America’s cultural revolution is just like Mao’s

Xiao Li:

After leaving China for America two decades ago, my father only returned to his homeland once. I had turned 18, and I think he wanted to show me something of his youth, of which he spoke little. In the dusty village where he grew up, we met an endless stream of old men who wanted to see the village’s prodigal son. Gifts were offered and extravagant greetings were swapped. Then, after each visitor had departed, my father would tell me, matter-of-factly, what they did to him during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

The harmless-looking retired cadre, now an amiable old man who pinched my cheeks, had been the village party secretary who forced my father to perform manual labour — running after cows with a basket to pick up the droppings — because, as the son of a landlord, he could not be trusted with an education. The local businessman, now on his second wife and third Audi, had belonged to a gang of high school children who beat him for being descended from counter-revolutionaries.

Some of my father’s tormentors were blood relatives, who were especially keen to display their revolutionary credentials through violence, a situation that was sadly not uncommon: it was rumoured that Bo Xilai, who nearly supplanted Xi Jinping before being imprisoned, had broken his own father’s ribs as a Red Guard. Only the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 saved my father, who took the university entrance examinations a few years later, and never looked back.

Since the beginning of — shall we call it our 2020 cultural moment? — much ink has been spilled on whether there are similarities between the current protests-cum-riots and China’s Cultural Revolution. Even though some of its cheerleaders openly make the comparison, most commentators dismiss the idea, including UnHerd‘s Daniel Kalder.

To my father, and indeed to many of his contemporaries, the answer is clear. They had lived through it, and although they cannot put their finger on the why, they can feel a certain febrility in the air which reminded them of the events of half a century ago. But with their accented English and unfashionable politics (few, for some reason, are especially well-disposed toward the western Left), they have been largely excluded from the conversation. Or they could be biased, as western Marxist academics used to say of the testimonies of eastern European refugees who had been in Communist prisons.

The Purpose of Persuasion

Yasha Mounk:

But the erosion of values like free speech and due process within mainstream institutions does put philosophical liberals at a unique disadvantage. It is difficult to convey just how many amazing writers, journalists, and think-tankers—some young and some old, some relatively obscure and others very famous—have privately told me that they can no longer write in their own voices; that they are counting the days until they get fired; and that they don’t know where to turn if they do. (Astonishingly, a number of them are far enough to the left to have supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries.)

This, to me, is a huge part of the reason why the defenders of the free society have seemed to lack conviction in recent months and years. Feeling, at best, begrudgingly tolerated by the institutions that employ them, they are always on the back foot: writing and speaking with one eye on Twitter, one eye on a hostile editor, and one eye on the attacks being shared on their own company’s Slack channel. (As you may have noticed, that requires too many eyes.)

How Our Anti-American Education System Made Riots Inevitable

Inez Feltscher Stepman:

The past fire-lit weeks in America’s cities have made clear that the protests, and the riots that attend them, have little to do with the condemnable alleged murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis.

Even in the non-violent demonstrations, protesters can be seen burning the American flag, an act that just 30 years ago engendered such outrage it spurred Congress to pass an unconstitutional law, but doesn’t even warrant coverage today. In broad daylight, protesters have defaced and toppled statues dedicated to any and all figures of America’s history.

Lest anyone think the mob’s Year Zero behavior stopped with the slaveholding Confederacy, in Boston a monument to the 54th Massachusetts, an all-black Union regiment during the Civil War, was among those vandalized. Matthias Baldwin, an early abolitionist, got the same treatment in Philadelphia, as did the lesser-known Rotary Club founder Paul Harris, whose plaque in Washington D.C. was marked simply with an ignorance-acknowledging “probably a racist.” The monument to the author of the Emancipation Proclamation on the National Mall was likely spared only because of the protection of the National Guard.

As John Daniel Davidson has noted, toppling statues is not a good sign for the future of the republic; it looks a lot less like a policy conversation about police reform than it does regime change and revolution.

The unplanned impact of mathematics

Peter Rowlett:

As a child, I read a joke about someone who invented the electric plug and had to wait for the invention of a socket to put it in. Who would invent something so useful without knowing what purpose it would serve? Mathematics often displays this astonishing quality. Trying to solve real-world problems, researchers often discover that the tools they need were developed years, decades or even centuries earlier by mathematicians with no prospect of, or care for, applicability. And the toolbox is vast, because, once a mathematical result is proven to the satisfaction of the discipline, it doesn’t need to be re-evaluated in the light of new evidence or refuted, unless it contains a mistake. If it was true for Archimedes, then it is true today.

The mathematician develops topics that no one else can see any point in pursuing, or pushes ideas far into the abstract, well beyond where others would stop. Chatting with a colleague over tea about a set of problems that ask for the minimum number of stationary guards needed to keep under observation every point in an art gallery, I outlined the basic mathematics, noting that it only works on a two-dimensional floor plan and breaks down in three-dimensional situations, such as when the art gallery contains a mezzanine. “Ah,” he said, “but if we move to 5D we can adapt …” This extension and abstraction without apparent direction or purpose is fundamental to the discipline. Applicability is not the reason we work, and plenty that is not applicable contributes to the beauty and magnificence of our subject.

5 tips on how to cover teacher layoffs

Chad Aldeman:

Even in a normal year, it can be challenging to cover the teacher hiring process.

School districts project their student enrollment for the coming year and use those estimates to decide how many teachers they’ll need at each school. After subtracting teacher turnover and retirements, districts then hire to fill any remaining spots.

This summer is, of course, far from normal.

As school districts begin to announce their plans for the fall without clarity on how many students are likely to enroll or whether teachers will return to schools, reporters will need to help readers understand what choices districts are facing and what their decisions will mean for teachers and other education employees.

Budget uncertainties will make reporters’ jobs even harder as they attempt to explain potentially misleading terms like pink slips, layoffs, and RIFs (reductions-in-force). Most challenging of all, reporters will also have to try to determine how all these decisions will affect the quality of services students receive.

To help journalists wade through all that murkiness, I’ve identified five tips for reporters to produce smart, accurate journalism about the layoff process.

1: A pink slip is not a layoff

Many states require notices to be sent to any teacher who may face a layoff in the year ahead, but this doesn’t mean their job loss is guaranteed. Those rules, in turn, force districts to overidentify workers who might be at risk. Without careful reporting, the public perception of layoffs may be larger than the eventual impact.

Campus Climate Commentary

Philip Carl Salzman:

These new identity Marxists were quickly indulged within departments of women’s studies and feminist & gender studies; departments of black studies, Hispanic studies, and ethnic studies; and departments of queer studies and transgender studies. The mandate of these departments was propaganda and indoctrination on behalf of the favored sex, race, or sexuality. Aided by nihilistic, postmodern epistemology, the belief in truth and the academic search for truth were thrown out and replaced with identity-based “knowledge,” because “each person has her own truth.” Alleged experience and emotion now trump research, evidence, and logic.

A series of identity Marxist lies became the center of teaching and publication in the social sciences and humanities. Let us begin with the fourth-wave feminist lie that North Americans live in a “rape culture.” Feminists in anthropology and other fields taught their students that they live in a rape culture, and the students absorbed it as if it were mother’s milk. You might have thought that anthropologists have some idea what a culture is, but apparently feministanthropologists, which means just about all anthropologists, seem to have fallen into ideologically induced amnesia. Let us remind ourselves what culture is: culture is a set of conventional beliefs, values, and practices. To say that we have a “rape culture” would mean that we believe rape to be a good thing, that we teach our children to rape, and we reward rape, just as we regard reading as a good thing, teach our children to read, and reward success at reading (or at least used to). But we do not regard rape as a good thing, do not teach our children to rape, and do not reward rape, but rather punish it. So this feminist assertion is an outright lie. This is not rocket science, but feminist professors ignored our cultural reality in order to scare impressionable young women, who were becoming lax now that most feminist goals had been achieved, back into the security of the feminist camp.

The black studies lie, publicized with great effect by Black Lives Matter, is that black men are murdered every day by police, and that no black boy on the way to school or black man driving to work is safe from being murdered. If one is even slightly interested in facts and evidence, then it is clear that there is no empirical basis to this statement. There are around forty million African Americans, of which around twenty million are male. There are around fifty million contacts between police annually. In 2019, 1,004 individuals were killed by police using lethal force. Of those killed, 158 were black. Of those 158, all but ten were armed, but of those ten, six attacked the police. But even if we count the unarmed counterfactually as non-threatening, the percentage of unarmed male blacks killed is .00005% of all black males.

UW-Madison professor sells plywood to students

David Blaska:

The frightening thing about UW-Madison professor Walter C. Stern’s column last Sunday, “To move ‘Forward,’ we must confront troubled past,” is not how he tortures history to fit his ideology. It’s that he teaches his identity politics to your children’s teachers and — one suspects — many of the late-night visitors to State Street and Capitol Square this long hot summer.

Stern justifies the toppling of Wisconsin’s iconic “Forward” statue because, “while the statue and the state motto it embodies represent progress, their vision of progress does not extend to all.”

Does the professor understand that forward is a direction, not a final destination. That progress is not perfection?

“I use ‘Forward’ in my UW-Madison classes,” he writes, “to help students grasp how celebrations of conquest and white male domination became embedded within the daily fabric of American life.”

Here we thought “Forward” represented a strong woman. No wonder UW-Madison students want to tear down Abraham Lincoln (a white male). Who replaces Old Abe? Al Sharpton?

Tenured professors such as Stern supply the intellectual apologia for the tear down of society. They sell plywood. Menards only stocks it. Tommy Thompson, you’ve got your work cut out for you as interim president of the University of Wisconsin System.

Commentary on US Governance and Economic Effectiveness

Noah Smith:

The U.S.’s decline started with little things that people got used to. Americans drove past empty construction sites and didn’t even think about why the workers weren’t working, then wondered why roads and buildings took so long to finish. They got used to avoiding hospitals because of the unpredictable and enormous bills they’d receive. They paid 6% real-estate commissions, never realizing that Australians were paying 2%. They grumbled about high taxes and high health-insurance premiums and potholed roads, but rarely imagined what it would be like to live in a system that worked better.

When writers speak of American decline, they’re usually talking about international power — the rise of China and the waning of U.S. hegemony and moral authority. To most Americans, those are distant and abstract things that have little or no impact on their daily lives. But the decline in the general effectiveness of U.S. institutions will impose increasing costs and burdens on Americans. And if it eventually leads to a general loss of investor confidence in the country, the damage could be much greater.

The most immediate cost of U.S. decline — and the most vivid demonstration — comes from the country’s disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic. Leadership failures were pervasive and catastrophic at every level — the president, agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration, and state and local leaders all fumbled the response to the greatest health threat in a century. As a result, the U.S. is suffering a horrific surge of infections in states such as Arizona, Texas and Florida while states that were battered early on are still struggling. Countries such as Italy that are legendary for government dysfunction and were hit hard by the virus have crushed the curve of infection, while the U.S. just set a daily record for case growth and shows no sign of slowing down.

Three Ideas to End the Rot on College Campuses

Charles Lipson:

In the early 1950s, at the nadir of McCarthyism, the Cincinnati Reds baseball team was so fearful of anti-communist crusaders that it actually changed the team’s name. Overnight, they reverted to their original name, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, and then for several years became the Redlegs. The anti-communism was justified; the mob mentality was not. Today, we are all Redlegs. This time, the repression is coming from the left.

It’s not just that a careless word can cost your job, it’s that people tremble in fear that they might say the wrong word. Today, as in the past, the loudest, most extreme voices claim the right to control speech and judge whether it is worthy of being heard at all. The giants of technology and media have either bowed to these demands or embraced them enthusiastically. The result, as in the early 1950s, is a shriveled, impoverished public square. Genuine debate is suppressed, even in classrooms, which should nurture informed discussion with multiple viewpoints. All too often they have become pipelines for indoctrination.

What’s wrong with this rigid groupthink? First, it takes real problems, such as police misconduct or Confederate statues, and inflates them for political purposes. It vastly exaggerates their extent and gravity, mistakenly generalizes them (Ulysses Grant is not Stonewall Jackson), ignores significant progress in correcting old errors, calls any disagreement “racist,” and relies on intimidation and sometimes violence, not democratic procedures, to get their way. The loudest voices say America and its history are fundamentally evil, that its institutions need to be smashed so they can be reestablished on “socially just” foundations. The mob and their fellow travelers will determine what is just. Who gives them that right? This arrogation of power and attack on public order will not end well.

The second problem is that America’s major institutions have been overwhelmed by these demands and have bowed down to them. Public trust has eroded in all America’s major institutions since the late 1960s. We now see the supine results. Instead of standing up to this swelling irrationalism and intimidation, they have appeased it—and sometimes embraced it. Predictably, appeasement has only fueled more extreme demands.

The rot began in America’s universities before spreading to mass media, cultural magazines, philanthropies, museums, and corporations. More and more parents are concerned that it now suffuses K-12 education. They don’t want a Pollyanna history, but neither do they want their children indoctrinated with a grim, doctrinaire view that America is an evil nation, incapable of reforming its own defects.

Cops are OUT of Madison schools

David Blaska:

Madison school board just voted 7-0 to terminate immediately school resource officers. Not dependent on Madison Common Council decision. “It is a school board decision and we just made it,” said board president Gloria Reyes at 4:35 p.m. 06-29-2020.

First, a special session began at 4 p.m. to vote on ending the district’s contract with the Madison Police Department that places an officer in each of the comprehensive high schools. Only at 5:30 p.m. will there be a public input session.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Assessment Gap: Racial Inequalities in Property Taxation

Carlos Avenancio-Leo ́n and Troup Howard:

We use panel data covering 118 million homes in the United States, merged with geolocation detail for 75,000 taxing entities, to document a nationwide “assessment gap” which leads local governments to place a disproportionate fiscal burden on racial and ethnic minorities. We show that holding jurisdictions and property tax rates fixed, black and Hispanic residents nonetheless face a 10–13% higher tax burden for the same bundle of public services. This assessment gap arises through two channels. First, property assessments are less sensitive to neighborhood attributes than market prices are. This generates racially correlated spatial variation in tax burden within jurisdiction. Second, appeals behavior and appeals outcomes differ by race. This results in higher assessment growth rates for minority residents. We propose an alternate approach for constructing assessments based on small-geography home price indexes, and show that this reduces inequality by at least 55–70%.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district has for decades raised property taxes via annual increases and referendums.

1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21

2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

4. Total expenditures per pupil: +19.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 2020

Andrew Van Dam: Unfair property assessments lead to widespread overtaxation of black Americans’ homes: African Americans have long said they bear a disproportionate burden for taxes that support local police, schools and parks, but nationwide measures of this type of systemic racism are hard to come by.

To expose the structural and historical factors behind these discriminatory property tax assessments, the economists analyzed more than a decade of tax assessment and sales data for 118 million homes throughout the country.

In almost every state, property tax assessments were higher in areas with more black and Hispanic residents. In city after city, the authors show it is not just differences in the buildings or land but also the racial composition of the neighborhood that matters. The gap between white families and minority households remains large — 10 percent — when you combine data for Hispanic and black families.

OpenStreetMap, a global map for worldwide insight

Mikel Maron:

Want to learn more? The annual State of the Map conference is an amazing opportunity to learn more about how OpenStreetMap is used around the world — and it’s happening online this weekend (and will be recorded, if you’re reading this later). Tune in to catch  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>Taylor Reich presenting Pedestrians First, the  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>Million Neighborhoods team is sharing their methodologies, and  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>Jennings Anderson is examining global-scale patterns in how companies are contributing to OpenStreetMap data. Check out the  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>full agenda of State of the Map and see you there.

Universities Sowing the Seeds of Their Own Obsolescence

Victor Davis Hanson:

The media blitz during these last several weeks revealed a generation that is poorly educated and yet petulant and self-assured without justification.

When mobs tore down a statue of Ulysses S. Grant and defaced a monument to African-American veterans of the Civil War, many people wondered whether the protesters had ever learned anything in high school or college.

Did any of these iconoclasts know the difference between Grant and Robert E. Lee? Could they recognize the name “Gettysburg”? Could they even identify the decade in which the Civil War was fought?

Universities are certainly teaching our youth to be confident, loud, and self-righteous. But the media blitz during these last several weeks of protests, riots, and looting also revealed a generation that is poorly educated and yet petulant and self-assured without justification.

Many of the young people on the televised front lines of the protests are in their 20s. But most appear juvenile, at least in comparison to their grandparents — survivors of the Great Depression and World War II.

How can so many so sheltered and prolonged adolescents claim to be all-knowing?

Ask questions like these, and the answers ultimately lead back to the university.

Millions of those who graduate from college or drop out do so in arrears. There is some $1.5 trillion in aggregate student debt in the U.S. Such burdens sometimes delay marriage. They discourage child-rearing. They make home ownership hard — along with all the other experiences we associate with the transition to adulthood.

Homeschool requests overload state government website

North State Journal:

Wednesday evening, the website for the N.C Department of Administration’s Notice of Intent to Establish a Home School was not available due to volume.

The website around 9:20 p.m. read, “The system is not currently available due to an overwhelming submission of Notices of Intent (NOI). It will be back online as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience as we work to process NOIs as quickly as possible.”

Classical Conversations Inc. CEO Robert Bortins, responding to the site being down, told NSJ, “Families are uncertain if the public schools will be able to serve their families needs for school this fall. The pandemic schooling at home gave them the opportunity to see that they could homeschool, and now they are choosing to do it intentionally.”

Earlier today, Gov. Roy Cooper delayed his expected announcement on the plan to reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year, saying his administration needed more time to study the data, trends, and achieve buy in from parents and teachers.

If We Jettison Standardized Testing, What’s Its Replacement?

George Leef:

The COVID-19 pandemic probably won’t kill the SAT, but will no doubt leave it in a badly weakened condition.

Both the SAT (and its close competitor, the ACT) have had to cancel administration of their tests for the last few months and, according to this Washington Post story, universities have decided that they will make their admission decisions without those test scores.

Before COVID-19, support for standardized testing was already eroding and recent developments are sure to cause further slippage.

Undoubtedly, the greatest blow was the decision by the University of California (UC) system to stop relying on standardized tests and develop a new test of its own within five years. One opponent of standardized tests (quoted in this Los Angeles Times piece) declared that this marks “the beginning of the end” for the SAT.

Under the plan, UC schools will be “test optional” for incoming students this year and next. For the following two years, UC institutions would be “test blind” for California residents, meaning that SAT and ACT scores would not be used at all, although out-of-state students could still submit scores. And by 2025, the state will either have developed a completely new admissions test or, if no such test has been approved, the UC system will go completely test blind.

UW Madison Education School Professor on “Forward” and History

Walter Stern, via a kind reader:

It is an example of repackaging history as myth, and myths such as these hold nations together by constructing a supposedly shared and honorable past. But through their inaccuracy these myths also project an understanding of who does — and does not — belong. They spin a national history for some, not all.

That is why the current battle over monuments is so heated, and I suspect that many defenders of recently toppled monuments worry about what will hold us together if we abandon the national myth that statues such as “Forward” embody. If we knock past presidents and as anodyne a notion as “progress” off their pedestals, then what are our lodestars?

Stern is assistant professor of educational policy studies and history at UW–Madison:

Milwaukee School board to begin discussions on desegregating schools in southeastern Wisconsin

Annysa Johnson:

As issues of race, racism and structural inequities dominate the national consciousness, Milwaukee Public Schools board members are laying the groundwork for what they hope will be a new push to address the hyper segregation in southeastern Wisconsin.

The board unanimously passed a resolution last week calling on activists, elected officials and others to develop a regional plan to desegregate schools and reduce inequities among schools in the region.

While the plan would initially focus on schools, board members said it must also address the myriad factors that have created and maintained what is a white ring around a predominantly black and brown city — from housing and transportation to job creation and economic development.
MPS School Board member Bob Peterson.

“The purpose of this resolution is to really raise the ante, to publicly push school districts, municipalities, county boards to address how they’re going to help end Jim Crow in metro Milwaukee — the systematic, institutional racism that has been part of this region’s history since the first white people came and took the land from Native Americans,” said board member Bob Peterson, who proposed the resolution with board member Sequanna Taylor.

Madison has not addressed school boundaries for many years. The School Board approved the expansion of our least diverse schools, despite nearby available space.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison to receive 15% reduction in redistributed state tax dollars (property tax values and referendum spending are factors)

Jason Stein:

Estimates for WI general school aids are out from DPI – not surprisingly given its increases in property values, Madison schools will see max 15% decrease (largest decrease in raw $s in the state). Milwaukee Public Schools expected to get a 2% increase:

Budget Brief, via the Wisconsin Policy Forum:

But for districts like Madison with above average property values and spending per pupil, the third part of the state formula actually subtracts aid. In this third tier, Madison is losing a projected $44 million in 2021, more than double the $20 million lost in 2011. The state limits general school aid decreases to 15% or Madison would be losing even more this coming year.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district has significantly grown spending, despite slight enrollment declines.

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +19.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 2020
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020

Espinoza Is a Boon for School Choice Nationwide

Libby Sobic:

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a landmark decision that will allow low-income parents across the country to send their children to private schools with their taxpayer dollars. In a 5–4 ruling, the Court decided in favor of Kendra Espinoza and two other mothers in their case brought by the Institute for Justice (IJ) against the Montana Department of Revenue.

Espinoza is a single mom who has wanted to send her two daughters to a religious school in Montana through the tax-credit scholarship program. Big Sky Scholarships provided families with a tax break if they contributed to charitable organizations that provide scholarships for students to attend private schools. The program was initially created to provide students with scholarships to attend any private school.

But soon after Big Sky started, Montana’s Department of Revenue declared that the scholarships could be used only for non-religious private schools. IJ filed this case on behalf of the Montana mom but lost in the Montana supreme court. The court shut down the entire tax-credit scholarship program, arguing that it was unconstitutional because it included religious options for parents and that it would be impossible to separate religious private schools from other private schools in this program.

Yesterday the Supreme Court held that “the application of the no-aid provision discriminated against religious schools and the families whose children attend or hope to attend them in violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the Federal Constitution.” In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts highlights that Montana’s program discriminated against religious schools because of the mere fact that they are religious: “Montana’s no-aid provision bars religious schools from public benefits solely because of the religious character of the schools. The provision also bars parents who wish to send their children to a religious school from those same benefits, again solely because of the religious character of the school.”

But with the Court ruling in favor of Espinoza, Montana families will be able to use the Big Sky Scholarship program to send their children to private schools, religious or not, which they otherwise could not afford. And even better: This victory reaches much farther than the 559 miles across Montana. It will allow states throughout the U.S. to provide assistance to families for private school through the creation of school-choice programs, including vouchers, tax scholarship programs, and education-savings accounts (ESAs).

Commentary on Campus intellectual diversity

Mark Hemingway:

But now, with “cancel culture” on the rise as protesters nationwide tear down statues in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, the biologist says he feels an uneasy sense of vindication — and the tide turning.

“I’ve started to get calls in the last week or two – the people who mocked me and others … for making too much of what appeared to be college kids going wild on college campuses,” he said on the Joe Rogan podcast on June 18. “Some of them have started to call and say: ‘I got it wrong. What do we do now?’”

It turns out that a quiet counterrevolution is already underway. 

In March of last year, President Trump issued an executive order making federal research funding contingent on universities having adequate free speech protections. At the state level, Texas last year became the 17th state since 2015 to enact legislation protecting First Amendment rights on campus. Currently, the conservative National Association of Scholars is working with four states – Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Arizona – to go further: pass laws to increase “intellectual diversity” at public universities.

South Dakota has already done so, and the law’s requirements amount to the most sweeping campus reforms in the country. It was triggered last year by a minor controversy over the stifling of a planned “Hawaiian Day” on one campus — a last straw for critics of cultural hypersensitivity that revived intellectual diversity legislation opposed by the state Board of Regents. 

Under intellectual diversity laws, not only must dissenting views be tolerated, but college administrations are required to actively take steps (yet to be specified) to ensure that students are exposed to competing cultural and political viewpoints.

I’m leaving academia.

James Heathers:

That is, I will start a job, at a company, doing something a lot like science, very soon. I have signed a contract.

It was popular a few years ago to write about this experience. We called it ‘quit lit’. Documents in the genre tended to run long, and alternated between detailed accounts of fairly torrid career experiences (which were interesting) with additional self-indulgent drivel about values and feelings (which were not).

Well, if everyone else gets to play, so do I. My attempt to join this genre here is as terse as I can make it, while still being comprehensive.

The reason for it existing is not because you need a full exegesis of my feelings, but because: while I would prefer to be understood, I would like to explain the circumstances here. These might be useful to other people.

Or maybe you’re curious.

Madison School Board Drops attempt at Changing Teacher Seniority Requirement for Layoffs

Scott Girard:

The Madison School Board will not discuss controversial changes proposed to the Employee Handbook Monday night as planned.

Board president Gloria Reyes announced in a press release sent by Madison Metropolitan School District spokesperson Tim LeMonds Monday afternoon that the item had been removed from the agenda and would be discussed at a special meeting at a later date.

“This change in the agenda is to provide additional direction and allow for more discussion and collaboration with stakeholders prior to any board discussion and subsequent action on employee handbook changes,” the statement reads.

The changes included a few items that Madison Teachers Inc. opposed. The union had been organizing its membership to speak Monday night before the meeting or send emails to board members opposing changes to layoff rules, specifically.

District administration had recommended the changes, which would shift the criteria for layoffs or shifting surplus staff among schools from seniority to a series of performance measurements like Educator Effectiveness evaluations, cultural competence and experience, among other things.

Kelley Meyerhofer:

The Madison School Board president hit pause on proposed employee handbook changes scheduled for a Monday evening vote that would have handed Madison School District more control in laying off staff and expediting the termination process.

The district’s teachers union had pushed back against the proposal and the way in which it came about, saying administrators were engaging in a “divide and conquer” strategy during a time of crisis that would destroy a decades-long working relationship with Madison Teachers Inc. and the thousands of employees it represents.

District administrators had proposed eliminating seniority as the sole criteria to lay off employees or move individuals to different schools. Instead, the chief of schools would have selected employees for layoffs in consultation with principals.

Officials also requested allowing for 30-day layoff notices instead of the annual May 15 layoff notices.

Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore said in materials made public last week that the changes would help the district diversify its workforce and provide more financial flexibility at a time when it is bracing for coronavirus-related budget cuts.

Raises, officers both out as Madison School Board OKs 2020-21 budget — but COVID-19 may cause changes

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The district said total compensation has exceeded the rate of inflation for the last seven years — something it said has helped recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers.

But the board directed officials to pause a proposed 1% increase to base wages and freeze part of a salary schedule that rewards staff the longer they work in the district.

Those raises could eventually be incorporated back into the district’s budget approved in the fall, depending on how the state budget shakes out.

Mirilli said she thinks Gov. Tony Evers will prioritize education in his budget given that he is a former educator. She was optimistic that the raises could be added back in, but said the board needs to be cautious because there’s so much uncertainty.

“This is not our final decision around this,” Mirilli said. “This is a placeholder based on what we know currently.”

Board members Carusi and Nicki Vander Meulen both voted against the preliminary budget. Carusi said she thinks the district’s financial situation “won’t be as dire” as predicted. Vander Meulen said she could not support taking away any money from teachers, even on a preliminary basis.

Recent Madison School District tax & spending history:

1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21

2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

4. Total expenditures per pupil: +19.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 2020

6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020.

Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science

Louisa Moats:

The most fundamental responsibility of schools is teaching students to read. Because reading affects all other academic achievement and is associated with social, emotional, economic, and physical health, it has been the most researched aspect of human cognition. By the year 2000, after decades of multidisciplinary research, the scientific community had achieved broad consensus regarding these questions: How do children learn to read? What causes reading difficulties? What are the essential components of effective reading instruction and why is each important? How can we prevent or reduce reading difficulties? Two decades later, hundreds of additional studies have refined and consolidated what we know about bolstering reading achievement, especially for students at risk.

Scientists use increasingly sophisticated technology that can picture the brain’s activation patterns or measure split-second reactions to speech or print. New statistical methods can document the complicated interactions of many factors as students develop reading skills. Fine-grained analyses illuminate the nature of individual differences and individual responses to instruction. These advanced investigative techniques have confirmed and extended the bedrock findings about reading and effective teaching of reading that were known 20 years ago. Evidence to guide our practices is stronger than it has ever been.

Unfortunately, much of this research is not yet included in teacher preparation programs, widely used curricula, or professional development, so it should come as no surprise that typical classroom practices often deviate substantially from what is recommended by our most credible sources. As a result, reading achievement is not as strong as it should be for most students, and the consequences are particularly dire for students from the least advantaged families and communities.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

High School Athletes Experiencing Increased Anxiety, Depression During Pandemic, Study Shows

Megan Hart:

Public health experts should carefully consider the long-term effects of extended school closures as the coronavirus pandemic continues, according to a researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Dr. Timothy McGuine led a team who surveyed more than 3,200 young athletes across the state in May, about three months after schools were closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. McGuine said they focused on athletes because they had control data from before the pandemic for comparison.

