This Milwaukee school went from the bottom to the top in the state’s report cards. Here’s how it happened.

Alan Borsuk:

Willingness to benefit from outside help and advice, including a sizable group of tutors from United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay, a relationship that goes back more than 25 years. Pratt was also part of the coaching and mentoring efforts of the former Schools That Can Milwaukee organization.

Willingness to change and improve. If students aren’t doing well, “then we as adults need to change our practices,” Carter said.

Celebrating success at almost any chance. Small prizes for students who are on time every day for a week, for a class that has 100% attendance for a month, and so on.

At Pratt, most students take part, wearing dark blue, light blue or white polo shirts. On the door of one classroom several days ago, figures were posted: attendance 94%, uniforms 88%. Carter thinks the uniform policy “cuts down on a lot of the other stuff that gets in the way of education.”

Is Plagiarism Wrong?

Agnes Callard:

I committed my first academic crime at the age of six. It occurred against a wider criminal background, namely, that of my parents, who had illegally absconded from communist Hungary to New York City via “a vacation” to Vienna and a brief stay in a refugee shelter in Rome.

The crime I can claim as my own begins with the need to learn English. I had learned some Italian in kindergarten in Rome, and some Russian because that was the language of the refugees we were housed with, but at home we spoke Hungarian, and my parents’ English was not great. From a very young age, well before I learned how to read, I had loved memorizing and reciting (Hungarian) poetry. So when we got to America one of the first things my mother bought me was a book of poetry: Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic.

In the United States, only 32% of people believe what the news is telling them.


One of the most significant issues people have with the news media and journalism is transparency.
In a recent report by Knight Foundation, they found that transparency is one of the biggest factors in determining levels of trust towards news media outlets. 71% of respondents stated that a commitment to transparency is crucial when it comes to choosing a news outlet they trust.
For a news story to be deemed as transparent, the journalist or media organisation by which the story was published must follow some rules. Some of these rules include disclosing the source of their information, the reason for the story being published, and proof of accuracy.
Despite these rules around the accuracy of the information, many major publications continue to publish misleading info on various topics. For example, in 2017, The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) filed a complaint against The Daily Mail.

Related: Former Obama foreign policy advisor Ben Rhodes: “Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

Teaching at a Philly school left me so ‘utterly broken’ I had to quit

Brian Gallagher:

During my first year as a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, I was nominated to be featured on the District website’s “Inspiration Corner.” I helped facilitate the Writer’s Matter program for my students, helping one win an award. I ran for, and won, our school’s election for building representative. When the district did walkthroughs, my principal consistently told me that I was the “shining star.” When deciding if I would come back this year, she joked that she wouldn’t be a good reference for me because she wanted me to stay.

I don’t say any of this to brag but to show that I have been committed, dedicated, and respected. I also say this because this week, I handed in my resignation.

Privacy and 1st and 3rd party cookies

Loving Latin at the End of the World

Joel Christensen:

Imagine the rush to leave your doomed city—the fires, the smoke, the uncertainty of where you will go, how long you will stay when you get there. In those few moments to consider your possessions, you think, “Ah, but I might have time for a book!” What do you pull from your shelves? A sacred text? Some handy and serviceable issues of Popular Mechanics? Or perhaps, like the Oxford Renaissance literature professor Nicola Gardini, you reach for Vergil’s Aeneid. “In the event of global catastrophe,” he writes in his newly translated book Long Live Latin: The Pleasures of a Useless Language, that would be “the book to salvage.” At that moment you become Aeneas, bending to carry the pater of a dying patria: your Anchises is the epic of Imperial Rome—and the legacy and detritus that comes with it.

Introducing the value of knowledge flows for individuals and the enterprise

Nicolas Granatino:

Knowledge management (KM) is defined in Wikipedia as ‘the process of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information of an organisation’.  It originated in the early 90’s as a scientific discipline and its practice was adopted in enterprise to manage and leverage an intangible asset which was increasingly seen as being strategic.

In its early days, the practice of KM and its enabling software solutions focused on digitisation, storage and retrieval of documents.  KM was then mainly preoccupied with stocks of knowledge.  However, with the emergence of Wikis (1995), RSS (early 1999) and Weblogs (also in the late 1990s and now more commonly known as Blogs), individuals and enterprises saw the emergence of new possibilities around knowledge and information management.  Although I first became aware of the increasing importance of knowledge flows in KM for the enterprise in John Hagel et al.’s series of articles in the Harvard Business Review in 2009 where the authors advocated quite provocatively to ‘Abandon Stocks, Embrace flows’,  Lee Lefever had written an earlier series of 3 articles more nuanced headlined ‘Introduction to Stocks and Flows in online communications’ back in 2004 (thanks to Harold Jarche for the info).  He defined the two as follows:

Human biases are baked into algorithms. Now what?

Algorithms, the computer programs that decide so many things about our lives these days, work with the human data we feed them. That data, of course, can be biased based on race, gender and other factors. 

Recently, regulators began investigating the new Apple Card and Apple’s partner, Goldman Sachs, after several users reported that in married households, men were given higher credit limits than women — even if the women had higher credit scores. 

I spoke with Safiya Noble, an associate professor at UCLA who wrote a book about biased algorithms. She said women having little financial independence or freedom over centuries is reflected in the data algorithms use to evaluate credit. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Safiya Noble: You’d look at that history happening by the hundreds of thousands of transactions a month or more. That starts to become the so-called truth or the baseline of data that gets collected into these systems. This is one of the reasons why women still have a very difficult time, and I think the Apple credit card was a perfect example of the flawed logics. The unfortunate part is this happens a lot to working-class people, people who aren’t rich and who may or may not even know what’s happening to them.

Indiana Wesleyan Student Kicked Out of Honors College for Questioning Cultural Appropriation

Robby Soave:

Two years ago, Micah Sample, a libertarian student at Indiana Wesleyan University, penned a rant against the campus’s guidance to students to avoid offensive Halloween costumes and published it on Facebook.

The post was a tad on the trollish side: Sample referred to IWU’s Halloween costume awareness checklist as “cancerous,” and accused the social justice left of fetishizing victimhood.

“I’m going to culturally appropriate as much as I please, and I couldn’t possibly care less about who gets offended,” he wrote.

The statement was provocative, but it wasn’t crude or threatening. Some of Sample’s Facebook friends objected to the tone of it, and said so. That should have been the end of the entire ordeal.

It wasn’t. Instead, IWU launched an investigation. Then administration felt compelled to issue a statement denouncing the post. Then the university suspended Sample from his student leadership positions. IWU deemed Sample guilty of harassment and disruptive behavior: He arrived at a meeting with administrators only to learn that they had already reached this verdict without providing the student any meaningful opportunity to defend himself. Ultimately, the Honors College ejected him.

“Before going through the Student Conduct process, I believed that Indiana Wesleyan University was a place for free thought, dialogue, speech, and expression,” wrote Sample in an email to Reason. “Afterward, it became apparent that this was nothing more than a facade.”

Gaps in wealth and income could be lower than you think

The Economist:

Even in a world of polarisation, fake news and social media, some beliefs remain universal, and central to today’s politics. None is more influential than the idea that inequality has risen in the rich world. People read about it in newspapers, hear about it from their politicians and feel it in their daily lives. This belief motivates populists, who say selfish metropolitan elites have pulled the ladder of opportunity away from ordinary people. It has given succour to the left, who propose ever more radical ways to redistribute wealth (see article). And it has caused alarm among business people, many of whom now claim to pursue a higher social purpose, lest they be seen to subscribe to a model of capitalism that everyone knows has failed.

In many ways the failure is real. Opportunities are restricted. The cost of university education in America has spiralled beyond the reach of many families. Across the rich world, as rents and house prices have soared, it has become harder to afford to live in the successful cities which contain the most jobs (see Free exchange). Meanwhile, the rusting away of old industries has concentrated poverty in particular cities and towns, creating highly visible pockets of deprivation. By some measures inequalities in health and life expectancy are getting worse.

Yet precisely because the idea of soaring inequality has become an almost universally held belief, it receives too little scrutiny. That is a mistake, because the four empirical pillars upon which the temple rests—which are not about housing or geography, but income and wealth—are not as firm as you might think. As our briefing this week explains, these four pillars are being shaken by new research.

Appleton school board signs off on policy that some say endangers free speech, others see as a constitutional safeguard

Sami West:

The board voted 5-2 against a motion to replace the administrative guidelines, which require speakers to submit their speeches ahead of time and swear under oath to stay on script, with a school board-created policy, as called for by critics who said the new guidelines are unconstitutional and give the superintendent too much power.

The board’s decision comes nearly six months after the Rev. Alvin Dupree, a school board member, delivered what some decried as a Christian-themed speech at North High School’s graduation ceremony. The speech provoked community debate over freedom of speech and what kinds of messages about religion are appropriate in a public school setting.

In his speech, Dupree, founder and minister of Family First Ministries, said his source of strength is his faith and relationship with Jesus Christ and invited fellow Christians to applaud in agreement.

School choice: separating fact from fiction

Matthew Ladner:

School choice is a hot topic in the United States. Private school vouchers, public charter schools, open enrollment, and homeschooling all regularly appear on the policy agenda as ways to improve the educational experience and outcomes for students, parents, and the broader society. Pundits often make claims about the various ways in which parents select schools and thus customize their child’s education. What claims about school choice are grounded in actual evidence?

This book presents systematic reviews of the social science research regarding critical aspects of parental school choice. How do parents choose schools and what do they seek? What effects do their choices have on the racial integration of schools and the performance of the schools that serve non-choosing students? What features of public charter schools are related to higher student test scores? What effects does school choice have on important non-cognitive outcomes including parent satisfaction, student character traits, and how far students go in school? What do we know about homeschooling as a school choice? This book, originally published as a special issue of the Journal of School Choice, provides evidence-based answers to those vital questions.

Civics: Commentary on the “real class war”

Julius Krein:

Since at least 2016, the divide between the “working class” and the “elite” has been considered a defining issue in American (and Western) politics. This divide has been defined in occupational terms (“blue collar” versus “information workers”), geographic terms (rural and exurban regions versus major urban cores), and meritocratic terms (non-college-educated versus those with elite credentials). Oc­casionally, it is given an explicitly moral connotation (“somewheres” versus “anywheres,” “deplorables” versus “cosmopolitans”). All of these glosses effectively track basic economic categories: those who are seen to have enjoyed success in recent decades and those who have been “left behind.”

Like most clichés, this one contains elements of truth. The work­ing class has experienced economic stagnation and precarity, and even declining life expectancy in the United States, as well as lower family stability and civic engagement. Social mobility has declined, while inequality has widened.

But it is precisely for these reasons that the working class is unlikely to be decisive in shaping politics for the foreseeable future. However one defines the working class, it has scarcely any political agency in the current system and no apparent means for acquiring any. At most, working-class voters can cast their ballots for an “un­acceptable” candidate, but they can exercise no influence on policy formation or agency personnel, much less on governance areas that have been transferred to technocratic bodies. In countries like France, the working class might still be able to veto certain policies through public demonstrations, but such actions seem unlikely in the United States, and even the most heroic efforts of this kind show little prospect of achieving systemic reforms.

The Real Class War

Julius Krein:

Since at least 2016, the divide between the “working class” and the “elite” has been considered a defining issue in American (and Western) politics. This divide has been defined in occupational terms (“blue collar” versus “information workers”), geographic terms (rural and exurban regions versus major urban cores), and meritocratic terms (non-college-educated versus those with elite credentials). Oc­casionally, it is given an explicitly moral connotation (“somewheres” versus “anywheres,” “deplorables” versus “cosmopolitans”). All of these glosses effectively track basic economic categories: those who are seen to have enjoyed success in recent decades and those who have been “left behind.”

Like most clichés, this one contains elements of truth. The work­ing class has experienced economic stagnation and precarity, and even declining life expectancy in the United States, as well as lower family stability and civic engagement. Social mobility has declined, while inequality has widened.

