Recalibrating Respect for fertile subcultures

Robin Hanson

I’ve recently come to estimate that the world population and economy will suffer a several centuries fall, with innovation grinding to a halt, ended by the rise of Amish-like insular fertile subcultures, much like how Christians came to dominate the Roman Empire. And even though this hasn’t actually happened yet, my new estimate pushes me to recalibrate my respect. I not only want to respect such cultures more, I want guess which of their choices and features are most responsible for their coming success, to more respect those choices and features. And to contrast those with the features of others, to be respected less.

As a result, I’ve been watching many documentaries about various insular fertile subcultures, trying to get a feel for what it is that distinguishes them, and which of those distinguishing features we should credit for their successfully achieving persistent high insularity and high fertility. While they may not seem very impressive to my eyes according to my prior intuitive impressiveness scoring system, we all need to figure out how to change our scoring systems to assign them the much higher ratngs that their future success deserves. 

Robin Hanson So far I can see that I haven’t gotten very far; I still have much recalibration to do. I can see a lot of raw emotional energy due to adults being surrounded and respected by so many basically happy children, kids who are themselves happy due to being around so many other kids. I can see a strong communal bond and lack of resentment of communal obligations due to their pretty egalitarian practices and strong communal autonomy; each group of roughly a hundred can do what it wants, but does whatever that is together. Their isolation, limits on tech, and fundamentalist religion clearly serve well to insulate them and to make their basic policies seem beyond question. And just being typically very busy in activities that are clearly valued by associates seems important.

Commentary on Christopher Rufo

Moira Weigel:

In universities, Rufo writes, his prophets inspired an explosion of administrators, who came to control the ideology of these institutions “from all angles,” by dictating decisions about hiring, funding, and tenure as well as admissions, designating funds for affinity spaces, and mandating diversity training for both students and employees. (A chestnut, for readers of conservative bestsellers: Rufo gives an important new supporting role to Marcuse’s third wife, Erica Sherover-Marcuse, who in the 1980s “designed a series of training programs that became the prototype for university [diversity, equity, and inclusion] programs nationwide,” with workshops on “‘institutionalized racism,’ ‘internalized oppression,’ and ‘being an effective ally.’”)

Rufo allows that, by the time Marcuse had immigrated to the United States, the New Deal had already “established the federal government as the great shaper of American life.” But, he says, critical theorists transformed the state into “the primary vehicle of revolution,” enforcing left-wing codes of speech and behavior and turning grant-making agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts and even the National Science Foundation into a “patronage machine for left-wing activism.”

Much more on Rufo, here.

Taxpayer Funded Censorship; TikTok, Tammy Baldwin’s Restrict Act and Domestic spying

Notes and links on the proposed Restrict Act. EFF.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin suggests that we, the citizens who vote and pay her salary, require information “guardrails“.

The Overton window.

School Choice Commentary (achievement not found)

Bob Peterson

Establishing two school systems — one public and one private, yet both supported with tax dollars — only expands the ability of private schools to pick and choose the most desirable students

Supporters of Wisconsin’s voucher schools make it seem that the schools are just one of many variations of our public schoolsDon’t be fooled.

Voucher schools, often referred to as “choice” schools, are private schools that receive taxpayer money that pays for tuition. To argue that a private school is “public” merely because it receives public tax dollars is like arguing that Metro Mart is a public grocery store because it accepts food stamps.

Peterson was member of the Milwaukee School Board from 2019-2023, and board president for the final two years. He was also a classroom teacher for more 25 years, and president of the Milwaukee teachers’ union from 2011-2015.

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Civics: Audiences are declining for traditional news media in the U.S. – with some exceptions


A declining share of U.S. adults are following the newsclosely, according to recent Pew Research Center surveys. And audiences are shrinking for several older types of news media – such as local TV stations, most newspapers and public radio – even as they grow for newer platforms like podcasts, as well as for a few specific media brands

  • For the most part, daily newspaper circulation nationwide – counting digital subscriptions and print circulation – continues to decline, falling to just under 21 million in 2022,according to projections using data from the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM). Weekday circulation is down 8% from the previous year and 32% from five years prior, when it was over 30 million. Out of 136 papers included in this analysis, 120 experienced declines in weekday circulation in 2022.
  • While most newspapers in the United States are struggling, some of the biggest brands are experiencing digital growth. AAM data does not include all digital circulation to three of the nation’s most prominent newspapers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. But while all three are experiencing declines in their print subscriptions, other available data suggests substantial increases in digital subscriptions for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. (Similar data is not available for The Washington Post.) For example, The New York Times saw a 32% increase in digital-only subscriptions in 2022, surpassing 10 million subscribers and continuing years of growth, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). There are many reasons this data is not directly comparable with the AAM data, including the fact that some digital subscriptions to The New York Times do not include news and are limited to other products like cooking and games. Still, these brands are bucking the overall trend.
  • Overall, digital traffic to newspapers’ websites is declining. The average monthly number of unique visitors to the websites of the country’s top 50 newspapers (based on circulation, and including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post) declined 20% to under 9 million in the fourth quarter of 2022, down from over 11 million in the same period in 2021, according to Comscore data. The length of the average visit to these sites is also falling – to just under a minute and a half in the last quarter of 2022.
  • Traffic to top digital news websites is not picking up the slack. Overall, traffic to the most visited news websites – those with at least 10 million unique visitors per month in the fourth quarter of a given year – has declined over the past two years. The average number of monthly unique visitors to these sites was 3% lower in October-December 2022 than in the same period in 2021, following a 13% drop the year before that, according to Comscore. The length of the average visit to these sites is getting shorter, too. (These sites can include newspapers’ websites, such as that of The New York Times, as well as other digital news sites like those of CNN, Fox News or Axios.)
  • Across several years of data, there has been a drop in audiences for local TV news, affecting morning, evening and late-night time slots alike. For example, the average number of TVs tuning into ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates for the evening news was just over 3 million in 2022, down from just over 4 million in 2016.
  • The story is mixed when it comes to audio, too. The share of Americans who listen to terrestrial radio has declined in recent years, as has listenership on NPR and PRX. But there has been a clear rise in audiences for podcasts and other types of online audio. Although podcasts often are not news-related, about two-thirds of U.S. podcast listeners say they hear news discussed on the podcasts they listen to.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison’s ongoing property tax growth

Paul Soglin:

While the concerns raised here are focused on 2025 and beyond, there will be a more immediate hit. When tax bills go out in December, no one will be spared, not homeowners who directly pay property taxes, or renters, who will experience significant rent increases to cover their landlords’ taxes.

Over the decades Madison, unlike many other cities, was fortunate to be able to spend more money on “good works” — community services — than law enforcement. In hard times we were able to maintain staff and services while other cities were forced to lay off workers and make deep budget cuts that hurt everyone. This was possible because we balanced the ability of renters and homeowners to pay for public services with the needs of the community. A city cannot do “good works” if it is financially challenged and if property taxes make housing unaffordable for homeowners and renters alike. Sadly we are already there.

Title IX and the Assault on Hillsdale College

Tunku Varadarajan:

Embedded in a civil lawsuit against Hillsdale College is an assault on the fabric of this small, private Christian school founded in 1844. The lawsuit, brought by two undergraduate women who allege that they were raped two years ago by male Hillsdale students of their acquaintance, alleges not only that the college was negligent in handling their complaints, but also that it failed to afford them the protection to which they were entitled under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

In 2011 the Obama administration turned Title IX into a sword in the armory of federal civil-rights law. On pain of losing federal money, including student financial aid, the Education Department compelled schools to adopt rules that deprived those accused of sexual misconduct of basic due-process protections. The Trump administration undid those rules, and the Biden administration is working to reinstate them. The problem with invoking Title IX against Hillsdale, however, is that the college takes no money from the government. “Not a cent,” says its president, Larry P. Arnn, which means that Hillsdale isn’t bound by Title IX.

Realities of Socialism


The Realities of Socialism is a multimedia project—a collaboration between organizations in Canada, Australia, the United States and United Kingdom—to educate people about the experiences of socialism that was imposed on tens of millions of people across the world throughout the 20th century. Here you will find data-driven videos, infographics, short videos and informative studies about socialism’s history in Poland and Estonia, Sweden and Denmark’s short experiment with socialism, and Singapore’s unique approach.

Teachers Unions Spend Big on GOP State Lawmakers

John Tillman:

Ten Republican-led states have passed universal school choice since 2021, yet much of the South is lagging. There’s a simple explanation: Many Republican lawmakers are teachers-union allies and likely need to be defeated in primary elections for school choice to pass.

Republicans against school choice have largely couched their opposition by asserting that rural areas have few private options and need strong public schools. It’s a flawed argument, since universal school choice would create new private options and spur competition that improves public education.

Yet their opposition makes sense when you look at the books. In states that have resisted reform—Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas—teachers unions or their allies have lavished cash on lawmakers who oppose choice.

Consider Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott has called a fourth special legislative session to pass universal school choice. State Rep. Glenn Rogers is one of the most vocal Republican opponents of the governor’s plan, and since 2018 teachers-union political-action committees have given him at least $22,500. Rep. Steve Allison, who’s received $24,250, has voted to strip previous bills of school-choice provisions. All told, 24 Republicans in the Texas House voted against education freedom in April. Twenty-two of them are the recipients of teachers union cash, and 11 have received more than $10,000.

