“The educational publisher raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue during the 2010s selling reading programs based on a disproven theory”

Christopher Peak:

The educational publisher raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue during the 2010s selling reading programs based on a disproven theory. The company now faces financial fallout, as schools ditch its products.

A publisher that once held a commanding shareof the market for materials to teach and test reading has seen its sales drop significantly in recent years — a decline its attorney attributes to the 2022 APM Reports podcast Sold a Story.

Heinemann published some of the most widely used programs for teaching reading in U.S. elementary schools. Its roster of authors — including Lucy Calkins, Gay Su Pinnell, Irene Fountas, Jennifer Serravallo and the late Marie Clay — helped to define how literacy was taught to two generations of students. Their work also helped Heinemann rack up higher and higher sales on an unbroken growth streak from 2006 through 2019.

But recent data suggests school districts are turning away from Heinemann. The company’s 2023 sales were down about 75% compared to what they were in 2019, according to current numbers from GovSpend, a database of government spending.


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?

“Now, as is typical with Ivy League schools, the whole campus gleams with money”

Glenn Reynolds:

So I spent some time at the Harvard campus this weekend, and visited the “encampment” on Harvard Yard.  It brought back some memories.

As some of you know, I’m an academic brat, and spent a fair bit of my childhood growing up around Harvard, mostly in various married student apartments.  My dad got his Ph.D at the Divinity School, and we were around there basically from when I turned 4 until I turned 9, with a year off when we lived in Heidelberg as my father taught at the University of Heidelberg.

It was the 1960s, which means that there was a lot of protesting going on, of course, and my father was involved in a fair bit of it.  Most of it took place elsewhere – for example, he traveled south back to his home turf in central Alabama to participate in the march at Selma, and was in the room with Martin Luther King and his advisers when some important decisions were made.  (District Judge Frank Johnson, generally viewed as pro-civil rights, had issued a temporary restraining order blocking the march.  Some of King’s advisors wanted to violate the order, which they, probably correctly, thought was unconstitutional.  King said that they had gotten a lot of court orders against the segregationists, who had grudgingly obeyed them, and that was sure to come to an end if the civil rights folks started flouting them in their turn.  They prayed instead of marching, until the order was lifted.)

“Selective admissions”

Will Flanders:

Of note is that the only Milwaukee school on here—Reagan—has selective admissions. Meaning, unlike voucher and charter schools, they get to “pick and choose” the best students. Yet I don’t hear anyoutcry from public school advocates about this 🤔

“Planned Parenthood seeking an original action ruling from the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCoW)”


The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has filed a response to a case brought by Planned Parenthood seeking an original action ruling from the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCoW) that would create a constitutional right to an abortion in Wisconsin. WILL believes ruling in favor of Planned Parenthood would embroil SCoW in the same mess of policy questions that Roe v. Wade created.  

As WILL has stated before, Wisconsin’s duly elected legislature and governor should go through the normal legislative process and create policy to govern abortion.  

The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel, Luke Berg, stated, “There is no right to an abortion in Wisconsin’s Constitution. No judge, justice, or lawyer should be creating policy for Wisconsinites out of thin air. Reversing Roe v. Wade through the Dobbs decision rightfully placed the abortion issue back where it should have been all along—in the halls of state legislatures. That’s where the debate and conversation must remain.”  

Where Would the Court Draw the Line? If the Wisconsin Supreme Court were to agree with Planned Parenthood, what would happen next? For example, would the prohibitions on abortions after viability, Wis. Stat. § 940.15, or after the unborn child can experience pain (defined in the statute as 20 weeks), Wis. Stat. § 253.107, also be unconstitutional? How about partial-birth abortions, very late term abortions? None of those prohibitions are challenged or at issue in this case, but if this Court constitutionalizes abortion, it will have to answer these questions sooner or later.  


Choose life.

Financial Times licensing deal with openai


The Financial Times today announced a strategic partnership and licensing agreement with OpenAI, a leader in artificial intelligence research and deployment, to enhance ChatGPT with attributed content, help improve its models’ usefulness by incorporating FT journalism, and collaborate on developing new AI products and features for FT readers. 

Through the partnership, ChatGPT users will be able to see select attributed summaries, quotes and links to FT journalism in response to relevant queries. 

In addition, the FT became a customer of ChatGPT Enterprise earlier this year, purchasing access for all FT employees to ensure its teams are well-versed in the technology and can benefit from the creativity and productivity gains made possible by OpenAI’s tools.

I-12 tax & $pending climate: “Illinois’ state pension debt grew by $2.6 billion between fiscal years 2022 and 2023, spurred primarily by “larger than expected salary increases” for state employees”

Patrick Anderson:

A new pension report from the state legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability shows statewide pension debt rose by 1.8% to $142.3 billion, based on the market value of the assets.

After growing for the second consecutive year, pension debt for the five statewide systems now sits at the second-highest level in the past 20 years. Federal pandemic funding allowed the state to temporarily arrest the deepening debt, but it is again growing.

Researchers attributed the rapid rise in pension debt to “larger than expected salary increases in all five systems.”

Pay raises for state employees in FY 2023 increased the unfunded liability by a total of $1.074 billion, with members of the three largest systems – the Teachers’ Retirement System, State Employees’ Retirement System and State Universities Retirement System – spurring most of the growth.

Illinois public schools see another year of enrollment declines

Jake Griffin

It continues a trend that has seen enrollment drop by nearly 200,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade statewide over the past decade. That represents a 9.8% decline since the 2015 school year. Among the 104 suburban school districts, enrollment is down 6.9% during the same time frame, records show.

Nowhere is the decline more stark than at West Chicago Elementary District 33, which has 27.8% fewer students this year than a decade ago. That amounts to 1,149 fewer kindergarten through eighth grade students. The district’s enrollment also dropped 3.5% from last year as well.

“We’re in a unique situation where we’re essentially landlocked with almost no available residential land left to be developed for new families to come into the district,” said Karen Apostoli, District 33’s executive director for business and operations. “We also have a large population of empty-nesters who do not appear to be in any hurry to move out of the area.”

District 33’s enrollment decline means the district is closing one school next year to convert it to a preschool center and changing school building boundaries that will send many students to new schools.

Beverly Pakala:

Enrollments dropping across US.

Illinois public schools–10,000 drop since last yr, continuing trend of 200,000 K-12 drop in past 10yrs.

Chicago Public Schools, $9.4Billion yr budget, lost 80,000 in past 10yrs.

And CTU wants $50Billion.

K-12 Tax & $pending climate: “The debt is the the most important issue. $34 trillion”

Ben Shapiro interviews RFK:

The service on that debt is now larger than our defense budget…. President Trump and President Biden are largely responsible individually for the that debt…. Within 10 years 100% of every dollar collected in taxes will go to servicing the debt. This is really an existential crisis for our country and you don’t hear President Biden or President Trump ever talk about it and they have no solutions…. You can vote for Trump and Biden but you’re going to get more of this same… They… both had four years in there and… they’re not able to avert these this train that’s coming at us…. They won’t even talk about it because those policies are the products of a corrupt system, and I have the capacity to fix that system….”

“Our policy against tracking in mathematics aims to interrupt the racialized outcomes”


Subject: [EXTERNAL] Feedback from the SFUSD Math Department to the Math Framework

To the California Department of Education:

We are writing to offer comment on the CA Mathematics Framework. As the Mathematics Department of the San Francisco Unified School District, we appreciate the number of times that the draft Framework makes note of our district’s policy leadership and pedagogical stance.

In chapter 1, lines 471 – 476, the Framework says, “Educators in the San Francisco Unified
School District found similar benefits when they delayed any students taking advanced classes in
mathematics until after tenth grade and moved the algebra course from eighth to ninth grade. After
making this change the proportion of students [who had to retake] algebra fell from 40 percent to eight
percent, and the proportion of students taking advanced classes rose to a third of the students, more
than any other number in the history of the district (Boaler et al, 2018).” And again, in chapter 8, lines
203 – 206, the Framework says “An NCTM case study of the San Francisco Unified School District’s move
away from middle-school acceleration and high-school tracking demonstrates that such an approach can result in increased numbers of students continuing in higher-level mathematics courses (Barnes & Torres, 2019).”

We are indeed very proud of these outcomes. Aligned with our social justice mission, our policy against tracking in mathematics aims to interrupt the racialized outcomes associated with tracking and fixed beliefs about what it means to be “smart at
math.” We applaud that the Framework takes a strong stance against tracking,alongside recommendations for deep mathematical sense making grounded in Universal Design for Learning. More and more districts nationwide are taking up the complex and powerful work towards equitable policies in mathematics; a Math Framework that supports this work will serve the students of California, and
demonstrate national leadership.


The San Francisco Unified School District Mathematics Department

What I remember about Flint water crisis was how state government lied 

Nancy Kaffer:

Powerful, because of the efforts of brave Flint residents to tell the truth about the end point of absolute systemic failure, and because of the reporting undertaken by a handful of dedicated journalists at a slew of statewide organizations. I’ll never forget meeting Flint moms struggling to care for their children without tap water, or their anger and frustration at the disregard they’d been subject to. Or kids whose futures might be shaped by circumstances they were too young to understand. Some of those children reminded me of my son, then 5. I had to not think about that part too much.

Frustrating, because the the failures that led to the Flint water crisis were all too clear, and none of it needed to happen.  

Frustrating because of the lying. 

People sometimes suggest that politicians and their representatives lie often. But with a notable exception or two, they don’t. Sure, politicians stretch the truth, shade things to flatter themselves and their interests. But to lie outright is rare, in no small part because it’s just too easy to get caught. Moral objections aside, it’s just not worth it.

Twilight of the Wonks

Walter Russel Mead:

Impostor syndrome isn’t always a voice of unwarranted self-doubt that you should stifle. Sometimes, it is the voice of God telling you to stand down. If, for example, you are an academic with a track record of citation lapses, you might not be the right person to lead a famous university through a critical time. If you are a moral jellyfish whose life is founded on the “go along to get along” principle and who recognizes only the power of the almighty donor, you might not be the right person to serve on the board of an embattled college when the future of civilization is on the line. And if you are someone who believes that “misgenderment” is a serious offense that demands heavy punishment while calls for the murder of Jews fall into a gray zone, you will likely lead a happier and more useful life if you avoid the public sphere.

