K-12 Tax & $pending Climate: “Today, so-called dollar stores have items well over a dollar and even more than $5”



Peter Wilogren

Dollar Tree, which owns Family Dollar, recently said it will close nearly 1,000 stores. That’s after Dollar Tree raised prices in the past couple of years for the first time in decades.

Others, like Dollar General, say they continue to grow, even if it’s been a rocky road. Dollar General recently opened its 20,000th store and plans to open even more this year.

Its CEO once said, “We do very good in good times, and we do fabulous in bad times.”

Bigger retailers offering discounted prices have already felt the sting. JC Penney, Sears, and others (the stores we grew up with) are vanishing fast.




Civics: “I learned from our foia lady here how to make emails disappear”



Allysia Finley:

Subpoenaed private emails from Dr. Fauci’s senior adviser, David Morens, now show how NIH officials and EcoHealth President Peter Daszak sought to conceal their lapses. After the Trump administration in April 2020 suspended funding for EcoHealth, Dr. Morens rallied to Mr. Daszak’s defense.

“There are things I can’t say except Tony [Fauci] is aware and I have learned there are ongoing efforts within NIH to steer through this with minimal damage to you, Peter, and colleagues, and to nih and niaid,” Dr. Morens wrote to Mr. Daszak on April 26, 2020. “I have reason to believe that there are already efforts going on to protect you.” (NIAID is the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which Dr. Fauci directed from 1984 through 2022.)

Dr. Morens led the Daszak protection program. His subpoenaed emails show that he helped edit EcoHealth’s press releases and worked to get its funding restored. He also sought to thwart Freedom of Information Act requests by outside groups regarding the EcoHealth grant.

On Feb. 24, 2021, Dr. Morens wrote to Boston University scientist Gerald Keusch: “I learned from our foia lady here how to make emails disappear after i am fioa’d [sic] but before the search starts, so i think we are all safe. Plus i deleted most of those earlier emails after sending them to gmail.”

Safe from what? Public scrutiny?




The Colleges Where You’re Most Likely to Have a Positive Return on Your Investment



Alyssa Lukpat:

New graduates need to earn at least $50,000 a year, on average, in their first decade off campus for the degree to pay off, according to new research from Strada Education Foundation, a nonprofit that analyzed federal education and earnings data. If they can land that salary, or make $500,000 before taxes over 10 years, state school graduates across sectors will find the investment worth it and should be able to pay off their loans, Strada says.

At a time when many Americans are questioning the value of a college degree—and some teens and 20-somethings are forgoing higher education for trade work like plumbing, welding and construction—four-year state universities are a bargain compared with their private counterparts and still often provide a path to financial security.

“As long as you’re above that $50,000, even in the most expensive states, you’ll still have that positive return on investment,” said Nichole Torpey-Saboe, Strada’s vice president of research.

James Maiden, 32 years old, dropped out of the University of Missouri-Kansas City about a decade ago because he needed to make money. He held various jobs, including at a shoe store, before landing one as a marketing manager for a nonprofit theater in Kansas City, Mo., where he earned less than $50,000. It was tough to envision a career path.




Civics: Censorship Legislation



Wall Street Journal:

Forget about starting a meeting with a prayer. Nor could employers talk about the costs of unions or state policies. Criticizing Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and advocating an expansion of state tax-credit school scholarships would be off-limits. The bill could be construed to prohibit employers from criticizing anti-Israel protesters.

Driving the bill are unions, which accuse employers of holding “captive audience” meetings to persuade workers against joining. But the federal National Labor Relations Act explicitly permits employers to express “any views, argument, or opinion” about unions as long as their “expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit.”

Democrats claim their bill doesn’t forbid employers from expressing their political or religious views, but merely prohibits them from penalizing workers who don’t attend meetings where such matters are discussed. This is a distinction without a practical difference.




K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Inflation



Angel Au-Yeung:

The most recent index of consumer prices showed the annual inflation rate slowed slightly in April, to 3.4%. But inflation was routinely below 2% in the years before the pandemic—and anyway, what matters to people is the price of things, not the level of price changes.

“They do care, and they’ve always cared,” said James Hines, an economist at the University of Michigan.

We trod through the streets in San Francisco to ask people how much they make, whether it feels like enough and their plans for the future. Their answers have been edited for clarity and length. Income is monthly, after taxes.




“My Decision to Leave Academia”



J Mitchell Sances:

Their reality is so different from the rest of the world’s, and it has been for a long time

What do you do when your passion and career trajectory have been infected with amorality? This is the question I was forced to ask myself after over a decade of working toward what I thought was to be my goal: ensconcing myself in academia as a prolific researcher and respected professor.

It was no secret that education in America was in a downward spiral for much of the 1990s and early 2000s—data from the National Assessment of Education Progress shows only about 30% of students in the U.S. were and are proficient in basic educational fundamentals.

Educators have placed the blame on many factors including the implementing of No Child Left Behind—what some in the business unaffectionately called No Child Gets Ahead. The wildly unpopular George W. Bush program has been criticized for focusing on the students with lower proficiencies and ignoring the needs of higher performing students allowing them to slip through the cracks in true collectivist fashion.

To me, someone who was privileged enough to receive stellar Catholic private education all my life, these battles were fightable and winnable. As part of the system, I could aim to affect change from within, and with my zeal, passion, and ambition I was poised to do so. Alas, a wave of postmodern thought had other plans—the type of thought in which there is no such thing as objective truth and anything majoritarian is evil.

—-

And:

Academic who researches the right realizes he can’t get a job because he’s a white male.

Richard Hannania

Academia is obviously different. The standards are soft, and hiring committees don’t personally go broke if they hire only incompetents. Along with the ideological capture of the universities, it’s become extremely hard for white men to get jobs.

In the hard sciences there are standards, many people just can’t do the work.

But the number of people who can do something that looks like “social science” or history is vast, and departments can go completely off of ideology and identity.




What Went Wrong with Federal Student Loans?



Adam Looney & Constantine Yannelis:

At a time when the returns to college and graduate school are at historic highs, why do so many students struggle with their student loans? The increase in aggregate student debt and the struggles of today’s student loan borrowers can be traced to changes in federal policies intended to broaden access to federal aid and educational opportunities, and which increased enrollment and borrowing in higher-risk circumstances. Starting in the late 1990s, policymakers weakened regulations that had constrained institutions from enrolling aid-dependent students. This led to rising enrollment of relatively disadvantaged students, but primarily at poor-performing, low-value institutions whose students systematically failed to complete a degree, struggled to repay their loans, defaulted at high rates, and foundered in the job market. As these new borrowers experienced similarly poor outcomes, their loans piled up, loan performance deteriorated, and with it the finances of the federal program. The crisis illustrates the important role that educational institutions play in access to postsecondary education and student outcomes, and difficulty of using broadly-available loans to subsidize investments in education when there is so much heterogeneity in outcomes across institutions and programs and in the ability to repay of students.

——

Commentary.




A Theoretical “Case Against Education”



Scott Alexander

In a 1999 poll, only 66% of Americans age 18-29 knew that the US won independence from Britain (as opposed to some other country). About 47% of Americans can name all three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial). 37% know the closest planet to the sun (Mercury). 58% know which gas causes most global warming (carbon dioxide). 44%know Auschwitz was the site of a concentration camp. Fewer than 50% (ie worse than chance) can correctly answer a true-false question about whether electrons are bigger than atoms.

These results are scattered across many polls, which makes them vulnerable to publication bias; I can’t find a good unified general knowledge survey of the whole population. But there’s a great survey of university students. Keeping in mind that this is a highly selected, extra-smart population, here are some data points:

  • 85% know who wrote Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare)
  • 56% know the biggest planet (Jupiter)
  • 44% know who rode on horseback in 1775 to warn that the British were coming (Paul Revere)
  • 33% know what organ produces insulin (pancreas)
  • 31% know the capital of Russia (Moscow)
  • 30% know who discovered the Theory of Relativity (Einstein)
  • 19% know what mountain range contains Mt. Everest (Himalayas)
  • 19% know who wrote 1984 (George Orwell)
  • 16% know what word the raven says in Poe’s “The Raven” (“Nevermore!”)
  • 10% know the captain’s name in Moby Dick(Ahab)
  • 7% know who discovered, in 1543, that the Earth orbits the sun (Copernicus)
  • 4% know what Chinese religion was founded by Lao Tse (Taoism)
  • <1% know what city the general Hannibal was from (Carthage)

Remember, these are university students, so the average person’s performance is worse.

——

Commentary.




Civics: elections and media/platform bias commentary



Ann Althouse:

The question is whether they do more insidious things that bias the entire platform! I think they do. What makes Musk different here is that he participates in the way that anyone can participate on X and he takes individual responsibility for his personal statements. But maybe he’s also involved in the kind of hidden manipulations we’ve seen on platforms run by leaders who pose as neutral. 




Yale molecular biophysics and DIE



John Sailer:

Yale University’s department of molecular biophysics and biochemistry requires all job applicants to submit a DEI statement.

Here’s the evaluation rubric, which shows the exhaustive DEI criteria for assessing any scientist hoping to work in the Yale department.

——

More.




Civics: “Good progressives are tossing the heady days of wine and wokeness down the memory hole. Lucky for us, there was a witness”



David Mikics

Nellie Bowles’ Morning After the Revolution is a grand tour through the craziness that followed the killing of George Floyd and continues to this day, despite the majority of Americans shaking their heads in bewilderment. Bowles, a former Timesreporter, started out as a progressive seeker, curious and hopeful about the new thinking, and she is still seeking solutions to racism, income inequality, and attacks on women’s rights. But she also sees the absurdity of much of what passed for progressivism, yet was actually narcissistic, neo-racialist, and aggressively inhumane.

At the Times, Bowles was hounded by an anti-disinformation editor, who was there to remind writers that the lab leak hypothesis was a conspiracy theory and also that conservatives were very bad people. The real danger was Trump, she was told, and anything questionable that the left did had to be passed over in silence, lest the enemy gain succor. When she said she wanted to go to Seattle to check out the new anarchist collective that had abolished the police, she was asked, she says, “Why do you care? No, but seriously why do you care?”

Bowles wrote several significant stories for the Times, including one on antifa in 2020, before leaving the paper along with her wife, Bari Weiss, who founded the now-indispensable Free Press. (Bowles was told by a Times editor that her new romantic partner, Weiss, was “a Nazi,” as their colleagues nodded in agreement.) Bowles wrote a mordantly funny weekly column, TGIF, for the Free Press, where she has covered many stories not fit to print in the Times and The Washington Post.




Giving Windows total recall of everything a user does is a privacy minefield



Richard Speed:

The Windows 11 feature is supposed to eventually expand to allow users to pull up anything that happened recently on their Copilot+ PC and interact with or use it again, as the system logs all app activity, communications, and so on, as well as by-the-second screenshots, to local storage for search and retrieval.

Microsoft, which was just scolded by the US government for lax security, said: “Recall will also enable you to open the snapshot in the original application in which it was created, and, as Recall is refined over time, it will open the actual source document, website, or email in a screenshot. This functionality will be improved during Recall’s preview phase.”

Improvements will certainly be needed, particularly in how the function deals with privacy.




