remaining 40 bits to get the plaintext, and everyone else would get a not-that-great 64 bit key space (which probably already back then NSA would have had the compute power to brute force also, only at higher cost).

Anyway as clearly inside the application somewhere would be an NSA public key that the NSA had the private key for, I tried reverse engineering it to get the public key.

In doing this I discovered that the NSA public key had an organizational name of “MiniTruth”, and a common name of “Big Brother”. Specifically what I saw in my debugger late one night, which was spooky for a short moment was:

‘I Literally Cried’: Teachers Describe Their Transition to Science-Based Reading Instruction

Elizabeth Heubeck:

In an era where humans have managed to create an artificial intelligence toolsophisticated enough to churn out an essay on Shakespeare, it seems unlikely that there would still be ambiguity about how best to teach kids how to read. But the “reading wars” continue to incite differences of opinion in various forums, from school board meetings to legislative sessions. 

Recently, literacy curriculums that include systematic attention to phonics—the most contested of the strategies, but one that has been affirmed by decades of research—have again emerged as a best practice. (Phonics and sound-letter correspondence aren’t the only pieces of evidence-based literacy, of course; so are building students’ vocabulary, knowledge of sentence structure, and content.) 

Lofty curriculum decisions such as these are often made at levels far removed from classrooms. Between 2013 and July of this year, 32 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws or implemented new policies related to evidence-based reading instruction. It’s teachers who must implement them, sometimes after years of using very different instructional approaches. It’s an inordinately challenging task.

Unveiling Oregon Department of Education’s Controversial Methods: A Deep Dive into Research Flaws and Lack of Oversight

Jeff Myers:

What we did was straightforward – a “fact check” of the Oregon Department of Education’s (ODE) “Community-Informed Recommendations for Equitable Graduation Outcomes” report, delivered to the Oregon legislature on September 1st, 2022. This report was created in response to Senate Bill 744, which was signed into law in 2021. You may remember this bill as the one that extended Governor Kate Brown’s pause of the Essential Skills Proficiency tests that were required to graduate high-school.

As we reviewed ODE’s report and the roughly 100 research studies and other citations included within it, we continually found ODE misrepresenting evidence and making unsubstantiated claims. In other words, they lied. They lied to all of us.

Here are links to download our full, 27-page report as well as a short, 2-page summary. I recommend starting with the summary and then moving on to the full report when you’re ready for the deep-dive:

“Tech ethics” SBF and Stanford

Theo Baker:

Crypto magnate Sam Bankman-Fried was scheduled to speak to a Stanford class this winter, The Daily has learned. The topic of the course? Tech ethics. Bankman-Fried wouldn’t have the opportunity to give that lecture, though — instead, before the winter quarter even began, he was placed under house arrest just a stone’s throw away from the lecture hall, confined to a home on campus owned by his parents, Stanford Law School (SLS) professors Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried.

His stay at Stanford came to an end Friday, when Bankman-Fried’s bail was revoked by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan over alleged attempts at witness interference. Instead of his parents’ $5 million house, Bankman-Fried is now confined to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. But the Stanford community’s ties to his case, already well-reported, are even deeper than previously thought. New court filings allege that Bankman and Fried were themselves improperly enriched, and exclusive Daily reporting shows that Bankman continues to serve in official capacities at the school.

Reading, Wisconsin Legislation and Rule Making

Act 20:

Beginning with the accountability report published for the 2024-25 school year, for a school district other than a union high school district and for each school that offers grade 3 in that school district, the percentage of pupils reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.

Section 8 . 115.39 of the statutes is created to read:
115.39 Literacy coaching program. (1) Definitions. In this section:
(a) “CESA region” means the geographic territory within the boundaries of a cooperative educational service agency.
(b) “Eligible school” means any of the following that does not provide instruction that incorporates 3-cueing, as defined in s. 118.015 (1c) (c), in the core reading curriculum for grades kindergarten to 3:
1. A public school, including a charter school established under s. 118.40 (2r) or (2x).
2. A private school participating in a program under s. 118.60 or 119.23.
(c) “Office” means the office of literacy in the department.
(2) Literacy coaching program. The office shall establish and supervise an early literacy coaching program to improve literacy outcomes in this state. As part of the early literacy coaching program established under this subsection, the office shall, in consultation with cooperative educational service agencies, do all of the following:
(a) Contract with individuals who demonstrate knowledge and expertise in science-based early literacy instruction and instructional practices, and have instructional experience in grades kindergarten to 12 to serve as literacy coaches. The office may not contract for more than 64 full-time equivalent positions under this paragraph.
(b) Provide ongoing training on science-based early literacy instruction and instructional practices and supervision to individuals with whom the office contracts under par. (a).
(c) Prohibit literacy coaches from using or promoting instruction that includes 3-cueing, as defined in s. 118.015 (1c) (c).
(3) Participation; schools and school districts. (a) The office shall assign one-half of the number of literacy coaches under sub. (2) (a) as follows:
1. Based on scores of the standardized reading test administered to pupils during the prior school year under s. 121.02 (1) (r), the office shall identify the 50 eligible schools that had the lowest percentage of pupils score as proficient in reading at grade level and the 50 eligible schools that had the largest gap in pupils who scored as proficient in reading at grade level.

Wisconsin DPI:

The information below is designed to address ongoing questions related to 2023 Act 20 and its implementation. Please send questions or concerns about this page or Act 20 to DPI staff by emailing early.reading@dpi.wi.gov.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

$pending more for fewer students: Madison

Dave Cieslewicz:

Despite being the fastest growing large community in Wisconsin the Madison public school system is losing students. Last year the district lost almost 900 students. Why?

