America’s other identity divide — class

Rana Foroohar:

Race is often a central issue in American political life. But, as the 2020 presidential election has just shown us, class is a topic that matters just as much, perhaps even more, at least in terms of votes.

While the Republican incumbent, Donald Trump, won a majority of small towns and rural areas, his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, took communities that represent a whopping 70 per cent of the US economy, according to Brookings Institution data. No matter where voters were in the country, if they lived in an economic growth hub, it’s likely that they voted for Mr Biden.

This tells us some important things about America. First, that wealth and power are concentrated in just a few places. When you look at an electoral map of the US, it is overwhelmingly red, except on the coasts and a few inland urban areas. More than two-thirds of US job growth since 2007 has been concentrated in 25 cities and regional hubs, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Meanwhile, lower growth areas and rural counties where some 77m people live have had “flat or falling employment growth”, even following the recovery from the last financial crisis. 

School District Decides Asians Aren’t Students of Color

Robby Soave:

One school district in Washington state has evidently decided that Asians no longer qualify as persons of color.

In their latest equity report, administrators at North Thurston Public Schools—which oversees some 16,000 students—lumped Asians in with whites and measured their academic achievements against “students of color,” a category that includes “Black, Latinx, Native American, Pacific Islander, and Multi-Racial Students” who have experienced “persistent opportunity gaps.”

Most indicators in the report show that the achievement gap between white/Asian students and “students of color” is fairly narrow and improving over time. It would probably be even narrower if Asian students were categorized as “students of color.” In fact, some indicators might have even shown white students lagging behind that catch-all minority group. Perhaps Asians were included with whites in order to avoid such an outcome. (The superintendent did not respond to a request for comment.)

civics: Progressive policies penalize those who play by the rules and shower benefits on those who don’t.

James Meigs:

A man approached Warren with a question. “My daughter is getting out of school. I’ve saved all my money [so that] she doesn’t have any student loans. Am I going to get my money back?”

“Of course not,” Warren replied.

“So you’re going to pay for people who didn’t save any money, and those of us who did the right thing get screwed?”

A video of the exchange went viral. It summed up the frustration many feel over the way progressive policies so often benefit select groups, while subtly undermining others. Saving money to send your children to college used to be considered a hallmark of middle-class responsibility. By subsidizing people who run up large debts, Warren’s policy would penalize those who took that responsibility seriously. “You’re laughing at me,” the man said, when Warren seemed to wave off his concerns. “That’s exactly what you’re doing. We did the right thing and we get screwed.”

That father was expressing an emotion growing more common these days: he felt like a chump. Feeling like a chump doesn’t just mean being upset that your taxes are rising or annoyed that you’re missing out on some windfall. It’s more visceral than that. People feel like chumps when they believe that they’ve played a game by the rules, only to discover that the game is rigged. Not only are they losing, they realize, but their good sportsmanship is being exploited. The players flouting the rules are the ones who get the trophy. Like that Iowa dad, the chumps of modern America feel that the life choices they’re most proud of—working hard, taking care of their families, being good citizens—aren’t just undervalued, but scorned.

Commentary on Wisconsin’s Referendum Tax & Spending Climate

Wisconsin Policy Forum:

Despite the highest unemployment rate on record earlier this year and the absence of tens of thousands of students from school buildings since March, unofficial results show Wisconsin voters approved school referenda this month at near record rates. The results speak particularly loudly given that they happened in a high-turnout election and in both red and blue communities.

The Fury of the Fatherless

Mary Eberstadt:

According to the first thorough examination of the street protests triggered by the death of George Floyd, undertaken by Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project in conjunction with the Bridging Divides Initiative at Princeton, more than 10,600 incidents of what is benignly called “unrest” were recorded between May 24 and August 22. Of these, some 570 involved violence. Of those, most have involved Black Lives Matter activists. Preliminary insurance estimates show that the damage will surpass the $1.2 billion in damages accrued during the 1992 Rodney King riots. And then there are the atmospherics that separate these protests from many that have gone before: lusty screaming, ecstatic vandalism, the menacing of bystanders.

The ritualistic exhibition of destructive behaviors in city after city is without precedent in America. Neither the civil rights demonstrations nor the protests against the war in Vietnam looked remotely like this. The differences demand explanation. Blame what you will on the usual bête noirs: ­Donald Trump, cancel culture, police brutality, political tribalism, the coronavirus pandemic, far-right militias, BLM, antifa. All these factors feed the “­demand” side of the protests and rioting, the ­reasons for the ritualistic enactment. But what about the “supply” side—the ready and apparently inexhaustible ranks of demonstrators themselves? What explains them?

The answer cannot be “racism.” The spectacle of often-white protesters screaming at sometimes-black policemen undercuts anything dreamed of by Critical Race Theory. So do the actual statistics concerning cop-on-black crime. So do public attitudes. In 2017, according to Pew Research, 52 percent of respondents said that race “doesn’t make much difference” in marriage, and another 39 percent said that interracial marriage is “a good thing.” When 91 percent of the public shrugs at or applauds interracial marriage, it is absurd to speak of a spectral racism that permanently and irredeemably poisons society.

So, here’s a new theory: The explosive events of 2020 are but the latest eruption along a fault line running through our already unstable lives. That eruption exposes the threefold crisis of filial attachment that has beset the Western world for more than half a century. Deprived of father, Father, and patrium, a critical mass of humanity has become socially dysfunctional on a scale not seen before.

Revealing the mysteries of music

Stephen Brown:

A lifetime ago, when I was taking a first-year course in music theory at university, the instructor was banging out a series of chords from a Chopin Nocturne – and I speak literally here, he was punishing the piano as though to beat the sequence into submission, as though to – what? force it to reveal its mysteries? But its mysteries did not lie in an argument about the function of a particular chord, an argument that hinged on whether Chopin had written a G-flat when he should have written an F-sharp (the same black key on the piano).

The Nocturne’s mysteries, insofar as they are discoverable, lie in the relationship between the ceaseless rhythmic iteration of the left hand and the right hand’s striving to sustain its long melody notes, and in the subtle dissonances the left hand uses to corral it – language of affect not wholly different from that used by Henry Purcell in “Dido’s Lament”. None of this seemed of any relevance to my chord-puzzle instructor, and shortly afterwards I changed my course.

Is This the End of College as We Know It?

Douglas Belkin:

Rachael Wittern earned straight As in high school, a partial scholarship to college and then a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. She is now 33 years old, lives in Tampa, earns $94,000 a year as a psychologist and says her education wasn’t worth the cost. She carries $300,000 in student debt.

Dr. Wittern’s 37-year-old husband worked in a warehouse for several years before becoming an apprentice electrician. He expects to earn comparable money when he’s finished—minus the debt. When and if they have children, Dr. Wittern says her advice will be to follow her husband’s path and avoid a four-year degree.

“I just don’t see the value in a lot of what I studied,” she says. “Unless they have a really specific degree in mind we’d both prefer they take a more pragmatic, less expensive route.”

For traditional college students, the American postsecondary education system frequently means frontloading a lifetime’s worth of formal education and going into debt to do it. That is no longer working for millions of people, and the failure is clearing the way for alternatives: Faster, cheaper, specialized credentials closely aligned with the labor market and updated incrementally over a longer period, education experts say. These new credentials aren’t limited to traditional colleges and universities. Private industry has already begun to play a larger role in shaping what is taught and who is paying for it.

For more than a century, a four-year college degree was a blue-chip credential and a steppingstone to the American dream. For many millennials and now Gen Z, it has become an albatross around their necks.

The kids aren’t alright: How Generation Covid is losing out

Federica Cocco:

When Mary Finnegan, 27, and her sister Meg, 22, left their Brooklyn apartment to return to their parents’ home in March, they took enough clothes to last two weeks.

Their stay stretched into months. “It was like a return to homeschooling: no boys, no play dates, nowhere to go, except home and the liquor store,” Mary told the Financial Times.

As the coronavirus pandemic worsened and universities closed, Mary and Meg were followed by three other siblings, turning the parental four-bedroom house in Washington, New Jersey, into a “food hall, a bakery and a gym”, according to their mother Lori.

The Finnegans are among the millions of young adults around the world who have moved back in with their parents since Covid-19 struck. In the US, the share of 18- to 29-year-olds living at home is the highest ever recorded.

While they are less at risk of developing severe forms of Covid-19, students and young workers are suffering from the pandemic’s economic fallout more harshly than other groups, data show. The pandemic has also amplified previous trends including low wages, stagnant job markets and rising student debt.

A global survey by the Financial Times, to which more than 800 16- to 30-year-olds responded, shows that these difficulties are translating into growing resentment towards older generations, which are both better off and holding greater political sway.

“We are not in this together, millennials have to take the brunt of the sacrifice in the situation,” said Polina R, 30, from Montreal, Canada. “If you won’t watch out that we don’t end up jobless and poorer, why should we protect you?”

Here is what they told the FT about their experiences during the pandemic:

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

“Try as best as possible to keep the schools open…”

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

“Schools Should Be the Last Things We Close, Not the First/Why do we keep asking children to bear the brunt of a lockdown?”

Aaron Carroll:

Cases have definitely been more common in school-age children this fall. But when schools do the right things, those infections are not transmitted in the classroom. They’re occurring, for the most part, when children go to parties, when they have sleepovers and when they’re playing sports inside and unmasked…. The playbook for keeping schools as safe as possible has been understood for many months…

[O]ur schools are not, for the most part, prepared to deliver high quality educational content online. Kids are also social animals and need safe in-person interactions for their mental health and development….  Closing schools also exacerbates social and economic disparities…. Students who fall behind will have an incredibly difficult time catching up….

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Projecting the Potential Impact of COVID-19 School Closures on Academic Achievement

Megan Kuhfeld:

As the COVID-19 pandemic upended the 2019–2020 school year, education systems scrambled to meet the needs of students and families with little available data on how school closures may impact learning. In this study, we produced a series of projections of COVID-19-related learning loss based on (a) estimates from absenteeism literature and (b) analyses of summer learning patterns of 5 million students. Under our projections, returning students are expected to start fall 2020 with approximately 63 to 68% of the learning gains in reading and 37 to 50% of the learning gains in mathematics relative to a typical school year. However, we project that losing ground during the school closures was not universal, with the top third of students potentially making gains in reading.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

Do Family Policies Reduce Gender Inequality? Evidence from 60 Years of Policy Experimentation

Henrik Kleven, Camille Landais, Johanna Posch, Andreas Steinhauer & Josef Zweimüller:

Do family policies reduce gender inequality in the labor market? We contribute to this debate by investigating the joint impact of parental leave and child care, using administrative data covering the labor market and birth histories of Austrian workers over more than half a century. We start by quasi-experimentally identifying the causal effects of all family policy reforms since the 1950s on the full dynamics of male and female earnings. We then map these causal estimates into a decomposition framework a la Kleven, Landais and Søgaard (2019) to compute counterfactual gender gaps. Our results show that the enormous expansions of parental leave and child care subsidies have had virtually no impact on gender convergence.

Teachers unions have kept schools closed. Now they want more money?

Frederick Hess:

Since March, millions of students have been out of school. Nearly half of the nation’s 50 largest school districts haven’t yet reopened or are only now planning to do so. Hybrid reopening plans have been a start-and-stop, hit-and-miss endeavor. Given the mounting evidence that the public health risks of reopening schools are modest and manageable, it’s no surprise that parents are growing more supportive of in-person schooling. 

