Madison East teacher pleads not guilty to attempted child porn creation charges

Ed Treleven:

A Madison East High School business and marketing teacher, accused of trying to create child pornography with hidden cameras of unwitting members of the school’s business club, appeared before a packed courtroom in the federal courthouse Thursday, as many of those attending watched in tears.

David M. Kruchten, 37, of Cottage Grove, who was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday and arrested at his home Thursday morning, didn’t look back at the gallery as marshals brought him into court wearing a green T-shirt, dark gray athletic pants and leg irons to face seven counts of attempting to produce child pornography.

The din of cries and sobs was constant in the small courtroom as dozens of current and recent East students listened while U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Oppeneer ordered Kruchten to remain jailed until at least next Wednesday. Another hearing will be held to decide whether Kruchten can be released until he faces a trial on the charges.

The gallery was filled almost entirely with young women suspecting they may be victims of Kruchten, along with their parents and supporters, according to attendees who declined to be identified.

Through his lawyer, federal defender Joseph Bugni, Kruchten pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Students and parents, some who appeared shaken, left the courthouse without speaking to gathered media after Thursday’s hearing.

Steven Elbow and Scott Girard:

The incident during the two-day trip with 15 students on Dec. 6 to Dec. 8 has roiled the school’s popular business-oriented DECA program, and school district officials have offered counseling and other services to the alleged victims. 

Kruchten was placed on administrative leave after the trip, during which multiple students who were staying at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis discovered hidden video recording devices. As of Thursday, he remained employed with the district and on administrative leave.

The charges apparently relate to incidents other than the Minneapolis trip.

A grand jury indictment unsealed by the U.S. Western District Court after his arrest charges Kruchten with seven counts of attempting to produce child pornography. The charges involve seven different victims. Each count carries a penalty of between 15 and 30 years in prison.

Each count charges him with using hidden recording devices. 

“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 Don’t Talk About College

Lisa Van Damme:

Years ago, I accompanied an 8th-grade student I had homeschooled as she visited prospective high schools. At one school, the director of admissions welcomed us and then proceeded to assault my student with the information that entry to college had become highly competitive, and she must therefore chart the right course through the right high school to stand even a chance of admission to the better colleges. She then proceeded to sell the school with the following: my student would need to take multiple AP courses—this school offered a wide variety; she would need to complete the IB program—they were honored to be a member school; she would need to be competitive in a sport and ambitious in an extra-curricular activity—they had many from which to choose. As the director mapped out all that my student must do (with the unquestioned assumption that admission to Harvard was her foremost educational goal), I looked over—and saw her wilt.

This was a child of whom I had endless vivid, touching stories from the classroom—stories of her gasping out loud when she was irrepressibly moved by a passage from Victor Hugo’s Ninety-Three; stories of her eagerly recreating science lessons at home with her parents as students; stories of her writing with ferocious confidence (though she had previously loathed writing), because, she said, I taught her how. Now, before both our eyes, education was becoming nothing about the development of invaluable, life-long skills, nothing about the discovery of joy and utility in the acquisition of knowledge, nothing about the deepening of a capacity for emotional experience. Admission to high school was about… admission to college, which was about…

The answer to that was nothing more than a vague, unstated apprehension of doom.

Civics: Beware the Long Arm of the Law

Lyle Jeremy Rubin:

A short answer to these questions can be found in a January 9 posting on Foreign Policy’s website, co-written by two senior fellows at the Middle East Institute, a reputable think tank known for producing bien pensant foreign policy opinion on the Chevron or United Arab Emirates dime, among others. The authors urge more “defense institution-building,” specifically a 60 percent increase in funding for programs like the Ministry of Defense Advisors and Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, venues where U.S. troops would continue to “actively mentor, advise, and train” Iraqi soldiers. The article focuses on military support, but it is likely these upgrades would be accompanied by a U.S. civilian police presence. Advisors to the bipartisan Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States have long pushed for increased police mentorship in countries like Iraq or Afghanistan, including the repeal of Section 660, an obscure law that constricts the ability of the U.S. government to train police forces abroad.

Section 660, as it happens, was introduced in 1975, and was designed to prevent the kinds of human rights abuses that plagued mentorship programs in Latin America throughout the Cold War. This brings us to the longer answer to the question about what mental pictures are hidden by Duckworth’s verbiage. It is an answer that Stuart Schrader explores in his recent work of scholarship, Badges Without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing.

The Way We Write History Has Changed

Alexis Madrigal::

History, as a discipline, comes out of the archive. The archive is not the library, but something else entirely. Libraries spread knowledge that’s been compressed into books and other media. Archives are where collections of papers are stored, usually within a library’s inner sanctum: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s papers, say, at the New York Public Library. Or Record Group 31 at the National Archives—a set of Federal Housing Administration documents from the 1930s to the ’70s. Usually, an archive contains materials from the people and institutions near it. So, the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford contains everything from Atari’s business plans to HP co-founder William Hewlett’s correspondence.

While libraries have become central actors in the digitization of knowledge, archives have generally resisted this trend. They are still almost overwhelmingly paper. Traditionally, you’d go to a place like this and sit there, day after day, “turning every page,” as the master biographer Robert Caro put it. You might spend weeks, months, or, like Caro, years working through all the boxes, taking extensive notes and making some (relatively expensive) photocopies. Fewer and fewer people have the time, money, or patience to do that. (If they ever did.)

Old People Have All the Interesting Jobs in America

Tyler Cowen:

Why so many of America’s best and brightest college graduates go into management consulting, finance or law school is a perennial question. There are some compelling theories, which I will get to, but first I would like to turn the question around: Why are so many people in top positions, whether in the public or private sector, so old?

I submit that these two trends — and a third, declining productivity growth — are related: Many tasks have become increasingly complex in America, often more complex than people can learn in just a few years. By the time you have experience enough to perform them, you are less interested in taking risks. In your young adventurous years, by contrast, the only jobs you can get are those that don’t reward (or allow) adventure. The result of all this is a less audacious America.

Start with the Ivy Leaguers. I have no rancor against lawyers, financiers or management consultants, but the pursuit of these careers seems like a misallocation of human creativity. Those jobs do not comprise most of the value of the U.S. economy, so why are they such a magnet?

An emphasis on adult employment:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Teacher in-retirement & pension change proposal from 55 to 59.5 (!)

Riley Vetterkind:

Felzkowski and Stroebel say the bill would make it easier for retired teachers to fill workforce shortages in local school districts in order to meet the needs of students. Since 2009-10, the number of Wisconsin teachers has declined by 1,338, or 2.2%, while the number of public school students over the same time frame decreased by 2,269 , or 0.5%, according to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

“While I think the teacher shortage has pushed our districts toward really creative solutions, we are reaching a tipping point where even these innovations will not be able to shield a district from feeling the effects of these shortages down the road,” Felzkowski said. “One of the best resources to address this issue is at our fingertips — retired educators.”

But the bill comes with a catch that its authors argue would account for the change and ensure the continued integrity of the Wisconsin Retirement System: Raising the minimum retirement age at which a participant may begin collecting benefits from 55 to 59½. The change would only affect employees under the age of 40 at the time the bill becomes law, and would also exclude protective service occupations, such as police officers and firefighters.

An emphasis on adult employment:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee.

Best public schools are redlined

Joanne Jacobs:

In Chicago’s Old Town, children who live north of North Avenue go to top-rated Lincoln Elementary (63 percent white, 14 percent low-income), while those south of the line go to low-rated Manierre (96 percent black, 4 percent, Latino, 93 percent low-income).

“At the end of the 2018–19 school year, not a single eighth grader from Manierre was proficient in reading, compared to 81 percent of Lincoln eighth graders,” writes Tim DeRoche on Quillette. The schools are one mile apart.

In many cities, the best public schools are open to children of affluent families, who pay a premium to live near “good” schools, he writes. Segregation by race and family income is enforced by school districts.

The district spent $19 million to expand Lincoln, when it was overcrowded, so no students would have to be sent to Manierre, writes DeRoche. Now there are some empty seats, but nobody south of the line is admitted.

Manierre has lost students to magnets, charters and private schools. The district had proposed closing it and sending students to another low-performing school in another gang’s neighborhood. That proved politically impossible

The Science of Reading

Leila Fletcher (Madison West High School Senior):

Simpson Street Free Press is invested in and applies the science of reading with our students. We have for decades.

It is true, however, that debates about reading instruction continue. Teachers and reading specialists continually discuss—and dispute—what methods of reading instruction are truly most effective, and ultimately, what method should be used in our schools.

Today, in our country, reading levels continue to decrease; only two-thirds of fourth graders can read at grade level, which leads to high school seniors still unable to meet proficiency. The numbers in Wisconsin are among the worst in the country. And reading results in Madison are at crisis level.

Many experts believe this is a result of the instructional methods that teachers nationwide are instructed in and taught to use. These instructional methods, called the “three-cueing” system, teach students compensation strategies that struggling readers come to depend on after falling behind without having learned to read. All students in three-cueing classrooms are being taught this way, and as reading researcher David Kilpatrick has noted, “[t]he three-cueing system is the way poor readers read.”

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Commentary on School Choice and Madison’s K-12 climate

David Blaska:

BULLETIN: Channel 3000 is reporting that “Several schools in Madison were on lockout status Wednesday morning because of a shooting, according to the Madison Metropolitan School District. Sennett Middle School, East High School, La Follette High School and Nuestro Mundo Community School were affected.

When you don’t have facts or reason, you try to drown out the speaker. Which is what protestors at the WI State Capitol attempted Tuesday (01-28-2020) in Madison as Vice President Mike Pence promoted school choice in the rotunda of the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison WI. 

If you are The Capital Times, servile mouthpiece of the ruling liberal-progressive-socialist hegemony here in Madison — you hurl spittle-flecked diatribe invectives. Only “lackeys” of “the usual cabal of billionaire[s] support school choice, says Dane County’s Progressive Voice.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Meanwhile, Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 district continues to plan for a substantial tax & spending increase referendum this fall.

Huge archive of old military maps published

Ian Visits:

Over 3,000 military maps, views and prints collected by King George III have been digitised and published online free to visit by the Royal Collection.

The culmination of ten years of research by Dr Yolande Hodson to catalogue one of George III’s most prized collections, the new website makes these important documents publicly available for the first time and allows them to be explored in minute detail.

No just of considerable academic interest — but just stunning to browse and look at.

Commentary on The Intellectual and Moral Decline in Academic Research

Edward Archer:

For most of the past century, the United States was the pre-eminent nation in science and technology. The evidence for that is beyond dispute: Since 1901, American researchers have won more Nobel prizes in medicine, chemistry, and physics than any other nation. Given our history of discovery, innovation, and success, it is not surprising that across the political landscape Americans consider the funding of scientific research to be both a source of pride and a worthy investment.

Nevertheless, in his 1961 farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned that the pursuit of government grants would have a corrupting influence on the scientific community. He feared that while American universities were “historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery,” the pursuit of taxpayer monies would become “a substitute for intellectual curiosity” and lead to “domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment…and the power of money.”

Eisenhower’s fears were well-founded and prescient.

My experiences at four research universities and as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) research fellow taught me that the relentless pursuit of taxpayer funding has eliminated curiosity, basic competence, and scientific integrity in many fields.

Public Schools Are Teaching The 1619 Project in Class, Despite Concerns From Historians

Robby Soave:

The 1619 Project—The New York Times Magazine’s much vaunted series of essays about the introduction of African slavery to the Americas—will now be taught in K-12 schools around the country.

School districts in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Buffalo, New York, have decided to update their history curricula to include the material, which posits that the institution of slavery was so embedded in the country’s DNA that the country’s true founding could be said to have occurred in 1619, rather than in 1776.

“One of the things that we are looking at in implementing The 1619 Project is to let everyone know that the issues around the legacy of enslavement that exist today, it’s an American issue, it’s not a Black issue,” Dr. Fatima Morrell, associate superintendent for culturally and linguistically responsive initiatives for Buffalo Public Schools, told Buffalo’s NPR station.

Buffalo teachers and administrators have already begun studying the 1619 material so they can implement it into their curricula. The NPR story correctly notes that the essays examine “lesser-known consequences of slavery,” like “how plantation economics led to modern corporate, capitalist culture.”

Many historians, though, have questioned The 1619 Project’s accuracy. Five of them penned a letter to The New York Times expressing dismay “at some of the factual errors in the project and the closed process behind it.” These historians said the project’s contention that the American Revolution was launched “in order to ensure slavery would continue” was flat-out wrong.

Another historian, Phil Magness of the American Institute for Economic Research, has criticized Matthew Desmond’s 1619 Project essay, which claimed that modern American capitalism has its roots in plantation slavery. Magness has persuasively argued that this claim lacks verification, and that Desmond relied on bad data about cotton-picking rates in the pre-Civil War south.

“Desmond’s thesis relies exclusively on scholarship from a hotly contested school of thought known as the New History of Capitalism (NHC),” wrote Magness in a second article. “Although NHC scholars often present their work as cutting-edge explorations into the relationship between capitalism and slavery, they have not fared well under scrutiny from outside their own ranks.”

