In terms of education, there is no evidence kids nationwide are making progress and some evidence they are backsliding. Test scores in reading and math in Wisconsin and nationwide had gone down a few notches in recent years, even before the pandemic hit. That was underscored by results released Wednesday from the National Assessment of Educational Progress on math and reading abilities of 12th graders nationwide. Based on 2019 results – before COVID-19 — math success was flat and reading was down a bit. In short, reading and math abilities remain a big (and likely growing) worry.
The Democrats have been trying to catch up since 2010, when they were outspent, outsmarted and lost control of 21 chambers. During Mr Obama’s two terms, Democrats lost around 1,000 of the 4,000-odd state seats they held in 2009 (there are 7,383 in all). This cost them not only control of the policy agenda but also, in many states, control of the power to draw congressional-district boundaries.
A decade later Democrats control 39 out of 98 chambers (not counting Nebraska’s unicameral, non-partisan legislature) and have regained 450 of those lost seats. On the watch of Jessica Post, head of the dlcc, they have taken ten state-legislative chambers and made inroads in North Carolina and Texas. They are unlikely to match the Republicans’ success in 2010, but only because they have already won the easiest targets. At stake, once again, is control over redistricting. David Abrams of the Republican State Leadership Committee says this means “there’s a decade of power hanging in the balance” on November 3rd.
Related: Madison seeks to waive the State of Wisconsin’s civics exam requirement
For as long as Connie LuVenia Williams can remember, letters have been giving her trouble. Sure, she learned the ABCs, but making sense of how these symbols we call letters combine to form the sounds that make up the English language – that part stumped her. And from what she remembers nobody taught her those skills as a kid.
Her first teachers used Dick and Jane style books with simple, repetitive phrases.
This whole-word approach to reading teaches kids to memorize and recognize entire words rather than start by sounding out individual letters, like you would with phonics. Whole-word was prevalent in the ‘60s, but for a decade, phonics proponents had already been arguing the method produced poor reading skills. In Williams’ case, they were right.
“I never learned how to spell my middle name,” she told me as she struggled to spell out ‘LuVenia’ and turned to her driver’s license for help.
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
But as with everything else in 2020, normal has flown out the window. Facing the toxic maelstrom of the presidential election and many divisive state and local contests, teachers across the country find themselves rethinking how — or even whether — to provide lessons on America’s political selection process.
Some teachers say the races are so outside the bounds of a typical election that they are uncomfortable presenting them to their students as examples of how American democracy functions. Others worry about uttering the wrong word or being misinterpreted and facing backlash from administrators, parents or polarized community members. In a year already blasted by the coronavirus pandemic, job losses and widespread protests for racial justice, teaching about the bitter election battle can feel like a high-wire act over a sea of sharks.
In previous presidential election years, Jenifer Hitchcock would follow a teaching plan that was synchronous with the election and the news around it. 2020 has changed that. This year, she has focused on the process and the responsibilities of elected leaders rather than the often caustic showdowns between the backers of President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden.
Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.
It’s only when you sit back and ask yourself, “What has Tony Chung actually done?” that you realise just how draconian Hong Kong’s state security law is.
Among the accusations against Mr Chung: that he posted on social media advocating independence for Hong Kong.
According to Joshua Rosenzweig, the head of Amnesty International’s China Team, “a peaceful student activist has been charged and detained solely because the authorities disagree with his views”.
Consider it another way. Mr Chung is 19 years old. What views were you expressing when you were 19? What opinions were others expressing? Should you have been threatened with life imprisonment for them?
In just a matter of months, the pro-Beijing camp in Hong Kong has made use of the new national security law to erode the harbour city’s once vaunted freedom of speech. It is nothing short of a disaster for the vast majority of residents who voted for the pro-democracy block in the most recent local elections.
As a document, the proposed law was frightening, but now people are seeing the reality: state security agents grabbing teenage activists from cafes and taking them away perhaps for the rest of their lives. On the ground in Hong Kong, the shocking reality of the new legal regime is becoming clear.
Jemima Kelly, writing in the Financial Times: “We need to be more honest in our reporting on Biden”.
Apple refuses to engrave “Liberate HKers” on customer’s Apple Pencil.
The Guardian on Glenn Greenwood and Censorship.
Mailchimp makes its censorship rules official, outlines right to ban users for “inaccurate” content.
Is the Traditional ACLU View of Free Speech Still Viable? Ira Glasser Speaks Out.
Nearly 14 months ago, the Associated Press reported the Evers Administration was “evaluating how to better present “accurate information about public records to the public.” The promise to do better – or at least evaluate how to do better – was in response to criticism of Gov. Tony Evers not following former Gov. Scott Walker’s executive orders on open government. Unfortunately, since then, there has been little, if any, signs of progress. In fact just the opposite.
That’s disappointing because open government is an essential fabric of our republic, necessary to build trust with the other branches of government, media, and public.
Walker won a nonpartisan award for his open government policies. Evers’ predecessor crafted a number of good government reforms, including the creation of a website that makes it easier to show how responsive state agencies are to records requests from the public. This was a common-sense tool to evaluate state bureaucrats accountability to the public.
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results
Mark Paradise made the tough decision to close Sunroom Café on State Street, even though, at age 67, he said, he had a least two more good years to give it.
That was also the number of years he had left on his lease at the sunny, second-floor restaurant at 638 State St., which routinely had customers lined up down the stairs waiting on weekends.
Paradise just marked his 25th year of ownership, and said his decision was also based on the uncertainties of the pandemic and the unknowns about being able to reopen safely. He said he also worried about retaining skilled employees in a limited work capacity. “I guess there were too many variables,” he said.
He enjoyed the job, he said. “Going to the café each morning, interacting with all of the employees and greeting customers, I didn’t want those feelings to change under the new reality of COVID-19.”
Paradise said being on the second floor made doing business during the pandemic difficult, since he couldn’t offer outdoor dining. Before the pandemic, Sunroom — which served breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch — could seat about 65 people inside. Complying with COVID restrictions would be impossible because the tables were squeezed too close together to make distancing realistic, he said.
“We had a good business, and it was a lot of fun working and being down there and meeting all the students and faculty and staff,” Paradise said. “We had regular customers that I saw five times a week and it’s sad that it was all sort of taken away.”
Much more on Madison’s substantial Fall 2020 tax & spending increase referendum, here.
This past Sunday my 8 Black Hands crew did a show on the missing importance of school boards, and then this article pops up saying the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has launched a campaign called “Public School Transformation Now!”
The goal, flimsy as ever, is to “bring equity issues front and center.” I’m triggered because leaders, especially education, consistently go for sophistry over function. They focus on the feel-good rather than the complex. They love the fashion instead of the fix.
If you read through the article and the NSBA’s Twitter timeline you’ll be browbeaten with the words “reinvent!” and “reimagine!” and “transform!” With America’s massively ineffective public schooling gasping for air from the shock of Covid, I don’t blame them for branding their effort in aspirational terms even as parents and journalists complain about the remote learning “disaster” across cities. And I certainly don’t blame them for ringing the bell on important issues like increasing teacher diversity, stemming potential teacher shortages, the urgent need for flexibility on how special education services are delivered, and the national need to ensure kids can access the internet. But it feels like some essentials are missing from their hubbub.
Ten years ago Peter Turchin, a scientist at the University of Connecticut, made a startling prediction in Nature. “The next decade is likely to be a period of growing instability in the United States and western Europe,” he asserted, pointing in part to the “overproduction of young graduates with advanced degrees”. The subsequent surge in populism in Europe, the unexpected votes in 2016 for Brexit and then for President Donald Trump in America, and a wave of protests from the gilets jaunes to Black Lives Matter, has made Mr Turchin something of a celebrity in certain circles, and has piqued economists’ interest in the discipline of “cliodynamics”, which uses maths to model historical change. Mr Turchin’s emphasis on the “overproduction of elites” raises uncomfortable questions, but also offers useful policy lessons.
As far back as ancient Rome and imperial China, Mr Turchin shows, societies have veered from periods of political stability to instability, often at intervals of about 50 years. Consider America. Every pundit knows that Congress has become gridlocked, with Democrats and Republicans unwilling to compromise with each other. Fewer know that it was also highly polarised around 1900, before becoming more co-operative in the mid-20th century.
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’sRemarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
Popular histories present the Boston Tea Party as a rebellion against taxes. Yet what the colonists objected to more than anything was the idea of an all-powerful corporate middleman regulating commerce. They viewed the 1773 protest in Boston Harbor as a victory for liberty and a blow against the British East India Company’s trade monopoly.
That corporation owed its dominance not to any proprietary advantage but to an exclusive British government charter. The artificial nature of this power was made clear soon after the Congress of the new United States signed a peace treaty with Britain. Six weeks later, the American ship Empress of China sailed from New York, bound for Canton. When the ship returned, its traders sold tea and porcelain on the open market. Without the active backing of the British state, the East India Company could not stop the sale—let alone determine who sold what, or where and how they sold it, in America.
But around the middle of the nineteenth century, Americans began to develop technologies that could not be broken into component pieces. This was especially true of the railroad and the telegraph. These expensive and complex networks were built across vast areas of land and required large teams of people to operate. This made the earlier solution to monopolies—dissolution—impossible. If Americans planned to take full advantage of these technological advances, they would have to regulate the actions of the corporations that controlled them.
Such corporations posed one overarching challenge: they charged some people more than others to get to market. They exploited their control over an essential service in order to extort money, and sometimes political favors. The system of “discriminations made between individuals . . . is the most serious evil connected with our present methods of railroad management,” the Yale professor Arthur T. Hadley explained in 1885. “Differences are made which are sufficient to cripple all smaller competitors. . . and concentrate industry in a few hands.”
Americans found the answer to this problem in common law. For centuries, the owners of ferries, stagecoaches, and inns had been required to serve all customers for the same price and in the order in which they arrived. In the late nineteenth century, versions of such “common carrier” rules were applied to the new middleman corporations.
Many taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Google and Facebook services., including Madison.
Facebook has ordered the end to an academic monitoring project that has repeatedly exposed failures by the internet giant to clearly label political advertising on its platform.
The social media goliath informed New York University (NYU) that research by its Tandon School of Engineering’s Online Transparency Project’s Ad Observatory violates Facebook’s terms of service on bulk data collection and demanded it end the program immediately.
The project recruited 6,500 volunteers to install its AdObserver browser extension that collects data on the ads that Facebook shows them personally. It sends the information to the American university, allowing it to perform a real-time check that Facebook is living up its promise to clearly disclose not only who paid for political ads shown on the platform but also how much and when the adverts would be shown.