Here is a moment for educators to rise to the challenge: to insist that schools safeguard the well-being of staff but also that they find ways to serve their charges. Unfortunately, a rather different narrative has taken hold. Indeed, last week, El Paso teacher Lyn Peticolas took to Education Week—K-12 education’s newspaper of record—to publish an op-ed titled “What Demands to ‘Open Schools Now!’ Sound Like to a Teacher” in which she ardently denounced the “coronavirus-deniers” who hurl “vitriol” at school districts for not reopening. 

Utterly ignoring that thousands of private schools have reopened without incident, that many thousands of public schools have safely opened their doors, or the grave concerns about remote learning, Peticolas waxes enthusiastic about the miracles of virtual teaching before declaring that the “sole aim” of those seeking to reopen schools “seems to be to cause strife and unrest.” She goes on, at great length, to explain how overburdened and underappreciated teachers are.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

K-12 Tax, Referendum & Spending Climate: Should Remote Workers Pay a Tax for the ‘Privilege’ of Using Their Home as an Office?

Christian Britschgi:

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the service sector, made millions unemployed, and forced many of us who still do have jobs to work remotely. Fortunately, we now have a perfect solution to all this economic dislocation and disruption: a new tax on working from home!

This week, the German financial giant Deutsche Bank released a new report full of proposals for how governments and corporations should respond to the pandemic. Included in the report is a call for a 5 percent tax on the incomes of people who work from home in places where the government is not advising or forcing people to do so.

“For years we have needed a tax on remote workers—COVID has just made it obvious,” writes Deutsche Bank’s Luke Templeton. “Remote workers are contributing less to the infrastructure of the economy whilst still receiving its benefits.”

Those who have the privilege of telecommuting are reaping rewards hand over fist in the form of less money spent on transportation, restaurant meals, and dry cleaning, argues Templeton.

Trumpism & Academia

Jack Stripling:

As counties on the electoral map turned gradually this week from red to blue, the presidency of Donald J. Trump appeared, as the poet might have said, like a patient etherized upon a table.

The overwhelming question looming over the proceedings was not just whether Trump’s electoral hopes could have been revived, but also what might happen after his time in office reaches its end. What aspects of Trump’s presidency, in all of its populist brashness, might endure once Americans had denied him a second term?

It is a question of particular urgency on college campuses, whose leaders and faculty members seek to revive a spirit of intellectual engagement and civility in a riven nation.

Despite Trump’s loss on Saturday to Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic challenger for president, the vitality of “Trumpism” appears intact. The suspicion of intellectual elites, the dismissal of scientific research, and the notion that the nation’s prosperity is threatened by named and unnamed outsiders are hallmarks of a political philosophy that has gone mainstream with a presidential bullhorn.

Related: “a bloated elite class, with too few elite jobs to go around; declining living standards among the general population; and a government that can’t cover its financial positions”

Surprise! Americans Oppose Discrimination

John Rosenberg:

Almost everyone is disappointed, frustrated, or angry about the election results—Republicans, because at this writing they appear to have lost the presidency amid widespread reports of voting—er, irregularities; Democrats, because they suffered an unexpected but major shellacking in the House and appear not to have regained the Senate. A noteworthy, important exception is the hearty band of Asian Americans and other Davids, who, under the inspired leadership of Ward Connerly, defeated the massively funded effort of Goliath—California’s Democratic party and the state’s cultural and financial elite—to pass Proposition 16, which would have repealed the state’s constitutional prohibition of discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to people based on race, ethnicity, or sex.

The vote, shocking to some and surprising to many, was not close: 57% to 43%. As this graphic display vividly demonstrates, California was a sea of red counties voting No with only a handful of coastal liberal enclaves (San Francisco, Marin, Santa Cruz, Alameda [Oakland]) voting Yes. Los Angeles, the only other yes-voting county, barely did so—51% to 49%.

Some Racine schools may fight health order telling them to close

Caitlin Sievers:

Some schools are considering fighting it. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative nonprofit law firm based in Milwaukee, says it’s illegal.

But the City of Racine is standing by its Health Department’s most recent COVID-19 order that requires all private and public K-12 school buildings within the jurisdiction of its health department to close from Nov. 27 to Jan. 15. The Health Department advises that schools should switch to virtual learning while the order is in effect.

“The order violates state law,” said Anthony LoCoco, deputy counsel for WILL. “That’s our position. Local health officers don’t have the authority to issue blanket school closures like this. That power resides with the state Department of Health Services.”

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases

https://www.reopenourschools.org.

Scott Girard:

Political affiliation and union representation were more strongly related to Wisconsin school district decisions to opt for virtual or in-person instruction this fall than COVID-19 positivity rate, according to a new report.

The study from the conservative Wisconsin Institute For Law & Liberty (WILL) published Monday found that 14% of districts in the state with a union began the year with virtual-only instruction compared to just 3% of those without union representation. Political affiliation, measured by the 2016 vote share for Donald Trump in a school district’s county, had an even larger correlation.

Average COVID-19 cases per 100,000, meanwhile, were nearly identical between districts going virtual and those returning for in-person instruction. In the three weeks before the school year began, when many districts made decisions about the upcoming year, the rates were 10.96 in districts going virtual and 10.99 in those returning to in-person school, study author Will Flanders said in an interview.

“(That was) the most surprising aspect to me,” Flanders said. “I thought that union presence and political ideology probably would play a role but I didn’t expect the rate of coronavirus in the area to play no significant role.”

The findings locally mirror a national study of about 10,000 districts across the country highlighted in the Washington Post last week.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

“Why are Madison Schools Closed?”

https://www.reopenourschools.org.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.

K-12 Tax, Referendum and Spending Climate:

Luke Templeman:

For years we have needed a tax on remote workers – covid has just made it obvious. Quite simply, our economic system is not set up to cope with people who can disconnect themselves from face-to-face society. Those who can WFH receive direct and indirect financial benefits and they should be taxed in order to smooth the transition process for those who have been suddenly displaced.

The popularity of WFH was growing even before the pandemic. Between 2005 and 2018, internet technology fuelled a 173 per cent increase in the number of Americans who regularly worked from home1. It is true that the overall proportion of people working from home before the pandemic was still small, at 5.4 per cent based on census

data, but the growth was still way ahead of the growth in the overall workforce.

Covid has turbocharged that growth. During the pandemic, the proportion of Americans who worked from home increased ten-fold to 56 per cent. In the UK, there was a seven-fold increase to 47 per cent. Many of these people will continue to work remotely for some time. Indeed, two-thirds of organisations say that

at least three-quarters of their staff can work from home effectively, according to S&P Global Markets. Meanwhile, a DB survey shows that, after the pandemic has passed, more than half of people who tried out WFH want to continue it permanently for between two and three days a week.

College Applications Plummet For Next Year’s Freshman Class

Wall Street Journal:

Through Nov. 2, the Common Application had nearly 8% fewer first-year applications than in the same period last year—and 10% fewer applicants. The application is used by more than 900 colleges and universities. …

Early data show that the number of high-school seniors who have filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for next school year is down 16% from this time last year. The numbers are even lower among students of color and those in high-poverty high schools and rural areas, according to a National College Attainment Network analysis of Education Department data. … Common App data show 16% declines in both applicants who requested fee waivers and those who would be first-generation college students. …

Todd Rinehart, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said he knows of peer schools with applications down by at least 10% so far this year.

Local districts on in-person, virtual teaching roller coaster

Pam Chickering Wilson:

Area school administrators knew this was going to be a tough year heading into the fall semester. The spring pivot to virtual schooling dictated by the state at the start of the pandemic had proven to be less-than-ideal, and yet the pandemic which had precipitated initial school closures was still raging.

Going into the 2020-2021 school year, school planners thoroughly expected to be switching back and forth between in-person and virtual instruction over the course of the next few months, and that has indeed proved to be the case as districts have dealt with COVID-19 cases, coronavirus exposures, and shortages of regular staff and substitutes.

One thing that gave families more control this fall as opposed to the spring was the choice area districts offered to parents of either enrolling their children virtually or face-to-face.

Even amid difficult year for education, some applause-worthy efforts are taking place in Milwaukee

Alan Borsuk:

Even amid the current difficult and unstable situations for educating children, there are efforts to aim high.

This is good and valuable. I wish there were more indications that administrators, teachers, parents and civic leaders are aiming high. It seems like a lot of effort connected to schools is focused on just holding things together while dealing with COVID-19 protection steps, and not so much on making academic progress while doing likewise.

But is this a time to settle for less? Especially among those who most need to do better, from circumstances associated with low rates of success, there is always urgency to aiming for better. I would argue that in current circumstances, when the risk of time being lost is so high, it is all the more important to be undeterred.

So permit me to spotlight several signs of unwavering effort to reach big goals.

All-In Milwaukee. Allison Wagner, this young organization’s executive director, says that fewer than 10% of students from the City of Milwaukee go on to earn a two- or four-year college degree.

“a bloated elite class, with too few elite jobs to go around; declining living standards among the general population; and a government that can’t cover its financial positions”

Graeme Wood, via a kind email:

The fundamental problems, he says, are a dark triad of social maladies: a bloated elite class, with too few elite jobs to go around; declining living standards among the general population; and a government that can’t cover its financial positions. His models, which track these factors in other societies across history, are too complicated to explain in a nontechnical publication. But they’ve succeeded in impressing writers for nontechnical publications, and have won him comparisons to other authors of “megahistories,” such as Jared Diamond and Yuval Noah Harari. The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat had once found Turchin’s historical model­ing unpersuasive, but 2020 made him a believer: “At this point,” Douthat recently admitted on a podcast, “I feel like you have to pay a little more attention to him.”

Diamond and Harari aimed to describe the history of humanity. Turchin looks into a distant, science-fiction future for peers. In War and Peace and War (2006), his most accessible book, he likens himself to Hari Seldon, the “maverick mathematician” of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, who can foretell the rise and fall of empires. In those 10,000 years’ worth of data, Turchin believes he has found iron laws that dictate the fates of human societies.

The fate of our own society, he says, is not going to be pretty, at least in the near term. “It’s too late,” he told me as we passed Mirror Lake, which UConn’s website describes as a favorite place for students to “read, relax, or ride on the wooden swing.” The problems are deep and structural—not the type that the tedious process of demo­cratic change can fix in time to forestall mayhem. Turchin likens America to a huge ship headed directly for an iceberg: “If you have a discussion among the crew about which way to turn, you will not turn in time, and you hit the iceberg directly.” The past 10 years or so have been discussion. That sickening crunch you now hear—steel twisting, rivets popping—­­is the sound of the ship hitting the iceberg.

“We are almost guaranteed” five hellish years, Turchin predicts, and likely a decade or more. The problem, he says, is that there are too many people like me. “You are ruling class,” he said, with no more rancor than if he had informed me that I had brown hair, or a slightly newer iPhone than his. Of the three factors driving social violence, Turchin stresses most heavily “elite overproduction”—­the tendency of a society’s ruling classes to grow faster than the number of positions for their members to fill. One way for a ruling class to grow is biologically—think of Saudi Arabia, where princes and princesses are born faster than royal roles can be created for them. In the United States, elites over­produce themselves through economic and educational upward mobility: More and more people get rich, and more and more get educated. Neither of these sounds bad on its own. Don’t we want everyone to be rich and educated? The problems begin when money and Harvard degrees become like royal titles in Saudi Arabia. If lots of people have them, but only some have real power, the ones who don’t have power eventually turn on the ones who do.

