All posts by Jim Zellmer

K-12 Tax, Referendum and Spending Climate: Freed from the office, Madison telecommuters are snapping up rural homes

Steven Elbow:

The coronavirus pandemic has a lot of people feeling boxed in. But for Michelle Possin it opened up a whole new realm of possibilities.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, the 54-year-old recruiter for TASC, a Madison-based administrative services company, spent half her time at home and the other half in the office. But now the company has nixed office work altogether, freeing employees to work from wherever they choose. So she sold her condo on the Isthmus and bought a house on Lake Wisconsin, giving her room for an office, a yard and, when the time comes, a place to retire.

“Living and working from a condo was not sustainable,” she said. “It was extremely small, and I felt very claustrophobic being there all the time.”

It was a life-changing decision to flee the city for more rural environs where Possin can spread out with twice the square footage of her condo, enjoy the lake and entertain at safe social distances outdoors, the kind of lifestyle that many crave, and more are finding within reach.

“There are quite a few people in my company who are moving because now they can work from anywhere,” she said. “One of my colleagues just moved to Colorado.”

Real estate agents across the country are noticing the trend. Untethered from the office and emboldened by historically low interest rates, telecommuters from the Bay Area to the East Coast are starting to look to the countryside, where they can have larger homes, bigger yards and a quieter life to raise their families.

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

New Madison School District

Scott Girard:

In his first week, the former Memorial High School associate principal said he learned that there are “just a bunch of wonderful people” in Madison.

“This energy that’s happening right now from people inside the district and outside the district, really wanting Madison to move forward,” Jenkins said. “There’s a momentum, and people just want to build on that momentum.”

[‘I believe Dr. Carlton Jenkins gets it’: On first day, superintendent helps rebuild a parent’s trust]

He’s having to feel that momentum and meet the community in creative ways, with virtual meetings remaining the safest due to COVID-19. He said that while he is a “human relations” person who misses handshakes and seeing people’s body language when talking, it’s also likely “giving me an opportunity really to see probably more people than I would’ve normally seen during this time.”

“This is the same thing that transfers over, not just work relationships but when we have our students,” Jenkins said. “We’re missing our students as part of what we do. We’re in the human connection business.”

In navigating his own district through “crisis mode” this spring, including a shift to virtual learning, Jenkins said he saw how key good communication was for the social-emotional well-being of both students and staff. He held more frequent full-staff meetings, he said, and worked quickly to get students that didn’t previously have devices online.

“We had to get devices for the young children because they were crying missing the teachers and the teachers were crying missing the students,” he said.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Commentary on Academic Achievement and rigor reporting

Peter Greene:

But there’s an even bigger issue, and that’s the continued unquestioning use of these test scores as a proxy for the larger picture of student achievement and teacher effectiveness. It’s a mistake repeated by countless education journalists, researchers and policy wonks. It’s a quick and easy shorthand, but it’s inaccurate and misleading.

We should just stop. Instead of saying, “Strategy X was found to have a positive affect on student achievement,” we should say “Strategy X helped raise test scores.” Instead of saying, “Technique Z led to improved reading by third graders,” we should say, “Technique Z led to improved reading test scores for third graders.”

It’s not that we shouldn’t discuss standardized test results, but we should stop pretending that they represent some larger truth. We should call them by their name — not “student achievement” or “effective instruction” or “high-quality school” but simply “scores on the standardized test.” By using lazy substitution, we end up like a tourist sitting beside the Grand Canyon looking at a handful of pebbles and imagining that those pebbles tell us everything we need to know about the vast beautiful vista that we are not bothering to see.

After all, if I told you that my child achieved great things in school this year, your first thought would not be, “Oh, good test scores!” Let’s use words to mean what they actually mean.

I spent 39 years as a high school English teacher, looking at how hot new reform policies affect the classroom.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Commentary on the college “death spiral”

Steven Hayward:

I’ve been tempted to tweak my liberal friends with the mischievous thought that COVID-19 is actually a Trump five-dimensional chess plot to destroy universities, unionized K-12 public education, and Hollywood (since TV and movie production is largely shut down too).

Colleges and universities were already facing mounting financial pressure because enrollment is steadily declining and certain to get much worse in the coming decade (the result of falling birthrates back at the time of the housing crash in 2008-09). Add to this the financial hit they are taking right now because of the virus, on top of the huge loss this year of foreign students who typically pay full tuition rates and subsidize other students, and a large number of colleges and universities face a serious risk of insolvency. (There are  many colleges for whom a large foreign student enrollment—especially Chinese students—is a key part of their business model.) This week it is reported that 20 percent of Harvard freshmen are deferring a year; at other colleges, the rate of students saying they aren’t returning runs as high as 40 percent. At places further down the food chain than Harvard, how many students will decide not to go to college at all a year from now?

Now add today’s news that major college football isn’t going to happen, and you have the making of a death spiral for many colleges. Even schools that aren’t football powerhouses like Ohio State are going to take a huge hit from this, as football even at second-tier universities is still a money maker. Ticket sales and TV revenues are one thing; football, and to a lesser extent basketball, are huge magnets for alumni donations, and if there’s no football, there’s no fancy skybox game day parties for college presidents to schmooze donors. And since huge football revenues cross-subsidize all the other sports, look for the sports portfolios of many colleges to collapse. Some schools, like Stanford, have already cut a large number of sports.

K-12 Tax, Referendum and spending climate: The Coming Eviction Crisis: ‘It’s Hard to Pay the Bills on Nothing’

Binyamin Appelbaum:

In Columbus, Ohio, judges have relocated eviction hearings to the cavernous halls of the city’s convention center, to ensure there’s plenty of space for the grim business of throwing families onto the street.

In New Orleans, piles of personal belongings on sidewalks — “eviction cairns,” in the haunting phrase of Sue Mobley, a member of the city’s planning commission — are an increasingly common sight.

In Savannah, Ga., the county sheriff, John Wilcher, announced at the start of the month that he would begin moving forward with about 500 pending evictions. Mr. Wilcher told reporters that he hadn’t carried out evictions for the last five months, but that “people after five months should have been able to come up with some kind of deal or something to help themselves out where they wouldn’t be evicted.” The sheriff didn’t offer any pointers on how to find a job in the midst of a pandemic.

The last time the economy went over the cliff’s edge, in 2008, the federal government encased the banking system in plastic Bubble Wrap and allowed millions of Americans to lose their homes. It’s about to make the same mistake all over again.

The No-Win School Reopening: One Superintendent’s Dilemma

Tanwell Hobbs:

Schools superintendent Michael Hinojosa stepped on a land mine while laying plans to reopen his 153,000-student district amid the coronavirus pandemic. He wanted teachers instructing from classrooms, even if students were at home, to make sure they stayed focused.

“It is better for us if they come in,” Dr. Hinojosa said from his office at Dallas Independent School District headquarters late last month. “It is unprofessional if kids are yelling in the background, dogs barking and husbands walking back and forth.”

The teachers’ response was swift and clear: His approach would gamble with their lives as Covid-19 runs rampant in the area, citing an Arizona teacher’s recent death as an example.

After consulting a county leader, Dr. Hinojosa changed his stance. He would now allow teachers to apply to work from home if they had reliable internet and minimal distractions. He asked a staffer to write new language. “I don’t want to have a firestorm,” he said.