“We launched the Online Transparency Project two years ago to make it easier to see who was purchasing political ads on Facebook,” said co-founder Laura Edelson, of the project.
The other day I had a bit of a crisis, I was worried that I was starting to have trouble with my memory. Something had to be wrong! I started to notice (increasingly!) my inability to recall trivial things; for example, the action points from a Zoom call, or a quote from a book that I had read a couple of months ago. Surely this can’t be normal?
Before calling the doctor’s office I did what any decent hypochondriac would do, and started googling. After clicking through a few pages, I began to feel a bit better. It was normal. Short term (or working) memory is inefficient, and unless I revisit the thing I’m trying to remember a few times, I’m most likely going to forget it. And no, it’s not a side effect of turning thirty. Phew.
It’s a “feature, not a bug” of how our memory systems are designed.
Our memory is made up of not one, nor two, but three components: 1) a sensory register, 2) working memory, and 3) long-term memory.
In late 2018, UC Berkeley bioethics professor Osagie K. Obasogie received a campus email about a research fund available to faculty members in the School of Public Health.
He was stunned by what he read.
The Genealogical Eugenic Institute Fund, the email said, supports research and education in eugenics — a field discredited after World War II as a horrifying ideology that sought to use science to improve the human race by promoting traits deemed superior and breeding out those judged undesirable. The judgments aligned strongly with social biases that favored white, able-bodied and financially stable people.
Eugenics was used as a justification for Hitler’s Nazi Germany to kill 6 million Jewish people, and U.S. authorities to forcibly sterilize more than 60,000 people in California and more than 30 other states largely in the early 20th century.
But Berkeley’s eugenic research fund has been very much active.
Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s eugenics advocacy continues to be controversial.
The results for the 2019 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have just been released. The NAEP is given to samples of students around the country on a biannual basis and provides the best method for comparing performance among students in different states. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, the story is yet another riff on a tired tune: student achievement is largely stagnant and wide racial achievement gaps persist.
Overall, achievement in Wisconsin remains relatively flat. Scores have moved no more than a point in either direction over the past decade. In some ways, this is not a bad thing. Wisconsin students remain above the national average among eighth graders in reading and math. But there is some cause for concern. Wisconsin’s fourth grade students used to exceed the national average in these areas as well but are now on par with the rest of the country. It appears other states are “catching up” to Wisconsin.
Some might say that this is a result of cuts in Wisconsin’s spending, but the facts don’t support this. The chart below shows Wisconsin’s per pupil spending since 2013 along with the NAEP scores. Inflation-adjusted spending has increased while NAEP scores stagnate.
Seven months into the coronavirus crisis, the states with the most severe unemployment in the country all seem to have one thing in common: They vote blue.
In September, just eight states had jobless rates that were significantly higher than the nation as a whole, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each of them—New Mexico, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, California, Nevada, and Hawaii—backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, and all but Massachusetts had a Democratic governor.* These states did not suffer from unusually high unemployment rates before the pandemic began, but now are facing rates ranging from 9.4 percent up to 15.1 percent, compared with 7.9 percent nationally.
Note: These are the eight states that have unemployment higher than the U.S. rate, and where the difference is statistically significant at the 90 percent level. Jordan Weissmann/Slate
By contrast, the states with the lowest unemployment last month tilted red: Of the bottom 10—Nebraska, South Dakota, Vermont, North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Utah, South Carolina, Montana, and Oklahoma—eight both had a Republican governor and backed Donald Trump in the last election. All had jobless rates below 5.4 percent.
Even if you turn your attention away from the extremes, it’s clear that the economic damage has been significantly worse overall in Biden Country, where employment has fallen 8.6 percent, than in Trump country, where it’s down 4.6 percent, according to an analysis by Indeed.com economist Jed Kolko.
Much more on Madison’s substantial Fall 2020 tax & spending increase referendum, here.
The United States and its democratic allies are engaged in a contest for the soul of the Future Internet. Conceived as a beacon of free expression with the power to tear down communication barriers across free and unfree societies alike, the Internet today faces significant challenges to its status as the world’s ultimate connector.1 In creating connectivity and space for democratic speech, it has also enabled new means of authoritarian control and the suppression of human rights through censorship and surveillance. As tensions between democracies and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) heat up over Internet technologies, the prospect of a dichotomous Internet comes more sharply into focus: a democratic Internet where information flows freely and an authoritarian Internet where it is tightly controlled—separated not by an Iron Curtain, but a Silicon one. The Future Internet is deeply enmeshed in the dawning information contest between autocracies and democracies.2 It is the base layer—the foundation—on which communication takes place and the entry point into narrative and societal influence. How the next generation of Internet technologies are created, defined, governed, and ultimately used will have an outsized impact on this information contest—and the larger geopolitical contest—between democracy and authoritarianism.
Some institutions are responding better than others to the stress of political polarization, and one of the worst performers has been the press. Its broad and intense progressive partisanship is escalating into attempts to stifle information and stigmatize opposing points of view.
A case in point is the media distortion of a pair of recent reports in The Wall Street Journal. Our Kimberley Strassel wrote a detailed analysis in her Friday column about the emails and text messages of former Hunter Biden business associate Tony…
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is refusing to tell Congress what legal authority the agency is following to use commercially bought location data to track Americans without a warrant, according to the office of Senator Ron Wyden. The agency is buying location data from Americans all over the country, not just in border areas.
The lack of disclosure around why CBP believes it does not need a warrant to use the data, as well as the Department of Homeland Security not publishing a Privacy Impact Assessment on the use of such location information, has spurred Wyden and Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Ed Markey, and Brian Schatz on Friday to ask the DHS Office of the Inspector General (DHS OIG) to investigate CBP’s warrantless domestic surveillance of phones, and determine if CBP is breaking the law or engaging in abusive practices.
Chancellor Richard Carranza’s highly anticipated new grading policy for this school year will again ban failing marks, according to an internal memo obtained by The Post, riling educators and parents.
The city Department of Education document, titled “Grading Policy 2020-2021,” says schools should use the same softer “considerations” adopted last May during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Among the main guidelines:
• “Continue to use ‘course in progress’ in place of failing grades.”
• “Permit students in high school an additional semester to complete coursework and meet the learning outcomes for their courses.”
Under the DOE policy adopted in May, schools had to drop numeric grades. Instead, it directed the use of “meets standards,” “needs improvement,” or “course in progress” for marking periods as well as end-of-year grades.
The new policy will allow elementary and middle schools to give numeric grades — but not to fail students, the document states.
I think that in today’s world financial literacy is more important than ever to financial success in life and yet it seems like many kids graduating high school are financially illiterate. In my opinion everyone should a fundamental understanding of how a savings account, CD account, IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k) and MSA account work. Likewise, everyone should have a fundamental understanding of the equity markets, derivatives markets, futures markets, bond and treasury markets along with an understanding of how interest rates work and their effects on financial instruments like mortgages. Kids should be taught about the various forms of business structures available to them from starting a simple DBA to the numerous flavors of corporations out there. All this can be taught without giving financial advice, which may be more in the domain of parents, but by focusing on the theoretical and historical aspects of financial instruments so that kids have a better understanding of how they work and are better prepared for life in gen
Dahlia Francis is sitting on a small couch at the foot of her bed, in her shared flat, on a housing estate in south London. She wears her new uniform of pyjama bottoms and a Zoom-ready plain T-shirt. Her room used to be a living room. Now the only communal space is the kitchen, where Francis’s three flatmates occupy a small dining table. They, like almost half of Britain’s workforce, are also working from home.
Francis, who is 29, is a credit controller for a charity in central London. She commuted there, by bus and tube, for a little more than a year. There were baking competitions and quizzes and a kitchenette, where gossip and tea flowed freely. Now the kettle is silent and the cubicles are empty. They are likely to remain so for the rest of the year.
For the first few weeks after her office closed in late March, Francis was too busy to consider her new circumstances. Then they hit her – and got her down. Days spent in her bedroom hunched over a laptop, centimetres from where she slept, blurred into endless weeks. She has become lonely.
Facing a coronavirus-induced “budget crisis” that exceeds $300 million, UW-Madison announced on Monday another round of furloughs and pay cuts for the first six months of 2021.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a message to the campus community. “The pandemic will affect UW into 2021 and beyond.”
Roughly 16,000 university employees will take between three and six unpaid days off between Jan. 1 and June 30, reducing their pay between 2.5% and 4.6%. Blank and vice chancellors will take a 15% salary cut over those same six months. School and college deans will take voluntary 10% salary cuts.
The latest round of furloughs and salary cuts is expected to save $27 million, university spokesman John Lucas said. That’s about the same as what UW-Madison recouped when it imposed its first six-month furlough period that ends Friday.
The university estimates about $320 million in revenue losses and increased costs from March through the end of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Some of that shortfall has already been made up for through the first round of furloughs, a hiring freeze, travel restrictions and other reductions.
But the budget gap is still “larger than any that we’ve faced in any past year,” Blank said.
Much more on Madison’s substantial Fall 2020 tax & spending increase referendum, here.
Betsy DeVos became President Donald Trump’s education secretary on February 7, 2017, following Vice President Mike Pence’s vote to break a Senate deadlock—an inauspicious first for a Cabinet-level confirmation. Furious opposition to her nomination came from the nation’s teachers unions: American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called DeVos an “ideological” opponent of public education.
But DeVos’ tenure has shown that she’s an ideological opponent, not of public education, but of public education managed by federal bureaucrats. And she includes herself in that.
“I would not be at all unhappy to work myself out of a job,” she says.
A former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, DeVos was known as an advocate for vouchers, charter schools, and more educational options for parents well before President Trump offered her the nation’s top ed job. These issues became even more relevant in 2020, after the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close or go virtual, leaving millions of families in the lurch. With teachers unions all over the country fighting on behalf of their members to stop schools from reopening, many parents might be feeling ideologically opposed to the K–12 status quo as well.
America’s labor movement has become increasingly concentrated in the public sector. As a result, modern debates about formal labor relations often take for granted that many of the workers involved are government workers. For people holding public office in much of the country, building relationships with these public-sector unions has become a priority.