The spectacle of the presidents of three important American universities reduced to helpless gibbering in a 2023 congressional hearing may have passed from the news cycle, but it will resonate in American politics and culture for a long time. Admittedly, examination by a grandstanding member of Congress seeking to score political points at your expense is not the most favorable forum for self-expression. Even so, discussing the core mission of their institutions before a national audience is an event that ought to have brought out whatever mental clarity, moral earnestness, and rhetorical skills that three leaders of major American institutions had. My fear is it did exactly that.

The mix of ideas and perceptions swirling through the contemporary American academy is not, intellectually, an impressive product. A peculiar blend of optimistic enlightened positivism (History is with us!) and anti-capitalist, anti-rationalist rage (History is the story of racist, genocidal injustice!) has somehow brought “Death to the Gays” Islamism, “Death to the TERFS” radical identitarianism, and “Jews are Nazis” antisemitism into a partnership on the addled American campus. This set of perceptions—too incoherent to qualify as an ideology—can neither withstand rational scrutiny, provide the basis for serious intellectual endeavor, nor prepare the next generation of American leaders for the tasks ahead. It has, however, produced a toxic stew in which we have chosen to marinate the minds of our nation’s future leaders during their formative years.

Colleges are now closing at a pace of one a week. What happens to the students? Most never finish their degrees, and graduates wonder about the value of degrees they’ve earned

By Jon Marcus

So many colleges are folding that some students who moved from one to another have now found that their new school will also close, often with little or no warning. Some of the students at Newbury, when it closed in 2019, had moved there from nearby Mount Ida College, for example, which shut down the year before.

Most students at colleges that close give up on their educations altogether. Fewer than half transfer to other institutions, a SHEEO study found. Of those, fewer than half stay long enough to get degrees. Many lose credits when they move from one school to another and have to spend longer in college, often taking out more loans to pay for it.

The rest join the growing number of Americans — now more than 40 million, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center — who spent time and money to go to college but never finished.

“I was asking my dad, ‘Can I not go back?’” said Fernandes, who eventually decided to continue at another college and now works as a patient coordinator at a hospital.

Civics: Disinformation and elections

Holman Jenkins;

Will heavy-handed U.S. intelligence spooks re-elect Trump? Will the New York Times help?

We sometimes lose sight of how downright weird so much news reporting has become. Imagine you’re the New York Times. Donald Trump might return to the presidency so you report, as the paper did on April 12, on the “distrust” that exists between him and the U.S. intelligence agencies. But you leave out the part about top Obama intelligence officers going on national TV to call Mr. Trump a Russian agent. You leave out the part about FBI counterintelligence leaders knowingly trafficking in fabricated evidence about him. You leave out the part about 51 former intelligence officials lying to voters to influence an election and help his opponent.

How should we cover Mr. Trump, the Times famously asked on its home page in 2017. The answer might have been “fairly.” Don’t lie about him or anyone else. If his critics lie, say they lie just as you do when Mr. Trump lies. This fogey advice has now evidently given way to the psychology of “splitting,” a defense mechanism that involves editing out facts and realities that cause emotional dissonance.

Civics: Warrantless domestic surveillance

Edward Snowden:

Remember the expansion of warrantless spying that Biden rammed through Congress and signed into law a week ago despite public outcry? That the FBI had already used to spy on Americans more than 278,000 times? You’ll never guess what he’s using right now against student protests:

Colleges are now closing at a pace of one a week. What happens to the students?

Jon Marcus:

It was when the shuttle bus stopped coming that Luka Fernandes began to worry.

Fernandes was a student at Newbury College near Boston whose enrollment had declined in the previous two decades from more than 5,300 to about 600.

“Things started closing down,” Fernandes remembered. “There was definitely a sense of things going wrong. The food went downhill. It felt like they didn’t really care anymore.”

The private, nonprofit school had been placed on probation by its accreditors because of its shaky finances. Then the shuttle bus connecting the suburban campus with the nearest station on the public transportation system started running late or not showing up at all. “That was one of the things that made us feel like they were giving up.”

After students went home for their winter holiday, an email came: Newbury would shut down at the end of the next semester.

Awkward truth: Subsidizing women’s work drives down birthrates

Timothy P. Carney

But there are a hundred caveats to the notion that cash transfers drive up birthrates. Some subsidies encourage family formation and some encourage particularly unwed births. Some speed up births, but they don’t appear to increase the number of births. Others have no effect on birthrates.

The simple lesson from all the available data is this: 

To help people have more children, just give them cash, either unconditionally or on the condition of having children. Any other effort to subsidize families, such as subsidizing work or subsidizing child care, has no effect, a tiny effect, or even a negative effect on family formation.

A new study out of Finland reaffirms this general rule in a very specific way. The Finnish government randomly awarded work subsidies to men and women. The finding is a bit awkward in these days of gender equity: If you subsidize work for men, birthrates go up. If you subsidize work for women, birthrates go down.

Check out these two charts highlighted by demographer Lyman Stone:

Civics and freedom of speech

Robert Kennedy:

The TikTok ban is yet another example of how neither political party has any compunctions about sacrificing your freedoms, rights, and choices, when it serves their political interests.

“The growth is driven by an increase in the number of students who qualify for special education and transporting students who are homeless”

Melissa Whitler:

Since the 2019-20 school year, transportation spending in the district has increased by more than 90%, while the overall operating budget has increased by 28%.

In a report critical of the district’s budget practices, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers singled out the district’s spending on contracted services as one area where the district can trim its budget. For the current school year, the district has budgeted $102 million for contracted services. Transportation makes up about 30% of that amount.

Over half of district transportation costs come from mandatory services it provides for a subset of special education students and homeless students. State aid reimburses the district for the cost of special education transportation, and starting next year the State will also reimburse the district for the cost of transportation for homeless students

The State special education transportation aid is reimbursed in the year after the district incurs the costs. When costs are increasing, this means the district must cover the difference between the current year’s expenses and the previous year’s expenses during the current fiscal year.

Transportation costs are increasing for two main reasons: an increasing number of students are qualifying for special education and homeless transportation, and the cost of providing bus services is increasing. Transportation costs for the district are also higher than in other districts because the district provides bus service to students who live closer to school compared to other large districts.

Civics: Thieves snatch Rep. Adam Schiff’s luggage in S.F.

Kevin Fagan:

Hello to the city, goodbye to your luggage. That was Senatorial candidate Adam Schiff’s rude introduction to San Francisco’s vexing reputation for car burglaries Thursday when thieves swiped the bags from his car while it sat in a downtown parking garage.

The heist meant the Democratic congressman got stuck at a fancy dinner party in his shirt sleeves and a hiking vest while everyone else sat in suits. Not quite the look the man from Burbank was aiming for as he rose to thank powerhouse attorney Joe Cotchett for his support in his bid to replace the late Dianne Feinstein in the U.S. Senate.

The Quiet Student Loan Forgiveness Scam

Wall Street Journal:

The Administration rolled out the SAVE plans a mere 10 days after the Supreme Court last summer struck down Mr. Biden’s $430 billion loan forgiveness. As states argue in their lawsuits, the Education Department rushed out the plans with sloppy regulatory analysis and illegally converted loans into de facto grants.

Mr. Biden’s SAVE plans cap monthly payments at 5% of discretionary income, waive unpaid interest that accrues, and forgive remaining balances after 10 to 20 years. Discretionary income is defined as exceeding 225% of the poverty line. This means borrowers who earn less than $33,885 can pay nothing.

These are a sweetened version of the plans Democrats in Congress enacted in 2010, which capped payments at 10% of discretionary income (above 150% of the poverty line) and canceled remaining debt after 20 years. Democrats claimed these plans would reduce defaults. Instead, borrowers accrued more debt because their payments didn’t cover interest costs.

Hundreds of billions of dollars in debt is set to be written off under these plans. The government loses thousands of dollars on each borrower because they are paying less in interest than the government does to borrow. As the states note, the typical borrower is still paying $10,956 for every $10,000 borrowed.

U.S. Colleges and Admission Testing: Required, Optional, or Blind?

Richard Phelps:

Much has been made of recent decisions to re-require ACT or SAT scores in student applications to several elite Northeastern colleges. Start of a trend? Will more colleges now follow suit?

Covid-19 accelerated an already-existing trend toward adoption of “test optional” admissions, whereby college aspirants could choose whether to include their ACT or SAT scores with their applications. COVID-19 precautions severely inhibited regularly scheduled testing sessions both at secure sites and in high school classrooms or canceled them altogether. These mass disruptions led to some unsatisfactory jerry-rigged attempts to administer the tests over the internet but, even more, to almost universal adoption of test-optional policies.

In short order, test-optional became the default policy.

College admission officials tend to consider a wide variety of factors in making individual admission decisions. Ranking highest—as the most predictive indicators of college success—are high school grade point average (GPA), admission test scores, and upper-level high school course selection. Other considered factors tend to be much less predictive. They include recommendation letters, application essays, extracurricular activities, and community service.

Milwaukee k-12 tax & $pending notes

Quinton Klabon:


  • $1.47 billion, -$201.8 million decrease assuming 4% inflation
  • reasons: 2024 $111.7 million over approved budget, construction complete
  • $22,279 per student at 66,000 students (MPS estimates 66,377)
  • public meeting May 7

Glendale-River Hills eighth grader saves school bus from veering into oncoming traffic

Drake Bentley and Claudia Levens:

The Glendale-River Hills School District is spotlighting a heroic middle schooler who helped stop a school bus from veering into oncoming traffic after the driver lost consciousness.

Acie Holland III, an eighth grader at Glen Hills Middle School, said his mother’s mantra to always be aware of his surroundings came in handy on Wednesday evening, when the driver of school bus route 207 had a medical emergency resulting in her temporarily losing consciousness.

Holland told the Journal Sentinel that he started to sense something might be wrong when the driver quickly passed by his stop on the route. For a split-second, he thought she was just joking around. But when he saw the bus start to veer toward the wrong side of the road, he quickly sprang into action.

Just as the bus approached oncoming traffic, Holland rushed over, moved the driver’s foot off the gas pedal, applied the brake and securely parked the bus, according to a statement from Glen Hills Principal Anna Young sent to parents and shared on Facebook Thursday.

