A month after bombshell letter, what we know about how a crisis quietly spiraled at the Milwaukee K-12 District



Rory Linnane:

“They painted a picture that on the outside looked like there was improvement being made,” Zombor said. “You believe them, because they’re the experts.” Now, Zombor said, she’s frustrated that the picture they painted seems to be “very different from what was happening in reality.”

In January, Chason said he was temporarily blocked from accessing the district’s financial information. That happened shortly after the publication of a recorded conversation between Chason and former school board member Aisha Carr, in which Chason explained how he felt administrators had made questionable budget maneuvers. Chason said he hadn’t consented to being recorded.

In March, after Chason regained access to information, he sent school board members a memo about ongoing problems in the finance office: staff had failed to submit information that Baker Tilly needed for the latest audit, and the district had therefore missed deadlines with DPI. 

In response, Posley told board members March 22 that MPS had updated DPI about the audit and was solving problems. He didn’t mention that at that point, DPI was having weekly meetings with MPS staff about the late reports.

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More.




‘We could’ve pushed harder’: State superintendent discusses MPS fiscal mess, changes state will make in response



By: A.J. Bayatpour

Wisconsin’s top education official said in an interview Friday the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is considering changes to how it handles districts falling behind on their financial reporting. 

The policy revisions would largely be in response to a fiscal crisis Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) is now facing. The state’s biggest district is now nine months late on turning in audited versions of last year’s finances. 

Beyond that, MPS’ data from the previous year was inaccurate, leading to overpayments to the district. To make up for those dollars, DPI officials estimate they’ll end up deducting between $35 million and $50 million from MPS’ general state aid for the 2024-25 school year.

State Superintendent Jill Underly said she first was alerted to MPS’ financial mess in late April. She said, at that time, DPI officials were not alarmed by that seven-month delay.




Madison’s K-12 Governance: recent calendar activity



With the arrival of our latest K-12 Superintendent, I thought readers might have interest in recent calendar activity. On 4 June, 2024, I made a public records request of the taxpayer funded Madison School District:

“digital copy of Superintendent Joe Gothard’s calendar from his first meetings (April?) through 4 June, 2024.

In addition, I write to request the same for Nichelle Nichols, Board President from 1 January 2024 to 4 June, 2024.

Digital screenshots of these requests in png or jpg format are fine.”

I received the response today. Nichelle Nichols and Joe Gothard.

Superintendent Gothard’s May to June weekly calendar screens:

——

2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




What a fight over $1.9 million in pay says about training for veteran teachers



Liz Bowie and Kristen Griffith

City school administrators began seeing teachers submitting 60 course credits — the equivalent of two master’s degrees — from Idaho State University this year to get an increase in pay. To the human resources department, this looked fishy.

How could a full-time teacher have enough time in one year to do the course work to earn 60 graduate credits? So they looked at Idaho State’s online professional development classes and realized that they cost just $55 a course and didn’t take long to complete.

“These are self-paced videos that you click through,” said Emily Nielson, the city school system’s chief human capital officer. She said there’s no requirement to write papers or do assignments, just multiple-choice assessments.

Translating those credits into the city teachers’ current contract meant that teachers who amassed 60 course credits could up their pay by $15,000 to $20,000 a year, depending on where they are on the teaching ladder. The salary bumps were estimated to cost the school system about $1.9 million this year, but Nielson said she expects the amount to go up because teachers have until June 30 to submit their credits.

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




Delving into ChatGPT usage in academic writing through excess vocabulary



Dmitry Kobak, Rita González Márquez, Emőke-Ágnes Horvát, Jan Lausej

Recent large language models (LLMs) can generate and revise text with human-level performance, and have been widely commercialized in systems like ChatGPT. These models come with clear limitations: they can produce inaccurate information, reinforce existing biases, and be easily misused. Yet, many scientists have been using them to assist their scholarly writing. How wide-spread is LLM usage in the academic literature currently? To answer this question, we use an unbiased, large-scale approach, free from any assumptions on academic LLM usage. We study vocabulary changes in 14 million PubMed abstracts from 2010-2024, and show how the appearance of LLMs led to an abrupt increase in the frequency of certain style words. Our analysis based on excess words usage suggests that at least 10% of 2024 abstracts were processed with LLMs. This lower bound differed across disciplines, countries, and journals, and was as high as 30% for some PubMed sub-corpora. We show that the appearance of LLM-based writing assistants has had an unprecedented impact in the scientific literature, surpassing the effect of major world events such as the Covid pandemic.




Tiny and terrifying: Why some feel threatened by Wisconsin’s parental choice programs



Patrick Mcilheran:

In Madison, where the possibility of school choice arrived 23 years after Milwaukee, there are six private schools in the choice program that Smith calls “vouchers,” and those six schools enrolled 655 choice students in the school year just ended. The Madison Metropolitan School District, in comparison, has about 25,000 students.

Big ask

Perhaps Madison families will see some of the growth common elsewhere. Independent private schools in the city of Milwaukee educated about 29,000 children using choice grants last year, and those in Racine educated about 4,000. Nearly 19,000 kids throughout the rest of Wisconsin used choice grants.

Several more Madison schools have been cleared by state regulators to join the choice program in fall, including a second one to offer high school grades. This likely will be a blessing to Madison families looking for an alternative to a school district where, by the state’s most recent figures, only 41% of the students had been taught to read at grade level or better. By contrast, Madison’s largest private school in the choice program, Abundant Life Christian School, got 73% of its students to grade level or better in reading. 

Why Senator Smith regards this as “failing” is baffling.

When families take their children to Abundant Life or other independent options, $10,237 of state aid will follow each one, or $12,731 if they’re high schoolers — the entirety of taxpayers’ outlay. 

By contrast, in the most recent state figures, Madison Metropolitan School District spent a total of $17,944 per child in taxpayer money.

What’s more, the district may ask voters in November for another $600 million in spending, overriding the taxpayer-protecting limits set in law. The proposal would add $1,378 to the property taxes of a typical Madison home. The district says its budget is in dire straits because it used temporary pandemic aid for permanent expenses. It could have to cut its $589 million budget by about $2 million, or 0.4%.

——-

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




A New Way to Hire Great Faculty



Jacob Howland:

We learned about the complexities and mysteries of artificial intelligence, the uses of innovative statistical analyses that could improve policing, and the Confucian roots of Xi’s totalitarianism. We discussed the early modern origins of ideological movements, Milton’s translation of Homeric epic into a Christian drama of rebellion and salvation, and Moby Dick’s critical analysis of corporatism. We explored the religious roots of modern politics and the influence of Hebraic constitutionalism on the Founding Fathers. We reflected on Shakespeare’s dialectical examination of politics in his Roman dramas.

This was no academic conference. It was a job interview.

When you are an upstart university building a faculty from scratch, you have the privilege to get creative.Faculty searches often take months to fill even one position. They are specialized and sequestered by department. But when you are an upstart university tasked with building a faculty from scratch in a matter of months, you have the privilege to get creative.

The University of Austin (UATX) had two dozen employees when the state of Texas authorized us to operate as a university in November 2023. By the time our inaugural class of 100 students matriculates in September we will have effectively doubled in size. The lessons we learned along the way will benefit any institution of higher learning.




Schools Will Have to Start Closing Again



Michael Petrilli:

So now many places have too few students for the schools, thousands of which will have to be permanently closed in coming years. Postponing the inevitable only makes the process more expensive by wasting scarce tax dollars on half-empty buildings and unneeded principals, gym teachers and attendance clerks.

Whereas leaders on the left were eager to close schools during the pandemic, they are allergic to doing so now. Teachers unions worry that their members will lose jobs, and the social-justice crowd fears that minorities will be disproportionately affected by closings.

But there’s no way to avoid them. Schools have been adding teachers and other staff for decades, even more so when Covid relief dollars poured in. That’s no longer sustainable, and it will be impossible not to close lots of schools in heavily black and Hispanic neighborhoods, given demographic shifts. Many parents have already voted with their feet, either through school-choice programs or by leaving cities altogether.

Officials should meet this challenge head on, using data to identify schools with a history of lackluster academic achievement and putting them on the chopping block. The best outcome is for affected students to end up in better schools than they attend now. They should get priority for enrollment at high-performance campuses nearby, including charter and private schools.

Meanwhile, Madison – Wisconsin Policy Forum:

However, the middle schools in particular have low rates of utilization because of declining enrollment, with Sennett, Sherman, Toki, and Black Hawk middle schools all operating at or between 45% and 56% of their capacity. With enrollment currently projected to fall further in the next several years, MMSD officials and voters may wish to consider whether all of these schools will be used for many years to come or whether it makes sense to explore consolidating two middle school buildings to avoid at least one of the construction projects




Commentary on Madison’s Latest K-12 Superintendent



“Mildred & Hands”:

He certainly has his work cut out for him. Gothard is being thrust into a likely $600 million referendum campaign this fall that won’t be easy to pass. Inflation and soaring housing costs have soured many voters on tax hikes. Advocates will need to show taxpayers in a clear and specific way what they are getting for their money. How will outcomes for children improve?

The district must retrain elementary teachers in reading instruction that emphasizes phonics. State officials have mandated the strategy, based on research showing better results. But they aren’t giving Gothard’s district additional resources for the considerable effort (?).

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




“Security staff are in the wrong job if they object to arresting armed students.”



David Blaska

The so-called “security staff” at La Follette high school put up a hissy fit when police carted off an 18-year-old student found with weapons of mass destruction in his backpack. (“We’re supposed to protect kids here” — from police!) The newspaper quotes the school principal, who caught hell from the “security staff,” to say: 

“We have amazing employees of color who were watching a student of color going into the system. They were, and are, heartbroken” and “raw emotions and feelings surfaced. …. Their hearts were in the right place.” — Principal Mat (one T) Thompson, quoted here.

That kind of Woke blibber blabber surfaces raw emotions and feelings in this correspondent but he does not want to go all Proud Boy on the schools. Instead, we offer defeated school board candidate David Blaska’s response to rightly concerned Madison parents and taxpayers: 

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Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




California Will Teach Kids Anything Except How to Read



Daniel Buck:

Everyone benefits from exemplars. We all need models to mimic and follow. In the policy realm that means states, legislatures and governors who pass policies and reforms that materially improve the lives of their residents.

We also need cautionary tales, clear examples of mistakes and pitfalls to avoid. On education, California has stepped into that role. Any aspiring policymaker looking for guidance on sensible education reform should take a glance at Sacramento over the past half-decade and do exactly the opposite.

Most recently, under pressure from teachers unions, the Legislature killed a bill introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio that would have mandated the teaching of phonics. The bill had the support of both the state-level parent-teacher association and the NAACP—and rightly so. A mountain of research going back to the 1950s vindicates phonics as the best way to teach young children to read.

The nation’s schools have had something of a reckoning in the past few years: Millions of children struggled to read because schools followed pseudoscientific theories about early literacy. Now at least a generation more will suffer the same fate in California.

In an open letter to Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, the California teachers union bristled at the “top down, statewide mandate” approach of this bill. But the teachers unions are happy to see California impose curricular, instructional and ideological mandates in other realms.

The state’s top-down sex education framework clocks in at 746 pages of material, curricula, assessments, grading recommendations and instructional requirements. The state compels teachers to tell kindergartners that children in “kindergarten and even younger have identified as transgender” and that biological sex is completely divorced from “gender identity.”




The Chat Control regulations aims to combat sexual violence against children. In this blog post we explain why the draft is a threat to fundamental rights.



www.

The EU Commission has presented a draft regulation that is to lay down rules for preventing and combating sexual violence against children (Chat Control Regulation). The planned regulation raises such significant fundamental rights concerns that the GFF is joining the debate while the draft is still being deliberated at EU level. The most important points of criticism at a glance.

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More.




Non-accountability at the taxpayer funded Wisconsin DPI



Matt Smith:

The thing is, we pushed to make this public,” Wisconsin state superintendent Jill Underly said on financial crisis in Milwaukee Public Schools: “When it comes to our, you know, the community is informed, we can do better. And we are looking at ways to make that more transparent”

——

Brian Fraley:

Get a load of this load.

Current DPI Superintendent Underly tries to take credit for bringing MPS woes to light. DPI knew MPS reporting was a mess, district was over subsidized and the state would be clawing back funds. But they withheld this knowledge until after the referendum passed.