A chat with Jane Belmore

Scott Girard:

Jane Belmore retired in 2005 after nearly three decades as a Madison teacher and principal. That wasn’t the end of her career with the Madison Metropolitan School District: She’s since been asked twice to lead when the district found itself between superintendents. Both turned out to be pivotal moments for the district.

Cap Times K-12 education reporter Scott Girard got an exclusive interview with Belmore as she was wrapping up her most recent year as interim superintendent. Today on the podcast, he talks about the expected and unexpected challenges this year brought, and why Belmore was willing to take them

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

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Jane Belmore notes and links.

2020 Referendum: Commentary on adding another physical Madison School amidst flat/declining enrollment..

Scott Girard:

Options at the new school under the recommendation would include designating it as a Community School — the district has four of those now — or creating specific programming like social-emotional learning, social justice or environmental education. Other ideas could still be added to that list as the planning process continues.

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

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Texas Education Association online education Commentary

Brittney Martin:

Though Lee struggled with her online classes last semester, Garcia plans to keep her home again this fall. Lee has asthma, as does her nineteen-year-old sister, who contracted COVID-19 in June and narrowly avoided having to be admitted to the hospital as she struggled to breathe. Garcia has once again requested a hot spot from the district. 

For those students whose needs are not met by the program, Rowe insists that this is just the beginning. “Those are the districts where we really need to dig deeper into the analytics and figure out who else has need,” Rowe said. “This isn’t going to be it. We won’t be done. We’ve just got to figure out how to peel back the next layer now.”

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

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Tech Monopolies Are the Reason the US Now Has a TikTok Problem

Lucas Kunce:

Last night (Thursday), President Trump signed an executive order banning the Chinese owned video-sharing app TikTok from the United States over national security concerns. This announcement came on the heels of a House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing on the power of Big Tech, where the CEOs of Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple faced scrutiny from policymakers and the public for being too powerful and oppressive. 

At that hearing, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg hammered home the American-ness of his company and the threat from China to the internet, specifically mentioning TikTok as the fastest growing app in the US.  

The meaning was clear, and echoed points Zuckerberg made during one of his previous appearances before Congress: Big Tech is essential to fight Chinese platforms like TikTok that can spy on Americans and whose opaque algorithms could be used to conduct malicious activities like censoring political content and potentially impacting an election.   

The most common solution proposed for the situation is for one of the big US tech companies to save the popular app—and all of us— from Chinese overwatch by purchasing TikTok. Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple have all been suggested, although Microsoft appears to be at the top of the list.  

The idea that big tech companies can defend us against China has gained momentum over the last year, as monopolists have turned to the use of national security talking points to push back against their critics. Both former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, for example, cited competition with China as a reason to preserve US tech monopolies, rather than break them up. We need large tech companies, this line of argument goes, as “national champions” who will take on China and its national champions in the tech sphere. Far from breaking them up, these companies and their army of lobbyists say, we should protect, empower, and celebrate their concentrated power for the sake of American security.

‘Paranoid about the pandemic’: How COVID-19 brought the ‘largest criminology experiment in history’

Adrian Humphreys:

Emergency isolation orders, border closures, social distancing and mandated lockdowns are inconvenient and costly, but, it is hoped, it will at least test theories like never before of why crime really happens and how it can be predicted and reduced.

The COVID-19 pandemic is “the largest criminological experiment in history,” according to influential American criminologist Marcus Felson. “It’s like a natural lab,” Felson says in an interview — and we are all test subjects locked in this dystopian exploration.

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“The ‘stay-at-home’ mandates brought about the most wide-reaching, significant, and sudden alteration of the lives of billions of people in human history,” Felson, a professor at Texas State University, wrote in a recent paper rallying criminologists around the world to aggressively seize opportunity from tragedy.

The pandemic certainly has some collateral damage to folks’ levels of stress and strain

“Practically overnight, the entire country ceased or significantly reduced day-to-day travels, eliminating commutes from home to work, as well as leisure activities, shopping trips, social gatherings, the ability to dine out, and more.

Why Democrats Have Started To Cave On Reopening Schools

Joy Pullman:

Prominent Democrat politicians have started making huge concessions on reopening schools. Back in May, Democrats pounced after President Trump supported reopening. Despite the data finding precisely the opposite, it quickly became the Democrat-media complex line that opening schools this fall would be preposterously dangerous to children and teachers.

In July, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan to put the city’s 1.1 million school kids back in schools half the week and “online learning” the rest of the week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo picked a public fight with him, saying, “If anybody sat here today and told you that they could reopen the school in September, that would be reckless and negligent of that person.”

Then on Friday, Cuomo cleared schools to open this fall, just a few weeks after making uncertain noises about the prospect as teachers unions breathed down his neck. That same day, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s minority leader, joined the Democrat messaging reversal:

Sen. Chuck Schumer: “If we don’t open up the schools, you’re going to hurt the economy significantly.” pic.twitter.com/Ne5znhvk2y

— The Hill (@thehill) August 7, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tucked the posture shift into a Saturday response to Trump’s latest executive orders, saying “these announcements do…nothing to reopen schools,” as if Democrats have been all along supporting school reopenings instead of the opposite. Just a few weeks ago, Pelosi was on TV bashing Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for encouraging school reopenings, saying, falsely, “Going back to school presents the biggest risk for the spread of the coronavirus. They ignore science and they ignore governance in order to make this happen.”

What gives? For one thing, New York’s richest people have fled during the lockdowns. If their kids’ tony public schools don’t offer personal instruction or look likely to maintain the chaos of rolling lockdown brownouts, those wealthy people have better choices. They can stay in their vacation houses or newly bought mansions in states that aren’t locked down. They can hire pod teachers or private schools.

And the longer they stay outside New York City and start to make friends and get used to a new place, the less likely they are to ever return. Cuomo is well aware of this.

“I literally talk to people all day long who are now in their Hamptons house who also lived here, or in their Hudson Valley house, or in their Connecticut weekend house, and I say, ‘You got to come back! We’ll go to dinner! I’ll buy you a drink! Come over, I’ll cook!’” Cuomo revealed in a recent news conference. “They’re not coming back right now. And you know what else they’re thinking? ‘If I stay there, I’ll pay a lower income tax,’ because they don’t pay the New York City surcharge.”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Taxpayer funded Fairfax Schools commentary on evil tutor/student pods

Fairfax County Schools:

Across the country, many parents are joining together to engage private tutors (who are often school teachers) to provide tutoring or home instruction for small groups of children. While there is no systematic way to track these private efforts, it’s clear that a number of “pandemic pods” or tutoring pods are being established in Fairfax County. 

We are aware of these tutoring pods, as well as some accompanying community concerns. To be clear, these instructional efforts are not supported by or in any way controlled by FCPS—for several reasons:

•    These are purely private initiatives on the part of parents and families. Families have an absolute right to work together and pool resources to provide instruction or tutoring—just as they do to pool resources and provide private daycare, music lessons, or recreational activities for their children—but tutoring pods are not part of the public school system.

•    Under the terms of their contracts, FCPS teachers are allowed to provide tutoring services for reimbursement, but only as long as they meet these conditions:

• Teachers must make it clear that the services are being provided as an independent contractor, and not as an employee of FCPS.

• They cannot tutor children for private compensation if the same children are receiving instruction from them in FCPS schools (i.e., the children cannot be in their classes). That’s true for private tutoring or group instruction in any location.

• They cannot engage in outside instruction or any preparation for it during their FCPS work hours.