But it is precisely for these reasons that the working class is unlikely to be decisive in shaping politics for the foreseeable future. However one defines the working class, it has scarcely any political agency in the current system and no apparent means for acquiring any. At most, working-class voters can cast their ballots for an “un­acceptable” candidate, but they can exercise no influence on policy formation or agency personnel, much less on governance areas that have been transferred to technocratic bodies. In countries like France, the working class might still be able to veto certain policies through public demonstrations, but such actions seem unlikely in the United States, and even the most heroic efforts of this kind show little prospect of achieving systemic reforms.

For regimes that style themselves liberal democracies, this situation might be disconcerting, yet it has persisted for some time. The policy agenda that brought about the political and economic marginalization of the working class was adopted between the 1970s and the early 2000s. A more organized working class was unable to stop it then; it is difficult to imagine a weakened working class reversing it now.

Civics: Unsettling precedents for today’s world Events evoke not the 1930s but the period before the First World War

Martin Wolf:

History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. This remark is often incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain. But it is a good one.

History is the most powerful guide to the present, because it speaks to what is permanent in our humanity, especially the forces that drive us towards conflict. Since the biggest current geopolitical event, by far, is the burgeoning friction between the US and China, it is illuminating to look back to similar events in the past. In a thought-provoking book,Destined for War, Harvard’s Graham Allison started with the account of the Peloponnesian war by Thucydides, the great Athenian historian of the 5th century BC. However, I will focus on the three eras of conflict of the past 120 years. From them much is to be learnt.

The most recent conflict was the cold war (1948-1989) between a liberal democratic west, led by the US, and the communist Soviet Union, a transformed version of the pre-first world war Russian empire. This was a great power conflict between the chief victors of the second world war. But it was also an ideological conflict over the nature of modernity. The west ultimately won. It did so because the scale of western economies and the speed of western technological advances vastly outmatched those of the Soviet Union. The subjects of the Soviet empire also became disenchanted with their corrupt and despotic rulers and the Soviet leadership itself concluded its system had failed. Despite moments of danger, notably the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the cold war also ended peacefully.

Going further back, we reach the interwar years. This was an interregnum in which the attempt to restore the pre-first world war order failed, the US withdrew from Europe and a huge financial and economic crisis, emanating originally from the US, ravaged the world economy. It was a time of civil strife, populism, nationalism, communism, fascism and national socialism. The 1930s are an abiding lesson in the possibility of democratic collapse once elites fail. They are also a lesson of what happens when great countries fall into the hands of power-hungry lunatics.

Madison West high school has conducted several experiments over the years, including:

English 10

Small Learning Communities

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.

Giving thanks matters

Joel Kotkin:

Thanksgiving may be approaching, but its chief value, that of gratitude, seems oddly out of fashion. When the Pilgrims broke bread with their Native American neighbors, it was with full appreciation of the role of Providence in their salvation.

Such a sense of appreciation is increasingly rare. Most Americans, according to a Templeton Foundation survey, feel they receive little gratitude at home or the office. The feeling of gratitude appears to drop with age. Today’s millennials are the least grateful. This is not surprising given the new generations’ low levels of interest in the very things we are likely to feel grateful for, such as family, religion or America itself.

Older people, who often have overcome hard times, are more grateful. They witnessed the triumph of liberal democracy over communism. Many of them, like me, were raised by parents who came from poverty, and instilled the notion that, for all our problems, living here, at this time, in this country, is a manifest blessing not to demeaned or ignored.

Failure Found to Be an “Essential Prerequisite” for Success; Contra Madison’s Methods

David Noonan:

The recipe for succeeding in any given field is hardly a mystery: good ideas, hard work, discipline, imagination, perseverance and maybe a little luck. Oh, and let’s not forget failure, which Dashun Wang and his colleagues at Northwestern University call “the essential prerequisite for success” in a new paper that, among other things, is based on an analysis of 776,721 grant applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health from 1985 to 2015.

In their effort to create a mathematical model that can reliably predict the success or failure of an undertaking, the researchers also analyzed 46 years’ worth of venture capital startup investments. They also tested the model on what Wang calls their “least conventional” but nevertheless important data set — 170,350 terrorist attacks carried out between 1970 and 2017.

The takeaway? “Every winner begins as a loser,” says Wang, associate professor of management and organizations at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, who conceived and led the study.

Madison West High School to test “grading floor”.

“Being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at Madison East, especially if you are black or hispanic.” – David Blaska comments.

Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information


Data-driven products and services are often marketed with the potential to save users time and money or even lead to better health and well-being. Still, large shares of U.S. adults are not convinced they benefit from this system of widespread data gathering. Some 81% of the public say that the potential risks they face because of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits, and 66% say the same about government data collection. At the same time, a majority of Americans report being concerned about the way their data is being used by companies (79%) or the government (64%). Most also feel they have little or no control over how these entities use their personal information, according to a new survey of U.S. adults by Pew Research Center that explores how Americans feel about the state of privacy in the nation.

Americans’ concerns about digital privacy extend to those who collect, store and use their personal information. Additionally, majorities of the public are not confident that corporations are good stewards of the data they collect. For example, 79% of Americans say they are not too or not at all confident that companies will admit mistakes and take responsibility if they misuse or compromise personal information, and 69% report having this same lack of confidence that firms will use their personal information in ways they will be comfortable with.

“For the most part, the top of Google’s page of results directs you towards more Google products and services”

James Temperton:

As a result, 50 per cent of all Google searches now end without a click. Great for Google, bad for the list of websites below that also contain this information and that you will never visit. Do the same search on DuckDuckGo and the top result is IMDb. It might sound small but issues like this are fundamental to how the internet works – and who makes the most money from it. Google’s prioritisation of its results, and a perceived bias towards its own products and services, has landed the company in hot water with the European Commission slapping it with multi-billion pound fines and launching investigation after investigation into alleged anti-competitive behaviour. What’s good for Google, the commission argues, isn’t necessarily good for consumers or competitors.

Then there’s privacy. Search for something on DuckDuckGo and, for the most part, you just get a list of links or a simple snippet with exactly the information you were looking for. And it does all this without storing or tracking my search history. Nor is what I search for collected and shared with advertisers, allowing them to micro-target me with a myriad of things I’m never likely to buy. The ads I do see in DuckDuckGo, which the company explains makes it more than enough money to operate, are more general. My search for bank holidays in the UK returned an advert for a package holiday company.

A quick office survey revealed similar search banality: recent Googles included ‘capitalist’, ‘toxoplasmosis’ and ‘hyde park police’. For the most part, what we’re looking for online is simple: it’s definitions, companies, names and places. Where DuckDuckGo has struggled is when I look for something incredibly specific. So, for example, search for ‘film Leonardo Dicaprio goats scene’ in DuckDuckGo and it doesn’t work out you’re looking for Blood Diamond. Google does. While Google, with its vastly greater tranche of search data, is able to second-guess what I’m after, DuckDuckGo requires a bit more hand-holding. That doesn’t mean I can’t find what I’m looking for, but it does mean I have to modify my search term a couple of times to narrow things down.

Many taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.

China’s growing threat to academic freedom

Shawn O’Dwyer:

In “The Scholars,” the classic 18th century Chinese novel on the lives and misadventures of Ming Dynasty literati, there is an episode that departs unnervingly from the book’s satirical, moralizing tone. One day the Nanjing scholar Chuang reluctantly obeys a summons to consult with the emperor in Beijing. On the way to Beijing he meets a fellow scholar, Lu, who excitedly tells him of a banned book he has just purchased, written by a scholar unjustly executed 160 years before. Chuang praises Lu for his “respect for learning”, but warns his new friend to avoid “forbidden books.”Nevertheless, he invites Lu to stay with him when he returns to Nanjing.

Back in Nanjing, Chuang keeps his promise to host Lu. But not long after Lu’s arrival, hundreds of soldiers arrive and swarm over Chuang’s estate; their commander orders Chuang to tell him if a scholar possessing a forbidden book is staying there. Lu surrenders himself, but in the following days Chuang works his Beijing connections to get Lu released. This story conveys vividly the vulnerability of scholars to a state authority that spares no expense to hunt them down if they stray from its narrow orthodoxy.

Chinese academics now struggling under what the Scholars at Risk Network describes as systematic Chinese government policies intended “to constrict academic activity and to intimidate, silence, and punish outspoken academics and students” might find much to relate to in Wu’s story.

If you care about user privacy, do NOT use Facebook JS SDK


Social Login buttons like the ubiquitous Login with Facebook/Google/Twitter/… button is convenient for users as they don’t have to go through a lengthy registration process and create yet another username/password. And without a proper password manager (which probably 99% users don’t use), they tend to reuse the same password which is bad in terms of security!

However behind the scene, some SDKs (I’m looking at you Facebook!) inject an iframe in your website to display the Continue as {MyName} or Login with Facebook button. Loading this iframe allows Facebook to know that this specific user is currently on your website. Facebook therefore knows about user browsing behaviour without user’s explicit consent. If more and more websites adopt Facebook SDK then Facebook would potentially have user’s full browsing history! And as with “With great power comes great responsibility”, it’s part of our job as developers to protect users privacy even when they don’t ask for.

2020 Madison School District Referendum Climate: city tax and spending increases

David Blaska:

It was what we thought it was. Madison is 10 to 1 opposed to the city’s $40 wheel tax, judging from the 2,000 pages [CORRECTED] of e-mails that flooded city hall from 250 individuals. Kudos to Chris Rickert of the WI State Journal for filing the open records request to get that info. Many of the supporting messages came from insiders like the public employees union.

Didn’t stop the council from approving Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s* tax 11 to 8 a month ago. (* Progressive Dane)

Voting YES: Bidar, Furman*, Lemmer, Rummel*, Martin, Evers*, Moreland, Foster*, Verveer*, Heck*, Kemble* — 11

Voting NO: Abbas, Albouras, Baldeh, Carter, Harrington-McKinney, Henak, Skidmore, Tierney — 8

e-mail iconNotice anything strange about the tax? It was sold as the only way possible to balance the city budget. There Was No Choice! Scott Walker made us do it! No choice — if you wanted to embark on a multi-million dollar rapid bus transit system, that is. But alders never really debated bus rapid transit. A major policy initiative snuck in through the back door. We have to fund it before we will know it works.

Rickert’s news story concludes with this gem: Ald. Grant Foster* responds to a constituent opposed to the wheel tax this way:

“Can you imagine a future where you might need to own fewer or zero cars? What would it take to make that a reasonable option for you or your household?”

Madison school district is planning a substantial tax and spending increase referendum in 2020.

Madison taxpayers have long spent far more than most K-12 school districts, yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results

“Few things upset American college students more than being told they aren’t oppressed.”

Heather Mac Donald:

Few things upset American college students more than being told they aren’t oppressed. I recently spoke at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. I argued that American undergraduates are among the most privileged individuals in history by virtue of their unfettered access to knowledge. Far from being discriminated against, students are surrounded by well-meaning faculty who want all of them to succeed. 

About 15 minutes into my talk, as I was discussing Renaissance humanism, a majority of the audience in the packed…

Why no one is exponentially smarter than others

Trishank Karthik Kuppusamy and Ashlesh Sharma

One common counterargument to  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>why universality trumps IQ (which was often misunderstood and misinterpreted) is that “some people are exponentially smarter than others.” Right off the bat, it is not even clear what this statement is supposed to mean. We suspect that it is deliberately vague. In any case, it has one of two meanings, the former of which is more popular, but the latter of which is much more likely.

The first meaning is that some people can somehow do exponentially more work than others. Is it possible? Yes. Is it plausible? Let’s look at this through the lens of computation. One of our working hypotheses is that everything in Nature — including human thinking — can be  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>viewed as computations. Figure 1 illustrates the difference between two people who do significantly different amounts of work in the same amount of time.