Notes and links on Jill Underly




Notes on Madison K-12 Governance and outcomes



David Blaska

Contrast that with a public school system here in Madison in which so-called safety monitors try to prevent police from removing pistol-packing pupils from the hallways of La Follette high school in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion. (Read & Weep!) 

In the spirit of transparency, our new superintendent of schools gave an interview to our favorite local morning newspaper in which he manages to talk much and say little. Asked about Jennifer Cheatham’s Behavior Education Plan, however, Joe Gothard acknowledges:

“People would like to support a complete upheaval and change… but I haven’t been directed by the board and I certainly haven’t heard it as a priority.”

Blaska’s Bottom Line #1And you won’t hear it as a priority if you’re a new hire who reports to the likes of school board members Ali Muldrow, Savion Castro, and their allies at Progressive Dane and Freedom Inc.! 

Blaska’s Bonus Bottom Line: As we told Dave Zweifel of The Capital Times in the last thrilling episode, not exposing students to Woke ideology is a feature, not a bug.

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More:

My old boss at The Capital TimesDave Zweifel kvetches that “the school choice program is no longer limited to that altruistic approach championed by Thompson in 1990,” that being limiting participation to the poorest of the poor. Dave, you were opposed to Tommy’s altruistic approach even in 1990! BTW: The program is still income-limited.

Another supposed fly in the ointment, Dave sez, is that voucher schools can prevent students from being exposed (Dave’s word) or subjected (Blaska’s word) to Woke ideology. That’s a feature, not a bug, Dave. He writes:

Since the days of Thomas Jefferson, America provided public education to its citizens. 

Still does, thanks to the voucher program! No mention of Milwaukee’s scandalous public schools, which do NOT provide public education to its citizens.

——

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




Education policy: some international perspectives



Daisy Christodoulou

At No More Marking, we’re based in the UK, but we run English-language writing assessments in a number of different countries.

There are some interesting cross-national trends in education at the moment in favour of the science of learning, phonics instruction and knowledge-rich curriculums. 

In this post I’ll do a quick survey of what’s happening in various parts of the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.




K-12 Tax & $pending climate: How California’s Paradise Become Our Purgatory



Victor Davis Hanson

Governor Gavin Newsom enjoyed a recent $98 billion budget surplus—gifted from multibillion-dollar federal COVID-19 subsidies, the highest income and gas taxes in the nation, and among the country’s steepest sales and property taxes.

Yet in a year, he turned it into a growing $45 billion budget deficit.

At a time of an over-regulated, overtaxed, and sputtering economy, Newsom spent lavishly on new entitlements, illegal immigrants, and untried and inefficient green projects.

Newsom was endowed with two of the wettest years in recent California history. Yet he and radical environmentalists squandered the water bounty—as snowmelts and runoff long designated for agricultural irrigation were drained from aqueducts and reservoirs to flow out to sea.

Newsom transferred millions of dollars designated by a voter referendum to build dams and aqueducts for water storage and instead blew up four historic dams on the Klamath River. For decades, these now-destroyed scenic lakes provided clean, green hydroelectric power, irrigation storage, flood control, and recreation.

California hosts one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients. Over a fifth of the population lives below the property line. Nearly half the nation’s homeless sleep on the streets of its major cities.




Civics: “The (Bezos) Washington Post Does Not Want to Be Saved. Does It Deserve to Be?”



Jeffrey Blehar:

During the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China (ca. 470 B.C.), the kingdom of Yue was ruled by one Goujian, whose infamy preceded him in combat, quite literally: Yue’s most devoted warriors would march forward from the front ranks, stand before the opposing army on the battlefield, and demonstrate their implacable fearlessness by chopping off their own heads. The newsroom at the Washington Post may be getting there soon in its rebellion against self-control (they’re running out of better options), but not quite yet – first, the platoon has decided to frag its commanding officers instead.

For morale is low among the troops, my friends: The Post has lost half its readership since the heyday of “The Resistance” and Democracy Dying in Darkness. Now it is apparently dying of boredom, and it’s a war of attrition: The Post lost $77 million last year to go with all those missing eyeballs, and if the tone of their Gaza coverage in recent months is anything to go by, those readership numbers aren’t pulling out of their nosedive anytime soon.

The Washington Post has lost its way, as all can see. The sports section is a ghost of its former glory, local coverage of the DC/Maryland/Virginia area has become nearly nonexistent, their foreign coverage is written by interchangeable pro-Hamas bots, and even their national political coverage – so long the moneymaker during the high liberal dudgeon of the Trump administration – has sunk into tired predictability. (They retain a fairly interesting op-ed page, to be fair.)

——

“Zero mention of their quite recent illegal immigration into the US, anywhere in the article.”




New Milwaukee Acting Superintendent takes rudder of badly leaking ship



Terry Falk:

After the resignation of Milwaukee Public School superintendent Keith Posley, Galvan, the MPS Regional Superintendent for the Southwest Region, was chosen by the school board to fill the vacancy — first as a day-to-day superintendent on June 3, and then to acting superintendent on June 17. The board needed someone with the authority to begin filling vacancies primarily in the central finance positions of the school district. Given the lack of financial expertise left in the district and the pressure by Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction on MPS to get its house in order and file eight months of overdue reports, the district needed a leader who could make decisions on a longer term-basis than day-to-day. The board gave Galvan that authority.




Welcome to America’s Racialized Medical Schools



John Sailer:

From the highest offices of the state down to the smallest local bureaucracies, DEI now pervades almost all levels of American society. And while it was once thought that the fringe racial theories that animate the DEI agenda could be confined to small liberal arts campuses, it is clear that is no longer the case.

Increasingly, medical schools and schools of public health are enthusiastically embracing the values of DEI and instituting far-reaching policies to demonstrate their commitments to the cause. To many in the universities and perhaps in the country at large, these values sound benign—merely an invitation to treat everyone fairly. In practice, however, DEI policies often promote a narrow set of ideological views that elevate race and gender to matters of supreme importance.

That ideology is exemplified by a research methodology called “public health critical race praxis” (PHCRP)—designed, as the name suggests, to apply critical race theory to the field of public health—which asserts that “the ubiquity of racism, not its absence, characterizes society’s normal state.” In practice, PHCRP involves embracing sweeping claims about the primacy of racialization, guided by statements like “socially constructed racial categories are the bases for ordering society.”

These race-first imperatives have now come to influence the research priorities of major institutions. Perhaps no better case study exists than that of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), an institution devoted exclusively to the medical sciences, and one of the top recipients of federal grants from the National Institutes of Health. Last May, UCSF took the unprecedented step of creating a separate Task Force on Equity and Anti-Racism in Research, which proceeded to make dozens of recommendations.




Board repeatedly denied records on copyright basis, suit says



Annalise Gilbert:

Miranda Stovall’s lawsuit against her local Kentucky school board in June transformed a national debate over parental access to education into a copyright dispute when the district invoked the rights of a Pearson PLCsubsidiary to reject her request for a copy of a mental health survey administered to students.

Stovall learned that her child and others in grades 6 to 12 would receive a ‘Mental Health Screener,’ so in January 2023 she submitted a public records request for a copy of the survey, according to her complaint. But the board denied the request, only offering her to inspect the survey in person. Not because of student confidentiality or health privacy, but due to the copyright protections of education giant Pearson.

School boards have been increasingly thrust into public view as they respond to parents seeking to control the content their children are exposed to at school. A Missouri school district in May was sued by two parents who claimed it thwarted their public record requests for a “Hook-Up Topical Survey” emailed to students by a staff member. The case followed legislationintroduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) in January “protecting the right of parents” by acknowledging parents’ rights to “direct” the education of their children.




Sen. Roger Marshall is demanding a full audit of FOIA requests at the National Institutes of Health.



Mark Tapscott:

“We would strongly encourage Congress to require exactly what Senator Marshall is proposing—at a minimum. Let’s find out which agencies are the worst actors and hold their leadership accountable,” Open the Books President Adam Andrzejewski told The Epoch Times.

“While the FOIA sets a vision for government transparency and lays out obligations for the feds, there’s really no enforcement mechanism attached. … Beyond audits, we need consequences.”

Mr. Andrzejewski’s nonprofit watchdog organization has filed more than 50,000 FOIA requests in recent years. The late Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) was chairman of Mr. Andrzejewski’s group.




Ongoing Madison Property tax base expansion



Allison Garfield:

….demolishing the two single-family homes and one two-family home currently on the property.

The development will include 138 units, plus parking for 143 cars underground and 25 outdoor spots. The building will stand about 36 feet high with a combination of light brown-colored brick and gray fiber cement siding. Patios and balconies are proposed for all of the units.

Kevin Firchow with the city’s planning and economic development department told the Cap Times that on Friday a group had submitted an appeal of the Plan Commission’s initial approval for the project on June 10. That appeal will go to City Council in the coming weeks for final action, which could affect approval for the project.




Speaking of growing debt: “Throughout history, nations that blithely piled up their obligations have eventually met unhappy ends”



Gerald Seib:

America is cruising into an uncharted sea of federal debt, with a public seemingly untroubled by the stark numbers and a government seemingly incapable of turning them around.

In the presidential race, there’s not much partisan difference or advantage on this subject. Donald Trump and President Biden have overseen similar additions to the nation’s accumulated debt—in the range of $7 trillion in each case—during their terms. The national response to both has been, by and large, to look the other way.

History, however, offers some cautionary notes about the consequences of swimming in debt. Over the centuries and across the globe, nations and empires that blithely piled up debt have, sooner or later, met unhappy ends.

Historian Niall Ferguson recently invoked what he calls his own personal law of history: “Any great power that spends more on debt service (interest payments on the national debt) than on defense will not stay great for very long. True of Habsburg Spain, true of ancien régime France, true of the Ottoman Empire, true of the British Empire, this law is about to be put to the test by the U.S. beginning this very year.” Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office projects that, in part because of rising interest rates, the federal government will spend $892 billion during the current fiscal year for interest payments on the accumulated national debt of $28 trillion—meaning that interest payments now surpass the amount spent on defense and nearly match spending on Medicare.

——

Commentary.

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Substantial Madison K-12 tax and $pending increase plans




Virginia Hislop receives a master’s degree in the 2024 diploma ceremony at the age of 105.



By Olivia Peterkin

It’s been a minute since Virginia “Ginger” Hislop was a student at Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE).

When she started at the GSE in 1936 — then the Stanford University School of Education — her plan was to get her bachelor’s of education, which she did in 1940, and obtain her master’s of education so she could teach, which she started directly after.

The goal: to help grow and provide opportunities for young minds by following in the footsteps of her grandmother, who taught in Kansas before the Civil War, and her Aunt Nora, who was the principal of a school in West Los Angeles, and pursue the field of education.

However, just after completing her coursework and just before turning in her final thesis, her then-boyfriend George Hislop AB ’41, a GSE student in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), got called in to serve during World War II, prompting the pair to get married and Virginia Hislop to leave campus before graduating.




The New York congressman appears to have plagiarized parts of his Ed.D. dissertation.



Christopher Rufo and Luke Rosiak:

Jamaal Bowman, the controversial New York congressman, often appeals to his work as a former school principal and his Ed.D. in education as the basis for his policy positions.

But, according to our analysis, Bowman’s primary academic work—his 2019 dissertation, “Community Schools: The Perceptions and Practices that Foster Broad-Based Collaboration amongst leaders with the Community School Ecosystem”—is riddled with basic errors, failures of logic, and multiple instances of plagiarism. (Bowman did not return a request for comment.)

Bowman has boasted about the paper on social media and considers it formative to his political orientation. When asked recently his political views, Bowman said, “I identify as an educator, and as a Black man in America. But my policies align with those of a socialist, so I guess that makes me a socialist.”

The dissertation, which Bowman completed at Manhattanville College, says that “Black, Latinx, and poor White children have been historically oppressed throughout American history,” and as recompense makes an argument for “community schools,” a concept developed by the Brazilian Marxist pedagogist Paulo Freire, in which schools would be expanded to provide full-time government services for every aspect of society, including for adults.

His research consisted primarily of the “qualitative” variety, with Bowman interviewing 13 school administrators, activists, and parents. Each was immediately placed in a demographic box and assigned the role of oppressor or oppressed. For example, Bowman wrote that “Ms. Melendez, a parent leader at Manny Ramirez High School, was born in the Dominican Republican [sic]” and is a true member of the New York community, while “Ms. Warren, who identified racially as White, discussed being very aware of being ‘a visitor in someone else [sic] community all the time.’”




Censorship and Amazon books



Rep Jim Jordan:

We knew that @Amazon censored books because of pressure from the Biden @WhiteHouse.

Now we know which books:

–Children’s Books
–Books for Parents
–Books critical of Big Pharma




Hired Milwaukee K-12 financial consultant says two key problems led to financial crisis



By: A.J. Bayatpour:

In an interview Thursday with CBS 58, Gray said his review of what went wrong begins with the district’s use of financial reporting software that doesn’t fit with the system used by the state Department of Financial Instruction (DPI). 

While other districts have transitioned to newer software that allows those districts to feed financial data directly to the DPI, Gray said MPS’ software requires financial staffers to plug numbers into a spreadsheet, then re-enter them into the DPI’s system.

“When information goes on a spreadsheet, all it takes is one calculation to throw the whole thing off,” Gray said.

Gray said one of his final suggestions for MPS will be updating its internal software to a system that better aligns with what the state uses. Even then, Gray said that transition could take two years to complete, and it’ll be especially arduous for MPS because those updates will affect the more than 100 schools across Wisconsin’s biggest district.

Beyond the reporting system, Gray said staffing is the other major challenge. MPS’ corrective action plan noted the district hopes to have another 12 staffers in its finance office than it currently has.

——

More:




Lab wars: Inside one Democrat’s 20-year crusade to save the world from Anthony Fauci — Part 1: 2001-2014



Leon Wolf:

What most people did not know, though, was that for years, Fauci had been dogged by a very different sort of doctor — a researcher from Rutgers University who shunned the camera and preferred to keep his opinions in print. A man who made it clear with his appearance and his mannerisms that he never wanted to be an activist. A registered Democrat who supported Biden to the point of putting a Biden sign in his front yard, Ebright had always been convinced of one simple thing that he viewed to be above the petty fray of partisan politics: the government should not be spending our tax dollars to fund dangerous research on making viruses more deadly. 

For years, Ebright and Fauci carried out a silent war, waged in print, visible mostly only to members of the small community of research scientists who conduct serious chemical and biological research. Over and over again the same refrain played out: Ebright warned the public that this research was making the public less safe, and Fauci insisted it was making the public more safe. 

As we know now, Ebright was almost certainly right. However, it has taken four years — thanks to the concerted efforts of Fauci and his team — for the public to slowly come around to that realization. 

But to understand where we are, it is first necessary to understand how we got here. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Countless ink, both real and digital, has been spent examining Fauci’s every move taken since those fateful early days in 2020. Relatively little has been spent examining Fauci’s actions priorto 2020.

“[Dick Cheney] found one agency and one person willing to take that role… he found Anthony Fauci.”

Those actions, which are still largely shrouded in obscurity, may turn out to have been far more consequential than anything Fauci has done since he first appeared at the infamous press conference with former President Trump. You see, for the last two decades, Fauci has been by far the most important defender of what might be fairly called a bioweapons research program that the public now knows — albeit imperfectly — as “gain-of-function” research.

The U.S. government started the ball rolling on this dangerous research in the waning days of 2001. As you may recall, the al-Qaeda attacks of 9/11 were followed almost immediately by a series of high-profile anthrax attacks, in which prominent individuals in the U.S. were mailed envelopes with suspicious white powder that later tested positive for anthrax.




Tiny beauty: how I make scientific art from behind the microscope



Steve Gschmeissner:

Cheese fungus, head lice, human sperm, a bee eye, a microplastic bobble: scientific photographer Steve Gschmeissner has imaged them all under the probing lens of a scanning electron microscope (SEM). In his colourized electron micrographs, faecal bacteria resemble thin spaghetti, silica-walled diatoms look like cubes of breakfast cereal and a segmented tardigrade resembles a curled-up, tubby piglet. 

Gschmeissner, who has been imaging microbes, cancer cells and invertebrates for about 50 years, has crafted an extraordinary array of more than 10,000 SEM images, some of which have been featured in Nature.

He spoke to Nature about the importance of scientific images, looking at imploding cancer cells and the miniature world he found on a rotten rasp




Arvind, longtime MIT professor and prolific computer scientist, dies at 77



Adam Zewe:

Arvind Mithal, the Charles W. and Jennifer C. Johnson Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at MIT, head of the faculty of computer science in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), and a pillar of the MIT community, died on June 17. Arvind, who went by the mononym, was 77 years old.

A prolific researcher who led the Computation Structures Group in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Arvind served on the MIT faculty for nearly five decades.

“He was beloved by countless people across the MIT community and around the world who were inspired by his intellectual brilliance and zest for life,” President Sally Kornbluth wrote in a letter to the MIT community today.

As a scientist, Arvind was well known for important contributions to dataflow computing, which seeks to optimize the flow of data to take advantage of parallelism, achieving faster and more efficient computation.

In the last 25 years, his research interests broadened to include developing techniques and tools for formal modeling, high-level synthesis, and formal verification of complex digital devices like microprocessors and hardware accelerators, as well as memory models and cache coherence protocols for parallel computing architectures and programming languages.




Who’s responsible for our accountability problem?



Tim Harford:

I was recently scheduled to present my Cautionary Tales podcast live on stage as a curtainraiser for a podcast conference. Talented voice actors, live sound effects and even a trombone would weave a dramatic soundscape for a full house. There was only one problem. Nobody seemed to have the authority to let me in.

The people issuing conference passes wouldn’t give me one — not unreasonably, since I wasn’t attending the conference proper and hadn’t registered to do so. They advised that I speak to “that lady there”. That lady there seemed puzzled: the conference wouldn’t officially open until tomorrow, so I didn’t need a pass. Just walk in, she said. The security guard had a different view. He had been given strict instructions that nobody gets in without a pass. Talk to the conference team, he told me. Nothing to do with us, they said — talk to security.

I realised I was facing what the writer Dan Davies has named an “accountability sink”, in which it was somehow nobody’s fault. In his recent book The Unaccountability Machine, Davies explains the basic logic of an accountability sink: decision-making power is removed from individuals you might want to shout at, and made instead by an algorithm or some distant committee both ignorant of and immune to your

Rick Esenberg:

Bureaucrats may want to do good things, but, like everyone else, they will tend to put their own interests first. Since they don’t face the same market discipline as private actors, things like this happen and they just say “sorry.”




Wisconsin School districts must use screener in 4K through third grade under Act 20



DPI:

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is announcing NCS Pearson was selected to supply the statewide reading readiness screener under the requirements of 2023 Wisconsin Act 20.

Bids for the universal screener were evaluated by Department of Administration experts following state procurement rules. The DPI will need to negotiate a final contract before July 15, 2024, with NCS Pearson that will include details about assessment administration, accommodations and accessibility options, trainings for teachers and administrators, and testing windows. These details will be announced before the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year.

“Having an equitable universal screener in place is another important step forward in addressing the unique needs of Wisconsin’s youngest learners,” DPI Office of Literacy Director Dr. Barb Novak said. “As the department continues working with schools and districts across the state on implementing the requirements of Act 20, this screener will help educators in understanding each student’s literacy-related strengths and needs. It is critical that we continue coming together to achieve our goal of ensuring every child can read effectively and successfully.”

——

More.




Civics & Covid: Review of DoD Funds Provided to the People’s Republic of China and Associated Affiliates for Research Activities or Any Foreign Countries for the Enhancement of Pathogens of Pandemic Potential (Report No. DODIG‑2024‑099)



Dept of Defense Inspector General:

The purpose of this management advisory is to inform Congress and DoD leadership of the results of our review required in response to Public Law 118‑31, “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024,” section 252, “Audit to Identify Diversion of Department of Defense Funding to China’s Research Labs.

Section 252 of the FY 2024 NDAA requires that the DoD Inspector General submit a report to the congressional defense committees within 180 days of December 22, 2023. The legislation requires a report on the amount of Federal funds awarded by the DoD, directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, subgrants, subcontracts, or any other type of agreement or collaboration, to Chinese research labs or to fund research or experiments in China or other foreign countries that could have reasonably resulted in the enhancement of pathogens of pandemic potential, from 2014 through 2023. In addition, the legislation specifically named Chinese government entities, affiliates, and one government contractor, as being part of the study.

——

Commentary.




Substantial Madison K-12 tax and $pending increase plans



Kayla Huynh

One question on the ballot would ask voters for $100 million over the next four school years to increase spending on staff salaries and education programs. The second would ask for $507 million to renovate or replace seven aging elementary and middle schools.

The two referendums would be “unprecedented in size and scope in district history,” according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum released today.

As school district leaders consider the referendums, Madison city leaders also are weighing a property tax referendum of their own on the same ballot.

That would mark the first time Madison voters are asked to consider property tax referendums from both the school district and the city.

If voters approve of the school district’s two measures, MMSD officials estimate an owner of an average-value home in Madison would see a $1,376 increase on their property tax bills by 2028. That could be on top of hundreds of dollars annually for a city property tax increase.

——

Wisconsin Policy Forum (achievement?)

Another set of points for referendum voters to consider is how MMSD funding compares to other districts in Dane County and around Wisconsin. In short, the district’s revenue limit and related aid of $15,435 per student is already relatively high compared to other districts, and the referendum would accentuate that.

….

However, the middle schools in particular have low rates of utilization because of declining enrollment, with Sennett, Sherman, Toki, and Black Hawk middle schools all operating at or between 45% and 56% of their capacity. With enrollment currently projected to fall further in the next several years, MMSD officials and voters may wish to consider whether all of these schools will be used for many years to come or whether it makes sense to explore consolidating two middle school buildings to avoid at least one of the construction projects.

They may wish to engage in a similar discussion about elementary schools as well, though those facilities generally have at least somewhat higher utilization rates.

That would be the largest number of MMSD staff since at least 2013 despite the fact that enrollment is essentially at its lowest point over that period.

Sarah Lehr:

But Stein said the latest proposals are historic in size.

“This would be both from the capital and the operating side, the largest referendum questions that have ever been put to (MMSD) voters,” he said. “So certainly, this is a bigger ask than voters have ever had from the district in the past.”

Stein says Madison is contending with financial headwinds, including state-imposed limits on fundraising and waning pandemic aid. 

He also noted that money from a tax referendum approved by MMSD voters in 2020 is drying up.

Last year, Madison’s school board approved employee raises between 5.5 and 10 percent, which cost an extra $12 million in the current fiscal year. MMSD’s proposed budget for 2025 would add more than 100 full-time equivalent staff positions, and could also include additional raises.

It remains to be seen how many of those positions will be filled in a hot labor market, and Stein noted that vacancies could help patch up the budget shortfall.

“All school districts have been facing challenges from employee turnover (and) from rising inflation costs that have put pressure on their labor costs,” he said.

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




“The (Stanford) research center, which is shutting its doors, was supposed to tackle “misinformation.” Instead, they hired a bunch of interns to flag social media posts”



By Julia Steinberg

The Stanford Internet Observatory—a research center tasked with rooting out “misinformation” on social media—is shutting its doors. Chances are if you’ve heard of the SIO it was in a scathing piece from Michael Shellenberger or Matt Taibbi, who have accused the center of being a key node in the censorship-industrial complex.

It was also my first employer. Like a zillion other bright-eyed Stanford undergrads, I was drawn to work at a place that promisedto “learn about the abuse of the internet in real time, to develop a novel curriculum on trust and safety that is a first in computer science, and to translate our research discoveries into training and policy innovations for the public good.” To me, that meant ending internet abuse like the glamorization of anorexia on social media or financial scams that steal billions every year. But mostly I worked on the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), which SIO ran during the 2020 and 2022 elections. The purpose of that project was to identify so-called “fake news” spreading on social media. 

In actuality, SIO hired a load of interns to scan social media for posts deemed to be mis- and disinformation. It turns out that the posts we students flagged were often sent along to moderators at Twitter (now X), Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, which took them down in order to quash dissenting viewpoints—viewpoints that sometimes ended up being right, as in the case of Covid likely being the result of a lab leak, or Hunter Biden’s hard drive being his actual hard drive—not Russian disinformation. 

——-

Curious NPR reporting.




Notes on teacher staffing



Dale Chu:

WATCH: “The inconvenient fact is that we need 4 million men & women to staff America’s public school classrooms. A number that large means that they will be ordinary people—not saints, not superstars.”




Civics: What Executive Orders Tell Us About Biden, Trump



Beth Brelje

Executive orders are one of the clearest pictures of a president’s priorities.