While FCPS doesn’t and can’t control these private tutoring groups, we do have concerns that they may widen the gap in educational access and equity for all students. Many parents cannot afford private instruction. Many working families can’t provide transportation to and from a tutoring pod, even if they could afford to pay for the service.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Teachers, Our Words Can Re-Traumatize Our Black Students

Kwame Sarfo-Mensah:

My educational journey started as a special education student, a label that I would maintain throughout my elementary school years. From first to fourth grade, I attended Laurel Elementary School in Bloomfield, CT.  Although I appreciated the education I received at Laurel, my time at the school came with many personal challenges. The lingering stigma of being a special education student contributed to my inability to connect socially with other children.

The mistreatment I received from the mainstream students made me fully aware of where I stood within the school’s social hierarchy. I felt like a second-class citizen within my own school. Being a second-class citizen meant I wasn’t “cool enough” to sit with the popular kids during lunchtime. It also meant being subjected to a barrage of jokes about my significantly darker skin color and West African heritage. I remember being called names such as “Yoo-Hoo,” “Black & Crispy,” and “Hershey’s Chocolatey”—all because I was so much darker in complexion than most of the kids in school. The Lion King jokes were a huge hit with the crowd and they certainly made it a point to run those jokes into the ground. Even at home, my father was infamous for calling me “Stuuuupid” every time I made a mistake or said something that he thought was dumb. 

It’s been 26 years since I’ve occupied a special education classroom and, yet, these painful words still linger in my mind. At 37 years old, I’m a two-time college graduate, a husband, father, author, entrepreneur and a successful educator. With that resume, I should be able to sit back, reflect on my accomplishments and be in awe at how far I’ve come, right?  

As much as I’d love to do that, the truth is I can’t because eight-year old Kwame still occupies real estate in the depths of my psyche. He still serves as that chip on my shoulder that won’t allow me to be fulfilled with what I’ve accomplished. He still cries whenever he hears whispers of dark-skinned jokes from his classmates and the crippling insults from his father.   

Oakland students went back to school today. Here’s how the first day of distance learning went

Jill Tucker and Annie Vainshtein:

Joy Ghansah’s image froze, her face in a perpetual smile as her online class of Oakland kindergartners waited for her to say something, to talk about the stuffed animal in her lap or to read them a book.

The little girl wearing a tiara squirmed. The little boy in a superhero suit fidgeted. Another boy hid behind his mom’s long hair.

Kick the ‘1619 Project’ Out of Schools

David Randall:

“I’ve always said that the ‘1619 Project’ is not a history,” Hannah-Jones said in a series of tweets. “It is a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and, therefore, the national memory. The project has always been as much about the present as it is the past.”

Nevertheless, the “1619 Project” has had a profound impact on America’s schools. 

School districts in cities ranging from Buffalo to Chicago to Newark to Washington immediately announced that they would incorporate the “1619 Project” into their school history curriculums—using a “1619 Project” curriculum that the Pulitzer Center posted to the internet as soon as the Times published the special edition of its Sunday magazine last year. The Pulitzer Center claims more than 3,500 classrooms have adopted their curriculum. 

Clearly, the project’s creators of the “1619 Project” had coordinated with the Pulitzer Center and school district leaders to transform the nation’s curricula immediately—without bothering to wait for input from parents, school boards, or historians. 

The “1619 Project” was meant to be a revolution from above, imposed on America’s children to teach them to despise their country.

To Head Off Regulators, Google Makes Certain Words Taboo

Adrianne Jeffries:

As Google faces at least four major antitrust investigations on two continents, internal documents obtained by The Markup show its parent company, Alphabet, has been preparing for this moment for years, telling employees across the massive enterprise that certain language is off limits in all written communications, no matter how casual.

The taboo words include “market,” “barriers to entry,” and “network effects,” which is when products such as social networks become more valuable as more people use them.

“Words matter. Especially in antitrust law,” reads one document titled “Five Rules of Thumb for Written Communications.”

“Alphabet gets sued a lot, and we have our fair share of regulatory investigations,” reads another. “Assume every document will become public.”

The internal documents appear to be part of a self-guided training session for a wide range of the company’s more than 100,000 employees, from engineers to salespeople. One document, titled “Global Competition Policy,” says it applies not only to interns and employees but also to temps, vendors, and contractors.

The documents explain the basics of antitrust law and caution against loose talk that could have implications for government regulators or private lawsuits.

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

This politically-correct witch-hunt is killing free speech

Sarah Downey:

It’s only in a totalitarian state where everyone appears to agree on hard topics. If you look around you and see that, it means people are silencing themselves or being silenced. Neither one is okay.

I’ve been silencing myself, but I’m done. Critical thinking, rational thought, and individual courage are how we escape the Orwellian nightmare we’re heading into. Censorship and control is not acceptable, even in the name of social justice. It’s time to stand up.

Have strong opinions, loosely held; maintain that looseness so you can modify your opinions when confronted with new information that you deem worthy. Only a fool blindly clings to his opinions in the face of new, possibly conflicting information. Be a critical thinker, not a zealot. You have the mental fortitude to sit across from an opposing idea, or a person who disagrees with you, and hear it. It will not infect you without your consent. You can choose what to believe.

Why It’s (Mostly) Safe To Reopen the Schools

Avik Roy:

Every American has a stake in the ongoing debate over how, when and if to reopen schools this fall. Last spring’s pandemic-driven closures affected 62 million pre-primary, primary and secondary school students, not to mention their parents.

With the arrival of the school year, the temperature of the debate has risen. The second-largest teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, is preparing for its members to go on strike if schools reopen without their assent. President Trump has expressed a desire to “cut off funding”..

Never has a virus been so oversold

Lionel Shriver:

There’s nothing unprecedented about Covid-19 itself. The equally novel, equally infectious Asian flu of 1957 had commensurate fatalities in Britain: scaled up for today’s population, the equivalent of 42,000, while the UK’s (statistically flawed) Covid death total now stands at 46,000. Globally, the Asian flu was vastly more lethal, causing between two and four million deaths. The Hong Kong flu of 1968-69 also slew up to four million people worldwide, including 80,000 Britons. Yet in both instances, life went on.

What is unprecedented: never has a virus been so oversold. Why, I’d like to sign on with Covid’s agent. What a publicity budget.

In a recent Kekst CNC poll, British respondents estimated that nearly 7 per cent of the UK population has died from the coronavirus. That would be 4.5 million people. Scots supposed that more than 10 per cent of the UK population has died. That would be seven million people. Astonishingly, Americans believed that Covid has killed 9 per cent of their compatriots, or almost 30 million people! The real US total has indeed crossed the milestone of 150,000, but for pity’s sake, ‘only’ 20 million people died in the first world war.

True, your average everyman and woman are not dab hands at statistics. Nevertheless, broadcast news has bludgeoned audiences daily with Covid death totals. And a citizenry ought to have some vague notion of their country’s population. So folks convinced that in five meagre months they’ve lost a tenth of their fellows — the literal meaning of the word ‘decimate’ — need only drop a digit to realise how absurdly their bloated estimate compares with familiar figures on the news. But then, the public is never good with zeroes — a failing which treasuries in deficit count on.

Our very own Matthew Parris (many of whose columns I admire) is not immune to Covid Hyperbole Syndrome. His last column alludes to this virus ‘killing millions worldwide’, a phrase that sailed unmolested past pernickety editors and fact-checkers at this magazine. But the true worldwide death toll at the time was about 650,000.