The public sector’s importance to the labor movement is beyond dispute. As of 2019, 49% of America’s 14.7 million union members worked for government units. And while about 34% of public-sector workers today belong to unions, less than 7% of those in the private sector do. The handful of unions that have gained strength in recent years are primarily either groups devoted almost entirely to unionizing public-sector workers, like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), or entities that organize in both public and private sectors, like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
When unions engage in politics, they lean heavily to the left. This, too, is beyond dispute. In recent election cycles, Democrats never received less than 85% of organized labor’s campaign contributions. They also received nearly 100% of the contributions from public-sector unions not involved in public safety. This group of “public-service” unions, which will be the focus of this article, represents a major source of opposition to conservative candidates and many of the policies they support. This has led to a deeply antagonistic relationship between public-service unions and most right-of-center officeholders.
According to a new analysis of public data by Texas 2036, almost 250,000 students, representing four percent or more of all Texas students, are missing from Texas schools, and only two out of every five Texas students are receiving in-person instruction.
Based on a review of new data from the Texas Education Agency and Department of State Health Services, Texas 2036 has identified a number of trends regarding student enrollment and access to in-person instruction. According to the data, many Texas school districts face lower enrollments and millions of students—especially those from low-income communities—continue to have virtual and not in-person instruction.
The desire to fight a “culture war” is the preserve of a small group on the political extremes that does not represent most British voters, according to a major new project on political polarisation in the UK.
A disproportionate amount of political comment on social media is generated by small, politically driven groups, according to the analysis. It found that there was actually widespread agreement in the UK over topics such as gender equality and climate change – often seen as culture war issues.
The findings come from a study that attempted to map the mood of the country before and during the Covid-19 pandemic by the More in Common thinktank founded after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox. Based on a 10,000-strong political polling panel, academic interviews and focus groups over an 18-month period, the report split British voters into seven distinct “tribes”, based on their core beliefs.
It states that 12% of voters accounted for 50% of all social-media and Twitter users – and are six times as active on social media as are other sections of the population. The two “tribes” most oriented towards politics, labelled “progressive activists” and “backbone Conservatives”, were least likely to agree with the need for compromise. However, two-thirds of respondents who identify with either the centre, centre-left or centre-right strongly prefer compromise over conflict, by a margin of three to one.
I don’t know if this letter will even reach you, despite being published in a big newspaper. Many of you are so busy with your phones, watching videos, playing video games, chatting with your friends, commenting on social media, or just scrolling through the feeds of beautiful celebrities, reading an article falls way down on the priority list.
However, if you do happen to chance on this, please read this fully. This is important and this is about your life. You are wasting your life on your phone. Yes, you are the first young generation in India’s history that has access to smartphones and cheap data, and you are spending hours on it, every day.
Check your screen time, which often averages 5-7 hours a day for young people. Retired or established people can spend so many hours on their devices. A young person, who has to build his/ her life, just can’t.
As the Madison School Board is set to consider a vote on two 2020-21 budgets next Monday, the final proposals do not include the maximum base wage increase Madison Teachers Inc. has pushed for.
The board must approve two spending measures: a $495.7 million version in case the Nov. 3 operating referendum passes and a $478.9 million version that would be used if it fails. State law requires boards approve budgets before the end of October.
MTI leadership has asked district officials and School Board members to include a cost-of-living base wage increase at the full amount allowed, 1.8%, which would cost about $4.7 million, according to projections from earlier this year. The budget proposals released Friday, however, only include a 0.5% base wage increase — and that would only come if the operating referendum is approved, as the “non-passing” budget does not include a base wage increase.
The district’s proposals instead both fully fund “steps and lanes” increases for staff based on longevity and professional development. In the budget narratives, officials point out that alone is a “2% salary increase on average for employees,” at a cost of $5 million to the district, and that staff salaries in MMSD compare favorably to surrounding districts for “most employee groups.”
new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that the state’s high school sports have not caused an increase in COVID-19 infections among athletes.
The UW School of Medicine and Public Health released the study Thursday. Researchers led by Dr. Andrew Watson surveyed 207 schools that restarted fall sports in September, representing more than 30,000 athletes, more than 16,000 practices and more than 4,000 games.
The survey found 271 athletes contracted the virus overall compared with 2,318 Wisconsin children aged 14-17 over the month of September. No sports were found to have a higher incidence rate of COVID-19 overall than 14-17 year-olds. None of the cases among the athletes resulted in hospitalization or death.
Of the 209 athletes who knew where they contracted the virus, only one case was attributed to participation in sports.
All the schools reported they had a formal plan in place to reduce the risk of transmission, including monitoring for symptoms, temperature checks at home and on site, masks for staff and players off the field, social distancing, increased facility cleaning and staggered arrival and departure times for events.
The findings suggest participation in sports isn’t associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 among athletes but call for expanded studies to build a more complete picture, the researchers wrote.
Seth Dillon oversees one of the web’s funniest destinations, but there’s an edge to his voice that’s hardly comic. Dillon, the CEO of The Babylon Bee, is at war with social media. Again. It’s an odd place for a humor site to be, but it’s in sync with the current wave of Big Tech bullying.
Dillon says the trouble began two years ago when Facebook aligned with third-party fact checkers like Snopes to battle misinformation on the platform. That seemingly noble stance led to Snopes and, by extension, Facebook, labeling a satirical Bee article as “false.”
“Facebook treated us as purveyors of Fake News,” he says, tied to a farcical story about CNN buying industrial strength washing machines to better spin the news.
“Nobody believed the story was true,” Dillon says. Facebook disagreed, threatening the company’s social media monetization if the Bee kept producing fake news stories.
The Babylon Bee, a Christian humor site that politically leans to the Right, generates revenue from Facebook in several key ways. Facebook traffic comprises a large part of the Bee’s overall clicks.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts use Facebook (and Instagram) services, including Madisin.
The term “Motte and Bailey” has become rather popular in recent years to describe a certain style of argument wherein an arguer strategically equivocates between a boring but easily defensible claim and a more radical but indefensible claim. “Motte and Bailey” is a reference to a type of medieval defensive warfare, where an impregnable fortress (the motte) overlooks some desirable but lightly defensible territory (the bailey). The bailey can be defended against light skirmishes. But against a sustained attack, defenders would fall back to the motte and hold out there, raining arrows on the attackers until the attackers give up and retreat, at which point the bailey could be occupied again. Similarly, in argument, one might retreat to a narrow set of defensible commitments if challenged, but then resume saying indefensible things once the skeptic is out of earshot.
This concept was popularized by the SlateStarCodex blog. If you’ve heard the term, it’s probably because of the work done on that blog. But many don’t realize that the term was coined by a philosopher, Nicholas Shackel of Cardiff University, in a paper published in 2005, “The Vacuity of Postmodernist Methodology.” Shackel’s paper has been cited only 41 times since then – not bad, to be sure, but one suspects that the number would be higher if more philosophers were aware of it. It’s great.
For years, advocates for online learning have bemoaned the fact that even as more instructors teach in virtual settings, professors’ confidence in the quality and value of online education hasn’t risen accordingly. Inside Higher Ed has documented this trend in its annual surveys of faculty attitudes on technology going back over most of the 2010s.
Some hoped that by thrusting just about every faculty member into remote teaching, the pandemic might change that equation and help instructors see how virtual learning might give students more flexibility and diminish professors’ doubts about its efficacy.
A new survey finds that COVID-19 has not produced any such miracles: fewer than half of professors surveyed in August agree that online learning is an “effective method of teaching,” and many instructors worry that the shift to virtual learning has impaired their engagement with students in a way that could exacerbate existing equity gaps.
But the report on the survey, “Time for Class COVID-19 Edition Part 2: Planning for a Fall Like No Other,” from Every Learner Everywhere and Tyton Partners, also suggests that instructors’ increased — if forced — experience with remote learning last spring has enhanced their view of how they can use technology to improve their own teaching and to enable student learning. The proportion of instructors who see online learning as effective may still be just under half — 49 percent — but that’s up from 39 percent who said so in a similar survey in May.
In May 2017 Bret Weinstein and his wife were forced to resign from Evergreen State College following an outcry over his refusal to cancel his class for a day and stay off campus to show solidarity with minority students protests.
In November 2015 a mob of students at Yale University accused college master Nicholas Christakis and his wife Erika of racism following her email suggesting that Yale did not need to oversee Halloween costumes. Subsequently the University conferred graduation prizes on two of the mob members for their “service of race and ethnic relations,” and for their “anti-racist” work.
This September students at Skidmore College demanded that an art professor be fired because he and his wife went to watch a rally supporting police. The administration responded by investigating possible bias in his classes. The same month USC replaced a professor of business communication with another instructor after complaints that he explained to the class that in China, a common pause word (like “um” in English) is “that that that,” or “ne ga ne ga ne ga.”
Following the death of George Floyd, calls to “shut down STEM” in academia to fight “systemic racism” were echoed by university leaders. During one strike at Michigan State University, a group initiated a protest campaign against the VP for research, whose “crimes” consisted of doing research on computational genomics to study how human genetics might be related to cognitive ability, and supporting the research of MSU psychologists on the statistics of police shootings that didn’t provide direct support of claims of racial bias. Within a week, the university president forced the VP to resign.
In response to the protests following Floyd’s death, 100 Princeton faculty proposed the creation of a faculty policing committee to “oversee the investigation and discipline of racist behaviors, incidents, research, and publication on the part of faculty,” with “racism” to be defined by another faculty committee, and requiring every department, including math, physics, astronomy, and other sciences, to establish a senior thesis prize for research that somehow “is actively anti-racist.”
Across Indianapolis, hundreds of students are getting help navigating remote learning while school campuses remain closed.
The city is now home to two efforts—one led by the local school district, one outside it—to extend an academic lifeline to students who, for a variety of reasons, needed additional support during remote learning.
Once Indianapolis Public Schools decided to start the school year fully remote, education leaders knew they would have to get creative, quickly, about how to sustain school without school buildings.
“We are responsible for making sure we have some sort of structure to address what we know will be a gap exacerbated by our decision to go fully virtual,” Superintendent Aleesia Johnson said during an online presentation hosted by CRPE.
To close that gap, the district launched what Johnson called a “Herculean effort” to create 11 learning hubs that prioritized access for students who are housing insecure or those with disabilities—the students most vulnerable to missing learning opportunities without access to campuses.
Closing schools for 6 weeks is one thing; closing them for a year is another entirely. We need to prioritize reopening schools, especially K-5, over just about everything else. Given age-specific disease dynamics, this should be possible, esp. w/ testing.https://t.co/1lU8DksdbT
— Carl T. Bergstrom (@CT_Bergstrom) October 23, 2020
Few topics have united liberal pundits with the Trump administration more than the need to reopen schools for in-person instruction, even in the face of an unchecked COVID-19 pandemic.
In-person reopening during COVID-19 has become the latest — and perhaps most consequential — battle for the neoliberaleducational reform movement. It’s a topsy-turvy world, in which pro-opening pundits and activists are cast as the (usually white) saviors of low-income students and students of color, while the teachers who actually dedicate their lives to working with those students are portrayed as the uncaring bogeymen, particularly if they’re unionized.
As soon as it became clear that COVID-19 would not be contained by the fall, writers of a certain disposition began gearing up for the fight to come. As Politico writer Michael Grunwald tweeted with almost palpable glee in June, “This spring, the protests have sparked an uncomfortable debate about who police unions look out for, and this fall, COVID might spark a similar debate about teachers unions.”
This long-awaited debate finally came earlier this month with the publication of Alec MacGillis’s New Yorker article, “The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning,” which went viral and sparked a series of piggyback articles from writers at the Washington Post, New York Times, Reason, and New York magazine, among other outlets.
It’s a debate that’s revealed the depressingly narrow vision of economic and social justice held by pro-opening advocates, the contempt that pro-opening advocates have for the educators they paradoxically claim are essential, and the dismissive attitude pro-opening advocates have toward the actual views of the low-income families and families of color they claim to speak for.
Really? California, well known for its wealth, had the sixth highest median household income in the nation in 2019, yet has had the highest housing-cost-adjusted poverty rate among the states since data was first published in 2011.2 A net 2.4 million residents left California between 2000 and 2019, 7% of its 2000 population.
Similarly, during the same period New York lost 16% of its population to other states. Political leaders like New York’s Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who has set up a commission designed to uproot the city’s ’institutional’ racism, epitomizes the current fashion. If powerful rhetoric were an elixir, minorities in metropolitans like New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago would be doing better than their counterparts in less ‘woke’ areas. But they do far worse in terms of actual measurements of progress: income, housing affordability, and education. New York and California also exhibit among the highest levels of inequality in the country, with poor outcomes for Blacks and Hispanics. Perhaps most intriguing are the domestic migration patterns that show where they are choosing to live.
I bring this up because the Google suit is a stunning change in the consensus underpinning American politics. The complaint itself a tight, well-reasoned, and nicely framed case, and the scope will likely broaden over the next few months. What the DOJ is arguing is basically a carbon copy of the Microsoft case of the late 1990s, where the government accused Microsoft of illegally tying Internet Explorer to Microsoft Windows. Today, the DOJ is accusing Google of illegally tying Search to its mobile phone operating system Android and its browser Chrome. And the government is seeking to break up Google.
The details of the case aren’t particularly important for the purpose of this essay, but if you want to know them, you can read the complaint here or read my colleague Sarah Miller’s write-up in the Guardian.
Ideologically, this complaint is just a stunning victory for anti-monopolists, who largely congregated on the progressive and Democratic side of the aisle. Republicans have been traditionally hostile to antitrust doctrine, but are now shifting. Take the words of Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who said in response to the suit, “I commend the Department for finally holding Google accountable. When it comes to big tech, this is just the beginning. Winter is coming.” It’s an aggressive comment from any political leader, and it’s coming from a conservative Republican.
What a sea change! Remember, it was the George W. Bush administration that pulled back on the original Microsoft case, and it was Ronald Reagan himself who orchestrated the narrowing of antitrust law in the first place. And this isn’t some partisan power grab either; Leticia James, New York’s Attorney General and a staunch Democrat, said she is conducting her own investigation (along with a bunch of states), and is going to join the DOJ case.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.
The scarcity of academic jobs is a peren- nial problem for U.S. science trainees. But this year, faculty job openings at U.S. insti- tutions are down 70% compared with last year, according to an analysis of job adver- tisements on the Science Careers job board. (Science’s news team operates independently from the job board.) Only 173 U.S.-based jobs were posted from July to September, com- pared with 571 during the same period last year. Non-U.S. job postings dropped by 8%.
“It’s about double-worse than I imag- ined,” says Andrew Spaeth, an industrial chemist and co-creator of a popular online faculty job list for chemists. “I thought we’d see a hit—maybe 30%,” he says, but his site lists roughly 70% fewer openings compared with last year. An ecology and evolution job list reveals a similar drop, with 65% fewer openings this year.
The dismal numbers reflect anxiety about university finances amid the pandemic, says Robert Zemsky, a professor of educa- tion at the University of Pennsylvania who studies university finances. Big public uni- versities, in particular, are a “total mess,” he says. “They are losing enrollment, they are losing revenue, and they don’t know what to do, so they have hiring freezes every- where.” Even universities that are finan- cially stable now are concerned about the future. “Everybody is sitting on their hands and nobody wants to make bets at all right now,” he says.
Linkletter, who has been working in the field of educational technology for 13 years, generally considers himself a proponent of software designed to improve the school experience. But what he found while researching Proctorio concerned him, along with many other educators and college students who are rebelling against Proctorio and similar algorithmic proctoring software. They argue that the tools are an unacceptable invasion of privacy and are destined to cause institutional discrimination against students who are marginalized, low-income, neurodiverse, or don’t otherwise fit the software developers’ definition of normal.
Over several days in August, Linkletter became a vociferous critic of Proctorio, tweeting out his thoughts alongside Proctorio’s training videos for instructors, which detailed how the software’s algorithms flag students for “abnormal” behavior during exams. Within a matter of hours of his tweets, the videos disappeared from YouTube—the first sign that Proctorio was paying attention to him.
Then, in early September, Linkletter got a call from a reporter at the Vancouver Sun. Proctorio was suing him for copyright infringement over the tweets. Without Linkletter knowing the case had been initiated, the Supreme Court of British Columbia had granted the company’s request for an injunction barring Linkletter from sharing what Proctorio described as confidential information about its software.
This summer, a relative reached out to me regarding the sad story of Kodie Dutcher, a 10-year-old from Baraboo, Wisconsin who was reported missing in July.
Law enforcement officials put out an Amber Alert, and a volunteer search party was organized. Kodie’s body was found the following morning—July 7, a Tuesday—near her home. Her death was ruled a suicide by the Baraboo Police Department.
Kodie’s death shook me. I grew up in a small town not far from Baraboo and know people who live there today. It occurred to me that my own little girl, whom I still think of as a baby, is roughly the same age Kodie was when she took her life.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, but evidence suggests that few demographics are suffering more than young people. Data show they’re suffering more economically, and emerging evidence shows that many are less equipped to deal with the “collateral damage” of forced lockdowns mentally.
American colleges botched the pandemic from the very start. Caught off guard in the spring, most of them sent everyone home in a panic, in some cases evicting students who had nowhere else to go. School leaders hemmed and hawed all summer about what to do next and how to do it. In the end, most schools reopened their campuses for the fall, and when students returned, they brought the coronavirus along with them. Come Labor Day, 19 of the nation’s 25 worst outbreaks were in college towns, including the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Iowa State in Ames, and the University of Georgia in Athens. By early October, the White House Coronavirus Task Force estimated that as many as 20 percent of all Georgia college students might have become infected.
Who’s to blame for the turmoil? College leaders desperate to enroll students or risk financial collapse; students, feeling young and invincible, who were bound to be dumb and throw parties; red-state governments and boards that pressured universities to reopen.
But ordinary Americans also bear responsibility. They didn’t just want classes to resume in person—they wanted campuses to return to normal. By one measure, more than two-thirds of students wanted to head back to their colleges. Even parents deeply worried about the safety of their kids still packed bags and road-tripped across the country to drop them off at school. When some colleges moved to Zoom, students and parents revolted. More than 100 colleges, both private (Brown, Duke) and public (Rutgers, North Carolina), have been sued for tuition refunds. You can understand why. It costs almost $60,000 per year to attend Brown, and that’s before room, board, books, and fees.
Richard Ovenden’s new book is a passionate defence of the sanctity of knowledge expressed through literature
Here is a custom that exists, today as it did four centuries ago, that anyone who wishes to enter the Bodleian Library in Oxford as a reader is obliged to make a formal declaration of how they will and will not behave. In addition to promising that they will not remove any book, or “mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody”, it is expressly forbidden to “bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame”. The original impetus behind this was to prevent cold scholars (and dons) from creating makeshift pockets of warmth in the library’s draughty corridors, but the guiding principle has always been the preservation of its books.
Richard Ovenden has been the Bodleian’s librarian since 2014: he is in ultimate charge of the institution’s 13 million volumes and countless archives, manuscripts and printed material. He is only the twenty-fifth of Bodley’s librarians, as they are known, since 1599. Ovenden has been praised for his high-minded and forward-looking approach to the Bodleian, where he has worked since 2003; it was he, for instance, who was the recipient of Alan Bennett’s decision to donate his archive to the Bodleian in 2008.
Voters will consider nearly $1.2 billion in property tax increases in the November election, thanks to school district referenda. Taxpayers in 41 school districts across the state will consider a total of 51 questions on their ballots for projects ranging from brand new buildings, upgrades to existing facilities and permission to spend beyond state-imposed property tax protections and
The vast majority of the referenda, totaling $925 million, would issue new debt. Twenty-one different referendum questions across the state will ask taxpayers to issue new debt for various school projects.
According to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), 77 percent of the referenda up for vote will issue debt directly to taxpayers. Another 19 percent are non-recurring or one-time increases on district spending caps, while recurring increases to spending camps make up the remaining 4 percent.
Of the districts asking to issue new debt, the Madison Metropolitan referendum question is by far the largest. Madison voters will consider whether to issue $317 million in debt to build a new elementary school, combine Madison High East and West into a single school, among many other renovations and improvements.
Recent reports show enrollment in the district fell by more than 1,000 students in the last year.
substantialtax & spending increase referendum, here
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’sRemarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
Because the crisis has hit some places and industries much harder than others, it’s difficult to get a clear, big picture of the market’s troubles — one reason lobbyists have struggled to convey the urgency to policymakers. Some assets have been wiped out, while others are thriving.
Hotels and retail, which together make up 40 percent of the commercial mortgage-backed securities market, have been hit the hardest. Months after lockdowns lifted, 1 out of every 2 hotel rooms remains unoccupied. Urban hotels, which have some of the largest operating costs, are faring the worst, with just 38 percent occupancy rates.
And retail, which was already struggling before Covid struck thanks to the rise of e-commerce, has seen its decline hasten. It’s not just small strip malls, either: The owner of the $1.9 billion Mall of America entered into an agreement with its special servicer in August to avoid foreclosure.
One quarter of all CMBS hotel loans are in special servicing today, compared with just 1.9 percent at the end of 2019. And 18.3 percent of retail loans are in special servicing, up from 5 percent at the end of last year.
In 2015, Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos declared that “government really sucks” — and after serving nearly four years as U.S. education secretary, she has not tempered that view one iota. She gave a speech this week at a Christian college disparaging the U.S. public education system, saying it is set up to replace the home and family.
“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….”
More than 4 in 10 children live in households that struggle to meet usual household expenses, our analysis of Census Bureau data released today finds. Along with other data showing that hardship has significantly worsened due to COVID-19 and the recession that it spurred, the figures underscore the need for policymakers to agree on a strong, bipartisan economic relief package.
An estimated 42 percent of children live in households that reported it was somewhat or very difficult to cover expenses such as food, rent or mortgage, car payments, medical expenses, or student loans, according to CBPP analysis of detailed data collected from September 16 to 28 from Census’ Household Pulse Survey. By contrast, 27 percent of adults in households without children reported that it was somewhat or very difficult to cover expenses. Between 7 and 11 million children live in a household where children didn’t eat enough because the household couldn’t afford it.
The detailed data released today allow a closer look at the hardship findings that Census released on October 7, which showed hardship rates for adults from September 16 to 28. Our new analysis focuses on children, whose hardship rates for that period are higher. Hardship can inflict lasting harm on children’s health and education, studies show.
Much more on Madison’s Fall 2020 tax & spending increase referendum, here.
Standing outside University President Morton Schapiro’s house, students led by Northwestern Community Not Cops, a campaign demanding the abolition of University Police, called for Schapiro’s resignation Monday night.
Several hours earlier, Schapiro sent an email saying NU has no intentions to abolish UP after a week of ongoing protests led by the group.
“Your students see through you, Morton,” NU Community Not Cops said in a statement. “Black people are not safe anywhere in a world with police, including in their homes, a reality that Black students at Northwestern also contend with.”
Over 200 students participated in the eighth straight day of action to abolish UP and invest in Black students. The group, flanked by students walking with bicycles, was trailed by 12 officers on bikes. The officers were part of the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System Mobile Field Force, a group created in 1994 to maximize “the effectiveness of initial response efforts by police when a major civil disturbance occurs.”
Schools which teach pupils that “white privilege” is an uncontested fact are breaking the law, the women and equalities minister has said.
Addressing MPs during a Commons debate on Black History Month, Kemi Badenoch said the government does not want children being taught about “white privilege and their inherited racial guilt”.
“Any school which teaches these elements of political race theory as fact, or which promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law,” she said.
She added that schools have a statutory duty to remain politically impartial and should not openly support “the anti-capitalist Black Lives Matter group”.
Badenoch was speaking in response to Labour MP Dawn Butler, who had told the Commons that black children are made to feel inferior by what they are taught in school and history “needs to be decolonised”.
“At the moment history is taught to make one group of people feel inferior and another group of people feel superior, and this has to stop,” Butler said.
Cornell University initially failed to report to U.S. authorities more than $1.2 billion in foreign funds it has received in recent years, including $760 million related to its campus in Qatar and about $1 million in contracts from Chinese telecom company Huawei Technologies Co., the U.S. Education Department indicated in its latest report on schools and foreign contracts.
The names of Cornell and other universities are redacted in a report the department released Tuesday, but are identifiable based on other details provided in the report and related correspondence by the department with the schools.
Whoever is inaugurated on January 20, 2021, will face many fiscal challenges over his term. Under current law, trillion-dollar annual budget deficits will become the new normal, even after the current public health emergency subsides. Meanwhile, the national debt is projected to exceed the post-World War II record high over the next four-year term and reach twice the size of the economy within 30 years. Four major trust funds are also headed for insolvency, including the Highway and Medicare Hospital Insurance trust funds, within the next presidential term.
The national debt was growing rapidly before the necessary borrowing to combat the COVID-19 crisis, and this trajectory will continue after the crisis ends. Fiscal irresponsibility prior to the pandemic worsened structural deficits that were already growing due to rising health and retirement costs and insufficient revenue.
The country’s large and growing national debt threatens to slow economic growth, constrain the choices available to future policymakers, and is ultimately unsustainable. Yet neither presidential candidate has a plan to address the growth in debt. In fact, we find both candidates’ plans are likely to increase the debt.
The respect for and protection of civil liberties are one of the fundamental roles of the state, and many consider civil liberties as sacred and “nontradable.” Using cross-country representative surveys that cover 15 countries and over 370,000 respondents, we study whether and the extent to which citizens are willing to trade off civil liberties during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the largest crises in recent history. We find four main results. First, many around the world reveal a clear willingness to trade off civil liberties for improved public health conditions. Second, consistent across countries, exposure to health risks is associated with citizens’ greater willingness to trade off civil liberties, though individuals who are more economically disadvantaged are less willing to do so. Third, attitudes concerning such trade-offs are elastic to information. Fourth, we document a gradual decline and then plateau in citizens’ overall willingness to sacrifice rights and freedom as the pandemic progresses, though the underlying correlation between individuals’ worry about health and their attitudes over the trade-offs has been remarkably constant. Our results suggest that citizens do not view civil liberties as sacred values; rather, they are willing to trade off civil liberties more or less readily, at least in the short-run, depending on their own circumstances and information.
Taking a kid camping? Intimidating, yes—but if you equip yourself with a bit of know-how, mitigate risk, and practice overall good judgement, a night in the woods with a tot in tow is not only possible but also actually rollicking good fun.
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For years, my wife, Ella, and I wandered relentlessly. We guided whitewater rafting trips on North Carolina’s Nantahala River, camped up and down the Appalachians, and spent entire summers backpacking Latin America. When our baby boy Gabriel came along, all of that changed. We mostly stayed home “nesting,” as they call it.
Growing soft, moody, and restless, we decided it was time for our first overnight backpacking camping trip as a family. For young kids, after all, a camping trip marks the commencement of an era, the beginning of a glorious childhood spent exploring the outdoors. Here are the lessons we gleaned along the way:
As we noted in our first Madison budget brief last year, Wisconsin’s capital city relies heavily on a single source of revenue – local property taxes – that is limited by state law. Because of these restrictions, the proposed budget would increase 2021 property taxes on this December’s bills by one of the smallest percentages in years even as other forms of revenues — such as charges for city services, interest income, and fines — will remain depressed amid the pandemic. Add in labor contract commitments for healthy raises for police and firefighters and lagging state aid and the result is a $16.5 million potential budget gap for the coming year.
To avoid the shortfall, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway is asking the Madison city council to make some permanent spending cuts and accept some one-time measures such as furloughs and a substantial use of the city fund balance. Together, the current proposal and the city’s likely future revenues leave a high probability that a new shortfall for 2022 will appear next fall. In other closely watched areas, the city would increase rather than cut police spending and push off some capital projects such as the rollout of bus rapid transit.
A substantial Madison School District tax & spending increase referendum is on the November ballot.
OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) examines what students know in reading, mathematics and science, and what they can do with what they know. It provides the most comprehensive and rigorous international assessment of student learning outcomes to date. Results from PISA indicate the quality and equity of learning outcomes attained around the world, and allow educators and policy makers to learn from the policies and practices applied in other countries. This is one of six volumes that present the results of the PISA 2018 survey, the seventh round of the triennial assessment. Volume VI: Are Students Ready to Thrive in an Interconnected World? explores students’ ability to examine issues of local, global and cultural significance; understand and appreciate the perspectives and worldviews of others; engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions across cultures; and take action for collective well-being and sustainable development. The volume explores students’ outcomes on the cognitive test and corresponding questionnaire in addition to their experiences of global and intercultural learning at school and beyond.
“It’s not an economic environment or a political environment for a business like mine to stay open,” Warnke said. “The government can’t get its stuff together. We can’t control the pandemic, and it’s getting worse in Wisconsin. I’m looking at it, going … this might be the right time to gracefully exit, before I run out of cash.”
It’s small comfort to Warnke that he and Rockhound are not alone. Beloved breakfast spot Manna Café on the north side, elegant Graft on the Capitol Square, Charlie’s on Main in Oregon with its hidden speakeasy and the family friendly Italian spot Vin Santo in Middleton — all have been casualties of COVID-19.
Much more on Madison’s Fall 2020 tax & spending increase referendum, here.
I provide a lot of criticism of teacher unions on this site, so in the interest of balance, here are a couple of stories from major publications portraying them in a holy light.
* “New teachers union boss fighting Trump, school reopening battles” by Nicole Gaudiano in Politico, is a profile of new National Education Association President Becky Pringle.
Pringle said a second Trump term wouldn’t stop the union’s work in states that are supportive of public education or its fight, for example, for the inclusion of ethnic studies in schools. And the union will keep pushing aggressively for safety and equity in schools during the pandemic through strikes, protests and sickouts — or by backing lawsuits, as it has in Florida, Iowa and Georgia, she said.
…Pringle’s tenure begins during a national moment of reckoning on racial justice, which is the very reason she became involved in unions.
Lily Eskelsen García, who headed the union before Pringle, said her successor “changed the conversation” within NEA around racial justice issues in education and led that work as the union’s vice president.
“As we talked about, ‘How do we get test scores up?’ And she’d say, ‘Shut up about the test scores. Why don’t these kids have the resources, the staff, the class size?’” Eskelsen García recalled.
* “The Teacher Unions Reinvigorating Progressive Politics” by Lauren Anderson in the Harvard Political Review, takes us on a slow tour of recent teacher union activism.
Tens of millions of students started the school year completely online, including those in 13 of the 15 largest school districts in the U.S. The primary reason is concern over safety for students and staff. But recent data are shifting the discussion on school safety and infection rates of Covid-19. They argue strongly for opening K-12 schools.
Previous evidence has suggested that schools are not superspreaders. That research came from other countries (whose rates and environments are different) or very specific cases in America, such as YMCA summer camps. While this suggested little impact on infection rates from opening the schools, it was possible that the unique environment of U.S. public schools would cause different outcomes.
Marking CRPE’s 25th anniversary, this volume of essays rethinks foundational aspects of the current education system, from funding to accountability to equity, with an eye toward preparing every student for the future. The goal is not to propose what the education system of the future ought to look like, but to reexamine past assumptions, look for gaps in existing education policies and reforms, and offer provocative new ideas to address them.
These essays consider ways to unbundle learning. But they also focus on the rebundling, elevating concerns about social mobility, opportunity for the disadvantaged, educational coherence, and safeguards for the public interest that have always been a part of the unique lens through which CRPE views the future of public education.
Many questions—and potential risks—exist in even a gradual transition to more agile, student-centered learning systems. Yet, fundamentally rigid and inequitable structures prevent the current system from doing what is necessary to meet the needs of all students. Stagnant debates over issues that have long been the focus of education reformers—funding, parental choice, school accountability—demand an injection of fresh thinking that can awaken new political coalitions and bridge long-standing divides.
The lawsuit of an Oxford, Wis. teen threatened with arrest for posting on Instagram that she had COVID-19 remains mired in delays six months after her parents took the sheriff’s department to court.
Luke Berg, deputy counsel for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), tells Empower Wisconsin that Amyiah Cohoon and her parents are still waiting for the U.S. District Court to rule.
“The case was recently re-assigned to the newly appointed Judge (Brett) Ludwig, so hopefully we’ll get a decision sooner since he has less of a backlog,” Berg said.
WILL is suing Marquette County Sheriff Joseph Konrath and Sergeant Cameron Klump, alleging they violated Amyiah Cohoon’s First Amendment rights. The Milwaukee-based public interest law firm is representing the girl and her parents, Rick and Angela Cohoon.
As Empower Wisconsin reported, on March 27 Klump threatened to cite or jail Amyiah or her parents if she did not remove the social network post indicating she was recovering from COVID-19, according to the lawsuit.
Fall 2020 Enrollment (As of Sept 24)
Enrollment picture worsens, with more colleges reporting data. Roughly one month into the fall semester, undergraduate enrollment is running 4.0 percent below last year’s level, and the upward trend for graduate enrollment has slipped to 2.7 percent. Overall postsecondary enrollment is down 3.0 percent as of September 24.
Most strikingly, first-time students are by far the biggest decline of any student group from last year (-16.1% nationwide and -22.7% at community colleges).
All student groups identified on a path of decline in the First Look report have fallen further.
Wisconsin Dells School District will switch its disinfectant to clean frequently touched surfaces to kill the COVID-19 virus after reports of damage to students’ clothing.
Buildings and Grounds Director Scott Walsh said the school district will switch from using Vital Oxide to a hydrogen peroxide based disinfectant product after reports from parents saying their childrens’ clothing have been damaged from the product. He said the high school will switch products this week while the middle and elementary school will also discontinue the use of Vital Oxide.
Walsh said he received some complaints from the high school level about damaged clothing while some have also come at the elementary school level.
“It hasn’t been a lot of complaints,” Walsh said.
Walsh believed students would sit on the treated surface before it had dried, which might have damaged clothing. The disinfectant also could have affected certain fabrics or dyes in the clothing, he said.
As the West Ada School District announced it would reopen on Wednesday, a group of parents filed a lawsuit arguing this week’s “sick out” was an illegal union strike, and that the teachers union cannot use the threat of another work stoppage to force the district to meet its demands.
“After weeks and months of preparing to return to school, the teachers union held kids’ education hostage because it was not happy with the reopening plans agreed upon by school officials and the community. Not only is this type of behavior morally reprehensible and harmful to our kids, it’s illegal,” said Dustin Hurst, vice president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which is supporting the parents in this lawsuit. “The teachers union must know that it cannot threaten to withhold education from our kids in order to pressure the community to meet its demands.”
The parents are represented by attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center, a nonprofit law firm that won a pivotal Supreme Court case against the government unions in 2018.
Let’s Google together. Open a Web browser and search for T-shirts. I’ll wait.
Is the first thing you see a search result? I’m not talking about the stuff labeled Ads or Maps. On my screen, the actual result is not in the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh or even eighth row of stuff. It’s buried on row nine.
Googling didn’t used to require so much … scrolling. On some searches, it’s like Where’s Waldo but for information.
Without us even realizing it, the Internet’s most-used website has been getting worse. On too many queries, Google is more interested in making search lucrative than a better product for us.
There’s one reason it gets away with this, according to a recent congressional investigation: Google is so darn big. An impending antitrust lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department is expected to make a similar point.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.
We provide new evidence on the drivers of the early US coronavirus pandemic. We combine an epidemiological model of disease transmission with quasi-random variation arising from the timing of stay-at-home orders to estimate the causal roles of policy interventions and voluntary social distancing. We then relate the residual variation in disease transmission rates to observable features of cities. We estimate significant impacts of policy and social distancing responses, but we show that the magnitude of policy effects is modest, and most social distancing is driven by voluntary responses. Moreover, we show that neither policy nor rates of voluntary social distancing explain a meaningful share of geographic variation. The most important predictors of which cities were hardest hit by the pandemic are exogenous characteristics such as population and density.
Students from northern England are being ridiculed over their accents and backgrounds at one of the country’s leading universities, and even forced out, according to a report compiled by a Durham student.
Lauren White, 20, is demanding action after interviews with fellow northern students at Durham revealed a “toxic attitude” towards them from some peers and tutors. Its vice-chancellor said her report highlighted unacceptable behaviours at odds with the university’s values and that the findings would be looked into.
Last year a freedom of information request revealed that on average 7.8% of graduates over the last five years from Durham University – one of the country’s best-rated institutions – were from the north-east England.
Two years ago, White, who grew up 15 miles from Durham and is in her third year, found herself in this minority. She said discrimination and ridiculing of her local roots began almost immediately.
“At first when they mocked and mimicked my accent, I sort of went along with it, even laughed, but then when I persistently became the butt of jokes about coalmining and started to get called feral because I was local it started to feel malicious,” she said.
You probably haven’t heard of the Great Barrington Declaration. This is a petition started by three scientists on October 4 calling for governments to adopt a policy of ‘focused protection’ when it comes to COVID-19. They believe those most at risk should be offered protection — although it shouldn’t be mandatory — and those not at risk, which is pretty much everyone under 65 without an underlying health condition, should be encouraged to return to normal. In this way, the majority will get infected and then recover, gradually building up herd immunity, and that in turn will mean the elderly and the vulnerable no longer have to hide themselves away. According to these experts, this is the tried and tested way of managing the risk posed by a new infectious disease, dating back thousands of years.
The three scientists who created it aren’t outliers or cranks, but professors at Oxford, Harvard and Stanford. And since its launch, the declaration been signed by tens of thousands of epidemiologists and public health scientists, including a Nobel Prize winner. So why haven’t you heard of it? The short answer is there’s been a well-orchestrated attempt to suppress and discredit it. I searched for it on Google last Saturday and the top link was to an article in an obscure left-wing magazine claiming the petition was the work of a ‘climate science denial network’ funded by a right-wing billionaire. The top video link was to a Channel 4 News report in which Devi Sridhar, a public health advisor to the Scottish government, denounced the declaration as not ‘scientific’. A bit rich considering Devi’s PhD is in social anthropology, whereas Sunetra Gupta, one of the petition’s authors, is a global expert on infectious diseases. In the first 10 pages of Google search results, not one took me to the actual declaration.
It is hard to find any mention of it on Reddit, the world’s best-known discussion website. The two most popular subreddits devoted to the virus — r/COVID19 and r/Coronavirus — have excised all references to it, with the moderators of the latter denouncing it as ‘spam’. A similar line has been taken by nearly all left-leaning newspapers. TheGuardian ran an article on the declaration last Saturday, but only to flag up that its more than 400,000 signatories included a handful of dubious-sounding ‘experts’, such as ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’ and ‘Prof Cominic Dummings’. Hardly surprising, given that lockdown zealots have been openly encouraging their followers on social media to sign up with fake names.
The number of Americans living in poverty grew by 8 million since May, according to a Columbia University study, which found an increase in poverty rates after early coronavirus relief ended without more to follow.
Although the federal Cares Act, which gave Americans a one-time stimulus check of $1,200 and unemployed workers an extra $600 each week, was successful at offsetting growing poverty rates in the spring, the effects were short-lived, researchers found in the study published Thursday.
After aid diminished toward the end of summer, poverty rates, especially those among minorities and children, rebounded, they said.
“The Cares Act, despite its flaws, was broadly successful in preventing large increases in poverty,” said Zach Parolin, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University and one of the study’s authors.
The federal stimulus saved about 18 million Americans from poverty in April, he said, but as of September, that number is down to 4 million.
This website has been penalized by Google under suspicious circumstances. The penalty causes our web pages to appear at lower positions in Google’s search results than what they’ve earned on their merit. It is an intentional, hidden, manual penalty executed by Google against this site.
Publicly, the company says that websites can discover and fight these manual penalties via a tool they provide. What they don’t disclose is that Google can and does execute hidden penalties against sites. Since they’re hidden, there’s no way for site owners to respond to – or even know about – the fact that Google is intentionally limiting visitors to their sites. Websites live or die based on people visiting the site. This means that Google kills websites in private, with no recourse for the site owners. And there is no oversight or accountability.
To my knowledge, Google’s ability to destroy websites in this manner has not been disclosed before.
I was only made aware of the penalty after a whistle-blower informed me of it.
Separately, when confronted about this hidden penalty, a Google employee lied to me and to the public about it. That Google employee is Matt Cutts, the former head of the Google team that executes penalties against websites. He quietly left the company after an extended “sabbatical” and, tellingly, no one has been hired to replace him.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts use Google services, including Madison.
Those were the dueling messages traded Sunday by parents, alumni, and others who made clear where they stand on a controversial proposal to eliminate for the next school year the test students must pass to enter one of Boston’s three prestigious exam schools.
A working group appointed by School Superintendent Brenda Cassellius recommended this month suspending the test for the 2021-2022 school year for Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, and the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group noted that the test would be difficult to administer safely during the pandemic under public health guidelines, and that the COVID-19 crisis has already made day-to-day life more difficult for families who are low-income, Black, or Latino.
People were hungry during lockdown. So Francis Zaake, a Ugandan member of parliament, bought some rice and sugar and had it delivered to his neediest constituents. For this charitable act, he was arrested. Mr Zaake is a member of the opposition, and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has ordered that only the government may hand out food aid. Anyone else who does so can be charged with murder, Mr Museveni has threatened, since they might do it in a disorderly way, attract crowds and thereby spread the coronavirus.
Mr Zaake had been careful not to put his constituents at risk. Rather than having crowds converge on one place to pick up the food parcels, he had them delivered to people’s doors by motorbike-taxi. Nonetheless, the next day police and soldiers jumped over his fence while he was showering and broke into his house. They dragged him into a van and threw him in a cell. He says they beat, kicked and cut him, crushed his testicles, sprayed a blinding chemical into his eyes, called him a dog and told him to quit politics. He claims that one sneered: “We can do whatever we want to you or even kill you…No one will demonstrate for you because they are under lockdown.” The police say he inflicted the injuries on himself and is fishing for sympathy with foreign donors.
On paper, Sloane, a buoyant, chatty, stay-at-home mom from Fairfield County, Connecticut, seems almost unbelievably well prepared to shepherd her three daughters through the roiling world of competitive youth sports. She played tennis and ran track in high school and has an advanced degree in behavioral medicine. She wrote her master’s thesis on the connection between increased aerobic activity and attention span. She is also versed in statistics, which comes in handy when she’s analyzing her eldest daughter’s junior-squash rating—and whiteboarding the consequences if she doesn’t step up her game. “She needs at least a 5.0 rating, or she’s going to Ohio State,” Sloane told me.
She laughed: “I don’t mean to throw Ohio State under the bus. It’s an amazing school with amazing school spirit.”
But a little over a year ago, during the Fourth of July weekend, Sloane began to think that maybe it was time to call it quits. She was crouched in the vestibule of the Bay Club in Redwood City, strategizing on the phone with her husband about a “malicious refereeing” dispute that had victimized her daughter at the California Summer Gold tournament. He had his own problem. In Columbus, Ohio, at the junior-fencing nationals with the couple’s two younger girls and son, he reported that their middle daughter, a 12-year-old saber fencer, had been stabbed in the jugular during her first bout. The wound was right next to the carotid artery, and he was withdrawing her from the tournament and flying home.
She’d been hurt before while fencing—on one occasion gashed so deeply in the thigh that blood seeped through her pants—but this was the first time a blade had jabbed her in the throat. It was a Fourth of July massacre.
To be explained: It feels to me that in recent years, people have gotten stupider, or that stupid has gotten bigger, or that the parts of people that were always stupid have gotten louder, or something like that.
I’ve come up with a suite of hypotheses to explain this (with a little help from my friends). I thought I’d throw them out here to see which ones the wise crowd here think are most likely. Bonus points if you come up with some new ones. Gold stars if you can rule some out based on existing data or can propose tests by which they might be rendered more or less plausible.
The hypotheses come in two broad families: 1) my feeling that stupid is expanding is an illusion or misperception, and 2) stupid is expanding and here is why:
1 I have become more attuned to stupidity for [reasons], so even though there is no more of it than usual, it stands out more to me. (Baader-Meinhof phenomenon)
2 What used to look like non-stupidity was actually widespread conformity to a common menu of foolishnesses. Today the cultural beacons of respectable idiocy have been overthrown and there is increasing diversity in foolishness. Divergent fools seem more foolish to each other when in fact we’re all just as stupid as we’ve always been.
Summary: The characteristics of language structure and writing system may explain why some bilingual people are dyslexic in English, but not in their other proficient language.
Source: Brunel University
In the English-speaking world, dyslexia is a learning disorder we’re all familiar with – if we don’t have it ourselves or have a friend or family member that struggles with it, we’re likely to have known someone at school or university who found reading and writing trickier than their peers.
n fact, more than 1 in 10 people that grew up with English as their first language are said to have dyslexia, with wide consensus pointing towards a person’s genetic history as the leading cause. One, it would appear, is either born dyslexic or not.
So, how then have we ended up with the phenomenon that some people who speak both English and another language can be dyslexic in one, but not the other?
2020 Madison School District Tax & Spending Increase Referendum: David Blaska:
Another election is approaching, which means the Madison school district has its hands out for more money. Time to do like Sister Mary Rosaria and slap that hand with a steel-edge ruler!
The Madison Metropolitan School District seeks a one-time infusion of $317 million to fix stuff, buy a new boiler, etc. (Let’s hope they get a Menard’s BIG® card for savings on gasoline at Kwik Trip.) Got to think spending on bricks and mortar will be a hard sell when buildings have been empty since March and won’t fill back up until after Christmas — if then! Distance learning, home schooling — once the hobgoblin of the teachers union — is now the new normal. And can’t MMSD ever schedule maintenance?!
But here’s the thing. Unless you’ve been following this stuff closely, you would have no idea what this actually means for your tax bill. The referendum questions include only the gross dollar amounts, but no information about what it will cost the average homeowner.
If both referendums are approved, taxes on the average $311,000 home would go up a whopping $470 or so when the new spending is fully implemented in a few years. If every voter knew that it would make it a tougher sell, which is why, I suspect, that information isn’t on the ballot.
Almost $500 is a lot to ask for in any year, but in the context of COVID-induced furloughs, pay reductions and outright job losses this may be an even harder sell than usual. Nonetheless, more information is always better. The Legislature loves to mess around in local government and shortchange local control in counter-productive ways. But one thing they should do is mandate that all referendum questions include information on the impact to the tax bill on the average home in the community.
Finally, they’ve made so little progress on the racial achievement gap that in August a group of Black leaders came out against the referendums to send a message. They note that 90% of Black students cannot read or do math at grade level. In their statement they write, “We have not been presented with evidence that links additional public expenditures with increasing the academic performance of African American students. More of the same for African American students is unacceptable.”
Much more on the 2020 tax & spending increase referendum, here.
A presenter [org chart] further mentioned that Madison spends about $1 per square foot in annual budget maintenance while Milwaukee is about $2. – October 2019 presentation. Milwaukee taxpayers plan to spend $1.2B for 75,234 students, or $15,950 per student, about 16% less than Madison.
The outcome of this substantial tax & spending increase referendum may be informative vis a vis civic awareness, governance and the stomach for the present system. Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K-12 spending and taxes, while tolerating disastrous reading results.
The Madison School District recently sought a waiver for the State of Wisconsin’s civic education requirement.
Students will no longer be graded based on a yearly average, or on how late they turn in assignments. Those are just some of the major grading changes approved this week by California’s second-largest school district.
The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) is overhauling the way it grades students. Board members say the changes are part of a larger effort to combat racism.
“This is part of our honest reckoning as a school district,” says SDUSD Vice President Richard Barrera. “If we’re actually going to be an anti-racist school district, we have to confront practices like this that have gone on for years and years.”
The taxpayer supported Madison school district has also implemented grading changes.
Exit California is emblematic of a growing number of online relocation companies marketed heavily on social media. They target prospective transplants who skew white, right and over age 30, though renters post alongside members in the market for million-dollar houses. Between photos of tidy brick facades, crystal-clear pools and recommended moving truck routes, the Facebook pages revolve around ominous articles about Black Lives Matter protests, crime, immigration and, of late, pandemic shutdowns.
Prospective movers who click through to the website can pick a state — Arizona, Idaho, Tennessee, Texas — and see financial incentives to use selected realtors, mortgage lenders or other service providers. Beyond the mechanics of buying a house, the online groups are a platform for places to pitch fed-up Californians who don’t know where to start.
“There’s a fair percentage of them that don’t know where they wanna go,” said Scott Fuller, an Arizona transplant and real estate investor who started LeavingTheBayArea.com and LeavingSoCal.com three years ago. “They just know they want to go somewhere else.”
Suicides are up in Dane County this year compared to last year, especially among youth and young adults, with mental health providers seeing a link to COVID-19 and a related uptick in treatment for depression.
The county had 57 suicides this year as of last week, more than the total of 54 for all of last year, according to preliminary data collected by Journey Mental Health Center, said Hannah Flanagan, its director of emergency services .
Among people age 24 and younger, 15 suicides were reported as of mid-September, up from eight for all of last year. Suicides are also up for ages 25 to 38, according to this year’s unofficial data, Flanagan said.
Forging Global Fordism: Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and the Contest over the Industrial Order
Stefan J. Link
Princeton University Press, $39.95 (cloth)
The utopian ideal of globalization has imploded over the past decade. Rising demand in Western countries for greater state control over the economy reflects a range of grievances, from a chronic shortage of well-compensated work to a sense of national decline. In the United States, the dearth of domestic supply chains exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened alarm over the acute infrastructural weaknesses decades of outsourced production have created. Post-industrial society, rather than an advanced stage of shared affluence, is not only more unequal but fundamentally insecure. Rich but increasingly oligarchic countries are experiencing what we might call, following scholars of democratization, a dramatic “de-consolidation” of development.
Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.
2017: West High Reading interventionist teacher’s remarks to the school board on madison’s disastrous reading results
MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [May, 2020]
Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.
MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 2020
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)
5. Moody’s (https://www.moodys.com/)
Madison School Board.
Run for local office details.
December 1, 2020: Nomination Papers may be circulated.
December 25, 2020: Deadline for incumbents not seeking re-election to file Notice of Non-Candidacy.
January 5, 2021 All papers and forms due in City Clerk’s Office at 5 p.m.
January 8, 2021 Deadline to challenge nomination papers.
PRIMARY DATE (if needed): February 16, 2021
ELECTION DATE: April 6, 2021
School Board campaign finance information.
** Note that just one of 7 local offices were competitive on my August, 2020 ballot. The District Attorney was unopposed (the linked article appeared after the election).
As parents express widespread dissatisfaction with distance learning, two influential California teachers unions are pushing against growing momentum to reopen schools in many communities, saying that campuses are not yet safe enough amid the pandemic.
Leaders with the California Teachers Assn., with 300,000 members, and United Teachers Los Angeles, representing 30,000 in the state’s largest school district, said that districts do not have the resources to provide the level of protection they say is needed to bring teachers and children together in classrooms.
Hundreds of teachers are taking a sick day for Monday, according to the West Ada School District, one day after the board voted in favor of a hybrid schedule.
A spokeswoman for the district says out of 2,145 classroom teachers, 652 have taken a sick day for Monday.
The sick calls leave approximately 500 positions unfilled, the district’s superintendent, Dr. Mary Ann Ranells, said in a letter to parents.
“Principals, administration, teachers and staff worked hard to cover the absences, but unfortunately, we cannot,” the letter said. “With safety in mind, and due to supervision concerns, we are regretfully unable to hold school Monday.
The district will “reassess the situation” on Monday, the letter said.
We live in times of great disaggregation, and yet, seem to learn increasingly from generalists.
In the past, an expert in one field of Psychology might have been forced to teach a broad survey class. Today, you could have each lecture delivered by the world’s leading expert.
Outside of academia, you might follow one writer’s account to learn about SaaS pricing, another to understand the intricacies of the electoral college, and yet another to understand personal finance. In economic terms, content disaggregation enabled by digital platforms ought to create efficiencies through intellectual hyper-specialization.
Instead, we have the endless hellscape of the casual polymath. A newsletter about venture capital will find time to opine on herd immunity. The tech blog you visit to learn about data science is also your source of financial strategies for early retirement. The Twitter account you followed to understand politics now seems more focused on their mindfulness practice. We have maxed out variety of interests within people, at the cost of diversity across them.
It’s not difficult to imagine how this happened. The flip side of disaggregation is that each would-be expert is able to read broadly as well. The world of atomized content through hyper-specialization isn’t a stable equilibrium. We are all casual polymaths now.
As romantic as the idea seems, I worry it’s grossly suboptimal. Sure, there are cases where combining ideas from disparate fields can lead to new insight, but today’s generalists are not curating a portfolio of skills so much as they are stumbling about. Behavioral Econ is the love child of economics and psychology, early AI researchers maintained a serious interest in cognitive science. What exactly are your cursory interests in space exploration, meta-science and bayesian statistics preparing you for?
There’s a lot to unpack. Grade levels haven’t strictly decreased: 2008 saw a level of debate not seen in 20 years. The decline isn’t recent: there is a drastic difference between pre- and post- Reagan debates. Only 8 (of 33) debates saw a republican speak at a higher grade level than their opponent. The highest score went to a peanut farmer and Naval Academy graduate, the lowest to a billionaire and Wharton School graduate.
Perhaps it’s been a while since you were in the grade levels reached by these transcripts and aren’t sure what Donald Trump’s 3.69 or Joe Biden’s 4.51 should remind you of. Think “Charlotte’s Web”(3.44) and “The Outsiders” (4.25). When you see Jimmy Carter’s 12.4, think “A Brief History Of Time” (11.88). When you see that half of all debate performances are below 7.8, think “To Kill A Mockingbird” (8.01).
Before I became a reporter at NPR, I worked for a few years at tech companies.
One of the companies was in the marketing technology business — the industry that’s devoted in part to tracking people and merging their information, so they can be advertised to more effectively.
That tracking happens in multiple senses: physical tracking, because we carry our phones everywhere we go. And virtual tracking, of all the places we go online.
The more I understood how my information was being collected, shared and sold, the more I wanted to protect my privacy. But it’s still hard to know which of my efforts is actually effective and which is a waste of time.
So I reached out to experts in digital security and privacy to find out what they do to protect their stuff – and what they recommend most to us regular folks.
A new report found many Ohio students attending charter schools had larger gains on achievement tests, better attendance and fewer disciplinary incidents compared to their peers enrolled in traditional public schools.
Black, low achieving, and urban students at the tax-funded, privately operated and tuition-free schools benefitted most, according to the analysis by Ohio State political science professor Stephane Lavertu, “The Impact of Ohio Charter Schools on Student Outcomes, 2016-2019.”
Columbus charter schools, the report found, academically outperformed those in other urban areas.
“It’s approximately as if a student had an extra year of learning by 8th grade if they attended a charter school for all those grades, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, about 35 to 40 days of learning per year.” Lavertu told reporters during a conference call.
Though most of the focus is on Twitter’s White Knighting of Joe Biden, it’s also worth noting that many other voices are inhibited by Big Tech because they fail to conform to leftist orthodoxy.
Just today, the Wall Street Journal reported that Shelby Steele’s documentary What Killed Michael Brown?, which explores race relations in the United States, has been rejected because it “doesn’t meet Prime Video’s content quality expectations.” Amazon claims the documentary, which Steele made with his son Eli, isn’t “eligible for publishing” and that they “will not be accepting resubmission of this title and this decision may not be appealed.”
Shelby is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a well-regarded intellectual who has been writing on race in America for decades. Steele received a National Humanities Medal and won a National Book Critics Circle Award for his essay collection The Content of Our Character. In the same year, he produced an Emmy-Award winning documentary “Seven Days in Bensonhurst,” about Yusef Hawkins, a black teenager who was murdered by a white mob in 1989.
I don’t mention Shelby’s impressive resume as an appeal to authority. I mention it to put all of this in perspective. Here are some of the non-fiction efforts that apparently do meet Amazon’s “quality expectations”:
The author of one of the nation’s most influential and widely used curriculum for teaching reading is beginning to change her views.
The group headed by Lucy Calkins, a leading figure in the long-running fight over how best to teach children to read, is admitting that its materials need to be changed to align with scientific research. In an internal document obtained by APM Reports, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University, where Calkins has served as founding director for more than 30 years, says it has been poring over the work of reading researchers and has determined that aspects of its approach need “rebalancing.”
Calkins’ changing views could shift the way millions of children are taught to read. Her curriculum is the third most widely used core reading program in the nation, according to a 2019 Education Week survey. In addition, her group at Columbia works with teachers in at least 30 countries, including Mexico, Singapore and Japan.
As a privacy-minded computer science student preparing to start his first year at Miami University, Erik Johnson was concerned this fall when he learned that two of his professors would require him to use the digital proctoring software Proctorio for their classes. The software turns students’ computers into powerful invigilators—webcams monitor eye and head movements, microphones record noise in the room, and algorithms log how often a test taker moves their mouse, scrolls up and down on a page, and pushes keys. The software flags any behavior its algorithm deems suspicious for later viewing by the class instructor.
In the end, Johnson never had to use Proctorio. Not long after he began airing his concerns on Twitter and posted a simple analysis of the software’s code on Pastebin, he discovered that his IP address was banned from accessing the company’s services. He also received a direct message from Proctorio’s CEO, Mike Olsen, who demanded that he take the Pastebin posts down, according to a copy of the message Johnson shared with Motherboard. Johnson refused to do so, and is now waiting to see if Proctorio will follow up with more concrete legal action, as it has done to other critics in recent weeks.
“If my professors weren’t flexible, I’d be completely unable to take exams,” Johnson said. “It’s insane to think that a company [or] CEO can affect my academic career just for raising concerns.”
The New York Post is one of the country’s oldest and largest newspapers. Founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, only three U.S. newspapers are more widely circulated. Ever since it was purchased in 1976 by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, it has been known — like most Murdoch-owned papers — for right-wing tabloid sensationalism, albeit one that has some real reporters and editors and is capable of reliable journalism.
On Wednesday morning, the paper published on its cover what it heralded as a “blockbuster” scoop: “smoking gun” evidence, in its words, in the form of emails purportedly showing that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, traded on his father’s position by securing favors from the then-Vice President to benefit the Ukranian energy company Burisma, which paid the supremely unqualified Hunter $50,000 each month to sit on its Board. While the Biden campaign denies that any such meetings or favors ever occurred, neither the campaign nor Hunter, at least as of now, has denied the authenticity of the emails.
The Post’s hyping of the story as some cataclysmic bombshell was overblown. While these emails, if authenticated, provide some new details and corroboration, the broad outlines of this story have long been known: Hunter was paid a very large monthly sum by Burisma at the same time that his father was quite active in using the force of the U.S. Government to influence Ukraine’s internal affairs.
Along with emails relating to Burisma, the New York Post also gratuitously published several photographs of Hunter, who has spoken openly and commendably of his past struggles with substance abuse, in what appeared to various states of drug use. There was no conceivable public interest in publishing those, and every reason not to.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Facebook (and Instagram) services, including Madison.
Today I issued a statement on the need for our School District to focus on reopening our public schools, not renaming them. To address inequities, we need to get our kids back in the classroom. pic.twitter.com/nHnauVZzFe
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) October 16, 2020
Enrollment in Wisconsin public schools fell by 3% this year, the largest dip in decades, and private schools that accept taxpayer-funded vouchers saw an increase, though not as much as last year.
In all, according to new data released Thursday by the state Department of Public Instruction, public schools enrolled 818,922 full-time equivalent students in the current school year, down more than 25,000 students, based on the headcount taken in late September. Private voucher schools added 2,577 students for a total of 45,954.
Because school funding is tied to enrollment, the shifts will be costly for many districts around the state at a time when they are spending millions more on expenses related to the coronavirus pandemic. In all, nearly a third of the state’s 421 public districts will see a decline in their state aid totaling more than $23 million this year, losses that will continue because schools are funded in part on a three-year rolling average.
“There will be significant, long-term structural effects on school districts’ finances,” said Dan Rossmiller of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
K-12 Tax, Referendum and budget climate: Madison School District enrollment drops by more than 1,000 students
A substantial 2020 tax and spending increase referendum is on Madison school district voter ballots this fall.
She said the curriculum offered to students was not intended to be delivered digitally and her children now have online meetings with their teachers for five hours each week compared to 30 hours of live teaching prior to the pandemic.
“We need to give parents options so those who feel safe sending their children to the school should have that option, teachers who feel they can teach in the classrooms better than they can virtually should have that option, and the school board has not given us that option,” she said.
In the name of “linguistic justice,” college writing instructors have agreed that teachers should “stop using academic language and standard English as the accepted communicative norm,” writes Matthew Stewart, associate professor of humanities and rhetoric at Boston University, on the Martin Center blog.
The executive committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the largest and most important association of college-level writing teachers, has approved “demands” by six professors, writes Stewart. CCCC is closely associated with the National Council of Teachers of English, an even larger group predominantly made up of middle and high school teachers.
The CCCC statement, written in academic/woke English with a “cain’t” here and a “respeck” there, includes:
Teachers (must) develop and teach Black Linguistic Consciousness that works to decolonize the mind (and/or) language, unlearn white supremacy, and unravel anti-Black linguistic racism!
. . . teachers STOP telling Black students that they have to ‘learn standard English to be successful because that’s just the way it is in the real world.’ No, that’s not just the way it is; that’s anti-Black linguistic racism.
In short, writes Stewart, the CCCC has declared that teaching black students standard English is racist and therefore “destructive and injurious.”
This isn’t new news but it’s also not good news. Pew Charitable Trusts updated its pension study to include 2018 data, and NJ comes in dead last among the 50 states. NJ only has 38 cents set aside for each dollar it owes. That means that 62 cents of every dollar owed is an unfunded liability – a debt that the state owes to retirees that will have to be paid off.
Even broke IL comes in better than NJ. The national funding average is 70.7%, so NJ is a huge outlier when it comes to fiscal irresponsibility. All of this shows why Gov. Murphy’s making a record $4.7 billion payment into NJ’s broken and unreformed pension system is throwing $4.7 billion of good money after bad. The governor is borrowing $4.5 billion to help him make this payment, which only increases NJ’s overall debt load, but $4.7 billion is still only 78% of the required payment, so NJ’s unfunded pension liabilities will also increase. What a waste of money that is much needed elsewhere during these COVID-stressed times!