The survey was conducted online and took about seven minutes to complete. The athletes who responded came from 71 different Wisconsin counties and played a variety of sports.

Reports of moderate to severe depressionwere up by more than 20 percent among those who took the survey in May. According to researchers, this means 66,000 young athletes across the state could be at risk for depression.

Meanwhile, 65 percent of recent survey respondents reported feeling a level of anxiety that’s typically treated by medical intervention, McGuine said.

At the same time, physical activity was down 50 percent among those who took the survey in May. Exercise is considered a powerful intervention against anxiety and depression, he said.

Howard Fuller: On education, race and racism, and how we move forward as a country

Annysa Johnson:

Howard Fuller announced this month that he is retiring from Marquette University, where he is a distinguished professor of education and founder and director of its Institute for the Transformation of Learning.

At 79, Fuller has served in many roles in his lifetime: civil rights activist, educator and civil servant. He is a former superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools and best known in recent decades as a national advocate for school choice, which provides taxpayer-funded vouchers, typically to low-income families.

He is founder of Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy, a local charter high school, which beganinitially as a private religious school in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.He is a controversial figure for many public school advocates who believe school choice bleeds needed dollars from those schools.

In addition to retiring from Marquette, Fuller has resigned all of his board appointments, except for that of the school.

Fuller sat down with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel education reporter Annysa Johnson for a lengthy and wide-ranging discussion. These are excerpts:

Question: When you first announced your retirement, I could sense a weariness in your voice. It was clear you were struggling with where we are in this country right now. What can you say about education in the context of this moment?

Fuller: One of the things that became absolutely clear when the pandemic hit was what we already knew, and that was the inequities in education in this country. What the pandemic did was show which schools were already into the 21st century and which were holding on tightly to the 20th century, still functioning with an industrial-age paradigm. When the pandemic broke, the people who were tied lock, stock and barrel to the industrial-age paradigm, were lost. They had no idea what to do. Because everything was centered onyou gottacome to a building, the teacher is the center of learning, etc.

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Academic Censorship in STEM Fields

Jordan Peterson:

The first story emerges at Brock University, in combination with the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie—the former an educational institution of moderate reputability; the latter a prestigious place of scientific publication among chemists. It is no easy matter to find a permanent tenured faculty position at such a university, or to publish research findings or literature reviews/summaries in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The process generally requires several years and multiple resubmissions and rounds of editing by a minimum of three colleagues per submission with expertise in the field as well as approval by the editor. Angewandte has a rejection rate of 80%—and it should be noted that that rejection rate only takes into account papers that the submitting researcher felt were of sufficient quality to be considered by a journal of high standards. Dr. Tomas Hudlicky of Brock submitted an essay memorializing and updating a piece written thirty years ago, which has been widely recognized as powerfully influencing the direction of the chemistry subfield in question (organic synthesis).

Now, the first thing that must be understood about Dr. Hudlicky is that he holds a prestigious Canada Research Chair, a position funded by part of a large federal initiative devoting approximately 300 million dollars per year in the attempt to attract to Canada (or to encourage to stay in Canada) researchers who are of particular promise, as evidenced most fundamentally by their research productivity. That promise or productivity, in turn, can be measured with reasonable accuracy with metrics such as number of peer-reviewed articles in relevant scientific journals (more than 400 in Hudlicky’s case), by noting how many times such articles are cited by other authors over the years subsequent to publication (Hudlicky: 13300) and, finally, by a metric known as the h-index, which provides a measure of how many publications have received a variable minimum number of citations (and which therefore combines in a single number some information about publications per se and some about citations). A researcher with an h-index of 10 has published 10 papers with 10 or more citations; a researcher with an h-index of 57 (Hudlicky’s score) has published 57 papers with 57 or more citations. Hudlicky’s research productivity is admirable and rare. The mere fact that he was hired as a Canada Research Chair meant that his department, as well as the federal governmental agency tasked with funding the attraction or retention of extreme talent, both determined in the relatively recent past that he was a fish well worth landing. Something about this needs to be clarified: the universities that hire those researchers competent enough to be competitive in a Canada Research Chair competition are not doing them a favor by offering them a position; rather, it is an honor for the university (and the students, both undergraduate and graduate, that attend the institution) to be chosen by the researcher in question. No serious academic disputes this, although some may quibble about the precise metrics used for identification of the serious talent. This is particularly true of an institution such as Brock, which is an university of reasonable but not exceptional quality, and which genuinely needs highly productive faculty members to help it ratchet itself up the very competitive academic ladder.

Hudlicky’s paper in Angewandte Chemie was peer-reviewed positively, judged as desirable by the relevant editorial staff, and published. This meant that it managed the difficult job of passing through the eye of a needle, and entering the kingdom of heaven, at least as far as research chemists might be concerned. But some of Dr. Hudlicky’s surmises with regard to the discipline of organic synthesis raised the ire of a Twitter mob ( This is not a difficult feat, in my opinion, as Twitter seems to exist primarily for the purpose of generating mobs—composed primarily of individuals who are hungry for the opportunity to taste blood and bask in the joys of reasonably risk-free reputation destruction, revenge and self-righteousness. Furthermore, as far as Twitter mobs go, those who complained about the Angewandte Chemie publication were not particularly numerous. No matter: once the complaints emerged, the editor of the journal in charge of Dr. Hudlicky’s work—one Dr. Neville Compton—removed the paper from the journal’s website, and offered an abject apology for daring to have published it in the first place. Furthermore, he reported the “suspension” of two of the journal’s editors (indicating precisely how much trust those individuals should have placed initially in his judgement) and cast aspersions on Hudlicky’s ethics, stating that his essay did not properly reflect fairness, trustworthiness and social awareness, while implying that the now-pilloried author and his peer reviewers and editors were discriminatory, unjust and inequitable in practice. It should be noted, by the way, that the position of editor for a scientific journal is general one filled by volunteers, who donate their time for the greater good of the scientific enterprise, rather than for any monetary gain. So Compton fired generous volunteers to ensure that his good name would not be irredeemably sullied by any association with the now-demonized professor Hudlicky and his ne’er-do-well compatriots (none of whom likely knew each other except in passing).

Bashing Administrators While The University Burns

Gabriele Paquette:

Furstenberg joins a venerable tradition of scholars, stretching from Thorstein Veblen to his colleague Benjamin Ginsberg, who decry the misplaced priorities of universities and those who lead them. Infected by the mentality of the marketplace, these custodians of tradition contend, universities have abandoned their lofty (and laudable) mission as creators and repositories of knowledge. They have been reduced to mere finishing schools for the offspring of the One Percent. Their endowments serve as tax shelters for latter-day captains of industry whose philanthropic priorities conflict with, and eventually supersede, long-cherished academic values.

The elegiac tone of Furstenberg’s essay is justified. The following are incontrovertible: the adjunctification of the professoriate; the proliferation of deans; the defunding of public universities; the depreciation of the humanities; the sharp rise in managerial salaries; the comparative stagnation of faculty and staff compensation; the conflation of a university’s reputation with the fortunes of its athletic teams; and the asset-stripping that sometimes accompanies university partnerships with private enterprise.

It is not my purpose to rebut Furstenberg’s critique or to rationalize the injurious slashing of benefits. Yet his essay suffers from a defect that undermines its forcefulness — a false nostalgia for a purportedly lost Golden Age of faculty-led university governance, insulated from and impervious to market forces. This notion is widely shared in contemporary academic culture. It is also harmful, stifling reform when universities can ill afford complacency.

If universities are to survive the present crisis (and, sadly, many will not), a collective drive for self-preservation must replace the internecine jostling between the faculty and administration. Averting a mass-extinction event will necessitate a radical restructuring of the university, which can only succeed with an unprecedented degree of collaboration.

China’s gaokao exam fraud: victims learn the worst after cheats steal their grades and university places

Alice Yan:

Gou Jing wondered whether something was amiss when she took China’s university entrance exam, or gaokao , in 1997 and got a surprisingly low mark.

A student from a peasant family in the town of Jiezhuang, in the eastern province of Shandong, Gou sat the test again the next year and – despite having been ranked fourth out of tens of thousands of students in a mock test not long before – she again did mysteriously poorly, and was sent to study at a tertiary technical college in Hubei, in central China.

It remained a mystery until 2003, when Gou’s former form teacher sent her a letter in which he admitted tampering with the marks and asked for Gou’s forgiveness, news portal reported on Wednesday.

Colleges Spend Millions to Prepare to Reopen Amid Coronavirus

Melissa Korn:

As colleges around the country map out plans to reopen their campuses in the fall, they have embarked on some unique and pricey shopping expeditions: sourcing miles of plexiglass, hundreds of thousands of face masks and, in the case of the University of Central Florida, trying to get in an order for 1,200 hand-sanitizer stations before neighboring theme parks could buy them all up.

Costs for protective gear, cleaning supplies and labor for employees to take students’ temperatures and conduct hourly wipe-downs of doorknobs are already running into the millions of dollars.

The added expenses come as many schools face severe budget crunches due to lower enrollment and tuition revenue, refunded housing fees from the spring and costs tied to shifting online. Even well-resourced schools are trying to fundraise to stock up on supplies.

Reopening college campuses is contingent on approval from local health officials, who in some states haven’t yet signed off on campus-based instruction. Still, many schools remain hopeful and are pushing ahead with planning, with some already bringing student-athletes back for voluntary workouts.

In high school, my friends and I were inseparable. We grew up in the same church with the same faith. How did we all drift so far apart?

Laura Turner:

The church at the corner of Algonquin and Barrington roads was so big that it was often mistaken for a community college. At Willow Creek, a mile-long driveway wound around a manmade lake where believers got baptized in the summer months, and in the spring it was littered with Canadian geese and their goslings. The parking lots were so big that I learned to drive there, on uninterrupted swaths of flat Midwestern bog. My family lived three miles away; my parents were both pastors there; my first job was there. My friends were there. For a time that still feels like something out of a Pat Conroy novel, I had a group of wonderful friends. We moved as one organism in those high school days, submerged as we were in the urgent, heady waters of teenage faith in the middle of the cresting wave of American evangelicalism. Bound to them by the kind of affection born of knowing someone when they were 16, I still count these people as dear to me. But the truth is it has been a decade since we were all together.

Surrounded by Government Failure, Why Do People Still Believe?

Veronique de Rugy:

New data confirm what we already knew; namely, that many people did not wait for the governments to lock down the economy to stay home and shelter in place. Such fear-based behavior contributed much to the economic collapse. That means that most consumers will be careful and watch out for their health and that of others without government decrees telling them to do so this time around too. But at least give consumers and businesses a chance to find what works for them once the economy is reopened.

I conclude with a report from the Washington Post. One is about Trump’s refusal to encourage people to wear masks. This, of course, comes on the tail of Dr. Fauci’s admission that he had intentionally misled the public about the usefulness of wearing masks so that they could be directed to health-care professionals.

And here is Fauci explaining how and why he lied: “He also acknowledged that masks were initially not recommended to the general public so that first responders wouldn’t feel the strain of a shortage of PPE. He explained that public health experts “were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply.” 

It’s interesting that Americans started wearing self-made masks long before this Fauci admission showing that maybe they were buying it. However, for the most part, Americans continue to trust Fauci. David Henderson, though, does not.

Seriously, reading the newspaper on a daily basis should make everyone question government’s intervention in our lives. But based on the support for both a populist protectionist Republican like Trump and his Democratic opponent for the presidency, Joe Biden, it doesn’t. So what are we to do?

I believe we should continue fighting the battle of ideas because when we are deep into the mess that both parties, and their underlying ideologies, are creating, some people will look for answers and for solutions outside the state. As Milton Friedman once said, “That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.” 

Woodrow Wilson and Americans’ Lack of Historical Literacy

Williamson Evers:

We need to hold him responsible for the fact that many Americans don’t know the timeline of world or American history and don’t know much about how constitutional government works in the United States: One hundred years ago, in 1916, the Wilson administration put the clout of the federal government behind a new curricular development – social studies.

In this project, the Wilson administration worked with a prominent figure from the world of philanthropy, Thomas Jesse Jones. A well-known progressive educator, Jones, who was white, had spent time teaching and developing the curriculum at the Hampton Institute, a vocationally oriented, historically black college in Virginia. While at Hampton, Jones created the social-studies curriculum.

Jones was responsible for popularizing the term “social studies” for this new conglomeration of subject matter. In fact, Jones headed the panel that wrote an influential 1916 federal report on social studies, a report that set the course for the new field and is widely acknowledged as still influential to this day.

Because Jones was a federal education official at the time, the social-studies report — although created by a non-federal group, the Committee on Social Studies — was issued as a bulletin of the U.S. Bureau of Education. In the report, the federal education agency generously offered to act as a center for disseminating information on textbooks that took the new “social studies” approach.

#share#“Social studies” is a cross-disciplinary K–12 curriculum of history, civics, geography, and related subjects — but, crucially, the curriculum is focused not on chronology or governmental structure and processes; the report proposed that social-studies teachers should focus on “concrete problems” that are “of vital importance to society.”

Warning—Apple Suddenly Catches TikTok Secretly Spying On Millions Of iPhone Users

Ask Doffman:

Worryingly, one of the apps caught snooping by security researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk was China’s TikTok. Given other security concerns raised about the app, as well as broader worries given its Chinese origins, this became a headline issue. At the time, TikTok owner Bytedance told me the problem related to the use of an outdated Google advertising SDK that was being replaced.

How to Get a Big Break on the Cost of College: Just Ask

Josh Mitchell:

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a yearslong shift in bargaining power away from colleges and toward families, which are quite prepared to treat tuition as they would a car’s price: something to haggle over.

When a college accepted Frances Marcel’s second child several years ago, she pleaded for a discount. It wouldn’t budge, she said, so she dipped deeper into her savings.

After her third child Ian was accepted by his top three choices for this fall, she urged him to write them in early March asking that they go lower. In April, each offered him further discounts. One offered about 41% off.

Ms. Marcel, of Rockland, Mass., told Ian to appeal again to the other two. “Mom, that sounds too aggressive,” Ian told her. She answered: “Really, you have nothing to lose.” Ian, 18, emailed appeals to the two schools and waited.

Such negotiating is part of what has become a technological arms race. Many colleges customize tuition-and-aid offers to extract the maximum from each prospect without driving the student to a rival campus. An industry of enrollment-management consultants uses computer algorithms to advise administrators on each prospect’s “price sensitivity.”

School closures force parents to choose between family and work

Emma Jacobs:

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The economy is open! From July 4, schoolchildren can spend all day in pub beer gardens, go to the cinema and shop in Primark. What most of them can’t do is go to school. That puts many parents in an impossible situation of choosing between work or family.