How to Be a Better Web Searcher

Daniel M. Russell and Mario Callegaro:

In a cheery, sunshine-filled fourth-grade classroom in California, the teacher explained the assignment: write a short report about the history of the Belgian Congo at the end of the 19th century, when Belgium colonized this region of Africa. One of us (Russell) was there to help the students with their online research methods.

I watched in dismay as a young student slowly typed her query into a smartphone. This was not going to end well. She was trying to find out which city was the capital of the Belgian Congo during this time period. She reasonably searched [ capital Belgian Congo ] and in less than a second she discovered that the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo is Kinshasa, a port town on the Congo River. She happily copied the answer into her worksheet.

Why Are You So Smart? Thank Mom & Your Difficult Birth

Jim Davies:

ooking around our planet today, it’s hard not to be struck by humanity’s uniqueness. We are the only species around that writes books, runs experiments, and builds skyscrapers. Our intelligence must have also been useful when we were evolving—presumably it helped us to be better hunters and avoid being hunted ourselves, for instance. Perhaps even more importantly, our growing intelligence enabled early humans to compete with each other: We evolved to be intelligent to keep up with everybody else evolving to be intelligent. Smarter people are more attractive to others, and are better at jockeying for status within complex social groups. It is well-known that humans underwent an intelligence arms race that resulted in a rapid growth in cognitive ability. What is less well-known is how the need for women to be able to walk and run helped this boom in smarts.

A lot of our growth in intelligence is due to an increase in brain size. Even when looking at the differences between one person and another, brain size accounts for 16% of the variance in intelligence. A bigger brain might have been the simplest way to make us smarter. As brain sizes grew, so did the pelvises of the women who had to give birth to all of these big-headed babies.

Madison schools’ happy talk Cheat(ham)s black kids

David Blaska:

A crusader has stuck his out out of the foxhole to take on the political correctness that is destroying Madison’s public schools. We introduced him to you Blaska Policy Werkers two weeks ago. He is Peter Anderson, an environmental activist. 

Peter has put up a website called “Durable Justice.” Bookmark it. (We’ll wait. Got it?) Anderson headlines his introductory essay, “Why MMSD has failed to help disadvantaged black students.”

It is essentially the message Blaska has been sounding these past two years and in last year’s campaign for school board. Unlike that unsuccessful candidate, Anderson is not weighed down with Blaska’s conservative activism. In other words, he is a good Madison liberal. (Remains to be seen for how long, but Anderson says his group is looking for a permanent leader). 

Anderson dares to take on the Madison establishment’s cowardice in confronting the school district’s obsession with “racial justice” at the expense of school discipline, personal responsibility, and educational achievement. We excerpt from that essay:

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Meanwhile, Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 district continues to plan for a substantial tax & spending increase referendum this fall.

Mathematics Pioneer Ingrid Daubechies Has More Barriers to Break

Elizabeth Winkler:

Ingrid Daubechies is a woman of formidable firsts: the first tenured female professor of mathematics at Princeton University (1994), the first woman to receive the National Academy of Sciences Award in Mathematics (2000) and the first woman elected president of the International Mathematical Union (2011). But she isn’t particularly interested in planting stakes on mathematical territory or laying claim to laurels.

“I feel successful being part of a bigger whole,” she says. “It’s such a man thing to want your effigy. That…

Harvard says Asians have bad personalities; judge agrees

Glenn Beaton:

Some 52 years after Martin Luther King Jr’s death and one week after the three-day weekend for which he is now remembered, Harvard says it discriminates against people with bad personalities. After all, what good is knowledge, morality and dreams if you’re no fun?

To the fun-loving bureaucrats running Harvard, personality is measurable by your skin color and your sex life. They believe that good personalities are found in blacks, Hispanics, gays, transgenders, whites and just about everyone else, in roughly that order.

Except Asians. Harvard says Asians have bad personalities. And so to be admitted, Asians need an SAT score about 140 points higher than whites and about 450 points higher than blacks.

You might reasonably ask: How did Harvard decide that Asians have bad personalities?

Plenty of objective personality tests are out there, but Harvard doesn’t use them. It instead uses a subjective evaluation of the applicant by one of those fun-loving bureaucrats. At an in-person interview, the bureaucrat takes note of whether the applicant is Asian has a bad personality.

I suppose it’s a lucky thing for Harvard that Asians have bad personalities. Because otherwise their high merit would get more of them admitted at the expense of lower-merit whites, blacks, Hispanics, gays and transgenders.

Research shows progressive places, like Minneapolis, have the worst achievement gaps

Nekima Levy Armstrong:

It is an open secret in Minneapolis and the Twin Cities that black and brown children are being left behind within the public school system. The dominant narrative places the blame on poor children of color and their parents, as well as their communities. When racial stereotypes are used as the default to explain away systemic failures, everyone loses; but especially children of color who lag behind their white peers in reading, math and high school graduation rates. They are relegated to the margins of society and the criminal justice system.

We recently celebrated the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work toward a more equitable society. But it seems as if, in the area of education, our city and other cities across the country have gone backward.

Thankfully, some cities are doing a significantly better job than others at closing the opportunity gaps in education — as is made clear in a newly published report by brightbeam, a nonprofit education advocacy organization.

One might expect that politically progressive cities would be leading the way in closing the opportunity gap in education, given the history of racial segregation and oppression in this country, and the rhetoric of progressives about overcoming that history and creating a more just and inclusive society.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

A Famine of Truth: Malcolm Muggeridge, George Bernard Shaw, and Journalistic Deception

Larry Alex Taunton:

Seduced by the communist promise of earthly bliss, Muggeridge and his pregnant wife, Kitty, moved to Moscow in 1932. The rumors that Stalinist Russia was anything but a “workers’ paradise” did not dampen their spirits in the least. Shaking the dust of London and the West off of their shoes, they were full of high ideals and naïve optimism upon arrival in the USSR. Muggeridge, working as a correspondent for the prestigious British daily The Manchester Guardian, quickly earned a name for himself among the Moscow bosses as a supporter of the regime. His reports were rapturous tributes to the wonders of Soviet government, economics, agriculture, and arts.

Yet even as he wrote of a communist utopia, Muggeridge was beginning to have doubts — doubts about the veracity of the information the Soviet government spoon-fed the foreign press and which it, in turn, passed on to a naïve Western public. He was also beginning to rethink his understanding of human nature. Foreign journalists working in Stalin’s Russia operated according to the strict dictates of the government — interviews were scripted, travel was restricted, and reports were censored. All the while, the secret police eavesdropped on their conversations, read their mail, noted their associations, and followed their every move. Any journalist who was deemed to be subversive faced, at the very least, harassment and immediate deportation. Consequently, many newsmen, preferring a comfortable existence to disgrace and unemployment, sacrificed journalistic integrity in favor of an amicable agreement with the regime.

According to these rules, journalists would post to their Western editors news items that cast the USSR in a favorable light. In return, the Soviet government would allow them to remain in the country to live a comfortable existence, supplying their guests with such creature comforts as caviar, vodka, and mistresses. Muggeridge was quick to sample any delights offered and, initially, he willingly passed along Soviet propaganda, not the least because he was ideologically predisposed to believe it. Nevertheless, the signs of terror and human degradation steadily gnawed at his conscience. Even the seemingly omnipresent NKVD (the predecessor to the KGB) could not hide all of the starving people or quell all of the stories of genocide. Some rumors had it that in the countryside, where no foreigner was permitted without advance application and escort, millions had died.

Phonics Instruction In Wisconsin Schools

Courtney Everett:

The Department of Public Instruction recently announced it will endorse ‘explicit phonics instruction.’ A professor joins us to explain these new state standards and what research says about phonics. Plus, we’ll examine how Wisconsin schools are teaching students to read today.

“You know, we talk a lot about how poverty has a huge impact on educational outcomes, which it absolutely does. But what we don’t talk about is the way that educational practices magnify these effects, and the way that we teach kids to read…is a primo example of how policies that we’ve put in place and practices that we use can magnify the existing differences in opportunity.”

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

NEA passes resolution defending the ‘fundamental right to abortion’

Patrick Hauf:

The NEA is the largest teachers’ union in the U.S. with more than 3 million members. It collected nearly $400 million from American educators in 2018, according to federal labor filings. The union is also one of the most politically active in the country, spending $70 million on politics and lobbying in 2017 and 2018. Nearly all of the union’s political action committee spending went to Democrats during the midterm cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

US abortion data:

In 2016, 623,471 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 48 reporting areas. The abortion rate for 2016 was 11.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 186 abortions per 1,000 live births.

Compared with 2015, the total number and rate of reported abortions fell by 2%, and the abortion ratio decreased by 1%. Additionally, from 2007 to 2016, the number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions decreased 24%, 26%, and 18%, respectively. In 2016, all three measures reached their lowest level for the entire period of analysis (2007-2016).

Women in their twenties accounted for the majority of abortions in 2016 and throughout the period of analysis. The majority of abortions in 2016 took place early in gestation: 91.0% of abortions were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation; a smaller number of abortions (7.7%) were performed at 14–20 weeks’ gestation, and even fewer (1.2%) were performed at ≥21 weeks’ gestation. In 2016, 27.9% of all abortions were early medical abortions (a nonsurgical abortion at ≤8 weeks’ gestation). The percentage of abortions reported as early medical abortions increased 113% from 2007 to 2016, with a 14% increase from 2015 to 2016. Source: MMWR Surveill Summ 2019;68(No. SS-11).

WHO global abortion data.

The Decline And Fall Of Grade Deflation At Princeton

Liam O’Connor:

Princeton has little to show for its experiment in “grade deflation,” except inflating grades that continue to lag behind those of its peer institutions. 

I obtained restricted records from the Office of the Dean of the College on 120,000 grades awarded over the past three years at the nation’s top-ranked university. I confirmed their accuracy by comparing them to figures published in a recent memorandum. 

The data are definitive: it’s never been easier to get an A at Princeton.

“Deflation worked, and then, when it went away, it had no long-term effect,” said professor Paul Courant GS ’74, an economist who viewed my statistics and co-authored a prior study on grades at the University of Michigan. 

A- was the median grade in the 2018-2019 academic year. 55 percent of course grades were in the A-range. In 1998, they were 43 percent of course grades, according to a faculty report I acquired from Mudd Manuscript Library.

B-range grades comprised 34 percent, and the C-range comprised six percent. D’s were merely half a percent. A Princetonian’s chance of getting a F was one in a thousand. The remaining four percent went to “passes.”

But the proliferation of A’s isn’t as alarming as the many ways that students who are trying to maximize their grade point averages (GPAs) can game the system. Grades are full of quirks. The problem is that the outside world that assesses students for jobs and scholarships doesn’t seem to know or care about these nuances. 

Commentary on Higher Education Deserts

David Jesse:

The squeals of elementary students at recess and the occasional hiss of a tractor-trailer’s tires on the main drag serve as the only soundtrack as a quartet of high school students saunter down a Baldwin street, heading for some fun away from school.

Traffic stops briefly as it leaves town, next to the county courthouse and a gas station at the town’s only traffic signal — a flashing red light.

It’s a stereotypical rural small-town scene.
The skills gap is going to kill rural America. If there’s nowhere for students to get the training they need, they aren’t going to be able to get the jobs they need.

Two hundred miles southeast, on the edge of the University of Michigan campus, it’s louder — a jackhammer pounds away, a steady stream of cars rolls along a nearby street and students crowd sidewalks. A homeless man pleads for help. Inside a coffee shop, one of several within a couple blocks, tables are full of students studying, professors working on plans and townies just sipping a latte.

It’s a stereotypical college town scene.

The towns show little similarity. Ann Arbor is in Washtenaw County, Michigan’s richest county in terms of median household income. Baldwin is in Lake County, Michigan’s poorest.

Washtenaw is Michigan’s most educated county, with the highest percentage of adults with some sort of college degree. Lake County is among Michigan’s least educated, with the second-lowest percentage of college-educated adults.

Rediscovering the Lost Power of Reading Aloud

Meghan Cox Gurdon:

At the British Museum in London, down a long string of galleries filled with Greek antiquities, there is a glass case that contains a glossy black-and-ocher amphora, resembling a jug or vase. The object was made by a craftsman in Athens sometime early in the Golden Age, around 490–480 BC, and it’s decorated with a figure on either side. The first is a musician in long skirts and a checkered tunic shown in full-length profile. We seem to have caught him just as he blows into a reed instrument.

On the other side, a man in pleated robes stands in a position of relaxed command, with one arm thrust out and resting on a tall wooden staff. The man’s mouth is open, and if you look closely, you can see a tiny arc of text springing from his lips. Translated, the words read: “Once upon a time in Tiryns . . .”

This figure is a rhapsode, or “stitcher of songs,” and a kind of living prefiguration of the act of reading aloud. In ancient Greece, a rhapsode did not read from a book, however. He was the book. His memory held, among other works, the two great epics of Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey. He would pull them from the shelf and read them aloud, so to speak, when he recited them.