UW-Madison employs one administrator for every four undergrads: analysis

Emily Fowler:

In contrast, teacher-student ratio has remained stagnant

The University of Wisconsin Madison employs roughly one administrator for every four undergraduates, and has grown its administration and support staff by 23 percent since 2013, according to an analysis conducted by The College Fix.

In contrast, the ratio of undergrads to teaching and instructional staff has largely stayed the same since 2013-14, hovering at about 106 per 1,000 students.

In 2013, UW-Madison employed 7,186 administrators and support staff employees, which includes student and academic affairs divisions, IT, public relations, administrative support, maintenance, and legal and other non-academic departments, which was 251.5 administrators per 1,000 students.

By the 2021-22 school year, for which the most recent data are available, the university had bumped the number of administrative staff to 8,817, according to the analysis, which used data provided by UW-Madison to the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. The number of administrators per 1,000 students increased to 275, representing a 9.3 percent increase compared to 2013.

Lawfare and Public School Open Enrollment

Patrick Mcilheran and Jim Bender:

If successful, a lawsuit claiming Wisconsin’s private-school parental choice program and public independent charter schools are illegal will also shut down the Public School Open Enrollment program used by approximately 73,280 children, according to legal experts.

If a court buys the claim that one program’s funding mechanism is impermissible because of the way state aid follows children to another school, the others’ would be too, said Rick Esenberg, head of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, which is seeking to join the case.

The Public School Open Enrollment program allowed 73,280 students to attend a traditional public school in a district they did not live in during the 2022-23 school year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The number of children who took their state aid to a private school under Wisconsin’s parental choice programs was 52,062, and another 11,138 attended an independent public charter school. Attending traditional public district schools that year: 819,214. That means open enrollment amounted to 9% of district schools’ enrollment.

14-year-old girl arrested in connection to 15 SF retail thefts, $30K loss


A young teenage girl who police said was involved in over a dozen organized retails thefts of over $30,000 in merchandise in San Francisco was arrested, the San Francisco Police Department announced Thursday.

San Francisco police investigating organized retail crimes on the 800 block of Market Street had identified the 14-year-old girl as one of the suspects in a large number of retail thefts, SFPD said. The thefts were being committed by a “large group of juvenile and adult suspects” and stole merchandise totaling over $30,000, according to police.

AI & The Rise of Mediocrity

Ray Nayler:

Like most Americans, I like to think of myself as an individual—but a week ago I walked out into a parking lot to find five cars identical in make, model, year, and color to my own. I was glad I remembered my license plate number, and that my key fob would (hopefully) only unlock the correct vehicle.

A few days later I found myself in a grocery checkout line, skimming through yet another article in which the writer touted the wonders of “artificial intelligence” and fretted hazily over whether we are nearing the point when AI will be able to produce novels, films, and other creative work, effectively replacing us. When I looked up and over to other people in the line, half of them wore the same shoe brand as me.

“gap is widening between what’s taught in school and what employers need”

Werner Vogels:

Similar to the software development processes of decades past, we have reached a pivotal point with tech education, and we will see what was once bespoke on-the-job-training for a few evolve into industry-led skills-based education for many.

We have seen glimpses of this shift underway for years. Companies like Coursera, who originally focused on consumers, have partnered with enterprises to scale their upskilling and reskilling efforts. Degree apprenticeships have continued to grow in popularity because education can be specialized by the employer, and apprentices can earn as they learn. But now, companies themselves are starting to seriously invest in skills-based education at scale. In fact, Amazon just announced that it has already trained 21 million tech learnersacross the world in tech skills. And it’s in part thanks to programs like the Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship and AWS Cloud Institute. All of these programs enable learners at different points in their career journey to gain the exact skills they need to enter in-demand roles, without the commitment of a traditional multi-year program.

To be clear, this concept is not without precedent: when you think about skilled workers like electricians, welders, and carpenters, the bulk of their skills are not gained in the classroom. They move from trainee to apprentice to journeyperson, and possibly master tradesperson. Learning is continuous on the job, and there are well defined paths to upskill. This style of lifelong education—to learn and be curious—bodes well for individuals and businesses alike.

Unions in Wisconsin sue to reverse collective bargaining restrictions on teachers, others


Seven unions representing teachers and other public workers in Wisconsin filed a lawsuit Thursday attempting to end the state’s near-total ban on collective bargaining for most public employees.

The 2011 law, known as Act 10, has withstood numerous legal challenges over the past dozen years and was the signature legislative achievement of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who used it to mount a presidential run.

The latest lawsuit is the first since the Wisconsin Supreme Court flipped to liberal control in August. But it was filed in a county circuit court — unlike other major cases that have gone directly to the Supreme Court since its ideological shift — and will likely take more than a year to make its way up for a final ruling.

The Act 10 law effectively ended collective bargaining for most public unions by allowing them to bargain solely over base wage increases no greater than inflation. It also disallowed the automatic withdrawal of union dues, required annual recertification votes for unions, and forced public workers to pay more for health insurance and retirement benefits.

Andrew Bahl:

The decision to file the case in Dane County court means it could be months or longer before it winds up before the state Supreme Court, if the high court even decides to take the case.

In March, Protasiewicz told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she believed Act 10 was unconstitutional but also said she might recuse herself after signing a petition to recall Walker over the issue.

Without Protasiewicz, the court could deadlock at 3-3 on the issue, raising questions about what the outcome of the case might be.



WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg, stated, “For the better part of the last 12 years, no piece of legislation has loomed larger in public policy debates in Wisconsin than Act 10, the collective bargaining reform law passed in 2011. The ‘Budget Repair Bill,’ introduced by Governor Scott Walker in the first weeks of his first term, represented a fundamental break with the past and a new era for state and local governments in the Badger State and the country. Since then, WILL has been on the forefront of examining the impact of Act 10 on education, the teaching workforce, and puncturing the myths that persist about the law. Now with a new lawsuit, we stand ready to defend the law in the court of law and in the court of public opinion. Because make no mistake, an end to Act 10 would have a devastating effect on the budgets of school districts, municipalities, and Wisconsin’s overall fiscal stability.”

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Federal Agencies Neglect Anti-Asian Discrimination in Education

Ilya Somin:

My wife, Alison Somin (an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, and former special assistant at the US Commission on Civil Rights) has an article about anti-Asian discrimination in education, and how federal agencies have mostly ignored it:

Discrimination against Asian-American students in admissions at selective universities has been an open secret for decades. An entire cottage industry even coached ambitious applicants on how to be less Asian. Data produced in litigation showed that for applicants with academic credentials in the top 10 percent of Harvard’s pool, the odds of admission were 56.1 percent for African Americans, 31.3 percent for Hispanics, and 15.3 percent for whites, but only 12.6 percent for Asian Americans. In emails uncovered in the parallel lawsuit against the University of North Carolina, admissions officers were candid about preferring applicants of other races over Asian Americans. One representative exchange: “perfect 2400 SAT All 5 on AP one B in 11th” “Brown?!” “Heck no. Asian.”

Yet the federal agencies charged with enforcing civil rights laws prohibiting this discrimination largely have done nothing in response. These agencies could have issued guidance emphasizing that such discrimination is forbidden or pursued targeted investigations against universities widely suspected of discrimination. But they have not….

Trans student shower allegation in Sun Prairie will be reviewed for Title IX violation

Corrinne Hess:

When the incident happened, the district responded with a statement saying the account was “ill-informed, inaccurate and incomplete.” District officials have declined to comment further, citing student privacy, but said further steps were taken to ensure a similar incident does not recur.  

Title IX bans sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government. Federal law also prohibits discrimination against transgender students.

Civics: Ron Wyden Wants To Know Why The DEA Still Has On-Demand Access To Trillions Of Phone Records

Tim Cushing:

This mass collection was exposed by the initial Snowden leak. The FISA court order published by multiple news outlets showed the government was able to engage in bulk surveillance via a single FISA request. This one targeted Verizon’s business services, but nothing about what was published suggested this was the only cell service provider responding to these blanket orders. 

At the same time Snowden was airing the government’s dirty surveillance laundry, the DEA was inadvertently exposing its delicates. A particularly spectacular unforced error by the DEA saw it handing over information on its secret “Hemisphere” program in response to records requests seeking something else entirely. The information contained in this accidentally exposed presentation not only showed AT&T had employees “embedded” in the DEA to provide more instantaneous responses to phone records requests, but also that DEA agents and experts were being instructed to engage in parallel construction to hide the origin of phones records obtained with this program that were being used as evidence in court. 

The DEA’s ability to obtain phone records in bulk was confirmed several months later by none other than the DEA, which released another set of Hemisphere documents to records requesters. Perhaps figuring there was no longer any reason to pretend this program didn’t exist, the DEA was more forthcoming the second time around.

Kroger Sued for Sharing Sensitive Health Data With Meta

Jon Keegan:

Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., is being sued in federal court for the unauthorized sharing of personally identifiable information and health data with Meta. 

Two different proposed class-action lawsuits were filed on Nov. 10 and Nov. 13 in the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division. The plaintiffs, both from Ohio, are anonymous. 

The suits alleged that Kroger essentially ”planted a bug” on its website, which includes an online pharmacy, and was “looking over the shoulder of each visitor for the entire duration of their Website interaction.” That “bug” refers to the Meta Pixel and the other trackers Kroger used on its website. The Nov. 10 suit claimed that as a result, Kroger leaked details of which medications and dosages a patient sought or purchased from Kroger’s pharmacy, which then allowed “third parties to reasonably infer that a specific patient was being treated for a specific type of medical condition such as cancer, pregnancy, HIV, mental health conditions, and an array of other symptoms or conditions.”