I’d argue for improved British education in maths, except it seems Britain doesn’t do education any more. So let’s instead take those exaggerated impressions of lethality as proof of a stupendously successful propaganda campaign. The government has destroyed the country, and needs to keep ramping up the hysteria the better to keep destroying it. Boris Johnson gets a lot of stick, so it’s time to give the boy credit for once. At destroying the country he’s doing a damned fine job.

During events that in the present loom distortingly large, I’m always dubious of assertions that ‘nothing will ever be the same again’. Yet I worry that Covid-19 may have issued in a new intolerance for the nature of biology that could prove long-lasting.

Paradox of Tolerance

Wikipedia:

The paradox of tolerance states that if a society is tolerant without limit, its ability to be tolerant is eventually seized or destroyed by the intolerant. Karl Popper described it as the seemingly paradoxical idea that, “In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.” Popper expands upon this, writing, “I do not imply for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force…”

Many kids struggle with reading – and children of color are far less likely to get the help they need

Emily Hanford:

Sonya Thomas knew something wasn’t right with her son C.J. He was in first grade and he was struggling with reading. “Something was going on with him, but I could not figure it out,” she said. 

Teachers and school officials told her that C.J. was behind but would catch up. They told Sonya to read to him at home. But she did read to him. C.J. liked the Veggie Tales stories and “The Big Friendly Giant” by Roald Dahl. His older sister read the Goosebumps books to him. 

C.J. went to Amqui Elementary, a public school in Nashville, Tennessee, where 80 percent of the students were Black or Hispanic and almost all of them were from low-income families. Test scores show most children in the school were struggling with reading. But Sonya didn’t know that. She sent C.J. to Amqui because she liked the school and it’s where her best friend’s son went; her friend picked the kids up after school because Sonya worked late as a nurse. 

C.J. is the youngest of Sonya’s four kids. The three older ones had no trouble learning to read but something was different with C.J. “I started asking myself, does he have a learning disability?” She sent a handwritten note to the school, requesting that he be tested. Records show the school didn’t do it. 

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

How to Reform Higher Education

RR Reno:

Congress is deadlocked over a $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill. As our representatives hash out their differences, I’d like to propose they carefully consider how to distribute relief funds for higher education. (I draw some of these ideas from “Critical Care: Policy Recommendations to Restore American Higher Education After the 2020 Coronavirus Shutdown,” a position paper from the National Association of Scholars.)

Most important: Avoid shoveling money into the super-rich colleges and universities. The 2017 tax bill established a tax on income earned by gigantic university endowments. Institutions enrolling 500 or more students that have $500,000 or more in endowment principal per student are subject to a 1.4 percent tax on their endowment income. Congress should use the same metric of endowment wealth to determine which colleges and university receive relief funds. None that have endowments above $500,000 per student should receive federal money.

In recent decades, higher education has been bloated with money from federally guaranteed student loans. At the same time, a generation of young people has been saddled with debt. It’s past time for institutions to put some skin in the game. Colleges and universities that accept relief funds must be held liable for a significant percent of the principal of student loan defaults.

Legislators should avoid the temptation to “save the system.” It’s a broken system, one built on an unrealistic and harmful “college for all” approach. This mentality has led us to over-invest in higher education and shortchange vocational education. To make things worse, over the last generation the American taxpayer has increasingly subsidized the graduate training of foreign students, not American students. The relief bill should reverse this trend, giving priority to community colleges that serve American citizens rather than universities that position themselves as global institutions.

Elite scientists at American universities receive generous pay—and hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Chinese Thousand Talents program. This double game has to stop. Our universities enjoy extraordinary tax advantages and receive federal support through many mechanisms. The American taxpayer should not be asked to subsidize the transfer of intellectual and technological leadership to China. No college or university that employs a professor who has received money from the Thousand Talents or similar programs should receive relief funds.

College-Educated Professionals Are Capitalism’s Useful Idiots

Kurt Anderson:

I also thought: Mea culpa. For those past two decades, I’d prospered and thrived in the new political economy. And unharmed by automation or globalization or the new social contract, I’d effectively ignored the fact that the majority of my fellow Americans weren’t prospering or thriving.

In 40 years, the share of wealth owned by our richest 1 percent has doubled, the collective net worth of the bottom half has dropped to almost zero, the median weekly pay for a full-time worker has increased by just 0.1 percent a year, only the incomes of the top 10 percent have grown in sync with the economy, and so on. Americans’ boats stopped rising together; most of our boats stopped rising at all. Economic inequality has reverted to the levels of a century ago and earlier, and so has economic insecurity, while economic immobility is almost certainly worse than it’s ever been.

What’s happened since the 1970s and ’80s didn’t just happen. It looks more like arson than a purely accidental fire, more like poisoning than a completely natural illness, more like a cheating of the many by the few—and although I’ve always been predisposed to disbelieve conspiracy theories, this amounts to a long-standing and well-executed conspiracy, not especially secret, by the leaders of the capitalist class, at the expense of everyone else. A Raw Deal replaced the New Deal. And I and my cohort of hippie-to-yuppie liberal Baby Boomers were complicit in that.

The Yuppies Versus the Proles

At a dinner during my first visit to Washington, D.C., in June 1972—on the very evening of the Watergate break-in, as it happened—a mod young Department of Education bureaucrat informed me that the liberal political era in America was ending. To a 17-year-old fresh from Nebraska looking forward to wearing my McGovern for President button to a White House reception with Vice President Spiro Agnew the next day, this was a shocking revelation.

The guy turned out to be right, of course. And that fall, when I started college, I saw firsthand that the youthquake and student movement and greening of America, everything I’d spent the past few years getting stoked about, was palpably, rapidly ending. The Vietnam War was winding down and nobody was getting drafted, so fighting the Man started to seem like a pose. My senior thesis argued that more and more white-collar jobs, thanks in part to technology, were apt to become more and more proletarian, and it discussed whether workers in such professions might follow the lead of federal air traffic controllers, who had recently unionized.

Civics: “Because of this blog, my weekly weather segment on NPR radio station KNKX has been cancelled permanently”

Cliff Maas:

Update2:  There is a major error in the Seattle Times story.  My original blog never criticized the protesters or BLM activists.  My criticisms were limited to VIOLENT individuals who destroy property and hurt people.  Please read my original blog if you want to confirm this.  Some folks are choosing to misinterpret my words.

Update3:  There are two types of mobs.  First, mobs the hurt people and destroy property.  Second, there are social media mobs that attempt to destroy those they disagree with or attack different viewpoints.  We have seen both types of mobs here in Seattle during the past months.  Neither is good.

Take a walk around downtown Seattle.  You will be shocked by a shuttered, dystopian city and made angry by the inaction and ineptness of its political leadership.   It is simply beyond words.

Cliff Mass Notes and links, including math issues.

More:

“I was simply saying that the people who were doing violence were acting like the Brownshirts,” he added. “Peaceful protesters are fine, that is protected speech. But it’s the violence: That’s what’s wrong.”

Shortly after Mass’s blog was published, NPR affiliate KNKX announced that it would stop airing Mass’ regular weather segment, saying that the post “draws distorted, offensive parallels between protesters and Nazi Brownshirts,” and that “it does not reflect who we are and what we stand for at KNKX.”

“I’ve talked to people internally at the radio station — they just basically panicked with it,” Mass said. “It was an intense mob on social media that was criticizing them, and they made the decision almost instantly.”

Mass has since removed the references to Kristallnacht, stating that they were acting as a “distraction” from his larger point regarding his stance on protesters shattering the windows of downtown businesses, and in one instance, allegedly assaulting a Queen Anne resident.