The Homeric tales, loved to this day, are terrific creations. They brim with action, drama, stealth, deceit (and with manifestations of honor and dishonor so distinct from our own as to seem bizarre). The Iliad encompasses the ten years of the Trojan War, when the massed armies of the Greek kingdoms besieged the walled city of Troy. In its verses we meet sulky, ferocious Achilles, noble Prince Hector, handsome Paris, and lovely Helen. The second great Homeric tale, The Odyssey, follows Odysseus, wiliest of the Greeks, over the ten years it takes him after the conquest of Troy to reach his home island of Ithaca and his clever, long-suffering wife, Penelope. During his travels, Odysseus contends with mutinous crewmen, the erotic temptations of Circe and Calypso, and monsters such as the man-eating cyclops Polyphemus and the homicidal Sirens. At one point, Odysseus also has to wrest his men free of the addictive, obliterating pleasures of the lotus flower.

Too Many of America’s Smartest Waste Their Talents

Noah Smith:

A high-profile court case about meritocracy and college admissions has captured much attention. A group called Students for Fair Admissions alleges that Harvard University uses highly subjective personality ratings to penalize Asian applicants. The former tend to outperform white applicants on every measure except for so-called personality, but the number of Asian-American students at Harvard has fallen relative to the Asian-American population, while the number for white students has risen, during the last 25 years. Defenders of the policy, meanwhile, said that the personality ratings are necessary to account for the different challenges students face growing up.

While the case is sensational because of the allegations of racism, fundamentally it’s about a deeper question. Does meritocracy still make sense as a guiding principle for the modern American economic system?

Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Examination Results

The Foundations of Reading, Wisconsin’s one elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirement is (was) an attempt to improve our K-12 students’ disastrous reading results.

Readers may find the Foundations of Reading results of interest (2.4MB xlsx). (3 February 2020: link updated to remove partial ss identifiers, via a kind DPI message).

The test is based on Massachusetts’ successful MTEL teacher content knowledge examination.

The Wisconsin DPI, long lead by Governor Tony Evers, has granted mulligans to thousands of teachers who failed to pass this reading content knowledge examination.

The information was obtained via an open records request to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Notes and Commentary on the Wisconsin School Choice Event

Molly Beck:

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday gave an election-year defense of President Donald Trump’s education policies — assuring parents at a Capitol rally that under the Republican president, children will not be stuck in poorly performing schools.

Pence and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos turned a state rally promoting alternatives to public schools into a stump speech for Trump, who needs to keep Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes in his corner as he faces reelection and an impeachment trial.

“I’m here in Wisconsin because this is where it all began,” Pence told a crowd of hundreds in the Wisconsin State Capitol’s rotunda, referring to Milwaukee’s private school voucher program — the nation’s first.

The visit to the statehouse — a first for a sitting vice president — put on alert local education officials and public school advocates who see the Trump administration as a threat to public school funding, which they argue has been decimated over the last 10 years by the programs Pence and DeVos promoted.

Mitchell Schmidt:

In a press conference after Pence’s speech, Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, D-Milwaukee, said his bill would phase out vouchers in the state and reinvest in public schools.

“(Pence) has no idea what’s going on here,” Brostoff said. “He represents a complete erosion of one of the most fundamental values and one of the greatest values of this country which is strong public education and that’s certainly a Wisconsin value.”

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, also spoke at the event, with both vowing to uphold the state’s voucher program.

“As long as Republicans control the Legislature, we plan to keep it,” Fitzgerald said.

During his speech, Vos encouraged students participating in the event to cheer for Trump, Pence and DeVos and boo “those who don’t like school choice.”

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin held an event in response to Pence’s visit, where party chairman Ben Wikler called the event a celebration for the attack on public schools by President Donald Trump and his administration.

“Trump and his cronies are sabotaging public education because it’s not their children who go to public school,” Wikler said.

Logan Wroge (fails to compare total spending)

The Milwaukee voucher program started in 1990-91 under former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, who attended Tuesday’s rally.

In the first year, the program enrolled 337 students. Enrollment has grown almost every year. This fall, 28,978 students attended 130 private schools on vouchers in Milwaukee.

Another voucher program in Racine started in the 2011-12 school year, followed by a statewide program in 2013-14 and a fourth for students with disabilities in 2016.

In the Milwaukee, Racine and statewide programs, 42,392 students enrolled in private schools this fall using a voucher, or just under 5% of the total school-aged population.

The use of vouchers, though, has yet to catch on in Madison as only three schools in the city signed up to accept students this school year through the statewide program, which state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said leaves Madison children with “limited choices.”

Scott Bauer:

Vice President Mike Pence touted alternatives to a public school education during a visit Tuesday to the state where the private school voucher program began, stopping in battleground Wisconsin for a noontime celebration in the state Capitol.

Pence, and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos were both briefly drowned out by chants of “shame” from dozens of protesters who gathered one floor down in the Capitol building. The protesters, some carrying signs calling for the separation of church and state, also booed throughout their comments.

School choice — which includes private school vouchers, charter schools and other nontraditional options — has long been an issue that divides Republicans and Democrats, particularly in Wisconsin. Conservatives have championed offering students an alternative to public schools, giving Pence a chance to appeal to Republican voters in a swing state during national school choice week.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

Voucher schools spend far less per student than traditional government supported schools. Traditional K-12 School Districts capture local (property), redistributed state and federal funds, while voucher schools largely survive on state taxpayer funds.

An Existential Crisis in Neuroscience

Gregorian Guitchounts:

On a chilly evening last fall, I stared into nothingness out of the floor-to-ceiling windows in my office on the outskirts of Harvard’s campus. As a purplish-red sun set, I sat brooding over my dataset on rat brains. I thought of the cold windowless rooms in downtown Boston, home to Harvard’s high-performance computing center, where computer servers were holding on to a precious 48 terabytes of my data. I have recorded the 13 trillion numbers in this dataset as part of my Ph.D. experiments, asking how the visual parts of the rat brain respond to movement.

Printed on paper, the dataset would fill 116 billion pages, double-spaced. When I recently finished writing the story of my data, the magnum opus fit on fewer than two dozen printed pages. Performing the experiments turned out to be the easy part. I had spent the last year agonizing over the data, observing and asking questions. The answers left out large chunks that did not pertain to the questions, like a map leaves out irrelevant details of a territory.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: ‘We did the right thing and we get screwed’

David Blaska:

No wonder Dad is irate!

It’s always the unscripted moments that define a political campaign.

A man known to the national news media only as “Irate Dad” confronts Elizabeth Warren, mother superior of the giveaway state (Big enough to promise everything you want, strong enough to take away everything you’ve earned). The Democrat(ic) presidential candidate wants taxpayers to pick up $640 billion in student loans, thereby removing yet another brake on escalating college tuition costs, subsidizing grievance studies, creating another dependent class, and making fools of people who pay their debts.

What part of ‘Free’ does he not understand?

A man who appears to be in his late 40s approaches candidate Elizabeth Warren in Grimes, Iowa: 

IRATE DAD: “I just want to ask you one question. My daughter’s getting out of school. I’ve saved all my money. She doesn’t have any student loans.” 

WARREN: [nods] “God bless you.”

IRATE DAD: “Am I going to get my money back?”

WARREN: “Of course not.” 

IRATE DAD: “So you’re going to pay for people who didn’t save any money and those of us who did the right thing get screwed. My buddy had fun, bought a car, went on vacations. I saved my money. He made more than I did, but I worked a double shift, worked extra. My daughter’s worked since she was 10. So, you’re laughing at me.”


IRATE DAD: “That’s exactly what you’re doing. We did the right thing and we get screwed.”

WARREN: “Thank you for your thoughts.”

⇒ Ms. Warren, tell your campaign staff to put Irate Dad down as a Maybe.

Membership in government unions falls to a 20-year low

Steven Malanga:

Government-union membership fell again in 2019, continuing a decade-long decline. Workers in public-sector unions now number 7.066 million, representing a drop of nearly 100,000 in one year and the smallest government-organized labor membership in 20 years. Since 2009, when the ranks of government-union members peaked at 7.896 million, public-labor groups have lost more than 10 percent of their membership. The percentage of government workers belonging to unions has dropped to 33.6, the smallest proportion of the government workforce since 1978. The most recent numbers illustrate how government unions continue to suffer from the hangover of the recession of 2008-2009, in part because of a slow rebound in government employment during the economic expansion that began in 2010. The numbers may also reflect some losses that unions have suffered in the wake of the 2018 Supreme Court Janus decision, which gave public-sector workers the right to opt out of joining a union or paying fees.

The trends are particularly ominous for public unions because 2019 should have been the year that they started bouncing back. In the tenth year of an economic expansion, state tax and local collections grew robustly, increasing by 9 percent in the second quarter and 5.6 percent in the third quarter, according to government surveys. States and municipalities subsequently hired more workers. The number of local government employees, for instance, jumped by nearly 100,000 in 2019, to 14.573 million. But these gains haven’t translated into increases in union membership, particularly in municipal government, the largest segment of public-sector employment. The total government workforce in America has returned to its pre-financial crash levels, but union headcount has failed to follow suit.

Related: Act 10.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

‘‘Demeaned and Humiliated’: What Happened to These Iranians at U.S. Airports”

Caleb Hampton and Caitlin Dickerson:

A small room. A language barrier. An interrogation after hours of travel. Months spent preparing for a new life overseas, all gone in a blur.

A growing number of Iranian students share this collective memory. Many had secured admission to some of the world’s most prestigious universities. The State Department approved them for entry into the United States after a notoriously grueling, monthslong vetting process and issued them visas to come to the United States.

But when the students reached American airports, Customs and Border Protection officers disagreed and sent them home, some with a five-year ban on reapplying to return to the United States.

Most say they were not told why they were deemed “inadmissible” — a broad label that customs officers have wide discretion to apply. What the students do know is that, at a time of rising diplomatic tensions between the United States and Iran, their plans for the future seem to have evaporated.

‘Schools are killing curiosity’: why we need to stop telling children to shut up and learn

Wendy Berliner:

Young children sit cross-legged on the mat as their teacher prepares to teach them about the weather, equipped with pictures of clouds. Outside the classroom, lightning forks across a dark sky and thunder rumbles. Curious children call out and point, but the teacher draws their attention back – that is not how the lesson target says they are going to learn about the weather.

It could be a scene in almost any school. Children, full of questions about things that interest them, are learning not to ask them at school. Against a background of tests and targets, unscripted queries go mainly unanswered and learning opportunities are lost.

Yet the latest American research suggests we should be encouraging questions, because curious children do better. Researchers from the University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital and the Center for Human Growth and Development investigated curiosity in 6,200 children, part of the US Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. The study is highlighted in a new book by Judith Judd and me, How to Succeed at School. What Every Parent Should Know.

The researchers gauged levels of curiosity when the children were babies, toddlers and preschoolers, using parent visits and questionnaires. Reading, maths and behaviour were then checked in kindergarten (the first year of school), where they found that the most curious children performed best. In a finding critical to tackling the stubborn achievement gap between poorer and richer children, disadvantaged children had the strongest connection between curiosity and performance.

Further, the researchers found that when it came to good school performance, the ability to stay focused and, for example, not be distracted by a thunderstorm, was less important than curiosity – the questions children might have about that storm.

Preventing Suicide by Higher Education

Arthur Milikh:

Universities were meant be the one fixed place in democratic society insulated from the ceaseless motion of democratic life, with its petty passions, consumption, and moral and intellectual fashions. They were meant to serve as the guardian of the mind and its greatest fruits. In previous eras, segments of society (especially the clergy and the aristocracy) were devoted to protecting learning and a tradition of books. But democracy does not support such classes, and it was originally hoped that the universities would assume this role. Regrettably, they are no longer animated by their original purpose of serving republican self-government or the freedom of the mind. As such, they must be treated as political entities.

That the freedom of speech is under attack on many campuses should not be surprising, given that the freedom of the mind, of which speech is the expression, is rarely understood as their purpose any longer. Without that purpose, most American universities no longer serve the public good for which they were created and for which they continue to be publicly funded. Their transformation, which in turn has led to the transformation of the nation, has taken place with the unwitting assistance of American taxpayers — and amounts to defrauding the public. If citizens are compelled to pay for others to go to college, it should be to the benefit of the entire nation — forming good citizens and advancing useful sciences, rather than teaching the rising generation that the nation is irredeemably evil. Taxpayers have funded the research, bankrolled the student loans (including generous forgiveness programs), and allowed the universities and their enormous endowments to operate without paying taxes. These funding sources are the operational life blood of universities, but they can no longer be justified. In fact, it seems likely that the nation would be better off if the vast majority of America’s more than 3,000 colleges and universities closed down.

An executive order signed by President Trump on March 21, 2019, gives administrators in 12 executive-branch agencies that issue research grants broad discretion to withhold funding from universities that suppress “free inquiry” and “undermine learning.” This is a worthwhile half-step to chastening them. But given where things stand, bolder, more aggressive action is needed. If the universities are going to be rebuilt, only external force, rather than pleading or slight policy modifications, will work. Success in this could bring generational change.

Kenya’s Journey to College

Cori Petersen:

Kenya knew she wasn’t getting a lot out of her education at MPS.

“I always felt disappointed because I wanted a challenge. I wanted to feel like I was learning something,” Kenya said. “I wanted my teachers to care about my education. But they didn’t.”

When she got to eighth grade in Milwaukee, she wanted to attend a better high school and took the entrance exams for prestigious MPS schools like Rufus King and Riverside, but failed. The only options she was left with were schools like North Division and South Division, “Places that you see on the news for fighting,” she said. “Places that aren’t even focused on education anymore.”