In February, The Markup revealed that Kroger collects extensive data through its loyalty program. The investigation detailed Kroger’s use of the Meta pixel on, including how the company sent information to Meta when a pregnancy test was added to a virtual shopping cart. A similar example was included in the Nov. 10 lawsuit, showing that Meta is informed when a user searches on for Plan B contraceptives. The Nov. 13 lawsuit, in trying to establish the harms of “mishandling medical information,” also cited a Markup story on hospital websites disclosing sensitive information to Meta through the pixel.

Notes on Wisconsin teacher compensation (focus on salary; no mention of district benefit spending)

Scott Girard:

“Wisconsin’s Teacher Pay Predicament,” published today by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum, says it’s likely to get more challenging for districts to match the rising cost of living, even as many of the largest school systems gave out record wage increases ahead of the 2023-24 school year.

That includes the Madison Metropolitan School District, which gave staff an 8% increase in base wages — the largest allowed by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission. School Board members and Madison Teachers Inc. said it was necessary to keep employees amid an ongoing teacher shortage.

“After years of declines in real wages, teachers and public school advocates may welcome the recent raises for school staff, but the increases also leave a difficult path ahead for district finances,” the Policy Forum report notes.

The nonprofit’s report finds that in 2009, the median gross teacher pay was at $51,069. In 2023, that had risen to $59,250 — but that was over $8,000 less than what it would have been if tied to inflation.

The Forum suggests there are a mix of factors at play, including the exodus of experienced teachers in 2012 after the Legislature and then-Gov. Scott Walker passed Act 10, which limited union collective bargaining rights. Teachers who left their jobs were largely replaced by younger, lower-paid teachers, which reduced the median salaries.

“With Wisconsin teachers leaving the public school classroom at an average annual rate of 8% from 2009 to 2023, this factor has likely held down salaries,” the report states, and adds that “constraints in district spending and in actual increases in teacher salary also clearly impacted these numbers.”

Wisconsin Policy Forum

Other factors either cushioned or exacerbated this impact. Act 10 required teachers to pay greater health care and pension contributions, which limited staff compensation but helped balance school budgets. Starting in 2016, school districts increasingly turned to referenda asking voters to increase local property taxes beyond their revenue limits.

Declining student enrollment, however, has further tightened the limits for districts over these years. In particular, the decrease in student enrollment (-5.8% from 2009 to 2023) occurred without a decrease in the number of teachers (+0.3% over the same time period), leaving some districts stretching fewer overall dollars than they would otherwise have across largely static personnel


Teachers should be well paid and address things like the Foundations of Reading. Massachusetts increased compensation when implementing MTEL.

Madison K-12 healthcare $pending.

Also, union fees are not mentioned.


The world’s third-richest person, worth roughly $161 billion according to Forbes, will also ditch Washington State’s hefty taxes, likely saving him billions of dollars over the long term, according to securities filings, tax lawyers and accounting experts.

K-12 Tax & $pending Climate: “The government keeps borrowing to cover its budget deficits, while once-reliable buyers of that debt, both at home and abroad, have pulled back”

Liz Hoffman:

The result: Investors are demanding the steepest yields since 2007. Auctions of fresh bonds that were once routine are now going terribly. And bond portfolios are getting absolutely hammered. The longest-dated Treasury bonds are in a bear market worse than the dot-com bust and almost as bad as 2008.

58% Of Prospective Law Students Want To Attend A School With Classmates Of The Same Political Views

Christine Charnosky

A majority of pre-law students reported that they would prefer attending a law school where classmates hold similar political views, according to a recent survey.

Kaplan recently reported that 58% of pre-law students say that “it’s important for them to attend a law school where their fellow students generally hold the same political/social views as they do.” …

The last time Kaplan released a survey on this issue in January 2020, only 46% said this issue was important.

Christopher Hitchens and the collapse of journalism and critical thinking

Mark Judge:

In a couple of weeks, publisher Twelve Books will release A Hitch in Time: Reflections Ready for Reconsideration, a collection of essays by the late journalist Christopher Hitchens . I secured an early copy of the book. Hitchens’s writing is still sparkling and insightful, even though he died in 2011.

Hitchens is still so bracing because, unlike journalists today, he operated in a zone of fearlessness and real freedom. The smog of ” wokeness ” had not yet descended onto the West. And the years Hitchens spent as a reporter and foreign correspondent and his deep education had given him experience that made him more than a pundit.

An atheist, he had emerged from socialist movements in Britain yet expressed doubt about abortion and supported the Iraq War. Hitchens despised religion, harshly mocked Islam, and championed banned writer Salman Rushdie. He never held back an opinion, but he had never arrived at that opinion in a sloppy way. At one symposium, he argued to the other journalists that “no one is controlling your typewriter keys.”

In other words, be fearless. You’re free, so act like it.

Universities failing at “inclusion”

David Brooks:

Universities are supposed to be centers of inquiry and curiosity — places where people are tolerant of difference and learn about other points of view. Instead, too many have become brutalizing ideological war zones, so today the most hostile place to be an American Jew is not at some formerly restricted country club but on a college campus.

How on earth did this happen? I’ve been teaching on college campuses off and on for 25 years. It’s become increasingly evident to me that American adolescence and young adulthood — especially for those who wind up at elite schools — now happen within a specific kind of ideological atmosphere.

It centers on a hard-edged ideological framework that has been spreading in high school and college, on social media, in diversity training seminars and in popular culture. The framework doesn’t have a good name yet. It draws on the thinking of intellectuals ranging from the French philosopher Michel Foucault to the critical race theorist Derrick Bell. (For a good intellectual history, I recommend Yascha Mounk’s recent book, “The Identity Trap.”)

College Sports Need Their Tax-Exempt Status Revoked

Adam Minter:

Before the end of the year, John James “Jimbo” Fisher Jr., the recently fired head football coach at Texas A&M University, will receive a $19.4 million contract buyout payment. Then, over the next eight years, he’ll receive annual $7.27 million installments until his $77 million contract is fulfilled.

That’s a college coaching buyout record, and Fisher isn’t alone in getting a hefty paycheck sans working. According to ESPN, American colleges and universities have spent more than $500 million on fired coaches between 2010 and 2021. Since 2022, the total has increased by $70 million, not including Fisher’s.

Learning loss and the teacher unions

David Blaska:

The teachers union laid down a gauntlet of demands — over two dozen! — before they would return, including (Surprise! Surprise!) that teachers union default: More Money, aka “hazard pay.” Socialist provocateur John Nichols had their back. When a former governor encouraged schools to reopen for in-class instruction, Comrade Nichols lit the match:

“Scott Walker is exploiting the pandemic to … attack teachers and their unions.”

Blaska’s Bottom Line: “Teachers and their unions” — always the progressive’s top of mind priority. Children? Schmildren! All the while, Wisconsin’s smaller school districts remained open or closed for only a couple of weeks. Nationally, schools in Republican states such as Florida and Iowa kept their schools entirely open.

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

The Fight for the Future of Publishing

Alex Perez:

“The freedom to write what you want to write without it going through any ideological filter—that is a massive advantage of self-publishing,” Tim Urban, the blogger and illustrator behind the site Wait But Why and the successful author of the recently self-published book What’s Our Problem: A Self-Help Book for Societies, told The Free Press

John Pistelli, an English professor in Minneapolis who is self-publishing his novel on his Substack, added: “Online platforms and independent presses can pick up what the major publishers have put down.”

“Teachers should be able to pass a basic skills test before they’re tasked with educating children in those core subjects”

“Ace of Spades”

Murphy also indicated that his administration would put Student Growth Objectives (SGOs) “on a diet,” which he concurred were “bureaucracy-like.” The SGOs are long-term academic goals for students set by teachers in collaboration with supervisors. The governor’s remarks elicited applause and cheers from the NJEA conference crowd: “No more SGOs!”

Civics: A Big-Money Operation Purged Critics of Israel From the Democratic Party

Ryan Grim:

What made the moment dramatically different, however, was that the Squad wasn’t isolated, but instead was part of a sizable group pushing back. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota rose to slam the assault on Gaza, as did Reps. Andre Carson of Indiana, Chuy Garcia of Illinois, and Joaquin Castro of Texas.

As chair of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, McCollum had influence over U.S. foreign military aid. “The unrestricted, unconditioned $3.8 billion in annual U.S. military aid . . . gives a green light to Israel’s occupation of Palestine because there is no accountability and there is no oversight by Congress,” McCollum said. “This must change. Not one dollar of U.S. aid to Israel should go toward a military detention of Palestinian children, the annexation of Palestinian lands, or the destruction of Palestinian homes.”

Castro thanked Tlaib for her presence, agreeing with her statement, “My mere existence has disrupted the status quo.” He seemed to address Israeli leaders directly when he said that “creeping de facto annexation is unjust.” “The forced eviction of families in Jerusalem is wrong,” Castro said from the floor, offering what would have been an uncontroversial assertion most anywhere else, but that was a foreign one to the House floor.

Language heard while still in the womb found to impact brain development

by Bob Yirka

A team of neuroscientists at the University of Padua, in Italy, working with a colleague from CNRS and Université Paris Cité, has found evidence suggesting that neural development of babies still in the womb is impacted by the language they hear spoken by their mothers as they carry them.

In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes research they conducted with newborn babies fitted with EEG caps.