Mariana Mazzucato Has Reinvigorated The Most Important Battle In Economics

Ash Milton:

The book is a tour de force of economics, history, and policy. Such breadth is arguably necessary for Mazzucato’s fundamental goal: reopening the debate about economic value, what it includes, and who has the power to define it. What should count as real economic wealth? Who truly creates it, who merely assists the process, and who might be actively impeding it? The answers to that question have directed how economies develop, how governments direct or impede production, and what forms of economic power come to dominate human life.

Once, the question of value dominated economic discourse. The French physiocrats argued that wealth was produced from the land. Conversely, Adam Smith tended to see landlords as a rentier class. Marx famously defined labor itself as the source of value. But this debate about value, once core to economic discourse, has long been de-emphasized in the discipline. As Mazzucato demonstrates, the marginal revolution in economics heralded a subjective, utility-focused approach that effectively sidestepped the historic debate about value—a sidestep that, in Mazzucato’s telling, drastically impoverished the discipline. An undergrad student today is likely to hear the above names once or twice in the opening lecture of an introductory course, and then only as a one-off primer. How did this happen?

Following a historical primer on how the question of value was obscured, the book takes the reader through the successive results. Chief among these are the rise of financial power and its cannibalization of large parts of economic life, the extractive institutions in technological and medical innovation, and the gutting of a once-innovative and bold public sector, which had produced immense value across fields from consumer technology to medical products.

The Silence of the School Reformers

Frederick Hess & Chester Finn:

The damage inflicted on our educational institutions by the onrushing tsunami of wokeness is starting to worry even a few prominent progressives. Former president Obama himself recently fretted about young activists who are “as judgmental as possible about other people,” cautioning that they’re “not bringing about change.”

As a hyper-judgmental, hyper-sensitive mindset washes from colleges into our nation’s schools, however, change is indeed being brought about: The wokeness wave is destroying unblemished reputations, driving admirable people from the field, and undermining sorely needed efforts at school improvement.

Today, we’re a nation still at risk, due to the faltering achievement of far too many children — a problem vividly on display in student performance that has been flat for a decade. Addressing that challenge requires a broad and durable coalition. This is only possible if reformers work with those who have different views and values and then have the courage to stand by their allies.

School reformers have long seen themselves as plucky champions of change. Today, however, as funders and advocacy groups chant from a common hymnal of wokeness, the rules have changed and courage is hard to find. In its place we see cravenness and appeasement from reformers desperate to avoid the all-seeing eye of the progressive mob.

What jobs are affected by AI? Better-paid, better-educated workers face the most exposure

Mark Muro, Jacob Whiton, and Robert Maxim:

Given that, the analysis presented here demonstrates a new way to identify the kinds of tasks and occupations likely to be affected by AI’s machine learning capabilities, rather than automation’s robotics and software impacts on the economy. By employing a novel technique developed by Stanford University Ph.D. candidate Michael Webb, the new report establishes job exposure levels by analyzing the overlap between AI-related patents and job descriptions. In this way, the following paper homes in on the impacts of AI specifically and does it by studying empirical statistical associations as opposed to expert forecasting.

Civics: National Politics on Twitter: Small Share of U.S. Adults Produce Majority of Tweets


The social media platform Twitter plays a prominent role in how politicians, media outlets and advocacy organizations promote their agendas and engage with political issues. Although these entities represent a highly visible portion of the political Twitter ecosystem, less is known about the political tweeting habits of the 22% of the American publicthat uses Twitter. A new Pew Research Center analysis sheds light on this question by collecting and analyzing the tweets of a random sample of U.S. adults with public Twitter accounts over a period of one year surrounding the 2018 midterm elections (from June 10, 2018, through June 9, 2019).

Can Storied Williams College Be Saved From Itself?

Michael Poliakoff:

For $73,000 per year, top students with SAT scores well north of 1,500 count themselves lucky to be accepted by Williams College. There, however, despite the chilly Massachusetts climate, they are in danger of melting with their fellow snowflakes. 

Last year, the school canceled a play for alleged racial insensitivity, notwithstanding its African American authorship, minority casting and gay Bengali director. Students protested and disrupted a faculty meeting, apoplectic at the thought of the university strengthening its free speech bylaws, and an online petition against free speech garnered 363 signatures, roughly one-sixth of the campus. The student council denied recognitionto a pro-Israel student club, while recognizing a pro-Palestine student club. Now, the zealous student activists have reached a new low, organizing a boycott of “all English classes that do not take seriously the matter of race—that is, those classes which do not include more than a token discussion of race and more than a token number of writers of color.” 

An online manifesto, running to 26 pages (don’t they have homework?), elaborates on students’ grievances related to the perceived lack of diversity in course offerings and faculty. They do not feel that enough courses “engage substantially with issues of race.” They refer, presumably, to current offerings on Dante, Shakespeare and 19th-century British literature. (Apparently, current offerings such as “Black Queer Looks,” “Black Literature Matters,” “Blackness, Writing, Prison,” and “U.S. Literature and Postcolonial Studies” do not suffice to meet their expectations of due representation.) They cite examples of minority English professors being denied tenure. They cite an op-ed in The Feminist Wire by two former faculty members who left Williams because the college did not create a safe space for “Black radical thinkers.”

Commentary on Madison’s 2020 Superintendent Search

Scott Girard:

School Board members adopted a “leadership profile” based on that feedback earlier this month. BWP reported the input indicated the community wants a visionary team-builder with experience with diverse populations and an understanding of the district’s commitment to high levels of academic achievement for all students. An educator’s background, student-centered, dedicated, sincere and honest person were also desired, according to the BWP report.

BWP’s Debra Hill told the board Nov. 11 the district would need to make itself stand out in the “small pool” of candidates who would fit the profile, especially to find someone who has experience in a district of Madison’s size or larger.

“Lots of districts are looking for the same people,” Hill said. “The competition is much higher at this particular point.”

Notes and links on previous Madison Superintendent searches.

The Madison school district is planning a substantial tax and spending increase referendum in 2020. Perhaps these funds might support those requirements?

Despite spending far more than most K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Commentary on Madison Schools’ Quietly spending taxpayer’s $4M

Logan Wroge:

The plan didn’t become publicly available until Friday afternoon, when the meeting agenda was posted online.

Does the analysis include space in other facilities? The District expanded some of its least diverse schools (Van Hise and Hamilton) several years ago, when space was available in other nearby schools.

The Madison school district is planning a substantial tax and spending increase referendum in 2020.

Perhaps these funds might support those requirements.

Madison taxpayers spend far more than most K-12 school districts, yetwe have long tolerated disastrous reading results

Colorado has spent hundreds of millions to help kids read. Now, it will spend up to $5.2 million to find out why it’s not working.

Ann Schimke:

Floyd Cobb, the state education department’s executive director of teaching and learning, said state officials have always maintained a list of allowable uses for READ Act dollars and asked districts to report broad information about their planned use of the funds. But the state didn’t have the authority to delve into districts’ budget details.

“In the past, there wasn’t any language that outlined that authority,” Cobb said.

“The department does not have data regarding how the [districts or schools] actually used those READ Act per-pupil funds,” state officials wrote in response to a question from WestEd.

But now WestEd will be able to ask districts directly how they used READ Act funding. This authority is so new that state officials advised WestEd that its staff will have to work with districts to figure out how to collect and format the information.

Cobb said the external evaluation “will give a clear picture of how districts are using the funds and will allow for us to understand better which methods are proving to be more successful.”

Related: “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”

“We’re not convinced lowering standards for grading is the answer.”

Wisconsin State Journal:

We’re not convinced lowering standards for grading is the answer. Yet offering students more chances to retake tests and get some credit for late work sounds fair and could help more freshmen advance. A smooth transition from middle to high school is crucial. So is good attendance.

High-quality teaching through professional development, peer coaching and better evaluations are important. Despite its flaws, the Act 10 limits on unions have given school principals more flexibility to consider and hire minority applicants.

Districts such as Madison should allow more charter and specialty schools. A year-round schedule would stop the summer slide in learning.

Our schools need more minority teachers and other enhancements to bolster success.

Meet the 84-year-old Japanese app developer who inspired Tim Cook

Nikkei Asian Review:

 Masako Wakamiya obtained her first personal computer at age 58, just ahead of her retirement from a bank. Little did she know that she was beginning a journey that would make her the world’s oldest known iPhone app developer, at 81.

Now 84, Wakamiya calls herself an IT evangelist and encourages other seniors to use digital technology to enrich their lives. She writes books while spreading her message on the lecture circuit in Japan and abroad. Recently, she sat down with Nikkei to tell her story — from that first PC to talking shop with Apple CEO Tim Cook — and explain why we’re never too old to learn something new.

“Few households had computers back then, but the PC seemed interesting to me. I taught myself how to use it. At the time, my mother needed nursing care, so I was constantly looking after her. There were days when I could not go out at all. But the PC took me into a wider world.

Searching for Progressivism: Do You Look for Sue Altman or Sarah Carpenter?

Laura Waters:

On Monday the New Jersey Working Families protested at a New Jersey State Legislative hearing about tax breaks in cities like Camden. NJ Spotlight described the skirmish as the result of “heavy criticism from Gov. Phil Murphy and progressive activists who make up his base and have called for major reform” of the tax breaks. This same group also objects to public charter schools, particularly in Camden. Click here for a blog post by NJWF’s leader, Sue Altman, decrying the expansion of school choice in Camden, where 55% of parents, almost all of color, have chosen either traditional or renaissance charter schools and where student growth rises every year across what was once the worst school district in NJ. 

Last night the #PowerfulParentNetwork protested at Elizabeth Warren’s rally in Atlanta, which she dedicated, according to NPR, to (irony alert) “the history of black women in politics.” PPN, comprised largely of black women as well as civil rights luminary Howard Fuller, objects to Warren’s plan to cut off all federal funding for public charter schools. They were “escorted” out of the rally.

The two protest ended differently: Sue Altman, the head of NJWF, succeeded in her (pre-announced) plan to get dragged out by state troopers.

An interview with historian James McPherson on the New York Times’ 1619 Project

Tom Mackaman:

What was your initial reaction to the 1619 Project?

A. Well, I didn’t know anything about it until I got my Sunday paper, with the magazine section entirely devoted to the 1619 Project. Because this is a subject I’ve long been interested in I sat down and started to read some of the essays. I’d say that, almost from the outset, I was disturbed by what seemed like a very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery, which was clearly, obviously, not an exclusively American institution, but existed throughout history. And slavery in the United States was only a small part of a larger world process that unfolded over many centuries. And in the United States, too, there was not only slavery but also an antislavery movement. So I thought the account, which emphasized American racism—which is obviously a major part of the history, no question about it—but it focused so narrowly on that part of the story that it left most of the history out.

So I read a few of the essays and skimmed the rest, but didn’t pursue much more about it because it seemed to me that I wasn’t learning very much new. And I was a little bit unhappy with the idea that people who did not have a good knowledge of the subject would be influenced by this and would then have a biased or narrow view.

‘Idea Laundering’ in Academia

Peter Boghossian:

You’ve almost certainly heard some of the following terms: cisgender, fat shaming, heteronormativity, intersectionality, patriarchy, rape culture and whiteness.

The reason you’ve heard them is that politically engaged academicians have been developing concepts like these for more than 30 years, and all that time they’ve been percolating. Only recently have they begun to emerge in mainstream culture. These academicians accomplish this by passing off their ideas as knowledge; that is, as if these terms describe facts about the…

A Doomsday List of Possible College Closures Inspired Panic and Legal Threats. That’s Telling.

Jack Stripling:

Higher education’s walking dead are already among us. Figuring out exactly who they are, though, is tricky and fraught.

That fact came into sharp relief this week, when a college-advising company scuttled its plans to release a list of private, nonprofit colleges that it expects to run out of money and close in the coming years, according to a new financial-modeling tool.

Edmit, the advising company, decided against releasing the information when some of the 946 colleges that were to be named in the analysis pushed back or threatened legal action.