Kenya needed another option. So when HOPE Christian Schools gave a presentation to her eighth grade class, she immediately went home and had her mom fill out the paperwork.

“I felt like they spoke to me,” she said. “They said small class sizes. Customized education. They talked about character and values, instilling things in you so you could go out and have a career after your education.”

HOPE made it very clear in their presentation that they focus on getting their students accepted into college, which is something Kenya hadn’t considered before. She had seen her mom struggle to attend college, which in the end didn’t work out. “Something would always stop her from being able to go,” Kenya said. One time her mom’s car was stolen and when they found the car her mom’s backpack with her books and assignments in it was missing from the trunk. “The institution couldn’t do anything for her. She had to withdraw from class,” she said.

Kenya qualified for the MPCP which allowed her to choose the school she would attend. She chose HOPE Christian High School. But when she first got there, it wasn’t easy. “I went from a place where I was basically able to do whatever I want, wear whatever I want, say whatever I want — to a place that has uniforms, that has all these rules, all of these expectations,” Kenya said. “I hadn’t been required to do homework or write papers.”

But Kenya soon realized that HOPE was a place where she could succeed.

How College Became a Commodity

David Sessions:

This past summer, Alaska’s Republican governor, Mike Dunleavy, announced a draconian plan to slash appropriations for the university system by 41 percent. Defending the decision, he repeated a phrase that increasingly accompanies budget cuts: that the university couldn’t continue being “all things for all people.” Dunleavy, who insisted that the state’s deficit be closed without raising taxes, argued that Alaska must “turn the university into a smaller, leaner, but still very positive, productive university in the Northern Hemisphere.”

Pete Buttigieg has made a similar notion the center of his opposition to universal free college in the 2020 Democratic primary. “Americans who have a college degree earn more than Americans who don’t,” Buttigieg said. “As a progressive, I have a hard time getting my head around the idea of a majority who earn less because they didn’t go to college subsidizing a minority who earn more because they did.” Buttigieg has continued to hammer the point that universality equals upward redistribution. Lis Smith, a senior adviser for his campaign, tweeted, “If you think that a worker who didn’t go to college should pay for college for a CEO’s kid, then @PeteButtigieg isn’t your candidate.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Tax Increases to Come

Wall Street Journal:

The nearby table borrowed from our friends at Cornerstone Macro captures the magnitude of the tax increases on labor and investment income that Democratic presidential candidates are proposing. The top marginal federal tax rate on labor is currently about 40% including the Medicare tax.

Eliminating the ceiling for the payroll tax would increase that to above 50% including both the individual and employer shares of the increase. Including both is right economically because it captures the full cost of hiring an additional worker. The much higher top marginal rate for Mr. Sanders in the table is for his Medicare for All tax.

And that’s before the candidates’ proposed income-tax hikes. It’s also before state and local taxes, which in some states could bring the marginal rate north of 60%.

And that’s before the Democratic tax increases on investment income, specifically capital gains. All of the leading candidates want to tax capital gains at the same rate as regular income or higher, which hasn’t been the law since the top individual tax rate on income was 28% after the 1986 Reagan tax reform. Higher taxes on capital reduce investment, which means slower productivity growth and ultimately slower wage growth.

Meanwhile, Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 district continues to plan for a substantial tax & spending increase referendum this fall.

Complaint: Gun found at Madison West High School last week followed armed robbery on Saturday

Scott Girard:

Williams then provided the backpack to Creech, and told one of the other officers there was a gun inside. The complaint states Creech found a semi-automatic firearm in the laptop compartment of the backpack. The magazine was loaded but no rounds were housed within the chamber when the gun was found.

Williams faces two counts each of armed robbery with threat of force, felony intimidation of a victim and false imprisonment and one count of possession of a firearm on grounds of a school.

Williams was scheduled for an initial appearance in court Monday afternoon.

2005: Gangs and school violence forum: audio and video.

2017: West High Teacher on our disastrous reading results:

“Here’s my data from this year and this is why I’m here: 

Of the 65 students plus or minus it kind of changes this year 24 of them are regular ed students. 

Another way to say they don’t have an IEP so there is no excuse for that reading intervention in (that group). 

12 of those 24 have been enrolled in Madison School since Pre-K kindergarten or kindergarden. 12 students have been in Madison Schools.”

Study: $3.2B in Economic Benefits with the growth of school choice

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty:

On the first day of National School Choice Week, a new study (here) estimates how further growth of Wisconsin’s parental choice programs could result in $3.2 billion in new economic benefits to Wisconsin over the next two decades. Ripple Effect, authored by Will Flanders, PhD, builds upon a recent study which documented how students in MPCP are more likely to graduate from college to extrapolate the economic gains to Wisconsin if the parental choice programs were expanded.

Broken down, Wisconsin’s cities could expect to see:

  • $100 million in economic benefits for Madison

  • $75 million in economic benefits for Green Bay

  • $60 million in economic benefits for Appleton

  • $24 million in economic benefits for La Crosse

Kenya’s Story: These economic gains can be understood through Kenya Green. As a child in Milwaukee, she struggled at Milwaukee Public Schools. By the time she was in eighth grade, she was close to giving up, seemingly forced to attend unsafe, low-performing MPS schools. But through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, she discovered HOPE Christian Schools, which transformed her life. The school gave her the rigorous academics and the structure she needed. After graduating from HOPE, she attended Wisconsin Lutheran College, graduated, got a job, and is now in school to become an aesthetician.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

Voucher schools spend far less per student than traditional government supported schools. Traditional K-12 School Districts capture local (property), redistributed state and federal funds, while voucher schools largely survive on state taxpayer funds.

Seattle teacher and activist tells local educators to rebuild school systems to be equitable

Shanzeh Ahmad:

The four demands are: end zero-tolerance policies, mandate black history and ethnic studies, hire more black teachers and increase funds for counselors in schools instead of police.

There are several ways school communities can take part in the Week of Action, Hagopian said, such as wearing the Black Lives Matter T-shirt, having a school assembly to talk about injustice in schools, or teaching lessons in classrooms that correspond with the 13 guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter movement. The coalition’s website has additional resources.

Hagopian said the four demands are “structural changes that must be in place” in order to create an equitable system. The goal is to be able to have an understanding across the board that there are different identities that exist in society, he said.

In Wisconsin, 2% of teachers and 5% of principals are African American, while 9% of students are African American, according to a report released in November.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

Reader’s workshop: The science denial curriculum

Robert Pondisco:

I owe my education career to reader’s workshop, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, and its founder Lucy Calkins. I started as a mid-career switcher with a two-year commitment to teach fifth grade in a South Bronx public school. Two things about my school are worth knowing: It was the lowest-performing school in New York City’s lowest-performing district. And we were devoted to Calkins’s Units of Study.

My initial response to the reading and writing “workshop model” Calkins helped make famous and ubiquitous was willing suspension of disbelief. To the degree I remembered learning to read at all, it had nothing in common with how I was expected to teach it. Next came frustration. My “TC” staff developer spoke in inscrutable koans, encouraging me to “be the author of your own teaching.” When I took that advice and gave explicit instruction, however, she shook her head and said, “That’s not teaching, that’s giving directions.” Frustration gave way to exasperation, then resistance, and finally hostility. I left the classroom determined to advocate for curriculum and instruction thanks to Calkins and balanced literacy. My struggling fifth graders needed a lot of things, but not that.

Profligacy for Austerity?

Bryan Caplan:

Suppose you strongly desire to drastically increase the amount of education that people consume.  What should you do?

The obvious answer: Make education completely free of charge – and have the government pay the the entire cost.

I say this obvious answer is obviously right.  As I explain in The Case Against Education, I favor extreme educational austerity, because I think the education system is a waste of time and money.  Nevertheless, given the goal of drastically increasing educational attainment, completely shifting the cost burden from consumers to taxpayers is highly effective.

Yes, there is some “crowding out” – when the U.S. government spends an extra billion dollars on education, consumption of education probably rises by less than a billion dollars.  Still, total U.S. consumption of education has ultimately increased by trillions of dollars as a result of past government subsidies.

This seems undeniable, but Tyler Cowen now suggests that free college is a way to restrain education spending!

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

Is a supermarket discount coupon worth giving away your privacy?

David Lazarus:

Most large companies doing business in California are required by the state’s new privacy law to disclose what they know about customers and how that information is used.

This resulted in fairly straightforward announcements by many businesses.

Then there’s Ralphs, the supermarket chain owned by Kroger.

Customers recently encountered a form at stores spelling out information that may be collected when joining the company’s Ralphs Rewards loyalty program.

The form is eye-opening, to say the least, in laying out the extensive efforts Ralphs says it could take to learn about customers’ lives beyond the supermarket, including your job, your education, your health and your insurance coverage.

While most if not all such corporate disclosures define possible data collection as broadly as possible to err on the side of caution, Ralphs’ form is unusually all-encompassing for a supermarket loyalty program.

“It’s scandalous,” said Joseph Turow, a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania who focuses on privacy issues. “Why does a grocer need to know so much about its customers?”

Information Suppression in Academia and Peer Review

The Portal:

There was however, a remarkable story of science at its both best and worst that had not been told in years. After an initial tussle, we dusted off the cobwebs and decided to reconstruct it raw and share it with you, our Portal audience, for the first time. I don’t think it will be the last as we are now again looking for our old notes to tighten it up for the next telling. We hope you find it interesting, and that it inspires you younger and less established scientists to tell your stories using this new medium of long form podcasting. We hope the next place you hear this story will be in a biology department seminar room in perhaps Cambridge, Chicago, Princeton, the Bay Area or elsewhere. Until then, be well and have a listen to this initial and raw version.

CBS Anchor to Warren: Are You Saying ‘Tough Luck’ to People Who Saved for College?

Andrew Kugle:

CBS anchor Tony Dokoupil on Friday asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) about her exchange with a father who accused Warren of hurting people who saved for college.

“For Americans who are in that father’s position, who felt they did the right thing and you’re bailing out those who didn’t, what’s your response?” Dokoupil said.

“Look, we build a future going forward by making it better,” Warren said. “By that same logic what would we have done? Not started Social Security because we didn’t start it last week for you, or last month for you?”

Yale Art History Department to scrap survey course

Margaret Hedeman and Matt Kristofferson:

Yale will stop teaching a storied introductory survey course in art history, citing the impossibility of adequately covering the entire field — and its varied cultural backgrounds — in one course.

Decades old and once taught by famous Yale professors like Vincent Scully, “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present” was once touted to be one of Yale College’s quintessential classes. But this change is the latest response to student uneasiness over an idealized Western “canon” — a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male cadre of artists.

This spring, the final rendition of the course will seek to question the idea of Western art itself — a marked difference from the course’s focus at its inception. Art history department chair and the course’s instructor Tim Barringer told the News that he plans to demonstrate that a class about the history of art does not just mean Western art. Rather, when there are so many other regions, genres and traditions — all “equally deserving of study” — putting European art on a pedestal is “problematic,” he said.

“I believe that every object I discuss in [“Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present”] (with the possible exception of one truly ghastly painting by Renoir) is of profound cultural value,” Barringer said in an email to the News. “I want all Yale students (and all residents of New Haven who can enter our museums freely) to have access to and to feel confident analyzing and enjoying the core works of the western tradition. But I don’t mistake a history of European painting for the history of all art in all places.”

Computers that can make commitments

Chris Dixon:

What else can you do with computers that make commitments? One fertile area being explored is re-architecting popular internet services like social networks and marketplaces so that they make strong, positive commitments to their communities. For example, users can get commitments baked into the code that their data will be kept private and that they won’t get de-platformed without due process. Third-party developers can safely invest in their businesses knowing that the rules are baked into the network and can’t change, protecting them from platform risk. Using the financial features of blockchains, users and developers can receive tokens in order to participate in the upside of the network as it grows.

A Johns Hopkins Study Reveals the Scientific Secret to Double How Fast You Learn

Jeff Haden:

When you’re trying to learn something new — like, say, making that new sales demo really sing — you need to practice. When you’re trying to gain expertise, how much you practice is definitely important.

But even more important is the way you practice.

Most people simply repeat the same moves. Like playing scales on the piano, over and over again. Or going through the same list of vocabulary words, over and over again. Or, well, repeating anything over and over again in the hopes you will master that task.

Not only will your skills not improve as quickly as they could, in some cases, they may actually get worse.

According to research from Johns Hopkins, “What we found is if you practice a slightly modified version of a task you want to master, you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practicing the exact same thing multiple times in a row.”

Madison 2020 Referendum Climate: Taxpayers decide some states aren’t worth it

Ben Eisen and Laura Kusisto:

The average property tax bill in the U.S. in 2018 was about $3,500, according to Attom Data

Solutions, a real-estate data firm. But many residents in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California had been deducting well over

$10,000 a year. In Westchester County, N.Y., the average property-tax bill was more than $17,000, the highest in the country.

Among the people who are uprooting, many say they had long considered a change. But they saw the tax law as a reason to finally undertake the potentially difficult task of changing their state residency.

“It was another bucket of straw on the back of the camel,” said John Lee, a wealth-management executive and longtime resident of the

Sacramento, Calif., area. Mr. Lee and his wife, Tracy, moved their primary residence last winter to Incline Village, a resort community on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.

Let’s Compare: Middleton and Madison Property Taxes

2019: Madison increases property taxes by 7.2%, despite tolerating long term, disastrous reading results

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Yale Faculty call for ideological diversity

Valeria Pavilonis & Matt Kristoffersen:

But conservative professors criticized what they saw as a lack of effort to recruit a faculty body that better represents the nation’s political makeup. Four professors interviewed by the News said that as is, Yale’s climate stifles political discourse. According to a 2017 survey, almost 75 percent of Yale professors said they were liberal. Still, according to University President Peter Salovey, Yale is actively seeking to recruit scholars from a range of backgrounds with different perspectives.

“I think diverse points of view, ideas that challenge the mainstream … represented in a University setting are critical to both providing a great educational environment and also to making headway in scholarship and research,” Salovey said in an interview with the News. “And that diversity of thinking includes, but is not limited to, a range of political opinions.”

The University’s reputation as a liberal school is not new. Conservative pundits often consider Yale to be a perfect atmosphere for “snowflakes” — a term used against students and faculty members who passionately advocate for ideas far to the left of the American political spectrum. And in a 2017 News survey, under 10 percent of Yale faculty respondents identified as conservative. This finding nearly matched nationwide data from a different faculty political opinion poll cited by Inside Higher Ed in 2007 nearly a decade prior.

According to another study conducted by a professor at Sarah Lawrence College and a researcher at Stanford University, academics in the Northeast are polarized even more. The ratio of liberals to conservatives is 28:1 according to this data from 2014.

To prominent history professor Carlos Eire GRD ’79, Yale’s liberal bent can choke productive discussion.

Nowhere Is the Hypocrisy of Progressives More Apparent Than in Education

Nikima Levy Armstrong:

In the years leading up to my run, progressives talked a good game about their desire for equity, diversity and inclusion. I watched as they marched in the streets with us during Black Lives Matter protests. They put #BlackLivesMatter signs up in their windows and on their lawns. Some of them helped to shut down streets and freeways; while others wrote op-eds and made passionately-written Facebook posts about the need to challenge injustice and end white supremacy. Their enthusiasm and exuberance in standing for justice seemed authentic, for a while. 

However, all of that excitement and passionate commitment was put to the test when I decided to run for office on a racial justice platform, focused on ending racial disparities, closing the opportunity gaps in public education, and seizing power on behalf of communities of color that are too often marginalized and relegated to second class citizenship.

The lukewarm support that I received from some of the same progressives who had marched with me and shut shit down was like a splash of Minnesota ice cold water in my face, reminding me that things were not quite what they seemed. During my experience, I truly began to pay attention to the hypocrisy between the nice sounding words and actions of many progressives and their failure to fight for systemic changes to laws and policies and indifference to the plight of poor people of color. 

When I put two and two together, it all made sense—people who are living comfortable lives and for whom the system was designed for their benefit will rarely, if ever, make any significant sacrifices that threaten their discomfort, sense of entitlement or political power.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

University cancelled seminar by feminist speaker following threats of protest from transgender activists

Camilla Turner & Ewan Somerville:

A university cancelled a seminar by a feminist speaker, citing “academic freedom”, following threats of protest from transgender activists.

The University of East Anglia has been accused of “no-platforming” Kathleen Stock, a professor in philosophy at Sussex University, who was due to address academics there next week about philosophical issues surrounding diversity and inclusion.

But she was informed that her seminar has now been postponed in order to respect “the views of members of the transgender community”.

The university also cited “security and health and safety issues” and argued that allowing her talk to go ahead “raised issues of academic freedom”.

Prof Stock, who has been labelled a “Terf” by transgender activists, said she has been effective “no-platformed” by the university.

Terf, which stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, is generally used as a derogatory term to describe those who believe that “identifying” as a woman is not the same as being born a woman. It can also be used to refer to people who are deemed to hold “transphobic” views.

Prof Stock said she had been told that the university grew concerned after transgender activists threatened to protest at the event.

“I think this is part of a wider pattern where an invitation to speak is given in the normal way, and then senior management panic in response apparently to some kind of protest,” she said.

The Best Parts of Your Childhood Probably Involved Things Today’s Kids Will Never Know

Annabelle Timsit:

The endless stretch of a lazy summer afternoon. Visits to a grandparent’s house in the country. Riding your bicycle through the neighborhood after dark. These were just a few of the revealing answers from more than 400 Twitter users in response to a question: “What was a part of your childhood that you now recognize was a privilege to have or experience?”

That question, courtesy of writer Morgan Jerkins, revealed a poignant truth about the changing nature of childhood in the US: The childhood experiences most valued by people who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s are things that the current generation of kids are far less likely to know.

That’s not a reference to cassette tapes, bell bottoms, Blockbuster movies, and other items popular on BuzzFeed listicles. Rather, people are primarily nostalgic for a youthful sense of independence, connectedness, and creativity that seems less common in the 21st century. The childhood privileges that respondents seemed to appreciate most in retrospect fall into four broad categories:

Guilty white teacher defends Madison school chaos

David Blaska:

This trenchant observation drew a response from one Stan Endiliver, who (contrary to his intention) betrays why virtue-signaling progressives like himself are piping at-risk kids to disaster by playing the victim fife.

MMSD teacher here; relax

1. If you are a parent of a student in MMSD, you have nothing to fear.[Blaska: as long as you stay out of the line of fire.] There are many caring teachers and principals that are doing great things. Our district is not perfect, but we are doing our best to serve all kids …

3. If you are looking to Blaska as a saviour, just move. [Blaska: Which is why Sun Prairie is building a second high school] He has no idea what he is talking about. I am in a MMSD school every day, and have been for 15 years, and his vision of us is ludicrous. Leading kids out of school to squad cars is exactly why we are in the position we are in. We have a lot of kids dealing with real trauma and there are a lot of problems that are rooted in mental health issues. Give the district more resources to heal, and that would be a great place to start. 

5. It all comes to back to race. Have you done your homework on Madison? The zoning? The fact that our schools were only fully integrated in 1983? The days of blindly complying with your teacher are over, but many people would love to go back to the time when it was like that.

I hear teachers say things like “when I was in school, you would never…” well guess what, when we were in school we were being socialized into a white supremacist system. That system is coming down, and this worries a lot of people, whether they consider themselves woke or not. — Stan Endiliver

That system is coming down

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Hong Kong’s 145-year-old St Joseph’s College, which houses a declared monument, set for HK$500 million facelift

Chan Ho-him:

Hong Kong’s 145-year-old St Joseph’s College, which houses a declared monument, is set for a HK$500 million (US$64.3 million) facelift for the first time in decades.

The redevelopment plan, which spans 22 years in three phases, involves the building of a new swimming pool, a student dormitory, a new entrance and an innovation and performance hub.

The aided secondary school for boys, located on Kennedy Road in Mid-Levels and operated by the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, has a student population of about 1,000 and was founded in 1875.

The north and west blocks of the college, also known as the “old building” and “old hall” respectively, were built in the 1920s and are the only pre-war constructions within the campus. Because declared monuments are subjected to statutory protection, they will not be touched during the development.

Civics: What Congress Can Learn From Wisconsin About Fixing FISA Corruption

Tom Tiffany:

Innocent men and women were spied on. Several years of private phone, bank, tax, and email records were secretly seized, and a handful of families were subjected to armed pre-dawn raids of their homes simply because they engaged in political speech. To top it off, prosecutors and, even worse, a judge slapped these targets with a gag order to keep them silent. They didn’t want the public to know how far their government would go to undermine voters at the ballot box, and people who believed fervently in a cause.

Much like the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, Wisconsin’s unusual John Doe law gave prosecutors exceptional powers to conduct secret investigations on the thinnest showing of suspicion, with a judge as a one-sided partner. There is no adversarial process to determine probable cause, and the retired judges who presided over the court had no immediate accountability.

No one was ever charged with any crime, but lives were turned upside down and reputations were destroyed as prosecutors illegally leaked private documents to the press. Fortunes were spent on lawyers to defend conduct that, in the beginning and in the end, was legal.

Secrecy and a lack of accountability allowed prosecutors to turn the John Doe law from a useful law enforcement tool intended to protect the reputation of the person being investigated into an abusive weapon. The investigation went on for years, and in a sense it is not over yet. The innocent subjects of that investigation still have not received their property back from snooping bureaucrats and prosecutors. It has been more than six years.

When we learned about the vast abuses by state government officials, I worked with Walker and my legislative colleagues, including some Democrats, to end the abuse. The reforms I authored limited John Doe powers to only those crimes where secrecy really is needed, such as gang-related crimes as to which witnesses may be fearful, crimes involving children, and unsolved murders or possible murders, where the risk of smearing innocent people also is high. We eliminated the unconstitutional gag order against those under investigation and required prosecutors to renew their authority for an investigation every six months before a panel of duly elected judges who might at least be held accountable by voters.

We did that in Wisconsin. Now Congress must act similarly to fix the current FISA warrant process so it cannot be weaponized against our citizens.


UW Regents eyeing tuition increase in next budget biennium, System president says

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The tuition freeze has been in place for in-state undergraduates at four-year campuses since 2013 and in 12 of the past 14 years at the two-year campuses. The state budget passed last summer requires tuition remain frozen through the 2020-21 school year.

“We’re exploring a process, and I probably won’t be here in August, but I believe this process will be embraced by the board where they will put forward a tuition increase a year ahead of the implementation,” said Cross, who plans to retire when a new president is expected to begin sometime this summer. “In the coming biennial budget request, you will see the proposed tuition increase as a part of the revenue projections for the coming year.”

The tuition increase, which Cross told lawmakers would be “roughly” inflationary, is far from a done deal.

The regents typically approve their state budget request in August of even-numbered years. The governor and Legislature then take up their request in the first half of the following odd-numbered year by adding or removing items to the agency’s request.

System spokesman Mark Pitsch said Wednesday the regents have made no budget recommendations. Board of Regents president Drew Petersen did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment.

Cross’ hinting of a tuition increase in the next budget cycle would differ from the 2019-21 biennium when the board approved a plan that called for no tuition increases for undergraduate Wisconsin residents.

Turkey buys Delphi licenses for an estimated one million students

Jon Aasenden:

The ministry of education in Turkey recently announced that they will be offering Delphi free of charge to their students through a license deal with Embarcadero. An estimated one million students will thus learn object oriented programming through this initiative.

Getting object-pascal back into universities and education is very important. Not just for Delphi as a product and Embarcadero as a company, but to ensure that the next generation of software developers are given a firm grasp on fundamental programming concepts; concepts that represent the building-blocks that all software rests on; a curriculum that has taken heavy damage from the adoption of Java and C# in the early 2K’s.

Object Pascal as a language (including Freepascal, Oxygene and various alternative compilers) have been fluctuating between #11 and #14 on the Tiobi index for a few years. Tiobi is an index that tracks the use and popularity of languages around the world, and helps companies get an indication of where to invest. And despite what people have been led to believe, object pascal has seen stable growth for many years, and is far more widespread than sceptics would have you believe.

Big tech’s hypocritical wokeness might soon backfire

Joel Kotkin:

Not long ago, in our very same galaxy, the high-tech elite seemed somewhat like the Jedis of the modern era. Sure, they were making gobs of money, but they were also “changing the world” for the better.

Even demonstrators against capitalism revered them; when Steve Jobs died in 2011, the protesters at Occupied Wall Street mourned his passing.

Increasingly, Americans no longer regard our tech oligarchs as modern folk heroes; today companies including Google, Apple and Facebook are suffering huge drops in their reputations among the public.

Social justice, for some

The tech oligarchs make a big show of their social “wokeness.” They play up on gender issues, despite a wicked record of sexual harassment at companies like Google and across the “bro culture” of the male-dominated valley.

Worse still are issues of class. The Bay Area, as CityLab put it, has devolved into “a region of segregated innovation” where the rich wax, the middle class declines and the poor suffer increasingly unshakeable poverty. Over the past decades wages for African Americans and Latinos in Silicon Valley have fallen during the boom while much of the work, up to 40 percent, has gone to temporary immigrant workers, the modern-day equivalent of indentured servants.

Why teen depression rates are rising faster for girls than boys

The Conversation:

We’re in the middle of a teen mental health crisis – and girls are at its epicenter.

Since 2010, depression, self-harm and suicide rates have increased among teen boys. But rates of major depression among teen girls in the U.S. increased even more – from 12% in 2011 to 20% in 2017. In 2015, three times as many 10- to 14-year-old girls were admitted to the emergency room after deliberately harming themselves than in 2010. Meanwhile, the suicide rate for adolescent girls has doubled since 2007.

Rates of depression started to tick up just as smartphones became popular, so digital media could be playing a role. The generation of teens born after 1995 – known as iGen or Gen Z – were the first to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. They’re also the first group of teens to experience social media as an indispensable part of social life.

Of course, both boys and girls started using smartphones around the same time. So why are girls experiencing more mental health issues?

Mining three surveys of more than 200,000 teens in the U.S. and U.K., my colleagues and I were able to find some answers.

School Board chooses Matthew Gutiérrez as next Madison superintendent

Scott Girard:

Gutiérrez said in the release he was “honored and humbled to be selected,” touting community engagement and support to teachers, students and families as “top priorities.”

“During my visit to Madison, I was extremely impressed with the high level of community involvement and how community members hold education as a top priority,” he said. “I realize that with this role comes a tremendous responsibility, and I will work hard to ensure that we keep our strategic framework goals and our students at the center of what we do.

Logan Wroge:

In an interview Friday, Gutierrez, 39, said he was grateful to even be considered for the job and is excited to move to Madison.

While visiting Wisconsin last week, Gutierrez said he “would be the strongest advocate for every single learner.” He said there’s still work to do in the district, but believes “all the right structures are in place.”

Throughout the summer, Gutierrez said he plans on conducting a “listening tour” to better understand the community and the district. He said he is already looking at dates before June 1 to come to Wisconsin and learn more about Madison.

As part of the listening tour, Gutierrez wants to hear from teachers about what programs and initiatives the district should focus on to prevent teachers from feeling overburdened.

“So many of the decisions that we make in central office directly impact teachers,” he said. “Sometimes we forget because we’ve been out of the classroom for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, that we continue to pile things onto teachers.”

Gutierrez said his base salary will be $250,000, slightly higher than Cheatham’s annual salary of $246,374. He has been superintendent of the Seguin Independent School District, which is outside of San Antonio, Texas, since 2017.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Matthew Gutiérrez links and additional comments.

Cap Times’ Esenberg cartoon takes political left to new lows

Shannon M. Whitworth:

As I black man, I have had my fill of the patronizing and condescending self-righteousness of these self-appointed white guardians who justify any gutter tactic in the name of their causes. I am appalled that the irony of publishing the cartoon as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (someone who never would have stooped so low) seems to be completely lost on the publisher. Of the racism I have experienced since I moved to Wisconsin over 25 years ago, the worst has come from white people on the political left who presume to tell me how bothered I should be about racism in Wisconsin. This self-flagellation to have black people absolve them as “one of the good ones” is as uncomfortable as it is pathetic. Further, do not champion yourselves as protectors of black people by presuming we are too stupid to figure out how to register to vote.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

A Matter of Facts

Sean Wilentz:

With much fanfare, The New York Times Magazine devoted an entire issue in August to what it called the 1619 Project. The project’s aim, the magazine announced, was to reinterpret the entirety of American history. “Our democracy’s founding ideals,” its lead essay proclaimed, “were false when they were written.” Our history as a nation rests on slavery and white supremacy, whose existence made a mockery of the Declaration of Independence’s “self-evident” truth that all men are created equal. Accordingly, the nation’s birth came not in 1776 but in 1619, the year, the project stated, when slavery arrived in Britain’s North American colonies. From then on, America’s politics, economics, and culture have stemmed from efforts to subjugate African Americans—first under slavery, then under Jim Crow, and then under the abiding racial injustices that mark our own time—as well as from the struggles, undertaken for the most part by black people alone, to end that subjugation and redeem American democracy.

The opportunity seized by the 1619 Project is as urgent as it is enormous. For more than two generations, historians have deepened and transformed the study of the centrality of slavery and race to American history and generated a wealth of facts and interpretations. Yet the subject, which connects the past to our current troubled times, remains too little understood by the general public. The 1619 Project proposed to fill that gap with its own interpretation.

To sustain its particular take on an immense subject while also informing a wide readership is a remarkably ambitious goal, imposing, among other responsibilities, a scrupulous regard for factual accuracy. Readers expect nothing less from The New York Times, the project’s sponsor, and they deserve nothing less from an effort as profound in its intentions as the 1619 Project. During the weeks and months after the 1619 Project first appeared, however, historians, publicly and privately, began expressing alarm over serious inaccuracies.

Civics: Hong Kong Protest Tech

Wilson Quarterly:

Governments also drew lessons from the so-called “Battle of Seattle” of 1999 and other actions, seeking to deter the property damage often associated with anti-capitalist protests – and blunt the effectiveness of even peaceful mass gatherings through tactics such as “kettling” (or confining) protestors to particular areas.

Hong Kong’s role as a workshop for a new era of protest takes shape amidst broader global assertions of state power that have resulted from almost two decades of deadly terrorist activity that followed 9/11. These powers are underpinned by rapid advances in the technologies used to track the movements and activities of citizens.

The 2014 Umbrella Movement – named for the umbrellas used by protestors as a shield against tear gas – had already demonstrated the formidable resolve of the city’s pro-democracy protestors. The protests that broke out again in Hong Kong in 2019, spurred by proposed changes in the territory’s extradition law, have taken the city’s residents into new terrain as the tides of fortunes have shifted back and forth over ensuing months.

The Academy Overweights Co-Authored Articles, To The Detriment Of Women, Faculty Of Color, And Faculty With Surnames That Fall Later In The Alphabet

Linus Yamane:

In light of the frequent campus climate issues of recent years, many of us in higher education have been thinking about inherent biases in our institutions’ appointment, promotion and tenure systems. How might faculty of color and women be systematically thwarted when they try to move up the academic labor market? One fundamental way such biases manifest themselves is how academe gives credit for single-author and multiple-author journal article publications.

In my field of economics, the number of authors per paper has increased monotonically over time. …  [I]f departments do not distinguish between single-authored and co-authored journal articles, it is easier to increase the number of publications with co-authors.

When I talk with faculty members of color, they express a concern about this practice of co-authoring papers. They tell me that it is harder for faculty of color to find co-authors. In many ways, finding a co-author is like finding a spouse. We tend to marry people who look like ourselves. Tall people tend to marry other tall people. Educated people tend to marry other educated people. White people tend to marry other white people. There are similar patterns with co-authors. They tend to have ties to the same graduate schools. They have interests in the same subfields. And faculty members of color tend to write with other faculty of color. But with fewer faculty of color in academe, it is harder for those scholars to find appropriate co-authors.

Unfortunately, while the practice of co-authoring articles creates a bias against faculty of color, we can do little to change the situation immediately. If we can increase the number of faculty members of color in higher education, that will help, but it will take some time.

For today, we must focus on being careful about properly crediting the work in co-authored journal articles when we evaluate faculty members. While single-author papers send a clear signal about skills and abilities of the author, co-authored papers do not provide specific information about each author’s skills and abilities. That ambiguity can result in systematic biases. We must make sure that we recognize the work of co-authors in a fair and consistent way. …

‘I hope the concept of cultural appropriation is a passing fad’

Lionel Shriver:

I hate to disappoint you folks, but unless we stretch the topic to breaking point this address will not be about “community and belonging.” In fact, you have to hand it to this festival’s organisers: inviting a renowned iconoclast to speak about “community and belonging” is like expecting a great white shark to balance a beach ball on its nose.

The topic I had submitted instead was “fiction and identity politics,” which may sound on its face equally dreary.

But I’m afraid the bramble of thorny issues that cluster around “identity politics” has got all too interesting, particularly for people pursuing the occupation I share with many gathered in this hall: fiction writing. Taken to their logical conclusion, ideologies recently come into vogue challenge our right to write fiction at all. Meanwhile, the kind of fiction we are “allowed” to write is in danger of becoming so hedged, so circumscribed, so tippy-toe, that we’d indeed be better off not writing the anodyne drivel to begin with.

Let’s start with a tempest-in-a-teacup at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Earlier this year, two students, both members of student government, threw a tequila-themed birthday party for a friend. The hosts provided attendees with miniature sombreros, which—the horror— numerous partygoers wore.

Media Stupidity Is Uniting Left and Right

Matt Taibbi:

Just a few elections ago, the national press policed the boundaries of both Democrat and Republican politics. You couldn’t sniff either party’s nomination without media assent.

After more high-profile crackups, including a few over the weekend, the press might be months from being pushed all the way to the outside of a general election campaign. Having declared war on Donald Trump and his voters years ago, news outlets are committing to a similar pile-on of Bernie Sanders.

Maybe this will end as an inspirational unity story, like Independence Day, when an invasion of gross aliens brought America together. At present, it just seems short-sighted.

The low point came Saturday, when Joy Reid on MSNBC’s AM Joy show had on a “body language expert” named Janine Driver to declare Sanders a liar, because his posture reminds her of a turtle. There’s not much to say about this except it’s the same combo of junk forensics and yellow journalism that Bill O’Reilly made infamous.

Restating talking points has become rather common, unfortunately.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Pocket Worthy · Stories to fuel your mind. Too Many Americans Will Never Be Able to Retire

Noah Smith:

The U.S. bounced back from falling fertility once before, in the late 1980s. But as economist Lyman Stone has written, there are reasons why history may not repeat itself. High and increasing costs of housing, child care and education show no sign of reversing. The need for ever-higher levels of education in order to thrive in the U.S. job market is causing families to delay childbirth, which results in fewer children. Stone projects that U.S. fertility rates could fall as low as 1.5 or 1.4 — the levels that prevail in Japan and some European countries.

There is one more source of population growth that the U.S. has traditionally depended on — immigration. Low-skilled immigrants make it easier to raise kids by providing cheap child-care services. High-skilled immigrants earn more and pay a lot of taxes, while using few government services themselves, meaning that their fiscal contribution is enormously positive:

Related: Property taxes for schools up by highest rate in a decade.

Madison Memorial student arrested after trying to bring knife into school

Scott Girard:

A Memorial High School student was arrested Thursday morning while allegedly trying to bring a “long fix-bladed kitchen knife” into the school, according to the Madison Police Department.

An incident report states a plow driver called 911 after seeing the student walking near the school with the knife around 9:21 a.m.

“The witness said the suspect attempted to conceal the weapon up a sleeve after realizing he was being watched by the plow driver,” the report states.

2005: Gangs and school violence forum: audio and video.

2017: West High Teacher on our disastrous reading results:

“Here’s my data from this year and this is why I’m here: 

Of the 65 students plus or minus it kind of changes this year 24 of them are regular ed students. 

Another way to say they don’t have an IEP so there is no excuse for that reading intervention in (that group). 

12 of those 24 have been enrolled in Madison School since Pre-K kindergarten or kindergarden. 12 students have been in Madison Schools.”

Why Black People in Madison Wisconsin are Impatient, and Should Be.

Kaleem Caire:

With regard to K-12 education, Madison has known about the widespread underperformance of Black children in our city’s public schools for more than 50 years, and the situation has gotten worse. Instead of creating important and transformationl systemic changes, we act like “programs” alone will solve our problems, when we know full well that they will not.

I hope after reading (or scanning) this list, that you join me in becoming extraordinarily and absolutely impatient in your desire to address these challenges, and engage in less talk and more action and investment so we can do a far better job or preparing future generations to climb out the potholes that previous generations, and ours, have created for them.

We have been dealing with these disparities for far too long. In K-12 education in Madison, despite modest investments in efforts to improve things, we have seen little progress. It’s not that we haven’t done anything. You will see below that work has been done and investments have been made. However, we have never really focused on creating and manifesting broad systemic and comprehensive change in the institutions that could help us move forward, such as our public schools. Going forward, we must do more and do better. We cannot afford to lose another generation to our ignorance, soft approaches or inaction.

Please read below and see for yourself just how long we’ve been spinning in circles. This is why Black people in Madison are impatient, and we should be.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

Commentary on Madison’s K-12 Climate (lacks a substantive look at our long term, disastrous reading results)

Child opportunity index:

But the data don’t paint an entirely rosy picture for Madison. In a pattern researchers have mapped across the country, local black and Hispanic children are disproportionately concentrated in “very low opportunity” neighborhoods, and white children have significant advantages.

Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, urged area residents to take a hard look at how the city is serving all children, not just those in affluent neighborhoods.

“We should be careful not to over-celebrate when there are too many young people still hurting from the challenges we face in our region,” he said. “On one hand, it’s a great win for the city to get a score like that, but it’s not reflective of how African American families are actually living — especially kids.”

The study adds to a growing body of research demonstrating that the places where children grow up influence their long-term health, education and career outcomes. Most famously, economist Raj Chetty’s Opportunity Insights project has shown how a child’s future is shaped by the ZIP code he or she lives in.

The report.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

The teachers’ strike gripped LA for 6 days. A year later, what are the results?

Howard Blume & Sonali Kohli:

Arnoldo Vargas’ life hasn’t changed much since last January when he joined thousands of Los Angeles teachers in a momentous six-day strike. He drives the same 2006 Camry, has no more than 41 students in his art classes compared to an average of 42 last year, and would love to see his own eighth-grade son and first-grade daughter in smaller classes.

“A lot of the gains, I don’t see them … day-to-day, to be honest,” said Vargas, who teaches at Banning High School in Wilmington.

A year after some 30,000 teachers walked out of their classrooms and upended the daily routine of more than half a million students and their families, most parents and teachers would be hard-pressed to see defining differences in classrooms and schools. Most classes are one student smaller, and the district has been unable to hire the nurses promised for every campus.

The strike helped fuel a nationwide wave of activism and drew attention to what many say is a lack of resources supporting public schools. But there remains much debate about how much — or how little — changed inside classrooms.

Civics: Pack the Union: A Proposal to Admit New States for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution to Ensure Equal Representation

Harvard Law Review:

For most of the twenty-first century, the world’s oldest surviving democracy has been led by a chief executive who received fewer votes than his opponent in an election for the position.1× The first of these executives started a war based on false pretenses that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.2× The second — a serial abuser of women3× who hired as his campaign manager a lobbyist for violent dictatorships4× — authorized an immigration policy that forcibly separated migrant children from their families and indefinitely detained them in facilities described as “concentration camps”.

Democracy, as they say, is messy

But even when democracy is messy, a society’s commitment to the endeavor rests on the belief that giving power to the people is appropriate and fair.7× Recent events have highlighted some of the ways in which federal elections in the United States are profoundly undemocratic and, thus, profoundly unfair.8× The Electoral College — when it contravenes the popular vote — is an obvious example of this unfairness. But it is just one of the mathematically undemocratic features in the Constitution. Equal representation of states in the Senate, for example, gives citizens of low-population states undue influence in Congress. Conversely, American citizens residing in U.S. territories have no meaningful representation in Congress or the Electoral College.

How can we create a workforce full of lifelong learners?

Ravi Kumar:

We all agree that the world we work in today is so different from the world that was when our current learning systems were designed. Everything around us—our workplaces, our workforce, and entire industries. And learning—continuous, lifelong learning—is a bare essential for us to keep up.

The people who will flourish in this new world are those who can a) learn to learn, b) learn to unlearn, and c) learn to relearn. Yet, in a recent global survey of 1,000 business leaders, conducted by Infosys Knowledge Institute, these skills received short shrift. Respondents were far more likely to list teamwork, leadership, and communication when asked which skills they considered to be important now. While this thinking limits the tremendous potential in the talent market, the finding itself points to the huge latent competitive advantage for companies that actually nurture learnability and embrace lifelong learning.

Is college still worth it?

Michelle Singletary:

Soon, high school seniors across the country will find out which colleges have accepted them for admission in the fall.

For many, next comes a decision that could tether them to monthly debt payments for decades.

Outstanding student debt stood at $1.5 trillion in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of $20 billion over the previous quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Without adequate savings or enough scholarships and grants to go around, students and their parents feel they have no other choice than to take out student loans.

But, rightfully so, this debt sentence has sparked a debate: Is college still worth it?

How to Read Less News But Be More Informed, According to a Futurist

Ephrat Livni:

You might think someone who gets paid to predict the future would be mad for gadgets and forever spouting off on social media. But you’d be wrong. Writer and futurist Richard Watson may teach London business students and Silicon Valley tech companies how to think about crafting tools for tomorrow, but he’s not even on Twitter.

What’s more, Watson doesn’t really follow the news in any conventional way. He reads Sunday newspapers, in print, retrospectively. He’s not trying to catch up but to check and see which of the many headlines turned out to be relevant a few weeks or a month later. In other words, Watson is neutral about current events. He’s placing any given moment in a much greater context than the day or the week. Watson’s scale is grand and includes all of human history and its possible futures. In this very long view, nothing is such a big deal, although anything may become relevant eventually.

Should You Go to Graduate School?

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic:

Although the rich world is enjoying a long spell of unprecedented job growth and low unemployment, competition for the most competitive roles remains fierce. Tech companies like Google and Microsoft reportedly receive two million applications per year, and banks like Goldman Sachs attract in the thousands.

While these employers, among a growing number of others, are unanimously highlighting the importance of critical soft skills — such as emotional intelligence, resilience, and learnability — as determinants of performance, the most in-demand jobs require graduate credentials, to the point of surpassing current levels of supply. Consider, for example, that there are around 500,000 open IT jobs, but only 50,000 new IT graduates each year.

At the same time, the number of people enrolling in university continues to rise, effectively devaluating the undergraduate degree. In America, one-third of adults are college graduates, a figure that was just 4.6% in the 1940s. Globally, UNESCO reports that the number of students earning a university degree has more than doubled in the past 20 years.

School and Parent Choice + Taxpayer Funds Supreme Court Case: Kendra Espinoza vs Montana Department of Revenue

Supreme Court:

MR. KOMER: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case asks whether the Federal Constitution allows the wholesale exclusion of religious schools from scholarship programs. It does not.

Yet, Montana’s Blaine Amendment requires that exclusion. As a result, the Blaine Amendment discriminates against religious conduct, beliefs, and status in violation of the free-exercise clause under Trinity Lutheran.

The Montana Supreme Court disagreed. That court held that barring religious schools from the program did not violate the Federal Constitution

Notes and links on Espinoza v Montana.

Mission vs organization: leadership of the taxpayer supported ($500m+ annually) Madison School District

David Blaska:

Only 8.9% of Madison’s African American high school students are proficient in English, according to 2019 ACT scores. One of every five African American students never graduate. In math, 65% of black students test below basic proficiency, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Not to worry, the district now prohibits teachers from telling parents if their child wants to change genders.

Cheatham’s behavior education plan, Anderson wrote, “led students to conclude that there are no longer any consequences for bad behavior.”

The parents and teachers at Jefferson Middle School know that all too well. They are wondering how a 13-year-old boy who shot another student with a BB gun in December remained in school after two dozen previous incidents, including threatening to “kill everyone in the school.” The district is hunting down the whistleblower who leaked the student’s chronic misbehavior record.

School gag rules hide much of the chaos in the classroom, but no schoolhouse door can contain the disrespect for authority — as when 15 to 20 young teenagers busted up Lakeview Library last March, taunting: “We don’t have to listen to the police.” In December alone, 56 cars were stolen in Madison. Police arrested 15 kids (all but two younger than 17), along with three adults.

The district’s brain-dead, zero-tolerance for the N-word — no matter the educational context — resulted in the summary dismissal of a beloved black security guard and of a Hispanic teacher. The district still hasn’t done right by a dedicated positive behavior coach at Whitehorse Middle School, who school officials threw under the bus even before the district attorney cleared him of all wrong-doing. (The man is white.)

Parents are voting with their feet. MMSD enrollment is expected to decline — even though more people are moving here than any other city in the state. Meanwhile, Sun Prairie is building a second high school. Between the state open enrollment program and private schools, just over 13% of Madison’s children are opting out. Good luck convincing their parents to vote for Madison’s $350 million spending referendums next fall.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

“I’ve never worked [for a school district] more obsessed with mediocrity….”

Dylan Brogan:

On top of news headlines over safety problems at Jefferson, the district is also

investigating a whistleblower who is believed to be a teacher at the school.

Using an anonymous email account, the educator leaked to Isthmus and Channel3000 the behavior record of the student who shot two classmates with a BB gun. Isthmus did not report on the document when it was received on Dec. 11. But the television station ran with it, using the headline, “Student in BB gun incident previously threatened to ‘kill everyone in the school.’”

The leaked document was a report from EduClimber, software that teachers use to track student behavior incidents. It showed that the student on Sept. 20 was yelling threats in the hallway including “how he hated school and wanted to shoot it up and kill everyone in the school.”

The staff member who documented the incident also wrote that the student’s “language felt like attention seeking behavior rather than actual threats.”

“However, I have no idea how the students in class felt about his comments regarding shooting up the school and killing people,” adds the Jefferson teacher in the EduClimber report. “Over time he calmed down and was able to stay in the class.”

For weeks, Isthmus has been in contact with the whistleblower via email. The teacher says the document was leaked to the media because it was proof that Kurth had “been lying.” 

After the BB gun incident, Kurth had written in a Dec. 3 email to parents that “at this time we do not have any reason to believe the student intended to harm anyone with it.”

A Jefferson parent, who did not wish to give her name, says her daughter was on the bus when the incident occurred. She was upset about how Kurth handled the situation, especially after she saw the Channel3000 story.

“[The story] revealed that this same boy threatened to kill everyone at the school and was involved in 25 incidents in just a few months. That seems like Dr. Kurth lied,” says the parent. “A typical person would know that his threats and behavior go hand-in-hand and that he needs help. Plus, it’s just scary to think that someone threatened our kids and we were never told by the school, and that the same kid was still allowed at school and on the school bus.”

Why are Madison middle school principals leaving?

Choose Life: China’s Birthrate Hits Historic Low, in Looming Crisis for Beijing

Sui-Lee Wee and Steven Lee Myers:

The number of babies born in China last year fell to a nearly six-decade low, exacerbating a looming demographic crisis that is set to reshape the world’s most populous nation and threaten its economic vitality.

About 14.6 million babies were born in China in 2019, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. That was a nearly 4 percent fall from the previous year, and the lowest official number of births in China since 1961, the last year of a widespread famine in which millions of people starved to death. That year, only 11.8 million babies were born.

Births in China have now fallen for three years in a row. They had risen slightly in 2016, a year after the government ended its one-child policy and allowed couples to have two children, a shift that officials hoped would drive a sustained increase in the number of newborns. But that has not materialized.

Reasons Not to Study Life Science or Anything Related

Lei Mao:

So sounds like you don’t need to know anything and there is no prerequisite in order to do life science studies. This is true to some extent. Otherwise you would not see there are so many middle school or high school students spending their summer doing life science research in some labs. The only one thing I think is useful for life science or you can learn from life science is the design of experiments. This is probably the only thing in life science that shares something in common with other disciplines. What makes you stand out in life science is not how well you are doing for the course work, but how well you know about using different kind of experiment instruments, and your experiences of different kind of life science experiments. These knowledge and skills are highly domain specific, and they do not apply to other disciplines.

Wait, how about data analysis? Can we learn data analysis from life science? In life science, the experiments could be categorized based on the size of data you generated. For experiments generating small amount of data, usually it is too simple to analyze, and you would learn nothing. Compute the mean and standard deviation of the samples, analyze whether there is any statistical difference between the control group and experiment group. Because usually the students and even the professors do not know too much about statistics, they often made mistakes in choosing the right statistical methods for analysis, thus resulting in error-prone conclusions. This is called “You don’t know what you were doing”. For experiments generating large amount of data, such as genome sequencing experiments, it is usually handled and processed by professional software. Essentially you got results magically from a black-box software without knowing what the underlying analytical algorithms are. This is called “You don’t know what it was doing”.

The Triple Jeopardy of a Chinese Math Prodigy

Kit Chellel and Jeremy Hodges

Before he was denounced as a thief and cast out of the hedge fund industry, before he was a Goldman Sachs banker or a math prodigy, Ke Xu was a little boy in Hubei province, China, who loved puzzles. His parents, junior government clerks, didn’t have much money, so Xu would scour the house to find old algebra and science textbooks. He spent hours with the series 100,000 Whys, children’s brainteasers with a Maoist flavor. The commune wants to build 40 tractors—how many wheels should it buy?

When Xu was 16, his head teacher identified him as a gifted student and recommended him for a scholarship at the Raffles Institution in Singapore, a prestigious British-style boarding school with the Latin motto Auspicium melioris aevi (Hope of a better age). Xu mastered English and cruised through his classes, if not the school’s extracurricular activities. Cricket was a mystery he could never solve.

Madison West High School student found with loaded handgun in school, police say

Logan Wroge:

West High School student was arrested Tuesday after he brought a loaded handgun to the Near West Side school, Madison police said.

Tyrese T. Williams, 18, was arrested on a tentative felony charge of possession of a firearm in a school zone, Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said.

West High’s school resource officer received information Tuesday morning about a student possibly having a gun in the building, DeSpain said. The handgun was found in Williams’ backpack when it was searched, DeSpain said.

Principal Karen Boran said in an email to parents that “response protocols” were put in place when school staff learned about the potential of a firearm.

2005: Gangs and school violence forum: audio and video.

2017: West High Teacher on our disastrous reading results:

“Here’s my data from this year and this is why I’m here: 

Of the 65 students plus or minus it kind of changes this year 24 of them are regular ed students. 

Another way to say they don’t have an IEP so there is no excuse for that reading intervention in (that group). 

12 of those 24 have been enrolled in Madison School since Pre-K kindergarten or kindergarden. 12 students have been in Madison Schools.”

More, here.

NBC 15 coverage:

Police department spokesman Joel DeSpain said a school resource officer was notified Tuesday morning that a student may have a gun in the building.

DeSpain said the gun was found in Tyrese T. Williams’ backpack. The 18-year-old was arrested for possessing a firearm in a school zone.

According to Tim Lemonds, the school district spokesperson, in an interview with NBC15 News: “The way the principal and her team and especially our educational resource officer – the way they were able to respond quickly and isolate this student and make that area safe for other students, to address the issue, was exactly the way we train.”

A letter was sent to parents by Madison West High School principal Karen Boran.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: school district’s over reliance on property taxes

The Economist:

In 1990 a generation of baby-boomers, with a median age of 35, owned a third of America’s real estate by value. In 2019 a similarly sized cohort of millennials, aged 31, owned just 4%. Young people’s view that housing is out of reach—unless you have rich parents—helps explain their drift towards “millennial socialism”. And homeowners of all ages who are trapped in declining places resent the windfall housing gains enjoyed in and around successful cities. In Britain areas with stagnant housing markets were more likely to vote for Brexit in 2016, even after accounting for differences in income and demography.

Religious-schools case heads to a Supreme Court skeptical of stark lines between church and state

Robert Barnes:

Parents who believe religious schools such as Stillwater absolutely are the places for their children are at the center of what could be a landmark Supreme Court case testing the constitutionality of state laws that exclude religious organizations from government funding available to others. In this case, the issue rests on whether a scholarship fund supported by tax-deductible donations can help children attending the state’s private schools, most of which are religious.