Prior research has shown that babies still in the womb (starting at about seven months) can hear when their mother speaks. They can also hear other sounds, such as other voices, music, and general noise. They can also recognize their mother’s voice after birth and specific melodies related to her speech. Less well understood is what sort of impact hearing such things has on the neural development of the baby’s brain. To learn more, the research team in Italy conducted an experiment involving 33 newborns and their mothers—all of whom were native French speakers.

The experiments consisted of fitting all the newborn volunteers with caps that allowed for EEG monitoring in the days after birth. As the babies slept, the researchers played recordings of a person reading different language versions of the book, “Goldilocks, and the Three Bears.” EEG recordings began during a period of silence before the book was played, continued through the reading and also during another moment of silence afterward.

In studying the EEG readouts, the research team found that the babies listening to the story in French showed an increase in long-range temporal correlations—all of a type that has previously been associated with speech perception and its processing. The researchers suggest this finding is evidence of the baby’s brain being impacted in a unique way by exposure to a unique language while still in utero—in this case, French.

K-12 Tax & $pending Climate: growing inflation burden

Nate Silver:

Also, since Stein and Lorenz are accusing consumers of falling for a cherry-picked data point — the Idaho man’s order — it’s worth noting that prices in the broader category of food away from home have grown faster than inflation overall, increasing by 18 percent over that window. It shouldn’t be hard to understand why people are unhappy about that.

That’s not the most important point, though. Instead, it’s something a little more subtle: people aren’t just paying more, they’re spendingmore. Put another way, they’re not just paying more for the same basket of goods — how the government defines inflation — they’re also putting more and more expensive goods in their basket.

Fast food is a perfect example of how this works. McDonald’s revenues, for instance, are going gangbusters. Same-store sales are up 8.8 percent globally and 8.1 percent in the United States. What’s driving the increase?

The company’s U.S. same-store sales increased 8.1%, fueled by strategic price increases. Executives said they expect pricing will be up about 10% for 2023, but third-quarter menu prices came down slightly. The chain also credited its marketing campaigns and digital and delivery orders for its sales growth.

OK, so we have “strategic price increases”, “marketing campaigns” and “digital and delivery orders”. Let’s think through each of these by means of a stylized example of a fast-food menu. Here is my impression of what ordering fast food looks like in 2023 as compared with 2020:

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: declining parenthood and the tax base

Michael Walsh:

Social Security’s problems aren’t just its unrealistic economics, which posited starting from a hole and an ever-increasing work force paying taxes in order to support the generation ahead of it; the “trust fund” was always a polite fiction, which as you see is now being stealthily abandoned. But keeping Social Security solvent isn’t just a matter of calibrating tax rates. What FDR and its founders never contemplated was that Americans would stop having children,and yet continue to expect retirement money. So the solution is obvious: ladies (and some gentlemen), if you proudly announce you will never have children, that your career is more important and you get all the love you need from your “fur babies,” your SS benefits should be $0.00 until such time as you actually get some skin in the game in the form of real babies. (Adopting doesn’t count.)

Choose life.

High school robotics team from Chippewa Falls wins Make48 competition

Ellie Ulbrecht

Chi-Hi’s robotic team, Boards ‘n Bots, competed against five other regional high schools during UW-Stout’s Make48 competition.

The team’s coach, Everett Sarauer, said that during the competition, teams were presented with a challenge they must create a solution for.

“In 48 hours you have to come up with an idea, build a prototype, talk to patent attorneys, make sure there aren’t patents on it already. You have to pitch it at the 24 hour mark to industry experts, get their advice. And then at the very end, you have to pitch it to a final panel of judges,” Sarauer said.

High school in Evanston, Ill., offers so-called affinity classes, in which Black and Latino students are separated from white students

Sara Randazzo and Douglas Belkin

School leaders in this college town just north of Chicago have been battling a sizable academic achievement gap between Black, Latino and white students for decades. So a few years ago, the school district decided to try something new at the high school: classrooms voluntarily separated by race.

Nearly 200 Black and Latino students at Evanston Township High School signed up this year for math classes and a writing seminar intended for students of the same race, taught by a teacher of color. These optional so-called affinity classes are designed to address the achievement gap by making students feel more comfortable in class, district leaders have said, particularly in Advanced Placement courses that historically have enrolled few Black and Latino students. 

“Our Black students are, for lack of a better word…at the bottom, consistently still. And they are being outperformed consistently,” Monique Parsons, Evanston school board vice president, said at a November board meeting. “It’s not good.”

School districts across the country have sometimes struggled to find ways to boost the performance of Black and Latino students, who, nationwide, tend to enroll in fewer advanced classes and score lower on standardized tests than white students.


The Language Teachers Use Influences the Language Students Learn

Language & Literacy:

We know that the explicit teaching of unfamiliar words that students will encounter in written text is important. But what about the language that is used by teachers throughout the school day? What implicit learning opportunities are constrained or afforded through the model of the language that a teacher uses while teaching, and what are the impacts on student learning?

The importance of indirect or incidental language experiences in a classroom is emphasized in this study. And this and other research reviewed in the paper suggests that enriching linguistic environments are particularly beneficial for young readers or those who struggle with reading.

We’ve explored previously the importance not simply of “rich language” use (what does that even mean?) but of exposure to and use of a very particular kind of language: decontextualized language.This is the language of narrative, of conversational turn-taking and discussion around ideas and things, the more abstract language of written text. The content, form, and use of such language takes us beyond that of the immediate moment, beyond our own already delimited feelings and experiences, and into a realm of interpersonal and cultural thought, knowledge, and perspectives.

We can engage our children with this decontextualized language even before they leave the womb. They hear us tell stories and sing and begin to attune to our rhythms. Then when we can hold them in our arms, in our wraps, in our laps, we respond encouragingly to their babbling to tell them about the world, and we read picture books to them, showing them beautiful artwork that brings words alive. In classrooms, we read to our children with greater intention and a systematic approach, teaching them ideas and words before, during and after our carefully chosen texts, we instruct them in how to write what they can see or hear, and kids begin to automate the regular and irregular algorithms that sort letter-sounds and concepts into words.

Indirect or incidental language experiences can provide students with exposure to and use of new vocabulary and grammatical structures. When teachers use a variety of forms of language in their speech, they can provide students with opportunities to hear and learn new kinds of language, new kinds of ideas, and new kinds of feelings and viewpoints. Teacher talk can provide students with models in how to use these different types of language. When teachers use clear and concise language, they show students how to communicate more precisely and efficiently. When teachers give students opportunities to respond to questions or to participate in discussions around shared texts, topics, and themes, they provide students with opportunities to practice using that language to demonstrate and deepen their understanding of that new knowledge.

Having more kids might be the most important way to improve science

Maxwell Tabarrok:

The most influential models of economic growth are all about people. These models predict that with a shrinking population, economic growth and technological progress stop and humanity stagnates into extinction. Metascience proposals focus mostly on improving the design of scientific institutions. This is surely important, but in the face of rapidly declining population growth rates it is like making a dam more efficient when the river is running dry.

Why Are People So Important?

Physical capital is subject to diminishing returns and depreciation which inevitably bring its impact on economic growth to zero. People, on the other hand, have increasing returns. As groups of people get larger, they can cooperate and specialize making the group more productive than the sum of its parts. But most importantly: People can share ideas.

When one person has an idea that makes them productive, it can be near-costlessly copied to all the other people in the economy, multiplying its effect. These increasing returns make people the driving force behind economic models of growth. There are important temporary sources of growth, like increasing education, research intensity, and labor force participation, but these are all changes to the percentage of your population that is devoted to discovering ideas and growing the economy. This percentage can only grow to 100 so the long run rate of growth is always constrained by the population growth rate.

The importance of handwriting is becoming better understood

The Economist:

Two and a half millennia ago, Socrates complained that writing would harm students. With a way to store ideas permanently and externally, they would no longer need to memorise. It is tempting to dismiss him as an old man complaining about change. Socrates did not have a stack of peer-reviewed science to make his case about the usefulness of learning concepts by heart.

Today a different debate is raging about the dangers of another technology—computers—and the typing people do on them. As primary-school pupils and phd hopefuls return for a new school year in the northern hemisphere, many will do so with a greater-than-ever reliance on computers to take notes and write papers. Some parents of younger students are dismayed that their children are not just encouraged but required to tote laptops to class. University professors complain of rampant distraction in classrooms, with students reading and messaging instead of listening to lectures

Lonely on campus: Students are siloed, silenced

Joanne Jacobs:

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) ideology has made it harder for students to make friends with those who share similar interests but different “identities,” he writes. They’re encouraged to focus on their differences, segregate themselves and see unintentional slights as “microaggressions.”

His students tell him they find it difficult “to be open and to connect, intellectually and emotionally, with each other,” writes Abrams. Students “are constantly on guard, living under the threat of bias reporting hotlines should they deviate from the DEI tribal norms.” Firing DEI administrators would improve the campus climate, Abrams writes. “Let students connect, struggle, and learn from differences in shared spaces.”

Loneliness threatens the health of college students, warns Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on his “We Are Made to Connect” campus tour, reports Johanna Alonso on Inside Higher Education.

Like so many things, the problem started before pandemic lockdowns and has gotten worse. Some say students find it easier to keep up with old friends on social media than to make new ones.

“Experts and follow the science”

Mats Ahrenshop, Miriam Golden, Saad Gulzar, and Luke Sonnet.