The episode set off renewed discussion about the limited information that many students and families possess about the precarious finances of some of the nation’s colleges, hundreds of which have closed in recent years, upending students’ lives. (Most of the college closures of the last five years have been for-profit institutions, a recent Chronicle analysis found.)

Achievement, Teacher Unions and “an emphasis on adult employment”

Item 10.11: $100,000 contract to WestEd (funded from the Teaching & Learning budget) for evaluation of the Special Education Plan

Item 10.15: $4 million purchase (all cash from fund balance) of a building for use as an alternative education site, meeting spaces, and offices for the professional learning department.

The regular meeting also has the annual presentation of the audited financials for the year ending June 30, 2019, toward the end of the meeting

This year the auditors actually called out a few “significant deficiencies” (Letter) (accounting term of art, which Kelly Ruppel chooses to call “significant findings” in her memo to Belmore & BOE).

Wegner CPA’s has delivered the district’s financial audit statements, single audit statements, and communication letter with those charged with governance. These documents are attached to this memo via email. Following are some pertinent points:

Our fund statements include an operating fund surplus of $8,488,636. This surplus includes unspent TID funds in the amount of $1,407,402, unspent TID closing $3,200,000, interest earnings over budget $902,426, and a Medicaid cost settlement over budget of $1,022,628. Governmental funds also showing a surplus include a Capital projects Surplus of $1,429,799 for safety projects completed over the summer, a Donation fund surplus of $918,635 related to the East High Field House donation, and a Community Service fund surplus of $107,920.

The auditors’ report includes a significant finding that some of the 12 schools tested retained incomplete documentation support for disbursements or deposits for their school activity funds. Although procedures are in place to mitigate this, we are working on retraining staff and emphasizing the importance of this documentation. We are also including this information in the Secretary and Principal’s back to school training to emphasize these procedures.

The auditors’ report also includes a significant finding that two special education employees were not properly licensed per the Department of Public Instructions licensing requirements. The new HR system currently being implemented will mitigate this in the future.

In the past, the Board has asked Administration to state the status of our non-WRS post-employment long term obligations. As of June 30, 2019, the liability balances of these are:oSick Leave –Currently Active Employees $39,644,330 (actuarial value)oSick Leave Escrow -Retirees $29,225,362 (actual value)oTeacher Emeritus Retirement Program (TERP) and Administrative Retirement Plan-$30,965,900 (actuarial value)oOther Post-Employment Benefits, OPEB(health and life) -$27,483,949 (actuarial values

Scott R. Haumersen, a Wegner CPA partner (the District’s auditor), recently held a fundraiser for School Board member Gloria Reyes.

Related: “an emphasis on adult employment“.

“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”

U.S.-based chip-tech group moving to Switzerland over trade curb fears

Stephen Nellis and Alexandra Alper:

The foundation’s move from Delaware to Switzerland may foreshadow further technology flight because of U.S. restrictions on dealing with some Chinese technology companies, said William Reinsch, who was undersecretary of commerce for export administration in the Clinton administration.

“There is a message for the government. The message is, if you clamp down on things too tightly this is what is going to happen. In a global supply chain world, companies have choices, and one choice is to go overseas,” he said.

In a statement to Reuters, the U.S. Department of Commerce said its controls were designed to safeguard U.S. national security and to “ensure bad actors cannot acquire technology that harms U.S. citizens or interests, while promoting innovation to fuel continued American technological leadership.” The department said it meets regularly with private industry to gauge market conditions and the effects of its regulations.

Which law schools have the best and worst debt-to-income ratios among recent graduates?

Derek Muller:

A number of elite schools are near the top—despite their high debt levels, they translate into high median incomes among their graduates. A number of lower-cost schools also fare well near the top.

A good rule of thumb is that “manageable” debt loads are those where debt is about equal to expected income at graduation—i.e., a ratio of 1.00 or lower. Only 11 schools meet that definition among median debt and earnings, and a few others are close. Many are significantly higher than that.

Of course, medians are likely skewed in other ways—the highest-earning graduates likely received the largest scholarships and, accordingly, graduated with the lowest debt. But, the figures are below. I sort by the lowest (i.e., best) debt-to-income ratio. (Due to size of chart, results may be best viewed on a desktop or on a phone turned sideways.)

As School District Implements Busing Over Near-Unanimous Opposition, Chinese Immigrants See Communism

Luke Rosiak:

The Howard County, Maryland, school board voted to implement a massive, 1970s-style busing program Thursday, despite overwhelming opposition.

After one vote failed, members went into a back room, and when they came out, one of the members who voted “no” was crying. They did a do-over and she changed her vote.

Board member Jennifer Mallo lectured to constituents who voiced displeasure, saying it was a “privilege” that they got to witness the meeting, admonishing them not criticize her on social media, and complaining about her salary.

Immigrants from China and the former Soviet Union said that what they were witnessing reminded them of the totalitarian regimes where they grew up.

School choice for some, not all…

Collin Anderson and Cameron Cawthorne

Confronted by a school-choice activist Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) denied sending one of her children to a private school, though her presidential campaign later told the Free Beacon that her son, Alex Warren, did in fact attend private school.

Sarah Carpenter, a pro-school choice activist who organized a protest of Warren’s Thursday speech in Atlanta, told Warren that she had read news reports indicating the candidate had sent her kids to private school. Though Warren once favored school choice and was an advocate for charter schools, she changed her views while seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

W&L Law Students Demand Right To Strip George Washington And Robert E. Lee From Their Diplomas

Should graduates of Washington and Lee University be able to opt out of having the visages of the university’s namesakes appear on their diplomas?

Several hundred current law students and alumni think so. They’ve circulated a petition asking the university to let students request that George Washington and Robert E. Lee’s portraits be kept off their degrees. In the current diploma design, pictures of the two men flank the university name at the top of the document.

According to the petition, the ability to receive a degree without those pictures will create a more “inclusive” atmosphere, but it stops short of detailing why some graduates may feel uncomfortable with the men appearing on their diplomas. (George Washington was a slave owner and Lee led the Confederate Army before serving as president of the Lexington, Virginia, university after the Civil War.) The goal, according to the petition, is to have diplomas that graduates are “proud” to display in their homes and offices.

Civics: Google to restrict political adverts worldwide

Dave Lee:

Google is extending a ban on political campaigns targeting advertising at people based on their supposed political leanings.

It said political groups would soon only be able to target ads based on “general categories” such as age, gender and rough location.

This restriction is already in place in the UK and the rest of the EU but will be imposed worldwide on 6 January 2020.

That could have big implications for next year’s US Presidential vote.

The firm said it would also clarify under what circumstances it would remove political ads for making “false claims”.

For example, Google would remove ads that falsely claimed that a candidate had died or that gave the wrong date for an election.

However, it would not ban claims that you cannot trust a rival party, for instance, which would be viewed as being a matter of opinion.

A spokeswoman told the BBC the new guidance would be provided within a week.

Google’s approach to deliberately misleading statements puts it at odds with Facebook. 

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.

Civics: The Socialist Revival

John Judis:

As the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989, so too, it seemed, did the dream of socialism. The German sociologist Rolf Dahrendorf declared, “The point has to be made unequivocally that socialism is dead and that none of its variants can be revived for a world awakening from the double nightmare of Stalinism and Brezhnevism.” In the New Yorker, Robert Heilbroner wrote, “Less than seventy-five years after it officially began, the contest between capitalism and socialism is over: capitalism has won.” Of course, there was still Communist Cuba as well as some holdouts in Asia and Africa, but as far as the advanced capitalist countries of the West were concerned, socialism seemed to be dead and gone as a popular politics.

Three decades later, socialist politics has risen from the grave. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and a self-described democratic socialist, almost won the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and is a top contender for the 2020 nomination. Two members of Congress belong to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). An organization that once numbered in the mere hundreds, the DSA now has about fifty-six thousand members, including more than ninety city and state legislators. Opinion polls register surprising support for socialism. A Gallup poll last May found that 43 percent of respondents said socialism was a “good thing.” According to a Harris Poll last March, 61 percent of Generation Z (ages 18–24) have a “positive reac­tion” to the idea of socialism.

Socialism is making a comeback in Europe as well. In the United Kingdom, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his second in command, John McDonnell, were long-standing members of the So­cialist Campaign Group, which dissented from former prime minister Tony Blair’s attempt to move the party away from the Left. Within Labour, Corbyn is backed by Momentum, a group established in 2015 by younger party militants. In Germany, Kevin Kuhnert, the leader of the Young Socialists (Jusos), the youth wing of the Social Democratic Party, wants the ailing SPD to re-embrace its Marxist socialist roots, which it formally repudiated after World War II.

Today’s young socialists, many of whom were born after 1989, no longer think of Soviet Communism as socialism. But at the same time, many don’t share a clear alternative conception of what a socialist politics should consist in, or what socialism itself might look like. In explaining his democratic socialism, Sanders invokes Franklin Roose­velt’s New Deal and Scandinavian social democracy. Kuhnert and the DSA socialists embrace a neo-Marxist socialism that would abolish the capitalist class. That raises the question: is socialism, as currently conceived, a stark alternative to capitalism or merely a symbolic rebuke to the prevailing values and practices of capitalism—or is it something in between?

The Crisis of Social Media

Adrian Shabaz & Allie Funk:

Internet freedom is increasingly imperiled by the tools and tactics of digital authoritarianism, which have spread rapidly around the globe. Repressive regimes, elected incumbents with authoritarian ambitions, and unscrupulous partisan operatives have exploited the unregulated spaces of social media platforms, converting them into instruments for political distortion and societal control. While social media have at times served as a level playing field for civic discussion, they are now tilting dangerously toward illiberalism, exposing citizens to an unprecedented crackdown on their fundamental freedoms. Moreover, a startling variety of governments are deploying advanced tools to identify and monitor users on an immense scale. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2019.

Hong Kong has declared war against its young people

Avery Ng:

Another worrying development is that, over the weekend, soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army “volunteered” to leave their base in Kowloon to help clean up the roadblocks near a university. This could be a violation of the Basic Law – which doesn’t allow PLA interference with Hong Kong affairs unless requested – and is a blatant signal from Beijing that military intervention is a possibility.

Polling suggests that the movement still enjoys significant support among Hong Kongers. However, the government continues to refuse permission for mass peaceful protests. Rather than answering the movement’s call for an independent commission into police violence and a restart of the political reform process, the government is adding fuel to the fire. It has in effect declared war against the young.

At the time of writing, the police are storming the Polytechnic campus and making arrests. The situation is grave. But the students appear to be unwilling to give up their hopes for this beautiful but imperilled city.

The Architect of Modern Algorithms

Cody O’Loughlin:

Good code has both substance and style. It provides all necessary information, without extraneous details. It bypasses inefficiencies and bugs. It is accurate, succinct and eloquent enough to be read and understood by humans.

But by the late 1960s, advances in computing power had outpaced the abilities of programmers. Many computer scientists created programs without thought for design. They wrote long, incoherent algorithms riddled with “goto” statements — instructions for the machine to leap to a new part of the program if a certain condition is satisfied. Early coders relied on these statements to fix unforeseen consequences of their code, but they made programs hard to read, unpredictable and even dangerous. Bad software eventually claimed lives, as when the Therac-25 computer-controlled radiation machine delivered massive overdoses of radiation to cancer patients.

By the time Barbara Liskov earned her doctorate in computer science from Stanford University in 1968, she envied electrical engineers because they worked with hardware connected by wires. That architecture naturally allowed them to break up problems and divide them into modules, an approach that gave them more control since it permitted them to reason independently about discrete components.

How the Collapse of Local News Is Causing a ‘National Crisis’

Julie Bosman:

School board and city council meetings are going uncovered. Overstretched reporters receive promising tips about stories, but have no time to follow up. Newspapers publish fewer pages or less frequently or, in hundreds of cases across the country, have shuttered completely.

All of this has added up to a crisis in local news coverage in the United States that has frayed communities and left many Americans woefully uninformed, according to a report by PEN America released on Wednesday.

“A vibrant, responsive democracy requires enlightened citizens, and without forceful local reporting they are kept in the dark,” the report said. “At a time when political polarization is increasing and fraudulent news is spreading, a shared fact-based discourse on the issues that most directly affect us is more essential and more elusive than ever.” 

The report, “Losing the News: The Decimation of Local Journalism and the Search for Solutions,” paints a grim picture of the state of local news in every region of the country. The prelude is familiar to journalists: As print advertising revenue has plummeted, thousands of newspapers have been forced to cut costs, reduce their staffs or otherwise close.

Seclusion and isolation rooms misused in Illinois schools

Chicago Tribune:

The spaces have gentle names: The reflection room. The cool-down room. The calming room. The quiet room.

But shut inside them, in public schools across the state, children as young as 5 wail for their parents, scream in anger and beg to be let out.

The students, most of them with disabilities, scratch the windows or tear at the padded walls. They throw their bodies against locked doors. They wet their pants. Some children spend hours inside these rooms, missing class time. Through it all, adults stay outside the door, writing down what happens.

In Illinois, it’s legal for school employees to seclude students in a separate space — to put them in “isolated timeout” — if the students pose a safety threat to themselves or others. Yet every school day, workers isolate children for reasons that violate the law, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois has found.

Children were sent to isolation after refusing to do classwork, for swearing, for spilling milk, for throwing Legos. School employees use isolated timeout for convenience, out of frustration or as punishment, sometimes referring to it as “serving time.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Former Nashville Mayor David Briley Neglected to Tell Public About Dire Financial Crisis

Chris Butler:

The administration of former Nashville Mayor David Briley reportedly failed to disclose to the public how dire metro’s water system financial crisis was.

This, according to the Nashville-based WSMV.

The station reported that Tennessee Comptrollers have imposed a deadline for metro officials to come up with a plan for a water rate increase. This, even though officials did not disclose this to the public until after this fall’s mayoral election. State officials had warned metro for three years.

Metro Council members did not know about the problem. The station reported, however, that Briley, his financial officer, and Metro Water’s Scott Potter knew of the issue.

“This is important because the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office said Wednesday that the water department’s financial crisis is so urgent and real that it wouldn’t have enough money to make emergency repairs,” WSMV reported.

Commentary on Milwaukee’s tax and spending plans

Will Flanders:

The vast majority of academic research still shows that more spending on schools is not the answer to improving outcomes. And one would think that MPS would understand this given that they have evidence right in their own backyard that lower spending schools can achieve better results. Milwaukee’s choice and charter schools have significantly less revenue per student than do MPS schools. For the 2018–19 school year, independent charter schools received just $8,619 per student from state and local sources, compared with $10,494 from those sources for MPS (we leave federal funds out here to be fair to MPS because it is unclear how much goes to choice and charter schools from that source, but there is little doubt the inclusion of these funds would only serve to increase the gap). For private schools in the choice program, the amounts were $7,747 for K-8 and $8,393 for 9–12. Despite spending literally thousands of dollars less per student, these schools consistently perform better on  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>state exams, have  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>higher graduation rates, and produce students who are less likely to become  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>involved in criminal activity. Rather than asking for more money, MPS should investigate what is working in these schools and attempt to replicate it.

Bargaining for the Common Good Is Neither Common Nor Good. But It Makes for Great Public Relations

Mike Antonucci:

Have you heard? Teachers unions are no longer interested in negotiating only the salaries, benefits and working conditions of their members, but affordable housing, restorative justice, climate change and a host of other social issues as well.

Unions call this “bargaining for the common good” and have parlayed the concept into positive — to the point of fawning — media coverage. As a public relations exercise, it has to be considered a resounding success, but our press outlets repeatedly overlook the flaws in the argument that public employee contracts are the proper place to address public policy issues.

The phrase arose from a 2014 conference organized by Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. The conference included 130 public-sector union activists, community organizers, academics and researchers, there by invitation only, “to address the threats posed by financialization, privatization, growing income inequality and retirement insecurity to the lives of public-sector workers and the well-being of the communities they serve.”

Related: an emphasis on adult employment.

The Big Lie About Charter Schools

David Osborne:

When Sen. Elizabeth Warren released her education plan, she trotted out a familiar charge against charter schools: that they “strain the resources of school districts.” To fight this supposed scourge, she promised to end federal financial support for new charter schools. And she’s not an outlier among the Democratic presidential hopefuls. Her fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders had already charged, in his education plan, that charter schools’ “growth has drained funding from the public school system.” Even Joe Biden —who served under President Obama, an enthusiastic charter supporter—has picked up the refrain. “The bottom line” on chartering, he told an American Federation of Teachers town hall, “is, it siphons off money for our public schools, which are already in enough trouble.”

To begin with, charters themselves are public schools. The only difference is that they are operated independently of district bureaucracies, with more freedom to design their programs and choose their teachers but also more accountability. If charters fail—if their students fall too far behind—they are usually closed.

Technological progress is making life cheaper — but mostly for people who like new stuff.

Tyler Cowen:

Consider people who love to consume information, or, as I have labeled them, infovores. They can stay at home every night and read Wikipedia, scan Twitter, click on links, browse through Amazon reviews and search YouTube — all for free. Thirty years ago there was nothing comparable.

Of course, most people don’t have those tastes. But for the minority who do, it is a new paradise of plenty. These infovores — a group that includes some academics, a lot of internet nerds and many journalists — have experienced radical deflation.

Here is another bit:

So who might be worse off in this new American world?

People who like to spend time with their friends across town are one set of losers. Traffic congestion is much worse, and so driving in Los Angeles or Washington has never been such a big burden. In-person socializing is therefore more costly. On the other hand, the chance that you have remained in touch with your very distant friends is higher, due to email and social media. Those who enjoy less frequent (but perhaps more intense?) visits are on the whole better off for that reason. It is easier than ever to go virtually anywhere in the world and have someone interesting to talk to.

Another group of losers — facing super-high inflation rates — are the “cool” people who insist on living in America’s best and most advanced cities. Which might those be? New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco? You can debate that, but they have all grown much more expensive. Many smaller cities, such as Austin, Washington and Boston, are going the same route.

Wisconsin Act 10 and Union Recertification

Will Flanders and Lauren Tunney:

Act 10 shook the status quo for public employee unions in Wisconsin. And when workers get a say in the future of their union, the number of public employee unions in Wisconsin continues to shrink,” said Will Flanders, research director for the Milwaukee-based free market think tank. The report is titled, Democracy in the Workplace: Examining Union Recertification in Wisconsin Under Act 10.

Much more on Act 10, here.

Related: WEAC – $1,570,000 for four senators.

String quartet brings classical music to area elementary schools

Scott Girard:

“So for some kids here this is their first experience with orchestral string instruments,” Moran said. “Getting to see them live is a really exciting and big deal for them.

“I feel really lucky to have it at our school.”

That excitement was clear as the students listened to the four members of the quartet — Rachel Reese, Alex Chambers-Ozasky, Ava Shadmani and Fabio Sággin — explain ascending and descending melodies in the various pieces they played. Students at times pretended to conduct the group from their seats, and excitedly yelled out “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” when they recognized the piece.

Moran said the students making connections with the music and the musicians is an especially great part of the program, as the same four visit each time and the students begin to recognize them. The diversity of the group, with one each from Mississippi, Minnesota, Brazil and Iran, allows a range of students to see that orchestral music can be open to all.

Madison’s elementary strings program has been on the chopping block a number of times, despite ongoing tax and spending increases.

University Of Florida Wants $2 Million Research Prize Won By Professors


The message that day from the administration, however, was far from congratulatory.

“Please understand that if Shea and Wong convert university funds to personal funds,” stated the email from a university lawyer to a lawyer representing the university’s faculty union, “they will be subject to personnel action and possibly other more serious consequences.”

The battle for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contest was over. But the team had another fight, this one with its own university. Who gets to keep the prize money?

“We put our blood and sweat into this — working 14- or 16-hour days sometimes,” says David Greene, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering who works on artificial intelligence and communications for radio designs and is a member of the research team, GatorWings. “The university is basically setting a precedent that any cash prizes in any competition, whether they’re to students or faculty, will be owned by the university.”

Look, Latin Is Not Useless, Neither Is It Dead

Nicola Gardini:

For many people, Latin is useless. I won’t enter into a discussion on the meaning of “utility,” a concept with variations and stratifications that are centuries in the making, and which itself merits an entire book. What I will say here, however, is that those “many people”—civilians, politicians, professionals in every field—have a sadly (and dangerously) limited idea of education and human development. What their focus on “utility” betrays is the belief that, in the end, knowledge amounts to know-how, that thought should be immediately adapted toward a practical aim. But if that were the case, knowledge would hardly be useful: we’d have surgeons, plumbers, and not much else, given that machines are growing more and more responsible for satisfying our primary needs. Eventually the surgeon or plumber will disappear too. And if such is the fate of knowledge, that it be surrendered to machines—or, as we put it more often these days, to technology—what exactly will there be for humans to know? Of course, we’ll have to learn how to build the machines and keep them functioning, and to dispose of the remains when they become obsolete, and to procure the materials necessary to build new machines.

In short, all in service of machines, with the idea, no doubt, that machines are fundamental, the only truly useful thing, the all-encompassing solution . . . But what about the rest? Those needs that aren’t immediate, that aren’t practical or distinctly material, and yet are no less urgent? The so-called spirit? Memory, imagination, creativity, depth, complexity? And what about the larger questions, which are common to other essential domains of knowledge, including biology, physics, philosophy, psychology, and art: where and when did it all begin, where do I go, who am I, who are others, what is society, what is history, what is time, what is language, what are words, what is human life, what are feelings, who is a stranger, what am I doing here, what am I saying when I speak, what am I thinking when I think, what is meaning? Interpretation, in other words. Because without interpretation there is no freedom, and without freedom there is no happiness. This leads to passivity, a tacit acceptance of even our brighter moods. One becomes a slave to politics and the market, driven on by false needs.

Math scares your child’s elementary school teacher — and that should frighten you

Daniel Willingham:

American students remain stumped by math. The 2019 scores for the National Assessment of Educational Progress test — known as NAEP — were published last month, showing that performance for fourth- and eighth-graders hasn’t budged since 2009. That’s a year after the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, convened by President George W. Bush, concluded that American math achievement was “mediocre.”

The panel offered dozens of ideas for improvement, leading with the common-sense suggestion to strengthen the elementary math curriculum, which it deemed diffuse, shallow and repetitious in many schools. But improved curricula won’t help unless we acknowledge another significant problem: Many elementary teachers don’t understand math very well, and teaching it makes them anxious.

Consider why American kids struggle. Mathematical competence depends on three types of knowledge: having memorized a small set of math facts (like the times table), knowing standard algorithms to solve standard problems (like long division), and understanding why algorithms work (knowing why the standard method of solving long division problems yields the correct answer).

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has granted thousands of mulligans to elementary reading teachers who cannot pass the “Foundations of Reading” content knowledge exam. The FORT is based on Massachusetts’ highly successful MTEL requirements.

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

Is college worth it? A Georgetown study measures return on investment — with some surprising results.

Susan Svrluga:

When Larry Burrill started college, his goal was to walk into a job that paid well after graduation. He was coming from a family of humble means and knew he would be paying his way through school. He chose Maine Maritime Academy, set in a historic town miles down a peninsula, because he knew graduates were earning starting salaries double or triple what he could otherwise expect to make.

That was back in the 1970s, but today, as a senior executive at an engineering services company he helped found (and as a father who paid for his children’s college educations), that practical approach makes more sense to him than ever. Higher education is so expensive now, he said, that few can afford the luxury of meandering through a liberal arts education without making hard calculations about employment prospects.

Is college worth it? Researchers at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce tried to answer that question, using newly released federal data to try to calculate return on investment for thousands of colleges across the country.

Teachers Unions Have the Cure for What Ails America’s Schools

Glenn Sacks:

The rookie science teacher looks at me with the same “Am I understanding this job correctly or am I crazy?” look I’ve often seen in the eyes of new teachers.

“No, you understand,” I say. “You’ve been thrown into a situation that requires an enormous amount of work and a good amount of ability, and it’s sink or swim. You might naturally expect the system to help you, or at least acknowledge the position you’ve been put in. It won’t.”

Teachers have come under considerable scrutiny in recent decades, and everybody claims to have the silver-bullet reform that will fix education. No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core, charter schools, raising the qualifications to become a teacher, limiting or abolishing tenure, and countless other measures have been taken up by Congress and state legislatures since I took my first teaching position in 1989.

Yet there is little public discussion about the education system’s central problem: Teachers don’t have enough time to do our jobs properly. Teachers unions understand this and fight to protect our ability to do our jobs.

Here’s one reason for teachers’ “time poverty”: Unlike other white-collar professionals, we face an enormous burden of clerical and low-level work.

In what other industry would four highly educated professionals wait in line for 20 minutes to use the one functional copier? Where else would a highly trained counselor spend 30 minutes making sure teenagers throw their juice cartons in the trash during lunchtime?

How Are Chicago Public Schools’ Teachers Getting Post-Strike Makeup Days Off?

Dana Kozlov:

The Chicago Teachers Union did not budge during its 11-day strike.

“We should return to work in the schools pending one thing – and that one thing is a return-to-work agreement,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said on the 11th and last day of the strike on Oct. 31.

The union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed to make up five instructional days. But now, not three weeks later, Pritzker Elementary School’s assistant principal sent a letter to parents about the Nov. 27, Jan. 2, and Jan. 3 makeup days, stating, “We anticipate a need or substitutes to cover the classes of teachers who have made advance plans for those days and will not be in attendance in school.”

The letter called on parents themselves to step in as substitute teachers. And principals say it is happening district-wide.

Kozlov asked Sharkey about all this.

Related: an emphasis on adult employment.

Don’t miss (Madison) Lighthouse Christian School’s stellar report card

Jim Bender:

As a district, Madison enrolls students who are 42% white, 14.5% with disabilities and 48.2% listed as economically disadvantaged. The Madison district report card score is 72.3

Lighthouse Christian enrolls students who are 90% of color, 14.8% with disabilities and 87% listed as economically disadvantaged. Their report card score is 83 based solely on students who attend using a state voucher.

Some schools have higher scores than Lighthouse in Madison. Van Hise Elementary has a report card score of 94.9. But it is also 63% white, 11% with disabilities and only 15% of students in poverty. The seven other schools in Madison with higher scores all have lower poverty and less diversity than Lighthouse.

The footprint of the Private School Choice Program in Madison is small but growing. In Milwaukee, where the population and number of participating private schools is larger, attention is often given to the performance of the many 80/80 schools

“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”.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Grading inconsistencies ‘not new’ with West ‘grading floor,’ Madison School District officials say

Scott Girard:

With no Madison Metropolitan School District policy on grading at the four comprehensive high schools, administrators and teachers have room to implement their own practices.

Bottom-up decisions can help get buy-in from the teachers and staff carrying out any changes, but also mean that changes happen on different timelines, like the recent change at West High School to institute “grading floors” for its freshmen students. While that seemingly creates an inconsistency among the high schools, MMSD executive director of secondary programming Cindy Green pointed out that consistency in grading hasn’t existed here for years.

“Because there is no board policy, teachers right now have the autonomy to develop their own grading practices and their own determination around assignment weights,” Green said. “It’s not new.”

Madison West high school has conducted several experiments over the years, including:

English 10

Small Learning Communities

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.

‘It’s just really important to learn’: Madison Teachers Union holds racial justice summits for MMSD staff

Scott Girard:

MTI staff member Kerry Motoviloff helped organize the monthly Racial Justice Summit gatherings, which are part of the union’s equity focus. They began last year, and were in development a year earlier as MTI received a grant funded through national teachers’ union dues.

The sessions’ popularity amid the district’s Black Excellence push made it an easy decision to bring them back this year, Motoviloff said, with the added benefit of the National Education Association testing out its EdJustice curriculum and bringing in national trainers once per month. 

Motoviloff, the MTI president-elect during the 2011 Act 10 protests, said it’s important for the union to make clear that it exists to do more than bargain with the school district over contracts. That bargaining is now relatively limited, given the maximum increase each year set by state law. Now, they’re trying to help teachers dive into a complex topic that can be tough to talk about with supervisors in the room.

Houston School District teachers union files motion to join takeover lawsuit as TEA seeks to dismiss it

Jacob Carpenter:

Houston ISD’s largest teachers union and three educators filed a legal motion Tuesday to join a lawsuit brought by HISD’s school board that aims to stop the Texas Education Agency from temporarily replacing elected trustees.

The move by the Houston Federation of Teachers, a union representing about 6,500 district employees, comes one day after state officials published a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing HISD’s school board “seeks a judicial escape route” from severe sanctions that “simply does not exist.”

The dueling motions mark the latest legal machinations in the battle between HISD leaders and Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, who announced earlier this month that he plans to oust the district’s elected trustees following a state investigation into allegations of trustee misconduct and chronically poor academic scores at Wheatley High School.

Internet freedom is declining around the world—and social media is to blame

Technology Review:

The news: Governments worldwide are increasingly using social media to manipulate elections and spy on citizens, think tank Freedom House has warned in its latest report. It’s the ninth year in a row that global internet freedom has dropped, according to its assessment of 65 countries.

A new menace: Disinformation—false information spread deliberately to deceive people—helped distort elections in 26 of the 30 countries studied that had national votes in the last year. Outright censorship and internet shutdowns persist, but many governments find it more effective to employ individuals to spread online propaganda, facilitated by social-media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, the report said.

Some figures: Of the 65 countries studied, half had an overall decline in their internet freedom score, while just 16 registered improvements. A majority were affected by advanced social-media surveillance programs, with law enforcement in 47 countries arresting people for political, social, or religious speech online.

People who never learned to read and write may be at increased risk for dementia.

Nicholas Bakalar:

Researchers studied 983 adults 65 and older with four or fewer years of schooling. Ninety percent were immigrants from the Dominican Republic, where there were limited opportunities for schooling. Many had learned to read outside of school, but 237 could not read or write.

Over an average of three and a half years, the participants periodically took tests of memory, language and reasoning.

Illiterate men and women were 2.65 times as likely as the literate to have dementia at the start of the study, and twice as likely to have developed it by the end. Illiterate people, however, did not show a faster rate of decline in skills than those who could read and write.

“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”.

It’s a Disservice to Urge Young People To Become Entrepreneurs

Jeffrey Tucker:

Young founders of businesses fail, almost certainly, and at a much greater rate that people who are much older, wiser, more skilled, and more knowledgeable about the industry. It turns out that succeeding in business is extremely difficult. It takes maturity above all else to achieve it. 

We know this now thanks to a fascinating studyby Javier Miranda, principal economist at the U.S. Census Bureau; Benjamin Jones, professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; and Pierre Azoulay, professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. They took a detailed look at the demographics of successful entrepreneurship. The results were so conclusive as to debunk the myth of the young startup founder. They paint a portrait that is much more consistent with your own intuition from experience. 

They conclude: “The mean age at founding for the 1-in-1,000 fastest growing new ventures is 45.0. The findings are similar when considering high-technology sectors, entrepreneurial hubs, and successful firm exits. Prior experience in the specific industry predicts much greater rates of entrepreneurial success.”

In other words, up with middle age! Actually, more precisely, up with experience, skills, discipline, and knowledge, all of which are more common among forty-somethings after two decades of work experience as compared with twenty-somethings. “Young people are just smarter,” says Mark Zuckerberg. Maybe so but it takes a lot more than that to make a successful enterprise. 

Civics: “Dark Money” and elections

Scott Bland and Maggie Severns:

The “green wave” of campaign cash that boosted Democrats and liberal causes in 2018 included an unprecedented gusher of secret money, new documents obtained by POLITICO show. 

The Sixteen Thirty Fund, a little-known nonprofit headquartered in Washington, spent $141 million on more than 100 left-leaning causes during the midterm election year, according to a new tax filing from the group. The money contributed to efforts ranging from fighting Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and other Trump judicial nominees to boosting ballot measures raising the minimum wage and changing laws on voting and redistricting in numerous states.

Massachusetts’ K-12 tax & Spending Changes

Adrian Walker:

Passing any spending bill of this magnitude is a heavy lift. This was pushed over the past few years by a significant coalition of legislators, teachers unions, and community activists who never stopped building a movement. Even after the deal fell apart last year — and the end was ugly — reaching an agreement never felt impossible, because by then so many parties were invested in finding a solution.

The bill gives more money to districts with large concentrations of students in poverty and students of color. It also gives the state approval over how individual districts spend their newfound cash. That was one of the most contentious issues between the House and Senate, with the Senate pushing for less top-down control — a battle the House ultimately won in conference.

What was it like, I asked Chang-Díaz, to see the measure on which she spent years pass without being in the room negotiating for it?

“I don’t lament not being as involved,” she said. “I’ve been involved, just in a different role.”

Next Generation of Americans Will Embrace Socialism If We Lose ‘War on History’

Jarrett Stenman:

As young Americans are losing an understanding of civics and American history, they increasingly embrace socialism.

An annual poll conducted for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation again found that the younger generations have a far sunnier view of socialism and communism than their elders.

Some of the findings from the YouGov survey, released Oct. 28, were deeply worrisome.

According to the poll, 70% of millennials responded that they are likely or extremely likely to vote for a “socialist.” About 50% said they have an unfavorable view of capitalism.

“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”

Civics: Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers the 19th Annual Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture at the Federalist Society’s 2019 National Lawyers Convention

Willam Barr:

First, let me say a little about what the Framers had in mind in establishing an independent Executive in Article II of the Constitution.

The grammar school civics class version of our Revolution is that it was a rebellion against monarchial tyranny, and that, in framing our Constitution, one of the main preoccupations of the Founders was to keep the Executive weak.  This is misguided.  By the time of the Glorious Revolution of 1689, monarchical power was effectively neutered and had begun its steady decline.  Parliamentary power was well on its way to supremacy and was effectively in the driver’s seat.  By the time of the American Revolution, the patriots well understood that their prime antagonist was an overweening Parliament.  Indeed, British thinkers came to conceive of Parliament, rather than the people, as the seat of Sovereignty. 

During the Revolutionary era, American thinkers who considered inaugurating a republican form of government tended to think of the Executive component as essentially an errand boy of a Supreme legislative branch.  Often the Executive (sometimes constituted as a multi-member council) was conceived as a creature of the Legislature, dependent on and subservient to that body, whose sole function was carrying out the Legislative will.  Under the Articles of Confederation, for example, there was no Executive separate from Congress. 

Things changed by the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  To my mind, the real “miracle” in Philadelphia that summer was the creation of a strong Executive, independent of, and coequal with, the other two branches of government.

The consensus for a strong, independent Executive arose from the Framers’ experience in the Revolution and under the Articles of Confederation.  They had seen that the War had almost been lost and was a bumbling enterprise because of the lack of strong Executive leadership.  Under the Articles of Confederation, they had been mortified at the inability of the United States to protect itself against foreign impositions or to be taken seriously on the international stage.  They had also seen that, after the Revolution, too many States had adopted constitutions with weak Executives overly subordinate to the Legislatures.  Where this had been the case, state governments had proven incompetent and indeed tyrannical.

From these practical experiences, the Framers had come to appreciate that, to be successful, Republican government required the capacity to act with energy, consistency and decisiveness.  They had come to agree that those attributes could best be provided by making the Executive power independent of the divided counsels of the Legislative branch and vesting the Executive power in the hands of a solitary individual, regularly elected for a limited term by the Nation as a whole. As Jefferson put it, ‘[F]or the prompt, clear, and consistent action so necessary in an Executive, unity of person is necessary….”

While there may have been some differences among the Framers as to the precise scope of Executive power in particular areas, there was general agreement about its nature.  Just as the great separation-of-powers theorists– Polybius, Montesquieu, Locke – had, the Framers thought of Executive power as a distinct specie of power.  To be sure, Executive power includes the responsibility for carrying into effect the laws passed by the Legislature – that is, applying the general rules to a particular situation.  But the Framers understood that Executive power meant more than this.

It also entailed the power to handle essential sovereign functions – such as the conduct of foreign relations and the prosecution of war – which by their very nature cannot be directed by a pre-existing legal regime but rather demand speed, secrecy, unity of purpose, and prudent judgment to meet contingent circumstances.  They agreed that – due to the very nature of the activities involved, and the kind of decision-making they require – the Constitution generally vested authority over these spheres in the Executive.  For example, Jefferson, our first Secretary of State, described the conduct of foreign relations as “Executive altogether,” subject only to the explicit exceptions defined in the Constitution, such as the Senate’s power to ratify Treaties.

A related, and third aspect of Executive power is the power to address exigent circumstances that demand quick action to protect the well-being of the Nation but on which the law is either silent or inadequate – such as dealing with a plague or natural disaster.  This residual power to meet contingency is essentially the federative power discussed by Locke in his Second Treatise.

“Limits” on Presidential power are an evergreen topic.

Educational Earthquake: ‘Disappearing’ the Great Writers From Schools

Barbara Kay

The Greater Essex County District School Board in the Windsor, Ont., area is supplanting its grade 11 literature curriculum, which up to now has featured great writers of the western canon such as Shakespeare and George Orwell, with a year-long program of Indigenous writers. The change has already been effected in eight of the district’s 15 schools.

In the Peel district as well, I am informed by a reader, the same transformation is in progress. It would be naïve to assume that these schools will remain anomalies for long. The “disappearing” of dead white European male writers, however magnificent their achievements, may well be normalized across Canada before long.

It is hard to overstate the alarming implications of this educational earthquake. Deliberately withholding Shakespeare from young minds is a form of aesthetic starvation, but depriving them of Orwell is a moral crime. It is from Orwell’s “Animal Farm” that young minds first grasp the nature of totalitarian evil, whether it arises from the left or the right, and understand the preciousness of their freedoms.

Property taxes would spike under Milwaukee Schools’ referendum scenarios

Annysa Johnson:

Providing Milwaukee Public Schools students with a top-of-the-line education could cost as much as $640 million more a year in operating costs alone, more than doubling local property tax bills, district officials and their financial advisers told members of MPS’ referendum task force.

The figure appeared to shock at least some members of the ad hoc panel during a meeting Monday evening. And they cautioned against asking taxpayers for too much, saying a defeat at the polls could hinder MPS’ prospects for a referendum for years. 

“The last time you had a referendum was 25 years ago,” said Alan Shoho, dean of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Education, who suggested the task force not recommend a figure at all, but leave that up to the school board.

Madison is planning a substantial 2020 referendum.

Right-Wing Populism, Social Media and Echo Chambers in Western Democracies

Shelley Boulianne, Karolina Koc-Michalska and Bruce Bimber:

Abstract: Many observers are concerned that echo chamber effects in digital media are contributing to the polarization of publics and in some places to the rise of right-wing populism. This study employs survey data collected in France, the United Kingdom, and United States (1500 respondents in each country) from April to May 2017. Overall, we do not find evidence that online/social media explain support for right-wing populist candidates and parties. Instead, in the USA, use of online media decreases support for right-wing populism. Looking specifically at echo chambers measures, we find offline discussion with those who are similar in race, ethnicity, and class positively correlates with support for populist candidates and parties in the UK and France. The findings challenge claims about the role of social media and the rise of populism.

Keywords: populism, social media, digital media, echo chambers, political discussion,

Shares in students: nifty finance or indentured servitude?

Archie Hall:

Combine a crisis in college affordability with yield-starved investors and you get one of the more unusual financial products of the past decade: shares in students.

Income share agreements are an alternative to student loans that are gaining ground in the US. From only a handful several years ago, this academic year almost 50 American universities and technical academies offer them. Next year, about 100 will. 

A student funding their education with an ISA gets money upfront in exchange for offering a share of their income after graduation — ranging from nothing if they are unemployed or on a low salary to potentially several multiples of what they received. Graduates continue paying a slice of their income until the ISA expires, usually after about a decade, or when they hit a repayment cap. Risk, in short, is shifted from borrower to lender.

“They might go backpacking for eight years and not pay you a dime, they’d be well within their rights,” said Charles Trafton, president of Edly, a recently-launched marketplace in New York that connects investors with ISA programmes.

ISAs are not a new idea — Yale briefly offered one in the 1970s — but today a group of universities, investors, and start-ups claim they have managed to make ISAs work. If they are right, ISAs could be part of the answer to the mounting US student debt burden, sitting at more than $1.5tn, that has become a central issue for those competing for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Pending Reading Legislation

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email

AB 110, creating a Wisconsin guidebook on dyslexia and related conditions, passed the Assembly earlier this year and passed, with an amendment, the Senate Education Committee at the end of the summer. However, the bill has not yet been brought to the Senate floor for a vote. Meanwhile, other bills introduced at the same time are already at Governor Evers’ office waiting for his signature. If you are interested in action on AB 110 during this legislative session, contact Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Roger Roth, Senate President, and your own state senator to ask that this bill be scheduled as soon as possible.

Other reading-related legislation is progressing. The following bills now have numbers. We urge you to contact your representatives in the Assembly and Senate with your support. You can find your legislators here by entering your address.
AB 595/SB 555: providing funding for teachers teachers seeking or maintaining certain structured literacy certifications
AB 601/SB 552: requiring school district educators and administrators to view an online dyslexia awareness module
AB 602/SB553: requiring dyslexia screening for Wisconsin prison inmates
AB 594/SB 554: requiring teacher preparation programs to align reading instruction with the Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading
AB 603: requiring DPI to publish Foundations of Reading Test scores annually by October 31st
AB 604: requiring school boards to adopt or develop a program to identify and address students with dyslexia


The Chippewa Falls Area School District is seeking a part-time LTE, Title I teacher to serve elementary and middle school students in the McDonell Area Catholic Schools. Pay is $38,000 – $40,000 depending on experience. Contact Mary Huffcutt at

The Role of Resiliency in the Classroom: Why Not All Children Respond to Reading Instruction, and What Teachers Need to Know

This FREE symposium with online attendance option is now open for registration

Monday, March 9, 2020
7:30 – 2:30 Central Time


  • Stephanie Al Otaiba, Ph.D.
  • Fumiko Hoeft, MD, Ph.D.
  • Maureen Lovett, Ph.D.
  • Fireside chat with Emily Hanford


The Academic Language Therapy Association, with a growing number of certified members in Wisconsin, has created a Great Lakes chapter to serve Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Watch for professional development opportunities beginning in February, 2020. Follow the chapter on Facebook at ALTA Great Lakes. Congratulations to Wisconsinite Dr Tammy Tillotson, who will serve as chapter president.

In-Person Requests Are More Effective Than Electronic Ones

Vanessa Bohns:

Imagine you need people to donate to a cause you care about. How do you get as many people as possible to donate? You could send an email to 200 of your friends, family members, and acquaintances. Or you could ask a few of the people you encounter in a typical day—face-to-face—to donate. Which method would mobilize more people for your cause?

Despite the reach of email, asking in person is the significantly more effective approach; you need to ask six people in person to equal the power of a 200-recipient email blast. Still, most people tend to think the email ask will be more effective.

In research Mahdi Roghanizad of Western University and I conducted, recently published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, we have found that people tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via text-based communication, and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication.

In one study, we had 45 participants ask 450 strangers (10 strangers each) to complete a brief survey. All participants made the exact same request following the exact same script; however, half of the participants made their requests over email, while the other half asked face-to-face.

We found that people were much more likely to agree to complete a survey when they were asked in-person as opposed to over email. These findings are consistent with previous research showing that people are more likely to comply with requests in person than over email.

The magical world of Japanese anime has become the reality of Hong Kong protesters

Vivienne Chow:

He is a petite, 14-year-old introvert who wants nothing more than a simple, quiet life and to reconnect with his estranged father. But destiny plays a joke on him, throwing him onto the front lines of brutal battles, fighting monstrous enemies over and over again. Confused and traumatized, he tries to run away. But when he realizes he cannot escape from his fate as a child warrior, he fights on.

That’s the trajectory of Shinji Ikari, the protagonist of Hideaki Anno’s 1995 sci-fi anime classic Neon Genesis Evangelion, which began streaming on Netflix in June. The show revolves around his physical and psychological struggles as he accepts his father’s request to pilot Evangelion Unit 01, a powerful giant cyborg designed to fight the beings known as Angels. Ikari initially fights to win the approval of his father, the head of a secret military organization. Eventually he accepts his fate as the only one who can stop the Human Instrumentality Project, which aims to merge all human souls into one entity.

Rural Wisconsin STEM teachers build connections to researchers at UW event

Yvonne Kim:

Science and math teacher Jessica Dennis, who represented Washington Island, called her island district a “magical place” where students don’t just learn about wood or Lyme disease on paper. Instead, they have direct access to wooded areas that directly influence what they’re learning based on their surroundings.

In the Pecatonica Area School District, high school science teacher Jacob Roberts said he enjoys the flexibility to change up his lesson plans day to day in a small district. For instance, he teaches climate change by referencing rates of flooding in the Pecatonica River, and “the students get that right away. It’s not political to them.”

“Where you live should not limit your opportunity,” Roberts said. “Sometimes we can’t afford some of the expensive scientific experiments without grants … so we need to continually seek out ways to get students in contact with technology and opportunities and re-instill in them that they’re capable of great things regardless of where they live.”

Northwestern University, the cancel culture and ‘Whatsoever things are true’

John Kaas:

What happened to the editors of The Daily Northwestern is that they are students, they are young. And they have not yet grown the hard bark that, now more than ever, is necessary to do the job of a journalist.

They’re young people raised in the cancel culture dominated by the left, a culture that is all about feelings and shame, and the student editors did what their culture demanded.

They caved to the mob.

What’s been missing from some of the more simplistic criticism is an examination of the cancel culture that groomed the students so that they’d censor themselves and capitulate on demand.

Most of you know the rough facts of it. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a supporter of President Donald Trump, visited NU for a talk with college Republicans.

Why we should worry more about school equity than desegregation

Richard Milner:

In the landmark 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court declared state laws establishing separate schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional.

However, many schools remained largely segregated even after the ruling.

When some schools eventually became racially desegregated, systems of inequity proliferated, ensuring that students from different races would still remain separate in schools and that black students in particular would be negatively affected.

Segregation by a different name

One example of an inequitable practice that was rooted in school’s deliberate attempt to maintain segregation was tracking. Many black students were, and still are, tracked into remedial, special education and regular tracked courses while many white students were tracked in accelerated and gifted programs.

The Education Marketplace: The Predictors of School Growth and Closures in Milwaukee

Corey DeAngelis & Will Flanders

Few evaluations have focused on the supply and demand within the education marketplace in a school choice environment. Because traditional public schools are not subject to the same level of competitive pressures as private schools, we expect that measures of school quality—enrollment, academic achievement, and safety—will be more likely to predict closures for private schools and public charter schools than Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). We employ survival analysis using data from private, traditional public, and public charter schools in Milwaukee from 2005 to 2016. Data on enrollment trends, demographics, and academic performance from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction were combined with data from other sources on school safety and closure. Results from our models suggest: (a) enrollment losses drive school closure in all three sectors, (b) low academic achievement only predicts closure for private schools, (c) families choose schools based on academics in all three sectors, and (d) academics and school safety are positively correlated.

U.S. Workers Show Little Improvement in 21st Century Skills

Virginia Van Natta:

U.S. workers are failing to improve the skills needed to succeed in an increasingly global economy, according to a government agency report released Friday.

The National Center for Education Statisticsasked 3,300 respondents ages 16-to-65 to read simple passages and solve basic math problems. What the researchers found is that literacy, numeracy and digital problem-solving ability in the U.S. have stagnated over the past few years.

Recruit to Reject? Harvard and African American Applicants

Peter Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler, Tyler Ransom:

Over the past 20 years, elite colleges in the US have seen dramatic increases in applications. We provide context for part of this trend using detailed data on Harvard University that was unsealed as part of the SFFA v. Harvard lawsuit. We show that Harvard encourages applications from many students who effectively have no chance of being admitted, and that this is particularly true for African Americans. African American applications soared beginning with the Class of 2009, with the increase driven by those with lower SAT scores. Yet there was little change in the share of admits who were African American. We show that this change in applicant behavior resulted in substantial convergence in the overall admissions rates across races yet no change in the large cross-race differences in admissions rates for high-SAT applicants.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Lone Star State voters pass new protection against an income tax

Wall Street Journal:

Texas has become one of America’s fastest-growing states, thanks in part to its lack of a state income tax. So it was encouraging last week when Lone Star State voters made it even more difficult to impose such a tax.

The Texas constitution since 1993 has barred the Legislature from imposing an income tax without the approval of voters in a statewide referendum. But with progressives working hard to turn Texas into another California, voters decided to raise the bar. Proposition 4 changes the state constitution to require income-tax legislation to win two-thirds support in both legislative chambers and majority approval in a referendum. It passed with 74% of the vote.

Nine states have no personal income tax, and Texas is the latest to protect a political model that leads to higher GDP growth, employment and wages. Tennessee voters in 2014 backed 2-to-1 a constitutional amendment banning its Legislature from introducing taxes on payroll or earned personal income. Last year a super-majority of Florida voters supported a constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the Legislature to raise current taxes or enact new ones.

Madison West High School to test ‘grading floor’ as part of district examination of freshman grading

Logan Wroge:

In an effort to keep students who fail early in their high school careers from falling completely out of school, ninth grade teachers at Madison’s West High School are planning to assign classroom grades of no less than 40%, eliminate extra credit and allow up to 90% credit for late work in required classes.

Madison’s largest high school plans to implement several changes to grading practices this year — primarily meant to keep freshman on-track to graduate during a time when slips in academic performance are not unusual — while other changes school-wide are being sought to create consistent expectations for grading.

Among the changes sought this year for all ninth grade core classes, which are required courses in English, math, science, social studies and physical education, is the idea of a “grading floor,” which would mean an assignment could receive no less than 40% regardless of whether it is completed. A 40% would still result in a failing grade.

West High Principal Karen Boran said moving to a grading floor in the required freshman classes could prevent a “super F” — assignments and tests receiving a zero, which can drag down students’ overall average grades and prevent them from catching up in a class.

“Traditionally, grades are given out on a 100-point grading scale, so you have 60 points to get it wrong, to fail. You have 40 points to get it right,” Boran said. “Once you get a couple of F’s, you can’t come back from that.”

Mike Hernandez, the district’s chief of high schools, said grading floors are also being tested at freshman classes in the other high schools, such as U.S. History at La Follette High School and algebra at East High School.

Madison West high school has conducted several experiments over the years, including:

English 10

Small Learning Communities

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.

After unapologetically teaching to the ACT, this tiny Wisconsin district now ranks among the state’s best

Samantha West:

“We had all the pieces we needed for success,” said Bruggink, who first came to Oostburg as a student teacher and worked his way up to superintendent. “So was there a way we could harness that, that we could bring all that together?”

He turned to his teachers for ideas. Together, and with the assistance of a two-year transformation program, they rethought the whole business of education at Oostburg, and they settled on some surprising conclusions:

  • Teachers should have more power to figure out how to teach their own students.

  • Students needed to be encouraged to be more ambitious at an earlier age — whether their plans included a four-year college, a two-year tech school or heading straight into the workforce.

  • And Oostburg’s schools really should teach to the test — often viewed cynically as a sign of systemic wrongheadedness — because the test had the same goals as the schools did. But not quite in the way you’d think.

Seven years later, the results are hard to argue with.

‘You’re welding now’: Madison high schoolers get close look at working in trades

Scott Girard:

WRTP/Big Step South Central site director Bill Clingan said it was “a great week” watching the students interact and learn about the different options. As ironworker Ace Ashford repeatedly told the students, the chance to try out some of the work showed them a different post-high school option, not to discourage them from college.

“If you’re not sure about what you want to do, get yourself a skilled trade,” he said.

He and others mentioned the opportunity to make money while learning through an apprenticeship, the pay and pensions for eventual retirement as great reasons to consider working in the trades. District career and technical education specialist Sue Schultz said students have “a-ha moments” during the week.

Why my college pals went to Yale while my high school friends went to jail

Rob Henderson:

“If my parents got divorced when I was a kid I’d definitely be in jail right now.”

A fellow student at Yale said this when I pointed out that all of my friends at the university, including the ones who, like me, served in the military, were raised by both of their parents. He told me that when he was in high school, he just barely avoided getting into serious trouble because of his stable family.

This was not the case for my high-school friends. I was born into poverty to a drug-addicted mother. My dad abandoned us. I grew up in foster homes in Los Angeles and was later adopted into a home in Northern California. A year later, my adoptive parents got divorced. My adoptive father, angry at my mother for leaving him, decided to stop talking to me as a way to get back at her.

Czech university mired in Chinese influence scandal

Kathrin Hille in Taipei and James Shotter:

Prague’s Charles University is being shaken by a scandal over secret Chinese payments to four of its faculty members, amid concerns that Beijing could use its ties with some Czech politicians to build influence in academia.

The university, one of the world’s oldest academic institutions, fired Milos Balaban, until recently head of the university’s Centre for Security Policy (SBP), and two other members of the social sciences faculty last week. The move came after the school discovered they had set up a private company under the name of SBP which was paid by the Chinese embassy for conferences co-organised by the university centre.

The payments, first revealed by Czech news outlet Aktualne, have triggered a university probe of several companies owned by Mr Balaban, Mirka Kortusová, a financial and project manager at the CSP, and Libor Stejskal and Jan Ludvík, two research fellows at the centre.

“In light of current findings, we can see how vulnerable universities are to foreign influence,” said faculty spokesman Jakub Riman. “We believe this is a broad risk and we aim to prevent anything like that from repeating in the future and getting to the bottom of it.”

Schoolchildren Propel Hong Kong Protests

Natasha Khan, Joyu Wang and Frances Yoon:

Before the 8 a.m. bell rings at high schools across the city, uniformed students at some of them gather to join hands, chanting protest slogans or singing “the revolution of our times,” words from a popular protest anthem.

Hong Kong officials had expressed hope the city’s biggest protest movement in decades would begin to subside when classes resumed in September.

Instead, violence between demonstrators and police has intensified, producing some of the bloodiest days since the protests began in June—and schools have become a driver of the city’s uprising against China’s ruling party.

This week, clashes paralyzed Hong Kong, disrupting commutes and shutting down schools. Violence escalated Thursday when protesters at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University shot arrows at policemen, who responded with volleys of tear gas. Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking at a summit in Brazil Thursday, blamed protesters for the violence and urged a tough police response.

Confrontations between protesters and police have turned university campuses into battle zones. Clashes at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and other universities prompted hundreds of mainland Chinese students to flee. The action on college campuses is bolstered by protesters not yet old enough to attend; high school students are turning up at the forefront of battles throughout the city.

“But top universities are also crucial for induction into the luxury belief class”

Rob Henderson:

Take vocabulary. Your typical middle-class American could not tell you what “heteronormative” or “cisgender” means. But if you visit Harvard, you’ll find plenty of rich 19-year-olds who will eagerly explain them to you. When someone uses the phrase “cultural appropriation,” what they are really saying is “I was educated at a top college.” Consider the Veblen quote, “Refined tastes, manners, habits of life are a useful evidence of gentility, because good breeding requires time, application and expense, and can therefore not be compassed by those whose time and energy are taken up with work.” Only the affluent can afford to learn strange vocabulary because ordinary people have real problems to worry about.

The chief purpose of luxury beliefs is to indicate evidence of the believer’s social class and education. Only academics educated at elite institutions could have conjured up a coherent and reasonable-sounding argument for why parents should not be allowed to raise their kids, and should hold baby lotteries instead. When an affluent person advocates for drug legalization, or anti-vaccination policies, or open borders, or loose sexual norms, or uses the term “white privilege,” they are engaging in a status display. They are trying to tell you, “I am a member of the upper class.”

Affluent people promote open borders or the decriminalization of drugs because it advances their social standing, not least because they know that the adoption of those policies will cost them less than others. The logic is akin to conspicuous consumption—if you’re a student who has a large subsidy from your parents and I do not, you can afford to waste $900 and I can’t, so wearing a Canada Goose jacket is a good way of advertising your superior wealth and status. Proposing policies that will cost you as a member of the upper class less than they would cost me serve the same function. Advocating for open borders and drug experimentation are good ways of advertising your membership of the elite because, thanks to your wealth and social connections, they will cost you less than me.

Unfortunately, the luxury beliefs of the upper class often trickle down and are adopted by people lower down the food chain, which means many of these beliefs end up causing social harm. Take polyamory. I had a revealing conversation recently with a student at an elite university. He said that when he sets his Tinder radius to five miles, about half of the women, mostly other students, said they were “polyamorous” in their bios. Then, when he extended the radius to 15 miles to include the rest of the city and its outskirts, about half of the women were single mothers. The costs created by the luxury beliefs of the former are borne by the latter. Polyamory is the latest expression of sexual freedom championed by the affluent. They are in a better position to manage the complications of novel relationship arrangements. And if these relationships don’t work out, they can recover thanks to their financial capability and social capital. The less fortunate suffer by adopting the beliefs of the upper class.

In 2029, the Internet Will Make Us Act Like Medieval Peasants

Max Read:

Paradoxically, the ephemerality — and sheer volume — of text on social media is re-creating the circumstances of a preliterate society: a world in which information is quickly forgotten and nothing can be easily looked up. (Like Irish monks copying out Aristotle, Google and Facebook will collect and sort the world’s knowledge; like the medieval Catholic church, they’ll rigorously control its presentation and accessibility.) Under these conditions, memorability and concision — you know, the same qualities you might say make someone good at Twitter — will be more highly prized than strength of argument, and effective political leaders, for whom the factual truth is less important than the perpetual reinscription of a durable myth, will focus on repetitive self-aggrandizement.

K-12 tax & spending climate: Entitlement Liabilities Are a Graver Threat to the Next Generation of Americans Than Climate Change

John Phelan:

On January 31, 1940, Miss Ida Fuller received a check for $22.54. She was the first person to retire under the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) scheme, better known as Social Security. At the time of her retirement in 1939, she had paid just $22 in Social Security taxes. Ms. Fuller lived to be 100, cashing over $20,000 worth of Social Security checks.

If she had only paid $22.54 in contributions, where did the $20,000 Ms. Fuller received in Social Security payouts come from? It came, as it does now, from the taxpayers of the day. As of 2019, your employer deducts 6.2 percent of your wages up to $132,900 a year, matches this amount, and sends it to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA deposits this with the Treasury, which spends it and receives Treasury bonds in return. This is the fabled trust fund that guarantees Social Security.

But these Treasury bonds are simply IOUs redeemable against the income of tomorrow’s taxpayers. When one of the Treasury bonds held by the SSA falls due for payment, the Treasury can only get the funds to meet this liability by taxing, borrowing (taxing the taxpayers of tomorrow), or printing money (imposing an inflation tax). In each case, what really guarantees Social Security is not the money you paid in but the earnings of today’s or tomorrow’s taxpayers.