Wausau man raises $26K to pay off students’ school lunch debts

Rob Mentzer:

A Wausau-area pastor raised $26,000 in less than a week to pay off students’ school lunch debts in two central Wisconsin school districts.

The Rev. Yauo Yang is an Iraq War veteran and the pastor for The Cross Church in Schofield. He launched a GoFundMe fundraiser on April 10 and publicized it with posts on social media. The goal was to raise $20,000, the amount needed to pay off lunch debts accumulated by students in the Wausau School District and neighboring D.C. Everest School District. 

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Yang, a parent of six kids in the district, said he knew from his own experience that sometimes his kids’ school lunch accounts can get low or go temporarily into the red.

“Thankfully, my wife and I are in a position where we can pay off their student lunch debt,” Yang said. “But … there are other families who truly do struggle with that.”

The fundraiser attracted 344 donors who gave a total of $26,514. While there were a handful of anonymous donors who gave $500 or $1,000, most of the donations were much less. Yang said he was “overjoyed” and impressed with the community’s generosity. 

Why should Americans who don’t go to college or who attend lower cost public universities be subsidizing high-cost private universities, their endowments, and their poisonous ideologies?

Bill Ackman:

Imagine that you and your family borrowed the $360k it costs for four years at @Columbia plus interest at today’s rates.

Regardless of your religious or ethnic background, is this what you signed up for?

Private university mismanagement also begs the question as to why private universities should have the benefit of a tax exemption.

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

That extra money will go toward rising health care costs….

Becky Jacobs:

When in-state undergraduates start classes this fall, they’ll pay more to attend the Universities of Wisconsin. That extra money will go toward rising health care costs and pay increases for university employees and financial aid for students, among other things.

Earlier this month, the UW Board of Regentsapproved a 3.75% tuition rate increase for the second consecutive year after a decade-long tuition freeze.

Out-of-state undergraduate students will also pay more, as will most graduate students.

The latest 3.75% hike is necessary to maintain the system’s bottom line and keep up with inflation, according to President Jay Rothman.

Before the board unanimously approved the increase on April 4, Sean Nelson, vice president for finance and administration, explained how the Universities of Wisconsin determined a “reasonable tuition rate,” and the ways that money will be used.

Here’s what Nelson presented to the Regents.

India’s Broken Education System Threatens Its Superpower Dreams

Megha Mandavia:

India’s young people need jobs, but relatively few get training to work on a production line; the Renault Nissan automotive plant in Chennai. Photo: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg News

India kicked off the world’s biggest election in human history on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is favored, but whoever wins has a big challenge ahead: India urgently needs jobs for its millions of young people, but its education system often produces the wrong kind of graduates.

If that can’t be remedied, India’s ambition to become a second “world’s factory floor” to rival China could unravel before it properly begins.

Study: Alphabetical order of surnames may affect grading

By Jeff Karoub

Knowing your ABCs is essential to academic success, but having a last name starting with A, B or C might also help make the grade.

An analysis by University of Michigan researchers of more than 30 million grading records from U-M finds students with alphabetically lower-ranked names receive lower grades. This is due to sequential grading biases and the default order of students’ submissions in Canvas — the most widely used online learning management system — which is based on alphabetical rank of their surnames.

What’s more, the researchers found, those alphabetically disadvantaged students receive comments that are notably more negative and less polite, and exhibit lower grading quality measured by post-grade complaints from students.

“We spend a lot of time thinking about how to make the grading fair and accurate but even for me it was really surprising,” said Jun Li, associate professor of technology and operations at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. “It didn’t occur to us until we looked at the data and realized that sequence makes a difference.”

Li co-authored the study with doctoral students Jiaxin Pei from the School of Information and Helen (Zhihan) Wang from Ross. It is under review by the journal Management Science.

Civics: Equal Protection Project Opposes Proposed DEI Amendment to the NY State Constitution

William Jacobson:

The non-profit Equal Protection Project (EqualProtect.org) is devoted to opposing racism and racial discrimination in all forms. EqualProtect.org believes there is no ‘good’ form of racism, and the remedy for racism never is more racism. EqualProtect.org has undertaken dozens of legal actions seeking to uphold the principle of equal protection of the laws.

EqualProtect.org opposes the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the New York State Constitution because it would embed reverse-discrimination and tenets of Critical Race Theory and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into the NY State Constitution, damaging preexisting antidiscrimination efforts by creating a legal loophole based on the motivation for discrimination.

The NY Equal Rights Amendment currently scheduled to be on the ballot in November 2024 (subject to a pending court procedural challenge), consists of two distinct provisions amending Section 11, Article 1 of the NY State Constitution (Senate Bill S51002, capitalized text are changes from prior law, bold emphasis added):

Understanding math reform ideology with Tom Loveless 

Chalk & Talk:

In this episode, math professor Anna Stokke is joined by education policy expert, Dr. Tom Loveless.

They discuss the National Math Advisory Panel and some of the recommendations in from its final report.

They talk about the influential 1989 NCTM standards and their global impact on math education as well as the history of the math wars. Tom discusses some of his concerns about the California Math Framework and whether its recommendations are aligned with those in the National Math Advisory Panel report.

They cover many other topics such as San Francisco’s unsuccessful de-tracking initiative and the importance of memorizing math facts.

This episode is a must listen for anyone who teaches math, as well as parents and policymakers. PREVIOUS EPISODES MENTIONED Red flags in education research with Ben Solomon (Ep 23) Modern relevance in the math curriculum with Brian Conrad (Ep 15)

Civics: Senate votes on Warrantless Surveillance: Paul Amdt No. 1828 

Roll Call Vote 118th Congress – 2nd Session XML Vote Summary

Statement of Purpose: To prohibit the use of authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to surveil United States persons, to prohibit queries under such Act using search terms associated with United States persons, and to prohibit the use of information acquired under such Act in any criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding or as part of any criminal, civil, or administrative investigation.

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Grouped By Vote Position 

YEAs —11

Braun (R-IN)
Daines (R-MT)
Hawley (R-MO)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kennedy (R-LA)
Lee (R-UT)
Lummis (R-WY)
Marshall (R-KS)
Paul (R-KY)
Scott (R-FL)
Tuberville (R-AL)

NAYs —81

Baldwin (D-WI)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Booker (D-NJ)
Boozman (R-AR)
Britt (R-AL)
Brown (D-OH)
Budd (R-NC)
Butler (D-CA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Cassidy (R-LA)
Collins (R-ME)
Coons (D-DE)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cotton (R-AR)
Cramer (R-ND)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Duckworth (D-IL)
Durbin (D-IL)
Ernst (R-IA)
Fetterman (D-PA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hassan (D-NH)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
Kaine (D-VA)
Kelly (D-AZ)
King (I-ME)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lankford (R-OK)
Lujan (D-NM)
Markey (D-MA)
McConnell (R-KY)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Moran (R-KS)
Mullin (R-OK)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Ossoff (D-GA)
Padilla (D-CA)
Peters (D-MI)
Reed (D-RI)
Ricketts (R-NE)
Risch (R-ID)
Romney (R-UT)
Rosen (D-NV)
Rounds (R-SD)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Scott (R-SC)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Sinema (I-AZ)
Smith (D-MN)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Sullivan (R-AK)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Tillis (R-NC)
Van Hollen (D-MD)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Welch (D-VT)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wyden (D-OR)
Young (R-IN)

Not Voting – 8

Blackburn (R-TN)
Capito (R-WV)
Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Hagerty (R-TN)
Manchin (D-WV)
Schmitt (R-MO)
Vance (R-OH)
Warnock (D-GA)

Why a Housing Shortage Exists Despite More Houses Per Person

by  Alex Tabarrok

The real explanation for rising prices amid greater homes per capita is actually quite simple, fewer kids. Kevin Erdmann has an excellent post on this going through the numbers in detail. I will illustrate with a stylized example.

Suppose we have 100 homes and 100 families, each with 2 parents and 2 kids. Thus, there are 100 homes, 400 people and 0.25 homes per capita.  Now the kids grow up, get married, and want homes of their own but they have fewer kids of their own, none for simplicity. Imagine that supply increases substantially, say to 150 homes. The number of homes per capita goes up to 150/400 (.375), an all time high! Supply-side skeptics are right about the numbers, wrong about the meaning. The reality is that the demand for homes has increased to 200 but supply has increased to just 150 leading to soaring prices.

Mounting the defence for a knowledge-rich curriculum

Josh Valence;

The second reason I wrote the series was because I felt, like many others, as though engagement in rigorous, subject-specific curriculum design was the lifeblood of school improvement. I felt this was particularly evident in disadvantaged contexts, where some children arrived at school with limited vocabulary and comparatively profound gaps in their knowledge. My hope was that I might contribute in some small way to the development of curricula across schools where it was sorely needed.

Running throughout the series was the idea that knowledge was powerful. Indeed, the second post looked solely at the notion of a knowledge-rich curriculum. And while I stopped short at offering a definition, I posited that a “knowledge-rich curriculum is one in which knowledge is given primacy, and is sequenced and taught in a manner that allows for this knowledge to be retained and built upon.” In short, one where knowing stuff is privileged. One where knowledge is an end in itself.

Civics: “found that fact-checking organisations, including the Global Disinformation Index, were labelling political opinions, particularly those on the Right, as disinformation”

Archie Earle:

UnHerd was targeted by the GDI, which said that a place on its “dynamic exclusion list” of publications was merited due to the site having “anti-LGBTQI+ narratives” and being “anti-trans”, equating widely-held views on gender to disinformation.

Kathleen Stock, an UnHerd columnist highly commended at last night’s Press Awards, was labelled a “prominent gender-critical feminist” by the GDI and used as an example of disinformation.

Despite his criticism of the GDI, it was reported in 2023 by the Washington Examiner that Musk had partnered with the companies affiliated with the index to tackle disinformation on X.

The site has been widely praised for the success of the flagship “Community Notes” feature, which allows users to rate the accuracy of posts on the platform and combat disinformation internally, leading to notes on politicians as well as high-level organisations.

Calculus Made Easy

www

Some calculus-tricks are quite easy. Some are enormously difficult. The fools who write the textbooks of advanced mathematics — and they are mostly clever fools — seldom take the trouble to show you how easy the easy calculations are. On the contrary, they seem to desire to impress you with their tremendous cleverness by going about it in the most difficult way.

Being myself a remarkably stupid fellow, I have had to unteach myself the difficulties, and now beg to present to my fellow fools the parts that are not hard. Master these thoroughly, and the rest will follow. What one fool can do, another can.

Tantrums and Turf Wars: The School Car Line Is Chaos

Scott Calvert:

The bumper-to-bumper jockeying at school drop-off and pickup is lurching past annoyance en route to true-crime drama.

“DO NOT cut the line. DO NOT drive on the gravel path near the water tower,” Principal Michael Girouard told Red Oak Middle School parents in Battleboro, N.C., in a scolding missive. “If you find yourself running late, get up earlier.”

Jordyn Hon of Plant City, Fla., fed up with people driving through neighbors’ yards to jump the line before and after school, posted a map on
Facebook
with hand-drawn arrows showing the proper protocol at Springhead Elementary School.

“There’s two different blocks you can take to simply act like a decent human being,” Hon wrote. Her post drew a stream of huzzahs, including one woman’s observation that “there isn’t a worse car line than Springhead and that’s a hill I’ll die on.”

Parents have long dreaded the nerve-fraying navigation required for car caravans ferrying students to and fro. It seems to be getting worse. New federal data show a rising share of students who ride in cars to school. It isn’t clear whether the growth comes from bus-driver shortages, more work-from-home parents or other reasons.

MPS board member Aisha Carr’s phone location data obtained in misconduct investigationCivics:

Rory Linnane

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office obtained cellphone GPS records of Milwaukee School Board member Aisha Carr earlier this year as part of an investigation into whether she lied about living in the district she represents, according to a recently unsealed search warrant.

The district attorney’s office didn’t answer questions from the Journal Sentinel Friday about whether its investigation into the potential misconduct was still ongoing. Circuit court records do not show any misconduct charges filed against Carr.

Carr told the Journal Sentinel Friday that there “is no investigation” about her residency.

“I have and continue to reside in my district,” Carr said in a text message.

According to records attached to the warrant, the district attorney’s office was investigating Carr for possible violations of state law governing the conduct of public officials. It cited state statute 946.12 (4), which makes it a Class I felony for public officials to intentionally falsify records. It carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and two years of extended supervision.

In asking for the warrant, an investigator for the district attorney’s office said Carr had “filed numerous documents” with MPS listing an address he believed would be shown to be false.

Last year, a school board member in the Hartland-Lakeside School District who was accused of using his father’s address on his campaign forms was charged with misdemeanor counts of election fraud. He was sentenced to 30 days at Waukesha County’s Huber Facility.

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Meanwhile, warrantless surveillance continuesand.

Notes on uncontested school board elections

David Blaska:

Those days dwindled in Dane County a good 30 years ago. In tandem with the teachers union and unionized labor, the Dane County Democrat(ic) Party has been muscling into office progressive candidates who, among other achievements, defunded school resource police officers and dumbed down honors classes.

In the last contested Madison school board election, the Democrat(ic) Party endorsed one Blair Mosner Feltham, who proclaimed “Our schools are products of white supremacy.” The Wisconsin State Journal also endorsed the Woke candidate, even after one of its education beat reporters proclaimed that critical race theory “isn’t taught in any of Wisconsin’s K-12 schools.” Yet, District officials acknowledgethat the NY Times’ 1619 Project is taught in Madison classrooms.

Endorsing Ms. MF over a working immigrant father, The State Journalquoted a UW-Oshkosh professorwho maintained that Issues like Covid lockdowns, critical race theory, and classroom chaos are “pretty disconnected from the reality of being a school board member.” Maybe that was the problem. 

 Inconvenient headline: “Democrats spend [$230,000] on Wisconsin school board races, overtaking Republicans” (Read & Weep!)

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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: “Thanks to Doug Dern for keeping the Natural Law fire burning, lending a hand to Bobby, and throwing a monkey wrench into the 2-party system”

Ann Althouse:

“For 22 years, [Doug] Dern, a bankruptcy lawyer with a small practice outside Detroit, has almost single-handedly kept the Natural Law Party on Michigan’s ballot.”Each cycle, the party runs a handful of candidates in obscure state races to meet Michigan’s minimum polling requirements for minor parties. ‘Keep that ballot access,’ Mr. Dern, 62, said in an interview on Friday. ‘Because someday, a candidate is going to come along who’s going to be perfect for it. Someday, the third parties are going to be hot.’… “

Female University of Chicago student fights off a robber by grabbing his gun as he tried stealing her phone.

Collin Rugg:

21-year-old Madelyn fended off a thug by grabbing his gun and removing the magazine before he hopped into a getaway car with her phone.

The thug looked dumbfounded as he looked for his magazine but Madelyn had thrown it in a bush.

Shortly before the incident, four suspects robbed two other students and demanded their belongings at gunpoint.

Wrong couple divorced after computer error by law firm Vardag’s

BBC:

A couple were divorced by mistake after a computer error at a family law firm. 

A staff member at Vardag’s accidentally opened the file of a couple referred to in court papers as Mr and Mrs Williams, when trying to apply for a final divorce order for a different client.

Vardag’s applied three days later to rescind the order but judge Sir Andrew McFarlane dismissed the application. 

The firm’s head Ayesha Vardag said the judge’s decision effectively meant “the computer says no, you’re divorced”. 

Court papers say that Mrs Williams applied for divorce in January 2023 following 21 years of marriage. 

The mistake was made by solicitors acting for Mrs Williams on 3 October last year on an online divorce portal operated by HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

Fight over admission to Boston’s exam schools heads to US Supreme Court

By James Vaznis

A group of white and Asian-American parents in Boston are taking their fight over admission to the city’s exam schools to the US Supreme Court, arguing that efforts to diversify enrollment is resulting in discrimination against Asian-American and white applicants.

“Wherever competitive admission K-12 schools exist, it seems that policymakers have targeted them for their racial makeup,“ according to a petition filed by the Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence seeking a court review. “And in every one of these circumstances, Asian Americans have been singled out for unfavorable treatment.”

Notes on transferring $tudent loans

Nellie Bowles

Sorry, I mean “forgiving student debt.” Biden this week paid off another $7.4 billion in student loans, making his total student loan cancellation something like $153 billion. And by cancellation, I mean tax dollars were used to make the ledger go to zero. How much exactly? From Penn Wharton’s analysis: “We estimate that President Biden’s recently announced ‘New Plans’ to provide relief to student borrowers will cost $84 billion, in addition to the $475 billion that we previously estimated for President Biden’s SAVE plan.” But that goes to really needy people, right? Well, actually, at least 750,000 of those households are “making over $312,000 in average household income.” Meanwhile, to anyone who questions this allocation of resources, the White House answer is to shame them from official White House accounts by listing how much in pandemic loans were forgiven for House Republicans who own individual small business, which is weird because the reason businesses needed pandemic relief was because the White House banned them from operating. 

Civics: Notes on the rule of law and immigration

Jack Birle:

The bill, Senate File 2340, passed in the state Senate, 34-16, and in the state House, 64-30, last month. It makes it a state crime for a person to be in Iowa if they were denied entry into the country or are an illegal immigrant who has previously been deported. Reynolds says the law will allow the state to enforce immigration laws that already exist.

“The Biden Administration has failed to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, putting the protection and safety of Iowans at risk. Those who come into our country illegally have broken the law, yet Biden refuses to deport them,” Reynolds said in a statement on Wednesday.

The U.S. Thinks It’s Harder to Learn Polish or Greek Than Swahili or Malay

Frank Jacobs:

For English-speakers, Romanian is easier to learn than German. And you’ll be speaking Swahili sooner than Polish.

How is that? Because the Foreign Service Institute says so. Located in Arlington, Virginia, the FSI is the U.S. government’s main provider of foreign affairs training, including language courses.

As the chief learning organization for the State Department, the FSI is where diplomats go to study the languages they will need on foreign postings. The Institute has a very practical approach to languages, dividing them into four categories, depending solely on how long it takes to learn them.

K-12 Governance at the taxpayer funded Milwaukee School District

Rory Linnane:

Carr, who was elected in 2021, said she expected that the complaints were likely about her because of disagreements she has had with other board members and administrators. Carr has been critical of MPS leadership and opposed the April 2 referendum that raised the district’s taxing authority.

“They haven’t officially named me, but I am certain it’s me,” Carr said before the meeting. “What I can say for now is that I have done nothing illegal or unethical.”

Residents pack board room to support Carr, call for change at MPS

Over 70 people filled the school board meeting room Thursday night — an unusual sight for the space. Word had spread that board members could take action against Carr. Residents cheered for Carr throughout the evening, with some speakers saying they would work to vote out any board members who tried to boot Carr from the board.

The US isn’t just reauthorizing its surveillance laws – it’s vastly expanding them

Caitlin Vogus

The US House of Representatives agreed to reauthorize a controversial spying law known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act last Friday without any meaningful reforms, dashing hopes that Congress might finally put a stop to intelligence agencies’ warrantless surveillance of Americans’ emails, text messages and phone calls.

The vote not only reauthorized the act, though; it also vastly expanded the surveillance law enforcement can conduct. In a move that Senator Ron Wyden condemned as “terrifying”, the House also doubled down on a surveillance authority that has been used against American protesters, journalists and political donors in a chilling assault on free speech.

Section 702 in its current form allows the government to compel communications giants like Google and Verizon to turn over information. An amendment to the bill approved by the House vastly increases the law’s scope. The Turner-Himes amendment – so named for its champions Representatives Mike Turner and Jim Himes – would permit federal law enforcement to also force “any other service provider” with access to communications equipment to hand over data. That means anyone with access to a wifi router, server or even phone – anyone from a landlord to a laundromat – could be required to help the government spy.

The Senate is expected to vote on the House bill as soon as this week, and if it passes there, Joe Biden is likely to sign it. All Americans should be terrified by that prospect.

——

A controversial bill reauthorizing the Section 702 spy program may force whole new categories of businesses to eavesdrop on the US government’s behalf, including on fellow Americans.

Buying votes: The politics of student loan transfers

The Economist

These moves are the latest in a long White House campaign to relieve hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt. The White House estimates that it already has approved $153bn (or 0.6% of gdp) for more than 4m borrowers. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (crfb) believes the new policies cost $147bn. The hardship cancellation could range between $100bn and $600bn, depending how stringent the final proposal is.

This is probably good politics for Mr Biden, as the Democratic Party continues to consolidate support among college-educated voters and worries about losing rank-and-file union members seduced by Mr Trump’s overtures towards them. As policies, they are retrograde bungs to favoured groups at the expense of other Americans.

America’s trust in its institutions has collapsed

The Economist:

As far as stereotypes go, brash national self-confidence has long been a defining feature of how Americans are viewed abroad. In 2006, when Gallup first started asking Americans about their trust in key institutions, the country ranked at the top of the g7 league table, tied with Britain. In 2023, for the first time, America came last.

New data from Gallup, a pollster, show that American trust in several national institutions is on the decline. That may not be surprising, given the fraught state of the country’s politics, but the cumulative fall over the years is startling (see chart). Twenty years ago Americans had the highest confidence in their national government of people in any g7 country. Today they have the lowest. Americans are tied with Italians in having the lowest trust in their judicial system, and come last in faith in honest elections. Even the army is suffering from a dip. Although still high at 81%, American trust in its armed forces is now lower than at any point since 2006, and—gasp—lower than in France.

The reasons behind this crisis of confidence in the self-declared greatest country on Earth are varied. The roots of a (healthy) scepticism of government can be traced back to the Vietnam war and the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. The gradual dying-out of the second world war generation, which had significantly higher institutional trust than later generations, also plays a role. However, more recent developments help explain the sharp decline of the past years.

Governance, influence and elections: Evers “mulligans” and legislation

Rick Eisenberg:

Gov. Evers thinks we need divine protection from @WILawLiberty preventing him from legislating by playing an acrostic game, restoring the separation of powers or preventing persons from being treated differently on the basis of their race. God help us, indeed.

—-

Curious. I asked Governor Eavers about his use of teacher mulligans to undermine early literacy legislation some years ago…

Liam Beran:

In an interview, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers told the Cardinal he’s “always in favor of making sure things are always transparent” but that WILL’s involvement in creating the policy proposals is part of people weighing in on legislation and “how the system works these days.”

“They’re active in every part of our lives,” Evers said. “It seems like they are the go-to people on any conservative issue, whether it’s voting or just about any walk of life.”

Student suspended for using term ‘illegal alien’ in English class, even though the term is legally accurate and protected by the First Amendment

By Hans Bader 

The term “illegal alien” is used in federal and state laws, the Code of Federal Regulations, court briefs, and Supreme Court decisions such as Arizona v. United States (2012). But as the Carolina Journal reported on April 15:

A 16-year-old student at Central Davidson High School in Lexington, North Carolina was suspended for three days last week after using the term ‘illegal alien’ during a vocabulary assignment in his English class.

Leah McGhee’s son has a teacher who assigned vocabulary words during class last Tuesday, including the word ‘alien.’ McGhee says her son made an effort to understand the assignment and responded to his teacher, asking, “Like space aliens or illegal aliens without green cards?”

According to an email describing the incident, sent to local officials and shared with Carolina Journal, a young man in class took offense to his question and reportedly threatened to fight him, prompting the teacher to call in the assistant principal. Ultimately, his words were deemed by administrative staff to be offensive and disrespectful to classmates who are Hispanic.

Civics: Thoughts on the resignation of the former NPR senior editor

Matt Taibbi:

Last week, NPR senior editor Uri Berliner rattled the media world with a tell-all piece in The Free Press,I’ve Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust.” He detailed a series of problems, including what he described as a transition from a “liberal bent” to a more “knee-jerk, activist, [and] scolding” posture, representing the “distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population.” He also described serious coverage failures surrounding Russiagate, the Hunter Biden laptop story, and Covid-19. 

The ghoul pools in the media world started immediately. It’s one thing for a former employee to out so many serious newsroom problems (including a devastating account of one of NPR’s “best” journalists admitting to being glad to not cover the laptop story, because it “could help Trump”), but it’s rare for a still-working senior employee to drop that kind of bomb. Berliner in fact was hit with a five-day unpaid suspension last Friday, but this wasn’t announced until Tuesday, when I wrote, “The Vegas over/under line on Berliner’s days left has not been released.”

Civics: Notes on Lawfare and Politics

Ann Althouse:

Trump’s assertion that the prosecution is “unfair and politically motivated” may be true even if the court carries out its duties perfectly. Trump may be “fortunate to live in a country” that has some dedication to the rule of law, but that doesn’t deprive him of the reason to complain that the prosecution seems politically motivated. Again, even if the court perfectly carries out its obligation to the rule of law, Trump is motivated to cry out about the onerous prosecutions, which are undercutting his ability to campaign for the presidency.

Trump has made these complaints part of his campaign. And don’t most Americans, at this point, agree that the prosecutions are politically motivated? Will anyone change their mind because the New York Times Editorial Board assures them that we’ve got the rule of law in this country and Trump, the criminal defendant, has “robust rights”?

It’s too far gone. And it’s painful to watch.

Notes on education fee $treams

Alex Tabarrok:

Like everyone, I dislike these kinds of fees, although I don’t think they are a good subject for legislation. But I would certainly not prevent firms from offering a simple, up-front fee. And yet that is exactly what the Biden administration is doing in higher education.

So called Inclusive Access programs let colleges package textbooks with tuition and other fees. Students get one bill and access to textbooks on the first day of college. It’s convenient, no more hunting for textbooks or sticker shock. In addition, inclusive access programs give colleges bargaining power when negotiating prices.

Strangely, the Biden administration’s Department of Education wants to ban colleges from offering inclusive access programs. Thus, the Dept. of Education is arguing that simplified pricing is bad for consumers at the same time as the FTC is arguing that simplified pricing is good for consumers. What makes this contradiction even more baffling is that Inclusive Access was a program promoted in 2015 by the Obama-Biden Administration!

Proponents of the ban argue that letting students negotiate their own purchases lets them better tailor the outcome. Maybe, but that’s the same argument for letting airlines unbundle seat choice and baggage allowances. Hard to have it both ways. Pricing is complex.

Before smartphones, beepers were in the crosshairs of parents, schools and lawmakers

Louis Anslow

The pager panic began with a 1988 Washington Post report on the gadgets prevalence in the drug trade, quoting DEA and law enforcement officials. The piece was syndicated throughout the US under headlines like “Beepers flourish in drug business” , “Beepers Speed Drug Connections” and “Drug beepers: Paging devices popular with cocaine dealers

The spread of the story stoked concerns that beepers in the hands of youths weren’t just a distraction – a common complaint from teachers – but also a direct line to drug dealers. One school district official told The New York Times: “How can we expect students to ‘just say no to drugs’ when we allow them to wear the most dominant symbol of the drug trade on their belts.”

NPR’s new CEO exemplifies the ideological capture of America’s institutions.

Christopher Rufo:

What you notice first about Maher’s public speech are the buzzwords and phrases: “structural privilege,” “epistemic emergency,” “transit justice,” “non-binary people,” “late-stage capitalism,” “cis white mobility privilege,” “the politics of representation,” “folx.” She supported Black Lives Matter from its earliest days. She compares driving cars with smoking cigarettes. She is very concerned about “toxic masculinity.”

On every topic, Maher adopts the fashionable language of left-wing academic theory and uses it as social currency, even when her efforts veer into self-parody. She never explains, never provides new interpretation—she just repeats the phrases, in search of affirmation and, when the time is right, a promotion.

Maher understands the game: America’s elite institutions reward loyalty to the narrative. Those who repeat the words move up; those who don’t move out.

Next, you notice the partisanship. Maher was “excited” about Elizabeth Warren in 2012. She “just [couldn’t] wait to vote” for Hillary in 2016. She once had a dream about “sampling and comparing nuts and baklava on roadside stands” with Kamala Harris. She worked to “get out the vote” in Arizona for Joe Biden but slightly resented being called a “Biden supporter”; for her, it was simply a matter of being a “supporter of human rights, dignity, and justice.”

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a “deranged racist sociopath.”

If you read Maher’s tweets closely, you also get glimpses of the human being. She spent much of her time in airports, taxis, meetings, and conferences. She expressed anger over the fact that most first-class flyers were white men, then noted that she went straight “to the back of the bus.” In her thirties, unmarried and without children, she felt the need to explain that “the planet is literally burning” and that she could not, in good conscience, “bring a child into a warming world.”

Behind the frenetic activity and the moral posturing, you wonder. Maher once posted her daily routine, which involved yoga, iced coffee, back-to-back meetings, and Zoom-based psychotherapy. She resented being served maternity advertisements on Instagram, she said. She was not “currently in the market for a baby” and would not be “tending her ovaries” according to the dictates of American capitalism. 

Civics: Uri Berliner is suspended after criticizing NPR; ‘I’ve been hammering away at these things for years…and nothing has changed’Civics:

Alexandra Bruell:

National Public Radio prohibits staff from publishing work for other media outlets without permission. Senior editor Uri Berliner broke that rule when he published a searing, 3,000-word critique of his own storied news organization in the Free Press.

His actions led to a five-day suspension without pay.

Berliner’s essay, which said NPR had lost its way by letting liberal bias skew its coverage, is the latest sign of a management challenge several major newsrooms are dealing with: how to handle staffers who are willing to go public with concerns about their own employer.

Weeks earlier at MSNBC, a coterie of high-profile anchors used their respective shows to publicly call out a controversial hiring decision by the network’s parent. And the New York Times’s newsroom has been divided over its Gaza war coverage, culminating with a recent investigation into whether staffers leaked confidential information to another outlet.

New York Times Bosses Seek to Quash Rebellion in the Newsroom

“the future gets reinvented daily, in terms of the way the world is working right now.” – Madison’s incoming Superintendent

Cris Cruz and Leila Fletcher

He shared his concerns about trying to create a one-size-fits-all solution for access to advanced learning and literacy instruction across schools and districts.

“We know that if we do the same in all school districts, that we’re going to continue to have students who aren’t accessing it and being successful the way that others are,” said Dr. Gothard. “I’m very concerned that if not done well and done with an equity mindset, that we could just be perpetuating gaps, opportunity gaps, [and] access to learning.”

He also said there will be a focus on the structure for reading instruction. He wants to make sure every student has “time every day for a dose of a very individualized science-of-reading-based learning experience, where they can be monitored, day in, day out.”

Rather than prioritizing a district-wide routine, Gothard stressed the importance of flexibility to “truly meet the needs of students.” He explained the role of community engagement in raising awareness about reading and the traits that make a reader successful.

“I believe we can activate our community just by sharing with them, this is what it means to decode words. This is what phonemic awareness is. This is why fluency is important,” he said. This will allow the community to support the district’s efforts in improving reading instruction and will also help the community keep him accountable. “If I want to be accountable for something as a superintendent, reading, I’m in. Hold me accountable for reading. But we must do it together.”

When more Madison students are proficient in reading, access to advanced learning opportunities will be an even more pressing matter. In past years, MMSD has grappled with whether to abolish traditional honors classes in favor of embedded honors options. When, however, the district got pushback from parents and the community, the plan was temporarily scrapped.

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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?

Larry Sanger Speaks Out: The Wikipedia co-founder discusses Katherine Maher and the corruption of the Internet. 

Christopher Rufo:

Larry Sanger: I’ve been following your tweets. You’ve kind of shocked me. The bias of Wikipedia, the fact that certain points of view have been systematically silenced, is nothing new. I’ve written about it myself. But I did not know just how radical-sounding Katherine Maher is. For the ex-CEO of Wikipedia to say that it was somehow a mistake for Wikipedia to be “free and open,” that it led to bad consequences—my jaw is on the floor. I can’t say I’m terribly surprised that she thinks it, but I am surprised that she would say it.

Rufo: In another clip, she says explicitly that she worked with governments to suppress “misinformation” on Wikipedia.

Sanger: Yes, but how did she do that in the Wikipedia system? Because I don’t understand it myself. We know that there is a lot of backchannel communication and I think it has to be the case that the Wikimedia Foundation now, probably governments, probably the CIA, have accounts that they control, in which they actually exert their influence.

And it’s fantastic, in a bad way, that she actually comes out against the system for being “free and open.” When she says that she’s worked with government to shut down what they consider “misinformation,” that, in itself, means that it’s no longer free and open.

But the thing is—I’m using the words carefully here—the Wikimedia Foundation doesn’t have an authority in the Wikipedia system: the website, its talk pages, the various bureaucratic structures. It just doesn’t have the authority to shut things down. So, if Big Pharma or their government representatives want to shut down a description of their research of a Covid-critical biochemist, I want to know how that happens. And I think the other people who are at work on Wikipedia, we want to know how that happens.

Rufo: I’ve talked with some reporters who cover “misinformation” and they have noted that Katherine Maher has ties to multiple NGOs that are deeply connected to U.S. intelligence services. Do you have any suspicion that she has been working with American intelligence to shape Wikipedia entries from a distance?

Sanger: I have suspicions. We do know that Virgil Griffith did research on how different agencies and corporations use Wikipedia to manage their reputation. He found that Langley, Virginia, had a whole lot of edits back in 2007. Why would they have stopped that?

I will say this: it’s outrageous, frankly, that a purportedly “free and open” resource, built by the public, built to represent a neutral representation of the views on every subject has not just been taken over by the Left, but has been co-opted by and working with the government—that’s not a thing I would’ve imagined happening 20 years ago.

“The perception that Democrats “care” about education but do not “deliver” on education”

DFER:

The perception that Democrats “care” about education but do not “deliver” on education is shared across various demographics, including Independents and core Democratic voters. When voters were asked whether they believe that Democrats care about education and thereafter were asked whether Democrats will deliver on education, there was a striking dropoff:

  • Independent voters: -16 points
  • Latino voters: -10 points
  • Black voters: -9 points
  • Democratic voters, writ large: -7 points

“This is a wake-up call for Democrats,” said DFER CEO Jorge Elorza. “If Democrats want to deliver for their constituents and win back voter trust on education, they have to offer a vision that both delivers results and resonates deeply with voters.”

While voters are still primarily motivated by ongoing worries over the economy, with a significant majority of voters and parents (59%) believing that young people will be economically worse off than previous generations, the data also illustrates that voters believe education is the key to driving future economic prosperity. The survey results further showed broad bi-partisan support for public school choice and offered a clear path forward in addressing voters’ concerns: Democratic leaders need to embrace improved access to public school options and they must focus on delivering high-quality results that prepare young people for the economy of the future.

“The more touchpoints you have with the Milwaukee Public Schools, the more likely you were to vote against the measure”

Dale Kooyenga:

Just four years ago, MPS passed an $87 million measure with nearly 80 percent of the vote. That measure saw little to no formal opposition.

As polls closed and results started pouring in on April 2, it became clear, a decision by the electorate on the $252 million Milwaukee Public Schools’ referendum, would be tighter than many anticipated.

When the smoke cleared, a mere 2% margin, just 750 votes, separated the yes and no votes. Despite the outcome (MMAC did not support passage of the referendum), we see silver linings and real reasons for hope.

Just four years ago, MPS passed an $87 million measure with nearly 80 percent of the vote. That measure saw little to no formal opposition. This year’s election night sentiment tells us that voters are looking for change. Long overdue conversations took place and important questions were posed during this referendum campaign. The numbers bear it out.

Ongoing Wisconsin Literacy Legislation Litigation…. Mind the Governor’s Mulligans

Mitchell Schmidt:

The Legislature argues Act 20 is the mechanism that empowers the state’s GOP-controlled budget committee to directly fund the literacy programs with dollars already approved in the state’s biennial budget, which Evers signed last summer. The committee has not yet allocated the $50 million in state funds.

“Act 100, as passed by the Legislature, does not set aside, authorize, or require the expenditure of any funds,” the lawsuit states. “Instead, it allows (the budget committee) to move the $50 million appropriated and earmarked in the budget bill to DPI.”

Because the bill was improperly vetoed, the budget committee cannot allocate the funds set aside in the budget for DPI’s new literacy programs, attorneys continue.

A memo from legislative attorneys notes the legislation “creates appropriations” for DPI’s new literacy office created under Act 20.

In a partial veto message to SB 971 on Feb. 29, Evers wrote that he struck portions of the bill because he objected to “overly complicating the allocation of funding related to literacy programs in Wisconsin by creating multiple appropriations for what could be accomplished with one.”

The governor also noted that he removed from the bill a “proposed appropriation structure” that would have repealed spending in 2028. Evers said the change creates additional flexibility “to invest in literacy programs for as long as the state has funding available and as long as decisionmakers invest in improving reading instruction in Wisconsin.”

Evers also wrote that he objected to signing a bill “with an apparent error” that specifically benefits private choice and independent charter schools by allowing those entities to be eligible for both grant funding and an ongoing increase in per pupil aid.

“As drafted, either intentionally or inadvertently, these entities could also receive an increase in per pupil funding because the bill does not contain standard provisions to exclude the newly created categorical appropriation from the indexing formula used to increase per pupil payments for private choice, independent charter, Special Needs Scholarship, and open enrollment students,” Evers wrote.

“Consequently, a private choice or independent charter school could receive both a grant for curriculum and an ongoing increase in per pupil funding,” the governor continued. “Contrastingly, no such funding increase would be provided to public school districts under the bill.”

The lawsuit is the second this week challenging the governor’s partial veto power.

Lawsuit PDF.

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Corrinne Hess:

Evers’ partial veto, known as Act 100,  struck language allocating  money for school boards and charter school compliance in the early literacy program.

The lawsuit argues the changes “will allow DPI to treat any money directed to it as money that can be used by the Office of Literacy for any literacy program that office deems fit.”

On March 7, DPI submitted a request to the legislature to release the funds set aside in the biennial budget in accordance with the partially vetoed version of Act 100.

Lawyers argue the Joint Finance Committee “can’t be assured the money will be specifically spent on literacy programs created in Act 20.” 

“Instead, any money directed for that purpose might (but should not) be treated by DPI as well as its Office of Literacy as a blank check to do as it pleases, believing that it is under no statutory obligation to fund either a literacy coaching program or the grant program to offset the cost of purchasing new literacy curriculum,” the lawsuit states. 

Commentary. More.

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Then Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Evers use of teacher mulligans to evade the Foundations of Reading early literacy content knowledge requirements (see also MTEL).

Commentary on Waukesha County (Wisconsin) School board elections

Rory Linnane

“If 60-75% of community are not directly involved in the school district, and people don’t know more than seeing a name on a sign, that association with a group at least provides someone with no knowledge an idea of where someone leans in ideology,” Adsit said. “I was proud of that association because it communicates my belief system.”

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Meanwhile, Madison’s taxpayer funded k-12 system continues to have unopposed races…

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Commentary.

Civics: “Confidence in public institutions continues to decline”

Harvard Youth Poll:

This wave of the youth poll shows the lowest levels of confidence in most public institutions since the survey began. In the last twelve months alone, trust in the U.S. military and the Supreme Court to do the right thing “all” or “most of the time” has fallen by 10 and nine percentage points, respectively.

Only one (the United Nations) of the eight institutions in our survey is more trusted today than in 2015. The level of trust for the UN has increased by 17% over the decade. The remaining institutions saw steep declines:

  • Trust in the President has declined by 60% since 2015 (it now stands at 20%);
  • Trust in the Supreme Court declined 55% (now at 24%);
  • Trust among Wall Street is down 43% (now at 9%);
  • Trust in the U.S. military (now at 36%) and the federal government (now at 17%) both declined 38%;
  • Trust in Congress is down 34% (now at 12%);
  • Trust in the media is down 18% (now at 10%).

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Harvard has been in the news recently over plagiarism issues.

‘Nothing short of a miracle’ as Wisconsin Youth Orchestra opens site

By Kayla Huynh

For decades, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras rehearsed in what Artistic Director Kyle Knox called “the bowels” of the UW-Madison humanities building. 

After the organization moved out four years ago, WYSO became scattered, with members practicing in schools, churches and even parking lots throughout Dane County. 

Now, for the first time in the nonprofit’s 58-year history, the regional orchestra for young musicians has its own home at 1118 East Washington Ave. 

“To go from that … to a building that is unique in the entire United States, it’s nothing short of a miracle,” Knox said. “It’s just astounding that in a city this size we have a building like this, (one) that is all about celebrating music and about bringing people together.” 

At the building’s official opening Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and state Superintendent Jill Underly — all of whom played musical instruments growing up — praised the organization for helping hundreds of aspiring artists grow in their passions. 

“That connection of making music with other people really is magic. It’s life changing and it feeds your soul,” Rhodes-Conway told the crowd of students, donors and alumni, including members of the inaugural 1966 orchestra. “This building and WYSO will allow even more kids to access that magic, that education, and perhaps most importantly, to meet … other people who are just as passionate about music as they are.” 

The new $33 million building adds to a growing youth arts corridor on the near east side, where WYSO, the Madison Youth Arts Center, Madison Youth Choirs and the Children’s Theater of Madison are all just steps from each other. 

NYC high schooler creates astonishingly accurate AI algorithm for 911 callers to get help they actually need

Steve Janoski

A Manhattan high schooler has designed an AI algorithm to help 911 callers get the aid they actually need — which would, in turn, cut down on response times and eventually save cities millions, he told The Post. 

Pierce Wright — a soft-spoken 17-year-old junior at The Browning School in Manhattan — said his intricate model could assist emergency dispatchers by, for instance, predicting when a caller is enduring a mental health episode. 

“If the algorithm says, ‘I think it’s a mental health call,’ then you can send a psychiatrist or a mental health professional with the EMS crew to assist the patient and provide the more appropriate care” — instead of simply rushing police to the scene, Wright said in a Wednesday interview.

Where are Uri Berliner’s defenders in the press?Civics:

Stephen Miller:

He’s a leper in the media cool-kids’ clique 

Uri Berliner, an economics and business reporter for NPR, resigned his position on Wednesday morning. His resignation comes after he was handed a suspension by NPR, five days without pay, for a piece he wrote last week citing how the publicly-funded radio and publishing news organization has become a vessel for ideologically driven progressive activism. He cited people he hears from who have abandoned NPR’s traditional programming, which has found itself consumed by gender and race theory, with a splash of climate panic.

Yet what was eerily noticeable was how silent Berliner’s colleagues in the media have been, clearly retaliating against him for speaking his mind, independently. Neither the NPR union nor SAG-AFTRA released statements. Several of Berliner’s colleagues, including those at NPR, however, praised and cited a Substack post by NPR host Steve Inskeep targeting Berliner and his arguments. Fired CNN media host Brian Stelter also praised Inskeep on Twitter/X.

NPR did some deep soul-searching about Berliner, a twenty-five year-long NPR employee, and decided he was the problem. All of this comes as newly hired NPR CEO Katherine Maher is being forced to relive some of her past words, tweets and posts that signal the exact same sentiments Berliner criticized in his resignation letter, where he wrote, “I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cited in my Free Press essay.”

In NPR’s report on Berliner’s suspension, NPR claimed Berliner did not seek prior approval to publish an opinion at another news outlet. What about Inskeep’s long, critical piece critical of Berliner on a different Substack, though? Are we to conclude that Inskeep had permission from higher-ups at NPR, including Maher, to target their colleague? It’s one of several ongoing questions that NPR refuses to answer.

Crotonville and the Death of Fun at Work

Suzy Welch:

To everyone who sent me the article reporting General Electric’s sale of Crotonville, the longtime learning center that was the pride and joy of my late husband, Jack Welch, I’d like to thank you for the ugly cry. It is indeed the end of an era: one when companies and employees were on the same team.

That’s done and over, isn’t it? Today, companies and employees are each in a boxer’s crouch, glaring across the ring.

I wonder sometimes what Jack would make of my M.B.A. students—not to mention Generation Z in general—who view every employer with a gimlet eye. They aren’t only thinking, “How are you going to help my career?” or “How much will you value my ideas?”

They’re thinking, “How fast are you going to chew me up and spit me out? Because that’s how it works now.”

In too many cases, they aren’t wrong. No one works at one company for very long anymore; that’s a given. We all know the reasons: changes in tech, economic shifts, demographic trends, the zero-sum zeitgeist. A friend, a Sloan graduate, just hit nine years with one company, a big e-commerce platform. She told me she’s considered a lifer and something of a freak of nature.

Crotonville was a shrine to such “freaks,” people who so bought into the company’s values that they considered it an honor to be invited to an off-site program where they got to talk about those ideas even more than they did at work.

Social Credit Score: Use in China

Brian Spegele:

Qin Huangsheng once imagined a better life in the city when she left her home village to become a factory worker at age 16.

Now, in her early 40s, she has $40,000 in personal debt and a base salary of $400 a month. Debt collectors are hounding her. She is blocked from buying tickets on China’s high-speed rail, just one of the penalties the government is increasingly imposing on people who don’t pay their bills.

On the aging slow trains she is left to ride, Qin sometimes looks at the other passengers and thinks: “I wonder if they’re all bad debtors like me.”

People across China are being weighed down by their debts and a system that penalizes them for not paying the money back. Beijing is cracking down on delinquent debtors by seizing their salaries or restricting them from getting government jobs, as well as curbing their access to high-speed trains and air travel. Many are forbidden from buying expensive insurance policies and told they aren’t allowed to go on vacation or stay in nice hotels. Authorities can detain them if they don’t comply.

The number of people on a publicly available government delinquency blacklist has jumped by nearly 50% since late 2019 to 8.3 million today. Courts can put people on the blacklist when they don’t fulfill judgments against them to pay money back or are deemed to be not cooperating with legal proceedings.

Why Can’t MPS Improve Student Reading Scores?

Bruce Thompson:

Beginning sometime after 2000, there was growing concern that many students had difficulty with reading. When comparing reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) among states, Massachusetts stood out. Suddenly, that state’s reading and math scores jumped.

Massachusetts’ scores (shown in yellow in the graph below) started the late 1990s looking similar to Wisconsin’s, but then enjoyed a substantial jump. By contrast, Wisconsin scores (shown in gray) were largely flat or decreasing and were eventually joined by the average national scores.

What accounted for the jump in Massachusetts’ scores? That state decided to replace whole language (currently called “balanced literacy”) with a program that was based on research into the science of learning to read. Children learning to read were taught to sound out the parts of unknown words (called phonemes) and then combine these parts to sound out the whole word.

To enforce this change, the state designed a test for aspiring teachers to assess their knowledge of the research on the process of learning to read.

As the next graph shows, Milwaukee Public Schools made little or no progress during the last two decades. Scores were also flat during this period, indicating that many of its students were struggling with reading. They also trailed the average scores for big cities in the nation.

——

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Rule Making and The education Bureaucracy

Joshua Dunn:

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education has long been known for its tendency to overstep in its rulemaking. Many federal agencies are tempted to avoid the notice-and-comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by fabricating administrative law in the form of “clarifications” and “guidance”—but no agency has succumbed to that temptation more than OCR. As Shep Melnick has pointed out (see “Rethinking Federal Regulation of Sexual Harassment,” features, Winter 2018), OCR has used “Dear Colleague” letters (DCLs) to rewrite Title IX and wade into hot-button issues such as bathroom access for transgender students, school resources, and racial disparities in school discipline. In fact, playing fast and loose with administrative procedures seems to be part of the office’s DNA. When OCR was first obligated to create rules for enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it published them not in the Federal Register but in TheSaturday Review of Literature.

Mayor Pledges To Get Involved in Schools (!)

Jeramey Jannene

“I intend to break from decades of disconnection between City Hall and our schools,” said Johnson.

Short of sharing a city attorney with Milwaukee Public Schools and the city authorizing a handful of charter schools, city government and Milwaukee’s public, charter and voucher schools are merely passing ships in the night.

But that’s not how residents see things.

“Too often I hear people are leaving Milwaukee because of our schools,” said the mayor. “I want people to come to Milwaukee because of our schools.”

“I intend to engage with the Milwaukee Public Schools’ leadership and with private and parochial schools,” said Johnson.

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Madison’s Mayor….

USC Cancels Valedictorian’s Commencement Speech Over Safety Concerns

Nicholas Hatcher and Tali Arbel:

The University of Southern California canceled the commencement speech of its valedictorian, a Muslim student, citing what it described as security concerns amid the conflict in the Middle East.

In a letter published Monday to the USC community, Provost Andrew Guzman said discussion over the selection of the school’s valedictorian “has taken on an alarming tenor” in recent days. Asna Tabassum, USC’s 2024 valedictorian, was slated to deliver a speech at the university’s 141st commencement ceremony on May 10.

Since her selection as valedictorian, pro-Israel groups and social-media accounts, both on campus and from outside USC, have urged the university to reconsider. They have said Tabassum promoted antisemitic and anti-Israel views.

Tabassum said she is shocked by the university’s decision. She said she wasn’t aware of specific threats against herself or the university.

“By canceling my speech, USC is only caving to fear and rewarding hatred,” Tabassum said in a statement she released through the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles.

High school NIL

Stephanie Grady:

Grady: How can the WIAA balance the educational and developmental aspects of high school sports with the growing commercialization of athletics?

Hauser: High school athletics different than college and professional sports, is a not-for-profit landscape. And so that has helped high schools to preserve that integrity and that exploitation. Again name, image and likeness tiptoes into that area. But it doesn’t apply as much to the high school. Now, we rely heavily on the coaches, heavily on their athletic directors and the families to be aware, be educated, and ask questions when they aren’t sure to protect our student athletes and to truly not allow themselves to become exploited. To allow high school athletics to truly just be about the game.

Back to the Past: The Fiscal Threat of Reversing Wisconsin Act 10

Will Flanders:

Among the key findings of this report:

  • Student-teacher ratios have not been negatively affected by Act 10. The number of students per teacher in Wisconsin has stayed relatively constant at about 13.2 students per teacher.
  • The decrease of public sector unions has stabilized. While there was a substantial decline in the number of unions in the immediate aftermath of the passage of the law, recent declines have been far more moderate.
  • Restoring collective bargaining for teacher salaries could cost districts and the state nearly $650 million annually. This number is based on the difference in the rate of growth in teacher salaries observed from 2001-2011 compared to 2011-2021.
  • Eliminating employee contributions to retirement would cost districts and the state about $422 million annually. Based on inflation-adjusted comparison of retirement spending in 2009 versus 2022.
  • Eliminating employee contributions to healthcare would cost districts and the state about $560 million annually. Based on inflation-adjusted comparison of healthcare spending in 2009 versus 2022.
  • Numbers are conservative estimates of the total cost. This study does not take into account the costs to municipalities from repeal, nor the salary costs for non-teachers.
  • An end to Act 10 would likely lead to tough decisions for districts. One Superintendent we spoke with said that ending Act 10 would likely lead to a need for larger class sizes, cuts to popular programs, and an inability to offer higher compensation for high-demand teaching positions.

Few single pieces of state-level legislation have garnered as much attention and controversy in the 21st Century as Wisconsin’s Act 10. Passed by Republican Governor Scott Walker over the strong objections of Democrats, 3 the legislation introduced several important reforms to public sector unions around the state. Twelve years later, the legislation remains controversial. Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewiczelected to the Court in 2023—has said that she believes the legislation may be unconstitutional, 4 giving new hope to those who would like to see the law off the books. In November, seven unions representing teachers and other public sector workers filed a lawsuit with that goal. 5 But what would an overturn of the legislation mean for Wisconsin and its taxpayers?

In the last decade, WILL and others have conducted extensive research that helps to answer that question. In this paper, we review the existing work on what Act 10 has meant to the state and provide updated data in some of the areas we’ve examined previously. In the end, we find that overturning Act 10 could have a devastating effect on Wisconsin taxpayers, as well as the budgets of local school districts.

——

Wisconsin’s Act 10, Flexible Pay, and the Impact on Teacher Labor Markets: Student test scores rise in flexible-pay districts. So does a gender gap for teacher compensation.

Wisconsin’s Referendum Process Results in Misleading Tax Increases, Leaves Voters in the Dark

WILL:

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) released its latest report, Piercing the Fog: Shedding Light on School District Referenda in Wisconsin, which uncovers various transparency problems with Wisconsin’s referendum process that costs taxpayers millions of dollars every single year. The report also calls for significant reform to Wisconsin’s referendum process to give voters more complete information when deciding.  

The Quotes: WILL Research Director, Will Flanders, stated, “Using referendums to fund school districts is not going away, but for voters to make smart decisions, they must be armed with all necessary information. Our report highlights the grave transparency concerns that exist in Wisconsin’s current process while outlining policy changes to ensure voters are fully informed.  Ultimately, with the changes we proposed, referenda can be an important tool for direct democracy when used properly.”   

Additional Background: More than 90 school districts around Wisconsin went to referendum in the 2024 spring elections, with 58.8% passing.  The role of referenda in funding Wisconsin schools has been the subject of debate for many years.  Some argue that referenda are necessary for school districts to keep their doors open, while others make the case that they are examples of wasteful spending that take advantage of voter sentiments in favor of funding education. 

“They viewed reading more as rules and memorization”

Kayla Huynh:

After years of stagnant reading scores, educators see renewed promise in Act 20. The law, signed in July with broad support from legislators and school districts, is set to make sweeping changes across the state in how schools teach kindergarten through third grade students how to read.

Under the act, districts next school year will need to shift to a teaching model based on the science of reading, a collection of research on how children best learn to read. It emphasizes the use of phonics and phonemic awareness, or an understanding of the individual sounds of letters and how those sounds together can form words.

Among many of its provisions, the law requires schools to assess students through reading tests. Teachers will need to complete additional instructional training, and some schools will need to change their curriculum to comply.

Third-graders who fail to reach their reading milestones are more likely to struggle in later grades because they cannot comprehend the written material that is key to the educational process. And those who cannot read at grade level by third grade are more likely to not finish high school, according to research from the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The study revealed that one in six children who are not proficient at reading in third grade do not graduate from high school on time — a rate four times greater than that of their proficient peers. The rate is even higher for third graders who score “below basic proficiency,” with around one in four dropping out or graduating late from high school, compared with 9% of those with basic reading skills and 4% of proficient readers.

—-

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Notes on rejected k-12 tax & $pending increase referendums

Abbey Machtig

For many Wisconsin school districts, the spring primary election was a last-ditch effort to patch their growing budget holes and fund new construction with referendum dollars. 

While 62 school referendums passed statewide this spring, proposals from four Dane County districts on the April 2 ballot failed. These districts now face tough budget cuts and possible staff reductions, and are pausing their plans to update aging or unsafe schools. Some might go back to voters with another referendum in November.

In Wisconsin, referendums are the only way districts can exceed state-imposed revenue limits that control school spending. But it’s up to local voters to decide whether to reject these proposals. Passing a referendum means additional tax increases for residents beyond what they already pay to schools each year. Referendums can be spent on capital projects or spent on operational costs. 

Research for Sale: How Chinese Money Flows to American Universities

James Already:

Chinese companies are feeling a cold shoulder in the U.S.—except at universities, where they are welcomed as customers.

American universities sign contracts around the world to sell their research and training expertise, and some of their most lucrative agreements have been with companies based in China. The decadeslong trade thrives despite a deepening U.S.-China rivalry and rising sensitivities about Beijing’s influence on American campuses.

Nearly 200 U.S. colleges and universities held contracts with Chinese businesses, valued at $2.32 billion, between 2012 and 2024, according to a review by The Wall Street Journal of disclosures made to the Education Department. The Journal tallied roughly 2,900 contracts.

The extensive trade in American expertise presents a quandary for universities and policymakers in Washington: Where’s the line between fostering academic research and empowering a U.S. rival?

“It seems clear that when the Chinese contract with U.S. universities they are getting a capability they can’t get anywhere else,” said Daniel Currell, a Trump administration Education Department official who has tracked foreign influence in higher education. “The big question is, what [contracts] should be legal, what should be legal and disclosable, and what should be illegal?” he added.

Leaked NYT Gaza Memo Tells Journalists to Avoid Words “Genocide,” “Ethnic Cleansing,” and “Occupied Territory”

Jeremy Scahill & Ryan Grim:

The New York Times instructed journalists covering Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip to restrict the use of the terms “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” and to “avoid” using the phrase “occupied territory” when describing Palestinian land, according to a copy of an internal memo obtained by The Intercept.

The memo also instructs reporters not to use the word Palestine “except in very rare cases” and to steer clear of the term “refugee camps” to describe areas of Gaza historically settled by displaced Palestinians expelled from other parts of Palestine during previous Israeli–Arab wars. The areas are recognized by the United Nations as refugee camps and house hundreds of thousands of registered refugees.

The memo — written by Times standards editor Susan Wessling, international editor Philip Pan, and their deputies — “offers guidance about some terms and other issues we have grappled with since the start of the conflict in October.”

While the document is presented as an outline for maintaining objective journalistic principles in reporting on the Gaza war, several Times staffers told The Intercept that some of its contents show evidence of the paper’s deference to Israeli narratives.

The legal rule that computers are presumed to be operatingcorrectly – unforeseen and unjust consequences

Nicholas Bohm…..

  1. This presumption poses a challenge to those who dispute evidence produced by a computer system. Frequently the challenge is insurmount-able, particularly where a substantial institutionoperates the system.
  2. The Post Office Horizon scandal clearly ex-poses the problem and the harm that may result. From 1999, the Post Office prosecuted hundreds of postmasters and Post Office employees for theft and fraud based on evidence produced by the Horizon computer system showing short-falls in their branch accounts. In those prosecu-
    tions, the Post Office relied on the presumption that computers were operating correctly.

professors discuss declining trust in higher education, institutional neutrality

By Michael Austin and Jazper Lu

Rose began the panel by citing a decline in trust in higher education in the U.S., referencing a Gallup poll that found the portion of Americans with “a great deal or quite a lot of trust” in universities declined from 57% in 2015 to 36% in 2023.

“The university now is an institution not that seeks the truth, but that claims that it knows the truth and sees its core mission as making others see the light,” Kuran said.

He cited reservations of inviting conservative and moderate speakers among faculty, who fear “broach[ing] certain subjects” out of a fear of cancellation. Due to this fear, Kuran says the “self-regulation that the university had in the past no longer exists.”

Kuran pointed to other factors which he viewed as emblematic of the shift in the role of higher education. 

“Nothing symbolizes this shift in the mission of universities as the … DEI statements that they now require of employees and applicants,” Kuran said. “This signals to everyone inside and outside the university that certain ideas [and] certain values are promoted … and they’re not to be challenged.”

Schanzer attributed the decline to the rise of populism on the political right that casts universities as part of the “establishment organization,” making them more of a target than before. 

Curious censorship at taxpayer funded NPR

David Folkenflik:

NPR has formally punished Uri Berliner, the senior editor who publicly argued a week ago that the network had “lost America’s trust” by approaching news stories with a rigidly progressive mindset.

Berliner’s five-day suspension without pay, which began last Friday, has not been previously reported.

Yet the public radio network is grappling in other ways with the fallout from Berliner’s essay for the online news site The Free Press. It angered many of his colleagues, led NPR leaders to announce monthly internal reviews of the network’s coverage, and gave fresh ammunition to conservative and partisan Republican critics of NPR, including former President Donald Trump.

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More

NPR is now claiming that I am “targeting” its CEO by highlighting her own tweets. Katherine Maher is a standard-issue affluent, white female liberal, who is now discovering that her inner monologue is wildly out of touch with the public that, in part, pays her salary.

Essay content and style are strongly related to household income and SAT scores: Evidence from 60,000 undergraduate applications

AJ ALVERO, SONIA GIEBEL AND BENJAMIN W. DOMINGUE

There is substantial evidence of the relationship between household income and achievement on the standardized tests often required for college admissions, yet little comparable inquiry considers the essays typically required of applicants to selective U.S. colleges and universities. We used a corpus of 240,000 admission essays submitted by 60,000 applicants to the University of California in November 2016 to measure relationships between the content of admission essays, self-reported household income, and SAT scores. We quantified essay content using correlated topic modeling and essay style using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count. We found that essay content and style had stronger correlations to self-reported household income than did SAT scores and that essays explained much of the variance in SAT scores. This analysis shows that essays encode similar information as the SAT and suggests that college admission protocols should attend to how social class is encoded in non-numerical components of applications.

“Every student group performs better in Mississippi than in Virginia”

Chad Aldeman:

The only reason Virginia might look better overall is because of the composition of our schools –>

Andrew Rotherham:

The next time someone tells you not to worry, Virginia is not some state like Mississippi, this is all a made up crisis…we don’t need an accountability system…well…

——

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 student/teacher ratio in Wisconsin is lower than in 2000 due to declining enrollment”

Will Flanders:

If there are fewer teaching candidates, it’s not showing up here.

Abbey Machtig:

(Madison) Teachers also delivered a petition with 2,000 signatures to the board that calls for increased staff allocations and smaller class sizes. They presented the signatures on pieces of paper representing each school, receiving applause and cheers from the teachers filling the seats and aisles of the building’s auditorium.

In June, the School Board also will decide whether to add referendum questions to the November ballot to help remedy its budget hole. If the district moves forward with referendums and voters approve the measures, local property taxes will increase beyond the levy limits set by the state.

In 2023, MTI and employees agreed to an 8% wage increase. The district initially offered 3.5%. The district gave employees a 3% base wage increase in 2022. Actual raises vary depending on level of education and years of experience.

—-

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average k-12 $pending.

—-

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: “But the feeling of walking into San Francisco’s magical Narnia closet”

Peter Hartlaub:

That celebration is a long way from Oct. 19, 2022, when Heather Knight’s Chronicle column, headlined “S.F. is spending $1.7 million on one public toilet,” started a conversation about wastefulness in public spending. 

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district includes Noe Valley, remembers both his reaction to the breaking story (“Oh, s—!”) and his sorrow that San Francisco would endure another mockery-filled news cycle, over a problem that’s by no means exclusive to Noe Valley. 

“It captured something that I think people feel (about government waste) in a very tangible way,” Mandelman said. 

Civics: NPR chief Katherine Maher

Matt Taibbi:

Katherine Maher, the new head of NPR, was a minor character in the Twitter Files. She was CEO of Wikimedia when the company was (like Twitter) being invited to election tabletop exercises at the Pentagon and “Industry meetings” with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. She also scored the rare personal triumverate of being member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a World Economic Forum young global leader, and a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Labs.

She took a job heading NPR in January, shortly before senior editor Uri Berliner set off a nuclear newsroom stink-bomb by publishing a tell-all article at The Free Press about station failures on stories like Russiagate. Berliner’s piece triggered a frenzy of anti-NPR Schadenfreude, which led to a furious examinations of Maher’s sitting-duck tweet history. Maher’s timeline reads so much like the Titania McGrath site spoofing overeducated nonsense-babbling white ladies that it’s difficult to believe she’s real — she even looks like the fictional McGrath, if Titania had more money to spend on personal upkeep.

Maher’s commentary dating back to the early Obama years is a gold mine of unintentional comedy. She’s gotten the most heat for using phrases like “As someone with cis white mobility privilege,” and “Sure, looting is counterproductive, but…” She also made an impressive Usain Bolt-like surge past Hillary Clinton in the Intersectional Gibberish Olympics:

“tax code and the regulations now total 35 million words”

Committee to unleash prosperity:

The firm Cover & Rossiter (certified public accountants) has estimated that the tax code and the regulations now total 35 million words. That’s more than 6 times as many words as War and Peace, the Bible, the entire Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Les Miserables, the Hunger Games series, Atlas Shrugged, the Twilight series, Gone with the Wind, and The Brothers Karamazov – combined.

And those were interesting readings. Can we PLEASE get a flat tax?

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More.

Interesting take by Will Flanders of WILL on WISN this morn: DPI head Jill Underly could have easily (and more honestly) spun the new study as ‘WI is doing better in retaining teachers than other states’.
Instead, she spun out an attack on ACT 10 and underfunded schools.

“private schooling boosts any civic outcome by 0.055 standard deviations over public schooling.”

M. Danish Shakeel, Patrick J. Wolf, Alison Heape Johnson, Mattie A. Harris & Sarah R. Morris:

Since Plato and Aristotle, political theorists have discussed the important role of education in forming democratic citizens. They disagree, however, over whether public or private schools are more effective at nurturing citizenship. We conduct a statistical meta-analysis to identify the average association between private schooling and measures of four central civic outcomes: political tolerance, political participation, civic knowledge and skills, and voluntarism and social capital. Our search identifies 13,301 initial target studies, ultimately yielding 531 effects from 57 qualified studies drawing from 40 different databases. Using Robust Variance Estimation, we determine that, on average, private schooling boosts any civic outcome by 0.055 standard deviations over public schooling. Religious private schooling, particularly, is strongly associated with positive civic outcomes. The evidence is especially strong that private schooling is correlated with higher levels of political tolerance and political knowledge and skills. We discuss heterogeneities, robustness checks, and implications.

—-

Commentary

“Ivy League academics are the best and the brightest, we were told. Trust their research, we were told. If you don’t, you’re anti-science, we were told”

Kyle Baek and Benjamin Isaac

Embattled Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino was accused of multiple counts of plagiarism in an analysis published in Science Magazine on Tuesday, claims that compound existing allegations of data misconduct against her.

According to Science, Gino “borrowed text” from dozens of academic sources. The plagiarism allegations add to a growing number of academic fraud accusations against Gino, as well as recent scrutiny on the integrity of scholarly work produced by Harvard professors and affiliates.

An initial investigation conducted by Erinn L. Acland, a psychologist at the University of Montreal, and Science Magazine found that a book chapter co-authored by Gino may contain plagiarized text.

The investigation found that the chapter, titled “Dishonesty Explained: What Leads Moral People to Act Immorally,” borrowed extensively from 10 other works, including academic papers and student theses.

More.

The “Hate Speech” Road to Tyranny

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

We like to think we have freedom of speech. Doesn’t the First Amendment guarantee this to us? But some states have “hate speech” laws on the books. New York is considering a law, already passed in California that requires social media companies to report “hate speech.” This is the “Stop Hiding Hate Act” and has been passed by the State’s Assembly. Here is an account of the measure from Vince Chang, who favors it:

“Under pressure from the ADL [Ant-Defamation League] and other groups, internet platforms have voluntarily adopted measures to regulate hate speech. The ADL described some of the measures that have been taken:

Facebook prohibited Holocaust denial content, hired a vice president of civil rights, changed parts of its advertising platform to prohibit various forms of discrimination; expanded policies against content that undermined the legitimacy of the election; and built a team to study and eliminate bias in artificial intelligence. Due to pressure from ADL and other civil rights organizations, Twitter banned linked content, URL links to content outside the platform that promotes violence and hateful conduct. Reddit added its first global hate policy, providing for the removal of subreddits and users that “promote hate based on identity or vulnerability.”[12]

Journalism in the Digital Age

CS181 by Danny Crichton, Ben Christel, Aaditya Shidham, Alex Valderrama, Jeremy Karmel

This website analyses the trends that are taking place today in journalism.  We begin by looking at what the Fourth Estate is, and what it means for the practice of journalism.  Next, we present a lengthy history of print journalism in America, to provide the context needed to understand the changes underway in the digital age.  Third, we include an analysis of the economics of journalism, followed by an exploration of the effects of how journalism has been affected by the internet.  Finally, we have conducted five interviews with journalists that are confronting the digital age themselves to give a real look at how the internet is changing the practice of journalism today.

Most Teachers in America Don’t Get Maternity Leave. Some States Want to Fix That.

Sara Randazzo:

Elementary art teacher Kathryn Vaughn wasn’t nearly ready to return to her rural Tennessee classroom three weeks after giving birth to her son in 2021.

But Vaughn’s school district, like most in the U.S., offered no paid maternity leave. As her family’s sole wage earner, she felt she had little choice but to go back to work, where she sneaked glances midday of a video feed of her son at home with her husband.

“It’s the sad reality,” she said of the parental-leave policies of her profession, one largely dominated by women and tasked with caring for other people’s children.

Only 18% of the nation’s largest school districts offer some form of paid parental leave, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality. Those that do typically offer less than six weeks—often only partially paid—or require teachers to exhaust their sick time first. Many teachers are forced to use workarounds such as stockpiling sick leave and trying to time pregnancies for summer births.

Some states are trying to change that. Tennessee, Oklahoma and South Carolina enacted laws last year giving teachers six weeks paid maternity leave, joining around half a dozen other states with policies. A proposed California law would require school districts and community colleges to provide 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.

‘Ideological bias’ training mandate, other provisions were taken out of UW System deal

By Ava Menkes and  Liam Beran

Republican lawmakers and University of Wisconsin System President Jay Rothman reached an agreement in December to restructure diversity, equity and inclusion positions, but records show other systemwide plans were taken out at the last minute. 

A Music Hall restoration, a mandate to have UW System employees complete a module to address “ideological bias” and a four-year diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) cap were previously on the table but removed shortly before the deal’s passage.

In some cases, those removals came less than a week before the UW Board of Regents approved a controversial deal that exchanged building funds and employee pay raises for a cap on UW System DEI positions. UW leaders also agreed to restructure a third of those positions to focus on general student success.

UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin texted Rothman on Dec. 3 that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, wanted a deal within the week. 

Word of the deal’s details reached media outlets by Dec. 7, and the first vote by the Board of Regents, which initially struck down the deal, came on Dec. 9. 

Taxpayer Funded Wisconsin DPI Report on Teacher Shortage Misses the Mark

Wisconsin Institute for law of liberty:

Recently, Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction released a report on the teacher shortage in the state.  The report claims that nearly 40% of teachers leave the profession within the first five years, and blames declines in teacher compensation over the past decade for the shift.  While the problems identified in the report are legitimate, the causes and solutions offered are more representative of traditional liberal talking points than an honest effort to make improvements for the teaching workforce in the state.  In this explainer, we identify a number of issues with DPI’s report. 

Consistent with National Patterns 

Despite attempts to blame Act 10 for the decline in teacher retention, in reality this is a problem around the county. Indeed, based on the numbers reported by DPI, Wisconsin may actually be better than average. A 2018 study estimated that 44% of teachers nationwide leave the profession within five years  And this data was pre-COVID–there is extensive evidence that turnover has increased since then.  To illustrate this, consider a recent Chalkbeat analysis looked at teachers leaving the profession across four states.  Each of these states saw an annual turnover rate of more than 10% during the 2022 school year.   A figure from that report is reproduced below. 

Figure 1. Annual Teacher Turnover in Four States (Chalkbeat) 
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Rep. Barbara Dittrich:

I have supported getting more teachers in the classroom, but several of our efforts (including my bill with Sen. Knodl, SB 608) have been vetoed. Let’s hope we can work together in more constructive ways next session.

———

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?

JK Rowling and the Cass report reckoning

Julie Burchill:

Boyish girls, climb the nearest tree and give a Tarzan whoop of victory – girly boys, fashion a floral crown and caper copiously. Thanks to the Cass Report, failing to follow sexist stereotypes (which decree that girls play with dolls and boys play with themselves) will no longer get you marched off to the sex-correction clinic. You’ll no longer be stuffed like a five-bird roast with the best that Big Pharma can tout and later shuttled off to the abattoir to have your perfectly healthy sexual organs hacked off. For the Great Trans Con has been bust as wide open as the space between India Willoughby’s ears.

Why did so many people who should have known better give their support to the incompetence verging on evil which the Cass Report has exposed? 

Was ever a ‘liberation’ movement ever so risible from the start? Did any other allegedly oppressed group’s bid for equality include seeking to rob another oppressed group of their rights? Did any other oppressed group claim their freedom by dressing up as another oppressed group? And, crucially, did any allegedly oppressed group ever carry out such a comprehensive and conclusive capture of the most conservative and capitalist corporations and institutions? No, they didn’t – because previously, oppressed groups weren’t mostly composed of white middle-class men, as the trans-lobby are.

 Like the Mitchell and Webb Nazis, the signs that the trans-mob weren’t the good guys – though they were definitely guys – were there all along. The threats of violence, rape and death while calling women who sought to preserve women’s spaces the hateful ones. The snitching to the police – such rebels! – who reacted true to form by siding with the blokes and arresting women for being impolite to men, joined by the judges who made raped women call their attackers ‘she’ out of ‘respect’. They stand revealed as a bunch of liars, fantasists and bullies, the whole rotten lot of them.

America’s Bonds Are Getting Harder to Sell

Eric Wallerstein:

At the same time, the government is poised to sell another $386 billion or so of bonds in May—an onslaught that Wall Street expects to continue no matter who wins November’s presidential election. While few fear a failed auction—an unlikely scenario that analysts said could potentially trigger prolonged turmoil—some worry that a glut of Treasurys will rattle other parts of the markets, raise the cost of government borrowing and hurt the economy.

“There’s been a big shift in the market narrative. The CPI [consumer-price index] report changed everybody’s view of where Fed policy is headed,” said James St. Aubin, chief investment officer at Sierra Mutual Funds.

Executive Order 6102 under FDR that led to widespread gold confiscation in the United States.

Julian Fahrer:

Ninety-one years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pulled off the greatest heist in American history.

Unlike most robberies, this one was entirely legal. No safe-cracking was required; no ski masks, guns, or getaway cars. Just a pen and some White House letterhead.

On April 5 1933, FDR issued Executive Order 6102, making it illegal for anyone in the United States to own gold. By penalty of up to a $10,000 fine or 10 years in prison, everyone in the country was ordered to turn in their gold to the government, by the end of the month.1

America’s Crisis in Civic Virtue

By Arthur C. Brooks

“A republic, if you can keep it.”

That was Benjamin Franklin’s famous response to Elizabeth Willing Powel’s question, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” as he left the just-concluded Constitutional Convention on 17 September 1787.1 We have been trying to keep it ever since. For Alexis de Tocqueville in the early nineteenth century, democracy was the nation’s defining characteristic, giving him the title of his most famous book, Democracy in America. U.S. leaders have promoted democratic values at home and around the world as superior to all others for almost 250 years through diplomacy, development, and military action as well as cultural and intellectual institutions — including this very journal.

And yet, it seems that millions of Americans have lost confidence in this traditional American “brand.” According to a June 2023 survey, almost half of Americans say they believe that our democracy is working “not too well” or “not at all.”2  The year before, 62 percent had agreed with the proposition that “American democracy is currently under threat.”3

What is provoking this identity crisis? Predictably during a time of extreme political polarization, many say, “the other party.” Indeed, in that same June 2023 poll, about half (47 percent) said the Democrats were doing a “somewhat bad” or “very bad” job upholding democracy, while 56 percent said this about the Republicans. In 2021, a huge majority (85 percent) of Americans surveyed said they believed that their nation’s political system “needs to be completely reformed” or “needs major changes.”4

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The office district is emptyK-12 Tax & Spending Climate:

Konrad Putzier:

The Railway Exchange Building was the heart of downtown St. Louis for a century. Every day, locals crowded into the sprawling, ornate 21-story office building to go to work, shop at the department store that filled its lower floors or dine on the famous French onion soup at its restaurant.

Today, the building sits empty, with many of its windows boarded up. A fire broke out last year, which authorities suspect was the work of copper thieves. Police and firefighters send in occasional raids to search for missing people or to roust squatters. A search dog died during one of the raids last year when it fell through an open window.

“It’s a very dangerous place,” said Dennis Jenkerson, the St. Louis Fire Department chief.

It anchors a neighborhood with deserted sidewalks sprinkled with broken glass and tiny pieces of copper pipes left behind by scavengers. Signs suggest visitors should “park in well-lit areas.” Nearby, the city’s largest office building—the 44-story AT&T Tower, now empty—recently sold for around $3.5 million.

K-12 Tax & $pending climate: Summers: Inflation Reached 18% In 2022 Using The Government’s Previous Formula

Avik Roy:

Numerous commentators—especially those defending President Biden’s economic record—have puzzled over why Americans are sour about the state of the U.S. economy. Unemployment rates have returned to pre-pandemic lows, commentators correctly point out, and the official rate of inflation is declining. So why are Americans ignoring the view of many experts that the economy is doing well?

According to a striking new paper by a group of economists from Harvard and the International Monetary Fund, headlined by former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, the answer is that Americans have figured out something that the experts have ignored: that rising interest rates are as much a part of inflation as the rising price of ordinary goods. “Concerns over borrowing costs, which have historically tracked the cost of money, are at their highest levels” since the early 1980s, they write. “Alternative measures of inflation that include borrowing costs” account for most of the gap between the experts’ rosy pictures and Americans’ skeptical assessment.

Fertility Decline: Proof of Culture Drift

Robin Hanson:

The clearest proof of biologically maladaptive culture drift is fertility. Children per woman per lifetime has been declining worldwide for centuries, and is now below replacement levels almost everywhere. Earth passed peak births in 2016, and in a few decades, we’ll pass peak population. Absent huge AI advances, innovation rates will then fall even faster than the population, causing a many-centuries-long innovation pause, and then less liberal governance, perhaps including even the return of slavery.

This fertility fall is driven by many strong and beloved cultural trends, including more gender equality, more intensive parenting, longer inflexible career paths, less religion, more urbanity, capstone replacing cornerstone marriage, and less grandparent involvement. On the whole, these look more like non-adaptive value drifts than adaptive learning or context-dependence. And having fertility fall below replacement during times of plenty seems clearly maladaptive. While policy solutions exist, like big payouts to parents, they seem unlikely to be adopted, as they need us to care enough, and to allow the reversal of beloved trends.

How exactly did culture drift to hurt fertility? Maybe many independent trends just added up to that. But another possibility is that high-status folks had wealth to invest in kids and widespread status markers that could be improved by wealth. Then our general cultural habit of copying high-status behavior could have combined with a selection effect: having fewer kids causes each to have higher status. This pattern was widely reported in history, at least among elites.

Just as our cultural drift story predicts, the main fertility exceptions we see are in fragmented, very insular cultures like Mennonites, Amish, and Haredim. By doubling every two decades, they look on track to replace our mainline civilization in a few centuries, just as Christians once took over Romewith similar growth rates over a similar timescale. And just as Christians discarded many things they didn’t like about Roman civilization, these new groups may discard many aspects of our liberal civilization that we now treasure.

In fact, many ancient civilizations like Greece and Rome plausibly fell due to low fertility. And humanity may repeat this pattern: innovation causing wealth causing fewer richer cultures, which drift, fall, and fragment. Culture selection then heals drifts, letting civilizations rise again.

Is There a Fix?

Eventually, when our descendants spread across the stars, long communication delays will ensure cultural fragmentation, and thus more selection. (Fast or easily copied minds might also work, as in my book Age of Em.) Before then, I see only three fixes: conservative, totalitarian, and multicultural. And none seems likely to work (though we should try).

The conservative fix is to revert culture back to a point when cultural selection was strong, and then stop it from changing. If these cultural values are shallow, this would forgo gains from adapting deep values to changing conditions since then. But agreeing on deeper underlying conservative values seems hard.

KPMG Fined $25 Million Over Alleged Netherlands Exam Cheating

Mark Maurer:

The firm engaged in widespread answer sharing from 2017 to 2022 and involved hundreds of professionals, including partners and senior firm leaders such as now-former head of assurance, Marc Hogeboom, the PCAOB said. The firm repeatedly misrepresented its knowledge of the misconduct to the PCAOB, the regulator said. Hogeboom agreed to pay $150,000 and is permanently barred from associating with a registered accounting firm. Neither KPMG nor Hogeboom admitted or denied the PCAOB’s claims.

The $25 million fine far eclipsed the previous largest PCAOB penalty against an auditing firm, an $8 million levy against Deloitte’s Brazil unit in 2016 for alleged wrongdoing including issuing false audit reports and attempting to cover up audit violations.

Civics: “Berliner really did speak truth to power”

Dave Cieslewicz

And even if power won’t listen, those of us who hear what Berliner hears appreciate his courage for saying it out loud.

As a service to YSDA readers who might not take the time to read the entire lengthy piece, here are some of our favorite excerpts. 

It’s true NPR has always had a liberal bent, but during most of my tenure here, an open-minded, curious culture prevailed. We were nerdy, but not knee-jerk, activist, or scolding. 

In recent years, however, that has changed. Today, those who listen to NPR or read its coverage online find something different: the distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population...

Back in 2011, although NPR’s audience tilted a bit to the left, it still bore a resemblance to America at large. Twenty-six percent of listeners described themselves as conservative, 23 percent as middle of the road, and 37 percent as liberal.

By 2023, the picture was completely different: only 11 percent described themselves as very or somewhat conservative, 21 percent as middle of the road, and 67 percent of listeners said they were very or somewhat liberal. We weren’t just losing conservatives; we were also losing moderates and traditional liberals. 

An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America...

Race and identity became paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace. Journalists were required to ask everyone we interviewed their race, gender, and ethnicity (among other questions), and had to enter it in a centralized tracking system. We were given unconscious bias training sessions. A growing DEI staff offered regular meetings imploring us to “start talking about race.” Monthly dialogues were offered for “women of color” and “men of color.” Nonbinary people of color were included, too. 

These initiatives, bolstered by a $1 million grant from the NPR Foundation, came from management, from the top down. Crucially, they were in sync culturally with what was happening at the grassroots—among producers, reporters, and other staffers. Most visible was a burgeoning number of employee resource (or affinity) groups based on identity.

They included MGIPOC (Marginalized Genders and Intersex People of Color mentorship program); Mi Gente (Latinx employees at NPR); NPR Noir (black employees at NPR); Southwest Asians and North Africans at NPR; Ummah (for Muslim-identifying employees); Women, Gender-Expansive, and Transgender People in Technology Throughout Public Media; Khevre (Jewish heritage and culture at NPR); and NPR Pride (LGBTQIA employees at NPR)...

Concerned by the lack of viewpoint diversity, I looked at voter registration for our newsroom. In D.C., where NPR is headquartered and many of us live, I found 87 registered Democrats working in editorial positions and zero Republicans. None...

“It should be illegal for a president to buy votes by transferring funds from certain citizens to others he believes are more likely to support him in an election”

Bill Ackman:

Student loan forgiveness sounds great for borrowers overburdened with high interest rate debts they cannot repay. The problem is that the subsidy appears to go principally to more affluent families at the cost of burdening those who didn’t attend college or whose parents saved to send their kids to school.

Earned wage access

Andrew Bahl:

Gov. Tony Evers in March signed into law a bill creating some oversight for platforms like DailyPay, MoneyLion or Payactiv in Wisconsin, planting the state’s flag on how to handle a rapidly growing industry making inroads across the country.

Earned wage access platforms effectively allow workers to tap into wages they already earned before their next scheduled paycheck. Sometimes this option is offered through an employer and, in other cases, people will use an app marketed directly to consumers.

Proponents of earned wage access, or EWA, have argued it is a tool that helps adapt the byzantine world of payroll to the lives of modern workers, effectively allowing people to get their money sooner. 

There is some evidence that people who use EWA platforms are less likely to rely on payday loans and similar products.

Are We Watching The Internet Die?

Edward Zitron:

The Reddit IPO is one of the biggest swindles in corporate history, where millions of unpaid contributors made billions of posts so that CEO Steve Huffman could make $193 million in 2023while laying off 90 people and effectively pushing third party apps off of the platform by charging exorbitant rates for API access, which in turn prompted several prolonged “strikes” by users, with some of the most popular subreddits going silent for a short period of time. Reddit, in turn, effectively “couped” these subreddits, replacing their longstanding moderators with ones of its own choosing — people who would happily toe the party line and reopen them to the public

None of the people that spent hours of their lives lovingly contributing to Subreddits, or performing the vital-but-thankless role of moderation, will make a profit off of Reddit’s public listing, but Sam Altman will make hundreds of millions of dollars for his $50 million investment from 2014. Reddit also announced that it had cut a $60 million deal to allow Google to train its models on Reddit’s posts, once again offering users nothing in return for their hard work.

Huffman’s letter to investors waxes poetic about Redditors’ “deep sense of ownership over the communities they create,” and justifies taking the company public by claiming that he wants “this sense of ownership to be reflected in real ownership” as he offers them a chance to buy non-voting stock in a company that they helped enrich. Huffman ends his letter by saying that Reddit is “one of the internet’s largest corpuses of authentic and constantly updated human-generated experience” before referring to it as the company’s “data advantage and intellectual property,” describing Redditors’ posts as “data [that] constantly grows and regenerates as users converse.”

The 2024 U.S. News Rankings

David Lat:

Yesterday, U.S. News published its 2024 Best Law School rankings. For the 2023 rankings, the magazine radically overhauled its methodology, leading to a lot of movement. For the 2024 rankings, it largely adhered to last year’s approach, which explains why there was more stability this time around.

A school’s ranking is now based on the following components, weighted as follows (with a few minor adjustments from 2023, per Staci Zaretsky at Above the Law):

  • Employment: 33% (newly averaged between the two most recent graduating class years)
  • First-Time Bar Passage: 18% (newly averaged between the two most recent graduating class years)
  • Ultimate Bar Passage: 7% (newly averaged between the two most recent graduating class years)
  • Peer Assessment: 12.5% (slightly tweaked)
  • Lawyer/Judge Assessment: 12.5% (slightly tweaked)
  • LSAT/GRE: 5%
  • UGPA: 4%
  • Acceptance Rate: 1%
  • Student-Faculty Ratio: 5%
  • Library Resources: 2%

Averaging employment and bar-passage stats between the two most recent class years makes sense to me, as a way of reducing the influence of a single aberrant class. It will also tend to reduce variability over the years, which again probably offers a more accurate picture of how law schools fare in terms of finding jobs for their graduates and helping them pass the bar.

Now, on to the rankings. Here are the top 14 aka “T14” law schools—or actually the top 15, because of a two-way tie for #14—with changes from last year noted parenthetically:

Hot Market for Pencils Help Kids Turn Lead Into Gold

Julie Wernau:

Every kid wants a pencil—especially a carefully carved stub of a pencil called a mini.

Sasha Portnoy, a 9-year-old from Hamden, Conn., is among those playing the market. “One or two mini-pencils for a box of Nerds. Or maybe two or three for an Airhead,” said Sasha, explaining the pencil-to-candy conversion rate.

She says she spends an hour a night sharpening pencils until they are small enough to trade for candy or slime, the gelatinous goop some children knead. She sometimes cuts the pencils in half, doubling her investment.

With smartphones common, pencils are the novelty. Teachers can’t hold on to them. Parents can’t get rid of them. Elementary school students can’t get enough of them.

“They’re a status symbol,” said Nora Rodriguez, an eighth-grader in Peachtree City, Ga. She has grown out of the mini-pencil fad—Because, why? she said with an older-kid attitude. Yet she still has favorites and keeps them in a pencil pouch with her eyelash curler, lip gloss, mirror and brush.

Nora’s friend Olivia—She is always losing her pencil, Nora said—tried to steal a cherished purple pencil during first-period Spanish. “What are you doing?” Nora recalled saying and took it back.

After a nearly five-hour school board meeting, the decision was made to move forward with layoffs

Ruta Ulcinaite 

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education voted 4-3 Thursday night to approve teacher layoffs. 

The decision was made in order to help make up for a $25 million budget shortfall the district recently found, including a $14 million accounting error the school district is still investigating.

The district must make up for the shortfall by the end of the school year to avoid state takeover.

Hundreds of Ann Arbor Public Schools educators chanted “We are teachers. We are not the problem,” carrying signs outside the school administration building before the school board meeting began.

The protesters then moved into the meeting, continuing to chant. Over 140 people signed up for public comment. The comments had a common theme: find another way to make up for the budget shortfall without letting go educators.

The school district says the $25 million deficit stems from a loss of student enrollment over the past few years, an increase in staff and an increase in staffing costs for employees. The clerical error is what has many educators frustrated and concerned about the future of the district.

Curated Education Information