Expanding certain Taxpayer funded Madison schools

Logan Wroge:

As the Madison School District prepares for an overhaul of its high schools, some parents are questioning how fair it is — and whether it’s a violation of district policy — to let the two more-affluent high schools raise potentially tens of millions in donations to bolster referendum-funded renovations.

Parents, alumni, staff and students at Memorial and West high schools have formed capital campaign committees to raise money for extra projects not included in renovation plans being funded by the $317 million facilities referendum voters approved last fall.

But at a board meeting last week, La Follette parents of former, current and future students urged the board to consider what approving donor-funded projects at Memorial and West will mean for the more economically disadvantaged La Follette and East high schools.

Madison recently expanded Hamilton Middle and Van Hise elementary school, our two least diverse organizations.

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 Algorithmic Genius of Arcadia

Hermione Lee:

Begun in 1991, worked on through 1992 and staged in 1993, Arcadia is a mid-life play. It is written at a time of looking back and looking forward, just as the play looks back and forward. The parallel lines spoken by Septimus and Valentine in the last act hold in one mental space the moment in which we still have time to act, and the prospect that time will in the end run out, for us individually as well as for the universe: “we have time”/ “there’s no time left.” The play is full of anxiety and sadness about time. But it is also a comedy of time, and timings, and plays with time in enchantingly light and suspenseful ways.

Arcadia is a truly original play, and seduced its audiences and readers by being so new and ingenious. The thrill of discovering revolutionary ideas, for the scientists, poets, historians, landscape gardeners and geniuses who inhabit the play, mirrors the ebullient inventiveness of the thing itself.

Time had always been on his mind. It goes right back to his experiments of the 1960s, under the influence of Eliot, with the inexorable ticking taxi meter that measures out Dominic Boot’s day, or Gladys the speaking clock made dizzy by the infinity of time (“Silence is the sound of time passing”), or the early version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at the Court of King Lear, ending with Hamlet’s soliloquy: “I have time . . . it will be night soon . . . I have a lot of time.” Out of that came their play, which they spend killing time, stuck in limbo, not knowing their fate, while scenes from Hamlet, in another time zone, keep rushing in on them at fast-forward speed.

National security law: English Schools Foundation tells parents practices will not change under new Hong Kong guidelines

Chan Ho-him:

Hong Kong’s biggest international school group has said it will help pupils understand the concept of national security but will not be introducing new practices such as flag-raising ceremonies following the issuing of sweeping guidelines on the topic by education authorities.

The English Schools Foundation (ESF), which runs 22 kindergartens and schools in the city, also said it would have measures in place to prevent a breach of the national security law on campus, although it was not “required to adopt the approaches” set out in the guidelines.

School Reopening Pits Parents Against Teachers: “Is There a Word Beyond ‘Frustrating’?”

Kris Maher and Jennifer Calfas:

Patrick Cozzens had never spoken up at a school board meeting until he stood in front of a crowd of angry parents earlier this month to read a statement his 16-year-old daughter helped him to write.

“I’ve watched her go from a child that has loved school, thrived at school her entire life, to one now, using her own words, who just doesn’t care anymore,” he said, his voice breaking. “What are you focused on? Get our children back!”

Dozens of parents who live in the affluent community outside Pittsburgh erupted in applause, and the president of the school board rapped his gavel for order. Other parents, some via Zoom, and at least one teacher opposed a plan introduced by the superintendent to return the town’s 5,300 students to classrooms full-time in March, up from two days a week at most currently.

“The thought of returning to a full in-person day amid a global pandemic is so overwhelming that it could honestly bring me to tears,” said Emily Rindels, a fifth grade teacher in Mt. Lebanon, who teaches about half of her students at a time in the classroom, under the district’s hybrid model.

Judge in Google case disturbed that ‘incognito’ users are tracked

Joel Rosenblatt:

When Google users browse in “Incognito” mode, just how hidden is their activity? The Alphabet Inc. unit says activating the stealth mode in Chrome, or “private browsing” in other browsers, means the company won’t “remember your activity.” But a judge with a history of taking Silicon Valley giants to task about their data collection raised doubts Thursday about whether Google is being as forthright as it needs to be about the personal information it’s collecting from users.

At a hearing Thursday in San Jose, California, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said she’s “disturbed” by Google’s data collection practices in a class-action lawsuit that describes the company’s private browsing promises as a “ruse” and seeks US$5,000 in damages for each of the millions of people whose privacy has been compromised since June of 2016.

Weighing Google’s attempt to get the suit dismissed, Koh said she finds it “unusual” that the company would make the “extra effort” of data collection if it doesn’t use the information to build user profiles or targeted advertising. Google has become a target of antitrust complaints in the last year filed by state and federal officials — as well as businesses — accusing it of abusing its dominance in digital advertising and online search. Koh has a deeper history with the company as a vocal critic of its privacy policies. She forced Google in one notable case to disclose its scanning of emails to build profiles and target advertising.

In this case, Google is accused of relying on pieces of its code within websites that use its analytics and advertising services to scrape users’ supposedly private browsing history and send copies of it to Google’s servers. Google makes it seem like private browsing mode gives users more control of their data, Amanda Bonn, a lawyer representing users, told Koh. In reality, “Google is saying there’s basically very little you can do to prevent us from collecting your data, and that’s what you should assume we’re doing,” Bonn said.

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

Madison teachers union faces lawsuit over planned illegal “sick out”

WILL:

Attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center and Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) are warning Madison Teachers Inc. that they face legal repercussions if they move forward with an illegal sick out on Monday.

“Madison Teachers, Inc. leaders are asking their members to falsely call-in sick in order to shut down in-person learning,” said Daniel Suhr, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “An organized sick out is a form of strike and illegal in the State of Wisconsin and we are prepared to file a lawsuit to stop this illegal action. Madison students need to be in school, not used as pawns in a publicity stunt.”

Attorneys at public-interest law firms the Liberty Justice Center and WILL notified the union that in the event of an illegal strike, Wisconsin law authorizes students and parents, as well as the school district, to enforce the ban on teacher strikes in court. Liberty Justice Center and WILL plan to file a lawsuit in state court on behalf of Madison parents to stop the strike.

The Liberty Justice Center is a nonprofit law firm that won a pivotal Supreme Court case against government unions in 2018. Their attorneys have taken on illegal teachers strikes across the country, including in Idaho, Virginia, Arizona and most recently in Chicago.

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.

Falling sperm counts could threaten the human race

Bryan Walsh:

What’s happening: In 2017, Mt. Sinai Medical School epidemiologist Shanna Swan co-authored a sweeping meta-analysis that came to a startling conclusion: Total sperm count in the Western world had fallen 59% between 1973 and 2011. 

  • Together with falling testosterone levels and growing rates of testicular cancer and erectile dysfunction, that translated into a 1% increase per year of adverse reproductive changes for men, according to Swan.

Driving the news: Now Swan has written up her conclusions in a new book with a foreboding title: “Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.”

  • “If you look at the curve on sperm count and project it forward — which is always risky — it reaches zero in 2045,” says Swan, meaning the median man would have essentially no viable sperm. “That’s a little concerning, to say the least.”

By the numbers: The global fertility rate — the number of births per woman — has fallen from 5.06 in 1964 to 2.4 in 2018.

  • Today, about half the countries in the world — including the U.S. — have fertility rates below the population replacement level of 2.1 births.

  • By 2050, that proportion is projected to rise to two-thirds of nations. 

Yes, but: There are numerous factors connected to falling fertility rates that appear largely unconnected to sperm counts.

Teens drive brutal spike in carjackings with covid limiting school and supervision

Dan Morse and Tom Jackman:

New Orleans has seen a similar spike as teenagers know they’re less apt to be punished. “The wheels of justice,” said that city’s top police official, Shaun Ferguson, “just aren’t moving like they did pre-covid.”

And in Washington, total carjackings hit 345 in 2020 compared with 142 the year before. Things are only getting worse this year, with 46 carjackings through early February.

The rise in carjackings includes plenty of adult suspects. Experts say the coronavirus has made jobs more scarce and — because people are home all day — made breaking into homes more of a risk. Pandemic reality also applies to juveniles. Schools are closed and youth programs are shuttered. Precautions against packing children into locked, juvenile facilities has led to their quick release while reductions to in-person contact has made them more difficult to monitor.

“We’re not giving them enough supervision. That really created a problem,” says Tim Hardy, the longtime director of the juvenile court in Yuma, Ariz., and president of the American Probation and Parole

New Orleans has seen a similar spike as teenagers know they’re less apt to be punished. “The wheels of justice,” said that city’s top police official, Shaun Ferguson, “just aren’t moving like they did pre-covid.”

And in Washington, total carjackings hit 345 in 2020 compared with 142 the year before. Things are only getting worse this year, with 46 carjackings through early February.

The rise in carjackings includes plenty of adult suspects. Experts say the coronavirus has made jobs more scarce and — because people are home all day — made breaking into homes more of a risk. Pandemic reality also applies to juveniles. Schools are closed and youth programs are shuttered. Precautions against packing children into locked, juvenile facilities has led to their quick release while reductions to in-person contact has made them more difficult to monitor.

“We’re not giving them enough supervision. That really created a problem,” says Tim Hardy, the longtime director of the juvenile court in Yuma, Ariz., and president of the American Probation and Parole Association.

Google pledges changes to research oversight after internal revolt

Jeffrey Dastin, Paresh Dave:

Reuters reported in December that Google had introduced a “sensitive topics” review for studies involving dozens of issues, such as China or bias in its services. Internal reviewers had demanded that at least three papers on AI be modified to refrain from casting Google technology in a negative light, Reuters reported.

Jeff Dean, Google’s senior vice president overseeing the division, said Friday that the “sensitive topics” review “is and was confusing” and that he had tasked a senior research director, Zoubin Ghahramani, with clarifying the rules, according to the recording.

Ghahramani, a University of Cambridge professor who joined Google in September from Uber Technologies Inc, said during the town hall, “We need to be comfortable with that discomfort” of self-critical research.

Google declined to comment on the Friday meeting.

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

For Better Health During the Pandemic, Is Two Hours Outdoors the New 10,000 Steps?

Betsy Morris:

Will two hours in the park become the next 10,000 steps?

As people spend more time indoors, a mountain of scientific research says spending time in nature is critical to health and increases longevity. That means being in fresh air, under trees and away from cars and concrete—on a regular basis. And, no, the Peloton doesn’t count.

“There’s an urgent need emerging in science and at the gut level to increase the nature experience. This field is just exploding,” says Gretchen Daily, a professor of environmental science at Stanford University.

The benefits have been clear to scientists for some time, but the pandemic has made the matter more urgent. The physical and emotional toll the virus has taken, especially in urban areas with little green space, has galvanized doctors, researchers and others to tap into nature’s therapeutic effects.

Spending time in the woods—a practice the Japanese call “forest bathing”—is strongly linked to lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones and decreased anxiety, depression and fatigue.

Inside Education – Part 3 Finance: Do school budgets come fat-free?

Armand Fusco:

Over $850 billion is spent for public education and it should be evident from Parts 1 and 2 that there is ample “fat” for thousands of dollars to be pilfered from so-called “tight” budgets. Clearly, the budget review process and oversight is lacking accountability and it requires far more vigilance and aggressiveness to protect it from accumulating fat by simply maintaining the status quo.

Of interest is that nationally student enrollment grew 6% between 1977and 1998, but spending increased 23% (inflation adjusted); in Connecticut (my home state) there was a decrease of over 14% in enrollment, yet, spending still increased 24%–modern math at work; of course, this is happening in all states.

Do such spending increases result in improved performance or added value? The 1999 edition of the Report Card on American Education (issued by the American Legislative Exchange Council) analyzed more than 200 measures of educational resources and student achievement for the past 25 years, and arrived at a startling conclusion: “The popular assumption that correlates improved student performance alone with increasing education spending is not valid. The current path is not good enough, and that throwing more money at the problem is not the answer.” Why no real change? No one has been “spanked” for getting a bad report card; and maybe no one knows how to read the report cards.

Now get this: a far more dramatic conclusion was that “only higher (not lower) pupil-to-teacher ratios, fewer students per school, and a lower percentage of a state’s federal dollars have a positive impact on educational achievement” (this should certainly rattle some education cages).

Inside Education, Part 2 Finance: How Robin Hood Hogs Feast on the School Treasure Chests!
Par

Teach First

The Economist:

Montgomery County, where your columnist’s three offspring attend (loosely speaking) public school, is on track to be the last of America’s 14,000 districts to return pupils to the classroom.

Provided the board does not put the brakes on its latest back-to-school plan, as it has three times previously, Lexington’s two sons in elementary school will be back in school—for as little as four days a fortnight—by the beginning of April. His 12-year-old will go back on the same part-time basis three weeks later, by which time he will not have seen a teacher in the flesh for almost 14 months.

Unprecedented as this failure may seem, its dynamics will be familiar to weary school reformers. An education policy that prioritises learning would have made returning children to school its objective, and worked through the impediments to it. (Face masks and open windows, it turns out, do most of that.) But this is not how the fragmented public school system works. The elected worthies who sit on its powerful school boards do not pursue objectives so much as balance competing local interests. This is a recipe for risk aversion and inertia or, as mcps’s wry superintendent, Jack Smith, puts it “not decision-making but mush”.

This week’s mcps meeting illustrated the pressures inherent in the mush-making. It opened with a litany of video messages from concerned school users. “Imagine yourselves in a Zoom class wading through a fog of mental illness,” beseeched an exhausted-looking Zoom mom. “The teacher I am most concerned about getting sick is my Dad,” said a schoolboy. “He might recover or he might not make it.” “My husband saw schools operating safely in Somaliland! Why can’t we do that here?” asked another mother. Outside the mcps office, rival crowds of protesters, pro-and and anti-reopening, meanwhile stomped on the icy pavement and honked their car horns. “There is a lot of anxiety on the board,” Mr Smith had earlier intimated. “Hundreds or thousands of people are going to have an opinion about you and post it everywhere.”

By the same token, excessive caution among Democrats was fuelled by hostility towards Mr Trump. Science, which Democrats cite often but selectively, has been another victim of that stand-off. Its misuse has fostered the false dichotomy aired by many: that teacher health and student welfare are irreconcilable.

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.

Workloads of Counting Queries: Enabling Rich Statistical Analyses with Differential Privacy

Ryan McKenna:

An improved approach is conceptually a middle ground between the two extremes above called the matrix mechanism [1,2]. The idea is to invoke the Laplace mechanism on a carefully selected set of queries (different from the workload), then use the noisy answers to those queries to estimate answers to the workload queries. Finding a good strategy—or set of queries to answer with Laplace noise—is a technical challenge, but good strategies are known for simple and well-studied workloads like the CDF workload. The two baseline mechanisms above can be seen as instantiations of the matrix mechanism with different strategies: the workload queries and the histogram queries each being a different strategy. Identifying the best strategy is an optimization problem, where the optimization variables are simply the queries in the strategy, and the optimization objective is to minimize the expected error of the mechanism (on the workload queries). While it is challenging to solve this optimization problem in practice, effective algorithms exist when the workload is sufficiently small, or has certain special structure [2].  

While it is out of scope for this post to delve into these technical details, we’ll demonstrate the potential benefit from this approach in the figure below. We consider a generalization of the CDF workload with varying number of queries, corresponding to different discretization granularities. As we can see, the first baseline mechanism (Laplace on Workload) is the worst in terms of root mean squared error (RMSE), the second baseline mechanism (Laplace on Histogram) is an improvement, but the matrix mechanism (Laplace on Optimized) is the best. The improvement is up to 5.2 times better for the largest workload considered, highlighting the benefit of the matrix mechanism: substantially lower error at no cost to privacy just by using better strategies. This improvement is for one simple workload—in general, the magnitude of improvement will be different for other workloads and can be much larger.  

From sleeping in separate beds to their children to transporting them in prams, Western parents have some unusual ideas about how to raise them.

Kelly Oakes:

“Is he in his own room yet?” is a question new parents often field once they emerge from the haze of life with a newborn. But sleeping apart from our babies is a relatively recent development – and not one that extends around the globe. In other cultures sharing a room, and sometimes a bed, with your baby is the norm.

This isn’t the only aspect of new parenthood that Westerners do differently. From napping on a schedule and sleep training to pushing our children around in strollers, what we might think of as standard parenting practices are often anything but.

Parents in the US and UK are advised to have their babies sleep in the same room as them for at least the first six months, but many view this as a brief stopover on their way to a dedicated nursery.

In most other societies around the world, babies stick with their parents longer. A 2016 review that looked at research on children sharing not just a room but a bed with one or more of their parents found a high prevalence in many Asian countries: over 70% in India and Indonesia, for example, and over 80% in Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Research on bedsharing rates in countries across Africa is patchy, but where it does exist suggests the practice is near-universal.

Advocating vaccines for in person teachers first

Alec Johnson:

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow sent a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Wednesday with his plea, a day after the DHS announced that teachers will be eligible for the vaccine starting March 1.

The DHS’ vaccination guidance does not separate school districts offering in-person classes with those that have been virtual for the 2020-21 school year. 

“Vaccine priority should be given to teachers working in their classrooms over teachers working in their living rooms,” Farrow said in a follow-up statement. “We should reward school districts that implemented extensive efforts that have allowed safe in-person instruction from day one over those that denied students the education they deserve.

“Now is the time to give those teachers additional peace of mind and show them that we appreciate these months of hard work and dedication to their students.”

Madison’s Taxpayer Funded K-12 Governence Commentary; 2021 Edition

Madison’s Taxpayer Funded K-12 Governence Commentary; 2021 Edition

Scott Girard:

Superintendent Carlton Jenkins shared the data from the family survey that went out Feb. 17 with the School Board this week. He said about 65% of families — or about 7,790 families — with a student in those grades, which will be among the first to return in a phased reopening process, had responded.

Of those, about 65%, or 5,187 families, had indicated they wanted to return in-person.

The Capital Times on Madison Teachers, Inc. and school “reopening”:

When school districts rush to reopen, even for the best of reasons, they must be checked and balanced with demands for safety protocols. That’s what Madison Teachers Inc. did last week, when it presented a framework for phased reentry to the schools. At the heart of the framework were calls for a robust vaccination program, thorough testing, access to personal protective equipment, smart ventilation strategies and a host of other proposals that assure the Madison Metropolitan School District’s approach to reopening is based on a sufficiently scientific approach.

Thursday morning Madison Teachers, Inc “sick-in“.

Nicholas Kristof:

School Closures Have Failed America’s Children As many as three million children have gotten no education for nearly a year”

“Conservatives have argued for years that liberals don’t actually care about science and only pretend to when it’s convenient for the advancement of their political agenda. It appears that they had a point.”

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.

It’s Time to Examine the District’s Education Governance

Councilmember Robert White:

Our country and city are in a unique moment where we are taking a fresh look at things, from police brutality to inequities in our criminal justice system. But one thing that’s not getting coverage, because we don’t see photographs or viral clips, is that the District’s schools are not working for students of color, English Language Learner students, or students with disabilities.

Consider the facts:

  • Math

  • Only 21% of Black students meet or exceed expectations, compared to 79% of White students.

  • 16% of at-risk students, 23% of English learners, and 7% of students with disabilities met or exceeded expectations.

  • English Language Arts

  • Only 28% of Black students meet or exceed expectations, compared to 85% of White students.

  • 21% of at-risk students, 20% of English learners, and 8% of students with disabilities meet or exceeded expectations

  • Teacher Turnover

  • The District has the highest teacher turnover rate in the country. A quarter of our teachers leave our school system every year. Over half of our DCPS teachers leave within three years, and 70% leave within five years.

The only way we could consider this system successful is by just considering white students, who make up 16% of DC’s public schools.

Inside a Battle Over Race, Class and Power at Smith College “I don’t know if I believe in white privilege. I believe in money privilege.”

Michael Powell:

In midsummer of 2018, Oumou Kanoute, a Black student at Smith College, recounted a distressing American tale: She was eating lunch in a dorm lounge when a janitor and a campus police officer walked over and asked her what she was doing there.

The officer, who could have been carrying a “lethal weapon,” left her near “meltdown,” Ms. Kanoute wrote on Facebook, saying that this encounter continued a yearlong pattern of harassment at Smith.

“All I did was be Black,” Ms. Kanoute wrote. “It’s outrageous that some people question my being at Smith College, and my existence overall as a woman of color.”

The college’s president, Kathleen McCartney, offered profuse apologies and put the janitor on paid leave. “This painful incident reminds us of the ongoing legacy of racism and bias,” the president wrote, “in which people of color are targeted while simply going about the business of their ordinary lives.”

The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN picked up the story of a young female student harassed by white workers. The American Civil Liberties Union, which took the student’s case, said she was profiled for “eating while Black.”

Less attention was paid three months later when a law firm hired by Smith College to investigate the episode found no persuasive evidence of bias. Ms. Kanoute was determined to have eaten in a deserted dorm that had been closed for the summer; the janitor had been encouraged to notify security if he saw unauthorized people there. The officer, like all campus police, was unarmed.

Dane County Madison Public Health drops complaint against dance studio, will incorporate allegations into counterclaim in related lawsuit

Ed Treleven:

Attorneys representing Public Health Madison and Dane County have asked to withdraw the health agency’s 119-count complaint against an Oregon dance studio over alleged COVID-19 public health order violations, but only to allow consolidation of the alleged violations into a related lawsuit.

In a court filing Tuesday, Madison Assistant City Attorney Marci Paulsen wrote that Public Health is withdrawing its complaint against A Leap Above Dance, a move approved Wednesday by Circuit Judge Mario White, because the facts of the case are also being heard in a lawsuit filed against Public Health by two Dane County parents who have children involved in sports teams.

That lawsuit was filed on Jan. 20. A Leap Above joined that lawsuit as a plaintiff on Feb. 2, a week after Public Health filed its complaint against the studio.

“This case involves potentially some of the same facts alleged within the above-mentioned case and the outcome of this case would have a potential impact on the above-mentioned case,” Paulsen wrote in a notice of dismissal filed in court. “Therefore, to expedite the judicial process, it is (in) the plaintiff’s best interest to have both cases heard in one court.”

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.

Coca-Cola, Facing Backlash, Says ‘Be Less White’ Learning Plan Was About Workplace Inclusion

Christina Zhao:

Coca-Cola, facing mounting backlash from conservatives online, has responded to allegations of anti-white rhetoric after an internal whistleblower leaked screenshots of diversity training materials that encourages staff to “try to be less white.”

On Friday, Karlyn Borysenko, an activist who supports banning critical race theory, shared images from an internal whistleblower of the company’s online racism training. The slides included tips to learners on how to be “less white, less arrogant, less certain, less defensive, less ignorant and more humble.”

“In the U.S. and other Western nations, white people are socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white,” one of the slides read. “Research shows that by age 3 to 4, children understand that it is better to be white.”

A Coca-Cola spokesperson confirmed that the course is “part of a learning plan to help build an inclusive workplace,” but also noted that “the video circulating on social media is from a publicly available LinkedIn Learning series and is not a focus of our company’s curriculum.”

“Our Better Together global learning curriculum is part of a learning plan to help build an inclusive workplace,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “It is comprised of a number of short vignettes, each a few minutes long. The training includes access to LinkedIn Learning on a variety of topics, including on diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Who cares about the Ivy League?

Noah Smith:

There’s a hell of a lot that’s broken and messed up about our education system here in the United States. But far too much of our discourse about education focuses on a handful of tiny elite private universities, mostly located in the Northeast.

Everyone seems to care a whole lot about the Ivy League. When a bunch of Ivies (and a few other schools) were found to have sold spots to a few rich kids back in 2019, it caused an unholy shitstorm of rage. A vast amount of ink has been spilled over that lawsuit alleging anti-Asian discrimination at Harvard. When Cornell changes the name of its English department to the Department of Literatures in English (apparently because the latter is less colonialist or something), it draws national commentary.

Over at Slow Boring, Matt Yglesias writes that if Ivies really wanted to promote social justice, they would let in more poor kids instead of fiddling with the name of the English department. Of course, he’s right. Elite schools let in mostly rich kids, because they have every incentive to do so. These schools all give out need-based financial aid, which means that rich kids are a profit center (they pay full price), while poor kids are a cost center (they get a free ride). Even a nonprofit business likes to maximize profit centers and minimize cost centers, so of course the Ivies try their hardest to let in rich kids. Also, given America’s low economic mobility, rich kids are highly likely to become rich adults, and rich adults give big gifts to their alma maters — another important source of income for top schools. So of course these schools aren’t trying to educate the poor. What incentive do they have to do so?

But on a more fundamental level, how much does any of this really matter? How central are the Ivies and other elite private schools to our educational system in the U.S.? And how much would it change our country if they changed their admissions policies?

Try to be less white’: Coca-Cola hit with backlash over ‘confronting racism’ training course

Chris Enloe:

Coca-Cola found itself at the center of controversy on Friday after a viral social media post revealed that some Coca-Cola employees completed a racial sensitivity training course that teaches participants how to “be less white.”

What are the details?

Images of the course were shared by psychologist Karlyn Borysenko, an activist who is fighting against critical race theory, who obtained the images from an “internal whistleblower” at Coca-Cola.

One of the slides in the course titled, “Confronting Racism,” states, “Understanding What it Means to Be White, Challenging What it Means to Be Racist.”

Another slide states, “To be less white is to:” “be less oppressive,” “be less arrogant,” “be less certain,” “be less defensive,” “be less ignorant,” “be more humble,” “listen,” “believe,” “break with apathy,” and to “break with white solidarity.”

“In the US and other Western nations, white people are socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white. Research shows that by age 3 to 4, children understand that it is better to be white,” another slide claims.

NHS saves children’s lives with world-first ‘dead’ heart transplants

Andrew Gregory:

Anna Hadley had waited almost two years for a new heart after being told she had a terminal condition.

Now the 16-year-old from Worcester is healthy and playing hockey again, thanks to British surgeons who carried out the world’s first transplants in children using dead hearts that were brought back to life.

Using a pioneering machine, NHS medics have been able to reanimate hearts from donors whose hearts had stopped. The technique has saved the lives of six British children aged from 12 to 16, and the transplants have all taken place during the pandemic.

For Anna, the life-changing phone call came at 2.30am. Nearly two years after she had been put on the waiting list for a heart transplant, a donor had been found.

Virtual classrooms democratise executive education

Andrew Jack:

As universities closed their classrooms and companies adjusted to the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic last year, PepsiCo’s chief learning officer, Molly Nagler, had to scrap plans to send executives to programmes at Wharton School and Yale School of Management.

But rather than dismiss executive education as impractical, unaffordable or unjustifiable during a crisis, Nagler doubled down and negotiated online alternatives for the US-based food and drinks group.

“We tend to use the in-person, campus-based programme for executives to create a differentiated experience and expose them to cutting-edge thinking and research,” she says. “We’ll still use the campus for elite experiences but less than before because of the expense and the challenge to get everyone in one place.”

Like many of her counterparts in companies around the world, Nagler is not cutting back on her training budget. Instead, she is reconsidering who should learn, what they should study and how best to train them — and reviewing her choice of external programmes.

Madison School district violates own policy with hidden surveillance cameras

Dylan Brogan:

In September 2019, top brass at the Madison school district violated district policy by installing hidden cameras — concealed in hollowed-out smoke detectors — in a coach’s office in the boys’ locker room and a room where special needs students undress and have their diapers changed. The concealed surveillance operation at East High School was done without informing school staff in the hopes of catching a custodian, who worked nights, sleeping on the job. 

Isthmus has also learned, through multiple anonymous sources, that “large amounts of money” were planted in the room with the hidden cameras as part of the investigation. District spokesperson Tim LeMonds wouldn’t say if the custodian under investigation was ever disciplined, writing in an email to Isthmus, “we can not comment on personnel issues.” 

“I have not seen any mention of ‘large amounts of money’ being left around as a part of the investigation in any of the information I have seen,” LeMonds wrote in a follow-up email to Isthmus. “That said, the internal investigation is still underway and if anything surfaces related to money being left, it will be included in the final report.” 

According to a Feb. 23 email sent to parents by Superintendent Carlton Jenkins, these areas were selected because they “contained furniture conducive to sleeping.” Jenkins added the cameras are a “direct violation of district policy.” Even so, the district’s building services staff and Director of Labor Relations Heidi Tepp, an attorney, approved and executed a covert plan to install the cameras without the knowledge of East staff or then-superintendent Jane Belmore. 

Emily Hamer:

The hidden cameras found at Madison East High School were in a room where students with disabilities changed and in a coaches’ office in the boy’s locker room, a police report shows. 

Madison School District Superintendent Carlton Jenkins told parents in an email Tuesday night that the cameras, which were hidden inside smoke detectors, were installed in violation of district policy in an attempt to catch a custodian suspected of sleeping on the job. 

Oakland teacher points finger at ‘rich white parents’ in reopening debate

Amy Graff:

An Oakland special education teacher who also serves as the secretary of the Oakland Education Association added fire to the growing school reopening debate with a pointed Tweet criticizing parent concern that distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their children’s mental health.

Bethany Meyer tweeted on Feb. 17, “All the rich white parents suddenly concerned about mental health can take a seat. Most of them are causing their kids’ anxiety by pressuring them to complete asynchronous work and feeding into their sense of entitlement. Sorry/not sorry.”

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.

Reported COVID-19 Incidence in Wisconsin High School Athletes During Fall 2020

Phillip Sasser, MD, MS, Timothy McGuine, PhD, LAT, Kristin Haraldsdottir, PhD, Kevin Biese, MA, LAT, Leslie Goodavish, PA, Bethany Stevens, Andrew M. Watson, MD:

The purpose of this study was to describe the reported incidence of COVID-19 in Wisconsin high school athletes in September 2020, and to investigate the relationship of COVID-19 incidence with sport and face mask use.

Methods: Surveys were sent to athletic directors of all Wisconsin high schools regarding sports during September 2020. The association between reported case rates in athletes in each county and the county general population were evaluated with a weighted linear model. Multivariable negative binomial regression models evaluated the associations between COVID-19 incidence and sport type and face mask use by players, adjusting for the county COVID-19 incidence for each school.

Results: 207 schools that had reinitiated sport reported 270 COVID-19 cases among 30,074 players, for case and incidence rates of 809 cases per 100,000 players and 32.6 cases per 100,000 player-days, respectively. The case rates for athletes in each county were positively correlated with the case rates for the county’s general population (β=1.14±0.20, r=0.60, p<0.001). One hundred fifteen (55%) of cases were attributed to household contact, 85 (41%) to contact outside sport or school, 5 (2.4%) to school contact, and 1 (0.5%) to sport contact. No difference was identified between team and individual sports (incidence rate ratio (IRR)=1.03 [95% CI=0.49- 2.2], p=0.93) or between non-contact and contact sports (IRR=0.53 [0.23-1.3], p=0.14), although the difference between outdoor and indoor sports approached statistical significance (IRR=0.52 [0.26-1.1], p=0.07). 84% of schools required face masks while playing. For those sports with >50 participating schools, there were no significant associations between COVID-19 incidence and face mask use in cross country (IRR=0.71 [0.2-2.2], p=0.52), football (IRR=1.6 [0.6-5.1],

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.

Wisconsin’s Emergency Powers Laws in Urgent Need of Reform

Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty:

New study examines Wisconsin’s emergency powers laws, provides recommendations for reform

The News: A new study from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) makes the case that Wisconsin’s antiquated emergency powers statutes are in urgent need of reform. The report, titled More Than “A Little Danger:” Reforming Wisconsin’s Emergency Powers After COVID-19, provides an in-depth examination of the state of Wisconsin’s emergency powers laws and how they have failed to protect liberty and the separation of powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

Interest Surges in Top Colleges, While Struggling Ones Scrape for Applicants

Amelia Nierenberg:

Prestigious universities like Cornell never have a hard time attracting students. But this year, the admissions office in Ithaca, N.Y., is swimming in 17,000 more applications than it has ever received before, driven mostly by the school’s decision not to require standardized test scores during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We saw people that thought ‘I would never get into Cornell’ thinking, ‘Oh, if they’re not looking at a test score, maybe I’ve actually got a chance,’” said Jonathan Burdick, Cornell’s vice provost for enrollment.

But while selective universities like Cornell and its fellow Ivy League schools have seen unprecedented interest after waiving test scores, smaller and less recognizable schools are dealing with the opposite issue: empty mailboxes.

In early December, applications to Cal Poly Pomona, east of Los Angeles and part of the California State University system, were down 40 percent over the previous year from would-be freshmen, and 52 percent from transfer students, most of whom started their higher education at community colleges.

Entire school board resigns after accidental public livestream

BBC:

An entire California school board has resigned after making disparaging remarks about families in an online meeting which they did not realise was being publicly live-streamed.

“They want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back,” one member said about parents.

Another implied that parents wanted their children out of the house so they could take drugs during the day.

Parents, however, had been joining the public call as it progressed.

“Uh-oh,” said board member Kim Beede when she was told, several minutes into the discussion: “We have the meeting open to the public right now.”

The Webex meeting immediately went into private status.

Formalising mathematics: an introduction.

Xena:

As part of the EPSRC Taught Course Centre I am giving a course on formalising mathematics. This is a course for mathematics PhD students enrolled at Imperial College London, Bristol, Bath, Oxford, or Warwick. No formalisation experience will be assumed. Details of the course are available at the second link above. I have been timetabled eight 2-hour lectures on Thursdays 4-6pm UK time, starting this coming Thursday, 21st Jan 2021.

My instinct in the first lecture would be to start by listing a bunch of reasons why learning how to formalise pure mathematics is interesting/useful/important/whatever, and perhaps also explaining how I got involved with it. But I could probably spend about 30 minutes on this, and I don’t want to waste valuable lecture time on it. In fact I won’t actually be giving lectures at all — the 2-hour slots will be mini Lean workshops, where beginners formalise mathematics they know, with me watching, and I cannot see the point of making the students listen to me waffle on about my opinions/history when, after all, they have chosen to come to the course anyway. So I’ve just decided to write the introduction here, and then students can choose to read it at their leisure (or not read it at all).

How my school gamed the stats

Srdjan Milatec:

I was reading the Slate Star Codex review of Rule of the Smart. Part of it discusses charter vs state schools and the allegations of fraud of various kinds undermining charter schools record of better achievement. Reading it, I realized that I took for granted that public schools engage in systematic fraud in a variety of ways. I don’t think this is something everyone understands, hence this post.

I went to a state school in the UK. State schools are rated on a 1 − 4 scale from unsatisfactory to outstanding. My school was rated good, meaning a 3. A few memories which stand out. During my first week I saw one of the boys in my class who was 11 at the time held up against the wall in a corridor while a 16 year old put a shiv to his throat and robbed him. He handed over his wallet and keys. A year or two later and I remember seeing a small boy who struggled with depression held up by the throat against a locker and slapped in the face by a troublemaker from the same class in front of everyone just before we went in to the classroom. I remember classes which were filled start to finish with people shouting and talking. Neither of the first two events were common but they also weren’t uncommon. No one was surprised to witness them. It’s worth emphasizing again that my school was above average, in fact quite far above average, and in a middle class area. It’s also worth noting that I was mostly in top ability streamed classes, meaning my classroom experience was likely far better than average.

Research linking violent entertainment to aggression retracted after scrutiny

Cathleen O’Grady:

As Samuel West combed through a paper that found a link between watching cartoon violence and aggression in children, he noticed something odd about the study participants. There were more than 3000—an unusually large number—and they were all 10 years old. “It was just too perfect,” says West, a Ph.D. student in social psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Yet West added the 2019 study, published in Aggressive Behavior and led by psychologist Qian Zhang of Southwest University of Chongqing, to his meta-analysis after a reviewer asked him to cast a wider net. West didn’t feel his vague misgivings could justify excluding it from the study pool. But after Aggressive Behavior published West’s meta-analysislast year, he was startled to find that the journal was investigating Zhang’s paper while his own was under review.

It is just one of many papers of Zhang’s that have recently been called into question, casting a shadow on research into the controversial question of whether violent entertainment fosters violent behavior. Zhang denies any wrongdoing, but two papers have been retracted. Others live on in journals and meta-analyses—a “major problem” for a field with conflicting results and entrenched camps, says Amy Orben, a cognitive scientist at the University of Cambridge who studies media and behavior. And not just for the ivory tower, she says: The research shapes media warning labels and decisions by parents and health professionals.

The Kindness of Strangers Probably Saved a Boy’s Life

Bob Greene:

Something stirring happened one evening last month at a family-style restaurant called Mrs. Potato in Orlando, Fla. By night’s end five strangers would each instinctively make crucial decisions. The result, according to police, was that the life of an 11-year-old boy likely was saved.

There is a lesson in what took place, and it starts with what a woman named Flaviane Carvalho saw.

She was serving meals to a table where a family of four was sitting. Three of the people—an adult male, an adult female, and a four-year-old girl—were sitting on one side, seemingly enjoying themselves. The boy was on the other side, not being spoken to and not speaking. He was the only one for whom the adults had not ordered food. Ms. Carvalho thought this was odd.

Then she noticed bruising near the boy’s eye, and a cut above his nose. And more bruising on his lower arm. She could have done nothing.

Remote Learning During Covid-19 Is Causing Children to Gain Weight, Doctors Warn

Kate King:

Pediatricians are warning that the coronavirus pandemic’s protracted disruption of in-person schooling, sports and other activities is leading to weight gain that could have long-lasting impacts on children’s health.

Students are snacking more and exercising less, and nutritionists and doctors who study obesity worry the pandemic is putting children at greater risk for type-two diabetes and asthma, among other health concerns.

“We’re seeing a lot of elementary school-aged kids who are gaining 20 to 30 pounds in a year,” said Hai Cao, a pediatrician and owner of South Slope Pediatrics in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Brittany Wilson, a physician assistant with Island Kids Pediatrics on Staten Island, N.Y., said the pandemic seems to have accelerated weight gain among patients who were already overweight. Children 6 to 12 years old seem to be gaining the most.

EdReports’ Application of Scarborough’s Rope

edreports.org:

The instructional materials districts choose can make a difference. At EdReports, our reviews of English language arts (ELA) programs are designed to empower educators with high-quality content to support the kind of reading instruction that helps all students succeed in school and beyond.

EdReports’ review process for K-5 ELA instructional materials is built on a foundation of college- and career-readiness standards and well-established research about how students learn to read and write. Our reports reflect not only alignment to the standards but also whether or not materials include the innovations necessary to prepare students to master the content and skills in the standards.

This graphic shows where EdReports’ K-2 ELA review criteria overlaps with the elements of Scarborough’s Rope, a seminal illustration of the components of the reading process, and how those components work together, to address the complexity of reading acquisition. We hope to better illustrate how EdReports infuses the science of reading into our reviews and what we look for in quality materials.

EdReports’ Application of Scarborough’s Rope

Sun Prairie selects new middle and high school boundary lines; district apologizes for claiming partnership with YWCA

Emily Hamer:

Some middle and high school students in Sun Prairie will get shuffled around to different schools within the district come fall 2022 because of a new boundary-line map approved Monday.

The Sun Prairie School Board voted unanimously to adopt a map that will have middle schoolers on the north and south sides of Sun Prairie attend Central Heights Middle School, while those in the more densely populated central city would generally go to either Prairie View on the west side or Patrick Marsh on the east.

Also at Monday’s meeting, board President Steve Schroeder and district Superintendent Brad Saron apologized publicly to YWCA Madison CEO Vanessa McDowell for using her organization’s name in a Feb. 8 presentation on how the district was addressing a Feb. 1 lesson that asked middle school students how they would “punish” a slave. A district staffer claimed the district had a partnership with YWCA when no such relationship existed.

Madison has not changed boundaries in decades, despite space in a number of buildings.

Effort launched to recall three S.F. school board members

Lizzie Johnson:

A San Francisco family has officially launched an effort to recall three school board members, filing the paperwork with county and state election officials, with more than 1,200 city residents already saying they are ready to sign the petitions.

Organizers Autumn Looijen and Siva Raj, who are parents to five children, said they wanted to “get politics out of education.”

The recall effort targets President Gabriela López, Vice President Alison Collins and Commissioner Faauuga Moliga.

The other four board members, who were elected in November and took office in January, cannot be recalled until they have served six months.

In total, the effort will need 70,000 signatures for each of the three members to get the recall on the ballot.

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.

Statement on Amazon & the “delisting of when Harry became Sally”

Encounter Books:

Yesterday, we learned that Ryan T. Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, which Encounter Books originally published in 2018, was removed without explanation from Amazon.com and from its subsidiary Audible.

Encounter Books is committed to publishing authors with differing views on a wide range of issues of public concern. We do this because a free society requires robust debate and spaces where dissenting opinions can be expressed unimpeded.

If Amazon, which controls most of the book sales in America, has decided to delist a book with which some of its functionaries disagree, that is an unconscionable assault on free speech. It will have chilling effect on the publishing industry and the free circulation of ideas. It must not be left to stand unchallenged.

Purchase Ryan T. Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally here.

Online Speech Is Now an Existential Question for Tech

Christopher Mims:

Every public communication platform you can name—from Facebook , Twitter and YouTube to Parler, Pinterest and Discord—is wrestling with the same two questions:

How do we make sure we’re not facilitating misinformation, violence, fraud or hate speech?

At the same time, how do we ensure we’re not censoring users?

The more they moderate content, the more criticism they experience from those who think they’re over-moderating. At the same time, any statement on a fresh round of moderation provokes some to point out objectionable content that remains. Like any question of editorial or legal judgment, the results are guaranteed to displease someone, somewhere—including Congress, which this week called the chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter to a hearing on March 25 to discuss misinformation on their platforms.

Home schooling: ‘I’m a maths lecturer – and I had to get my children to teach me’

Donna Ferguson:

A senior lecturer in the department of mathematical sciences at the University of Bath, Yates has a PhD in Maths from Oxford and is the author of The Maths of Life and Death. So when he began home schooling his son Will, five, and daughter Emmie, seven, during lockdown, he was pretty confident he already knew everything they would be expected to learn in maths.

He was wrong. “I’d never heard of a ‘bar model’ or a ‘part-whole model’. I had to get my kids to teach me.” He was shocked by how many of these different, “intimidating” methods and models primary school children are expected to use to solve basic maths problems. “I’ve never needed to use them – you don’t need to know all these different mental models to do maths,” he says.

His daughter, he says, will master doing addition one way, but then has to do several lessons to learn addition using a completely different method. “It gets her to think: ‘Oh, I actually don’t know how to do this – I thought I did, but I don’t.”

The American City’s Long Road to Recovery

Joel Kotkin:

Even before 2020, America’s great cities faced a tide that threatened to overwhelm them. In 2020, the tsunami rose sud­denly, inundating the cities in ways that will prove both troubling and trans­formative, but which could mark the return toward a more hu­mane, and sustainable, urbanity. The two shocks—the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring, followed by a summer punctuated by massive social un­rest—have undermined persistent fantasies of an inevitable “back to the city” migration.

Before the pandemic, cities were already experiencing a huge class divide, slackening population growth, rising crime, and dysfunctional schools. Their white-collar-dominated economies were clearly vul­nerable to technological changes, and they were presided over by a political class increasingly out of touch with reality and often hostile to middle-class concerns. Now, the urban white-collar employment and tourism economies have been devastated, while other sectors such as manufacturing, port development, and logistics had already de­parted.

The weeks, even months, of civil disorders occurring after the death of George Floyd may prove even more consequential. Cities were already facing rising crime before the Floyd incident. Last year, New York’s bodegas experienced a 222 percent increase in burglaries, while brick-and-mortar chains like Walgreens were shutting down locations in San Francisco due to “rampant burglaries.”

More middle-class families appear happy to have relocated to the suburbs, or to places even far­ther away, where houses are less expen­sive. One in five Americans, according to Pew, knows someone who has moved due to Covid.

Chinese Authorities Support Scrapping Birth Limits in Depopulated Region

Zhang Chaoyan Ye Ruolin:

China’s top population control authority may be moving toward loosening birth restrictions imposed under the country’s current two-child policy.

The National Health Commission said Thursday that China’s northeastern region, which includes the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning, should analyze its policies — and if necessary, rethink them.

“Based on that (research), Northeast China can introduce comprehensive fertility policies on a trial basis,” the commission wrote in response to a proposal by a delegate from the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislative body.

The northeastern region has some of the lowest fertility rates in the country. In 2019, the three provinces reported birth rates ranging from 5.7 to 6.5 newborns per 1,000 people — well below the national figure of 10.48, already the lowest birth rate since the People’s Republic of China was founded 70 years ago. The region’s abysmal fertility rates are partly due to slow economic development, experts say: Many young people leave their hometowns to go work in bigger, more developed cities.

“The northeastern economy is not booming,” said a demographer at a health commission office in a northeastern Chinese city who agreed to speak to Sixth Tone on condition of anonymity. “Even those who graduate from local colleges don’t stay, but head south. When the people of childbearing age are gone, there are naturally fewer newborns.” He said the region’s current birth rate is one-third as high as in the 1960s, when China’s population was just half what it is now.

William Shakespeare ditched by woke teachers over ‘misogyny, racism’

Lee Brown:

A slew of English literature teachers told the School Library Journal (SLJ) how they were ditching the likes of “Hamlet,” “Macbeth” and “Romeo and Juliet” to instead “make room for modern, diverse, and inclusive voices.”

“Shakespeare was a tool used to ‘civilize’ Black and brown people in England’s empire,” insisted Shakespeare scholar Ayanna Thompson, a professor of English at Arizona State University.

Teachers also need to “challenge the whiteness” of the assumption that Shakespeare’s works are “universal,” insisted Jeffrey Austin, who is head of a Michigan high school’s English literature department.

Former Washington state public school teacher Claire Bruncke told SLJ she banished the Bard from her classroom to “stray from centering the narrative of white, cisgender, heterosexual men.”

Bills: Open schools or give the money to parents

Joanne Jacobs:

If a district offers only remote classes, parents could use public-school funds to move their children to a school of their choice, according to legislation introduced in Maryland, Illinois, Utah and Georgia, reports Patrick Hauf of Capitol News Service.

“Private schools have been fighting to reopen, but so many teachers unions have been fighting to remain closed,” said Corey DeAngelis, director of school choice at the Reason Foundation. “One of these sectors gets your money regardless of how well they meet the needs of their customers, and in this case, regardless of whether they even open their doors for business.”

Will any of these bills pass? “Red” states, where these bill have the best odds of passage, also are the ones where schools are most likely to be teaching students in person. “Blue” cities are trying to reopen their schools, though not necessarily for full-time, in-person learning.

What’s the Best Business School? For This Year’s M.B.A. Rankings, It’s Not Who You Think.

Patrick Thomas:

pending an annual rite for programs and prospective students.

Harvard Business School, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Columbia Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, among others, opted to skip the most recent rankings by the Economist and the Financial Times. Several schools said Covid-19 made it difficult to gather the data they must submit to be ranked.

More than bragging rights hang in the balance—though there are plenty of those, too. Schools say a good showing in rankings can draw interest from prospective students, stoking application volumes, as well as plaudits or pans from alumni who continue to track their alma mater long after leaving campus.

Overall, 62% of programs plan to participate in some rankings, while 10% don’t plan to cooperate for any lists this year, according to a survey of business-school admissions officials by Kaplan, the education subsidiary of the Graham Holdings Co.

Bloomberg Businessweek suspended its 2020 ranking, the only major list to do so. Dozens of notable schools were missing from the Economist’s list published last month. Nine schools that normally take part in the FT’s list chose not to participate, a spokeswoman said.

West Coast States’ Failure to Reopen Schools Is a Disaster

Sasha Abramsky:

Up and down the West Coast, millions of children in some of the country’s largest cities have had no in-person education since last March. In Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, and myriad other cities, there is precious little evidence the public schools will be reopening for most kids before the summer holidays. Meanwhile, in many of those same cities, private schools have been providing in-person classes during much of the pandemic, and wealthier suburban public school districts are finalizing plans to reopen in the spring.

The result of this extraordinary shutdown is that low-income, special-needs, and ESL kids in the three coastal states—which pride themselves on their progressive politics—have been left behind. In refusing to go back to classrooms in these urban hubs, teachers’ unions increasingly risk a public backlash. And for the coastal governors, this is a political nightmare. For, in failing to knock heads together to get the teachers’ unions and school district administrations to come to agreements, and in not securing the funds to properly ventilate classrooms—or move them outdoors, in a region with weather hospitable to months of outdoor learning—and reduce class sizes, the three West Coast governors are, by default, abetting this tragedy.

When Donald Trump was in charge of the country and political action around the pandemic was so skewed by his mismanagement and the MAGA movement’s refusal to take public health seriously, it made sense for states and teachers’ unions to be extremely cautious about reopening school. For so many people, Trump and his inane approach to public health made everything black and white: Conservatives too often claimed, and acted as if, the pandemic was a big brouhaha over nothing; progressives were inclined to embrace any and all restrictive response aimed at slowing disease transmission.

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.

San Francisco has the lowest coronavirus case rate of major U.S. cities. But its schools are among the last to reopen

Susie Nielsen:

San Francisco’s public schools have been virtual-only for nearly a year, despite increasing pressure from parents and politicians to reopen for in-person instruction. Even the city attorney has called on the school district to “immediately” reopen elementary schools.

The school district is set to vote on a plan Tuesday that would allow schools to reopen in California’s second-most-restrictive red tier once staff is fully vaccinated.

But local politicians say that plan is still too restrictive, given the reality that vaccinations are proceeding slowly because of lack of supply.

Some have noted that other major school districts across the U.S. have opened to some form of in-person schooling — despite having higher levels of community transmission than San Francisco.

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.

Parent-Shaming Is Nothing New

Erika Sanzi:

Parent shaming by school officials is nothing new but the pandemic has brought it into public view more than ever before. I have a unique lens on this because I worked in schools for a decade, served a term on an elected school board and am currently the parent of three school aged children. In my education advocacy, I regularly talk to lots of parents from all walks of life. My own record on the parent-shaming front is hardly spotless—of that I am sure. I don’t have memories of anything egregious but common sense tells me that in a moment of frustration after a terrible meeting or phone call with a student’s parents, I probably made an overly broad and unfair comment. But the ire and insult directed at parents as a whole in the midst of COVID and the school reopening conversation is something to behold and it feels like it is coming from every direction at once.

Anyone who has worked in a school knows that the teachers lounge is often abuzz with tales of the worst parents ever. It could be that a parent is totally checked out, hostile or one of those helicopter types —either way, it can quickly devolve from “this parent” to “all parents” and that is never an effective or productive way to engage on complex and important topics like how to get children who have been out of school for 11 months back into school.

Opinion: Affluent professionals and unions: Can this marriage last?

Megan McArdle:

Rereading Teixeira and Abramowitz today, one is struck by their eerie prescience, but also by the fundamental difficulty of holding together a Democratic Party where highly educated and affluent adults are the ascending faction but are not numerous enough to carry an election by themselves. This past year, that difficulty has come into sharp focus as the pandemic has set the educated class that leads the party on a collision course with its traditional union base.

That crash might have come sooner if private-sector unions hadn’t been largely a spent force. If White manufacturing workers and manual laborers had remained the party’s “prototypical” voters, as Teixeira and Abramowitz say they were in the mid-20th century, one can imagine that shift of the highly cosmopolitan “mass upper middle” toward Democrats might have stalled over issues such as immigration and trade.

These days, however, “labor” is more likely to mean government unions, which account for a slight majority of all unionized workers. Public-sector unions aren’t worried that the local school system is going to outsource its teaching to China or that courthouse jobs will be taken over by immigrants from Guatemala. So the party could keep singing the same hymns to organized labor even as the congregation turned over and its theology changed.

Progressive professionals might not like every single thing the teachers unions or the transit workers did, but they could live with it — and if services became really intolerably bad, they moved someplace where the unions were less intransigent, even while insisting that they were very supportive of public services, and of a well-paid government workforce represented by government unions.

The death of George Floyd, however, made it a little bit harder to voice full-throated support for government unions. Progressives raged at each new revelation of how insulated police officers had been from any sort of accountability for abusing their power. They had a whole bevy of union-negotiated special protections that made it hard to convict bad cops, and just as hard to separate them from the force.

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.

Age of distractions

Santeri Liukkonen:

The book is exciting and the story is funny. In fact, I’m learning something new. So much so, that I keep writing down my ideas and shuffling their implications. And suddenly, I realize something. In the past 15-minutes, I’ve only managed to cover three pages and I’m already thinking about next things I’m supposed to do. Cleaning, picking-up the groceries, doing my excercises, writing a couple of lines of code, watching a movie…

Is this supposed to be my Saturday off work?

So I stop and think. When was the last moment that took longer than 10 seconds, where I didn’t have an urge to check an app on my phone, see if I got new email, or impulsively do something else?

By now, where I live, it’s been many months of nightly curfews and limitations on travel and social life. I consider myself a very fortunate person to have suffered a relatively small impact from the global pandemic. Nonetheless, I can’t stop but think about why my mind feels so exhausted while at the same time requiring a constant stream of stimulus that results in overbearing distraction

Entire Bay Area school board resigns after making disparaging comments about parents without realizing meeting was being broadcast

KTLA:

All members of a San Francisco Bay Area school board resigned days after they were heard making disparaging comments about parents at a virtual board meeting they didn’t realize was being broadcast to the public.

The four members of Oakley Union Elementary School District Board had stepped down by Friday amid growing outrage that began with the board’s Wednesday meeting. Before the meeting officially began and unaware the public could see and hear them, they used profanity and made jokes about parents just wanting a babysitter or to smoke pot in their home.

The incident garnered national attention and widespread condemnation.

The district’s superintendent, Greg Hetrick, announced the resignation in a letter Friday and said that Contra Costa County education board members will replace them in an interim capacity, the Mercury News reported.

“We deeply regret the earlier comments that were made in the meeting of the Board of Education earlier this week,” a joint statement by now ex-board members Kim Beede, Erica Ippolito and Richie Masadas says. “As trustees, we realize it is our responsibility to model the conduct that we expect of our students and staff, and it is our obligation to build confidence in district leadership; our comments failed you in both regards, and for this we offer our sincerest apology.”

A Dishonest, Indifferent, and Toxic Culture

Huixiang Voice:

The conclusion finally confirmed two important accusations listed in Huixiang Chen’s suicide notethat:

  1. The review process for his ISCA-2019 paperwas broken, and most of the reviewers of the paper are “friends” of his advisor Dr. Tao Li. The review process became organized and colluded academic fraud:

  2. After recognizing that there are severe problems in his ISCA-2019 paper, Huixiang Chen was coerced by his advisor Dr. Tao Li to proceed with a submission despite that Huixiang Chen repeatedly expressed concerns about the correctness of the results reported in work, which led to a strong conscience condemnation and caused the suicide.

Finally, the paper with academic misconduct got retracted by ACM as Huixiang’s last wish. The ACM imposed a penalty of a 15-year ban on participation in any ACM Conference or Publication to the offenders. As alleged by the President of ACM, certain of these penalties are the most severe ACM has ever imposed. The President of ACM also wrote a letter to Huixiang’s family to let them know the investigation result and their decision.

The saddest conclusion of the investigation is this one:

K-12 Tax & spending Climate: Boston’s taxpayer supported salaries

Sean Philip Cotter:

Mayor Martin Walsh, even with his hefty yearly sum of $199,000, made less bread than 6,818 of his employees.

“Over the last year, city employees have stepped up in unimaginable ways to see us through these unprecedented times as we continue battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we work towards an equitable recovery,” Walsh said Friday in a statement. “I am grateful each and every day for their hard work and unwavering commitment to their jobs, and for rising to the occasion at a time when it has been needed most.”

Walsh’s office noted that injury pay for police and firefighters increased 19% to $40.7 million, which could be due to officers and firefighters quarantining after potential workplace COVID-19 exposures.

China wants to stop exodus of young children studying overseas

Mandy Zuo:

An increasing number of Chinese children – some as young as 10 – are being sent to schools abroad by their ambitious parents, new data shows. 

More than 700,000 Chinese children were enrolled in schools overseas in 2019, an increase of 6% from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Education.

That figure is expected to rise in the coming years, sparking concern from the Chinese government. In January, the Education Ministry said at a national conference that it would build “a mechanism to discourage minors from studying abroad.” 

It believes that some children are too young to be sent so far away for their education. 

America’s cancel culture is becoming absurd

Gerard Baker:

There has been no teaching at Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School in San Francisco for almost a year. Despite overwhelming evidence of minimal viral risk, teachers’ unions in the city, as in much of the United States, have resisted calls to return to in-person classes.

When students do eventually go back to classes in the city’s Sunset district one of the things they’ll have to learn will be an imminent change of the school’s title. It’s one of 44 that the local education authority recently voted to rename.

While the education commissars haven’t yet decided how to get children back in class, they have decided urgent action is needed to remove from schools the names of those who had “engaged in the subjugation and enslavement

Universities’ Insane COVID Rules and Snitch Culture Are Training the Next Generation to Embrace Totalitarianism

Evita Duffy:

If you think state and federal government COVID-19 policies are too restrictive, you haven’t been to a college campus lately. Schools across the country have imposed extreme, micromanaging rules on 19-22 year olds—a demographic more likely to die from the seasonal flu and pneumonia than COVID.

Paying top dollar at already overpriced institutions for vastly inferior remote learning, university students remain unnecessarily isolated and barred from using the services and facilities they and their families are paying for. 

Many schools, like Southern Methodist University, forbid students from having guests in their dorm rooms. Others have even installed security cameras in the hallways aimed at residents’ doors to monitor adherence. 

Most institutions have isolation dorms or, as some students call them, “isolation prisons,” where students who test positive for COVID are forced to live alone for two weeks (sound familiar?). 

Many students must wear masks at all times, including outdoors and in gyms. This is an ironic twist for institutions that train scientists and house overwhelmingly leftist professors and students who chastise anyone for questioning the ever-changing government COVID guidelines and screech at all of us to “follow the science” as though science is a religion with no growth, questioning, or margin of error.

Affluent professionals and unions: Can this marriage last?

Megan McArdle:

Rereading Teixeira and Abramowitz today, one is struck by their eerie prescience, but also by the fundamental difficulty of holding together a Democratic Party where highly educated and affluent adults are the ascending faction but are not numerous enough to carry an election by themselves. This past year, that difficulty has come into sharp focus as the pandemic has set the educated class that leads the party on a collision course with its traditional union base.

That crash might have come sooner if private-sector unions hadn’t been largely a spent force. If White manufacturing workers and manual laborers had remained the party’s “prototypical” voters, as Teixeira and Abramowitz say they were in the mid-20th century, one can imagine that shift of the highly cosmopolitan “mass upper middle” toward Democrats might have stalled over issues such as immigration and trade.

These days, however, “labor” is more likely to mean government unions, which account for a slight majority of all unionized workers. Public-sector unions aren’t worried that the local school system is going to outsource its teaching to China or that courthouse jobs will be taken over by immigrants from Guatemala. So the party could keep singing the same hymns to organized labor even as the congregation turned over and its theology changed.

Progressive professionals might not like every single thing the teachers unions or the transit workers did, but they could live with it — and if services became really intolerably bad, they moved someplace where the unions were less intransigent, even while insisting that they were very supportive of public services, and of a well-paid government workforce represented by government unions.

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

Melissa Fay Greene:

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

The dark-eyed, black-haired boy, born June 20, 1980, had been abandoned when he was a few weeks old. The reason was obvious to anyone who bothered to look: His right leg was a bit deformed. After a bout of illness (probably polio), he had been tossed into a sea of abandoned infants in the Socialist Republic of Romania.

To hear more feature stories, get the Audm iPhone app.

In films of the period documenting orphan care, you see nurses like assembly-line workers swaddling newborns out of a seemingly endless supply; with muscled arms and casual indifference, they sling each one onto a square of cloth, expertly knot it into a tidy package, and stick it at the end of a row of silent, worried-looking babies. The women don’t coo or sing to them.* You see the small faces trying to fathom what’s happening as their heads whip by during the wrapping maneuvers.

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

The cement fortress emitted no sounds of children playing, though as many as 500 lived inside at one time. It stood mournfully aloof from the cobblestone streets and sparkling river of the town where Elie Wiesel had been born, in 1928, and enjoyed a happy childhood before the Nazi deportations.

The windows on Izidor’s third-floor ward had been fitted with prison bars. In boyhood, he stood there often, gazing down on an empty mud yard enclosed by a barbed-wire fence. Through bare branches in winter, Izidor got a look at another hospital that sat right in front of his own and concealed it from the street. Real children, children wearing shoes and coats, children holding their parents’ hands, came and went from that hospital. No one from Izidor’s Cămin Spital was ever taken there, no matter how sick, not even if they were dying.

Like all the boys and girls who lived in the hospital for “irrecoverables,” Izidor was served nearly inedible, watered-down food at long tables where naked children on benches banged their tin bowls. He grew up in overcrowded rooms where his fellow orphans endlessly rocked, or punched themselves in the face, or shrieked. Out-of-control children were dosed with adult tranquilizers, administered through unsterilized needles, while many who fell ill received transfusions of unscreened blood. Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS ravaged the Romanian orphanages.

The 27-Year-Old Who Became a Covid-19 Data Superstar

Ashlee Vance:

Spring 2020 brought with it the arrival of the celebrity statistical model. As the public tried to gauge how big a deal the coronavirus might be in March and April, it was pointed again and again to two forecasting systems: one built by Imperial College London, the other by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, or IHME, based in Seattle.

But the models yielded wildly divergent predictions. Imperial warned that the U.S. might see as many as 2 million Covid-19 deaths by the summer, while the IHME forecast was far more conservative, predicting about 60,000 deaths by August. Neither, it turned out, was very close. The U.S. ultimately reached about 160,000 deaths by the start of August.

The huge discrepancy in the forecasting figures that spring caught the attention of a then 26-year-old data scientist named Youyang Gu. The young man had a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and another degree in mathematics, but no formal training in a pandemic-related area such as medicine or epidemiology. Still, he thought his background dealing with data models could prove useful during the pandemic.

Whistleblower at Smith College Resigns Over Racism

Rod Dreher:

Jodi Shaw, the brave Smith College whistleblower I interviewed last year when she began speaking out about the racially hostile, anti-white atmosphere at the elite liberal arts school, has resigned her position there. Bari Weiss has the scoop. Here’s the letter Jodi sent to the school’s president:

Dear President McCartney:

I am writing to notify you that effective today, I am resigning from my position as Student Support Coordinator in the Department of Residence Life at Smith College. This has not been an easy decision, as I now face a deeply uncertain future. As a divorced mother of two, the economic uncertainty brought about by this resignation will impact my children as well. But I have no choice. The racially hostile environment that the college has subjected me to for the past two and a half years has left me physically and mentally debilitated. I can no longer work in this environment, nor can I remain silent about a matter so central to basic human dignity and freedom.

I graduated from Smith College in 1993. Those four years were among the best in my life. Naturally, I was over the moon when, years later, I had the opportunity to join Smith as a staff member. I loved my job and I loved being back at Smith.

But the climate — and my place at the college — changed dramatically when, in July 2018, the culture war arrived at our campus when a student accused a white staff member of calling campus security on her because of racial bias. The student, who is black, shared her account of this incident widely on social media, drawing a lot of attention to the college.

More, here:

Jodi Shaw made less in a year than the cost of tuition. She was offered a settlement, but turned it down. Here’s why.

Teachers to get priority for COVID-19 vaccine, Dane County Madison public health department says

Chris Rickert:

While many public schools in Dane County began reopening in recent months to some in-person learning, and many private schools have been in-person since September, Madison public school students won’t begin returning to the classroom until March 9, when kindergartners go back. First- and second-graders are set to return March 16 and 4-year-old kindergarten students on March 23.

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.

The hard lessons of home schooling

Tim Harford:

This week’s meltdown involved a French test. The teacher was displaying questions on screen as a PDF document. As she scrolled down, my son started to panic: he hadn’t finished the early questions yet — and now they had disappeared from view. He raised his hand to tell the teacher but she didn’t notice. When we found him, he was trying to explain the problem to her, through sobs, while ducking out of sight of the camera from embarrassment.

Just another day of remote learning, and my children are lucky: they each have their own desk, their own room and their own computer. Their schools are well resourced. Not many can count all these blessings. Still, the cracks are starting to show.

Months ago, I worried about the grave costs of keeping schools closed. Those costs are so diverse that it is easy to be distracted by the immediate problems.

Wisconsin’s Capitol City Is Trying To Ban White People From Police Oversight Board

Daniel Lennington:

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 to deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, he offered Americans, of all races, a compelling vision of a society no longer prejudiced by race. He envisioned a country where citizens are judged “by the content of their character” and not “the color of their skin.”

But to listen to today’s most prominent “antiracists,” King’s dream is what stands in the way of racial justice in 21st-century America. The result is the return of legal racial discrimination.

In Madison, Wisconsin, the famously leftist city government recently established a Police Civilian Oversight Board in response to activists concerned with police relations. The board’s mission is rather vague: “provide input,” “engage in community outreach,” and “make policy-level recommendations.” What the board is not vague about is who is allowed to participate.

Six of the board’s 11 members must be black. No Asians, American Indian, Hispanics or Latinos, or Whites can sit in those six seats: “Blacks Only,” to use the terminology of the City’s Alder Workgroup, which explicitly mandated “50 percent Black members.”

Hungry for Success? SNAP Timing, High-Stakes Exam Performance, and College Attendance

Timothy Bond:

Monthly government transfer programs create cycles of consumption that track the timing of benefit receipt. In this paper, we exploit state-level variation in the staggered timing of nutritional assistance benefit issuance across households to analyze how this monthly cyclicality in food availability affects academic achievement. Using individual-level score data from a large national college admissions exam in the United States linked to national college enrollment data, we find that taking this high-stakes exam in the last two weeks of the SNAP benefit cycle reduces test scores and lowers the probability of attending a 4-year college for low-income high school students.

These California politicians have taken the most money from the state’s biggest teacher’s union

Eric Ting:

California’s various teachers unions are coming under increased scrutiny over their reluctance to return to in-person learning, especially in the wake of the state legislature’s apprehension towards Gov. Gavin Newsom’s school reopening plan.

The state’s most powerful teachers union — the California Teachers Association, which has more than 300,000 members and is affiliated with the even more powerful National Education Association — has taken the firm stance that teachers must be vaccinated before in-person learning resumes.

That position conflicts with CDC guidance that teachers do not need to be vaccinated for in-person learning to be made safe. Newsom has expressed frustration, stating, “If everybody has to be vaccinated, we might as well just tell people the truth: There will be no in-person instruction in the state of California.”

It appears the state legislature has no plans to act on the governor’s budget-related proposal to give school districts additional funding if they agree to a firm timetable for reopening schools.

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.

Biden Says He’s Pro-Science. Why Is His Schools Plan Based on Fear?

Timothy Carney:

Will Mr. Biden listen to the science when it says, “Reopen schools”?

Last spring it was reasonable and responsible to close schools, because of what we knew and what we didn’t know. We knew that other viruses, such as the norovirus and influenza, thrived in schools. We didn’t know how similar the coronavirus would be — it was called the “novel coronavirus” for a reason.

Since then, thanks to science and data, we’ve come to know the virus much better.

Even at summer’s end, teachers’ and parents’ apprehension about school reopening was understandable, although we had learned two very relieving facts by then: Children are extremely unlikely to get the virus, extremely unlikely to spread it and extremely unlikely to get seriously ill if they do get it.

Now, as the second semester starts for most K-12 kids, and millions of school-age children are in classrooms and have been for months, the science shows that schools can be made safe with basic common-sense precautions. “In-person learning in schools has not been associated with substantial community transmission,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported, citing multiple studies.

The journal Pediatrics published a Duke University-led study this month that examined what happened when students or staff showed up at school with Covid-19. It found “within-school infections were extremely rare.” Other detailed contact-tracing efforts found the same thing: Kids and staff really don’t spread the virus at school.

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.

Children Persist Less When Adults Take Over

Julia Leonard:

Children need to learn to persist through challenges, yet adults sometimes step in to solve problems for them. Here, we looked at how adult taking over related to children’s persistence. In an observational study (N = 34, ages 4–8), we found that parents who took over more often during a challenging puzzle task rated their children as dispositionally less persistent. To establish whether taking over can cause reduced persistence, we ran two preregistered experiments (N = 150, ages 4–5). Children assigned to a taking over condition persisted less on a subsequent task compared to those in a teaching or a baseline condition. Reframing the context did not ameliorate the negative impact of taking over. The results suggest that taking over impairs children’s persistence.

Kansas Lawmakers Want Tuition Refunds For College Classes Put Online Due to COVID:

Katie Bernard:

Kansas lawmakers want to refund tuition to college students who lost class time or were forced into online courses as a result of the pandemic.

A House panel amended the state’s higher education budget Wednesday to require that colleges, community colleges and technical schools reimburse students for 50% of the tuition paid every day they spent online instead of in the classroom. The amendment would reimburse at 100% for days that students missed class entirely.

The move is the latest in a string of actions taken by lawmakers to show their disdain for online learning in colleges and k-12 schools. …

[R]efunds would involve thousands of students. Though an exact cost is unknown, it would likely run into the millions, stretching a proposed budget that already assumes a 5.5% cut in higher education.

Some students are already asking for and receiving these refunds.

Jane Austen’s concept of information (Not Claude Shannon’s)

Aaron Sloman:

Many scientists and engineers, including, surprisingly, some psychologists and neuroscientists, seem to think that what the word “information” and its equivalents in other languages refer to is what Claude Shannon’s ground-breaking 1948 paper referred to as “information”: a measurable property of signals that can be stored, transmitted, compared, compressed, decompressed, corrupted, repaired, encrypted, decrypted, etc. (Shannon, 1948).

Many of Shannon’s admirers seem to have forgotten that there is a much older, widely used, theoretically important notion of “information”, which was familiar to Jane Austen and used in her novels, and also occurs in non-technical, conversational, uses of the word “information”. This concept of information is essential for our understanding of biological evolution and its products (including humans) and for attempts to understand what natural intelligence is and how it works, including attempts to model and replicate natural intelligence in machines.

Shannon himself did not make this mistake of conflating the old concept of semantic information with what he called “information”. Margaret Boden comments on this in her two volume survey of cognitive science and its history (2006):

Caltech to Remove the Names of Robert A. Millikan and Five Other Eugenics Proponents from Buildings, Honors, and Assets

Caltech:

Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum, acting on unanimous recommendations from the Committee on Naming and Recognition (CNR) and the authorization of the Caltech Board of Trustees, today announced the removal of the name of Caltech’s founding president and first Nobel laureate, Robert A. Millikan, from campus buildings, assets, and honors. Rosenbaum and the Board also approved the removal of the names of Harry Chandler, Ezra S. Gosney, William B. Munro, Henry M. Robinson, and Albert B. Ruddock from campus assets and honors.

“The decision of the Board of Trustees is of seminal importance to Caltech’s future,” Rosenbaum said in a memo announcing the decision. “Renaming buildings is a symbolic act, but one that has real consequences in creating a diverse and inclusive environment. It is an act that helps define who we are and who we strive to be.”

In taking this step, the Institute fully heeds the committee’s recommendation to reckon and reconcile with the past, “publicly and unambiguously repudiat[ing] any shade of affiliation with eugenics.” The decision is a direct response to and an acknowledgement of the named individuals’ participation in the eugenics movement through affiliation with the Human Betterment Foundation (HBF), a California-based organization founded in 1928 by Ezra Gosney, which supported eugenic sterilization research and distributed propaganda in support of eugenic sterilization. Caltech’s leadership concurred with the CNR that to continue to memorialize the named individuals, without a complete accounting of who they were, is inconsistent with Caltech’s values. Millikan, Gosney, Chandler, Munro, Robinson, and Ruddock were successful professionals, civic leaders, and philanthropists and also prominent members of society who lent their stature and names to the furtherance of racist and discriminatory practices either as HBF trustees or members.

Civics: The Fantasy of Opting Out

Finn Brunton & Helen Nissenbaum:

Consider a day in the life of a fairly ordinary person in a large city in a stable, democratically governed country. She is not in prison or institutionalized, nor is she a dissident or an enemy of the state, yet she lives in a condition of permanent and total surveillance unprecedented in its precision and intimacy.

As soon as she leaves her apartment, she is on camera: while in the hallway and the elevator of her building, when using the ATM outside her bank, while passing shops and waiting at crosswalks, while in the subway station and on the train — and all that before lunch. A montage of nearly every move of her life in the city outside her apartment could be assembled, and each step accounted for. But that montage would hardly be necessary: Her mobile phone, in the course of its ordinary operation of seeking base stations and antennas to keep her connected as she walks, provides a constant log of her position and movements. Her apps are keeping tabs, too.

Failing grades. Rising depression. Bay Area children are suffering from shuttered schools

Jill Tucker:

Viola Buitoni tried to help her son as he grew increasingly detached, the high school junior’s anger flaring, tears flowing as she begged him to do his schoolwork.

Before the pandemic, her son was thriving at San Francisco’s Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, where he was in the vocal music program and the robotics team.

But after schools closed in March, “everything came tumbling down,” Buitoni said. He has stopped going to Zoom school.

His glazed look scares his mother as she encourages him to do assignments or leave his room. “I can’t,” he responds. “It’s not, ‘I don’t want to do it,’” she said. “It’s ‘That’s too much effort. I can’t do it.’”

It is an all too common story across the Bay Area as school closures stretch on, with most large districts stuck in 100% online classes heading into a second year.

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.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on What She Learned From Battling the Teachers’ Union

Dana Goldstein:

After a bitter fight, the Chicago Public Schools reached a deal with its teachers’ union last week to reopen elementary and middle schools amid the pandemic. By early March, students who have been learning remotely for 10 months will be back in the classrooms.

The agreement speeds up vaccinations for teachers, provides expanded accommodations for educators with medically vulnerable relatives and sets virus thresholds that would trigger a return to remote learning. With other big cities across the nation, particularly on the West Coast, locked in conflict with teachers’ unions, the deal is a potential road map for how local officials can have children return to the classrooms and help President Biden achieve his goal of reopening most schools within the first 100 days of his administration.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, speaks frankly about her acrimonious relationship with the Chicago Teachers Union and how she plans to rebuild trust with students’ parents. After campaigning to restore an elected school board, she now says that she believes reopening would not have been possible without mayoral control of schools — something that mayors in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, where schools remain closed, lack.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

You said a goal of the negotiation was to help everyone feel safe, not just be safe. Can you expand on that?

This last year has been hell on people. It just has. Everything about the certainty of what our day is going to look like, what tomorrow will look like — all of that’s been taken from us. So dealing with people’s emotions, particularly as a leader in this moment, is absolutely a part of my day-to-day life as a mayor.

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.

A College Program for Disadvantaged Teens Could Shake Up Elite Admissions

Erica Green:

When Di’Zhon Chase’s teacher told her that she might be able to enroll in a Harvard University class, she was skeptical — and not just because the Ivy League school was more than 2,000 miles from her hometown, Gallup, N.M.

“Harvard isn’t part of the conversation — you don’t even hear that word in Gallup,” Ms. Chase said. “It isn’t something that adults expect out of us. I don’t think it’s because they don’t believe in us; it’s just so much is stacked against us.”

But in fall 2019, Ms. Chase joined a small group of students across the country in an experiment that sought to redefine what is possible for students who share her underprivileged background. Through an initiative started by a New York-based nonprofit, the National Education Equity Lab, hundreds of students are virtually rattling the gates of some of the nation’s most elite colleges by excelling in their credit-bearing courses before they leave high school.

The Equity Lab enrolled more than 300 11th and 12th graders from high-poverty high schools in 11 cities across the country in a Harvard course, “Poetry in America: The City From Whitman to Hip-Hop,” taught by a renowned professor, Elisa New. The high schoolers met the same rigorous standards of the course created for Harvard’s admitted students — they listened to lectures, took quizzes and completed essays, and they were graded by the same standards.

The goal of the pilot program was “reimagining and expanding the roles and responsibilities of universities,” and encouraging them to pursue star students from underprivileged backgrounds “with the same enthusiasm and success with which they identify top athletes,” said Leslie Cornfeld, the Equity Lab’s founder and chief executive.

For decades, programs such as QuestBridgehave tried to connect promising underprivileged students to elite higher education, with some success, but the Equity Lab effort is less about matchmaking than challenging students academically, giving them confidence and preparing them for the rigors of competitive colleges.

The early results, Ms. Cornfeld said, are clear: “Our nation’s talent is evenly distributed; opportunity is not.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Global debt soars to 356% of GDP

Dion Rabouin:

The world’s debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 356% in 2020, a new report from the Institute of International Finance finds, up 35 percentage points from where it stood in 2019, as countries saw their economies shrink and issued an ocean of debt to stay afloat.

Why it matters: The increase brings numerous countries, including the U.S., to extreme debt levels, well beyond what economists have called untenable in the past.

Nonfinancial private sector debt alone now makes up 165% of the entire world’s economic output.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

We’ve also tolerated long term, disastrous reading results.

3 Attacks on School Choice in Governor Evers’ Wisconsin Budget Proposal

Will Flanders:

Governor Tony Evers’ 2021-23 budget includes a Christmas tree for teachers unions in the form of higher spending and no requirements to get kids back into the classroom. But it also represents a renewed assault on the state’s high-performing school choice and charter programs. Below are three school choice takeaways from the governor’s budget proposal.   

Enrollment Caps on Choice Programs  

The budget proposal includes an enrollment cap on all of Wisconsin’s school choice programs—Milwaukee, Racine and statewide. These programs serve students whose families are low-income—under 300% of the federal poverty limit in Milwaukee and Racine and under 220% of the limit statewide. The cap would begin in fiscal year 2023, using the enrollment from the 2022 school year. While an enrollment cap can sound innocuous, the practical effect would be to prevent additional students from accessing the program. Make no mistake: this freeze would make the programs unviable for many schools that participate.     

Currently, enrollment in the statewide program (Wisconsin Parental Choice Program) is capped at 5% of district enrollment. This number is set to increase by 1% per year until the caps come off in 2025, when the programs reach 10% of district enrollment. Setting an enrollment cap next year would limit choice enrollment to 6% of district enrollment. This would make it impossible for school choice to flourish like it has in Milwaukee, where many schools exist to primarily to serve low-income students who would not otherwise be able to afford private schooling.   

Parents clearly want educational options. Enrollment in the statewide program has grown from 499 students in 2013-14 to 11,740 students this year—an increase of more than 2200% over just eight years. This is likely because school choice has a track record of improving outcomes. WILL’s annual Apples to Apples study has found higher achievement on the Forward Exam for students in the state’s choice programs relative to traditional public schools, a finding that is supported by national data. This provision can be seen as little else than protecting public school enrollment counts.   

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.

When asked about Act 10, I often suggest that interested parties explore the Milwaukee pension scandal. Successful recall elections lead to the first Republican County Executive in many, many years – Scott Walker.

A few links, just before Act 10 require contemplation, as well.

2009 “an emphasis on adult employment” – retired Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman, speaking at the Madison Rotary Club..

2010, WEAC: Four (State) Senators for $1.57 million (!)

Philly’s school reopening is pushed back again. City councilmembers questioned the plan.

Kristin Graham:

The Philadelphia School District has pushed back its reopening date for a third time.

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Wednesday 9,000 prekindergarten through second-grade students won’t return on Feb. 22 as planned but will instead go back March 1 amid an ongoing building safety dispute between the district and its teachers’ union. Students had been scheduled to return Monday.

The news left him “deeply disappointed,” the superintendent said.

Hite maintains that schools are safe but said he will not bring children back to classrooms that aren’t ready for them. Teachers were due back Feb. 8 but, at the direction of Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan, refused to report to school buildings and have been working from home. City school buildings have been closed since March 2020.

Inside Education, Part 2 Finance: How Robin Hood Hogs Feast on the School Treasure Chests!

Armand Fusco:

“We’re all born brave, trusting and greedy, and most of us remain greedy.” (Mignon McLaughlin)

Part 1 last week dealt with the elephants in the school budget in order to understand the dynamics of the budget process. If the budgets were prepared as illustrated and monitored regularly, this article could not have been written.

The first thing to understand is what corruption means in education, and the fact that by definition all corruption is not illegal; as a result, corruption can be found in all schools, it’s only a matter of classification and degree. Further, as will be seen, often it goes on for years meaning that required auditing procedures are totally inadequate to identify school corruption.

Corruption: breach of trust, bribery, crime, crookedness, deceit deception, dishonesty, exploitation, evil, extortion, fraud, graft, malfeasance, nepotism, payoff, profiteering, tainted, unethical, untrustworthy and unscrupulousness.

All of these are unpleasant and nasty words, but all do not mean they are illegal or criminal e.g. nepotism is common in politics, education and elsewhere, but not necessarily illegal unless it violates a policy against it.

For my book, School Corruption: Betrayal of Children and the Public Trust, (published after I retired), I divided “corruption” into three separate categories:

• Cheating and Deceitful Practices—CheDe cheaty). It’s the moral and ethical decay of the school culture.

• Waste and Mismanagement—WhaMi (whammy); sometimes difficult to determine because too often, it is in the eyes of the beholder.

• Fraud and Stealing—FraSte (frosty); encompassing embezzlement and fraudulent activities in which actual dollars are involved.
There is also a credo involved that I developed:

“The Superintendent shall diligently identify opportunities to reduce costs and improve operating efficiency in all areas of district operations. ”

Part 1 School Finance: The Elephants in the School Budget.

Mulligans for “Act 10”?

Patrick Marley and Molly Beck:

Republican legislative leaders immediately rejected the full proposal because of provisions within it that would roll back policies they enacted under a Republican governor.

“He’s not serious about governing, he’s serious about politics,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told reporters after the budget address.

Vos said the budget proposal was full of “poison pills” that Evers knew would be opposed by Republicans and would likely be ignored while writing the next state budget plan.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, expressed a similar view, writing on Twitter that Republicans would “set Evers’ bad budget aside.”

Meanwhile, Evers concluded his speech by asking GOP lawmakers to end the seemingly permanent standoff between them.

“There’s no time for false promises of hope and prosperity with empty words that you know full well won’t match your actions,” Evers said. “You can disagree with me if you want, but don’t punish the people we serve so you can settle a score no one but you is keeping.”

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.

When asked about Act 10, I often suggest that interested parties explore the Milwaukee pension scandal. Successful recall elections lead to the first Republican County Executive in many, many years – Scott Walker.

A few links, just before Act 10 require contemplation, as well.

2009 “an emphasis on adult employment” – retired Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman, speaking at the Madison Rotary Club..

2010, WEAC: Four (State) Senators for $1.57 million (!)

Strong Suburbs

Policy Exchange:

Britain needs more housing. But, so often, local residents justifiably believe that new housing in their area means a loss of public goods and amenities for them. This has led to a zero sum struggle where the debate is over who ought to be a winner and who ought to be a loser. Policy Exchange’s new paper Strong Suburbs cuts through that false dichotomy, providing a mechanism for local residents to benefit from, and control, new development.

By giving local residents control over the development they see, including its architecture and design, and by giving them a share in the wealth created, the paper shows how we can create more beautiful, walkable, and sustainable neighbourhoods, delivering millions of houses in the areas they are most needed. It lays out how this will benefit people with shorter commutes, larger and more modern fittings and interiors, space for new family members, and better jobs. And it explains how this could add billions to GDP over the coming 15 years, generating outdoor covid-proof jobs at all skill levels.

Los Angeles School Board to Fire 133 Police Officers in Favor of ‘Climate Coach’ Program

Evan Symon:

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education announced a sweeping overhaul of school security, voting to fire 133 Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD) members in favor of school “climate coaches”.

The decision to cut a third of the LASPD force will leave the school district with 211 LASPD officers to keep the peace at schools. The defunded LASPD funds will instead finance “climate coaches”, community members who will work with students to improve school receptivity and address racial bias. For LASPD officers who do stay on the force, the board also ruled that pepper spray could no longer be used against students.

In addition, the $25 million slashed from the LASPD budget last year will go to the Black Student Achievement Plan, a program that will hire more social workers, counselors, and professional development workers, introduce social justice and diversity into class curriculum, and bring a focus on math classes.

The plan for the overhaul has been in the works since last year following the growth of movements wanting to defund the police and bring social justice changes following the death of George Floyd in May 2020. The subsequent protests and riots culminated in many lawmakers and community leaders bringing about significant changes to local law enforcement, such as Los Angeles cutting $150 million from the LAPD budget in November 2020.

But calls for Los Angeles schools to follow suit, led by community and student activists, never materialized last year, partially due to continued COVID-19 related issues. Many were frustrated after other school districts in California, such as Oakland, voted to completely eliminate their school police force. But constant campaigning by the groups finally brought the plan to a vote on Tuesday, with board members overwhelming to vote in favor of the changes after nearly an hour of comments by students and parents.

The effects of school closures on SARS-CoV-2 among parents and teachers

Jonas Vlachos, Edvin Hertegård, and Helena B. Svaleryd:

To reduce the transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), most countries closed schools, despite uncertainty if school closures are an effective containment measure. At the onset of the pandemic, Swedish upper-secondary schools moved to online instruction, while lower-secondary schools remained open. This allows for a comparison of parents and teachers differently exposed to open and closed schools, but otherwise facing similar conditions. Leveraging rich Swedish register data, we connect all students and teachers in Sweden to their families and study the impact of moving to online instruction on the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. We find that, among parents, exposure to open rather than closed schools resulted in a small increase in PCR-confirmed infections (odds ratio [OR] 1.17; 95% CI [CI95] 1.03 to 1.32). Among lower-secondary teachers, the infection rate doubled relative to upper-secondary teachers (OR 2.01; CI95 1.52 to 2.67). This spilled over to the partners of lower-secondary teachers, who had a higher infection rate than their upper-secondary counterparts (OR 1.29; CI95 1.00 to 1.67). When analyzing COVID-19 diagnoses from healthcare visits and the incidence of severe health outcomes, results are similar for teachers, but weaker for parents and teachers’ partners. The results for parents indicate that keeping lower-secondary schools open had minor consequences for the overall transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in society. The results for teachers suggest that measures to protect teachers could be considered.

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.

Ban biometric mass surveillance!

reclaimyourface:

We call on the European Commission to strictly regulate the use of biometric technologies in order to avoid undue interference with fundamental rights.

In particular, we ask the Commission to prohibit, in law and in practice, indiscriminate or arbitrarily-targeted uses of biometrics which can lead to unlawful mass surveillance. These intrusive systems must not be developed, deployed (even on a trial basis) or used by public or private entities insofar as they can lead to unnecessary or disproportionate interference with people’s fundamental rights.

Publisher retracting five papers because of “clear evidence” that they were “computer generated”

Retraction Watch:

A publisher is retracting five papers from one of its conference series after discovering what it says was “clear evidence” that the articles were generated by a computer.

The five papers were published from 2018 to 2020 in IOP Publishing’s “Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science.” According to an IOP spokesperson, the retraction notices will all read:

This article has been retracted by IOP Publishing in light of clear evidence that it was computer generated. IOP Publishing is investigating why this was not identified during the submission and peer review process by the conference. As a member of the Committee for Publication Ethics (COPE) this has been investigated in accordance with COPE guidelines and it was agreed the article should be retracted.

Here’s the abstract for one of the papers, “Neural Networks Considered Harmful:”

System administrators agree that omniscient modalities are an interesting new topic in the field of complexity theory, and researchers concur. Given the current status of lossless information, experts shockingly desire the visualization of model checking. In this position paper, we use biomorphic information to disconfirm that the little-known random algorithm for the simulation of journaling file systems by Van Jacobson is optimal.

It and the other four papers — “Financial Information Security Using Modular Communication,” “Singular Topoi of Countably Non-local, Continuously Cayley, Maximal Elements and the Continuity of Closed Elements,” “Newton Categories for a Solvable Element,” and “Decoupling Evolutionary Programming from Gigabit Switches in Neural Networks” — show telltale signs of being created by SciGen, “an automatic CS paper generator” developed by graduate students at MIT in 2005, or Mathgen and Physgen, which are similar.

Landmark proposals to strengthen free speech at universities

UK Department for Education:

Tougher legal measures to strengthen free speech and academic freedom at universities in England have been announced by the Education Secretary today (16 February), to stamp out unlawful ‘silencing’ on campuses.

Following an increasing number of cases of individuals being silenced, the Education Secretary has warned of a ‘chilling effect’ where students and staff feel they cannot express themselves freely.

The proposed measures deliver on a manifesto commitment, and include a new free speech condition placed on higher education providers in order to be registered in England and access public funding. The regulator, the Office for Students, would have the power to impose sanctions, including financial penalties, for breaches of the condition.

The strengthened legal duties would also extend to Students Unions, which for the first time would have to take steps to ensure that lawful free speech is secured for their members and others, including visiting speakers.

When it comes to race and gender, oppressed people can be oppressors too

Sonia Sodha:

Is it deeply offensive to lambast a black or an Asian person for not being “black” or “Asian” enough? Yes. Is it offensive to assume that someone black or Asian criticising the politics of another black or Asian person is motivated by such sentiment? Yes.

Last week, the Conservative MP Neil O’Brien blundered into the latter under the guise of defending his black colleague, equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, from the former. Badenoch had tweeted screenshots of two private right-of-reply emails the black journalist Nadine White had sent her, accusing her of “creepy and bizarre” behaviour for putting to her claims made by a source.

This triggered a torrent of abuse directed at White. There is no question that Badenoch has faced unpleasant racism, but that does not excuse her behaviour towards White, a journalist doing her job, nor her undermining the confidential right-of-reply process that is critical to accurate journalism.

That did not stop O’Brien weighing in to try to justify Badenoch’s behaviour. In order to do so, he misrepresented White’s work and conflated her journalism with some of the abuse Badenoch has received on Twitter that has accused her of being a “race traitor”, which has nothing to do with White. All this tends to depict White’s journalism as being motivated by a belief that Badenoch, as a Conservative, isn’t truly black.

He didn’t stop there: he also accused the Labour MP Naz Shah of “straight up racism” for claiming that the home secretary, Priti Patel, was gaslighting ethnic minorities by talking about her own experiences of racism. Again, O’Brien misrepresents what happened to give the impression that Shah’s critique of Patel is motivated by a belief that her politics make her less Asian. What actually happened was that the black MP Flo Eshalomi asked Patel a question that referenced her experiences of anti-black racism and the structural racism of policies such as those behind the Windrush scandal.