“America is a country whose children score low in math and science but off the charts in self-esteem”



Oliver Wiseman:

A study of eight developed countries found that U.S. students were dead last in math skills but number one in confidence in math skills, even though they suck at it. Yes, we’re number one in thinking we’re number one.

The idea that kids have too little self-esteem is antiquated. It’s a Zombie Lie, one of those ideas that perhaps was true in the past but now is not, and yet people keep saying it. Kids now have too much self-esteem, and it’s turning them into angry, screaming grievance collectors.

All of that childhood tolerance is resulting in grown-up tyrants. It’s no wonder that by the time they get to college, just having to listen to an opinion they don’t agree with is considered an act of “violence.” This is what happens when no one ever loses and everyone gets a prize. You can run the wrong way on the field and score five goals for the other team, and you’re still a winner. Even though you’re actually a big fucking loser. No wonder today’s NBA players give each other high fives when they miss a foul shot.

We tell our children they don’t have to fix their flaws, because it’s the world’s job to accept everything about them and love it. Like they say on reality shows, the most important thing is just “you doing you.” But what if “you” is a big asshole?




Infected Blood Inquiry is to report on mistakes that led to 1,250 people in UK contracting HIV and 5,000 more contracting hepatitis C



Cara McGoogan:

Internal documents from American pharmaceutical companies show they knew a “wonder drug” made from human plasma could transmit HIV to patients, but they sold it regardless.

Some 1,250 people in the UK contracted HIV in the 70s and 80s from Factor VIII, a treatment for the bleeding disorder haemophilia. Up to 5,000 more also contracted hepatitis C.

The Infected Blood Inquiry will report later this month on mistakes that allowed Factor VIII contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C to be imported into the UK and prescribed to patients on the NHS.

Survivors who have been seeking justice for 40 years expect the final report on May 20 to be critical of Factor VIII manufacturers, successive governments, and doctors. The report will also explain how as many as 26,800 people contracted hepatitis C from blood transfusions.




Are Gaza Protests Happening Mostly at Elite Colleges?



by Marc Novicoff and Robert Kelchen

Using data from Harvard’s Crowd Counting Consortium and news reports of encampments, we matched information on every institution of higher education that has had pro-Palestinian protest activity (starting when the war broke out in October until early May) to the colleges in our 2023 college rankings. Of the 1,421 public and private nonprofit colleges that we ranked, 318 have had protests and 123 have had encampments.

By matching that data to percentages of students at each campus who receive Pell Grants (which are awarded to students from moderate- and low-income families), we came to an unsurprising conclusion: Pro-Palestinian protests have been rare at colleges with high percentages of Pell students. Encampments at such colleges have been rarer still. A few outliers exist, such as Cal State Los Angeles, the City College of New York, and Rutgers University–Newark. But in the vast majority of cases, campuses that educate students mostly from working-class backgrounds have not had any protest activity. For example, at the 78 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) on the Monthly’s list, 64 percent of the students, on average, receive Pell Grants. Yet according to our data, none of those institutions have had encampments and only nine have had protests, a significantly lower rate than non-HBCU schools. 

Protest activity has been common, however, at elite schools with both low acceptance rates and few Pell students. You can see these findings in the chart below.




For decades, the university cultivated the conditions that led to its campus Intifada.



Christopher Rufo:

The images of the recent protests at Columbia University have grabbed the attention of the American public: students chanting for a Palestinian state, “from the river to the sea”; activists setting up a mass tent encampment on the campus lawn; masked occupiers seizing control of Hamilton Hall. For some, it was a sign that ancient anti-Semitism had established itself in the heart of the Ivy League. For others, it was déjà vu of 1968, when mass demonstrations last roiled campus.

After weeks of rising tensions, Columbia president Minouche Shafik resolved the immediate conflict by summoning the New York City Police Department, which swiftly disbanded anti-Israel student encampments, removed the occupiers of Hamilton Hall, and arrested more than 100 students, who were subsequently suspended.

President Shafik feigned surprise. In a statement to students, she expressed “deep sadness” about the campus chaos. But to anyone who has observed Columbia in recent decades, the upheaval should not come as a surprise. Behind the images of campus protests lies a deeper, more troubling story: the ideological capture of the university, which inexorably drove Columbia toward this moment. Columbia for decades has cultivated the precise conditions that allowed the pro-Hamas protests to flourish. The university built massive departments to advance “postcolonialism,” spent hundreds of millions of dollars on “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” and glorified New Left–style student activism as the telos of university life.




Over 750,000 antimicrobial resistance deaths preventable yearly via vaccines, water, sanitation and infection control



Lancet:

Authors say if the world does not prioritize action on AMR now, we will see a steady increase in the global death toll—currently 4.95 million per year from infections linked to AMR—with young infants, elderly people, and people with chronic illnesses or requiring surgical procedures at the highest risk.

Improving and expanding existing methods to prevent infections, such as hand hygiene, regular cleaning and sterilization of equipment in health care facilities, availability of safe drinking water, effective sanitation and use of pediatric vaccines, could prevent over 750,000 deaths associated with AMR every year in
low- or middle-income countries (LMICs), estimates a new modeling analysis as part of a new four paper Series published in The Lancet.

Each year, an estimated 7.7 million deaths globally are caused by bacterial infections—1 in 8 of all global deaths, making bacterial infections the second largest cause of death globally. Out of these bacterial infection deaths, almost 5 million are associated with bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics. Authors of the new Lancet Series on antimicrobial resistance call for support for sustainable access to antibiotics to be central to ambitious and actionable targets on tackling AMR introduced at the High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2024.




Notes on machine learning



r/Artificialintelligence

For all those interested, and for those interested in the more complex and technical side of machine learning/AI…

Ilya Sutskever gave John Carmack this reading list of approx 30 research papers and said, ‘If you really learn all of these, you’ll know 90% of what matters today.’




‘Our Forever President’: Black Harvard Graduates Celebrate Claudine Gay at Affinity Ceremony



By Madeleine A. Hung and Joyce E. Kim, Crimson:

Here and around the world, students, faculty, alumni organize, mobilize resistance movements to fight our own institution’s facilitation of the dehumanization of the Filastin people,” m’Cheaux added.

m’Cheaux’s remarks come days after the Harvard College Administrative Board suspended five undergraduates and placed at least 20 others on probation for their participation in the 20-day pro-Palestine encampment of Harvard Yard, which ended last week.

Though the sanctions barred 13 seniors from graduating at Commencement on Thursday, members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to add them back to the list of degrees recommended for conferral on Monday.

As of Tuesday evening, the status of their degrees remains uncertain.

——

Commentary.




Rebuilding a safe, pro-learning culture at an inner-city school



By Shannon Whitworth

It’s been a rough cultural transition back to schools since the lockdowns, and we are starting to see the price that will be paid for keeping our kids out of the nation’s schools for as long as we did. We are fighting to reclaim our schools for the sake of the children we serve. Some schools, like mine, have been up to the task, but many others have not recovered.

I am the Director of the Free Enterprise Academy at Milwaukee Lutheran High School.  Milwaukee Lutheran is a school of approximately 860 students, most of whom are inner-city, economically disadvantaged, black kids who attend using a school choice voucher.  Like most schools during the closures, Milwaukee Lutheran went to virtual learning, with varying levels of success.  When we returned to in-person instruction, little did we know the problems were only just beginning.

Many people have written about the drops in proficiency and attendance since our return from the lockdowns. One of the most important aspects often not considered is the damage done to a school’s culture. Anti-social behavior, insubordination, fighting, and tardiness seemed to be the norm.




“Up to half of UCLA medical students now fail basic tests of medical competence. Whistleblowers say affirmative action, illegal in California since 1996, is to blame”



Aaron Sibarium:

Long considered one of the best medical schools in the world, the University of California, Los Angeles’s David Geffen School of Medicine receives as many as 14,000 applications a year. Of those, it accepted just 173 students in the 2023 admissions cycle, a record-low acceptance rate of 1.3 percent. The median matriculant took difficult science courses in college, earned a 3.8 GPA, and scored in the 88th percentile on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

Without those stellar stats, some doctors at the school say, students can struggle to keep pace with the demanding curriculum.

So when it came time for the admissions committee to consider one such student in November 2021—a black applicant with grades and test scores far below the UCLA average—some members of the committee felt that this particular candidate, based on the available evidence, was not the best fit for the top-tier medical school, according to two people present for the committee’s meeting.

Their reservations were not well-received.

When an admissions officer voiced concern about the candidate, the two people said, the dean of admissions, Jennifer Lucero, exploded in anger.

“Did you not know African-American women are dying at a higher rate than everybody else?” Lucero asked the admissions officer, these people said. The candidate’s scores shouldn’t matter, she continued,  because “we need people like this in the medical school.”

More:

How does this relate to the Free Beacon article that speaks to *admissions (you’re talking about exams taken by second-year students. This is the data people are asking for.

And:

They have not “released” those results. They didn’t give me the more positive data when I reached out for comment or include them in a subsequent press release.

Plus:

This is the problem with saying: “well, they still have to pass all their licensing exams, so who cares if they fail their shelf exams?”




Google vs the open web



Andrew Orlowski:

Google is currently erecting a wall between the searcher and the information they seek, using Generative AI, which the company believes creates more useful results such as summaries. This barrier, consisting of what Google’s former research director Meredith Whittaker calls “derivative content paste”, causes problems: what’s generated may or may not resemble the original, thanks to additional errors and “hallucinations”. The new barrier also removes the creators of original material from the value chain. The world was never as exciting as we were promised by the web utopians; now, it will be blander than ever.




Civics: Subverting Open Records at taxpayer funded NIH



Alex Ruoff:

NIH has a “foia lady” who instead of responding to records requests advises colleagues on circumventing the law, according to emails released by Oversight today.

——

It borders on contempt for @atfhq Director Dettelbach to refuse to answer Congress’s questions about the pipe bombs discovered on January 6th.




being sued for defamation for criticizing her school district on social media for employing a “social justice coordinator.”



WILL

WILL filed this appeal because Ms. Johnson’s posts are protected by the First Amendment. She should not have to endure a costly, pointless, and incoherent jury trial. 

The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel, Luke Berg, stated, “The case against Ms. Johnson should have been promptly dismissed. She was expressing her opinion, and the First Amendment gives her the right to do so. We hope the Court of Appeals allows her to appeal to avoid a misguided trial.”   

Scarlet Johnson, stated, “We have a right to free speech in this country and no one should be treated differently under the law because of their political beliefs. I am hopeful that we can establish what is a clear protection of the 1stAmendment.”  

Additional Background: The lawsuit involves a defamation claim for run-of-the-mill social media posts on X and Facebook. The posts in question criticized a school district for having a “social justice coordinator,” and described people who hold such positions as “woke,” “white savior[s]” with a “god complex,” “woke lunatics,” and “bullies.” Statements like these are pervasive on social media; indeed, they were more restrained than a lot of online speech. Nevertheless, the Plaintiff, who previously held the position, chose to respond with a defamation lawsuit.  

——

Legislation and Reading: the Wisconsin Experience 2004-

——

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

——-

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?




How Should We Critique Research



gwern.net

Scientific and statistical research must be read with a critical eye to understand how credible the claims are. The Reproducibility Crisis and the growth of meta-science have demonstrated that much research is of low quality and often false.