Holland then called 911 and ensured younger students were OK and instructed them to call their parents. Holland also contacted his grandmother, who is a nurse.

Spending Per Pupil in Public Schools Averaged $15,633, Up 8.9% in FY 2022

Kaylee Anesta

Average U.S. public school spending per pupil in elementary and secondary schools rose 8.9% to $15,633 in fiscal year (FY) 2022 from the previous year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent Annual Survey of School System Finances data. 

All nine states in the Northeast region ranked in the top 14 for current per pupil spending and seven were in the top 10.

While statistics are not adjusted for inflation or cost-of-living differences, this change marks the largest year-to-year percentage increase in over two decades.

States with the highest per pupil spending:


Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average per student $pending.

The Ivy League Hits An Iceberg.

Glenn Reynolds:

Over a decade ago, I wrote a short book titled The Higher Education Bubble, which was followed by a much longer one called The New School, and a significantly longer and updated paperback version called The Education Apocalypse.

In all of these books I explained, with increasing amounts of detail and examples, why I thought that the existing system of higher education in America was doomed.  Not that higher education itself would cease to exist, but that the standard model of college, graduate, and professional education that had obtained since the passage of the G.I. Bill, and in many ways since the late 19th Century, would largely cease to exist.  This was due to a combination of out-of-control costs and loss of prestige.

So is the apocalypse now?  Maybe.  At the very least, we’re at some sort of a turning point.

The cost part is now pretty obvious.  When I started writing on this, a college education was almost uniformly seen as the way to get ahead.  Nowadays sitcoms often feature jokes about people with useless degrees and heavy debt, professors more interested in avoiding controversy than teaching, and corrupt administrators. 

People – especially young men – are increasingly foregoing college for the trades, and other areas where they can make good livings without running up debt.  (I have a nephew who recently graduated from welding school and who is already making well over $50/hour as a beginning welder, which translates to a six-figure annual income.  I think his debt at graduation was like $3000.  Compare that to many college grads who have $200,000 or more in debt and take jobs paying in the mid five figures.)  So falling college enrollment and an increasing gender imbalance have become the norm.

An academic disappearance in Xinjiang

Edward White

A car pulls up outside an apartment building in Ürümqi. An elderly woman, in her eighties and frail, emerges and is helped into the vehicle. She is driven to a prison on the outskirts of the western Chinese city. She is taken inside a room where she is shown, via a screen, her 57-year-old daughter, the Uyghur anthropologist Rahile Dawut. Days later the old woman relays the encounter to her granddaughter, Akeda Paluti. “Your mother is doing well,” she says. “Try not to worry.” 

Rahile’s life was devoted to the preservation of cultural diversity across the vast Xinjiang region, nearly three times the size of France and covering about one-sixth of modern China. For centuries, ancient Silk Roads wove past its mountain ranges, lakes, deserts and valleys. Today, officially called the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, it shares borders with Russia and Mongolia; Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan; and Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Rahile insisted on conducting gruelling fieldwork. She regularly travelled hundreds of kilometres from the capital Ürümqi to isolated villages to research the local Mazar — the shrines and tombs, sometimes attached to mosques, where saints have been buried or where miracles happened — as well as the farmers and craftsmen to understand the traditions etched into their daily lives. She recorded the oral histories that local leaders had for centuries offered to pilgrims; their poetry, music, folkways and other traditions.

Civics: 6 quotes from today’s oral argument in Trump v. United States.

Ann Althouse:

1. Trump’s lawyer, D. John Sauer, encourages the Court to see far beyond Trump to the true horror of criminally prosecuting ex-Presidents:

The implications of the Court’s decision here extend far beyond the facts of this case. Could President George W. Bush have been sent to prison for… allegedly lying to Congress to induce war in Iraq? Could President Obama be charged with murder for killing U.S. citizens abroad by drone strike? Could President Biden someday be charged with unlawfully inducing immigrants to enter the country illegally for his border policies?

2. In a similar vein, from Justice Alito:

So what about President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s decision to intern Japanese Americans during World War II? Couldn’t that have been charged under 18 U.S.C. 241, conspiracy against civil rights?

3. Justice Gorsuch makes a brilliant suggestion. If Presidents didn’t have immunity from prosecution, they could give themselves the equivalent by pardoning themselves on the way out. And note the reminder that Obama could be on the hook for those drone strike murders:

Fewer babies were born in the U.S. in 2023 than any year since 1979

By Jennifer Calfas and Anthony DeBarros

About 3.59 million children were born in the U.S. in 2023, a 2% drop compared with 3.66 million in 2022. Photo: LM Otero/Associated Press

American women are giving birth at record-low rates. 

The total fertility rate fell to 1.62 births per woman in 2023, a 2% decline from a year earlier, federal data released Thursday showed. It is the lowest rate recorded since the government began tracking it in the 1930s.

When Facebook bans the news

Matt Pearce:

If you’re Meta’s president of global affairs Nick Clegg or a libertarian, you might be looking at this and thinking: “It seems like news publishers need Meta more than Meta needs news publishers. We banned journalism from our services and our users didn’t even abandon us! It’s time for Justin Trudeau to drop this law, which is based on a fundamentally flawed premise” yadda yadda.

I wrote the preceding paragraph before looking up what Meta actually said in response to this study; let’s see how I did.

The Beautiful Dissociation of the Japanese Language

Marco Giancott:

Chinese and Japanese are enormously different spoken languages. Except for a large number of words imported directly into Japanese (but evolved to sound quite unlike the originals), the two languages have essentially nothing in common. The pronunciation, the grammar, everything is 180° different. A consequence of this is that those Chinese characters, evolved over millennia to fit the Chinese language like a glove, were a bad match for the way the islanders spoke.

Imagine those poor scholars of the Yamato court in Western Japan in the 7th century. They must have been intrigued by this revolutionary technology called “writing”, where you could freeze your words onto a stone or the blade of a sword so that others may understand it later. Why leave it to the Chinese immigrants? Why not master it for their own native language?

Except it must have been excruciatingly difficult. The characters were meant to be used as modular building blocks—a kind of modularity that Japanese just didn’t have.

First Religious Charter School Sparks Legal, Philosophical Battles

Matt Barnum:

A legal battle over a proposed charter school in Oklahoma could unlock a new avenue for religious education—and some of the fiercest opposition is coming from within the existing charter-school movement.

State laws have long barred such schools. Supporters, including conservative lawyers and religious-education advocates, call those laws discriminatory and say they run afoul of recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings. Some observers expect the issue to eventually reach the high court.

If the effort to allow religious charters is successful, it could open up school options for some parents, redirect public money to support religious instruction and upend the charter-school movement and publicly funded education more broadly.

Some charter advocates are wary of this future. They say that charters were always intended to be secular, public schools. A religious charter school, they say, is a contradiction in terms.

“It’s a complete repudiation of the central principles of the chartering idea,” said Joe Nathan, who was a leader in the successful effort to pass the country’s first charter-school law in Minnesota in 1991.

Could helicopter parenting and a decline in ‘free play’ be causing the youth mental health crisis?

Adam Piore:

When Peter Gray remarried and became a stepfather to two small children in the early aughts, he made a discovery that surprised him. Most children were no longer allowed to play outdoors on their own.

The Boston College evolutionary biologist soon noticed other changes that highlighted just how much childhood had transformed since his first son, Scott, graduated from high school in the late 1980s. Once they entered elementary school, his stepchildren spent more time in the classroom and on homework at younger ages. Their after-school hours were overscheduled with adult-supervised sports and activities.

Even before smartphones ushered in the age of the modern “screenager,” it seemed to him, unstructured play time — a staple of most childhoods since the dawn of humanity — had almost completely disappeared.

Why Plagiarism Matters

Jon Murphy:

Over the past few years, numerous plagiarism scandals have rocked the world of higher education. Prominent public intellectuals and university scholars have been caught improperly citing passages or even straight-up wholesale copying from other scholars’ works in their academic writing. The most high-profile of these scandals involved Claudine Gay, the former president of Harvard University. She resigned her position under pressure due to her academic misconduct, which involved lifting quotes from other authors and not attributing other writers’ work.

Many of Claudine Gay’s supporters were quick to minimize her actions. For example, D. Stephen Voss, associate professor of political science at the University of Kentucky (and one of the people Gay plagiarized), dismissed her actions as “no big deal.” It’s a fairly common practice, and she only borrowed a few words, Voss argued. If Gay’s behavior is no big deal and (as the series of scandals shows) is indeed a fairly common occurrence in higher education, why waste so much digital ink discussing it?

Colleges need to uphold moral standards, including respect for the property of others.The problem is that “borrowing” the words written by others and passing them off as your own is dishonest. It’s intellectual theft. Colleges and universities need to uphold and exemplify moral standards, including respect for the property of others. Plagiarism cannot be allowed any more than more tactile forms of stealing.

I contend that Gay’s behavior is a big deal. In fact, Harvard University itself seems to think so. The university’s own guide to freshman students on plagiarism states: “When you fail to cite your sources, or when you cite them inadequately, you are plagiarizing, which is taken extremely seriously at Harvard.” Voss’s statements aside, Gay’s mistake is an important failing and must be treated that way. Why? Because the rule of law matters.

Slavery Reparations in California?

Wall Street Journal:

Bad ideas never die. They go to California in the hope they’ll eventually become law, and the latest is reparations for slavery. The California Senate’s Judiciary Committee voted 8 to 1 this month to create the California American Freedmen Affairs Agency. This would be an agency to implement recommendations from the state’s task force on reparations. It would establish a Genealogy Office to determine who would be eligible for a reparations windfall.

College students should study more

Matthew Yglesias:

Among last year’s cavalcade of Big Ideas movies, Alexander Payne’s quiet period dramedy “The Holdovers” was, I think, considered somewhat slight, despite being well-regarded. But although it lacked any literal nuclear explosions or dramatic political speeches, the film wrestled with one of the major social themes of our times: a kind of structural transformation in the value proposition of elite education that I think about whenever I see a new campus controversy. 

This is not so much the plot of the movie (no spoilers here) as the backdrop to it. Paul Giamatti plays Paul Hunham, a teacher at the fictional Barton Academy in the 1970s. Barton is an elite boys’ boarding school, but even though the students are mostly very rich, the accommodations are not particularly nice. 