How I Rediscovered Faith

Malcolm Gladwell:

I wanted to know where the Derksens found the strength to say those things. A sexual predator had kidnapped and murdered their daughter, and Cliff Derksen could talk about sharing his love with the killer and Wilma could stand up and say, “We have all done something dreadful in our lives, or have felt the urge to.” Where do two people find the power to forgive in a moment like that?

That seemed like a relevant question to ask in a book called David and Goliath. The moral of the biblical account of the duel between David and Goliath, after all, is that our preconceptions about where power and strength reside are false.

Goliath seemed formidable. But there are all kinds of hints in the biblical text that he was, in fact, not everything he seemed. Why did he need to be escorted to the valley floor by an attendant? Why did it take him so long to clue into the fact that David was clearly not intending to fight him with swords? There is even speculation among medical experts that Goliath had been suffering from a condition called acromegaly – a disease that causes abnormal growth but also often has the side effect of restricted sight.

What if Goliath had to be led to the valley floor and took so long to respond to David because he could only see a few feet in-front of him? What if the very thing that made him appear so large and formidable, in other words, was also the cause of his greatest vulnerability?

For the first year of my research, I collected examples of these kinds of paradoxes – where our intuitions about what an advantage or a disadvantage are turn out to be upside down. Why are so many successful entrepreneurs dyslexic? Why did so many American presidents and British prime ministers lose a parent in childhood? Is it possible that some of the things we hold dear in education – like small classes and prestigious schools wh0 can do as much harm as good? I read studies and talked to social scientists and buried myself in the library and thought I knew the kind of book I wanted to write. Then I met Wilma Derksen.

Weapons of the Spirit

The Misunderstanding that Sparked the Reading Wars

Breaking the Code:

I just finished reading Anthony Pedriana’s Leaving Johnny Behind, an enormously important and under-appreciated book that I discovered by chance, thanks to a post on Facebook. (Social media certainly does serve a purpose other than being a black hole of procrastination from time to time!) The author is a retired teacher and principal who, quite by chance, found himself at the center of the reading wars: in an attempt to boost the reading performance of a class that was falling behind, Pedriana went against everything he had been taught and permitted one of the teachers in his school to implement a scripted reading program for a single short lesson each day. Stunned by its success, he began to reconsider his prejudices and attempted to introduce it into other classrooms, only to face a level of rebellion that seemed entirely disproportionate to his request. 

The book that Pedriana produced in response to that experience traces the history of the reading wars, beginning with the education reformer Horace Mann’s fateful trip to Germany in the 1840s—a time when “teachers brandished their instructional authority with the subtlety of a meat cleaver by literally brow-beating number facts and alphabetic knowledge into their quavering charges.”

A Pedriana recounts:  

While Mann was on a trip to Europe, the director of Leipzig’s schools, Dr. Charles Vogel, took him on a classroom tour. What struck Mann most was the dichotomous (compared to U.S. practice) manner in which children were taught to read: 

Not only did he…notice the exceptional quality of the teachers, but he paid great attention to the specific methods they employed. Instead of the children being expected to learn individual letters by rote memory, then syllables, and finally words, they were given books with pictures of common objects. Underneath each picture was its simple name. 

Mann found such tactics tailor-made to his progressive agenda that sought to foster literacy through kindness, respect, and various other expressions of what came to be known as a child-centered curriculum. 

I was familiar with the basics of the story beforehand, but when I encountered it in Pedriana’s book, something made me stop and really think about Mann’s observations and assumptions. 

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that Mann had fundamentally misread (pun intended!) the situation, mistaking correlation for causation and setting off a slow-motion disaster whose consequences continue to reverberate to this day. 

Let me explain: 

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Together we will create a heart-centered community for & with our children.

5elements:

What if this school year could support your child and family’s well-being? What if, in the midst of this pandemic as the veils of normalcy wear thin, we could create a new way to learn and be together?

5Elements is offering in-person programs that intentionally bolster and create resilience by supporting social development for our community of children, ages 5-17. We will do this by establishing relationships and nurturing their sense of wonder and possibility. We will focus on social & emotional development using outdoor learning, wellness, nature, and creative expression. Think of all that could go right!

Civics: To Head Off Regulators, Google Makes Certain Words Taboo

Adrianne Jeffries:

As Google faces at least four major antitrust investigations on two continents, internal documents obtained by The Markup show its parent company, Alphabet, has been preparing for this moment for years, telling employees across the massive enterprise that certain language is off limits in all written communications, no matter how casual.

The taboo words include “market,” “barriers to entry,” and “network effects,” which is when products such as social networks become more valuable as more people use them.

“Words matter. Especially in antitrust law,” reads one document titled “Five Rules of Thumb for Written Communications.”

“Alphabet gets sued a lot, and we have our fair share of regulatory investigations,” reads another. “Assume every document will become public.”

The internal documents appear to be part of a self-guided training session for a wide range of the company’s more than 100,000 employees, from engineers to salespeople. One document, titled “Global Competition Policy,” says it applies not only to interns and employees but also to temps, vendors, and contractors.

The documents explain the basics of antitrust law and caution against loose talk that could have implications for government regulators or private lawsuits.

Shashana Wodinsky:

To spare you the misery of sitting through a parade of tech companies failing to be held to account, I decided to pull Zuck’s and Pichai’s three biggest waffles, wavers, and half-truths they told Congress about our privacy. If you want to follow along at home, here’s the Reuters video I’m referencing, and I’ll timestamp each of these quotes.

“We’ve long been working to comply with GDPR, and we’re in full compliance.” — Sundar Pichai, Google [2:53:32]

For some reason, Congressman Kelly Armstrong (D-ND) mentions that Google had, supposedly, “restricted advertising analytics” and cut down on the “portability of data” to comply with GDPR—the prevailing privacy law in the EU—despite the fact that we actually have our own data privacy statutes here in the States, under the CCPA which went into effect earlier this month. He then goes on to ask how Google’s working to comply with those laws in the EU, and Pichai responds that his company’s “long been working to comply with GDPR, we’re in full compliance, to the extent of my knowledge.”

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

Why Confidential Computing Is a Game Changer

Vinton Cerf:

Confidential Computing is a transformational technology that should be part of every enterprise cloud deployment. It’s time to start unlocking the possibilities together.

When the Internet was first built, engineers were focused on getting it up and running, and functionality took precedence over protection. But when nefarious actors started to emerge, many pioneers across the industry came together to add more layers of defense. Encryption was used more widely, and the Internet became more secure. 

We’ve come a long way since those early days of the Internet when email showed up as an ARPANET project. It opened up new possibilities; mailing lists such as Sci-Fi Lovers and Yum Yum for restaurant reviews were created. Spam followed not very long after when someone from Digital Equipment Corporation sent out a job posting. Email is now ubiquitous, and organizations are now embracing technologies such as the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Cloud computing has entered the mainstream as organizations modernize their technology infrastructure, using the cloud to make fast changes, optimize costs, and get ready for the future. However, as cloud usage explodes, security can’t be an afterthought. Security must be woven into the cloud computing fabric.

Science Twitter Got Catfished by a Fake Professor Who ‘Died From Covid’

Ed Cara:

A bizarre saga of events played out on social media over the weekend, embroiling much of the close-knit world of scientists, academics, and researchers on Twitter. It started with accusations that Arizona State University’s actions had exposed one of their faculty members, an Indigenous woman and anthropologist, to an ultimately fatal case of covid-19. But it ended with allegations that the death was a hoax, carried out by someone who also faked the supposed professor’s entire existence.

“taxpayer dollars fund government schools, not education”

Senator Rand Paul:

Yesterday, U.S. Senator and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee member Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced S. 4432, the Support Children Having Open Opportunities for Learning (SCHOOL) Act to provide parents and students with much-needed flexibility and options regarding K-12 education.

 “As the impact of the ongoing pandemic and the government response efforts continue to place parents in situations requiring greater flexibility in balancing working and providing for their families’ critical needs, especially when educating their children at home, my SCHOOL Act grants them that flexibility by empowering them to use their own tax dollars to find the option that best fits their family’s needs and allowing them to reclaim a bit of stability in uncertain times,” said Dr. Paul. 

 While federal education dollars are currently sent to states and then distributed amongst public school districts, Dr. Paul’s legislation would allow federal funds for K-12 education to follow the eligible child, learning in person or remotely, to the school of their choice. 

 Whether in public school, private school, or homeschool, the funds can be used for a wide range of educational needs, including tuition, curriculum materials, technology, support for special education, or classes outside the home.

 As families face the reality of hybrid learning or a completely virtual school year, students, especially those with disabilities, need a choice in education and the tools to succeed no matter where they are learning. 

Brad Polumbo:

Under the status quo, taxpayer dollars fund government schools, not education.

Americans are taxed to provide federal education funding, ostensibly for the education of their children and others, but the money goes to finance public schools regardless of whether those students end up attending them. If families choose to homeschool or send their children to private schools, the taxpayer money marked for their child’s education still goes to the public school, and the family is left to cover the actual cost of their kids’ schooling on their own. This means that in many cases, low-income families have no choice but to send their children to public schools, even if those very schools are failing their students.

The broken system for the allocation of federal education funds was already a problem before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to that crisis and sweeping government restrictions, many public schools will remain closed for in-person learning this fall. Some families who have been forced to rely on these schools simply cannot work and pay their bills without the crucial childcare services that go along with educational programs, and their personal circumstances may be such that draconian COVID-19 avoidance efforts are not necessary nor warranted.

Abolish the Police? Those Who Survived the Chaos in Seattle Aren’t So Sure

Nellie Bowles:

Faizel Khan was being told by the news media and his own mayor that the protests in his hometown were peaceful, with “a block party atmosphere.”

But that was not what he saw through the windows of his Seattle coffee shop. He saw encampments overtaking the sidewalks. He saw roving bands of masked protesters smashing windows and looting.

Young white men wielding guns would harangue customers as well as Mr. Khan, a gay man of Middle Eastern descent who moved here from Texas so he could more comfortably be out. To get into his coffee shop, he sometimes had to seek the permission of self-appointed armed guards to cross a border they had erected.

“They barricaded us all in here,” Mr. Khan said. “And they were sitting in lawn chairs with guns.”

For 23 days in June, about six blocks in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood were claimed by left-wing demonstrators and declared police-free. Protesters hailed it as liberation — from police oppression, from white supremacy — and a catalyst for a national movement.

Years before Trump’s election the media dramatically increased coverage of racism and embraced new theories of racial consciousness that set the stage for the latest unrest

Zach Goldberg:

Starting well before Donald Trump’s rise to power, while President Obama was still in office, terms like “microaggression” and “white privilege” were picked up by liberal journalists. These terms went from being obscure fragments of academic jargon to commonplace journalistic language in only a few years—a process that I document here in detail. During this same period, while exotic new phrases were entering the discourse, universally recognizable words like “racism” were being radically redefined. Along with the new language came ideas and beliefs animating a new moral-political framework to apply to public life and American society.

Consider the graph below, which displays the usage of the terms “racist(s)” and “racism” as a percentage of all words in four of the nation’s largest newspapers from (depending on the publication) 1970 through 2019.

Parents who want schools to reopen this fall say it’s a matter of choice, not politics. ‘Students’ mental health … has got to be weighed.’

Karen Ann Cullotta:

When Mairin Gradek’s local schools superintendent posted a cheerful YouTube video in early July describing tentative plans to welcome students back into the classroom, the Arlington Heights mother of three was excited that more remote learning was merely an option for parents, not the whole plan.

Gradek’s optimism that her neighborhood schools would reopen this fall was also buoyed by the results of a recent School District 25 survey, which found that around 75% of parents supported either an in-person or hybrid plan, with remote learning trailing as the least popular option in third place.

But in recent days, District 25 joined a rapidly growing list of suburban school systems that have abandoned hopes of bringing kids back into the classroom at the start of the new school year.

Officials in District 25, Barrington District 220, Wheeling-based District 21, Plainfield District 202 and Stevenson and Evanston Township high schools, among others, have all reverted from in-person or hybrid plans to an all-remote start to the new year, deciding the risks of bringing students and teachers together are too high with COVID-19 still far from contained.

Civics: Journalists’ Twitter use shows them talking within smaller bubbles

Craig Chamberlain:

Their “elite/legacy” cluster was the largest, including about 30% of the journalists covered in the study, with The Washington Post, NBC News, NPR and The New York Times among the major newsrooms represented.

A congressional journalism cluster included another 20%. The other clusters centered around CNN, television producers, local political news, regulatory journalists, foreign affairs, long-form/enterprise reporting and social issues.

In leading the study, Usher said she wanted to “describe the contours of what political journalism in Washington looks like and of the process of making news unfold.” Another goal was to better understand how journalists connect to and learn from each other and establish conventional knowledge.

Twitter seemed an ideal way to do that, given its unique role among journalists as a virtual water cooler, Usher said. “Most of the time, what happens on Twitter does not reflect the real world. But in the case of political journalism and political elites, generally speaking, what happens on Twitter is reality.” It’s an online reflection of their offline lives and work, she said, and plays a significant role in agenda-setting.

“So this was a particularly potent way of looking, at scale, at how ideas are exchanged, how people are making sense of things,” Usher said.

The “at scale” part is where Ng comes in. Usher’s research has focused more on qualitative research, primarily about elite U.S. newsrooms and how new technology impacts how journalists work. Ng, however, specializes in big data and computational social science. She saw particular power in applying those tools to journalists’ interactions on Twitter.

“With more than 2,000 journalists in this study, we could not observe each of them individually in real life. So we used their digital life as a way to understand how they interact with their peers,” Ng said.

UW approves narrower Title IX sexual assault rules to comply with new federal regulations

Yvonne Kim:

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents unanimously approved emergency rules Wednesday to comply with new federal regulations on sexual assault and harassment, which will be effective Aug. 14 pending the governor’s approval.

Though some regents expressed concern that the process was moving too quickly, the Board moved forward in the rulemaking process on July 20 to meet new guidelines in Title IX, a federal law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex at any institution receiving financial assistance. The emergency rules will expire between January and May of 2021, but the System will continue drafting language this fall to implement permanent changes.

Civics: Posting selfies from The Bean? Make sure you’re not in violation of Chicago’s travel quarantine

Dawn Gilbertson:

Wondering how states and cities enforce traveler quarantines to help stop the spread of COVID-19?

Chicago health officials turn to social media for help.

The city issued an emergency travel order July 2 requiring visitors and residents who have traveled to destinations with problematic COVID-19 trends to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. Authorities check the online posts of suspected violators.