But there are so many possible things any given study could be criticized for, falling short of an unobtainable ideal, that it becomes unclear which possible criticism is important, and they may degenerate into mere rhetoric. How do we separate fatal flaws from unfortunate caveats from specious quibbling?

I offer a pragmatic criterion: what makes a criticism important is how much it could change a result if corrected and how much that would then change our decisions or actions: to what extent it is a “difference which makes a difference”.

This is why issues of research fraud, causal inference, or biases yielding overestimates are universally important: because a ‘causal’ effect turning out to be zero effect or grossly overestimated will change almost all decisions based on such research; while on the other hand, other issues like measurement error or distributional assumptions, which are equally common, are often not important: because they typically yield much smaller changes in conclusions, and hence decisions.

If we regularly ask whether a criticism would make this kind of difference, it will be clearer which ones are important criticisms, and which ones risk being rhetorical distractions and obstructing meaningful evaluation of research.




The trust state



Zoe Williams:

Korsgaard states this plainly: “We were so used to this idea of ourselves as a nation: we were Christian, we were white, we were equal, we spoke Danish.” The whole of this century has been racked by questions of inclusion and integration, and many Danes will frame the ghetto policy as a question of perspective: from one angle, no question, it looks unbelievably racist; from another, it’s trying to eradicate pockets of deprivation. The other criteria for a ghetto are above average jobless and crime rates and lower than average educational attainment. No one has ended up homeless as a result of this regeneration.

Does a commitment to equality have to mean an in-group and an out-group? “One should absolutely acknowledge the question mark over the next decades of Denmark’s evolution of trust,” Shapins says, “as you continue to have an evolution of migration and belonging.” Denmark has had, Korsgaard says, “a painful time in recent history, where we had to renegotiate, ‘OK, you can be part of this community, even though you’re not white, even though your birth language is not Danish,’ and luckily, I think that is more or less settled.”




Notes on a National Curriculum



Daisy Christodoulou

In England, the national curriculum has been in the news after the Shadow Education minister, Bridget Phillipson, reminded everyone that a future Labour government plans to review it. 

I have written a lot about the curriculum and I think it’s an important part of education. But I also think that the national curriculum in England – and many other countries – is not as important as is sometimes assumed. This is not just because some schools in England are exempt from following the national curriculum. Even if it were compulsory for every school, it would still not be a significant lever for change. Four other parts of the education system make a bigger difference to what students learn. 

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

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  1. Lesson resources

When most non-educationalists think about “the curriculum”, I think they have something like this in mind: the curriculum basically tells teachers what to teach each lesson. That is a reasonable assumption, but in England it is not the case. The national curriculum provides nothing like this level of detail, even our current 2014 version which is more specific and detailed than its predecessors. The entire primary and secondary curriculum for every subject is about 300 pages long. A huge amount of work has to be done to turn what you see in this curriculum document into actual living and breathing lessons.

Who does this work? Individual teachers, textbook writers, digital resource creators, central teams at multi-academy trusts…it varies. 




Notes on “Shadow Banning”



Tauhid Zaman

In a new study, Yale SOM’s Tauhid Zaman and Yen-Shao Chen show how a social media platform can shift users’ positions or increase overall polarization by selectively muting and amplifying posts in ways that appear neutral to an outside observer. Zaman says that the dangers of such “shadow banning” are much more immediate than the concerns that led Congress to force a sale of TikTok.

More clandestine than a straightforward ban from a platform, shadow banning limits the broader visibility of a user’s content without their knowledge. A Facebook or Instagram post that’s been subjected to shadow banning would remain on the original poster’s profile page, but it would appear less, or not at all, in the timelines of other users.

In a new paper co-authored with Yale SOM PhD student Yen-Shao Chen, Zaman takes up this phenomenon—not to determine whether it’s currently happening but instead to lay out exactly how it can be done and how powerful it can be.

For the study, the researchers built a simulation of a real social network, and then succeeded in using shadow banning to shift simulated users’ opinions as well as increasing and decreasing polarization. Even when the goal was to use shadow banning to move collective sentiment to the right or left, Zaman says, the content moderation policy appeared neutral from an outside perspective. That’s because it’s possible, he discovered, to shift opinions by turning down the volume on accounts on both sides of a debate at the same time.

“It’s like a frog sitting in a pot of water; the frog’s relaxing, and suddenly, he’s cooked,” Zaman said. “A network could, in fact, be driving people towards one point of view, but if someone tries to call them out on it—like a regulatory body—they’re going to see the network censoring both sides equally,” Zaman says. “It looks like there’s nothing untoward happening, so they leave the network alone—and suddenly everybody thinks the earth’s flat. That’s what we find you could do with our technique, which is a little scary.”




“In the spotting-academic-fraud business, we call this a slam dunk”



Katl Stack:

The dossier thoroughly documents numerous additional instances of theft of figures, exaggerated claims of novelty, misappropriation of a previous researcher’s device, plagiarism, citation fraud, similarities to past winning ISEF projects, and potential scientific inaccuracies. It’s a brutal takedown. I find this evidence highly compelling; however, I am not including it all in my article to save space. 

I strongly encourage you to read the dossier yourself:




St Albans aims to be smartphone-free for under-14s



Sally Weale

“This is mega!” said Daisy Greenwell from the Smartphone-Free Childhood campaign. “We are absolutely thrilled and we believe it’s going to have a domino effect.”

She was reacting to news that St Albans in Hertfordshire is attempting to become the first UK city to go smartphone-free for all children under 14.

Before St Albans, it was Greystones in Irelandlast year, where parents banded together to collectively tell their children they could not have a smartphone until secondary school. Greenwell believes others will now take similar steps.

“People are going to feel emboldened to follow suit,” said Greenwell, whose local WhatsApp group on the issue “exploded”, attracting 100,000 supporters in a matter of months. “The groundswell of support we have seen has been completely mindblowing.”

Headteachers in 30-plus primaries across St Albans got together to draw up a joint letter to send to families, in which they declared their schools smartphone-free and urged parents to delay giving their children a smartphone until at least year 9 of secondary school.




Did the Striving ReadersComprehensive Literacy GrantProgram Reach Its Goals?



Michael S. Garet, Kerstin Carlson Le Floch, Daniel Hubbard, Joanne Carminucci and Barbara Goodson:

Boosting literacy among school-age children remains a national priority. Nearly one third of students in the United States have not developed the foundational reading skills needed to succeed academically, with students living in poverty, students with disabilities, and English learners especially at risk. Starting in 2010, Congress invested more than $1 billion for state literacy improvement efforts through the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL) program. SRCL was intended to focus funding on disadvantaged schools, encourage schools to use evidence-based practices, and support schools and teachers in providing comprehensive literacy instruction. These efforts were expected to lead to improved literacy outcomes for students. This study assesses how well SRCL implementation was aligned with these goals, using information collected from states, districts, and schools in all 11 states awarded grants in 2017.

Key Findings

  • Uneven targeting of resources to disadvantaged schools, according to the study’s definition of disadvantage, suggests that SRCL’s funding objectives were not realized in every state, though limited data availability and variation in states’ definitions of disadvantage make it difficult to draw firm conclusions. Not all states consistently funded the most disadvantaged schools in their states in terms of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, students with disabilities, students who are English learners, or average student English language arts scores.
  • Literacy programs supported by rigorous research evidence were not a focus, according to independent reviews of the quality of the research. Few districts used SRCL funds to purchase such programs and few teachers in SRCL schools reported using such programs.
  • The kinds of comprehensive literacy instruction consistent with research and emphasized by SRCL were less widely used by teachers than intended. Consistent with this finding, there was no difference in English language arts student achievement between SRCL schools and comparable non-SRCL schools.



There is a new twist in the TikTok tale



Gillian Tett:

Back in 2020, when then US president Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok because of alleged Chinese influence, Microsoft tried and failed to buy the app’s US operation — a move that chief executive Satya Nadella later dubbed “the strangest thing” he had ever done.

Now events are becoming even stranger. Last month President Joe Biden signed a bill demanding that ByteDance, TikTok’s China-based owner, sell its US operations by January 2025, or face a ban. ByteDance is now fighting this through the US courts. Meanwhile, Trump himself has apparently flipped and seems to oppose a ban, probably because Jeff Yass, one of several major US ByteDance investors, is also a big Trump supporter. 

But stranger still, some of Trump’s key allies, such as Robert Lighthizer, hate China’s alleged influence over TikTok, while Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s former Treasury secretary, seems eager to buy it.

And this week Frank McCourt, the real estate mogul and fierce critic of Big Tech, launched a putative “people’s bid”, via Guggenheim investment bank. This is backed by Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the world wide web, and Jonathan Haidt, the influential social psychologist whose new book, The Anxious Generation, decries social media.

In reality, this public gambit seems quixotic, if not publicity-grabbing. McCourt claims he has an edge in any contest, since he does not want to buy the recommendation algorithm. This is considered to be TikTok’s secret sauce, which many in Washington allege is tightly controlled by Beijing and thus key to US national security concerns. “We will likely be the only bidder who will not be interested in the algorithm,” McCourt tells me, insisting that removing it is the only way to build a healthier platform.




K-12 Tax & $pending Climate: Madison has never put such a referendum on the ballot before,



Allison Garfield:

The 2024 operating budget — which mostly goes toward staff salaries and benefits — totaled $405.4 million. Adding on to that seems like reckless spending to Randy Bruegman, a former fire chief in California who moved to Madison in 2018.

The city’s focus “should be on identifying areas where cuts can be made,” Bruegman said, which means reevaluating the cost-to-continue budgeting approach. Rather than working with the budget from the previous year and adding on, Bruegman and other west side residents are proposing the city start from scratch each year.

While the cost-to-continue method may be the simplest to implement, it is also the most flawed,” Bruegman said. “(It) assumes that the program or unit is appropriately staffed, is high performing, meets all objectives, has no redundancies or inefficiencies, and delivers the best possible services. … (It) enables and even encourages the mayor to overspend, and stifles innovation.”

Stein, from the Policy Forum, said it’s always worth looking at how government spending can be controlled — but that there isn’t enough information available yet to judge if there’s more the city could be considering. 

Schmiedicke said he will brief the City Council’s Finance Committee on June 10 on the outcome of his team’s agency-by-agency budget review and provide the updated number on the projected deficit for 2025, as well as projections for the budgets for the following four years. 




Milwaukee Public Schools’Head Start funding will be suspended for 30 days



Corrinne Hess:

Starting Tuesday, the federal government will suspend funding to Milwaukee Public Schools’ Head Start program — a health and nutrition program for low-income children — after the district failed to comply with the program.

The 30-day suspension is the result of three “deficiencies” the Administration of Children and Families, or ACF, found between June 2022 and May 2024, said MPS spokesperson Nicole Armendariz. 

Those deficiencies were related to following practices that “ensure children had appropriate supervision at all times; and ensuring all staff and volunteers abide by the program’s standards of conduct,” Armendariz said.

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More.




The Gap Between the Price You See and What You Pay Is Getting Worse



Rachel Wolfe:

Business owners say fees are needed to cover costs and show customers where their money is going. But retail analysts and advocates like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) say secondary fees diminish people’s ability to shop around. CFPB data also show fees cause people to pay more overall because businesses can charge more than what the market will let them get away with in the sticker price.

“People don’t shop based on fees. They shop based on the price of the product,” a CFPB spokesman says.