In a story in Isthmus last week long-time school board member Nicki Vander Meulen mused on the causes for the loss of market share to private schools and neighboring districts. She offered three theories: Madison has older facilities, larger schools are off-putting to parents, especially after COVID, and some schools in other districts are just closer to students’ homes.

Those are all plausible answers, but none of them are slam dunks and both Vander Meulen and the Isthmus reporter avoided the elephant in the classroom.

Let’s start with Vander Meulen’s theories.

It’s true that some Madison school buildings are going on a century old. But a couple of years ago voters approved a massive building referendum. All the high schools are getting big makeovers, most of the other schools are getting some upgrades and a brand spanking new elementary school has just opened. Those projects are either done or well underway and the results are visible and positive. If the building age argument ever had much juice it’s being squeezed out as we speak.

The size of the student population issue also could be real. But the decline started before COVID. Madison’s numbers are 7% lower since 2013 in a city that has grown at a steady clip of about 1.1% a year.


Abbey Machtig:

The board also discussed on Monday potential changes to the way budget amendments are suggested and reviewed. The board is preparing to vote on the final version of the district’s 2023-24 budget next month, after approving a preliminary version in June.

The changes would make it so board members need to submit a request to the district’s deputy superintendent in order to make an amendment to the budget. These requests would need to be received five business days before the board meets.

Soldner said the request would also need to acknowledge the financial effect of a proposed change. He cited the recent pay increases for teaching staff and custodians as an example, which he said collectively cost the district an additional $30 million in ongoing expenses.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

“ai” and teaching notes

Tyler Cowen:

Artificial intelligence is changing not only the way students learn, but also what kind of knowledge is important.

As a college professor, I get a lot of questions about homework — and lately they have almost all been about how artificial intelligence will change it. After all, if AIs can pass many medical, bar and economics exams, then they can certainly handle high-school or college homework.

Homework has long been a staple of the academic experience. How will it evolve as more students master the capabilities of (rapidly improving) AI systems? Or, to ask a slightly more pointed question: How am I supposed to know whether I am grading the student or the AI?

Many American Parents Have No Idea How Their Kids Are Doing in School

Jenny Anderson:

In third grade, Cristyonna mostly got As and Bs on her report cards. At parent-teacher evenings, teachers were positive about her learning. So Shareeda Jones, her mother, was surprised when they moved neighborhoods and schools and her daughter’s new teacher told her Cristyonna was three grade levels behind in reading. “I was shocked,” Jones says. 

Many American parents would be shocked to know where their kids were actually achieving. Nationally, 90% of parents think their children are reading and doing math at or above grade level. In fact, 26% of eighth graders are proficient or above in math and 31% are proficient or above in English, according to Learning Heroes, an organization that collects data and creates resources to improve parent-teacher relationships.

What’s worse, 80% of parents say they are confident they understand how their child is achieving academically, and more than three-quarters say they feel their kids are prepared to enter and succeed at college and in the workplace. They don’t seem to know there’s a problem. Which means they won’t see any reason to try and help, by securing support at school or accessing tutoring services that may be available.

There are two broad narratives about what has happened to universities in the English-speaking world over the past forty years.

William Davies:

They are very different from each other, yet both have some plausibility. The first runs roughly as follows. The rise of the New Right in the 1980s introduced a policy agenda for universities aimed at injecting enterprise and competition into a sector that had previously seen itself as somewhat insulated from the market. Measures such as the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act in the United States encouraged scientists and universities to treat their research as a private good, yielding financial returns on investment. In the UK, the Thatcher government’s deployment of the Research Assessment Exercise in 1986 (later the Research Excellence Framework) introduced a research scoring system in an effort to awaken the competitive instincts of universities and their managers.

The influence of ‘new growth theory’ on the policy agendas of the Democratic Party in the US and the Labour Party in the UK in the 1990s, when both parties were seeking to refashion themselves for a post-socialist age, placed universities firmly within the purview of economic policymaking. Universities would be tasked with building the ‘human capital’ that would generate productivity gains for the economy at large. They would also be at the centre of regional ‘clusters’ of innovation and enterprise, as their research was spun out into start-ups.

Meanwhile, the increasing prominence of national and international university league tables, often managed by the business press, further heightened competition between institutions, and anxiety at the prospect of failure. Salaries for senior managers began to escalate as universities were reconceived as a highly profitable export industry; new postgraduate courses were dreamed up, along with debt-fuelled construction projects to house the students who would ‘consume’ them.

West Virginia Budget Cuts Are a Taste of Higher Ed’s Future

James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley:

Gordon Gee thinks higher education is at a “crossroads.” If it takes the wrong turn, it will head over a demographic and financial cliff. To save West Virginia University, of which he is president, in February he announced significant cuts, including the elimination of 169 faculty positions and some 30 academic programs and departments that were either lacking enrollment or too expensive to maintain.

The plan went over poorly on campus. By a 797-100 vote, the faculty passed a resolution of no confidence in Mr. Gee, while students engaged in a steady stream of demonstrations. “STOP the Gee-llotine” read one sign. But Mr. Gee is undoubtedly correct to highlight the financial challenges his university faces. He may be the first college president to call for harsh financial measures, but he won’t be the last.

Colleges face a significant demographic challenge as the pool of future students begins to dwindle over the next several years. The annual number of U.S. births reached a generational peak in 2007 at 4.3 million, then declined to 3.9 million in 2012 and 3.6 million in 2021. Starting with the high school class of 2025, the pool of high school graduates is expected to decline by as much as 15% over a dozen years. Many colleges will have to cut programs and faculty as demand dries up.

These schools keep costs low and put graduates on pathways to lucrative careers

Kevin McAllister:

Baruch College offers the best value of any university in the country, according to the new Wall Street Journal/College Pulse college rankings.

Public schools dominate the list of colleges that offer students and families the best bang for their buck, taking 35 of the top 50 slots.