In the United States, Turchin told me, you can see more and more aspirants fighting for a single job at, say, a prestigious law firm, or in an influential government sinecure, or (here it got personal) at a national magazine. Perhaps seeing the holes in my T-shirt, Turchin noted that a person can be part of an ideological elite rather than an economic one. (He doesn’t view himself as a member of either. A professor reaches at most a few hundred students, he told me. “You reach hundreds of thousands.”) Elite jobs do not multiply as fast as elites do. There are still only 100 Senate seats, but more people than ever have enough money or degrees to think they should be running the country. “You have a situation now where there are many more elites fighting for the same position, and some portion of them will convert to counter-elites,” Turchin said.

Related: Scribes and bureaucrats.

The political class’s coronavirus credibility crisis endangers public health

Brad Polumbo:

With rising case counts and hospitalizations, the coronavirus crisis is getting out of hand in many parts of the United States. Getting the spread of COVID-19 under control, if it is possible, will require individual sacrifice and voluntary action by millions of people. But the possibility of such cooperation has been severely undercut by the ill-timed credibility crisis consuming our hypocritical elected class.

Remember House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “salon scandal” in early September? The California Democrat infuriated the public when she got her hair done despite a San Francisco order banning in-door salon services. Making matters worse, she then blamed the salon owner for “setting her up.”

This flap came after other examples of high-profile hypocrisy, such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s gym trip while COVID-19 was shutting down his city. These examples have continued apace in recent weeks.

As Tiana Lowe of the Washington Examiner noted, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is the latest hypocritical politician to be caught breaking her own COVID-19 rules. She traveled out-of-state to party after Joe Biden’s projected presidential victory.

Future Farmers of America: What is a Farmer?

Jeff Meske:

Do you ever hurry or make short cuts that aren’t best for a job? Do you ever suffer from a lack of planning? In Today’s devotion we read Proverbs 21:5, where God says “Good planning and hard work leads to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” Here in FFA we are here to have fun, learn about agriculture and see what the FFA has to offer . What is a farmer? and when did they come to be? In this small speech about farmers, Paul Harvey explains it.

The video that just played really makes me appreciate the farmers of the world. They have one of the hardest jobs but have some of the strongest faith because it is always just trusting in God that all of the crops and animals grow. And he gives them a message from Deuteronomy that says, “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full.” In that passage it says to trust God and take pride in your work.

Civics: “The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty”

Josh Blackman:

The topic of this year’s convention is the rule of law and the current crisis. And I take it that the title is intended primarily to refer to the COVID-19 crisis that has transformed life for the past eight months. The pandemic has obviously taken a heavy human toll, thousands dead, many more hospitalized, millions on employed the dreams of many small business owners dashed. But what has it meant for the rule of law,

I’m now going to say something that I hope will not be twisted or misunderstood. But I have spent more than 20 years in Washington, so I’m not overly optimistic. In any event, here goes. The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty. Now, notice what I am not saying or even implying, I am not diminishing the severity of the viruses threat to public health. And putting aside what I will say shortly about a few Supreme Court cases, I’m not saying anything about the legality of COVID restrictions. Nor am I saying anything about whether any of these restrictions represent good public policy. I’m a judge, not a policymaker. All that i’m saying is this. And I think it is an indisputable statement of fact, we have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced, for most of 2020.

Think of all the live events that would otherwise be protected by the right to freedom of speech, live speeches, conferences, lectures, meetings, think of worship services, churches closed on Easter Sunday, synagogues closed for Passover on Yom Kippur War. Think about access to the courts, or the constitutional right to a speedy trial. trials in federal courts have virtually disappeared in many places who could have imagined that the COVID crisis has served as a sort of constitutional stress test. And in doing so it has highlighted disturbing trends that were already present before the virus struck.

Fifth, he discussed the broad delegation to government to deal with “emergencies” and “rule by experts.”

One of these is the dominance of lawmaking by executive Fiat rather than legislation. The vision of early 20th century progressives and the new dealers of the 1930s was the policymaking would shift from narrow minded elected legislators, to an elite group of appointed experts in a word, the policymaking would become more scientific. That dream has been realized to a large extent. Every year administrative agencies acting under broad delegations of authority churn out huge volumes of regulations that dwarfs the statutes enacted by the people’s elected representatives. And what have we seen in the pandemic sweeping restrictions imposed for the most part, under statutes that confer enormous executive discretion?.

We had a covid related case from Nevada. So I will take the Nevada law as an example.

Is discrimination widespread? Testing assumptions about bias on a university campus

Mitchell Campbell & Markus Brauer:

Discrimination has persisted in our society despite steady improvements in explicit attitudes toward marginalized social groups. The most common explanation for this apparent paradox is that due to implicit biases, most individuals behave in slightly discriminatory ways outside of their own awareness (the dispersed discrimination account). Another explanation holds that a numerical minority of individuals who are moderately or highly biased are responsible for most observed discriminatory behaviors (the concentrated discrimination account). We tested these 2 accounts against each other in a series of studies at a large, public university (total N = 16,600). In 4 large-scale surveys, students from marginalized groups reported that they generally felt welcome and respected on campus (albeit less so than nonmarginalized students) and that a numerical minority of their peers (around 20%) engage in subtle or explicit forms of discrimination. In 5 field experiments with 8 different samples, we manipulated the social group membership of trained confederates and measured the behaviors of naïve bystanders. The results showed that between 5% and 20% of the participants treated the confederates belonging to marginalized groups more negatively than nonmarginalized confederates. Our findings are inconsistent with the dispersed discrimination account but support the concentrated discrimination account. The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Our results suggest that the Pareto principle also applies to discrimination, at least at the large, public university where the studies were conducted. We discuss implications for prodiversity initiatives.

Surviving the Next Four Years of Tech

James Poulos:

As immortalized by ruling-class paeans around the time of Obama’s second term to the power of “data” (read: teched-up experts) to “save politics,” the established Left planned—long before the advent of Trump or COVID—to use the power of digital technology to consolidate world mindshare around their dreamed-up ethical framework. Trump’s election signaled strongly to the teched-up elite that the machines had betrayed them and required an all-new level of national and global control.

The present focus of that reaction has been on Trump himself, but also on Trump’s supporters, who are “even worse” because they can’t be thrown out of office. But a growing populist wing of the Left recognizes that routine plebiscitary rubber stamps on compliance mandates issued by technologized woke autocrats is not, in fact, liberal or democratic, and is certainly not America. Despite obvious ideological cleavages, another Trump term will hold open the Overton window needed by loyal Americans of diverse beliefs who understand that the appropriation of all speech and thought space into an elite-managed virtual world is fatal to our flourishing.

Things will be different under a Biden (read: Harris) administration. Due to Trump and COVID, the teched-up elite will go into overdrive toward what is now commonly known as a “great reset”—a top-down seizure of control over both wayward “bots” and humans, neither of whom have evinced an attitude of sufficient compliance with the ethical framework of the woke managerial class.

This is a realm of life where no degree of “de-polarization” or “re-normalization” in political rhetoric will change the vector of virtualization and consolidation of spiritual power in America and beyond. The goal is to implement the psychic transformation of the “Never Trump” worldview into a “Never Again” worldview. The means is to ensure that political support for any political figure strong enough even to delay or disrupt the “great reset” can no longer be organized—or even dreamed of.

When scientific journals take sides during an election, the public’s trust in science takes a hit

Kevin Young, Bernhard Leidner and Stylianos Syropoulos:

When the scientific establishment gets involved in partisan politics, it decreases people’s trust in science, especially among conservatives, according to our recent research.

In the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, several prestigious scientific journals took the highly unusual step of either endorsing Joe Biden or criticizing Donald Trump in their pages.

In September, the editor-in-chief of the journal Science wrote a scathing article titled “Trump lied about science,” which was followed by other strong critiques from both the New England Journal of Medicine and the cancer research journal Lancet Oncology.

Several other top publications – including Nature and Scientific American – soon followed, with overt endorsements of Biden. The statements focused on each candidate’s impact on scientific knowledge and science-based decision-making.

To evaluate whether political endorsements like these might influence people’s attitudes toward science, we ran an online survey experiment.

Use caution, district leaders: Even in a pandemic, there’s no immunity from financial missteps

Marguerite Roza, via a kind Deb Britt email:

Charges of financial blunders have taken out district leaders before. Think the pandemic inoculates leaders from that possible fate? Think again.

In fact, leaders may be at higher risk for accusations of financial missteps than normal, thanks to a perfect storm of pandemic-era conditions. District leaders are making hurried off-cycle spending decisions with little public deliberation, all when money is tight and staff and community tensions are high. Given the fast and furious nature of this moment, it’s easy to slip up. And where board members, teachers unions, or others in the community are at odds with leaders, any potential misstep can get magnified.

Because of the pandemic (and the availability of federal CARES funds), many districts have moved swiftly to sign hefty contracts for everything from laptops and hot spots to personal protective equipment, air purifiers, and building ventilation system upgrades. With districts competing against each other for limited supplies, some superintendents have had to commit to contractor bids on the spot or lose out altogether.

Paul’s Math Notes

Paul:

Welcome to my online math tutorials and notes. The intent of this site is to provide a complete set of free online (and downloadable) notes and/or tutorials for classes that I teach at Lamar University. I’ve tried to write the notes/tutorials in such a way that they should be accessible to anyone wanting to learn the subject regardless of whether you are in my classes or not. In other words, they do not assume you’ve got any prior knowledge other than the standard set of prerequisite material needed for that class. In other words, it is assumed that you know Algebra and Trig prior to reading the Calculus I notes, know Calculus I prior to reading the Calculus II notes, etc. The assumptions about your background that I’ve made are given with each description below.

I’d like to thank Shane F, Fred J., Mike K. and David A. for all the typos that they’ve found and sent my way! I’ve tried to proof read these pages and catch as many typos as I could, however it just isn’t possible to catch all of them when you are also the person who wrote the material. Fred, Mike and David have caught quite a few typos that I’d missed and been nice enough to send them my way. Thanks again Fred, Mike and David!

If you are one of my current students and are here looking for homework assignments I’ve got a set of links that will get you to the right pages listed here.

At present I’ve gotten the notes/tutorials for my Algebra (Math 1314), Calculus I (Math 2413), Calculus II (Math 2414), Calculus III (Math 3435) and Differential Equations (Math 3301) class online. I’ve also got a couple of Review/Extras available as well. Among the reviews/extras that I’ve got are an Algebra/Trig review for my Calculus Students, a Complex Number primer, a set of Common Math Errors, and some tips on How to Study Math.

How Elite Colleges Rip Off Taxpayers

John Stossel:

Yale University has fancy dining halls. They pay no property tax.

Local restaurants struggle to compete, but their tax burden makes that hard.

“We basically pay one-third of our rent in taxes!” complains Matt West, manager of Koon Thai Restaurant. “Yale is a money-making machine.”

It is. Many colleges are.

Yale has a $31 billion endowment. Harvard’s is $40 billion. My alma mater, Princeton, has $26 billion.

Yet, these schools also get government handouts and tax breaks. How government rips off taxpayers and students by subsidizing colleges is the subject of my video this week.

Yale owns about a quarter of the town of New Haven, Connecticut, but the school pays little property tax. It even has a golf course that’s half tax-exempt.

Politicians tried to tax the school, but they cannot.

“It’s written into the constitution,” complains New Haven Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker-Myers. “They just don’t have to pay.”

Could Law School Be the Worst Higher Education Investment?

George Leaf:

For decades, law school was a growth industry. Back in 1970, there were 146 law schools with an enrollment of 78,000 students; by 2013, there were 201 schools, enrolling 139,000 students. Enrollment peaked in 2010 at 147,000. (For the current year, it seems that enrollments will probably remain level with last year.)

By 2015, we were seeing articles such as this one in the Wall Street Journal: “Fewer and Fewer Students are Applying to Law School.” A number of law schools have closed since 2017, including Valparaiso, Whittier, Savannah, Arizona Summit, and Charlotte. More are on thin ice.

Evidently, many prospective law students were figuring out that the high cost of three years of study necessary to earn a JD just wasn’t worth it in a glutted market and were choosing other paths after college.

Just how right they were is highlighted in a new study by the Texas Public Policy Foundation entitled, “Objection! Law schools can be hazardous to students’ financial health.”

The study’s author, Andrew Gillen, explains the approach, “a debt-to-earnings test called Gainful Employment Equivalent (GEE). GEE compares the earnings of recent graduates with the typical borrower’s student loan debt to determine if students can afford their student loan payments.”

Wisconsin education chief seeks $1.6 billion tax & spending increase for schools in 2021-23

Annysa Johnson:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Carolyn Stanford Taylor is seeking an additional $1.6 billion for education over the next two years, along with changes that would cushion districts as they weather the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stanford Taylor’s proposed 2021-23 budget, announced this week, reflects many of the same priorities as her predecessor, now-Gov. Tony Evers: an increase in special education funding and mental health resources, a focus on equity, and restoring the state’s commitment to fund two-thirds of the cost of education.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

England: ‘shocking’ decline in primary pupils’ attainment after lockdown

Sally Weale:

There has been a “shocking” decline in primary school pupils’ levels of attainment in England after lockdown, testing has revealed, with younger children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds worst affected.

The results provide the first detailed insight into the impact of the pandemic on academic attainment among young children and show an average decline in performance of between 5% and 15% on previous years. The biggest drop was in maths scores, and overall seven-year-olds were the most impacted.

The data, shared exclusively with the Guardian, is based on standardised tests sat by a quarter of a million pupils earlier this term. Researchers said they expected attainment to drop after more than five months out of school for most pupils, but were surprised at the scale of decline.

“Purely statistically speaking, it’s a massive drop,” said Dr Timo Hannay of the education data analytics company SchoolDash, who analysed the results. “We could have expected something like this. But it’s absolutely shocking in terms of its size.”

The tests by RS Assessment from Hodder Education are widely used in primary schools across England, usually on a termly basis, to assess children in maths and English to track their progress.

Tests which were scheduled to take place during the summer term were postponed as a result of school closures, and children in 1,700 schools sat them four months later when they returned at the beginning of the autumn term.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Google knows where you are, and so do advertisers.

Sebastian Meineck:

Google Maps knows everything. Not just about every street, and every cafe, bar and shop on that street, but the people who go to them. With 1 billionmonthly active users, the app is embedded in people’s lives – directing them on their commute, to their friends’ and families’ homes, to doctor’s appointments and on their travels abroad. 

The fact that Google Maps has the power to follow your every step doesn’t automatically mean it’s misusing that power. But they could, which is an issue in and of itself, especially since Google’s headquarters are in the US, where privacy legislation is looser than in Europe and intelligence agencies have a history of surveilling private citizens (I see you, NSA). 

The new field of social genomics can be used by progressives to combat racial inequality or by conservatives to excuse it

Erik Parens:

Over the past decade, economists, sociologists and psychologists have begun collaborating with geneticists to investigate how genomic differences among human beings are linked to differences in their behaviours and social outcomes. The insights sought are wide-ranging: why do some of us have a greater sense of subjective wellbeing than others? Why do some go further in school than others? When it comes to income, why do some people earn more and others less?

As surprising as it might be to readers familiar with the history of often-ugly efforts to investigate complex behaviours and outcomes through genetics, some prominent members of this new cohort of researchers are optimistic that their work will advance progressive political agendas. According to the progressive authors of a recent European Commission report, insights from what I call ‘social genomics’ are ‘fully compatible with agendas that aim to combat inequalities and that embrace diversity.’

Indeed, findings from social genomics are compatible with what we in the United States consider Left-leaning agendas to combat inequalities. They are, however, equally compatible with what we think of as Right-leaning agendas that accept – or make peace with – inequalities. Moreover, such findings are as compatible with a Right-leaning version of ‘embracing diversity’ as they are with a Left-leaning one. This should move Left-leaning social genomicists to curb their optimism about the potential of their research to advance their political agendas.

Americans are more worried about their sons than their daughters

Richard Reeves:

The AFS also asks respondents about prospects for their own sons and daughters (for those who have them). This is important, because there is often a difference between how people feel about something in general, and how they feel about it in their own particular case. This “local v. global” effect has been seen in the AFS before, for example with regard to marriage (people think that marriage in general is falling apart, but that their own marriage is as strong as ever). 

State Technology & Science Index Ranking: Wisconsin is 25th

Milken Institute:

The State Technology and Science Index (STSI) provides a benchmark for evaluating the knowledge economies of all 50 US states. The index compares each state’s capacity for achieving prosperity through scientific discovery and technological innovation, using the latest available data from US federal government and private-sector sources to perform a cross-sectional analysis of their rankings on key indicators.

The index is a composite of five sub-indexes, which rank states on a set of indicators. These sub-indexes cover a diverse range of topics: research and development (R&D) inputs, risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure, human capital investment, technology and science workforce, and technology concentration and dynamism. By comparing how states rank in these areas, the index assesses their capacities for generating new scientific ideas, as well as for commercializing technologies that contribute to firm expansion, high-skills job creation, and broad-based economic growth.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Replace school with ‘pandemic camp’

Joanne Jacobs:

Remote learning isn’t working, especially for younger children, but “normal” schooling wasn’t working well either, writes Erika Christakis, an early childhood educator, in The Atlantic.

She envisions an alternative — year-round “pandemic camp” — to focus on children’s needs for “exercise, outdoor time, conversation, play, even sleep.”

Parents should demand “a broader and deeper curriculum with more chances for children to explore, play, and build relationships with peers and teachers,” Christakis writes. “The most obvious demand should be for more time outside.”

Outdoor learning is safer right now, she writes. But even if coronavirus goes away, getting kids outside has many other benefits, from reducing hyperactivity to improving science learning. “The biggest obstacle is a lack of will and imagination.”

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Global rankings are distorting universities’ decisions, says ANU chief

Jordan Baker:

Australian National University vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt has questioned the validity of the global ranking systems relied upon by universities to market themselves, saying they mislead students and distort universities’ research priorities.

Professor Schmidt, a Nobel Laureate in physics, said the companies behind global rankings arbitrarily chose to reward science and engineering but overlook teaching quality, humanities research, and subjects with little interest beyond Australia, such as local literature and history.

“Everyone says [rankings] don’t matter, but they do,” Professor Schmidt, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, told the Herald. “They drive students to you, they hold up your prestige in community and governments. It’s a shame they really aren’t very good.

Public School Enrollment Plummets as Private Schools See Gains

Kerry McDonald:

Ongoing and renewed shutdowns of public schools across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in astonishing public school enrollment drops.

NPR recently reported that public school districts in at least 20 states have seen shrinking numbers of students this fall, with Orange County and Miami-Dade County in Florida down 8,000 and 16,000 public school students, respectively. Los Angeles public school enrollment has dropped by nearly 11,000 students.

Families are increasingly turning away from public schooling and toward private education options during the pandemic—a trend that is likely to continue even after the virus fades.

Since March, US parents have been put back in charge of their children’s education in unprecedented ways. Zoom schooling has given them a peek into what their children are actually learning (or not learning) in their classrooms, and ongoing school closures have encouraged families to pursue education options beyond their assigned district school. Many families have withdrawn their children from a district school in recent months in favor of independent homeschooling or private schooling, or have decided to delay their child’s kindergarten entry.

How Academia Resembles a Drug Gang

Alexandre Afonso:

In 2000, economist Steven Levitt and sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh published an article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics about the internal wage structure of a Chicago drug gang. This piece would later serve as a basis for a chapter in Levitt’s (and Dubner’s) best seller Freakonomics. The title of the chapter, “Why drug dealers still live with their moms”, was based on the finding that the income distribution within gangs was extremely skewed in favor of those at the top, while the rank-and-file street sellers earned even less than employees in legitimate low-skilled activities, let’s say at McDonald’s. They calculated $3.30 as the hourly rate, that is, well below a living wage (that’s why they still live with their moms).

If you take into account the risk of being shot by rival gangs, ending up in jail or being beaten up by your own hierarchy, you might wonder why anybody would work for such a low wage and at such dreadful working conditions instead of seeking employment at McDonald’s. Yet, gangs have no real difficulty in recruiting new members. The reason for this is that the prospect of future wealth, rather than current income and working conditions, is the main driver for people to stay in the business: low-level drug sellers forgo current income for (uncertain) future wealth. Rank-and file members are ready to face this risk to try to make it to the top, where life is good and money is flowing. It is very unlikely that they will make it (their mortality rate is insanely high) but they’re ready to “get rich or die trying”.

With a constant supply of new low-level drug sellers entering the market and ready to be exploited, drug lords can become increasingly rich without redistributing their wealth towards the bottom. There is an expanding mass of rank-and-file “outsiders” ready to forgo income for future wealth, and a small core of “insiders”  securing incomes largely at the expense of the mass. We can call it a winner-take-all market.

Civics: Michigan AG’s #DetroitLeaks Takedown Demand, and Seditious Libel

Eugene Volokh:

But I take it that this isn’t the Michigan AG’s concern here—rather, the concern must be that people will be fooled into overestimating the risk of election fraud (assuming those statements are indeed false), and will thus either be less interested in voting or will view the election results as illegitimate. And that strikes me as a special case of the much broader concern about certain kinds of political lies: Lies about the government or its processes, the theory goes, will wrongly undermine citizens’ faith in the government.

This is a factually perfectly plausible concern. Indeed, it is an old concern, which dates back at least to the Founding era, and in particular to the debates about the Sedition Act of 1798 and similar speech restrictions—laws that generally banned (to quote the relevant part of the Sedition Act),

false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress …, or the President …, with intent to defame [them]  … or to bring them … into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them … the hatred of the good people of the United States.

The Act’s backers stressed that the law (unlike the English common law of seditious libel) was limited to “false” and “malicious” statements; and they noted the importance of restricting those statements. Here is Justice Chase’s instruction to the jury in U.S. v. Cooper, about the Sedition Act specifically:

Ink-Stained Wretches: The Battle for the Soul of Digital Freedom Taking Place Inside Your Printer

Cory Doctorow:

Since its founding in the 1930s, Hewlett-Packard has been synonymous with innovation, and many’s the engineer who had cause to praise its workhorse oscillators, minicomputers, servers, and PCs. But since the turn of this century, the company’s changed its name to HP and its focus to sleazy ways to part unhappy printer owners from their money. Printer companies have long excelled at this dishonorable practice, but HP is truly an innovator, the industry-leading Darth Vader of sleaze, always ready to strong-arm you into a “deal” and then alter it later to tilt things even further to its advantage.

The company’s just beat its own record, converting its “Free ink for life” plan into a “Pay us $0.99 every month for the rest of your life or your printer stops working” plan.

Plenty of businesses offer some of their products on the cheap in the hopes of stimulating sales of their higher-margin items: you’ve probably heard of the “razors and blades” model (falsely) attributed to Gillette, but the same goes for cheap Vegas hotel rooms and buffets that you can only reach by running a gauntlet of casino “games,” and cheap cell phones that come locked into a punishing, eternally recurring monthly plan.

Inside the Secret Math Society Known Simply as Nicolas Bourbaki

Nicolas Bourbaki:

The group is known as “Nicolas Bourbaki” and is usually referred to as just Bourbaki. The name is a collective pseudonym borrowed from a real-life 19th-century French general who never had anything to do with mathematics. It’s unclear why they chose the name, though it may have originated in a prank played by the founding mathematicians as undergraduates at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris.

Abstractions navigates promising ideas in science and mathematics. Journey with us and join the conversation.

“There was some custom to play pranks on first-years, and one of those pranks was to pretend that some General Bourbaki would arrive and visit the school and maybe give a totally obscure talk about mathematics,” said Chambert-Loir, a mathematician at the University of Paris who has acted as a spokesperson for the group and is its one publicly identified member.

Bourbaki began in 1934, the initiative of a small number of recent ENS alumni. Many of them were among the best mathematicians of their generation. But as they surveyed their field, they saw a problem. The exact nature of that problem is also the subject of myth.

In one telling, Bourbaki was a response to the loss of a generation of mathematicians to World War I, after which the group’s founders wanted to find a way to preserve what math knowledge remained in Europe.

The cheap pen that changed writing forever

Stephen Dowling:

On 29 October 1945, the New York City branch of Gimbels department store unveiled a new product. Billions upon billions would follow in its wake.

Gimbels was the first to sell a new kind of ink pen, the design of which had taken several decades to come to fruition. The pens, made by the Reynolds International Pen Company, promised an end to the messy mishaps users of fountain pens encountered – leaking ink, smudges and pooling ink blots.

The new ballpoint pens did away with this, using a special viscous ink which dried quickly and didn’t leave smudges. At the heart of it, the rolling ball in the nib – and gravity – ensured a constant, steady stream of ink that didn’t smear or leave solid pools of ink on the page.

The new ballpoint was clean and convenient. What it wasn’t was cheap.

The new Reynolds ballpoint cost $12.50 – convert that to 2020 money and it’s more than $180 (£138.50). Today, if you were buying your pens in bulk, from stack-‘em-high superstores, you could end up with more than 1,000 for the same price.

Effects of Fathers on Adolescent Daughters’ Frequency of Substance Use and Risky Sexual Behavior

Danielle DelPriore et al.;

This research: (1) implements a genetically informed design to examine the effects of fathers’ presence-absence and quality of behavior during childhood/adolescence on daughters’ frequency of substance use during adolescence; and (2) tests substance use frequency as mediating the relation between paternal behavior and daughters’ sexual risk taking. Participants were 223 sister dyads from divorced/separated biological families. Sisters’ developmental exposure to socially deviant paternal behavior predicted their frequency of tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis (TAC) use. Older sisters who co‐resided with fathers who were more (vs. less) socially deviant reported more frequent TAC use during adolescence. More frequent TAC use predicted more risky sexual behavior for these daughters. No effects were found for younger sisters, who spent less time living with their fathers.

Civics: Ideology and the New York Times

Reeves Wiedeman:

In the weeks after the Cotton op-ed, #newsroom-feedback served as a heated pandemic-era office watercooler. This was healthy enough — albeit a distinctly un-Timesian way of handling dissent. The Times had always been a place where employees grumbled in the cafeteria, and complaints might slowly wind their way to the editorial cabal atop the newsroom known as “the masthead,” at which point any decisions would be handed down quietly. Now, Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, was in #newsroom-feedback, answering critiques about the Times’ journalism from not only his reporters but also the paper’s software developers and data scientists.

The conversations could become tense. Employees would paste tweets criticizing the paper into the channel; the journalists would get defensive; someone would leak the argument to friends with Twitter accounts; and the ouroboros of self-criticism would take another bite out of its tail and everyone’s time. “Gang, it would be great to shift the tone of this discussion,” Baquet jumped in to say during a fight about whether “Opinion”-section provocateur Bari Weiss’s description of a “civil war inside The New York Times between the (mostly young) wokes [and] the (mostly 40+) liberals” was a reductive argument, a mischaracterization — or perhaps an unwelcome assessment with a modicum of truth.

The dustup laid bare a divide that had become increasingly tricky for the Times: a large portion of the paper’s audience, a number of its employees, and the president himself saw it as aligned with the #resistance. This demarcation horrified the Old Guard, but it seemed to make for good business. “The truth can change how we see the world,” the Times declared in an advertisement broadcast at last year’s Academy Awards, positioning itself as a bulwark in an era of misinformation.

On Election Night, as the Times’ polling appeared to have overestimated Democratic response, subscribers experienced a partial repeat of 2016’s anguish about whether they were living in a bubble. Four years of upheaval and a summer of unrest, followed by the looming end of the Trump administration, had some inside the paper wondering the same thing. Was whatever might have been lost in the course of the Trump era gone for good — and good riddance?

Condon awarded National American FFA Degree

Watertown Daily Times:

Caitlin Condon, a member of the Lakeside Lutheran FFA Chapter in Lake Mills, received the American FFA Degree at the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo held virtually Oct. 27-29.

She was the third Warrior FFA member to earn the American degree since the LLHS chapter began.

Each year, the National FFA Organization honors FFA members who show dedication to the organization through their desire to develop their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

The American FFA Degree is bestowed upon a select group of students in recognition of their years of academic and professional excellence. This year 4,136 American Degrees will be awarded.

To be eligible, FFA members must have earned and productively invested $10,000 through a supervised agricultural experience program in which they own their own business or hold a professional position as an employee. Recipients must also complete 50 hours community service and demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and civic involvement through completion of a long list of FFA and community activities. Less than 1% of FFA members achieve the American FFA Degree.

Civics & Unrules: The administrative state

Cary Coglianese, Gabriel Scheffler & Daniel Walters:

At the center of contemporary debates over public law lies administrative agencies’ discretion to impose rules. Yet, for every one of these rules, there are also unrules nearby. Often overlooked and sometimes barely visible, unrules are the decisions that agencies make to lift or limit the scope of a regulatory restriction, for instance through waivers, exemptions, and exceptions. In some cases, unrules enable regulators to reduce burdens on regulated entities or to conserve valuable government resources in ways that make law more efficient. However, too much discretion to create unrules can facilitate undue business influence over the law, weaken regulatory schemes, and even undermine the rule of law. In this paper, we conduct the first systematic empirical investigation of the hidden world of unrules. Using a computational linguistic approach to identify unrules across the Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations, and the United States Code, we show that unrules are an integral and substantial feature of the federal regulatory system. Our analysis shows that, by several conservative measures, there exists one obligation-alleviating word for approximately every five to six obligation-imposing words in federal law. We also show that unrules are surprisingly unrestrained by administrative law. In stark contrast to administrative law’s treatment of obligation-imposing rules, regulators wield substantial discretion in deploying unrules to alleviate regulatory obligations. As a result, a major form of agency power remains hidden from view and relatively unencumbered by law. Recognizing the central role that unrules play in our regulatory system reveals the need to reorient administrative law and incorporate unrules more explicitly into its assumptions, doctrines, and procedures.

A local example: My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results.

Meta:

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Los Angeles School Choice

Christopher Campos and Caitlin Kearns:

This paper evaluates the Zones of Choice (ZOC) program in  Los Angeles, a school choice initiative that created small high school markets in some neighborhoods but left traditional attendance zone boundaries in place throughout the rest of the district. We leverage this introduction to study the impact of neighborhood school choice on student achievement, college enrollment, and other outcomes using a matched difference-in-differences design. Our findings reveal that the ZOC program boosted test scores and college enrollment markedly, closing achievement and college enrollment gaps between ZOC neighborhoods and the rest of the district.  These gains are explained by general improvements in school effectiveness rather than changes in student match quality, and school-specific gains are concentrated among the lowest-performing schools. We interpret these findings through the lens of a model of school demand in which schools exert costly effort to improve quality. The model allows us to measure the increase in competition facing each ZOC school based on household preference reports and the spatial distribution of schools. We demonstrate that the effects of ZOC were larger for schools exposed to more competition, supporting the notion that competition is a key channel mediating the impacts of ZOC. In addition, demand estimates suggest families place a larger weight on school quality compared to peer quality, providing schools the right competitive incentives. An analysis using randomized admission lotteries shows that the treatment effects of admission to preferred schools declined after the introduction of ZOC, a pattern that is explained by the competitive incentives facing less-preferred schools. Our findings demonstrate the potential for public school choice to improve student outcomes and underscore the importance of studying market-level impacts when evaluating school choice programs.

Madison has very little school choice:

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

NY’s education bureaucrats keep showing us that they put kids’ interests last

Karol Markowicz:

The blows keeping coming for New York City school kids — with some of them specifically meant to hide just how disastrous this school year has become.

The latest? The State Education Department last week canceled Regents exams for January.

“We determined the January Regents exams could not be safely, equitably and fairly administered across the state, given where the pandemic currently stands,” muttered Interim New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. How convenient.

This comes on the heels of news of the city’s new grading system for this year: Everyone passes. Elementary-school students will receive grades of an “N” (needs improvement) and middle- and high-school kids an “NX” (course in progress) in place of failing grades.

Which means no one — not school staff, teachers or kids — has much reason to put in much effort.

Think about it: How hard will kids work if they know they can’t fail? Why would teachers spend much time trying to get a child up to speed if they can slap an “N” or “NX” on their report card and make it someone else’s problem?

All this fits a trend: Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has long wanted to cancel state tests. In August, he openly hoped a Joe Biden administration would let him do just that.

Performance and Accountability in a Pandemic

Alex Usher:

It is a disappointing time for those of us who value accountability.  Governments across the country (outside the Atlantic, anyway) are failing us – badly – in their pandemic responses.  And yet, apparently there are no political consequences for their shameful performance and the accompanying body count.  The Ford and Legault governments, with close to 10,000 deaths between them, are rising high in the polls.  Because everyone (again, if you ignore the Atlantic provinces) is making similar pig-headed mistakes, everyone gets a pass! 

In contrast, Canadian higher education has mostly been a model in this pandemic.  Certainly if you compare our national sector performance against those of the UK and the US – countries which lend new meaning to the phrase “crossing a minefield in clown shoes” – we look extremely good, at least from the point of view of providing program continuity and keeping our community safe.   But while these are important achievements, the fact that we have managed this does not give Canadian universities and colleges a pass.  There are lots of areas where performance still can be measured, and lessons from these observations applied not just in the immediate response to the pandemic but to longer-term aspects of institutional government and management.

The first thing everyone should be doing is checking in on students to see how they view the transition to online.  It’s not so much a question of looking at “satisfaction” (which is a meaningless term); rather, it’s about gauging how students perceive institutions’ efforts to keep education going in this trying time.  How many hours of contact are they getting?  Do they see professors making real efforts to adapt to the online format, or are they just getting slide decks and told to read it themselves?  What kinds of interaction are they getting with either professors or teaching assistants?  What kinds of use are they making of library services?  Of student services? 

(Plus, you can see how many students might prefer the current set up to going back to the old one.  I continue to think there is a bigger market here than institutions may think, primarily among older students.  Not a majority or anything, but enough that a clever and nimble university might profit from focussing on them.)

Civics: Five myths about misinformation – Assertions about “filter bubbles” are often overstated.

Brendan Nyhan:

Misinformation presents a challenge to the American political system. Unsupported claims can distort debate, deceive voters and encourage contempt for the other party. In the final days of the presidential race, for instance, hundreds of thousands of people in key states received mysterious text messages with falsehoods about Democratic nominee Joe Biden (including that he wants to give “sex changes to second-graders”). But how much of the news that average Americans consume is misinformation, and what impact does it have? Many news sources ironically misinform readers about its prevalence and influence. These five myths are particularly persistent.

Most Americans dwell in online echo chambers.

In his farewell address, President Barack Obama warned against the tendency “to retreat into our own bubbles … especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions.” Under the headline “Your Filter Bubble is Destroying Democracy,” software executive Mostafa M. El-Bermawy wrote in Wired that “the global village that was once the internet was has been replaced by digital islands of isolation that are drifting further apart each day.”

In reality, the average person’s sources of online information are relatively balanced and diverse. People’s habits do incline somewhat toward their preferred political positions, but a study of Web browser, survey and consumer data from 2004 to 2009 found that people’s media diets online were modestly divided by ideology but far more diverse than, for instance, the networks of people with whom they talked about politics in person. This finding of limited information polarization has been repeatedly replicated. Most recently, a new study found that mobile news consumption is even less segregated by ideology than desktop/laptop data used in previous research.  

 The bubble theory overgeneralizes from a small subset of extremely online people who have skewed information diets and consume a tremendous amount of news. One study finds, for example, that approximately 25 percent of all online political news traffic from Republicans comes from the 8 percent of people with the most conservative news diets.

New Michigan State diversity director gets $315k salary, $700/month car allowance

Janelle James:

His 13-page contract states that Bennett’s initial salary rate is $315,000 and will be evaluated every year based on merit. However, all executive managers including the CDO will undergo a temporary salary reduction because of the financial strain put on the university due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bennett’s salary will be $296,100, a 6% decrease, during the period of Dec. 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. 

The CDO is an “at will” employee, meaning that Bennett works at the service of President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. and is subject to be removed without notice or reason. The president will regularly evaluate Bennett. 

The contract also explains the responsibilities of the CDO including leading the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives and working with the university to develop and implement a plan for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). 

The CDO will work with other offices including academic affairs, student affairs, human resources, residential and hospitality service and more. The CDO will be doing work like designing delivery education and training programs, research on DEI-related topics, monitoring hiring processes and more. 

More, here.

K-12 COVID Conveyor Belt

Juan Perez, Jr.

COVID ‘CONVEYOR BELT’ — A generation of U.S. kids is in the midst of what educators worry will amount to a largely lost school year. Will they be ready for the next grade?

Hundreds of thousands of children continue to catch the coronavirus each month, complicating plans to return to in-person instruction throughout the country. Education officials are starting to think long-term about how to fill that learning gap in the years to come, weighing the consequences of social promotion against the effects of holding back students, and questioning norms for testing and grades in this anything-but-normal learning environment.

— “What are we going to do for these kids that have lost so much learning?” asks Michael Petrilli, president of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute education think tank. “The path of least resistance here, and probably what most schools will do unless they’re encouraged to do something else, is just pass kids on and keep the conveyor belt moving.”

— Petrilli is calling for states and schools to rethink kindergarten. Mississippi’s education chief is pushing schools to speed up children’s learning. New York is revamping its testing plans for high schoolers this year.

Related: Frederick Taylor & K-12 schools.

The Meritocracy Trap

Jay Elwes:

But what if left and right are both wrong? What if the system isn’t corrupt, as Corbyn suggests, and yet still leads to rampant inequality? What if some people pedal as hard as they can, and despite what Johnson says, they still can’t get to the top, even though they are intelligent and capable? What if the true cause of the most extreme form of inequality is down to a mechanism that both the left and right welcome and accept – the idea of merit?

That is the question at the heart of The Meritocracy Trap, by Daniel Markovits, a Professor of Law at the Yale Law School, a position that puts him right at the heart of the US’s meritocratic engine room. He specialises in teaching America’s brightest and best, the students who’ve come from the top schools and who will go on to get the top jobs with salaries to match. You’d think someone who spent his days overseeing this cycle of perpetual success would be happy. But he’s not. He’s deeply worried.

Meritocracy, as Markovits explains in this brilliant and deeply alarming book, is tearing society apart. But his focus is not on the poorest in society. As he sees it, the buying power of the very worst-off Americans has increased substantially since the mid-twentieth century, and is still improving. The gap between the broad middle class and the poorest has therefore narrowed.

What worries him is the gap between the middle and those at the very top. It is here that we find the worst and most damaging inequality. It’s the gap between the mid-ranking functionary and the CEO, between the shop owner and the hedge fund manager, the high street banker and the investment banker. While the gap between the poorest and the middle has closed, the gap between the middle and very richest has widened.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Opting Out: Individualism and Vaccine Refusal in Pockets of Socioeconomic Homogeneity

Kevin Estep & Pierce Greenberg:

Cases of measles and other highly contagious diseases are rising in the United States. Public health experts blame the rise partly on the spatial concentration of parents declining to vaccinate their children, but researchers have given little attention to theorizing why this clustering occurs in particular communities. We argue that residential and school selection processes create “pockets of homogeneity” attracting parents inclined to opt out of vaccines. Structural features of these enclaves reduce the likelihood of harsh criticism for vaccine refusal and foster a false sense of protection from disease, making the choice to opt out seem both safe and socially acceptable. Examination of quantitative data on personal belief exemptions (PBEs) from school-based vaccination requirements in California schools and districts, as well as findings from parent interviews, provide empirical support for the theory. We discuss substantive implications for lawmakers and public health officials, as well as broader sociological contributions concerning neighborhood effects and residential sorting.

UMich students were locked down for two weeks, data show it was unnecessary

Charles Hilu:

The Health Department of Washtenaw County, which governs the University of Michigan, recently put Michigan undergraduates under a “stay-in-place” order for two weeks. Once the order had expired, cases had slightly fallen in students, but they rose in older, more vulnerable populations, data show.

The October 20 order said “all U-M undergraduate students enrolled in U-M Fall 2020 on the Ann Arbor Campus, living in on-campus, near-campus or off-campus housing will be required to ‘stay in place’ and remain in their current designated residence.” The order ended November 3.

The results toward the end of the lockdown showed, however, that “cases among 18- to 29-year-olds in the county have decreased slightly, while there has been a steady rise in the infection rate in the 30- to 49-year-old age group,” wrote University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel in an October 30 email to students.

As Schlissel’s email noted, cases had decreased slightly among undergrads, but older populations in the county saw their cases rise despite the fact that students were sheltering in place.

Even the lockdown order had stated that “COVID-19 cases among 18-24 year-old persons, thus far in Washtenaw County, have not resulted in increased hospitalization or death rates. Additionally, thus far, the increased incidence in 18- to 24-year-old persons has not been linked to increased incidence in other populations in Washtenaw County.”

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

UW ‘surprised’ to find that most students aren’t racist

Ben Zeisloft:

The University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered — to its surprise — that most of its students are not discriminatory.

UW psychology professor Markus Brauer, who led the study, said that students from marginalized backgrounds “are very frequently the target of discrimination or offensive comments.” To test students’ habits around inclusivity, Brauer and his team hired actors over the course of several years to represent students from marginalized backgrounds — Black, Asian American, and Muslim, as well as a male who wore a “gay pride” shirt — to participate in behaviors that could elicit discrimination from other students.

“We were surprised by these results. We tried out one situation, then another one, and so forth. But study after study came back with the same result.”    

The researchers, who expected to find a high degree of discrimination, found that the vast majority of students treat students from different backgrounds equally well.

“We were surprised by these results,” explained Brauer. “We tried out one situation, then another one, and so forth. But study after study came back with the same result: Most students did not treat our white actor more positively than the Black, Asian, or Muslim actors.”

The study found that only 20 percent of students engage in “subtle or explicit forms of discrimination.” 

Learning pods, microschools and more: Parents seek options, innovation amid pandemic

Elyse Marcellino:

World-changing events like the coronavirus pandemic have often upended norms and out of necessity made way for reforms not previously thought possible – or not thought of at all.

Traditional schools suddenly had to think about how to deliver an academic program online.

Newer options like learning pods and microschools surged. Virtual schools and their flexibility became more attractive, as did tutoring services. Favorability toward homeschooling rose.

Civics: Two books try to understand the other America, and stumble along the way.

Chris Arnade:

The list includes some admirable advice, such as volunteering in a homeless shelter. And then there’s Tip 10: “As we were working on this book, our cherry orchard on the Kristof farm in Yamhill needed to be replaced, so after seeing the need for jobs in the area, we decided to plant the land with cider apples and wine grapes. Cider and pinot noir will employ more local people than other uses of the land, and we’ve already hired a couple of local people with troubled histories to clear the land.”

This isn’t a bad thing at all. We all could use more empathy, understanding, and be open to working with people “with troubled histories.” Maybe not just as the hired help, though.

Throughout the book there is a noblesse oblige attitude; not the old country club type, but an updated version steeped in well-to-do educated leftist language. Again, that isn’t a bad thing by itself, but here it too often comes with an uncomfortable savior vibe.

Kristof and WuDunn are hard-working journalists dedicated to their task, so they do put boots on the ground to get beyond the data, traveling to working-class communities in the U.S. for interviews, particularly Kristof’s Yamhill, Oregon, hometown, where his family farm is located.

Despite this hard work and genuine empathy, the authors can’t break out of their worldview. They can’t get beyond wanting to get people on the good ladder, and not dismantle the system of two ladders. They don’t emphasize devaluing the meritocracy, as Case and Deaton do, but rather take on the easier feel-good task of figuring out how to get talented young people on their preferred path. Or to use their metaphor, have access to the escalator, so they can escape.

New lockdown: Manchester University students pull down campus fences

Larissa Kennelly:

Students have torn down “prison-like” fencing erected around their campus on day one of England’s new lockdown.

Those living at the University of Manchester’s Fallowfield halls of residence awoke to find workers putting up “huge metal barriers”.

They were eventually pulled down as hundreds of students – who said they were not warned about the measure – protested.

The university apologised “for the concern and distress caused”.

It insisted the fencing was not intended to prevent students from entering or exiting the site but to address security concerns, “particularly about access by people who are not residents”.

But students said the fences, placed between buildings, blocked off some entry and exit points and left them feeling trapped.

Under the new lockdown rules in England, university students have been told not to move back and forward between their permanent homes and student homes during term time. The government says they should only return home at the end of term.

Bureaucrats Declare War on Learning Pods. They’ll Lose.

J.D. Tuccille::

As already unimpressive government schools fail the test put to them by the pandemic, families have turned to alternatives old and new to see that their children are educated. Among the popular responses have been learning pods of cooperating families, either to facilitate and enhance the online offerings of public-school systems or else to replace them as stand-alone education environments.

School bureaucrats have responded not by stepping-up their efforts, but by first begging people not to leave, and then lashing out against the competition. It’s an ill-conceived war that they’re bound to lose.

With schools struggling to deal with social-distancing for in-person teaching and to offer effective virtual lessons, “parents are increasingly turning to microschools — very small schools that usually have a specific culture — and learning pods,” The New York Times noted last month. “Microschools can be based outside or inside a home, and may or may not be state-approved and accredited. Learning pods are generally ad hoc and home-based, most having been created this summer in response to public school closings.”

Civics: Madison Journalism, 2020 Commentary

Ann Althouse:
The “who” and the “why” seem to have dropped out of journalism. 

“Update: Group shuts down eastbound Beltline for hours Thursday night, police say” — Wisconsin State Journal. 

A group of about 20 people in cars shut down the eastbound Beltline in Monona and Madison for about four hours on Thursday night, authorities reported…. 

So… “people.” This story has a front-page headline, and that says it went up 2 hours ago. If this happened last night, why is there no information about who these people are and why they’re shutting down the Beltline?  

The group has a barbeque set up…

Are we supposed to infer the identity of the “people” and their purpose by the fact that they’ve set up a barbeque on the Beltline?! 

… similar to a protest on the Beltline in September that last [sic] several hours.

Okay, there’s a link on that, so if I pick up a hint that these “people” must have the same purpose, I can click through and find out who they were and why they did this and then — if I chose — infer that last night’s group had the same purpose. The linked article from September says: “The protest stemmed from police-involved deaths, including that of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and the Black Lives Matter movement, but it was unclear Thursday whether the protest was the result of a specific incident.” In that protest, they “set up grills on the highway.”

Voters approve 43 of 51 school ballot measures around Wisconsin

Scott Girard:

The largest measures were here in Madison, where voters approved a total $350 million investment in the district. That includes $33 million in operating funds phased in over four years and $317 million for capital projects, including renovations to the four comprehensive high schools and a new elementary school.

Statewide, 30 of the 51 measures were to fund operational expenses, while 21 were to issue debt to borrow funds for construction and renovation projects. The total is slightly down from April, when there were 60 school ballot measures, of which 52 received approval.

Notes and links on the substantial 2020 Madison K-12 Tax & Spending increase referendum.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

UW System enrollment declines, but not as bad as many expected during COVID-19 pandemic

Kelly Meyerhofer:

Nationally, undergraduate enrollment fell 1.4% at four-year public universities and 9.4% at two-year public universities, according to a report last month by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. First-year enrollment fared even worse, with four-year schools seeing a 14% drop and two-years a 23% decline.

The System reported a 6% decline in first-year enrollment and a nearly 500-student increase in underrepresented minorities.

Proctorio used DMCA to take down a student’s critical tweets

Zach Whittaker:

A series of tweets by one Miami University student that were critical of a proctoring software company have been hidden by Twitter after the company filed a copyright takedown notice.

Erik Johnson, a student who works as a security researcher on the side, posted a lengthy tweet thread in early September about Proctorio, an Arizona-based software company that several U.S. schools — including his own — use to monitor students who are taking their exams remotely.

But six weeks later, Johnson received an email from Twitter saying three of those tweets had been removed from his account in response to a request by Proctorio filed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Proctoring software isn’t new, but its usage has skyrocketed because of the pandemic. More students than ever are having to take exams and tests from home, and colleges and universities are relying on proctoring software to administer the tests. Students have to install their university’s choice of proctoring software, which gives the exam administrator deep access to the student’s computer, often including their webcams and microphones, to monitor their activity to spot potential cheating.

Parents sue Simpson Co. School District over ban of daughter’s ‘Jesus Loves Me’ mask

Roslyn Anderson:

Parents of a Simpson County elementary school student file suit in federal court against the school district after she was ordered to remove her “Jesus Loves Me” face mask.

According to attorneys, the district singled out the girl and robbed her of her constitutional rights.

In October nine year old Lydia Booth wore a “Jesus Loves Me” face mask to Simpson Central Elementary School in Pinola.

Her parents, Matthew and Jennifer Booth, say the principal told Lydia to remove it and gave her another with no message on it.

Ask Historians Podcast

:

A podcast by history nerds for history nerds (and everyone else too). The AskHistorians Podcast features members of Reddit’s AskHistorians community, as well as published academics, and experts for long-form 60-90 minute in-depth conversations about a topic of their research. Additionally, each podcast episode is accompanied by a thread in AskHistorians where the expert swings by to answer followup questions. Find us answering questions at www.reddit.com/r/askhistorians or on patreon at www.patreon.com/askhistorians

Oakland Superintendent Marcus Foster murdered on this day in 1973

Notes and links on Marcus Foster and the the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).

Madison K-12 Tax, Referendum and Spending Climate: Operating referendum gains support over 2016, capital referendum down from 2015

Scott Girard:

With wide margins of success on recent ballot measures, the Madison Metropolitan School District’s $350 million questions were almost certain to pass ahead of Tuesday’s ballot count.

Four years ago, the district’s operating question won by a 74.2% to 25.8% margin, while a capital referendum the year prior passed with 82.2% of voters casting a “yes” ballot. The question going into this year’s measures, which were both larger than those previous measures, was more about the margin by which they would pass.

Voters, turning out in record numbers with the closely contested presidential contest on the same ballot, offered a resounding “yes” to both the $317 million capital referendum and $33 million operating referendum. Superintendent Carlton Jenkins said Tuesday night he was thrilled with the outcome.

Notes and links on the substantial 2020 Madison K-12 Tax & Spending increase referendum.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Jodi Shaw at Smith College

Rod Dreher:

She said she doesn’t come to work to talk about religion, race, or anything. She just wants to do her work. But she was required by her employer to go to a retreat. The reader who sent me the link characterizes (accurately) Shaw’s discussion:

You may be aware that Jodi Shaw released another video yesterday. This one concerns thee days of diversity training that Smith College required her to participate in. On the first day, the diversity consultants asked Jodi and her co-workers, in a group setting, to describe their race in the context of their childhood, adolescence, and college years. Why anyone in a work setting would want to hear this, let alone feel entitled to know it, is beyond me.

For her part, and I can easily identify with this, Jodi did not want to share anything so personal (and unnecessary) with the group. When it was her turn, she simply said that she was uncomfortable talking about this subject and wanted to pass. Go to the 4:10 mark in the video to see how the diversity consultant responded later in the day. That individual told the group that any white person who expresses discomfort or distress when asked to comment on her race is not actually experiencing discomfort but is engaged in white fragility. Such a person, the consultant said, is merely engaged in a “power play.”

In San Francisco, Closed Public Schools, Open Private Schools

Amelia Nierenberg:

In San Francisco, restaurants, movie theaters and museums are open at reduced capacity. The share of coronavirus tests that come back positive in the city has stayed low since a surge over the summer.

But as some of San Francisco’s private and parochial schools have begun to reopen their doors, its public school district has not set a timeline for resuming in-person instruction, except to say that it is not likely in this calendar year.

That has made San Francisco the latest flash point over school reopening. This politically progressive city is also California’s most unequal area, and its sharp debate about how best to safely educate low-income and minority students during the pandemic resonates across the country.

Frustrations boil over

Last month, in the wake of months of protests for racial equity across the country, San Francisco’s district administrators recommended a significant move. They told the principals of roughly one-third of the district’s 125 public schools that their communities should start brainstorming new names for their schools, because the current names had historical associations with slavery, genocide, colonization or other injustices.

The list included schools named for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, as enslavers; Abraham Lincoln, for his treatment of Native Americans; and even the state’s senior U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein, over reports that, as mayor in 1984, she replaced a vandalized Confederate flag outside City Hall.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Prestige in the US Today

Robin Hanson:

Lauren A. Rivera’s Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs is a depressing book because it tells how the world works:

Pedigree takes readers behind the closed doors of top-tier investment banks, consulting firms, and law firms to reveal the truth about who really gets hired for the nation’s highest-paying entry-level jobs, who doesn’t, and why.

A big % of graduates of elite colleges take such jobs, and the other jobs they take don’t make nearly as much money. The other big employers, such as hedge funds, private equity firms, and tech firms, choose similarly. And elite colleges use similar criteria to pick their students. So this is a window into how we pick a big % of the top elites in the US today.

While I often assume that prestige is a big driver of human behavior, my poll respondents hardly admitted to putting much weight on prestige when picking experts. And many complain that I put too much emphasis on the concept. However, these elite employers strongly confirm my view, as they focus overwhelmingly on prestige when picking junior employees.

They only recruit at the most elite colleges, and they want recruits to be attractive, energetic, articulate, socially smooth, and have had elite personal connections, jobs, and extracurriculars. They don’t that much care about your grades, what you’ve learned, or what you did in your jobs or extracurriculars, as long as they were prestigious.

Woke Universities Lead America to a Primitive State

John Ellis:

In this election season it’s almost impossible to find pro-Trump bumper stickers or signs anywhere in my town. The reason is not lack of support but fear of vandalism, or worse: People nationwide have been physically assaulted and even threatened with loss of their livelihoods for no other reason than that they plan to vote as one half of the country does, and political goals are now commonly pursued by violent means. With this our civilization seems to be regressing to a more primitive stage of its development—a time when disputes were settled by force instead of rules, and before the First Amendment guaranteed the right…

Could you repeat that? Fixing the ‘replication crisis’ in biomedical research has become top priority

Karen Nitkin:

Sarven Sabunciyan was intrigued.

He had been reading about xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus, or XMRV, a virus never before seen in humans. But according to attention-grabbing studies in PLoS Pathogens and Science, it was now showing up in people with prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Sabunciyan, a pediatric neurovirologist in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, studies the role of viruses in psychiatric diseases and behaviors. He decided to see if people with schizophrenia also had XMRV, a finding that would yield important clues about the mental disorder and how to treat it.

His first step was to find people who had been exposed to the virus. Sabunciyan’s team developed a test that could detect antibodies that XMRV would have left behind. “Even if you recover from an infection, you would retain some antibodies,” he explains. But no sign of the antibody could be found in blood samples of people with or without schizophrenia.

When Kids Ran the World: A Forgotten History of the Junior Republic Movement

Jennifer S. Light:

Travelers should be sure to visit the curious community in Freeville, New York, where boys and girls were in charge, wrote Baedeker’s turn-of-the-20th-century guide to the United States. This “miniature republic modelled on the government of the United States” was well worth a detour to observe the “legislature, court-house, jail, school, church and public library” staffed by citizens aged 14 to 21, most of them immigrants or impoverished youth.

Of course, these young Americans were not actual members of the civil service, but their adultlike activities were exceedingly realistic nonetheless. They “elect their rulers, make and enforce laws, and carry on business just as adults do in the greater world,” author James Muirhead marveled.

Philly, Catholics and Foster Kids

Wall Street Journal:

The details are more complicated. Religious work in this sphere goes back centuries, and CSS says the first Catholic orphanage in Philadelphia dates to 1798. Today about two dozen agencies facilitate foster care. For decades, that included CSS. It serves all children, regardless of sexuality. If a gay couple were to ask for a home study, CSS would refer them elsewhere. “But the record shows,” it says, “that no same-sex couple had ever approached CSS in this way.”

The genesis of the case was a Philadelphia Inquirer article in 2018 that highlighted the CSS policy. Soon thereafter, CSS says a city official pushed it to change its approach, saying that it’s “not 100 years ago” and urging it to follow “the teachings of Pope Francis.” The official, according to the city, is also Catholic and was merely trying to find common ground.

When CSS refused to budge, the city froze its foster referrals and its contract was allowed to expire. An appeals court sided with the city, saying that CSS is owed no exemption, since the nondiscrimination policy is “a neutral, generally applicable law.” The precedent here is the 1990 ruling in Employment Division v. Smith, in which a Native American was denied state benefits after using peyote in a ritual.

Civics: ‘A Litigation Arms Race.’ Why The 2020 Election Could Come Down To The Courts

Alana Abramson:

The litigation landscape

To the extent that it can be simplified, this year’s election-related legal brawls can be distilled into two groups: a push to eliminate expanded mail-in voting policies on the basis that they would produce unprecedented fraud, and a push to ease the restrictions already in place.

The first battle, waged by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, has largely failed. Lawsuits on this theme filed in Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were all dismissed because of a lack of evidence. In Pennsylvania, federal Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan, who was appointed by Trump, dismissed the Trump campaign’s case on the grounds that their allegations of fraud were “speculative”—the same word invoked by federal district Judge James C. Mahan, who was nominated by George W. Bush, in dismissing a similar case in Nevada. In Montana, federal district judge Dana Christensen described the Trump campaign’s fraud allegations as “a fiction.”

The second battle—the fight over the weedy regulations governing voting by mail—has had more grist. Democrats have banked key victories in lower courts, while Republicans have gotten at least half a dozen of these decisions either reversed on appeals or put on hold pending further consideration. “It’s not the score at the end of the first quarter that counts, and there is a lot of game left in most of these cases,” says an aide at the Republican National Committee.

Voters approve Madison’s Substantial K-12 Tax & SPending Increase Referendums

Scott Girard:

Immediately, the operating referendum approval means district officials can implement the “passing referendum budget,” which includes $6 million in extra funds. That will go toward initiatives including early literacy, Black Excellence and a slight base wage increase for staff. The School Board passed two versions of the 2020-21 budget Oct. 30, one for each outcome of Tuesday’s vote.

The rest of the $33 million ask will phase in over the coming four years, with $8 million added in 2021-22, $9 million in 2022-23 and $10 million in 2023-24. The total $33 million will then be added in perpetuity to the district’s state-imposed revenue limit, allowing it to spend more than it would otherwise be allowed to.

For property owners, the tax rate for the 2020-21 school year will rise from last year’s $11.10 per $1,000 of property value to $11.13 per $1,000 of property value. Without the referenda, the tax rate would have dropped to $10.55 per $1,000 of property value.

Logan Wroge:

Melinda Heinritz, the executive director of the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools, which championed support for the referendums through its advocacy arm’s Vote Yes to Invest campaign, expressed gratitude to the voters for supporting the referendums.

The referendums are estimated to increase taxes on an average-value home of $311,000 by $470 annually by the 2023-24 school year.

In recent years, Madison voters have largely supported referendums, with the last four before this year passing by at least 2:1 margins. The last time a referendum failed was in 2005.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The Rise and Fall of Science

Ideas and Data:

In this post, I’ll argue that scientific progress has significantly slowed over the last century, both at a per-scientist and absolute level, and then offer some speculative hypotheses about why this might have occurred.

On Measuring Scientific Progress

To begin with, it is necessary to make clear how we go about measuring scientific progress. Broadly speaking, there are two ways of quantitatively measuring this construct.

First, there is the subjective approach. This approach measures scientific progress during a time period by counting up the number of important events which occurred during that period or the number of important people who lived and made achievements during the period. What events and which people are important is determined by relevant experts.

This expert opinion can be measured in a variety of ways. For instance, you can ask experts to rate a list of potentially significant figures or events, you can analyze the frequency with which individuals or works are cited within expert material, you can analyze the frequency with which individuals are included in encyclopedias, or the amount of space they are given in such works, etc.

Civics: David Shor’s Unified Theory of American Politics

Eric Levitz:

David Shor got famous by getting fired. In late May, amid widespread protests over George Floyd’s murder, the 28-year-old data scientist tweeted out a study that found nonviolent demonstrations were more effective than “riots” at pushing public opinion and voter behavior leftward in 1968. Many Twitter users — and (reportedly) some of Shor’s colleagues and clients at the data firm Civis Analytics — found this post insensitive. A day later, Shor publicly apologized for his tweet. Two weeks after that, he’d lost his job as Civis’s head of political data science — and become a byword for the excesses of so-called cancel culture. (Shor has not discussed his firing publicly due to a nondisclosure agreement, and the details of his termination remain undisclosed).

But before Shor’s improbable transformation into a cause célèbre, he was among the most influential data gurus in Democratic politics — a whiz kid who, at age 20, served as the 2012 Obama campaign’s in-house Nate Silver, authoring the forecasting model that the White House used to determine where the race really stood.

The Company Making Billions Off China’s Worried Parents

Hui Li and Dexter Roberts:

The weekend ritual for many American kids includes hanging out with friends, sports, cruising the mall, or honing their online gaming skills in Fortnite. Steven, a serious-looking 9-year-old public school student in Beijing, spent a recent Friday evening in a classroom at a tutoring center operated by TAL Education Group, cramming mathematics drills. On Saturday he was back for extra instruction in English and Chinese. “He likes the environment at TAL, where classes are lively and students get to play little games while learning,” says his mother, Zhao Liu, a nurse in a Beijing military hospital. “His father and I would never force him to study.”

No one has to, because even elementary school students in testing-obsessed China know the importance of doing well on the dreaded national exams. Those who do poorly can end up in dead-end livelihoods with no chance of college admission. That’s why many parents are gladly willing to make the investment in time and money—

Brookline teachers to strike Tuesday in dispute over classroom virus safety measures

Boston Globe:

Brookline teachers have voted to go on strike on Tuesday, accusing school leaders of reneging on a promise to maintain six feet of social distancing in schools.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

2020: Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Why Leaders Need to Learn the Skill of Writing

Joe Byerly:

One of the best ways to work through a problem is to write it down. Throughout history, leaders who found themselves in tough situations sat alone with their thoughts and worked through them using pen and paper.

Marcus Aurelius, who served as Roman emperor for almost two decades, wrote his Meditations to work through daily leadership challenges, wars and a pandemic. In the week leading up to the D-Day landings, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower wrote himself letters to help work through risks, opportunities and necessities of operations.

Both Marcus and Eisenhower used writing to achieve clarity of thought. This point is underscored by author Stephen King, who has said writing is “refined thinking.” In our minds, our thoughts are clear, but real clarity doesn’t come until those thoughts are solidified in writing. The process of framing an email, capturing important points and discarding nonessential elements helps us gain more clarity.

Sound Authentic

Over the years, I have worked under multiple commanders while in staff positions, and the best ones never let me draft their intent for operations orders. They wanted to own those. At the time, I didn’t understand it—thinking it was one more staff drill I could handle for them. But as I gained experience, I realized they wanted that section of the operations order to reflect their voice.

PDF Available Taking a disagreeing perspective improves the accuracy of people’s quantitative estimates

Philippe Van de Calseyde:

Many decisions rest upon people’s ability to make estimates of some unknown quantities. In these judgments, the aggregate estimate of the group is often more accurate than most individual estimates. Remarkably, similar principles apply when aggregating multiple estimates made by the same person – a phenomenon known as the “wisdom of the inner crowd”. The potential contained in such an intervention is enormous and a key challenge is to identify strategies that improve the accuracy of people’s aggregate estimates. Here, we propose the following strategy: combine people’s first estimate with their second estimate made from the perspective of a person they often disagree with. In five pre-registered experiments (total N = 6425, with more than 53,000 estimates), we find that such a strategy produces highly accurate inner crowds (as compared to when people simply make a second guess, or when a second estimate is made from the perspective of someone they often agree with). In explaining its accuracy, we find that taking a disagreeing perspective prompts people to consider and adopt second estimates they normally would not consider as viable option, resulting in first- and second estimates that are highly diverse (and by extension more accurate when aggregated). However, this strategy backfires in situations where second estimates are likely to be made in the wrong direction. Our results suggest that disagreement, often highlighted for its negative impact, can be a powerful tool in producing accurate judgments.

School Spending Research Needs More Skepticism and Humility

Jay Greene:

There has been a flurry of research recently claiming to find compelling causal evidence that increasing school spending would significantly improve student outcomes and avoiding cuts in spending would prevent significant harm.  This research has been embraced so quickly as settled fact that over 400 researchers and advocates signed a group letter citing it while urging the federal government to provide financial support to local schools during the COVID recession. The confident conclusion that spending more is the path to improving education is so appealing that the research behind that claim has received remarkably little scrutiny.

A new study by Jessica Goldstein and Josh McGee begins to remedy this lack of skepticism by carefully attempting to replicate the most recent school finance study co-authored by Kirabo Jackson with Cora Wigger and Heyu Xiong, which is forthcoming in American Economic Journal: Economic Policy and has appeared in Education Next.  Jackson, Wigger, and Xiong examine the effect of K-12 spending cuts during the Great Recession by comparing the downturn in states where much of the funding comes from state revenue to states where more funding comes from local sources.  The idea is that state revenue is more sensitive to a recession, and so cuts would be more severe in states that were more reliant on state sources, even when the effects of the recession on the state’s economy were the same. Using this technique, they conclude that K-12 spending cuts hurt student outcomes.

Goldstein and McGee are able to reconstruct what Jackson, Wigger, and Xiong report, but they find that their results are highly sensitive to the non-standard ways in which they construct their statistical model and disappear or even change direction when trivial changes are made.  Goldstein and McGee also highlight some serious problems with the data used in the original study. 

Madison’s substantial Fall 2020 tax & spending increase referendum notes and links.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

2020: Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Decisions on in-person or online school in two neighboring Wisconsin school districts mirror national debate

Samantha West:

Jordan Meulemans’ weekday routine used to begin at 6:30 a.m., when she would wake up and get ready for school.

But for the past month, the De Pere High School junior’s days have looked starkly different. Meulemans rolls out of bed around 7:30 a.m., puts on some sweats, wakes her little sister, eats breakfast and settles in at her family’s dining room table. She opens her laptop and logs into her first class of the day: advanced placement calculus, held on Google Meet.

Because new cases of COVID-19 have soared in Brown County and across Wisconsin over the last couple of months, Meulemans and the roughly 4,500 students in the Unified School District of De Pere have been attending class online since the district closed its schools on Sept. 25.

Meanwhile, just across the Fox River, senior Maria Miller’s school days begin at 6:55 a.m. sharp, when she and her sister hop in the car and head to West De Pere High School.

After switching to online learning for two weeks on Oct. 1, West De Pere reversed course and returned its 3,500 students to classrooms after parents pressured leaders to make the change — even after the city health department advised against returning the spread of COVID-19 worsened 

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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