We report the results of a forecasting experiment about a randomized controlled trial that was conducted in the field. The experiment asks Ph.D. students, faculty, and policy practitioners to forecast (1) compliance rates for the RCT and (2) treatment effects of the intervention. The forecasting experiment randomizes the order of questions about compliance and treatment effects and the provision of information that a pilot experiment had been conducted which produced null results. Forecasters were excessively optimistic about treatment effects and unresponsive to item order as well as to information about a pilot. Those who declare themselves expert in the area relevant to the intervention are particularly resistant to new information that the treatment is ineffective. We interpret our results as suggesting that we should exercise caution when undertaking expert forecasting, since experts may have unrealistic expectations and may be inflexible in altering these even when provided new information.


And, the “Death of Expertise

Lawfare and school choice

David Blaska:

Who is behind the lawsuit seeking to bring down Wisconsin’s school choice program that helps 52,000 low-income, often minority students, escape failing public schools? Guy named Kirk Bangstad. 

Killing school choice is written into the Democrat(ic) party platform. Obeisance to the teachers union and the one-size-fits-all government school monopoly is central to Woke progressivism. Easier to seize control. That is why the news media says little more than that Kirk Bangstad is a Minocqua WI-based contract micro-brewer of beers named after his heroes, like “A.O.C. IPA” and “Biden Beer.” Ran for political office as a Democrat. Unsuccessfully.

→ Of the top 10 schools in reading proficiency in Wisconsin that largely serve low-income children, six are voucher or charter schools, according to the Institute for Reforming Government. — Wall Street Journal

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Advocating k-12 cell phone bans

Bezos Washington Post

Social media, the U.S. surgeon general wrote in an advisory this year, might be linked to the growing mental health crisis among teens. And even if this link turns out to be weaker than some recent research suggests, smartphones are undoubtedly a classroom distraction.

Understandably, individual schools and school districts — in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and elsewhere — are trying to crack down on smartphones. Students are required to store the devices in backpacks or lockers during classes, or to place them in magnetic locking pouches. In 2024, these efforts should go even further: Impose an outright ban on bringing cellphones to school, which parents should welcome and support.

Academic historians are destroying their own discipline

Ian Leslie:

The sample size, by necessity, is tiny. To be clear, of those 145 individuals, only some died from the plague. Of those who did, the researchers find that 18% were black! Nearly a fifth! Given that the black population of London would have been quite a lot less than 1%, that’s some incredible ratio. If you’re a scientist and you get a result like that, you should be asking serious questions about your methodology.

Oh I nearly forgot, they’re drawing these weighty conclusions from an even smaller sample – from the bones they claim to have identified as belonging to black women. The plague killed men at a higher rate than women, by the way. Implausibility piles on implausibility. This is before we even get into whether the category of “black” is remotely meaningful here, or exactly how they think the mechanism of “structural racism” worked, which would require actual historical knowledge.

In short: either there was some utterly wild disparity in the way different races were hit by the bubonic plague in London – or maybe the researchers aren’t identifying what they think they’re identifying. I rather suspect the latter.

One of the researchers is Rebecca Redfern, senior curator of Archaeology at the Museum of London. She’s behind several stories in the media over recent years that claim to find Britain was more diverse that previously thought. In this study she uses the measurement of skulls to identify racial heritage, a method whose scientific credibility is deeply questionable, to put it mildly. It’s funny that while some academics claim to have debunked the notion that race has any firm biological basis at all, for others, nineteenth-century-style racial craniometry is still a going concern.

K-12 Media and School Safety Climate


The mayhem at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica unfolded shortly after 11 a.m. Monday in what students called a pre-planned protest over the teacher’s Facebook profile photo showing her at a pro-Israel rally on Queens Oct. 9 holding a poster saying, “I stand with Israel.”

“The teacher was seen holding a sign of Israel, like supporting it,” a senior told The Post this week.

Pierre de Fermat’s Link to a High School Student’s Prime Math Proof


Larsen was a high school student in 2022 when he proved a result about a certain kind of number that had eluded mathematicians for decades. He proved that Carmichael numbers — a curious kind of not-quite-prime number — could be found more frequently than was previously known, establishing a new theorem that will forever be associated with his work. So, what are Carmichael numbers? To answer that, we need to go back in time.

Pierre de Fermat has his name on one of the most famous theorems in mathematics. For over 300 years, Fermat’s Last Theorem stood as the ultimate symbol of unachievable mathematical greatness. In the 1600s, Fermat scribbled a note about his proposed theorem in a book he was reading, claiming to know how to prove it without providing any details. Mathematicians attempted to solve the problem themselves until the 1990s, when Andrew Wiles finally proved it using new techniques discovered hundreds of years after Fermat died.

But it’s Fermat’s less famous “little theorem” that relates to Carmichael numbers. Here’s one way to state it:

Teen Boys Are Falling for a Snapchat Nude-Photo Scam. Here’s How to Avoid It.

Julie Jargon:

An online nude-photo scam is ensnaring thousands of teen boys and causing emotional trauma.

Scammers posing as teen girls befriend boys online, share nude photos of a girl and then ask for nude photos in return. Once the boy reciprocates, the schemer demands money be sent by a peer-to-peer payment app and threatens to share the boy’s photos with his social-media followers if he doesn’t pay.

That is how law-enforcement officials and child-protection experts describe a growing wave of online predators targeting teens. Previously, online sextortion—as they call it—largely involved pedophiles blackmailing kids into sending photos or videos. These new scammers focus on money, law-enforcement officials say.

Three years ago, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received fewer than 10 reports of this sort of financial extortion. Last year, the congressionally mandated nonprofit received more than 10,000—and has already received 12,500 this year.

There is a scientific fraud epidemic — and we are ignoring the cure

Anjana Ahuja

The dossier was so unsettling, one neurologist revealed, that he couldn’t sleep after reading it. It contained allegations that an experimental drug meant to curb damage from stroke — and eyed up for regulatory fast-tracking for fulfilling an unmet medical need — might instead have raised the risk of death among patients receiving it. 

The dossier, assembled by whistleblowers and obtained by an investigative journalist, was recently submitted to the US National Institutes of Health, which is finalising a $30mn clinical trial into the medicine. The whistleblowers allege that the star neuroscientist driving the research, Berislav Zlokovic from the University of Southern California, pressured colleagues to alter laboratory notebooks and co-authored papers containing doctored data. The university is investigating; Zlokovic is, according to his attorney, co-operating with the inquiry and disputes at least some of the claims. 

The facts of this particular case, set out in the journal Science last week, are yet to be established but research is fast becoming a catalogue of mishaps, malfeasance and misconduct. Rooting out mistakes and manipulation should not have to depend on whistleblowers or dedicated amateurs who take personal legal risks for the greater good. Instead, science should apply some of its famed rigour to professionalising the business of fraud detection.

Charter school offering free nursing courses for high school students up and running

Amelia Ferrell Knisely:

A new charter school in West Virginia gives students the opportunity to jump-start a degree in nursing before they graduate from high school, saving them thousands of dollars in college tuition costs.

Win Academy, the state’s first charter school housed within a community college, is an accelerated degree program that allows juniors and seniors to complete the first year of a registered nurse program while finishing their high school credits.

The program is free to students who take college courses. 

Abby Frame and Abby Persinger, both 16 year olds, decided to forgo their senior year at Herbert Hoover High School to enter the academy, which is in its first year of operation at BridgeValley Community and Technical College in South Charleston. 

The pair, who are close friends, plan to become nurses.  

“I really looked forward to being able to cut time off of my college experience,” said Frame, who lives in Elkview.

US govt pays AT&T to let cops search Americans’ phone records – ‘usually’ without a warrant

Jessica Lyons Hardcastle

A senator has complained that American law enforcement agencies snoop on US citizens and residents, seemingly without regard for the privacy provisions of the Fourth Amendment, under a secret program called the Hemisphere Project that allows police to conduct searches of trillions of phone records.

According to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), these searches “usually” happen without warrants. And after more than a decade of keeping people — lawmakers included — in the dark about Hemisphere, Wyden wants the Justice Department to reveal information about what he called a “long-running dragnet surveillance program.”

“I have serious concerns about the legality of this surveillance program, and the materials provided by the DoJ contain troubling information that would justifiably outrage many Americans and other members of Congress,” Wyden wrote in a letter [PDF] to US Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Under Hemisphere, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) pays telco AT&T to provide all federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies with the ability to request searches of trillions of domestic phone records dating back to at least 1987, plus the four billion call records added every day.

We Now Need College Courses to Teach Young Adults How to Make Small Talk

Tara Weiss:

Jana Mathews, a professor of Medieval literature at Rollins College, checks the bathrooms to coax out students hiding from the big event in her Job Market Boot Camp class, a mixer with alumni to practice professional networking.

For many of her students, the face-to-face conversations with strangers are more nerve-racking than decoding Chaucer. Sydney Parmet had trouble sleeping the night before and considered skipping it. “I kept overthinking what I was going to say and second-guessed whether I should say anything,” said Parmet, who graduated in May from the Winter Park, Fla., campus.

Mathews recommends students try swiping deodorant on palms to avoid clammy handshakes. Those who vomit from nerves should pop a breath mint. If the question, “Tell me about yourself,” triggers temporary amnesia, consult your prepared script, she says. Students practice moving from introductions to asking about the other person to giving their elevator pitch that covers their interests, work experience and skills.

Parmet said she was awkward when she entered the room until another student pulled her into a conversation, and she explained her dream of finding a job for a nonprofit. She now works for a group that aids homeless families and those at risk of becoming homeless.

People who stuck by UK Covid rules have worst mental health, says survey

Denis Campbell:

People who stuck by Covid lockdown rules the most strictly have the worst mental health today, research has found.

Those who followed the restrictions most closely when the pandemic hit are the most likely to be suffering from stress, anxiety and depression, academics at Bangor University have found.

They identified that people with “communal” personalities – who are more caring, sensitive and aware of others’ needs – adhered the most rigorously with the lockdown protocols that Boris Johnson and senior medics and scientists recommended.

However, people with “agentic” personalities – who are more independent, more competitive and like to have control over their lives – were least likely to exhibit those behaviours.

“The more individuals complied with health advice during lockdown, the worse their wellbeing post-lockdown,” concluded Dr Marley Willegers and colleagues.

The fear of catching Covid proved both an upside and a downside, they found. “While increasing individuals’ worry of infection can effectively drive compliance, it also has negative consequences on people’s wellbeing and recovery,” they said.

More big ideas for reforming higher ed

Greg Lukianoff

First, we should assess whether most universities are even good at their job of educating students or developing critical thinking skills. “Academically Adrift,” a study published in 2011, found that in an “analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at twenty-four institutions, 45 percent of these students demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skills—including critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing—during their first two years of college.”

I’m willing to bet that a control group of 18-22 year olds working regular jobs rather than attending college would have shown greater improvement in their critical thinking. Funding a study to find out and communicating the results to the public could expose a scandal: We are paying billions of dollars to universities with little to no improvement in the fundamental thing they are supposed to offer. And even if it did end up showing that some schools were good at improving critical thinking skills, it’s doubtless that some would be far better than others and we could learn what the good schools are doing right and what the bad schools are doing wrong. 

Another possibility is a large-scale experiment in which students take the SATs, or any number of achievement tests, both before and after college so we can measure any improvement in critical thinking versus a control group working a regular job.

And while these realizations would likely be dispiriting for many who have invested fortunes — not to mention time they won’t get back — into higher education, they would also set the stage for major improvements. If people feel fed up, skeptical, and like they are getting ripped off, it will be easier to push for change.

Media attention to Ivy League schools distracts from the much more important—and undersupported—public university system

Naomi Oreskes:

One of the big academic stories of 2023 was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end the use of race as a criterion in college admissions. The ruling was based on two cases that made their way to the high court, one focused on Harvard University and the other on the University of North Carolina.

Most of the media attention and commentary centered on Harvard. Former president Barack Obama, who attended Harvard Law School, defended the university’s policies as allowing Black students to prove that “we more than deserved a seat at the table.” Michelle Obama, who also attended Harvard Law School, wrote that her heart was breaking for “any young person out there who’s wondering what their future holds—and what kind of chances will be open to them.” Reporting on an analysis of admissions data, the New York Times noted the many ways that Harvard continued to be a bastion of privilege whose admissions criteria “amounted to affirmative action for the children of the 1 percent.”

Study reveals more than half of American parents in these 36 states shell out to support their adult children

Carissa Rawson, Glen Luke Flanagan and Robin Saks Frankel:

The gravy train is still chugging along for many young and not-so-young adults, as their parents continue to foot the bill for phone plans, health insurance, streaming services and more.

We surveyed parents of Gen Z and Millennial adults in states with populations of 2 million or more to find out where adult children are getting the most financial support from their parents.
Key findings
65% of parents give their adult children (ages 22-40) some kind of financial support.

Of those who support their over-age-22 offspring, the average monthly amount is $718.
1 in 3 parents who support their adult children say it puts them under financial strain.

American parents on average believe children should be financially independent by the age of 24.

43% of parents who continue to support their children in adulthood say the support is offered with no contingencies.

Parents in Washington, New Jersey and Virginia offer the most financial assistance of the states examined to their adult children.

Parents in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are least likely of the states examined to offer financial support to their adult children.

The state of mental health across Wisconsin’s public universities in 4 charts

Kelly Meyerhofer:

Anxiety, stress and depression are the most common concerns. Prevalence has increased from a decade ago, peaked during 2020 and still remains higher than in pre-pandemic years.

“I think people are struggling with loneliness and belonging and social anxiety that was created from lockdown and being socially isolated,” said UW-Milwaukee counseling director Carrie Fleider. “We’re having students who are now freshmen who really spent the last three years in this state of flux with isolation and hybrid and lack of opportunities that they would have (had) prior to the pandemic.”

Why We Don’t Trust Science Anymore

Several Writers:

Editor’s note: In this Future View, students discuss declining trust in science. Next week we’ll ask, “While a majority of Americans still think the U.S. is one of the greatest countries in the world, positive views of American governmental and political institutions are at historic lows. What is the reason for this decline in trust? How do we improve trust in our government? Will younger generations be able to instill positivity in politics? Or will the negativity continue?” Students should click here to submit opinions of fewer than 250 words before Nov. 28. The best responses will be published that night.

We Need a Public Apology

Before the pandemic, Americans saw scientists as nearly infallible brainiacs who achieved superhuman feats of innovation that pushed society forward. When members of the public thought of the scientific community, they likely imagined researchers in goggles and long white coats inspecting microscopes in futuristic laboratories, armed with resources bestowed by university endowments and federal grants, and powered by lifetimes of study.

This picture shattered when science became synonymous with ideological heavy-handedness. Suddenly, in March 2020, science was thrust onto the national stage. Science, they said, is why healthy children and young adults must stay locked in their homes. Science, they said, is why you must mask and double-mask. Science is why a person must quarantine for two weeks following a Covid diagnosis. Or maybe it’s 10 days.

It’s no wonder that the percentage of Americans with a “great deal of confidence” in scientists has dropped 16% from 2020-23.

The supposed science was thrust on the American public. Despite scientists’ claims of certainty and terrible consequences if they weren’t obeyed, each order was followed by a contradictory order. While the public lived in desperation, scientists and bureaucrats felt no need to explain and no need to apologize. For the public to forgive them now, they must first offer a public apology.

Inside Ohio State’s DEI Factory

John Sailer:

A search committee seeking a professor of military history rejected one applicant “because his diversity statement demonstrated poor understanding of diversity and inclusion issues.” Another committee noted that an applicant to be a professor of nuclear physics could understand the plight of minorities in academia because he was married to “an immigrant in Texas in the Age of Trump.”

These examples come from more than 800 pages of “Diversity Faculty Recruitment Reports” at Ohio State University, which I obtained through a public-records request. Until recently, Ohio State’s College of Arts and Sciences required every search committee to create such a report, which had to be approved by various deans before finalists for a job were interviewed.

In February 2021, then-president Kristina Johnson launched an initiative to hire 50 professors whose work focused on race and “social equity” and “100 underrepresented and BIPOC hires” (the acronym stands for black, indigenous and people of color). These reports show what higher education’s outsize investment in “diversity, equity and inclusion” looks like in practice. Ohio State sacrificed both academic freedom and scholarly excellence for the sake of a narrowly construed vision of diversity.

Each report required search committees to describe how their proposed finalists “would amplify the values of diversity, inclusion and innovation.” Some reports were dutiful and bureaucratic; others exuded enthusiasm. All were revealing. Racial diversity was touted as a tool to achieve viewpoint diversity, but viewpoint conformity often served as a tool to meet de facto quotas. One report said a candidate would “greatly enhance our engagement with queer theory outside of the western epistemological approaches which would greatly support us both in recruitment and retention of diverse graduate populations.”

Secretive White House Surveillance Program Gives Cops Access to Trillions of US Phone Records

Dell Cameron:

A little-known surveillance program tracks more than a trillion domestic phone records within the United States each year, according to a letter WIRED obtained that was sent by US senator Ron Wyden to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Sunday, challenging the program’s legality.

According to the letter, a surveillance program now known as Data Analytical Services (DAS) has for more than a decade allowed federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to mine the details of Americans’ calls, analyzing the phone records of countless people who are not suspected of any crime, including victims. Using a technique known as chain analysis, the program targets not only those in direct phone contact with a criminal suspect but anyone with whom those individuals have been in contact as well.

Since October 7, young Americans have been professing their devotion to the Quran in ‘the ultimate rebellion against the West.’

By Francesca Block and Suzy Weiss

By November 10, she first appeared on TikTok in a hijab, and the number of her followers had doubled. (It currently stands at 865,000.) The next day, Rice took her shahada, the Islamic ceremonial profession of faith, officially converting to Islam. 

Rice is among a new swath of TikTok users—typically non-Arab, left-leaning Western women—who consider themselves “reverts” to Islam, based on the belief that all people are born on a natural path to Islam and therefore revert, rather than convert, to the religion.


Terry Jones:

Start with politics. Democrats overwhelmingly approve of Big Tech and Big Government censoring online content, 57% “approve” to just 25% “disapprove.”

Compare that with Republicans, who are almost exactly the opposite of the Dems in their response: 26% “approve,” vs. 54% “disapprove.” Similarly, independents “approve” by just 21%, while they “disapprove” by 52%. Republicans and independents are nearly identical, while Democrats are the outlier.

I obtained 800 pages of ‘Diversity Faculty Recruitment Reports.’ Here’s what I found.

John Sailer:

A search committee seeking a professor of military history rejected one applicant “because his diversity statement demonstrated poor understanding of diversity and inclusion issues.” Another committee noted that an applicant to be a professor of nuclear physics could understand the plight of minorities in academia because he was married to “an immigrant in Texas in the Age of Trump.” 

These examples come from more than 800 pages of “Diversity Faculty Recruitment Reports” at Ohio State University, which I obtained through a public-records request. Until recently, Ohio State’s College of Arts and Sciences required every search committee to create such a report, which had to be approved by various deans before finalists for a job were interviewed.

Civics: FBI Director Admits Agency Rarely Has Probable Cause When It Performs Backdoor Searches Of NSA Collections

Tim Cushing:

After years of continuous, unrepentant abuse of surveillance powers, the FBI is facing the real possibility of seeing Section 702 curtailed, if not scuttled entirely.

Section 702 allows the NSA to gather foreign communications in bulk. The FBI benefits from this collection by being allowed to perform “backdoor” searches of NSA collections to obtain communications originating from US citizens and residents.

There are rules to follow, of course. But the FBI has shown little interest in adhering to these rules, just as much as the NSA has shown little interest in curtailing the amount of US persons’ communications “incidentally” collected by its dragnet.

In recent months, several Republicans have argued against a clean re-authorization of Section 702 powers, citing the FBI’s backdoor snooping on Trump administration figures, as well as certain Republicans who have outlasted Trump’s four-year stint as the supposed leader of the free world.

On top of this opposition, there’s something more bipartisan. Every time surveillance powers are up for renewal, Senator Ron Wyden and other privacy focused legislators have offered up comprehensive surveillance reform packages.

media literacy will be woven into existing classes and lessons

Carolyn Jones:

The new law also overlaps somewhat with California’s effort to bring computer science education to all students. The state hopes to expand computer science, which can include aspects of media literacy, to all students, possibly even requiring it to graduate from high school. Newsom recently signed Assembly Bill 1251, which creates a commission to look at ways to recruit more computer science teachers to California classrooms. Berman is also sponsoring Assembly Bill 1054, which would require high schools to offer computer science classes. That bill is currently stalled in the Senate.

Understanding media, and creating it

Teachers don’t need a state law to show students how to be smart media consumers, and some have been doing it for years. Merek Chang, a high school science teacher at Hacienda La Puente Unified in the City of Industry east of Los Angeles, said the pandemic was a wake-up call for him.

“But both sides of Swedish politics accept that the country has failed to properly integrate some of its new arrivals”

Richard Milne:

What used to be a home is now a mess of wood, insulation and cladding, littering neighbouring gardens and spilling into the street. Windows are completely blown and only jagged shards of glass remain. Curtains and clothes are strewn about, propelled by the sheer force of an explosion.

“It is like a war scene,” says a local resident, “something you see on the news from Afghanistan.”

But this is not a conflict zone. It is a previously peaceful district of prosperous Uppsala, Sweden’s fourth-largest city, now the centre of the country’s gangs crisis. Soha Saad, a 24-year-old newly qualified teacher, died in the blast on September 28. The attack was not aimed at her, but at a neighbour believed to be a relative of a criminal gang member.

Nearly 1K students enrolled in Milwaukee Public Schools have not attended a single day this year

Corrinne Hess:

Chronic absenteeism has been an issue in Wisconsin schools since the pandemic. But in Milwaukee, nearly 1,000 students enrolled in public school have not attended a single day this year.  

MPS social workers have made phone calls and home visits to try to connect with parents and students, but many families have been unresponsive, said Nicole Cain, MPS manager of school social work and community services. 

“We have been working with the DA’s office just to determine how to address these kids,” Cain said. “The majority are high school aged, and so our concern is the drop-out rate of this population.” 

Records show one of the missing Milwaukee students was 15-year-old Erik J. Mendoza. Mendoza was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the Oct. 25 beating death of 5-year-old Prince McCree. McCree’s body was found in a dumpster after being reported missing by his mother the day before.  

Mendoza hasn’t attended school since Fall 2019, when he would have been about 12 years old.

“Achievement levels are at multi-decade lows at the same time as spending and staffing levels are at all-time highs.”

Chad Adelman:

Public charter schools are more productive than traditional school districts in terms of their ability to translate a given level of investment into math and reading gains for students.

That’s the finding of a new report from researchers at the University of Arkansas. Charter schools in Indianapolis; Camden, New Jersey; San Antonio, Texas; and New York City were all particularly cost-effective.

First, the report compares spending versus achievement for traditional district and charter schools in nine cities. On average across the sample, charter schools got less money than nearby district schools. Yet charter students made greater academic gains than their peers in the traditional schools.

Next, using data showing that higher achievement is linked to greater lifetime earnings, the authors calculate precise estimates for returns on investment in public education. On average, students in traditional public schools earned $3.94 in future lifetime earnings for every $1 invested in public schools. Public schools are a good investment!

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Who’s Financing the Elected Officials Overseeing Your Local School?

Angelina Hicks:

A retired federal judge has brought a civil lawsuit against Orange County Board of Education member Mari Barke for allegedly failing to disclose $14 million in income and economic interests since her election.

“Defendant claims that her principal professional endeavor is to educate local elected officials such as herself on critical issues including government transparency,” the complaint reads. “And yet somehow she, as a local elected official, failed to be transparent with more than $14 million in income, investments, business positions, and real property, which the Act requires to be disclosed.”

Barke declined to comment when reached by phone earlier last month.

Wisconsin’s School Report Cards Are Broken-Here’s How to Fix Them

Will Flanders and Noah Diekemper

Annually, when Wisconsin’s new school report cards are released, we learn that Wisconsin’s schools must all be located in Lake Wobegone, where everyone is above average. School districts like Beloit (14.1% proficiency in reading) and Milwaukee (11.5% proficiency in math) are somehow not judged to be deserving of a ranking in the lowest category on the report card.  This year, Milwaukee even managed to reach the middle category of “Meets Expectations.”  

There are a number of reasons that this seems to happen every year. Each school and school district receives an overall score on a 100 point scale. – Those scores are then put into accountability rating categories at certain cut points. DPI has the power to set these cut points. The cut points from this year’s report card are reproduced in Table 1 below.

As recently as the 2020-21 school year, DPI  moved the cut points for each rating, which had the effect of moving some districts up in their rating despite not showing any measurable improvement. 

But the reality is that the chief cause of this phenomenon is state law that requires us to not judge school districts on a level playing field. In districts with more low-income students, student proficiency is weighted less highly than it is in districts with fewer low-income students. Instead, student growth is weighted more highly in high poverty districts. There are other components that go into the report card score as well that include outcomes for target groups and graduation metrics, but only between growth and achievement are weights varied in this way.

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

It’s common knowledge by now that Wisconsin has way too many poor kids with terrible dental care and not enough dentists to treat them

Mike Nichols:

Half of Wisconsin’s 72 zip codes don’t have a single licensed dentist, according to the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association; less than 40 percent of children covered by Medicaid received any dental care last year.

Just this week, the Assembly Committee on Health, Aging and Long-term Care held a public hearing on a bill introduced by two Republicans, Sen. Mary Felzkowski of Tomahawk and Rep. Jon Plumer of Lodi, to license dental therapists — trained professionals who could do a lot more than dental hygienists but less than dentists. They could provide basic exams, fill cavities, pull some teeth.

The pursuit of higher graduation rates can lead to harmful outcomes

Rick Hess:

After being unexpectedly assigned to oversee my school’s online credit-recovery program in January, I soon discovered that my administrators were allowing six seniors to take their courses, including exams, entirely at home—unsupervised—so that they could graduate “on time.” When I said that I would not enable them to cheat by unlocking the students’ exams on the online platform, the students were promptly removed from my roster. When I saw how these students, and previous students who had done the courses at home, were acing exams in an impossibly small amount of time, in contrast to my on-campus students who usually failed the exams, I offered to proctor their exams on campus after school. When this was refused by my principal and my appeals up the chain of command were denied, I made a video showing how easily students could cheat (by Googling answers using actual students’ tests) to bring public attention to the problem.

The kids are not all right: Violence, intruders and chaos at Charlottesville High School Friday was a breaking point for teachers at CHS

Jason Armesto:

Students roaming the hallways during class. Brawls in the common areas. Intruders let onto school premises. Teachers afraid for their own safety. Administrators unwilling or unable to discipline.

Things are not OK at Charlottesville High School.

On Friday, classes were abruptly canceled when teachers did not show up to work. The decision by so many school employees to call out appears to have been prompted by a series of wild student brawls that occurred the day before.

At least one of those fights included an 18-year-old intruder who does not even attend CHS and who was let into the school by a student for the sole purpose of perpetrating violence.

Charlottesville police received two calls from the school within minutes of each other Thursday, according to Charlottesville police spokesman Kyle Ervin.

Dorothy Bishop on the prevalence of scientific fraud


Following up on our discussion of replicability, here are some thoughts from psychology researcher Dorothy Bishop on scientific fraud:

In recent months, I [Bishop] have become convinced of two things: first, fraud is a far more serious problem than most scientists recognise, and second, we cannot continue to leave the task of tackling it to volunteer sleuths. 

If you ask a typical scientist about fraud, they will usually tell you it is extremely rare, and that it would be a mistake to damage confidence in science because of the activities of a few unprincipled individuals. . . . we are reassured [that] science is self-correcting . . .

The problem with this argument is that, on the one hand, we only know about the fraudsters who get caught, and on the other hand, science is not prospering particularly well – numerous published papers produce results that fail to replicate and major discoveries are few and far between . . . We are swamped with scientific publications, but it is increasingly hard to distinguish the signal from the noise.