So widespread is the tactic that President Biden is making a fee crackdown one of his administrative priorities. His administration estimates that Americans pay more than a collective $90 billion in what the president has dubbed “junk fees” each year, including those for credit cards, food delivery, bank overdrafts and event tickets.

Congress introduced a bill last April to “limit and eliminate excessive, hidden, and unnecessary fees imposed on consumers,” while similar measures have recently passed the New York and Illinois state senates. California, too, added restaurants to the list of industries covered under its existing hidden-fee ban.




He Quit Wall Street to Coach Ivy League Tennis—and Built a Columbia Powerhouse



Andrew Beaton and Joshua Robinson:

Howard Endelman was busy running his own private-equity firm when he got offered the job he couldn’t refuse: assistant tennis coach at an Ivy League school.

The gig wasn’t glamorous. It involved traipsing back and forth between Columbia’s campus in Morningside Heights and the university’s courts at the northern tip of Manhattan. It also required him to spend his time selling high school tennis stars on a college better known for sending graduates to the Supreme Court than to Wimbledon’s Centre Court.

But Endelman couldn’t say no to his alma mater. And more than a decade later, that decision has never looked better. Endelman, now the head coach of the men’s team, has led Columbia to the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight for the first time in school history and a showdown with No. 1 seed Ohio State.

In a tumultuous semester on the university’s campus, roiled by tensions over Israel and Palestine, his tennis team has delivered an unexpected moment of levity.

“Could we beat Michigan or Alabama in football? Impossible,” Endelman says. “In tennis, it’s possible.”




DEI statements have too often led to self-censorship and ideological policing.



Bezos Washington Post

As the United States reckoned with racial inequality during and after the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, many saw Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs as a way to address the issues in higher education. As part of the trend, many schools began requiring candidates for teaching positions to submit DEI statements. In these statements, potential hires explain how they would advance diversity, equity and inclusion in their teaching and research activities. One 2021 study found that about one-third of job postings at elite universities required them.

Now, however, some in academia are starting to express second thoughts about this practice. In April, Harvard Law School professor Randall L. Kennedy urged abolition of DEI statements, arguing that they amount to “compulsion” and “ideological litmus tests.” Not long after Mr. Kennedy’s article appeared, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology became the first top university to voluntarily end their use. The decision came after extensive consultations among all six of the school’s academic deans. MIT’s president, Sally Kornbluth, explained: “We can build an inclusive environment in many ways, but compelled statements impinge on freedom of expression, and they don’t work.”

In doing away with DEI statements, MIT was not abandoning the goals of greater diversity, equity and inclusion, which remain not only valid but also vital. DEI programs can have an important place. They should not be abolished or undermined — as red states such as Florida and Texas have done, by forbidding the use of state funds for DEI in public universities. Reshaping universities via such a heavy-handed use of state power could set a dangerous precedent for academic freedom more generally.




As the Massachusetts Teachers Association wades into the Israel-Hamas war, divisions rise among members



By James Vaznis and Suchita Nayar

For nearly two decades, Laurie Garcia had been an active member of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Then the union began wading into the Israel-Hamas war.

In December, the MTA’s board of directors approved a cease-fire statement that equated Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s military actions against Hamas to a “genocidal war” against Palestinians.




Universities depend on taxpayer money to survive, and they are wasting those funds



Oren Cass:

In America today, there are three interlocking crises that may finally collapse “Big Ed”, the nation’s dysfunctional higher education cartel. The latest headlines focus on moral collapse, as campuses that aggressively policed so-called microaggressions now host students screaming “intifada”. Recent years have also been marked by an intellectual collapse. Quantitative fields from genetics to finance to psychology have been exposed for suffering severe “replication crises”. Qualitative fields from literature to sociology to gender studies often produce faddish, politicised nonsense.

But the third crisis, and the one that strikes closest to home for most, is the utter failure of the US “college-for-all” model to prepare young people for successful lives. Educators and policymakers converted American secondary schools into college preparatory academies and ploughed hundreds billions of dollars of subsidies into colleges while encouraging students to take on yet more debt. Yet fewer than one in five students moves smoothly from high school to college to career. Even among those who earn a college degree, close to half then take a job that doesn’t require it.

The current administration’s effort to simply cancel student debt is on pace to cost more than $1tn, retroactively doubling the federal government’s extraordinary financial commitment in recent decades to a failed system. But while the cancellation marks an admission of that failure, it comes with no attempt at reform.




Universities must engage in serious soul searching on protests



Minouche Shafik:

Strengthening the bond between universities and society through a recommitment to academia’s contribution to the common good. The horrors of the Hamas attack three days later, the ensuing war with Israel and the tragic loss of civilian lives in Gaza have tested that bond in unimaginable ways. I have seen the campus engulfed in tensions and divisions deepened by powerful external forces. 

The wave of protests, encampments, and building takeovers has since spread across the US and around the world. Whatever one thinks of the response of university leaders — denouncing hurtful rhetoric, enforcing rules and discipline, and summoning police to restore order — these are actions, not solutions. All of us who believe in higher education must now engage in serious soul searching about why this is happening. Only then can universities recover and begin to realise their potential to heal and unify.




Shall I Compare New Jersey’s Curriculum to a Summer’s Day?



Paul Rice:

The three Rs are taking a back seat to climate change in New Jersey schools.

As one of the lead state partners for the Next Generation Science Standards developed by the National Research Council, New Jersey has been integrating climate change into its K-12 science curriculum for the past decade. The Garden State has upped the ante in recent years by becoming the first state to incorporate climate change into all school subjects, not only science.

In 2020, the state board of education adopted a new set of climate-focused student learning standards. Gov. Phil Murphy’s wife, Tammy, was the primary cheerleader for these standards, which were implemented in the 2022-23 school year after a pandemic-related delay. Under those standards, all public school districts across the state are required to teach and test students in every grade about climate change. The requirement covers core content areas including science, computer technology, social studies, world languages, visual and performing arts, health and physical education, and life and career planning. Districts are encouraged to incorporate climate change into English language arts and mathematics instruction.

Climate education resources distributed by Trenton’s first-in-the-nation Office of Climate Change Education provide sample lesson plans to illustrate how teachers can highlight climate change in class while constantly reminding students that New Jersey is suffering “the worst impacts of global warming.” When learning about U.S. and world history, students are required to explain how natural resources such as fossil fuels remain a source of conflict, both at home and abroad. When mastering a foreign language, students are asked to discuss “the impact of climate change on the target language region of the world.” And in school performances, students are encouraged to use climate change to “inform original dances expressed through multiple genres, styles and varied cultural perspectives.”




Everyone Gets a Trophy, and No Trophy Is Worth Anything



Joseph Epstein:

President Biden awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 19 Americans this month. I wish he had cut the list down to two or three. Perusing the list of winners I note, along with a preponderance of Democratic politicians, the heavy hand of diversity at work, making certain that among the winners are included a sufficient number of women, African-Americans, Hispanics and even a Republican (Elizabeth Dole).

The result of so many medal winners is to diminish, if not altogether destroy, the cachet the honor once held. Another once-vaunted prize bites the dust.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom joins the Nobel Prize for Literature, which long ago lost its luster. When it went to Bob Dylan in 2016, what prestige remained was all but blown away. His songs have nothing to do with literature, and most, in any case, are derived from Woody Guthrie. I await the day the Swedish Academy decides to recognize that notable speed typist Joyce Carol Oates, which ought to finish the prize off completely.

The Pulitzer Prizes in the arts haven’t done much better. Some years ago in the London Times Literary Supplement, I noted that these awards seem to go to two kinds of people: those who don’t need it and those who don’t deserve it. In 1998, when Katharine Graham won a Pulitzer for her autobiography, Hilton Kramer noted that she qualified on both grounds. The prize’s prestige has also all but evaporated.




C.S. Lewis and the Pain Scale



Mike Kerrigan:

C.S. Lewis made the case for moral absolutes in his 1946 essay “A Christmas Sermon for Pagans.” “A better moral code can only mean one which comes nearer to some real or absolute code,” he observed. “One map of New York can be better than another only if there is a real New York for it to be truer to.”

The insight is as true for comparisons of feeling as of fact. Lewis argued that emotions must be trained. In “The Abolition of Man,” he wrote that the head rules the belly through the chest. The heart mediates between will and appetite and directs human action toward goodness.

Last winter I saw how even the most personal feelings function best when ordered to reality. It happened in my kitchen, during a mother’s attempt to deploy that most subjective of therapeutic tools: the pain scale.

My son Jack, then 12, had returned from basketball practice complaining of pain in his chest. Trying to discern whether it was run-of-the-mill or more serious, Devin, my wife, asked him to quantify the pain: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it? Is it a 6?”

Jack was incredulous. “No, it’s nothing like that. More like a 1½.” Devin shrugged her shoulders but then thought to ask a critical follow-up question: “Just so I know, what’s a 6 to you?”




Segregation is wrong, but black students don’t need to share a classroom with white ones to learn.



Jason Riley:

When the Supreme Court delivered its historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling 70 years ago on May 17, the goal was to produce better academic outcomes for black children. It’s been clear for decades that racially mixed classrooms aren’t essential to meeting that objective, yet policymakers continue to insist that black pupils must be seated next to white pupils to learn.

The Brown decision effectively overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which declared that “separate but equal” facilities were permissible and became the legal basis for racial segregation for more than 50 years. The Brown ruling, to its credit, aimed to end that era. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for a unanimous court that state-imposed racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional because sorting children by race denied black students “equal education opportunities” and thus deprived them of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

How a court reaches a decision can be as important as the decision itself, and the problem we’re still grappling with seven decades later is the reasoning the justices used in Brown. Instead of declaring that Plessy was an incorrect reading of the Constitution, Warren invoked “modern authority,” or social-science research not available when Plessy was decided, to argue that segregated schools were inherently unequal in academic outcomes. In other words, the prior decision was wrong owing to new developments.




38% of webpages that existed in 2013 are no longer accessible a decade later



ATHENA CHAPEKIS, SAMUEL BESTVATER, EMMA REMY AND GONZALO RIVERO

This “digital decay” occurs in many different online spaces. We examined the links that appear on government and news websites, as well as in the “References” section of Wikipedia pages as of spring 2023. This analysis found that:

  • 23% of news webpages contain at least one broken link, as do 21% of webpages from government sites. News sites with a high level of site traffic and those with less are about equally likely to contain broken links. Local-level government webpages (those belonging to city governments) are especially likely to have broken links.
  • 54% of Wikipedia pages contain at least one link in their “References” section that points to a page that no longer exists.

To see how digital decay plays out on social media, we also collected a real-time sample of tweets during spring 2023 on the social media platform X (then known as Twitter) and followed them for three months. We found that:




Save Higher Ed With the Chicago Principles



William Galston:

As graduation ceremonies end and summer break begins, college and university presidents have an opportunity to reconsider their campus policies on speech and action. What begins in higher-education institutions rarely ends there. We all have a stake in what they decide.

Americans may believe the First Amendment applies across the board to these institutions. It doesn’t. Public schools are fully subject to this constitutional cornerstone, but private ones enjoy substantial freedom—limited by federal civil-rights laws and legislation in a handful of states—to craft codes of conduct that are inconsistent with it.