Part of the ethic of this kind of school is that students live under rather spartan conditions, away from the comforts of their parents’ posh lifestyles. And Hunham, who teaches ancient history, is a particularly strict old-school teacher. He maintains high standards for discipline and for learning. He assigns a lot of reading, expects his students to do it, and gives them bad grades if they don’t. He expects students who receive bad grades to suffer consequences. In his understanding of himself and his job, this is the role of an elite educational institution: Wealthy parents hire Barton to put their kids through the paces, because they think that this will be good for the students in the longer term. The school is providing a service, and part of the service they are providing is harshness.

The legal challenge to censorship by proxy highlights covert government manipulation of online speech.

Jacob Sullum:

Last month, I noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had repeatedly exaggerated the scientific evidence supporting face mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook attached a warning to that column, which it said was “missing context” and “could mislead people.”

According to an alliance of social media platforms, government-funded organizations, and federal officials that journalist Michael Shellenberger calls the “censorship-industrial complex,” I had committed the offense of “malinformation.” Unlike “disinformation,” which is intentionally misleading, or “misinformation,” which is erroneous, “malinformation” is true but inconvenient.

Kids Are Giving Up on Elite Colleges—and Heading South

Eric Spatznagel:

The recent wave of violent protests and arrests at elite universities like Yaleand Columbia have only confirmed for Scott Katz that he made the right decision to attend Elon University. The North Carolina college, where he is currently wrapping up his sophomore year, is a long way from his hometown of Lafayette Hill, the predominantly liberal Philadelphia suburb where the average home costs $610,000.

Katz, who is Jewish, says the antisemitism that’s increasingly visible at colleges nationwide—especially in the Ivy League, and other elite institutions like Stanford and Berkeley—hasn’t even touched his campus.

“I haven’t been affected by it at all,” Katz told me. “I definitely feel very safe on campus regarding my religion.” 

He notes that Elon was one of only two universities in the country to get an A grade from the Anti-Defamation League for its policies protecting Jewish students against hate. (The other is Brandeis.) According to the ADL ranking, Elon has seen zero “severe antisemitic and anti-Zionist incidents” and zero “hostile anti-Zionist student groups.”

“It was a big deal,” Katz says of the level of comfort he feels on campus.

Just a few years ago, in the fall of 2022, Katz was nervous about his college decision. His mom had grown up in South Carolina but fled the South at 18, disturbed by the racism and antisemitism in her local community, vowing never to return.

UW attributes voting issue to miscommunication, ‘technology error’

By Becky Jacobs

Miscommunication and “a technology error” led to a polling place issue earlier this month that created a brief controversy over extending voting hours at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a campus spokesperson said.

Neither the university nor city officials expect such a problem to occur in future elections, they said.

“This was a very weird situation,” said Madison Ald. MGR Govindarajan, who represents a campus-area district on the City Council. “It’s not something that’s happened before,” he said, and it’s unlikely to happen again. 

Some voters were turned away April 2 at one of the largest campus gathering spaces. The city clerk then successfully filed a petition with the Dane County Circuit Court to extend voting hours by an hour and a half in Madison Wards 60 and 134.

About half of Americans say public K-12 education is going in the wrong direction

Rachel Minkin:

About half of U.S. adults (51%) say the country’s public K-12 education system is generally going in the wrong direction. A far smaller share (16%) say it’s going in the right direction, and about a third (32%) are not sure, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in November 2023.

A majority of those who say it’s headed in the wrong direction say a major reason is that schools are not spending enough time on core academic subjects.

These findings come amid debates about what is taught in schools, as well as concerns about school budget cuts and students falling behind academically.

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say the public K-12 education system is going in the wrong direction. About two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (65%) say this, compared with 40% of Democrats and Democratic leaners. In turn, 23% of Democrats and 10% of Republicans say it’s headed in the right direction.

Among Republicans, conservatives are the most likely to say public education is headed in the wrong direction: 75% say this, compared with 52% of moderate or liberal Republicans. There are no significant differences among Democrats by ideology.

No One Can Own the Law—So Why Is Congress Advancing a Bill to Extend Copyright to It?

Katherine Klosek:

This week, the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted to advance the Protecting and Enhancing Public Access to Codes Act, or the Pro Codes Act (H.R. 1631), to the full House. The bill would extend copyright protection to codes (such as building codes) that are developed by standards development organizations (SDOs) and incorporated by reference into local, state, and federal laws, as long as the SDOs make the codes “available to the public free of charge online in a manner that does not substantially disrupt the ability of those organizations to earn revenue.”

School districts are paying more money for teachers. Meanwhile, teachers are receiving less money as income.

Chad Adelman:

How is this possible?

The difference comes down to retirement costs and the large unfunded “pension debts” that states have accumulated, creating a massive disconnect between teachers’ total compensation and their actual paychecks. As policymakers attempt to raise teacher salaries, their efforts will fail unless they act to rectify the compensation-versus-salaries disconnect.

This problem matters for school leaders and state policymakers because it means they’re buying less teacher labor for every dollar they invest — and that efforts to raise teacher salaries will fail or be far less successful than state and federal leaders are proposing.

It matters to teachers, who feel it in the form of reduced paychecks. Teachers struggle to buy food, pay their mortgage, or send their child to day care using compensation from pension debt payments.

And it matters to students because so many of the dollars being invested in their education aren’t making it into classrooms. While per-pupil expenditures have risen substantially over time, much of that new investment ends up paying for the pension debts accumulated in the past.

Identifying causation isn’t the same as doing policy analysis

Matthew Yglesias:

A few weeks ago, for example, I found myself in an argument with a think tanker about why school absenteeism exploded during the Covid-19 pandemic. My antagonist was saying that this was part of the downside of prolonged school closures. I argued that if you look at the numbers, absenteeism soared by almost as much in the places that kept schools open — a nine percent increase in the districts with the most in-person schooling versus a 12 percent increase in the districts with the least. That three percentage point gap isn’t nothing, but it’s smaller than the gap between the poorest and the richest districts and the whitest and the least-white districts. What’s more, we know that poorer and less white districts had less in-person schooling. So it seems to me that:

  • Absenteeism rose sharply even in districts that didn’t close for the pandemic.
  • There was a larger rise in the districts that closed longer, but this is accounted for by the differential demographics. 
  • Therefore, closures per se did not have a significant causal impact on absenteeism.

Note that I say this as someone who was against school closures all along and would be happy to claim vindication on this point. I just truly don’t think they have a lot of explanatory power on the absenteeism point.

“Generative ai” and the media

Andrew Deck

If you scroll down to the end of almost any article on Newsweek.com right now — past the headline, the article copy, several programmatic ads, and the author bio — you’ll find a short note. “To read how Newsweek uses AI, click here,” reads the text box. The link leads to Newsweek’s editorial standards page, where several paragraphs now outline how generative AI tools are being folded into the publication’s editorial process.

The disclosure is just one signal of a larger experiment with AI-assisted editorial work happening right now at the 90-year-old brand.

Newsweek first announced changes to its AI policy in September 2023, just as heated debates over early AI adoption in journalism began to boil over. Sports Illustrated and Gizmodo were among several publications criticized late last year for their shoddy use of generative AI tools to write articles. Publications, like Wired, responded by largely denouncing tools like ChatGPT in editorial work, promising to never publish text written or edited by AI.

Newsweek, meanwhile, has joined competitors like Business Insider in taking a relatively bullish view on the technology. “Newsweek believes that AI tools can help journalists work faster, smarter and more creatively,” reads the updated standards page. “We firmly believe that soon all journalists will be working with AI in some form and we want our newsroom to embrace these technologies as quickly as is possible in an ethical way.”

The mystery of “infantile amnesia” suggests memory works differently in the developing brain

Sara Reardon:

You might think you remember taking a trip to Disneyland when you were 18 months old, or that time you had chickenpox when you were 2—but you almost certainly don’t. However real they may seem, your earliest treasured memories were probably implanted by seeing photos or hearing your parents’ stories about waiting in line for the spinning teacups. Recalling those manufactured memories again and again consolidated them in your brain, making them as vivid as your last summer vacation.

People generally remember nothing from before age 3, and children’s memory abilities don’t fully mature until about age 7. “It’s a paradox in a sense,” says neuroscientist Flavio Donato of the University of Basel. “In the moment that the brain is learning at a rate it will never show again during the whole lifetime, those memories seem not to stick in the brain.”

For many years, researchers assumed babies’ brains are simply not mature enough to form lasting memories. Theories have abounded as to whether this is a biological immaturity or something more psychological, such as a lack of a sense of oneself as an individual or the ability to use language. Sigmund Freud, however, believed infants do form memories, but the brain suppresses them so we forget the psychosexual experience of birth. He called the process “infantile amnesia.”

Civics: Senator Tammy Baldwin on Warrantless Donestic Surveillance

From Tammy Baldwin’s office, via email. source

Thank you for contacting me about the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It is good to hear from you.

On April 19, 2024, Congress voted to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Keeping our families safe should not come at the expense of Americans’ fundamental right to privacy. From the PATRIOT Act to the creation https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/of the FISA Section 702 program, I’ve consistently opposed measures that would give the government free reign to spy on innocent, law-abiding Americans. On April 19, 2024, I stood firm with colleagues from both parties and I voted against reauthorizing FISA to prevent the warrantless surveillance of American citizens.

I cosponsored bipartisan legislation that takes a better approach to reauthorize and reform important intelligence programs to ensure we have the tools we need to fight terrorism, while also protecting the constitutional rights guaranteed to every American. Protecting Americans against our adversaries and protecting the privacy of law-abiding citizens are not mutually exclusive goals, and I remain committed to protecting both.

Additionally, I am deeply troubled by previous revelations regarding the unacceptable domestic electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies. As someone who voted against the original USA PATRIOT Act (P.L.107-56) because of its clear potential for government overreach, I believe Congress needs to take action to rein in activities that clearly violate Americans’ civil liberties. Indeed, laws like the USA PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendments Act (P.L.112-238), which I also opposed, permit the government to conduct mass, untargeted surveillance of communications entering and exiting the United States, without any individualized review, without any finding of wrongdoing and without serious court oversight.

In 2020, the Senate passed its reauthorization of the USA FREEDOM Act. I opposed the passage of this bill because it did not go far enough to reform government authorities and protect Americans’ privacy. I was particularly disappointed that the Senate rejected an amendment I cosponsored that would have prohibited the government from using Section 215 to obtain U.S. individuals’ internet search and browsing history.

I had hoped that the Senate would instead adopt more of the FISA reforms included in the Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act, of which I was a cosponsor. This bill would have put a permanent end to the NSA’s call data records program and removed all authority for the collection of phone records without a warrant. It also would have reformed the FISA court process and created new public reporting requirements for any information collected under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

I appreciate knowing your views on the reauthorization of Section 702 of FISA. Please be assured that I will continue to fight to protect the privacy and freedoms of law-abiding Americans.

Once again, thank you for contacting my office. It is important for me to hear from the people of Wisconsin on the issues, thoughts and concerns that matter most to you. If I can be of further assistance, please visit my website at www.baldwin.senate.gov for information on how to contact my office. Sincerely,

Tammy Baldwin
United States Senator

Traction for the Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree

Doug Lederman:

The stagnation and disinclination to experiment that many critics believe is rife in higher education may loom over some gatherings of campus leaders. The College-in-3 event here this week wasn’t among them.

Several dozen college administrators, faculty leaders, accreditors and others gathered at Merrimack College to share progress reports on, and commiserate about, common roadblocks in their efforts to create three-year bachelor’s degrees.

The gathering was organized by the College-in-3 Exchange, which has been working for several years to encourage institutions to design and build academic programs that deliver faster, less expensive, and—ideally—better degree programs for learners. Most of the institutions in the fledgling consortium, striving to redesign their way to a more secure future, would do so by reducing the number of academic credits they require from the typical 120 to as low as 90.

Progress has been slow, despite the missionary zeal of its chief advocates, Bob Zemsky, one of America’s best-known scholars and analysts of higher education, and Lori J. Carrell, chancellor of the University of Minnesota Rochester. By the time of last spring’s gathering at Georgetown University, not a single one of the then-12 pilot programs had been approved by their accreditors and states to begin operating.

Phones & Reading

By Jay Caspian Kang:

For the past five years or so, I’ve read books on my phone. The practice started innocently enough. I write book reviews from time to time, and so publishers sometimes send me upcoming titles that fall roughly within my interests. When a publisher provided a choice between a PDF of a book and a physical copy, I would usually ask for the PDF, because I didn’t want my house to fill up with books that I might end up not reading. But what was at first a matter of clutter-free convenience became a habit, and now I encounter nearly every written work, regardless of its length, quality, and difficulty, on the small screen of my iPhone.

I use a variety of e-reading apps: Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, Libby. The last three books I downloaded onto the Apple Books app are Rachel Cusk’s novel “Second Place”; Malcolm Lowry’s 1947 classic “Under the Volcano,” which I bought because I wanted to see if I would enjoy it more than I did when read it twenty years ago; and Gary Indiana’s essay collection “Fire Season.” According to the little readout beneath the cover image for each book, I am nine per cent through the Cusk, a distressing three per cent through the Lowry reread, and a hundred per cent through the Indiana, a book I found liberating, both for its style and for its freeing expression of unpleasant thoughts.

The e-reading apps have their merits. At times, they become respites from the other, more addictive apps on my phone. Switching to a book from, say, Twitter, is like the phone-scroller’s version of a nice hike—the senses reorient themselves, and you feel more alert and vigorous, because you’ve spent six to eight minutes going from seven to eleven per cent of Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon.” Or you might feel a sense of pride because you’ve reached the sixty-per-cent mark in Elton John’s autobiography, “Me,” which isn’t a great work of literature but at least is better than Twitter. The book apps also seem to work as a stopgap for children, who are always lusting after screen time of any sort. My seven-year-old daughter has read hundreds of books on the Libby app, which lets you check out e-books from public libraries you belong to. As a parent, I find this wildly preferable to hearing the din of yet another stupid YouTube short or “Is it Cake?” episode coming through her iPad’s speakers.

The Seattle Public Library Is Reducing Our Maximum Digital Holds


Starting Tuesday, March 19, The Seattle Public Library is reducing the number of maximum holds allowed on e-books and e-audiobooks from 25 to 10.

Please note that if you have more than 10 holds on digital books at that time, you won’t lose any of these holds. You just won’t be able to place new holds until you’re within the new limit. Also, the limit for digital borrowing has not changed – you can still borrow up to 25 digital books at a time.

While the vast majority of our patrons won’t be affected by this change, we want to explain why the Library needed to reduce the holds limit to manage spending and meet increasing patron interest in digital books. In the Q&A below, we also share some tips for alternative tools you can use for tracking books you want to read and making the most of your Library account.

“We somehow stopped the meritocracy,”

Stephen Foley and Simon Foy:

“We somehow stopped the meritocracy,” said one former McKinsey partner who remains close to the firm. “We stopped pushing people to leave and had an enormous overhang of people. When that happens the numbers just get staggeringly bad. Don’t we advise companies on this?”

The sharp decline in attrition is a phenomenon across professional services firms and around the world, compounding the effect of a slowdown from the post-pandemic boom in advisory work on digital services and mergers and acquisitions.

Deloitte publishes a staff turnover figure in its annual report, which last year showed departures at their lowest level in a decade both globally and in the Americas. KPMG noted “capacity issues created by ongoing and historically low attrition” when it cut jobs in its US audit business in March. Bain also cited lower attrition when offering some consultants in London redundancy with six months’ pay, partly paid temporary leave, or an option to relocate to one of the firm’s offices abroad.

If You Give a College Student a Cookie . 

Allysia Finley:

How did our world, culture and politics become such a mess? A simple explanation can be found in the best-selling children’s picture-book series “If You Give . . .” by Laura Joffe Numeroff. In each story, indulging a creature’s unreasonable requests—be it for a cookie, muffin or pancake—stimulates an appetite for more. So it goes in real life:

• If college students ask for safe spaces, you might give affinity groups their own centers. Then they’ll want to feel safe in classrooms and will ask for trigger warnings to protect them from ideas they don’t like. When you agree that certain ideas can be dangerous, students will occupy buildings and demand that speakers be canceled.

When you apologize and disinvite speakers, students ask you to excuse tardy and incomplete assignments because they were busy protesting. When you give them an A for no effort, they will graduate with honors and think they don’t have to work hard to succeed.

Then, when you give them a job, they’ll ask to work only 30 hours a week. If you say yes, they’ll use their extra time to organize a union. If you recognize their union, they’ll ask for extra paid days off and eight weeks’ vacation.

Are Family and Faith Staging a Comeback?

James Freeman:

Few babies and sad, lonely adults may not seem like the ideal ingredients for a cultural revival. But some cheerful champions of marriage, family and faith are finding new cause for optimism. Their buoyancy comes from evidence that their ideas work and also a sense that cultural elites—having tried plenty of ideas that don’t—may finally be willing to consider practical solutions to society’s problems.

The American experiment is in trouble. Deaths of despair — due to suicide, drugs or alcohol poisoning — have surged in recent years. Reports of happiness have plunged. Millions think the American dream is out of reach. Polarization in Washington goes from worse to worse.
That’s the bad news.
Actually, the authors have more bad news for those of us hoping that American society will be growing and thriving long after we’re gone:

On the family front, America has just crossed a historic threshold where, of adults aged 18-55, there is now a greater share of single adults with no children than there are married adults with children.

DIE at the UCLA medical school

Luke Rosiak and Christopher F. Rufo:

Recent headlines about UCLA School of Medicine suggest that the institution has lost its focus. Instead of brushing up on organic chemistry, its students were subjected to lessons on “Indigenous womxn” and “two-spirits.” Future doctors had to take a class on “structural racism” and were led in a “Free Palestine” chant by a Hamas-praising guest speaker. The school made plans to segregate students by race for courses on left-wing ideology, and two of its psychiatry residents championed “revolutionary suicide.”

Why has the school charted this course? One reason is its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion ideology. UCLA has a DEI program called “Cultural North Star,” and at the medical school, it is led by Natalie J. Perry. Her official biography says her job is to “embed our aspirational Cultural North Stars [sic] value [sic] in our organizational DNA.” UCLA honored Perry last month for teaching students to “do what’s right,” saying her “empathy and radical listening” are to thank for her “success as an educator and a leader.”

According to a Daily Wire and City Journal investigation, however, Perry’s academic career is based on fraud. Perry has published a single paper, a 2014 Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Virginia about how colleges should create larger DEI programs. An analysis of the paper found it ridden with the worst sort of plagiarism, reproducing large swaths of text directly from several other authors, without citations. The scale of the plagiarism suggests that Perry lacks both ethics and competence and raises questions about academic programs that push DEI.

The income a family of 4 needs to live comfortably in every U.S. state

Mike Winters:

The most expensive state to raise a family of four isn’t New York, California or Hawaii — it’s Massachusetts, according to a recent SmartAsset study.

To live comfortably in Massachusetts, a family of two working adults and two kids would need to earn $301,184 annually.

“Comfortable” is defined as the income needed to cover a 50/30/20 budget for a family of four. The budget allocates 50% of your earnings for necessities such as housing and utility costs, 30% for discretionary spending and 20% for savings or investments.

SmartAsset extrapolated the income needed for a 50/30/20 budget based on the cost of necessities, using data from the MIT Living Wage Calculator.

Here’s a look at how much income a family of four needs to live comfortably in the five most-expensive states: 

Civics: Special Counsel Jack Smith Lacks Standing to Defend the D.C. Circuit’s ruling on Presidential Immunity in the Supreme Court

Steven Calabrisi

On Thursday, April 25th the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Trump v. United States. I have signed an amicus brief in this case, along with former Attorneys General Ed Meese, Michael Mukasey, and Professor Gary Lawson, and with Citizens United, arguing that Special Counsel Jack Smith was unconstitutionally appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.  Gene Schaerr filed the amicus brief, which grows out of a law review article that Gary Lawson and I published: Why Robert Mueller’s Appointment as Special Counsel was Unlawful, 95 Notre Dame. Law Review 87 (2019). We claim that because Jack Smith was unconstitutionally appointed, he therefore lacks standing to defend the order of the D.C. Circuit denying Donald Trump’s claim of inherent presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for acts taken while serving as President. Smith can no more defend the lower court order than can any random person picked off the street.