When politicians make campaign promises, the public can only wonder if those promises will be kept. In the repeat race between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, discerning voters can now look back at their executive orders and consider what each candidate has already accomplished.

Executive orders are one of the clearest pictures of presidential priorities.

Working outside the legislative branches, the executive order allows presidents (and state governors) to change government policy. It can be wielded as a useful tool to advance administration goals or as an overstep of authority.

President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which freed millions of slaves, is one of the most well-known executive orders.

President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order in 1941 establishing the Office of Scientific Research and Development, which facilitated the Manhattan Project and the development of the atomic bomb.

In another executive order, President Roosevelt created internment camps in 1942 and forced 100,000 Japanese Americans to live in them under the umbrella of national security after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.




Civics: Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules Sidewalks are not “Pedestrian Ways”—thus Allowing Local Governments to Use Eminent Domain to Take Property to Build Them



Ilya Somin:

Courts sometimes adopt highly counterintuitive interpretations of words. In 2022, a California court notoriously ruled that bees qualify as fish. Today, in Sojenhomer v. Village of Egg Harbor, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled that a sidewalk is not a “pedestrian way.” They thereby enabled local governments to use eminent domain to condemn property to build sidewalks, despite a state law forbidding the use of eminent domain to take property for “pedestrian way[s].” The close 4-3 decision might become a staple of law school textbooks.

Labour: Conservatives have utterly let renters down

It may seem obvious that a sidewalk is, in fact, a pedestrian way. Indeed, as the court notes, the relevant statute defines a “pedestrian way” as “a walk designated for the use of
pedestrian travel.” That seems to pretty obviously include sidewalks! You don’t have to be a property scholar like me to see that.




Differentiation. Inclusion. Call it what you will – it is a complete and utter failure.



Reddit:

It has made it impossible for me to do my job.
It is the reason we are failing kids. It is the reasons we are burning out. 

Nobody is benefitting under this model. Not our low kids, not our average kids, not our high kids. And definitely not our teachers. 

We are running teachers into the ground and expecting good results. 

I am secondary trained. I was hired to teach junior high. I am currently teaching grade eight English class. 

In theory. 

Somehow planning for one class has turned into planning multiple different lessons to be delivered simultaneously. 

Because you see, I teach grade 8 on paper, because are all thirteen years old, and therefore in grade eight. But the reality is that I am teaching kids who are working at grade level. I am teaching kids who are reading and writing at a high school level. I am teaching kids who are working below grade level because they may have a learning disability or developmental delays. I’m teaching kids who are brand new to the country and who cannot speak English, and who may not even have literacy skills in their native language. 

WHY ARE THEY IN THE SAME ROOM?

You will hear all sorts of crap from admin, the intelligentsia, and consultants. 

“It’s for the kids.”

“It’s good for their self esteem.”

“It’s about learning to cater to their strengths and abilities.”

Is it really? Is it good to have Johnny and Timmy in the same grade 8 class when Johnny is writing essays and Timmy does not yet know what letters are? Are they actually getting what they need to be successful? Will Timmy actually feel empowered being in a class where he feasibly cannot keep up?




“I’ve Got Nothing to Hide” and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy



Daniel Solove:

n May 2006, USA Today broke the story that the NSA had obtained customer records from several major phone companies and was analyzing them to identify potential terrorists. 6 The telephone call database is reported to be the “largest database ever assembled in the world.” 7 In June 2006, the New York Times stated that the U.S. government had been accessing bank records from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions (SWIFT), which handles financial transactions for thousands of banks around the world. 8 Many people responded with outrage at these announcements, but many others did not perceive much of a problem. The reason for their lack of concern, they explained, was because: “I’ve got nothing to hide.”9

The argument that no privacy problem exists if a person has nothing to hide is frequently made in connection with many privacy issues. When the government engages in surveillance, many people believe that there is no threat to privacy unless the government uncovers unlawful activity, in which case a person has no legitimate justification to claim that it remain private. Thus, if an individual engages only in legal activity, she has nothing to worry about. When it comes to the government collecting and analyzing personal information, many people contend that a privacy harm exists only if skeletons in the closet are revealed. For example, suppose the government examines one’s telephone records and finds out that a person made calls to her parents, a friend in Canada, a video store, and a pizza delivery place. “So what?,” that person might say. “I’m not embarrassed or humiliated by this information. If anybody asks me, I’ll gladly tell them where I shop. I have nothing to hide.”

The “nothing to hide” argument and its variants are quite prevalent in popular discourse about privacy. Data security expert Bruce Schneier calls it the “most common retort against privacy advocates.” 10 Legal scholar Geoffrey Stone refers to it as “all-too-common refrain.” 11 The nothing to hide argument is one of the primary arguments made when balancing privacy against security. In its most compelling form, it is an argument that the privacy interest is generally minimal to trivial, thus making the balance against security concerns a foreordained victory for security. Sometimes the nothing to hide argument is posed as a question: “If you have nothing to hide, then what do you have to fear?” Others ask: “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, then what do you have to hide?”




Nature retracts highly cited 2002 paper that claimed adult stem cells could become any type of cell



Retraction Watch:

Nature has retracted a 2002 paper from the lab of Catherine Verfaillie purporting to show a type of adult stem cell could, under certain circumstances, “contribute to most, if not all, somatic cell types.” 

The retracted article, “Pluripotency of mesenchymal stem cells derived from adult marrow,” has been controversial since its publication. Still, it has been cited nearly 4,500 times, according to Clarivate’s Web of Science – making it by far the most-cited retracted paper ever.

In 2007, New Scientist reported on questions about data in the Nature paper and another of Verfaille’s articles in BloodNature published a correction that year. 

The errors the authors corrected “do not alter the conclusions of the Article,” they wrote in the notice. 




Notes on Harvard



By Samuel J. Abrams & Steven McGuire:


Harvard’s year has been one for the history books. It ranked last in the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s annual college free speech survey, earning its own category of “abysmal.” It had quite possibly the worst response to Hamas’s October 7th terrorist attack on Israel in all American higher education. Its former president, Claudine Gay, rightly resigned after a disastrous appearance before Congress and plagiarism revelations in her weak academic record. It has lost major donors. It is facing lawsuits and Department of Education investigations for anti-Semitism. Many of its own faculty, including a former president, have publicly declared the need for significant reforms.

All of this might have been enough to convince the people who run Harvard that they needed to make some changes, and, in fairness, they have made a few small ones. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences did away with mandatory diversity statements in faculty hiring but replaced them with a service statement that could easily be used to weed out candidates on the same grounds. And it partially adopted institutional neutrality, leaving out a key and currently essential part: that political divestment to get the university to take sides is off the table—National Association of Scholars President Peter Wood saw this coming.




What Is ChatGPT Doing … and Why Does It Work?



Stephen Wolfram:

That ChatGPT can automatically generate something that reads even superficially like human-written text is remarkable, and unexpected. But how does it do it? And why does it work? My purpose here is to give a rough outline of what’s going on inside ChatGPT—and then to explore why it is that it can do so well in producing what we might consider to be meaningful text. I should say at the outset that I’m going to focus on the big picture of what’s going on—and while I’ll mention some engineering details, I won’t get deeply into them. (And the essence of what I’ll say applies just as well to other current “large language models” [LLMs] as to ChatGPT.)

The first thing to explain is that what ChatGPT is always fundamentally trying to do is to produce a “reasonable continuation” of whatever text it’s got so far, where by “reasonable” we mean “what one might expect someone to write after seeing what people have written on billions of webpages, etc.”

So let’s say we’ve got the text “The best thing about AI is its ability to”. Imagine scanning billions of pages of human-written text (say on the web and in digitized books) and finding all instances of this text—then seeing what word comes next what fraction of the time. ChatGPT effectively does something like this, except that (as I’ll explain) it doesn’t look at literal text; it looks for things that in a certain sense “match in meaning”. But the end result is that it produces a ranked list of words that might follow, together with “probabilities”:




Why Property Taxes Are Going Up—and How to Cope



Michele Lerner:

It’s hard enough to purchase a home today with mortgage rates near 7% and, apologies for being the bearer of worse news, there’s another housing cost that’s also spiking: property taxes

Mortgage rates have been above 6.5% for over a year, and median home sale prices keep climbing as well. Property taxes get considerably less attention, but are important to factor in affordability.

Total property taxes for homes rose 6.9% in 2023 compared with 2022, according to a recent report by ATTOM, a real-estate data analytics company based in Irvine, Calif. That was the largest jump in five years and nearly double the increase in 2022.

On an individual basis, the average tax on a single-family home increased 4.1% to $4,062 in 2023—following a 3% jump the previous year.

If your property tax bill is higher than expected, however, you have options.




A Record Number of Kids Are in Special Education—and It’s Getting Harder to Help Them All



Sara Randazzo and Matt Barnum:

More American children than ever are qualifying for special education, but schools are struggling to find enough teachers to meet their needs.

A record 7.5 million students accessed special-education services in U.S. schools as of 2022-2023, including children with autism, speech impairments and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. That is 15.2% of the public-school student population, up from less than 13% a decade earlier, the most recent federal data shows.

Several factors are driving the increase. Pandemic disruptions left kids with lingering learning and behavioral challenges. Parents have become more assertive about asking for services, as the stigma around special education has lessened. Autism diagnoses have also risen in recent decades, and the state of Texas has seen a boom in special education after changing an approach that had limited access.

Students with disabilities benefit from services like speech therapy, specialized reading lessons or personal classroom aides. Yet many schools report being understaffed in special education. And now, districts face growing pressure on their budgets as federal Covid relief aid is set to expire this fall.

“We are in a situation right now that is not sustainable,” said Kevin Rubenstein, who oversees special education for an 8,000-student suburban Chicago district. “We continue to struggle to make sure that we have enough teachers in place.”

Georgia parent Joshua Caines appreciated the special-education services his local public elementary school provided for his now 12-year-old son, whose autism and ADHD affect his attention and ability to hand-write, among other things.




Always mediocre, teacher prep is now politicized too



Joanne Jacobs:

Future elementary teachers get a lot of training in “equity pedagogy” at the University of Florida, writes Scott Yenor in City Journal. They may not learn much about how to teach.

He is co-author of a Claremont Institute report, Making Kindergarten Teachers into Radicals, on how the University of Florida’s education school changed training for elementary education majors in 2020.

“Core Teaching Strategies,” “Mathematics Content for Elementary Teachers,” “Art Education for Elementary Schools,” and “Music for the Elementary Child,” among others, were replaced with a new four-course sequence “centered on equity pedagogy.” Suffused with critical race theory, equity pedagogy makes raising consciousness and eliminating racial gaps — not subject matter mastery or effective teaching strategies — the moral imperatives of the teaching profession.

“At least ten required courses in the University of Florida’s new elementary education major have critical pedagogy embedded in their course descriptions, readings, and assignments,” writes Yenor. Nearly all course assignments now “focus on self-reflection about a teacher’s own biases.”




Dude, where’s my privacy?: How a Hollywood star lobbies the EU for more surveillance



Alexander Fanta:

A controversial new law proposed by the European Commission could oblige popular apps such as Instagram, WhatsApp or Signal to screen all private messages of their users for possible child abuse material.

The draft law, unveiled yesterday in Brussels, does not specify which technology must be used. Privacy advocates fear that in practice, the law could mean that most services will have to use client-side scanning, an intrusive technology that circumvents end-to-end encryption.

While opposition to the new law is led by privacy organisations and members of the European Parliament, a leading voice in lobbying in its favour is Thorn, a non-profit founded by Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher and his then-wife Demi Moore. While the organisation has little public profile in Brussels, its advocacy has reached the highest levels of the European Commission.




Advocating Social Media limits



Jon Haidt & Zach Rausch

1. The adolescent mental health crisis is real

From the 1990s through the mid-2000s, there was little sign of any youth mental health problem in the U.S. in any of the long-running nationally representative datasets. But by 2015, adolescent mental health was a 5 alarm fire, with steeply risingrates of loneliness, anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide. 

The trends are not plausibly explainable by changing diagnostic criteria or by a greater willingness of Gen Z to report mental illness as the stigma around it declined. No explanation has been given as to why de-stigmatization proceeded suddenly and rapidly around 2012 onward and affected only the young,and no evidence of such rapid de-stigmatization has been provided. If there has been de-stigmatization, it seems likely it’s been going on for decades. Yet teen depressive symptoms barely budged between 1991 and 2011 and then suddenly shot upward. Behavioral data also show significant rises in ER admissionsand hospitalizations for self-harm episodes among adolescent girls, as well as a rise in actual suicidesfor both boys and girls since 2010.

