All posts by Jim Zellmer

Mixed Results From New NEA Membership Numbers Pre-Janus Ruling, Post 2018 Teacher Walkouts in W. Va., Okla. and Ariz.

Mike Antonucci:

NEA had 2,626,216 active members working in the public school system in 2018 — an increase of 0.5 percent from the year before — plus an additional 372,000 retired and student members. The spread among state affiliates again demonstrates the advantage that agency fee laws provided to NEA.

In states where NEA represented fee payers, the union gained 28,180 members. In right-to-work states, it lost 13,991 members.

I culled the figures from the NEA Secretary-Treasurer/Independent Auditors 2019 Financial Reports and constructed a table, which provides both the total and active membership for each state affiliate. Along with the numbers are the one-year and five-year changes in those figures.

“Do Your Job:’ Pittsburgh Public Administrators Face Criticism Over School Performance (!)

Andy Sheehan:

The hallways of the predominantly African American University Prep are lined with pennants and banners of colleges and universities — but the promise of a college education has gone mostly unfulfilled.

Students at the 6-12 public school in the Hill District have struggled academically, with less than 17% of its middle schoolers achieving proficiency in reading and none in math.

On top of that, the school has been the site of several melees that have required a police response. In fact, the school’s principal is currently on medical leave after being injured trying to break up one such fight.

“We have not been successful in turning this school around,” said school board member Sala Udin. “The administration has not been successful.”

Distressed over the performance of U Prep, the school board is set to vote Wednesday evening on a proposal to move the middle school students to Arsenal Middle School in Lawrenceville.

But Udin argues that the administration of Superintendent Anthony Hamlet must fix the school rather than close a large section of it.

“You need to do your job. Come up with a formula that works and make this school work,” Udin said.

Related: What will be different, this time?

Lawfare & Commentary on Police presence in taxpayer supported Madison Schools

David Blaska:

An E. Lakeside St. homeowner looked out of his window shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday (06-18-19) to see a teenager behind the wheel of his parked car. There were three other young people leaning into the driver’s side window.

The victim ran outside, inquiring: “Can I help you guys?” The teens began moving quickly away and the man followed. “Did you take anything?” The three girls said nothing, but the boy pulled out, what appeared to be, a box cutter indicating he would stab the victim if he did not back off.

The man, while frightened, tried to reason with the boy, saying he had a kid and just wanted the group to give back anything they might have taken. Neighbors were witnessing the confrontation and police were called.

The teens were located walking on area railroad tracks and taken to the Juvenile Reception Center. Arrested were one 16-year-old boy and three girls, ages 15, 15, and 16.

We previously reported that Progressive Dane co-chair Brenda Konkel was vetting an ethics complaint against Madison Metro school board president Gloria Reyes for voting to keep cops in Madison’s four troubled high schools.

Late Tuesday (06-18-19) she followed through by filing that complaint with the school district. She was joined by two other anti-cop hot heads, Andy Heidt and Andy Olson. They allege that:

The Surreal End of an American College

Alia Wong:

Like most other colleges across the country, Newbury College, a small, private liberal-arts school in Brookline, Massachusetts, held classes through the end of this past spring semester and then bid farewell to cap-and-gown-wearing seniors. But unlike almost every other college, those classes, and that farewell, were the school’s last: Newbury officially ceased operations at the end of May.

One of the first sources to publicly confirm the long-rumored closure was the president’s blog, where the news was shared last December. “It is with a heavy heart,” the school’s president, Joseph Chillo, wrote, “that I announce our intention to commence the closing of Newbury College, this institution we love so dearly.”

After that announcement, which was also blasted out in an email, about 25 percent of the student body decided to not even come back to campus for the spring semester, according to Chillo. But for the students who did—as well as their professors who stuck around—life on campus had already flatlined by the time they returned in January. As the light-pink blossoms began to sprout from the campus’s weeping cherry trees, Newbury’s nearly eight acres of Georgian-style buildings felt like a shadow of the school it’d been just a few months prior. It was no longer the college that Deborah Mael, an English professor who taught at the institution for most of its existence, remembered; the benches where her now-adult daughters had sat as kids remained empty, as did the dorms where they had relished the opportunity to hang out with older girls.

Ethics violation alleged in Madison School Board president’s vote to keep police in schools

Logan Wroge:

Three former elected officials are alleging Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes violated the body’s ethics policy when she voted in favor of a contract that would keep Madison police officers in the district’s high schools.

On Tuesday, former City Council members Andy Heidt, Brenda Konkel and Andy Olsen, who also served on the Dane County Board, sent a letter to the district calling on the School Board to vote again on the school resource officer, or SRO, contract. They claim that Reyes, a former Madison police officer and deputy city mayor, should not have been allowed to vote on it last week.

The letter, which was sent to the seven board members, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and the district’s legal counsel, claims that Reyes now works in the city’s Community Development Division.

The student loan crisis is really an underemployment catastrophe

Eric Seufert:

Student loan debt is fundamentally different than all other types of consumer debt. If someone buys a car with a loan and then loses their job, they can sell the car and use the proceeds to pay at least some of the loan down. That can’t happen with a student loan: the asset that the loan paid for is (ostensibly) knowledge, and that can’t be repossessed by a University or sold secondhand. Student loans are also almost impossible to discharge in a bankruptcy, and interest starts accruing on some types of student loans even while the borrower is in school.

But what caused the student loan debt load to get to the level of “crisis” in the United States? In cursory depictions of the student loan situation, many of the same explanations for the sharp increase in the cost of postsecondary education are often offered, from the pedestrian (“University campuses look like the palace of Versailles these days!”, “College kids are majoring in underwater basketweaving!”) to the conspiratorial (the endowments of the most prestigious universities are essentially hedge funds, and by charging tuition that isn’t generally affordable, universities can provide generous financial aid and maintain charity status for their endowment gains). But rapidly rising costs don’t necessarily create bubbles or crises. That the cost of tuition rises doesn’t mean that it must be unaffordable relative to earlier periods, per se.

More, here.

You Care More About Your Privacy Than You Think

Charlie Warzel:

I hear this all the time: “This all sounds pretty troubling, but how much do we really, truly care about our privacy? After all, we don’t seem willing to stop using our phones or Facebook or Google.”

This idea is popular enough to have a name: the privacy paradox. It’s also the argument I hear from most tech evangelists and defenders of our data-guzzling platforms and services. There’s widespread public outcry about how much of our personal data is collected. And yet most of us can’t be bothered to change the default settings on our phones (which you should do and can learn about here). It’s a fair point, even if it does remind me of this excellent Matt Bors “Gotcha” cartoon lampooning a certain brand of reflexive contrarianism. There’s plenty that’s unexplored about how much we really care about giving away our personal information in exchange for free services.

IN COURT, FACEBOOK BLAMES USERS FOR DESTROYING THEIR OWN RIGHT TO PRIVACY

SammBiddle:

But only months after Zuckerberg first outlined his “privacy-focused vision for social networking” in a 3,000-word post on the social network he founded, his lawyers were explaining to a California judge that privacy on Facebook is nonexistent.

The courtroom debate, first reported by Law360, took place as Facebook tried to scuttle litigation from users upset that their personal data was shared without their knowledge with the consultancy Cambridge Analytica and later with advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign. The full transcript of the proceedings — which has been quoted from only briefly — reveal one of the most stunning examples of corporate doublespeak certainly in Facebook’s history.

Representing Facebook before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria was Orin Snyder of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, who claimed that the plaintiffs’ charges of privacy invasion were invalid because Facebook users have no expectation of privacy on Facebook. The simple act of using Facebook, Snyder claimed, negated any user’s expectation of privacy:

Commentary On the recent $44M Oberlin verdict

:

The court coverage of the Oberlin College case by a reporter for Legal Insurrection has revealed some stunning — but not so surprising — details about what transpired in that small Ohio college town.

An Ohio jury recently ordered Oberlin College to pay $33 million in punitive damages (capped at $22 million) to the family-owned grocery store Gibson’s Bakery near campus, a store that has done business with the institution for a century. That amount was added to the $11.2 million in compensatory damages it awarded Gibson’s as well.

Civics: “Content Moderation” and Facebook

Casey Newton:

For the six months after he was hired, Speagle would moderate 100 to 200 posts a day. He watched people throw puppies into a raging river, and put lit fireworks in dogs’ mouths. He watched people mutilate the genitals of a live mouse, and chop off a cat’s face with a hatchet. He watched videos of people playing with human fetuses, and says he learned that they are allowed on Facebook “as long as the skin is translucent.” He found that he could no longer sleep for more than two or three hours a night. He would frequently wake up in a cold sweat, crying.

Early on, Speagle came across a video of two women in North Carolina encouraging toddlers to smoke marijuana, and helped to notify the authorities. (Moderator tools have a mechanism for escalating issues to law enforcement, and the women were eventually convicted of misdemeanor child abuse.) To Speagle’s knowledge, though, the crimes he saw every day never resulted in legal action being taken against the perpetrators. The work came to feel pointless, never more so than when he had to watch footage of a murder or child pornography case that he had already removed from Facebook.

In June 2018, a month into his job, Facebook began seeing a rash of videos that depicted organs being harvested from children. So many graphic videos were reported that they could not be contained in Speagle’s queue.

Related: The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or to petition for a governmental redress of grievances.

America’s Epidemic of Empty Churches

Jonathan Merritt:

Three blocks from my Brooklyn apartment, a large brick structure stretches toward heaven. Tourists recognize it as a church—the building’s bell tower and stained-glass windows give it away—but worshippers haven’t gathered here in years.

The 19th-century building was once known as St. Vincent De Paul Church and housed a vibrant congregation for more than a century. But attendance dwindled and coffers ran dry by the early 2000s. Rain leaked through holes left by missing shingles, a tree sprouted in the bell tower, and the Brooklyn diocese decided to sell the building to developers. Today, the Spire Lofts boasts 40 luxury apartments, with one-bedroom units renting for as much as $4,812 per month. It takes serious cash to make God’s house your own, apparently.

Many of our nation’s churches can no longer afford to maintain their structures—6,000 to 10,000 churches die each year in America—and that number will likely grow. Though more than 70 percent of our citizens still claim to be Christian, congregational participation is less central to many Americans’ faith than it once was. Most denominations are declining as a share of the overall population, and donations to congregations have been falling for decades. Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated Americans, nicknamed the “nones,” are growing as a share of the U.S. population.

Many books aren’t fact-checked, and we’re increasingly realizing they’re full of errors.

Kelsey Piper:

The problem? That finding is the result of a grievous misunderstanding on Dolan’s part of how the American Time Use Survey works. The people conducting the survey didn’t ask married people how happy they were, shoo their spouses out of the room, and then ask again. Dolan had misinterpreted one of the categories in the survey, “spouse absent,” which refers to married people whose partner is no longer living in their household, as meaning the spouse stepped out of the room.

Oops.

The error was caught by Gray Kimbrough, an economist at American University’s School of Public Affairs, who uses the survey data — and realized that Dolan must have gotten it wrong. “I’ve done a lot with time-use data,” Kimbrough told me. “It’s a phone survey.” The survey didn’t even ask if a respondent’s spouse was in the room.

Why Some of Us Are Shy

Sarah Keating:

Does the idea of mingling at a party send cold fingers of dread creeping up your spine? Or the thought of giving a presentation in front of a room full of people make you feel physically sick?

If so, then you are not alone.

Akindele Michael was a shy kid. Growing up in Nigeria he spent a lot of time indoors at his parents’ house. His parents, incidentally, are not shy. He believes that his sheltered upbringing is linked to his shyness – but is he right?

Partly, says Thalia Eley, professor of developmental behavioural genetics at Kings College London.

“We think of shyness as a temperamental trait and temperament is like a precursor to personality,” she says. “When very young children are starting to engage with other people you see variation in how comfortable [they] are in speaking to an adult that they don’t know.”

Civics: The CIA Spied on People Through Their Smart TVs, Leaked Documents Reveal

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai:

The CIA and MI5 called the project to spy on Samsung Smart TVs “Weeping Angel,” perhaps a reference to Doctor Who, where weeping angels are “the deadliest, most powerful, most malevolent life-form ever produced.” The malware was designed to keep the smart TVs on even when they were turned off. This was dubbed “Fake-Off mode,” according to the documents. The CIA hackers even developed a way to “suppress” the TVs LED indicators to improve the “Fake-Off” mode.

“Weeping Angel already hooks key presses from the remote (or TV goes to sleep) to cause the system to enter Fake-Off rather than Off,” one of the leaked document reads. “Since the implant is already hooking these events, the implant knows when the TV will be entering Fake-Off mode.”

After this article was published, Samsung reacted with a statement.

“Protecting consumers’ privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority at Samsung,” read the statement sent via email. “We are aware of the report in question and are urgently looking into the matter.”

The New York Times has a course to teach its reporters data skills, and now they’ve open-sourced it

Joshua Benton:

“Should journalists learn to code?” is an old question that has always had only unsatisfying answers. (That was true even back before it became a useful heuristic for identifying Twitter jackasses.) Some should! Some shouldn’t! Helpful, right?

One way the question gets derailed involves what, exactly, the question-asker means by “code.” It’s unlikely a city hall reporter will ever have occasion to build an iPhone app in Swift, or construct a machine learning model on deadline. But there is definitely a more basic and straightforward set of technical skills — around data analysis — that can be of use to nearly anyone in a newsroom. It ain’t coding, but it’s also not a skillset every reporter has.

