Surrounded by Government Failure, Why Do People Still Believe?

Veronique de Rugy:

New data confirm what we already knew; namely, that many people did not wait for the governments to lock down the economy to stay home and shelter in place. Such fear-based behavior contributed much to the economic collapse. That means that most consumers will be careful and watch out for their health and that of others without government decrees telling them to do so this time around too. But at least give consumers and businesses a chance to find what works for them once the economy is reopened.

I conclude with a report from the Washington Post. One is about Trump’s refusal to encourage people to wear masks. This, of course, comes on the tail of Dr. Fauci’s admission that he had intentionally misled the public about the usefulness of wearing masks so that they could be directed to health-care professionals.

And here is Fauci explaining how and why he lied: “He also acknowledged that masks were initially not recommended to the general public so that first responders wouldn’t feel the strain of a shortage of PPE. He explained that public health experts “were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply.” 

It’s interesting that Americans started wearing self-made masks long before this Fauci admission showing that maybe they were buying it. However, for the most part, Americans continue to trust Fauci. David Henderson, though, does not.

Seriously, reading the newspaper on a daily basis should make everyone question government’s intervention in our lives. But based on the support for both a populist protectionist Republican like Trump and his Democratic opponent for the presidency, Joe Biden, it doesn’t. So what are we to do?

I believe we should continue fighting the battle of ideas because when we are deep into the mess that both parties, and their underlying ideologies, are creating, some people will look for answers and for solutions outside the state. As Milton Friedman once said, “That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.” 

Woodrow Wilson and Americans’ Lack of Historical Literacy

Williamson Evers:

We need to hold him responsible for the fact that many Americans don’t know the timeline of world or American history and don’t know much about how constitutional government works in the United States: One hundred years ago, in 1916, the Wilson administration put the clout of the federal government behind a new curricular development – social studies.

In this project, the Wilson administration worked with a prominent figure from the world of philanthropy, Thomas Jesse Jones. A well-known progressive educator, Jones, who was white, had spent time teaching and developing the curriculum at the Hampton Institute, a vocationally oriented, historically black college in Virginia. While at Hampton, Jones created the social-studies curriculum.

Jones was responsible for popularizing the term “social studies” for this new conglomeration of subject matter. In fact, Jones headed the panel that wrote an influential 1916 federal report on social studies, a report that set the course for the new field and is widely acknowledged as still influential to this day.

Because Jones was a federal education official at the time, the social-studies report — although created by a non-federal group, the Committee on Social Studies — was issued as a bulletin of the U.S. Bureau of Education. In the report, the federal education agency generously offered to act as a center for disseminating information on textbooks that took the new “social studies” approach.

#share#“Social studies” is a cross-disciplinary K–12 curriculum of history, civics, geography, and related subjects — but, crucially, the curriculum is focused not on chronology or governmental structure and processes; the report proposed that social-studies teachers should focus on “concrete problems” that are “of vital importance to society.”

Warning—Apple Suddenly Catches TikTok Secretly Spying On Millions Of iPhone Users

Ask Doffman:

Worryingly, one of the apps caught snooping by security researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk was China’s TikTok. Given other security concerns raised about the app, as well as broader worries given its Chinese origins, this became a headline issue. At the time, TikTok owner Bytedance told me the problem related to the use of an outdated Google advertising SDK that was being replaced.

How to Get a Big Break on the Cost of College: Just Ask

Josh Mitchell:

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a yearslong shift in bargaining power away from colleges and toward families, which are quite prepared to treat tuition as they would a car’s price: something to haggle over.

When a college accepted Frances Marcel’s second child several years ago, she pleaded for a discount. It wouldn’t budge, she said, so she dipped deeper into her savings.

After her third child Ian was accepted by his top three choices for this fall, she urged him to write them in early March asking that they go lower. In April, each offered him further discounts. One offered about 41% off.

Ms. Marcel, of Rockland, Mass., told Ian to appeal again to the other two. “Mom, that sounds too aggressive,” Ian told her. She answered: “Really, you have nothing to lose.” Ian, 18, emailed appeals to the two schools and waited.

Such negotiating is part of what has become a technological arms race. Many colleges customize tuition-and-aid offers to extract the maximum from each prospect without driving the student to a rival campus. An industry of enrollment-management consultants uses computer algorithms to advise administrators on each prospect’s “price sensitivity.”

School closures force parents to choose between family and work

Emma Jacobs:

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The economy is open! From July 4, schoolchildren can spend all day in pub beer gardens, go to the cinema and shop in Primark. What most of them can’t do is go to school. That puts many parents in an impossible situation of choosing between work or family.

It’s not just the UK. In the US, food writer, Deb Perelman, tweeted: “I wish someone would just say the quiet part loud: In the Covid economy, you’re only allowed a kid OR a job.”

School closures will expand inequality among children. So too among parents. In the UK, the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that “mothers are more likely to have quit or lost their job, or to have been furloughed, since the start of the lockdown”.

The pandemic has illuminated stark differences between working parents. Those with live-in nannies, or partnered with a stay-at-home parent are freer to work than single parents. So too were those with older children versus parents of infants.

The nonsense of the shared experience of working parents was brought home to one friend. Sitting between a three year-old and five-year-old, she video-called her manager who empathised with the problems of sharing a workspace with kids. The camera panned out to reveal two willowy undergraduate daughters surrounded by textbooks. They were not in it together after all.

Then there are the differences between fee-paying and state schools. While the government has declared schools will be fully open in September, one mother of two, who is struggling to keep her business afloat, reports her state school told her January is more realistic for full-time schooling. “I feel physically sick,” she says. “It’s impossible, I am quietly incandescent.”

Civics: A Twitter Mob Takes Down an Administrator at Michigan State

Jillian Kay Melchior:

‘We are scientists, seeking truth,” Michigan State University physicist Stephen Hsu wrote in a 2018 blog post. “We are not slaves to ideological conformity.” That might have been too optimistic. Last week MSU’s president, Samuel L. Stanley Jr., yielded to a pressure campaign, based in part on that post, and asked Mr. Hsu to resign as senior vice president for research and innovation.

The trouble began June 10, when MSU’s Graduate Employees Union composed a lengthy Twitter thread denouncing Mr. Hsu as, among other things, “a vocal scientific racist and eugenicist.” The union claimed Mr. Hsu believes “in innate biological differences between human populations, especially regarding intelligence.”

Mr. Hsu says these accusations “were made in bad faith.” Take that 2018 blog post, which responded to New York Times articles that, in his words, linked “genetic science to racism and white supremacy.” In it, he wrote: “All good people abhor racism. I believe that each person should be treated as an individual, independent of ancestry or ethnic background. . . . However, this ethical position is not predicated on the absence of average differences between groups. I believe that basic human rights and human dignity derive from our shared humanity, not from uniformity in ability or genetic makeup.” Mr. Hsu doesn’t work in this field but rejects the idea that scientists should categorically exclude the possibility of average genetic differences among groups.

In a 2011 post, Mr. Hsu argued that standardized tests are predictive of the quality of graduate-school candidates. The post mentioned nothing about race, but the union imputed to him a belief “that lack of Black & Hispanic representation in higher ed reflects lower ability, despite evidence these tests negatively impact diversity.”

The union also faulted him for having “directed funding to research downplaying racism in bias in police shootings.” The MSU professor who conducted that work, psychologist Joe Cesario, tells me that “we had no idea what the data was going to be, what the outcome was going to be, before we did this study.” Mr. Cesario has collected evidence from a simulator and from real-world interactions between police and citizens. He concluded that “the nature of the interaction really matters the most, and officers were not more likely to be ready to shoot upon encountering a black versus white citizen.”

The Pandemic Has Reawakened the School Choice Movement

Libby Sobic:

“This pandemic has reawakened this movement of school choice,” said Calvin Lee of American Federation for Children at a roundtable discussion on school choice in Waukesha, Wisconsin this week. While COVID-19 has not been easy for many families as they have tried to balance work and educating their children at home, it has offered many parents a window into their child’s learning that they never would have had. If nothing else positive comes of this change of lifestyle during the pandemic, parents exercising school choice will be a remarkable silver lining—but there is a lot of work to do before choice is available to all students across America. 

The roundtable was hosted by Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway as well as Wisconsin parents, school leaders and school choice advocates. Building off of Lee’s comments, Pence said, “every parent became an educator, in part, and had to make choices in the way they use their own time and the way they became engaged… I’m really struck by your comment that maybe this challenging time through which we’ve passed has reinvigorated that principle in parents.”  

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Opinion: Yale Must Change Its Name

Sean O’Brien:

“Nothing is known about the boy on the right, who has just finished pouring Madeira (a sweet, fortified wine) into the glasses on the table… the silver collar and padlock around his neck indicate that he is enslaved.”

So begins the curator’s comment for a portrait of Elihu Yale, one of three paintings in Yale University’s collection that depicts a slave attending to Elihu the slavemaster.

Slavery is as inseparable from Elihu as these paintings depict. Such a namesake is a liability for Yale the institution. By that I mean a billion-dollar brand, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, an affiliated college in Singapore, and a huge healthcare network. This “open secret” is a ticking timebomb. It is about to go off.

#CancelYale trended this past week on social media, having started as a trolling of liberal elites by conservative influencers.

One example: “For an institution that prides itself on its so called progressivism, why has Yale not yet distanced itself from its namesake – a notorious slave trader?!”

To Yale’s chagrin, they have a point. It must be difficult to take a cold, hard look in the mirror when your face is covered in blood.

As has been well documented, America’s leading universities profited from slavery and have deep roots in colonialism. Dozens of schools have acknowledged their roots in racism and slavery, long before the current wave of Black Lives Matter protests.

Lurching Toward Fall, Disaster on the Horizon

John Warner:

For those who are hopeful that we can safely bring students back to campus in the fall, I present the evidence of what is happening with the students who are currently back on campus: one-third of the Clemson football team has tested positive for the coronavirus.  

A single night at a single bar in East Lansing, Mich., populated by college students has triggered an outbreak of at least 30 new cases 100 miles away.

Wait, I first drafted that last sentence on Saturday. I’m reading the draft on Sunday and we’re now up to at least 85 cases from this single incident.

I understand the desire to return to some semblance of normalcy. I understand the need for institutions to collect tuition and fees for room and board in order to stay solvent, but the thinking I see from many leaders around on-campus, in-person instruction seems downright magical to me.

In my view, the chief enemy of learning is “disruption.” Some element of disruption is inevitable during any semester, particularly at the individual student level. I cannot remember a semester where I did not have at least one student partially or wholly derailed by a personal issue or illness (like mono). 

Why Facts Don’t Matter to People

Barry Brownstein:

It’s good news all around. But you turn on the television and get a different message. People worry about sending their children to school this fall. Some display authoritarian views as they excuse politicians for destructive errors merely because they showed “strong leadership.”

If you’re wondering why so many people don’t see the world the way you do, engage them in conversation. You will find they are as well-intentioned as you are, but they are looking in a different direction. Beneath their opinions and fears, beliefs are shaping how they see the world.

Because of different beliefs, your villains may be their heroes. They may look at the world of effects while you are looking at causes. They’re hoping a better leader comes to power, while you’re considering how the presidency became so powerful and destructive.

Until their beliefs change, they will never consider how politicians and experts with too much power turned a pandemic into a catastrophe. As Einstein put it, “Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is theory which decides what can be observed.”

Spied on. Fired. Publicly shamed. China’s crackdown on professors reminds many of Mao era

Alice Su:

The professor was under surveillance. Cameras taped her every lecture. She couldn’t publish or give talks outside the university. She knew she had to be careful when she taught on one of China’s most sensitive and dangerous topics: the Cultural Revolution.

To preempt accusations of straying beyond academia, all discussion was based on archives, books and articles. Classes were kept small; heavy reading lists filtered out potential student-informants. She made seating charts with photos, making sure no stranger could wander in unnoticed.

Despite such scrutiny, Sun Peidong felt lucky to be teaching in Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University, the only school left in China offering truthful courses on the repressive Cultural Revolution of half a century ago. She loved watching her students question conventional narratives, find new ways of understanding their nation’s history and draw connections with their own families’ traumas.

Madison School Board to vote on Police Presence, layoffs and budget

Scott Girard:

If the vote goes as expected, the 2020-21 school year will be the first in more than two decades without a police officer stationed in each of the district’s comprehensive high schools.

Employee Handbook changes

Madison Teachers Inc. is organizing opposition to a set of proposed Employee Handbook changes that would change the rules around layoffs and surplus staff.

District administrators have asked the board to approve language that would eliminate seniority as the mechanism for layoffs and forced moves to other sites, instead using other to-be-determined standards evaluating performance. The changes would also allow for 30-day notice of layoffs instead of the annual May 15 layoff notices.

With the district considering a November operations referendum and the state still uncertain on its revenue losses from the pandemic, MMSD chief financial officer Kelly Ruppel told the board earlier this month she’s trying to create as much flexibility as possible for the months ahead.

That included an $8 million cut from last year already. Earlier this month board members agreed that cutting an additional $8.4 million to protect against the possibility of state cuts was a good idea. Doing so meant cutting the planned base wage increase for staff.

Ruppel said that means hitting pause on “any new spending, in order to maintain the most flexibility until we know more.” 

The other option she offered to board members was cutting up to 92 staff positions. If the referendum is on the ballot and approved or if state cuts don’t happen, the district could add wage increases back in mid-year. Hiring for eliminated positions would be a bigger challenge.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

2005: Gangs & School Violence audio / video.

Judge Branick writes letter to citizens explaining mask order

Judge Branick:

Eighty years ago, the greatest generation planted victory gardens, collected tin, rubber and steel, had food ration books and endured black outs, all to support the war effort. Their sacrifices were significantly more weighty than the inconvenience the present order requires. I want to thank a fellow county judge for reminding me of this. Today, a small minority is screaming that this is some kind of communist plot to overthrow the nation. When did it happen that we all became so focused on our rights and not our obligations to our fellow man and woman? Jesus said “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. I’m not directing anyone to lay down their life. Galatians 6:2 says “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ”. I love you, because that is what Christ teaches us to do.

I wear a mask not because I am afraid but because it is one way of showing that I care about my neighbors. There is a lot we don’t know about COVID-19 but all the evidence suggests that wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of the virus. If wearing a mask prevents one person from dying, then isn’t it worth the minor inconvenience? If wearing a mask helps us get our country and economy back to normal, then isn’t it our patriotic duty to do so?” I received this in an email from an Orange County resident. It is a note he keeps in his pocket which he gives to people who make snide remarks about his wearing a mask in stores.

A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California

John Ellis:

In recent years, study after study has found that a college education no longer does what it should do and once did.1 Whether these studies look directly at the capabilities of graduates, or instead at what employers find their capabilities to be, the result is the same: far too many college graduates have not learned to write effectively, they can not read and comprehend any reasonably complex book, they have not learned to reason, and their basic knowledge of the history and institutions of the society

in which they live is lamentably poor. “An astounding proportion of students are progressing through higher education today without measurable gains in general skills” is the anguished conclusion of a respected national study, entitled appropriately Academically Adrift.2 Further, students now spend on average little time studying outside the classroom, and the demands made of them by their faculty teachers have been correspondingly reduced.

Is it possible that the University of California is an exception to these national trends? Unfortunately, we can be certain that it is not. First, these national studies all include California, and none of them note any fundamental differences across states. Second, local studies of these issues always confirm the findings of the national studies. For example, the national finding that students now spend relatively little time studying outside the classroom has been confirmed by a study specific to UC that reached identical conclusions. A recent study of higher education in California concludes: “The California that many like to think of as a leader in higher education is average at best and trending in the wrong direction.”3

Public confidence in academia is dropping as the general public begins to understand that a college education is now much less likely to improve reading, writing, and reasoning skills, as well as general knowledge, than it used to. And this is happening just as the cost of a college education has been rising much faster than inflation. Students are being asked to pay considerably more and get considerably less. We are now seeing much increased concern with student debt and rising tuition costs. As this concern about cost joins with the growing concern about quality, the University must soon face a major crisis of public confidence.

The findings of these studies match all too well the specific complaints that are now commonly heard about the manifestations of a politicized higher education: that requirements for coursework in American history and institutions have been dropped, that writing courses often stress writing far less than tendentious political topics; that prescribed books are frequently no more than journalistic presentations of a simple political message instead of the more complex writings appropriate to an academic context; and that faculty teach what to think rather than how to think: that is, they demand correct attitudes and beliefs of students more than they require independent reading and thought.

This report is concerned with the corruption of the University of California by activist politics, a condition which, as we shall show, sharply lowers the quality of academic teaching, analysis, and research, and results in exactly the troubling deficiencies that are being found in the studies to which we have referred.4 We shall show that this is an inevitable consequence of any substantial influence of radical politics in academia, because its characteristic interests and modes of thought are the very antithesis of those that should prevail in academic life.

skills over degrees

Darlene Superville:

Ivanka Trump predicted the change in federal government hiring would create a more inclusive and talented workforce. She encouraged the private sector to follow the administration’s lead.

“We are modernizing federal hiring to find candidates with the relevant competencies and knowledge, rather than simply recruiting based on degree requirements,” she told The Associated Press in a statement. “We encourage employers everywhere to take a look at their hiring practices and think critically about how initiatives like these can help diversify and strengthen their workforce.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the board’s other co-chair, said the need for skills training and apprenticeships is as great as it was before the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people out of work, pushing the national unemployment rate above 13% in May.

Ex-CPS principal who tamed tough Fenger High explains why cops don’t belong in schools

Mark Brown:

A school principal will always need a good working relationship with the local district commander, but police are asked to intervene in too many situations, Dozier believes.

“We put too much on them,” she says. “It doesn’t necessarily warrant a police response.”

The problem with getting police involved is that it sucks students into a situation from which they might never recover.

“Once a kid touches the criminal justice system, it just steamrolls,” Dozier says.

It’s not enough for CPS to give a school the option of getting rid of its police officers if no resources are offered to take their place.

In Chicago’s resource-poor schools, it’s hardly a surprise that school communities would choose to hang on to what little they have, no matter how imperfect.

Dozier agrees with those who say the $33 million that CPS spends on its police contract should be reinvested in alternative resources.

“You have to give the schools what they need,” she says. “You can’t just take [police] out and say, ‘Good luck.’ ”

Maybe that can’t be accomplished by the beginning of this school year. But it ought to be the stated goal of the Chicago Public Schools.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

2005: Gangs & School Violence audio / video.

Civics: Why Did the Washington Post Get This Woman Fired?

Josh Barro & Olivia Nuzzi:

This is a mortifying tale about one woman’s cluelessness, but why did it end up in a major national newspaper? The Post’s editorial standards declare that “fairness includes relevance.” The non-recent, non-criminal bad acts of non-public figures are not ordinarily considered news, and before June 17, Schafer was a graphic designer with no public profile and no apparent power or ambitions to obtain it. What was the point of publishing this story — at considerable length, accompanied by original photography from an acclaimed staff photographer, on the front page of the paper’s “Style” section — besides causing Schafer to lose her job?

The Post said Schafer’s transgression was news because it happened in front of Toles and somewhere possibly in the vicinity of columnist Dana Milbank.

“Employees of the Washington Post, including a prominent host, were involved in this incident, which impelled us to tell the story ourselves thoroughly and accurately while allowing all involved to have their say,” said Kris Coratti, a spokesperson for the paper. “The piece conveys with nuance and sensitivity the complex, emotionally fraught circumstances that unfolded at the party attended by media figures only two years ago where an individual in blackface was not told promptly to leave. America’s grappling with racism has entered a phase in which people who once felt they should keep quiet are now raising their voices in public. The story is a microcosm of what the country is going through right now.”

It’s not unusual for publications to report on themselves, though ordinarily they do so because they are already in the news. Proactive reporting creates significant concerns about conflicts of interest: If the Post shapes the narrative of a new story about itself, it may do so in a way that is designed to protect the paper’s interests. When politicians do this, reporters cynically refer to it as “getting out ahead of the story” — the idea being that new information has more impact on public perception than a clarification or correction or addition to already public information.

Commentary on Two 2020 taxpayer supported Madison School District Superintendent Candidates

Scott Girard:

Madison School Board president Gloria Reyes said in the release the district is “very fortunate to have an impressive pool of highly qualified candidates participate in this process.”

“With a focus on how candidates aligned with the Leadership Profile, the Board was able to select two phenomenal finalists, both with deep roots in education and instruction, and today we are excited to introduce them to our community,” Reyes said.

MMSD had 26,842 students in the 2019-20 school year, with demographics of 41.7% white, 22.3% Hispanic, 17.8% Black, 8.5% Asian, 9.3% Two or more and less than 1% each of Pacific Isle and American Indian, according to state data.

In its earlier search, the district had three finalists. In addition to Gutierrez, Georgia education official Eric Thomas and College of Saint Rose professor Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard also visited the district for an interview and public Q and A. Consultant BWP and Associates conducted both searches.

Jane Belmore has served as the interim superintendent since last August, when Jennifer Cheatham left for a position at Harvard after six years in MMSD

Logan Wroge:

The finalists, Carol Kelley and Carlton Jenkins, will proceed with interviews next week.

Jenkins is in his fifth year as superintendent of the Robbinsdale School District in New Hope, Minnesota. He’s held educational leadership positions — including chief academic officer, principal, assistant principal and health teacher — in Michigan, Ohio, Beloit and Madison, and received his PhD from UW-Madison.

Kelley, an educator with 25 years of experience, is also in her fifth year as superintendent of Oak Park Elementary School District 97 in Illinois, the district said in an announcement. She also served for three years as superintendent of Branch Township School District in New Jersey and has a background as an elementary and middle school principal and a classroom teacher.

In these challenging times, our local businesses need your support. Find out how to get food, goods, services and more from those remaining open.

Kelley holds a doctorate of education from the University of Pennsylvania, the district said.

In addition to the next round of interviews, Jenkins and Kelley will participate in online engagement sessions with district staff and students during a “Virtual Day in the District.” The sessions will include an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates and provide feedback.

Notes and links on the 2020 Superintendent pageant, round 2.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

2005: Gangs & School Violence audio / video.

An experiment suggested by a Ph.D. student may rewrite chemistry textbooks

Lance Ignon:

Ryan McMullen had never heard of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences when he started casting about for a graduate chemistry program. But on the recommendation of one of his professors, he sent an email to the College’s Professor of Chemistry Stephen Bradforth proposing an experiment to tease out what makes a metal really a metal.

The proposal would not only turn into his Ph.D. thesis but a major scientific breakthrough.

McMullen’s proposal was not an easy sell. The experiment would be expensive and possibly dangerous.

The academics McMullen contacted at other U.S. research universities told him they had funding for their own research, but not for his. But Bradforth had a different response.

“He said, ‘I don’t have funding for your idea but if you come over here we can write a funding proposal together,'” said McMullen, who at the time was finishing up his undergraduate studies at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Bradforth not only helped McMullen secure funding, prioritizing it for National Science Foundation support over continuing other projects, but he also cobbled together an international team of scientists and arranged his sabbatical to oversee and participate in the main experiments. He also became McMullen’s Ph.D. adviser.

Homeschooled: Laura Deming, Scientist & Founder of The Longevity Fund

Laura Deming:

I grew up homeschooled in NZ with a hilariously small amount of context for what the real world was like. In retrospect, it was totally ideal. I had two strong memes deeply implanted in my cranium early in life – I love science and it’s my job to do something really important and I can do it, too. I have no clue who I’d be without those memes, and I’m also not sure that the latter was actually true! My dad just always told me that I was exceptional and could work out a way whatever I wanted to do in the world and I believed him. I still do, in a funny way, despite about a decade of evidence to the contrary and realizing how actually hard it is to make drugs for complex diseases. It’s extraordinarily sad how many otherwise brilliant kids might not do things they could because they don’t have a similarly supportive environment — I’m really excited for things like Daniel Gross’s Pioneer for that reason.

Street-Fighting Mathematics The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving

Sanjoy Mahajan:


An antidote to mathematical rigor mortis, teaching how to guess answers without needing a proof or an exact calculation.

In problem solving, as in street fighting, rules are for fools: do whatever works—don’t just stand there! Yet we often fear an unjustified leap even though it may land us on a correct result. Traditional mathematics teaching is largely about solving exactly stated problems exactly, yet life often hands us partly defined problems needing only moderately accurate solutions. This engaging book is an antidote to the rigor mortis brought on by too much mathematical rigor, teaching us how to guess answers without needing a proof or an exact calculation.

In Street-Fighting Mathematics, Sanjoy Mahajan builds, sharpens, and demonstrates tools for educated guessing and down-and-dirty, opportunistic problem solving across diverse fields of knowledge—from mathematics to management. Mahajan describes six tools: dimensional analysis, easy cases, lumping, picture proofs, successive approximation, and reasoning by analogy. Illustrating each tool with numerous examples, he carefully separates the tool—the general principle—from the particular application so that the reader can most easily grasp the tool itself to use on problems of particular interest. Street-Fighting Mathematics grew out of a short course taught by the author at MIT for students ranging from first-year undergraduates to graduate students ready for careers in physics, mathematics, management, electrical engineering, computer science, and biology. They benefited from an approach that avoided rigor and taught them how to use mathematics to solve real problems.

Induced Learning Disabilities

The Right Geek:

Critical Theory teaches its adherents how not to understand texts, art, or speech like neurotypical human beings. Under the influence of its doctrines, people lose their God-given ability to discern key non-linguistic features of communication and consequently become learning disabled.

As I’ve observed in other posts, words and symbols take on meaning from the context in which they’re deployed. As I wrote around this time last year:

“Words are not completely comprehensible on their own; they also take on additional – or sometimes even new – significance from the gestalt in which they sit — much like tofu soaks up the flavors of the other ingredients in an Asian dish.

“Take a sentence like ‘I love my mother.’ This sentence is composed of four utterly prosaic words — yet do we really know what it means? Don’t we need to hear the inflection with which it was said? Don’t we need to see the speaker’s body language? Don’t we need to know why/where/when/etc. it was said? If this sentence appears in a poem lauding the beauty of Mother Earth, ‘mother’ likely does not mean our female parent. If this sentence is uttered with a particular stress after a long sigh, most of us effortlessly intuit that it’s meant to be ironic.”

All of this richness gets lost, however, once the social justice bully gets to work. Suppose, for example, you decide to write a protagonist who starts off with a few unconsciously bigoted notions but eventually learns to cast such mistaken ideas aside. Sounds like great fodder for a redemption arc, no? Nope, sorry: if you attempt to publish this seemingly innocuous, morally upright story, some motivated busybody on Goodreads is going to tear you apart. Why? Because critical social justice impedes one’s ability to comprehend how character development works.

2018 committee report could help guide upcoming Madison school resource officer decisions

Scott Girard:

Most members who spoke with the Cap Times said they favored removing officers, but didn’t think doing so immediately would solve the problem at the heart of the issue: feeling safe at school.

And some of the committee members wonder what happened to their months of work and why Reyes is calling for another subcommittee to investigate how to transition to having no SROs in schools. Under the contract with the Madison Police Department, a decision needs to be made by Sept. 15 to be effective June 2021.

“I just hope that the work that the ERO Ad Hoc did is not completely disregarded,” said former School Board member Anna Moffit. “People took a lot of time to put that report together and we did spend a lot of time in our schools talking to staff, talking to students, looking at research.

“I would hate to see a new committee be created and doing the same thing over again.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

2005: Gangs & School Violence audio / video.

Google’s true origin partly lies in CIA and NSA research grants for mass surveillance

Jeff Nesbit:

Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google’s ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online.

The intelligence community hoped that the nation’s leading computer scientists could take non-classified information and user data, combine it with what would become known as the internet, and begin to create for-profit, commercial enterprises to suit the needs of both the intelligence community and the public. They hoped to direct the supercomputing revolution from the start in order to make sense of what millions of human beings did inside this digital information network. That collaboration has made a comprehensive public-private mass surveillance state possible today.

The story of the deliberate creation of the modern mass-surveillance state includes elements of Google’s surprising, and largely unknown, origin. It is a somewhat different creation story than the one the public has heard, and explains what Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page set out to build, and why.

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

‘BlueLeaks’ Exposes Files from Hundreds of Police Departments

Brian Krebs:

In a post on Twitter, DDoSecrets said the BlueLeaks archive indexes “ten years of data from over 200 police departments, fusion centers and other law enforcement training and support resources,” and that “among the hundreds of thousands of documents are police and FBI reports, bulletins, guides and more.”

Fusion centers are state-owned and operated entities that gather and disseminate law enforcement and public safety information between state, local, tribal and territorial, federal and private sector partners.

KrebsOnSecurity obtained an internal June 20 analysis by the National Fusion Center Association (NFCA), which confirmed the validity of the leaked data. The NFCA alert noted that the dates of the files in the leak actually span nearly 24 years — from August 1996 through June 19, 2020 — and that the documents include names, email addresses, phone numbers, PDF documents, images, and a large number of text, video, CSV and ZIP files.

Is support for free speech correlated with intelligence?


Here’s excerpt from that article in Heterodox Academy (an organization founded by Jonathan Haidt):

we again replicated the positive relationship between cognitive ability and supporting freedom of speech for all groups across the ideological spectrum.

Moreover, … we found evidence that higher levels of Intellectual Humility could explain the relationship between cognitive ability and free speech support. In other words, those with higher cognitive ability might support principles of free speech because of their greater independence of intellect and ego, openness to revise their viewpoints, respect for others’ viewpoints, and lack of intellectual overconfidence.

Madison School Board will vote on police contract Monday

Scott Girard:

The Madison School Board will vote Monday on continuing or ending early its contract with the Madison Police Department to have officers stationed in its four comprehensive high schools.

Based on public statements from board members this spring and previous votes, it’s likely the board will vote to end the contract early, though contractual language won’t allow it to take effect until June 2021.

Board president Gloria Reyes announced the planned vote in a news release Wednesday afternoon. The board will meet in a special session at 4 p.m.

“The safety and wellbeing of every student that walks through our doors each day is a tremendous responsibility,” Reyes said in a statement. “As leaders in education, we recognize that now is the time to intensify our commitment to dismantling systemic racism by addressing inequities that only serve as mechanisms of division, and this decision is a significant step.”

Thomas Sowell’s book “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” is scheduled to be available June 30.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Covid19 and education: Can Covid19 promote disruptive educational innovation?

Professor Okhwa Lee [Chungbuk National University in South Korea]

Schools could not have face to face learning for nearly 6 weeks since March, which is the first month for the year and it is almost similar in most of countries in the world. Online learning substituted regular classroom activities. During that time, without students in classrooms, what happened? Here is the story from Korea, mainly for k-12 education, from the perspectives of teachers, infrastructure preparation, students, parents, bureaucrats.

Teachers panicked at first, just waiting for guidelines from the higher administrative institutes such as educational provincial office or the ministry of education. Teachers tried to use ICT [Information & Communications Technology] for content delivery and communication gradually, but covid19 did not allow much time for teachers to prepare for the sudden change in the learning environment. They were busy keeping students online following the timetable which is similar to those used during the regular time.
They were just too busy to keep the business as usual and had no time to try out new innovations. Gradually, when they became comfortable with the new instruction methods and realized the potential of online learning (which can compliment off line learning), they became quite creative.

Infrastructure for online learning: content were provided from the database of instructional multimedia developed by KERIS and EBS. Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) invited a few very talented teachers to record teaching and open to the nationwide classrooms. Korea Educational Resources and Information System [KERIS] also provided content and software for online learning. But students wanted to see their own teacher on the video content. Also the ministry promotes the idea of developing content by the teacher, directly. Many teachers tried hard (spent many hours) learning how to design script and instructional design to create EBS-like quality content. But teachers realized that they cannot quickly match those professional video development skills.

WiFi school installation was accelerated. The original plans were to complete this work by 2023.

Three instructional models were provided: two way synchronous communication using video conferencing system, project based self guided instruction, and lastly, providing multimedia content. The first synchronous model requires more ICT resources than other two models but is a more familiar instruction to teachers and students as the model resembles what teachers do in the regular classroom. Two other models are asynchronous and they allow more flexibility to students and teachers. The instructional models propose many significant questions for education. Are those an extension of what we do in school? How can we include some innovative approaches? Why do students have to go to online classes for 5 days as if they were in classrooms? Can they choose what they want to learn and produce results for their own interests? Those instructional models can be (or will be) used when schools open for campus based learning? Or how can we implement the experience from online learning instructional model into the regular classroom instruction?

Students received instructional content and information from any form of learning platform. Students have to focus on screen for many hours a day, every day. It is very tiring and they could not be alert, doing time on task for that many hours. But students could communicate with teachers more aggressively than before. Teachers could recognize student presence by sending texts or questions, or even very simple responses. It all could make teachers pay attention to all students, which was not possible during the face to face learning situation. Students shared their IT knowledge with teachers and it created a more democratic culture in classrooms.

Students miss the interaction with friends, talking, giggling, hustle and bustle. They miss the time to learn social skills from the collaborative physical gathering.

Parents, particularly those who have young children, should stay home to support those little ones’ learning and support their time management. Also another big job on top of the extended babysitting time, was cooking three meals. All Korean students eat free warm food for lunch at school. Parents realized that the role of school is not for only learning but many other functions. Those who cannot share time with their children are usually from the low socio-economic background. It can generate the same class descent, by having not enough time to care of children, economic power to provide IT facilities, and knowledge to support children’s learning.

Given this new normal life in education, I would like to ask a few issues and try to find solutions with you.

Question1: equity issue

Students could previously obtain support from the school but during this online learning, how can we support students with their learning time management needs?

Careful use of IT (Use of background picture for Zoom use)
Students who do not have adults to help them
Students who are disabled physically

Question2: changed role for teachers and schools

What is the function of schools?
If knowledge delivery is done by star teachers and other professional institutes, what is the role for teachers?
New identity for teachers

Question3: golden opportunity to implement educational visions?

Customized individualized learning and self directed learning have been the educational goal for many years. Those skills should be emphasized more for the future when lifelong learning becomes essential for everyone. It has been only dream of big educational thinkers but the present educational system cannot allow students to practice self guided learning, or individualized learning effectively. Covid19 provides the opportunity to practice such vision? If we do not practice now, when can we do it?

Question4: post covid19 and education

When we go back to face to face education, will education go back to the same traditional one?

Are Universities Going the Way of CDs and Cable TV?

Michael Smith:

After the coronavirus upended American life, millions of college students made the transition from sitting in campus lecture halls to live-streaming seminars at their kitchen tables. Do students think their pricey degrees are worth the cost when delivered remotely?

The Wall Street Journal asked that question in April, and one student responded with this zinger: “Would you pay $75,000 for front-row seats to a Beyoncé concert and be satisfied with a livestream instead?” Another compared higher education to premium cable—an annoyingly expensive bundle with more options than most people need. “Give me the basic package,” he said.

As a parent of a college-age child, I’m sympathetic to these concerns. But as a college professor, I find them terrifying. And invigorating.

Why terrifying? Because I study how new technologies cause power shifts in industries, and I fear that the changes in store for higher education are going to look a lot like the painful changes we’ve seen in retail, travel, news, and entertainment.

The example of the entertainment industry, which I’ve written about extensively, is instructive. Throughout the 20th century, the industry remained remarkably stable, despite technological innovations that regularly altered the ways movies, television, music, and books were created, distributed, and consumed. That stability, however, bred overconfidence, overpricing, and an overreliance on business models tailored to a physical world.

The Idea of A Nation

Thomas Meaney:

A generation ago, when Benedict Anderson was asked on Dutch television what country he would be prepared to die for, he hung his head in silence. “It would depend very much on the circumstances,” he finally said. A leading left thinker about nationalism in his generation, Anderson was born into an Anglo-Irish family in the collapsing Republic of China, and raised in the Republic of Ireland and the United States, where he made his academic career. He devoted much of his life to studying Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, where he died in 2015. He was not a provincial person. Yet the credo of post-nationalism ascendant in the 1990s found no place in his affections. For Anderson, the force of nationalism was not a dark phantom. Like other domains that sometimes seem to be exclusive property of the right—the market, the military—the “nation” was ideological terrain that could be harvested for high and low ends. Drafted into a Bush war in the Middle East, Anderson would have been on the first plane to Canada, but called up for the Indonesian War of Independence against the Dutch, or for the Easter Rising against the British, it would not have been hard to imagine him taking up position.

What is the idea of the nation for? It depends, as Anderson said. Over the centuries nationalism has swung back and forth as a progressive and retrograde force, depending on historical conditions. In revolutionary France the “nation” started as a wrecking ball against feudalism and the church. Before the “nation” became defined by its limit of concern, it appeared to the Old Regime as terrifying in its limitlessness. Before the “nation” could be for anyone it had to be against specific someones: kings, priests and their enablers. Nationalism became a forest fire of fraternity that Napoleon wanted to control-burn through Europe in order to make fertile ground for the imposition of his uniform Code. Hegel believed this was a great leap for the world, but also witnessed its reversals: the way the Napoleonic armies provoked crude nationalist backlashes. He mocked the nationalist students around him determined to throw off the French yoke: “Liberation? Liberation from what? … If I ever see one liberated person with my own eyes, I shall fall to the ground and prostrate myself before him.?

Civics: “These people have no idea what they’re doing”

Lord Jonathan Sumption:

Does the Government have a policy for coronavirus? Indeed it does. In fact, it has several. One for each month of the year, all mutually inconsistent and none of them properly thought through. Sometimes, governments have to change tack. It shows that they are attending closely to a changing situation. But this crisis has exposed something different and more disturbing: a dysfunctional Government with a deep-seated incoherence at the heart of its decision-making processes.

The root of the problem is the uncomfortable relationship between the Government and its scientific advisers. The Government has repeatedly claimed to be ‘guided by the science’. This has in practice been a shameless attempt to evade responsibility by passing the buck to scientists for what are ultimately political, and not scientific, decisions. Scientists can advise what measures are likely to reduce infections and deaths. Only politicians can decide whether those measures make sense in economic and social terms too.

Noah’s Ark goes to college

Joanne Jacobs:

Michael Goldstein imagines a new liberal arts college for students and professors who like to argue about ideas. He calls it Noah’s Ark College, because he’d insist that students and faculty be admitted or hired in pairs with one liberal and one conservative.

. . . the professors physically teach in pairs whenever possible—in courses ranging from history and literature to economics and psychology. In that way, classroom discussion constantly models respectful disagreement, and the course readings pit the best competing ideas against one another.

For every class that is co-taught by two professors, a student takes another course online for free (or near free) from the likes of EdX, with Noah’s Ark giving the exams in person for credit. In this way, the additional cost of having 2 professors in each classroom is offset by an equal number of classes that have no (paid) professors.

Admissions would be based on evidence the applicant “delights in understanding multiple sides of an argument,” writes Goldstein. The founder of Boston’s Match Education, he went on to found  the Charles Sposato Graduate School of Education.

Teach Yourself Computer Science


If you’re a self-taught engineer or bootcamp grad, you owe it to yourself to learn computer science. Thankfully, you can give yourself a world-class CS education without investing years and a small fortune in a degree program ?.

There are plenty of resources out there, but some are better than others. You don’t need yet another “200+ Free Online Courses” listicle. You need answers to these questions:

  • Which subjects should you learn, and why?

  • What is the best book or video lecture seriesfor each subject?

This guide is our attempt to definitively answer these questions.

30 Years Ago, Romania Deprived Thousands of Babies of Human Contact

Melissa Fay Greene:

For his first three years of life, Izidor lived at the hospital.

The dark-eyed, black-haired boy, born June 20, 1980, had been abandoned when he was a few weeks old. The reason was obvious to anyone who bothered to look: His right leg was a bit deformed. After a bout of illness (probably polio), he had been tossed into a sea of abandoned infants in the Socialist Republic of Romania.
In films of the period documenting orphan care, you see nurses like assembly-line workers swaddling newborns out of a seemingly endless supply; with muscled arms and casual indifference, they sling each one onto a square of cloth, expertly knot it into a tidy package, and stick it at the end of a row of silent, worried-looking papooses. The women don’t coo or sing to the babies. You see the small faces trying to fathom what’s happening as their heads whip by during the wrapping maneuvers.

In his hospital, in the Southern Carpathian mountain town of Sighetu Marmaţiei, Izidor would have been fed by a bottle stuck into his mouth and propped against the bars of a crib. Well past the age when children in the outside world began tasting solid food and then feeding themselves, he and his age-mates remained on their backs, sucking from bottles with widened openings to allow the passage of a watery gruel. Without proper care or physical therapy, the baby’s leg muscles wasted. At 3, he was deemed “deficient” and transferred across town to a Cămin Spital Pentru Copii Deficienţi, a Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children.

Meet the editors of early modern book publishing.

Anthony Grafton:

Specters haunt the history of publishing and of humanistic scholarship in early modern Europe: lean, shabby ghosts. Correctors, as they were usually called, prepared manuscripts for the press, read proofs, and often added original material of their own. They were everywhere in the world of print, and many early modern humanists—including those whose names remain familiar—either praised or denigrated them and their work.

What, then, did correctors and readers do? The account books of some of the great firms survive, and they provide firsthand evidence. The surviving ledger of the Froben and Episcopius firms, for example, records the wages paid to employees from 1557 to 1564. Each list of employees begins with a corrector or castigator: clear evidence that these learned employees, whose names appeared before those of the compositors and pressmen, enjoyed a certain status, which was higher than that of those who worked with their hands. Each list also includes a lector, whose pay is usually half that of the corrector or less. Sometimes the document states that a given corrector or reader received payment for other activities as well. In March 1560, for example, the lector Leodegarius Grymaldus received payment both for reading and for two other named tasks: making an index and correcting a French translation of Agricola’s work on metals. In March 1563 Bartholomaeus Varolle was paid for correcting but also for preparing the exemplar, or copy, of a thirteenth-century legal text, Guillaume Durand’s Speculum iuris, and for drawing up an index for the work.

Wisconsin DPI 87 page “reopening schools” plan

Wisconsin DPI:

Responding to COVID-19 is a tremendous undertaking for schools. Schools are tasked with re-envisioning educational delivery models in a span of weeks and adjust practices accordingly. As we look toward the fall, the safety and health of our students, educators, and families remains of the highest importance.

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is providing this guidance to aid in school districts’ decision making as they look to build educational services and supports in a COVID-19 environment.Under state law, school districts determine the operations of their buildings and the learning environment. Risk mitigation and health factors will drive decisions regarding school operations.

While I expect schools to reopen this fall, they will undoubtedly look different. There will need to be social distancing, new cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and changes to how educators deliver instruction. There will be students who are not able to return to school due to health concerns and students and staff who may be quarantined due to exposure. This means every school district will need to plan for both school operations on campus and remote learning.

The DPI will be using federal CARES Act dollars to support school districts around remote learning options. Changes will need to be made as districts look at how they provide meals to students, transport students to and from school, move through their buildings, and gather to celebrate achievements.

The DPI partnered collaboratively with our state’s educational leaders: the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services, Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials, Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Wisconsin Education Association Council, and the Cooperative Educational Service Agency Statewide Network and in conjunction with the Department of Health Services.

Education Forward was developed to help local education and community leaders plan appropriately for students to return to school this fall. There are 421 school districts, 26 independent charter schools, and 792 private schools serving a school-age population of over 1,000,000 students in Wisconsin.

Due to the extensive variance in schools, this guidance is offered as a workbook to be considered in conjunction with the Department of Health Services risk assessment checklist. Please use these tools to discuss school district reopening plans with local health agencies and ensure information is complete in regards to the magnitude of risk associated with options being considered. The DPI will continuously update this guidance as new information arises and provide additional resources as they become available to support school operations and the learning environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the inequities existing in Wisconsin.As we look to address these inequities and the planning around the pandemic,the DPI is focused on providing school districts the necessary supports andregulatory relief to pursue innovative strategies to ensure equitable access to learning.

Thomas Sowell’s book “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” is scheduled to be available June 30.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The Radical Self-Reliance of Black Homeschooling

Melinda Anderson:

Racial inequality in Baltimore’s public schools is in part the byproduct of long-standing neglect. In a system in which eight out of 10 students are black, broken heaters forced students to learn in frigid temperatures this past winter. Black children in Baltimore’s education system face systemic disadvantages: They’re suspended at much higher rates than their white peers; they rarely pass their math or reading tests; their campuses are chronically underfunded.

Yet this stark reality is juxtaposed with a largely unnoticed educational phenomenon underway in the city.

In a brightly painted row house in East Baltimore, Cameren Queen, who’s 13, walked confidently to a colorful trifold poster, cleared her throat, and began to speak. Her oral presentation—“All About Hepatitis C”—was the culmination of two weeks of work. With animated precision, she rattled off common symptoms of hepatitis C, specified risk factors, described prevention strategies, and listed treatment plans. Seated to her right, the instructor—her mother, April VaiVai—listened intently, scrutinizing facts and peppering Cameren with questions. The two of them are part of a thriving community of black homeschooling families, here in Baltimore and elsewhere throughout the country, taking the adage “Parents are a child’s first teacher” to another level.

The homeschooling population in the United States is predominantly white and concentrated in suburban or rural areas. In 2016, black children accounted for 8 percent of the 1.7 million homeschooled students nationally, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics. What federal education data don’t show, though, is what’s driving those 136,000 or so black students and their families into homeschooling. Nor do the data reveal the tenacity and tradition that bond this homeschooling movement—a movement that challenges many of the prevailing stereotypes about homeschooling, which tends to be characterized as the province of conservative Christians, public-school opponents, and government skeptics.

For VaiVai and many other black homeschoolers, seizing control of their children’s schooling is an act of affirmation—a means of liberating themselves from the systemic racism embedded in so many of today’s schools and continuing the campaign for educational independence launched by their ancestors more than a century ago. In doing so, many are channeling an often overlooked history of black learning in America that’s rooted in liberation from enslavement. When seen in this light, the modern black-homeschooling movement is evocative of African Americans’ generations-long struggle to change their children’s destiny through education—and to do so themselves.

Sowell’s book “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” is scheduled to be available June 30.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The culture war could be headed for public schools—whether parents like it or not.

Max Eden:

English teachers may look for guidance to an “antiracist” expert like Lorena German, who chairs the Committee on Anti-Racism for the National Council on the Teaching of English (NCTE). At the height of the recent urban unrest, while police cars and buildings were set ablaze by anarchists and looters, German tweeted: “Educators: what are you burning? Your White-centered curriculum? The Amy Cooper next door? Your anti-Black behavior policies? The school’s racist policies? Your racist ass principal? The funding for the police in schools vs counselors? WHAT ARE YOU BURNING???!!?!?!?!?”

German’s call to commit arson may have been metaphorical. But antiracist schools will teach very different material from the schools of yesteryear. “Transforming Our Public Schools: A Guide to Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education,” created by the NYC Culturally Responsive Education Working Group, explains to teachers that “the whole Western canon is rife with horrible stories and atrocities of who we are as people of color.”

For their part, the National Committee on Social Studies’ Early Childhood/Elementary Community has promised to overhaul content, explaining that “to stop the systemic, and we are talking about system-wide policies and practices, the systemic pattern of dehumanization . . . we need to start early. WE, as educators, and family members, need to flood our children with counter messages. . . . Messages that show #BlackLivesMatter and that it is essential to elevate that message until there is no racial inequality in economic opportunity, no racial inequality in education, no racial inequality in incarceration rates, and no brutality from police and others.”

This sounds like a call for an open-ended propaganda campaign. Indeed, in a public letter, the National Association of Secondary School Principals called on school leaders to create “culturally responsive schools” in order to build a nation “worthy of our highest ideals and intolerant of the idea that one man has the right to end the life of another because of his skin color.” If one truly believes that America today is a nation tolerant of that idea, then “flood[ing] our children with counter messages” might be the only moral course of action.

Book Review: Raise A Genius!

Scott Alexander:

A few months ago, I learned about Laszlo Polgar, the man who trained all three of his daughters to be chess grandmasters. He claimed he could make any child a genius just by teaching them using his special methods. I was pretty upset because, although he had a book called Raise A Genius, it was hard to find and only available in Hungarian and Esperanto.

Many SSC readers contributed money to get the book translated, and Esperanto translator Gordon Tishler stepped up to do the job. Thanks to everyone involved. You can find his full translation here: Raise A Genius!

I was hoping that this book would explain Lazslo Polgar’s secrets for raising gifted children. It does so only in very broad strokes. Nor does he seem to be holding much back. But it looks more like he doesn’t really have secrets, per se. The main things he does differently from everyone else are the things he’s talked about in every interview and documentary: he starts young (around the time the child is three), focuses near-obsessively on a single subject, and never stops. Polgar:

Private Pilot Ground School

MIT Open Courseware:

This is a three-day workshop that took place during the MIT Independent Activities Period (IAP) in January, 2019. This workshop aims to provide information for students to prepare for the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Test. Topics include airplane aerodynamics, aircraft systems, navigation, meteorology, aircraft ownership and maintenance, aircraft performance, multi-engine and jets.

Civics: We’re losing the war against surveillance capitalism because we let Big Tech frame the debate

Michael Corn:

There is a reason that photography and videography are frowned upon at protestslike the ones currently sweeping the nation: Surveillance capitalism has made it easy for even masked protesters to be identified. Both authorities and everyday citizens have access to search tools that can “out” someone from even the tiniest clues; even peaceable demonstrators are right to fear being fired or publicly shunned if their presence at a protest is discovered and then widely broadcast. Thus it is no accident that civil rights and privacy are intimately interlinked. Indeed, as law enforcement departments have become more militarized, they have equipped themselves with increasingly sophisticated surveillance technology — from devices that intercept cell phone signals to backdoors into social media sites.

Yet the civil rights battle over the right privacy is not waged on the street with protest signs and banners — at least, not generally. Privacy struggles are waged in more subtle ways, often through individual choices we make on our gadgets. We are told to “resist” by abandoning digital services; to “break up with Google Maps,” so as to prevent some of our personal data from falling into the hands of the corporations who profit off of it.

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

More than 1,400 researchers have signed a letter calling on the discipline to stop working on predictive-policing algorithms and other models.

Davide Castelvecchi:

The tide of reckoning on systemic racism and police brutality that has been sweeping through institutions — including scientific ones — has reached universities’ normally reclusive mathematics departments. A group of mathematicians in the United States has written a letter calling for their colleagues to stop collaborating with police because of the widely documented disparities in how US law-enforcement agencies treat people of different races and ethnicities. They concentrate their criticism on predictive policing, a maths-based technique aimed at stopping crime before it occurs.

Twitter Attacks, and a Defense of Scientific Inquiry

Steve Hsu:

I have not responded to these nasty Twitter attacks, but unfortunately they have gotten enough traction that I feel I need to respond now. [ Note: I have been informed that some of the signatures on their petition are fake, including one purported to be from my colleague Corey Washington! See counter petition and support letters on my behalf. ]

The attacks attempt to depict me as a racist and sexist, using short video clips out of context, and also by misrepresenting the content of some of my blog posts. A cursory inspection reveals bad faith in their presentation.

The accusations are entirely false — I am neither racist nor sexist.

The Twitter mobs want to suppress scientific work that they find objectionable. What is really at stake: academic freedom, open discussion of important ideas, scientific inquiry. All are imperiled and all must be defended.

One of the video clips is taken from an interview I did with YouTuber Stefan Molyneux in 2017. Molyneux was not a controversial figure in 2017, although he has since become one. Prominent scientists working on human intelligence who were interviewed on his show around the same time include James Flynnand Eric Turkheimer. (Noam Chomsky was also a guest some time after I was.) Here is what I said to Molyneux about genetic group differences in intelligence:


President Stanley asked me this afternoon for my resignation. I do not agree with his decision, as serious issues of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Inquiry are at stake. I fear for the reputation of Michigan State University.

However, as I serve at the pleasure of the President, I have agreed to resign. I look forward to rejoining the ranks of the faculty here.

It has been a great honor working with colleagues in the administration at MSU through some rather tumultuous times.

To my team in SVPRI, we can be proud of what we accomplished for this university in the last 8 years. It is a much better university than the one I joined in 2012.

It’s time to hear what adolescents think of mindfulness in schools

Elena Hailwood, William Wannynis and Suparna Choudhury:

‘Mindfulness doesn’t help me,’ says Tyler, a 13-year-old student in a deprived area of southwest England. ‘Some people it helps, some it can make ’em feel worse.’ Gathered around a table in a large, cluttered classroom, five other students nod. Kayleigh cuts in: ‘Sometimes other things help me more. But they don’t listen to us, they just tell us to do mindfulness.’ Sharp, eloquent, indignant, the students explain what does help them when they are stressed or upset: talking to people they trust, being listened to, having fun. To them, mindfulness practices of feet-feeling and belly-breathing feel abstract, irrelevant and counterintuitive. They have many ideas about what their school can do to help them, but it seems like no one is listening.

Over the past decade, schools across Europe and North America have begun teaching mindfulness meditation to their pupils. In these classes, students learn to pay attention to their immediate experience (sensations, thoughts, emotions) with a friendly and nonjudgmental attitude. The goal is to help them develop resilience, improve their attention and self-regulation, and prevent everyday stress spiralling into major psychological problems. Addressing mental health and wellbeing in this way is part of the current ‘therapeutic turn’ in education. In the United Kingdom, a £6.4 million trial is assessing whether school mindfulness training is ‘effective and cost-effective’ for improving mental health in 11- to 14-year-olds.

We are researchers at the intersection between cognitive neuroscience, sociology and education; as such, we investigate the cultural contexts of mindfulness interventions and the subjective experience of young people learning mindfulness at school. Our work has involved interviews with teachers, policymakers, researchers and students, and we have observed numerous lessons of the leading programmes in the United States and the UK. We have found that, while mindfulness improves educational attainment and reduces emotional problems in some young people, for others it has no obvious impact. Worse than that, for some students, mindfulness lessons can fuel disaffection and resentment.

Progress Studies for Aspiring Young Scholars

Do you understand the story of unprecedented human progress in the modern age?

The rapid rise in living standards over more than two hundred years can be seen all around us, but is often taken for granted. What explains this ascent? What innovations enabled it, and who were the innovators?

Too many academics are now censoring themselves This article is more than 3 years old

Frank Furedi:

Throughout the Anglo-American world universities have drawn up protocols warning of exposing students to “sensitive subjects”. Astonishingly, the university is now subject to practices that demand levels of conformism historically associated with narrow-minded, illiberal institutions. The terms “sensitive subject” or “challenging subject” are used by administrators to designate a class of topics portrayed as a risk to students’ wellbeing.

Take the statement on the use of sensitive material produced by the University of Newcastle’s school of English literature, language and linguistics. It assumes that since topics that depict “distressing life events and situations” require special handling, teachers should help students “prepare themselves to study challenging material”.

Charter Schools’ Enemies Block Black Success

Thomas Sowell:

For decades, there has been widespread anxiety over how, when or whether the educational test score gap between white and non-white youngsters could be closed. But that gap has already been closed by the Success Academy charter school network in New York City.

Their predominantly black and Hispanic students already pass tests in mathematics and English at a higher rate than any school district in the entire state. That includes predominantly white and Asian school districts where parental income is some multiple of what it…

One piece of rhetoric that seems plausible on the surface is that charter schools “skim the cream” of students, leaving the public schools worse off. But this ignores the fact that admission to New York City charter schools is by lottery—that is, by luck—and not by students’ academic records or test results.

No doubt more motivated students are more likely to apply to charter schools. But only a fraction of those who enter the admissions lotteries win. This means that the majority of those motivated students remain in traditional public schools. The fraction that go into charter schools do not prevent traditional public schools from properly educating the much larger number who remain. If traditional public schools fail to do so, that is their own responsibility, and cannot be blamed on charter schools.

Teachers unions and traditional public school administrators have every reason to fear charter schools. In 2019 there were more than 50,000 New York City students on waiting lists to transfer into charter schools.

If that many students were allowed to transfer, in a city where expenditures per pupil are more than $20,000 a year, the result would be that more than a billion dollars a year would transfer with them to charter schools.

Sowell’s book “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” is scheduled to be available June 30.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Collective demonization invades our culture

Izabella Tabarovsky:

Russians are fond of quoting Sergei Dovlatov, a dissident Soviet writer who emigrated to the United States in 1979: “We continuously curse Comrade Stalin, and, naturally, with good reason. And yet I want to ask: who wrote four million denunciations?” It wasn’t the fearsome heads of Soviet secret police who did that, he said. It was ordinary people.

Collective demonizations of prominent cultural figures were an integral part of the Soviet culture of denunciation that pervaded every workplace and apartment building. Perhaps the most famous such episode began on Oct. 23, 1958, when the Nobel committee informed Soviet writer Boris Pasternak that he had been selected for the Nobel Prize in literature—and plunged the writer’s life into hell. Ever since Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago had been first published the previous year (in Italy, since the writer could not publish it at home) the Communist Party and the Soviet literary establishment had their knives out for him. To the establishment, the Nobel Prize added insult to grave injury.

Within days, Pasternak was a target of a massive public vilification campaign. The country’s prestigious Literary Newspaper launched the assault with an article titled “Unanimous Condemnation” and an official statement by the Soviet Writers’ Union—a powerful organization whose primary function was to exercise control over its members, including by giving access to exclusive benefits and basic material necessities unavailable to ordinary citizens. The two articles expressed the union’s sense that in view of Pasternak’s hostility and slander of the Soviet people, socialism, world peace, and all progressive and revolutionary movements, he no longer deserved the proud title of Soviet Writer. The union therefore expelled him from its ranks.

Civics, the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate

David Harsanyi:

Michael Kinsley once wrote — back in the days when liberals were running our journalistic institutions — that “if no one or almost no one disagrees, it also is probably not a good subject for an editorial.” By contrast, the new Times opinion editor, Kathleen Kingsbury, reportedly told the staff, “Anyone who sees any piece of Opinion journalism, headlines, social posts, photos — you name it — that gives you the slightest pause, please call or text me immediately.”

The Times has been cleansed of reactionary elements. The paper is in the hands of The People. Others will follow.

You may also have noticed another progressive slogan gaining popularity these days: “Silence is violence.”  It’s no longer enough not to peddle wrongthink in the op-ed pages of the local paper, but now you must also actively champion woke progressive positions or you too are tacitly engaged in violence and racism.

This is a neat trick: To speak out in the wrong way is violence. Not to speak out is violence. Not to speak out in the way progressives dictate is violence. This is why your apolitical local lawn-care company is sending out emails promising to dedicate themselves to Black Lives Matter. No one wants to be accused of harboring counterrevolutionary sympathies.

That doesn’t leave much room for dissent, does it? Virtually anyone in the public square who doesn’t conform (save those who work for conservative political journals, perhaps) risks being humiliated and ruined.

China Is Collecting DNA From Tens of Millions of Men and Boys, Using U.S. Equipment (Thermo Fisher)

Sui-Lee Wee:

The police in China are collecting blood samples from men and boys from across the country to build a genetic map of its roughly 700 million males, giving the authorities a powerful new tool for their emerging high-tech surveillance state.

They have swept across the country since late 2017 to collect enough samples to build a vast DNA database, according to a new study published on Wednesday by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a research organization, based on documents also reviewed by The New York Times. With this database, the authorities would be able to track down a man’s male relatives using only that man’s blood, saliva or other genetic material.

An American company, Thermo Fisher, is helping: The Massachusetts company has sold testing kits to the Chinese police tailored to their specifications. American lawmakers have criticized Thermo Fisher for selling equipment to the Chinese authorities, but the company has defended its business.

On the College and Silence: A letter from Hillsdale College

The Collegian:

Amidst the events of recent weeks, a number of alumni and others have taken up formal and public means to insist that Hillsdale College issue statements concerning these events. The College is charged with negligence — or worse.

It is not the practice of the College to respond to petitions or other instruments meant to gain an object by pressure. The College operates by reasoned deliberation, study, and thought. The following observations, however, may be helpful and pertinent.

The College is pressed to speak. It is told that saying what it always has said is insufficient. Instead, it must decry racism and the mistreatment of Black Americans in particular. This, however, is precisely what the College has always said. 

The College is told that invoking the high example of the Civil War or Frederick Douglass is not permitted. Perhaps it is thought that nothing relevant can be learned about justice and equality from the words and actions of great men and women in history. Instead, the College is guilty of the gravest moral failure for not making declarations about … justice and equality. 

The College is told that it garners no honor now for its abolitionist past — or that it fails to live up to that past — but instead it must issue statements today. Statements about what? It must issue statements about the brutal and deadly evil of hating other people and/or treating them differently because of the color of their skin. That is, it must issue statements about the very things that moved the abolitionists whom the College has ever invoked. 

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison’s 2019-2020 property tax payment and installment data

Craig Franklin, via a kind email:

1.       The total 2019 tax levy for City of Madison property is $713,571,544.19.  This amount includes lottery, school levy and first dollar credits paid by the State of Wisconsin. The total tax outstanding, from City of Madison property owners, as of May 31, 2020 (the date of the last settlement) is $69,035,668.53. [9.6%]

2.       Of the 76,048 parcels in the City of Madison, 12,077 are currently utilizing the installment method of payment (as of the May 31, 2020 settlement). [15.8%]

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results. [the Madison School District administration has been planning a substantial 2020 tax & spending increase referendum].

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“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”.

Google faces $5 billion lawsuit for tracking people in incognito mode

Carrie Mihalcik:

Google faces a proposed class action lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of invading people’s privacy and tracking internet use even when browsers are set to “private” mode. The suit, filed Tuesday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Google violates wiretapping and privacy laws by continuing to “intercept, track, and collect communications” even when people use Chrome’s incognito mode and other private web browser modes.

“Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy,” reads the complaint. The search giant surreptitiously collects data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, website plug-ins and other applications, including mobile apps, according to the complaint. 

The lawsuit seeks at least $5 billion from Google and its parent company, Alphabet, according to Reuters. The complaint says the proposed class may include “millions” of Google users and is looking for damages of at least $5,000 for each individual.

Google said it disputes the claims and plans to defend itself vigorously against them.   

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

Civics: Political groups use “deeply spooky” protester location data, report finds

Kate Cox:

Surveillance is widespread at protests. Both local and federal authorities have broad authority to undertake both covert and overt intelligence-gathering and surveillance of demonstrations.

Law enforcement uses location data for other kinds of investigations as well. Cops need to get a warrant to track a specific individual’s mobile phone. Doing it the other way around, though—picking a location, and then looking at who was there—has fewer restrictions.

Late last year, for example, federal investigators trying to solve an arson case in Wisconsin gathered location-history data from 1,500 devices that passed through the area over a nine-hour window. A similar reverse location warrant used in Florida led police mistakenly to identify a man who happened to be riding his bike near the scene of a burglary as the top suspect.

Other private entities also use geofencing tools to zero in on individuals. Ambulance-chaser law firms, for example, have advertised to people who have visited hospital emergency rooms.

While phone owners may understand that their devices collect location data for certain uses, consumers often have no idea how broadly sold and traded that information then is. That’s according to Keith Chen, a behavioral economics professor at University of California, Los Angeles, who spoke to the WSJ. “To the degree that this becomes very common, I do worry that it starts to put a chill on people’s willingness to peaceably assemble,” Chen told the Journal.

The Urban-School Stigma

Jack Schneider:

Urban schools don’t inspire much confidence these days. Politicians and policy leaders routinely bemoan their quality. And media outlets regularly run stories of “failing urban schools.”

Middle- and upper-income parents have expressed misgivings, too. But they’ve done it much less volubly. With relatively little fuss, they’ve simply picked up and moved—departing from city school systems at ever-greater rates. Among expressions of no-confidence, this has arguably been the most significant, because it has reshaped district demography. Each year, it seems, urban schools serve larger concentrations of poor students, racial minorities, and English-language learners. As higher-income families depart, resources go with them, and schools are faced with the daunting prospect of doing more with less.

If such departures are driven by good information about school quality, one can hardly blame parents with resources for acting in the best interests of their children.

Yet what if the information people are acting on is inaccurate or misleading?

Thanks largely to No Child Left Behind, the public has access to performance data for all public elementary and high schools. The data collected and reported, however, largely consist of student standardized test scores. As George W. Bush, who as president signed the act into law, put it, “We measure. We post the scores. We look at results.” Today, over 15 years after NCLB first went into effect, test scores are commonly used—by policy leaders, parents, and the general public—as a measure of school quality, often in the total absence of other information. A New York Times feature, for instance, produced a set of charts for prospective suburban homebuyers using only two inputs: “home price data from Redfin … and school quality data based on test scores.”

Wisconsin School Districts Have Administrative Bloat to Blame for Budget Failures

Will Flanders:

Wisconsin public school teachers made, on average, $55,985 in salary during the 2017–18 school year with an average of 14.2 students per teacher. During that school year, spending was $13,670 per student in local, state and federal funding. This means that about $195,392 is spent on the average classroom in the state. Of that, only about 28.4% ends up in the pockets of teachers. Where is the rest of the money going?

An illuminating answer comes from investigating the share of district staff who are teachers relative to those in other roles. We can use data from DPI’s “All Staff” files over the past decade to tease this out. The chart below shows the percentage of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff in the 10 largest districts in the state that are identified as teachers by the Department of Public Instruction since 2008. The majority of districts fall below the 50% threshold in every year — meaning that for every teacher in the district, there is more than one employee in another role.

The biggest offenders in recent years are Eau Claire, Milwaukee, Racine. Both of these districts have dropped below the 40% level in recent years for several consecutive years. In fact, WILL’s 2019 Truth in Spending study found, “The percentage of money a district spends on [administration and transportation costs] relative to others is associated with lower performance on state exams.”

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“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”.

No, we haven’t ‘defunded education for years’

Corey DeAngelis & Matthew Nielsen:

On average, the United States currently spends over $15,000 per student each year, and inflation-adjusted K-12 education spending per student has increased by 280% since 1960. In California, where the previously mentioned football coach resides, inflation-adjusted spending on K-12 education has increased by 129% since 1970. Furthermore, data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that nearly a third of all state budget expenditures go toward education.

This is a particularly pernicious myth in the education debate because increased education spending generally isn’t associated with better results. Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek reviewed nearly 400 studies on the topic and concluded that “there is not a strong or consistent relationship between student performance and school resources.”

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“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”.

Oxford will ‘decolonise’ degrees

Nicola Woolcock:

Oxford University has revealed plans to “decolonise” its maths and science degrees and will allow students of any subject who have been affected by the Black Lives Matter furore to seek lenient marking.

In a letter to the student union, Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor, said that the mathematical, physical and life sciences division had been awarded a grant to develop teaching resources that supported the diversification of its curriculums, describing it as “an area that is frequently overlooked”.

Civics: The Supreme Court’s Dereliction of Duty on Qualified Immunity

Jay Schweickert:

This morning, the Supreme Court denied all of the major cert petitions raising the question of whether qualified immunity should be reconsidered. This is, to put it bluntly, a shocking dereliction of duty. As Cato has argued for years, qualified immunity is an atextual, ahistorical judicial invention, which shields public officials from liability, even when they break the law. The doctrine not only denies justice to victims whose rights have been violated, but also exacerbates our crisis of confidence in law enforcement. By holding police officers to a far lower standard of accountability than ordinary citizens, qualified immunity deprives the entire law enforcement community of the public trust and credibility they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.

There was simply no excuse for the Court to decline this golden opportunity to begin addressing its mistakes in creating and propagating the doctrine of qualified immunity. The petitions before the Court plainly demonstrated both the moral injustices and practical absurdities of the “clearly established law” standard. In Corbitt v. Vickers, for example, the Supreme Court let stand an Eleventh Circuit decisiongranting immunity to a police officer who shot a ten‐year‐old child in the back of the knee, while repeatedly attempting to shoot a pet dog that wasn’t threatening anyone. And in Baxter v. Bracey, the Court let stand a Sixth Circuit decision which said that a prior case holding it unconstitutional for police to deploy a canine against a suspect who had surrendered by lying on the ground did not “clearly establish” that it was unlawful for police to deploy a canine against a suspect who had surrendered by sitting on the ground with his hands up.

‘Just stop it’: News execs Will Lewis and Lionel Barber condemn journalists’ ‘unbecoming’ use of social media to share opinions

William Turvill:

Will Lewis, the former boss of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, and ex-Financial Times editor Lionel Barber have also spoken of their uneasiness about the “blurring” of opinions and facts in journalism. 

Lewis – who recently left his role and missed out in the race to become the BBC’s next director general – said that in “this increasingly resource-constrained time… journalistic standards are inevitably slipping. And we’re beginning to see the blurring of facts and comments in a way that I think is extremely worrying and extremely challenging.” 

He exempted the FT, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and New York Times from his criticism.

Barber, who was speaking with Lewis on a video conference (see below) organised by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, said: “I would make a more general point – we’ve seen this particularly at the BBC: We have to be very careful in the way journalists are using social media. 

“They are essentially seeing [their social media pages as] their own platforms, and it’s definitely comment. And therefore this blurring that Will rightly identifies has been massively accentuated by social media. 

“And it’s not good enough for journalists to say: Oh, by the way, on my Twitter handle, these views are [my own] – because they do work for an organisation.

Slavery and the American University

Alex Karp:

According to the surviving records, the first enslaved African in Massachusetts was the property of the schoolmaster of Harvard. Yale funded its first graduate-level courses and its first scholarship with the rents from a small slave plantation it owned in Rhode Island (the estate, in a stroke of historical irony, was named Whitehall). The scholarship’s first recipient went on to found Dartmouth, and a later grantee co-founded the College of New Jersey, known today as Princeton. Georgetown’s founders, prohibited by the rules of their faith from charging students tuition, planned to underwrite school operations in large part with slave sales and plantation profits, to which there was apparently no ecclesiastical objection. Columbia, when it was still King’s College, subsidized slave traders with below-market loans. Before she gained fame as a preacher and abolitionist, Sojourner Truth was owned by the family of Rutgers’s first president.

From their very beginnings, the American university and American slavery have been intertwined, but only recently are we beginning to understand how deeply. In part, this can be attributed to an expansion of political will. Barely two decades ago, questions raised by a group of scholars and activists about Brown University’s historic connection to slavery were met with what its then-president, Ruth Simmons, saw as insufficient answers, and so she appointed the first major university investigation. Not long before that, one of the earliest scholars to independently look into his university’s ties to slavery, a law professor at the University of Alabama, began digging through the archives in part to dispel a local myth, he wrote, that “blacks were not present on the campus” before 1963, when “Vivian Malone and James Hood enrolled with the help of Nicholas Katzenbach and the National Guard.” He found, instead, that they preceded its earliest students, and one of the university’s first acts was the purchase of an enslaved man named Ben. In Virginia, a small consortium founded three years ago to share findings and methods has expanded to include nearly three dozen colleges and universities across North America and two in European port cities. Almost all of these projects trace their origins to protests or undergraduate classes, where a generation of students, faculty, archivists, activists, and librarians created forums for articulating their questions, and for finding one another.

Analysis: Just 1 in 3 Districts Required Teachers to Deliver Instruction This Spring. They Mustn’t Be Left on Their Own Again in the Fall

Robin Lake, Betheny Gross and Alice Opalka:

Researchers at the Center on Reinventing Public Education spent this spring analyzing 82 school districts’ responses to COVID-19 closures. 

Our analysis focused on large, high-profile school systems. While the districts served more than 9 million students combined, we wondered if it represented school systems across the country. 

Now, we know the picture it painted was too rosy. 

We recently released an analysis of a statistically representative sample of 477 school districts. This allows us, for the first time, to compare districts by student demographics and location. And the results are sobering.

Just 1 in 3 districts has been expecting all teachers to deliver instruction — and rural and small-town districts were far less likely than urban and suburban districts to communicate that expectation.

K-12 Madison School Spending Rhetoric

David Blaska:

Nonetheless, Ald. Tag Evers its all J’accuse!

“We have defunded our schools — 90% of our black and brown students are not reading at grade level —  and then used police to keep order.”

Madison has “defunded our schools”? Since when? On an absolute dollar basis, the State of Wisconsin has never shoveled more money at K-12 education. Madison taxpayers approve extra-spending referenda almost every other election.

  • Madison school property taxes are UP 37% since 2012,

  • While 4K-12 enrollment is down 1.6% from 2014-15.

  • Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): is UP 17.0% during the same period.

  • The proposed school budget for next year increases per pupil spending 19.0% from 2014-15. (Cost of living is up 10% during that time.)

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“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”.

Commentary on the taxpayer supported Madison School District’s planned 2020-2021 budget

Scott Girard:

Administrators are concerned about a potential state budget repair bill that could cut funding to K-12 schools, though Gov. Tony Evers told the Cap Times last week he’s hopeful such a measure can be avoided amid lower than anticipated revenue for the state. The budget Ruppel recommended Monday would save $8.4 million from what has been previously discussed, mostly through cuts to wage increases to save room in case such a bill is approved.

“Pause on any new spending in order to maintain the most flexibility until we know more,” Ruppel said.

If the previously planned increases in base wages and the “steps” on the district’s salary structure were maintained, as many as 92 school-based staff positions could be cut, according to the presentation.

If a state budget repair bill did not come to fruition or there was additional funding from the federal government, raises could be reinstated before the final budget approval, while reinstating the positions in the middle of the school year would be more challenging.

Ruppel also offered expense-saving possibilities of keeping five vacant central office positions open for a savings of $500,000 or more as well as a pause on Strategic Equity Projects like a new reading curriculum and increases to School Security Assistant pay, saving up to $550,000.

Board member Savion Castro said he was supportive of Ruppel’s recommendation among the options presented Monday night, although he acknowledged it was not a good choice to have to make. Most others expressed a similar sentiment.

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“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”.

News from the University front

Rod Dreher:

This is a school that a lot of uninformed people would regard as “safe”:

No one likes it when dire predictions come true. For years the leftists on our campus have operated largely as Fabians: they thought the structure was corrupt, but they figured they could effect the changes from within it. They had many successes, but each success brought with it an appetite for more. They were waiting for the moment when the revolution that had taken place at the level of culture could take place at the level of administrative control. This is their moment. This is when the very nature of the institutions change, not so much in terms of their structures, which they’ll largely maintain, but in terms of their animating principles. For colleges such as mine this means the replacement of Christianity with the religion of anti-racism.

It did not take our president long after the death of George Floyd to issue a statement asseverating definitively that Floyd’s death was “an act of racism,” despite the fact that he couldn’t possibly know if this was true. He also expressed his “deep grief” and how “heart-broken” he was, as if Floyd were his own child. He did this in part because, like any sane person, he was horrified both by Floyd’s death and by the specter of racism, and in part because he was getting enormous pressure (no pun intended) put on him by faculty and alumni.

Since then, even though it’s summer, things have gotten worse. The president has issued more statements expressing his hurt and committing college resources to “combat racism,” even though college campuses are the least racist places in America. We’ve been having townhall meetings where people can tell their stories of oppression, and express their fear about how much danger they’re in because some people won’t bow to their gods. All these townhall meetings include calls to action that become increasingly heavy-handed.

A couple of years ago, under the radar, the administration issued a new policy that anyone involved in a hire had to undergo implicit bias training. When I told my dean that I found the idea of implicit bias training to be faulty at both a philosophical and social science level, and a serious threat to academic freedom and so would not participate, he replied “That’s too bad, because you won’t be participating in any searches, and frankly you make valuable contributions on those.”

Ivy League Professor Says Intimidation Campaigns Gaining Ground On Campus

Chrissy Clark:

Cornell University law professor William Jacobson thought he had grown callous to petitions for his ouster. Activists—including students, faculty, and alumni—have called for his firing on numerous occasions since he launched the popular conservative website Legal Insurrection in 2008, but the campaign against him has taken personal attacks to new levels in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.

“On [the Black Lives Matter] issue, you cannot deviate one iota or they will try to get you kicked out of the school, they will falsely accuse you of being racist, they will do a ‘name and shame’ campaign against you,” Jacobson told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s been a problem for multiple decades in academia.”

BLM supporters, in a coordinated effort with the Black Law Student Association, Cornell alumni, and law school faculty, are calling on the school to sack Jacobson for publicly critiquing BLM’s ideology. An alumni petition began on June 11 calling on the university to “take immediate action” to drive him out. The professor said his accusers are disingenuously attacking his character to force the school’s hand.

Washington Supreme Court Grants Diploma Privilege To All Bar Applicants

Supreme Court of Washington:

1 APR 3 and 4 are modified to the extent that applicants for admission to practice law who are currently registered for either the July or September 2020 bar examination and who have received a Juris Doctorate degree from an ABA accredited law school, and applicants currently registered to take the LLLT examination scheduled for July 2020, are granted the option of receiving a diploma privilege to practice in Washington. The bar examinations in July and September 2020 will still be offered for those who do not qualify for the diploma privilege and those who wish to take the exam to receive a Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) score.

2 The diploma privilege option will be available to applicants currently registered to take the examinations who are taking the tests for the first time and those who are repeating the tests.

“Pick A Side: American Principles and Free-Speech, or Short-Term Global Profits and Censorship”

Josh Hawley:

Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Zoom calling for the company to choose a side: American principles and free-speech, or short-term global profits and censorship. His letter comes after Zoom chose to close the accounts of prominent U.S.-based critics of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for discussing the Tiananmen Square massacre, claiming the closures were necessary to “comply with local law.”

“These oppressive ‘local laws’ are what Party officials use to oppress more than a billion people, including more than one million Uighurs who have been forced into slavery. These ‘local laws’ are what China is using to crack down on protesters in Hong Kong who just want the basic liberties they were promised by international treaty.”

Senator Josh Hawley

To Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, Senator Hawley continued, “Trading American values for Beijing profits never ends well. The Chinese Communist Party has a long history of inviting American companies into its borders, only to steal proprietary information and technology and then repurpose that data for its own use. When you censor for the Communist Chinese Party, you may think it benefits you, but the only one who will benefit in the long run is the Chinese Communist Party.”

Is There Still Room for Debate?

Andrew Sullivan:

In the last couple of weeks, as the purges of alleged racists have intensified in every sphere, and as so many corporations, associations, and all manner of civic institutions have openly pledged allegiance to anti-racism, with all the workshops, books, and lectures that come with it, I’m reminded of a Václav Havel essay, “The Power of the Powerless.”

It’s about the dilemma of living in a world where adherence to a particular ideology becomes mandatory. In Communist Czechoslovakia, this orthodoxy, with its tired slogans, and abuse of language, had to be enforced brutally by the state, its spies, and its informers. In America, of course, with the First Amendment, this is impossible. But perhaps for that very reason, Americans have always been good at policing uniformity by and among themselves. The puritanical streak of shaming and stigmatizing and threatening runs deep. This is the country of extraordinary political and cultural freedom, but it is also the country of religious fanaticism, moral panics, and crusades against vice. It’s the country of The Scarlet Letter and Prohibition and the Hollywood blacklist and the Lavender Scare. The kind of stifling, suffocating, and nerve-racking atmosphere that Havel evokes is chillingly recognizable in American history and increasingly in the American present.

IQ is largely a pseudoscientific swindle

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Background : “IQ” is a stale test meant to measure mental capacity but in fact mostly measures extreme unintelligence (learning difficulties), as well as, to a lesser extent (with a lot of noise), a form of intelligence, stripped of 2nd order effects — how good someone is at taking some type of exams designed by unsophisticated nerds. It is via negativa not via positiva. Designed for learning disabilities, and given that it is not too needed there (see argument further down), it ends up selecting for exam-takers, paper shufflers, obedient IYIs (intellectuals yet idiots), ill adapted for “real life”. (The fact that it correlates with general incompetence makes the overall correlation look high, even when it is random, see Figures 1 and 2.) The concept is poorly thought out mathematically by the field (commits a severe flaw in correlation under fat tails and asymmetries; fails to properly deal with dimensionality; treats the mind as an instrument not a complex system), and seems to be promoted by

Covid-19 is killing Catholic schools — and hurting the minorities that attend them

Kathleen Parker:

The numbers are much higher in what’s called the Partnership Schools, a network of nine Catholic schools in Harlem and the South Bronx in New York and in Cleveland. In addition to the coursework usually found in public schools, schools in the partnership stress four core values — integrity, humility, hard work and service.

Enrollees at these nine schools are 67 percent Hispanic and 31 percent African American. Of these students, 85 percent have received scholarships.

The average yearly tuition cost of a Catholic school is $4,800 for elementary school and $11,200 for high school, according to the NCEA. Right off, it would seem that only the rich or the very poor can afford a Catholic education these days. The middle class — too rich for financial aid and too strapped for full tuition — is out of luck.

This wasn’t always the case. Several decades ago, almost anyone could attend a Catholic school, in part because, at the time, there were many more schools. In 1960, the United States boasted 13,000 Catholic schools compared to just 6,000 or so today. And, in 1965, of elementary-age children attending private school, 89 percent attended a Catholic school. But, times change, and other private schools emerged virtually everywhere.

Civics: Activists Intimidated by FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force

Chris Brooks:

“I’ve never had any run-ins with the cops before. I’ve never been to jail and have no criminal record, so when the FBI showed up to my workplace, it scared the piss out of me,” says Katy, a 22-year-old who works for a custodial services company in Cookeville, a small college town in middle Tennessee. “I really thought I was going to lose my job. The whole experience was terrifying.”

Moved by the video of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Katy — who requested she only be identified by her first name — and a friend had created a Facebook event for a Black Lives Matter rally in Cookeville’s public square on Saturday, June 6. She soon connected with several other Cookeville locals who wanted to help with planning the event, and enthusiasm grew as word of the rally spread.

“I’ve never organized a rally before, I was just winging it,” Katy said. “I didn’t expect a lot of people to show up, but overnight 600 people had RSVP’d on Facebook.”

Counter-protesters organized their own Facebook group, Protect Cookeville Against Looters, which quickly swelled to over 1,000 members. Some of the members of this group determined that Katy was the main organizer of the upcoming rally and began posting her personal information and making violent threats.

“The event for the rally had been up for about four days when we started getting death threats,” Katy said. “It was too much. I was overwhelmed.”

“In your recent departmental emails you mentioned our pledge to diversity, but I am increasingly alarmed by the absence of diversity”

University of California – Berkeley Professor, written anonymously:

In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of

black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. The explanation provided in your documentation, to the near exclusion of all others, is univariate: the problems of the black community are caused by whites, or, when whites are not

physically present, by the infiltration of white supremacy and white systemic racism into American brains, souls, and institutions.

Many cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell

and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or ‘Uncle Toms’. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders.

Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques.

The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of

white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians. Instead, it is being treated as an axiomatic and actionable truth without serious consideration of its profound flaws, or its worrying implication of total black impotence.

This hypothesis is transforming our institution and our culture, without any space for dissent outside of a tightly policed, narrow discourse.

A counternarrative exists. If you have time, please consider examining some of the documents I attach at the end of this email.

Overwhelmingly, the reasoning provided by BLM and allies is either primarily anecdotal (as in the case with the bulk of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ undeniably moving article) or it is transparently motivated. As an example of the latter problem, consider the proportion of

black incarcerated Americans. This proportion is often used to characterize the criminal justice system as anti-black. However, if we use the precise same methodology, we would have to conclude that the criminal justice system is even more anti-male than it is anti-black.

Would we characterize criminal justice as a systemically misandrist conspiracy against innocent American men? I hope you see that this type of reasoning is flawed, and requires a significant suspension of our rational faculties. Black people are not incarcerated at higher rates

Virtual schools see bump in interest as COVID-19 pandemic makes for uncertain fall

Logan Wroge:

In a normal week, Parr fields about five or six phone calls. But in recent weeks, he said he’s been answering easily 70 calls a week from across the region, including many from Madison.

Parr said he could see the online school’s enrollment, which was about 150 full-time students this year and a similar number part-time, double in the fall — if not grow by more.

When in-person classes were canceled in mid-March to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Parr said districts tried their best to transition students to digital learning. But he’s heard from parents about mixed results.

“The No. 1 complaint I hear is, ‘I don’t want to go back to what we were doing,’” Parr said. “I feel for those districts, because that kind of got sprung on them.”

For nearly two decades, virtual charter schools have been an option for Wisconsin students, acting as an outlet for students being severely bullied, children with health problems, expelled students and others seeking flexibility or a different learning environment.

But COVID-19 is a new cause for families to seek the safety of learning remotely as the public health crisis wraps the future of traditional schooling in unknowns.

Enrollment in virtual charters grew steadily in the past five years, with 8,696 students educated in 48 schools this school year — an all-time high on both counts. Four virtual charter schools enrolled 265 students during the 2002-03 academic year, when the model first emerged.

I wonder how the taxpayer supported Madison School District’s “infinite campus” online usage looks today, from the teacher, staff, student and parent perspective?

2012 Madison school district infinite campus usage report.

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“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”.

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Dane County school districts waive requirements for graduation

Chris Rickert:

All 16 of the school districts completely or partially within Dane County have waived or loosened at least two academic standards to help seniors graduate at a time when schools have been shut down since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Information from the districts and the state Department of Public Instruction also shows that the poorer and more diverse a district’s student body, the more likely the district’s leadership sought graduation requirement waivers from the state and lowered other standards.

The Wisconsin State Journal asked the districts to report whether they had:

• Changed grading standards after schools shut down;

• Reduced the number of credits needed to graduate;

• Sought waivers of the state’s civics exam, minimum instructional hours and educator effectiveness requirements;

• Made any other changes to help seniors graduate.

Every district had loosened requirements in at least two areas, and two districts — Middleton-Cross Plains and Sun Prairie — had loosened them in six, including waiving the requirement that students complete a certain number of community service hours to graduate.

The county’s largest district, Madison, reported reducing the number of credits needed to graduate from 22 to the state minimum of 15, moving to a pass/fail grading system and getting state waivers for the civics test and minimum number of instructional hours.

DPI had made clear at the beginning of school shutdowns that it would not seek to deny waivers of the civics, minimum instructional hours and educator effectiveness requirements. Some districts did not need waivers for the civics exam because it had already been administered by the time the schools were closed.

Linn Posey-Maddox, an associate professor of educational policy studies at UW-Madison, said the pandemic exacerbates existing racial inequities in education

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

As the Madison School district plans for more budget cuts, Evers hopeful no budget repair bill necessary

Briana Reilly:

While MMSD is heavily reliant on property taxes instead of state aid compared to other districts, a decrease to the revenue authority or other measures that would lower the levy limit would serve as a funding cut. The district already cut $8 million from the 2019-20 budget in the preliminary 2020-21 budget.

Contingencies could include cutting as many as 92 full-time staff positions or undoing much of the planned wage increases for staff, based on a survey the district sent to staff last week.

Ruppel wrote that the district will move forward with its “core values at the forefront” as it considers the 2020-21 budget.

“We aim with all of our decisions to put students at the center,” she wrote. “Through our standard budget feedback process, we’ve spoken to parents, community leaders, principals and staff about the uncertainty ahead of us. All feedback at the highest levels have been consistent: protect student programming, student mental health and social emotional supports first, as they are needed now and in the fall more than ever.”

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

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

Civics: The American Press Is Destroying Itself

Matt Taibbi:

Sometimes it seems life can’t get any worse in this country. Already in terror of a pandemic, Americans have lately been bombarded with images of grotesque state-sponsored violence, from the murder of George Floyd to countless scenes of police clubbing and brutalizingprotesters. 

Our president, Donald Trump, is a clown who makes a great reality-show villain but is uniquely toolless as the leader of a superpower nation. Watching him try to think through two society-imperiling crises is like waiting for a gerbil to solve Fermat’s theorem. Calls to “dominate” marchers and ad-libbed speculations about Floyd’s “great day” looking down from heaven at Trump’s crisis management and new unemployment numbers (“only” 21 million out of work!) were pure gasoline at a tinderbox moment. The man seems determined to talk us into civil war. 

But police violence, and Trump’s daily assaults on the presidential competence standard, are only part of the disaster. On the other side of the political aisle, among self-described liberals, we’re watching an intellectual revolution. It feels liberating to say after years of tiptoeing around the fact, but the American left has lost its mind. It’s become a cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts, Twitter Robespierres who move from discipline to discipline torching reputations and jobs with breathtaking casualness.

“Self censorship”: ‘Fawlty Towers’ Episode to Be Reinstated After John Cleese Attacks its Removal

Leo Barraclough:

UPDATED: An episode of sitcom “Fawlty Towers” removed from a streaming site for containing “racial slurs” is to be reinstated. John Cleese had attacked the decision to remove the episode as “stupid,” as well as taking a swipe at those who take a revisionist view of history in the context of the Black Lives Matter debate.

Early on Friday, BBC-owned TV network UKTV announced on Twitter that it had temporarily removed the episode titled “The Germans” from its Gold download service as it contained “racial slurs.” The service said it wished to “review” the episode, and “consider our options.” It said some shows “carry warnings and others are edited.”

It is believed the “racial slurs” are contained in a scene in which the character known as the Major uses the N-word when referring to Caribbean sportsmen.

Later on Friday, UKTV said the episode would be reinstated “in the coming days” with the addition of “extra guidance.” “We already offer guidance to viewers across some of our classic comedy titles, but we recognize that more contextual information can be required on our archive comedy, so we will be adding extra guidance and warnings to the front of programs to highlight potentially offensive content and language. We will reinstate ‘Fawlty Towers’ once that extra guidance has been added, which we expect will be in the coming days.”

Home-schooled children are very well socialized, despite what some experts say

Karen Lenington:

Homeschooling- it’s all the rage right now! One year ago no one would have believed that every school-age child in America would be educated at home by the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Ironically, just weeks before this educational upheaval, Professor Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard called for a summit to examine the pro’s and con’s of homeschooling. Her now-postponed summit was “by invitation only”, and I hope her panel was more than just one-sided.

As a former homeschooler and current homeschooling mother of four, I offer my sympathy to those who were unwittingly thrown into homeschooling with a few paltry hours of notice. At six years in, I have found a nice stride, and have a unique perspective which I would love to share with Professor Bartholet over coffee, (from at least six feet away) if I could.

First, Professor Bartholet is concerned that homeschooled children are restrained from adequate social interaction and diversity.

My children, like most homeschoolers I know, are actually very well-socialized. Our family is part of a homeschool co-op with art, gym, sign language, drama, and academic classes. We participate in a local Christian school’s sports program. We helped with our church’s game booth at National Night Out 2019, and helped maintain Grandpop Bubbles’ booth at the Kipona Festival 2019. Our church family provides love and fellowship from members of all ages at worship services, family game nights, picnics and hymn-sings at church member’s homes. At our church’s kids Bible club my children learn and play with neighborhood children from a broad range of ethnic and economic backgrounds. National missionaries from India, Ghana, Uruguay, the Philippines, Lebanon and Mexico have stayed in our home and have entertained my children with stories of their native homelands. What a rich sampling of diversity my children have experienced!

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“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”.

Citing ‘racist and sexist material,’ WPR cancels ‘Old Time Radio Drama’ after 31 years

Rob Thomas:

Wisconsin Public Radio is canceling its long-running weekend program “Old Time Radio Drama,” with station officials citing the “racist and sexist material” present in many of the plays of the Golden Age of Radio.

“Many of these plays and productions were produced more than 60 years ago,” Wisconsin Public Radio director Mike Crane said in a statement on Friday. “Despite significant effort over the years, it has been nearly impossible to find historic programs without offensive and outdated content.”

“Old Time Radio Drama” will air its final episode this weekend. It is carried by most stations in WPR’s sister network, The Ideas Network, around Wisconsin on Saturday and Sunday nights. The show is hosted by Norman Gilliland, who will continue his roles on several other Wisconsin Public Radio shows such as “Chapter a Day.”

Beginning the weekend of June 20, the time slot will be filled with “PRX Remix,” described as a showcase of “some of the best stories, podcasts and documentaries from independent creators and the PRX podcast network Radiotopia.”

Crane added that such a program is more in line with the central mission of WPR and The Ideas Network than classic radio drama.

“Ultimately, these programs don’t represent the values of WPR and The Ideas Network’s focus on public service through news and information,” he said.

WPR’s decision comes in the midst of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, and as problematic works of art are being re-evaluated. HBO MAX announced this week that it was temporarily pulling the Civil War drama “Gone With the Wind” from its site and adding cultural context to its depiction of the antebellum South.

Facebook Pitched New Tool Allowing Employers to Suppress Words Like “Unionize” in Workplace Chat Product

Lee Fang:

During an internal presentation at Facebook on Wednesday, the company debuted features for Facebook Workplace, an intranet-style chat and office collaboration product similar to Slack.

On Facebook Workplace, employees see a stream of content similar to a news feed, with automatically generated trending topics based on what people are posting about. One of the new tools debuted by Facebook allows administrators to remove and block certain trending topics among employees.

The presentation discussed the “benefits” of “content control.” And it offered one example of a topic employers might find it useful to blacklist: the word “unionize.”

Facebook Workplace is currently used by major employers such as Walmart, which is notorious for its active efforts to suppress labor organizing. The application is also used by the Singapore government, Discovery Communications, Starbucks, and Campbell Soup Corporation.

The suggestion that Facebook is actively building tools designed to suppress labor organizing quickly caused a stir at the Menlo Park, California-based company. Facebook employees sparked a flurry of posts denouncing the feature, with several commenting in disbelief that the company would overtly pitch “unionize” as a topic to be blacklisted.

Madison High school freshman wants cops in schools

David Blaska:

In a previous post, we reproduced some of the chatter from NextDoor social media on Cops in Madison WI four public high schools — the issue that can never be settled, apparently. The thread is exploding with content running six to one or better in favor of keeping the police. Even more lopsided is the support for school resource officers from parents of students. Here is one of those, from Bonnie of Midvale Heights:

This is my daughter’s experience, in her words, at an MMSD High School (and why I care strongly about this):

I am a freshman at Memorial High School, and although I cannot speak for all experiences with SRO’s in our district, I thought I would share a few scenarios in which I have seen their involvement.

In October, graffiti was discovered in the bathroom at our high school. It included references to the Columbine shooting and other depicted images of gun violence. When later in the day pictures of this graffiti were shared on social media, people became afraid that what the school termed simply as “graffiti” may be more along the lines of a threat. The student was arrested on account of “a tentative disorderly conduct charge.” MMSD sent out an understated email. No added security in place. No increased police presence. No lockdown or additional precautions set in place. No news story. However, despite taking no further safety precautions, students were more at ease knowing there was an armed officer in the school, with extensive prior knowledge of the school and relationships with students and faculty should it have turned into more than “graffiti.”

That same day, one of my close friends was threatened with a picture of a gun. Teachers were informed, and the SRO was notified in the event that the situation escalated.

The following day, another one of my friends received texts from an unknown number that included gun violence threats. She went to the SRO at our school, and using the police they were able to trace the number. School counselors and psychologists were also used in order to mediate between the two students.

In November, two stolen cars were abandoned in the Jefferson parking lot. Although not all issues begin within the school, incidents often take place on school property. The SRO’s are needed to not only deal with problems within the school, but also to protect students from external threats.

In December there was a fight (not on school grounds) that resulted in additional police involvement at the school. Although the SRO and other faculty members are able to handle many situations, other police are very much needed. Removing the SRO’s from MMSD high schools would only increase the need for police presence, including those without prior experience with the school.

Neighbors support cops in schools

L.A. schools police will return grenade launchers but keep rifles, armored vehicle

Stephen Ceasar:

Los Angeles Unified school police officials said Tuesday that the department will relinquish some of the military weaponry it acquired through a federal program that furnishes local law enforcement with surplus equipment. The move comes as education and civil rights groups have called on the U.S. Department of Defense to halt the practice for schools.

The Los Angeles School Police Department, which serves the nation’s second-largest school system, will return three grenade launchers but intends to keep 61 rifles and a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle it received through the program.

L.A. Unified is one of at least 22 school systems in eight states that participate in the program, which provides law enforcement agencies with the extra military-grade gear at no charge.

30,000 Unsuspecting Rose Bowl Attendees Were Scooped Up in a Facial Recognition Test

Dave Gershgorn:

On New Year’s Day 2020, more than 90,000 college football fans piled into the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, to watch the Oregon Ducks play the Wisconsin Badgers.

It turns out some of those fans were being watched, too. Before they even entered the stadium, thousands of attendees were being captured by a facial recognition system in the Rose Bowl’s FanFest activity area by an ad tech company called VSBLTY.

Four cameras hidden underneath digital signs captured data on attendees, generating 30,000 points of data on how long they looked at advertisements, their gender and age, and an analysis to try and identify weapons or whether they were on a watch list of suspicious persons.

Three fans who attended the Rose Bowl game and spoke to OneZero said they didn’t remember seeing any notice that they were being surveilled.

What, in your opinion, are the greatest and most useful textbooks?


For self-education from books, textbooks are essential. They are literally designed to convey information on a subject to students. But there are a lot of textbooks. Which ones are the best?

Preliminary research has suggested Spivak is best for Calculus. SICP is another famous one I’ve heard of. What about Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy, History?

Any contributions to this list are much appreciated.

A Neuroscientist’s Theory of Everything

Brian Gallagher:

Karl Friston wanted me to know he had plenty of time. That wasn’t quite true. He just didn’t want our conversation—about his passion, the physics of mental life—to end. Once it did, he would have to step outside, have a cigarette, and get straight back to modeling COVID-19. I caught the University College London neuroscientist at 6 p.m., his time, just after he had sat on a panel at a COVID-related press conference. He apologized for still having on a tie and seemed grateful to me for supplying some “light relief and a distraction.”

A decade ago, Friston published a paper called “The Free-Energy Principle: A Unified Brain Theory?” It spells out the idea that the brain works as an editor, constantly minimizing, “squashing” input from the outside world, and in the process balancing internal models of the world with sensations and perceptions. Life, in Friston’s view, is about minimizing free energy. But it’s not just a view of the brain. It’s more like a theory of everything. Friston’s free-energy theory practically sets your brain on fire when you read it, and it has become one of the most-cited papers in the world of neuroscience. This May, Friston published a new paper, “Sentience and the Origins of Consciousness,” that takes his ideas into new intellectual territory.

Teaching My MIT Classes with Only Free/Libre Software

Gerald Jay Sussman:

This spring (2020) MIT moved all its classes online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It made available licenses for various nonfree programs, but I objected to them on grounds of principle. For my class, an advanced class in computer programming, I made arrangements to avoid suggesting any nonfree software to my students.

Instead, I used an installation of BigBlueButton running on a server owned by the Free Software Foundation. Rubén Rodriguez of the FSF helped get this and other software working. (Thank you, FSF and Rubén!)

The class used a draft textbook that Chris Hanson and I have written. The book is entitled “Software Design for Flexibility (how to avoid programming yourself into a corner)”; it will be published by MIT Press soon, with a Creative Commons Share Alike license (and all the code in support of the book is under the GNU GPL).

I also did not ask my students to use nonfree software for one-on-one conversations about classwork, or thesis work, or projects. I used a Jitsi Meet server that I installed on an obsolete and otherwise useless computer that was sitting idle in my laboratory, on its way to the electronics junk heap.

“This idea of parental choice, that’s great if the parent is well-educated. There are some families that’s perfect for. But to make it available to everyone? No. I think you’re asking for a huge amount of trouble,” Dietsch said.

Michael Graham:

“Is it your belief that only well-educated parents can make proper decisions for what’s in the best interest of their children?” asked a dumbfounded Rep. Glenn Cordelli (R-Tuftonboro).

Rather than saying “no,” Dietsch instead repeated her view that parents without college degrees are less capable of overseeing their children’s education.

“In a democracy, and particularly in the United States, public education has been the means for people to move up to greater opportunities, for each generation to be able to succeed more than their parents have. My father didn’t graduate from high school, so it was really important that I went to college,” Dietsch said.

‘When it gets into the details, would my father have known what courses I should be taking? I don’t think so.”

When committee vice-chairman David Luneau tried to inject that Dietsch was not, in fact, saying parents without college were less fit to oversee their children’s education, Dietsch interrupted to reaffirm her position.

“If the dad’s a carpenter, and you want to become a carpenter, then yes — listen to your dad.”

Former Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes: August 3, 2013

“The notion that parents inherently know what school is best for their kids is an example of conservative magical thinking.”; “For whatever reason, parents as a group tend to undervalue the benefits of diversity in the public schools….”

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“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”.

Google-backed drones will drop library books so kids in Virginia can do their summer reading

Rachel Lerman:

“I think kids are going to be just thrilled to learn that they are going to be the first in the world to receive a library book by drone,” said Passek, who works for Montgomery County Public Schools.

Drone delivery has been an anticipated promise from tech companies since Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos showed off a surprise prototype during a “60 Minutes” interview in 2013. Other companies jumped on the bandwagon shortly after, but nearly seven years later, the service is only available in limited tests in a few areas of the world, bogged down by regulatory hurdles. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Domino’s partnered with drone company Flirtey to deliver a pizza by drone in New Zealand in 2016, but the service hasn’t taken flight outside the country. And UPS received federal approval to test delivering some packages by drone in the United States last year.

Students likely to attend school only part time this fall, local officials warn

James Vaznis:

School officials across Massachusetts are increasingly warning families that students will attend classes in person only part time this fall, as the effort to protect students and staff from the coronavirus will continue into the foreseeable future while also wreaking havoc on family work schedules and the pace of learning.

Following Trump’s move last week to clear out a large group of peaceful protesters outside the White House, more Republicans began to say they are Never Trump in 2020.

Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states without a certification system for police officers.

A suspected drug dealer from Sandwich turned herself into police Tuesday afternoon, several days after officers allegedly found drugs, along with thousands of dollars, inside her home and issued a warrant for her arrest, Sandwich Police said.

Zoom closed account of U.S.-based Chinese activist “to comply with local law”

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian:

Update: A Zoom spokesperson confirmed to Axios that the account had been closed “to comply with local law” and said it had now been re-activated.

“Just like any global company, we must comply with applicable laws in the jurisdictions where we operate. When a meeting is held across different countries, the participants within those countries are required to comply with their respective local laws. We aim to limit the actions we take to those necessary to comply with local law and continuously review and improve our process on these matters. We have reactivated the US-based account.”

— Zoom statement

Between the lines: This suggests Zoom closed the account due to concerns in China, which forbids free discussion of the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement.

No Recent Automation Revolution

Robin Hanson:

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that for many years the media has been almost screaming that we entering a big automation revolution, with huge associated job losses, due to new AI tech, especially deep learning. The media has cited many “experts” making such claims, most every management consulting firm has felt compelled to issue a related report, and the subject came up in the Democratic US presidential debates.

Last December, Keller Scholl and I posted a working paper suggesting that this whole narrative is bullshit, at least so far. An automation revolution driven by a new kind of automation tech should induce changes in the total amount and rate of automation, and in which kinds of jobs get more automated. But looking at all U.S. jobs 1999-2019, we find no change whatsoever in the kinds of jobs more likely to be automated. We don’t even see a net change in overall level of automation, though language habits may be masking such changes. And having a job get more automated is not correlated at all with changes in its pay or employment. (There may be effects in narrow categories, like jobs that use robots, but nothing visible at the overall level of all automation.)

The ‘Useless’ Perspective That Transformed Mathematics

Kevin Hartnett:

When representation theory emerged in the late 19th century, many mathematicians questioned its worth. In 1897, the English mathematician William Burnside wrote that he doubted that this unorthodox perspective would yield any new results at all.

“Basically what [Burnside was] saying is that representation theory is useless,” said Geordie Williamson of the University of Sydney in a 2015 lecture.

More than a century since its debut, representation theory has served as a key ingredient in many of the most important discoveries in mathematics. Yet its usefulness is still hard to perceive at first.

“It doesn’t seem immediately clear that this is a reasonable thing to study,” said Emily Norton of the Technical University of Kaiserslautern in Germany.

Representation theory is a way of taking complicated objects and “representing” them with simpler objects. The complicated objects are often collections of mathematical objects — like numbers or symmetries — that stand in a particular structured relationship with each other. These collections are called groups. The simpler objects are arrays of numbers called matrices, the core element of linear algebra. While groups are abstract and often difficult to get a handle on, matrices and linear algebra are elementary.

University to Investigate Lecturer for Reading MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

Christy Clark:

The University of California Los Angeles has launched an inquiry into a teacher for reading aloud Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” because the civil rights document includes the n-word.

In a department-wide email obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon, UCLA political science chair Michael Chwe and two other department leaders condemned lecturer W. Ajax Peris’s use of the racially incendiary word in a lecture he was delivering about the history of racism against African Americans. UCLA officials said the department referred Peris, an Air Force veteran, to the university’s Discrimination Prevention Office (DPO) and urged students to come forward with complaints. The email also faulted the postdoctoral lecturer for showing a documentary to the class in which a lynching is described and not stopping the presentation when students complained.

Wokeness & The Endarkenment

Rod Dreher:

A reader who is an academic and a scientist writes:

I wrote this message and debated whether to send it to you. Until I got the third message of the day from a university administrator calling for a general strike action.

I’m revolted at the murder of George Floyd and at police corruption. This does not distract from my alarm about the cult fire now burning hot through academia.

At my university, every administrator, program, sub-program from the chief executive to the department chair has sent one or more messages in the last week on the topic of racism. These explain that extensive anti-racism plans are forthcoming (always without detail but with an apology that the plans will be insufficient), and/or encourage us to protest, hold vigils etc.

All administrative meetings now begin with an acknowledgement of racism, a genuflection difficult to discern from an opening prayer.

Petitions are being circulated.

The rise in the West of the worldview that produced the Scientific Revolution is theologically and socially problematic in ways that I have discussed before on this blog, and in my past work. That’s not necessary to go into here. But we can say that for scientific knowledge to progress, scientists and philosophers need to be free to think, to experiment, and to write about what they are finding without fear of persecution. The religion of Social Justice is endarkening the West. It is going to kill science.

The Cities Taking Up Calls to Defund the Police

Sarah Holder:

On June 7, members of the Minneapolis city council announced something that just weeks ago might have seemed politically untenable: They would disband the Minneapolis Police Department entirely, and start over with a community-led public safety system. Though the mayor reaffirmed on Monday that he wouldn’t support the dissolution of the force, the council has secured a veto-proof majority.

“Our commitment is to do what’s necessary to keep every single member of our community safe and to tell the truth: that the Minneapolis Police are not doing that,” city councilmember Lisa Bender said at a rally. “Our commitment is to end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department, to end policing as we know it, and to recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe.”

Although it’s unclear how the council plans to disband the police department, the move nonetheless marks a foundational shift in how many U.S. politicians talk about policing in the city — one that reflects the growing understanding that there’s something systemic wrong with the institution.

No other city has gone as far as Minneapolis, where the killing of George Floyd sparked global protests. The Minneapolis Parks Department, the University of Minnesota, some local museums and the public school system have already severed ties with the police department.

But lawmakers in at least 16 other U.S. cities have proposed or made pledges that would divest some resources from the police. Several more have proposed taking police out of schools. Many of the ideas are more incremental in their rhetoric than Minneapolis’s, calling instead for budget cuts or reductions in officer counts. Some are waiting to conduct firmer research or get more public input before making concrete plans. Even in Minneapolis, councilmembers haven’t yet laid out details about how their proposal would work, instead promising that they’d listen to locals before determining a path. But already, in the weeks since Floyd’s death, communities have been heard — in the streets and online — sparking an acute focus on funding as a reform vehicle.

“These ideas are not new, but what we are seeing today is the emergence of a groundswell of support for them from elected officials and — most importantly — from their communities and constituents across the country,” says Sarah Johnson, the director of Local Progress, an alliance of local policymakers that advocate for progressive reforms.