California schools also pepper the upper echelon of the value ranking, with nine of the top 20 schools located in the Golden State. Of those nine colleges, six belong to the California State University system, led by its Los Angeles campus, No. 3 on the value list.

(You can see our full overall ranking, as well as rankings focused on student experiences and schools’ impact on graduate salaries and social mobility, here, along with the methodology behind them all.)

The question of how much a college degree can boost future earnings and how that compares with its cost has become a centerpiece of the college decision process, as many Americans have come to doubt the value of a degree.

Guided by research conducted by the public-policy think tank Third Way, our best-value calculation looks at how quickly a degree from each college pays for its cost through the salary boost it provides its students. We do that by estimating the net price of a four-year education at each school, and comparing that to how much higher the median salary of the school’s graduates is, 10 years after enrollment, than that of high-school graduates in the state where the school is located.

Net price is the average overall cost of attending the college for students who receive federal financial aid, including tuition and fees, room and board, and books and supplies, taking into account any grants and scholarships.

ACT study finds grade inflation is most pronounced in high school math as colleges de-emphasize test scores in admissions

Jill Varshay:

Amid the growing debate over how best to teach math, there is another ballooning problem: grades. They’re becoming increasingly untethered to how much students know. That not only makes it harder to gauge how well students are learning math and catching up from pandemic learning losses, but it’s also making math grades a less reliable indicator of who should be admitted to colleges or take advanced courses.

The latest warning sign comes from college admissions test maker ACT, which compared students’ ACT test scores with their self-reported high school grades between 2010 and 2022. Grade inflation struck all high school subjects, ACT found, but it was highest for math, followed by science, English, and social studies.

Grade inflation accelerated after 2016 and intensified during the pandemic, as schools relaxed standards. But as schools settled back into their usual rhythms in 2021-22, grades didn’t fall back to pre-pandemic norms and remained elevated. Grades continued to rise in math and science even as grade inflation stabilized in English and social studies. For a given score on the math section of the ACT, students said they had earned higher grades than students had reported in previous years.

Edgar Sanchez, an ACT researcher who conducted the analysis, said the inflation makes it hard to interpret high school grades, especially now that A grades are the norm. “Does 4.0 really mean complete content mastery or not?” Sanchez asked, referring to an A grade on the 0 to 4 grade-point scale.

New York Times Doesn’t Want Its Stories Archived

Nikita Mazurov

The New York Times tried to block a web crawler that was affiliated with the famous Internet Archive, a project whose easy-to-use comparisons of article versions has sometimes led to embarrassment for the newspaper.

In 2021, the New York Times added “ia_archiver” — a bot that, in the past, captured huge numbers of websites for the Internet Archive — to a list that instructs certain crawlers to stay out of its website.

Crawlers are programs that work as automated bots to trawl websites, collecting data and sending it back to a repository, a process known as scraping. Such bots power search engines and the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, a service that facilitates the archiving and viewing of historic versions of websites going back to 1996.

BU Center for Antiracist Research lays off staff members

Nick Stoico:

Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research has laid off an undisclosed number of staff members, just over three years after its promising launch to reshape the national discourse on racial and ethnic disparities.

The layoffs come as the center, led by renowned author and antiracist scholar Ibram X. Kendi, shifts to a “fellowship model,” according to a university spokesman.

The center, which opened at BU in the summer of 2020 amid nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd and other Black men and women by police, will continue to be led by Kendi, its founder and director, BU spokesman Colin Riley said in a brief statement.

Madison notes.

Why Can’t America Teach Writing


I gulped as I took back the booklet with shaking hands. I put it in my fraying purple folder, where it sits unopened to this day. This wasn’t a booklet forced into your hands by an intimidating yet freakishly friendly man on the street—it was the final project for my high school senior year creative nonfiction class.

The booklet was relegated to collecting dust not because high school was ending (I couldn’t wait to be free of all responsibility), but because I had written about something I legitimately cared about: my journey through veganism. 

Only when I reflected on this, years later, I realized how absurd it was that I almost started college without ever writing about an actual passion of mine. Nowadays, writing my blog is one of my favorite things to do. What can explain the disparity? 

Subject Apathy

My fundamental rule for good writing is “have something to say.” Trying to drag something out of yourself just because you feel obligated to write about a topic is infinitely more challenging than writing when you know your “why”.

Unfortunately, the American writing education philosophy directly contradicts this with its singular focus on literature. No matter how much you think, “Kids these days don’t appreciate good writing like we did,” the bottom line is that the vast majority do not care an ounce about color symbolism in The Great Gatsby.

“The operating budget for the Chicago public schools has grown to $8.5 billion in 2024, from $6.3 billion in 2020”

Wall Street Journal:

Yet enrollment is down 80,000 students from a decade ago, and many schools are underutilized. Don’t dare try to consolidate, though.

“School closings is a racist and failed policy,” Ms. Gates argued in 2018. “You do not close schools in environments that need investment.” Is it any wonder that among the first things to go are extracurricular programs like orchestras and soccer teams?

Ms. Gates’s son deserves a quality education, but so do his neighbors. With any luck this controversy will improve the odds of renewing the Invest in Kids program. But the real moral and political scandal remains the same: that thousands of Chicago’s children are locked into failing public schools as part of a political job-protection program for the teachers union.

A CIA whistleblower pulls back the curtain on COVID’s origins in the shadowy world of U.S. biodefense programs

Ashley Rindsberg

Earlier this week, the mystery surrounding the origins of SARS-CoV-2 took another bewildering turn when the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic revealed that a “multi-decade, senior-level, current [CIA] officer” stepped forward to claim that when six of the seven specialists tasked by the CIA with investigating the origins of the virus concluded with low confidence that it likely came from a lab in Wuhan, the CIA paid those scientists hush money to reverse their decision. The six experts who were offered “financial incentives”—otherwise known as bribes—eventually concluded that the origin of the pandemic was uncertain. For its part, the CIA has denied the whistleblower’s claims. This denial was issued by CIA spokesperson Tammy Kupperman Thorp who, until just two years ago, worked as a journalist for CNN and NBC News covering, among other things, the CIA. 

Despite intense investigations for the past three years, the origins of the worst pandemic in generations remain, to this day, unknown. What is certain, however, is that a massive official cover-up took place. There is proof that Anthony Fauci knowingly deceived the public, that academic scientists and once-prestigious science journals colluded with him in that deception, and that scientists investigating the virus at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s National Center for Medical Intelligence were censored when they concluded it most likely came from a laboratory. Now there appears to be evidence that the CIA was involved as well.

What we still don’t know is what exactly was covered up. China isn’t a U.S. ally. So why would the CIA want to hide evidence that the virus might have come from a Chinese government laboratory? The answer may have to do with the fact that funding for the infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology came from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)—which is relevant because USAID, while nominally America’s foreign aid agency, has decadeslong ties to the CIA and a history of acting as a cutout for the intelligence agency.

This is not the first time questions regarding America’s intelligence agencies’ ties to the Wuhan lab have come up. In June, I reportedthat one of the earliest gain-of-function experiments done at the Wuhan lab—where Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli houses what is likely the largest collection of bat-borne coronaviruses in the world—were funded by USAID. The aid agency’s funding was initially omitted from the paper that published the results of those experiments. But these new whistleblower allegations, which come from the CIA itself, present the first plausible evidence connecting America’s lead intelligence agency to efforts to sway official assessments of the pandemic’s origin.

Park Slope Pile

Colin Mixson:

The social media watchdog posts regular photos of the pile outside the John Jay Educational Campus at Seventh Avenue — which houses the Secondary School for Law, the Secondary School for Journalism, Park Slope Collegiate, and Millennium Brooklyn High School — where janitors toss their detritus directly onto the street, according to locals.

International SAT competition

www page

The purpose of the competition is to identify new challenging benchmarks and to promote new solversfor the propositional satisfiability problem (SAT) as well as to compare them with state-of-the-art solvers. We strongly encourage people thinking about SAT-based techniques in their area (planning, hardware or software verification, etc.) to submit benchmarks to be used for the competition. The result of the competition will be a good indicator of the current feasibility of such approach. The competition will be completely automated using the SAT-Ex system.

We’ve lost our advantage on education’: Democrats grasp for wins on public schools

Juan Perez, Jr.

Public schools are confronting significant post-Covid enrollment shifts to private and home schools. Policies that grant students access to school options beyond their traditional neighborhood campus are popular. That has left Cardona to protect the schoolhouse castle, navigate longstanding disagreements between labor unions and liberal education reform groups, and advance a distinctive Democratic vision of education that appeals to families and voters.

“We shouldn’t be promoting private schools because our neighborhood schools are not making the grade,” Cardona said as he rolled from an exurban Minnesota technical college toward a city dual-language elementary school. “We should make sure we’re working to support our neighborhood schools to make the grade.”

Here’s the thing. Private choice is taking off — and fast.

Republican governors in Arkansas, Iowa, Ohio, Florida and elsewhere are now presiding over major expansions of programs that give families public subsidies to pay for private school tuition and other education expenses. Oklahoma officials are also leading a campaign to open explicitly religious public schools, which some church leaders and conservative advocates see as a monumental leap for school choice and religious liberty.

Public school enrollment meanwhile dropped by 3 percent in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, a plunge of some 1.4 million students. There are also signs liberals have failed to regain the broad trust on education they once held with voters.

“Neither the administration, nor the left, has offered an alternative to the private school choice options that Republicans are offering,” said Elorza, a former mayor of Providence, R.I., who supported then-Gov. Gina Raimondo’s bid to have the state take over his city’s troubled school system and made headlines when he declared his family would not send their young son to the city’s public schools.

ObamaCare Turns Out to Be Affordable Only for the Healthy

John C. Goodman and Beverly Gossage:

When Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act of 2010, President Obama and lawmakers made the same claim over and over: The act would make good, affordable health insurance available to people with pre-existing conditions. The actual result has been the opposite. ObamaCare makes health insurance as good as possible for the healthy and as bad as possible for the sick.

According to President Biden, health insurance in America is free or almost free (“as little as $10 a month or less” after subsidies) for about 80% of people who acquire it in an ObamaCare exchange. Most preventive care—the only kind of care healthy people require—is also free.

If you are sick, things are different. Consider a hypothetical middle-aged couple in Dallas earning $70,000 a year. Suppose they have two children, both of whom have serious birth defects. Although this family will pay no premium for a Blue Cross bronze plan in the ObamaCare exchange, they will face a $9,100 deductible for each child. Their total out-of-pocket exposure is $18,200 a year.

It gets worse. Patients with serious diseases often require the care of highly trained specialists who usually work at centers of excellence. But that family in Dallas will discover that their Blue Cross plan isn’t accepted at leading cancer providers nearby, including Baylor University Medical Center and the University of Texas Health Science Center, or MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“he was asked to explain a seeming contradiction between his public and private statements about the origins of Covid”

Christine Rosen:

In fact, as internal messages among scientists later revealed, Andersen and his colleagues didn’t have anywhere near this level of certainty, either before or after the paper was published. On a Slack forum of scientists convened by Anthony Fauci, Andersen himself wrote, “Accidental escape [from a lab] is in fact highly likely—it’s not some fringe theory.” He had told Fauci the same thing just a few weeks earlier. Andrew Rambaut, a biologist from the University of Edinburgh also on the Slack forum, said, “I literally swivel day by day thinking it is lab escape or natural.” A few weeks later, the paper was published. How had Andersen and his colleagues moved off their position of doubt about Covid’s origins so quickly?

The question matters because the “proximal origin” paper became the ur-text for shutting down any further exploration of the idea that Covid might have emerged from a laboratory in Wuhan. It also conveniently shut down any discussion of the possibility that China and, by implication, the United States’ scientific funding apparatus—which had subsidized controversial “gain of function” research in Wuhan—were responsible.

DIE ditching

Lauren Wurth:

Big businesses are no strangers to being scrutinized for the lack of diversity amongst their employees. In 2020, many companies decided to adopt diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies to ensure that their hires came from diverse backgrounds. Newly implemented DEI protocols were met with mixed reviews. Some praised the inclusion efforts while others argued that people should get jobs based on their skillset instead of which marginalized group they represent. 

Since then, companies have started opting out of diversity commitments. DEI positions have been reduced to cut costs while other inclusion efforts have been put on the back burner. This shift in dynamic comes fresh off the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit colleges from admitting students solely based on their race. Over a dozen Republican attorney generals have sent letters to Fortune 100 CEOs warning them not to consider race as a factor during the already complex hiring process.

But DEI experts have spoken out against companies backtracking on their responsibility to make diverse hires, saying that their flip-flopping could have long-term consequences. Kathryn Minshew, co-founder, and CEO of The Muse, believes that corporations are making a big mistake. “We have been hearing from many of our job seekers and employers alike how frustrated they are that many companies have been seemingly backing away from diversity commitments that they’ve made in the last few years,” she explained.

A poll conducted on The Muse indicated that sixty percent of people claim to have noticed their organizations retreating from diversity commitments. More than a third of users said that their employer put a strong emphasis on diversity during the initial job interview, and then failed to produce any significant DEI efforts upon being hired. It’s important to note that the poll is not an accurate portrayal of the U.S. population, as the majority of participants were non-white, 65% were women and 53% were millennials and Gen Z.

While many companies were once eager to present themselves as progressive through the false promise of DEI efforts, actually implementing diversity practices requires significant effort and funding. The financial commitment may be a notable reason why some companies have been guilty of ‘diversity ditching.’ Minshew notes that the combination of budget cuts to DEI programs and failing to see companies practice what they preach could be a recipe for disaster. She believes that the trend of ditching diversity efforts could alienate young talent who value inclusion within the workplace.

How did American legal education become unmoored from the classical tradition?

Steven Smith:

[H]appiness, I am sure from having known many successful men, cannot be won simply by being counsel for great corporations and having an income of fifty thousand dollars. An intellect great enough to win the prize needs other food besides success. The remoter and more general aspects of the law are those which give it a universal interest. It is through them that you not only become a great master in your calling, but connect your subject with the universe and catch an echo of the infinite, a glimpse of its unfathomable process, a hint of the universal law.

—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

There are some people—and I am one of them—who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy. We think the question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether, in the long run, anything else affects them.

—G. K. Chesterton

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

—Proverbs 29:18

Holmes’s encomium to the law may strike us today as quaintly grandiose—and also deeply ironic, given Holmes’s own savagely nihilistic outlook on life and law. An “echo of the infinite”? A “hint of the universal law”? Seriously?

And yet through much of Western history, the statement might have seemed utterly sensible. In what is sometimes called the classical legal tradition, human law was understood to be grounded in the natural law, which was itself that part of God’s providential plan (or of the “eternal law,” as Aquinas called it) that was knowable through reason by human beings. Law was precisely the point at which the eternal truths studied in their abstraction by philosophers and theologians met up with the practicalities of everyday life.

Minnesota Reading Changes

Becky Z. Dernbach

“Looking at a small part of a word helps us figure out the meaning,” Selcer reminded her class. She then mapped out a series of morphemes on the board: un, in, habit, able, at, ing.

“‘Habit’ means to live,” she said, adding that it came from a Latin root. And when “at” comes at the end of the word, it means place, she told them. She showed them how to combine the word parts into habitat. The students penciled the meanings in their packets.

“What’s a habitat?” Selcer asked them.

“Place to live,” the children chorused.

“A what?” Selcer asked, putting her hand to her ear.

“Place to live!” her students shouted.

She then showed the students how to construct another word with similar roots: inhabit—to live in.

“I inhabit this classroom,” she said, gesturing around the room.

“This is your habitat?” one student asked.

Piecing together Latin roots and using linguistics terminology may seem like high-level concepts for eight-year-old multilingual learners, but the kids approached them with enthusiasm. These methods may become more common in Minnesota classrooms as the state’s new reading law takes effect. And at Prodeo Academy, they seemed to be working.

The tyranny of equitable grading

Joanne Jacobs:

Students don’t have to turn in assignments on time — or at all. The minimum grade for work is 50 percent, even if the student did nothing at all. Students can retake tests. There’s no grading penalty for cheating. Of course, classroom participation — or failure to show up in class — doesn’t count either.

Academic Fired For Faking Data To Fit ‘Systemic Racism’ Narrative

Shawn Fleetwood:

A Florida State University professor whose work was foundational to perpetuating the false narrative that there is widespread “systemic racism” infecting American society has been fired for falsifying data in his academic research on the subject. 

In a recently resurfaced report from last month, the New York Post revealed that Eric Stewart, an FSU criminology professor, had been fired by the university “on account of ‘extreme negligence’ in his research,” as well as “incompetence” and producing “false results” in his nearly 20 years of work. 

“I do not see how you can teach our students to be ethical researchers or how the results of future research projects conducted by you could be deemed as trustworthy,” FSU Provost James Clark wrote in a July 13 letterformally notifying Stewart of his firing. 

According to the Post, Stewart has had six studies published in major academic journals between 2003 and 2019 that were “fully retracted,” including a 2019 study claiming the historical legacy of lynchings “made whites perceive blacks as criminals, and that the problem was worse among conservatives.” 

Stewart’s retracted research also included claims that racial disparities in criminal sentencing are racially motivated. In a 2015 study, for instance, Stewart suggested Americans supported tougher sentencing for Hispanics because they feared an increase in the U.S. Latino population and Latinos’ potential economic success. 

Other retracted studies include a 2018 analysis which “suggested that white Americans view black and Latino people as ‘criminal threats,’ and suggested that perceived threat could lead to ‘state-sponsored social control,’” the Post added.

The Student-Debt Bubble Fueled a Housing Bubble

Allysia Finley:

San Francisco’s deflating home market doesn’t necessarily reflect the whole nation, but it isn’t surprising. Easy money and excessively supportive government policy during the pandemic fueled a surge in housing prices nationwide. The withdrawal of cheap credit will doubtless cause pain, though where and how is hard to predict.

Credit scores of home buyers have generally improved since the 2000 bubble years thanks in part to changes in FICO’s calculations that reduced penalties for unpaid medical debt. A decade of historically low interest rates also made it easier for buyers to finance debt.

Yet perhaps the biggest credit boost came from Obama-era income-based student-loan repayment plans, which capped monthly payments at 10% of discretionary income. Many student borrowers consequently aren’t paying down their debt, but it isn’t counted against them when they attempt to buy homes. While credit scores are improving, it isn’t clear borrowers have become more credit-worthy.

Why Literacy Fails (Part 1)

The “confident teacher”

  1. Shallow initial teacher training on literacy domains. The very nature of initial teacher training is that it is short. As such, it is not viable to cover the science of reading, spelling, writing, dyslexia, or other literacy issues, in the requisite depth. Singular sessions are not going to cut it, whilst new teachers grapple with the complexity of the classroom and the curriculum. The problem is simple: limited time.
  2. Partial, limited professional development. Every teacher could describe a literacy INSET or two. Fewer teachers can articulate a sustained sequence of evidence-based professional development that encompasses reading, writing, oracy, vocabulary, and more. Not only that, but it is also typical that professional development doesn’t flow on from initial teacher training, nor does it specifically address gaps in teacher knowledge and practice. 

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

China’s coming lawfare offensive

Jay Newman:

The myopia of US financial regulators is historical fact, but obliviousness to efforts by the Chinese Communist party — and its security and regulatory apparatus — to manipulate information flows that affect domestic and international capital markets is still surprising. China has accelerated the implementation of an integrated program, founded on Xi Jinping Thought, to weaponise law, with both territorial and extraterritorial effect. Expressly termed “lawfare,” this program seeks to reshape economic relations with the rest of the world, creating a capital market “with Chinese characteristics”. Analysis by the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies signals China’s intention. The goal, foreign minister Wang Yi is quoted as saying, is make to “good use of rule-by-law as a weapon and constantly enrich and improve the legal toolbox for foreign struggles” against governments, businesses, and individuals Beijing views as insufficiently deferential.

What Happens When Schools Abandon Merit?

George Leef:

America’s educational institutions used to adhere to objective standards of excellence. Students and faculty members had to strive and were rewarded (or not) according to their performance. What their background might be or where their ancestors lived didn’t matter.

That was true until a corrosive idea called “disparate impact” began taking hold in the country some 50 years ago. What that meant was that objective standards were objectionable if they resulted in poorer performance by certain racial groups. The obsession with disparate impact was kick-started by the Supreme Court’s 1971 Griggs v. Duke Power decision and has been growing in destructive force ever since.

In her latest book, When Race Trumps Merit: How the Pursuit of Equity Sacrifices Excellence, Destroys Beauty, and Threatens Lives, Heather Mac Donald surveys the landscape and sees profound changes in crucial institutions: our schools and colleges, law-enforcement, medicine, and the fine arts. Everywhere, merit is being eroded due to the acceptance among “progressive” elites of what Mac Donald calls the bias fallacy—namely, that any underrepresentation or outcome disparities for blacks and Hispanics must be caused by bias against them.

Mac Donald sees profound changes in crucial institutions: colleges, law-enforcement, medicine, and the fine arts.FacebookTwitterEmailPrintMac Donald rebuts that notion, writing, “The underrepresentation of blacks in many professions is the result of the unequal distribution of skills, not of bias. Sixty-six percent of black twelfth-graders nationally were ‘below basic’ in math skills in 2019, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam.” Without good math skills, many opportunities are foreclosed, no matter your race. Bias is a facile but utterly mistaken explanation.

Large Language Models and Diversity

Tyler Cowen:

Put aside the political issues, do Large Language Models too often give “the correct answer” when a more diverse sequence of answers might be more useful and more representative?  Peter S. Park, Pilipp Schoenegger, and Chongyang Zhu have a new paper on-line devoted to this question.  Note the work is done with GPT3.5.

Here is one simple example.  If you ask (non-deterministic) GPT 100 times in a row if you should prefer $50 or a kiss from a movie star, 100 times it will say you should prefer the kiss, at least in the trial runs of the authors.  Of course some of you might be thinking — which movie star!?  Others might be wondering about Fed policy for the next quarter.  Either way, it does not seem the answer should be so clear.  (GPT4 by the way refuses to give me a straightforward recommendation.)

Interestingly, when you pose GPT3.5 some standard trolley problems, the answers you get may vary a fair amount, for instance on one run it was utilitarian 36% of the time.

I found this result especially interesting (pp.21-22):

DIE policies and campus climate

Jarrett Stepman:

The lengthy report in The New York Times, of all places, highlights how the use of DEI statements essentially has allowed schools to create ideological loyalty oaths for new faculty. These tests aren’t being applied only in humanities departments, they’re the norm in science departments and all others too.

California—upholding its reputation for being at the cutting edge of anti-civilizational lunacy and tyranny—has predictably gone all in on the diversity, equity, and inclusion regime. Fealty to DEI dogma has become practically mandatory at all levels of higher education.

The Times notes that the faculty senate at the University of California, San Francisco urged professors to apply an “anti-oppression and anti-racism” lens to their coursework. On its website, UCLA’s public affairs school pledged to “decolonize the curriculum and pedagogy.” And the faculty senate of California Community Colleges instructed teachers on their duty to “lift the veil of white supremacy” and “colonialism.”

“Professions of fealty to DEI ideology are so ubiquitous as to be meaningless,” Daniel Sargent, a professor of history and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Times. “We are institutionalizing a performative dishonesty.”

Requiem for a Dumpster Full of Books

Lance Morrow:

The dumpster behind the arts center in our upstate New York village is filled to the brim with discarded books—thousands of volumes that now, after a rainy August, have grown soggy and begun to dissolve, reverting squalidly to pulp. The mass grave is an unsettling sight to someone who was brought up in the worship of books.

The dumpster out back seems at odds with the sign in front of the arts center, which proclaims its annual “Festival of Books”: “More than 15,000 affordable, gently used books” for sale, all of them donated by locals. The thousands of volumes in the dumpster are the cull—the ones judged too damaged, smelly or defaced to be saleable.

Plenty of freshly published books are trashy, of course, but it’s somehow unbearable to see books in the trash. Book people in their reverence hold that to destroy books amounts to sacrilege and profanation. We are Old Believers in the cult of print. We accumulate scores and hundreds of books on our shelves. When the shelves are full and sagging, we build more. Books are friends, oracles, household gods, characters in the ongoing drama of our minds. If we own a book we haven’t read, we savor the knowledge that it’s there on the shelf, waiting—like money in the bank.

Enrollment fell at eight campuses, while it grew 1.3% in Madison.

Associated Press

The largest percentage growth was 3.4% at UW-Whitewater, while the steepest drop was 3.5% at UW-Stout.

Rothman said the numbers show a continuing rebound in freshmen students that is a “great sign” because that signals stronger overall enrollment.

The estimates are based on first-day registration numbers and projections of other new students.

Total enrollment at the Madison campus was 50,255, up from 49,587 last fall.

“The SAT and Racial/Ethnic Differences in Cognitive Ability”

Steve Sailer:

Everybody complains about the college admissions process, but practically nobody ever looks into college admissions tests to see if they could be improved or even if, as they appear to be are getting worse. That’s probably because:

A. Thinking about the SAT and the like is hard.

B. The big racial gaps in test scores are, even more than in the past, society’s Forbidden Topic, so it’s possible that anybody respectable who looks into whatever is going on with the SAT will get himself canceled.

So, we have this situation where David Coleman gets unaccountable power over the SAT test because he’d earlier sold Bill Gates on the Common Core. And Gates had bought off most of the educational thinktanks in America with generous donations. So when Gates decided he liked the Common Core, everybody jumped on board across the country without pausing to test it first.

Because the Common Core was riding so high about a decade ago (it has largely been forgotten today as the billionaire-driven Ed Reform mania of the early 21st century has vanished), the College Board hired Coleman to make the SAT reflect the Common Core. So Coleman rolled out a big change in the SAT in 2017, with some unexpected results: notably, Native American scores plummeted and Asian scores skyrocketed.

Reading Reform on the Ground: How SoR Policy is Showing Up in Schools

Callie Lowenstein

One thing about teachers: we want to get our instruction right. 

After decades of mixed messages and misinformation in our professional development (PD), teacher training programs, and curricular materials, many classroom educators are eager to get on top of the science, to ensure that our efforts and hours, our lesson planning and detailed feedback and materials prep and book purchases and deep care for our students, are not being wasted. 

Indeed, after a major balanced-literacy leader published an unapologetic deflection of the science of reading movement last year, a group of teachers from across the country wrote our own open letter, collecting over 650 teacher signatures in a matter of days, attesting to the ways we, teachers, wished we had done better by our students.

As authors Susan B. Neuman, Esther Quintero, and Kayla Reist so expertly and carefully highlighted in the Shanker Institute’s Reading Reform Across America report, it’s not just us.

World’s Top School Systems Try to Ease Pressure on Students

Jon Emont:

The world’s most competitive school systems, known for their hard-driving approach and top-notch academic results, are easing up.

Students in Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan score at the top of global tables in mathematics and science, far higher than their American counterparts. But their schools are also often stress factories where children are pushed hard to ace high-stakes national exams, sometimes achieved through long hours of homework and pricey private tutoring.

Governments are trying to rein in the education arms race.

Singapore has scrapped all exams for first- and second-year primary school students, and midyear exams all the way through secondary school—part of a roster of changes intended to make learning joyful, or at least less test-heavy. South Korea is cutting some of the toughest questions on national tests for graduating high-schoolers. Taiwan has begun requiring university applicants to list extracurricular achievements in an effort to reduce the emphasis on exam scores.

China has slashed homework for younger students and banned for-profit tutoring centers. It has forbidden written exams for first- and second-graders, ordered teachers to stop publicizing exam scores in chat groups with parents, and abolished what it calls “strange questions” on tests—a reference to extra-hard queries that go beyond the curriculum, often fueling demand for after-school tutoring.

Did New York City Forget How to Teach Children to Read?

Caitlin Moscatello

At a meeting with parents in May, Elizabeth Phillips, a longtime principal at P.S. 321, a highly sought-after elementary school in Park Slope, didn’t mince words about the new reading curricula being implemented across the city this fall by Mayor Eric Adams’s administration. Not only did she refer to the trio of options selected by Schools Chancellor David Banks and the mayor’s Cabinet as “three bad choices,” she also shared her plans to resist. “We are definitely pushing back against it,” she said, “and many principals in the district are. And our superintendent understands that we are not going to do it with fidelity, that we are going to keep doing what has worked for us.”

Phillips (who did not respond to interview requests; the spring meeting was recorded) is a devotee of “balanced literacy,” an approach to teaching kids to read that had been the prevailing ethos in New York City schools for roughly two decades — until it came crashing down last year when heightened scrutiny caused the method’s once-revered leader, Lucy Calkins, to concede that it was fundamentally flawed. Specifically, critics said kids were falling behind because they didn’t know how to sound out words. Instead of phonics, Calkins’s program pushed a cuing method that instructed students to look at the first letter of a word, then to a picture on the page, and consider the context and piece it all together. But this technique relied on students having enough background knowledge to make the proper inferences as well as the ability to process language without difficulty. As a result, many kids weren’t actually reading. They simply became really good at guessing.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

The State of the American Student: Fall 2023


As we reported in our inaugural State of the American Student report in September 2022, the Covid-19 pandemic and related school closures led to unprecedented academic setbacks for American students. They exacerbated pre-existing inequalities and accelerated the mental health crisis for young people. This second edition provides basic data on the overall system, but focuses especially on students who are nearing graduation, or have already graduated, from high school. The traditional pathways to college and career were already not working for too many of these students. The pandemic made everything worse.

Math Curriculum

Sharon Lurye:

A few years ago she shifted her approach, turning to more direct explanation after finding a website on a set of evidence-based practices known as the science of math.

“I could see how the game related to multiplication, but the kids weren’t making those connections,” said Stark, a math teacher in the suburbs of Kansas City. “You have to explicitly teach the content.”

As American schools work to turn around math scores that plunged during the pandemic, some researchers are pushing for more attention to a set of research-based practices for teaching math. The movement has passionate backers, but is still in its infancy, especially compared with the phonics-based “science of reading” that has inspired changes in how classrooms across the country approach literacy.

Math forum audio/video.

Singapore Math

Connected Math

Discovery Math

Remedial math

Madison’s math review task force.

Notes on math homework

Jill Barshay

On the strength of those results, an MIT research organization singled out ASSISTments as one of the rare ed tech tools proven to help students. The Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, which reviews education evidence, said the research behind ASSISTments was so strong that it received the highest stamp of approval:“without reservations.”

Still, Maine is an unusual state with a population that is more than 90 percent white and so small that everyone could fit inside the city limits of San Diego. It had distributed laptops to every middle school student years before the ASSISTments experiment. Would an online math platform work in conditions where computer access is uneven? 

The Department of Education commissioned a $3 million replication study in North Carolina, in which 3,000 seventh graders were randomly assigned to use ASSISTments. The study, set to test how well the students learned math in spring of 2020, was derailed by the pandemic. But a private foundation salvaged it. Before the pandemic, Arnold Ventures had agreed to fund an additional year of the North Carolina study, to see if students would continue to be better at math in eighth grade. (Arnold Ventures is among the many funders of The Hechinger Report.)

Those longer-term results were published in June 2023, and they were good. Even a year later, on year-end eighth grade math tests, the 3,000 students who had used ASSISTments in seventh grade outperformed 3,000 peers who hadn’t. The eighth graders had moved on to new math topics and were no longer using ASSISTments, but their practice time on the platform a year earlier was still generating dividends.

How American Institutions Went From Trust to Bust

Gerard Baker:

At the heart of America’s political and cultural turmoil is a crisis of trust. In the space of a generation, the people’s confidence in their leaders and their most important institutions to do the right thing has collapsed. The federal government, big business, the media, education, science and medicine, technology, religious institutions, law enforcement and others have seen a precipitous decline.

As public faith in the performance, credibility and integrity of these institutions has collapsed, so too has mutual trust—the social glue that holds the country together. Americans have become suspicious of one another, distrusting their fellow citizens as much as they distrust foreign adversaries.

Think about the controversies that have played out in the past few years—allegations from both parties of stolen elections, false claims by mendacious presidents and other politicians, politically motivated federal law-enforcement decisions, questionable advice and mandates from public-health officials, news coverage that skews in one political direction, a succession of corporate scandals and financial crises, and the various social dysfunctions caused by social media and emerging technologies.

All reflect and exacerbate a climate of deep popular distrust. This rapid loss of confidence is startling and unprecedented. It has ominous implications for the cohesion, prosperity and even survival of the U.S. Trust is the essential feature that allows society to function—more important the more modern and complex society grows.

Politics and reduced school choice: Wisconsin Democrat Party Edition

Will Flanders:

Recently, a group of Democrats in the state legislature that includes well-known school choice opponents Chris Larson and Kelda Roys announced a set of bills that would effectively bring educational choice in Wisconsin to an end.  Despite growing public support that includes more than 70% of Wisconsinites overall and even a majority of Democrats, these legislators would see the state move in a different direction.  There is no need for equivocation: these bills would bring school choice to an end for Wisconsin families. But that is not the only negative outcome. Below, we highlight the major implications of these bills, and why they are wrongheaded.  


Under LRB-4295, new private schools would be prohibited from entering the state’s school choice programs, and no new students would be allowed to enter—leading to an end to the programs over time. More than 48,000 students across Wisconsin rely on the Milwaukee, Racine, and Wisconsin Parental Choice programs to fund their education. All of these families are below 300% of the federal poverty limit. Outside of Milwaukee and Racine, they are all below 220% of the federal poverty limit. The majority of these families come from minority backgrounds as well. The chart below shows the share of participants who are black or Hispanic using the most recent report card data in comparison to public school percentages.