Whatever their motives, the members of Congress who grilled the presidents of Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania (all private institutions) were right to focus on the universities’ codes rather than the Constitution. The presidents’ legalistic responses weren’t merely tin-eared; they revealed a failure to connect speech and action to the broader purposes of the academic enterprise.

Treating speech and conduct as political problems to be managed in the interest of keeping the peace on campus is a recipe for failure. Leaders who adopt this course ensure inconsistencies that damage their institutions and open them to charges of hypocrisy that are difficult to rebut. Look no further than the Jewish students who have been exposed to abuse and harassment that wouldn’t have been permitted against other minority groups.




A Supreme Court Victory for the Administrative State



Wall Street Journal:

Payday lenders challenged the CFPB’s power under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act to draw its funds from the Federal Reserve up to $734 million, adjusted for inflation. They argued this self-funding scheme violates the Constitution’s command that “no Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

The Court’s majority construed this to mean that executive agencies simply cannot tap the Treasury without Congress’s approval—not a constraint on Congress from funding agencies by a variety of means. “Specifying the source and purpose [of funds for an agency] is all the control the Appropriations Clause requires,” Justice Clarence Thomas writes for the majority, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Justice Thomas harks back to the struggles between the British Parliament and the King for control over the purse, noting some laws “gave the Crown broad discretion regarding how much to spend within an appropriated sum.” What’s more, “appropriations of ‘sums not exceeding’ a certain amount were commonplace immediately after the founding.”

Local examples of the Administrative State, including teacher mulligans.

—-

Will Rosignol:

Early in his first term, Gov. Tony Evers tried committing Wisconsin to rejecting all fossil fuels as a source of electricity by 2050, an aim the Legislature rejected, but one that the governor has since pursued with executive orders. As context, Wisconsin still obtains the majority of its electricity from such conventional types of fuel. Which fossil fuels predominate, however, has changed in recent years.




Students discuss universities’ responses to encampments and the value of a college education



Wall Street Journal:

Universities shouldn’t indulge protesters who have no regard for the law. Unfortunately, we have already seen numerous colleges meet some or all of the anti-Israel demonstrators’ demands.

The encampment I’m most familiar with, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was allowed to stand for nearly two weeks. It persisted even after multiple antisemitic incidents, including a man reportedly raising a Nazi salute toward Jewish students. Despite acknowledging that the encampment was illegal, university administrators negotiated with and caved in to the organizers. Contrast this with how the university has tried to prevent conservative events from being held on campus. Earlier this year, the university attempted to charge a right-wing student organization more than $4,000 in security fees to host Michael Knowles. It backed down only after it was threatened with legal action.

The University of Florida, which cleared its encampments quickly, set the model for its peers. Rather than legitimize an illegal demonstration, the university sent the message that its rules would be enforced.




Students and “ai” writing



Lauren Coffey:

Amid the swirl of concern about generative artificial intelligence in the classroom, a Nevada university is trying a different tactic by having students compete against ChatGPT in writing assignments.

Students in two courses at the University of Nevada, Reno, are going head-to-head with ChatGPT by answering the same prompts as the AI and aiming to get a higher grade.

“ChatGPT comes out and everyone is using it, talking about it, whether or not we’d like them to,” said Leping Liu, professor of information technology and statistics at the University of Nevada at Reno. “We have to deal with it, so we [wanted to] find a way to augment our teaching and learning and not just focus on cheating [concerns].”




Life during and after the coming Demographic Winter.



Glenn Reynolds:

Over the past 50+ years, traditional ideas, like Butker’s, about marriage, child-rearing, and gender roles have been marginalized, in favor of those the put much less emphasis on, well, marriage, child-rearing, and traditional views about gender roles. 

And now we’re facing a global baby bust, or as some are calling it, a “demographic winter” due to plunging birth rates worldwide.  “Fertility rates have fallen way below replacement level throughout the entire industrialized world, and this is starting to cause major problems all over the globe.  Aging populations are counting on younger generations to take care of them as they get older, but younger generations are not nearly large enough to accomplish that task.  Meanwhile, there aren’t enough qualified young workers in many fields to replace the expertise of older workers that are now retiring.  Sadly, this is just the beginning.”

Back in the 1960s we started to worry about a “population explosion,” and Paul Ehrlich’s highly influential bestseller, “The Population Bomb,” set the tone:  Fewer people being born was better.  All sorts of policies were driven by this concern, on topics ranging from sex, birth-control, and abortion, to the desirability of smaller, two-earner families, all the way to China’s disastrous one-child policy.

But it turns out that Ehrlich was criminally wrong, and now the chickens are coming home to roost, as we face what Brink Lindsey calls a global fertility collapse.

Countries all over the world are trying, with limited success at best, to boost birth rates.   Subsidies are nice, but the costs of raising children – in terms of not just money, but time and emotional effort – are too high for almost any imaginable subsidy to overcome.

——

Harrison Butker:

I say all of this not from a place of anger, as we get the leaders we deserve. But this does make me reflect on staying in my lane and focusing on my own vocation and how I can be a better father and husband and live in the world but not be of it. Focusing on my vocation while praying and fasting for these men will do more for the Church than me complaining about her leaders.

Because there seems to be so much confusion coming from our leaders, there needs to be concrete examples for people to look to in places like Benedictine, a little Kansas college built high on a bluff above the Missouri River, are showing the world how an ordered, Christ-centered existence is the recipe for success. You need to look no further than the examples all around this campus, where over the past 20 years, enrollment has doubled, construction and revitalization are a constant part of life, and people, the students, the faculty and staff, are thriving. This didn’t happen by chance. In a deliberate movement to embrace traditional Catholic values, Benedictine has gone from just another liberal arts school with nothing to set it apart to a thriving beacon of light and a reminder to us all that when you embrace tradition, success — worldly and spiritual — will follow.




Civics: “How two court-appointed experts twisted ‘political neutrality”



Noah Diekemper:

A recent case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court threatened to replace the state’s legislative maps with new maps drawn by partisans and picked by the court. The case was ultimately mooted, but the bad social science advanced by the experts retained by the court deserves comment.

As background, the court had previously determined that existing maps conflicted with the Wisconsin Constitution’s requirement that legislative districts “consist of contiguous territory” (Art. IV § 4) and ordered new maps drawn—not merely rectified to address that complaint, but drawn from scratch. To do so, they invited map submissions from the different parties involved, including the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), a 501(c)3 public interest law firm (and the author’s employer). Furthermore, the court retained two social scientists who have published together on redistricting in the past, Bernard Grofman and Jonathan Cervas, and asked them to analyze the submissions.

Crucially, the court noted that by virtue of their role in the judiciary, “this court must remain politically neutral.” Therefore, they reasoned, in addition to ensuring that new maps would comply with the constitution’s requirements, they could not “enact maps that privilege one political party over another.” This was the pretext that allowed the court’s experts to argue for a partisan gerrymander.

The experts start off their report by reviewing all of the offered maps. Here, they not only acknowledge that the assembly and state senate maps championed in court by WILL comply with “traditional good government criteria,” but their tabulations show that WILL’s maps contain the fewest splits of county and municipality borders of any of the maps—this being an explicit requirement of the Wisconsin Constitution.




Henry Tyson Madison Talk



Henry Tyson has run Milwaukee’s St. Marcus Lutheran School for the past 20 years. St. Marcus serves over 1000 predominantly low-income, African-American students on Milwaukee’s northside and is widely recognized as a leading voucher school in Milwaukee. During this presentation, Henry will describe the school’s successes, failures, challenges and opportunities. He will also explore America’s historic educational ideals, evaluate progress to achieving those ideals, and propose actions that could improve outcomes particularly for low-income students in America’s largest cities.

mp3 audio

machine generated transcript pdf

slides



Much more on Henry Tyson, here.

I invited a number of Madison people to this event, including Zach Brandon, Satya Rhodes-Conway, Joe Gothard along with The Simpson Street Free Press, Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal.





“where we were and why nothing ever changes. Both are worth reading.”



Quinton Klabon:

Alan Borsuk:

Wisconsin’s kids need help learning to read, so let’s see more cooperation and an end to power maneuvers and partisanship.

Enough. Enough.  

I’m fed up with partisanship, polarization and power maneuvers in the state Capitol that put adults and politics first and kids last. 

There have been many episodes of this unfortunate soap opera over the years. And now we have one of the most aggravating because it involves something that has both urgency and broad agreement, yet is at a standstill.   

Wisconsin has a reading crisis. Milwaukee and some other areas where poverty is high especially have a reading crisis, but the problem goes beyond income, race and where a child lives. There are just too few children who are becoming capable readers by the end of third grade, which a wide range of educators would tell you is an important point in determining whether a kid is on the road to doing well in school and, in many cases, in life beyond school.  

In state standardized tests a year ago (the most recent results available), 37% of all third-graders in Wisconsin were rated as proficient or better in English language arts, which generally means they’re reading well. Another 36% were rated as “basic,” which I interpret as “kind of OK.” And 25% were rated as “below basic,” which I rephrase as “not really on the playing field.” Overall, that means about 60% of the kids are rated below proficient — or, to put it more gently, a quarter are not doing well at all. That is a lot of kids.  

Education and the Administrative State

CJ Safir:

The “why can’t we all get along?” narrative doesn’t apply here.

➡️DPI worked WITH legislators to craft literacy legislation copying the best states.

➡️Now, as my team has shown, DPI has tried to override the law every step of the way.

J-S

In 1964, 10 years after Brown v. Board of Education, a coalition set up a one-day boycott of Milwaukee Public Schools to protest school segregation.

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Legislation and Reading: the Wisconsin Experience 2004-

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

——-

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?




Against the Latest Student-Loan “Forgiveness” Scheme



George Leef:

[Editor’s note: On April 17, the Biden administration unveiled its latest plan to transfer outstanding student-loan debt to American taxpayers. The essay that follows is a slightly expanded version of the Martin Center’s “comment” on the plan, submitted to the Department of Education during its public-comment period.]

The Martin Center opposes the Biden administration’s new loan-forgiveness rules for two basic reasons: They are outside of the Department of Education’s authority, and they will have adverse consequences.

Legal Authority

Economists often refer to special-interest legislation—bills passed to favor some politically influential group with benefits extracted from society in general. The nation’s Founders were well aware of that prospect and sought to prevent it in their writing of the Constitution. In Federalist 10, James Madison wrote about the evils that arise when “factions” can use governmental power to enrich themselves at the expense of others. The Constitution’s limitations on and division of federal authority were adopted to head off that problem.

The proposed loan-forgiveness “rules” clearly amount to the making of new law by unelected bureaucrats.In the Department’s proposed student-loan regulations, we have something even worse than special interest legislation, namely special interest regulation. We say this is worse because, with legislation, it is at least possible to vote out of office those who passed the odious bill and replace them with representatives more committed to the general welfare. With regulations decreed by unelected bureaucrats, that possibility does not exist.

The Founders sought to minimize the chances for special-interest legislation by drawing a line between the legislative and executive branches. Only the former was authorized to make laws, and then only within strictly defined boundaries. The executive branch was given the authority to enforce duly enacted laws. The proposed rules, however, clearly amount to the making of new law. Even if it were within the purview of Congress to pass a law relieving certain individuals of their obligation to repay debts owed to the government, it is not permissible for an agency of the executive branch to do so. (We say “even if” because the Constitution confers no authority on any branch of the federal government to lend money. While Article II covers the power to spend in detail, the Constitution is silent as to any power to lend. Had the Founders wanted to include such power, they would have said so and set forth rules for it. They did not.)