Cambridge in free-speech row over researcher’s ‘race realism’ blog

James Beal:

As police tried to shut down a Conservative conference in Brussels on Tuesday amid a row over free speech, one of those in attendance was already fighting against his cancellation a little closer to home.

Nathan Cofnas, an early-career research fellow at the University of Cambridge, travelled to Belgium for the event, where speakers included Nigel Farage and Suella Braverman. 

Cofnas posted a picture on social media of police lined up outside the venue. Responding to requests on Twitter/X to find out why police had swarmed the conference, he joked: “I’m in enough trouble in the UK — better not to get arrested in Belgium.”

How do you recognize an expert?

Daniel Lemire:

Go back to the roots: experience. An expert is someone who has repeatedly solved the concrete problem you are encountering. If your toilet leaks, an experienced plumber is an expert. An expert has a track record and has had to face the consequences of their work. Failing is part of what makes an expert: any expert should have stories about how things went wrong.

I associate the word expert with ‘the problem’ because we know that expertise does not transfer well: a plumber does not necessarily make a good electrician. And within plumbing, there are problems that only some plumbers should solve. Furthermore, you cannot abstract a problem: you can study fluid mechanics all you want, but it won’t turn you into an expert plumber.

That’s one reason why employers ask for relevant experience: they seek expertise they can rely on. It is sometimes difficult to acquire expertise in an academic or bureaucratic setting because the problems are distant or abstract. Your experience may not translate well into practice. Sadly we live in a society where we often lose track of and undervalue genuine expertise… thus you may take software programming classes from people who never built software or civil engineering classes from people who never worked on infrastructure projects.

We’ve lost the art of creating local infrastructure that allows young people to explore, play and lead healthier lives.

Timothy P. Carney

Congress, the White House and policy experts have started debating “family policy” in recent years, rattled by an epidemic of childhood anxiety and plummeting birthrates. Child-care subsidies, marriage penalties and maternity care all deserve attention, but one government action that would greatly help today’s parents is almost entirely local—and involves concrete, grass and some crosswalk paint. American cities and towns need to reorient infrastructure to make it easier for kids to walk and bike freely around their neighborhoods.

Children today are more car-dependent than in past generations, which makes childhood less healthy and less fun, and parenthood more exhausting. In 1969, more than four in 10 American schoolchildren walked or biked to school. The Transportation Department’s most recent National Household Travel Survey, in 2017, found that figure is down to only one in 10.

A look at the Madison K-12 Governance and Parent Climate

Chris Rickert:

Berg lives with his family on the Near West Side and sends his children to the Madison School District, which WILL sued in 2020 over its policy directing teachers to keep information about student gender-identity changes confidential — even from a student’s parents.

In fact, Berg was the lead attorney on the case, which ended after the plaintiffs left the district.

Do you have to be a conservative to work at WILL?

There’s not a litmus test when you’re hired, but given the kind of work we do I think it attracts certain people and doesn’t attract others and if you’re not aligned with our view on a lot of the things, you’re not going to want to work there.

What was it like to sue the school district your children attend?

It’s never been a problem. I think most teachers are there to teach and they want to teach math and writing and science and they love kids. We try to have conversations with teachers every year and just say, “Look, I know the district teaches a lot of this gender identity stuff. We don’t agree with all of it. We ask that you just let us know when you’re going to teach it so that we can review it and talk to our kids about it,” and most teachers have respected that. So we haven’t had a problem.

Have you taken your children out of gender-related instructional situations?

Yes sometimes, and that’s been fine. Part of it is we want our children to be able to navigate the world and it gives us an opportunity to talk through these issues and help them understand that there’s going to be some things that they hear that in our view are not true. In some ways it gives us an opportunity to teach them about discernment, about what’s true and what’s not.

Wausau man raises $26K to pay off students’ school lunch debts

Rob Mentzer:

A Wausau-area pastor raised $26,000 in less than a week to pay off students’ school lunch debts in two central Wisconsin school districts.

The Rev. Yauo Yang is an Iraq War veteran and the pastor for The Cross Church in Schofield. He launched a GoFundMe fundraiser on April 10 and publicized it with posts on social media. The goal was to raise $20,000, the amount needed to pay off lunch debts accumulated by students in the Wausau School District and neighboring D.C. Everest School District. 

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Yang, a parent of six kids in the district, said he knew from his own experience that sometimes his kids’ school lunch accounts can get low or go temporarily into the red.

“Thankfully, my wife and I are in a position where we can pay off their student lunch debt,” Yang said. “But … there are other families who truly do struggle with that.”

The fundraiser attracted 344 donors who gave a total of $26,514. While there were a handful of anonymous donors who gave $500 or $1,000, most of the donations were much less. Yang said he was “overjoyed” and impressed with the community’s generosity. 

Why should Americans who don’t go to college or who attend lower cost public universities be subsidizing high-cost private universities, their endowments, and their poisonous ideologies?

Bill Ackman:

Imagine that you and your family borrowed the $360k it costs for four years at @Columbia plus interest at today’s rates.

Regardless of your religious or ethnic background, is this what you signed up for?

Private university mismanagement also begs the question as to why private universities should have the benefit of a tax exemption.


1. Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015). This is equivalent to $120,000 in government monies, subsidies, & special tax treatment per undergraduate student, or $6.93 billion per year.

That extra money will go toward rising health care costs….

Becky Jacobs:

When in-state undergraduates start classes this fall, they’ll pay more to attend the Universities of Wisconsin. That extra money will go toward rising health care costs and pay increases for university employees and financial aid for students, among other things.

Earlier this month, the UW Board of Regentsapproved a 3.75% tuition rate increase for the second consecutive year after a decade-long tuition freeze.

Out-of-state undergraduate students will also pay more, as will most graduate students.

The latest 3.75% hike is necessary to maintain the system’s bottom line and keep up with inflation, according to President Jay Rothman.

Before the board unanimously approved the increase on April 4, Sean Nelson, vice president for finance and administration, explained how the Universities of Wisconsin determined a “reasonable tuition rate,” and the ways that money will be used.

Here’s what Nelson presented to the Regents.

India’s Broken Education System Threatens Its Superpower Dreams

Megha Mandavia:

India’s young people need jobs, but relatively few get training to work on a production line; the Renault Nissan automotive plant in Chennai. Photo: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg News

India kicked off the world’s biggest election in human history on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is favored, but whoever wins has a big challenge ahead: India urgently needs jobs for its millions of young people, but its education system often produces the wrong kind of graduates.

If that can’t be remedied, India’s ambition to become a second “world’s factory floor” to rival China could unravel before it properly begins.

Study: Alphabetical order of surnames may affect grading

By Jeff Karoub

Knowing your ABCs is essential to academic success, but having a last name starting with A, B or C might also help make the grade.

An analysis by University of Michigan researchers of more than 30 million grading records from U-M finds students with alphabetically lower-ranked names receive lower grades. This is due to sequential grading biases and the default order of students’ submissions in Canvas — the most widely used online learning management system — which is based on alphabetical rank of their surnames.

What’s more, the researchers found, those alphabetically disadvantaged students receive comments that are notably more negative and less polite, and exhibit lower grading quality measured by post-grade complaints from students.

“We spend a lot of time thinking about how to make the grading fair and accurate but even for me it was really surprising,” said Jun Li, associate professor of technology and operations at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. “It didn’t occur to us until we looked at the data and realized that sequence makes a difference.”

Li co-authored the study with doctoral students Jiaxin Pei from the School of Information and Helen (Zhihan) Wang from Ross. It is under review by the journal Management Science.

Civics: Equal Protection Project Opposes Proposed DEI Amendment to the NY State Constitution

William Jacobson:

The non-profit Equal Protection Project (EqualProtect.org) is devoted to opposing racism and racial discrimination in all forms. EqualProtect.org believes there is no ‘good’ form of racism, and the remedy for racism never is more racism. EqualProtect.org has undertaken dozens of legal actions seeking to uphold the principle of equal protection of the laws.

EqualProtect.org opposes the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the New York State Constitution because it would embed reverse-discrimination and tenets of Critical Race Theory and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into the NY State Constitution, damaging preexisting antidiscrimination efforts by creating a legal loophole based on the motivation for discrimination.

The NY Equal Rights Amendment currently scheduled to be on the ballot in November 2024 (subject to a pending court procedural challenge), consists of two distinct provisions amending Section 11, Article 1 of the NY State Constitution (Senate Bill S51002, capitalized text are changes from prior law, bold emphasis added):

Understanding math reform ideology with Tom Loveless 

Chalk & Talk:

In this episode, math professor Anna Stokke is joined by education policy expert, Dr. Tom Loveless.

They discuss the National Math Advisory Panel and some of the recommendations in from its final report.

They talk about the influential 1989 NCTM standards and their global impact on math education as well as the history of the math wars. Tom discusses some of his concerns about the California Math Framework and whether its recommendations are aligned with those in the National Math Advisory Panel report.

They cover many other topics such as San Francisco’s unsuccessful de-tracking initiative and the importance of memorizing math facts.

This episode is a must listen for anyone who teaches math, as well as parents and policymakers. PREVIOUS EPISODES MENTIONED Red flags in education research with Ben Solomon (Ep 23) Modern relevance in the math curriculum with Brian Conrad (Ep 15)

Civics: Senate votes on Warrantless Surveillance: Paul Amdt No. 1828 

Roll Call Vote 118th Congress – 2nd Session XML Vote Summary

Statement of Purpose: To prohibit the use of authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to surveil United States persons, to prohibit queries under such Act using search terms associated with United States persons, and to prohibit the use of information acquired under such Act in any criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding or as part of any criminal, civil, or administrative investigation.


Grouped By Vote Position 

YEAs —11

Braun (R-IN)
Daines (R-MT)
Hawley (R-MO)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kennedy (R-LA)
Lee (R-UT)
Lummis (R-WY)
Marshall (R-KS)
Paul (R-KY)
Scott (R-FL)
Tuberville (R-AL)

NAYs —81

Baldwin (D-WI)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Booker (D-NJ)
Boozman (R-AR)
Britt (R-AL)
Brown (D-OH)
Budd (R-NC)
Butler (D-CA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Cassidy (R-LA)
Collins (R-ME)
Coons (D-DE)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cotton (R-AR)
Cramer (R-ND)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Duckworth (D-IL)
Durbin (D-IL)
Ernst (R-IA)
Fetterman (D-PA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hassan (D-NH)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
Kaine (D-VA)
Kelly (D-AZ)
King (I-ME)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lankford (R-OK)
Lujan (D-NM)
Markey (D-MA)
McConnell (R-KY)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Moran (R-KS)
Mullin (R-OK)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Ossoff (D-GA)
Padilla (D-CA)
Peters (D-MI)
Reed (D-RI)
Ricketts (R-NE)
Risch (R-ID)
Romney (R-UT)
Rosen (D-NV)
Rounds (R-SD)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Scott (R-SC)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Sinema (I-AZ)
Smith (D-MN)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Sullivan (R-AK)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Tillis (R-NC)
Van Hollen (D-MD)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Welch (D-VT)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wyden (D-OR)
Young (R-IN)

Not Voting – 8

Blackburn (R-TN)
Capito (R-WV)
Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Hagerty (R-TN)
Manchin (D-WV)
Schmitt (R-MO)
Vance (R-OH)
Warnock (D-GA)

Why a Housing Shortage Exists Despite More Houses Per Person

by  Alex Tabarrok

The real explanation for rising prices amid greater homes per capita is actually quite simple, fewer kids. Kevin Erdmann has an excellent post on this going through the numbers in detail. I will illustrate with a stylized example.

Suppose we have 100 homes and 100 families, each with 2 parents and 2 kids. Thus, there are 100 homes, 400 people and 0.25 homes per capita.  Now the kids grow up, get married, and want homes of their own but they have fewer kids of their own, none for simplicity. Imagine that supply increases substantially, say to 150 homes. The number of homes per capita goes up to 150/400 (.375), an all time high! Supply-side skeptics are right about the numbers, wrong about the meaning. The reality is that the demand for homes has increased to 200 but supply has increased to just 150 leading to soaring prices.

Mounting the defence for a knowledge-rich curriculum

Josh Valence;

The second reason I wrote the series was because I felt, like many others, as though engagement in rigorous, subject-specific curriculum design was the lifeblood of school improvement. I felt this was particularly evident in disadvantaged contexts, where some children arrived at school with limited vocabulary and comparatively profound gaps in their knowledge. My hope was that I might contribute in some small way to the development of curricula across schools where it was sorely needed.

Running throughout the series was the idea that knowledge was powerful. Indeed, the second post looked solely at the notion of a knowledge-rich curriculum. And while I stopped short at offering a definition, I posited that a “knowledge-rich curriculum is one in which knowledge is given primacy, and is sequenced and taught in a manner that allows for this knowledge to be retained and built upon.” In short, one where knowing stuff is privileged. One where knowledge is an end in itself.

Civics: “found that fact-checking organisations, including the Global Disinformation Index, were labelling political opinions, particularly those on the Right, as disinformation”

Archie Earle:

UnHerd was targeted by the GDI, which said that a place on its “dynamic exclusion list” of publications was merited due to the site having “anti-LGBTQI+ narratives” and being “anti-trans”, equating widely-held views on gender to disinformation.

Kathleen Stock, an UnHerd columnist highly commended at last night’s Press Awards, was labelled a “prominent gender-critical feminist” by the GDI and used as an example of disinformation.

Despite his criticism of the GDI, it was reported in 2023 by the Washington Examiner that Musk had partnered with the companies affiliated with the index to tackle disinformation on X.

The site has been widely praised for the success of the flagship “Community Notes” feature, which allows users to rate the accuracy of posts on the platform and combat disinformation internally, leading to notes on politicians as well as high-level organisations.

Calculus Made Easy


Some calculus-tricks are quite easy. Some are enormously difficult. The fools who write the textbooks of advanced mathematics — and they are mostly clever fools — seldom take the trouble to show you how easy the easy calculations are. On the contrary, they seem to desire to impress you with their tremendous cleverness by going about it in the most difficult way.

Being myself a remarkably stupid fellow, I have had to unteach myself the difficulties, and now beg to present to my fellow fools the parts that are not hard. Master these thoroughly, and the rest will follow. What one fool can do, another can.

Tantrums and Turf Wars: The School Car Line Is Chaos

Scott Calvert:

The bumper-to-bumper jockeying at school drop-off and pickup is lurching past annoyance en route to true-crime drama.

“DO NOT cut the line. DO NOT drive on the gravel path near the water tower,” Principal Michael Girouard told Red Oak Middle School parents in Battleboro, N.C., in a scolding missive. “If you find yourself running late, get up earlier.”

Jordyn Hon of Plant City, Fla., fed up with people driving through neighbors’ yards to jump the line before and after school, posted a map on
with hand-drawn arrows showing the proper protocol at Springhead Elementary School.

“There’s two different blocks you can take to simply act like a decent human being,” Hon wrote. Her post drew a stream of huzzahs, including one woman’s observation that “there isn’t a worse car line than Springhead and that’s a hill I’ll die on.”

Parents have long dreaded the nerve-fraying navigation required for car caravans ferrying students to and fro. It seems to be getting worse. New federal data show a rising share of students who ride in cars to school. It isn’t clear whether the growth comes from bus-driver shortages, more work-from-home parents or other reasons.

MPS board member Aisha Carr’s phone location data obtained in misconduct investigationCivics:

Rory Linnane

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office obtained cellphone GPS records of Milwaukee School Board member Aisha Carr earlier this year as part of an investigation into whether she lied about living in the district she represents, according to a recently unsealed search warrant.

The district attorney’s office didn’t answer questions from the Journal Sentinel Friday about whether its investigation into the potential misconduct was still ongoing. Circuit court records do not show any misconduct charges filed against Carr.

Carr told the Journal Sentinel Friday that there “is no investigation” about her residency.

“I have and continue to reside in my district,” Carr said in a text message.

According to records attached to the warrant, the district attorney’s office was investigating Carr for possible violations of state law governing the conduct of public officials. It cited state statute 946.12 (4), which makes it a Class I felony for public officials to intentionally falsify records. It carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and two years of extended supervision.

In asking for the warrant, an investigator for the district attorney’s office said Carr had “filed numerous documents” with MPS listing an address he believed would be shown to be false.

Last year, a school board member in the Hartland-Lakeside School District who was accused of using his father’s address on his campaign forms was charged with misdemeanor counts of election fraud. He was sentenced to 30 days at Waukesha County’s Huber Facility.


Meanwhile, warrantless surveillance continuesand.

Notes on uncontested school board elections

David Blaska:

Those days dwindled in Dane County a good 30 years ago. In tandem with the teachers union and unionized labor, the Dane County Democrat(ic) Party has been muscling into office progressive candidates who, among other achievements, defunded school resource police officers and dumbed down honors classes.

In the last contested Madison school board election, the Democrat(ic) Party endorsed one Blair Mosner Feltham, who proclaimed “Our schools are products of white supremacy.” The Wisconsin State Journal also endorsed the Woke candidate, even after one of its education beat reporters proclaimed that critical race theory “isn’t taught in any of Wisconsin’s K-12 schools.” Yet, District officials acknowledgethat the NY Times’ 1619 Project is taught in Madison classrooms.

Endorsing Ms. MF over a working immigrant father, The State Journalquoted a UW-Oshkosh professorwho maintained that Issues like Covid lockdowns, critical race theory, and classroom chaos are “pretty disconnected from the reality of being a school board member.” Maybe that was the problem. 

 Inconvenient headline: “Democrats spend [$230,000] on Wisconsin school board races, overtaking Republicans” (Read & Weep!)


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?

Civics: “Thanks to Doug Dern for keeping the Natural Law fire burning, lending a hand to Bobby, and throwing a monkey wrench into the 2-party system”

Ann Althouse:

“For 22 years, [Doug] Dern, a bankruptcy lawyer with a small practice outside Detroit, has almost single-handedly kept the Natural Law Party on Michigan’s ballot.”Each cycle, the party runs a handful of candidates in obscure state races to meet Michigan’s minimum polling requirements for minor parties. ‘Keep that ballot access,’ Mr. Dern, 62, said in an interview on Friday. ‘Because someday, a candidate is going to come along who’s going to be perfect for it. Someday, the third parties are going to be hot.’… “

Wrong couple divorced after computer error by law firm Vardag’s


A couple were divorced by mistake after a computer error at a family law firm. 

A staff member at Vardag’s accidentally opened the file of a couple referred to in court papers as Mr and Mrs Williams, when trying to apply for a final divorce order for a different client.

Vardag’s applied three days later to rescind the order but judge Sir Andrew McFarlane dismissed the application. 

The firm’s head Ayesha Vardag said the judge’s decision effectively meant “the computer says no, you’re divorced”. 

Court papers say that Mrs Williams applied for divorce in January 2023 following 21 years of marriage. 

The mistake was made by solicitors acting for Mrs Williams on 3 October last year on an online divorce portal operated by HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

Fight over admission to Boston’s exam schools heads to US Supreme Court

By James Vaznis

A group of white and Asian-American parents in Boston are taking their fight over admission to the city’s exam schools to the US Supreme Court, arguing that efforts to diversify enrollment is resulting in discrimination against Asian-American and white applicants.

“Wherever competitive admission K-12 schools exist, it seems that policymakers have targeted them for their racial makeup,“ according to a petition filed by the Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence seeking a court review. “And in every one of these circumstances, Asian Americans have been singled out for unfavorable treatment.”

Notes on transferring $tudent loans

Nellie Bowles

Sorry, I mean “forgiving student debt.” Biden this week paid off another $7.4 billion in student loans, making his total student loan cancellation something like $153 billion. And by cancellation, I mean tax dollars were used to make the ledger go to zero. How much exactly? From Penn Wharton’s analysis: “We estimate that President Biden’s recently announced ‘New Plans’ to provide relief to student borrowers will cost $84 billion, in addition to the $475 billion that we previously estimated for President Biden’s SAVE plan.” But that goes to really needy people, right? Well, actually, at least 750,000 of those households are “making over $312,000 in average household income.” Meanwhile, to anyone who questions this allocation of resources, the White House answer is to shame them from official White House accounts by listing how much in pandemic loans were forgiven for House Republicans who own individual small business, which is weird because the reason businesses needed pandemic relief was because the White House banned them from operating. 

Civics: Notes on the rule of law and immigration

Jack Birle:

The bill, Senate File 2340, passed in the state Senate, 34-16, and in the state House, 64-30, last month. It makes it a state crime for a person to be in Iowa if they were denied entry into the country or are an illegal immigrant who has previously been deported. Reynolds says the law will allow the state to enforce immigration laws that already exist.

“The Biden Administration has failed to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, putting the protection and safety of Iowans at risk. Those who come into our country illegally have broken the law, yet Biden refuses to deport them,” Reynolds said in a statement on Wednesday.

The U.S. Thinks It’s Harder to Learn Polish or Greek Than Swahili or Malay

Frank Jacobs:

For English-speakers, Romanian is easier to learn than German. And you’ll be speaking Swahili sooner than Polish.

How is that? Because the Foreign Service Institute says so. Located in Arlington, Virginia, the FSI is the U.S. government’s main provider of foreign affairs training, including language courses.

As the chief learning organization for the State Department, the FSI is where diplomats go to study the languages they will need on foreign postings. The Institute has a very practical approach to languages, dividing them into four categories, depending solely on how long it takes to learn them.

K-12 Governance at the taxpayer funded Milwaukee School District

Rory Linnane:

Carr, who was elected in 2021, said she expected that the complaints were likely about her because of disagreements she has had with other board members and administrators. Carr has been critical of MPS leadership and opposed the April 2 referendum that raised the district’s taxing authority.

“They haven’t officially named me, but I am certain it’s me,” Carr said before the meeting. “What I can say for now is that I have done nothing illegal or unethical.”

Residents pack board room to support Carr, call for change at MPS

Over 70 people filled the school board meeting room Thursday night — an unusual sight for the space. Word had spread that board members could take action against Carr. Residents cheered for Carr throughout the evening, with some speakers saying they would work to vote out any board members who tried to boot Carr from the board.

The US isn’t just reauthorizing its surveillance laws – it’s vastly expanding them

Caitlin Vogus

The US House of Representatives agreed to reauthorize a controversial spying law known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act last Friday without any meaningful reforms, dashing hopes that Congress might finally put a stop to intelligence agencies’ warrantless surveillance of Americans’ emails, text messages and phone calls.

The vote not only reauthorized the act, though; it also vastly expanded the surveillance law enforcement can conduct. In a move that Senator Ron Wyden condemned as “terrifying”, the House also doubled down on a surveillance authority that has been used against American protesters, journalists and political donors in a chilling assault on free speech.

Section 702 in its current form allows the government to compel communications giants like Google and Verizon to turn over information. An amendment to the bill approved by the House vastly increases the law’s scope. The Turner-Himes amendment – so named for its champions Representatives Mike Turner and Jim Himes – would permit federal law enforcement to also force “any other service provider” with access to communications equipment to hand over data. That means anyone with access to a wifi router, server or even phone – anyone from a landlord to a laundromat – could be required to help the government spy.

The Senate is expected to vote on the House bill as soon as this week, and if it passes there, Joe Biden is likely to sign it. All Americans should be terrified by that prospect.


A controversial bill reauthorizing the Section 702 spy program may force whole new categories of businesses to eavesdrop on the US government’s behalf, including on fellow Americans.

Buying votes: The politics of student loan transfers

The Economist

These moves are the latest in a long White House campaign to relieve hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt. The White House estimates that it already has approved $153bn (or 0.6% of gdp) for more than 4m borrowers. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (crfb) believes the new policies cost $147bn. The hardship cancellation could range between $100bn and $600bn, depending how stringent the final proposal is.

This is probably good politics for Mr Biden, as the Democratic Party continues to consolidate support among college-educated voters and worries about losing rank-and-file union members seduced by Mr Trump’s overtures towards them. As policies, they are retrograde bungs to favoured groups at the expense of other Americans.

America’s trust in its institutions has collapsed

The Economist:

As far as stereotypes go, brash national self-confidence has long been a defining feature of how Americans are viewed abroad. In 2006, when Gallup first started asking Americans about their trust in key institutions, the country ranked at the top of the g7 league table, tied with Britain. In 2023, for the first time, America came last.

New data from Gallup, a pollster, show that American trust in several national institutions is on the decline. That may not be surprising, given the fraught state of the country’s politics, but the cumulative fall over the years is startling (see chart). Twenty years ago Americans had the highest confidence in their national government of people in any g7 country. Today they have the lowest. Americans are tied with Italians in having the lowest trust in their judicial system, and come last in faith in honest elections. Even the army is suffering from a dip. Although still high at 81%, American trust in its armed forces is now lower than at any point since 2006, and—gasp—lower than in France.

The reasons behind this crisis of confidence in the self-declared greatest country on Earth are varied. The roots of a (healthy) scepticism of government can be traced back to the Vietnam war and the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. The gradual dying-out of the second world war generation, which had significantly higher institutional trust than later generations, also plays a role. However, more recent developments help explain the sharp decline of the past years.

Governance, influence and elections: Evers “mulligans” and legislation

Rick Eisenberg:

Gov. Evers thinks we need divine protection from @WILawLiberty preventing him from legislating by playing an acrostic game, restoring the separation of powers or preventing persons from being treated differently on the basis of their race. God help us, indeed.


Curious. I asked Governor Eavers about his use of teacher mulligans to undermine early literacy legislation some years ago…

Liam Beran:

In an interview, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers told the Cardinal he’s “always in favor of making sure things are always transparent” but that WILL’s involvement in creating the policy proposals is part of people weighing in on legislation and “how the system works these days.”

“They’re active in every part of our lives,” Evers said. “It seems like they are the go-to people on any conservative issue, whether it’s voting or just about any walk of life.”

Student suspended for using term ‘illegal alien’ in English class, even though the term is legally accurate and protected by the First Amendment

By Hans Bader 

The term “illegal alien” is used in federal and state laws, the Code of Federal Regulations, court briefs, and Supreme Court decisions such as Arizona v. United States (2012). But as the Carolina Journal reported on April 15:

A 16-year-old student at Central Davidson High School in Lexington, North Carolina was suspended for three days last week after using the term ‘illegal alien’ during a vocabulary assignment in his English class.

Leah McGhee’s son has a teacher who assigned vocabulary words during class last Tuesday, including the word ‘alien.’ McGhee says her son made an effort to understand the assignment and responded to his teacher, asking, “Like space aliens or illegal aliens without green cards?”

According to an email describing the incident, sent to local officials and shared with Carolina Journal, a young man in class took offense to his question and reportedly threatened to fight him, prompting the teacher to call in the assistant principal. Ultimately, his words were deemed by administrative staff to be offensive and disrespectful to classmates who are Hispanic.

Civics: Thoughts on the resignation of the former NPR senior editor

Matt Taibbi:

Last week, NPR senior editor Uri Berliner rattled the media world with a tell-all piece in The Free Press,I’ve Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust.” He detailed a series of problems, including what he described as a transition from a “liberal bent” to a more “knee-jerk, activist, [and] scolding” posture, representing the “distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population.” He also described serious coverage failures surrounding Russiagate, the Hunter Biden laptop story, and Covid-19. 

The ghoul pools in the media world started immediately. It’s one thing for a former employee to out so many serious newsroom problems (including a devastating account of one of NPR’s “best” journalists admitting to being glad to not cover the laptop story, because it “could help Trump”), but it’s rare for a still-working senior employee to drop that kind of bomb. Berliner in fact was hit with a five-day unpaid suspension last Friday, but this wasn’t announced until Tuesday, when I wrote, “The Vegas over/under line on Berliner’s days left has not been released.”

Civics: Notes on Lawfare and Politics

Ann Althouse:

Trump’s assertion that the prosecution is “unfair and politically motivated” may be true even if the court carries out its duties perfectly. Trump may be “fortunate to live in a country” that has some dedication to the rule of law, but that doesn’t deprive him of the reason to complain that the prosecution seems politically motivated. Again, even if the court perfectly carries out its obligation to the rule of law, Trump is motivated to cry out about the onerous prosecutions, which are undercutting his ability to campaign for the presidency.

Trump has made these complaints part of his campaign. And don’t most Americans, at this point, agree that the prosecutions are politically motivated? Will anyone change their mind because the New York Times Editorial Board assures them that we’ve got the rule of law in this country and Trump, the criminal defendant, has “robust rights”?

It’s too far gone. And it’s painful to watch.

Notes on education fee $treams

Alex Tabarrok:

Like everyone, I dislike these kinds of fees, although I don’t think they are a good subject for legislation. But I would certainly not prevent firms from offering a simple, up-front fee. And yet that is exactly what the Biden administration is doing in higher education.

So called Inclusive Access programs let colleges package textbooks with tuition and other fees. Students get one bill and access to textbooks on the first day of college. It’s convenient, no more hunting for textbooks or sticker shock. In addition, inclusive access programs give colleges bargaining power when negotiating prices.

Strangely, the Biden administration’s Department of Education wants to ban colleges from offering inclusive access programs. Thus, the Dept. of Education is arguing that simplified pricing is bad for consumers at the same time as the FTC is arguing that simplified pricing is good for consumers. What makes this contradiction even more baffling is that Inclusive Access was a program promoted in 2015 by the Obama-Biden Administration!

Proponents of the ban argue that letting students negotiate their own purchases lets them better tailor the outcome. Maybe, but that’s the same argument for letting airlines unbundle seat choice and baggage allowances. Hard to have it both ways. Pricing is complex.

Before smartphones, beepers were in the crosshairs of parents, schools and lawmakers

Louis Anslow

The pager panic began with a 1988 Washington Post report on the gadgets prevalence in the drug trade, quoting DEA and law enforcement officials. The piece was syndicated throughout the US under headlines like “Beepers flourish in drug business” , “Beepers Speed Drug Connections” and “Drug beepers: Paging devices popular with cocaine dealers

The spread of the story stoked concerns that beepers in the hands of youths weren’t just a distraction – a common complaint from teachers – but also a direct line to drug dealers. One school district official told The New York Times: “How can we expect students to ‘just say no to drugs’ when we allow them to wear the most dominant symbol of the drug trade on their belts.”