2. The crisis is international, happening across most of the developed world

We have done an extensive study of 10 nations (Anglo and Nordic) and found rates of depression, anxiety, and other measures of ill-being have been rising since 2010 in all of them. We have also published a study of Europe using the Health Behavior in School-Age Children Survey, which found that high psychological distress is rising across nearly all Western European nations (with the exception of Spain), and many Eastern European nations. (Note that we have worked to address where and why cultural variation exists, including some Eastern European nations and within more religious communities in the United States).

—-

More.




Notes on the Omega School



Seth Nelson:

For 52 years, Omega, an independent educational program, has helped students of all ages secure GEDs or HSEDs, replacement diplomas for those who for some reason never finished high school.

For many of this year’s graduates like Payton, a GED is a gateway to a new life, said Omega School Executive Director Oscar Mireles.

“Omega is giving people a second chance,” Mireles told the Wisconsin State Journal last year. “When you’re 16 or 17, sometimes you make decisions that you don’t think are going to impact your life as much as it does. Having a high school credential really does make a difference.”




Civics: “net federal subsidies in 2024 for insured people are $2.0 trillion”



CBO:

2034, that annual amount is projected to reach $3.5 trillion (or 8.5 percent of gross domestic product). Over the 2025–2034 period, subsidies are projected to total $27.5 trillion—with Medicare accounting for 46 percent; Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), 25 percent; employment-based coverage, 21 percent; subsidies for coverage obtained through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces or the Basic Health Program, 5 percent; and other subsidies, 2 percent.

By CBO’s estimates, the share of people without health insurance reached an all-time low of 7.2 percent in 2023. The rate in 2034 is projected to be 8.9 percent—higher than it was during the 2021–2023 period but lower than the rate of 10.0 percent in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic. CBO attributes much of the increase over the next 10 years to the end of Medicaid’s continuous eligibility provisions in 2023 and 2024 and the expiration of enhanced marketplace subsidies after 2025. (Both of those policies were put in place during the pandemic.) The surge in immigration that began in 2021 (and that CBO projects will continue through 2026) will contribute to the increase as well, as those newly arrived immigrants will, the agency expects, be substantially less likely to have health insurance coverage than the overall population. The largest increase in the uninsured population between 2024 and 2034 will be among adults who are 19 to 44 years old.




Beyond Academic Sectarianism



Steven M. Teles

More conspicuously than at any time in living memory, elite higher education has found itself in the political crosshairs. Who could have predicted a year ago that the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard would, in quick succession, be thrown out of a job after less than two years in office between them? Or that presidents of other elite universities would be holding on by the skin of their teeth?

While these and other university leaders’ responses to the Hamas attack on Israel lit the fire, the dry tinder for a political assault on our most prestigious universities has been sitting around for some time. What started in Philadelphia and Cambridge will not stop there.

Those who sense more than a whiff of political opportunism and anti-intellectualism in this assault are not mistaken. But the public’s impression that American higher education has grown increasingly closed minded is undeniably correct. Indeed, concerns about the ideological drift of the university are no longer limited to conservatives, but now include some left-leaning faculty who worry that higher education has become, in the words of Princeton professor Gregory Conti, “sectarian.”




Harvard. Enrollment and final exam for railroad practice. Daggett, 1906-1907



Irwin Collier:

Stuart Daggett was born March 2, 1881 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated from Roxbury Latin School (Boston, Massachusetts) in 1899. He received all three of his degrees, the A.B. in 1903, the A.M. in 1904, and the Ph.D in 1906, from Harvard University. The title of his thesis was “Railroad Reorganization”, published as vol. 4 of  Harvard Economic Studies (Houghton Mifflin, 1908). During 1906 to 1909 he was Instructor at Harvard, and in 1909 he accepted appointment to the University of California as Assistant Professor of Railway Economics. He was appointed full professor in 1917 and from 1920-1927 he was dean of the College of Commerce, retiring in 1951 as Flood Foundation professor emeritus of transportation. Stuart Daggett died December 22 1954 in Oakland, California.

__________________________

Railroad Practice
1906-07

Course Enrollment

Economics 17 2hf. Dr. Daggett. — Railroad Practice.

Total 37: 4 Graduates, 14 Seniors, 12 Juniors, 5 Sophomores, 2 Others.

Source: Harvard University. Report of the President of Harvard College, 1906-1907, p. 71.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

ECONOMICS 17
Year-end Examination, 1906-07

Answer 1, 2, 3, and five other questions.

  1. Distinguish between
  1. departmental railroad organization, and
  2. divisional railroad organization.
    Show the lines of responsibility under each system.



Civics: Scotland follows England, Wales and Northern Ireland in exonerating wrongfully convicted subpostmasters en masseCivics:



Karl Flinders

    Former subpostmasters and Post Office branch staff who were wrongfully convicted of crimes based on flawed computer evidence in Scotland have had their convictions quashed.

    Emergency legislation to exonerate wrongfully convicted Post Office workers has completed its journey through Scottish Parliament and each will now receive initial compensation of £600,000, with the ability to claim more as financial redress for their suffering.

    This mirrors legislation in Westminster, which covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Westminster, emergency legislation was pushed through last month to overturn the convictions of hundreds of former subpostmasters and their staff. Prime minister Rishi Sunak promised the blanket exoneration after an ITV drama and documentary about the scandal angered the public.




    Notes on taxpayer subsidized federal student loans



    CBO:

    Under the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program, the federal government provides education loans to undergraduate and graduate students and to the parents of undergraduate students. The federal government serves as the lender for all borrowers in the direct loan program but contracts with private entities to service those loans. Before July 1, 2010, the federal government also provided loan guarantees to financial institutions to provide federal student loans through the Federal Family Education Loan Program. The current program offers four types of loans:

    • Subsidized loans are need-based loans for undergraduate students. No interest accrues while a borrower is enrolled or
      during other deferment periods, and borrowing is limited by a student’s class level and dependency status.
    • Unsubsidized loans are non-need-based loans for undergraduate and graduate students. Interest accrues from
      origination, and borrowing is limited by a student’s class level and dependency status.
    • Parent PLUS loans are non-need-based loans for parents of dependent undergraduates. Interest accrues from
      origination, and borrowing is limited only by the cost of attendance.
    • GradPLUS loans are non-need-based loans for graduate students. Interest accrues from origination, and borrowing is
      limited only by the cost of attendance.
      The seven tables for federal student loan programs detail costs, loan volume, and subsidy rates as follows:
    • Table 1 shows cost projections for each budget account associated with the federal student loan programs, estimated
      according to procedures established in the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 (FCRA).
    • Table 2 shows the credit reestimates and modifications that the Office of Management and Budget announced that it
      would record in fiscal year 2024. Additionally, it shows 50 percent of the assumed modification needed for the costs
      to outstanding loans related to the notice of a proposed rulemaking on loan cancellation.
    • Table 3 shows projections of loan volume for new direct student loans.
    • Table 4 shows projections of subsidy rates for new direct student loans, by repayment plan, estimated using FCRA procedures.
    • Table 5 shows interest rate projections for federal student loans.
    • Table 6 shows cost projections for the federal student loan programs, estimated using fair-value procedures.
    • Table 7 shows projections of subsidy rates for new direct student loans, by repayment plan, estimated using fair-valu



    Understanding the misunderstood Kessler Syndrome



    Nation-states are blowing up satellites. Companies are launching megaconstellations of thousands of satellites. Dead rocket stages whiz around the planet for years. And yet, the International Space Station hasn’t been destroyed, payloads reach deep space unharmed, and we’re not trapped on Earth — at least not by debris. Either calamity is not upon us or we just don’t recognize it. Jon Kelvey takes the measure of Kessler Syndrome.

    Jon Kelvey




    Taxpayer funded Censorship: the latest from CISA



    CISA

    A lack of public understanding about elections (!) can undermine confidence in election security, increase risks to cybersecurity and physical security of election infrastructure, and potentially lead to disruption of election operations. As the official source of information about their jurisdiction’s elections, election officials can mitigate these risks through regular and consistent public communication, especially during incident response when there is often increased interest and sometimes confusion among the public. By demonstrating transparency and communicating effectively, officials can provide voters with the information necessary to have confidence that an election has been administered securely.

    An effective communications plan will include multiple communication activities that engage a variety of voters. These could include hosting town halls, sending an email newsletter, and maintaining an up-to-date and easy-to-use website. (It is recommended that the website uses a .gov web domain to help the public recognize it as an official state or local government site). Each communication activity should be defined by specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound (SMART) objectives. For example, SMART objectives could include increasing the number of visits to the election office’s website during a defined timeframe or seeing a decrease in the number of questions received about a particular topic after the office has provided publicly available information about the topic.

    The following guidance and supporting worksheets are created to help election officials design communication activities that achieve their objectives. Each section helps answer a different question about the plan, including what to communicate, who their audience is, and how to reach them through effective methods, partners, and timing, as well as provides additional guidance for incident response communications where clear and transparent communication is especially important.

    ——

    CISA and censorship.




    Notes on “voucher” schools; accountability?



    Dave Zweifel

    Many educators complained at the time that the entire voucher program would serve as a foot in the door to eventually undermine the public school system — a system that had served the country since colonial days and was credited with representing the true melting pot among children from different cultures, races and incomes. Besides, experiments comparing public and private schools in other places hadn’t resulted in any significant improvements in student outcomes.

    The ACLU filed suit against the religious school expansion and in 1998, the State Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. But, three years later the U.S. Supreme Court okayed the concept, agreeing with voucher proponents that taxpayer money actually went to parents who then could use the money as they saw fit for their children’s education. Therefore, states weren’t directly sending funds to religious schools, the court found.

    From those beginnings here in Wisconsin, that seemingly modest little program has blossomed into a colossus that is rapidly creating a complete second school system funded by the American taxpayer.

    “Billions in taxpayer dollars are being used to pay tuition at religious schools throughout the country, as state voucher programs expand dramatically and the line separating public education and religion fades,” a report in the Washington Post read earlier this month.

    ——-

    Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

    Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

    “An emphasis on adult employment”

    Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

    WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




    The Fauci Conspiracy



    James B. Meigs

    In other words, our public health officials, abetted by a politicized media, manufactured an airtight consensus on both Covid science and policy. This consensus was largely immune to scientific evidence or concerns about the real-world impacts of draconian policies.

    But not everyone joined the lockstep march on Covid. Stanford University’s Jay Bhattacharya, along with two other public health experts, issued the Great Barrington Declaration. It sensibly argued that the social costs of extended lockdowns far exceeded their mostly hypothetical benefits. The Great Barrington argument was derided in the press and secretly censored on social media at the behest of government officials.

    Similarly, at a time when the CDC and WHO both asserted the disease was transmitted primarily through “close contact,” Virginia Tech’s Lynsey Marr and several other scientists found abundant evidence that Covid was, in fact, airborne. This meant the key to saving lives was improving indoor ventilation, not displays of hygiene theater. Both health organizations largely ignored the new findings for more than a year, instead sticking to the “six-feet-apart” mantra and other dubious protocols. The astonishingly early arrival of vaccines was one of the pandemic’s key medical breakthroughs. But, as University of California, San Francisco, oncologist and epidemiologist Vinay Prasad argued, health officials confused and angered the public by exaggerating the vaccine’s benefits, ignoring its small but real risks (for young men, the danger of myocarditis arguably outweighs the vaccine’s upsides), and insisting that everyone—even children or people who’d gained immunity from previous Covid infections—keep taking booster after booster. Fauci’s vaccine mandates were a massive overreach.

    ——-

    Nicole Shanahan:

    Oh yes, it must be so “terribly frustrating” that Americans don’t “appreciate” having their: children masked, schools closed, businesses shuttered, family gatherings restricted, vaccines mandated, etc. In Fauci’s world, the citizen should just say “please and thank you” and do as they’re told. Science be damned.

    Waiting for an analysis of the long term costs of taxpayer supported Dane County Madison Public Health “mandates”




    Mathematics higher education preparation



    University of California

    The faculty Workgroup on Mathematics (Area C) Preparation, convened by UC’s Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) in fall 2023, has concluded their work and issued their Stage 2 report. The report focuses on which mathematical coursework is most appropriate and necessary to prepare students for success at UC, including courses recommended as the fourth year of math.
     
    The Stage 2 conclusions are as follows:

    • There are no changes to the Area C requirement. UC will continue to require the three lower-level (i.e., foundational) math courses covering the topics found in elementary algebra, geometry and advanced algebra (typically Algebra I-Geometry-Algebra II or Math I-II-III) as the best preparation for a diverse range of interests. This sequence allows maximum flexibility for students to explore various majors in their postsecondary studies, including STEM, social science and humanities majors. Nearly all California applicants to UC already meet this minimum requirement.
    • UC recommends a fourth year of math that substantially builds upon the knowledge and skills acquired in the foundational sequence. Such courses should be appropriate for 12th-grade students who have already completed the lower-level coursework.
    • Area C courses will fall under one of the following four categories:



    The Murky Business of Transgender Medicine



    Christopher Rufo:

    The practice made Sivadge recoil. “In the cardiac clinic, we were taking sick kids and making them better,” she says. “In the transgender clinic, it was the opposite. We were harming these kids.”

    Then, the following year, she breathed a sigh of relief. Under pressure from the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, Texas Children’s CEO Mark Wallace said that he was shutting down the child gender clinic. But it wasn’t true. Mere days later, it had secretly reopened for business.

    And business was booming. Doctors, including Roberts, Paul, and Kristy Rialon, were managing dozens of pediatric sex-change cases, performing surgeries, blocking puberty, implanting hormone devices, and making specialty referrals. They were motivated not only by ideology, but by hope for prestige: they were saviors of the oppressed, the vanguard of gender medicine.

    Sivadge soon had seen enough. She read my investigative report exposing Texas Children’s sex-change program, which relied on testimony from Haim, and reached out to share her own observations.

    “I work very closely with this provider, Dr. Richard Roberts. I’ve been in the room with him when he speaks with these patients,” she told me in an interview. “Dr. Roberts is extremely encouraging of their transition and will essentially do whatever he can to make sure that they are happy, at least externally happy. Because I am absolutely certain that they are not internally happy. He is very accommodating. He does whatever they want. Essentially, there is no critical analysis of the process.”

    In Sivadge’s view, Roberts and other providers were manipulating patients into accepting “gender-affirming care.” When parents objected, the doctors bulldozed them, she claims. Some families, she believed, feared that the hospital would call Child Protective Services if they dissented.

    Then, two months after I spoke with her for that story, Sivadge called me in a panic. The FBI had sent two special agents, Paul Nixon and David McBride, to her home. The agents knocked on the door, asked her about “some of the things that have been going on at [her] work lately,” and then asked to enter her home. She was terrified. (The FBI declined to comment.)

    The agents told Sivadge that she was a “person of interest” in an investigation targeting the whistleblower who had exposed the child sex-change program. They told her that the whistleblower had broken federal privacy laws. “They threatened me,” Sivadge said. “They promised they would make life difficult for me if I was trying to protect the leaker. They said I was ‘not safe’ at work and claimed that someone at my workplace had given my name to the FBI.”

    The authorities—the FBI, the hospital, and, as Sivadge would later discover, federal prosecutors—were all circling the story. Both the Department of Justice and the hospital leadership were ideologically committed to “transgender medicine.” They had been embarrassed by the investigation that had exposed their actions, and they were looking for revenge.

    Things went quiet for a while afterward. Sivadge resumed her work as a nurse, and the FBI did not reappear.

    ——

    Commentary.




    “The Gaslighting of Experts.”



    Eric Weinstein:

    Let’s say you are an economist who believes that higher taxes spent on infrastructure would be good for the nation. The right may fight you. They may call you a name like “Libtard” or “Commie”. And that is absolutely awful behavior to me. Truly. But they aren’t nearly as likely to coordinate behind the scenes in emails to be discovered later and all agree to pretend, seemingly independently, that as a former expert you have committed some unclear moral crime that means you can never be empaneled or invited onto a commission. They aren’t immediately going to treat you like a mental patient, a con-artist, or threat to society. They are just going to be asses. That’s the dopey game they love: “Happy Warriors” is what they call it.

    And the subjects I focus on most tend to be the places where I think dissenting experts are being gaslit:

    COVID ORIGINS

    SOUTHERN BORDER

    STRING THEORY

    POTUS COGNITIVE STATE AND AGE

    EPSTEIN’S INTELLIGENCE CONNECTION

    COVID MANAGEMENT

    QUESTIONING UKRAINE NATO STRATEGY

    INFLATION/GROWTH MEASUREMENT

    MONETARY AGGREGATES AND FED INTERVENTION

    VP COMPETENCY




    K-12 tax & $pending climate: Wisconsin’s economy



    Kurt Bauer

    1of2: It’s been a rough two months for Wisconsin in several economic measurement studies/rankings.

    WI’s population grew just 0.31% per year between 2008-2023, according to PEW.

    WI ranks 40th in Best & Worst State Economies from Wallethub.




    Harvard Faculty Slam Social Science Dean’s Proposal to Limit Faculty Speech



    Tilly Robinson;

    Several Harvard faculty members blasted Dean of Social Science Lawrence D. Bobo for suggesting certain faculty speech should face “sanctionable limits” and argued that his proposals would restrict academic freedom.

    Bobo argued in a Friday op-ed that some faculty members should face penalties from Harvard’s administration for issuing statements that incite external intervention into the University, singling out former Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers for his fierce condemnation of Claudine Gay’s initial response to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

    Bobo’s op-ed comes as Harvard weathers political attacks, including a monthslong congressional investigation and threats to its federal funding — a campaign which has seized on criticisms lodged by the University’s own faculty, including Summers. Meanwhile, the end of the semester was marked by student protests over the war in Gaza, culminating in a pro-Palestine encampment in Harvard Yard and a walkout at Commencement.

    Bobo took aim at Summers — who has charged Harvard with allowing rampant antisemitism and accused its top brass of mishandling the leadership crisis last winter — for his role as one of the University’s highest-profile critics.




    Milwaukee scandal hurts all Wisconsin students



    Barbara Dittrich

    Representative Barbara Dittrich (R – Oconomowoc) issued the following statement regarding the MPS fiscal scandal and its impact on local school districts:

    “Aside from the fact that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) leadership have deceived the public and hurt some of Wisconsin’s most underprivileged students, there is an enormous ripple effect this scandal has on every one of the state’s students. 

    “As a result of the MPS referendum, the school districts in the area I serve see reductions in annual state aid as follows:

    ——

    Matt Smith:

    Wisconsin’s state superintendent — Sunday morning on UPFRONT

    ——-

    AJ Bayatpour:

    State Supt. Jill Underly says she first learned of MPS’ financial problems in late April.

    She says the state wasn’t worried then since MPS was about that late with its reports last year. I asked why DPI was so lenient, knowing the state’s biggest district could affect everyone:

    Much more on Jill Underly, here (and her efforts to abort our elementary teacher literacy test: the Foundations of Reading).




    The Miseducation of America’s Teachers



    Daniel Buck

    If medical professionals spoke about early career doctors the way school administrators talk about early career teachers, no one would enter a hospital again. “Oh, everyone kills a few patients early on,” a caring mentor assures an internist who prescribed the wrong medication. “The only way to learn is to dive in and poke around,” says a veteran surgeon to a young resident about to perform his first tracheotomy.

    Unfortunately, these are common sentiments among educators in America. No novice teacher is armed with the knowledge or skills to run a classroom; it’s simply assumed that they’ll fail early on. In fact, making it through the blistering first year — the classroom chaos, the unforgiving workloads, the confusing curricula, the daily student insolence — is something of a rite of passage. Veterans clap rookies on the back and assure them they’ll make it through, knowing that the first few years will be rough — for both the teacher and his students.

    The reason for this reality is simple: Our nation’s teacher-preparation system is broken. Our educators enter the profession woefully unprepared for their jobs. The large majority attend programs at university schools of education, where they read and discuss esoteric academic literature that contains no references to classroom-management techniques, lesson pacing, learning assessments, or other practical knowledge. These schools are boxing academies that don’t teach their students how to duck and weave.

    I experienced the consequences during my first year of teaching. Lectures on tort law and transgender literacies didn’t equip me to handle a student who slugged another in the face during class. Nor did a few mock lessons equip me to fill 50 minutes of class time for several different classes five days a week.




    Civics: ‘Progressivism That Doesn’t Result in Progress’



    James Freeman:

    Today’s headline nicely sums up the problem afflicting the modern Democratic Party, and it comes to us courtesy of the New York Times of all places. The newspaper’s Nicholas Kristof writes:

    As Democrats make their case to voters around the country this fall, one challenge is that some of the bluest parts of the country — cities on the West Coast — are a mess.

    Centrist voters can reasonably ask: Why put liberals in charge nationally when the places where they have greatest control are plagued by homelessness, crime and dysfunction?

    Mr. Kristof writes that “the truth is that too often we offer a version of progressivism that doesn’t result in progress” and adds:




    The Encyclopedia Project, or How to Know in the Age of AI



    Janet Vertesi:

    Our kids aren’t allowed to just look things up online themselves. Like many parents, we guide them through trying to find something trustworthy, so as to avoid online sludge. We have an especially draconian approach to YouTube. We search through multiple layers of proxies, private browsers, and peer sites, so that Google can’t infer who we are or our preferences. So when my husband typed in a few search terms and scrubbed through several clips before settling on one, we had some confidence in our due diligence. It certainly looked like a comprehensive introduction to kung fu.

    At first, a male voice droned over a flurry of images. Thirty seconds in, my husband whispered, “I think this text is AI generated.” Fifteen seconds later, I whispered back, puzzled, “I think the voice is AI generated too.” Then, in the foreground, we spotted six fingers on a character. As we rushed to the controls, a picture filled the screen; it looked to all the world like a painting of a temple (just like the one in Kung Fu Panda). But this temple was going up in flames, while monastic fighters paraded unperturbed before the inferno. “Why is the building on fire?” our youngest panicked.

    “Because,” my husband said calmly as he turned the machine off, “it’s not a real building. It’s something a computer made up, what it thought we wanted to see.”

    I shook my head. This was a deep game. There was, as of yet, no single button to AI-generate an entire video. We had hoped the length and variation of our selection might offer some respite. Instead, somebody assembled the pieces, generating each in turn and stitching them together by hand, aware of their ruse as they chased clicks. I drew a long breath.

    “That’s it,” I announced. “We’re getting an encyclopedia.”




    Civics: taxpayer funded election censorship



    Judicial Watch:

    Judicial Watch announced today it received 110 pages of heavily redacted records from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that show state election officials in the days before and after the 2020 election flagging online content deemed “misinformation” and sending it to the Center for Internet Security (CIS), a DHS-funded nonprofit, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), and others.

    The records were obtained in response to a November 2022 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records of communications between the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of DHS, and the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), which was created to suppress online election content for censorship and suppression(Judicial Watch Inc. vs. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:22-cv-03560 )). Judicial Watch filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after DHS failed to respond to an October 2022, FOIA request.

    The newly obtained records include a November 4, 2020, email report from CIS “Misinformation Reports” to Brian Scully, head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Mis-, Dis-, Malinformation (MDM) branch, a division of DHS. The report originated in the Washington State secretary of state’s office and states:




    A Frightening View of Free Speech and Academic Freedom at Harvard



    Jonathan Adler:

    Professor Lawrence Bobo, Dean of Social Science and the W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University, has an article in the Harvard Crimson on the proper limits of faculty speech that has to be read to be believed.

    He writes:

    Is it outside the bounds of acceptable professional conduct for a faculty member to excoriate University leadership, faculty, staff, or students with the intent to arouse external intervention into University business? And does the broad publication of such views cross a line into sanctionable violations of professional conduct?

    Yes it is and yes it does.

    Vigorous debate is to be expected and encouraged at any University interested in promoting freedom of expression. But here is the rub: As the events of the past year evidence, sharply critical speech from faculty, prominent ones especially, can attract outside attention that directly impedes the University’s function.

    A faculty member’s right to free speech does not amount to a blank check to engage in behaviors that plainly incite external actors — be it the media, alumni, donors, federal agencies, or the government — to intervene in Harvard’s affairs. Along with freedom of expression and the protection of tenure comes a responsibility to exercise good professional judgment and to refrain from conscious action that would seriously harm the University and its independence.

    In support of this position, he even notes “you can’t escape sanction for shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”




    Topological Problems in Voting



    Back in college, I developed an interest in unexpected impossibility proofs applied to real world systems. The fact that certain abstract mathematical structures inherently have limitations which profoundly impact actual applications is both captivating and sobering. Here’s a cute instance of topological properties applied to voting systems a friend shared with me through this video (we’ll take a slightly different approach).

    Background: Arrow’s Theorem

    Arrow’s Theorem1 is the most famous impossibility theorem applied to voting systems – lots of articles and papers have spent time introducing and discussing its implications. In essence, Arrow’s Theorem states that a voting process which ranks candidates in an absolute total order cannot simultaneously satisfy:




    Alverno College declares financial emergency, plans to cut majors and graduate programs



    Kathryn Muchnick
    :

    Alverno College’s Board of Trustees has declared a financial emergency and is cutting one-third of its majors and one-quarter of its graduate programs, the school announced Friday.

    Kathy Hudson, chair of the board, said the moves would “ultimately position Alverno College for a more financially sustainable future.” She added: “We remain dedicated to providing students a transformational education experience.”

    As part of the restructuring, the south-side Milwaukee college, which traces its history back 137 years, will cut 25 full-time faculty positions and 12 full-time staff positions.




    Notes on the taxpayer funded Milwaukee School District Superintendent Search



    Corrinne Hess:

    Since mismanagement and financial failures were uncovered over the last several weeks, several key positions, including the CFO, have either resigned or retired. 

    Steven Enoch worked as a superintendent for 18 years in California and Washington State, including the San Ramon Valley Unified School District in the San Francisco Bay Area. He said if the Milwaukee school board wants to change the direction of the district, it will need to hire a superintendent from outside of MPS.

    Keith Posley worked for MPS for 40 years. Galvan is a 30-year veteran of the district. 

    Enoch said internal candidates — even if they are great — represent a status quo. But he cautioned that finding a qualified superintendent is challenging because the pool is smaller than it used to be. 

    “If a school board is viewed as dysfunctional, the number of interested candidates will decrease significantly,” Enoch said. “Public education has always been difficult because it has been political. But it has gotten more political now that it has become a target of certain groups.” 

    But former MPS Superintendent Howard Fuller said the job might not be as hard to fill as some people might guess.




    Fast Crimes at Lambda School



    Benjamin Sandofsky:

    Two days after his company’s downfall, Austen Allred wrote:

    I wish people could see how ugly it is to be envious, and how obvious it is to those around you when that’s what’s happening.

    There’s no much uglier than trying to tear someone down because they achieved what you wish you had.

    Austen co-founded Lambda School, one of the largest educational startups of all time. It promised to teach you to code in a matter of months, a common claim in 2017, a time when code bootcamps were commodities you could find in any strip mall. But you don’t score $120 million in funding from the biggest names in venture capital by building a better boot camp. He took on college.

    An underdog with a story as fascinating as his company, Austen went from Mormon missionary to college dropout— at one point homeless and living out of his Honda Civic— to the founder of the hottest startup in the valley.

    What set his boot camp apart from the others were “Income Share Agreements.” Instead of paying up-front for tuition, students agreed to pay a portion of future income. If you don’t get a job, you pay nothing. It was an idea so clever it became a breakout hit of Y Combinator, the same tech incubator that birthed Stripe, AirBnb, and countless other unicorns.

    When Lambda School launched in 2017, critics likened ISAs to indentured servitude, but by 2019 it was Silicon Valley’s golden child. Every day, Austen tweeted jaw-dropping results.




    A government with a permanent deficit and a bloated military. A bogus ideology pushed by elites. Poor health among ordinary people. Senescent leaders. Sound familiar?



    By Niall Ferguson

    But it only recently struck me that in this new Cold War, we—and not the Chinese—might be the Soviets. It’s a bit like that moment when the British comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb, playing Waffen-SS officers toward the end of World War II, ask the immortal question: “Are we the baddies?

    I imagine two American sailors asking themselves one day—perhaps as their aircraft carrier is sinking beneath their feet somewhere near the Taiwan Strait: Are we the Soviets?

    Yes, I know what you are going to say. 

    There is a world of difference between the dysfunctional planned economy that Stalin built and bequeathed his heirs, which collapsed as soon as Mikhail Gorbachev tried to reform it, and the dynamic market economy that we Americans take pride in. 

    The Soviet system squandered resources and all but guaranteed shortages of consumer goods. The Soviet healthcare system was crippled by dilapidated hospitals and chronic shortages of equipment. There was grinding poverty, hunger, and child labor. 

    ——

    Total public cynicism about nearly all institutions.




    A Long Guide to Giving a Short Academic Talk



    Benjamin Noble:

    For the first year grad student, reading is life. Every professor is unaware, it seems, that you are taking other classes. In fact, I used to look forward to my statistics homework simply because it was a break from reading.

    As I have progressed through my program, I find myself reading less and less. At this point, I’d actually like to do some reading—but between R&Rs, writing, and collecting data, reading is one thing that can always be safely put off until tomorrow.

    I once asked a junior professor how—given the need to publish, teach, and meet with students—he had time to keep up with all of the new scholarship coming out each month. His response: he didn’t. He said he kept up with new work primarily by attending talks, workshops, and conferences.

    I share this long-winded windup that has little do with talks for a reason—because this was the moment I realized that if you want others to read your work, you cannot simply publish it and assume others will find (and cite) it. You need to sell it.




    Dismissive literature reviews reduce understanding – so why do academics keep making them?



    Richard Phelps:

    How many times have you read an article that confidently states there are few other studies in this area? And how confident are you that this is the case? Richard Phelps argues outside of the sciences there is rarely a lack of pre-existing literature, but claiming so is a rhetorical move to give priority to one’s own research.

    Doesn’t all scholarship add to our storehouse of knowledge, you ask? Well, yes, in an absolute sense. Isaac Newton’s generous acknowledgement of his predecessors seeing farther by standing on the shoulders of giants comes to mind.

    In a relative sense, however, a new piece of scholarship may subtract from our collective understanding with a most un-Newtonian device: the dismissive literature review. With a dismissive review, a scholar assures an audience that little or no previous research exists on a topic or, if it does, it is so poorly done it is not worth citing.

    With a dismissive review, a scholar assures an audience that little or no previous research exists on a topic or, if it does, it is so poorly done it is not worth citing.




    Remedial education in college



    William Biagini:

    In a desperate attempt to catch high school graduates up to speed, many universities are providing remedial writing classes to college students. 

    About 68% of those starting at two-year public institutions and 40% of students enrolled in public four-year universities took at least one remedial writing class between 2003 to 2009, according to an original report from the Department of Education.

    Average math and reading test scores dropped significantly from 2019 to 2021, according to a 2022 study by two Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). It seems likely that the 2016 figures would be much worse if they were resampled in 2023, after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Dr. Megan Kuhfeld, one of three NWEA study researchers, told Campus Reform Aug. 30 that “It seems likely but with two caveats: (a) the students in our study have not reached college yet so it is hard to extrapolate from middle school test results and (b) colleges may have changed their criteria for routing students into remedial courses as a results of the pandemic, which would also change the proportion.”

    And:

    In the 90’s Camille Paglia told us anti-western radical leftists were taking over and politicizing the Univerisites.




    In the name of the law: scholar He Weifang argues his case for remembering China’s past



    Yuanyue Dang

    He Weifang is a retired professor from Peking University Law School. Named one of Foreign Policy’s top 100 global thinkers in 2011, He has long advocated for judicial independence. 

    You retired last July, bidding farewell to your fruitful career as a legal scholar. How is life after retirement and do you still have some work to do?

    It’s quite good. I still have three PhD students under my supervision who have not yet graduated.




    Why Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs matters



    Brian Harvey

    In 2011, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of MIT, the Boston Globe made a list of the most important innovations developed there. They asked me to explain the importance of SICP,and this is what I sent them:

    SICP was revolutionary in many different ways. Most importantly, it dramatically raised the bar for the intellectual content of introductory computer science. Before SICP, the first CS course was almost always entirely filled with learning the details of some programming language. SICP is about standing back from the details to learn big-picture ways to think about the programming process. It focused attention on the central idea of abstraction — finding general patterns from specific problems and building software tools that embody each pattern. It made heavy use of the idea of functions as data, an idea that’s hard to learn initially, but immensely powerful once learned. (This is the same idea, in a different form, that makes freshman calculus so notoriously hard even for students who’ve done well in earlier math classes.) It fit into the first CS course three different programming paradigms(functional, object oriented, and declarative), when most other courses didn’t even really discuss even one paradigm.

    Another revolution was the choice of Scheme as the programming language. To this day, most introductions to computer science use whatever is the “hot” language of the moment: from Pascal to C to C++ to Java to Python. Scheme has never been widely used in industry, but it’s the perfect language for an introduction to CS. For one thing, it has a very simple, uniform notation for everything. Other languages have one notation for variable assignment, another notation for conditional execution, two or three more for looping, and yet another for function calls. Courses that teach those languages spend at least half their time just on learning the notation. In my SICP-based course at Berkeley, we spend the first hour on notation and that’s all we need; for the rest of the semester we’re learning ideas, not syntax. Also, despite (or because of) its simplicity, Scheme is a very versatile language, making it possible for us to examine those three programming paradigms and, in particular, letting us see how object oriented programming is implemented, so OOP languages don’t seem like magic to our students. Scheme is a dialect of Lisp, so it’s great at handling functions as data, but it’s a stripped-down version compared to the ones more commonly used for professional programming, with a minimum of bells and whistles. It was very brave of Abelson and Sussman to teach their introductory course in the best possible language for teaching, paying no attention to complaints that all the jobs were in some other language. Once you learned the big ideas, they thought, and this is my experience also, learning another programming language isn’t a big deal; it’s a chore for a weekend. I tell my students, “the language in which you’ll spend most of your working life hasn’t been invented yet, so we can’t teach it to you. Instead we have to give you the skills you need to learn new languages as they appear.”




    “Thinking for us”



    Jesus Diaz:

    With every new AI feature announced, my heart sank a little more. There was the Lensa-style AI-image generation engine that guarantees that everyone with an Apple device will be sharing the same trite images in the style of 2022 DALL-E. There was the ChatGPT-powered tools that can summarize web pages, write emails, and compose bedtime stories to read to your child complete with AI-generated illustrations. There was even an AI tool to automatically “clean up and correct” your iPad handwriting, making it “more uniform and pretty.”

    Apple has the reach to shape how millions of people will experience AI for the first time, and it has chosen to take the technology in the wrongest of directions, eating and regurgitating every artificial intelligence idea already out there, rebranding it to Apple Intelligence, and turning its operating systems into engines designed to normalize your personality.




    China’s Good Will(a) Hunting, Vocational Fashion Student and Improbable Math Genius



    Rui Ma:

    17-year old vocational high school student Jiang Ping, who spends her days studying fashion design and literally making clothes, places 12th out of 801 finalists for the global Alibaba Math Contest. Unlike most of the other contestants, who hail from the top educational institutions in the world — plenty from MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and of course Tsinghua and Peking University — she was one of the roughly 50% of kids in China who didn’t even go to a regular high school and ended up at this vocational high school, where the primary purpose is to prepare them for a skilled, hands-on vocation. In her case, that is fashion design.

    She seems to have had just a super high aptitude for Math since she was young, and always found all the math problems in class very trivial. When she aced her first math exam at the vocational school, her Math teacher gave her a few advanced math books for self study. Armed with just a Chinese-English dictionary and translation app, she began to study in her spare time and found a lot of joy in exploring the beautiful universe that is Math.




    Milwaukee K-12 District officials knew about state aid reductions before referendum vote



    By: A.J. Bayatpour

    State education officials said Friday administrators for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) knew the district was facing a reduction in state aid as early as late March. 

    Those adjustments from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), now estimated to be somewhere between $35 million and $50 million, will make up for overpayments MPS previously received as a result of bad data it provided the state.

    Chris Bucher, a DPI spokesperson, told CBS 58 Friday the state first became aware in late March MPS may have submitted incorrect data that led to the state giving more money than it should have.

    On April 2, Milwaukee voters narrowly approved a $252 million referendum for the district. 

    Friday’s release is the first public confirmation at least some officials at the highest levels of MPS knew they were facing a state aid reduction because of past mistakes, but voters were never informed of that before the April vote.

    “The subject of an impact to aid first came up during a discussion in late March, although we cannot confirm an exact date,” Bucher said in an email. “Because of problems with MPS data, we have been working since then to drill down and put more clarity on this number.”

    We wanted to ask two top district administrators what they knew at the time.




    “Second, the latest revelation underscores the incompetence of the board”



    John Schlifske:

    The recent news that Milwaukee Public Schools failed to file a required financial report to the state Department of Public Instruction, that its past reports were missing data or inaccurate, and that it might have to payback millions in funds to the state is just another proof point underscoring the need for substantial governance reform. This lays open two serious deficiencies with the MPS board

    First, is the lack of transparency and outright deceit on the part of the board. Do we really believe all this was “discovered” after the district led a push for $252 million in new property taxes? Do we really believe that no one on the board was aware of what was going on? For an elected body to misrepresent and hide the true situation at MPS immediately preceding the spring ballot initiative is outrageous and unacceptable. The board operates in star-chamber proceedings with absolutely no oversight. It no longer holds the public’s trust.

    Second, the latest revelation underscores the incompetence of the board. Why weren’t they asking the tough questions? Why weren’t they seeking information as to the delay? Were they so oblivious to good governance that they didn’t even think to ask for this kind of data? No well-governed organization should ever find itself in the situation the MPS board is in right now. Moreover, this incompetence extends to the performance of the school system itself.

    Milwaukee schools near bottom in national academic performance

    As a city, our K-12 educational performance is near dead last, well below the national averages (based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress) in both reading and math. Think about it, we are below virtually every other major city in America. Worse, only 15.9%, and 9.9% of MPS students are on grade level on the state assessment in reading and math, respectively.

    ——-

    Commentary.

    Meanwhile, Madison!

    Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

    Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

    “An emphasis on adult employment”

    Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

    WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




    in 1971 when The New York Times and The Washington Post published excerpts of what would be known as “The Pentagon Papers.”



    Michael Shellenberger:

    Daniel Ellsberg, a Defense Department analyst working for the RAND Corporation, had given the two newspapers top-secret documents. They showed not only that the US was losing the war in Vietnam but that the Pentagon had known the US couldn’t win the war for many years and kept fighting it anyway.

    The Pentagon had tried to prevent the publication of the documents, but the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected newspapers’ right to publish them, even though Ellsberg had broken the law by leaking them.

    Thanks to the Twitter Files, we learned that individuals with links to US military and intelligence organizations have tried for years to convince reporters that they should no longer follow the Pentagon Papers principle, ostensibly since doing so could help foreign adversaries. They used this argument at the same moment that they were attempting to “pre-bunk” the Hunter Biden laptop, months before The New York Post published articles about its existence.

    Now, a judge in Tennesse may violate the Supreme Court’s famous Pentagon Papers ruling and order a reporter in Nashville named @michaelpleahy to reveal the source of documents leaked to him. The leaked documents in question came from a trans-identified woman named Audrey Hale, who killed six people at a Christian school last year.




    Faculty Censorship



    Lawrence Bobo:

    After this historic year of endless controversy, I — like many faculty members — look forward to calmer times on campus. But before any semblance of normalcy can be achieved, we must come together to resolve two lingering questions about our role in the University community.

    Having witnessed the appallingly rough manner in which prominent affiliates, including one former University president, publicly denounced Harvard’s students and present leadership, this first question must be answered: Is it outside the bounds of acceptable professional conduct for a faculty member to excoriate University leadership, faculty, staff, or students with the intent to arouse external intervention into University business? And does the broad publication of such views cross a line into sanctionable violations of professional conduct?

    Yes it is and yes it does.

    Vigorous debate is to be expected and encouraged at any University interested in promoting freedom of expression. But here is the rub: As the events of the past year evidence, sharply critical speech from faculty, prominent ones especially, can attract outside attention that directly impedes the University’s function.

    A faculty member’s right to free speech does not amount to a blank check to engage in behaviors that plainly incite external actors — be it the media, alumni, donors, federal agencies, or the government — to intervene in Harvard’s affairs. Along with freedom of expression and the protection of tenure comes a responsibility to exercise good professional judgment and to refrain from conscious action that would seriously harm the University and its independence.

    More.




    The March of Dimes Syndrome



    John Tierney:

    The better things get, the more desperately activists struggle to stay in business.

    In the spring of 1979, a few weeks after the partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, more than 65,000 people marched on the United States Capitol chanting “No Nukes, No Nukes.” As a young reporter at the Washington Star assigned to cover this new movement, I interviewed march organizers and noticed that all of them had previously organized protests against the Vietnam War. This struck me as curious: How had they suddenly become so passionate and knowledgeable about nuclear power?

    I later learned that a term exists for this phenomenon—the March of Dimes syndrome—and that the tendency affects many other movements, too. Why, last year, did the Human Rights Campaign declare a “national state of emergency” for LGBT people? Why was the election of the first black American president followed by the Black Lives Matter movement? Why have reports of “hate groups” risen during the same decades that racial prejudice has been plummeting? Why, during a long and steep decline in the incidence of sexual violence in America, did academics, federal officials, and the #MeToo movement discover a new “epidemic of sexual assault”?

    These supposed crises are all examples of the March of Dimes syndrome, named after the organization founded in the 1930s to combat polio. The March helped fund the vaccines that eventually ended the polio epidemics—but not the organization, which, after polio’s eradication, changed its mission to preventing birth defects. Its leaders kept their group going by finding a new cause, just as antiwar activists did after achieving their goal of ending the Vietnam War. The Three Mile Island accident offered new fund-raising opportunities and a new platform for veterans of the antiwar movement such as Jane Fonda and her husband Tom Hayden, who both addressed the crowd at that first antinuke rally.

    For career activists, success is a threat. They can never declare mission accomplished.




    Columbia Task Force Reveals Full Extent of Antisemitism on Campus Since Oct. 7, by Students and by Faculty



    Lee Yaron:

    One professor encountering a Jewish-sounding surname while reading names before an exam asked the student to explain their views on the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza. Another told their class to avoid reading mainstream media, declaring that “it is owned by Jews.” A third revealed a student’s complaint about an offensive comment regarding Jews by publicly displaying their email to fellow 




    We Should Worry about What Columbia Is Teaching Teachers, Too



    Daniel Buck:

    The campus tantrum at Columbia University exposed for all to see the institution’s commitment to the fringe political philosophies of postcolonial theory and of DEI more broadly.

    Perhaps lesser known to the general public is that Columbia’s education department — aptly named Teachers College — is the oldest and arguably most prestigious education school in the country. It is the Yale Law or Julliard of teacher-prep programs. The ideas that students imbibe there and the content that the school’s professors promulgate reflect the elite consensus in American education. Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a review of courses offered exposes an obsession with …




    Civics: Public records and the covenant shooting



    Deborah Fisher

    It’s been a dizzying week in the public records case before Davidson County Chancellor I’Ashea Myles.

    For more than a year now, Myles has been considering whether the public records law requires the Nashville Police Department to release files from its investigation into the Covenant School shooting. Six people were killed in the shooting, including three children.

    Now, however, as everyone has been awaiting a long-overdue ruling, the chancellor has turned her attention to a leak of police records to a local conservative news website, The Tennessee Star. She is clearly hot about it.

    On Monday, she ordered Tennessee Star Editor Michael Patrick Leahy, the editor and owner of Star News Digital Media, one of the four plaintiffs in the case, to appear personally in court on June 17 and show in a “show cause hearing” why his “publication” of articles based on leaked documents “does not” subject him to contempt proceedings and sanctions.

    Today, a Nashville police lieutenant delivered a declaration to the court suggesting the leaker is former lieutenant Garet Davidson, who also just happened to file a big complaint against his former employer




    NH House nixes school voucher expansion



    Rick Green:

    State representatives rejected legislation Thursday to expand a program that uses taxpayer dollars to help parents pay for their kids’ private school tuition or home-schooling expenses.

    House Bill 1665 would have increased financial eligibility for the Education Freedom Accounts program from the current 350 percent of the federal poverty level to 425 percent, or $133,000 a year for a family of four.

    It passed the Senate, 14-10, on Thursday in a party-line vote, with Republicans in favor and Democrats against.




    Why China takes young Tibetans from their families



    The Economist:

    An air of quiet piety hangs over Rongwo Monastery in the western province of Qinghai. The streets near this ancient complex draw pilgrims and Tibetan Buddhist monks in dark red robes. Local believers make circuits around the monastery’s yellow walls, turning a line of wooden prayer-wheels as they walk.

    On a recent Monday afternoon, though, chattering schoolchildren thronged this sacred neighbourhood in the heart of Tongren, a small mountain city known to Tibetans as Rebkong. Youngsters in red scarves and uniform tracksuits bought fruit and snacks from market stalls, most without a parent in sight. Teenage high-schoolers and pupils half their age hauled small suitcases or sat in weary groups beside piles of schoolbags, bringing the bustle of a railway station to streets around the monastery.




    Love Spreadsheets? Meet Their Inventor



    Curt Schleier:

    Prior to VisiCalc, personal computers were basically novelties kids played games on. But the electronic spreadsheet, which let non-mathematicians manipulate hundreds of numbers with a single keystroke, showed how a computer was invaluable. Businesses raced to buy them.

    Even Apple (AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs said that VisiCalc software, originally written for the Apple II computer, “propelled the company’s success more than any other single event.” Jobs said that “If VisiCalc had been written for some other computer, you’d be interviewing someone else right now.”




    An update on One City Schools (Monona, WI)



    Kaleem Caire

    One City Preschool continues to attract far more children than we can enroll, and is ready to grow and expand. Our two public charter schools, One City Elementary School and One City Preparatory Academy, are making notable progress as well:

    • Our benchmark assessments show our Scholars growing academically across grade levels.
    • Our Scholars are earning recognition for modeling our 5 Habits of Character (compassion, integrity, persistence, risk, and self-respect) at home, at school, and in the community.
    • 97% of our 456 seats in grades 4K to 8 are already filled for the 2024-25 school year, with 94% of our current Scholars returning in the fall.
    • 95 of our 98 staff members said they want to return next year: a 97% retention rate.
    • Our staff and Parent Council are doing a beautiful job of engaging families in our schools, and our volunteers and partners are helping our children reach for their North Star and grow. Nearly 600 family members attended our first Winter Wonderland Family Ball and trained volunteers are tutoring our Scholars in reading.
    • Our advocacy efforts helped inspire, facilitate, and secure the largest increase in state spending on K-12 education ($1.3B) in Wisconsin history.

    In July 2025, we will host our 10th anniversary celebration and first 8th grade graduation. This will be just the second time we have hosted a large community gathering to promote and support our Scholars and schools: the first time was our coming out event that TruStage Foundation (formerly CUNA Mutual Foundation) hosted at its headquarters in Madison in March 2015.

    ——-

    Kaleem Caire and One City.




    Why Government Unions—Unlike Trade Unions—Corrupt Democracy



    Philip Howard:

    Today, in a runoff election for mayor, Chicago voters will choose either former teacher Brandon Johnson or former schools CEO Paul Vallas. What’s raising eyebrows is the funding of Johnson’s campaign: Over 90 percent has come from teachers unions and other public employee unions. Vallas has the endorsement of the police union, but his funding is more diverse, including business leaders and industrial unions. Just looking at the money, the race comes down to this: Public employees vs everyone else plus cops.

    What is wrong with this picture? The new mayor is supposed to manage Chicago for all the citizens, not to benefit public employees. Chicago is not in good shape. In 37 of its schools, not one student is proficient in reading or math. Its transit system is stuck with schedules that serve no one at great expense. The crime rate in Chicago is among the highest in the country. But no recent Chicago mayor has been able to fix these and other endemic problems because the public unions have collective bargaining powers that give them a veto on how the city is run. Frustrated by the inability to get teachers back to the classroom during Covid, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot observedthat the teachers union wanted “to take over not only Chicago Public Schools, but take over running the city government.”

    This is not just a Chicago problem. Los Angeles teachers walked out of class rooms last month supposedly to support striking service personnel, but Los Angeles lacks the resources to help the service employees because of the indebted inefficiencies in the teachers union contract.

    American government has a fatal flaw hiding in plain sight. Public employee unions in most states have a stranglehold on public operations. Voters elect governors and mayors who have been disempowered from fixing lousy schools, firing rogue cops, or eliminating notorious inefficiencies.

    ——

    WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators (2010)

    Act 10




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