It’s not just the UK. In the US, food writer, Deb Perelman, tweeted: “I wish someone would just say the quiet part loud: In the Covid economy, you’re only allowed a kid OR a job.”

School closures will expand inequality among children. So too among parents. In the UK, the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that “mothers are more likely to have quit or lost their job, or to have been furloughed, since the start of the lockdown”.

The pandemic has illuminated stark differences between working parents. Those with live-in nannies, or partnered with a stay-at-home parent are freer to work than single parents. So too were those with older children versus parents of infants.

The nonsense of the shared experience of working parents was brought home to one friend. Sitting between a three year-old and five-year-old, she video-called her manager who empathised with the problems of sharing a workspace with kids. The camera panned out to reveal two willowy undergraduate daughters surrounded by textbooks. They were not in it together after all.

Then there are the differences between fee-paying and state schools. While the government has declared schools will be fully open in September, one mother of two, who is struggling to keep her business afloat, reports her state school told her January is more realistic for full-time schooling. “I feel physically sick,” she says. “It’s impossible, I am quietly incandescent.”

Civics: A Twitter Mob Takes Down an Administrator at Michigan State

Jillian Kay Melchior:

‘We are scientists, seeking truth,” Michigan State University physicist Stephen Hsu wrote in a 2018 blog post. “We are not slaves to ideological conformity.” That might have been too optimistic. Last week MSU’s president, Samuel L. Stanley Jr., yielded to a pressure campaign, based in part on that post, and asked Mr. Hsu to resign as senior vice president for research and innovation.

The trouble began June 10, when MSU’s Graduate Employees Union composed a lengthy Twitter thread denouncing Mr. Hsu as, among other things, “a vocal scientific racist and eugenicist.” The union claimed Mr. Hsu believes “in innate biological differences between human populations, especially regarding intelligence.”

Mr. Hsu says these accusations “were made in bad faith.” Take that 2018 blog post, which responded to New York Times articles that, in his words, linked “genetic science to racism and white supremacy.” In it, he wrote: “All good people abhor racism. I believe that each person should be treated as an individual, independent of ancestry or ethnic background. . . . However, this ethical position is not predicated on the absence of average differences between groups. I believe that basic human rights and human dignity derive from our shared humanity, not from uniformity in ability or genetic makeup.” Mr. Hsu doesn’t work in this field but rejects the idea that scientists should categorically exclude the possibility of average genetic differences among groups.

In a 2011 post, Mr. Hsu argued that standardized tests are predictive of the quality of graduate-school candidates. The post mentioned nothing about race, but the union imputed to him a belief “that lack of Black & Hispanic representation in higher ed reflects lower ability, despite evidence these tests negatively impact diversity.”

The union also faulted him for having “directed funding to research downplaying racism in bias in police shootings.” The MSU professor who conducted that work, psychologist Joe Cesario, tells me that “we had no idea what the data was going to be, what the outcome was going to be, before we did this study.” Mr. Cesario has collected evidence from a simulator and from real-world interactions between police and citizens. He concluded that “the nature of the interaction really matters the most, and officers were not more likely to be ready to shoot upon encountering a black versus white citizen.”

The Pandemic Has Reawakened the School Choice Movement

Libby Sobic:

“This pandemic has reawakened this movement of school choice,” said Calvin Lee of American Federation for Children at a roundtable discussion on school choice in Waukesha, Wisconsin this week. While COVID-19 has not been easy for many families as they have tried to balance work and educating their children at home, it has offered many parents a window into their child’s learning that they never would have had. If nothing else positive comes of this change of lifestyle during the pandemic, parents exercising school choice will be a remarkable silver lining—but there is a lot of work to do before choice is available to all students across America. 

The roundtable was hosted by Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway as well as Wisconsin parents, school leaders and school choice advocates. Building off of Lee’s comments, Pence said, “every parent became an educator, in part, and had to make choices in the way they use their own time and the way they became engaged… I’m really struck by your comment that maybe this challenging time through which we’ve passed has reinvigorated that principle in parents.”  

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Opinion: Yale Must Change Its Name

Sean O’Brien:

“Nothing is known about the boy on the right, who has just finished pouring Madeira (a sweet, fortified wine) into the glasses on the table… the silver collar and padlock around his neck indicate that he is enslaved.”

So begins the curator’s comment for a portrait of Elihu Yale, one of three paintings in Yale University’s collection that depicts a slave attending to Elihu the slavemaster.

Slavery is as inseparable from Elihu as these paintings depict. Such a namesake is a liability for Yale the institution. By that I mean a billion-dollar brand, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, an affiliated college in Singapore, and a huge healthcare network. This “open secret” is a ticking timebomb. It is about to go off.

#CancelYale trended this past week on social media, having started as a trolling of liberal elites by conservative influencers.

One example: “For an institution that prides itself on its so called progressivism, why has Yale not yet distanced itself from its namesake – a notorious slave trader?!”

To Yale’s chagrin, they have a point. It must be difficult to take a cold, hard look in the mirror when your face is covered in blood.

As has been well documented, America’s leading universities profited from slavery and have deep roots in colonialism. Dozens of schools have acknowledged their roots in racism and slavery, long before the current wave of Black Lives Matter protests.

Lurching Toward Fall, Disaster on the Horizon

John Warner:

For those who are hopeful that we can safely bring students back to campus in the fall, I present the evidence of what is happening with the students who are currently back on campus: one-third of the Clemson football team has tested positive for the coronavirus.  

A single night at a single bar in East Lansing, Mich., populated by college students has triggered an outbreak of at least 30 new cases 100 miles away.

Wait, I first drafted that last sentence on Saturday. I’m reading the draft on Sunday and we’re now up to at least 85 cases from this single incident.

I understand the desire to return to some semblance of normalcy. I understand the need for institutions to collect tuition and fees for room and board in order to stay solvent, but the thinking I see from many leaders around on-campus, in-person instruction seems downright magical to me.

In my view, the chief enemy of learning is “disruption.” Some element of disruption is inevitable during any semester, particularly at the individual student level. I cannot remember a semester where I did not have at least one student partially or wholly derailed by a personal issue or illness (like mono). 

Why Facts Don’t Matter to People

Barry Brownstein:

It’s good news all around. But you turn on the television and get a different message. People worry about sending their children to school this fall. Some display authoritarian views as they excuse politicians for destructive errors merely because they showed “strong leadership.”

If you’re wondering why so many people don’t see the world the way you do, engage them in conversation. You will find they are as well-intentioned as you are, but they are looking in a different direction. Beneath their opinions and fears, beliefs are shaping how they see the world.

Because of different beliefs, your villains may be their heroes. They may look at the world of effects while you are looking at causes. They’re hoping a better leader comes to power, while you’re considering how the presidency became so powerful and destructive.

Until their beliefs change, they will never consider how politicians and experts with too much power turned a pandemic into a catastrophe. As Einstein put it, “Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is theory which decides what can be observed.”

Spied on. Fired. Publicly shamed. China’s crackdown on professors reminds many of Mao era

Alice Su:

The professor was under surveillance. Cameras taped her every lecture. She couldn’t publish or give talks outside the university. She knew she had to be careful when she taught on one of China’s most sensitive and dangerous topics: the Cultural Revolution.

To preempt accusations of straying beyond academia, all discussion was based on archives, books and articles. Classes were kept small; heavy reading lists filtered out potential student-informants. She made seating charts with photos, making sure no stranger could wander in unnoticed.

Despite such scrutiny, Sun Peidong felt lucky to be teaching in Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University, the only school left in China offering truthful courses on the repressive Cultural Revolution of half a century ago. She loved watching her students question conventional narratives, find new ways of understanding their nation’s history and draw connections with their own families’ traumas.

Madison School Board to vote on Police Presence, layoffs and budget

Scott Girard:

If the vote goes as expected, the 2020-21 school year will be the first in more than two decades without a police officer stationed in each of the district’s comprehensive high schools.

Employee Handbook changes

Madison Teachers Inc. is organizing opposition to a set of proposed Employee Handbook changes that would change the rules around layoffs and surplus staff.

District administrators have asked the board to approve language that would eliminate seniority as the mechanism for layoffs and forced moves to other sites, instead using other to-be-determined standards evaluating performance. The changes would also allow for 30-day notice of layoffs instead of the annual May 15 layoff notices.

With the district considering a November operations referendum and the state still uncertain on its revenue losses from the pandemic, MMSD chief financial officer Kelly Ruppel told the board earlier this month she’s trying to create as much flexibility as possible for the months ahead.

That included an $8 million cut from last year already. Earlier this month board members agreed that cutting an additional $8.4 million to protect against the possibility of state cuts was a good idea. Doing so meant cutting the planned base wage increase for staff.

Ruppel said that means hitting pause on “any new spending, in order to maintain the most flexibility until we know more.” 

The other option she offered to board members was cutting up to 92 staff positions. If the referendum is on the ballot and approved or if state cuts don’t happen, the district could add wage increases back in mid-year. Hiring for eliminated positions would be a bigger challenge.

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

2005: Gangs & School Violence audio / video.

Judge Branick writes letter to citizens explaining mask order

Judge Branick:

Eighty years ago, the greatest generation planted victory gardens, collected tin, rubber and steel, had food ration books and endured black outs, all to support the war effort. Their sacrifices were significantly more weighty than the inconvenience the present order requires. I want to thank a fellow county judge for reminding me of this. Today, a small minority is screaming that this is some kind of communist plot to overthrow the nation. When did it happen that we all became so focused on our rights and not our obligations to our fellow man and woman? Jesus said “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. I’m not directing anyone to lay down their life. Galatians 6:2 says “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ”. I love you, because that is what Christ teaches us to do.

I wear a mask not because I am afraid but because it is one way of showing that I care about my neighbors. There is a lot we don’t know about COVID-19 but all the evidence suggests that wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of the virus. If wearing a mask prevents one person from dying, then isn’t it worth the minor inconvenience? If wearing a mask helps us get our country and economy back to normal, then isn’t it our patriotic duty to do so?” I received this in an email from an Orange County resident. It is a note he keeps in his pocket which he gives to people who make snide remarks about his wearing a mask in stores.

A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California

John Ellis:

In recent years, study after study has found that a college education no longer does what it should do and once did.1 Whether these studies look directly at the capabilities of graduates, or instead at what employers find their capabilities to be, the result is the same: far too many college graduates have not learned to write effectively, they can not read and comprehend any reasonably complex book, they have not learned to reason, and their basic knowledge of the history and institutions of the society

in which they live is lamentably poor. “An astounding proportion of students are progressing through higher education today without measurable gains in general skills” is the anguished conclusion of a respected national study, entitled appropriately Academically Adrift.2 Further, students now spend on average little time studying outside the classroom, and the demands made of them by their faculty teachers have been correspondingly reduced.

Is it possible that the University of California is an exception to these national trends? Unfortunately, we can be certain that it is not. First, these national studies all include California, and none of them note any fundamental differences across states. Second, local studies of these issues always confirm the findings of the national studies. For example, the national finding that students now spend relatively little time studying outside the classroom has been confirmed by a study specific to UC that reached identical conclusions. A recent study of higher education in California concludes: “The California that many like to think of as a leader in higher education is average at best and trending in the wrong direction.”3

Public confidence in academia is dropping as the general public begins to understand that a college education is now much less likely to improve reading, writing, and reasoning skills, as well as general knowledge, than it used to. And this is happening just as the cost of a college education has been rising much faster than inflation. Students are being asked to pay considerably more and get considerably less. We are now seeing much increased concern with student debt and rising tuition costs. As this concern about cost joins with the growing concern about quality, the University must soon face a major crisis of public confidence.

The findings of these studies match all too well the specific complaints that are now commonly heard about the manifestations of a politicized higher education: that requirements for coursework in American history and institutions have been dropped, that writing courses often stress writing far less than tendentious political topics; that prescribed books are frequently no more than journalistic presentations of a simple political message instead of the more complex writings appropriate to an academic context; and that faculty teach what to think rather than how to think: that is, they demand correct attitudes and beliefs of students more than they require independent reading and thought.

This report is concerned with the corruption of the University of California by activist politics, a condition which, as we shall show, sharply lowers the quality of academic teaching, analysis, and research, and results in exactly the troubling deficiencies that are being found in the studies to which we have referred.4 We shall show that this is an inevitable consequence of any substantial influence of radical politics in academia, because its characteristic interests and modes of thought are the very antithesis of those that should prevail in academic life.

skills over degrees

Darlene Superville:

Ivanka Trump predicted the change in federal government hiring would create a more inclusive and talented workforce. She encouraged the private sector to follow the administration’s lead.

“We are modernizing federal hiring to find candidates with the relevant competencies and knowledge, rather than simply recruiting based on degree requirements,” she told The Associated Press in a statement. “We encourage employers everywhere to take a look at their hiring practices and think critically about how initiatives like these can help diversify and strengthen their workforce.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the board’s other co-chair, said the need for skills training and apprenticeships is as great as it was before the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people out of work, pushing the national unemployment rate above 13% in May.

Ex-CPS principal who tamed tough Fenger High explains why cops don’t belong in schools

Mark Brown:

A school principal will always need a good working relationship with the local district commander, but police are asked to intervene in too many situations, Dozier believes.

“We put too much on them,” she says. “It doesn’t necessarily warrant a police response.”

The problem with getting police involved is that it sucks students into a situation from which they might never recover.

“Once a kid touches the criminal justice system, it just steamrolls,” Dozier says.

It’s not enough for CPS to give a school the option of getting rid of its police officers if no resources are offered to take their place.

In Chicago’s resource-poor schools, it’s hardly a surprise that school communities would choose to hang on to what little they have, no matter how imperfect.

Dozier agrees with those who say the $33 million that CPS spends on its police contract should be reinvested in alternative resources.

“You have to give the schools what they need,” she says. “You can’t just take [police] out and say, ‘Good luck.’ ”

Maybe that can’t be accomplished by the beginning of this school year. But it ought to be the stated goal of the Chicago Public Schools.

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

2005: Gangs & School Violence audio / video.

Civics: Why Did the Washington Post Get This Woman Fired?

Josh Barro & Olivia Nuzzi:

This is a mortifying tale about one woman’s cluelessness, but why did it end up in a major national newspaper? The Post’s editorial standards declare that “fairness includes relevance.” The non-recent, non-criminal bad acts of non-public figures are not ordinarily considered news, and before June 17, Schafer was a graphic designer with no public profile and no apparent power or ambitions to obtain it. What was the point of publishing this story — at considerable length, accompanied by original photography from an acclaimed staff photographer, on the front page of the paper’s “Style” section — besides causing Schafer to lose her job?

The Post said Schafer’s transgression was news because it happened in front of Toles and somewhere possibly in the vicinity of columnist Dana Milbank.

“Employees of the Washington Post, including a prominent host, were involved in this incident, which impelled us to tell the story ourselves thoroughly and accurately while allowing all involved to have their say,” said Kris Coratti, a spokesperson for the paper. “The piece conveys with nuance and sensitivity the complex, emotionally fraught circumstances that unfolded at the party attended by media figures only two years ago where an individual in blackface was not told promptly to leave. America’s grappling with racism has entered a phase in which people who once felt they should keep quiet are now raising their voices in public. The story is a microcosm of what the country is going through right now.”

It’s not unusual for publications to report on themselves, though ordinarily they do so because they are already in the news. Proactive reporting creates significant concerns about conflicts of interest: If the Post shapes the narrative of a new story about itself, it may do so in a way that is designed to protect the paper’s interests. When politicians do this, reporters cynically refer to it as “getting out ahead of the story” — the idea being that new information has more impact on public perception than a clarification or correction or addition to already public information.

Commentary on Two 2020 taxpayer supported Madison School District Superintendent Candidates

Scott Girard:

Madison School Board president Gloria Reyes said in the release the district is “very fortunate to have an impressive pool of highly qualified candidates participate in this process.”

“With a focus on how candidates aligned with the Leadership Profile, the Board was able to select two phenomenal finalists, both with deep roots in education and instruction, and today we are excited to introduce them to our community,” Reyes said.

MMSD had 26,842 students in the 2019-20 school year, with demographics of 41.7% white, 22.3% Hispanic, 17.8% Black, 8.5% Asian, 9.3% Two or more and less than 1% each of Pacific Isle and American Indian, according to state data.

In its earlier search, the district had three finalists. In addition to Gutierrez, Georgia education official Eric Thomas and College of Saint Rose professor Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard also visited the district for an interview and public Q and A. Consultant BWP and Associates conducted both searches.

Jane Belmore has served as the interim superintendent since last August, when Jennifer Cheatham left for a position at Harvard after six years in MMSD

Logan Wroge:

The finalists, Carol Kelley and Carlton Jenkins, will proceed with interviews next week.

Jenkins is in his fifth year as superintendent of the Robbinsdale School District in New Hope, Minnesota. He’s held educational leadership positions — including chief academic officer, principal, assistant principal and health teacher — in Michigan, Ohio, Beloit and Madison, and received his PhD from UW-Madison.

Kelley, an educator with 25 years of experience, is also in her fifth year as superintendent of Oak Park Elementary School District 97 in Illinois, the district said in an announcement. She also served for three years as superintendent of Branch Township School District in New Jersey and has a background as an elementary and middle school principal and a classroom teacher.

In these challenging times, our local businesses need your support. Find out how to get food, goods, services and more from those remaining open.

Kelley holds a doctorate of education from the University of Pennsylvania, the district said.

In addition to the next round of interviews, Jenkins and Kelley will participate in online engagement sessions with district staff and students during a “Virtual Day in the District.” The sessions will include an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates and provide feedback.

Notes and links on the 2020 Superintendent pageant, round 2.

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

2005: Gangs & School Violence audio / video.

An experiment suggested by a Ph.D. student may rewrite chemistry textbooks

Lance Ignon:

Ryan McMullen had never heard of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences when he started casting about for a graduate chemistry program. But on the recommendation of one of his professors, he sent an email to the College’s Professor of Chemistry Stephen Bradforth proposing an experiment to tease out what makes a metal really a metal.

The proposal would not only turn into his Ph.D. thesis but a major scientific breakthrough.

McMullen’s proposal was not an easy sell. The experiment would be expensive and possibly dangerous.

The academics McMullen contacted at other U.S. research universities told him they had funding for their own research, but not for his. But Bradforth had a different response.

“He said, ‘I don’t have funding for your idea but if you come over here we can write a funding proposal together,'” said McMullen, who at the time was finishing up his undergraduate studies at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Bradforth not only helped McMullen secure funding, prioritizing it for National Science Foundation support over continuing other projects, but he also cobbled together an international team of scientists and arranged his sabbatical to oversee and participate in the main experiments. He also became McMullen’s Ph.D. adviser.

Homeschooled: Laura Deming, Scientist & Founder of The Longevity Fund

Laura Deming:

I grew up homeschooled in NZ with a hilariously small amount of context for what the real world was like. In retrospect, it was totally ideal. I had two strong memes deeply implanted in my cranium early in life – I love science and it’s my job to do something really important and I can do it, too. I have no clue who I’d be without those memes, and I’m also not sure that the latter was actually true! My dad just always told me that I was exceptional and could work out a way whatever I wanted to do in the world and I believed him. I still do, in a funny way, despite about a decade of evidence to the contrary and realizing how actually hard it is to make drugs for complex diseases. It’s extraordinarily sad how many otherwise brilliant kids might not do things they could because they don’t have a similarly supportive environment — I’m really excited for things like Daniel Gross’s Pioneer for that reason.

Street-Fighting Mathematics The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving

Sanjoy Mahajan:


An antidote to mathematical rigor mortis, teaching how to guess answers without needing a proof or an exact calculation.

In problem solving, as in street fighting, rules are for fools: do whatever works—don’t just stand there! Yet we often fear an unjustified leap even though it may land us on a correct result. Traditional mathematics teaching is largely about solving exactly stated problems exactly, yet life often hands us partly defined problems needing only moderately accurate solutions. This engaging book is an antidote to the rigor mortis brought on by too much mathematical rigor, teaching us how to guess answers without needing a proof or an exact calculation.

In Street-Fighting Mathematics, Sanjoy Mahajan builds, sharpens, and demonstrates tools for educated guessing and down-and-dirty, opportunistic problem solving across diverse fields of knowledge—from mathematics to management. Mahajan describes six tools: dimensional analysis, easy cases, lumping, picture proofs, successive approximation, and reasoning by analogy. Illustrating each tool with numerous examples, he carefully separates the tool—the general principle—from the particular application so that the reader can most easily grasp the tool itself to use on problems of particular interest. Street-Fighting Mathematics grew out of a short course taught by the author at MIT for students ranging from first-year undergraduates to graduate students ready for careers in physics, mathematics, management, electrical engineering, computer science, and biology. They benefited from an approach that avoided rigor and taught them how to use mathematics to solve real problems.

Induced Learning Disabilities

The Right Geek:

Critical Theory teaches its adherents how not to understand texts, art, or speech like neurotypical human beings. Under the influence of its doctrines, people lose their God-given ability to discern key non-linguistic features of communication and consequently become learning disabled.

As I’ve observed in other posts, words and symbols take on meaning from the context in which they’re deployed. As I wrote around this time last year:

“Words are not completely comprehensible on their own; they also take on additional – or sometimes even new – significance from the gestalt in which they sit — much like tofu soaks up the flavors of the other ingredients in an Asian dish.

“Take a sentence like ‘I love my mother.’ This sentence is composed of four utterly prosaic words — yet do we really know what it means? Don’t we need to hear the inflection with which it was said? Don’t we need to see the speaker’s body language? Don’t we need to know why/where/when/etc. it was said? If this sentence appears in a poem lauding the beauty of Mother Earth, ‘mother’ likely does not mean our female parent. If this sentence is uttered with a particular stress after a long sigh, most of us effortlessly intuit that it’s meant to be ironic.”

All of this richness gets lost, however, once the social justice bully gets to work. Suppose, for example, you decide to write a protagonist who starts off with a few unconsciously bigoted notions but eventually learns to cast such mistaken ideas aside. Sounds like great fodder for a redemption arc, no? Nope, sorry: if you attempt to publish this seemingly innocuous, morally upright story, some motivated busybody on Goodreads is going to tear you apart. Why? Because critical social justice impedes one’s ability to comprehend how character development works.

2018 committee report could help guide upcoming Madison school resource officer decisions

Scott Girard:

Most members who spoke with the Cap Times said they favored removing officers, but didn’t think doing so immediately would solve the problem at the heart of the issue: feeling safe at school.

And some of the committee members wonder what happened to their months of work and why Reyes is calling for another subcommittee to investigate how to transition to having no SROs in schools. Under the contract with the Madison Police Department, a decision needs to be made by Sept. 15 to be effective June 2021.

“I just hope that the work that the ERO Ad Hoc did is not completely disregarded,” said former School Board member Anna Moffit. “People took a lot of time to put that report together and we did spend a lot of time in our schools talking to staff, talking to students, looking at research.

“I would hate to see a new committee be created and doing the same thing over again.”

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

2005: Gangs & School Violence audio / video.

Google’s true origin partly lies in CIA and NSA research grants for mass surveillance

Jeff Nesbit:

Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google’s ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online.

The intelligence community hoped that the nation’s leading computer scientists could take non-classified information and user data, combine it with what would become known as the internet, and begin to create for-profit, commercial enterprises to suit the needs of both the intelligence community and the public. They hoped to direct the supercomputing revolution from the start in order to make sense of what millions of human beings did inside this digital information network. That collaboration has made a comprehensive public-private mass surveillance state possible today.

The story of the deliberate creation of the modern mass-surveillance state includes elements of Google’s surprising, and largely unknown, origin. It is a somewhat different creation story than the one the public has heard, and explains what Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page set out to build, and why.

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

‘BlueLeaks’ Exposes Files from Hundreds of Police Departments

Brian Krebs:

In a post on Twitter, DDoSecrets said the BlueLeaks archive indexes “ten years of data from over 200 police departments, fusion centers and other law enforcement training and support resources,” and that “among the hundreds of thousands of documents are police and FBI reports, bulletins, guides and more.”

Fusion centers are state-owned and operated entities that gather and disseminate law enforcement and public safety information between state, local, tribal and territorial, federal and private sector partners.

KrebsOnSecurity obtained an internal June 20 analysis by the National Fusion Center Association (NFCA), which confirmed the validity of the leaked data. The NFCA alert noted that the dates of the files in the leak actually span nearly 24 years — from August 1996 through June 19, 2020 — and that the documents include names, email addresses, phone numbers, PDF documents, images, and a large number of text, video, CSV and ZIP files.

Is support for free speech correlated with intelligence?


Here’s excerpt from that article in Heterodox Academy (an organization founded by Jonathan Haidt):

we again replicated the positive relationship between cognitive ability and supporting freedom of speech for all groups across the ideological spectrum.

Moreover, … we found evidence that higher levels of Intellectual Humility could explain the relationship between cognitive ability and free speech support. In other words, those with higher cognitive ability might support principles of free speech because of their greater independence of intellect and ego, openness to revise their viewpoints, respect for others’ viewpoints, and lack of intellectual overconfidence.

Madison School Board will vote on police contract Monday

Scott Girard:

The Madison School Board will vote Monday on continuing or ending early its contract with the Madison Police Department to have officers stationed in its four comprehensive high schools.

Based on public statements from board members this spring and previous votes, it’s likely the board will vote to end the contract early, though contractual language won’t allow it to take effect until June 2021.

Board president Gloria Reyes announced the planned vote in a news release Wednesday afternoon. The board will meet in a special session at 4 p.m.

“The safety and wellbeing of every student that walks through our doors each day is a tremendous responsibility,” Reyes said in a statement. “As leaders in education, we recognize that now is the time to intensify our commitment to dismantling systemic racism by addressing inequities that only serve as mechanisms of division, and this decision is a significant step.”

Thomas Sowell’s book “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” is scheduled to be available June 30.

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Covid19 and education: Can Covid19 promote disruptive educational innovation?

Professor Okhwa Lee [Chungbuk National University in South Korea]

Schools could not have face to face learning for nearly 6 weeks since March, which is the first month for the year and it is almost similar in most of countries in the world. Online learning substituted regular classroom activities. During that time, without students in classrooms, what happened? Here is the story from Korea, mainly for k-12 education, from the perspectives of teachers, infrastructure preparation, students, parents, bureaucrats.

Teachers panicked at first, just waiting for guidelines from the higher administrative institutes such as educational provincial office or the ministry of education. Teachers tried to use ICT [Information & Communications Technology] for content delivery and communication gradually, but covid19 did not allow much time for teachers to prepare for the sudden change in the learning environment. They were busy keeping students online following the timetable which is similar to those used during the regular time.
They were just too busy to keep the business as usual and had no time to try out new innovations. Gradually, when they became comfortable with the new instruction methods and realized the potential of online learning (which can compliment off line learning), they became quite creative.

Infrastructure for online learning: content were provided from the database of instructional multimedia developed by KERIS and EBS. Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) invited a few very talented teachers to record teaching and open to the nationwide classrooms. Korea Educational Resources and Information System [KERIS] also provided content and software for online learning. But students wanted to see their own teacher on the video content. Also the ministry promotes the idea of developing content by the teacher, directly. Many teachers tried hard (spent many hours) learning how to design script and instructional design to create EBS-like quality content. But teachers realized that they cannot quickly match those professional video development skills.

WiFi school installation was accelerated. The original plans were to complete this work by 2023.

Three instructional models were provided: two way synchronous communication using video conferencing system, project based self guided instruction, and lastly, providing multimedia content. The first synchronous model requires more ICT resources than other two models but is a more familiar instruction to teachers and students as the model resembles what teachers do in the regular classroom. Two other models are asynchronous and they allow more flexibility to students and teachers. The instructional models propose many significant questions for education. Are those an extension of what we do in school? How can we include some innovative approaches? Why do students have to go to online classes for 5 days as if they were in classrooms? Can they choose what they want to learn and produce results for their own interests? Those instructional models can be (or will be) used when schools open for campus based learning? Or how can we implement the experience from online learning instructional model into the regular classroom instruction?

Students received instructional content and information from any form of learning platform. Students have to focus on screen for many hours a day, every day. It is very tiring and they could not be alert, doing time on task for that many hours. But students could communicate with teachers more aggressively than before. Teachers could recognize student presence by sending texts or questions, or even very simple responses. It all could make teachers pay attention to all students, which was not possible during the face to face learning situation. Students shared their IT knowledge with teachers and it created a more democratic culture in classrooms.

Students miss the interaction with friends, talking, giggling, hustle and bustle. They miss the time to learn social skills from the collaborative physical gathering.

Parents, particularly those who have young children, should stay home to support those little ones’ learning and support their time management. Also another big job on top of the extended babysitting time, was cooking three meals. All Korean students eat free warm food for lunch at school. Parents realized that the role of school is not for only learning but many other functions. Those who cannot share time with their children are usually from the low socio-economic background. It can generate the same class descent, by having not enough time to care of children, economic power to provide IT facilities, and knowledge to support children’s learning.

Given this new normal life in education, I would like to ask a few issues and try to find solutions with you.

Question1: equity issue

Students could previously obtain support from the school but during this online learning, how can we support students with their learning time management needs?

Careful use of IT (Use of background picture for Zoom use)
Students who do not have adults to help them
Students who are disabled physically

Question2: changed role for teachers and schools

What is the function of schools?
If knowledge delivery is done by star teachers and other professional institutes, what is the role for teachers?
New identity for teachers

Question3: golden opportunity to implement educational visions?

Customized individualized learning and self directed learning have been the educational goal for many years. Those skills should be emphasized more for the future when lifelong learning becomes essential for everyone. It has been only dream of big educational thinkers but the present educational system cannot allow students to practice self guided learning, or individualized learning effectively. Covid19 provides the opportunity to practice such vision? If we do not practice now, when can we do it?

Question4: post covid19 and education

When we go back to face to face education, will education go back to the same traditional one?

Are Universities Going the Way of CDs and Cable TV?

Michael Smith:

After the coronavirus upended American life, millions of college students made the transition from sitting in campus lecture halls to live-streaming seminars at their kitchen tables. Do students think their pricey degrees are worth the cost when delivered remotely?

The Wall Street Journal asked that question in April, and one student responded with this zinger: “Would you pay $75,000 for front-row seats to a Beyoncé concert and be satisfied with a livestream instead?” Another compared higher education to premium cable—an annoyingly expensive bundle with more options than most people need. “Give me the basic package,” he said.

As a parent of a college-age child, I’m sympathetic to these concerns. But as a college professor, I find them terrifying. And invigorating.

Why terrifying? Because I study how new technologies cause power shifts in industries, and I fear that the changes in store for higher education are going to look a lot like the painful changes we’ve seen in retail, travel, news, and entertainment.

The example of the entertainment industry, which I’ve written about extensively, is instructive. Throughout the 20th century, the industry remained remarkably stable, despite technological innovations that regularly altered the ways movies, television, music, and books were created, distributed, and consumed. That stability, however, bred overconfidence, overpricing, and an overreliance on business models tailored to a physical world.

The Idea of A Nation

Thomas Meaney:

A generation ago, when Benedict Anderson was asked on Dutch television what country he would be prepared to die for, he hung his head in silence. “It would depend very much on the circumstances,” he finally said. A leading left thinker about nationalism in his generation, Anderson was born into an Anglo-Irish family in the collapsing Republic of China, and raised in the Republic of Ireland and the United States, where he made his academic career. He devoted much of his life to studying Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, where he died in 2015. He was not a provincial person. Yet the credo of post-nationalism ascendant in the 1990s found no place in his affections. For Anderson, the force of nationalism was not a dark phantom. Like other domains that sometimes seem to be exclusive property of the right—the market, the military—the “nation” was ideological terrain that could be harvested for high and low ends. Drafted into a Bush war in the Middle East, Anderson would have been on the first plane to Canada, but called up for the Indonesian War of Independence against the Dutch, or for the Easter Rising against the British, it would not have been hard to imagine him taking up position.

What is the idea of the nation for? It depends, as Anderson said. Over the centuries nationalism has swung back and forth as a progressive and retrograde force, depending on historical conditions. In revolutionary France the “nation” started as a wrecking ball against feudalism and the church. Before the “nation” became defined by its limit of concern, it appeared to the Old Regime as terrifying in its limitlessness. Before the “nation” could be for anyone it had to be against specific someones: kings, priests and their enablers. Nationalism became a forest fire of fraternity that Napoleon wanted to control-burn through Europe in order to make fertile ground for the imposition of his uniform Code. Hegel believed this was a great leap for the world, but also witnessed its reversals: the way the Napoleonic armies provoked crude nationalist backlashes. He mocked the nationalist students around him determined to throw off the French yoke: “Liberation? Liberation from what? … If I ever see one liberated person with my own eyes, I shall fall to the ground and prostrate myself before him.?

Civics: “These people have no idea what they’re doing”

Lord Jonathan Sumption:

Does the Government have a policy for coronavirus? Indeed it does. In fact, it has several. One for each month of the year, all mutually inconsistent and none of them properly thought through. Sometimes, governments have to change tack. It shows that they are attending closely to a changing situation. But this crisis has exposed something different and more disturbing: a dysfunctional Government with a deep-seated incoherence at the heart of its decision-making processes.

The root of the problem is the uncomfortable relationship between the Government and its scientific advisers. The Government has repeatedly claimed to be ‘guided by the science’. This has in practice been a shameless attempt to evade responsibility by passing the buck to scientists for what are ultimately political, and not scientific, decisions. Scientists can advise what measures are likely to reduce infections and deaths. Only politicians can decide whether those measures make sense in economic and social terms too.

Noah’s Ark goes to college

Joanne Jacobs:

Michael Goldstein imagines a new liberal arts college for students and professors who like to argue about ideas. He calls it Noah’s Ark College, because he’d insist that students and faculty be admitted or hired in pairs with one liberal and one conservative.

. . . the professors physically teach in pairs whenever possible—in courses ranging from history and literature to economics and psychology. In that way, classroom discussion constantly models respectful disagreement, and the course readings pit the best competing ideas against one another.

For every class that is co-taught by two professors, a student takes another course online for free (or near free) from the likes of EdX, with Noah’s Ark giving the exams in person for credit. In this way, the additional cost of having 2 professors in each classroom is offset by an equal number of classes that have no (paid) professors.

Admissions would be based on evidence the applicant “delights in understanding multiple sides of an argument,” writes Goldstein. The founder of Boston’s Match Education, he went on to found  the Charles Sposato Graduate School of Education.

Teach Yourself Computer Science


If you’re a self-taught engineer or bootcamp grad, you owe it to yourself to learn computer science. Thankfully, you can give yourself a world-class CS education without investing years and a small fortune in a degree program 💸.

There are plenty of resources out there, but some are better than others. You don’t need yet another “200+ Free Online Courses” listicle. You need answers to these questions:

  • Which subjects should you learn, and why?

  • What is the best book or video lecture seriesfor each subject?

This guide is our attempt to definitively answer these questions.

30 Years Ago, Romania Deprived Thousands of Babies of Human Contact

Melissa Fay Greene:

For his first three years of life, Izidor lived at the hospital.

The dark-eyed, black-haired boy, born June 20, 1980, had been abandoned when he was a few weeks old. The reason was obvious to anyone who bothered to look: His right leg was a bit deformed. After a bout of illness (probably polio), he had been tossed into a sea of abandoned infants in the Socialist Republic of Romania.
In films of the period documenting orphan care, you see nurses like assembly-line workers swaddling newborns out of a seemingly endless supply; with muscled arms and casual indifference, they sling each one onto a square of cloth, expertly knot it into a tidy package, and stick it at the end of a row of silent, worried-looking papooses. The women don’t coo or sing to the babies. You see the small faces trying to fathom what’s happening as their heads whip by during the wrapping maneuvers.

In his hospital, in the Southern Carpathian mountain town of Sighetu Marmaţiei, Izidor would have been fed by a bottle stuck into his mouth and propped against the bars of a crib. Well past the age when children in the outside world began tasting solid food and then feeding themselves, he and his age-mates remained on their backs, sucking from bottles with widened openings to allow the passage of a watery gruel. Without proper care or physical therapy, the baby’s leg muscles wasted. At 3, he was deemed “deficient” and transferred across town to a Cămin Spital Pentru Copii Deficienţi, a Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children.

Meet the editors of early modern book publishing.

Anthony Grafton:

Specters haunt the history of publishing and of humanistic scholarship in early modern Europe: lean, shabby ghosts. Correctors, as they were usually called, prepared manuscripts for the press, read proofs, and often added original material of their own. They were everywhere in the world of print, and many early modern humanists—including those whose names remain familiar—either praised or denigrated them and their work.

What, then, did correctors and readers do? The account books of some of the great firms survive, and they provide firsthand evidence. The surviving ledger of the Froben and Episcopius firms, for example, records the wages paid to employees from 1557 to 1564. Each list of employees begins with a corrector or castigator: clear evidence that these learned employees, whose names appeared before those of the compositors and pressmen, enjoyed a certain status, which was higher than that of those who worked with their hands. Each list also includes a lector, whose pay is usually half that of the corrector or less. Sometimes the document states that a given corrector or reader received payment for other activities as well. In March 1560, for example, the lector Leodegarius Grymaldus received payment both for reading and for two other named tasks: making an index and correcting a French translation of Agricola’s work on metals. In March 1563 Bartholomaeus Varolle was paid for correcting but also for preparing the exemplar, or copy, of a thirteenth-century legal text, Guillaume Durand’s Speculum iuris, and for drawing up an index for the work.

Wisconsin DPI 87 page “reopening schools” plan

Wisconsin DPI:

Responding to COVID-19 is a tremendous undertaking for schools. Schools are tasked with re-envisioning educational delivery models in a span of weeks and adjust practices accordingly. As we look toward the fall, the safety and health of our students, educators, and families remains of the highest importance.

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is providing this guidance to aid in school districts’ decision making as they look to build educational services and supports in a COVID-19 environment.Under state law, school districts determine the operations of their buildings and the learning environment. Risk mitigation and health factors will drive decisions regarding school operations.

While I expect schools to reopen this fall, they will undoubtedly look different. There will need to be social distancing, new cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and changes to how educators deliver instruction. There will be students who are not able to return to school due to health concerns and students and staff who may be quarantined due to exposure. This means every school district will need to plan for both school operations on campus and remote learning.

The DPI will be using federal CARES Act dollars to support school districts around remote learning options. Changes will need to be made as districts look at how they provide meals to students, transport students to and from school, move through their buildings, and gather to celebrate achievements.

The DPI partnered collaboratively with our state’s educational leaders: the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services, Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials, Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Wisconsin Education Association Council, and the Cooperative Educational Service Agency Statewide Network and in conjunction with the Department of Health Services.

Education Forward was developed to help local education and community leaders plan appropriately for students to return to school this fall. There are 421 school districts, 26 independent charter schools, and 792 private schools serving a school-age population of over 1,000,000 students in Wisconsin.

Due to the extensive variance in schools, this guidance is offered as a workbook to be considered in conjunction with the Department of Health Services risk assessment checklist. Please use these tools to discuss school district reopening plans with local health agencies and ensure information is complete in regards to the magnitude of risk associated with options being considered. The DPI will continuously update this guidance as new information arises and provide additional resources as they become available to support school operations and the learning environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the inequities existing in Wisconsin.As we look to address these inequities and the planning around the pandemic,the DPI is focused on providing school districts the necessary supports andregulatory relief to pursue innovative strategies to ensure equitable access to learning.

Thomas Sowell’s book “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” is scheduled to be available June 30.

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The Radical Self-Reliance of Black Homeschooling

Melinda Anderson:

Racial inequality in Baltimore’s public schools is in part the byproduct of long-standing neglect. In a system in which eight out of 10 students are black, broken heaters forced students to learn in frigid temperatures this past winter. Black children in Baltimore’s education system face systemic disadvantages: They’re suspended at much higher rates than their white peers; they rarely pass their math or reading tests; their campuses are chronically underfunded.

Yet this stark reality is juxtaposed with a largely unnoticed educational phenomenon underway in the city.

In a brightly painted row house in East Baltimore, Cameren Queen, who’s 13, walked confidently to a colorful trifold poster, cleared her throat, and began to speak. Her oral presentation—“All About Hepatitis C”—was the culmination of two weeks of work. With animated precision, she rattled off common symptoms of hepatitis C, specified risk factors, described prevention strategies, and listed treatment plans. Seated to her right, the instructor—her mother, April VaiVai—listened intently, scrutinizing facts and peppering Cameren with questions. The two of them are part of a thriving community of black homeschooling families, here in Baltimore and elsewhere throughout the country, taking the adage “Parents are a child’s first teacher” to another level.

The homeschooling population in the United States is predominantly white and concentrated in suburban or rural areas. In 2016, black children accounted for 8 percent of the 1.7 million homeschooled students nationally, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics. What federal education data don’t show, though, is what’s driving those 136,000 or so black students and their families into homeschooling. Nor do the data reveal the tenacity and tradition that bond this homeschooling movement—a movement that challenges many of the prevailing stereotypes about homeschooling, which tends to be characterized as the province of conservative Christians, public-school opponents, and government skeptics.

For VaiVai and many other black homeschoolers, seizing control of their children’s schooling is an act of affirmation—a means of liberating themselves from the systemic racism embedded in so many of today’s schools and continuing the campaign for educational independence launched by their ancestors more than a century ago. In doing so, many are channeling an often overlooked history of black learning in America that’s rooted in liberation from enslavement. When seen in this light, the modern black-homeschooling movement is evocative of African Americans’ generations-long struggle to change their children’s destiny through education—and to do so themselves.

Sowell’s book “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” is scheduled to be available June 30.

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The culture war could be headed for public schools—whether parents like it or not.

Max Eden:

English teachers may look for guidance to an “antiracist” expert like Lorena German, who chairs the Committee on Anti-Racism for the National Council on the Teaching of English (NCTE). At the height of the recent urban unrest, while police cars and buildings were set ablaze by anarchists and looters, German tweeted: “Educators: what are you burning? Your White-centered curriculum? The Amy Cooper next door? Your anti-Black behavior policies? The school’s racist policies? Your racist ass principal? The funding for the police in schools vs counselors? WHAT ARE YOU BURNING???!!?!?!?!?”

German’s call to commit arson may have been metaphorical. But antiracist schools will teach very different material from the schools of yesteryear. “Transforming Our Public Schools: A Guide to Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education,” created by the NYC Culturally Responsive Education Working Group, explains to teachers that “the whole Western canon is rife with horrible stories and atrocities of who we are as people of color.”

For their part, the National Committee on Social Studies’ Early Childhood/Elementary Community has promised to overhaul content, explaining that “to stop the systemic, and we are talking about system-wide policies and practices, the systemic pattern of dehumanization . . . we need to start early. WE, as educators, and family members, need to flood our children with counter messages. . . . Messages that show #BlackLivesMatter and that it is essential to elevate that message until there is no racial inequality in economic opportunity, no racial inequality in education, no racial inequality in incarceration rates, and no brutality from police and others.”

This sounds like a call for an open-ended propaganda campaign. Indeed, in a public letter, the National Association of Secondary School Principals called on school leaders to create “culturally responsive schools” in order to build a nation “worthy of our highest ideals and intolerant of the idea that one man has the right to end the life of another because of his skin color.” If one truly believes that America today is a nation tolerant of that idea, then “flood[ing] our children with counter messages” might be the only moral course of action.

Book Review: Raise A Genius!

Scott Alexander:

A few months ago, I learned about Laszlo Polgar, the man who trained all three of his daughters to be chess grandmasters. He claimed he could make any child a genius just by teaching them using his special methods. I was pretty upset because, although he had a book called Raise A Genius, it was hard to find and only available in Hungarian and Esperanto.

Many SSC readers contributed money to get the book translated, and Esperanto translator Gordon Tishler stepped up to do the job. Thanks to everyone involved. You can find his full translation here: Raise A Genius!

I was hoping that this book would explain Lazslo Polgar’s secrets for raising gifted children. It does so only in very broad strokes. Nor does he seem to be holding much back. But it looks more like he doesn’t really have secrets, per se. The main things he does differently from everyone else are the things he’s talked about in every interview and documentary: he starts young (around the time the child is three), focuses near-obsessively on a single subject, and never stops. Polgar:

Private Pilot Ground School

MIT Open Courseware:

This is a three-day workshop that took place during the MIT Independent Activities Period (IAP) in January, 2019. This workshop aims to provide information for students to prepare for the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Test. Topics include airplane aerodynamics, aircraft systems, navigation, meteorology, aircraft ownership and maintenance, aircraft performance, multi-engine and jets.

Civics: We’re losing the war against surveillance capitalism because we let Big Tech frame the debate

Michael Corn:

There is a reason that photography and videography are frowned upon at protestslike the ones currently sweeping the nation: Surveillance capitalism has made it easy for even masked protesters to be identified. Both authorities and everyday citizens have access to search tools that can “out” someone from even the tiniest clues; even peaceable demonstrators are right to fear being fired or publicly shunned if their presence at a protest is discovered and then widely broadcast. Thus it is no accident that civil rights and privacy are intimately interlinked. Indeed, as law enforcement departments have become more militarized, they have equipped themselves with increasingly sophisticated surveillance technology — from devices that intercept cell phone signals to backdoors into social media sites.

Yet the civil rights battle over the right privacy is not waged on the street with protest signs and banners — at least, not generally. Privacy struggles are waged in more subtle ways, often through individual choices we make on our gadgets. We are told to “resist” by abandoning digital services; to “break up with Google Maps,” so as to prevent some of our personal data from falling into the hands of the corporations who profit off of it.

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

More than 1,400 researchers have signed a letter calling on the discipline to stop working on predictive-policing algorithms and other models.

Davide Castelvecchi:

The tide of reckoning on systemic racism and police brutality that has been sweeping through institutions — including scientific ones — has reached universities’ normally reclusive mathematics departments. A group of mathematicians in the United States has written a letter calling for their colleagues to stop collaborating with police because of the widely documented disparities in how US law-enforcement agencies treat people of different races and ethnicities. They concentrate their criticism on predictive policing, a maths-based technique aimed at stopping crime before it occurs.

Twitter Attacks, and a Defense of Scientific Inquiry

Steve Hsu:

I have not responded to these nasty Twitter attacks, but unfortunately they have gotten enough traction that I feel I need to respond now. [ Note: I have been informed that some of the signatures on their petition are fake, including one purported to be from my colleague Corey Washington! See counter petition and support letters on my behalf. ]

The attacks attempt to depict me as a racist and sexist, using short video clips out of context, and also by misrepresenting the content of some of my blog posts. A cursory inspection reveals bad faith in their presentation.

The accusations are entirely false — I am neither racist nor sexist.

The Twitter mobs want to suppress scientific work that they find objectionable. What is really at stake: academic freedom, open discussion of important ideas, scientific inquiry. All are imperiled and all must be defended.

One of the video clips is taken from an interview I did with YouTuber Stefan Molyneux in 2017. Molyneux was not a controversial figure in 2017, although he has since become one. Prominent scientists working on human intelligence who were interviewed on his show around the same time include James Flynnand Eric Turkheimer. (Noam Chomsky was also a guest some time after I was.) Here is what I said to Molyneux about genetic group differences in intelligence:


President Stanley asked me this afternoon for my resignation. I do not agree with his decision, as serious issues of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Inquiry are at stake. I fear for the reputation of Michigan State University.

However, as I serve at the pleasure of the President, I have agreed to resign. I look forward to rejoining the ranks of the faculty here.

It has been a great honor working with colleagues in the administration at MSU through some rather tumultuous times.

To my team in SVPRI, we can be proud of what we accomplished for this university in the last 8 years. It is a much better university than the one I joined in 2012.

It’s time to hear what adolescents think of mindfulness in schools

Elena Hailwood, William Wannynis and Suparna Choudhury:

‘Mindfulness doesn’t help me,’ says Tyler, a 13-year-old student in a deprived area of southwest England. ‘Some people it helps, some it can make ’em feel worse.’ Gathered around a table in a large, cluttered classroom, five other students nod. Kayleigh cuts in: ‘Sometimes other things help me more. But they don’t listen to us, they just tell us to do mindfulness.’ Sharp, eloquent, indignant, the students explain what does help them when they are stressed or upset: talking to people they trust, being listened to, having fun. To them, mindfulness practices of feet-feeling and belly-breathing feel abstract, irrelevant and counterintuitive. They have many ideas about what their school can do to help them, but it seems like no one is listening.

Over the past decade, schools across Europe and North America have begun teaching mindfulness meditation to their pupils. In these classes, students learn to pay attention to their immediate experience (sensations, thoughts, emotions) with a friendly and nonjudgmental attitude. The goal is to help them develop resilience, improve their attention and self-regulation, and prevent everyday stress spiralling into major psychological problems. Addressing mental health and wellbeing in this way is part of the current ‘therapeutic turn’ in education. In the United Kingdom, a £6.4 million trial is assessing whether school mindfulness training is ‘effective and cost-effective’ for improving mental health in 11- to 14-year-olds.

We are researchers at the intersection between cognitive neuroscience, sociology and education; as such, we investigate the cultural contexts of mindfulness interventions and the subjective experience of young people learning mindfulness at school. Our work has involved interviews with teachers, policymakers, researchers and students, and we have observed numerous lessons of the leading programmes in the United States and the UK. We have found that, while mindfulness improves educational attainment and reduces emotional problems in some young people, for others it has no obvious impact. Worse than that, for some students, mindfulness lessons can fuel disaffection and resentment.

Too many academics are now censoring themselves This article is more than 3 years old

Frank Furedi:

Throughout the Anglo-American world universities have drawn up protocols warning of exposing students to “sensitive subjects”. Astonishingly, the university is now subject to practices that demand levels of conformism historically associated with narrow-minded, illiberal institutions. The terms “sensitive subject” or “challenging subject” are used by administrators to designate a class of topics portrayed as a risk to students’ wellbeing.

Take the statement on the use of sensitive material produced by the University of Newcastle’s school of English literature, language and linguistics. It assumes that since topics that depict “distressing life events and situations” require special handling, teachers should help students “prepare themselves to study challenging material”.

Charter Schools’ Enemies Block Black Success

Thomas Sowell:

For decades, there has been widespread anxiety over how, when or whether the educational test score gap between white and non-white youngsters could be closed. But that gap has already been closed by the Success Academy charter school network in New York City.

Their predominantly black and Hispanic students already pass tests in mathematics and English at a higher rate than any school district in the entire state. That includes predominantly white and Asian school districts where parental income is some multiple of what it…

One piece of rhetoric that seems plausible on the surface is that charter schools “skim the cream” of students, leaving the public schools worse off. But this ignores the fact that admission to New York City charter schools is by lottery—that is, by luck—and not by students’ academic records or test results.

No doubt more motivated students are more likely to apply to charter schools. But only a fraction of those who enter the admissions lotteries win. This means that the majority of those motivated students remain in traditional public schools. The fraction that go into charter schools do not prevent traditional public schools from properly educating the much larger number who remain. If traditional public schools fail to do so, that is their own responsibility, and cannot be blamed on charter schools.

Teachers unions and traditional public school administrators have every reason to fear charter schools. In 2019 there were more than 50,000 New York City students on waiting lists to transfer into charter schools.

If that many students were allowed to transfer, in a city where expenditures per pupil are more than $20,000 a year, the result would be that more than a billion dollars a year would transfer with them to charter schools.

Sowell’s book “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” is scheduled to be available June 30.

2011: A majority of the taxpayer supported Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Collective demonization invades our culture

Izabella Tabarovsky:

Russians are fond of quoting Sergei Dovlatov, a dissident Soviet writer who emigrated to the United States in 1979: “We continuously curse Comrade Stalin, and, naturally, with good reason. And yet I want to ask: who wrote four million denunciations?” It wasn’t the fearsome heads of Soviet secret police who did that, he said. It was ordinary people.

Collective demonizations of prominent cultural figures were an integral part of the Soviet culture of denunciation that pervaded every workplace and apartment building. Perhaps the most famous such episode began on Oct. 23, 1958, when the Nobel committee informed Soviet writer Boris Pasternak that he had been selected for the Nobel Prize in literature—and plunged the writer’s life into hell. Ever since Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago had been first published the previous year (in Italy, since the writer could not publish it at home) the Communist Party and the Soviet literary establishment had their knives out for him. To the establishment, the Nobel Prize added insult to grave injury.

Within days, Pasternak was a target of a massive public vilification campaign. The country’s prestigious Literary Newspaper launched the assault with an article titled “Unanimous Condemnation” and an official statement by the Soviet Writers’ Union—a powerful organization whose primary function was to exercise control over its members, including by giving access to exclusive benefits and basic material necessities unavailable to ordinary citizens. The two articles expressed the union’s sense that in view of Pasternak’s hostility and slander of the Soviet people, socialism, world peace, and all progressive and revolutionary movements, he no longer deserved the proud title of Soviet Writer. The union therefore expelled him from its ranks.

Civics, the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate

David Harsanyi:

Michael Kinsley once wrote — back in the days when liberals were running our journalistic institutions — that “if no one or almost no one disagrees, it also is probably not a good subject for an editorial.” By contrast, the new Times opinion editor, Kathleen Kingsbury, reportedly told the staff, “Anyone who sees any piece of Opinion journalism, headlines, social posts, photos — you name it — that gives you the slightest pause, please call or text me immediately.”

The Times has been cleansed of reactionary elements. The paper is in the hands of The People. Others will follow.

You may also have noticed another progressive slogan gaining popularity these days: “Silence is violence.”  It’s no longer enough not to peddle wrongthink in the op-ed pages of the local paper, but now you must also actively champion woke progressive positions or you too are tacitly engaged in violence and racism.

This is a neat trick: To speak out in the wrong way is violence. Not to speak out is violence. Not to speak out in the way progressives dictate is violence. This is why your apolitical local lawn-care company is sending out emails promising to dedicate themselves to Black Lives Matter. No one wants to be accused of harboring counterrevolutionary sympathies.

That doesn’t leave much room for dissent, does it? Virtually anyone in the public square who doesn’t conform (save those who work for conservative political journals, perhaps) risks being humiliated and ruined.

China Is Collecting DNA From Tens of Millions of Men and Boys, Using U.S. Equipment (Thermo Fisher)

Sui-Lee Wee:

The police in China are collecting blood samples from men and boys from across the country to build a genetic map of its roughly 700 million males, giving the authorities a powerful new tool for their emerging high-tech surveillance state.

They have swept across the country since late 2017 to collect enough samples to build a vast DNA database, according to a new study published on Wednesday by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a research organization, based on documents also reviewed by The New York Times. With this database, the authorities would be able to track down a man’s male relatives using only that man’s blood, saliva or other genetic material.

An American company, Thermo Fisher, is helping: The Massachusetts company has sold testing kits to the Chinese police tailored to their specifications. American lawmakers have criticized Thermo Fisher for selling equipment to the Chinese authorities, but the company has defended its business.

On the College and Silence: A letter from Hillsdale College

The Collegian:

Amidst the events of recent weeks, a number of alumni and others have taken up formal and public means to insist that Hillsdale College issue statements concerning these events. The College is charged with negligence — or worse.

It is not the practice of the College to respond to petitions or other instruments meant to gain an object by pressure. The College operates by reasoned deliberation, study, and thought. The following observations, however, may be helpful and pertinent.

The College is pressed to speak. It is told that saying what it always has said is insufficient. Instead, it must decry racism and the mistreatment of Black Americans in particular. This, however, is precisely what the College has always said. 

The College is told that invoking the high example of the Civil War or Frederick Douglass is not permitted. Perhaps it is thought that nothing relevant can be learned about justice and equality from the words and actions of great men and women in history. Instead, the College is guilty of the gravest moral failure for not making declarations about … justice and equality. 

The College is told that it garners no honor now for its abolitionist past — or that it fails to live up to that past — but instead it must issue statements today. Statements about what? It must issue statements about the brutal and deadly evil of hating other people and/or treating them differently because of the color of their skin. That is, it must issue statements about the very things that moved the abolitionists whom the College has ever invoked. 

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison’s 2019-2020 property tax payment and installment data

Craig Franklin, via a kind email:

1.       The total 2019 tax levy for City of Madison property is $713,571,544.19.  This amount includes lottery, school levy and first dollar credits paid by the State of Wisconsin. The total tax outstanding, from City of Madison property owners, as of May 31, 2020 (the date of the last settlement) is $69,035,668.53. [9.6%]

2.       Of the 76,048 parcels in the City of Madison, 12,077 are currently utilizing the installment method of payment (as of the May 31, 2020 settlement). [15.8%]

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results. [the Madison School District administration has been planning a substantial 2020 tax & spending increase referendum].

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

Google faces $5 billion lawsuit for tracking people in incognito mode

Carrie Mihalcik:

Google faces a proposed class action lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of invading people’s privacy and tracking internet use even when browsers are set to “private” mode. The suit, filed Tuesday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Google violates wiretapping and privacy laws by continuing to “intercept, track, and collect communications” even when people use Chrome’s incognito mode and other private web browser modes.

“Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy,” reads the complaint. The search giant surreptitiously collects data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, website plug-ins and other applications, including mobile apps, according to the complaint. 

The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion from Google and its parent company, Alphabet, according to Reuters. The complaint says the proposed class may include “millions” of Google users and is looking for damages of at least $5,000 for each individual.

Google said it disputes the claims and plans to defend itself vigorously against them.   

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

Civics: Political groups use “deeply spooky” protester location data, report finds

Kate Cox:

Surveillance is widespread at protests. Both local and federal authorities have broad authority to undertake both covert and overt intelligence-gathering and surveillance of demonstrations.

Law enforcement uses location data for other kinds of investigations as well. Cops need to get a warrant to track a specific individual’s mobile phone. Doing it the other way around, though—picking a location, and then looking at who was there—has fewer restrictions.

Late last year, for example, federal investigators trying to solve an arson case in Wisconsin gathered location-history data from 1,500 devices that passed through the area over a nine-hour window. A similar reverse location warrant used in Florida led police mistakenly to identify a man who happened to be riding his bike near the scene of a burglary as the top suspect.

Other private entities also use geofencing tools to zero in on individuals. Ambulance-chaser law firms, for example, have advertised to people who have visited hospital emergency rooms.

While phone owners may understand that their devices collect location data for certain uses, consumers often have no idea how broadly sold and traded that information then is. That’s according to Keith Chen, a behavioral economics professor at University of California, Los Angeles, who spoke to the WSJ. “To the degree that this becomes very common, I do worry that it starts to put a chill on people’s willingness to peaceably assemble,” Chen told the Journal.

The Urban-School Stigma

Jack Schneider:

Urban schools don’t inspire much confidence these days. Politicians and policy leaders routinely bemoan their quality. And media outlets regularly run stories of “failing urban schools.”

Middle- and upper-income parents have expressed misgivings, too. But they’ve done it much less volubly. With relatively little fuss, they’ve simply picked up and moved—departing from city school systems at ever-greater rates. Among expressions of no-confidence, this has arguably been the most significant, because it has reshaped district demography. Each year, it seems, urban schools serve larger concentrations of poor students, racial minorities, and English-language learners. As higher-income families depart, resources go with them, and schools are faced with the daunting prospect of doing more with less.

If such departures are driven by good information about school quality, one can hardly blame parents with resources for acting in the best interests of their children.

Yet what if the information people are acting on is inaccurate or misleading?

Thanks largely to No Child Left Behind, the public has access to performance data for all public elementary and high schools. The data collected and reported, however, largely consist of student standardized test scores. As George W. Bush, who as president signed the act into law, put it, “We measure. We post the scores. We look at results.” Today, over 15 years after NCLB first went into effect, test scores are commonly used—by policy leaders, parents, and the general public—as a measure of school quality, often in the total absence of other information. A New York Times feature, for instance, produced a set of charts for prospective suburban homebuyers using only two inputs: “home price data from Redfin … and school quality data based on test scores.”

Wisconsin School Districts Have Administrative Bloat to Blame for Budget Failures

Will Flanders:

Wisconsin public school teachers made, on average, $55,985 in salary during the 2017–18 school year with an average of 14.2 students per teacher. During that school year, spending was $13,670 per student in local, state and federal funding. This means that about $195,392 is spent on the average classroom in the state. Of that, only about 28.4% ends up in the pockets of teachers. Where is the rest of the money going?

An illuminating answer comes from investigating the share of district staff who are teachers relative to those in other roles. We can use data from DPI’s “All Staff” files over the past decade to tease this out. The chart below shows the percentage of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff in the 10 largest districts in the state that are identified as teachers by the Department of Public Instruction since 2008. The majority of districts fall below the 50% threshold in every year — meaning that for every teacher in the district, there is more than one employee in another role.

The biggest offenders in recent years are Eau Claire, Milwaukee, Racine. Both of these districts have dropped below the 40% level in recent years for several consecutive years. In fact, WILL’s 2019 Truth in Spending study found, “The percentage of money a district spends on [administration and transportation costs] relative to others is associated with lower performance on state exams.”

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

No, we haven’t ‘defunded education for years’

Corey DeAngelis & Matthew Nielsen:

On average, the United States currently spends over $15,000 per student each year, and inflation-adjusted K-12 education spending per student has increased by 280% since 1960. In California, where the previously mentioned football coach resides, inflation-adjusted spending on K-12 education has increased by 129% since 1970. Furthermore, data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that nearly a third of all state budget expenditures go toward education.

This is a particularly pernicious myth in the education debate because increased education spending generally isn’t associated with better results. Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek reviewed nearly 400 studies on the topic and concluded that “there is not a strong or consistent relationship between student performance and school resources.”

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

Oxford will ‘decolonise’ degrees

Nicola Woolcock:

Oxford University has revealed plans to “decolonise” its maths and science degrees and will allow students of any subject who have been affected by the Black Lives Matter furore to seek lenient marking.

In a letter to the student union, Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor, said that the mathematical, physical and life sciences division had been awarded a grant to develop teaching resources that supported the diversification of its curriculums, describing it as “an area that is frequently overlooked”.

Civics: The Supreme Court’s Dereliction of Duty on Qualified Immunity

Jay Schweickert:

This morning, the Supreme Court denied all of the major cert petitions raising the question of whether qualified immunity should be reconsidered. This is, to put it bluntly, a shocking dereliction of duty. As Cato has argued for years, qualified immunity is an atextual, ahistorical judicial invention, which shields public officials from liability, even when they break the law. The doctrine not only denies justice to victims whose rights have been violated, but also exacerbates our crisis of confidence in law enforcement. By holding police officers to a far lower standard of accountability than ordinary citizens, qualified immunity deprives the entire law enforcement community of the public trust and credibility they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.

There was simply no excuse for the Court to decline this golden opportunity to begin addressing its mistakes in creating and propagating the doctrine of qualified immunity. The petitions before the Court plainly demonstrated both the moral injustices and practical absurdities of the “clearly established law” standard. In Corbitt v. Vickers, for example, the Supreme Court let stand an Eleventh Circuit decisiongranting immunity to a police officer who shot a ten‐year‐old child in the back of the knee, while repeatedly attempting to shoot a pet dog that wasn’t threatening anyone. And in Baxter v. Bracey, the Court let stand a Sixth Circuit decision which said that a prior case holding it unconstitutional for police to deploy a canine against a suspect who had surrendered by lying on the ground did not “clearly establish” that it was unlawful for police to deploy a canine against a suspect who had surrendered by sitting on the ground with his hands up.

‘Just stop it’: News execs Will Lewis and Lionel Barber condemn journalists’ ‘unbecoming’ use of social media to share opinions

William Turvill:

Will Lewis, the former boss of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, and ex-Financial Times editor Lionel Barber have also spoken of their uneasiness about the “blurring” of opinions and facts in journalism. 

Lewis – who recently left his role and missed out in the race to become the BBC’s next director general – said that in “this increasingly resource-constrained time… journalistic standards are inevitably slipping. And we’re beginning to see the blurring of facts and comments in a way that I think is extremely worrying and extremely challenging.” 

He exempted the FT, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and New York Times from his criticism.

Barber, who was speaking with Lewis on a video conference (see below) organised by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, said: “I would make a more general point – we’ve seen this particularly at the BBC: We have to be very careful in the way journalists are using social media. 

“They are essentially seeing [their social media pages as] their own platforms, and it’s definitely comment. And therefore this blurring that Will rightly identifies has been massively accentuated by social media. 

“And it’s not good enough for journalists to say: Oh, by the way, on my Twitter handle, these views are [my own] – because they do work for an organisation.

Slavery and the American University

Alex Karp:

According to the surviving records, the first enslaved African in Massachusetts was the property of the schoolmaster of Harvard. Yale funded its first graduate-level courses and its first scholarship with the rents from a small slave plantation it owned in Rhode Island (the estate, in a stroke of historical irony, was named Whitehall). The scholarship’s first recipient went on to found Dartmouth, and a later grantee co-founded the College of New Jersey, known today as Princeton. Georgetown’s founders, prohibited by the rules of their faith from charging students tuition, planned to underwrite school operations in large part with slave sales and plantation profits, to which there was apparently no ecclesiastical objection. Columbia, when it was still King’s College, subsidized slave traders with below-market loans. Before she gained fame as a preacher and abolitionist, Sojourner Truth was owned by the family of Rutgers’s first president.

From their very beginnings, the American university and American slavery have been intertwined, but only recently are we beginning to understand how deeply. In part, this can be attributed to an expansion of political will. Barely two decades ago, questions raised by a group of scholars and activists about Brown University’s historic connection to slavery were met with what its then-president, Ruth Simmons, saw as insufficient answers, and so she appointed the first major university investigation. Not long before that, one of the earliest scholars to independently look into his university’s ties to slavery, a law professor at the University of Alabama, began digging through the archives in part to dispel a local myth, he wrote, that “blacks were not present on the campus” before 1963, when “Vivian Malone and James Hood enrolled with the help of Nicholas Katzenbach and the National Guard.” He found, instead, that they preceded its earliest students, and one of the university’s first acts was the purchase of an enslaved man named Ben. In Virginia, a small consortium founded three years ago to share findings and methods has expanded to include nearly three dozen colleges and universities across North America and two in European port cities. Almost all of these projects trace their origins to protests or undergraduate classes, where a generation of students, faculty, archivists, activists, and librarians created forums for articulating their questions, and for finding one another.

Analysis: Just 1 in 3 Districts Required Teachers to Deliver Instruction This Spring. They Mustn’t Be Left on Their Own Again in the Fall

Robin Lake, Betheny Gross and Alice Opalka:

Researchers at the Center on Reinventing Public Education spent this spring analyzing 82 school districts’ responses to COVID-19 closures. 

Our analysis focused on large, high-profile school systems. While the districts served more than 9 million students combined, we wondered if it represented school systems across the country. 

Now, we know the picture it painted was too rosy. 

We recently released an analysis of a statistically representative sample of 477 school districts. This allows us, for the first time, to compare districts by student demographics and location. And the results are sobering.

Just 1 in 3 districts has been expecting all teachers to deliver instruction — and rural and small-town districts were far less likely than urban and suburban districts to communicate that expectation.

K-12 Madison School Spending Rhetoric

David Blaska:

Nonetheless, Ald. Tag Evers its all J’accuse!

“We have defunded our schools — 90% of our black and brown students are not reading at grade level —  and then used police to keep order.”

Madison has “defunded our schools”? Since when? On an absolute dollar basis, the State of Wisconsin has never shoveled more money at K-12 education. Madison taxpayers approve extra-spending referenda almost every other election.

  • Madison school property taxes are UP 37% since 2012,

  • While 4K-12 enrollment is down 1.6% from 2014-15.

  • Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): is UP 17.0% during the same period.

  • The proposed school budget for next year increases per pupil spending 19.0% from 2014-15. (Cost of living is up 10% during that time.)

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

Commentary on the taxpayer supported Madison School District’s planned 2020-2021 budget

Scott Girard:

Administrators are concerned about a potential state budget repair bill that could cut funding to K-12 schools, though Gov. Tony Evers told the Cap Times last week he’s hopeful such a measure can be avoided amid lower than anticipated revenue for the state. The budget Ruppel recommended Monday would save $8.4 million from what has been previously discussed, mostly through cuts to wage increases to save room in case such a bill is approved.

“Pause on any new spending in order to maintain the most flexibility until we know more,” Ruppel said.

If the previously planned increases in base wages and the “steps” on the district’s salary structure were maintained, as many as 92 school-based staff positions could be cut, according to the presentation.

If a state budget repair bill did not come to fruition or there was additional funding from the federal government, raises could be reinstated before the final budget approval, while reinstating the positions in the middle of the school year would be more challenging.

Ruppel also offered expense-saving possibilities of keeping five vacant central office positions open for a savings of $500,000 or more as well as a pause on Strategic Equity Projects like a new reading curriculum and increases to School Security Assistant pay, saving up to $550,000.

Board member Savion Castro said he was supportive of Ruppel’s recommendation among the options presented Monday night, although he acknowledged it was not a good choice to have to make. Most others expressed a similar sentiment.

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

News from the University front

Rod Dreher:

This is a school that a lot of uninformed people would regard as “safe”:

No one likes it when dire predictions come true. For years the leftists on our campus have operated largely as Fabians: they thought the structure was corrupt, but they figured they could effect the changes from within it. They had many successes, but each success brought with it an appetite for more. They were waiting for the moment when the revolution that had taken place at the level of culture could take place at the level of administrative control. This is their moment. This is when the very nature of the institutions change, not so much in terms of their structures, which they’ll largely maintain, but in terms of their animating principles. For colleges such as mine this means the replacement of Christianity with the religion of anti-racism.

It did not take our president long after the death of George Floyd to issue a statement asseverating definitively that Floyd’s death was “an act of racism,” despite the fact that he couldn’t possibly know if this was true. He also expressed his “deep grief” and how “heart-broken” he was, as if Floyd were his own child. He did this in part because, like any sane person, he was horrified both by Floyd’s death and by the specter of racism, and in part because he was getting enormous pressure (no pun intended) put on him by faculty and alumni.

Since then, even though it’s summer, things have gotten worse. The president has issued more statements expressing his hurt and committing college resources to “combat racism,” even though college campuses are the least racist places in America. We’ve been having townhall meetings where people can tell their stories of oppression, and express their fear about how much danger they’re in because some people won’t bow to their gods. All these townhall meetings include calls to action that become increasingly heavy-handed.

A couple of years ago, under the radar, the administration issued a new policy that anyone involved in a hire had to undergo implicit bias training. When I told my dean that I found the idea of implicit bias training to be faulty at both a philosophical and social science level, and a serious threat to academic freedom and so would not participate, he replied “That’s too bad, because you won’t be participating in any searches, and frankly you make valuable contributions on those.”

Ivy League Professor Says Intimidation Campaigns Gaining Ground On Campus

Chrissy Clark:

Cornell University law professor William Jacobson thought he had grown callous to petitions for his ouster. Activists—including students, faculty, and alumni—have called for his firing on numerous occasions since he launched the popular conservative website Legal Insurrection in 2008, but the campaign against him has taken personal attacks to new levels in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.

“On [the Black Lives Matter] issue, you cannot deviate one iota or they will try to get you kicked out of the school, they will falsely accuse you of being racist, they will do a ‘name and shame’ campaign against you,” Jacobson told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s been a problem for multiple decades in academia.”

BLM supporters, in a coordinated effort with the Black Law Student Association, Cornell alumni, and law school faculty, are calling on the school to sack Jacobson for publicly critiquing BLM’s ideology. An alumni petition began on June 11 calling on the university to “take immediate action” to drive him out. The professor said his accusers are disingenuously attacking his character to force the school’s hand.

Washington Supreme Court Grants Diploma Privilege To All Bar Applicants

Supreme Court of Washington:

1 APR 3 and 4 are modified to the extent that applicants for admission to practice law who are currently registered for either the July or September 2020 bar examination and who have received a Juris Doctorate degree from an ABA accredited law school, and applicants currently registered to take the LLLT examination scheduled for July 2020, are granted the option of receiving a diploma privilege to practice in Washington. The bar examinations in July and September 2020 will still be offered for those who do not qualify for the diploma privilege and those who wish to take the exam to receive a Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) score.

2 The diploma privilege option will be available to applicants currently registered to take the examinations who are taking the tests for the first time and those who are repeating the tests.

Curated Education Information