See How Student Achievement Gaps Are Growing in Your State

Chad Aldeman

The easing of No Child Left Behind in 2012 set off a decline that is still being felt. Maybe it’s time to bring back accountability

Achievement scores fell in the wake of COVID-19. That story has been well told …

But what’s less well-known is that achievement scores had already suffered a lost decade before the pandemic hit.

Literacy momentum stalls in Wisconsin (DPI): Why would Wisconsin’s state leaders promote the use of curriculum that meets “minimal level” criteria, instead of elevating the highest-quality

Censorship at Penn

Aaron Sibarium:

The former president of the University of Pennsylvania, Liz Magill, who resigned in December after telling a congressional panel that calls for genocide of Jews did not necessarily constitute bullying or harassment, signed off last year on sanctions for a professor who had criticized diversity initiatives.

Magill accepted the recommendations of a Penn hearing board in August to suspend Amy Wax, a tenured law professor, for a year at half pay and to strip her of a named chair, according to a report from Philadelphia Inquirer and documents obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon.

Wax had a long record of controversial statements that the school claimed violated its anti-discrimination policies, including her criticisms of diversity, equity, and inclusion officials, who she claimed “couldn’t be scholars if their life depended on it.”

Ending The Ivy League’s Tax Dodge

Helen Santoro:

Within a one-mile radius in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sit Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — academic institutions that together boast $74 billion in endowment funds. Based on the size of these “rainy-day funds” alone, the two universities, with a combined student body of 37,000, have enough wealth to rival Ghana, with a population of 35 million. 

The kicker? These private universities are educational institutions, meaning that for most of their history, they have been exempt from federal and state income taxes. 

Massachusetts lawmakers want to change that. State legislators are considering a groundbreaking bill that would impose a 2.5 percent annual excise tax on private college and university endowments that are larger than $1 billion. The resulting $2.5 billion raised each year would be more than enough to cover the tuition of every undergraduate student currently attending public colleges and universities in the state.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harvard announce a substantial cost reduction program soon”

Bill Ackman

The substantial majority of the @Harvard endowment is invested in illiquid assets, principally private equity, real estate, and venture capital. Not reflected on the balance sheet are commitments to new funds of the same type.

Like most endowments, @Harvard models expectations of fund distributions when considering its liquidity and when making future commitments.

Harvard also makes assumptions about inflows from alumni donations.

The model likely did not predict a decline in liquidity events from private equity, real estate, and venture capital and the dramatic decline in donations. That is likely why Harvard announced this recent bond offering, which is being done in a substantially higher interest rate environment than where the funds could have been raised a couple of years ago.

Mary Poppins’ UK age rating raised to PG due to discriminatory language

Kevin Rawlinson:

Mary Poppins has had its age rating lifted to a PG by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) almost 60 years after it was first released.

The film’s rating has been upgraded from U – which signifies no material likely to offend or harm – to one advising parental guidance due to the use of discriminatory language, the Daily Mail reported.

It was changed because of a derogatory term for the Khoikhoi, a group of people who were among the first inhabitants of southern Africa.

Classifiers picked up on the term used by the character Admiral Boom – first as a reference to people not onscreen, then as a reference to the film’s child stars when their faces are blackened with soot.

“We understand from our racism and discrimination research … that a key concern for … parents is the potential to expose children to discriminatory language or behaviour which they may find distressing or repeat without realising the potential offence,” a BBFC spokesperson told the Mail.

“making free tuition available to all students going forward”

Joseph Goldstein:

The 93-year-old widow of a Wall Street financier has donated $1 billion to a Bronx medical school, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, with instructions that the gift be used to cover tuition for all students going forward.

The donor, Dr. Ruth Gottesman, is a former professor at Einstein, where she studied learning disabilities, developed a screening test and ran literacy programs. It is one of the largest charitable donations to an educational institution in the United States and most likely the largest to a medical school.

The fortune came from her late husband, David Gottesman, known as Sandy, who was a protégé of Warren Buffett and had made an early investment in Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate Mr. Buffett built.

Paper Exams in the “ai” era

Kelly Meyerhofer:

Harshner ran his other students’ work through the AI detector. He said eight of the 40 assignments, or 20%, came back with an 85% chance or higher of AI-generated work. The facts hit him like a gut punch.

“Honestly, like, you want to think what you’re doing matters,” Harshner said. “You want to think that at least in some part all the work you’re putting in actually impacts people’s lives.”

AI is disrupting colleges across the country, offering shortcuts for students and uncomfortable questions for professors. Tools like ChatGPT can, in a matter of seconds, solve math problems, write papers and craft code on command.

“It’s entirely changed the way I teach,” Harshner said.

Harshner’s writing-intensive course was previously heavy on take-home essays. He now has students write their papers during class. Not only does he outline an AI ban on his syllabi but he also has students sign a contract agreeing not to use it, even for generating ideas or paper outlines.

“You have to take steps to, you know, kind of push back on this,” Harshner said, adding he believes AI is a “threat to higher education in real, meaningful ways.”

Notes on Handwriting & Cursive

Brian Schrader:

I’m a software developer; I make my living on a computer. In this age there just isn’t much reason for me to bother improving my handwriting.

I’ve thought that for years. While like most people my age, I learned to write in cursive in school (and to write in general) I’d essentially stopped using such an all-important skill in my daily life, save for the odd sticky-note here and reminder scribble there.

Biden’s Student Loan Boast: The Supreme Court ‘Didn’t Stop Me’

Wall Street Journal:

He’s not really cancelling anything because he’s transferring the debt from the borrowers it benefited to the taxpayers who will finance it with higher taxes or interest payments on the rising national debt.

Under his Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan, President Unstoppable is offering loan forgiveness through income-driven repayment plans. Borrowers used to be expected to pay 10% of the portion of their discretionary income that exceeds 150% of the federal poverty level ($22,590 for individuals) for 20 years after which their loans are forgiven. The Biden plan reduces the payments to 5% of their discretionary income above 225% of the poverty level.

Students Aren’t the Obstacle to Open Debate at Harvard

Tarek Massed:

Professors hear a great deal these days about how hard it is to get our students to listen to, much less to engage with, opinions they dislike. The problem, we are told, is that students are either “snowflakes” with fragile psyches or “authoritarians” who care more about their pet causes than about democratic values such as tolerance, compromise and respect for opposing points of view.

Students at Harvard, where I teach, returned from winter break in January to an institution that appeared determined to tackle this problem head-on. An email from the undergraduate dean reminded them that “The purpose of a Harvard education is not to shield you from ideas you dislike or to silence people you disagree with; it is to enable you to confront challenging ideas, interrogate your own beliefs, make up your mind and learn to think for yourself.”

To that end, the university launched the “Harvard Dialogues,” a series of events “designed to enhance our ability to engage in respectful and robust debate.” But so far, the effort seems to consist of little more than talking about talking, with events with titles like “Coming Together Across Difference: Finding Common Ground Across Identities and Political Divides” and “Constructive Dialogue in the Age of Social Media.” Absent from this agenda are real discussions about the actual things that divide us, such as abortion, climate change and Israel-Palestine.

How Dartmouth Keeps Its Cool

Emma Osman:

Like nearly every other school in America, Dartmouth College is struggling with the breakdown of civil discourse and free expression. Students tend to self-censor or shout down views they don’t like.

“I don’t want safe spaces, I want brave spaces,” says Dartmouth President Sian Beilock in a phone interview. At the start of the winter term in January, the Hanover, N.H., college launched the Dartmouth Dialogues program.

Ms. Beilock says the program aims to convince students and professors that being challenged is crucial to education. “The idea is to be around the brightest minds and to be pushed and to be a little uncomfortable,” she says. “Even if you’re not going to change your mind, the ability to hone your arguments and to think differently from different perspectives, these are skills and tools of higher education.”

The Dartmouth Dialogues program will begin in the classroom. Faculty are already being trained on how to guide debate—particularly when a topic is likely to become charged. Ms. Beilock’s hope is that students will learn to disagree respectfully and take that skill with them when they leave the classroom. Starting in the fall, new students will be given similar training. These types of training sessions sometimes elicit eye-rolls from students, but by consistently reminding students that disagreement is OK, Ms. Beilock believes that the college can “create the environment to get this right.”

“Flipping a coin would actually be better” for identifying struggling readers

Christopher Peak:

The first thing Havah Kelley noticed was her son’s trouble with the alphabet. The San Francisco mom reviewed letters with him for hours at a time, reciting their names and tracing their shapes. But Kelley’s son couldn’t write most of them on his own. He reversed them or scrawled incoherent shapes. Halfway through his kindergarten year, his teacher said he still couldn’t recognize some letters on sight. 

But that teacher told Kelley not to fret. She said she’d given the boy San Francisco Unified School District’s go-to reading test: the Benchmark Assessment System. His reading level on the test had landed within the appropriate range for his age. The teacher said he probably just needed time to catch on. 

Kelley, a single parent living in Bayview, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, knew something wasn’t right. That year, in 2017, she asked the school to test her son for a learning disability. She said they gave her the runaround; their reading test, after all, showed her son was doing fine. 

Near the end of first grade, the school finally agreed to do a more comprehensive evaluation. The results showed her son was so far behind his peers in reading and writing that he fit the profile for dyslexia. The Benchmark Assessment System had been — and would continue to be — wrong about how well he could read. 

Another new Madison k-12 Superintendent

Kayla Huynh

In his new role, Gothard will oversee the second largest school district in Wisconsin, which serves over 26,000 students in 52 schools and has a nearly $600 million annual budget. He’ll take over at a challenging time, with COVID-19 federal funding set to expire and the board determining the 2024-25 budget.

Gothard will also be responsible for carrying out Wisconsin’s Act 20, a law that is set to make sweeping changes across the state in how schools teach 4-year-old kindergarten through third grade students how to read. The act requires districts to shift to a “science of reading” approach that emphasizes the use of phonics. 

Using pandemic funds, Gothard created a similar program in 2021 at St. Paul Public Schools in an effort to improve the district’s lagging reading scores. The program pairs struggling students with educators who specialize in science-based reading instruction. 

——

Abbey Machtig:

He spent two years as an assistant superintendent of secondary schools in Madison and was a semifinalist in the Madison School District’s search for a new superintendent in 2013, with the board ultimately hiring Jennifer Cheatham.

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Literacy momentum stalls in Wisconsin (DPI): Why would Wisconsin’s state leaders promote the use of curriculum that meets “minimal level” criteria, instead of elevating the highest-quality

Karen Vaites:

All eyes have been on Wisconsin, where politics threaten to stall promising curriculum improvement efforts. 

The Badger State’s Act 20 literacy bill was one of the bright spots in a flourishing national legislative phase. The bill had a refreshing focus on all aspects of literacy, and recognized the importance of curriculum in fostering change. Act 20 called for the convening of an expert Early Literacy Curriculum Council (ELCC) to identify a set of recommended ELA curricula; only these programs would be eligible for state subsidy.

The ELCC – which includes a high-performing superintendent, practitioners immersed in reading research, and dyslexia advocates whose children suffered under previous DPI choices – has real stakes in Act 20’s success. And the stakes are high: Wisconsin has the largest gap in reading outcomes for Black vs white students of any state. 

Last week, the nine-member ELCC submitted its recommendations: four curricula widely praised for their quality (Bookworms, Core Knowledge, EL Education, and Wit & Wisdom). Literacy leaders cheered the selections. Personally, I consider it the best state list we’ve seen.

Just two days later, Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) issued a statement asking the Joint Finance Committee to approve a rather different list of 11 options… the list of curricula that earn “all-green” ratings on EdReports. Conspicuously omitted from DPI’s list: Bookworms, a curriculum with the most persuasive studies showing that it improves reading outcomes – but which earned a widely-questioned yellow review on EdReports.

The average quality of the DPI list was markedly lower than the ELCC list, something that even DPI acknowledged. Laura Adams of the DPI told CESAs,“The two different lists represent two different perspectives. The Council’s list represents a judgment of quality, while DPI’s list represents a floor of those materials that meet the requirements, even at a minimal level.”

——-

Jill Underly didn’t attend the meetings, so she missed these conversations. Frankly, her absence from ELCC meetings speaks volumes. If DPI felt urgency about children’s reading success, or even about the review timelines, one would have expected Underly to make time for ELCC meetings. Underly’s late-breaking objections have not sat well with close watchers of the process.

—-

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

K-12 Tax & $pending Climate: In US terms, he turned a 1.2 trillion-dollar annual deficit into a 400 billion surplus. In 9 and a half weeks.

Peter st Onge:

How did he do it? Easy: he cut a host of central government agency budgets by 50% while slashing crony contracts and activist handouts.

For perspective, if you cut the entirety of Washington’s budget by 50%, you’d save a fast 3 trillion dollars and start paying off the national debt.

It turns out it can be done, and the world doesn’t collapse into chaos.

Deficits aren’t the only win Milei’s logged. He’s slashed crony regulation, got rid of currency controls, and recently slashed rent prices by removing controls — that actually led to a doubling of apartments for rent in Buenos Aires, slashing rent costs.

Wisconsin DPI vs learning to read

Jenny Warner:

Last week, Wisconsin’s expert Early Literacy Curriculum Council recommended the highest-quality list we have seen from any state.

Then @WisconsinDPI tried to overrule them, for no sound reason.

More.

The nine-member Early Literacy Curriculum Council reviewed and recommended four curriculums. The council includes six members chosen by the Republican majority leaders of the state legislature, and three chosen by state Superintendent Jill Underly. 

In addition to the Early Literacy Council’s review, the DPI conducted its own review, which diverged in part from the council. It rejected one of the council’s recommendations (Bookworms Reading & Writing for K-3), and added others that the council hadn’t rated. 

DPI is recommending the following programs:

American Reading Company K-3 (ARC
Core, 2017)

Being a Reader (K-2nd, 2021; 3rd, 2023) & Being a Writer (K-3rd., 2014) with Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics & Sight Words (SIPPS,

2020) (Center for the Collaborative Classroom)

Benchmark Education Advance (Benchmark Education Company, 2022)

Core Knowledge Language Arts K-3 (CKLA,
Amplify Education, 2022)

EL Education K-3 Language Arts (Open up
Resources, 2017)

EL Education K-3 (Imagine Learning LLC,
2019)

Into Reading, National V2 (Houghton
Mifflin Harcourt, 2020)

myView Literacy Elem. Reading Curriculum (Savvas Learning Company, 2025)

Open Court (McGraw Hill, 2023)

Wit and Wisdom (Great Minds, 2020) with PK-3 Reading Curriculum (Really Great Reading)

Wonders (McGraw Hill, 2023)

The Joint Committee on Finance has 14 working days to schedule a meeting to review the proposed curriculum recommendations. The committee will then make any changes and approve the list. If it does not notify the DPI that it’s scheduled a meeting, the department can adopt the recommendations as is.

——

Unsurprising, unfortunately. “an emphasis on adult employment”.

——

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Civics: About The 1793 Hamilton Document!

Josh Blackman & Seth Barrett Tillman

Long-time readers may remember the Hamilton Imbroglio of 2017. The New York Times covered it in Adam Liptak’s September 2017 piece titled “‘Lonely Scholar With Unusual Ideas’ Defends Trump, Igniting Legal Storm.” That title sounds somewhat similar to Charlie Savage’s February 2024 New York Times article titled, A Legal Outsider, an Offbeat Theory and the Fate of the 2024 Election.” Some things never change. If you want a summary of the prior 2017 saga, we provided details in Part IV of our ten-part series (pp. 484-520). 

Around the same time that debates arose about which of two competing documents Alexander Hamilton, in fact, signed in 1793, Professor Jed Shugerman and Professor Gautham Rao also wrote a Slate article explaining why Hamilton would not have listed President Washington as a person holding “any civil office or employment under the United States.” Their argument was premised on the Constitution’s Sinecure or Ineligibility Clause. The clause provides: “No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been [i]ncreased during such time.” U.S. Const. Art. I, Sect. 6, Cl. 2. In short, Shugerman and Rao explained that since there was no concern that the presidency could trigger a violation of the Sinecure Clause, Hamilton did not list the presidency and the president’s compensation. 

We reviewed that argument at the time, but we chose not to respond. Why? In September 2017, Shugerman, Rao, and their three co-authors (collectively the “Legal Historians”) retracted their claims about which purported Hamilton-signed document was authentic. We had thought that had ended the matter. This is not to say that we did not have other complaints and grievances against them. We did. We had hoped that they’d review their writings for completeness and accuracy and make coordinate changes and retractions. We did not wish to engage in overreach by embarrassing them with each and every error they had made. And we rightly feared that our making other demands, after they retracted on the issue of authenticity, would put us in a bad light. Their argument in Slate was just one such argument—an argument that they should have retracted in 2017. 

Civics: Media Blackout on a student murder

Tyler Durden:

That media blackout obfuscates the reality that unfettered immigration into the US presents an innate threat to citizens. Since the 2021 fiscal year, Border Patrol has arrested 43,674 criminal non-citizens. US Customs And Border Protectiondefines the term criminal non-citizen as any individual who has been convicted of one or more crimes either in the US or abroad before behind interdicted by immigration officials. The metric also discounts criminal convictions abroad for crimes not illegal in the US. Of those 43,674 criminal non-citizens arrested, violent crimes accounted for over of their 8,000 preexisting convictions. Murder convictions related to 165 of those arrests, while sex crime convictions comprised nearly 10 times that amount with 1,210 having been documented by Border Patrol. Despite being on the books, these figures have received as little coverage by legacy media outlets as Riley’s murder has.

Although the media establishment remains silent about the murder of Laken Riley, it can do little to silence the uproar against the Biden administration’s manufactured immigration crisis.Even staunch supporters of the Democratic Party have come to express their disapproval of how the border is being handled amid approval ratings for Biden falling to all-time lows. What the coverage surrounding Riley’s murder reflects is that there are no lengths the mainstream media will go to in order to push the political agenda fueling the immigration crisis, proving that innocent American lives are little more than political capital when it comes to pushing that agenda.

Notes on teacher qualification reforms

Seattle Times:

What about the gold standard of teaching, National Board Certification? Washington spends about $70 million annually encouraging pursuit of this status with salary-boosting incentives. Yet Dan Goldhaber, a professor at the University of Washington and one of the country’s preeminent researchers on teacher quality, found that board certification results in only modest gains to student learning — about five weeks’ acceleration in middle school math, at best.

Bottom line: It is almost impossible to predict good teachers until they are standing in front of a roomful of kids. And once employed, it is difficult to remove those who are ineffective. Washington’s teacher-evaluation tool, which includes classroom observations and student growth, rates virtually every educator as “Proficient” or “Distinguished.”

Student outcomes suggest otherwise. With only 39% of all kids at grade level in math, and 51% able to read or write appropriately, state educators have work to do.

Teacher-qualification reforms here have focused on boosting diversity, but other regions are making very different choices. Goldhaber points to Washington, D.C., as a particularly dramatic example.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: California’s Growing Budget Deficit

Wall Street Journal:

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) on Tuesday increased this year’s projected state budget shortfall to $73 billion—nearly twice as much as Gov. Gavin Newsom forecasted last month. Ouch. Mr. Newsom has ambitions to reside in Washington, D.C., and based on his deficits it looks like he’d fit right in.

Tech companies based in California have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the bull market. Artificial intelligence chip maker
Nvidia
’s stock price has increased by roughly 50% since November. The top 1% of California taxpayers pay about half of the state’s income taxes, and state revenue usually rises and falls with capital gains.

The mystery is why this isn’t happening this year. The LAO notes that tax collections in recent month have deteriorated, rather than improved. “Recent revenue collections data reflect even further weakness relative to [earlier] estimates,” the analyst notes. Corporate tax collections were a third lower in December relative to the year before.

Shirky principle

Effectiviology;

The Shirky principle is the adage that “institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”. More broadly, it can also be characterized as the adage that “every entity tends to prolong the problem it is solving”.

For example, the Shirky principle means that a government agency that’s meant to address a certain societal issue may hinder attempts by others to address the issue, in order to ensure that the agency remains relevant. Alternatively, the agency may become so focused on the current way in which it addresses the issue that it will fail to adopt better new solutions as they become available, thus prolonging the issue.

The Shirky principle has important implications in various domains, so it’s important to understand it. As such, in the following article you will learn more about this principle, and see what you can do about it in practice.

Why Google Searches Are Turning Up Some Wrong Answers

Nicole Nguyen:

This adds a new layer onto tricks that spoil your searches, including misleading targeted ads and low-quality websites built to appear atop the results page. At best, this clickbait is annoying. At worst, it can lead you to scams intended to get your credit-card number and other personal information.

Here’s a quick example: When I wanted to switch the Google account I use for Gmail, I searched “how to change default Google account.” The top result, with large highlighted text, led to an article posted to LinkedIn.

The author was Morgan Mitchell, content manager at
Adobe
. Mitchell has bylined 150 articles, all of them written in search-friendly Q&A format. Lots of those articles include customer-service phone numbers, the go-to solution for more complex problems—and for less tech-savvy users.

Trouble is, Mitchell doesn’t exist. And the phone number in the article didn’t belong to Google or Adobe. Likely, Mitchell is just a figment of some AI’s imagination, and the number is a way to con unsuspecting users.

Why One School District Spent $1 Million Fighting a Special-Education Student

Sara Randazzo:

The district said it sometimes must litigate against parents because demands for special services at private schools can be so excessive that administrators have to be cautious about establishing costly new precedents. Roughly 10% of the district’s 38,000 students have a learning disability.

The case offers a window into the growing number of high-stakes legal fights around the country to resolve special-education disputes. Nearly 46,500 formal complaints or mediation requests were filed nationwide in 2021-22, according to the most recently available federal data. That is up 27% from the prior year.

Many parents and educators say the system is inaccessible to all but the most savvy and well-resourced families, and that even court wins bring intense emotional and financial tolls.

Half of College Grads Are Working Jobs That Don’t Use Their Degrees

Vanessa Fuhrman and Lindsay Ellis:

Roughly half of college graduates end up in jobs where their degrees aren’t needed, and that underemployment has lasting implications for workers’ earnings and career paths.

That is the key finding of a new study tracking the career paths of more than 10 million people who entered the job market over the past decade. It suggests that the number of graduates in jobs that don’t make use of their skills or credentials—52%—is greater than previously thought, and underscores the lasting importance of that first job after graduation.

Of the graduates in non-college-level jobs a year after leaving college, the vast majority remained underemployed a decade later, according to researchers at labor analytics firm Burning Glass Institute and nonprofit Strada Education Foundation, which analyzed the résumés of workers who graduated between 2012 and 2021.

More than any other factor analyzed—including race, gender and choice of university—what a person studies determines their odds of getting on a college-level career track. Internships are also critical.

The findings add fuel to the debate over the value of a college education as its cost has soared—and whether universities are producing the kind of knowledge workers that employers say they need.

DEI Invades Community Colleges Too

Santi Tafarella:

‘Diversity, equity and inclusion” has pervaded higher education, and not only elite universities. I teach English at Antelope Valley College, a two-year school in northern Los Angeles County, and serve on an Academic Senate committee. Jennifer Zellet, the college president, has asked the committee to endorse the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Glossary of Terms, a 12-page document published by the California Community Colleges system.

The glossary is really a manifesto, meant to guide campus administrators and leadership in policy formation, hiring, faculty evaluations and even course outlines of record. It commits them to a radical, racially charged ideology. “Merit,” for instance, is defined as “a concept that . . . is embedded in the ideology of Whiteness and upholds race-based structural inequality. Merit protects White privilege under the guise of standards . . . and as highlighted by anti-affirmative action forces.” “Colorblindness,” the glossary declares, “perpetuates existing racial inequities and denies systematic racism.”

The definition of “white supremacy” commits the school to anticolonialist ideology: “A historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by White peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.”

Taxpayer Funded Middleton-Cross Plains School District has been “criticized for offering a whites only racism class”

Rachel Bowman:

A Wisconsin school district has been criticized for offering a whites only racism class that encourages participants to explore their ‘privilege, whiteness and racism.’

In an email shared on social media, Director of Student, Family and Staff Engagement at Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, Mr. Tony R. Dugas, invited the community to participate in a ‘powerful’ 10-week ‘Witnessing Whiteness’ series ‘meticulously crafted for white individuals committed to anti-racism work.’

Parents Defending Education is now filing a discrimination complaint to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District for offering the course.

The complaint claims the class violates Title VI and the 14th Amendment because it uses federal funding for discrimination on the basis of race and national origin.

Parents Defending Education Vice President Caroline Moore told DailyMail.com: ‘Specifically targeting students based on race or sex is blatant discrimination and has no place in public schools.’

Minnesota Taxpayer funding and teacher compensation

Anthony Lonetree:

St. Paul teachers are seeking pay increases far beyond those sought in recent years, but the potential funding source they point to is unusual, too: $54 million in new state aid to the district.

They don’t have to venture far to know there’s success in that strategy.

Union leaders in three suburban districts whose contracts have been eyed with envy by the St. Paul rank-and-file have secured deals worth nearly the same amount of money that their school systems received as part of last year’s historic $2.2 billion state investment in schools. That much-heralded boost included funds designated specifically to special-education students and English language learners.

Throughout this bargaining cycle, teachers unions have been angling for a share of that overall investment, saying the pay hikes being negotiated now are an overdue boost to teacher compensation, and in turn, a strengthening of recruitment and retention efforts at a time of morale-sapping shortages. But the handsome packages also are putting districts in an all-too-familiar belt-tightening mode.

Civics: “You see, communism arose in large part due to the efforts of evil journalists”

Balaji:

You see, communism arose in large part due to the efforts of evil journalists. Here are six examples.

1) First, John Reed. He was Lenin’s favorite journalist. His fallacious account of the Bolshevik Revolution whitewashed their murderous takeover and earned him a burial spot on the Kremlin Wall.[1,2] Journalists like Reed are the reason Russians were forced to dig the White Sea canal with their bare hands.[3]

2) Next, Walter Duranty. A New York Times employee, Duranty covered up the Ukrainian Holodomor and helped make the case for FDR’s diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union — which at the time was like the US recognizing ISIS. Today of course the same Ochs-Sulzberger family that owns the NYT — and which profited from helping starve Ukrainians to death in the 1930s — has reinvented itself as the champion of Ukraine, without ever paying a cent of reparations.[4]

3) Next, Edgar Snow — Mao’s favorite journalist. Did you ever wonder how China went communist? After all, communist ideology isn’t indigenous to China. What happened is that Mao received funding and training from the Soviets, and an enormous propaganda boost from journos like Snow, who wrote Red Star over China to mislead people about the raw evil of the Maoist regime.[5]

4) Now we come to Herbert Matthews, Castro’s favorite journalist and another New York Times employee. In 1957 Castro’s communist terrorists seemed defeated and on the run. But Matthews ran a hagiographical article on Fidel in the Times that helped immeasurably with recruiting. Thanks to his help, Castro flipped Cuba to communism and almost caused a nuclear war with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Just another day’s work for the New York Times! [6]

Are leading scientists just making stuff up? Vinay Prasad breaks down the cancer research scandal.

By Oliver Wiseman and Vinay Prasad

A top cancer surgeon at Columbia University is under scrutiny after one of his research papers was retracted for containing suspect data. Twenty-six other studies by Dr. Sam S. Yoon, who conducted his research at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, have been flagged as suspicious by a British scientific sleuth called Sholto David. David raised the alarm after spotting the same images across different articles that described wholly different experiments. He has also found duplications and manipulated data in papers published by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston that have since been retracted. 

This news shocked me: leading scientists at some of the most respected research centers in the world, working on the very important and well-funded fight against cancer are. . . making stuff up. That seems bad. Really bad. And it poses a lot of unsettling questions, like whether we can really trust medical research at all. But maybe I am missing something. In search of reassurance, I called up an expert: oncologist, UCSF professor, the author of more than 500 academic papers, and Free Press contributor Vinay Prasad

Here’s an edited version of our conversation. (Spoiler alert: I was not reassured.) 

Vinay, how worried should we be about the problem of fraud in cancer research? 

Extremely worried. There’s something very unique about all these papers that allows people to find the fraud, and that is they report the raw data, in the form of images. Most papers, though, do not contain images. The data is all hidden. The researchers only provide a summary of the data. You have to worry how much fraud you’d find if everybody provided all the raw data. I suspect you’d find a gargantuan amount of fraud. This is merely the tip of the iceberg. 

Why Writing by Hand Is Better for Memory and Learning

Charlotte Hu:

Engaging the fine motor system to produce letters by hand has positive effects on learning and memory

Handwriting notes in class might seem like an anachronism as smartphones and other digital technology subsume every aspect of learning across schools and universities. But a steady stream of research continues to suggest that taking notes the traditional way—with pen and paper or even stylus and tablet—is still the best way to learn, especially for young children. And now scientists are finally zeroing in on why.

A recent study in Frontiers in Psychology monitored brain activity in students taking notes and found that those writing by hand had higher levels of electrical activity across a wide range of interconnected brain regions responsible for movement, vision, sensory processing and memory. The findings add to a growing body of evidence that has many experts speaking up about the importance of teaching children to handwrite words and draw pictures.

Can Billions of Dollars in Prize Money Solve the World’s Problems?

Ben Cohen:

Innovation isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think about a sanitation department.

But a few years ago, when New York City officials found themselves in the market for a better garbage can, they followed a strategy to spark creativity that has worked for centuries, producing breakthroughs from the oceans to the heavens and everywhere in between.

They started a contest.

By setting a goal and engaging the crowd for help with all sorts of tricky problems—driverless cars, missions to space, trash cans—organizations can find novel solutions in places they never would have looked and from people they never would have asked.

Last week, I wrote about the Vesuvius Challenge, a $1 million competition with the goal of using artificial intelligence and machine learning to read 2,000-year-old papyrus scrolls. I’m still thinking about the way a bunch of students pulled off the seemingly impossible—and not just because using modern technology to crack an ancient mystery is undeniably amazing. It’s also because the success of this contest should inspire a lot more contests.

Should we citizens debate debt (taxes, grandchildren burdens, spending and outcomes)?

A.J. Bayatpour:

As MPS asks taxpayers for $252 million in April, I asked (taxpayer funded Milwaukee K-12) Superintendent Keith Posley about national testing data (NAEP) that show Milwaukee 4th graders have been scoring worse than the average big city district for more than a decade (deeper dive).

(His response):

“We have made things happen for children.”

John Gedmark:

This particular program — a satellite system in GEO — is classified, but we know from an earnings call that Northrop Grumman did a $2 billion reduction “related to the termination”

That’s right, more than $2 billion for a single satellite.

David Blaska:

The school district is planning to hit up taxpayers for $1 billion — one Billion with a capital B dollars — in referenda over the next 20 years to go carbon neutral.

MMSD can’t teach or keep young Javon safe but it’s going to replace that Swedish girl’s perpetual scowl with a Mona Lisa smile.

US Debt Clock 24 February 2024:

Debt per citizen: $101,978. Debt per taxpayer: $265,178

Over the last 4 years alone, total US debt is officially up $11 trillion and counting. At the current rate, we will see $40 trillion in US debt by 2026 and that assumes a “soft landing.”

The Madison Literary Club hopes to host a substantive fall event featuring Wisconsin 2024 US Senate candidates discussing the current debt situation, how we arrived here and what should be done about it.

debt is money owed (learn more).

Debt has many uses, from very useful to wasteful. Infrastructure such as roads, sewers, water systems and our current home ownership system is built on hopefully the wise use of debt – often secured, that is collateralized by an asset such as a home (mortgage). It can also be a way to quickly waste funds and generate fee income for the financial food chain.

Finally, I’ve heard a number of complaints over the years from the farming community about bailout policies and agriculture crises over the years. Of course, farm subsidies, particularly toward large organizations and interests, are part of the mix as well.

Aimed at fools, misinformation research suppresses dissent and launders partisan opinions into a fake consensus on controversies.

Paul Thacker:

Misinformation Researcher Sander van der Linden Caught Lying and Spreading Misinformation

Examined in detail, the van der Linden episode highlights growing evidence that “misinformation research” is just politics dressed up in academic garb to suppress and censor dissent on controversial topics.

The kerfuffle kicked off a few weeks back when Sander van der Linden whipped up a brawl on X with Nate Silver, perhaps because Silver has 3.3 million followers and van der Linden has around 15K and was hoping to attract some attention to himself. Days after the spat began, van der Linden was exposed for having edited Wikipedia pages to promote himself and his research. But more on that later.

In the first round, van der Linden promoted an article from years back, calling the possibility of a lab accident a racist conspiracy theory. Virologists and disinformation “experts” promoted this line for years, until too much evidence squirted out showing that it never made sense. Plus, why is it “racist” to say the pandemic started in a Chinese lab and not in a Chinese market that sells wild animals?

It’s a narrative that never made any sense and was obviously designed to shut down discussion by labeling people “racist.”

“Misinformation has become a completely incoherent concept,” Silver wrote. “A game of ‘I’m rubber, you’re glue.’”

Why Jimmy Can’t Read in Chicago

Erin Geary:

The letter of the day is B: Bureaucracy, benefits, and billions

The school reading wars have raged since the 1800s and consists of two camps: Those who believe that children learn to read through phonics and those that believe that children read using a whole language approach. A third recent addition to the ongoing battle over how to teach reading skills is referred to as balanced literacy, which combines the best of both phonics and whole language.

In preschool and kindergarten after recognizing each letter of the alphabet both in lower and upper case, phonics teaches that letters have their own corresponding sounds and that some consonants can be blended to form new sounds. Children are not taught letter sounds in alphabetical order, rather pupils ate instructed in an order of hierarchal importance based on frequency. First, for example, teachers may start letter sounds based on each child’s name before moving on to the letters: s, t, p, n, i, and a. It’s quite easy to make numerous words from these initial letters, their sounds, and rhyming words—sit, pit, nit, sat, pat, sin, pin, tin, etc. Words can easily be deconstructed by their individual letter sounds then brought together as a word: S-i-t, sit.

Naturally, not all words in the English language can be decoded in this way, and these words are the ones known as sight words (e.g. the, she, said), which must be memorized. Teachers have been using the 220 Dolch sight words, which were considered the most frequently used sight words seen by readers (excluding nouns) for kindergarten through the second grade since they appeared in the 1930s. The Fry list, first appearing in 1957 and updated in 1980, focused its attention on the1,000 most frequently used words beyond grade two. Both lists need children to memorize rather than sound out words, which is a whole language approach.

Civics: “The FBI’s “highly credible” source is now presented as a brazen liar, a boaster, a profiteer”

Kimberley Strassel:

It’s not as if Mr. Smirnov is alone. The FBI enabled the “dossier” hoax by swallowing a compilation of fabulist claims presented to it by “confidential human source” Christopher Steele. It was aware Mr. Steele was working for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, had evidence he was blabbing to the press, and had been presented with a pile of tabloid-like accusations, yet chose to forgo any vetting and instead present him to a court as a credible source. Mr. Steele’s nonsense—coming at a time FBI leadership fretted over a Donald Trump presidency—was nonsense the FBI wanted to hear.

Special counsel John Durham later filed charges against Igor Danchenko, one of Mr. Steele’s subsources, presenting powerful evidence that he lied to the FBI in 2017 interviews by fabricating sources and information. Yet a jury acquitted Mr. Danchenko after FBI agents testified that while they couldn’t verify his claims, never made him take a polygraph test, and feared he was lying, they nonetheless trusted him. Mr. Danchenko’s credibility—coming at a time when the FBI’s reputation risked further collapse—was a credibility the FBI found useful to back.

Google’s push to lecture us on diversity goes beyond AI

Douglas Murray:

If you ask the program to give you an image of the Founding Fathers of this country, the AI will return you images of black and Native American men signing what appears to be a version of the American Constitution.

At least that’s more accurate than the images of popes thrown up. A request for an image of one of the holy fathers gives up images of — among others — a Southeast Asian woman. Who knew?

Some people are surprised by this. I’m not.

Several years ago, I went to Silicon Valley to try to figure out what the hell was going on with Google Images, among other enterprises.

Because Google images were already throwing up a very specific type of bias.

If you typed in “gay couples” and asked for an image search, you got lots of happy gay couples. Ask for “straight couples” and you get images of, er, gay couples.

—-

And.

Civics: “CBS faces uproar after seizing investigative journalist’s files”

Jonathan Turley:

“Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.” Those words, from CBS icon Edward R. Murrow, came to mind this week after I spoke with journalists at the network. 

There is trouble brewing at Black Rock, the headquarters of CBS, after the firing of Catherine Herridge, an acclaimed investigative reporter. Many of us were shocked after Herridge was included in layoffs this month, but those concerns have increased after CBS officials took the unusual step of seizing her files, computers and records, including information on privileged sources. 

The position of CBS has alarmed many, including the union, as an attack on free press principles by one of the nation’s most esteemed press organizations.

I have spoken confidentially with current and former CBS employees who have stated that they could not recall the company ever taking such a step before. One former CBS journalist said that many employees “are confused why [Herridge] was laid off, as one of the correspondents who broke news regularly and did a lot of original reporting.” 

That has led to concerns about the source of the pressure. He added that he had never seen a seizure of records from a departing journalist, and that the move had sent a “chilling signal” in the ranks of CBS.

A former CBS manager, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that he had “never heard of anything like this.” He attested to the fact that, in past departures, journalists took all of their files and office contents. Indeed, the company would box up everything from cups to post-its for departing reporters. He said the holding of the material was “outrageous” and clearly endangered confidential sources.

Black History Month Is More Complicated Than It Seems

Lance Morrow:

How does a person who isn’t black think about Black History Month? With respect? With reverence? With guilt? Curiosity? Indifference?

It depends partly on that person’s own history—on when and how his family arrived in America. Those whose predecessors were present during the wickedness of slavery, and all that followed, will have a livelier sense of the black-and-white binaries of the story than immigrants lately arrived from, say, Kazakhstan. A white New Englander whose ancestors made a fortune in the slave trade, or a Southerner whose forbears exploited black African labor on cotton or rice plantations, will understand the burden of that history. Those whose people came through Ellis Island—potato-famine Irish, Eastern European Jews, Hungarians, Italians—won’t have the same haunted sense of the American past.

I am inclined toward reverence—for black history, for the literature and spiritual rhetoric (the Southern preacherly strain, with its tremendous cadences), and for black music, which is the most powerful and characteristically American music. The black American story is rich, painful, dramatic, triumphant—and shaming to the American conscience.

My great-grandfather Albert P. Morrow, a Pennsylvanian of Scotch-Irish stock, was 18 when he enlisted in the Union Army in spring 1861. He fought as a cavalry officer in every major battle, including Gettysburg, in the eastern theater of the war. He was wounded three times and captured three times (and freed in prisoner exchanges). He served in Virginia under the young George Custer. If my great-grandfather had accepted Custer’s later invitation to join the Seventh Cavalry, he might have died in 1876 at the Little Big Horn, and with him my line of Morrows.

Civics: American prosperity rests on equal justice. Delaware and New York judges have called it into question.

Jeb Bush and Joe Lonsdale

Every American has a right to be critical of Mr. Trump’s politics—one of us ran against him in 2016—or Mr. Musk’s public persona. But equality before the law is precious, and these rulings represent a crisis not only for the soundness of our courts, but for the business environment that has allowed the U.S. to prosper. If these rulings stand, the damage could cascade through the economy, creating fear of arbitrary enforcement against entrepreneurs who seek public office or raise their voices as citizens in a way that politicians dislike. 

In Delaware, Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of the Court of Chancery ordered the unwinding of five years of Mr. Musk’s incentive-based compensation at Tesla, which had been approved by 80% of the company’s shareholders. The plaintiff, Richard Tornetta, held nine shares in 2018—worth about $200 then and $2,000 today, after the execution of the compensation plan that supposedly injured him. 

Mr. Musk’s compensation plan awarded him stock bonuses tied to earnings and stock-value benchmarks, which many critics thought he could never meet. When he did, he received $56 billion, enriching shareholders like Mr. Tornetta along the way. Judge McCormick has yet to say how she wants the pay package unwound, but Mr. Tornetta’s lawyers could petition her for a percentage of the $56 billion as a fee for having succeeded in their challenge. Mr. Musk’s performance at Tesla enriched all shareholders, but Judge McCormick’s ruling may primarily enrich Delaware trial lawyers.

The Idiocy of America’s Racial Classification System

Glenn Reynolds:

David Bernstein is a law professor at George Mason University and the author of Classified:  The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America.  The book is a fascinating look at the disconnect between racial classifications as they are routinely employed in 21st Century America and, well, reality.  It’s fascinating that many categorizations and terms that we take for granted today are quite recent innovations, and aren’t particularly rooted in any sort of cultural or biological or historical ground.  As the Supreme Court weighs affirmative action in higher education this term, it’s likely that Bernstein’s book will be influential.  I asked him a few questions.

1.  So we spend a lot of time talking about race and ethnicity in America, but it seems like the basic thesis of your book is that we have no idea what we’re talking about.  Is that right?

Americans typically make two primary errors about race. The first is that the racial classifications we use in common parlance–Black, White, Asian, Native American, Hispanic—are somehow natural and arose spontaneously. Very few of us realize that the US government codified them in 1977 in a formal federal law called Statistical Directive No. 15. Before that, almost no one called people of Spanish-speaking descent “Hispanics.”  What we now call “Asian Americans” were nothing like a coherent group; Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino Americans had distinct cultures and significant history inter-group conflict. Americans from India were typically classified as “white” or “other,” but a last-minute lobbying campaign resulted in them being added to the Asian American group.

Relatedly, very few Americans are familiar with the scope of the federal classifications and how their definition. For example, Hispanics are officially an ethnicity, not a race, but the media often treats them as a racial group. Contrary to popular belief, “Hispanic” includes Spaniards, but not Brazilians. The government defines indigenous people from Spanish-speaking countries as having Hispanic ethnicity, but thanks to lobbying from Native American tribes, are not “Indians” and have no racial box that fits them. Arab Americans, Iranians, Armenians, and other people from Western Asia are white, not Asian or Middle Eastern (there is no such official classification).

Civics: Journalist sues UW-Madison for rejecting request for name, image, likeness consulting contract

Kelly Meyerhofer:

A journalist sued the University of Wisconsin-Madison and its fundraising arm after the university denied his request for an athletic department consulting agreement that could shed more light on the name, image and likeness era of college athletics.

The lawsuit could also potentially answer a larger question about whether public university foundations are subject to Wisconsin’s public records law.

“There’s no good reason why UW-Madison should be using its foundation to effectively offshore public records,” journalist Daniel Libit told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Spokespeople for both UW-Madison and the UW Foundation said they hadn’t received the complaint and wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.

UW-Madison, UW Foundation deny records request for Altius contract

Libit, a UW-Madison alumnus who writes for Sportico, filed the lawsuit Wednesday after UW-Madison rejected his records request last fall. He asked for a copy of the contract UW-Madison had with Altius Sports Partners, a firm other large universities have hired to support student-athletes who can now profit from endorsement deals they strike.

UW-Madison told Libit it had no records because the UW Foundation had the contract. The foundation also didn’t provide the contract, saying it was a private entity exempt from Wisconsin’s public records law.

“We have made things happen for children.”

AJ Bayatpour

As MPS (Milwaukee Public Schools) asks taxpayers for $252 million in April, I asked Supt. Keith Posley about national testing data (NAEP) that show Milwaukee 4th graders have been scoring worse than the average big city district for more than a decade.

—-

and:

For reference, 10 points is about the equivalent for one year’s worth of learning. In 2022, Milwaukee was 20 points lower than the average big city district in 4th grade reading and math results. The gap has worsened over the last decade:

——

Plus:

When the media reports that spending in MPS has “fallen far behind inflation,” they are cherry-picking one year of data to make the claim: pre-Great Recession. Real $ over time has largely kept up with inflation, and districts saved billions with Act 10.

More:

This is an interesting outtake from @CBS58’s Milwaukee Public Schools referendum story!

In contrast, here is Miami’s former superintendent in 2015, post-recession, in the midst of making Miami America’s best big district, closing gaps, spending $7,500 less per child than MPS.

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Here Are the Secret Locations of ShotSpotter Gunfire Sensors

Dhruv Mehrotra and Joey Scott

According to the document, SoundThinking equipment has been installed at more than a thousand elementary and high schools; they are perched atop dozens of billboards, scores of hospitals, and within more than a hundred public housing complexes. They can be found on significant US government buildings, including the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC.

More than 12 million Americans live in neighborhoods with at least one ShotSpotter sensor, according to a WIRED analysis of the document’s sensor locations. According to the file, which includes the geographic coordinates of each ShotSpotter microphone, sensors can be found in 84 metropolitan areas and 34 states or territories in the United States. Nine cities have more than 500 sensors installed, including Albuquerque, New Mexico; Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Using population estimates from the most recent five-year American Community Survey (ACS), WIRED collected demographic information from every Census block group—clusters of blocks that generally have a population of between 600 to 3,000 people—with at least one sensor.

Advocating College Admission Exams

Matt Bruenig:

One thing I have not said in my prior writing on this topic is that, in part due to my own experience, I find the argument that these tests are an equalizing force that allows low-income students to demonstrate themselves to be way more plausible than a lot of other people seem to.

The anti-test discourse tends to present the tests as inegalitarian because (1) poor kids have less test preparation resources available to them than rich kids and (2) for this and other reasons, poor kids perform worse on the tests than rich kids on average.

The first point seems to be a bit overrated. Expensive test preparation basically consists of taking practice exams and then reviewing what you got wrong. This can be done inexpensively on your own and it’s not clear that it actually increases scores all that much.

The second point is correct, but is confused.

How smart do you have to be to get a degree? How much school do you need?

Cremieux:

Are schools failing us? Are we getting dumber?

What if I told you that the population mean was 100 throughout the entirety of the series in this image? Well, it really is.

The only thing that changed was that education increased. As education increased, some of the more intelligent people who would have attained lower levels of educational attainment moved up to the higher ones, bringing both groups down in the process. This is the “Will Rogers Phenomenon,” best encapsulated by the whimsical line “When the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, they raised the intelligence level in both states!”

The Will Rogers phenomenon is a real thing that shows up all the time. For example, during the Great Migration, African American migrants who left the South had more European admixture than those who stayed behind, but less European admixture than those already living in the North. You might have seen this recently:

Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Diversity Efforts at Top High School

Jess Pravin::

The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down a case seeking to block selective public schools from using race-neutral admissions policies that conservative activists argue are illegally designed to increase Black and Hispanic enrollment.

The case, involving Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., was seen as a follow-on to the court’s decision in June ending affirmative action in university admissions. It more directly involved a 2007 ruling that barred school boards from promoting integration by using race as a factor in pupil assignments but that suggested officials could consider the racial impact of broader policies such as where to build new campuses.

Tuesday’s order, which, as is typical, was unsigned and provided no explanation, leaves school authorities free to pursue measures that may promote integration without classifying individual students by race. Two conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, dissented from the decision not to hear the case.

The Cost of Car Ownership Is Getting Painful

Joe Pinker:

One place Americans still can’t get relief from inflation is behind the wheel.

Many of the costs related to car ownership continued to outpace the consumer-price index last month. Car insurance premiums rose 20.6% in January from a year earlier. A trip to the mechanic, the price of a parking space, and highway tolls are also up, offsetting the savings from one of the big exceptions, falling gas prices.

The ballooning costs for that car in the driveway can squeeze budgets. Transportation is Americans’ second-biggest expense, after housing, and one that is hard to cut.

62% of Americans Lack College Degree. Can They Solve the Labor Shortage?

Lauren Weber:

American companies are hung up on the diploma.

Facing a long-term labor shortage, employers are looking to expand the pool of potential workers. One group—people without a college degree—holds particular promise. They make up nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population over 25, and traditionally have been ineligible for many managerial and technical positions.

A push by some companies to eliminate degree requirements has opened the door to more candidates. Yet the share of jobs that went to those candidates barely budged after the requirement was lifted, according to a new analysis.

There are several explanations for the plodding progress, from automated screening tools that favor college graduates to the difficulty of changing hiring managers’ long-held beliefs about the value of a bachelor’s degree.

Many employers say they know time and demographics aren’t on their side. Baby boomers are aging out of the workforce, U.S. birthrates are low, and shifting immigration policies make it difficult to count on reinforcements from abroad. Meanwhile, college enrollment is on the decline. Only 38% of Americans over age 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Wrong Ideas about Teacher Pay, Happiness May Keep Students from the Profession

Chad Aldeman:

They also found that many young people who decide not to pursue teaching give low pay as the main reason. But when the Get the Facts Out team followed up and asked what salary would make them reconsider, the students gave numbers that were in line with current teacher compensation. 

In other words, more young people could be convinced to pursue teaching careers in math and science if they were exposed to accurate data. The researchers point to common misperceptions around salary and job satisfaction that are keeping young people from becoming educators. 

Simpson Street Free Press writer wins award

Capital Times Summary

Sandy Flores Ruiz, a senior and student editor at Simpson Street Free Press, won first place in the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation’s annual Civics Games contest.

Flores Ruiz said she chose to focus on former Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his “Red Scare” tactics because it reminded her of how stifled students often feel when they want to talk openly about controversial topics. Her essay notes that a famous television journalist showed courage in exposing McCarthy while many others stayed silent.

“Talent Density”

Coinbase

Creating a more talent dense environment not only requires us to hire and retain top performers, but to also take an intentional approach for underperformance. Balancing across these dimensions is the responsibility of every Coinbase manager, and ensuring we achieve and maintain a new standard of excellence at all levels of the company is critical to our success. 

To reinforce this, we are creating stronger executive accountability.  Beginning in 2024 we are tying a measure of talent density to each executive team member’s individual performance rating.

Civics: “…the Supreme Court blocked it. But that didn’t stop me.”

Rick Eisenberg:

Ignoring the law is a threat to democracy because the law was enacted by democratic means. If the executive just ignores it, our democratic republic has turned into an elective dictatorship. The “elective” won’t long remain.

More:

The Biden administration has mastered the art of constitutional avoidance: use the back door to accomplish what it couldn’t do under the Constitution.

If Trump had uttered these same words, they’d call it a “threat to our Republic.”

35 More Academic Scandals

Christopher Brunet

Some of these scandals are from a few months ago, some are from this week. 

1: Northwestern Cancels Former Trustee 

I am partial to boosting fellow Substack writers, so I am starting with this one about Northwestern..

2: Northwestern pimps out cheerleaders (allegedly)

I am putting this second because it is also about Northwestern, and I try to group similar scandals. 

This Northwestern cheerleader filed the lawsuit back in 2021, alleging she ‘‘suffered sexual assaults and harassment at multiple events by fans, alumni and donors’.’

3: Retraction at the Journal of Accounting and Economics

11: Pisa 2009 Parental Education is miscoded

This is great work by SEBASTIAN JENSENyou should subscribe to his Substack:

Delaware lowers bar pass score, eases path for lawyer licensing

By Sara Merken

Delaware’s top court on Tuesday lowered the score required to pass the state’s bar exam and adopted other changes to lawyer licensing requirements in the state, which is a major hub for business litigation.

The Delaware Supreme Court said in a statement that the changes include reducing the “cut” score from a scale of 145 to 143 on the bar exam and offering the test twice a year instead of once.

The number of essays on the exam is also being reduced from eight to four, which will shorten the test duration from its current two and a half days to two days, according to a memo from the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners, whose recommendations the court adopted. The number of essay topics will also decrease.

The adjustments will take effect before July’s bar exam. The exam will also be offered in February beginning in 2024, the court said.

Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr in the court’s announcement called the changes a “modernization” of the admission process to better match requirements in other states rather than a “lowering of standards.” He said the revisions will help the state stay competitive in attracting legal talent.

State Media: Wisconsin edition?

Ken Wysocky:

But it’s time to recalibrate expectations in the wake of a recently introduced bill that would have the state pay $1 million annually to fund a journalism fellowship program. The program would pay 25 newspaper reporters an annual salary of $40,000 in an effort to bolster local news coverage in communities underserved by newspapers.

The bill is one of three related measures introduced by Sen. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) and Reps. Jimmy Anderson (D-Fitchburg) and Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire).

The second bill would create a Civic Information Consortium Board (CICB), a group that would oversee a new nonprofit corporation called the Wisconsin Civic Information Consortium Inc. (WCIC). In partnership with the University of Wisconsin System, the corporation would award grants to fund “local news and media projects.”

The third bill would provide an income tax credit for newspaper subscribers, equal to 50 percent of a subscription cost, capped at $250 per person per year.

The trio of bills, reportedly supported by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, raises some troubling issues. Should the state stick its nose in the media business, even in a tangential way? Should it be propping up failing industries? How would the process of selecting the 25 reporters — and the newspapers, for that matter — be kept apolitical? And what about potential conflicts of interest when these reporters cover state legislative issues?

Random Admissions Above the Bar

Jon Klick:

Instead, Penn should set a standardized test score floor and then randomly choose its admittees from the pool of applicants meeting that requirement.  That’s it; that’s the application process.  Setting a floor helps make sure the matriculating class has the requisite cognitive ability to succeed but otherwise limits concerns about ideology being privileged over academic merit.  Random selection (as opposed to just taking the highest test scores) recognizes that standardized tests may be too blunt to make fine distinctions among students and generates a campus population that approximates the population of smart young adults along many more dimensions than we currently consider.

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More.

Schools and political agendas

Rebecca Kleefisch:

Reform-minded school board associations are appearing countrywide, with around 30 new groups emerging since the National School Boards Association (NSBA) asked for federal law enforcement intervention against moms and dads who attended school board meetings to stand up for their kids.

There’s a better way to train educators.Learning lags with new teachers. Many quit.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Attorney General Merrick Garland even issued a directive to create an FBI task force to investigate after the NSBA essentially accused moms and dads of being terrorists. The NSBA tried to retract its statement and apologized to its members but not the parents, who were just worried about schools prioritizing political objectives over academic excellence.

National School Board Association wages ideological war

It’s Been 30 Years Since Food Ate Up This Much of Your Income

Jesse Newman:

The last time Americans spent this much of their money on food, George H.W. Bush was in office, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” was in theaters and C+C Music Factory was rocking the Billboard charts.

Eating continues to cost more, even as overall inflation has eased from the blistering pace consumers endured throughout much of 2022 and 2023. Prices at restaurants and other eateries were up 5.1% last month compared with January 2023, while grocery costs increased 1.2% during the same period, Labor Department data show.

Relief isn’t likely to arrive soon. Restaurant and food company executives said they are still grappling with rising labor costs and some ingredients, like cocoa, that are only getting more expensive. Consumers, they said, will find ways to cope.

“If you look historically after periods of inflation, there’s really no period you could point to where [food] prices go back down,” said Steve Cahillane, chief executive of snack giant 

Kellanova

, in an interview. “They tend to be sticky.”

Why Does the State Have a Monopoly on Money?

Josh Hendrickson:

In the past, I have written about central banks and the state monopoly over money. The main point of that previous post is that although economists tend to dislike monopoly and extol the virtues of competition, there is surprisingly little criticism of central banks among these same economists. A central bank has a monopoly over currency. Yet, as that post details, the issuance of money does not seem to have any of the characteristics traditionally used to justify a monopoly. This naturally begs the question: Why has the state’s monopoly over money persisted for so long? Why is this monopoly so durable?

One place to start is with political motivations. A common answer that people will provide is that the state’s monopoly over money is motivated by its desire for revenue. If one has a monopoly over money, one could debase the currency (e.g., turn 100 silver coins into 110 silver coins by reducing the silver content of the coins) or one could simply print more money to increase revenue. However, that argument is incomplete as it leaves several questions unanswered.

Faculty group calls on Yale to make teaching ‘distinct from activism’

Ben Raab & Benjamin Hernandez:

Over 100 faculty members now have their signatures displayed on a website for a new faculty group, Faculty for Yale, which “insist[s] on the primacy of teaching, learning and research as distinct from advocacy and activism.”

Among other measures, the group calls for “a thorough reassessment of administrative encroachment” and the promotion of diverse viewpoints. The group also calls for a more thorough description of free expression guidelines in the Faculty Handbook; Yale’s current guidelines are based on its 1974 Woodward Report. The group also wants Yale to implement a set of guidelines regarding donor influence, which were first put forth by the Gift Policy Review Committee in 2022.

On its site, Faculty for Yale outlines issues that it claims stem from Yale’s “retreat from the university’s basic mission.”

“Faculty for Yale is a spontaneously coalescing group of (so far) over 100 faculty from throughout the university who wish to support our university in re-dedicating itself to its historic and magnificent mission to preserve, produce, and transmit knowledge,” professor of social and natural science Nicholas Christakis wrote to the News. “We believe that any loss of focus on this deep, fundamental, and important mission may contribute to a range of challenges being faced in universities like ours nowadays.”

K-12 Software news

Business wire:

PowerSchool (NYSE: PWSC), the leading provider of cloud-based software for K-12 education in North America, today announced that it has acquired Allovue, a leading provider of K-12 financial planning, budgeting, and analytics software in the U.S. The acquisition supports the expansion of PowerSchool’s financial management, analytics, and workflow capabilities, providing schools, districts, and state education leaders with the most comprehensive suite of K-12 data and analytics tools available to accurately plan budgets and provide clear visibility for their communities into district spending and the impact on student outcomes.

Skills-Based Hiring: The Long Road from Pronouncements to Practice

Cheryl Winokur Munk

Many of the market’s top companies with the largest workforces in the nation are touting degreeless jobs and actively removing degree requirements from more job postings. The idea of hiring based on skill rather than completion of college education for certain roles has become more prevalent at a time when workers are in short supply and the economic value of a college degree is being questioned by more Americans.

But as data emerges on degreeless hiring, there are signs that some of these efforts may be falling short.

null

new report from Burning Glass Institute and Harvard Business School focuses on how companies stack up in their efforts to hire non-degreed workers. This is important to U.S. workers, more than half of whom don’t have degrees, since it impacts their ability to get higher-paying jobs and better roles.

The total number of companies promoting efforts to hire people without degrees doesn’t mean these workers are actually getting the jobs, and in fact, there’s limited public evidence to date to support how corporate efforts are shaping up. The research from Burning Glass is an effort to quantify that. It’s based on limited data and doesn’t consider alternative pathways that people without degrees use to join organizations, such as through apprenticeships and internships. But it’s still a snapshot look at how some of the top employers in the U.S. are doing in their efforts to hire more workers based on skills versus degree attainment.

Senator Haywood Releases Racial Discrimination Report, Reveals Severe Incidents in Pennsylvania Universities

Olivia Schlinkman

A comprehensive report on racial discrimination throughout the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) was announced at a conference at WCU on Jan. 30, detailing severe incidents of discrimination and racism against students of color.

The findings were the result of an 18-month-long listening tour to the 14 universities comprising PASSHE, titled “ENOUGH: Listening Tour to End Racism on PASSHE Campuses.” Organized by state senator Art Haywood (D-4) and Chad Lassiter, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, they visited each campus during the 2022 and 2023 academic years to listen to testimonies and engage in focus group discussions with students of color about their experiences with racism on campus. 

The efforts accumulated over 170 comments reported by over 100 students and alumni across PASSHE, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The reported incidents included racist speech, stereotyping, inequitable educational opportunities and inadequate faculty representation.

Uterine Cancer Was Easy to Treat. Now It’s Killing More Women Than Ever.

Brianna Abbott::

Stacy Hernandez always had irregular periods. But when the bleeding wouldn’t stop, she got scared.

She said she visited her general practitioner and urgent care at least six times. Doctors changed her birth-control medications, blamed her excess weight and suggested the bleeding would eventually subside.

It didn’t. After more than a year, a doctor ordered an ultrasound followed by a test that finally identified the problem: uterine cancer.

“It was surreal,” said Hernandez, 31, who is undergoing treatment near her home in Utah. “It’s not OK for them to dismiss it like that.”

Uterine is the only cancer for which survival has fallen in the past four decades, the American Cancer Society said. The disease will kill some 13,250 women in the U.S. this year, the group estimates, surpassing ovarian cancer to become the deadliest gynecologic cancer.

How to Stay Mentally Sharp Into Your 80s and Beyond

Dominique Mosbergen:

Vernon L. Smith, 97, is a very busy man.

The economist at Chapman University just finished writing a book about Adam Smith and works about eight hours a day, seven days a week in his home office in Colorado Springs, Colo. He enjoys chatting with friends on Facebook and attending concerts with his daughter.

“I still have a lot of stuff to do. I want to keep at it,” said Smith, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002.

Recent memory flubs by President Biden, 81, and former President Donald Trump, 77, have kindled debate about how to stay mentally sharp into your 80s and beyond.

There isn’t a silver bullet to maintaining mental acuity or warding off dementia, scientists of aging say. But a combination of genetics, healthy lifestyle habits and factors such as cleaner air and good education have been linked to prolonged mental agility.

“Currently, only about 30 percent of Wisconsin school districts use a science of reading approach”

Corrinne Hess:

“I think DPI is trying to appease the masses and go with the status quo,” Warner said. “I think they are putting in too many, and putting in poor quality because they are not willing to push the envelope of what they are expecting in schools.” 

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More.

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Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

“calling in National Guard to quell high school violence”?

By Mandy McLaren and Christopher Huffaker

After four Brockton School Committee members called on the governor to send in National Guard troops to bring order to the state’s largest high school, education specialists, racial justice advocates, and even other Brockton officials on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a militarized campus.

“It’s a ridiculous idea that is incredibly problematic on multiple levels,” said Leon Smith, executive director of the Boston-based advocacy group Citizens for Juvenile Justice.

Backlash to the proposal comes as Brockton High’s nearly 3,600 students, home on February break, await news on how leaders will address their school’s unruly environment when classes resume Monday. The school, 25 miles south of Boston, has been engulfed in turmoil for months, with its halls and classrooms drastically understaffed due in large part to cuts last year caused by back-to-back multimillion-dollar budget deficits — and worsened by staff attendance issues as teachers seek to avoid the disruption. Staff, students, and parents have reported verbal abuse, regular fights, and open drug use.

Notes on Google’s archived pages

Erin Hale:

Late last year, Google began quietly removing links to cached pages from its search results, a function that had allowed Internet users to view old versions of web pages.

Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for search, confirmed earlier this month that the function had been discontinued.

“It was meant for helping people access pages when way back, you often couldn’t depend on a page loading. These days, things have greatly improved. So, it was decided to retire it,” Sullivan said in a post on X earlier this month.

Although originally introduced to improve internet performance, Google’s cache function had the unintended effect of boosting transparency and became an invaluable resource for researchers.

Amy Wax Appeals Sanctions Imposed By Penn Faculty Senate (1-Year Suspension At 50% Pay, Loss Of Chair)

Susan Snyder:

The case against controversial University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax — who has called into question the academic ability of Black students and said the country would be better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration — has gone on for over two years with no public outcome.

But sources close to the investigation confirmed a university hearing board made up of tenured faculty recommended in June that Wax should face sanctions, including a one-year suspension at half pay with benefits intact, but stopped short of calling for her to be fired and stripped of tenure.

The hearing board also recommended: a public reprimand issued by university leadership, the loss of her named chair and summer pay, and a requirement to note in her public appearances that she is not speaking for or as a member of the Penn Carey Law school or Penn, according to thesources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the matter.

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More.

The new state of the art in quantum-secure messaging at scale

Apple

Today we are announcing the most significant cryptographic security upgrade in iMessage history with the introduction of PQ3, a groundbreaking post-quantum cryptographic protocol that advances the state of the art of end-to-end secure messaging. With compromise-resilient encryption and extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks, PQ3 is the first messaging protocol to reach what we call Level 3 security — providing protocol protections that surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps. To our knowledgehttps://security.apple.com/blog/imessage-pq3/, PQ3 has the strongest security properties of any at-scale messaging protocol in the world.

Don’t Fall for the Latest Changes to the Dangerous Kids Online Safety Act 

BY JASON KELLEY, AARON MACKEY, AND JOE MULLIN

We’ll dive into the details of KOSA’s latest changes, but first we want to remind everyone of the stakes. KOSA is still a censorship bill and it will still harm a large number of minors who have First Amendment rights to access lawful speech online. It will endanger young people and impede the rights of everyone who uses the platforms, services, and websites affected by the bill. Based on our previous analyses, statements by its authors and various interest groups, as well as the overall politicization of youth education and online activity, we believe the following groups—to name just a few—will be endangered:  

Construction of new UW-Madison football facility could disrupt veterans memorial park

Oliver Ehrhardt


“What this means is the Veterans Memorial Park will no longer be seen as a memorial to soldiers and veterans, but it is instead code for the athletic department to host tailgates and to use the land for themselves,” Gingras said. 

Student veterans currently have limited access to a single on-campus space, according to Gingras. He said veterans often have family responsibilities and don’t return home during holidays, making a dedicated space for connection an important feature for their well-being.  

Gingras said that Camp Randall was historically a military site before hosting athletic facilities. The area was a full-time military training site for Wisconsin soldiers during the Civil War, processing over 70,000 troops. 

Civics: After years of avoiding extradition, Julian Assange’s appeal is likely his last chance. Here’s how it might unfold (and how we got here)

Holly Cullen:

There he faces multiple counts of computer misuse and espionage stemming from his work with WikiLeaks, publishing sensitive US government documents provided by Chelsea Manning. The US government has repeatedly claimed that Assange’s actions risked its national security.

This is the final avenue of appeal in the UK, although Stella Assange, Julian’s wife, has indicated he would seek an order from the European Court of Human Rights if he loses the application for appeal. The European Court, an international court that hears cases under the European Convention on Human Rights, can issue orders that are binding on convention member states. In 2022, an order from the court stopped the UK sending asylum seekers to Rwanda pending a full review of the relevant legislation.

The extradition process has been running for nearly five years. Over such a long time, it’s easy to lose track of the sequence of events that led to this. Here’s how we got here, and what might happen next.

Civics: Nevada identifies voter history errors on website, fixes underway

Jessica Hill:

After numerous Nevada voters saw irregularities in their voter history on Sunday, the secretary of state’s office said it has identified the issues and is fixing them, according to a statement Monday evening.

The office learned Sunday there were possible technical issues relating to Nevadans’ voting history for people who did not participate in the Feb. 6 presidential primary. It said elections and IT staff began working immediately with county clerks and registrars Monday morning.

Notes on financing illegal immigration

Ryan Mcmaken:

In recent months, stories from both the legacy media and the independent media have continued to pile up on how undocumented foreign nationals—also known as “migrants” and “illegal aliens”—are able to take advantage of a vast network of taxpayer funded benefits in daycare, medical care, housing, and more. 

For example, both the New York Post and Denver Post report that these foreign nationals have “overwhelmed” the Denver Health hospital system in Denver, and that the situation is “unsustainable.” Meanwhile, public schools report classrooms are filling up quickly with the children of these foreign nationals. Denver is hardly alone. The New York Post notes that both the City of New York and the state government have expanded local welfare programs, including pre-paid credit cards, to further ensure that migrants continue to receive cash and resources from American taxpayers. This is in addition to the approximately 66,000 foreign nationals who are housed in hotels and shelters, care of both New York and federal taxpayers. USAToday reports that colleges “across the country” are receiving millions in taxpayer money to offer housing to migrants at no charge. Chicago’s mayor is bragging he’s giving away $17 million in taxpayer-funded giveaways to “asylum seekers” who are presently living off the sweat of the taxpayers in government shelters. This, of course, is just a downpayment on many more planned giveaways. 

Just how much in taxpayers’ resources is going to foreign nationals? It’s difficult to estimate for a number of reasons. The spending is done through numerous different government agencies at various levels of government. Moreover, much of the money if filtered through non-profits (i.e., “NGOs”) that are labeled “charities” but are simply adjuncts of the regime. 

Once we add up $1 billion here and $77 million there, after a while we’re talking about real money, and one thing becomes abundantly clear: the regime and its partners are subsidizing the influx of foreign nationals who are promised a variety of both cash and in-kind benefits. It must also be noted that, contrary to certain myths, the largesse is not reserved for only the so-called “illegal aliens.” Legal immigrants can take advantage of the generous and well-funded American welfare state even more readily than can the undocumented migrants.

UW-Madison student gov votes to remove Lincoln statue, a ‘remnant’ of ‘white supremacy’

Mckenna Dallmeyer ’22

The University of Wisconsin-Madison student government unanimously voted in favor of a resolution that calls for the removal of the Abraham Lincoln statue on campus.

In June, Campus Reformreported that UW-Madison would not remove the Lincoln statue despite students’ calls in favor of doing so. In September, a petition titled “BIPOC Demands for the University of Wisconsin-Madison” garnered more than 3,000 signatures. The first demand states, “Remove the Abraham Lincoln monument located at the top of Bascom Hill and replace it with someone who stands for the justice of all people.”

Students argue that President Lincoln was “anti-Black,” “anti-Native” and “not pro-Black.”

Following these calls to remove the statue, a resolution was introduced to the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) Student Council advocating for the removal of the Lincoln statue on campus.

The resolution states that the statue should be removed and replaced because it “serve[s] as remnants of this school’s history of white supremacy.”

The chronic absenteeism puzzle

Jill Barshay:

Why is it that only 15 percent of public school leaders say they’re “extremely concerned” about student absences, according to a recent Education Department survey? 

This question gnawed at me as I wrote my Feb. 12, 2024 column about how chronic absenteeism remains stubbornly high in elementary, middle and high schools. Defined as missing at least 10 percent of the school year, or 18 out of 180 days, chronic absenteeism doubled from about 15 percent of students before the pandemic to about 30 percent in the 2021-22 school year. Attendance has failed to snap back and recovered only a bit during the 2022-23 year, according to data from 38 states and the District of Columbia collected by FutureED, a think tank based at Georgetown University. More than one out four students remain chronically absent. 

By any measure, this level of absenteeism is alarming. It’s why test scores are sliding and why schools are struggling to help students catch up from pandemic learning losses. Mass absenteeism also affects students who are attending school because teachers cannot keep pace with the lessons they’re supposed to teach when so many classmates have missed core concepts.

Why don’t more principals understand the crisis that is happening inside their school buildings?

More.

These Teenagers Know More About Investing Than You Do

Hannah Miao and Gunjan Banerji:

Seventeen-year-old Sophia Castiblanco doesn’t just drive a Tesla. She also owns shares of the company.

Sophia, a high school junior in the Chicago suburbs, invests in stocks such as Tesla, Apple and Amazon.com. When she started making money as a social-media content creator three years ago, her parents encouraged her to put some of her earnings in investments likely to grow over time, rather than parking all her cash in a savings account.

She now has several thousand dollars invested in accounts set up by her father at Charles Schwab, Edward Jones and Robinhood. Last year, she saved up money to buy a new Tesla Model 3, which starts at around $40,000, through a payment plan she is splitting with her parents. On TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, she makes videos teaching her thousands of followers about investing basics.

“I’ve always had a business mindset of wanting to make money, and I’m very OK with taking risk,” Sophia said. “There’s really no minimum age to start.”

For those of you watching the state curriculum list developments in Wisconsin…

Quinton Klabon:

“DPI is recommending all…instructional materials that meet the requirements outlined in Act 20. …By providing a list of all of those that meet the requirements, there is meaningful choice for Wisconsin districts to best match their local needs.”

Is this the right philosophy?

—–

DPI:

“Those materials that meet the requirements, even at a minimum level.

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

The Oxford Comma and The Internet

Angus Croll:

The Oxford comma (also known as the serial comma) is that extra comma that you sometimes get at the end of a list, before the and or the or. “She wrote novels, essays, and JavaScript” uses an Oxford comma. “He bought apples, butter and the ranch” doesn’t. 

The Oxford moniker derives from the century-old endorsement of the serial comma by the Oxford University Press manual of style; and the OUP is backed up by a slew of revered authorities: Strunk’s Elements of Style, Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage and the Chicago Manual of Style. Why? Because omitting the Oxford comma can result in distressing double meanings: 

“She lives with her two children, a cat and a dog.”

Legions of grammarians are quick to point out that while the lack of an Oxford comma can cause ambiguities, its presence never will. Here’s something we can all get behind, right? 

Well, no, not really, because it turns out that for every phrase that the Oxford comma clarifies, there’s another for which it obfuscates. “Through the window she saw George, a policeman and several onlookers” clearly refers to two people and some onlookers. Throw in the Oxford comma and George has become a policeman: “Through the window she saw George, a policeman, and several onlookers”.

By the Book: We’re investigating why many Wisconsin kids struggle to read. We want to hear from you.

Danielle DuClos

In Wisconsin, at least 79% of school districts surveyed by the Department of Public Instruction use curriculums that don’t meet academic standards recommended by the department. Many teacher preparation programs aren’t embracing this science to help new educators learn to teach reading either.

Are you an elementary school teacher whose students are having a hard time reading? Do you want a new reading curriculum?

Or are you a parent whose child struggles to read? Is your child getting the support and instruction they need to be successful?

Maybe you’re a community member or researcher with insight into Wisconsin’s reading instruction.

If this sounds familiar, tell us about it. Through this series, we want to share the experiences and stories of teachers, parents, community members and students who are trying to navigate a system that might not be working for them.

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Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

School districts need to debunk teachers’ unions misleading talking points on $pending

Michael Hartney, Vladimir Kogan

The belief that schools are chronically underfunded isn’t limited to Newton. According to a survey one of us conducted during the 2022 Cooperative Election Study, fewer than one in three Americans knows that the federal government sent hundreds of billions in emergency pandemic aid to the nation’s schools, a historic funding boost. (This does not include additional funding from state governments, which were rolling in money from their own pandemic bailouts.) In fact, one in five voters thinks that Uncle Sam cuteducation spending during the pandemic. This misimpression enabled the NTA to build popular support for its strikes with parents and other community members, and teachers’ unions around the country likely will rely on such ignorance in contract negotiations this summer, with the last of the pandemic-era federal aid running out in September.

In this environment, Newton’s experience may be a preview of broader labor unrest to come. Schools’ financial woes present fertile ground for union mobilization and electioneering. Public schools hemorrhaged students during the pandemic, which accelerated the enrollment declines that were already under way due to a shrinking school-aged population. Federal money allowed districts to backfill emerging budget holes and put off fraught but necessary right-sizing decisions. As that money expires, districts will be forced to confront these realities.

School-district leaders are about to find themselves in an unenviable position. Federal money is drying up. Student enrollment is declining. And unions have a history of arguing that any resulting budgetary adjustments are evidence of underfunded public education and justify teachers’ strikes. But fiscal and enrollment realities will not change, nor will the academic needs of students still reeling from pandemic learning loss.

“Dear Students“

Kelly Meyerhofer:

This is quite the parting email from Richard Brunson to the Goshen College student orchestra.

jsonline.com/restricted/?re…

Richard Brunson:

I wanted to take a moment and tell you how sorry I am. I am sorry my time with you ended so abruptly. I loved my time at Goshen College and will miss it. I am also sorry that so many of you were so quick to believe the worst of me. I am sorry that no one thought to ask whether the news was true, or if it was deliberately skewed and sensationalistic. I am sorry you couldn’t see muckraking, yellow journalism for what it was. I am sorry that the student reporters at Goshen, even when they were provided with the documented facts showing that the news reports were deliberately salacious, continued to spout half-truths and innuendo, and I’m sorry that some of you were so willing to aid in that endeavour. The UW knew I was not a danger to anyone, or they wouldn’t have tried to extort me to drop my legal actions against them and then they would let me move on with my career. I am sorry you don’t see the irony of someone saying in the student paper that they believe in “restorative justice” and forgetting that to restore something means to put it back the way.

I am sorry that you didn’t get to see my daughter Alyson sobbing in my arms when I had to break the news to her. I’m sorry that Goshen College was more interested in appearing to do the right thing for the sake of appearances instead of actually doing the right thing regardless of the consequences as Jesus would have done. I am sorry that I won’t get to make music with you again. I was determined to be a most loyal and supportive friend to all of you. I’m sorry you didn’t believe that.

I am sorry that you didn’t get to see my daughter Alyson sobbing in my arms when I had to break the news to her. I’m sorry that Goshen College was more interested in appearing to do the right thing for the sake of appearances instead of actually doing the right thing regardless of the consequences as Jesus would have done. I am sorry that I won’t get to make music with you again. I was determined to be a most loyal and supportive friend to all of you. I’m sorry you didn’t believe that.

And I’m especially sorry that when Mika still showed up to play oboe in order to make sure you had all the players you needed for the concert, colleagues didn’t even have to decency to acknowledge her presence, or the decency to tell her in advance that they didn’t want her to play.

I leave you with a clear conscience, knowing that I am innocent of any offense against you. And though I do wrong, I do not the wrongs of which I am accused.

Believe it or not, but I wish only the best to you all, always. I will miss working with you, and seeing you achieve such great things.

More:

My client, Richard Brunson, admitted to wrongs and apologized, as is documented in the legal record,” Brown told the Journal Sentinel. “He made the mistake of defending himself against procedural oversteps and excessive punishments that violated the law. When will his punishments end?”

And. Search.

Air Canada responsible for errors by website chatbot after B.C. customer denied retroactive discount

Susan Lazaruk:

A B.C. man booked an Air Canada flight to Toronto for his grandmother’s funeral using the website’s chatbot, which said he could pay full fare and apply for a bereavement fare later.

An Air Canada passenger from B.C. has won his fight after the airline refused him a retroactive discount, claiming it wasn’t responsible for promising the refund because it was made in error by the airline’s online chatbot.

Artificial-intelligence law experts say it’s a sign of disputes to come if companies don’t ensure accuracy when increasingly relying on artificial intelligence to deal with customers.

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Jake Moffatt booked a flight to Toronto with Air Canada to attend his grandmother’s funeral in 2022 using the website’s chatbot, which advised him he could pay full fare and apply for a bereavement fare later, according to the decision by B.C. civil resolution tribunal.

Civics: President Trump’s Kafkaesque Civil Trial in New York State

Steven Calabresi

Donald Trump has been ordered to pay a $355 million fine and has been barred from doing business in New York State for three years.  Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump to pay essentially all of his cash reserves of $400 million, which fine if upheld would force Trump to sell some of his real estate holdings to raise cash to live on.  Once interest is added on the total fine will rise to $450 million.  This is all on top of an $83.3 million fine Trump must pay for allegedly defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll.  The fines in total could deprive Trump of between 11% and 13% of his wealth.  Trump’s adult sons Donald Jr. and Eric have also been fined, and they are barred from doing business in New York State for two years.  Ivanka or Melania Trump could legally run the Trump businesses for the next two years, but Judge Engoron appointed retired U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones to continue in her role as an “independent monitor” of the Trump business empire but expanded her authority to review financial disclosures before they are submitted to third parties.  Judge Jones can hire an independent director of compliance, and she has the authority to compel Trump to sell some or even all of his businesses down the road.  This is all punishment for Trump allegedly committing fraud by falsely in inflating and deflating the value of his real estate assets to pay lower state taxes and to receive more favorable loans from banks.

The New York State laws used to go after Trump have NEVER  been used in this way, historically, and while Trump may owe some back state taxes, if Judge Engoron is right, not a single bank claimed that it had been defrauded by Trump in the loans it had made to him.  This is truly a victimless crime.

——

America’s Dysfunctional Overclass

Michael Barone

 does America’s overclass think of the rest of us? The short answer is “not much.” They think ordinary people’s splurging on natural resources is destroying the planet and needs to be cut back forcefully. And that the government needs to stamp down on ordinary people enjoying luxuries that, in their view, should be reserved for the top elites.

These are the implications of the results of two surveys of elite people conducted by pollster Scott Rasmussen by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, an organization that supports low tax rates and low government spending. The surveys covered not large swaths of the population but were confined to the top 1% of society.

One survey, the Elite, included only respondents with postgraduate degrees, household incomes above $150,000 and residents in a ZIP code with more than 10,000 people per square mile. Another, Ivy League graduates, included adults who attended Ivy League or other selective private colleges such as Chicago, Duke, Northwestern or Stanford.

Notes on Wisconsin DPI Reading Curriculum Selections

Quinton Klabon:

Whoa! Wisconsin reading curriculum update!

@WisconsinDPI @DrJillUnderly disagree: NO to Bookworms, YES to basals, bilingual. See screenshot.

Tensions come out in explanatory literacy text!

Joint Finance @repborn @SenMarklein @JFCDemocrats decide now. What will they choose?!

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Jenny Warner:

DPI adding ARC to the list proves they have no idea what three cueing looks like or an adequate curriculum. teachingbyscience.com/arc?fbclid=IwA…

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Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Civics: “If the prosecution succeeds, investigative reporting will be given a near death blow.”

Alan Rusbridger:

In other words, trust the state. If they say “jump”, your role is to ask “how high?”

But why would you? “The state”—don’t we know it?—routinely gets all kinds of things wrong. The same is, inevitably, true of the secret state, the security state, the deep state—whatever you want to call it. 

Would you trust the police or security services to monitor all your communications and movements? Not if you’ve read any Orwell. Did you not notice the intelligence failures/embellishments that helped shape US and UK policy before the disastrous attack on Iraq in 2003? Really?

Were you blind to the proven allegations of torture and rendition during and after 9/11? Did you miss the findings of illegal surveillance in the wake of the Snowden revelations? Do you shrug when you read about the police or intelligence agencies penetrating protest groups, behaving in ways that form the subject of the UK’s ongoing undercover policing inquiry?

In other words, the security state—for all that it does good and necessary work—needs to be monitored and held to account. Especially as it has immense powers over the lives of individuals, including questions of life and death. 

Nice Article on some Parenting Costs; Deeper Dive?

Natalie Yahr cites a University of Wisconsin Survey of families with young children.

Conducted by the UW Survey Center and analyzed by UW-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs, the survey went to around 3,500 people across the state. Researchers compared the responses of participants who have children under age 6 with those who don’t.

Of those with young children, more than a third said it’s challenging to cover their monthly expenses. Less than a quarter of families without young children said the same. Sixty percent of families with young children said they weren’t confident that they could cover an unexpected expense, compared to 50% of those without.

The survey also asked respondents about food insecurity, or the worry that they might run out of food before they have money to buy more. Around 40% of families with young children said they have that worry, compared to roughly 25% of all respondents. Families with young children and incomes under $50,000 were particularly likely to experience food insecurity, with around 66% citing it as a concern.

Families with young children were also more likely to worry about inflation, with 75% citing it as a concern, compared with 63% of other households. There’s a credentialism battle underway, with cost and access implications.

Perhaps future surveys might dive deeper, and consider:

  • Health Insurance cost explosion. Lauren Ward:

    Monthly premium costs
    For monthly premiums, the overall average cost was $1,178. But that number can change a lot based on age. For instance, a 21-year-old paid a monthly average premium of just $397, while a 50-year-old paid an average of $712.

    Deductibles

    The average yearly deductible for an individual was $5,101. That number more than doubles for families, who had an average deductible of $10,310 per year.

    Maximum out-of-pocket expenses

    The maximum out-of-pocket expense for individual policyholders averaged $8,335. It doubled for families, averaging $16,672 per year.

  • Utilities. Madison residents have long paid the highest electric rates in Wisconsin. Why?

  • Water/Sewer rates. “Madison Water Utility gets huge rate increase, criticism“. More.

  • Property tax burden growth and bang for the buck (schools, city, county and Madison College Programs). Jessie Opoien:

    Wisconsin is set to see its largest increase in property taxes since the Great Recession — but the actual effect on homeowners will be cushioned by a boost to two state tax credits that lower the amounts homeowners and businesses must pay.

    Allison Garfield:

    In 2023, city tax collections increased by 5.6% to $273.7 million, compared with a 1.2% hike in 2022.

  • Stealth taxes such as the Urban Forestry fee and Madison’s wheel tax.

  • Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has mentioned a local sales tax increase recently, as well.

  • Food costs (something positive!). Perhaps competition explains this?

    On a more positive note, the data also found that Wisconsinites spend the least of any state on weekly groceries at $221.46 per week, nearly $50 below the national average. Iowa is the second-cheapest at $227.32 per week, and Nebraska is the third-cheapest at $235.12.

  • “Madison’s airport the most expensive in the Country” – Gavin Escott

Readers may also consider the implications of Obamacare on healthcare costs (substantial increases with additional taxpayer subsidies) along with the $36B (!) backdoor electronic medical record federal taxpayer subsidy (deeper dive).

Both have affected Madison and Dane County.


The individual burden of these issues illustrates the challenges of using tax & spending policies plus regulation (Obamacare and the back door EMR subsidy) to address cost issues along with unintended consequences.

Consider the enormous family healthcare deductibles on top of cost increases. It would be useful to plot taxpayer healthcare spending along with hospital system growth, often via financialization.

Raising children on the eve of AI

Julia Wise:

I’m somewhat used to thinking of this in terms of “doom / not doom” and less used to thinking in terms of “what kind of transformation?” 

One thing that got me thinking beyond that binary was historian Ian Morris on Whether deep history says we’re heading for an intelligence explosion, specifically why we should expect the future to be wild.

Another was this interview with Ben Garfinkel of the Centre for the Governance of AI, starting with reasons you might think AI will change things a lot:

Curated Education Information