The New York Times wants more of its journalists to have those basic data skills, and now it’s releasing the curriculum they’ve built in-house out into the world, where it can be of use to reporters, newsrooms, and lots of other people too.

Here’s Lindsey Rogers Cook, an editor for digital storytelling and training at the Times, and the sort of person who is willing to have “spreadsheets make my heart sing” appear under her byline:

Facebook reveals Libra, its momentous new crypto, to the world

Ben Munster:

Unlike previous stablecoins, Libra will not be issued by a central party. Instead, Facebook has enlisted 27 fellow Silicon Valley titans—among them PayPal, Visa, Spotify, Mastercard, Uber, and eBay—to operate as preliminary “validator nodes” who will each share a transparent copy of a vast ledger of transactions reflecting all the activity on the network.

These collaborators, each of which pitched in $10 million for the privilege of joining the network, are the so-called “Founding Members” of the Libra Association, a Switzerland-based not-for-profit that will govern the development of the Libra network. A Byzantine system of “governance”—with each node participating in regular votes on key proposals—is intended to hold them accountable.

Facebook hopes that the system will be able to onboard billions of users, over the next five years, into a more efficient monetary system, accessible to anyone, without rent-seeking middlemen.

Some Students Get Extra Time for New York’s Elite High School Entrance Exam. 42% Are White.

Kevin Quealy and Eliza Shapiro:

Every fall, tens of thousands of New York City students sit for a high-pressure exam that determines their admission into the city’s most selective public high schools. Those students have three hours, a race against the clock to answer questions on subjects like trigonometry and to analyze reading passages.

But a few hundred students have double the time to take the exam, and there appears to be a racial disparity in who is receiving this special accommodation, which is covered under a federal designation known as a 504. The designation is meant to give students with mental and physical disabilities — whether attention deficit disorder or a broken arm — a fair shot in public education.

What is social justice?

Joel Kotkin:

Perhaps no issue more motivates progressive activists than social justice. Good intentions may motivate the social justice warriors, albeit sometimes sprinkled with a dollop of self-hatred. But good intentions do not necessarily produce good results. Indeed, often the policies favored by progressive idealists hinder the economic and social progress of the very people they seek to rescue.

They do this in many ways, emphasizing subsidies and preferences based on race while undermining the economic growth that most poor people, of any race, according to a recent You Gov poll, believe would be more effective than entitlement spending in reducing poverty.

In the real world — where most people live — intentions do not necessarily produce results. Opposition to charter schools may please progressives’ allies in the teachers’ unions but removes from poor and minority communities one proven way to achieve better results. Lowering standards might allow some of these students to emerge from under-performing public schools and enter elite colleges, but the evidence is that such students do poorly in these environments, often dropping out and, if they stay, segregating into departments, like ethnic or women’s studies, devoted to, you guessed it, social justice.

Indeed the emphasis on social justice, which is now filtering into the younger grades, seems destined to lower the actual achievement of those who so indoctrinated. The emphasis on race, gender and — horror of horrors, white privilege — is no substitute for the proficiency in math, science or literacy, things actually valued in the real world.

Social class in the wokest places

In California and other progressive states, woke policies are clearly not helping the poor. Indeed despite all the progressive rhetoric, African Americans and Latinos suffer considerably higher rates of poverty in California than in the rest of the nation; the Golden State already suffers the highest percentage of poor people among the states. The twin pillars of woke politics, California and New York, also suffer both the highest rates of inequality in the nation.

Many policies embraced by progressives also hamper minority aspirations to enter the middle class. California policies that restrict peripheral development, for example, have made home ownership all but impossible, and rents unsustainably high, for most minorities and working class families. In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, for example, 37% of Latinos and 33% of African Americans own their own home; in much dissed and less rigorously progressive places like Houston (51% & 42%) or Atlanta (44% & 45%), the percentages are much higher.

38 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent

Bill DeMain:

Sometimes we must turn to other languages to find le mot juste. Here are a whole bunch of foreign words with no direct English equivalent.

1. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

2. Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
You know when you’re really full, but your meal is just so delicious, you can’t stop eating it? The Georgians feel your pain. This word means, “I accidentally ate the whole thing.”

3. Tartle (Scots)
The nearly onomatopoeic word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can’t quite remember.

4. Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego)
This word captures that special look shared between two people, when both are wishing that the other would do something that they both want, but neither want to do.

5. Backpfeifengesicht (German)
A face badly in need of a fist.

Data free Commentary on University of Wisconsin Madison tax, spending and tuition climate

Kelly Meyerhofer:

“Somebody needs to come together and lead a conversation about the positive impact UW-Madison has across the state — not just in Madison, but across the state,” Amber Schroeder, executive director of Badgers United, said about the group’s origins.

The organization’s board of directors includes a long list of heavyweights: Allan “Bud” Selig, commissioner emeritus of Major League Baseball; John and Tashia Morgridge, longtime university donors and billionaire Badger alums; and Curt Culver, former CEO of MGIC Investment Corp.

Badgers United will work with its sister organization, the Badger Advocates lobbying group, with Badgers United operating as a nonpartisan nonprofit that will educate Wisconsinites about the economic return UW-Madison brings to the state, Schroeder said.

Schroeder is a former membership director for the conservative Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which advocates for business interests.

UW-Madison has increased its state relations and outreach in recent years to myth-bust misconceptions about the university in the hopes of generating more trust among some who may see the institution as elitist.

The writer failed to include ANY UW-Madison budget data.

Some information is easily found (!)

2016-2017 spending was $3,063,800,000, 61% more than 2004-2005: 1,897,900,000

Spending grew at roughly double the rate of inflation.

The Long Road To The Student Debt crisis

Wall Street Journal:

How broken? The numbers tell the story. Borrowers currently owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loans, an average of $34,000 per person. Over two million of them have defaulted on their loans in just the past six years, and the number grows by 1,400 a day. After years of projecting big profits from student lending, the federal government now acknowledges that taxpayers stand to lose $31.5 billion on the program over the next decade, and the losses are growing rapidly.

Meanwhile, four in 10 recent college graduates are in jobs that don’t require a degree, according to the New York Federal Reserve. And many American colleges are dropout factories: At more than a third of them, less than half of the students who enroll earn a credential within eight years, according to the think tank Third Way.

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

Five Lessons from History

Morgan Housel:

The most important lessons from history are the takeaways that are so broad they can apply to other fields, other eras, and other people. That’s where lessons have leverage and are most likely to apply to your own life.

But those things take some digging to find, often sitting layers below the main story.

The Great Depression began with a stock market crash. October 24th, 1929. That’s the story, at least.

It makes for a good story because it’s a specific event on a specific day. But if you were to go back to October 1929, during the crash, the average American might seem unfazed. Only 2.5% of Americans owned stocks in 1929.

The huge majority of Americans watched in amazement as the market collapsed, and perhaps lost a sense of hope that they, too, might someday cash in on Wall Street. But that was all they lost: a dream. They did not lose any money because they had no money invested.

The real pain came nearly two years later, when the banks started to fail.

Just over 500 U.S. banks failed in 1929. Twenty-three hundred failed in 1931.

When banks fail, people lose their savings. When they lose their savings they stop spending. When they stop spending businesses fail. When businesses fail, banks fail. When banks fail people lose their savings. And so on endlessly.

Who ‘Deserves’ to Go to Harvard?

Heather Mac Donald:

It’s college graduation season, when high-profile commencement speakers are scrutinized as barometers of academia’s ideological leanings. A speech by Harvard College’s dean this year suggests you learn more when a school bureaucrat articulates the worldview that shapes campus culture than when a celebrity jets in, collects an honorarium and leaves.

Rakesh Khurana opened his Class Day speech to graduating seniors with a summary of the changes at Harvard over the previous four years. He omitted two in which he played a central role: the removal of law professor Ronald Sullivan from oversight of an undergraduate dorm and the effort to banish single-sex social clubs. Mr. Sullivan’s legal representation of rape defendant Harvey Weinstein had put the “well-being” of Harvard’s students at risk, Mr. Khurana announced earlier this year, and the single-sex clubs perpetuated “spaces that are rife with power imbalances.”

The Way American Parents Think About Chores Is Bizarre

Joe Pinsker:

The practice of paying children an allowance kicked off in earnest about 100 years ago. “The motivation was twofold,” says Steven Mintz, a historian of childhood at the University of Texas at Austin. “First, to provide kids with the money that they needed to participate in the emerging commercial culture—allowing them to buy candy, cheap toys, and other inexpensive products—and second, to teach them the value of money.”

These days, American children on average receive about $800 per year in allowance, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Kids, though, are usually not receiving money for nothing—the vast majority of American parents who pay allowance (who themselves are a majority of American parents) tie it to the completion of work around the house.

The mindfulness conspiracy

Ronald Purser:

indfulness has gone mainstream, with celebrity endorsement from Oprah Winfrey and Goldie Hawn. Meditation coaches, monks and neuroscientists went to Davos to impart the finer points to CEOs attending the World Economic Forum. The founders of the mindfulness movement have grown evangelical. Prophesying that its hybrid of science and meditative discipline “has the potential to ignite a universal or global renaissance”, the inventor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Jon Kabat-Zinn, has bigger ambitions than conquering stress. Mindfulness, he proclaims, “may actually be the only promise the species and the planet have for making it through the next couple of hundred years”.

So, what exactly is this magic panacea? In 2014, Time magazine put a youthful blonde woman on its cover, blissing out above the words: “The Mindful Revolution.” The accompanying feature described a signature scene from the standardised course teaching MBSR: eating a raisin very slowly. “The ability to focus for a few minutes on a single raisin isn’t silly if the skills it requires are the keys to surviving and succeeding in the 21st century,” the author explained.

But anything that offers success in our unjust society without trying to change it is not revolutionary – it just helps people cope. In fact, it could also be making things worse. Instead of encouraging radical action, mindfulness says the causes of suffering are disproportionately inside us, not in the political and economic frameworks that shape how we live. And yet mindfulness zealots believe that paying closer attention to the present moment without passing judgment has the revolutionary power to transform the whole world. It’s magical thinking on steroids.

What I Learned About Life at My 30th College Reunion

Deborah Copaken:

On the weekend before the opening gavel of what’s being dubbed the Harvard affirmative-action trial, a record-breaking 597 of my fellow members of the class of ’88 and I, along with alumni from other reunion classes, were seated in a large lecture hall, listening to the new president of Harvard, Lawrence Bacow, address the issue of diversity in the admissions process. What he said—and I’m paraphrasing, because I didn’t record it—was that he could fill five whole incoming classes with valedictorians who’d received a perfect score on the SAT, but that’s not what Harvard is or will ever be. Harvard tries—and succeeds, to my mind—to fill its limited spots with a diversity not only of race and class but also of geography, politics, interests, intellectual fields of study, and worldviews.

I loved my four years at Harvard, largely because of the diversity of its student body. I don’t love the fact—now made public through the trial but previously understood by all of us to be true—that the kids whose parents donate buildings are given preferential treatment over those whose parents don’t. But I understand why the development office, which allows the university to give a free ride to any student whose family makes less than $65,000 a year, might encourage such a practice, which is hardly unique to Harvard. I also don’t love the fact that the Harvard fight song is still “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard,” in a school populated by at least as many women as men, and yet hearing its opening notes can still make me deeply nostalgic. Moreover, I am appalled that all-male final clubs—fraternity-like eating clubs in which the sons of America’s privileged class have traditionally gathered—still exist on campus (albeit with sanctions) without commensurate opportunities, with rare exceptions, for women, minorities, and others, but I also call some of their alumni members my closest friends.

Is China’s college entrance exam testing political loyalty?

Grace Tsoi:

In writing exams, students are usually graded for use of language, writing style and clarity of thought.

But for millions of Chinese students who are taking the annual gaokao college entrance exam this week, the first section of the marathon test – Chinese language and literature – felt like a test of political loyalty.

The essay questions varied slightly by region, but the vast majority featured questions highlighting political buzzwords created by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who could stay in power for life after presidential term limits were scrapped in March.

First U.S. use of CRISPR to directly target cancer will seek go-ahead from regulators

Sharon Begley:

If all goes as planned, the first clinical trial in the United States testing CRISPR against cancer by altering the DNA of tumor cells inside patients could begin recruiting participants next year, the scientist leading the effort told STAT.

Seventeen studies using CRISPR to treat cancer have been listed on the U.S. registry of clinical trials, but most of those use this genome editing technology to engineer immune cells to attack tumors. That approach, including a pioneering one led by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, is essentially just a variation on the production of CAR-T cells: CRISPR edits T cells that are isolated from blood that’s been removed from patients, and then the T cells are infused back into the patient. And although researchers in China are rumored to be testing a more direct use of CRISPR against cancer, except for one study using CRISPR to knock out viruses that cause cervical cancer, they have not made details of their plans public.

The Gene Editing Institute at Christiana Care Health System, a nonprofit, private community (as opposed to academic) medical system headquartered in Delaware, is preparing to seek regulatory approval for a much bolder CRISPR cancer study. If it receives the OK from the Food and Drug Administration, which it plans to request in the next few months, it would recruit six to 10 patients with late stage non-small-cell lung cancer and test whether using CRISPR to disable a particular gene would allow standard chemotherapy to work better and longer, ideally buying patients a little more time.

‘Voters are tired of you’: A week after parcel tax defeat, LAUSD parents rail at district leaders during 2019-20 budget hearing

Taylor Swaak:

Parents blasted L.A. Unified officials at a school board hearing this week — one even bursting into tears — offering an angry glimpse into the fractured trust between the community and the district just one week after voters overwhelmingly rejected a new parcel tax.

Many of the more than 20 speakers at Tuesday’s four-hour session expressed ongoing frustration with the ambiguity of L.A. Unified’s $7.8 billion operating budget and Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), a three-year plan updated annually that outlines the district’s goals and actions for improving student outcomes. Tuesday’s meeting was the first since L.A. Unified’s bid for a $500 million-a-year “Measure EE” parcel tax failed at the polls, and was also the first time the finalized 2019-20 budget and the LCAP were formally presented to the public. The board will vote on both next Tuesday.

“All of the voters are tired of you,” parent Luz Maria Montoya said in Spanish. “We don’t know what work you are doing.”

Some parents said district documents don’t clearly explain changes to student programs and services for next year. Others added that there isn’t transparency or robust “monitoring” of how L.A. Unified’s expenditures, such as professional development and training for teachers and principals, yield actual results for students. Montoya, for example, called district services for English learners and special education students “an embarrassment.” A few also accused L.A. Unified officials and principals of keeping parents out of budget and policy discussions — treating them “as sheeps, as herds,” as one speaker said— rather than welcoming them to the table as a partner.

“We have a lot of barriers” to knowing what’s going on, said parent María Daisy Ortíz, who addressed the board in Spanish. “We want to work with you, not against you. But respect us. … No one returns the wasted time to our children.”

Voters rejected two out of three Madison school district referendums in 2005

Superintendents’ group should spend more time on academics, next leader says

Jeffrey Solochek:

“In the last two years, we have had very little conversation at our meetings about student achievement,” said Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning, who assumes the leadership post in July. “We need to bring it back into balance.”

Browning noted the state has taken an increasing tough line with schools that do not meet academic expectations, as measured by annual exams. Lawmakers have removed the district-managed turnaround as an option for schools that persistently score poorly in the state grading and accountability system, he observed, while they also have eased the way for alternative models to open.

2013: WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT, THIS TIME? 2019: JENNIFER CHEATHAM AND THE MADISON EXPERIENCE.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

Victor Davis Hanson:

Three, unelected bureaucrats multiplied and vastly increased their power over private citizens. The targeted middle classes lacked the resources to fight back against the royal armies of tenured regulators, planners, auditors, inspectors and adjustors who could not be fired and were never accountable.

Four, the new global media reached billions and indoctrinated rather than reported.

Five, academia became politicized as a shrill agent of cultural transformation rather than focusing on education—while charging more for less learning.

Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends report highlights China’s short-form videos and super apps

Catherine Shu, Rita Liao:

This year’s edition of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report, released earlier today, once again included a section on China prepared by Hillhouse Capital. There are now 3.8 billion Internet users globally, more than half of the world’s population, but growth is slowing (as demonstrated by declining smartphone shipments). Internet leaders in China can continue helping companies in other countries find ways to engage their users, the way WeChat launched features, including mini-programs and e-commerce, that are now ubiquitous in messaging and social media apps around the world.

China has the most internet users in the world, about 800,000,000 or 21% of the world’s total internet users (it is followed by India, the United States and Indonesia). Chinese companies took seven of the top 30 spots for internet market cap leaders: Alibaba, Tencent, Meituan Dianping, JD.com, Baidu, NetEase and Xiaomi—stable, just one less than one year.

Oberlin’s Trial Loss and Legacy Media Coverage Commentary

Ann Althouse:

This is a story about the seriousness of damage caused by free-swinging attacks, so you might want to rein it in. Notice the students were concerned about “systemic racism” and their tone isn’t characterized nastily, but they were involved in causing harm that the jury soberly examined and found deserving of a $33 million punitive damages award. And conservatives are casually smeared, made to look like they get on social media and jeer and name-call.

Senior Chinese law researcher target of PhD plagiarism claims

Laurie Chen:

University of Political Science and Law says it will treat the allegations against Li Shichun seriously. Photo: Handout
China University of Political Science and Law says it will treat the allegations against Li Shichun seriously. Photo: Handout

A Chinese university has promised to treat seriously claims that a senior figure in the country’s peak body for legal professionals lifted sections of his doctoral dissertation from academic journals, according to a Chinese media report.

The plagiarism claims against Li Shichun, head of the China Law Society’s legal information department, first surfaced online, Shanghai-based news outlet Thepaper.cn reported on Tuesday.

The doctorate was awarded by the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing in 2002, and the news site said it confirmed that entire sections of the dissertation “Study on the Procedures of Preserving Civil Matters”, were directly copied from the 1995 editions of two law journals, Legal Commentary and the Annual of China Maritime Law, as well as another 1997 sociology paper published in the Ocean University of China’s journal.

I BabySit for the One Percent

Margaret Grace Myers:

“It’s like Uber, for babysitting,” is something that sounds vaguely like a joke and is one of the ways that I make rent every month. This could be an essay about the horrors of the gig economy and how you can have two master’s degrees and a full-time job and still not quite enough to comfortably afford groceries and buy a new sweater every once and while, but I’ll spare you. I used to be a full-time nanny, and when I transitioned out of that job into a part-time one (and, eventually, a full-time one), I found myself dabbling in the world of babysitting apps, of which there are a few in New York. Now, a few times a week, my phone pings with notifications for booking requests, which I frequently accept, trekking all up and down Manhattan and, if I’m lucky, closer to home in Brooklyn.

The people who hire me to babysit have enough disposable income to book me on a whim, sometimes with only a few hours’ notice. Usually I am greeted by a beautiful mom who has mastered the art of styling her hair. She gestures toward a monitor and shows me where the remote is before quickly absconding with her partner (equally as beautiful, these men with the expensive watches) and returning a few hours later in the dark. “Everything go okay?” they ask as I put my shoes on. In the elevator, I confirm on the app that the job is over and edit the end time if I need to, which is often. (“Take your time!” I say cheerfully as they leave, hoping for a bigger payment and to pocket the cab fare that gets added automatically past 11 p.m.) A few days later, a small sum — I make between $17–21 an hour, depending on how many kids are present — shows up in my Venmo account, and I spend it on lunches the following week.

The surprising benefits of talking to strangers

Nicholas Epley & Juliana Schroeder:

Two women talking on the tubeImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Most people spend part of every day surrounded by strangers, whether on their daily commute, sitting in a park or cafe, or visiting the supermarket.
Yet many of us remain in self-imposed isolation, believing that reaching out to a stranger would make you both feel uncomfortable.
These beliefs may be unwarranted. In fact, our research suggests we may often underestimate the positive impact of connecting with others for both our own and others’ wellbeing.
For example, having a conversation with a stranger on your way to work may leave you both feeling happier than you would think.
We asked bus and train commuters in Chicago how they would feel about striking up a conversation on their morning commute, compared to sitting in solitude or doing whatever they normally do. Most thought that talking would lead to the least pleasant commute.

Back Row America

David Azerrad:

The Back Row is Arnade’s name for the parts of the country that are poor and “rarely considered or talked about beyond being a place of problems.” Some are black, some are white; some rural, some urban. All are populated by those who could not or would not leave their dying neighborhoods in pursuit of the American Dream (as defined by those in the Front Row among whom Arnade used to live).
Today, they are stuck “living in a banal world of hyperefficient fast-food franchises, strip malls, discount stores, and government buildings with flickering fluorescent lights and dreary-colored walls festooned with rules. They are left with a world where their sense of home and family and community won’t get them anywhere, won’t pay the bills. And with a world where their jobs are disappearing.”
In retelling their stories, Arnade lets his subjects speak for themselves. The book is mostly composed of excerpts from the conversations he had with those stuck in the Back Row, along with numerous photographic portraits: some quite haunting, others quite touching. Dignity will make a powerful impression on all those who read it.
We meet Takeesha, a drug-addicted prostitute who lives with her husband Steve, who is sober, on the streets of Hunts Point in the South Bronx. In Bakersfield, California, we meet Jeanette, the daughter of Mexican immigrants who lives and preaches at the Full Gospel Lighthouse Church to a Hispanic congregation. In the parking lot of the Walmart in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, we meet Paul, who supplements his disability benefits by doing lawn work and proudly flies a Confederate flag on the back of his truck. We meet Henry, 84, and Winston, 79, two retired African Americans who migrated north from the Mississippi Delta as young men and today spend their days at the McDonald’s in Milwaukee’s North Side.
It is hard to see what unites such different and diverse people. In Arnade’s Back Row, one finds prostitutes, drug addicts, ghetto thugs, but also retirees, Somali immigrants, hard-working people, and churchgoers. What they all have in common, according to Arnade, is “a sense of having been left behind, of being forgotten—or, even worse, of being mocked and stigmatized by members of the world who are moving on and up with the GDP.”
Later in the book, he puts it even more poignantly: “Much of the back row of America, both white and black, is humiliated.” They either directly feel the contempt of the Front Row if they are white (the elites being too reverential vis-à-vis minorities ever to directly criticize them), or they clearly see that the things they hold dear are viewed with contempt by those running the country. As Angelo Codevilla already observed in The Ruling Class, the “dismissal of the American people’s intellectual, spiritual, and moral substance is the very heart of what our ruling class is about.”
Those in the Back Row ultimately do not share the values of those in the Front Row, namely “getting more education and owning more stuff.” They are not obsessed with economic growth, credentials, and upward mobility. The rat race doesn’t appeal to them.

Civics: US efforts to jail Assange for espionage are a grave threat to a free media

:

Was it in the public interest that the world should have eventually seen the raw footage of what happened? You bet. Was it acutely embarrassing for the US military and government? Of course. Was the act of revelation espionage or journalism? You know the answer.

We have two people to thank for us knowing the truth about how those Reuters employees died, along with 10 others who ended up in the crosshairs of the laughing pilots that day: Chelsea Manning, who leaked it, and Julian Assange, who published it. But the price of their actions has been considerable. Manning spent seven years in jail for her part in releasing that video, along with a huge amount of other classified material she was able to access as an intelligence analyst in the US army. Assange has been indicted on 17 new counts of violating the Espionage Act, with the prospect that he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

As editor of the Guardian, I worked with Assange when we jointly (along with newspapers in the US and Europe) published other material Manning had leaked. Vanity Fair called the resultant stories “one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years… they have changed the way people think about how the world is run”. The stories were, indeed, significant – but the relationship with Assange was fraught. We fell out, as most people eventually do with Assange. I found him mercurial, untrustworthy and dislikable: he wasn’t keen on me, either. All the collaborating editors disapproved of him releasing unredacted material from the Manning trove in September 2011. Nevertheless, I find the Trump administration’s use of the Espionage Act against him profoundly disturbing.

Much ado about nothing: ancient Indian text contains earliest zero symbol

Hannah Devlin:

Nowt, nada, zilch: there is nothing new about nothingness. But the moment that the absence of stuff became zero, a number in its own right, is regarded as one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of mathematics.

Now scientists have traced the origins of this conceptual leap to an ancient Indian text, known as the Bakhshali manuscript – a text which has been housed in the UK since 1902.

Radiocarbon dating reveals the fragmentary text, which is inscribed on 70 pieces of birch bark and contains hundreds of zeroes, dates to as early as the 3rd or 4th century – about 500 years older than scholars previously believed. This makes it the world’s oldest recorded origin of the zero symbol that we use today.

A Duke study recorded thousands of students’ faces. Now they’re being used all over the world

Jake Satisky:

t was a gloomy day in March 2014. Thousands of students were walking around campus, going to and from their classes, minding their own business.

What they might not have known is that on this particular day, Duke researchers were recording them and putting their likenesses into a data set. This data set would be placed on a public website, and it would be downloaded by academics, security contractors and military researchers around the globe.

Squeezed by declining enrollment, Arizona’s rural schools are suffering

Lily Altavena :

The schools, specks on the map, are monuments to Arizona’s history.

Inside sits Arizona’s future.

But in most of Arizona’s rural counties, the public school systems are increasingly strained. The education funding crisis in Arizona schools highlighted by last year’s #RedForEd teacher protests is compounded in rural schools.

Ten Arizona counties, encompassing many of the state’s rural areas, have together lost more than 10,000 students in the past decade while Maricopa County’s student population has risen by more than 70,000, according to enrollment data.

Fewer students means less money for schools, limiting students’ educational opportunities and making it more difficult to recruit and pay qualified teachers. And unlike in suburban districts, rural communities can’t easily offset state funding losses with local taxes.

Leading Hong Kong teachers’ union calls for class boycott after clashes over extradition bill

Kanis Leung:

A leading union has called on Hong Kong teachers to skip classes for the rest of the week after street clashes between police and residents protesting the government’s extradition bill.

The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU), the city’s biggest pro-democracy union for educators, announced it would boycott classes on Thursday and Friday.

The union condemned the government for pushing forward the legal amendments by all means, and the Legislative Council’s president for cooperating with officials.

COMMENTARY on schools and inequalitY

Nick Hanauer:

A major theme in the educationist narrative involves the “skills gap”—the notion that decades of wage stagnation are largely a consequence of workers not having the education and skills to fill new high-wage jobs. If we improve our public schools, the thinking goes, and we increase the percentage of students attaining higher levels of education, particularly in the STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—the skills gap will shrink, wages will rise, and income inequality will fall.

Turning Rights Into Reality: How Guardianship and Alternatives Impact the Autonomy of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

National Council on Disability:

NCD undertook this report to increase the understanding of guardianship and its impact on the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) and their families. In this report, NCD examines why people with ID/DD are at increased risk for becoming subject to guardianship as adults, and how that impacts their ability to benefit from civil rights laws aimed at advancing the self-determination and opportunities available to people with ID/DD, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Developmental Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The report examines how people with ID/DD are treated differently than other adults who are the subjects of guardianship proceedings, including in several states that have separate guardianship laws for people with ID/DD. The findings and recommendations are based on the available data on guardianship for people with ID/DD, an in-depth examination of the experiences of individuals with ID/DD in Washington, DC, and information collected directly from stakeholders across the nation.

Persuade or Be Persuaded

Agnes Callard:

For the first time in my decade of teaching at the University of Chicago, I have encountered resistance to a proposed university event on account of content. I was told I should check with higher ups. I was told that this is not the right time to have this conversation, because tensions are high. “The strike is the conversation.” What if I am perceived as discouraging union activity? What if that sours my relations with graduate students? What if it tarnishes the name of my event series?

I am lucky enough to work in one of the most intellectually open places the world has ever known. The pressures are not strong enough to stop me from holding my event. But they are there. The dark secret of un-Socratic civility is that it cannot avoid holding force in reserve. The force may be physical; it may involve damaging rhetoric; it may involve leveraging social pressures to exclude an undesirable viewpoint. One way or another, we stop listening.

Un-Socratic civility is sunshine and smiles until it isn’t. It threatens to plunge us into darkness as soon as we decide “this time, it actually matters.” For all its relentless, aggressive intrusiveness, Socratic civility does have the virtue of refusing to allow our violent impulses extraconversational expression.

Socrates wouldn’t respect the point of view of the protesters outside his window. He would want to know who is right and who is wrong, and he wouldn’t stop talking to them until the difference between points of view was obliterated. Persuade or be persuaded.

Civics: In the dying minutes of the Obama administration’s final term, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed from its website a collection of almost 200 speeches and testimonies

Sarah John:

In the dying minutes of the Obama administration’s final term, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed from its website a collection of almost 200 speeches and testimonies delivered by agency leadership dating back to 2004. With a couple of clicks of a mouse, access to a federal government web resource containing 12 years of primary source materials on ICE’s history was lost. In our most recent report, the Web Integrity Project (WIP) documents the removal of this collection.

As our report details, a collection of 190 transcripts of speeches and testimonies hosted on the ICE website’s “Speeches and Testimonies” page was removed between the early afternoon of January 18 and late evening on January 19, 2017. (Compare the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine captures from January 18, 2017 and on January 19, 2017.) The transcripts were of speeches and testimony delivered between 2004 and 2017 by high-ranking ICE officials, including the director of the agency and directors of ICE sub-units. Most contained prepared remarks submitted to congressional committees, often on controversial topics like the standard of medical treatment for detainees, treatment of unaccompanied children, sanctuary cities, drug trafficking, and E-Verify.

Testimony from Thomas Homan, who was appointed Acting Director of ICE by President Trump soon after inauguration in January 2017, featured prominently in the removed collection. In one removed transcript — a February 2016 statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the “Unaccompanied Children Crisis” — then-Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations Homan detailed how ICE contracted out to “effectuate” the transportation of “UC” and enumerated the “important steps” that the administration had taken to “deter illegal immigration.” In another removed transcript from May 2016, Homan detailed how local jurisdictions “limiting or declining cooperation with ICE” put “the public at risk.” It is not inconceivable that an outgoing Democratic administration might want to avoid preserving these public stances for future scrutiny.

Among the removed transcripts with less controversial content, then-Assistant Secretary, Michael Garcia, purports to quote Ricky Martin at a 2004 United Nations luncheon regarding Child Sex Tourism. Another contains the remarks of then-Director, John Morton, at the funeral of Special Agent Jaime J. Zapata. While less politically salient, these transcripts are important pieces of ICE’s history.

She was rejected by 13 colleges and blames her elite DC prep school. She wants the Supreme Court to hear her case

Caroline Kelly:

Applying to college can make any high school senior feel like he or she is pleading a case before a judge and jury — but one former Washington, DC, prep school student is trying to get her college woes heard by the Supreme Court.

Dayo Adetu and her parents, Titilayo and Nike Adetu, say that the private Sidwell Friends School — the elite school attended by a who’s who of Beltway families, including presidential daughters Sasha and Malia Obama and Chelsea Clinton as well as former Vice President Joe Biden’s granddaughter Maisy — breached a settlement with the family after it allegedly discriminated against Adetu, an African-American, in the grades she received while in high school and then in materials Sidwell submitted as she applied to colleges.

“Sidwell has long been perceived as a ‘feeder-school’ to Ivy League institutions and other top universities,” the Adetus wrote in their appeal to the Supreme Court. Adetu, however, was not immediately accepted by any university.
The court is scheduled to consider whether to take up the case, along with scores of other petitions, at their private conference on Thursday.

The pressurized world of admissions to top-tier colleges has been a national focus recently following the sprawling scam that has implicated wealthy parents, Hollywood celebrities and college coaches, resulting in several guilty pleas.

How I Taught My Kid to Read: Children can learn quickly by sounding out words, letter by letter—but somehow, the method is still controversial.

John McWhorter:

Now that it’s summer, I have a suggestion for how parents can grant their wee kiddies the magic of reading by Labor Day: Pick up Siegfried Engelmann’s Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. My wife and I used it a while ago with our then-4-year-old daughter, and after a mere 20 cozy minutes a night, a little girl who on Memorial Day could recognize on paper only the words no and stop and the names of herself and her family members could, by the time the leaves turned, read simple books.

My wife and I are not unusually diligent teachers. The book worked by, quite simply, showing our daughter, bit by bit, how to sound out the words. That’s it. And yet in the education world, Engelmann’s technique is considered controversial.

Engelmann’s book, which he co-wrote with Phyllis Haddox and Elaine Bruner, was first published in the early 1980s, but it was based on work from the late 1960s. That’s when Engelmann was involved in the government-sponsored Project Follow Through, whose summary report compared nine methods for how to teach reading and tracked results on 75,000 children from kindergarten through third grade. The results, though some critics over the years have rejected them on methodological grounds, were clear: The approach that proved most effective was based on phonics—teaching children how to sound words out, letter by letter, rather than encouraging students to recognize words as single chunks, also called the whole-word system. Specifically, the most successful approach supplemented basic phonics with a tightly scripted format emphasizing repetition and student participation, often dubbed “direct instruction.” As I have previously explained for NPR, the results were especially impressive among poor children, including black ones.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Jenny Peek dives in.

This, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

Civics: Large Tech/SoCial platform cEnsorship

Deanna Fisher:

What has been incremental, is now moving faster. Tech company platforms like Google (which owns YouTube) and Pinterest are engaging in outright censorship by banning content that they don’t like.

This is a move from the “platform” stance to the “publisher” stance, which actually will create a lot more problems for the tech giants in the future, as they could be held liable for whatever content appears on their websites, if they continue on with this shift. Google CEO Sundar Pichai made this very clear in a new interview. First Alex Jones (because no one likes him), then Steven Crowder (who some people don’t like), and then whoever else they want.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use these services, including Google and Facebook.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Economic stress and demographic change are weakening a symbiotic relationship

Economist:

OF LATE THE world’s older democracies have begun to look more vulnerable than venerable. America seems destined for a constitutional showdown between the executive and the legislature. Brexit has mired Britain in a constitutional morass of its own. Such troubles could be mistaken for a comeuppance. In recent years political economists have argued that rising inequality in the Anglo-American world must eventually threaten the foundations of democracy; a book on the theme by Thomas Piketty, a French economist, has sold well over a million copies. That argument channels a time-worn view, held by thinkers from Karl Marx to Friedrich Hayek, that democracy and capitalism may prove incompatible.

As powerfully as such arguments are made, the past century or so tells a different story. The club of rich democracies is not easy to join, but those who get in tend to stay there. Since the dawn of industrialisation, no advanced capitalist democracy has fallen out of the ranks of high-income countries or regressed permanently into authoritarianism. This is not a coincidence, say Torben Iversen of Harvard University and David Soskice of the London School of Economics, in their recent book, “Democracy and Prosperity”. Rather, they write, in advanced economies democracy and capitalism tend to reinforce each other. It is a reassuring message, but one that will face severe tests in years to come.

Civics: Social media details required for US visa

NAKIRFAI TOBOR:

It’s expected that this new measure will affect approximately 14,7 million people annually who travel to the USA. However, some diplomatic and official visa applicants will be excluded from having to submit their social media usernames, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers.

Before this new measure was implemented, only those people applying for American VISAs who needed additional vetting – such as people who had been to parts of the world controlled by terrorist groups – were required to submit such information. Now, everyone applying for a VISA to the USA has to volunteer their social media details.

We Read 150 Privacy Policies. They Were an Incomprehensible Disaster

Kevin Litman-Navarro:

In the background here are several privacy policies from major tech and media platforms. Like most privacy policies, they’re verbose and full of legal jargon — and opaquely establish companies’ justifications for collecting and selling your data. The data market has become the engine of the internet, and these privacy policies we agree to but don’t fully understand help fuel it.

Maine Governor Signs Strictest Internet Protections in the U.S.

Govtech:

Maine Internet service providers will face the strictest consumer privacy protections in the nation under a bill signed Thursday by Gov. Janet Mills, but the new law will almost certainly be challenged in court.

Several technology and communication trade groups warned in testimony before the Legislature that the measure may be in conflict with federal law and would likely be the subject of legal action.

The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2020, would require providers to ask for permission before they sell or share any of their customers’ data to a third party. The law would also apply to telecommunications companies that provide access to the Internet via their cellular networks.

“The Internet is a powerful tool, and as it becomes increasingly intertwined with our lives, it is appropriate to take steps to protect the personal information and privacy of Maine people,” Mills said after signing the bill into law. “With this common-sense law, Maine people can access the Internet with the knowledge and comfort that their personal information cannot be bought or sold by their ISPs without their express approval.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: federal Taxpayer aid programs to the states high in transaction costs, covering State Waste

Chris Edwards:

The federal government has a large presence in state and local policy activities such as education, housing, and transportation. That presence is facilitated by “grants-in-aid” programs, which are subsidies to state and local governments accompanied by top-down regulations.

Federal aid spending was $697 billion in 2018, which was distributed through an estimated 1,386 separate programs. The number of programs has tripled since the 1980s, indicating that the scope of federal activities has expanded as spending has grown.

Rather than being a positive feature of American federalism, the aid system produces irresponsible policymaking. It encourages excessive and misallocated spending. It reduces accountability for failures while generating costly bureaucracy and regulations. And it stifles policy diversity and undermines democratic control.

Cutting federal aid would reduce federal budget deficits, but more importantly it would improve the performance of federal, state, and local governments. The idea that federal experts can efficiently solve local problems with rule-laden subsidy programs is misguided. Decades of experience in many policy areas show that federal aid often produces harmful results and displaces state, local, and private policy solutions.

Civics: Elites above the Law

Victor Davis Hanson:

We are told, however, that the FBI’s culture and institutions are exempt from the widespread wrongdoing at the top. Such caution is a fine and fitting thing, given the FBI’s more than a century of public service. Nonetheless, many of those caught up in the controversies over the Russian-collusion hoax were not recent career appointees. Rather, many came up through the ranks of the FBI. And that raises the question, for example, of where exactly Peter Strzok (22 years in the FBI) learned that he had a right to interfere in a U.S. election to damage a candidate that he opposed.

And why would an Andrew McCabe (over 21 years in the FBI) think he had the duty to formulate an “insurance policy” to take out a presidential candidate? Or why would he even consider overseeing an FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s improper use of emails when his wife had been a recent recipient of Clinton-related PAC money? And why would McCabe contemplate leaking confidential FBI information to the press or even dream of setting up some sort of operation to remove a sitting president under the 25th Amendment? And how did someone like the old FBI vet Peter Strozk ever end up at the center of the entire mess — opening up the snooping on the Trump campaign while hiding that fact and while briefing the candidate on Russian interference in the election, interviewing Michael Flynn, preening as a top FBI investigator for Robert Mueller’s dream team, right-hand man of “Andy” McCabe, convincing Comey to change the wording of his writ in the Clinton-email-scandal investigation, softball coddling of Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, instrumental in the Papadopoulos investigation con — all the while conducting an affair with fellow FBI investigator and attorney Lisa Page and bragging about his assurance that the supposedly odious Trump would be prevented from being elected. If a group of Trump zealots were to call up the FBI tomorrow and allege that a member of Joe Biden’s family has had unethical ties with the Ukrainian or Chinese government, would that gambit “alarm” the FBI enough to prompt an investigation of Biden and his campaign? How many career-professional Peter Strozks are still at the agency?

Historical Map of (the) Cognitive Science(s)

Anna Riedl:

This map is a macroscopic, historical, trans-disciplinary introduction to (the) cognitive science(s).

Moving from left to right, the map is read in a roughly historical fashion, but not literally, as we are compressing a n-dimensional intellectual space into a two dimensional map grid.

Unfortunately there is no way to generate an educational map that has everyone and everything on it. As such, there is always someone who should be on the map who is not.

The attempt of abstracting from reality always asks the question of (the most) relevance, in this case primarily to an beginner audience and especially students of the MEi:CogSci programme.

Let’s publish everything.

Andrew:

This claim is situated in the context of a fight in psychology between the traditionalists (who want published work to stand untouched and respected for as long as possible) and replicators (who typically don’t trust a claim until it is reproduced by an outside lab).

Rather than get into this debate right here, I’d like to step back and consider the proposal of Kaufman and Glǎveanu on its own merits.

I’m 100% with them on reducing barriers to creativity, and I think that journals in psychology and elsewhere should start by not requiring “p less than 0.05” to publish things.

Nothing is stopping researchers such as the authors of the above paper from publishing their work without replication. So I’m not quite sure what they’re complaining about. They don’t like that various third parties are demanding they replicate their work, but why can’t they ignore these demands.

Indeed, as I wrote above, I think the barriers to publication should be lowered, not raised. And if an Association for Psychological Science journal doesn’t want to publish your article (perhaps because you don’t have personal connections with the editors; see P.S. below), then you can publish it in some other journal.

If, you flip a coin 6 times and get four heads, and you’d like to count that as evidence for precognition or telekinesis, and publish that somewhere, then go for it.

Civics: Google Axes Lobbyists Amid Growing Government Scrutiny

Brody Mullins and Ted Mann:

Google has fired about a half-dozen of its largest lobbying firms as part of a major overhaul of its global government affairs and policy operations amid the prospect of greater government scrutiny of its businesses.

In the past few months, the company has shaken up its roster of lobbying firms, restructured its Washington policy team and lost two senior officials who helped build its influence operation into one of the largest in the nation’s capital, according to people familiar with Google’s Washington strategy. The firms Google has dumped make up about half of the company’s more than $20 million annual lobbying bill.

People familiar with the matter say the revamp is part of a continuing modernization of the influence operation Google built over the last 15 years, but it comes as Google faces a number of government investigations into its affairs. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the Justice Department is gearing up to conduct an antitrust investigation into the tech giant. Congress and states attorneys general are also reviewing Google’s practices, while on the campaign trail, some Democratic presidential candidates are calling for the company to be broken up.

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

Oberlin Pays for Smearing the Town Grocer

Wall Street Journal:

Oberlin administrators agreed to boycott Gibson’s, which had long held catering contracts with the college’s dining service, and they allowed students to skip class to participate in protests. The Gibsons alleged that the administrators guided student-government leaders in promoting a resolution to condemn the bakery and Gibson family. Oberlin’s dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, handed out a flier accusing Gibson’s of having a “long account of racial profiling and discrimination.”

The Gibson family claims administrators told them they’d reinstate the catering contract if they dropped charges against the three shoplifting students and promised to contact the school, not police, if other students stole from their store in the future. The family refused and instead sued Oberlin and Ms. Raimondo, seeking $12.8 million at trial on numerous counts including libel, interference with business contracts and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

As a result of the protests, boycotts and lawsuits, the Gibson family business, which had survived two world wars and the Great Depression, suffered greatly. Its owners took no salary for two years, and nearly all the staff had to be let go. In their closing arguments, Mr. Gibson’s lawyers lamented that without a ruling in their favor, the beloved Oberlin bakery could be forced to close.

On June 7 a jury awarded Gibson’s Food Mart and Bakery, as well as the Gibson family, $11 million in compensatory damages. After punitive damages are decided this week, Oberlin College could owe the Gibsons an additional $22 million.

This historic case received scant media attention during the trial. My publication, Legal Insurrection, was the only national outlet to be present for the entire trial, because we felt Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College was emblematic of tensions in American culture, particularly the “town vs. gown” divide that pits activist colleges against the places that host them.

In this case, Oberlin students and administrators appeared happy to smear a family-run institution in pursuit of a “social justice” agenda. Ignoring the facts, they attempted to destroy a business without concern for the damage they were inflicting on a family and workers in their own community.

How To Ask Questions The Smart Way

Eric Raymond and Rick Moen:

When you ask your question, display the fact that you have done these things first; this will help establish that you’re not being a lazy sponge and wasting people’s time. Better yet, display what you have learned from doing these things. We like answering questions for people who have demonstrated they can learn from the answers.

Use tactics like doing a Google search on the text of whatever error message you get (searching Google groups as well as Web pages). This might well take you straight to fix documentation or a mailing list thread answering your question. Even if it doesn’t, saying “I googled on the following phrase but didn’t get anything that looked promising” is a good thing to do in e-mail or news postings requesting help, if only because it records what searches won’t help. It will also help to direct other people with similar problems to your thread by linking the search terms to what will hopefully be your problem and resolution thread.

Take your time. Do not expect to be able to solve a complicated problem with a few seconds of Googling. Read and understand the FAQs, sit back, relax and give the problem some thought before approaching experts. Trust us, they will be able to tell from your questions how much reading and thinking you did, and will be more willing to help if you come prepared. Don’t instantly fire your whole arsenal of questions just because your first search turned up no answers (or too many).

Prepare your question. Think it through. Hasty-sounding questions get hasty answers, or none at all. The more you do to demonstrate that having put thought and effort into solving your problem before seeking help, the more likely you are to actually get help.

Texas vaccine exemption rates have reached an all-time high. Did Texas make it too easy for parents to opt out?

Elizabeth Byrne and Shiying Cheng:

Texas’ exemption law used to be stricter. In 2003, a state senator proposed loosening restrictions via a three-page amendment to a 311-page bill. After five minutes of discussion, the amendment was approved. The bill was soon signed into law. Sixteen years later, former state Sen. Craig Estes said the change to Texas’ vaccine laws that he helped enact should be reviewed in the current public health climate.

“Obviously we didn’t ever imagine what would happen,” Estes, a Republican from Prosper, told The Texas Tribune. “With what’s happened recently, I would encourage the legislature in the future to revisit that issue and debate it.”

The speedy way in which the Texas Legislature weakened the state’s vaccine exemption rules suggests that, like Estes, few in office at the time thought it would put Texas at risk for future outbreaks. However, while experts suggest Texas is now vulnerable, efforts to change the exemption law have been dead on arrival in the Capitol.

“There will be a terrible measles epidemic in Texas, and children will be hospitalized in intensive care units, just like they are in New York right now,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said last month. “That will wake up the state Legislature to realize that there’s a problem and close those exemptions.”

On Gerard of Cremona’s twelfth-century quest to translate Arabic scholarship.

Violet Moller:

The city of Toledo was an important center of learning during the tenth and eleventh centuries, and when the Christians took over in 1085, the transfer of power was peaceful. As a result, even though the majority of the Muslim elite emigrated south, their culture was preserved, libraries were protected and the various communities of Jewish, Arab, Mozarabic, and Christian scholars were able to work together. This was especially important for the program of translation from Arabic to Latin (often via Hebrew or Romance) that followed. In the early Middle Ages, Spain was a multilingual society. Under Muslim rule, Arabic was the language of education and government, but Romance was spoken on the streets and in the fields, intermingled with various Berber dialects. Latin was the language of the Mozarabic Church, and of course Hebrew was ever-present in the large Jewish communities. When Toledo was reconquered by the Christians, Latin, the language of the Catholic Church, took on an increasingly important role, but the Mozarabs continued to use Arabic until well into the fourteenth century.

The European scholars who came to Toledo soon after the reconquest were staggered by the wealth of knowledge they found there. In the medieval period, Arabic book culture positively dwarfed that of Western Europe; the twelfth-century scholar Bernard of Chartres was proud of the twenty-four books he owned, but, in 1258, the city of Baghdad boasted thirty-six public libraries and over a hundred book merchants. The largest medieval library in Christian Europe, at the Abbey of Cluny, contained a few hundred books, while the royal library of Córdoba had 400,000. Even if we allow for exaggera­tion and the fact that the Arabs still mainly used scrolls, which could not contain as much text (several would be needed for one copy of a codex), and that paper was not produced in Western Europe until the fourteenth century, so it had to be imported, making books more expensive, the comparison is still shocking. Arab textual culture was not only much larger, it was also infinitely richer. The scale of Arab accomplishment in literature, history, geography, philosophy, and, of course, science left Latin scholars dazzled, giddy with awe. There was a lot of catching up to do.

2019 gaokao points to focus on hi-tech future

Wang Qi

China’s national college entrance examinations, known as the gaokao and also known for its toughness and which determines millions of young people’s destinies every year, concluded on Saturday, showing the country’s determination to nurture creative talent.

As usual, the examination questions have become a hot talking point on Chinese social media, but this time the discussion centered on their creativity by merging the arts and sciences and by their philosophical thinking, although some viewed them as adding more difficulty to the already arduous test.

For instance, in the national math test paper, examinees found a cloud-shaped curve on a coordinate axis. The “cloud” was composed of three arcs, and the question was to figure out the polar coordinates equation of a circle.

In order to ensure the fairness of talent selection, China’s Ministry of Educationhas been using three different sets of college entrance examinations to students in different provinces since 2016.

“I was confused when I saw that cloud in the national math test, it was really unexpected,” one Weibo user posted. “The ‘cloud’ was new, but not that difficult,” said another.

With Apologies to Orwell, We’ve Gone Way Past 1984

Dorian Lynskey:

Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World used to be seen as mutually exclusive dystopias. In 1984, however, while Neil Postman was writing Amusing Ourselves to Death, Aldous Huxley’s biographer Sybille Bedford came to a different conclusion, describing the choice as a false binary: “We have entered the age of mixed tyrannies.” By this she meant that the modern power-seeker would assemble whatever combination of coercion, seduction and distraction proved most effective.

Effectiveness is one of the watchwords of Vladimir Putin’s mixed tyranny, or “managed democracy.” Since first becoming Russia’s president in 2000, buoyed by a craving for strength and stability after the nerve-grinding upheavals of the post-communist 90s, the former KGB officer has gradually brought back such features of the old regime as leader-worship, martial parades, mass arrests, show trials, political prisoners, territorial aggression, the one-party state, censorship, Newspeak and endemic paranoia. In 2012, Putin declared his dream of building a Russian-led replacement for the European Union, “from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” unbound by such bothersome concepts as human rights and free and fair elections. Inspired by the fascist thinker Aleksandr Dugin, he called it Eurasia. In 2014, Stalin’s posthumous approval rating in Russia reached a new peak of 52 percent, proving beyond doubt that Homo Sovieticus had outlived the Soviet Union.

Putin’s justification is, of course, different from Stalin’s—nationalism and cultural conservatism rather than Marxist ideology—and his execution less brutish, retaining the pretense of freedom of speech and political opposition. The aim of his brand of authoritarianism is not total control but effective control. In his last substantial interview before his death in 2005, the great reformer Aleksandr Nikolaevich Yakovlev called Russia’s weakness for strong leaders a “disease” and bemoaned its backsliding towards a centralized state at the expense of a healthy society. “If the state so wishes, the society will be civil, or semicivil, or nothing but a herd,” he said. “Look to Orwell for a good description of this.” Yes, but look to Huxley, too.

The Oberlin Trial Is a Blueprint for Fighting Back

David French:

alate last week, an Ohio jury reached a verdict that sent shockwaves through the American higher-education establishment. It ordered Oberlin College to pay a business called Gibson’s Food Market and Bakery a stunning $11 million in compensatory damages for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and intentional interference with business relationships. And that number will rise, significantly, if it decides to impose punitive damages as well.

The case represents an important moment — the moment when the American legal establishment learned that it can potentially impose steep costs on institutions that participate in the kind of cruel, malicious, and vicious mob tactics that have become an all-too-familiar part of the American political landscape. It turns out that the law can indeed offer an answer to the worst forms of illiberal behavior.

Religion And commencement speeches

Samantha West:

A commencement speech in which a member of the Appleton school board referenced his Christian faith is sparking controversy and debate about what messages are appropriate in a public school setting.

In response to the students’ and other community members’ concerns, Dupree told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin that he is an elected official — not a district employee — and emphasized that he has no obligation to withhold his personal views.

Dupree said he heard from many students and their family members who thanked him for the speech.

“People of faith should not have to go in the closet while everyone else is allowed to be free and out of the closet,” Dupree said. “I did not impose or threaten or tell people that if they don’t believe like I believe that they’re wrong.”

Families leaving Madison middle school graduation event fight, police respond, officials say

TABATHA WETHAL:

Police said after the event, 15-20 parents and children were involved in an altercation. The school’s resource officer intervened and called for backup.

In a letter to Sennett parents Tuesday, Principal Daniel Kigeya described the incident as “two families engaged in a verbal exchange” in the gym that continued as other families exited the school and made their way to the parking lot.

“This ceremony is a very special event for Sennett students and the Sennett community,” Kigeya wrote. “We want to celebrate these students and everything they’ve worked toward over the last three years. We do not want this unfortunate incident to overshadow what has been an incredibly positive, successful last school year for these students.”

No one was injured, DeSpain said.

No one was cited or arrested Tuesday but the school resource officer plans to review surveillance video, police said.

Studies and Teachers Nationwide Say School Discipline Reform Is Harming Students’ Academic Achievement and Safety

Max Eden, via a kind Will Fitzhugh email:

A statewide poll sponsored by the Oregon Education Association declared a “crisis of disrupted learning” and noted that 56 percent of teachers reported experiencing at least one “room clear” in the past year. (A “room clear” is when teachers direct all children to leave the classroom for their own safety while a disruptive student throws a tantrum.)

……

A not-yet-peer-reviewed doctoral dissertation examined several California school districts that banned suspensions for nonviolent “willful defiance”: Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and Pasadena. It found no effects on reading but a harm to math achievement large enough to take a student from the 50th percentile to the 39th after three years.

Earlier this year, the RAND Corporation published a randomized control trial examining the effects of restorative justice in Pittsburgh as the district aggressively reduced suspensions. The results were mixed. On one hand, teachers in schools that implemented restorative justice reported an improvement in school safety, staff morale and their classroom management abilities. But students disagreed: They said their teachers’ classroom management abilities deteriorated and that students became less supportive of one another. Perhaps most alarmingly, academic achievement for African-American students decreased.

Taken as a whole, the academic literature suggests that modest efforts to reduce suspensions may be pursued with minimal effect, that aggressive efforts pose a serious risk to academics and that restorative justice may exacerbate rather than ameliorate harm.

School and system leaders should, of course, take their bearings not only from academic studies but also from the perspective of teachers. Nationwide, a majority of educators express sympathy for the idea of discipline reform. But, as I’ve documented, teachers in school districts that implemented discipline reform under pressure from federal investigations do not believe it works.

COPS IN SCHOOLS or BLACK KIDS CAN READ?

Kaleem Caire, writing within Facebook’s walled garden. Via a kind reader:

The Capital Times published my editorial below on March 12, 2019. I then posted the article on my FB page the same day. This terrible, awful and destructive generational disease didn’t get nearly the same rise out of people as me imploring our children and young adults to use more empowering language when advocating for themselves, and avoid cursing at school board members and staff in our public schools.

Over the last few days since I voiced my concerns about the poor language being used towards adults by our children and youth in our public schools (and at several school board meetings), I have received mostly positive feedback. However, I have also read comments by people who feel my concern about our children’s poor use of language is overstated, misguided and disrespectful.

Worse, I was referred to as a man who practices “respectability politics” and a “Black leader” who has “turned his back” on Black children and who “can no longer hear this voice [of Black youth], can no longer hear the concerns of the masses, can no longer concern [myself] with Black, often low-income, and poor people because [they] are not speaking the way [I] want them to speak?” It was interesting reading this from people who clearly know very little if anything about me or my work, but whose children have directly benefited from years of my advocacy, and from specific programs I created or pushed to have established.

But let’s address the Police Officer in Schools issue first.

Over the last year-plus, our school districts leadership and Board of Education have been focused on whether or not they should renew their contract with the Madison Police Department and continue having police officers stationed in our public high schools. To gain a deeper understanding this issue, I talked with Madison parents, and students and teachers in our public schools about their opinions about having police officers in schools. I also talked with three of the four Educational Resource Officers (EROs) stationed at our four comprehensive public high schools about who they are and what their jobs entail. During our conversations, I learned that none of the people arguing for their displacement from our schools have never reached out to or sat down with these officers to learn about what they actually do in our schools. All four EROs are people of color. One is a Latina female and three are African American males.

Of the three that shared their personal stories with me, I learned that all of them (including the ERO at Memorial who I have not yet talked with) have come from challenging backgrounds that have enabled them to relate to our children, and are reasons why they are so driven to help our most vulnerable and challenged young people to succeed.

All four officers applied for their current positions within the Madison Police Department because they a very serious about wanting to help our children succeed and “prevent” them from entering our criminal justice system. All stressed concern that none of the organizations or leaders leading the fight against their being in the schools have sat down to talk with them about what they actually do, or about the impact they are having with our children in their schools.

As men and women of color, these officers are disappointed that people are portraying them, their work and their efforts differently than what they actually do and experience every day. After hearing dozens of ways they are helping our children succeed and overcome obstacles, while keeping our schools safe, I can understand their concerns and impact at a deeper level now, too.

Before we began our conversation, I told each ERO that I initially was not supportive of the idea of having police officers in our schools, but I wanted to learn from them what they do, what they are seeing and experiencing on a daily basis, and what they think is needed for our children and schools before I formalized my position about their work and placement in our high schools. I left each conversation feeling grateful for these men and women and blessed that we have officers who care so deeply about our children, families and community.

After digging into the issues with them, I learned that they are preventing for more arrests than we would see if they were not in our schools and didn’t know school staff and our children. Each described how if a traditional beat cop was called into the school who didn’t know our students or the dynamics of our schools, that they wouldn’t take the time an ERO does to get know the students involved. They would figure out who did what, likely arrest the student(s), and take them to the Juvenile Reception/Detention Center (JRC – aka youth jail) for processing so they could get to their next call.

That said, I do understand why some of our young people and parents may still not want officers in our schools. However, there are also many who want them to remain in our schools. Moreover, I am deeply concerned that our school board has listened to hours of testimony but even many of them have not yet met or talked with these officers about their work and impact either. I hope going forward, that they do.

But the bigger point here is, we are spending hundreds of hours on the issue of having police in our high schools, while we are not spending much time at all addressing the fact that more than 85.8% of Black children (or 792 of 923 Black children in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade in 2017-18) cannot read at grade level in our public “elementary” schools. In fact, the majority (55.4% or 511 of 923) of these children read significantly below grade level. The definition for “significantly below (or aka “below basic”) means that the “student demonstrates minimal understanding of and ability to apply the knowledge and skills for their grade level that are associated with college content-readiness.” (Source: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction 2019).

WHAT IS UP WITH THIS? Why is our community going way over-the-top with its disgust and advocacy for police officers and issues that have little to do with how poorly our children are doing educationally in preschool through 5th grade? Why isn’t this the focus of our advocacy? Are we not aware that a young person’s educational success and attainment will dramatically reduce the likeliness that they ever will find themselves trapped in the bowels of our nation’s criminal justice system?

What are we doing and what are we advocating for that will actually move the needle educationally for our children? Protest the police if you want to, and protest loudly, but don’t scapegoat brothers like me who hold our children to a higher standard of personal and professional conduct (their profession, being a student), regardless of the circumstances they face, and who are actually focused on helping them succeed educationally in school. And please don’t tell our children that it is ok to curse out their teachers because they’ve been “marginalized” or “disrespected”. We aren’t helping them by enabling and excusing such behavior.

A teacher asking a student to get to class on time shouldn’t be told, “Fuck you bitch, don’t talk to me. Leave me alone.” I heard that one myself at West High School. I had to get up out of my chair to address these four young girls as I was talking with the ERO, Justin Creech, at West High School, about his job duties. When I walked into the hallway from Officer Creech’s office, I saw a group of four girls who look like my daughter directing their language at a white female teacher who was simply asking them to get to class. Class had started 10 minutes earlier. I confronted these young women about it and they apologized to me by saying, “My bad, My bad, I’m sorry.” I asked them to apologize to the teacher and they did. However, that teacher and Officer Creech told me that this happens all the time in the school because the children know they can get away with it. My daughter Alana who attends the school said she sees it happening all the time, too. I heard the same thing from Black and Latino teachers, staff and Principal Mike Hernandez at East High School after I had spoken up about this issue at the school board meeting on Monday. They said this disrespectful behavior towards adults is happening in our high schools every day. More than a handful of our students are engaged in this behavior, and its getting worse not better.

So, those who say they are fighting for justice for Black children, including my own, I have a few questions…
What is a greater “injustice”, having police officers present in our public high schools OR allowing thousands of Black children to fail academically in our elementary schools every year and show up to high school ill-prepared to succeed there? What are we doing to address the underlying root causes, and at the point of a child’s life where we can actually make the greatest positive impact on their growth, development and future outcomes?

What is the greater injustice, the proliferation of undereducated Black children in our public schools and communities, OR a police officer with a badge walking through the hallways of our public high schools?

What is the greater injustice, asking our children and young adults to be passionate in their advocacy for their causes but to please avoid using language that injures others, disempowers their messages, and distracts from others seeing their agenda, OR giving our children absolute permission to curse and swear at adults and do what they want because they’ve been hurt and marginalized?

It is depressing to see so little focus being placed on the areas where we need it most and where we can make the greatest difference now and the future.

And then, despite the fact that I have spent 30 years working to address these issues locally, nationally and internationally, while creating great opportunities for learning, career growth and college attainment for thousands of children in Madison, and many more across the USA, I am told by the orchestrators of these school board protests that because I spoke up about our children cursing at school board members during school board meetings, and about other children who are misbehaving in our schools and berating teachers and staff each day, that I have “turned my back” on “Black children”. Are we not supposed to hold our children accountable to treat adults and each other respectfully?

As the days and years go by, I am very worried and deeply troubled about the health, welfare and success of Black children in Madison. We are at risk of losing another generation of Black children to a legacy of poverty, depression, disenfranchisement and underperformance. Also, I am equally concerned about how quickly some people and organizations try to diminish the voices of Black men, and/or other people they see as outliers to their values and belief systems.

When I, as a Black father of five children – three adults and two adolescents, raise my concerns about the poor conduct of young men and women who look like me in our schools, and am called names because of it, I wonder with deep concern, why do the very people who profess to be about justice for Black people want Black men’s compliance and our silence on issues that matter to us, our children and our community? People complain about there being too few Black fathers present in the homes and lives of Black children. However, when Black men who are present and deeply committed to our families and young people speak up to address our concerns with our youth, we get dirt thrown on us by people who think that it’s ok to condone, promote and apologize for our young people’s negative behaviors.

We live in crazy times. But, I will not lower my expectations of our children (or adults). Not now. Not ever. Peace and Blessings. “Children are the reward of life.”

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Jenny Peek dives in.

This, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

Children Need to Learn Respect

Kaleem Caire:

I HAVE HAD ENOUGH! Last evening, I sat in a Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education meeting only to listen yet again to a number of young people in middle and high school curse out and demean Madison School Board members in front of an audience of 200 people, and do so to the applause of other adults in the audience. I thought I was in the twilight zone.

While our young people are to be commended for exercising their voices and articulating their ideas and concerns with depth and precision, the power, value and meaning of their words consistently are lost and undermined by their foul, abrasive and derogatory language and demeanor towards Board members who are actually listening to them, even if some Board members might disagree with some of our young people’s points or proposed solutions. I have been vilified and dissed more than many in this community for taking unpopular positions on issues but I have never cursed someone out because of it.

As a father of five, I would never let (or condone) my children, or any other young person (or adult), direct hurtful language like that at me or another person without speaking up and correcting them. To see adults clapping for that behavior tonight turned my stomach inside out. I had to get up and leave, and take the mic to say a few words before I left.

People, what are we thinking and what are we doing? Too many children are cursing out teachers and staff every day in our public schools and we are letting it happen, and making excuses for many children who do it.

Much more on Kaleem Caire, here.

David Blaska has been following Madison’s taxpayer supported school board rhetoric and governance climate for some time.

Opinion: Respectability Politics Fail to Address Urgent Challenges in Madison Schools

John B. Diamond, Kendra Alexander, Bianca J. Baldridge and Erika C. Bullock, via a kind reader:

In a recent OpEd published on Madison 365, Kaleem Caire chastised Madison youth of color and their adult allies for their demeanor and their “foul, abrasive, and derogatory language” as they raised legitimate concerns about the important issues they face in the Madison Metropolitan School District. As part of our Mobilizing Youth Voices Project, we have been working with young people from Freedom, Inc, the Lussier Community Education Center, and the UW-Madison/Madison Metropolitan School District TEEM Scholars Program. These groups fight against racial, gender, queer oppression, while also striving to become critical educators in Madison in order to disrupt the harm that youth of color experience within our city. We have learned how each group is fighting for racial justice in their own unique ways and we support their efforts to make their voices heard by those in power in whatever format they choose. In particular, we have witnessed young people from Freedom Inc. (the same young people to whom Caire’s remarks were directed) show up to school board meetings month after month for over a year armed with personal accounts and supportive research about the effects of police in schools only to be ignored, criticized, and criminalized.

As educators committed to supporting youth of color in Madison who fight for racial justice, we honor the work that these young people have done and see them as examples of passion and persistence in fighting for one’s dignity and for the dignity of their community. We also recognize that critiquing the strategies of those fighting oppression is a tool used by those in power to maintain that power. Rather than addressing legitimate demands for justice, they argue for a politics of respectability.

Commentary on Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 TaX and spending plans

Logan Wroge:

The Madison teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc., is demanding the full cost-of-living increase. According to the union, more than 1,000 district employees, or about one-quarter of all staff, are slated to only receive a base wage increase in 2019-20. Bargaining between the two sides is ongoing.

“We will continue to demand a 2.44% cost-of-living base-wage increase for all employees, regardless of the state budget decisions,” MTI said in its weekly newsletter Monday.

Carusi’s plan would cut $1.6 million from administration and “strategic equity investments,” including reducing conference travel expenses by $250,000 and leaving seven of nine vacant positions in administration unfilled for $600,000 in reductions.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts – $18k to 20k per student, depending on the documents one reviews.

Stephen Marche, a survivor of academia, returns to a troubled field

The Times:

The distinct stench of decaying sense floated over the Hyatt Regency during the Modern Language Association annual convention in Chicago this year. For me, the smell was oddly reminiscent. I left a secure job as an English academic for the wilderness of writing more than ten years ago. Going back to academia was a bit like going back to the old hometown that has fallen on hard times: it’s mostly the same people, they’re just older. The town drunk’s still there. The local restaurant’s lousier than you remember. Of the friends who stayed, some have flourished, others look battered. But, of course, I don’t live there anymore so its problems aren’t really mine. And what problems. The MLA this year took, as its principal subject, the death of its own significance.

Any which way you care to look at them, the humanities in the United States are in radical, sharp decline. The number of history students is down about 45 per cent since 2007, the number of English students has halved since the late 1990s. The job market is uncoupled from the number of PhDs granted. One professor at the 134th MLA convention in January asked us to imagine an MA seminar with eight students in it. Of those eight, four will drop out, two will go on to complete PhDs and then find work outside academia, one will suffer as a short-contract academic worker, and the last will find work as a traditional tenured faculty member.

‘Boys underperform in schools because we look after their wellbeing less’

Natasha Devon:

It’s my observation that the world is broadly divided into two types of people: those for whom the link between wellbeing and academic achievement is obvious and therefore requires no explanation and those for whom it is not. And whilst Maslow’s hierarchy of needs tells us that human beings are incapable of learning unless they have their basic needs (which include self-esteem) met, it is an incredibly difficult relationship to measure on the ground.

This is one of the most frustrating things about my job, particularly when I’m met by a hostile geography teacher, seething that my PSHE class has meant their pupils have had to be removed from “proper” lessons. Or by a smug MP who insists that if every child can learn a Keats poem by rote by the time they are 14, it will magically lead to more social mobility.

Last week, my Self-Esteem Team attended a lecture at University College London by Martin Seager, who is part of a research team studying male psychology. In it, Seager argued that psychology suffers from “gender blindness”, in that the profession is reluctant to consider the possibility that men have specific needs. Indeed, Seager argued, we are reluctant to think of men as a gender in their own right at all, thanks to the increasing prevalence of pop-feminism and a widely held and false notion that all men are inherently privileged, regardless of their socio-economic circumstances.

Civics: America’s rural radio stations are vanishing

Debbie Weingarten:

KHIL was founded in 1958 by Rex Allen, who gained notoriety as the last of the singing cowboys. On the silver screen, The Arizona Cowboy could be seen strumming a guitar from the back of his horse, until the genre came to a close in 1954. He would go on to narrate a plethora of Disney movies, including Charlotte’s Web, and for years was the voice behind Ford truck and Purina Dog Chow commercials.

Allen – who died in 1999 – is now immortalized by a statue in the historic downtown. Born 31 December 1920 to Horace and Faye Allen in Willcox, Rex Elvie Allen was cross-eyed at birth, reads the plaque below the statue.

Civics: The populist dilemma

Joel Kotkin:

The recent upsurge in support for populist conservatives, not only across Europe, but in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and even India has inspired talk of a “a nationalist revival” and “the cosmic magnetism” of Donald Trump and Brexit. Here, it is argued, is a movement that finally can take on both the Green-oriented and increasingly authoritarian left.

Yet maybe it’s time for right-wingers to put down the Champagne glasses. Conservative nationalists may have made considerable headway, but in many countries, the geographic, demographic and economic tide continues to pull the other way toward ever more politically correct, climate-obsessed rule from above.

Indeed a strong majority of those elected last month to the European parliament back the European Union and its basic policies on migration, climate and top-down social control. More ominous still, the Green movement, the new standard bearers of the globalist left, has emerged as the biggest winner in many countries, notably Germany.

No paper, no PhD? India rethinks graduate student policy

Gayathri Vaidyanathan:

PhD students in India will no longer be required to publish articles in academic journals before they are awarded their doctorates, if the country’s higher-education regulator adopts recommendations from a committee of researchers.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) currently requires PhD students to publish at least one article in a peer-reviewed journal and present two papers at conferences or seminars before they submit their doctoral thesis for marking. India is unusual in having a national publication policy for PhD students; in many other countries, institutions set their own requirements.

First Systematic Study Of The Advice People Would Give To Their Younger Selves

Christian Jarrett:

The question is an old favourite – if you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self? Yet despite the popularity of this thought experiment, no one has, until now, actually studied what people would tell themselves.

Reporting their findings in The Journal of Social Psychology Robin Kowalski and Annie McCord at Clemson University have done just that in two surveys of hundreds of participants on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk website. Their findings show that people’s advice to their younger selves is overwhelmingly focused on prior relationships, educational opportunities and personal worth, echoing similar results derived from research into people’s most common regrets in life. Moreover, participants who said they had followed the advice they would give to their younger selves were more likely to say that they had become the kind of person that their younger self would admire. “…[W]e should consult ourselves for advice we would offer to our younger selves,” the researchers said. “The data indicate that there is much to be learned that can facilitate wellbeing and bring us more in line with the person that we would like to be should we follow that advice.”

The two studies followed a similar format with the participants (selected to be aged at least 30 years) asked to provide either three pieces or one piece of advice to their younger selves; to reflect on whether following this advice would help them become more like the person they aspire to be or ought to be; whether they had actually followed the advice later in life; to consider a pivotal event that had shaped them in life, especially in light of the advice they’d chosen to give their younger selves; and to reflect on what their younger self would make of their current self.

Let’s Privatize State Colleges

Richard Vedder:

Op-Ed. An estimated 14.67 million college students attend what we call “state universities.” Some of them are renowned highly selective research institutions like the University of California at Berkeley or the University of Michigan, while others are relatively obscure schools with an open admissions policy. But all receive some degree of subsidization from the state government where they are physically located.

Yet there are good arguments to make state universities independent private institutions, albeit ones that still indirectly receive some governmental support. Our so-called “private” schools already mostly are indirectly heavily dependent on the federal government for support via its financing student tuition and room and board charges, not to mention research support and favorable tax treatments. With a few exceptions like Hillsdale College, purely totally independent private institutions are extremely rare.

Let’s give money to needy and accomplished students, not to schools. Data collected by Harvard’s Raj Chetty and associates show that the family income of kids attending schools like the University of Virginia or the University of Michigan averages around $200,000 a year, with the median income also in the six digits. These schools are not places where poor but bright and ambitious kids heavily populate. People worried about income distribution and access to economic opportunity should be concerned that state government aid to colleges is, in fact, largely a middle and upper-class entitlement.

Why don’t we provide vouchers for college attendance like some states do for students going to K-12 schools? The aid could be more explicitly targeted to kids who are either relatively poor or who excel academically. For example, suppose Michigan gave vouchers for attendance by residents that vary in magnitude from $1,000 to $15,000, with extremely high-income applicants made ineligible for any assistance, while very low-income students could receive enough to cover most basic living costs (more than they get today)? Why don’t we further restrict assistance after the first year to students showing at least minimally acceptable academic performance, perhaps something like a “C” average (2.0 grade point average)? Why don’t we put a five-year limit on vouchers, reducing the phenomenon of students taking six years to get a degree?

When the Tassel Isn’t Worth the Hassle

Rachel Lu:

Graduation season has become somewhat poignant for me. I can’t help but smile when I step through the sliding doors of a box store and find myself looking at a display of cards, balloons, and festive pastries. Hats off to the grads! The tassle is worth the hassle! They’re such happy sentiments. I haven’t donned academic robes for quite a number of years, but it’s still fun to think about the fresh faces, burgeoning potential, and mounds of buttercream icing.

Even in the face of such cheerfulness, though, it’s hard to forget that higher education is in bad shape. It’s time to start thinking creatively about this problem, because it’s obvious that our present system is becoming unsustainable. College has become ludicrously expensive while offering graduates diminishing returns on their investments.

As institutions compete for a shrinking pool of potential students, resources are being squandered on fancy buildings and overpaid administration, while starving adjuncts teach most of the courses. College campuses are continually in the news, but for all the wrong reasons. Sooner or later, something has to give.

The coming shake-up could have any number of negative consequences, but there may also be windows of opportunity for positive reform. Many existing colleges will go bankrupt, and families may start thinking further outside the box as they consider their educational options. Trade schools will probably see increased interest as traditional four-year colleges decline.

China social media: WeChat and the Surveillance State

Stephen McDonell:

China’s WeChat is a site for social interaction, a form of currency, a dating app, a tool for sporting teams and deliverer of news: Twitter, Facebook, Googlemaps, Tinder and Apple Pay all rolled into one. But it is also an ever more powerful weapon of social control for the Chinese government.

I’ve just been locked out of WeChat (or Weixin 微信 as it is known in Chinese) and, to get back on, have had to pass through some pretty Orwellian steps – steps which have led others to question why I went along with it.

One reason is that life in Beijing would be extremely difficult without WeChat. The other is that I could not have written this piece without experiencing the stages which have now clearly put my image, and even my voice, on some sort of biometric database of troublemakers.

I was in Hong Kong to cover the enormous candlelight vigil marking 30 years since the People’s Liberation Army was ordered to open fire on its own people to remove the mostly student protesters who’d been gathering in and around Tiananmen Square for months in June 1989.

K-12 tax & SPENDING climate: The world population is changing: For the first time there are more people over 64 than children younger than 5

Hannah Ritchie:

Countries across the world have been going through an important demographic transition: from young to increasingly ageing populations.

In 2018 the number of people older than 64 years old surpassed the number of children under 5 years old. This was the first time in history this was the case.1 We can see this transition clearly when we look at the population by age bracket in the chart below – this is shown from 1950 onwards, with UN projections to 2100.

In the chart below you can explore the projected age structure of future populations – for any country or world region. Just click on Change Country in the bottom left.

The Anti-College Is on the Rise

Molly Worthen:

A small band of students will travel to Sitka, Alaska, this month to help reinvent higher education. They won’t be taking online courses, or abandoning the humanities in favor of classes in business or STEM, or paying high tuition to fund the salaries of more Assistant Vice Provosts for Student Life. They represent a growing movement of students, teachers and reformers who are trying to compensate for mainstream higher education’s failure to help young people find a calling: to figure out what life is really for.

These students will read works by authors ranging from Plato and Herbert Marcuse to Tlingit writers. The point is to “develop and flex a more rigorous political imagination,” according to one course syllabus. They will take on 15 to 20 hours a week of manual labor in Sitka, and set their group’s rules on everything from curfews to cellphones. Last summer’s cohort discouraged the use of phones during class and service hours and ordered everyone to turn off the internet at 10 p.m.

This is Outer Coast, one of an expanding number of educational experiments born out of a deepening sense that mainstream American colleges are too expensive, too bureaucratic, too careerist and too intellectually fragmented to help students figure out their place in the universe and their moral obligations to fellow humans.

There are alternative colleges that replace traditional courses with personalized study; gap-year programs that combine quasi-monastic retreats with world travel; summer seminars devoted to clearing trails and reading philosophy. They aim to prove that it is possible to cultivate moral and existential self-confidence, without the Christian foundation that grounded Western universities until the mid-20th century. They seek to push back against the materialism and individualism that have saturated the secular left and right, all at an affordable price. It’s a tall order.

Was SAT Biology Subject Test Compromised?

Scott Jaschik:

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a group that has long criticized standardized tests and pointed to security problems on them, revealed Thursday that it had received a call with information about questions on the SAT subject test in biology given last weekend. Further, similar questions turned up on Reddit, FairTest announced. The call with information about the test came from East Asia and took place before the exam was given in the United States. FairTest noted that many test takers monitor Reddit, making it possible some had an advance edge on the test.

A spokeswoman for the College Board said via email, “We take all reports about test security with the utmost seriousness, and are aware of this report. For every test administration, we go to great lengths to make sure that all test scores we report are accurate and valid.”

Biggest Offender in Outsize Debt: Graduate Schools

Kevin Carey:

The signs are hard to miss in downtown San Francisco: two stylized A’s inside a red circle, symbolizing the Academy of Art University. The for-profit school occupies more than 40 buildings throughout the city and has made its family owners very rich.

Where does the Academy of Art’s money come from? About $100 million per year arrives as tuition and fees financed by federal student loans. The full scope of the borrowing was revealed May 21, when, for the first time, the Department of Education released information about how much debt students are taking on to earn degrees from various academic programs at American colleges and universities.

The data shows one sector in particular with outsize debt: graduate school. And while the Academy of Art fosters unusually high burdens, many public universities and nonprofit schools have also gotten into the debt-fueled graduate school business.

Lawsuit challenges University of Arkansas tenure policy: ‘Mao-ist attack on free speech’

Max Brantley:

Revisions in the University of Arkansas tenure policy that many faculty believe serve as a curb on free speech were challenged in a federal lawsuit filed Friday.

The class action suit is led by Dr. Philip Palade, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Dr. Gregory Borse, an associate professor of English and philosophy at the University of Arkansas at Monticello; and J. Thomas Sullivan, a distinguished professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law. Attorneys for Plaintiffs are Joseph W. Price II and Brittany Ford with Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull in Little Rock.

Jessie Stiller:

The new policy expands the definition of “cause” to encompass not only the “willingness or ability” of a faculty member to perform his duties but also “otherwise serves as the basis for disciplinary actions.”

The revised policy also “offers a list of 12 non-exclusive ‘grounds’ that are more than mere examples of conduct but broad and vague descriptions of conduct that constitute the necessary justification for any administrator to dismiss a faculty member for ‘cause.’”

These new changes include the following:

Parents Gone Wild: High Drama Inside D.C.’s Most Elite Private School

Adam Harris:

The motto of Sidwell Friends School, the hyperselective “Harvard of Washington’s private schools,” is simple and lofty. “Eluceat omnibus lux”—Latin for “Let the light shine out from all.” But bright lights sometimes illuminate the worst in people. Last month, shocking behavior by parents may have led two of the school’s three college counselors to leave their jobs.

School officials have repeatedly warned parents, who represent the pinnacle of elite Washington, about their offensive conduct. In January, the head of the school, Bryan Garman, sent a remarkable letter to parents of seniors in which he demanded that they stop “the verbal assault of employees.” He also reiterated a policy banning them from recording conversations with counselors and making calls to counselors from blocked phone numbers. Garman also suggested that some parents were responsible for the “circulation of rumors about students.”

Anger, vitriol, and deceptiveness have come to define highly selective college admissions. In the now notorious Varsity Blues scandal, the desire from wealthy parents to get their children into such elite institutions as Yale and the University of Southern California led them to lie on applications and obtain fake SAT scores. At Sidwell Friends, one of America’s most famous Quaker schools, the desire manifested itself in bad behaviors—including parents spreading rumors about other students, ostensibly so that their children could get a leg up, the letter said.

K-12 Tax & sPending Climate: Retirement Benefits Are to White Collar Crime and Generational Inequity What Handguns Are to Street Crime

Larry Littlefield:

Then again, in the hands of powerful and self-interested public employee unions and the politicians they control, in places such as New York City, “defined benefit pensions” are actually “undefined benefit pensions.” Or rather they are defined on the downside – can’t be less than what was promised – but undefined on the upside. With retroactive pension increases from secret political deals drastically increasing what public employees get paid for work done in the past, with nothing in return. And less well off workers, like the “temps” on the BMW assembly line, forced to accept tax increases and service cuts to pay for it.

Which is why, in many places, there is a state and local government pension crisis, leading to the sort of cuts in benefits for new hires and calls for pension freezes one sees at BMW. Whereas in other states, there are crises due to the failure of anti-tax politicians to property fund the pensions public workers had been promised to begin with, sometimes in lieu of Social Security, which they are not entitled to receive.

Is there a retirement crisis? This, believe it or not, is a relatively hopeful take on the question.

Wisconsin appeals court: Officials have to provide requested electronic records

Steven Elbow:

Wisconsin public officials can’t charge exorbitant fees for hard copies of records that can be easily and cheaply produced in more user-friendly electronic form, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

“The ruling rejects the excuses conjured up by the custodians in this case to deny access to records in electronic form and clearly establishes that electronic records contain additional information beyond what is provided with printed paper copies,” reads a statement from Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and editor of The Progressive.

The decision from the 2nd District Court of Appeals hands Lueders a victory in a lawsuit he filed in 2016 against state Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, who responded to an open records request for constituent contacts by producing 1,500 paper copies of emails and charging a per-page fee.

Schools Are Deploying Massive Digital Surveillance Systems. The Results Are Alarming

Benjamin Herold:

But in an age of heightened fear about mass school shootings, it tripped invisible alarms.

The local Brazosport Independent School District had recently hired a company called Social Sentinel to monitor public posts from all users, including adults, on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. The company’s algorithms flagged Lafrenais’s tweet as a potential threat. Automated alerts were sent to the district’s superintendent, chief of police, director of student services, and director of guidance. All told, nearly 140 such alerts were delivered to Brazosport officials during the first eight months of this school year, according to documents obtained by Education Week.

Among the other “threats” flagged by Social Sentinel:

Tweets about the movie “Shooter,” the “shooting clinic” put on by the Stephen F. Austin State University women’s basketball team, and someone apparently pleased their credit score was “shooting up.”

A common Facebook quiz, posted by the manager of a local vape shop.

A tweet from the executive director of a libertarian think tank, who wrote that a Democratic U.S. senator “endorses murder” because of her support for abortion rights.

And a post by one of the Brazosport district’s own elementary schools, alerting parents that it would be conducting a lockdown drill that morning.

“Please note that it is only a drill,” the school’s post read. “Thank you for your understanding. We will post in the comment section when the drill is over.”

A Witch Hunt Comes for a Nonconformist Professor

Daniel Klein:

I was the external examiner on Dr. Carl’s DPhil from Nuffield, Oxford, so I am familiar with his work. It is a data-intensive investigation of cognitive ability (or intelligence) and its correlates, including ideological views, trust, and self-rated happiness. He wrote a report for the classical liberal Adam Smith Institute on why British academics lean left, and argued that intelligence does not work as explanation. He has published several analyses of the Brexit vote. He follows the scientific literature in recognizing that both “nature” and “nurture” affect the development of cognitive ability. He has not conducted research on race or ethnicity as factors in cognitive ability, but he has written a courageous and thoughtful essay about the ethics of preemptively shutting down such research.

Dr. Carl, then, is a serious and highly accomplished researcher who simply does not conform to leftist ways of interpreting the world and who is not cowed by leftist taboos. As such, he has been singled out as a miscreant. Disgraceful means have been used to take him down. The charges are defamatory.

I read about the rescinding in a May 1 article in Varsity. No less than three times does the article quote Dr. Carl’s former employer saying that he had “collaborated with a number of individuals who were known to hold extremist views,” without naming a single such individual. It notes that Dr. Carl attended a conference on intelligence research. Many enemies are quoted, calling him a racist, etc., but not a single friend or defender.

Commentary on madison high school “resource officers”

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Under a newly proposed contract between the city and the Madison Metropolitan School District, MMSD has the ability to move away from having an officer in each of the city’s four high schools starting in the 2020-21 school year.

Under the new language in the contract, MMSD would have until Sept. 15 to tell the city if it would like to reduce the number of SROs assigned to Madison schools from four to three. The district would have to select which school should have a reduction. The reduction would then take place the following school year.

The new contract language follows a negotiation strategy the Madison School Board broadly supported last month to move towards removing an SRO from at least one of Madison’s high schools.

The new contract will be discussed at the board’s June 10 meeting and likely be up for a vote later in the month. The contract would run until June 2022.

“The Board is considering a proposal from the City that is based upon prior negotiations,” School Board President Gloria Reyes said in an email Friday afternoon. “It would not be appropriate to comment at this time before the Board has fully considered the proposal.”

In December, the Madison School Board approved an amended contract to keep police officers in the high schools after the current contract expires June 30. The added language would have given school officials the ability to remove an officer from a school if they found cause. Madison Police Chief Mike Koval and the city had argued that the added language was illegal, because personnel decisions on officers are under the authority of the police chief.

Logan Wroge:

The proposal follows months of negotiations between the Madison School District and Madison Police Department after a previously proposed contract, which passed the board in December, included an amendment police called a nonstarter.

“I am relieved and grateful that the pleas of parents, students, teachers and staff have been acknowledged, and we can continue to demonstrate that the SROs are a valuable, complementary piece in making our schools safer,” Police Chief Mike Koval said in a statement.

But Koval expressed opposition to the option to drop one officer.

He used a metaphor about a road trip with four children in the car but seat belts for only three, resulting in one child riding without a seat belt and risking injury.

“I love all my kids equally, and I don’t want to have to make a choice as to which kid should be less protected against potential harm(s),” Koval said.

He also questioned how police response time to an incident at a high school without an SRO would be affected, and called choosing what high school would not have an officer “problematic.”

“I have never been silent when I object to things that could impact public safety, and I am against the clause that would provide the district the option of reducing our presence in all of the four high schools,” Koval said.

He acknowledged, though, that the decision to continue the contract is up to elected school and city representatives.

David Blaska:

Madison East high school? Madison West? La Follette? James Madison Memorial?

Police EROs 2019
Justin Creech, West; Rod Johnson, La Follette; Zulma Franco, East; Tray Turner, Memorial H.S.

One of those lucky schools — more particularly, their students, parents, and faculty — will be freed of those troublesome school resource officers under a contract the school board is proposing with the Madison Police Department.

More:

Madison School Board members expressed “broad support” for at least one of Madison’s four high schools to go without a police officer stationed at the school as part of a new contract between the city and district, according to meeting minutes obtained by the Cap Times in an open records request.

In a closed session meeting on May 6, the Madison School Board discussed its negotiation strategies with the city over the renewal of a contract that has a school resource officer based at East, West, La Follette and Memorial high schools.

“There was broad support for working towards at least one school with no ERO/SRO,” Barbara Osborn, the recording secretary, wrote in the meeting minutes, which the Cap Times obtained Thursday.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results:

Mark Seidenberg, a UW-Madison professor and cognitive neuroscientist, has spent decades researching the way humans acquire language. He is blunt about Wisconsin’s schools’ ability to teach children to read: “If you want your kid to learn to read you can’t assume that the school’s going to take care of it. You have to take care of it outside of the school, if there’s someone in the home who can do it or if you have enough money to pay for a tutor or learning center.”

Theresa Morateck, literacy coordinator for the district, says the word “balanced” is one that’s been wrestled with for many years in the reading world.

Teacher who built Dane County’s jail high school to retire

Natalie Yahr:

“My first order of business when I would get kids would be to help them understand that they have value, because they would come in thinking that they were worthless.” That, she says, is why there has never been a fight in her classroom. “As soon as they learned that they have value and that they can learn, it made all of us safer and it made them future-oriented.”

‘I’ve given all that I can’

Deciding to retire wasn’t easy, Anderson said, adding that she wasn’t sure until she submitted her retirement paperwork. But she said she’s been suffering from “compassion fatigue,” a phenomenon common among those who spend their careers in emotionally taxing careers. Anderson likened her situation to the book, “The Giving Tree,” in which a tree gives shade, support and ultimately its own life to a child.

“I told kids earlier this year. I said, ‘I’m a stump. I’m a polished stump.’ People can sit on me, they can rest, but sometimes I just feel like I’ve given all that I can, and I have to be able to give at home,” Anderson said, adding that she wants to make way for someone else to step into the role.

The Madison Metropolitan School District will be responsible for filling Anderson’s position.

Related: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

Chinese School Under Fire for Allegedly Admitting Children Based on Parents’ Qualifications

Huang Shulun, Li Mi, Zhao Runhua and Teng Jing Xuan:

As China’s school admissions season begins, some parents are jumping through more than the usual hoops to enroll their children in a good school.

Parents in Sichuan province complained last week that one private school affiliated with Sichuan Normal University, Shengfei Primary School, was asking parents to bring their degree certificates to a first-grade admissions event. The requirement unfairly disadvantaged children whose parents had received less education, the parents complained.

Shengfei told Caixin that it was entirely up to parents whether to bring their certificates to the event. Private schools have “some level of autonomy” when it comes to admitting students, an official at the local education bureau told Caixin Monday.

The school didn’t say explicitly that parents’ certificates would affect children’s applications, but people familiar with the issue say the certificates will likely be used to narrow the pool of applicants based on parents’ educational levels.

Competition is fierce for spots at top institutions in China, where there’s often great disparity between schools when it comes to teaching standards and resources.

Alone The decline of the family has unleashed an epidemic of loneliness.

Kay Hymowitz:

Americans are suffering from a bad case of loneliness. The number of people in the United States living alone has gone through the studio-apartment roof. A study released by the insurance company Cigna last spring made headlines with its announcement: “Only around half of Americans say they have meaningful, daily face-to-face social interactions.” Loneliness, public-health experts tell us, is killing as many people as obesity and smoking. It’s not much comfort that Americans are not, well, alone in this. Germans are lonely, the bon vivant French are lonely, and even the Scandinavians—the happiest people in the world, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report—are lonely, too. British prime minister Theresa May recently appointed a “Minister of Loneliness.”

The hard evidence for a loneliness epidemic admittedly has some issues. How is loneliness different from depression? How much do living alone and loneliness overlap? Do social scientists know how to compare today’s misery with that in, say, the mid-twentieth century, a period that produced prominent books like The Lonely Crowd? Certainly, some voguish explanations for the crisis should raise skepticism: among the recent suspects are favorite villains like social media, technology, discrimination, genetic bad luck, and neoliberalism.

Still, the loneliness thesis taps into a widespread intuition of something true and real and grave. Foundering social trust, collapsing heartland communities, an opioid epidemic, and rising numbers of “deaths of despair” suggest a profound, collective discontent. It’s worth mapping out one major cause that is simultaneously so obvious and so uncomfortable that loneliness observers tend to mention it only in passing. I’m talking, of course, about family breakdown. At this point, the consequences of family volatility are an evergreen topic when it comes to children; this remains the subject of countless papers and conferences. Now, we should take account of how deeply the changes in family life of the past 50-odd years are intertwined with the flagging well-being of so many adults and communities.

NYC public education has become dedicated to racial categories (Part I)

NEO:

Did you know that, in New York City, Asians have become some sort of honorary whites, according to the city’s Department of Education?:

A city DOE-sponsored panel designed to combat racism told parents that Asian-American students “benefit from white supremacy” and “proximity to white privilege,” an outraged mom told The Post.

This seems like nonsense unless you get into the mindset of those educators to whom race isn’t just a thing, it’s the only thing. Here’s how it goes: Asians aren’t white, and they’re a minority group, plus a significant number of them are from immigrant families who aren’t wealthy. That ought to make them stars in the minds of those who consider non-white racial achievement one of the highest goals of all in education. However, the devotion to diversity bumps up against the fact that Asians do disproportionately well and it becomes difficult to explain this in conventional terms, because certainly Asians have often been targets of discrimination. Equality of outcome is considered by the SJWs to be a must, so Asian academic dominance is a stumbling block (especially in light of discrimination) and something that cries out for them to explain it.

One such explanation might be that Asians are on average just innately smarter, although any suggestion of such a thing would be a big no-no. I have no idea whether that’s true or not. But even without that explanation there’s another one that almost certainly is true: Asian families tend to espouse values that lead to academic excellence, such as hard work. Since such values are now labeled by SJW educators as “white,” therefore Asians are supposedly benefiting from their “proximity” to white values that confer white privilege. All this despite the facts that Asians are not white.

State and Local Individual Income Tax Collections Per Capita

Tax Foundation:

The individual income tax is one of the most significant sources of revenue for state and local governments. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, the most recent year of data available, individual income taxes generated 23.5 percent of state and local tax collections, just less than general sales taxes (23.6 percent).

The map below shows combined state and local individual income tax collections per capita for each state in FY 2016. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia levy broad-based taxes on wage income and investment income, while two states—New Hampshire and Tennessee—tax investment income but not wage income. Tennessee’s tax on investment income—known as the “Hall tax”—is being phased out and will be fully repealed by tax year 2021. Seven states do not levy an individual income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.