Civics: notes on Lawfare and the 2024 election



Victor Davis Hanson:

So how does Biden become renominated and reelected, as polls show he is behind in almost every critical swing state on nearly every issue?

Answer: not by campaigning, not by championing his record, and especially not by doubling down on his neo-socialist and now unpopular agendas.

Instead, his campaign is focused on four other strategies to beat Donald Trump.

—-

For elite college students and graduates, there are now billions of dollars in student-loan cancellations, despite a Supreme Court ruling declaring such targeted contractual amnesties illegal.




Babies born by C-section need two doses of measles vaccine to produce antibodies



UPI:

Babies born by C-section are unlikely to receive protection from a single dose of measles vaccine, a new study finds.

A single measles jab is up to 2.6 times more likely to be completely ineffective in C-section babies, compared to those born vaginally. Their immune systems fail to produce antibodies to fight against measles infection.

However, a second follow-up jab does induce robust immunity against measles, researchers report Monday in the journal Nature Microbiology.




Notes on Neurodivergent students



Amy Schwabe:

Katie Berg is the statewide coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s Supporting Neurodiverse Students Professional Learning System.

“When I first started in the field of special education, we looked at compliance as key, and we were driven by trying to fit kids into the mold of a typical student,” she said. “Now we’ve switched to working to recognize, understand and honor everyone’s differences.

“Our mindset now is that kids aren’t broken. They don’t need to be fixed. We need to accommodate and support them as best as possible.”




Affirmative Action Bred 50 Years of ‘Mismatch’



Heather Mac Donald:

Jus­tice So­nia So­tomayor had harsh words for her col­leagues who voted last month to bar the use of race in col­lege ad­mis­sions. She al­leged in her dis­sent­ing opin­ion that the six-jus­tice ma­jor­ity in Stu­dents for Fair Ad­mis­sions v. Har­vard had sub­verted the Con­sti­tu-tion’s guar­an­tee of equal pro­tec­tion un­der the law, not up­held it, by “fur­ther en­trench-ing racial in­equal­ity in ed­u­ca-tion.” Chief Jus­tice John Roberts’s ma­jor­ity opin­ion slammed shut the door of op­por­tu­nity to un­der­rep­re-sented mi­nori­ties, es­pe­cially black stu­dents, who still fight against a so­ci­ety that is “in­her­. un­equal,” she wrote.

Many in acad­e­mia agreed with Jus­tice So­tomayor. In­com­ing Har­vard pres­i­dent Clau­dine Gay warned in a video state­ment that the de­ci­sion “means the real pos­si­bil­ity that op­por­tu­ni­ties will be fore-closed.” David A. Thomas, pres­i­dent of his­tor­i­cally black More­house Col­lege, as­serted that in the ab­sence of racial pref­er­ences, black stu­dents will rightly con­clude that they are “not wanted.” Stu­dents “of color” may not feel that they “mat­ter,” ac­cord­ing to An­gel B. Pérez, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for Col­lege Ad­mis­sion Coun­sel­ing.

The charge that col­or­blind ad­mis­sions will fore­close ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for blacks rests on a breath­tak-ingly elit­ist view of ed­u­ca­tion. And the idea that mi­nor­ity stu­dents should now con­clude that they aren’t “wanted” on col­lege cam­puses de­fies re­al­ity. Black stu­dents will at­tend col­lege in the same num­bers af­ter af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion as they did be­fore, if they so choose. Col­leges will be as ea­ger to have them. The only dif­fer­ence, as­sum­ing com­pli­ance with the rul­ing (a big if), is that such stu­dents will at­tend col­lege on the same foot­ing as most stu­dents from un­pre­ferred racial groups: ad­mit­ted to schools for which their aca­d­e-mic skills qual­ify them.




Quotas and the bipartisan “privacy bill”



Stewart Baker:

More than two-thirds of Americans think the Supreme Court was right to hold Harvard’s race-based admissions policy unlawful. But the minority who disagree have no doubt about their own moral authority, and there’s every reason to believe that they intend to undo the Court’s decision at the earliest opportunity.

Which could be as soon as this year. In fact, undoing the Harvard admissions decision is the least of it. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have embraced a precooked “privacy” bill that will impose race and gender quotas not just on academic admissions but on practically every private and public decision that matters to ordinary Americans. The provision could be adopted without scrutiny in a matter of weeks; that’s because it is packaged as part of a bipartisan bill setting federal privacy standards—something that has been out of reach in Washington for decades. And it looks as though the bill breaks the deadlock by giving Republicans some of the federal preemption their business allies want while it gives Democrats and left-wing advocacy groups a provision that will quietly overrule the Supreme Court’s Harvard decision and impose identity-based quotas on a wide swath of American life.




Civics: Border Activity



Jeremy Scahill:

Famed historian Ilan Pappe says he was detained Monday at Detroit airport, questioned by federal agents and had his phone copied. “am I a Hamas supporter? do I regard the Israeli actions in Gaza a genocide? what is the solution to the “conflict” (seriously this what they asked!)”




Don’t let your kids take challenging classes in high school



Philip Greenspun:

I’ve been talking to Canadian and American friends after this latest round of college admissions and they have one message in common: Don’t let kids take honors and AP classes in high school. College admissions these days are mostly about GPA, which means that a B in AP physics is toxic compared to an A in basket-weaving. It’s also important to send kids to a high school where grading is relatively easy. From a Maskachusetts friend:

I found out that even though you need just 60% to score a 5/5 on AP Physics C, our [rich suburb public] school still applies the scale where 92+ is an A. So [my son] is scoring 80+ on the tests consistently and will end up with a B+ or even a B- and obviously will get a 5. I asked around and most schools apply the 60+ = A scale to APs. People in 3 private schools said that 70+ on AP Calc BC in their school is an A.

I’m not sure how this would work in Florida where high school kids are entitled to take college courses in actual colleges (for free and the state also pays for their textbooks). Does the college class grade end up being rolled into their high school GPA? This FAQsuggests that dual enrollment grades are weighted into a GPA the same as an AP course grade.




Chicagoans who responded to a Public Agenda poll give Chicago Public Schools mediocre grades on teaching kids, question the district’s spending and ultimately favor school choice. Lawmakers in Springfield should take note.



Sun Times:

There’s a lot to unpack in a just-released Public Agenda poll on Chicago Public Schools, but the most troubling finding — the takeaway that should be uppermost in the minds of adults — is that most Chicagoans give CPS low marks on its most vital assignment: Teaching kids.

Asked to select their top three from among a list of problems affecting the district, most respondents, including parents, put “students not learning enough academically” at the top of the list. When asked to grade the district, 54% gave CPS a “C.” The next most common grade was “D.” Parents were only slightly more likely than Chicagoans overall to give the district a “B.”

Chalk some of this up to the lingering bad reputation CPS has struggled with for decades, despite progress the district has made in recent years, as WBEZ’s Sarah Karp reports in her story on the poll. Graduation rates have increased, achievement is accelerating at a faster clip here than in other big cities, and CPS deserves kudos for emphasizing intensive “high dosage” tutoring to help students recover from pandemic learning loss.




Ideology mixed with Science



Charles Murray:

Cancelling a panel on the ideological subversion of biology for ideological reasons should be hilarious. And at the center of all this is intellectuals’ support for Hamas, whose members hate everything that makes intellectual life possible. A bizarro world.




Notes on book banning, legacy media and politics



Virginia Annable

In 2022, a grandmother in Catawba County, North Carolina, asked the county’s school board to remove 24 books from the district’s libraries. Her request was part of a wave of book challenges across the country.

Michelle Teague said she wanted the books removed for explicit content to which she felt children should not be exposed. Four months after instigating the book challenges and an ensuing debate, Teague filed for election to the Catawba County School Board. By the end of the year, she was sitting on the board that would vote on whether the school should ban the very books she challenged — or change the process by which those books were reviewed.

In 2022, concerned community member Michelle Teague asked that the Catawba County School Board remove 24 books from the district’s libraries. She said these books contained explicit content that children should not be exposed to. Now these books as well as many more are being challenged in libraries across the country.

She is one example of book banning advocates seeking seats of power on North Carolina school boards as the fever pitch for banning books grows nationwide, a Lee Enterprises Public Service Journalism Team investigation shows.




We Closed the Institutions That Housed the Severely Mentally Ill and We Made It Dramatically Harder to Compel Them to Receive Care



Freddie DeBoer:

In 1963, JFK signed the Community Mental Health Act. Its order to close the state psychiatric hospitals was followed, and hundreds were shuttered; the community mental health centers that were meant to replace them were never built. With far fewer beds for a growing patient population it should not have surprised anyone that the streets gradually filled with the severely ill. But somehow, we were surprised. The state governments were mostly just grateful to save money that had once gone to mental healthcare. The passage of Medicaid two years later deepened the problem. Medicaid’s funding structure presented states with an opportunity to further offload costs, this time onto the federal government. Unfortunately, the private institutions that filled with Medicaid patients were no better than the state facilities that had been closed; often they were worse. And maintaining access to Medicaid funding for such care, in practice, was more complicated and less certain than staying in a state institution. In 1975, the Supreme Court’s O’Connor v. Donaldson decision established a national standard that the mentally ill could only be involuntarily treated if they represented an immediate threat to themselves or others. This completely removed actual medical necessity from the equation, and the standard directly incentivized hospitals to discharge very ill patients, many of whom leave these useless emergency room visits and immediately abuse drugs, self-harm, commit crimes, attack others, or commit suicide. In 1990 the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act further empowered treatment-resistant patients and created legal incentives that led hospitals to release severely ill people rather than face the burden of litigation. Various state reforms in recent decades have almost uniformly pushed the severely ill out of treatment rather than into it, under the banner of “autonomy.” For sixty years we’ve done everything in our power to make it harder to treat people who badly need care. And here we are.




Poll: Most Massachusetts parents think state should require the ‘science of reading’ in classrooms



By Mandy McLaren

Most Massachusetts parents think the Bay State should require scientifically-based reading instruction in schools, according to a new statewide poll of roughly 1,500 parents released Monday.

The poll, conducted by the MassINC Polling Group between April 8 and May 2, found a combined 84 percent of parents believe schools definitely or probably should be required to use “evidence-based” reading curriculum, or teaching materials supported by a vast amount of scientific research. That research, often referred to as the “science of reading,” shows most students will need explicit instruction in phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension, to become successful readers.

The results come as a bill to require evidence-based reading instruction sits idle in the Massachusetts Legislature, even as a growing number of states have passed similar laws. Currently, curriculum decisions in Massachusetts schools are left to local districts. A 2023 Globe investigation found nearly half of all districts in the state were using a curriculum the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education considers low quality for promoting discredited teaching practices.




Chicago School Choice Sentiment



Sarah Karp:

Frustrated with the lack of programs at the public school down her block, Candace Lampkin could be a prime candidate for sending her children to a magnet or charter school. Instead, the Chicago mom questions why there are so many options and wishes all the resources could be funneled into her neighborhood school.

“When you let people choose, it has been proven that they will go to select schools that will get all this funding and all the rest because it is supposed to be this new, hip school,” the South Side mom said. “But what happens to the quality of the education of the children at the other facilities? Don’t all of the schools deserve the same thing?”




Notes on MIT DIE



Aaron Sibarium

In June 2021, a year into the cultural aftershocks of George Floyd’s death, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology set out to meet the moment, as so many other schools had, by hiring more diversity officers.

MIT welcomed six new deans of diversity, equity, and inclusion, one for each of the institute’s main schools, as part of a “DEI Strategic Action Plan” launched the previous year. Aimed at boosting the representation of women and minorities, in part by developing DEI criteria for staff performance reviews, the plan pledged to “make equity central” to the university “while ensuring the highest standards of excellence.”

But according to a 71-page complaint filed with the university on Saturday, at least two of the six DEI officials may not be living up to those standards. The complaint alleges that Tracie Jones-Barrett and Alana Anderson are serial plagiarists, copying entire pages of text without attribution and riding roughshod over MIT’s academic integrity policies.




Flood of Fake Science Forces Multiple Journal ClosuresWiley to shutter 19 more journals, some tainted by fraud



Nidhi Subbaraman

Fake studies have flooded the publishers of top scientific journals, leading to thousands of retractions and millions of dollars in lost revenue. The biggest hit has come to Wiley, a 217-year-old publisher based in Hoboken, N.J., which Tuesday will announce that it is closing 19 journals, some of which were infected by large-scale research fraud. 

In the past two years, Wiley has retracted more than 11,300 papers that appeared compromised, according to a spokesperson, and closed four journals. It isn’t alone: At least two other publishers have retracted hundreds of suspect papers each. Several others have pulled smaller clusters of bad papers.




Notes on cell phone bans



Tyler Cowen:

In other words, there were strict bans and they had only modest effects, including relative to the less strict bans.  On p.34, Figure 2, you will see that 200 schools had strict bans, somewhat less than half the total (not every case is easy to classify).  Note also that if smart phone bans could help with mental health problems in a big way, we still should see a change in mental health diagnoses, following the bans, yet we do not.




Do We Spend More On Interest Than Defense?



Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

During a recent town hall, former United Nations Ambassador and current Presidential candidate Nikki Haley claimed, “for the first time we’re paying more in interest payments than we are on our defense budget.”

This statement is true. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s latest baseline, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, spending on interest is projected to total $870 billion, while spending on national defense will total $822 billion. This has never been the case before, going back to at least 1940.US Budget Watch 2024 is a project of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget designed to educate the public on the fiscal impact of presidential candidates’ proposals and platforms. Through the election, we will issue policy explainers, fact checks, budget scores, and other analyses. We do not support or oppose any candidate for public office.




“Phonics and fluency are now non-negotiables.”



Linda Jacobson:

In interviews with The 74, EdReports officials say they’ve gotten the message.

Starting in June, its reviews of early reading materials will reflect a fuller embrace of the science of reading. “Phonics and fluency are now non-negotiables” for a green rating, said Janna Chan, EdReports’ chief external affairs officer.  

Reviewers will also verify that materials no longer use “three-cueing” — a practice associated with balanced literacy that encourages students to identify unfamiliar words by picking up clues from text or pictures. Since 2021, at least 10 states have banned the practice.

An internal memo sent to EdReports staff in February and obtained by The 74 acknowledged growing doubts about the organization’s credibility as states pass new reading laws. CEO Eric Hirsch wrote that the organization is “most vulnerable to criticism around our reviews” of comprehensive English language arts programs called basals or “big box” curricula — programs that some have attacked for being “bloated” and giving lip service to the science of reading. Hirsch wrote the memo in response to a Forbes article that critiqued the organization and highlighted newer groups providing alternatives to its reviews.




Mount Horeb shooting & the pellet gun



Quinn Clark and Natalie Eilbert

The details — an eighth-grade boy, his death, a pellet gun, a small tight-knit community — reveal a complex, tangled web that complicates any theory into why the tragic incident happened in the first place. The events have also left many with tricky questions over what exactly transpired, the boy’s intentions and whether his death could have been prevented.

“We are in this time where we often see cops shooting people in unjustified ways, which is definitely a big social problem right now,” said Travis Wright, an associate professor of counseling psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “But this wasn’t a cop doing a cold call warrant on an adult who was caught off guard. This was somebody in a defensive act protecting children.”




Civics: Secrecy Concerns Mount Over Spy Powers Targeting US Data Centers



Dell Cameron:

Last month, US president Joe Biden signed a surveillance bill enhancing the National Security Agency’s power to compel US businesses to wiretap communications going in and out of the country. The changes to the law have left legal experts largely in the dark as to the true limits of this new authority, chiefly when it comes to the types of companies that could be affected. The American Civil Liberties Union and organizations like it say the bill has rendered the statutory language governing the limits of a powerful wiretap tool overly vague, potentially subjecting large swaths of corporate America to warrantless and secretive surveillance practices.

In April, Congress rushed to extend the US intelligence system’s “crown jewel,” Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The spy program allows the NSA to wiretap calls and messages between Americans and foreigners abroad—so long as the foreigner is the individual being “targeted” and the intercept serves a significant “foreign intelligence” purpose. Since 2008, the program has been limited to a subset of businesses that the law calls “electronic communications service providers,” or ECSPs—corporations such as Microsoft and Google, which provide email services, and phone companies like Sprint and AT&T.null




Wisconsin Hospital Costs are 5th Highest in the Country, More Than Three Times What Medicare Pays



WMC:

Wisconsin has some of the highest hospital costs in the country according to a new report from RAND, a nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization. The new data, which was released on Monday, explains that hospitals in the Badger State charge 318 percent of Medicare rates – a typical baseline for measuring health care prices. The national average is 254 percent.

Notably, Wisconsin also has the highest hospital costs in the Midwest.




Protesters, colleges are about to find out that, yes, the law DOES apply to them, too



Glenn Reynolds:

Samuelsen described the mob as “smarmy, sort of entitled, spoiled, bratty occupiers,” who treated the blue-collar workers with contempt and tried to keep them from going home to their families. 

Said Samuelsen, “Columbia showed an epic disregard and epically failed to protect the workforce.”

The union may be planning to sue the protesters, too, as it is working to gather security camera footage and the names of students arrested during the campus riots. 

 And that may be just the beginning.

George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, who pioneered the class action litigation against tobacco companies, predicts that there will be more lawsuits against the protesters and their backers. 




Nonprofits Are Making Billions off the Border Crisis



Madeleine Rowley

While the border crisis has become a major liability for President Biden, threateninghis reelection chances, it’s become a huge boon to a group of nonprofits getting rich off government contracts.

Although the federally funded Unaccompanied Children Program is responsible for resettling unaccompanied migrant minors who enter the U.S., it delegates much of the task to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that run shelters in the border states of Texas, Arizona, and California.

And with the recent massive influx of unaccompanied children—a record 130,000in 2022, the last year for which there are official stats—the coffers of these NGOs are swelling, along with the salaries of their CEOs.




Urban school districts grapple with under-resourced schools, emotional closures in the face of plummeting enrollment



Sara Randazzo and Matt Barnum:

Solis’s closure is an omen of what could be coming to more schools in Los Angeles and cities across the country. And it reflects a difficult-to-sustain dynamic: too many schools for too few students.

As birthrates have dipped, families have moved elsewhere, and public school alternatives have grown, many urban districts have hemorrhaged students. That has left officials with the difficult choice of keeping open shrinking schools with resources spread thin or shutting them down, a move that inevitably garners fierce community backlash. How school leaders navigate this challenge could define urban school systems for the next several years.

Schools in Los Angeles are shrinking

Many LAUSD schools have fewer students enrolled since 2010

Choose life.




The Free State of the Congo, a hidden history of genocide



Ramon Marull:

The Berlin Conference (1884 – 1885) recognised the sovereignty of King Leopold II of Belgium over the Free State of the Congo. The king governed the territory until 1908, when it passed into the hands of the Belgian state.

Leopold II ruled the Congo as his personal dominion from 1885 to 1908. During this period, the country was forced to endure the systematic exploitation of its natural resources, especially ivory and rubber.

Though the territory was governed from Brussels, the administrative capital was the port city of Boma, from where the massive exports of raw materials were shipped. Boma was the residence of the Governor General of the Congo, who was the direct representative of the king (in fact, Leopold II never once set foot in Africa). The state was divided into 14 districts which were administrated by commissioners who reported to the Governor General, and were appointed directly by the king. These functionaries sometimes acted as colonial administrators and trading agents, though their main function was to secure the largest possible amounts of ivory and rubber in the shortest possible time.

The colonial administration wielded control over the native population by imposing a regime of terror, and there were frequent mass killings and mutilations. Violence and terrorism were the means adopted to impose the will of the Belgian king and the trading agents over the African people.

According to historical documentation, between five and 10 million people died as a result of the colonial exploitation under the rule and administration of King Leopold II and his functionaries.




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



Corrinne Hess:

An Evers spokesperson said last month Evers was within his right to line-item veto the appropriations bill. 

But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said the governor was using literacy funding “as a pawn in his effort to strengthen his veto power rather than doing the right thing for Wisconsin families.

When asked if withholding the money from DPI would affect implementation of the literacy bill, LeMahieu said if Evers acted legally, this would not be a discussion. 

“Any delay in the implementation of the bipartisan literacy changes will fall squarely at the feet of the Governor,” LeMahieu said.

——-

Mind the Governance Mulligans + low expectations on Wisconsin Reading Curricula




Columbia Law Professor Says Columbia University Violated Federal Laws, Fostered A ‘Hostile Environment’ On Campus



Paul Caron:

Professor Joshua Mitts (Columbia Law School) argues that Columbia university violated the civil rights of Jewish and Israeli students by fostering and tolerating a hostile educational environment on campus.  Mitts writes:

Since October 7, Jewish students at Columbia have been subject to appalling episodes of antisemitism both on campus and just outside the campus gates, which intensified with the establishment of the encampment.  As documented in an open letter signed by hundreds of faculty and thousands of community members, these included chants like “Go back to Europe” and “You have no culture” and the display of signs like “Al Qassam Brigade’s next target” with an arrow pointing to Jewish students.  The list is too long to write in its entirety but there are ample video compilations and documented evidence online.

If that is not hostile-environment harassment, I am not sure what is.  If the KKK were to set up an encampment and chant that Black students should “go back to Africa,” it seems unlikely that one would “fiercely contest” whether this was “public-spirited advocacy.”  Why is the conclusion any different when one substitutes “Europe” for “Africa” and “Jewish” for “Black”?  Surely the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no excuse—certainly no more of an excuse than the Rwandan genocide or Darfur would be. 

As Columbia’s task force on antisemitism noted in its first report, “speech or conduct that would constitute harassment if directed against one protected class must also be treated as harassment if directed against another protected class.”  … [T]he university should be consistent in applying that standard to Jewish and Israeli affiliates as well.  In its most recent May 7 letter, the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education (OCR) issued guidance reaffirming the importance of “different treatment analysis. …




The 12 Black women behind Brown v. Board often go unrecognized.



Kalyn Beisha:

To unearth the forgotten history of the Kansas women who served as plaintiffs in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, Donna Rae Pearson had to dig.

Without published scholarship to go on, Pearson and two other researchers hunted down the women’s obituaries, cross-referenced their details against Census records and city directories, and pored over newspaper clippings, oral histories, and court transcripts.

It was no easy feat: Some women’s names had changed, and some had moved as far away as Oregon.

The result of their work is “The Women of Brown,” which recognizes the lives and contributions of the 12 Black mothers who signed their names, alongside Oliver Brown, to the lawsuit that reached the Supreme Court.




Mind the Governance Mulligans + low expectations on Wisconsin Reading Curricula



A.J. Bayatpour

While the DPI supports a broader list of programs, joint finance Republicans want to limit the money to a shorter list of four programs recommended by the state’s early literacy council.

——

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

——-

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?




Is a Degree in Education Worth It? Massive debt loads for ineffective Master’s degrees



Chad Aldeman:

And two, when school districts are given more money, and even sometimes when that funding increase is specifically sold as a raise for teachers, the money still doesn’t end up in the pockets of individual teachers. Instead, schools have hired a lot more staff and state leaders have allowed pension costs to eat into the money available for base salaries. 

Individual districts could try to buck these trends, but that’s not a systemic solution, so many policymakers have turned to… 




“newest “community school”” literacy?



Abbey Machtig:

Madison developed the community schools program in 2015 and Kennedy will be the eighth school with that designation. 

Starting next school year, Kennedy will be granted a community school resource coordinator and a family liaison who will work full-time from the school.

Kennedy also is adding several other new staff members, including another school social worker, a behavior specialist and a handful of new classroom teachers to help decrease class sizes.

“The idea is that all children and families benefit from the community school model by being able to access resources, opportunities and support to advance their learning and healthy development,” Community School Manager Sarita Foster said. “So, community schools address barriers that limit opportunities for students and families.”

But parents and teachers who have been advocating for more help and have witnessed Kennedy’s struggles for years, say the district’s support hasn’t come fast enough. 

——

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?




Want to protect your kids’ eyes from myopia? Get them to play outside



By Maria Godoy

If you’re a parent struggling to get your kids’ off their devices and outdoors to play, here’s another reason to keep trying: Spending at least two hours outside each day is one of the most important things your kids can do to protect their eyesight.

We think that outdoor time is the best form of prevention for nearsightedness,” says Dr. Noha Ekdawi, a pediatric ophthalmologist in Wheaton, Ill. 

And that’s important, because the number of kids with nearsightedness – or myopia – has been growing rapidly in the U.S., and in many other parts of the world. 

In the U.S., 42% of people are now myopic – up from 25% back in the 1970s. In some East Asian countries, as many as 90% of people are myopic by the time they’re young adults.

It’s a trend Ekdawi has seen among her own young patients. When she started practicing 15 years ago, one or two of the children she saw had myopia. But these days, “about 50% of my patients have myopia, which is an incredibly high number.” Ekdawi calls the increase astronomical.




Civics: election law compliance



MD Kittle:

According to the law, for any postcard that is returned undelivered, or if the clerk is informed the voter resides at a different address than the one provided on election day, the election official must change the status of the voter “from eligible to ineligible on the registration list.” Then the official must mail the voter a notice of the change, “and provide the name of the elector to the district attorney for the county where the polling place is located and the elections commission.” 




Lawfare Spaghetti



Steven Calabresi:

Judge Cannon has asked for oral argument on June 21, 2024 on former President Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss Special Counsel Jack Smith’s indictment on the ground that Smith was unconstitutionally appointed to his current job because he is not an inferior officer. Washington, D.C. super-lawyer, Gene Schaerr, has filed an amicus brief in United States v. Trump on behalf of former Attorney Generals Edwin Meese III and Michael B. Mukasey, as well as me and Professor Gary Lawson, arguing that Jack Smith was unconstitutionally appointed to be an inferior officer, and Judge Cannon has asked Gene Schaerr to participate in the oral argument, which he has agreed to do.

The Appointment Clause of Article II, Section 2 provides that: “the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.” Jack Smith claims to be an inferior officer of the United States appointed by the Head of the Justice Department, but he is instead a mere employee.

We argue in our amicus brief that Congress has never by law vested in the Attorney General as the Head of a Department the power to appoint inferior officerseven though Congress has explicitly vested that power in the Heads of the Departments of Energy, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Agriculture. The only power, which Congress has given to the Attorney General is the power to make a sitting U.S. Attorney a Special Counsel with jurisdiction to prosecute cases nationwide and outside his or her home district. Thus, the Delaware U.S. Attorney, David C. Weiss, currently has nationwide jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute Hunter Biden as a Special Counsel, and this appointment is completely constitutional. Similarly, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald, was quite legitimately given nationwide jurisdiction to prosecute former Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, in Washington, D.C. Fitzgerald got Libby convicted and sentenced to time in jail.




If you didn’t like MAEP, you may not like the new public school funding formula



Bobby Harrison:

House and Senate members often adjourn a legislative day in memory of a constituent or other well known person who recently died.

On the day the Mississippi House took its final vote to adopt a new school funding formula, Rep. Karl Oliver, R-Winona, asked “to adjourn in memory of the Mississippi Adequate Education plan…the failed plan.”

Oliver continued: “It has always failed and never met its expectations. Today we laid it to rest.”

House Speaker Jason White, R-West, gleefully responded that all House members might want to sign onto Oliver’s adjourn in memory motion.

Of course, the Senate went on to pass the bill rewriting the Adequate Education Program and Gov. Tate Reeves, a long-time opponent of MAEP, signed the legislation into law this week, no doubt stirring much celebration for folks like Oliver and White.




Students are coming to college less able and less willing to read. Professors are stymied.



Beth McMurtrie:

Theresa MacPhail is a pragmatist. In her 15 years of teaching, as the number of students who complete their reading assignments has steadily declined, she has adapted. She began assigning fewer readings, then fewer still. Less is more, she reasoned. She would focus on the readings that mattered most and were interesting to them.

For a while, that seemed to work. But then things started to take a turn for the worse. Most students still weren’t doing the reading. And when they were, more and more struggled to understand it. Some simply gave up. Their distraction levels went “through the roof,” MacPhail said. They had trouble following her instructions. And sometimes, students said her expectations — such as writing a final research paper with at least 25 sources — were unreasonable.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




Evaluating Social Capital



Corrinne Hess:

Other findings include: 

Family Unity: Percentage of births to unmarried women, women currently married, and children with a single parent. Wisconsin ranks 16th. 

Family interaction: Percentage of children who are read to every day in the past week, children who watched four or more hours of television in the past week, and children who spent four or more hours on an electronic device in the past week. Wisconsin ranks 9th. 

Social Support: Percentage of people who get emotional support sometimes, rarely or never, neighbors who do favors at least once a month, people who trust most or all their neighbors, and the average number of close friends. Wisconsin ranks 3rd. 

Community Health: Percentage of people who attended a meeting which discussed politics in the last year, participated in a demonstration, volunteered for a group, attended a public meeting, worked with neighbors to fix something, served on a committee or as a group officer, and the number of organizations per 1,000 people. Wisconsin ranks 7th. 

Institutional Health: Percentage of people with some or great confidence in corporations to do the right thing, some or great confidence in media, some or great confidence in public schools, the census response rate and voting rate in presidential elections. Wisconsin ranks 2nd.  

——

WILL

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) released a new report assessing the impact declining levels of social capital (the collection of interpersonal relationships that unite a heterogeneous society) has on Wisconsin communities. Fraying Connections: Exploring Social Capital and Its Societal Implications is the first of three reports that focuses on social capital and compares how Wisconsin’s communities stack up to other states.  

The Quote: Miranda Spindt, WILL Policy Associate, stated, “Loneliness and mental health issues have radically increased in American society and declining social capital is a root cause. WILL is doing a deep dive into why social capital is so important to advance a pluralistic society, what Wisconsin is doing right, but also what needs to change. It’s critical that we advance this discussion and debate for the betterment of communities in Wisconsin and across America.”  

What is Social Capital? Though the concept of social capital has many definitions, for this work we define it as the collection of interpersonal relationships that unite a heterogeneous society toward shared goals. Having a strong bond with family members serves as a foundation for how we build relationships with others. The relationships that individuals have with their family, friends, communities, and institutions have changed significantly. 




“consider how the reporter writes the story in a manner which may cause you to come away with a substantially different impression than if you had just read the transcript”



Bill Ackman:

Think about how many stories about subjects you have read without having had access to the transcript.

That’s why I vastly prefer podcasts and other long form interviews, and ideally an in-person meeting, when trying to get a sense of someone.

On a positive note, it is rare that the media release the transcript along with the article. Time should be complimented for doing so here.




“A memo sent to prospective applicants cited 75 percent unemployment in the ADG’s ranks”



Christian Blauvelt

In the current negotiations, the top issue for the AMPTP and IATSE will be the funding of health and pension benefits directly funded by residuals. The Basic Agreement signatory companies expect a $670 million shortfall in health and pension over the next three years due to fewer productions overall and/or more content produced outside the Basic jurisdiction.

The language used in that message, which came after the ADG’s five-and-a-half-hour annual membership meeting, is eerily similar to what would-be PDI trainees received. “While I don’t want to see any members leave our union family, I know more than a few who are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy or losing their home,” ADG leadership wrote to its members at the end of April. “I’ve spoken with several who are questioning whether to pivot to other endeavors. This information might be very useful to them as they contemplate their futures.”

In 2022, there were 24 PDI program participants; in 2023, there were 26. Participants were expected to work 260 consecutive or non-consecutive days that would train them for art department roles. They could be placed to work on features, episodic productions, commercials, reality shows, live events, or theme park initiatives — and were paid and insured as full production assistants.




K-12 tax & $pending climate: “Social Security now expected to run short on funds in 2035, one year later than previously projected, Treasury says”



Laurie Konish:

The trust funds the Social Security Administration relies on to pay benefits are now projected to run out in 2035, one year later than previously projected, according to the annual trustees’ report released Monday.

On the projected depletion date, 83% of benefits will be payable if Congress does not act sooner to prevent that shortfall.

The Social Security trustees credited the slightly improved outlook to more people contributing to the program amid a strong economy, low unemployment and higher job and wage growth. Last year, the trustees projected the program’s funds would last through 2034, when 80% of benefits would be payable.

“This year’s report is a measure of good news for the millions of Americans who depend on Social Security, including the roughly 50% of seniors for whom Social Security is the difference between poverty and living in dignity — any potential benefit reduction event has been pushed off from 2034 to 2035,” Social Security Commissioner Martin O’Malley said in a statement.




Which other colleges are at risk of shutting down?



STL:

Birth rates have steadily declined since the Great Recession in 2008, a cohort that will start graduating high school next year. At the same time, tuition and operating costs have skyrocketed. And with rising doubts among Americans about the value of higher education, more campus closures are “inevitable and probably necessary,” McCarter said.

Nationwide, undergraduate enrollment increased slightly this year to 15.3 million but is still down nearly 1 million students from fall 2019, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. And colleges that were already struggling before the pandemic are now running out of federal relief funds.

Fontbonne joins a growing list of private liberal arts colleges that have collapsed under financial pressures in recent years, including Lincoln College and MacMurray College in Illinois.

The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louisreleased a watchlist in March of 37 Midwestern colleges in danger of closing due to “significant financial distress” in the past five years.

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Choose life. Notes and links on abortion,




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