Bishop summarizes:

It is getting to the point where in many fields it is impossible to build a cumulative science, because we lack a solid foundation of trustworthy findings. And it’s getting worse and worse. . . . in clinical areas, there is growing concern that systematic reviews that are supposed to synthesise evidence to get at the truth instead lead to confusion because a high proportion of studies are fraudulent.

Colleges face gambling addiction among students as sports betting spreads

Jason Osborne:

Three out of four college students have gambled in the past year, whether legally or illegally, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.

An estimated 2% to 3% of U.S. adults have a gambling problem. The portion of college students with a problem, however, is potentially twice that number – up to 6%.

As an educational psychologist who follows gambling in America, I foresee the potential for gambling on campus to become an even bigger problem. Sports betting continues to expand, including on college campuses, since a 2018 Supreme Court ruling allowing states to make it legal.

As a faculty fellow at an institute that promotes responsible gaming, I know that colleges can take steps to curtail problem gambling among students. It is all the more urgent given that adolescents in general, including college students, are often uniquely susceptible to gambling problems, both because of their exposure to video games – which often have hallmarks of gambling behavior – and the stress and anxiety of college life, which can lead to using gambling as a coping strategy.

Terrorism and Tax Advantages

Leslie Lenkowsky

Missouri Rep. Jason Smith denounced universities and student organizations for statements “celebrating, excusing, or downplaying” the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel. “Releasing such statements, or failing to condemn them,” he said last month, “is unforgivable and runs counter to our values as a nation.”

Mr. Smith’s comments have more weight than most because he is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy. That includes policies governing nonprofit organizations, including colleges and universities as well as groups issuing statements and staging rallies throughout the U.S. Statements celebrating Hamas’s violence, Mr. Smith adds, “call into question the academic or charitable missions they claim to pursue”—in other words, their tax breaks.

The U.S. has traditionally given charities and their supporters great leeway in handling controversial issues. Constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly protect their activities and require government to demonstrate a strong reason for restricting them. But Congress and the Supreme Court—as well as nearly three dozen states—have agreed that providing aid to terrorist groups like Hamas is a justifiable reason to forbid donors from supporting them.

The Decline and Fall of the Classroom Novel

Daniel Buck:

The book is dying. I don’t just mean that Americans are reading fewer books, opting instead for 240-character fragments or autoplay videos. Nor am I referencing a handful of parental prudes lamenting explicit materials or social-justice warriors crying foul anytime a child has to read Steinbeck.

Rather, fewer students are reading books — real, physical books with printed text — from start to finish, because fewer schools are requiring it.

When I taught high school, most of my colleagues assigned only excerpts from To Kill a Mockingbird or Romeo and Juliet, because reading the whole book just “wasn’t that important,” they told …

The 2020 Stanford Blacklist

Josiah Joner:

In the email template students created to send to professors, students would select whether they were a “Black/non-Black student” and say they were “writing to raise concerns for students, specifically Black students, impacted by protests across the nation.” Telling professors that “The lives of many of your students are on the line because of anti-Black violence,” they demanded a complete overhaul of academic standards so that they would “have the freedom to protest for their safety and further the movement.”

“My 8th grade students are 4-6 years below grade according to their NWEA test scores and my observations. Yet I’m ordered to teach 8th grade curriculum to them”

Upstate Guy:

I’m a science teacher with urban HS and MS experience. The learning loss and gap predate the pandemic, it just accelerated it. The roots of our problems are actually easy to recognize: 

1) In a bizarre quest for equity, we aren’t allowed to suspend black or brown students because the State says they are suspended too often. The kids know this and thus do whatever they want. They literally run the school. I was hit by a shoe in the hallway this week. I asked the student why she threw it and she replied, “Because I can.” 

2) To protect their own jobs, school officials juke the state about academic performance, attendance and graduation rates. Students are not held back for failing a grade. Summer school is academically useless. My 8th grade students are 4-6 years below grade according to their NWEA test scores and my observations. Yet I’m ordered to teach 8th grade curriculum to them. How engaged are students who can’t even read the material? How does it affect their mental health to be humiliated day after day because they lack basic skills to engage the material? For example, none of my 8th graders can read the analog clock on the classroom wall. 

These issues can be solved with much smaller student:teacher ratios and truly rigorous standards. Kids can’t be promoted until they have mastered the material. Poor behavior must have consequences. 

Raising children without consequences is producing a generation of antisocial young adults, without drive, discipline or knowledge.

Jennifer Sey:

It was all obvious — the learning loss, the disengagement from education overall, the depression and anxiety and suicidality due to severe isolation (often summarized as “mental health impacts”), the chronic absenteeism, the drop out rates, the graduating without being able to read, the abuse at home, the loss of community and hope . . . I could go on. And on. And of course, the poorest, most vulnerable children were harmed the most. 

But if anyone pointed that out in real time, we were called racists and able-ists and eugenicists. Among many other career-destroying smears.

Three freedoms


Over the last year, the Network made major inroads in taking back social, crypto, and AI from the State.

First Elon acquired Twitter, fired the wokes, and removed DC’s central point of control over social media.

Then citizen journalists unmasked FTX, destroying DC’s desired point of control over crypto.

Now EA itself has imploded, breaking their crucial cultural chokepoint over AI.

And so we have a fighting chance at free speech, decentralized money, and open source AI — if we can keep it.

Are all skills composed of knowledge?


One of the big responses to my article and Bloomer’s quotation was something along the following lines.

‘Maybe there is some truth to this, but are all skills composed of knowledge? Maybe this is true of history and literature, but is it true of practical skills like drama and football? Is it even true of something like maths?’

Here’s my answer.

  • All complex skills¹ are composed of smaller units, and have to be taught by building up those smaller units.
  • Sometimes (typically, but not always, in “academic” subjects) we call those smaller units knowledge. Sometimes (typically, but not always, in “academic” subjects) we call those smaller units sub-skills. 

Here are some examples of what I mean

  • History breaks down into knowledge: a typical end goal of a history curriculum unit might be to write an analytical essay about the causes of the First World War. The sub-units needed to achieve these skills include a lot of what we’d typically call knowledge – memorising dates, understanding sequences of events, knowing the roles played by key characters.
  • Football breaks down into sub-skills: a typical end goal of training to play football might be to play – and win! – an 11-a-side match. The sub-units needed to achieve these skills are what we’d typically call sub-skills: being able to control the ball in tight spaces, pass accurately, tackle and head the ball, etc. 

There are different labels for the small steps, but the crucial point is that both skills can be broken down into small steps and taught that way.

Civics: Migration, Not Asylum

Theodore Dalrymple:

But the Supreme Court’s decision is instructive of the state of mind of the ruling elite, not only in Britain but in much of the Western world. The reason given for its ruling was that the safety of the deportees to Rwanda could not be guaranteed, in the sense that they might be returned from the country from which they had fled, or at least from which they had emigrated. It is illegal under international law to return asylum-seekers to their countries of origin before their claims to asylum have been properly heard and investigated, or even to put them at risk of such return. No doubt in some narrow sense, then, the judges were right: They have to interpret the law as it is, not as it ought to be, and (from experience of giving testimony in British courts) I have a high regard for the intellectual ability of British judges.

Censorship, Misinformation and K-12

Susannah Luthi:

California governor Gavin Newsom (D.), who just last month signed a law requiring media literacy courses for public schools to counter “online misinformation,” on Thursday took to X, formerly Twitter, to advance a false narrative accusing a small Tennessee city of imposing a ban on “being gay in public.”

“A city in Tennessee has banned being gay in public. This is just the beginning,” Newsom wrote Thursday on X, linking to a New Republic story that claims the city council of Murfreesboro, Tenn., “passed [an] ordinance essentially prohibiting homosexuality in public to try to ban library books.”

Murfreesboro’s ordinance sets decency standards for the city’s public spaces, barring indecent exposure, lewd behavior, nudity, and sexual conduct, as well as “indecent materials and events.” While the city is using the law to cull explicit kids’ books from the public library, the ordinance does not mention homosexuality but cross-references a statute about sexual conduct that did up until October. Local lawmakers in November updated that statute to strike the term “homosexuality” after a local LGBT group and the ACLU sued the city and secured a court ban on its enforcement.

Newsom’s tweet came just a month after he signed a law requiring K-12 students in California to take internet media literacy courses on the grounds that “online misinformation has posed risks to international peace, interfered with democratic decisionmaking, and threatened public health.”

Civics: improve social security


The “Own America Accounts” would constitute 1) the largest debt reduction plan in history; 2) the biggest tax cut for workers in American history (because workers now get to keep in a personal account what they currently pay into the Social Security black hole); and 3) the greatest wealth accumulation opportunity for every income and racial group ever invented.

It almost makes too much sense.

Southeastern’s Teacher Training


Southeastern Louisiana University’s undergraduate teacher preparation program has been recognized by the National Council on Teacher Quality. The program received a grade of ‘A’ in NCTQ’s new report “Teacher Prep Review: Strengthening Elementary Reading Instruction” for its rigorous preparation of future teachers in how to teach reading.

Southeastern’s program is among just 23 percent nationwide to earn an ‘A’ for meeting standards set by literacy experts for coverage of the most effective methods of reading instruction – often called the “science of reading.”

In order to earn an ‘A,” programs needed to meet a standard of adequate coverage, determined in consultation with literacy experts, for all five core components of scientifically based reading instruction – phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, and teach fewer than four practices that have been found to inhibit students’ reading progress.

Curated Education Information