A decision in their favor would “remove a major barrier to educational opportunity for children nationwide,” plaintiffs said in their brief to the Supreme Court. It is part of a movement by school choice advocates such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to allow government support of students seeking what she recently called “faith-based education.”

Said Erica Smith, a lawyer representing the parents: “If we win this case, it will be the U.S. Supreme Court once again saying that school choice is fully constitutional and it’s a good thing and it’s something parents should have. And that will provide momentum to the entire country.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said such a ruling would be a “virtual earthquake,” devastating to the way states fund public education.

And Montana told the court that, as in 37 other states, it is reasonable for its constitution to prohibit direct or indirect aid to religious organizations.

“The No-Aid Clause does not prohibit any religious practice,” Montana said in its brief. “Nor does it authorize any discriminatory benefits program. It simply says that Montana will not financially aid religious schools.”

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

New York City now spends $325 million a year to send students with disabilities to private schools

Alex Zimmerman:

Shortly after Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014, he made it easier for students with disabilities to attend private schools with the city picking up the tab.

That policy change is quietly having an enormous impact: The cost of sending students with disabilities to private schools has doubled since de Blasio was sworn in and has reached $325 million per year, dwarfing the price tag of some of the mayor’s highest-profile education initiatives.

The expense eclipses the mayor’s Renewal program to turn around struggling schools ($192 million per year); a recent increase in the funding formula that governs city school budgets ($125 million); and even the often-debated Absent Teacher Reserve for educators without permanent placements ($136 million in 2018).

“Progressive Cities have higher graduation gaps between students of color and white students than conservative cities”


Leaders of progressive cities often frame their policy proposals in terms of what’s best for those with the least opportunity and the greatest obstacles. And yet, students in America’s most progressive cities face greater racial inequity in achievement and graduation rates than students living in the nation’s most conservative cities.

As you read, keep in mind that this is a first look at the problem plaguing progressive cities. Our work is just getting started.

Progressive cities are failing to prepare students for their future.

Our most conservative cities are closing opportunity gaps.

This report is an attempt to highlight a problem we see as fixable.

All of us, whether we identify as progressive or conservative, should not be satisfied with impassioned rhetoric and token initiatives alone. We need positive action.

It’s time to stand up and make sure our leaders work with communities to create a path for success for all students.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

There’s a new obstacle to landing a job after college: Getting approved by AI

Rachel Metz:

College career centers used to prepare students for job interviews by helping them learn how to dress appropriately or write a standout cover letter. These days, they’re also trying to brace students for a stark new reality: They may be vetted for jobs in part by artificial intelligence.

At schools such as Duke University, Purdue University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, career counselors are now working to find out which companies use AI and also speaking candidly with students about what, if anything, they can do to win over the algorithms. This shift in preparations comes as more businesses interested in filling internships and entry-level positions that may see a glut of applicants turn to outside companies such as HireVue to help them quickly conduct vast numbers of video interviews.

Why Won’t My Child Show Any Work?

Matt Weber:

As an AoPS Academy campus director, a big part of my job is meeting with parents of prospective students. One of the most common complaints I hear is that their children never show any work. Parents are surprised when I push back, gently, on the underlying assumptions. In fact, showing work is sometimes a bad idea, and forcing students to show work unnecessarily can be harmful.

Doing all math work mentally is, of course, not a good habit. Adults understand this because they have been through the entire course of schooling, and they know what lies ahead for their children. They know that Algebra, Geometry, and other higher level classes will require students to lay out their thoughts on paper in order to have any hope of solving the problems.

But many students who come to us can get everything right in their school math classes without showing any work at all. Why should they? The directive to write down lots of intermediate steps often feels like something that is done for the teacher’s benefit, not for the student’s.

China’s Birthrate Hits Historic Low, in Looming Crisis for Beijing

Sui-Lee Wee and Steven Lee Myers:

The number of babies born in China last year fell to a nearly six-decade low, exacerbating a looming demographic crisis that is set to reshape the world’s most populous nation and threaten its economic vitality.

About 14.6 million babies were born in China in 2019, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. That was a nearly 4 percent fall from the previous year, and the lowest official number of births in China since 1961, the last year of a widespread famine in which millions of people starved to death. That year, only 11.8 million babies were born.

Births in China have now fallen for three years in a row. They had risen slightly in 2016, a year after the government ended its one-child policy and allowed couples to have two children, a shift that officials hoped would drive a sustained increase in the number of newborns. But that has not materialized.

Hong Kong teachers living in fear over protest support

Xinqi SU and Yan Zhao:

Hong Kong’s teachers say they are living in fear as the city’s democracy protests rumble on, with some not daring to discuss the movement and others anxious they could even lose their jobs if they are caught supporting it.

The education sector has always been at the vanguard of the financial hub’s pro-democracy fight, with teachers and students taking to the streets in 2012 to oppose a government order for schools to teach classes that praised China’s communist history while criticising democracy movements.

And since the recent wave of protests started last June, police said out of the 6,500 people arrested, about one third are students and around 80 are teachers.

Millions have come out on the streets in demonstrations sparked by opposition to a now-abandoned proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China.

But they morphed into wider demands for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability in the starkest challenge to Beijing since the former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

– Explain every post –

Primary school teacher Nelson is facing disciplinary proceedings for writing Facebook posts critical of the police, telling AFP he is under investigation by the education bureau following an anonymous tip.

Feds close 1 of 4 cases into UW-Madison’s handling of sexual assault

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights dismissed a UW-Madison case in November because of the agency’s inability to contact the person who filed the complaint to get information relevant to the investigation, according to a department spokesperson.

Federal and university officials declined this week to provide details on the closed case, which was launched in May 2016.

A federal student privacy law prevents the university from sharing specifics, UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said. She noted the university uses timely and fair policies and practices to investigate allegations of sexual assault.

A survey of UW-Madison students released last fall found that about one in four responding undergraduate women reported they had experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact during their time at the university, while 11% had been raped. The survey also showed students reporting higher levels of knowledge about sexual assault and campus resources than a similar survey conducted in 2015.

Disruptive students may not be the easiest to have in class, but perhaps defiance should be encouraged.

Ashley Lamb-Sinclair:

It tends to be common knowledge that Albert Einstein was bad at school, but less known is that he was also bad in school. Einstein not only received failing grades—a problem for which he was often summoned to the headmaster’s office—but he also had a bad attitude. He sat in the back of the class smirking at the teacher; he was disrespectful and disruptive; he questioned everything; and, when he was faced with the ultimatum to straighten up or drop out, he dropped out. That’s right: Albert Einstein was a dropout. And yet, he grew up to become one of the greatest thinkers in human history.

One can write off Einstein’s accomplishments as an exception to the rule; they can reason that his behavior was actually a symptom of being so smart that school didn’t challenge him, which is probably somewhat true. But what if what made Einstein a change agent was his rebellious nature rather than his intelligence? After all, the world is full of brilliant people who accomplish very little compared to Einstein.

Chicago Teachers Union Inc.: How the clout-heavy labor group spends its money

Lauren Fitzpatrick & Nader Issa:

Some CTU members have grumbled on Facebook about how their dues — a flat $55.85 per pay period — are being spent directly on political candidates. For example, the union put $215,000 into Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s failed campaign for mayor. The CTU also shifted $56,000 from its budget to the CTU-PAC.

“Can someone please post, again, the way to opt-out of your union dues going to support political candidates?” one teacher wrote on the “Members First” Facebook page of CTU members who have been pushing for more accountability on union spending. The group unsuccessfully ran a slate against the current teachers union leadership.

“That is on the minds of many members who are frustrated with the lack of transparency and accountability in political spending,” another member responded to the Facebook post. “Opting out of PAC voluntary contributions is an option, and sends a message and hopefully brings about change.”

Asked about the union’s political activities, Jennifer Johnson, the CTU’s chief of staff, says the CTU’s work is “inherently political.” But she notes that members can decide whether their dues go to the union’s PACs.

Related: WEAC: $1.57M for four State Senators.

How Swedes were fooled by one of the biggest scientific bluffs of our time.

David Sumpter:

Over the last few years, hundreds of thousands of Swedes have spent an estimated total of more than ten million euros on a book which many of them believed contained a scientific account of human psychology, written by an expert in the area. The book’s success has led many companies and other organizations to order personality tests, from a growing number of suppliers eager to exploit the new market, and apply them on their employees. Surrounded by Idiots has had a major impact on how Swedish people talk to each other about psychology and discuss the behaviour of those around them. Indeed, Thomas Erikson has undoubtedly had the greatest influence on the public’s interest in psychology in a generation.

Unfortunately, the theory behind this book, and the various follow-ups, is no more than pseudoscientific nonsense. And Erikson appears to lack even basic knowledge of psychology or behavioural science. This is why we at VoF (Vetenskap och Folkbildning — the Swedish Skeptics Society) named Thomas Erikson fraudster of the year in 2018.

Accusing an individual of being a fraud should never be done lightly. We need to be very sure of where we stand. Here I lay out the case as to how and why Thomas Erikson books have misled so many people…

China Ends Independent Admissions Program for Colleges

Yuan Ye:

China’s decades-old independent admissions program allowing top universities to cherry-pick talents from high schools is coming to an end.

In a notice published Tuesday, China’s Ministry of Education announced that the Independent Freshman Admission Program (IFAP) — an alternative to the country’s test-centric college admission program instituted in 2003 to recruit students who may have underperformed on the rigorous exams — will be replaced by a new pilot plan that vows to address enrollment inequality with a centralized recruitment scheme.

Under the new plan, 85% of applicants’ eligibility will be based on their college entrance exam — or gaokao — scores, restricting schools from making independent decisions based on their own criteria, according to the notice. A number of universities had already lowered their preferential admissions quotas last year.

Currently, 36 elite schools have been picked for the pilot program, with the application process starting in April. However, certain students with outstanding performance in related fields — as yet unnamed — could be exempt from the strict standards, according to the notice.

The new enrollment process will be more equal and transparent than IFAP, said Wu Xiaogang, a sociologist at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The system has been dogged by controversies over enrollment corruption and fraud, as well as accusations of favoringstudents from privileged families.

A cry for freedom in the algorithmic age

The Economist:

As artificial intelligence makes its way to all areas of life, the most prominent people aiming to explain the technology and translate it for the public tend to be scientists, businessmen and often, Americans. Gaspard Koenig is different. A French philosopher, he runs GenerationLibre, a think-tank that promotes classical liberal values of individual freedom. And he brings vibrant intellectual energy to the debate.

In his latest book, “The End of the Individual: A Philosopher’s Journey to the Land of Artificial Intelligence” (Éditions de l’observatoire, 2019), Mr Koenig argues that society should be cautious about the power of AI not because it will destroy humanity (as some argue) but because it will erode our capacity for critical judgement. He already sees that happening, as people blindly follow algorithmic recommendations, be it to watch a film or use a map. He frets this will only get worse.

Anti Parent and Student Choice Political Rhetoric

Will Flanders:

Conservatives are often accused of being “science deniers” when it comes to issues like climate change. But recent events reveal that those on the left suffer from significant confirmation bias when it comes to a stance that is increasingly central to the liberal education agenda — opposition to charter schools.

In December, the Network for Public Education put out a report entitled, “Still Asleep at the Wheel.” The study purports to examine the prevalence of waste in the Department of Education’s Charter School Program, which provides resources for new charter schools to get started, or for existing charter schools to expand and improve. 

The NPE report claims that a significant number of charter schools that received grants under the program never opened, or had already closed. But even a cursory look at the data revealed to me that at least three of the schools in my home state described as “closed” are very much open — indeed, they are among the top-performing schools in the city of Milwaukee. If they got that wrong, what else might there be?

Further examination of the report’s findings led myself and the president of School Choice Wisconsin, Jim Bender, to write a post for the Fordham Institutethat brought to light some additional errors. Indeed, at least 10 Wisconsin schools that the report claims are closed remain open. Christy Wolfe, vice president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, identified similar errors in the identification of closed charter schools in California. Additionally, Nina Rees, president of NAPCS, pointed out that the total amount of money received by schools that never opened is likely to be far less than what is reported in the study because such schools are likely only to receive the planning portion of multi-year grants.

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

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Montclair State sued over unconstitutional speech policy, arbitrary favoritism toward student groups

Alliance Defending Freedom:

A student and a student group represented by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against Montclair State University officials Wednesday after they forced students to stop peaceful, expressive activity without a permit. The lawsuit also challenges the university’s Bias Education Response Taskforce and an unconstitutional class system that grants preferential treatment to student organizations based on their viewpoints.

On Sept. 10, 2019, Mena Botros and two fellow students dressed in orange jump suits and held up signs voicing their support—as pretend criminals—for gun-free zones. The purpose was to express their belief that laws creating gun-free zones only benefit criminals and harm law-abiding citizens. Despite peacefully expressing their ideas in a common outdoor area of campus, a campus police officer forced them to stop. He told the students that anyone who wants to speak on campus has to obtain permission at least two weeks in advance and that the dean’s office would assign them a time and place to speak. The students, affiliated with Young Americans for Liberty, are challenging the two-week requirement because it unconstitutionally suppresses all speech and because it allows the university to deny or delay a student’s request for permission for any reason.

“A public university is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, but that marketplace can’t function if officials impose burdensome restraints on speech or if they can selectively enforce those restraints against disfavored groups,” said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross.