“It is curious why districts seem to only want transparency when it comes to vouchers” – outcomes?



A curious WPR article:

The Kickapoo Area School District passed a resolution this spring calling for lawmakers to stop using public tax dollars to fund private school vouchers. The district is also asking that public spending on private school be outlined on property tax bills. 

During the 2023-24 school year, 11 students in the Kickapoo school district received a private school voucher. The district is based in the tiny community of Viola, which has about 700 residents. Taxpayers there contributed $113,811 toward the cost of private school education for those students, an increase of more than 400 percent from the previous year, according to the resolution. 




In U.S. Gender Medicine, Ideology Eclipses Science. It Hurts Kids.



Pamela Paul:

“The reality is that we have no good evidence on the long-term outcomes of interventions to manage gender-related distress,” Cass concluded. Instead, she wrote, mental health providers and pediatricians should provide holistic psychological care and psychosocial support for young people without defaulting to gender reassignment treatments until further research is conducted.

After the release of Cass’s findings, the British government issued an emergency ban on puberty blockers for people under 18. Medical societies, government officials and legislative panels in Germany, France, Switzerland, Scotland, the Netherlands and Belgium have proposed moving away from a medical approach to gender issues, in some cases directly acknowledging the Cass Review. Scandinavian countries have been moving away from the gender-affirming model for the past few years. Reem Alsalem, the United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, called the review’s recommendations “seminal” and said that policies on gender treatments have “breached fundamental principles” of children’s human rights, with “devastating consequences.”

But in the United States, federal agencies and professional associations that have staunchly supported the gender-affirming care model greeted the Cass Review with silence or utter disregard.




Forbidden Fruit and the Classroom



James Varney:

The Biden administration initially sought to remove those questions, saying it wanted to avoid data duplication, but it backtracked after fierce criticism it was doing so as a sop to teachers unions. Consequently, the question will be included on future questionnaires, but, as of today, the Department of Education “has no data,” a spokesperson told RCI. These days, from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, even a cursory review of local news reporting brings disquieting revelations of teachers accused of or arrested for alleged sexual relations with a student. In just the past month:

  • In California, multiple students filed a lawsuit against a male music teacher who had taught at three different schools in the San Jose area. The teacher is already serving prison time for previous convictions in sexual misconduct cases with students.
  • In New Jersey, a female middle school teacher was arrested for an alleged ongoing sexual relationship with a student.
  • In Texas, a male teacher was arrested for allegedly having a sexual affair with a 12-year-old student. 
  • In Illinois, a female substitute teacher faces charges of “grooming and predatory criminal sexual assault” for an alleged relationship with a sixth-grader.
  • In Washington, the arrest of a male high school teacher on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor represented a repeat nightmare for a school district that previously had a psychologist convicted on the same charges.
  • Just last weekend, a 36-year-old New Jersey teacher was arrested on multiple assault charges involving a sexual relationship with a teenage student.

These stories hold a lurid appeal to some. Sensational accounts of seductions of students by teachers, typically by high school female teachers, are tabloid catnip. The topic has provided material for standup comics, Hollywood writers, and pop tunes that didn’t begin or end with Van Halen’s 1984 hit “Hot For Teacher.”




Civics: What Do You Do with a Failed Coup?



Dave Seminara:

When I was a desk officer in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, I hated coup attempts. My phone never stopped ringing, round-the-clock task forces were organized, and bosses demanded endless reports because important people in Washington, D.C. had become interested in countries they otherwise ignore. Sometimes, I rooted for the aging dictators to cling to power, so that I could simply go home on time. The media’s failed coup attempt on President Biden, by contrast, was more entertaining than those affairs, even if there are parallels between the president and various African leaders who survived coup plotters even more malicious and duplicitous than the American media.

 Before the debate (BD), virtually every Democrat and most in the media assured us that Biden was totally up to the job. In case you’ve already forgotten the long-ago BD era that ended a few weeks ago, Matt Orfalea has compiled a brilliant video compilation of these folks claiming that Biden was “sharp as a tack,” or variations on this phrase. But just moments into the AD (after the debate) era, the dam broke and almost every media outlet and figure, even Biden superfan Joe Scarborough, turned on him. The same gang who have been warning us about the threat to democracy posed by Donald Trump, all suddenly determined that the 14 million votes Biden got (87 percent of those cast) in the  primary process (admittedly rigged in his favor) didn’t matter. He needed to step down because they said so.

 Scarborough, Van Jones, Thomas Friedman, the New York Times editorial board, and others pledged their undying affection for Biden AD, enthusing about what a wonderful fellow he is, as they plunged the dagger in the teetering president’s back. For a few days, it looked like the walls were closing in, as the talking heads would say in the Trump era. But then, as with most coup attempts, the media-led insurrection fizzled. Most Democratic politicians remained loyal to Biden, and polls revealed that other Democrats might fare even worse than the cognitively challenged president.

 The New York Times conducted polls right before and after the debates to track movement, and the results are revealing. Among men, Trump’s lead grew from 13 to 22 points. But Biden’s one-point advantage with women before the debate expanded to six points after it. Perhaps some women felt sorry for the president or, after spending 90 minutes with Trump for the first time in years, remembered that they despise him. Whoopi Goldberg said that she’d vote for Biden even if he pooped his pants on stage, given who his challenger is; apparently this sentiment isn’t confined to her.




“reveals a tight-knit relationship between university professors, federal law enforcement, and the news media”



James Rushmore:

What is the Media Forensics Hub? Described as “an interdisciplinary team of researchers working to study and combat online deception,” the project kicked off in 2017. That was the year communications professor Darren Linvill and economics professor Patrick Warren joined forces to “uncover and expose” millions of tweets they attributed to Russian trolls. Sponsored by the taxpayer-funded South Carolina Research Authority, the Hub was officially launched in May 2020. Two years later, along with the University at Buffalo and several other institutions, it received a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Last May, Racket filed a FOIA request with Clemson. Our search produced a series of emails that make explicit reference to the university’s dealings with federal law enforcement agencies (providing Clemson “help with resources,” among other things), social media companies, and the news media. The Clemson files are difficult to summarize, but offer probably the most comprehensive portrait we’ve gotten yet of the role such ostensibly non-governmental “anti-disinformation” research institutions can play as middleman organizations. These emails also document the high degree of influence the school had with federal agencies and media, even if Twitter was not always as cooperative. 

A summary of key communications is listed below, while three new batches of documents have been uploaded to the Racket FOIA library, where as always, they’re not paywalled.




AI Overview Study for 8,000 Keywords in Google Search



Philip Petrescu:

Understanding how search engines display information is crucial in today’s digital landscape. One of Google’s latest developments is AI Overviews – AI-generated summaries providing quick, relevant information directly in search results. This feature changes how users interact with search engines and affects organic traffic to websites.

In this study, we examine the frequency, placement, and impact of AI Overviews in Google Search. We explore how these summaries affect visibility and traffic and the types of queries and domains most commonly featured. Our goal is to offer insights for adapting your SEO strategy to this major change in Google search.

We also consulted several SEO experts who analyzed this data and provided their insights, which are embedded throughout the text.




College Social Mobility Elevator Rankings



Education Reform News:

The possibility of attaining a higher socioeconomic status than the one you were born into has been a core principle of the American experiment since our founding, even if that principle has never been fully realized or extended to all Americans. From the founding of historically Black colleges and universities to the creation of the G.I. Bill, higher education has long played a crucial role in driving social mobility in America.

Our Social Mobility Elevator rankings look at how well four-year colleges and universities help to realize social mobility by providing access to students from low-income households and students of color who are underrepresented in higher education and the support all students need to graduate. The rankings are designed to shine a light on institutions of higher education that help transform students, families, and communities and to make the case for sending more resources their way so they can have an even greater impact.

——

Joanne Jacobs:

If “transformative” means providing upward mobility, then Georgia State, State University of NY, Cal State U system, and the like are the champs.

More.




Lawfare and Wisconsin’s Reading improvement plans



Corrinne Hess:

This week, Underly sent a letter to Joint Finance Committee co-chairs Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green and Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, expressing frustration the money has not been released. 

“Despite the JCF’s and legislative leadership’s failure to act, the DPI continues to work in good faith to implement all components of this statute,” Underly wrote. “But as the DPI has told you repeatedly, the long delay in releasing these funds is now putting full implementation of this statute at risk. Schools are well into preparations for the fall semester, and teachers are already being asked to take classes, learn new skills, and prepare new curricula.”

Tom McCarthy, deputy superintendent, filed a declaration to the Dane County lawsuit, saying DPI has been covering the costs to implement the new reading law, but the department needs to $50 million to continue. 

“The (Supreme Court) ruling is a message to the legislature, that type of behavior, that sort of we’re going to require you to do all the things with the string attached, and then pull the rug back when an agency has acted in good faith to implement the law is not constitutional,” McCarthy said. “The court is now saying that is not a legal means to do partnership and work together.” 

Born and Marklein did not respond to requests for comment from WPR. Their attorney, Ryan Walsh, with Madison law firm Eimer Stahl, released the following statement. 

“Neither the Department of Instruction’s letter nor the declaration filed in Dane County refer to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent decision or suggest that this is a ‘win’ for DPI,” Walsh said. “The holding of that decision does not apply to the lawsuit pending in Dane County. The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent decision concerns a different function of the Joint Committee on Finance, one that is not at issue in the Dane County lawsuit.”

——-

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-




Teaching General Problem-Solving Skills Is Not a Substitutefor, or a Viable Addition to,Teaching Mathematics



John Sweller, Richard Clark, and Paul Kirschner

Problem solving is central to mathematics. Yet problem-solving skill is not what it seems. Indeed, the field of problem solving has recently under- gone a surge in research interest and insight, but many of the results of this research are both counterintuitive and contrary to many widely held views. For example, many educators assume that general problem-solving strategies are not only learnable and teachable but are a critical adjunct to mathematical knowledge. The best known exposi- tion of this view was provided by Pólya (1957). He discussed a range of general problem-solving strat- egies, such as encouraging mathematics students to think of a related problem and then solve the current problem by analogy or to think of a sim- pler problem and then extrapolate to the current problem. The examples Pólya used to demonstrate his problem-solving strategies are fascinating, and his influence probably can be sourced, at least in part, to those examples. Nevertheless, in over




Google Search Ranks AI Spam Above Original Reporting in News Results



Reece Rogers:

Recently, I was using Google and stumbled upon an article that felt eerily familiar.

While searching for the latest information on Adobe’s artificial intelligence policies, I typed “adobe train ai content” into Google and switched over to the News tab. I had already seen WIRED’s coverage that appeared on the results page in the second position: “Adobe Says It Won’t Train AI Using Artists’ Work. Creatives Aren’t Convinced.” And although I didn’t recognize the name of the publication whose story sat at the very top of the results, Syrus #Blog, the headline on the article hit me with a wave of déjà vu: “When Adobe promised not to train AI on artists’ content, the creative community reacted with skepticism.”

Clicking on the top hyperlink, I found myself on a spammy website brimming with plagiarized articles that were repackaged, many of them using AI-generated illustrations at the top. In this spam article, the entire WIRED piece was copied with only slight changes to the phrasing. Even the original quotes were lifted. A single, lonely hyperlink at the bottom of the webpage, leading back to our version of the story, served as the only form of attribution.

A list of news articles within Google’s search results show an AI spam version of a WIRED story listed at the top, with the original reported story listed second.




The case for criminalizing scientific misconduct



Chris Said

In 2006, Sylvain Lesné published an influential Naturepaper showing how amyloid oligomers could cause Alzheimer’s disease. With over 2,300 citations, the study was the 4th most cited paper in Alzheimer’s basic research since 2006, helping spur up to $287 million of research into the oligomer hypothesis, according to the NIH.

Sixteen years later, Science reported that key images of the paper were faked, almost certainly by Lesné himself, and all co-authors except him have agreed to retract the paper. The oligomer hypothesis has failed every clinical trial.

Lesné’s alleged misconduct misled a field for over a decade. We don’t know how much it has delayed an eventual treatment for Alzheimer’s, and it was not the only paper supporting the oligomer hypothesis. But if it delayed a successful treatment by just 1 year, I estimate that it would have caused the loss of 36 million QALYs(Quality Adjusted Life Years), which is more than the QALYs lost by Americans in World War II. (See my notebook for an explanation.)

Lesné is not alone. This year we learned of rampant image manipulation at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, including in multiple papers published by the institute’s CEO and COO. So far 6 papers have been retracted and 31 corrected. The 6 retracted papers alone have 1,400 citations and have surely polluted the field and slowed down progress. If they delayed a successful cancer drug by just 1 year, I estimate they would have caused the loss of 15 million QALYs, or twice the number of QALYs lost by Americans in World War I.




‘Urban Family Exodus’ Continues With Number of Young Kids in NYC Down 18%



Tracy Alloway and Laura Nahmias

A total of about 800,000 people moved out of large urban counties last year, or twice the pre-pandemic rate, EIG said. Moves out of the city have combined with lower birth rates to drag down the number of young children in big urban counties. Birth rates there have fallen at twice the rate of those in rural areas over the past decade or so, EIG found.

The loss of families with small children is persisting as cities like New York grapple with rising childcare and housing costs, and questions about whether those financial pressures are driving New Yorkers — particularly middle-income families — to leave.

In a separate report released recently, the left-leaning Fiscal Policy Institute found that households with children under the age of six were 47% more likely than the rest of the population to leave the state of New York post-pandemic.




Raises for most chancellors will be tied to student retention



This is the second pay bump this year for eight of the chancellors. In April,the Regents approved raises for all chancellors in the system, bringing leaders in line with the 6 percent salary increase all UW employees received in the biennial budget. 

Mnookin is getting an additional 10 percent pay raise. Alexander, Evetovich and King are getting an extra 5 percent, and Akey, Frank and Wachter will see another 2 percent bump. 

——-

More.




NYC new math curriculum & the Common Core standards



Talk Out of School

Now, think about what that means for a minute. Effectiveness is not stage one. You could have a very effective program, and we do have some very effective programs that have been shown to teach kids math and to teach kids how to read, that were rejected by Ed Reports because they’re not Common Core compliant.

So that’s what Ed Reports does. And they have given, it’s called all green, they use these color codes. They’ve given all green to Illustrative Math, so they have approved Illustrative Math.

No one’s terribly surprised by that. One of the three co-authors of the math standards for Common Core is Bill McCallum, and he’s also the founder of Illustrative Math. So it’s not really shocking that this particular program would be seen as in conformity with Common Core.

And you talk about Gates 2 and 3. None of them really have anything to do with any proven effectiveness. Is that right or independent research showing that they were?

They don’t have a gateway that says, is it effective? And what’s the evidence that this particular program was affected?

Yeah, see, I think that’s what a lot of people don’t understand.

They feel like if it’s been evaluated and given a high mark by this, suppose, an independent organization, that means that it’s sort of validated in some objective sense. And I just haven’t seen that to be true.




The thought behind the thought



Henrik Karlsson

What follows is a series of meditations about thinking through writing provoked by, but not faithful to, Lakatos’s book. I’ve divided it into two parts. The first part covers the basic mental models that are useful to most people (if you write a diary, for example, and want to get clarity about things in your life). The next part goes into more complex patterns of thinking which I suspect is mostly useful if you do research or engage in some other kind of deep creative work.

A warning. If you aim to write and publish stuff, this essay might tie you up in knots. It is about thinking, not about crafting beauty or finishing things in a finite time.




The Biggest Problem in Mathematics Is Finally a Step Closer to Being Solved



Man on Bischoff:

Number theorists have been trying to prove a conjecture about the distribution of prime numbers for more than 160 years

The Riemann hypothesis is the most important open question in number theory—if not all of mathematics. It has occupied experts for more than 160 years. And the problem appeared both in mathematician David Hilbert’s groundbreaking speech from 1900 and among the “Millennium Problems” formulated a century later. The person who solves it will win a million-dollar prize.

But the Riemann hypothesis is a tough nut to crack. Despite decades of effort, the interest of many experts and the cash reward, there has been little progress. Now mathematicians Larry Guth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and James Maynard of the University of Oxford have posted a sensational new finding on the preprint server arXiv.org. In the paper, “the authors improve a result that seemed insurmountable for more than 50 years,” says number theorist Valentin Blomer of the University of Bonn in Germany.




Laid-off tech (related) workers advised to sell plasma, personal belongings to survive



Ariana Bindman:

Nina McCollum has been laid off so many times that the 55-year-old is basically an unofficial expert. That’s how she describes herself, at least. 

The marketing writer, who went viral in 2019 for documenting how she submitted over 200 applications during her two-year unemployment period, eventually landed her dream job at a major human resources tech company in the Bay Area. But then, in March 2023, she was let go — and suddenly back at square one. 

“My chances of obtaining another great-paying FT job are next to zero,” she wrote to SFGATE in an email. 

McCollum is not alone. Over the past two years, major tech companies in the Bay Area have hemorrhaged high-salaried workers, sending a chill throughout an industry that once seemed untouchable. Meta has let go of at least 21,000 workers, while Google has handed pink slips to hundreds of employees across San Francisco, Sunnyvale and Mountain View. Though the state government boasts about California’s growing economy and low unemployment rate, multiple people who spoke with SFGATE painted a bleak picture.  




Notes on the University of Arizona and DIE



Ellie Cameron:

The DEI mandate is part of a general education curriculum update at the University of Arizona and takes effect in fall 2026. In the meantime, it has prompted criticisms from a high-profile conservative think tank in the state.

Students “will be forced to take courses with academically unserious content that adds nothing to their education,” Timothy Minella, a researcher with the Goldwater Institute, told The College Fix.

Minella authored the institute’s report criticizing the DEI mandate. Published this month, it argues “general education programs were originally intended to help students gain knowledge and skills essential for thoughtful citizenship and successful careers.”

But the new DEI requirements “instead promote politically activist ideologies to a captive audience of students, who must complete the programs in order to receive a degree,” it adds.




How to Catch a Lab Leak



Santi Ruiz:

In April and May 1979, between 66 and 300 people died from anthrax in the Russian city of Sverdlovsk, now called Yekaterinburg. The Soviet authorities seized doctors’ records and quickly rolled out an explanation: the deaths were an accident caused by contaminated meat. 

But American intelligence agencies suspected a more nefarious explanation: the Soviets were secretly developing biological weapons.

Last week, we interviewed Matthew Meselsonabout his key role in convincing Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon to ban biological weapons research in the early 1970s. After the Sverdlovsk incident, Meselson was brought in by the CIA to help assess the potential explanations. For more than a decade, he led scientific investigations into the incident. In 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the truth finally came out: the Sverdlovsk incident was a bioweapons lab leak, the most deadly confirmed lab leak in history.




“Doctors Are Not Trained to Think Critically”



Cathy Wield

I already felt disadvantaged; one of the lecturers had broadcast that any student who did not have ‘A’ level Physics should not have been granted a place at medical school. I was one of those students. I had done Maths ‘A’ level instead. My school didn’t do physics or chemistry and I had had to cycle to a neighbouring school just to get the mandatory ‘A’ level Chemistry lessons.

I clearly remember the time when I dared to pose a question during one of our lectures: We were learning about asthma, and I asked why it was that I suffered from wheezing after a thunderstorm but at no other time.

“Impossible,” said the lecturer, “grass pollen is the wrong size and cannot provoke any kind of allergic reaction in the bronchioles (small airways in the lungs).”

I felt humiliated—he had just denied my experience in front of 80 students.




Act 10 and the public sector unions



WILL

For the better part of the last decade, no piece of legislation has loomed larger in public policy debates in Wisconsin than Act 10, the collective bargaining reform law passed in 2011. The controversial budget repair bill, introduced by Governor Scott Walker in the first weeks of his first term, represented a fundamental break with the past and a new era for state and local governments in the Badger State.

WILL has been on the forefront of examining the impact of Act 10 on education, the teaching workforce, and puncturing the myths that persist about the law.

—-

2010: WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Much more on Act 10.




Notes on UW System governance amidst declining enrollment



By Andrew Bahl and Becky Jacobs

Following a showdown between the Legislature and Universities of Wisconsin over funding last winter, a new group will study the future of the state’s public universities and issue recommendations.

The legislative study committee includes lawmakers, business leaders and professors among its 18 members, who will contemplate a range of issues facing public higher education in Wisconsin. Those topics are expected to vary from state funding levels to declining enrollment to the possibility of separating UW-Madison from the rest of the UW system.

The group will meet a handful of times, starting on July 11. Typically, these types of committees are intended to be a nonpartisan forum for crafting policy ideas that can be considered by legislators when they return to Madison next year.

“The study committee is, I believe, an opportunity to have some very public, open and honest conversations about where we see the Universities of Wisconsin headed in the years to come,” said state Rep. Amanda Nedweski, R-Pleasant Prairie, who is chairing the committee. “And to get input from a wide variety of stakeholders as to how they see the university’s role working as a component of our economy in the next 50 to 60 years.”

But after more than a decade of budget battles over the state’s public universities, some are skeptical the debate will happen in good faith.

“I think the study committee may already be a farce before it starts,” said state Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, a member of the committee.




The History Crisis Is a National Security Problem



Bret Devereaux:

The United States is rapidly shedding historians—and the national security implications are dire. Even as it grapples with challenges and conflictsrooted in complicated regional histories, the United States continues a decade-and-a-half-long path of defunding history departments and deprioritizing history education. This threatens to produce a generation of policymakers and advisors whose view of the world is increasingly, and dangerously, shallow.

History is in an unprecedented crisis. Battered by budget cuts and a refusal to replace retiring historians, university history departments are now rapidly shrinking; a 2022 study of Midwestern history departments found that the number of permanent departmental faculty had declined by nearly a third since 2010. That decline continues to accelerate as university hiring of historians remains stuck at levels well below what is necessary to replace retirements.

As a consequence, trained historians struggle to find jobs in the field: The rate at which people with history PhDs find tenure-track employment within four years of graduation has declined dramatically, from 54 percent for the 2013 PhD cohort to just 27 percent for the 2017 cohort. In 2022, only a miserable 10 percent of the 2019 and 2020 cohorts were employed as full-time faculty members. Departments have responded with drastic cuts to the number of historians they train; since 2010, the number of PhDs earned in history—which had tracked with jobs in the field since the 1970s—has dropped by 31.9 percent.




8 years of maintaining standards in Primary Writing in England & Wales



Chris Wheadon and Daisy Christodoulou

In the summer of 2016 we ran our first writing pilot with 5 schools and 256 pupils aged 10 to 11. Our idea was to use Comparative Judgement to help schools measure their pupils’ progress in their writing over time and to be able to compare the progress of their pupils to pupils in other schools. Since then we have assessed over 2 million pieces of writing from pupils aged 4 to 16 globally.

Thank you for reading No More Marking. This post is public so feel free to share it.

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We started the project because schools at the time were disenchanted with the assessment of writing that was required at that time by the Department for Education. The disenchantment was at two levels. Firstly, schools felt that the assessment was unfair as different standards were being applied in different areas of the country, and that they may be disadvantaged by local authorities applying harsh or generous standards in the absence of any national system of moderation. Secondly, they felt that the approach constrained the teaching of writing and rewarded mechanical features over freedom of expression.

So why did we think that we could improve on the current system? We had been using Comparative Judgement for a number of years for various research projects and had begun to understand its power. Typically the advantages of Comparative Judgement are considered to be the following:




Why the most intuitive explanation for ideas getting harder to find is wrong



Seeds of Science:

But without knowing the underlying kinetics of science and economic growth, this inertia model is just a guess. There are lots of other explanations which are consistent with the observation of diverging fuel use and acceleration. Our car could be going up a hill, or over a rough and rocky road. Or our engine could be depreciating or using the extra fuel inefficiently. Similarly, the ideas we produce might face growing barriers before they can materialize as physical products and buildings which affect productivity. Or our institutions of science are squandering the extra resources they receive with inefficient institutional designs.

The title of my post was “Something Is Getting Harder But It’s Not Finding Ideas” but I really only end up proving that Something Is Getting Harder And We Aren’t Sure What. This post gets closer to fulfilling my original promise by addressing one of the most common arguments for why ideas really are getting harder to find: the burden of knowledge.




“Meta-analysis: On average, undergraduate students’ intelligence is merely average”



Bob Uttl, Victoria C. Violo and Lacey Gibson

According to a widespread belief, the average IQ of university students is 115 to 130 IQ points, that is, substantially higher than the average IQ of the general population (M = 100, SD =15). We traced the origin of this belief to obsolete intelligence data collected in 1940s and 1950s when university education was the privilege of a few. Examination of more recent IQ data indicate that IQ of university students and university graduates dropped to the average of the general population. The decline in students’ IQ is a necessary consequence of increasing educational attainment over the last 80 years. Today, graduating from university is more common than completing high school in the 1940s.Method. We conducted a meta-analysis of the mean IQ scores of college and university students samples tested with Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale between 1939 and 2022.Results. The results show that the average IQ of undergraduate students today is a mere 102 IQ points and declined by approximately 0.2 IQ points per year. The students’ IQ also varies substantially across universities and is correlated with the selectivity of universities (measured by average SAT scores of admitted students).Discussion. These findings have wide-ranging implications. First, universities and professors need to realize that students are no longer extraordinary but merely average, and have to adjust curricula and academic standards. Second, employers can no longer rely on applicants with university degrees to be more capable or smarter than those without degrees. Third, students need to realize that acceptance into university is no longer an invitation to join an elite group. Fourth, the myth of brilliant undergraduate students in scientific and popular literature needs to be dispelled. Fifth, estimating premorbid IQ based on educational attainment is vastly inaccurate, obsolete, not evidence based, and mere speculations. Sixth, obsolete IQ data or tests ought not to be used to make high-stakes decisions about individuals, for example, by clinical psychologists to opine about intelligence and cognitive abilities of their clients.




Jump to BibliographyDear Julia, Dear Yuri:A mathematical correspondence



by Allyn Jackson:

I became so excited I wanted to telephone Leningrad and find out if it were true but the mathematicians here [in Berkeley] said not to — after all the world has waited 70 years without knowing the answer to Hilbert’s tenth problem, surely you can wait a few weeks more. Fortunately, I didn’t have to. On Wednesday, John McCarthy called from Stanford University to say that he had heard a lecture by Ceĭtin in Novosibirsk on your proof. I received his notes yesterday and now I know it is true, it is beautiful, it is wonderful.
 — Julia Robinson to Yuri Matiyasevich, 22 February 1970

Julia Robinson was 50 years old when she learned that Yuri Matiyasevich had resolved Hilbert’s Tenth Problem. He was just 22; she had been pondering the problem almost since the time of his birth. In the letter quoted above she conveyed her ecstatic response to his achievement. The notes about the proof were sketchy, but long experience with Hilbert’s Tenth Problem allowed her to quickly fill in the details — and also to see just how close she herself had come to solving this iconic problem.
It would have been understandable had she felt envy, disappointment, anger. But her letter is entirely free of such emotions. And in her subsequent correspondence with Matiyasevich, comprising about 150 letters, one sees that the ardent sincerity of that first letter was a hallmark of her character. It set the tone for their collaboration and for the warm friendship they shared until her death in 1985, at the age of 65.1




Alzheimer’s scientist indicted for allegedly falsifying data in $16M scheme



Beth Mole:

The work underpinned an Alzheimer’s drug by Cassava, now in a Phase III trial.

A federal grand jury has indicted an embattled Alzheimer’s researcher for allegedly falsifying data to fraudulently obtain $16 million in federal research funding from the National Institutes of Health for the development of a controversial Alzheimer’s drug and diagnostic test.

Hoau-Yan Wang, 67, a medical professor at the City University of New York, was a paid collaborator with the Austin, Texas-based pharmaceutical company Cassava Sciences. Wang’s research and publications provided scientific underpinnings for Cassava’s Alzheimer’s treatment, Simufilam, which is now inPhase III trials.

Simufilam is a small-molecule drug that Cassava claims can restore the structure and function of a scaffolding protein in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s, leading to slowed cognitive decline. But outside researchers have long expressed doubts and concerns about the research.




So Now the Feds Will Monitor Research Integrity?



Scott Turner:

In its first year, the Biden administration launched a fast-track Scientific Integrity Task Force, intended to “lift up the voices of Federal scientists of many perspectives and backgrounds” and put scientific integrity “paramount in Federal governance for years to come.” The task force took a “whole-of-government” approach to ensuring the scientific integrity of federally funded research and included representatives from the 21 federal agencies that maintain scientific-research programs. For those with a high pain threshold, the final report may be seen here.

Prominent among the move’s critics have been the Council on Governmental Relations (a consortium of research universities) and the Association of Research Integrity Officers (university staff who conduct in-house investigations into alleged research misconduct). Together, these groups submitted nearly 200 comments representing their respective institutions, most of them opposing the proposed rule changes.




The College-Admissions TikToker Who Tried to Crack the Code



Erin Gretzinger:

Daniel Lim waves his hands, shaking the table underneath him and making his phone camera wobble. “This is the most insane college application I’ve ever seen in my life!” he exclaims in the opening shot of a TikTok video.

An anonymous student’s stats flash across the screen: 4.2 GPA, 1560 SAT, and top 10 percent of his class. “NYTiMeS bEstSelLeR at 16 yRs oLd” is written in hot pink, the random capitalization parroting an iconic meme format.

“I’m gonna try to guess which universities he got into,” Lim declares.




Civics: The Constitution Protects ‘Fake Electors’



Larry Lessig:

Arizona has joined Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin in seeking to prosecute Donald Trump’s 2020 electors. Mr. Trump and his party’s lawyers encouraged them to meet and vote on the date set by Congress, Dec. 15. Because Joe Biden carried those states, Democrats and journalists call these Trump electors “fake.” But the effort to prosecute them is unconstitutional, and the campaign to vilify them is stupid. A twist on a plotline from the HBO series “Succession” illustrates why.

In season 4, episode 8, a fire at a Milwaukee “vote count center” destroys more than 100,000 ballots, throwing Wisconsin—and the election—to the Republican candidate. Imagine a more complicated story: After the fire, the governor invokes federal law to order voting in Milwaukee be reopened. A state court holds that action unconstitutional. Democrats appeal.

While the litigation unfolds, the clock ticks. Imagine that the question isn’t resolved by electors day (designated by statute as the Tuesday after the second Wednesday in December). Which slate of electors should meet and vote?

Both, under a precedent set in Hawaii in 1960. Richard Nixon had been declared the winner of the Aloha State. A recount eventually went for John F. Kennedy—but not until after electors day. Both Nixon’s and Kennedy’s electors met to cast their ballots. On Jan. 6, 1961, Vice President Nixon, overseeing the count in Congress, counted Kennedy’s votes, not his.




How Safetyism and Social Media are damaging the kids



matija

The net effect of this is that kids have far more extended boundaries set on them (except on their phones!). For example, nowadays, parents expect their children to be free to go and do groceries alone or play outside without adult supervision only at around the age of 10 to 12 (if not even higher). Gen X, in his research, remembers this as having happened for them around ages 6, 7, or 8. On one hand, I feel like this claim rings true; on the other, I’m also wondering if there might be a case of some rosy retrospection or wishful thinking.

Far from stopping there, he mentions other significant societal efforts that are thwarting children’s growth, such as having playgrounds where kids don’t exhibit any risk of harming themselves. Instead of preparing the kids and making them capable of (literally in this case) tackling obstacles, we’re removing obstacles and coddling them.

Kids also become overprotected in other ways, such as not hearing other views or not being able to handle opposing views. No wonder academia is nowadays the exact opposite of free speech and the scientific method.




Notes on student loan debt politics



John Ekdahl:

I’m curious how much student loan debt “Annie, Ashley, and Anthony” are carrying.

Via axios:

  • They particularly focus on Deputy Chief of Staff Annie Tomasini, the first lady’s top adviser Anthony Bernal, and longtime aide Ashley Williams, who joined the deputy chief of staff’s office when Tomasini ascended to the role earlier this year.
  • Those close aides have many duties. But officials recall instances of them helping Biden make up for mental lapses, including prompting him to remember people he has known for a long time.
  • Such moments could be dismissed as normal lapses. But many Biden aides now wonder whether they were signs of something deeper.
  • One former Biden aide told Axios: “Annie, Ashley and Anthony create a protective bubble around POTUS. He’s staffed so closely that he’s lost all independence. POTUS relies on staff to nudge him with reminders of who he’s meeting, including former staffers and advisers who Biden should easily remember without a reminder from Annie.”

and.

Ann Althouse:

But it’s too late not to pitch the old man overboard. They’ve let it show that they’ve been lying miserably for years about this presidency. And yet there is no way to begin to tell the truth. Old lies are better lies… usually. I would think.




Elsevier withdraws plagiarized paper after original author calls journal out on LinkedIn



Retraction Watch:

In late May, one of Sasan Sadrizadeh’s doctoral students stumbled upon a paper with data directly plagiarized from his previous work. 

Sadrizadeh, a researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, was the last author on “Supply-demand side management of a building energy system driven by solar and biomass in Stockholm: A smart integration with minimal cost and emission,” published in September 2023 in Energy Conversion and Management.

The paper with matching data, “Optimizing smart building energy systems for sustainable living: A realistic approach to enhance renewable energy consumfaption [sic] and reduce emissions in residential buildings,” appeared online as an “article in press” in Elsevier’s Energy and Buildings in May. 

Sadrizadeh told us the methodology reported in the article was “so amusing that I felt compelled to share it” on LinkedIn. In his post, Sadrizadeh calls out “unique Stockholm data magically transformed into an Iraq case study, courtesy of 16 authors from six different countries!” He also included the following picture of data presented in the two papers: 




Finishing schools for the age of TikTok



The Economist:

A century after Post’s magnum opus, people are again saying “yes please” to politeness. A host of influencers offer etiquette lessons online, preaching on posture and teaching table manners. #Etiquette posts on TikTok have been viewed more than 5bn times. William Hanson, a British etiquette coach with some 5m fans on Instagram and TikTok, leads The English Manner, an “etiquette and protocol institute”. Sara Jane Ho, a Chinese instructor, has taken niceties to Netflix. “Mind Your Manners”, a reality show, was nominated for an Emmy award in 2023.




Here’s What $200 Billion in Covid Money Did for Students



:

The federal government sent nearly $200 billion to U.S. schools in the past few years to help address Covid-era learning challenges. Now the first studies are out showing what the money accomplished—and hinting at what could happen when it goes away this fall.

The money helped students gain some academic ground and made the biggest difference for the nation’s poorest schools, which received the most money, according to two studies released Wednesday. Schools spent on summer programming, tutoring, additional staff, and building upgrades, among other things.

But the overall impact of the federal money was modest, and the remaining dollars won’t be enough to get students back to where they were before the pandemic, the researchers projected. The findings come as the money is running out and some schools are cutting academic-recovery programs.

“The pandemic dollars helped with recovery, but the recovery won’t be done,” said Tom Kane, a Harvard University professor and co-author of one of the new studies.




AI cheating is destroying higher education; here’s how to fight it



Wilson Tsu:

First, they must decide what is worth teaching. As the tech tools available to students change, education should change as well. Take cursive writing, for example. It looks nice, but is it necessary, particularly in the age of computers? Just as many schools no longer teach cursive, educators in a variety of disciplines may determine that elements previously included in their curriculum are no longer a valuable use of students’ time and effort, and choose to focus on teaching durable skills such as critical thinking and collaboration.




Should Government Hinder Private-School Growth? Wisconsin District Calls It ‘Fiscally Responsible’



Ryan Mills:

For nearly 150 years, what is now St. Thomas Aquinas Academy has been providing a Catholic education to the residents of Marinette, a small northern Wisconsin city on the shore of Lake Michigan.

About 160 students now attend what board chairwoman Cheryl Sporie describes as a “very small, family-oriented parochial school.”

But for a couple of decades the academy has been bifurcated: While the main school building that houses the high school and middle school is in the heart of Marinette, near the mouth of the Menominee River, the smaller elementary school is in Peshtigo, a small town eight miles to the …




Wisconsin Watch Commentary on School library choices



Rachel Hale:

An increasing part of library specialists’ and district administrators’ jobs has become dealing with requests. Records showed hundreds of internal emails related to scheduling reconsideration meetings and addressing parent concerns. Administrators oversee books across numerous buildings and are struggling with the balancing act of appeasing parent concerns while maintaining appropriate grade interest levels for thousands of other students. 

Districts’ criteria took into account a book’s alignment with curriculum and state standards, the readability and appeal of texts to diverse students, the grade-level appropriateness, the significance and reputation of a book’s author, popular appeal and reviews from sites such as Scholastic and Common Sense Media.

——

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 Fifth Circuit’s Public Library Police



Wall Street Journal:

Seven library patrons in Llano County, Texas, population 21,000, are litigating the unshelving of 17 books. Amid public complaints, one county commissioner had urged the librarian to “pick her battles.” This was a no-no, says the lead opinion in Little v. Llano County. “If a government decisionmaker removes a book with the substantial motivation to prevent access to particular points of view, he or she violates the First Amendment,” writes Judge Jacques Wiener, a George H.W. Bush appointee.

Libraries cull their stacks regularly. In Judge Wiener’s view, what matters is intent. If the Llano County librarian genuinely changed her mind about the value of Farting Larry, she could trash him. Yet she testified, the judge says, that she “ordered the ‘butt and fart’ books because she thought based on her training that they were age appropriate, and her ‘opinion about the appropriateness of these books as the head librarian never changed.’”

Perhaps Llano County might have hired a librarian who better shares the local sensibility. Still, Judge Wiener’s interpretation enshrines librarians as a priestly class whose opinions on children’s books must be accepted as final. In reality, they’re government employees, hired by taxpayers and voters to do a job. This is not censorship, in a land where virtually any book can be bought online.




Civics: “He could not spend too much time out in the wild”



Olivia Nuzzi:

Yet Biden’s comment also served as an unintentional reminder of the concerns about his own leadership. Just the day before, the Wall Street Journal had published a report that described how the president’s “frail” appearance and inconsistent “focus and performance” presented challenges on the world stage. At the G7 summit in Italy in June, Biden had the distinction of being the only world leader who did not attend a private dinner party where candid diplomatic talks would happen off-camera. At a European Union summit in Washington in October, Biden “struggled to follow the discussions” and “stumbled over his talking points” to such a degree that he required the intervention of Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (The White House denied the Journal’s reporting.)

——-

“‘Stories the New York Times would have totally passed on two weeks ago’… for $800, Alex”

More.

Matt Stoller:

First comment: “My problem with this piece is Nuzzi writes about a conspiracy to hide Biden’s condition without acknowledging that she was a conspirator. She’s known since early this year that Biden was declining sharply but never wrote about it until after the secrecy was blown”

Jennifer Haberkorn and Eleana Schneider

Of the 16 people who have maxed out to the president’s joint fundraising committee, 11 had a small meeting at the White House, visitor logs show.




K-12 tax & $pending climate: Chicago’s pension crisis



By: Nick Binotti and Ted Dabrowski

Chicago’s pension shortfall across the city’s four major retirement funds – Municipal, Laborers, Police and Fire – rose to $37.2 billion total in 2023. That’s a 5% increase from $35.4 billion reported the prior year. Most of the increase is attributed to changes in actuarial assumptions and recent legislation that sweetened the cost-of-living pension benefit for thousands of police and firefighters.

Add in the Teachers Pension Fund’s $15.8 billion shortfall and Chicagoans are on the hook for $53 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. That’s over $45,000 owed per Chicago household to be paid off over time.

The Chicago teachers and municipal pension funds have the highest unfunded liabilities with both just under $16 billion. The police pension fund is next with nearly $14 billion. The fire and laborers pension systems have unfunded liabilities of $5.7 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively.

Chicago’s five largest systems are only 30% funded collectively. Only the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund has a funding ratio above 40%. Chicago’s municipal, police and fire pension systems each have funding ratios around only 22%, among the worst in the country for major pension funds.




The Democratic Party Awaits Its GorbachevCivics:



Niall Ferguson:

The most impressive feature of Thursday’s debate between Brezhnev and Andropov—sorry, Trump and Biden—is that anyone watching was in the least surprised by what it revealed.

The president is senile. The former president is a blowhard. Both these truths have been obvious for years. Yet somehow The New York Times editorial board, the hosts of Pod Save America, and numerous other eminent liberal authorities were shocked by what CNN broadcast from Atlanta.

It all put me in mind of Donald Rumsfeld’s typology of knowledge from back in 2002. “As we know,” he told journalists at a briefing about the alleged ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, “there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.”

This framework can be traced back to a 1955 paper by the psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. Rumsfeld himself attributed it to NASA administrator William Graham, with whom he had worked in the 1990s on the congressional Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States

But the category Rumsfeld omitted—the one I’ve been thinking of since Thursday—is the category of “unknown knowns.” These are perfectly obvious dangers that decision-makers unconsciously or willfully ignore because they do not accord with their preconceptions. 




Diversity Was Supposed to Make Us Rich. Not So Much.



James Mackintosh:

When management consulting firm McKinsey declared in 2015 that it had found a link between profits and executive racial and gender diversity, it was a breakthrough. The research was used by investors, lobbyists and regulators to push for more women and minority groups on boards, and to justify investing in companies that appointed them.

Unfortunately, the research doesn’t show what everyone thought it showed.

There are obvious benefits of diverse corporate leadership for society, both in providing role models and in showing a commitment to promoting the best people, irrespective of skin color or gender. But doing it because it is the right thing is not the same as doing it because it makes more money.

Since 2015, the approach has been tested in the fire of the marketplace and failed. Academics have tried to repeat McKinsey’s findings and failed, concluding that there is in fact no link between profitability and executive diversity. And the methodology of McKinsey’s early studies, which helped create the widespread belief that diversity is good for profits, is being questioned.




Civics: “Democrats and their allies sue to keep RFK Jr. off the ballot in several states”



CBS:

As independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. ramps up efforts to secure ballot access in all 50 states, he faces stiff resistance from Democratic political opponents attempting to block his November election bid with multiple lawsuits.

Kennedy vowed to be on the ballot in every state by the end of July. With just over a month to go, he’s made it on the ballot in five states: Utah, Michigan, Delaware, Oklahoma and Tennessee. But Kennedy is also facing legal challenges in five states —  Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Delaware and New Jersey. In some of those states, he’s submitted signatures for ballot access. Several of his political opponents say they’re not finished filing lawsuits against him, calling him a spoiler candidate who will likely throw the election in former President Trump’s favor. 

More.




Civics: “and what the ‘arbiters’ of truth allow us to say.”



Joe Nocera:

And how did the hosts and guests on Morning Joe react to this well-reported story with its wealth of telling details? With venom. Instead of acknowledging that it might have some validity, they derided the article. “This does have the feeling of Trump acolytes laundering their attacks through a reputable, prestigious news organization,” said co-host Willie Geist. 

“This was a classic, classic hit piece, probably ordered up by the 93-year-old, fifth-time married Rupert Murdoch over the weekend,” added Morning Joe regular Mike Barnicle.

In fact, it was anything but a hit piece. Rather, it was the product of journalism’s essential function: finding out the truth, and then bringing that truth to the public. Indeed, according to the Journal, Biden’s problems—problems most elderly people face sooner or later—were not some kind of new phenomenon. One of the meetings the Journal recounted took place 14 months ago, in May 2023.




Civics: Notes on US Politics



Eugene Volokh

[1.] It seems to me that the current situation highlights the major problems with the Democratic Party. Many Democrats must have been aware of Biden’s cognitive decline. They must have been aware that it’s a danger to the country, and a danger to their own election prospects.

They had ample opportunities to press the President to step aside graciously in time for a substitute candidate who could exploit Trump’s vast political weaknesses. To the extent they were worried that Harris would be the obvious substitute, and that she would make a losing candidate, it didn’t take a masterful political chess player to anticipate in 2020 that this might be a problem. And even though it’s obviously difficult to get a President to step down—indeed, though it’s difficult to get most people to acknowledge their own cognitive decline—the job of a well-functioning party is to be able to accomplish such tasks.

[2.] The current situation highlights the major problems with the Republican Party. Even if you support Trump, and agree with his policies, answer honestly: Would you have, twenty years ago, wanted someone like him as your candidate? Set aside whether you think he’s the lesser evil: Do you trust him to be calm and collected in a foreign policy crisis? Do you think he’s an inspirational leader? Do you think he’s a worthy heir to the presidents you admire (whether Washington, Lincoln, Reagan, Coolidge, or whoever else)?

Even if you think his behavior on January 6, 2021 isn’t as bad as it was painted, do you think it actually speaks well of his character and his trustworthiness? Do you believe what he tells you?

And even if you just want to stop the Democrats, how good a job has Trump done with that? In his time as the de facto leader of the Republican Party, he had one victory (2016) followed by three defeats (2018, 2020, 2022). Much of the public, including not just the far Left but many swing voters (and even some Republicans), views him extremely negatively—surely not a great quality for a political candidate.

Say the Democrats do persuade Biden to step aside, and persuade Harris to do so as well, and the Democratic Convention chooses a successful purple-state Democratic governor or senator. How confident are you that Trump will win then? Wouldn’t there be some Republican candidates who would have been more effective at capitalizing on Biden’s historically disastrous debate performance?




How Solzhenitsyn Found Himself—and God



Gary Saul Morton:

Uncompromising atheism was the fundamental principle of Soviet ideology. It’s thus remarkable that three of the greatest Soviet literary masterpieces—Boris Pasternak’s “Doctor Zhivago,” Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita” and Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago”—were avowedly Christian. Woven into Solzhenitsyn’s account of torture, starvation and hard labor in the gulag—evil that many would take as evidence that a benevolent God doesn’t exist—is the story of how he found faith, not in spite of but because of these conditions.

At the time, he had never thought for himself. “I was committed to that world outlook which is incapable of admitting any new fact or evaluating any new opinion before a label has been found for it from the already available stock: be it the ‘hesitant duplicity of the petty bourgeoisie,’ or the ‘militant nihilism of the déclassé intelligentsia.’ ” Now he asked himself, for the first time, what he believed and found no answer.

Soviet conditions, Solzhenitsyn came to understand, followed directly from materialism and atheism. If people are nothing but material objects, if there is nothing resembling what we call the soul, then concepts like “the sacredness of human life,” “human dignity” and “the inviolability of the person” are merely bourgeois mystification. Absolute values don’t exist, only those of one or another social class, and since the Communist Party represents the proletariat, history’s most progressive class, anything that serves its interests is moral.




Notes on Chicago’s k-12 tax and $pending climate



Austin Berg:

Mayor Brandon Johnson and his largest campaign funder are starting to realize they can’t magically wish away Chicago Public Schools’ ~$400 million looming deficit next year and ~$700 million the year after.

They won’t cut costs to cover the gap, even though CPS spends ~$30K per student. But Johnson is so unpopular and distrusted in Chicago that he can’t make a case for higher taxes. Same goes for more funding from Springfield.

So Martinez is the latest scapegoat.

——

And:

“The facts here aren’t flattering, assuming the mayor would like to be perceived as a strong leader capable of running his own administration and making his own decisions. They’re also dismaying for Chicagoans concerned about the influence of what some describe as the new Chicago political machine, helmed by the extreme leftists at CTU.”




Civics: “criminal prosecution for his official acts. Where the President violates the law, he’s subject to impeachment. You can’t impeach a King”



Ann Althouse:

But the Supreme Court didn’t say “the President can ignore the law.” The Biden Administration just got hemmed in by law — the law that prevents it from criminally prosecuting the former President, waging lawfare to fight a political rival. And the Supreme Court only protected the President from criminal prosecution for his official acts. Where the President violates the law, he’s subject to impeachment. You can’t impeach a King. 

And it’s funny how that ad refers to revolution twice, first to uphold it as a glorious ideal — “America was founded in defiance of a king” — and then to denounce it — “He’s already led an insurrection.” But the ad isn’t about coherence. It’s a montage of fear.




“It’s clear the best news reporters in Washington have failed in the first duty of journalism: to hold power accountable”



Ben Smith:

It is our duty to poke through White House smoke screens and find out the truth. The Biden White House clearly succeeded in a massive cover-up of the degree of the President’s feebleness and his serious physical decline, which may be simply the result of old age. Shame on the White House press corps for not to have pierced the veil of secrecy surrounding the President.

Obviously, the President’s decline was a super hard story to report, even by those who wanted to get it, like the WSJ. Their story did not deliver, using mostly named GOP sources.

But I do think if enough reporters had pushed, the story was reportable. I worry that too many journalists didn’t try to get the story because they did not want to be accused of helping elect Donald Trump. I get that.




Notes on litigation and taxpayer funded censorship



Lauren Feiner:

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Moody v. NetChoice and NetChoice v. Paxton, two consequential cases about the future of speech on the internet. The court explicitly extended First Amendment protections to how social media platforms organize, curate, and moderate their feeds, drawing a comparison between internet content moderation and “traditional publishers and editors.” 

The decision elaborates that the compilation and curation of “others’ speech into an expressive product of its own” is entitled to First Amendment protection and that “the government cannot get its way just by asserting an interest in better balancing the marketplace of ideas.” 




Notes on school choice: urban vs rural



Alec MacGillis:

School leaders in Hardin County — with its cornfields, solar panel installations and what was once one of the largest dairy farms east of the Mississippi — are deeply worried that vouchers stand to hurt county residents. Only a single small private school is within reach, one county to the south, which means that virtually no local taxpayers would see any of that voucher money themselves — it would be going to private school families in Columbus, Cincinnati and other large population centers. (And under Ohio law, the very public schools that are losing students must pay to transport any students who attend private institutions within a half-hour drive of the public school.)

—-

More.




A 6-3 majority ducks the First Amendment problem when government pressures tech platforms to limit speech it doesn’t like. Justice Alito writes a powerful dissent.



Wall Street Journal:

States and individuals sued numerous federal officials for violating their First Amendment speech rights by pressuring social-media platforms to suppress their posts. While lower courts ruled for the plaintiffs, six Justices held that they failed to show they had legal standing to sue. Plaintiffs must show that a “particular defendant pressured a particular platform to censor a particular topic before that platform suppressed a particular plaintiff’s speech on that topic,” explains Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the majority opinion.

She writes that “the platforms moderated similar content long before any of the Government defendants engaged in the challenged conduct” and “continued to exercise their independent judgment.” She was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts along with Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the three liberal Justices.

The majority rebukes lower courts for glossing over “complexities” in the evidence. “Different groups of defendants communicated with different platforms, about different topics, at different times,” Justice Barrett writes, adding that “the links must be evaluated in light of the platform’s independent incentives to moderate content.”




Notes on redistributed state taxpayer funds and the madison School District’s budget



Abbey Machtig:

State aid payments are influenced by factors like enrollment, district spending and local property values. Assistant Superintendent of Financial Services Bob Soldern told the Wisconsin State Journal via email the district had been planning to receive about $50 million in state support.

Nichols said she doesn’t think the additional money from the state dramatically changes the district’s financial situation.

“I don’t think for the long haul in terms of the future forecasting of our budget … there will be a huge shift,” she said.

Statewide, the general aid paid to school districts for 2024-25 totals $5.6 billion, according to DPI. Nearly 70% of districts are estimated to receive more general aid from the state, while about 30% are estimated to receive less. Eight districts are estimated to have no change in aid.

DPI is anticipating “greater than usual volatility” in the estimates due to inaccuracies and delays in financial reporting from Milwaukee Public Schools.

The state aid amounts will be finalized in October.

——-

John Jagler:

Dear Milwaukee media. Stop saying MPS is going to “lose” $81 million this year. Or that aid will be cut. It makes it seem like the district is a victim. Instead try: MPS received $81 million more than it should have because of incompetence and is now being held accountable.

Corrinne Hess:

Quinton Klabon, research director with the conservative Institute for Reforming Government, said solving the budget gap will be painful. 

“No cut will be invisible, so every curriculum purchase, every contract, and every staffing decision must justify itself going forward,” Klabon said. “How MPS handles these summer months will determine whether students get the education and services they deserve. Rebuilding trust with parents begins now.”

State aid is the largest form of state support for Wisconsin public schools

DPI calculates general school aids through a formula that uses property values in the district, enrollment and district spending.

The current estimates are based on the 2023-25 biennial budget and pupil count and budget data reported by school districts to the DPI. 

Due to previously reported delays in financial data reporting by Milwaukee Public Schools, the DPI anticipates greater than usual volatility in these estimates.

“Figures used in this estimate may change by a greater than usual amount for the certification of general school aids,” according to a DPI press release. “The department therefore encourages caution when utilizing this estimate.”

Statewide, estimated general school aids for 2024-25 total $5.58 billion, a 4.2 percent increase from 2023-24. 

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

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




Civics: Taxpayer funded censorship litigation



Eugene Volokh:

From the majority in Moody v. Netchoice, LLC:

The laws, from Florida and Texas, restrict the ability of social-media platforms to control whether and how third-party posts are presented to other users … [including by] requir[ing] a platform to provide an individualized explanation to a user if it removes or alters her posts….

Analyzing whether these requirements are sound, the majority held, “means asking,” as to each kind of content moderation decision, “whether the required disclosures unduly burden” the platforms’ own expression:

[R]equirements of that kind violate the First Amendment if they unduly burden expressive activity. See Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel of Supreme Court of Ohio (1985). So our explanation of why Facebook and YouTube are engaged in expression when they make content-moderation choices in their main feeds should inform the courts’ further consideration of that issue.

For more on that “main feeds” question, and on the Court’s not deciding the First Amendment questions raised by any of the platforms’ other functions, see this post. As to the Zauderer “unduly burden expressive activity” standard, especially as applied outside the original Zauderer context of commercial advertising, see NIFLA v. Becerra (2018).




Bureaucracy Is Eating Higher Education. Just Look at Yale 



Lauren Noble:

American higher education has lost its way. While the number of students has decreased in recent years, America’s elite educational institutions have expanded dramatically the number of administrative positions unconnected to any actual teaching. Those university bureaucrats use free-speech principles to protect progressive ideas, then undermine the educational mission by punishing faculty and students who deviate from the campus orthodoxy. It is no wonder that confidence in higher education is plummeting

Yale is a case in point. A few years ago, Yale held the embarrassing distinction of employing more than one bureaucrat for every undergraduate. The development attracted criticism from withi




K-12 tax & $pending climate: hospital cost growth



WILL:

In May, RAND released the fifth iteration of their hospital price study which ranked Wisconsin as having the 5th highest hospital prices, and the most expensive professional fees in the nation. The RAND report is an important tool for employers to better understand their costs and make the best financial decisions possible for their employees’ health coverage. It also highlights the importance of strengthening healthcare price transparency in Wisconsin, a measure that would empower patients to make the best healthcare decisions for them, ultimately increasing competition and reducing healthcare costs in the state.  

 However, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) immediately took issue with the study as they have with the previous versions due to its “inherently flawed methodology and skewed data.” But do these claims hold water? While this and every study has flaws and limitations, their claims are an over exaggeration at best, and an attempt to undermine the importance of price transparency at worst. Let’s dive into their claims.  




Civics: “Chevron, The Supreme Court, and the Law: The political class faces a nightmare — of accountability”



Glenn Reynolds:

Well, speaking as a professor of Administrative Law, I think I’ll bear up just fine.  I’ve spent the last several years telling my students that Chevron was likely to be reversed soon, and I’m capable of revising my syllabus without too much trauma.  It’s on a word processor, you know.  As for those academics who have built their careers around the intricacies of Chevron deference, well, now they’ll be able to write about what comes next. And if they’re not up to that task, then it was a bad idea to build a career around a single Supreme Court doctrine.

And that wasn’t the only important Supreme Court decision targeting the administrative state, a situation that has pundit Norm Ornstein, predictable voice of the ruling class’s least thoughtful and most reflexive cohort, making Larry Tribe sound calm.




Civics: “Two of the most prominent are Biden biographers Evan Osnos and Franklin Foer”



Ben Smith:

If you were surprised by Joe Biden’s frailty and discombobulation Thursday night, the media is, on some level, to blame.

Our core job is to tell you what powerful people don’t want you to know. It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that — scattered stories and open questions aside — the American press corps failed to penetrate this White House as it did the last one, and failed to provide an accurate portrait of the president.

Max, who covered this opaque White House for Politico before he got to Semafor, revisits those questions today, and speaks to Biden chroniclers Franklin Foer and Evan Osnos, who now argue that Biden seems to have deteriorated in recent months.

I’m curious what the sophisticated readers of the newsletter think, if only so I can sound smart on our special episode of Mixed Signals this week. What blame, if any, does the media bear for the Democratic Party’s crisis? Send us an email with your thoughts.




A Large-Scale Structured Database of a Century of Historical News



Emily Silcock, Abhishek Arora, Luca D’Amico-Wong, Melissa Dell

In the U.S. historically, local newspapers drew their content largely from newswires like the Associated Press. Historians argue that newswires played a pivotal role in creating a national identity and shared understanding of the world, but there is no comprehensive archive of the content sent over newswires. We reconstruct such an archive by applying a customized deep learning pipeline to hundreds of terabytes of raw image scans from thousands of local newspapers. The resulting dataset contains 2.7 million unique public domain U.S. newswire articles, written between 1878 and 1977. Locations in these articles are georeferenced, topics are tagged using customized neural topic classification, named entities are recognized, and individuals are disambiguated to Wikipedia using a novel entity disambiguation model. To construct the Newswire dataset, we first recognize newspaper layouts and transcribe around 138 millions structured article texts from raw image scans. We then use a customized neural bi-encoder model to de-duplicate reproduced articles, in the presence of considerable abridgement and noise, quantifying how widely each article was reproduced. A text classifier is used to ensure that we only include newswire articles, which historically are in the public domain




China begins smartphone inspections as part of espionage law



Yukio Tajima

Chinese national security authorities will have greater power to inspect smartphones and other electronic devices beginning Monday, one year after a stronger anti-espionage law took effect, raising fears that foreigners will face such inspections upon entering the country.

The new espionage law broadens the information covered to anything involving “national security and interests.” National security authorities now are permitted to inspect baggage and electronic devices simply on suspicion of espionage.

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Related:




you should probably have a kid



a letter to a friend

Benedict:

Last year you asked me for my best reason why you should have a kid. I gave you the answer that was true for me at the time, even though I knew it would be unpersuasive. I said that it was the right thing to do for the continued flourishing of humanity. A way of passing the torch as our ancestors did for us, in an line unbroken from some unknown Adam and mitochondrial Eve.

But my daughter is turning two and I have a new answer for you: there is nothing in the world that feels like this. I am so proud of her for no reason at all. She’s not a exceptional child in any way, at least not yet. She’s a little slow in learning to speak. She’s on the tall side, not breaking any records or anything, but if I ever walk her down the aisle she’ll probably be taller than me. She loves fidgeting, especially with buckles. She’s absurdly shy, so there are only maybe six or seven people in the world who have seen her toddling at full speed, smiling, laughing. She clams up around anyone else and gives them this suspicious side-eye. Her laugh would melt your heart though. There’s nothing in the world like it.




The Radical Faith of Harriet Tubman



Casey Cep:

“Combee” is one of two notable books out this year to wrestle with less familiar aspects of Tubman’s legacy. The other is “Night Flyer: Harriet Tubman and the Faith Dreams of a Free People” (Penguin Press), by Tiya Miles. Fields-Black conveys, in elaborate detail, what America’s Moses did to help abolish slavery; Miles addresses the far more elusive question of why she did it.

Neither “Combee” nor “Night Flyer” is a cradle-to-grave biography, though both Fields-Black and Miles are drawn to the cradle that Tubman’s father made for her, from the trunk of a sweet-gum tree. Born Araminta Ross, to Harriet Green and Benjamin Ross, around 1822, Tubman was first known as Minty. There were tender moments—she recalled being rocked in that hand-carved cradle—but her early years in Tidewater Maryland were filled mostly with physical torture and emotional terror.

Tubman was the fifth of nine children. Three of her sisters were sold and sent to the Deep South. Her parents were owned by two different families who separated them not long after her birth. While still a young girl, Tubman was taken away from her mother and forced to work as a maid, a nanny, a trapper, and a field hand. She was whipped constantly and regularly deprived of food and clothing. Short and frail, she was often debilitated by beatings and was once struck so hard with a two-pound iron weight that she suffered seizures for the rest of her life. What was never beaten out of her was an innate sense of liberty—the knowledge, self-evident to her, that God intended for her to be liberated from bondage, spiritually as well as literally. “God set the North Star in the heavens,” she said later. “He gave me the strength in my limbs; He meant I should be free.”

Tubman’s concept of freedom was not only hoped for, like faith; it was something she observed in the world around her. Like Frederick Douglass, born just a few towns away, Tubman saw the reality of liberation early, interacting with formerly enslaved people who had worked to buy their freedom or been manumitted by their owners. In Tubman’s lifetime, the Black population in Maryland was almost evenly divided between enslaved and free; the year before the Civil War started, the state had more free Black people than any other in the country. She married one of those free men, John Tubman, and after taking his name she took her mother’s, too.




Milwaukee School Board considers three candidates for interim superintendent



Rory Linnane:

The final candidates for the interim superintendent position are:

  • Eduardo Galvan, the district’s current acting superintendent, who has served as the district’s regional superintendent for the southwest region since 2018. Galvan has spent his entire career at MPS, beginning as a kindergarten teacher and working his way up as an assistant principal and principal.
  • Toni Dinkins, the district’s regional superintendent for the northwest region. She was previously the principal of MPS’ Samuel Clemens School.
  • Darrell Williams, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2022 and now works for the state Department of Public Instruction as the assistant state superintendent for the Division for Libraries and Technology. He was previously appointed by Evers to be the administrator of Wisconsin Emergency Management and has prior experience in education, including serving as the interim superintendent for the School District of Beloit.

In compiling the finalists, the school board reviewed lists of potential candidates from the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and the Council of Great City Schools.




K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Density backlash underway in Madison



Dave Cieslewicz:

The backlash is being led — or at least given voice — by the Cap Times along with former Mayor Paul Soglin, for whom that paper has always had something of a crush. Cap Times publisher Paul Fanlund has been writing about this, with especially sharp criticisms of the city, for the past few months. Soglin recently penned a stinging letter to the editor in the Wisconsin State Journal, accusing Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and “her crowd” of “abusive” land use practices. That same week Fanlund weighed in again on the issue, this time lauding Soglin for agreeing with him. I have every reason to believe Soglin is moving toward yet another run for mayor in 2027 and he sees this as his ticket back into office. Never mind that planning for BRT and related land use strategies took place under his most recent administration.




CTU and the Chicago Mayor



Austin Berg:

This is great reporting on how the Chicago Teachers Union wields power directly through the office of Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson.

It cites a draft letter from Johnson to Senate President Don Harmon that was never sent. I’m posting that full letter here publicly for the first time. ⬇️

There is a key passage, absent from the final letter, that reveals how Johnson plans to attack selective enrollment schools in Chicago.




Civics: Inside FICO and the Credit Bureau Cartel



Matt Stoller:

The attorney in a country town is as much a businessman as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis. – William Jennings Bryan, 1896

The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rohit Chopra, coined the term ‘junk fee,’ and has begun restructuring how financial markets work, removing medical debt from credit reports, fostering competition in credit cards, and examining big tech’s entrance into payments. And yet, for ideological reasons, to many bankers, Chopra is a villain running a government agency full of bureaucratic demons, whose goal is to force them to do paperwork on behalf of nebulous ‘consumers.’ 

So it was a weird day last month when Chopra had a room full of mortgage bankers nodding their heads in furious agreement, and even angry at their own trade association for helping a monopoly take advantage of them. HousingWire’s James Kleimann and Sarah Wheeler were shocked, calling it “Must-See TV.”




Notes on Madison’s planned $607M tax & spending increase, outcomes?



Abbey Machtig:

At $607 million, the Madison School District’s pair of referendums set for November will be the second-largest ask of voters by a school district in Wisconsin history.

It comes in behind Racine’s $1 billion referendum, which passed in 2020 by only five votes. The dollar amount Madison is requesting has been described as “unprecedented” in district history by the Wisconsin Policy Forum — not to mention the tax impacts homeowners would see if both questions were approved.

Madison property owners are being asked to fork over a lot of money.

The Madison School District, however, is not alone in its increasing reliance on referendums to fill operating budget holes and to pay for new construction. Other Wisconsin school districts, including Madison suburbs, also have put a number of big referendums on ballots in recent years.

While the dollar amounts are significantly less than what Madison schools are requesting this fall, Madison’s population — estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau at about 280,000 — is significantly greater as well.

It’s hard to make direct comparisons of the tax implications of various referendums, including those Madison is proposing, over the years. Inflation, property values, population changes, and the fact that operating referendums frequently ramp up over a period of time all have an impact.

But for context, here’s a look at the large school referendums Madison and other Dane County voters have approved in recent years.

——-

Madison, meanwhile excels in unopposed school board elections.

Yet:

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

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




Religious Charter School Is Unconstitutional, Oklahoma High Court Rules



Sara Randazzo and Matt Barnum:

Oklahoma’s highest court on Tuesday blocked the opening of what would have been the nation’s first religious charter school. The closely watched case is seen as the latest test of the boundary between church and state.

The ruling is being lauded by national charter-school leaders and those who resist any encroachment of religion into public education. It is a blow to religious conservatives who have laid the groundwork for religious charter schools for years.

“If you let one type of public school become religious, you can open the door to any type of public school becoming religious,” said Debbie Veney, a senior vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which has supported the legal battle against the school.

The legal fight isn’t over, as a lawyer for the school said the team will appeal the case to the Supreme Court. Hanging in the balance is the future of the charter school movement and whether a new source of public funding can go to support religious education.




Oklahoma State Superintendent Orders Bible Be Taught in Schools



Victoria Albert:

The Bible and Ten Commandments are cornerstones of Western civilization, Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s state superintendent of public instruction, said in a memorandum. He said the decision was effective immediately.

“This is not merely an educational directive but a crucial step in ensuring our students grasp the core values and historical context of our country,” Walters, a Republican who was elected to the role in 2022, said in the memorandum. He noted the “substantial influence” that the Bible and Ten Commandments had on the country’s founders and the constitution.

Rachel Laser, president and chief executive of the nonprofit group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called the decision a “transparent, unconstitutional effort to indoctrinate and religiously coerce public school students.”

“This is textbook Christian Nationalism: Walters is abusing the power of his public office to impose his religious beliefs on everyone else’s children,” Laser said in a statement.

The Oklahoma Education Association also criticized the decision, saying the order violates a state Supreme Court decision that gave school districts the right to choose which books were available in their classrooms.




Wisconsin’s latest charter school haul much smaller than past years



Benjamin Yount:

Wisconsin is getting millions of dollars from the federal government to grow charter schools in the state, but the haul for 2024 is tens-of-millions of dollars less than in the past.

The Department of Public Instruction this week announced an $11.4 million grant to either open or expand charter schools across the state.

“The program provides awards for three purposes: planning and implementation subgrants for charter schools opening in fall 2025, implementation subgrants for charter schools that recently opened or will open in 2024, and subgrants to aid the expansion of existing high-quality charter schools,” DPI said in a statement. “The state’s program prioritizes quality schools serving educationally disadvantaged students.”

Quinton Klabon, senior research director with the Institute for Reforming Government, said it is important DPI support charter schools in Wisconsin.

——

More.




K-12 tax & $pending climate: A Comprehensive Federal Budget Plan to Avert a Debt Crisis



Brian Riedl:

Annual budget deficits doubled to $2 trillion over 2022–23 and are headed toward $3 trillion a decade from now. Social Security and Medicare face a combined $124 trillion cash deficit over the next 30 years. The national debt is projected to soar past 165% of gross domestic product (GDP) within three decades—or as high as 300% of GDP if interest rates remain elevated and Congress extends expiring policies. At that point, interest costs could consume half to three-quarters of all federal tax revenues. Unless reforms are enacted, Washington’s escalating borrowing demands will come to overwhelm the capacity of financial markets to supply this much lending at plausible interest rates. When that event occurs, or even approaches, interest rates will soar and the federal government will not be able to pay its bills, with dire consequences for the U.S. economy.

In short, Washington is on a totally unsustainable fiscal path, and a debt crisis is coming.

There is a way to avert this debt crisis. However, lawmakers must act quickly to reform Social Security and Medicare, as every year 4 million more baby boomers retire into those programs, and the eventual cost of reform rises by trillions of dollars. This report presents a realistic, nonpartisan, and specific 30-year blueprint—each element of which is “scored” using data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)—to stabilize the national debt at the current 100% of GDP, and even reduce it eventually.

The fiscal consolidation in this report calls for trimming some Social Security and Medicare benefits for upper-income recipients. Some taxes would rise. Spending on defense would continue to fall as a share of the economy. In short, there is something in this blueprint for everyone to oppose. But letting the country plunge into a debt crisis would be far more painful than this blueprint’s reforms.




“Earn-as-you-learn instead of loans. Annual wages of up to $82,000 upon completion”



Kelly Meyerhofer:

The percentage of Wisconsin high school graduates going directly to college is plummeting. In 2022-23, it was less than 52%. That’s down about 10 percentage points from six years ago, according to state Department of Public Instruction data.

It’s a trend experts say could threaten Wisconsin’s economic competitiveness.

Michael Ramsey, another job fair attendee, graduated from high school last year and took a job at a local movie theater.

“I felt pressured to go to college because that’s what everyone does and what you need to ‘suceed in life’ or whatever,” Ramsey, 19, said. “But I just think college isn’t for me. The student loan thing — that worries me. I just don’t know how it works. And I just think there are better options right now, like the workforce.”

The non-college going trend has always existed, and tends to increase when the labor market is strong, said Rachel Burns, a senior policy analyst with the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. But Burns thinks there’s more to the current dynamic than the robust economy.




$190 billion in federal relief raised achievement — but not very much



Joanne Jacobs:

“The per-dollar returns of ESSER, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, measure up poorly in comparison with those of previously studied efforts to boost achievement,” writes Mahnken.

“The impact was small,” said Dan Goldhaber, the lead author of the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) study. “Only 20% of ESSER money was even earmarked for learning loss, and I don’t think there was a lot of oversight of whether that 20% was well spent.”

The Education Recovery Scorecard, led by Stanford sociologist Sean Reardon and Harvard economist Thomas Kane, found very similar results.

High-poverty districts that got significantly more funding per student showed stronger gains, said Goldhaber. But there was no attempt to track what kinds of spending were correlated with higher performance. “There are pretty big differences across states and districts in the degree of catch-up,” and we don’t know why.




The Pernicious Expansion of “Public Health”



Jeffrey Singer:

The US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps has come a long way since its inception in 1798 when Congress created the US Marine Hospital Service to care for sick and injured merchant seamen. This service evolved into a national marine hospital system staffed by a corps of physicians overseen by a Supervising Surgeon. In 1889, Congress formally named it the Commissioned Corps, a military branch administered by what eventually became renamed a Surgeon General.

Today, the Commission Corps is one of the eight uniformed services of the United States. It serves under the US Public Health Service, a US Department of Health and Human Services division. Its staff is sent to various federal agencies, including the Indian Health Service, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department. Its mission is to “protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our nation.”

In the 1980s, when Surgeon General C. Everett Koop embarked on an effort to make America a “smoke‐​free society by the year 2000,” it marked the beginning of an expanded role for the Surgeon General. Since Koop, Surgeons General have seen themselves as “the nation’s doctor.” They have influenced Congress to pass legislation on ever‐​expanding “health issues.” And because one can find a health angle for so many activities or substances that autonomous adults choose to engage in or consume, “public health policy” is bleeding into adults’ right to pursue happiness.

The latest example came yesterday when Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared firearm violence a “public health crisis.” Murthy released an advisory stating, “Overall, deaths caused by guns rose to a three‐decade high in 2021, driven by increases in homicides and suicides.” He called on Congress to enact new gun regulations. Of course, lockdowns and the associated emotional stress and anxiety that resulted from the public health establishment’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic made 2021 an atypical year.

But, surely, someone on Murthy’s staff must have updated him that there was a 7.7 percent decline in gun violence from 2022 to 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. This is the largest annual decline since the Archive’s inception in 2014. And according to a report from the Center for American Progress, “preliminary data suggest that gun violence broadly trended down in 2023 across the United States, representing a historic decrease.” Did Murthy jump the gun when he declared gun violence a public health crisis by not putting the 2021 gun violence data in proper context?




Confidentiality in the Face of Pervasive Surveillance:A Threat Model and Problem Statement



IETF:

Abstract

Since the initial revelations of pervasive surveillance in 2013, several classes of attacks on Internet communications have been discovered. In this document, we develop a threat model that describes these attacks on Internet confidentiality. We assume an attacker that is interested in undetected, indiscriminate eavesdropping. The threat model is based on published, verified attacks.

Status of This Memo

This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is published for informational purposes.

This document is a product of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and represents information that the IAB has deemed valuable to provide for permanent record. It represents the consensus of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB). Documents approved for publication by the IAB are not a candidate for any l l level of Internet
Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 5741.

Information about the current status of this document, any errata, and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at




Too much tolerance is destroying the peace



Matthew Crawford:

The city has been super understanding of Mr Hudson’s need to do his thing. To watch the bodycam footage of the cop who pulled him over is to get a window onto Blue America, 2024. It is like watching a Hindu farmer trying to coax a sacred cow out of a rice paddy, without laying hands on it, speakin harshly to it, or otherwise running afoul of the Brahmins who insist on the cow’s protected status. The cop is real chummy. “Remember the last time I pulled you over?” He tries to ingratiate himself with the entitled twat by informing him that he is an ASE certified master mechanic, as well as a policeman. It appears to be an attempt to establish common ground: I can appreciate your car. Essentially he offers a change of jurisdiction, from that of the public authority to that of a shared subculture.




Los Angeles School District Votes in Favor of Cellphone Ban



Sara Randazzo & Alyssa Lukpat:

The Los Angeles Unified School District voted Tuesday to ban cellphones during the entire school day, becoming the largest school system to take such a step in an era of concern about youth cellphone use and social-media addiction.

Los Angeles, like many districts, currently has a policy prohibiting phone use during class time while allowing devices during lunchtime and breaks. Implementation has varied from classroom to classroom, and teachers find it difficult to police without consistent consequences.

The move by the Los Angeles school board, which voted 5 to 2 in favor of the ban, clears the way for school leaders to create a policy on how to ban devices that would take effect by January. The extent of the ban could vary by grade level, the board said.

The district, the nation’s second largest, will consider physically locking phones away in lockers or pouches, an approach being taken by an increasing number of schools and districts across the country. Other schools that banned smartphones have given students Light Phones, which have only calling and texting features.




What a database of more than a thousand dismissive literature reviews can tell us



Richard Phelps:

I was once required to testify in a court case. My lawyer gave me a few pieces of advice, but he repeated one several times, which may be why I remember it. “Never say never,” he said. Or, conversely, never say always. Declarations of absolutes present opposing attorneys too wide an opening. They need to identify only a single example to contradict. In trial courts, one cannot get away with making reckless absolutist claims unchallenged.

In academic scholarship, however, it happens all the time.

Meet the dismissive literature review, in which an author at the beginning of a journal article declares the published research literature on the topic either nonexistent or so poor in quality that all of it is … dismissible. Typically, no evidence supports the claim. You’ve seen the claims yourself (e.g., “little previous research has, …” “few studies have looked at …,” “there is no research on …,” etc.). With one type of dismissive review — a firstness claim — authors boldly declare themselves to be the first in the history of the world to study a particular topic (as in, “this is the first study of …”).

In academia, declarations of a void in the research literature are rarely challenged. As long as a few unknowing, uncaring, or otherwise cooperative reviewers and editors let the statement slide, it passes unimpeded into the world of scholarship and becomes what I call a dismissive literature review. No one with a self or public interest in countering the claim is offered an opportunity to challenge.

The size of my collection of such reviews surpassed 1,000 some time ago, despite its limitation to a single, relatively small topic — U.S. education policy — and a small proportion of researchers in that field sometimes labeled “celebrity scholars.” Those are researchers blessed with public relations offices and information dissemination budgets supporting the promotion of their brand (think government-funded research centers, think tanks, the most prestigious universities).

The Malfunction of US Education Policy: Elite Misinformation, Disinformation, and Selfishness Roman & Littlefield, 188 pages.




Civics: On The Democrat Party, the legacy media and Biden/Rice/Obama/Harris



Balajj:

Recall that after the Democrat primary ended on June 8, Obama very consciously put Biden on stage, let him stumble and mumble, and then held his hand[10] to usher him off stage.

That was the act of a savvy politician: Obama was ostensibly appearing with Biden to help him, but was really there to help finish him. He intentionally ushered the old man off in that way to visibly (but deniably) show the world how powerless the “most powerful man in the world” was.

That primed his team for an intra-party contest, and foreshadowed what just happened. The Party put Biden on stage for the debate, let him stumble and mumble, and is now very firmly ushering him off stage.

So, as often happens these days, internet “conspiracy theory” anticipated the regime’s now-consensus reality. Solzhenitsyn[11] put it well: we knew that they were lying, they knew that they were lying, they even knew that we knew they were lying…but they were still lying.

It suited the Democrat Party to lie, to keep an aged and infirm man as their nominal head, just as it suited the Communist Party to have Andropov and Chernenko[12] in nominal command towards the end of the Soviet era. With no one man in charge, each Party apparatchik can quietly loot the public blind, while letting the walking corpse take the public blame.

——

In short: Biden is only the nominee because they lied about his senility.

——

The network state.

“We need to be more honest in our reporting on Biden”

Ann Althouse:

Meanwhile, he is the President of the United States, and he will be for 7 more months. That’s the immediate emergency. Beyond that, I want responsibility. Shine a light on those who covered for him and who faked surprise last night. How did Democratic Party characters communicate with CNN and how did the CNN panel hit the ground running, all on the same page, all with such intensity? I want to know. So untrustworthy! More.

Bill Ackman:

And yes, someone needs to take the Democratic leadership behind the woodshed.

The question to ask is:

Who is actually running the country?

No one will call the question because the 25th amendment says that the next in line is the Vice President.

Left wing media have had total and complete access to the president, his staff, and his administration.

They all knew, but they told you otherwise. They outright lied to you.

When Robert Hur, the special counsel who deposed the president, said that the president was not fit to stand trial and therefore chose not to bring charges, the media described him as a tool of the Republican Party and character assassinated him.

Via John Robb:

‘Imagine you were an investor in a company or a board member, and you walk into your board meeting and realize the CEO hasn’t shown up to work in for two years and really just the VPs have been running amok and doing whatever they wanted. You’d know at that point that anything a committee runs is inefficient, wasteful, and almost kleptocratic. So, essentially, you would expect the company to have been looted the entire time.’ @naval

——

That debate was yet another ding to the legitimacy of the government and the media.

They both told us everything was fine with Joe and that social media was lying.

Matt Taibbi:

Whoa. Murder on the CNN Express continued around a table of analysts who’ve been telling us for years that Joe Biden is a fit president. Each now echoed King. “The panic that I am hearing from Democrats is not like anything that I have heard,” concurred Abby Phillip. “They are now seeing a President… they do not necessarily believe can do this for another four years.” Barack Obama’s right hand David Axelrod said: “I can’t argue with either of them about how Democratic leaders are reacting.” Van Jones, playing the schmaltz role, offeredtearfully, “I love Joe Biden,” but “We’re going to want to see him consider taking a different course now.”

On MSNBC, whose brand is more hysteric loyalism, Joy Reid read the same script:

Bari Weiss:

Dean Phillips’s entire campaign was based on the observation that Biden was too old for the job. I texted Phillips and asked him if he wanted to comment on tonight. “Gandhi said to speak only when it improves upon the silence,” he texted back.

Two-:

Rarely are so many lies dispelled in a single moment. Rarely are so many people exposed as liars and sycophants. Last night’s debate was a watershed on both counts.

The debate was not just a catastrophe for President Biden. And boy—oy—was it ever.

But it was more than that. It was a catastrophe for an entire class of experts, journalists, and pundits, who have, since 2020, insisted that Biden was sharp as a tack, on top of his game, basically doing handstands while peppering his staff with tough questions about care for migrant children and aid to Ukraine.

Anyone who committed the sin of using their own eyes on the 46th president was accused, variously, of being Trumpers; MAGA cult members who don’t want American democracy to survive; ageists; or just dummies easily duped by “disinformation,” “misinformation,” “fake news,” and, most recently, “cheapfakes.”

Chris Arnade:

Legacy media went out of its way to ignore the issue to the point of reputation ruining absurdity. Including outright lying.

Now look where that got them. Complete utter idiots. That’s what they are.

Axios:

Former First Lady Michelle Obama privately has expressed frustration over how the Biden family largely exiled her close friend Kathleen Buhle after Buhle’s messy divorce from Hunter Biden, two people familiar with the relationship told Axios.

Why it matters: The family tensions — and the former first lady’s disdain for partisan politics — are partly why one of the Democrats’ most popular voices hasn’t campaigned for President Biden‘s re-election, the sources said, even as former President Obama has been a willing surrogate.

Via Glenn Greenwald:

Paul Krugman, NYT, 2/12/24 (l.):

Biden “is in full possession of his faculties — completely lucid and with excellent grasp of detail.” Just has a “stutter.”

Krugman, today (r.):

Biden should “step aside in favor of Harris.”

How do these people not puke looking at a mirror?

Darren Beattie:

This is not to say that there under no circumstances will be an effort to replace Biden. There could very well be, and it is more likely now than it was a week ago, though the likelihood of them actually replacing him is far less than people imagine even now. All of the steps and hurdles involved in replacing him would be uncertain and have their own risks, and give the public the impression of chaos that has to be weighed against the negative public impression of Biden’s cognitive condition.

——-

But instead, such allies are missing. That’s no surprise, because he’s not the one who controls the Rules Committee.

Vivek:

Ask yourself this too: who is actually running this country? Do you honestly believe Joe Biden is in charge? Is the “deep state” a conspiracy theory, or is it a reality hiding in plain sight?

Orwell

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right.”

George Orwell

Teddy:

Joe Biden’s next three fundraising events during a critical 48-hour period for this campaign.

As she says, you can’t just invent new laws to punish those you hate most, as was done here:

This was always a weird and creepy photograph, not to mention her boastful tweet.

Gaslighting the American people. Suddenly the media is complaining that the Biden WH covered-up, gaslit and lied about Biden’s cognitive incapacity.

Ann Althouse quoting Maureen Dowd:

“Jill Biden, lacking the detachment of a Melania and enjoying the role of first lady more, has been pushing — and shielding — her husband…”
“… beyond a reasonable point. After Thursday’s embarrassing debate performance, she exhorted the crowd and played teacher to a prized student: ‘You did a great job! You answered every question! You knew all the facts!’ This, to the guy who controls the nuclear codes…. The Democratic strategist Paul Begala… explained on CNN: ‘The first Democratic politician to call on Biden to step down, it’s going to end their career… None of them are going to say, ‘Hey, let me step forward and knife Julius Caesar.’ Biden is a beloved man in the Democratic Party.’… James Carville… told me Biden should call former Presidents Clinton and Obama to the White House and decide on five Democratic stars to address their convention in August…. Carville said the president should give a July 4 speech announcing he will let the next generation of Democratic leaders bloom…. And what if Joe and Jill cling on? In reply, Carville quoted… That which can’t continue, won’t.”

More history:

n 1919, President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke. Immediately thereafter, his wife Edith took control

David Remnick:

For the President to insist on remaining the Democratic candidate would be an act not only of self-delusion but of national endangerment.

Finally. Too.




“those who successfully completed a college degree are the most deserving of trillions in welfare?”



Palmer Luckey:

“Forgiving” the debt of college graduates is one of the most regressive tax schemes imaginable.

As a group, college graduates tend to be healthier, wealthier, happier, and more racially homogenous. To use the language of the left, they are privileged. Our country cannot provide unlimited welfare – there are limits to economic surplus, and printing money is another regressive scheme that most devalues the assets of those who can bear it least.




Recent birth counts point to rapidly shrinking school enrollment in Milwaukee



John Johnson:

Many things affect a school (or district’s) enrollment, but the most important is simply how many children live there.

In Milwaukee, recent birth trends point to a future of dwindling class sizes, beginning in elementary school and working their way up through the higher grades. Absent a spike in the birth rate or a big change in migration, the three sectors—district, charter, and private—will find themselves fighting over a shrinking pie.

Across the 1990s, the number of babies born fell by 13%. Then, the trend stabilized, even growing slightly, until the Great Recession. 773 fewer babies were born in 2010 than 2009, and annual declines continued after that. From 2009 to 2019, the number of births fell by 17%.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a drop in births similar to the Great Recession a decade prior. Births fell by 540 in 2020, 439 in 2021, and 358 in 2022. Losses stabilized in 2023, when the preliminary count shows 7,905 births, still 14% lower than prior to the pandemic.

——-

Abortion notes.

Commentary




Civics: IRS ‘Sincerely Apologizes To Ken Griffin And Thousands Of Other Taxpayers Whose Personal Information Was Leaked To The Press’



Dealbook:

The Internal Revenue Service has offered a rare public apology for a data leak that revealed the tax return details of Ken Griffin, the billionaire investor, and thousands of other affluent taxpayers.

The statement appears to draw a line under a legal battle. Griffin, the Citadel founder, sued the government in 2022 to force the agency to acknowledge its mistakes and to improve data security. The sides settled, and the I.R.S. published its apology yesterday.

A recap: Charles Littlejohn, an I.R.S. contractor, obtained the tax details of Griffin and others, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, and disclosed them to ProPublica, which published the findings in a series of articles. Littlejohn, who was also accused of leaking Donald Trump’s tax documents to The Times, was sentenced to five years in prison in January.

The I.R.S. acknowledged internal failures. Littlejohn “violated the terms of his contract and betrayed the trust that the American people place in the I.R.S. to safeguard their sensitive information,” the agency said. The I.R.S. added it had “made substantial investments in its data security to strengthen its safeguarding of taxpayer information.”

Griffin said that it was “an outcome that will better protect American taxpayers and that will ultimately benefit all Americans.”

——

More.

Former IRS Contractor Sentenced for Disclosing Tax Return Information to News Organizations




“The same justifications we’ve used to restrict conservative speech are being used to silence us on Palestine. We need a different approach”



TASCHA SHAHRIARI-PARSASHARE

Shortly before Eghbariah’s article was scheduled to go live, our journal’s president made the unprecedented decision to delay and ultimately block the piece. After hours of debate, a majority of our editors voted to sustain that decision.

25 of my fellow editors and I publicly objected. Two of my peers resigned. And yet, we were unable to prevent a group of smart, mostly liberal law students from engaging in what struck me as a clear act of censorship. 

Why? As I and others have discussed elsewhere, some editors worried about losing offers from prestigious law firms or having their “names and faces plastered on billboard trucks around campus accusing them of being Hamas supporters.” Others, who didn’t like Eghbariah’s conclusions, harped on any imperfection they could find—either in his essay or in the solicitation and editing process—despite overlooking comparable flaws in past blog essays.

The great War on Terror cop-out, standing — which killed cases like Clapper v. Amnesty Internationaland ACLU v. NSA — reared its head again. In the last two decades we’ve gotten used to the problem of legal challenges to new government programs being shot down precisely because their secret nature makes collecting evidence or showing standing or injury difficult, and Murthy proved no different. 

I’m not going to lie. It’s a bummer. For plaintiffs like Drs. Jay Bhattacharya and Aaron Kheriaty, for their lawyers and the Attorneys General of Louisiana and Missouri who brought the case, and for those of us who worked on the related Twitter Files stories, this is certainly a disappointment. Given that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security reportedly resumed contact with Internet platforms after oral arguments in this case in March led them to expect a favorable ruling, it’s logical to assume the Big Brothering will now resume in earnest.




I Went to Trade School During Law School. It Left Me Stunned



Darnell Epps

While several of my peers at Yale pursued joint JD/MBA degrees, I decided to wed my Doctor of Law with a diploma in manufacturing technology and machining. …

At the time, I was working as an entrepreneur-in-residence with a venture capital firm and exploring ways to use software to provide well-paid jobs to people in low-income neighborhoods. I believed that many Americans struggling in the labor market could benefit from well-paid jobs that didn’t require a college degree. Determined to understand the skills employers were seeking, I decided to enroll at Lincoln Tech myself. …

My graduating class at Yale seemed poised to produce dozens of “Big Law” attorneys, while Lincoln Tech would graduate just two machinists. I was stunned. Although I love the law, both as a profession and as a tool for social change, I also know that lawyers are better at billing clients than building and maintaining our nation’s critical infrastructure. …

My Yale-to-Lincoln Tech path has reaffirmed my belief in the untapped potential of skilled trades. It has shown me that the future of American prosperity depends not only on lawyers and executives but also on machinists, welders and all skilled tradespeople who are the backbone of our economy. But we must reshape the narrative around skilled trades and foster a cultural appreciation for these essential careers. …

——

More.




How a College Dropout Changed What We Know About the U.S. Economy



Justin Lahart:

The man whose thinking helped change our understanding of the American labor market lives in perpetual motion. If he isn’t working, he’s disassembling a broken kitchen mixer, or teaching himself how to splice rope, or listening to podcasts at double speed while doing the workout routine he calls his “seven-minute twerkout.”

David Autor cut a peripatetic path through most of his 20s as a college dropout and self-taught mechanic, before he stumbled into economics.

“I fell into it assbackwards,” he said.

Today, his work is helping shape how the White House is approaching the biggest labor issues from responding to the threat of a “China Shock 2.0” to thinking about the economic impacts of artificial intelligence.

Autor has shown how the rise of the computer was hurting middle-class jobs. He sounded the alarm that workers in the South were getting pulverized by Chinese imports, years before Donald Trump was elected president, playing off this fear.

Now, Autor’s research has taken an unexpectedly optimistic turn: He has shown how, after the pandemic struck, low-wage workers have started catching up. He holds a hopeful view of AI, arguing that it could help low-skilled workers.

“To me, the labor market is the central institution of any society,” said Autor, 60 years old. “The fastest way to improve people’s welfare is to improve the labor market.”




Further Audits of the taxpayer funded Milwaukee k-12 District



Corrinne Hess:

We had asked that the governor use the Audit Bureau, but he’s decided to go on a different path. That doesn’t mean we can’t pursue it as well. The more eyes looking at what happened to prevent problems going forward, the better.” 

As of Thursday, the MPS audit was not listed as one of the nine audits in progress or planned on the LAB website. 

Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said it’s “incredibly troubling that the state Department of Public Instruction knew that MPS was late on reporting their finances months ago, but waited until after the $252 million MPS referendum narrowly passed to release this information to the public.”

DPI said the state first became aware in late March that MPS may have submitted incorrect data that led to the state giving the district more money than it should have.

State Superintendent Jill Underly told WISN’s UPFront on June 23, DPI did not realize how bad it was until late April. At that time, DPI began daily meetings with MPS officials, Underly said. 

Stroebel said what is happening at MPS is concerning because the district’s actions could affect schools across the state. 

“I’ve already heard from a number of constituents, including school district employees in my district, who are concerned about how this crisis at MPS will impact their school’s finances,” Stroebel said. 




“Newsrooms have grown detached from their mission,”



Mark Judge:

Referencing one of those semi-regular and boring reports about the state of journalism, Noonan concludes with this:

What was really striking was there was no mention, not one, of the thrill of the chase, of getting the story—of journalism itself. It was all about the guck and mess, not the mission, and made them look like news bureaucrats, joyless grinds, self-infatuated bores.

Growing up with a father who was an editor at National Geographic, as well as with older brothers who introduced me to Hunter Thompson, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, to me journalism always meant that someone went out and found something cool to write about. Yes, there were columnists like George F. Will and Maureen Dowd who formulated opinions from their armchairs, but the main thrill of journalism was entering the world of a writer who had pursued and delivered a story. Even the movie critics and cultural writers found stories by exploring their subjects, and filled their reviews with insights and wisdom that came from long years of experience.

On the same day Noonan’s essay appeared at the Journal, movie critic Ty Burr published a beautiful eulogy for Donald Sutherland in The Washington Post. “I’ve always said that a movie critic who only knows about movies isn’t going to be very useful,” Burr once said,” that critics should know about life, because you’re really writing about life through the lens of the movies.” 

It’s a long way down from that to Taylor Lorenz.

Knowledgeable and wise, Burr’s piece could not have been written by a younger journalist. It reveals a writer who learned his craft through experience and earned his place by virtue of merit, not nepotism or politics. Burr was a movie programmer for HBO in the 1980s, so he became an expert in his subject through immersion. In his great book Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame, Burr wrote:

——

Matt Taibbi, one of the last working journalists in the west.




Civics: The Supreme Court Punts on Censorship



Matt Taibbi:

Standing and the related “traceability” issue doom Murthy v. Missouri, as the Supreme Court votes 6-3 to kick the Internet censorship can down the road

The Supreme Court today punted on Internet censorship, sending free speech advocates back to the drawing board while Joe Biden’s White House celebrated. 

“The Supreme Court’s decision,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, “helps ensure the Biden administration can continue our important work with technology companies to protect the safety and security of the American people.”

That “important work,” of course, includes White House officials sending emails to companies like Facebook, with notes saying things like “Wanted to flag the below tweet and am wondering if we can get moving on having it removed ASAP.” The Supreme Court sidestepped ruling on the constitutionality of this kind of behavior in the Murthy v. Missouri case with one blunt sentence: “Neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have established Article III standing to seek an injunction against any defendant.”

Jonathan Adler:

In a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Barrett, the Supreme Court concluded that none of the plaintiffs in Murthy v. Missouri had Article III standing to seek an injunction barring federal officials from seeking to influence content-moderation decisions on social media platforms. While the decision divided the Court, and Justice Alito wrote a lengthy dissent (joined by Justices Gorsuch and Thomas), Murthy appears to be a narrow decision, though one that sends a message to lower courts and litigants.

Here is Justice Barrett’s summary of the opinion:

Ilya Somin:

The plaintiffs in this case are people who allege that federal agencies (particularly the White House, the Surgeon General, and the CDC) pressured social media firms like Facebook and Twitter to bar posts about the Covid pandemic, vaccines, and some other issues, which the agencies regarded as harmful “misinformation.” The plaintiffs argue some of their posts were taken down or barred as a result. The lower courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on some of their claims, because they found extensive evidence that federal agencies did not just engage in persuasive “jawboning,” but threatened the social media firms with coercion, if they refused to comply. As the Fifth Circuit decision in the case put it:




Unused school buildings and choice



WILL

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has prepared a legal action against the Marinette School District for unlawfully wasting taxpayer dollars on an unused, vacant school building that is no longer operational. Despite being offered the asking price for the property, the Marinette School District has refused to sell it to a small Catholic school stating they do not want “competition.”

However, keeping the property vacant damages the community by misusing tax dollars on maintenance, and the building has become a crime magnet. WILL is urging the school district to do what’s best for taxpayers, property owners, and students and sell the property.

The Quotes: WILL Associate Counsel, Lauren Greuel, stated, “The school district ought to prioritize the safety and concerns of the public before their own. By not selling this vacant building, residents, taxpayers, and property owners are on the hook for lower land values and rising crime rates. The school district’s actions are a complete slap in the face to the community.”

Cheryl Sporie, the St. Thomas Aquinas Board of Trustee Chair who offered full price, remarked, “It is unfortunate the school district utterly refuses to work with us despite our fair and reasonable offer. We are not trying to take business away from them, we are simply trying to provide a better service for the students in this community already enrolled in our school.”




The Rise and Fall of 8th Grade Algebra



Chad Aldeman:

Algebra is a gateway toward more advanced mathematics courses, and passing the course in 8th grade is a strong predictor of future college success. All students can be math solvers, but students need opportunities to prove it.

Unfortunately, schools have been limiting opportunities for students to take Algebra in 8th grade, and it shows up in a remarkable graph of the national data.

In 1986, for example, 16% of American 13-year-olds were taking Algebra. After two decades of steady gains, that figure hit an all-time high of 34% in 2012.

But then it started to fall. By the 2022-23 school year, the percentage of 13-year-olds enrolled in Algebra had fallen back to 24%.




Civics: “In reality, prosecutors use all kinds of criteria to determine who gets prosecuted and who doesn’t”



Tom Knighton:

Sometimes, that’s informed by the DA’s politics. A conservative “tough on crime” type might prosecute someone that a more liberal DA would let walk, for example.

But again, as long as the defendant’s politics don’t play into things, I don’t have an issue with that. District attorneys are voted on, after all, and people deserve what they vote for.

In Manhattan, however, DA Alvin Bragg isn’t trying to be subtle. He’s blatantly allowing his politics to expressly determine who gets prosecuted and who doesn’t.

For example, we all know about Trump’s prosecution for a crime that makes absolutely no sense. Bragg distorted the law and likely only got a conviction because of an equally biased judge. The idea that an internal accounting error, at worst, is fraud was stupid beyond belief.

Then there’s the flip side, where now people feel betrayed by Bragg over who he didn’t prosecute.

Dozens of protesters swarmed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office buildingMonday to rip him for nixing charges against members of the anti-Israel mob that attacked Columbia University — calling the move “a betrayal.”

The demonstrators said that letting many of the rampaging protesters off scot-free sets “a strikingly dangerous precedent” — and called on the US Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute the crimes if the lefty DA won’t.




MEI



Paige Mclauflin:

Critics of corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are latching on to a new initialism dubiously similar to DEI. Meet “MEI,” short for “merit, excellence, and intelligence,” and coined by Alexandr Wang, cofounder and CEO of Scale AI, a startup valued at $4 billion that provides companies with labeled data used to train artificial intelligence models. “MEI,” according to a blog post authored by Wang, represents a “hiring principle” that ensures one “[hires] only the best person for the job.”

Hiring based on merit has benefited Scale, Wang argued, as the company landed opportunities like partnerships with OpenAI and the Department of Defense. And the startup will continue to take this approach instead of “pick[ing] winners and losers based on someone being the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ race, gender, and so on,” Wang added.

“We hire only the best person for the job, we seek out and demand excellence, and we unapologetically prefer people who are very smart,” Wang wrote. (Scale AI declined Fortune’s requests for comment.) “We treat everyone as an individual. We do not unfairly stereotype, tokenize, or otherwise treat anyone as a member of a demographic group rather than as an individual.”

Wang’s post garnered praise from several business leaders, including billionaire Elon Musk, Sequoia partner Shaun Maguire, and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, all of whom have previously criticized corporate DEI programs.




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