If someone is on officials’ radar through contact tracing or other measures, that person’s social media accounts are checked to gather evidence for a possible citation, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said at a news conference Tuesday.

Milwaukee Lutheran High School said Black Lives Matter group’s beliefs ‘do not align with biblical views’; parents urged to pull kids

Annysa Johnson:

A prominent Lutheran minister well known for her work at the nexus of faith and racial justice is calling on Black families to pull their children from Milwaukee Lutheran High School over its position on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Milwaukee Lutheran posted a statement online late Tuesday saying it has long supported “Black Lives and Black Families” but that the founding principles and beliefs of the Black Lives Matter organization “do not align with biblical views,” citing specifically its position supporting LGBTQ rights.

The post ignited a firestorm on social media, with many — including students, parents and alumni — calling it un-Christlike and insulting to the Black students and families that make up the majority of the school’s enrollment. Several said they experienced racism at the school.

On Wednesday, Venice Williams, who is internationally known for her work at Milwaukee’s Alice’s Garden — and whose youngest son just graduated from Milwaukee Lutheran — took to Facebook to call on Black families to boycott the school.

“Shame on You, Milwaukee Lutheran High School,” Williams said in her post.

K-12 Tax, Referendum and Spending Climate: Most Americans don’t have enough assets to withstand 3 months without income

Oregon State University:

A new study from Oregon State University found that 77% of low- to moderate-income American households fall below the asset poverty threshold, meaning that if their income were cut off they would not have the financial assets to maintain at least poverty-level status for three months.

The study compared asset poverty rates in the U.S. and Canada. Canada’s asset poverty rate has improved over the past 20 years while the U.S. rate has worsened, but still, 62% of low- to moderate-income Canadians also fall below the asset poverty threshold.

The implications of these findings have become starkly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, said David Rothwell, lead author on the study and an associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

“The fact that the U.S. safety net is so connected to work, and then you have this huge shock to employment, you have a system that’s not prepared to handle such a big change to the employment system … It results concretely in family stress and strain, and then that strain and stress relates to negative outcomes for children and families,” Rothwell said.

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Covid-19 will be painful for universities, but also bring change

The Economist:

IN THE NORMAL run of things, late summer sees airports in the emerging world fill with nervous 18-year-olds, jetting off to begin a new life in the rich world’s universities. The annual trek of more than 5m students is a triumph of globalisation. Students see the world; universities get a fresh batch of high-paying customers. Yet with flights grounded and borders closed, this migration is about to become the pandemic’s latest victim.

For students, covid-19 is making life difficult. Many must choose between inconveniently timed seminars streamed into their parents’ living rooms and inconveniently deferring their studies until life is more normal. For universities, it is disastrous. They will not only lose huge chunks of revenue from foreign students but, because campus life spreads infection, they will have to transform the way they operate (see Briefing).

Yet the disaster may have an upside. For many years government subsidies and booming demand have allowed universities to resist changes that could benefit both students and society. They may not be able to do so for much longer.

Higher education has been thriving. Since 1995, as the notion spread from the rich world to the emerging one that a degree from a good institution was essential, the number of young people enrolling in higher education rose from 16% of the relevant age group to 38%. The results have been visible on swanky campuses throughout the Anglosphere, whose better universities have been the principal beneficiaries of the emerging world’s aspirations.

Yet troubles are piling up. China has been a source of high-paying foreign students for Western universities, but relations between the West and China are souring. Students with ties to the army are to be banned from America.

Civics: Half (49%) of all Americans think the media is very biased.

Knight Foundation:

A new report from Gallup and Knight Foundation finds a widening gap between what Americans expect from the news media and what they think they are getting. While Americans increasingly value the media’s role in our democracy, they are losing confidence in the idea of an objective media as perceptions of bias grow. 

The findings were released today in “American Views 2020: Trust, Media and Democracy,” a landmark survey of 20,000 Americans that is part of the Gallup/Knight series on the evolution of Americans’ relationship with the news. The report is available at kf.org/usviews20.

The report’s major findings include the following:

  • Americans think the media is vital for democracy. The vast majority of Americans (84%) say that the news media is “critical” (49%) or “very important” (35%) to provide accurate information and hold the powerful accountable.

  • Half (49%) of all Americans think the media is very biased. Fifty-six percent say their own news sources are biased, and seven in 10 are concerned about bias in the news others are getting. Eight percent — driven largely by conservatives — say distrusted media are trying to ruin the country.

  • Americans think the media is pushing an agenda. Three in four people (74%) worry that owners of media companies are influencing coverage, up five points since 2017. They also suspect that inaccuracies in reporting are purposeful, with 54% believing that reporters misrepresent the facts, and 28% believing reporters make them up entirely.

  • Distrust of the media cuts along partisan lines. Seventy-five percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of the media, and 61% say attacks on the media are justified. But only 22% of Democrats have an unfavorable view, and 70% say that attacks are not justified. 

K-12 Tax, Referendum & Spending Climate: Local governments want to defund the police, shut down the schools, and raise taxes.

Daniel Greenfield:

The police aren’t policing and the teachers aren’t teaching. While many vital services aren’t functioning, the useless machinery of the bureaucracy grinds on with no one to pay for it. Locked down businesses don’t generate revenues and the unemployed aren’t a tax base.

Tax revenues in New York City fell 46% in June. A third of small businesses in the city are likely to shut down for good and sales tax collections are down by a quarter amounting to $1.2 billion.

Statewide, there’s a 37% drop, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other lefties are calling for higher taxes on the rich, staging protests outside the homes of billionaires. But the wealthy have the resources to pick up and leave while leaving failing states like New York with nothing.

Nothing except a $14 billion deficit and an 8.2% GDP drop.

“You have 100 billionaires. You will have to tax every billionaire half a billion dollars to make it up. You know what that means? That means you have no billionaires,” Governor Cuomo noted.

But the news is bad everywhere.

State revenue shortfalls are heading toward $200 billion and over $500 billion by 2022 as the wealthy flee urban areas, tourists are banned from even thinking about visiting, and businesses keep going out of business.

Andrew Cuomo:

“If I stay there, I pay a lower income tax, because they don’t pay the New York City surcharge.”

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Civics: D.C. cops arrest pair for ‘Black Preborn Lives Matter’ chalk message

Chrissy Clark:

Activists plan to sue the mayor of Washington, D.C., after police arrested two students for chalking a pro-life message outside of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic.

Students for Life will file a lawsuit against D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser (D.) following the arrest of a student activist and staffer for writing “Black Preborn Lives Matter” with sidewalk chalk outside of the clinic. In a letter from Students for Life president Kristan Hawkins the group outlined its upcoming lawsuit, which alleges Bowser violated the group’s First Amendment rights.

“The next place Mayor Bowser will see us will be in the courtroom,” the letter reads. “Because Students for Life will sue the city of Washington, D.C., for violating our First Amendment rights to free speech and expression.”

The activist group was met with six police cars and members were threatened with arrest before writing the message. Video footage shows police officers handcuffing 29-year-old staffer Warner DePriest and Towson University student Erica Caporaletti.

UNC Tenured Faculty Tell Students to Stay Home Amid COVID Concerns: ‘It Is Not Safe for You to Come to Campus’

Jocelyn Grzeszcak:

Tenured faculty members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) told undergraduate students in an open letter not to return to campus this fall because of coronavirus concerns, the latest move in the debate over reopening schools.

“We need to stay safe from Covid-19 by staying at home – and we need you to stay home in order to protect yourselves and your fellow students, your teachers, the many workers who serve you on campus, the residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and your own family members and loved ones,” 30 tenured faculty members wrote in a letter published Thursday by The Charlotte Observer.

UNC-CH announced in May that it would begin classes on August 10, with the university offering multiple instruction models for students depending on class size and student preference. Classes may be offered face-to-face, entirely remote or a hybrid model of the two, according to the school’s website.

But administrators made these plans for reopening on the assumption that the first wave of coronavirus infections seen in the spring would be over by the time school began, the faculty members wrote in their letter.

One-Room Schoolhouses Make a Covid-19 Comeback—in Backyards and Garages

Kirsten Grind:

In the olden days, one-room schoolhouses were common across the country, many of them simple wood-frame buildings painted white.

Katy Young’s one-room school is going be a dome.

Ms. Young, who lives in the suburbs outside Berkeley, Calif., recently set up a 24-foot-round geodesic polyhedron in her backyard to host a small group of kindergarteners. An Airstream trailer parked nearby will serve as an administrative office.

The dome was built by Ms. Young’s husband, Randy, for use at Burning Man, the annual outdoor art festival in the Nevada desert. But with Burning Man canceled this summer, the structure is being repurposed for her kindergarten son and five classmates, whose private Mandarin-language school has switched to distance learning in the fall.

“We’re calling it ‘dome school,’ ” said Ms. Young, a lawyer.

With thousands of schools across the country moving to partial or full remote learning in the fall, parents are racing to form small at-home schooling groups or “pandemic pods,” groups of children who will be taught together. Some parents are hiring teachers to help guide the students through remote learning, while others plan to devise lesson plans on their own.

But finding a place to host the mini schools is proving to be a challenge. Even for parents that have the space, hosting students inside seems iffy because of social-distancing guidelines. Plus, many parents are working from home and don’t want the distraction.

I Survived Cancellation at Princeton

Joshua T. Katz:

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

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

Hong Kong Teachers Fired and Afraid as China Targets Liberal Thinkers

Joyu Wang and Lucy Craymer:

Teachers who backed antigovernment protests in the city—by taking to the streets or supporting the demonstrators on social media—are being reprimanded and, in some cases, fired as China’s Communist Party increasingly moves to stamp out dissent.

Many observers say they fear the tradition of liberal education and critical thinking in what has been a major world financial center will be supplanted by Chinese-style pro-government lessons and suppression of political discourse. Pressure has mounted since Beijing imposed a sweeping new national-security law here at the end of June following a year of protests.

The law gives China’s government much greater powers to police the city and punish those accused of subversion and supporting separatism. Police officers have moved swiftly to quash dissent and implement the law.

A powerful new security agency for the city rapidly set up a headquarters, and Beijing installed an official with experience battling protests and media as the law’s chief enforcer. Public libraries have removed books by pro-democracy figures.

The law calls for heightened supervision and regulation of schools—measures that follow months of warnings to teachers that they not discuss their political views with students or participate in protest activities.

K-12 Tax, Referendum & spending climate: California’s state budget has big benefits for a Teacher unions, stifles charter schools and funds phantom students

Mike Antonucci:

Students of civics might think the California state budget is crafted by the elected representatives of the citizenry, who debate and amend proposals working their way through various committees, ultimately leading to a spending plan with majority support and the signature of the governor.

All that happens, of course, but no budget makes it to the governor’s desk without at least the tacit approval of the state’s public employee unions. Since public education alone makes up a minimum of 40 percent of the state budget, the California Teachers Association has an outsize influence over the construction of that budget.

This has been true for at least the 27 years I have covered the union’s operations. In 2000, for example, then-President Wayne Johnson boasted to his members about how he had the governor and state legislative leaders on the phone with him, falling over themselves to place more money in the education budget, until Johnson finally relented at an additional $1.84 billion.

This year’s budget, however, rivals any previous examples of teachers union benefits sewn into state law.

Imaginary money. The budget relies on two sources of funding that do not exist, and may never exist. First, it hopes that the U.S. Senate will approve, and President Donald Trump will sign, the HEROES Act, which contains $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments. Should that fail to happen, California will issue $12 billion in deferrals to school districts. Deferrals are essentially IOUs to be paid in the next fiscal year. This is also money that doesn’t yet exist.

Should deferrals become necessary, the state also authorizes school districts to transfer money from any account they hold to any other account in order to pay their bills. Money targeted for a specific purpose or program can be used for any purpose or program. Districts can also use the proceeds from the sale or lease of property for any general fund purpose.

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

Scott Girard:

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

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

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

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

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

Logan Wroge:

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

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

New school year

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

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

Robert Shrimsley:

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

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

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

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

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

Difficult.

Matthew 7:

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

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

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

Arizona free enterprise club:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elle Reynolds:

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

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

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Quincy Local Refuses to Endorse Massachusetts Teachers Association Reopening Statement

Mike Antonucci:

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

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

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

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

The space between our heads

Mark Dingemanse:

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

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

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

Chicago-Area Leaders Call for Illinois to Abolish History Classes

NBC5 Chicago:

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

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

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

Politicians vs. Catholic Education

Wall Street Journal:

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

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

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

Higher Ed and the Fragmentation of America

Orrin Hatch:

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

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

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

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

Upnorthnews:

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

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

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

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

An Introduction to Statistical Learning

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

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

Madison School District considers update to restraint and seclusion policy

Scott Girard:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2005: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

1995-2006: Police Calls – Madison Schools.

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

Howard Koplowitz:

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

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

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

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

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

A Dry Run at a Socially Distanced Classroom

Anna McLoon and Sarah K. Berke:

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

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

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

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

Darren Byler:

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

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

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

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

Melissa Korn:

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

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

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

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

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

Pandemic Education Scholarships

Wall Street Journal:

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

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

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

The Making of a College-Admissions Con Man

Jennifer Levitz and Melissa Korn:

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

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

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

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

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

Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WKOW-TV:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

Tamia Fowlkes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

Scott Girard:

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

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

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

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

Logan Wroge:

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

Scott Girard:

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

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

2005: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

1995-2006: Police Calls – Madison Schools.

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

Kristen McConnell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Sciascia:

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

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

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

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

The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free

Nathan Robinson:

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

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

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

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

Why Professors Are Writing Crap That Nobody Reads

NewsinAsia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Chesney:

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

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

Civics: US homeland security surveilling journalists covering Portland protests

Ed Pilkington:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Campa:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weingarten: Teacher strikes possible in Arizona, Florida, Texas

Juan Perez:

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

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

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

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

Woke Colleges Are Assembly Lines for Conformity

Charles Lipson:

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

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

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

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

Tawnell Hobbs:

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Girard:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

Carly Behm:

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

Shootings also increased compared July 2019. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harvey Rosenfield and Laura Antonini:

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

People with low scores can suffer harsh consequences.

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

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

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

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

Sonny Bunch:

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

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

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

A College Degree Is No Guarantee of a Good Life

Arthur Brooks:

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

What should he do? What should his parents do?

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

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

Benjamin Purvis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s compare: Middleton and Madison Property taxes:

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

Fall 2020 Administration Referendum slides.

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

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

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

Verna Yu:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samantha Harris:

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

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

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

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

Colin Wright:

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

I know, because I was once one of them.

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

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

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

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

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Jasmine Mithani:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Captive Mind and America’s Resegregation

Andrew Michta:

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

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

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

Johan Neem:

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

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment