Paid to Protest: Urban Triage Gets $1.7 Million Payday From Dane County

Maciver News:

There was no discussion on Thursday night, when the Dane County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to award Urban Triage a $12.4 million contract to administer the county’s ARPA rent assistance program.

The decision sailed through the approval process, first being introduced on June 25th and officially approved on July 22. There’s no indication from the board’s records that any other vendors were considered.

Urban Triage will get to keep $1.7 million of the award for administrative costs, which it hopes to minimize. It is currently trying to recruit volunteers to process the rental assistance applications for free using their own computers. Urban Triage is only planning to offer 12 hours a week for walk-in appointments, and additional 3 hours on Friday for virtual appointments.

It’s hard to believe that just one year ago, Urban Triage was leading the charge to terrorize downtown Madison for the cause of racial justice.

Urban Triage is a radical, political activist organization dedicated to race-struggle. The founder and CEO, Brandi Grayson, calls the USA the world’s first “white supremacy state.” She believes there’s no difference between capitalism and white supremacy.

Ultimately, Grayson says, “We have to dismantle any and all systems that are rooted in the military conquest that created what we know as America.”

The New Censorship

John Steele Gordon:

There is a growing tendency toward censorship in the United States, made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. It must be opposed vigorously, as it is a slippery slope indeed. Once people have the power (and it is an awesome one) to decide what is truth and what is not, they will never willingly give it up. As that great political scientist, James Madison, explained, “Men love power.”

Over the last few years, the phrase “the science is settled” has become a euphemism for “shut up.” This year, the various social media platforms have been deleting what they declare to be Covid “misinformation.” The truth, as far as Facebook, Twitter, and others are concerned, is now whatever the government’s line is at the moment. Disgracefully, the Biden administration has been encouraging social media platforms to increase this censorship.

If the Centers for Disease Control has made a pronouncement regarding the pandemic, not even a highly credentialed epidemiologist is allowed to disagree, at least until the CDC changes its mind. Last year, to suggest that Covid-19 originated in a Wuhan virology lab was “misinformation.” Today, it is the leading theory.

Obviously, the powers that be on social media have no idea how science operates. Science, almost by definition, is never settled. Scientists argue in order to find the truth (unlike lawyers, who argue in order to win the argument). Indeed, disagreement is the very engine that drives scientific advancement. That’s why scientific conferences are often contentious, even raucous affairs.

Madison Country Day student and a national engineering competition

Scott Girard:

Kaebren was one of four Madison-area high schoolers who made it to the national competition, Madison365 reported, though the only one to receive a gold honor at nationals. The recognition came during an online broadcast of the awards ceremony, during which Kaebren recalled disappointment after not hearing his name for the bronze or silver awards in the engineering competition, assuming that meant he hadn’t received recognition.

A study of Oligopolies (consider taxpayer/government run school cost/effectiveness, among others)

Sharat Ganapati:

Industry-level estimates show that concentration increases are positively correlated to productivity and real output growth, uncorrelated with price changes and overall payroll, and negatively correlated with labor’s revenue share. I rationalize these results in a simple model of competition. Productive industries (with growing oligopolists) expand real output and hold down prices, raising consumer welfare, while maintaining or reducing their workforces, lowering labor’s share of output.

“The FBI even paid for room and foods to keep the planning going.”

Jonathan Turley:

Courts look to two elements in entrapment cases. While the government can encourage criminal conspirators, the courts ask whether the offense was induced by a government agent and whether “the defendant was disposed to commit the criminal act prior to first being approached by Government agents.”  In Jacobson v. United States, 503 U.S. 540 (1992), the Court ruled that a Nebraska man convicting of receiving child pornography through the mail was entrapped.

This was a strong case for entrapment but was still a close vote. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Bryon White ruled that

A Catholic official’s resignation shows the real-world consequences of practices by America’s data-harvesting industries.

Shira Ovide

“Data privacy” is one of those terms that feels stripped of all emotion. It’s like a flat soda. At least until America’s failures to build even basic data privacy protections carry flesh-and-blood repercussions.

This week, a top official in the Roman Catholic Church’s American hierarchy resigned after a news site said that it had data from his cellphone that appeared to show the administrator using the L.G.B.T.Q. dating app Grindr and regularly going to gay bars. Journalists had access to data on the movements and digital trails of his mobile phone for parts of three years and were able to retrace where he went.

I know that people will have complex feelings about this matter. Some of you may believe that it’s acceptable to use any means necessary to determine when a public figure is breaking his promises, including when it’s a priest who may have broken his vow of celibacy.

To me, though, this isn’t about one man. This is about a structural failure that allows real-time data on Americans’ movements to exist in the first place and to be used without our knowledge or true consent. This case shows the tangible consequences of practices by America’s vast and largely unregulated data-harvesting industries.

The reality in the United States is that there are few legal or other restrictions to prevent companies from compiling the precise locations of where we roam and selling that information to anyone. This data is in the hands of companies that we deal with daily, like Facebook and Google, and also with information-for-hire middlemen that we never directly interact with.

How Much Are Prices Up? Here’s One Family’s Day-to-Day Expenses.

Valerie Bauerlein and Stephanie Stamm:

Inflation played a role in their summer plans, too. Last year they bought a trampoline with their vacation money. This year they were thinking about resuming their tradition of a Gulf Coast beach holiday. That is, until they searched flight prices. Airfares were up 24.1% in May from a year before, while hotel and motel prices rose by 9% over the same period, according to the Labor Department.

The family opted instead to drive 10½ hours to Palm Springs, Calif., for a midweek stay at a family-friendly resort. With the higher price of gas, each fill-up hurt, Mr. Galbraith said, even though they were in the family’s hybrid Toyota Sienna minivan and not their Toyota Tacoma, a pickup truck that gets about 22 miles a gallon on the highway. “We try not to drive the truck anywhere right now,” he said.

They stocked up on swimsuits and sandals, items they didn’t use during the pandemic last year when they avoided the neighborhood pool and spent weekends hiking instead.

Ongoing substantial Wisconsin K-12 tax & spending growth

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

K-12 Health Governance: We failed to find that countries or U.S. states that implemented SIP policies earlier, and in which SIP policies had longer to operate, had lower excess deaths than countries/U.S. states that were slower to implement SIP policies.

Virat Agrawal:

As a way of slowing COVID-19 transmission, many countries and U.S. states implemented shelter-in-place (SIP) policies. However, the effects of SIP policies on public health are a priori ambiguous as they might have unintended adverse effects on health. The effect of SIP policies on COVID-19 transmission and physical mobility is mixed. To understand the net effects of SIP policies, we measure the change in excess deaths following the implementation of SIP policies in 43 countries and all U.S. states. We use an event study framework to quantify changes in the number of excess deaths after the implementation of a SIP policy. We find that following the implementation of SIP policies, excess mortality increases. The increase in excess mortality is statistically significant in the immediate weeks following SIP implementation for the international comparison only and occurs despite the fact that there was a decline in the number of excess deaths prior to the implementation of the policy. At the U.S. state-level, excess mortality increases in the immediate weeks following SIP introduction and then trends below zero following 20 weeks of SIP implementation. We failed to find that countries or U.S. states that implemented SIP policies earlier, and in which SIP policies had longer to operate, had lower excess deaths than countries/U.S. states that were slower to implement SIP policies. We also failed to observe differences in excess death trends before and after the implementation of SIP policies based on pre-SIP COVID-19 death rates.

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.

AFT – Mississippi Litigation

Sarah Ulmer:

The American Federation of Teachers-Mississippi chapter claims that the national AFT (affiliated with the AFL-CIO) helped cover up the questionable financial transactions of  funds by the Jackson Federation of Teachers (JFT) and JFT President Dr. Akemi Stout. They have taken their claims to court in a federal lawsuit.

According to an article written by Jackson Jambalaya, AFT-MS found that the JFT was having “cash-flow issues” in 2018 and 2019. Those years the state chapter said JFT did not make the required payments that come largely from member dues. The lawsuit also claims that Dr. Strout, head of JFT, attempted to move the headquarters to her home.

According to the complaint, when the state chapter attempted to investigate the situation they were denied access to JFT records and financial books. Subsequently, JFT refused to give any financial statements to the state chapter. Therefore, AFT-MS notified the national headquarters.

Commentary on K-12 Curricular Governance

Tennessee Conservative News:

Critical Race Theory was recently banned in Tennessee public schools.

However, it is left up to Tennessee’s Education Commissioner to enforce the ban. Some Tennessee teachers have even said they will teach CRT regardless of the law.

What should parents be watching for and doing to hold the teachers and leaders accountable to make sure this doesn’t get into our schools?

And CRT is not just in our schools, it has crept into the business community as well. What can be done?

These questions and more are answered in this exclusive interview with U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn.

Schools and electric shock devices

Amanda Morris:

A Massachusetts school can continue to use electric shock devices to modify behavior by students with intellectual disabilities, a federal court said this month, overturning an attempt by the government to end the controversial practice, which has been described as “torture” by critics but defended by family members.

In a 2-to-1 decision, the judges ruled that a federal ban interfered with the ability of doctors working with the school, the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, to practice medicine, which is regulated by the state. The Food and Drug Administration sought to prohibit the devices in March 2020, saying that delivering shocks to students presents “an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury.”

civics: Antigovernment protests in Cuba, South Africa, Haiti and elsewhere are not random chaos.

Daniel Henninger:

For all the elevation American progressivism has received recently— Joe Biden’s leftward flop, the descent of America’s institutional elites into facile wokeism—I am beginning to think the most alert minds on the political left know that what looked like their historical moment is losing momentum.

The Democrats’ determination, driven by party progressives, to cram a generation’s worth of entitlements, taxes and welfare spending into a single reconciliation bill they will pass with a vice-presidential vote is properly seen as an act of desperation. They know it’s this year or never for making central government authority the virtually irreversible locus of power in the U.S. system. How else to explain the constant, totalist appeal that all this must be done to “save our democracy”? The clock is ticking.

But elevate your gaze beyond the Beltway, with its dainty debates about “our democracy,” and it looks like the ideology of command-and-control rule over entire populations is losing public support all over the world.

Cuba, South Africa, Haiti, Belarus and Myanmar all have seen recent explosions of significant antigovernment protests. In a world overwhelmed by dramatic events, one’s instinct is to let them wash through. But maybe we should consider the possibility that something other than random chaos is reflected in so many antigovernment protests. Wildfires can also erupt among nations.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Covid-19 pandemic compounds years of birth-rate decline, puts America’s demographic health at risk

Janet Adamy and Anthony DeBarros:

Some demographers cite an outside chance the population could shrink for the first time on record. Population growth is an important influence on the size of the labor market and a country’s fiscal and economic strength.

Yet after births peaked in 2007, they never rebounded from the nearly two-year recession that followed, even though Americans enjoyed a subsequent decade of economic growth.

With the birthrate already drifting down, the nudge from the pandemic could result in what amounts to a scar on population growth, researchers say, which could be deeper than those left by historic periods of economic turmoil, such as the Great Depression and the stagnation and inflation of the 1970s, because it is underpinned by a shift toward lower fertility.

“The economy of the developed world for the last two centuries now has been built on demographic expansion,” said Richard Jackson, president of the Global Aging Institute, a nonprofit research and education group. “We no longer have this long-term economic and geopolitical advantage.”

Choose life. WHO global abortion data.

The End of Merit and our educational deficit

Joel Kotkin:

Over time, our educational deficit with other countries, notably China, particularly in the acquisition of practical skills in mathematics, engineering medical technology, and management, has grown, threatening our economic and political pre-eminence. Our competitors, whatever their shortcomings, are focused on economic competition and technological supremacy. In math, the OECD’s 2018 Program for International Student Assessment found the United States was outperformed by 36 countries, not only by China, but also Russia, Italy, France, Finland, Poland, and Canada.

Critical Race Theory and its growing chorus of implementers—from the highest reaches of academia down to the grade school level—have little use for such practical skills acquisition and brook little dissent from teachers and researchers who raise objections to the new curriculum of racial grievance. Woke educators, like San Francisco’s School board member Alison Collins, claim that “merit, meritocracy and especially meritocracy based on standardized testing” are essentially “racist systems.” Some among the new racial cadres even denounce habits such as punctuality, rationality, and hard work as reflective of “racism” and “white privilege”.

In a world where brainpower pushes the economy, the denigration of habits of mind can only further weaken our economic future and undermine republican institutions. Even though the vast majority of corporate executives perceive a growing skills gap, they have failed to stop educators from abandoning skills in favor of ever greater emphasis on ephemera of race and gender.

The 1991 Project is about understanding the history of economic liberalization in order to better chart the future

Shruti Rajagopalan:

Bicycles saw increasing demand as urban populations increased. Steel was government controlled and, given the heavy demand from the construction industry, only limited allotments were made to bicycle manufacturers. To increase their allotment of steel and meet the increasing demand for bicycles, they needed an expansion permit, which was rarely approved by the government given the shortage of steel.

The license and permit system for steel also created a shortage in bicycles, which was followed by the inevitable price controls. To ensure that demand was legitimate and all available bicycles were used, owning and riding a bicycle required a government-issued token in some parts of the country. Inspectors thrived on the bribes paid when they caught anyone riding without the requisite permit.

The middle class didn’t escape the problem, either. Through a collaboration with Vespa, Bajaj manufactured scooters in India, and they became popular with the middle-class. Denied permission to expand to meet the rising demand, the waitlist for a Bajaj scooter was ten years by the late 1970s.

Peer Review as an Evolving Response to Organizational Constraint: Evidence from Sociology Journals, 1952–2018

Ben Merriman:

Double-blind peer review is a central feature of the editorial model of most journals in sociology and neighboring social scientific fields, yet there is little history of how and when its main features developed. Drawing from nearly 70 years of annual reports of the editors of American Sociological Association journals, this article describes the historical emergence of major elements of editorial peer review. These reports and associated descriptive statistics are used to show that blind review, ad hoc review, the formal requirement of exclusive submission, routine use of the revise and resubmit decision, and common use of desk rejection developed separately over a period of decades. The article then argues that the ongoing evolution of the review model has not been driven by intellectual considerations. Rather, the evolution of peer review is best understood as the product of continuous efforts to steward editors’ scarce attention while preserving an open submission policy that favors authors’ interests.

Schools Are Turning Stimulus Funds Into Teacher Bonuses

Yorea Koh:

Dozens of school districts and states are spending big chunks of their historic federal stimulus cash on one-time bonuses to teachers and staff, over the objections of some parents and others who claim such payments violate the intent of the federal funding.

Districts in Tennessee, Texas, California and Colorado and states such as Georgia have approved four-figure “thank you” bonuses in what they say is an attempt to stave off teacher resignations and to boost staff morale after an unprecedented year that required adapting to virtual teaching, then swinging back to in-person instruction.

Georgia was the first state to act, signing off on $1,000 statewide bonuses to 230,000 school-level employees, covering nearly every teacher and staff member, including aides, custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers. The move cost $230.5 million, or about 35% of the state’s $660.6 million federal coronavirus stimulus money, and was one of the state’s biggest expenditures from its allotment of the stimulus funds.

Schools have until 2024 to spend stimulus dollars, which totaled about $190 billion, the largest-ever, one-year federal infusion of cash for public schools. While districts and states have started spending some of the $81 billion already dispersed to states from the most recent round of $122 billion in funding, many are deciding how to allocate the rest and under federal guidelines won’t receive those funds until their plans have been approved. Twelve state spending plans have been approved thus far.

Georgia’s state board of education approved the bonuses in March, around the time teachers typically sign contracts for the following year, to aid with recruitment and retention following a difficult time.

“We needed some sort of morale boost, and our answer was to provide that bonus,” said Matt Jones, chief of staff at Georgia’s state department of education. “I really think that triaged the situation and let us finish the school year on a strong note.”

Sharon Doe, a high-school physics teacher in the Richmond County School System in Augusta, Ga., said the money was a welcome token of appreciation.

Dallas Justice Now

An Open Letter to Wealthy White Liberals of HPISD from DJN

America’s “Friendscape” crisis

Mike Allen:

New research shows Americans have fewer friends than in the past, and are less likely to have a best friend.

  • Why it matters: At a time of excruciating mental and societal stress, this is another sign we’re breaking apart. And the friendship drought could get worse with more people working remotely or hybrid-ly.

Here are two key findings, from May polling by the Survey Center on American Life, a project of the American Enterprise Institute: 

  • Our number of close friends has declined considerably from 30 years ago, when 33% of U.S. adults reported having 10 or more close friends, not counting relatives. Now, 13% say that. 
  • In 1990, 75% of us said we had a “best friend.” This year, 59% said that. 

AEI senior fellow Daniel Cox, who conducted the research, told me that as he’s discussed the findings on podcasts and online, people get it: “Everyone has their own anecdote.”

Lessons From the Parents Who Raised the World’s Top Soccer Sisters

Rachel Bachman:

“You find your­self tempted to widen your bound­aries as a par­ent in dis­ci­plin­ing, be­cause you don’t want them to be­come re­sent­ful to you or to soc­cer, and then they blame that, and then they want to quit,” Melissa said. “I was con­stantly bat­tling with, OK, how far can I stretch this but still be within rea­son? So my ad­vice is: Don’t stretch too far.”

The high price of play­ing on com­pet­i­tive squads is the chief crit­i­cism of youth soc­cer in the U.S., with costs in­clud­ing club and tour­na­ment fees and in­creas­ingly dis­tant travel. The Me­wises spent be­tween $10,000-$12,000 a year on the girls’ soc­cer start­ing in their mid-teens.

To af­ford that in­vest­ment, Bob sup­ple­mented the in­come from his full-time work for a firm that es­ti­mated costs for con­struc­tion projects. He took on week­end jobs build­ing, roof­ing or fram­ing houses, join­ing his ath­letic daugh­ters in sore­ness and fa­tigue.

“the only remedy of past discrimination is present discrimination.”

Wesley Yang:

Some of these measures almost certainly violate the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The courts brushed them back in certain cases and will likely continue to do so as challenges emerge. But that we enacted them is a victory for those seeking the drastic expansion of what they call “race-conscious policy” beyond the relatively constrained area in which affirmative action in college admissions, government contracting, and hiring has been allowed to operate. 

Among Biden’s first acts in office was to issue an executive order that has been taken as a warrant by those keen to extend this mandate further—into the provision of medical services by race and other areas to equalize outcomes wherever statistical disparities in outcome persist. Those disparities were henceforth to be understood as the product of a foundational, pervasive, trans-historical, and unyielding racism that can only be dislodged through the overt distribution of opportunity and reward by race in pursuit of “equity”, which has displaced mere equality as the aim of racial activism. 

The installation of these policies, and the sea-change in elite consensus that they enact, happened with little public deliberation or debate. Instead, we saw the policing of contrary views out of circulation, first by administrative authorities at universities, and later through broader campaigns to stigmatize the common moral intuitions of a supermajority of the American public. What were once held to be “colorblind ideals” of impartial treatment on the basis of individual attributes have been reclassified as a form of white supremacy on the “pyramid of white supremacy” presented as dogma in now pervasive diversity, equity, and inclusion training sessions. 

It took a decade or so for the theory of “colorblind racism” to move from academia to corporate America, and another half-decade for it to be explicitly endorsed by the federal government. It amounts to a quiet overturning of the post-1964 racial consensus. “Cancel culture”, which has created a situation in which 62 percent of the American public told pollsters that they afraid to share their political opinions, was always simply a means to an end—the noisy herald of a mandated adherence to new dogmas to come. The agenda is here today, in the process of being rolled out at scale across a range of institutions, including K-12 schools. The means must therefore be judged in relation to the ends they have secured. They have already begun to transform the schools and to exert influence over law enforcement in ways that are changing the character of education and city life.

When do vaccine incentives become coercive?

Laura Dodsworth:

The vaccine programs launched this year appear to offer a Happy Ending to the Horrible Story of the COVID-19 Pandemic. But I am cautious. Not because I am ‘antivax’, but because lasting ‘ever afters’ are never written in the language of emotional manipulation and coercive control.

Herd immunity, when enough people have either recovered from COVID or been vaccinated, will end the pandemic. The pressure to get there has given us a vaccination drive with an unprecedentedly strong behavioral psychology and emergency response approach.

A panoply of persuasions has been deployed to encourage the hesitant, the slow and the complacent. From dating app bonuses to donuts, lotteries to laminated vaccination cards — when do incentives become coercive? Tempting little lagniappes to reward vaccination include free popsicles, milkshakes and hot dogs; free Budweiser if 70 percent of Americans are vaccinated by the Fourth of July; free Krispy Kreme donuts every day for a year. But daily donuts seem incongruous when obesity is a comorbidity for COVID. And was the person who came up with the idea of offering free ‘joints for jabs’ actually high?

Some of the rewards are substantial. United Airlines is running the ‘Your Shot to Fly’ sweepstakes, giving away 30 pairs of free flights to vaccinated customers. The state of California’s ‘Vax for the Win’ $116.5m lottery is the most generous of multiple cash giveaways in the US. There are even scholarships to public universities. And this is where we hit problems.

Minerva accredited

Doug Lederman::

Ben Nelson is a charter member of the higher education disruption crowd. Its members, often ed-tech entrepreneurs, investors and others promoting alternatives to traditional colleges and universities, believe most institutions are too expensive or ineffective, operate on too small a scale, and fail to innovate and adapt to changes in student demands.
Nelson put his (and others’) money where his mouth was nearly a decade ago when he founded the Minerva Project, which strove to outperform the nation’s best-known and most selective institutions by creating a new institution from scratch that would enroll students who could apply to Harvard and Stanford Universities but give them a higher-touch, practical education in a blended format that sent them to multiple continents.

The Tyranny of Spreadsheets

Tim Harford:

Early last October my phone rang. On the line was a researcher calling from Today, the BBC’s agenda-setting morning radio programme. She told me that something strange had happened, and she hoped I might be able to explain it. Nearly 16,000 positive Covid cases had disappeared completely from the UK’s contact tracing system. These were 16,000 people who should have been warned they were infected and a danger to others, 16,000 cases contact tracers should have been running down to figure out where the infected went, who they met and who else might be at risk. None of which was happening. 

Why had the cases disappeared? Apparently, Microsoft Excel had run out of numbers. 

It was an astonishing story that would, in time, lead me to delve into the history of accountancy, epidemiology and vaccination, discuss file formatting with Microsoft’s founder, Bill Gates, and even trace the aftershocks of the collapse of Enron. But above all, it was a story that would teach me about the way we take numbers for granted. 

Now, as the UK tentatively reopens against a background of rapidly rising cases, we are hoping that vaccinations will keep us safe. The vaccines have — rightly — been trumpeted as a scientific triumph. Their development and rollout have taken place on a heroic scale. 

But back in September and October, when the UK was also reopening against a strikingly similar backdrop of rising cases, we had no vaccine to protect us. Instead, we were trying to defend ourselves with data. And we didn’t seem to be nearly as enamoured of data as we now are of vaccines. That is a shame, because when you’re relying on numbers to keep you safe, it’s important to put some effort into keeping your numbers straight.

How to Motivate Your Teen to Be a Safer Driver

Julie Jargon:

Drivers who were promised money at the end of the study for keeping their phone use comparatively low showed a 17% reduction in phone use, compared with a control group. The drivers whose earnings were meted out week by week did even better, reducing their phone use by 23%. “Showing people how much they were losing each week created regret,” said lead study author Kit Delgado, an emergency room physician and associate director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Jessica Simulation: Love and loss in the age of A.I.

Jason Fagone:

Jessica had died eight years earlier, at 23, from a rare liver disease. Joshua had never gotten over it, and this was always the hardest month, because her birthday was in September. She would have been turning 31.

On his laptop, he typed his email address. The window refreshed. “Welcome back, Professor Bohr,” read the screen. He had been here before. The page displayed a menu of options.

He selected “Experimental area.”

That month, Joshua had read about a new website that had something to do with artificial intelligence and “chatbots.” It was called Project December. There wasn’t much other information, and the site itself explained little, including its name, but he was intrigued enough to pay $5 for an account.

As it turned out, the site was vastly more sophisticated than it first appeared.

Designed by a Bay Area programmer, Project December was powered by one of the world’s most capable artificial intelligence systems, a piece of software known as GPT-3. It knows how to manipulate human language, generating fluent English text in response to a prompt. While digital assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa also appear to grasp and reproduce English on some level, GPT-3 is far more advanced, able to mimic pretty much any writing style at the flick of a switch.

California parent groups sue Gavin Newsom over COVID mask mandate for schools

Andrew Sheeler:

Two parent advocacy organizations announced Thursday afternoon that they are suing California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s top health officials over the statewide mandate that children wear masks to school regardless of their vaccination status.

The lawsuit, filed by Let Them Breathe and Reopen California Schools in San Diego County Superior Court, names Newsom, Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly, Public Health Director Tomás Aragón of the Department of Public Health, and Dr. Naomi Bardach of Safe Schools for All as defendants.

“It’s clear that (the health the department) has chosen to ignore the overwhelming evidence that show children are at a very low risk from being infected with COVID-19, transmitting it to others, or becoming seriously ill from COVID-19,” Reopen California Schools founder Jonathan Zachreson of Roseville said in a statement. “A return to a normal school year is crucial to the mental and physical health recovery for students across California who have endured months of isolation and a majority of who spent last school year entirely in distance learning.”

The Pain of the Never-Ending Work Check-In

Rachel Feintzeig:

Brenda Fernandez has tried blocking off time on her calendar. She’s tried to keep conversations focused. She still can’t escape them.

“Everything becomes a meeting,” the 29-year-old Miami copywriter told me. Her overwhelming feeling? “This could have been an email.”

Then she excused herself to hop on a 7 p.m. call.

We are deep in the age of the never-ending check-in. Meetings have gotten shorter during the pandemic, according to researchers, with one paper finding the average length dropped 20% in spring 2020.

Civics: The lowest level the Biden administration could anticipate is 1.4 million apprehensions, which would qualify as the 7th worst fiscal year on record

Princeton Policy Advisors:

Given the track record of the Biden administration, border policy is likely to represent a pivotal issue in the 2022 election. Indeed, the administration will have to work hard to just avoid the title of ‘worst ever for illegal immigration.’

What are its prospects?

We forecast two alternatives, that the balance of the year will look about average compared to the last twelve years (the Obama and Trump administrations) or that it will be as good as the best observed year since 2009. In an average year, the July to December months attain 90-93% of the June level. By contrast, the very best case would anticipate 55% of June’s level for the balance of the fiscal year to September 30th; and 46% of June levels for the second half of the calendar year on average. These can be seen on the graph below.

Free for all? Freedom of expression in the digital age

Published by the Authority of the House of Lords:

The right to speak one’s mind is a hallmark of free societies. Many people across the world are still deprived of that right, but in the UK it has long been treasured. However, it is not an unfettered right. Civilised societies have legal safeguards to protect those who may be vulnerable. One person’s abuse of their right to freedom of expression can have a chilling effect on others, leaving them less able to express themselves freely.

The internet—and particularly social media—provides citizens with an unprecedented ability to share their views. We welcome this and seek to strengthen freedom of expression online. However, the digital public square has been monopolised by a small number of private companies, which are often based outside the UK and whose primary aim is to profit from their users’ data. They are free to ban or censor whoever and whatever they wish, as well as to design their platforms to encourage and amplify certain types of content over others. Too often they are guided by concern for their commercial and political interests rather than the rights and wellbeing of their users. The benefits of freedom of expression must not be curtailed by these companies, whether by their actions or their failures to act.

In recent years, the harms users can suffer online have received growing attention. We support the Government’s proposal that, through the draft Online Safety Bill, platforms should be obliged to remove illegal content. Ofcom should hold them to strict timeframes where content is clearly illegal. We also support the Government’s intention to protect children from harm, although the draft Bill is inadequate in this respect–particularly in relation to pornographic websites. nor are we convinced that the draft Bill sufficiently protects vulnerable adults. These duties should be complemented by an increase in resources for the police to allow them effectively to enforce the law, including on harassment, death threats, incitement, stirring up hatred, and extreme pornography. Platforms should contribute to this increase in resources.

The Government also proposes to introduce duties in relation to content which is legal but may be harmful to adults. This is not the right approach. If the Government believes that a type of content is sufficiently harmful, it should be criminalised. For example, we would expect this to include any of the vile racist abuse directed at members of the England football team which is not already illegal. It has no place in our society. The full force of the law must be brought down on the perpetrators urgently.

Content which is legal but some may find objectionable should instead be addressed through regulation of the design of platforms, digital citizenship education, and competition regulation. This approach would be more effective, as well as better protecting freedom of expression.

When Government Urges Private Entities to Restrict Others’ Speech

U.S. life expectancy drops 1.5 years in 2020 due to pandemic

Darryl Coote:

Life expectancy in the United States declined by a year and a half during 2020 due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday in a new report, marking the steepest decline since the second world war.

According to the report, Americans as a whole saw their life expectancy from birth shorten from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.3 years in 2020, the largest decline since 2.9 years were lost between 1942 and 1943.

“The decline of 1.5 years in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 was primarily due to increases in mortality due to COVID-19,” the report said, stating the pandemic contributed to 73.8% of the decline, followed by unintentional injuries at 11.2% and homicide at 3.1%.

The life expectancy for men dropped 1.8 years, from 76.3 years in 2019 to 74.5 years in 2020, while women went from 81.4 years in 2019 to 80.2 years in 2020 for a loss of 1.2 years. Between the sexes, the age divide widened to a gap of 5.7 years compared to 5.1 years a year prior.

House Democrats call for cutting federal funding for charter schools

Katie Lobosco:

A small provision tucked into a massive federal budget proposal put forth by the House Appropriations Committee would cut money for charter schools by $40 million and could potentially limit many charter schools from receiving federal funds altogether. 

The National Alliance for Public Charters Schools is calling the cut “particularly egregious” and said that the move would impact a majority of 3.3 million charter school students, who are overwhelmingly children of color and from low-income families. 

Charter schools, which are publicly funded but usually run independently from local school districts, had the support of the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations. But some Democrats have targeted charter schools in recent years, arguing that they take away money from other public school students. On the campaign trail last year, now-President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren opposed federal funds going to “for-profit charter schools.”

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.

Latest Data on COVID-19 Vaccinations by Race/Ethnicity

Nambi Ndugga, Latoya Hill and Samantha Artiga:

Close to 70% (68.3%) of the adult population in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. While this progress represents a marked achievement in vaccinations that has led to steep declines in COVID-19 cases and deaths, vaccination coverage—and the protections provided by it—remains uneven across the country. With growing spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are once again rising, largely among unvaccinated people. Persistently lower vaccination rates among Black and Hispanic people compared to their White counterparts across most states leave them at increased risk, particularly as the variant spreads.

Reaching high vaccination rates across individuals and communities will be key for achieving broad protection through a vaccine, mitigating the disproportionate impacts of the virus for people of color, and preventing widening racial health disparities going forward. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that vaccine equity is an important goal and defined equity as preferential access and administration to those who have been most affected by COVID-19.

The CDC reports demographic characteristics, including race/ethnicity, of people receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at the national level. As of July 19, 2021, CDC reported that race/ethnicity was known for 58% of people who had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Among this group, nearly two thirds were White (59%), 9% were Black, 16% were Hispanic, 6% were Asian, 1% were American Indian or Alaska Native, and <1% were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, while 8% reported multiple or other race. However, CDC data also show that recent vaccinations are reaching larger shares of Hispanic, Asian, and Black populations compared to overall vaccinations. Thirty percent of vaccines administered in the past 14 days have gone to Hispanic people, 6% to Asian people, and 14% to Black people (Figure 1). These recent patterns suggest a narrowing of racial gaps in vaccinations at the national level, particularly for Hispanic and Black people, who account for a larger share of recent vaccinations compared to their share of the total population (30% vs. 17% and 13% vs. 12%, respectively). While these data provide helpful insights at a national level, to date, CDC is not publicly reporting state-level data on the racial/ethnic composition of people vaccinated.

You Can’t Handle The Truth: The Effects Of The Post-9/11 Gi Bill On Higher Education And Earnings

Andrew Barr, Laura Kawano, Bruce Sacerdote, William Skimmyhorn & Michael Stevens:

The Post 9/11 GI Bill (PGIB) is among the largest and most generous college subsidies enacted thus far in the U.S. We examine the impact of the PGIB on veterans’ college-going, degree completion, federal education tax benefit utilization, and long run earnings. Among veterans potentially induced to enroll, the introduction of the PGIB raised college enrollment by 0.17 years and B.A. completion by 1.2 percentage points (on a base of 9 percent). But, the PGIB reduced average annual earnings nine years after separation from the Army by $900 (on a base of $32,000). Years enrolled effects are larger and earnings effects more negative for veterans with lower AFQT scores and those who were less occupationally skilled. Under a variety of conservative assumptions, veterans are unlikely to recoup these reduced earnings during their working careers. All veterans who were already enrolled in college at the time of bill passage increase their months of schooling, but only for those in public institutions did this translate into increases in bachelor’s degree attainment and longer-run earnings. For specific groups of students, large subsidies can modestly help degree completion but harm long run earnings due to lost labor market experience.

Commentary on mask requirements in taxpayer supported K-12 schools

Elizabeth Beyer:

The DeForest, Middleton-Cross Plains, Monona Grove, Mount Horeb, Stoughton, Verona and Wisconsin Heights school districts have not yet made a decision regarding mask requirements in school buildings for the 2021-22 school year. Most of the Dane County districts that responded to requests for comment said they plan to finalize safety plans in August. Belleville administrator Nate Perry said the district will begin the school year with masks optional in classrooms but will follow Public Health Madison and Dane County guidelines should they change. The Waunakee Community School District will also make masking optional for students at the start of the year. District administration is exploring the possibility of providing mandatory masking in some classrooms for students under 12, spokesperson Anne Blackburn said.

Scott Girard:

Public Health Madison & Dane County, which had a mask mandate that applied to schools through June 2 this year, anticipates announcing its guidance next week, according to an email from PHMDC communications manager Sarah Mattes.

More:

That leaves decisions to local school boards or district administrators. Local officials are in a position to hear complaints no matter what decision they make, as evidenced by the mixed feedback from parents at a recent Waunakee Community School Board meeting.

Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), said during an afternoon press conference that wearing masks is not a “black and white” issue of vaccination status, but depends on factors like disease spread in a given area. She acknowledged that in elementary school settings, where most students are not vaccine-eligible, it might be easier for everyone to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.

“In terms of how schools will enforce this, as we’ve talked about throughout the pandemic, schools are led by local school boards and local superintendents and we encourage them to think about the most protective way to ensure the safety of their students,” Van Dijk said. “But those decisions are decisions that will be made at a local level.”

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.

Hong Kong police arrest speech therapists over children’s books with China depicted as a wolf

DiDi Tang:

The gesture of defiance came after a crackdown on dissent and free speech in the territory under Beijing’s new security law. Hong Kong’s protest movement has been shut down by the threat of jail and independent media outlets have been hounded into closure.

The suspects, two men and three women aged between 25 and 28, were accused of “inciting hatred among the public, especially

‘I asked Musk why he thought Blue Origin had fallen behind. “Bezos is not great at engineering, to be frank,” Musk replied.’

Eric Berger:

SpaceX, by contrast, has ascended. Since December 2015, the company has successfully flown more than 100 orbital missions. It has developed and flown the world’s most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, and may soon debut its still more titanic Starship launch system. With the Starlink Internet constellation, SpaceX now operates more satellites than any nation or company in the world. And in 2020, thanks to SpaceX, NASA broke its dependency on Russia for human spaceflight. NASA astronauts now ride to space in style inside the sleek Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Blue Origin has also lost out when it comes to large government contracts worth billions of dollars, something Bezos craves as he seeks to find some return on his massive investment in Blue Origin. In 2020, the Department of Defense said it would only allow United Launch Alliance and SpaceX to bid on national security launch contracts in the mid-2020s. Blue Origin protested and lost. Then, in April, NASA chose SpaceX alone for a prestigious Human Landing System. This came after Bezos showily unveiled his company’s “Blue Moon” lander in 2019. Blue Origin protested this, too, and a decision is expected in early August. It would come as a surprise if Blue Origin succeeds.

In short, a once-promising space race has become something of a damp squib. In late 2019, while reporting for my book on the origins of SpaceX, Liftoff, I asked Musk why he thought Blue Origin had fallen behind. “Bezos is not great at engineering, to be frank,” Musk replied.

Liftoff by Eric Berger is well worth reading.

Stop Calling Professors ‘Professor

Tyler Cowen:

As woke culture has led to a reexamination of American language and life, from pronoun usage to calling slaves “the enslaved,” perhaps it is time to look at professional titles. Why for instance should I be called “Professor Cowen,” but few people would address the person fixing their toilet as “Plumber Jones”?

Aren’t we giving some professionals too much status automatically? Aren’t we relegating some individuals to lower-status jobs by a consensus they cannot fight? We mock the German honorific “Herr Professor Doktor,” but are American practices so much better?

Civics: A key product of ubiquitous surveillance is people who are comfortable with it

LM Sacasas:

Every now and then, due to some egregious blunder or blatant overreach on the part of government agencies or tech companies, concerns about surveillance and technology break out beyond the confines of academic specialists and into the public consciousness: the Snowden leaks about the NSA in 2013, the Facebook emotional manipulation study in 2014, the Cambridge Analytica scandal in the wake of the 2016 election. These moments seem to elicit a vague anxiety that ultimately dissipates as quickly as it materialized. Concerns about the NSA are now rarely heard, and while Facebook has experienced notable turbulence, it is not at all clear that meaningful regulation will follow or that a significant number of users will abandon the platform. Indeed, the chief effect of these fleeting moments of surveillance anxiety may be a gradual inoculation to them. In my experience, most people are not only untroubled by journalistic critiques of exploitative surveillance practices; they may even be prepared to defend them: There are trade-offs, yes, but privacy appears to be a reasonable price to pay for convenience or security.

This attitude is not new. In the late 1960s, researcher Alan Weston divided the population into three groups according to their attitudes toward privacy: fundamentalists, who are generally reluctant to share personal information; the unconcerned, who are untroubled and unreflective about privacy; and pragmatists, who report some concern about privacy but are also willing to weigh the benefits they might receive in exchange for disclosing personal information. He found then that the majority of Americans were privacy pragmatists, and subsequent studies have tended to confirm those findings. When Westin updated his research in 2000, he concluded that privacy pragmatists amounted to 55 percent of the population, while 25 percent were fundamentalists and 20 percent were unconcerned.

“Social Justice Math” & California

Joanne Jacobs:

California’s new Mathematics Curriculum Framework has become a political hot potato, reports Lawrence Richard on Yahoo News. The state education board will postpone a decision on implementation for 10 months in response to critics who charged it would “de-mathematize math” and prevent high achievers from taking advanced classes.

2007 Math Forum

Connected Math

Discovery Math

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.

Would-be teachers fail licensing tests

Joanne Jacobs:

Only 45 percent of would-be elementary teachers pass state licensing tests on the first try in states with strong testing systems concludes a new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality. Twenty-two percent of those who fail — 30 percent of test takers of color — never try again, reports Driven by Data: Using Licensure Tests to Build a Strong, Diverse Teacher Workforce.

Exam takers have the hardest time with tests of content knowledge, such as English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.

Research shows that “teachers’ test performance predicts their classroom performance,” the report states.

NCTQ found huge variation in the first-time pass rates in different teacher education programs. In some cases, less-selective, more-diverse programs  outperformed programs with more advantaged students. Examples are Western Kentucky University, Texas A&M International and Western Connecticut State University.

California, which refused to provide data for the NCTQ study, will allow teacher candidates to skip basic skills and subject-matter tests, if they pass relevant college classes with a B or better, reports Diana Lambert for EdSource.

The California Basic Skills Test (CBEST) measures reading, writing and math skills normally learned in middle school or early in high school. The California Subject Matter Exams for Teachers (CSET) tests proficiency in the subject the prospective teacher will teach, Lambert writes.

Curiously, the Wisconsin State Journal backed Jill Underly for state education superintendent, despite her interest in killing our one teacher content knowledge exam: Foundations of Reading. Wisconsin students now trail Mississippi, a stare that spends less and has fewer teachers per pupil.

Foundations of reading results. 2020 update.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure

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.

Ongoing YouTube (Google) censorship

Reuters:

YouTube said on Wednesday it had removed videos from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s channel for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak, becoming the latest tech giant to pull his pandemic pronouncements.

YouTube said in a press release the decision was taken “after careful review” and without consideration for Bolsonaro’s job or political ideology. The far-right former army captain, who has overseen the world’s second deadliest outbreak, has won widespread criticism for railing against lockdowns, touting unproven miracle cures, sowing vaccine doubts and shunning masks.

“Our rules do not allow content that states that hydroxychloroquine and/or ivermectin are effective in treating or preventing COVID-19, that states there is a cure for the disease, or says that masks do not work to prevent the spread of the virus,” it said in a statement.

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

University Of Oregon Settles Equal Pay Case With Professor Jennifer Freyd For $450,000

Register-Guard:

Professor Emerit Jennifer Freyd and the University of Oregon are pleased to announce that we have settled our lawsuit after more than four years of litigation. Under the settlement, the University will pay Prof. Freyd and her attorneys $350,000 to cover her claims for damages as well as attorney’s fees over the four years of litigation. In addition, the University will make a $100,000 donation to the Center for Institutional Courage, the foundation founded by Prof. Freyd dedicated to scientific research and action promoting institutional courage.

We are pleased to put this litigation behind us and together affirm our continued commitment to uncover, acknowledge, and address gender inequity and other forms of discrimination.

Limits on Taxation Levied by the City of Knoxville

Knoxville Tax Cap:

This ordinance-by-voter-petition, if adopted by the Knoxville City Council or approved by the voters of the City of Knoxville, would require voter approval in the future before the property tax rate could be increased above the level appearing in the ordinance, which is the current tax rate today.

To be successful the goal is to get 14,854 signatures to avoid any challenge to the number of valid signatures.

Lawsuit against critical race theory is as strong legally as morally

Quin Hillyer:

I wrote yesterday about how the school district in the Chicago suburb of Evanston teaches that the nuclear family must be aggressively undermined as a vehicle of white supremacism. I wrote about how this ideology holds that “the very foundations” of republican government and its “principles of constitutional law” must be challenged. The lawsuit in Evanston and the related findings by a Department of Education investigation make for essential reading for anyone who is currently in denial about this or doubts that the misnamed “anti-racism” training being used in our schools amounts to a moral disaster.

District Lawyer’s Salary of $700K Is the Only Thing That’s Not ‘Thorough and Efficient’ in Lakewood

New Jersey Education Report:

Judge Scarola suggested that NJ’s Commissioner do a needs assessment. Allen-McMillancomplied and ruled that the district has shortcomings (here’s the latest on student outcomes) but Lakewood is fulfilling its constitutional duties to public school students and there is no need for any change in the state school funding formula, despite Lakewood’s need to “borrow” millions of dollars from the state every year. (Current debt is over $100 million. Lakewood will never pay this “loan” back.)
District officials, especially attorney Michael Inzelbuch, whom the district pays over $700,000 a year, more than any school district anywhere in the known universe, want the state to say that Lakewood in-district students are just fine, thank you very much, but the school funding formula is inapplicable to Lakewood because of its unusual demographics. The district filed a lawsuit in 2019; that suit was dismissed for lack of merit.
David Sciarra, Executive Director of Education Law Center, is critical of Judge Scarola’s ruling, and, presumably, Allen-McMillan’s as well. He cites as evidence “the lavish and unprecedented payments to the district’s lawyer in recent years” and says the New Jersey Commissioner is ultimately responsible for not demanding changes to the way Lakewood privileges ultra-Orthodox students.

The Myth of Pervasive Misogyny

Cory Clark and Bo Winegard

Many feminists and progressives argue that the West is plagued by pervasive misogyny. In fact, this claim is made with such frequency, and is so rarely challenged, that it has become part of the Left’s catechism of victimhood, repeated by rote without a second thought. The only real question is how powerful and pernicious the misogyny is. Real-world data, however, suggest a different narrative, complicated by the fact that men have worse outcomes in many domains. For example, they are much more likely to be incarcerated, to be shot by the police, to be a victim of violent crime, to be homeless, to commit suicide, and to die on the job or in combat than women. Furthermore, they have a shorter life expectancy and are less likely to be college educated than women. Although these (and similar) data can be reconciled with the pervasive misogyny theory, they should at least give pause to the open-minded. The best data from contemporary social science tell a rather different story and suggest that the very persistence of the pervasive misogyny narrative is itself a manifestation of the opposite: society is largely biased in favor of women.

The world, of course, is a messy place and disparities between men and women may have many causes. This is why carefully controlled social science is useful for examining the extent, direction, and nature of sex-related biases. Although the details can get complicated, the basic idea behind most bias studies is pretty straightforward. Researchers present participants with identical information that has some bearing on the abilities of males or females while manipulating which sex the information is about. For example, they might ask two groups of people to evaluate identical essays, telling one group that it was written by a man and the other group that it was written by a woman. If participants who believed the essay was written by a man evaluated it as more compelling, more intelligent, more insightful, and so on than participants who believed it was written by a woman, psychologists would consider that a bias in favor of men. Similarly, if one asked two groups of people to evaluate identical scientific studies that discovered that either men or women performed better on a measure of leadership, and participants who read that men outperformed women regarded the study as higher quality than participants who read that women outperformed men, psychologists would consider this a male-favoring bias (everyday people consider such patterns to be biases as well).

Contrary to expectations from the pervasive misogyny theory, across a variety of topics, samples, and research teams, recent findings in psychology suggest that such biases often favor women. For example, a paper just published in the British Journal of Psychology led by Steve Stewart-Williams found that people respond to research on sex differences in ways that favor females. In two studies, participants were asked to read a popular science article that was experimentally manipulated to suggest that either men or women have a more desirable quality (for example, men/women are better at drawing or men/women lie less often). Participants evaluated the female-favoring research more favorably than the male-favoring research. Specifically, participants found the female-favoring research more important, more plausible, and more well-conducted and found the male-favoring research more offensive, more harmful, more upsetting, and more inherently sexist. This pro-female bias was observed among both male and female participants, and in study two, the researchers replicated the results in a south-east Asian sample.

Civics: 19th century poet Walt Whitman – Behind The Black –

Robert Zimmerman

As noted by Kelly Scott Franklin, a professor of English literature at Hillsdale College and a scholar of Whitman,

“What this new movement of censorship really wants is to do away with the very act and process of education, because education is complicated and it’s hard work. It requires a lot of sifting to find beauty, truth, and goodness,” he said. “It requires compassion and a willingness to try to see the world as others did in their time and place. It requires acts of magnanimity toward flawed and wounded human beings, even if we disagree, and even if they’re in grave error. Those activities are hard–in the classroom and in everyday life. So it’s much simpler just to silence, cancel, and destroy.”

Civics: Huge data leak shatters the lie that the innocent need not fear surveillance

Paul Lewis:

Billions of people are inseparable from their phones. Their devices are within reach – and earshot – for almost every daily experience, from the most mundane to the most intimate.

Few pause to think that their phones can be transformed into surveillance devices, with someone thousands of miles away silently extracting their messages, photos and location, activating their microphone to record them in real time.

Such are the capabilities of Pegasus, the spyware manufactured by NSO Group, the Israeli purveyor of weapons of mass surveillance.

NSO rejects this label. It insists only carefully vetted government intelligence and law enforcement agencies can use Pegasus, and only to penetrate the phones of “legitimate criminal or terror group targets”.

Yet in the coming days the Guardian will be revealing the identities of many innocent people who have been identified as candidates for possible surveillance by NSO clients in a massive leak of data.

Without forensics on their devices, we cannot know whether governments successfully targeted these people. But the presence of their names on this list indicates the lengths to which governments may go to spy on critics, rivals and opponents.

Small California school districts will refuse to follow mask mandate

Joe Hong:

Some school officials are flouting the updated state rules, saying students will be allowed to return to the classroom with or without a mask.

California’s smallest school districts say they will refuse to send kids home for not wearing a mask despite a new state mandate. 

Superintendents in these tight-knit and typically more conservative communities want the state to let local districts make their own decisions, considering the success some of them have had with reopening their campuses last year without triggering COVID-19 outbreaks.

“These districts were in class all year, and they just don’t believe masks are needed to teach children,” said Tim Taylor, executive director of the Small School Districts Association, which represents hundreds of districts with fewer than 5,000 students.

On Monday afternoon, the California Department of Public Health went back and forth on updates to its masking rule. Health officials first said students who refuse to wear masks without a valid medical excuse won’t be allowed on campuses. Four hours later, the agency revised the guidelines to say local districts will be responsible for enforcing the mask mandate.

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 district has refused to release the investigative report.

Chris Rickert:

East was largely shut down to in-person learning during Kearney’s tenure as principal. Madison high schools were the last in Dane County to welcome back students amid the COVID-19 pandemic when they began reopening to two half-days per student in late April.

Kearney dealt with most of the fallout from two high-profile incidents involving school staff. Business teacher David Kruchten resigned in February 2020 after he was indicted for placing hidden cameras in students’ hotel rooms during class trips. He is expected to plead guilty to a federal charge of attempting to produce child pornography.

Report recommends Madison terminate district employees who OK’d East High hidden cameras
Report recommends Madison terminate district employees who OK’d East High hidden cameras
Elizabeth Beyer | Wisconsin State Journal
A hidden camera was also found in January in a coach’s office at the high school, placed there to catch a custodian suspected of sleeping on the job. An independent investigation recommended staff involved in the incident be fired. District spokesperson Tim LeMonds said Tuesday that “staff who were identified to be directly involved in approving the installation of cameras were either already retired, or have since retired.”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Replace the Proposed New California Math Curriculum Framework

Independent Institute:

California is on the verge of politicizing K-12 math in a potentially disastrous way. Its proposed Mathematics Curriculum Framework is presented as a step toward social justice and racial equity, but its effect would be the opposite—to rob all Californians, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, who always suffer most when schools fail to teach their students. As textbooks and other teaching materials approved by the State would have to follow this framework and since teachers are expected to use it as a guide, its potential to steal a promising future from our children is enormous.

The proposed framework would, in effect, de-mathematize math. For all the rhetoric in this framework about equity, social justice, environmental care and culturally appropriate pedagogy, there is no realistic hope for a more fair, just, equal and well-stewarded society if our schools uproot long-proven, reliable and highly effective math methods and instead try to build a mathless Brave New World on a foundation of unsound ideology. A real champion of equity and justice would want all California’s children to learn actual math—as in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus—not an endless river of new pedagogical fads that effectively distort and displace actual math. The proposed framework:

2007 Math Forum

Connected Math

Discovery Math

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.

Proposed change to Wisconsin K-12 Taxpayer Funding Priority: Students vs System

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty:

The Problem: Current school funding is a complex combination of state, local and federal aid. Funding in districts is largely based on antiquated revenue limits that have cemented in place funding gaps for 25 years. Students are worth more, or less, depending on where they happen to live, or whether they attend a choice or charter school. Even worse, the current funding system utilizes a three-year rolling average of enrollment that allows districts to receive funding for students they no longer educate. This current model is a barrier to reform.

Weighted Student Funding: Wisconsin can fund students, not just buildings and systems. A system of weighted student funding would provide the same level of funding for each student regardless of school sector, or home district. Students would receive extra revenue based on characteristics like poverty, disabilities, and English language learners, but otherwise would be valued the same.

The advantage of this system would be to create a dynamic student-centered funding system that allows for the expansion of new and innovate education models. We can get more money flowing into the classroom and not get bogged down in administrative costs. Finally, weighted student funding would unshackle students and schools from an opaque and complex formula that relies too heavily on the property wealth or poverty of a given community.

Commentary.

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 German Experiment That Placed Foster Children with Pedophiles

Rachel Aviv:

Suddenly, it seemed as if all relationship structures could—and must—be reconfigured, if there was any hope of producing a generation less damaged than the previous one. In the late sixties, educators in more than thirty German cities and towns began establishing experimental day-care centers, where children were encouraged to be naked and to explore one another’s bodies. “There is no question that they were trying (in a desperate sort of neo-Rousseauian authoritarian antiauthoritarianism) to remake German/human nature,” Herzog writes. Kentler inserted himself into a movement that was urgently working to undo the sexual legacy of Fascism but struggling to differentiate among various taboos. In 1976, the magazine Das Blatt argued that forbidden sexual desire, such as that for children, was the “revolutionary event that turns our everyday life on its head, that lets feelings break out and that shatters the basis of our thinking.” A few years later, Germany’s newly established Green Party, which brought together antiwar protesters, environmental activists, and veterans of the student movement, tried to address the “oppression of children’s sexuality.” Members of the Party advocated abolishing the age of consent for sex between children and adults.

In this climate—a psychoanalyst described it as one of “denial and manic ‘self-reparation’ ”—Kentler was a star. He was asked to lead the department of social education at the Pedagogical Center, an international research institute in Berlin whose planning committee included Willy Brandt, who became the Chancellor of Germany (and won the Nobel Peace Prize), and James B. Conant, the first U.S. Ambassador to West Germany and a president of Harvard. Funded and supervised by the Berlin Senate, the center was established, in 1965, to make Berlin an international leader in reforming educational practices. Kentler worked on the problem of runaways, heroin addicts, and young prostitutes, many of whom gathered in the archways of the Zoo Station, the main transportation hub in West Berlin. The milieu was memorialized in “Christiane F.,” an iconic drug movie of the eighties, about teen-agers, prematurely aware of the emptiness of modern society, self-destructing, set to a soundtrack by David Bowie.

Civics: NPR has not run a piece critical of Democrats since Christ was a boy.

Matt Taibbi:

Moreover, much like the New York Times editorial page (but somehow worse), the public news leader’s monomaniacal focus on “race and sexuality issues” has become an industry in-joke. For at least a year especially, listening to NPR has been like being pinned in wrestling beyond the three-count. Everything is about race or gender, and you can’t make it stop. 

Conservatives have always hated NPR, but in the last year I hear more and more politically progressive people, in the media, talking about the station as a kind of mass torture experiment, one that makes the most patient and sensible people want to drive off the road in anguish. A brief list of just a few recent NPR reports:

Billie Eilish Says She Is Sorry After TikTok Video Shows Her Mouthing A Racist Slur.” Pop star caught on tape using the word “chink” when she was “13 or 14 years old” triggers international outrage and expenditure of U.S. national media funding. 

Black TikTok Creators Are On Strike To Protest A Lack Of Credit For Their Work.” White TikTok users dance to Nicky Minaj lyrics like, “I’m a f****** Black Barbie. Pretty face, perfect body,” kicking off “a debate about cultural appropriation on the app.”

Geocaching While Black: Outdoor Pastime Reveals Racism And Bias.” Area man who plays GPS-based treasure hunt game requiring forays into remote places and private property describes “horrifying” experience of people asking what he’s doing. 

Broadway Is Reopening This Fall, And Every New Play Is By A Black Writer.” All seven new plays being written by black writers is “a step toward progress,” but critics “will be watching Broadway’s next moves” to make sure “momentum” continues. 

She Struggled To Reclaim Her Indigenous Name. She Hopes Others Have It Easier.” It took Cold Lake First Nations member Danita Bilozaze nine whole months to change her name to reflect her Indigenous identity. 

Tom Hanks Is A Non-Racist. It’s Time For Him To Be Anti-Racist.” Tom Hanks pushing for more widespread teaching of the Tulsa massacre doesn’t change the fact that he’s built a career playing “white men ‘doing the right thing,’” NPR complains. 

Mixed in with Ibram Kendi recommendations for children’s books, instructions on how to “decolonize your bookshelf” and “talk to your parents about racism” (even if your parents are an interracial couple), and important dispatches from the war on complacency like “Monuments And Teams Have Changed Names As America Reckons With Racism, Birds Are Next,” “National” Public Radio in the last year has committed itself to a sliver of a sliver of a sliver of the most moralizing, tendentious, humor-deprived, jargon-obsessed segment of American society. Yet without any irony, yesterday’s piece still made deadpan complaint about Shapiro’s habit of “telling [people] what their opinions should be” and speaking in “buzzwords.”

To curse social media is to exonerate society

Janan Ganesh:

Europe’s failure to produce a Twitter or Snapchat endears the continent to me. I don’t think I have ever made an Instagram or Facebook post. I found the last of these companies unctuous and megalomaniacal when it was still linked to Barack Obama’s rise, not Donald Trump’s. The value of such outlets to the world’s brutally governed stops me — just — wishing them gone. It is with no tenderness, then, that I wince to hear a US president claim they are “killing people”. Taste matters: half the point of Joe Biden, who used the phrase twice, is to drain public life of its vitriol.

Truth matters even more. The idea that social media is the source of vaccine avoidance evokes the bots-caused-Brexit hype of yesteryear. It is not just hard to stand up. It suggests a political class in gleeful possession of a villain for all seasons. No doubt, great torrents of cant and quackery wash through Facebook. But so do facts about vaccine efficacy and dispenser locations that might otherwise elude millions of users. To a degree that is almost unique on a public policy issue, the site takes an unambiguously pro-vaccine line. The premise that the bad and the good here nets out in favour of the bad is quite the leap. A less esteemed personage than the president might have been invited to make good on the claim.

“that take-up rates might be worse without social media as a source of reassurance among the liberal-minded.”

When Government Urges Private Entities to Restrict Others’ Speech

Eugene Volokh:

Say the government urges various intermediaries—bookstores, billboard companies, payment processors, social media platforms—to stop carrying certain speech. The government isn’t prosecuting them or suing them, just asking them. (This is in the news both with regard to the Biden Administration “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation” and Donald Trump’s lawsuits against FacebookTwitter, and YouTube, to the extent they claim government officials’ speech pressured those platforms into blocking him.) Is such government urging constitutional?

[A.] Generally speaking, courts have said “yes, that’s fine,” so long as the government speech doesn’t coercethe intermediaries by threatening prosecution, lawsuit, or various forms of retaliation. (Indeed, I understand that government officials not uncommonly ask newspapers, for instance, not to publish certain information that they say would harm national security or interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation.) Here’s a sample of appellate cases so holding:

[1.] A New York City official sent a letter urging department stores not to carry “a board game titled ‘Public Assistance—Why Bother Working for a Living.'” The letter said the game “does a grave injustice to taxpayers and welfare clients alike,” and closes with, “Your cooperation in keeping this game off the shelves of your stores would be a genuine public service.” Not unconstitutional, said the Second Circuit in Hammerhead Enterprises, Inc. v. Brezenoff (1983):

[T]he record indicates that Brezenoff’s request to New York department stores to refrain from carrying Public Assistance was nothing more than a well-reasoned and sincere entreaty in support of his own political perspective…. Where comments of a government official can reasonably be interpreted as intimating that some form of punishment or adverse regulatory action will follow the failure to accede to the official’s request, a valid claim can be stated…. [But] appellants cannot establish that this case involves either of these troubling situations.

[2.] The Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography sent letters to various corporations (such as 7-Eleven) urging them not to sell pornographic magazines:

The Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography has held six hearings across the United States during the past seven months on issues related to pornography. During the hearing in Los Angeles, in October 1985, the Commission received testimony alleging that your company is involved in the sale or distribution of pornography. The Commission has determined that it would be appropriate to allow your company an opportunity to respond to the allegations prior to drafting its final report section on identified distributors.

You will find a copy of the relevant testimony enclosed herewith. Please review the allegations and advise the Commission on or before March 3, 1986, if you disagree with the statements enclosed. Failure to respond will necessarily be accepted as an indication of no objection.

K12 Tax & Spending Climate: Immigration and the Aging Society

Steven A. Camarota:

The idea that immigration is the solution to the aging of American society has become an article of faith among those arguing for ever-higher levels of new arrivals. They assert that, in societies such as the United States, where fertility rates are low relative to historic patterns, the native population will not supply enough workers to maintain a robust economy and pay for government services, particularly retirement programs. If native-born Americans aren’t going to have enough children to balance the longer-lived elderly population, the argument goes, then our only option is to increase immigration levels.

It’s not a crazy argument; it just happens to be incorrect. In reality, a significant body of research shows that the impact of immigration on population aging is small. While immigration can certainly make our population larger, it does not make us dramatically younger.

And yet, commentators have been making such arguments for years. The late Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer asserted in 1998 that America has been “saved by immigrants” from the kind of aging taking place in other first-world countries. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush famously said that America needed higher levels of immigration to “rebuild the demographic pyramid.” At the data-journalism site FiveThirtyEight, Ben Casselman has argued that immigration is the “only thing” preventing the country from facing a “demographic cliff.”

Time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise?

Richard Smith:

Everybody gains from the publication game, concluded Roberts, apart from the patients who suffer from being given treatments based on fraudulent data.

Stephen Lock, my predecessor as editor of The BMJ, became worried about research fraud in the 1980s, but people thought his concerns eccentric. Research authorities insisted that fraud was rare, didn’t matter because science was self-correcting, and that no patients had suffered because of scientific fraud. All those reasons for not taking research fraud seriously have proved to be false, and, 40 years on from Lock’s concerns, we are realising that the problem is huge, the system encourages fraud, and we have no adequate way to respond. It may be time to move from assuming that research has been honestly conducted and reported to assuming it to be untrustworthy until there is some evidence to the contrary.

The Blurred Lines of Parasocial Relationships

Fadeke Adegbuyi:

Hila, and her husband, Ethan Klein, have amassed millions of followers on YouTube over the last decade as the duo behind h3h3 Productions and co-hosts of the H3 podcast. Initially building their audience through comedy sketches and reaction videos, in the past few years their channel has centered around discussions and interviews pertaining to pop culture, politics, and the internet. They’ve also become experts at living life online. Before the big announcement, they had shared their desire to conceive a second child, discussing their struggles with fertility and giving their viewers insight into doctor’s visits and specialist’s advice. In an earlier video, Hila mentioned that they would bypass the customary three-month waiting period before telling people about getting pregnant, intentionally eschewing the taboo of discussing a potential miscarriage—their audience would be the first to know.

Civics: Spyware & Dissidents

Kartikay Mehrotra:

At least 100 activists, journalists and government dissidents across 10 countries were targeted with spyware produced by an Israeli company called Candiru, according to cybersecurity researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which tracks illegal hacking and surveillance.

Using a pair of vulnerabilities in Microsoft Corp.’s Windows, cyber operatives operating in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Hungary, Indonesia and elsewhere purchased and installed remote spying software made by Candiru, according to the researchers. The tool was used in “precision attacks” against targets’ computers, phones, network infrastructure and internet-connected devices,” said Cristin Goodwin, general manager of Microsoft’s Digital Security Unit.

Declining enrollment, weak legislative support, pandemic fallout all cloud UWM’s future

Devi Shastri:

A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum paints a grim picture of the future of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which was facing mounting financial challenges even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Enrollment was declining. State support per student lagged. Tuition was frozen.

All of these challenges alone painted a worrisome picture of the future of the state’s second-largest campus, which serves one of the most diverse and underserved student populations in Wisconsin.

The pandemic has even further imperiled that future, the report said. The report was commissioned and partially funded by the UWM Foundation.

The analysis, published Thursday, puts data to UWM administrators’ long-standing warnings that they need more support in their effort to maintain the campus, which straddles a dual mission: to provide access to higher education for as many students as possible and to maintain its status as an elite research university.

Rarely seen: School Board Accountability (!), San Francisco edition

Heather Knight:

Siva Raj often receives gifts of thanks when he’s at farmers’ markets collecting signatures to qualify a recall effort of three San Francisco school board members for the ballot. Coffee, doughnuts, cookies, strawberries. “Everything!” he said with a laugh.

But a new memo from a top Bay Area pollster outlining very grim unfavorable numbers for the three board members and strong support for recalling them, particularly among parents of kids in the city’s public schools, proved especially validating.

“It doesn’t surprise us,” Raj said. “On the streets that’s exactly what we’re seeing. Pretty much anyone who is remotely aware of the situation is eager to sign.”

Raj and Autumn Looijen, his partner, launched the recall effort of Commissioners Alison Collins, Gabriela López and Faauuga Moliga last spring after a dire year of distance learning and a number of sideshows at the board, including renaming 44 schools that weren’t open, and changing the way students are admitted to Lowell High which, like all public middle and high schools in the city, has remained shuttered to the vast majority of kids since March 2020.

The recall campaign has until Sept. 7 to turn over 51,325 valid signatures of San Francisco registered voters to the Department of Elections. So far, they’ve collected about 26,000 through weekend volunteers and are now fundraising to hire professional signature gatherers.

If students return to school like normal or close to it on Aug. 16, the anger may ease. But dropping enrollment numbers and a looming budget crisis for the school district could make the picture even worse.

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 incarceratio

Finding Children with Dyslexia in a Sea of Struggling Readers: The Struggles are Real

Tim Odegard

As a result, a push to transform reading instruction is underway in classrooms across the nation. A transformation motivated by an honest acknowledgment of reality – most children in the United States struggle to read. These struggles are not the exception reserved for the minority of kids with a disability – such as dyslexia. No, they are the status quo. And sadly, this has been the case for decades. Sure, we can quibble over tests used to make this claim. But at the end of the day, multiple data sources indicate that most students in the nation struggle to read words strung together into text passages and answer questions about what they read. This is a fundamental problem and one that is largely preventable. Yet, we have not found the collective will to prevent this calamity that breaks parents’ hearts, teachers’ backs and causes untold suffering for children.

To be clear, the reality facing parents as they painfully watch their children struggling to read has not gone unseen. Their pleas for help are palpable, and the desperation of parents in the U.S. has led to laws being passed across the nation in an attempt to help their children. As a result, almost every state in the U.S. now has some form of legislation specifically addressing the needs of students with dyslexia – a trend that alarmed me from the start. I am leery of such laws. However, I am not a skeptic who does not “believe” the overwhelming science indicating that a minority of students have extreme difficulties learning to read and spell. The science in this regard is vast and compelling.

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.

Some children have found a devious method to get out of school – using cola to create false positive Covid tests. How does it work?

Mark Lorch:

Children are always going to find cunning ways to bunk off school, and the latest trick is to fake a positive Covid-19 lateral flow test (LFT) using soft drinks. [Videos of the trick have been circulating on TikTok since December and a school in Liverpool, UK, recently wrote to parents to warn them about it.] So how are fruit juices, cola and devious kids fooling the tests, and is there a way to tell a fake positive result from a real one? I’ve tried to find out.

First, I thought it best to check the claims, so I cracked open bottles of cola and orange juice, then deposited a few drops directly onto LFTs. Sure enough, a few minutes later, two lines appeared on each test, supposedly indicating the presence of the virus that causes Covid-19.

It’s worth understanding how the tests work. If you open up an LFT device, you’ll find a strip of paper-like material, called nitrocellulose, and a small red pad, hidden under the plastic casing below the T-line. Absorbed on the red pad are antibodies that bind to the Covid-19 virus. They are also attached to gold nanoparticles (tiny particles of gold actually appear red), which allow us to see where the antibodies are on the device. When you do a test, you mix your sample with a liquid buffer solution, ensuring the sample stays at an optimum pH, before dripping it on the strip.

Problems for Children from 5 to 15

V. I. Arnold:

I put these problems onto paper in Paris in spring 2004 when Russian Parisians asked me to help their young children gain the thinking culture tra- ditional for Russia.
I am deeply convinced that this culture is most of all cultivated by early independent reflection on simple, but not easy questions similar to those below (problems 1, 3, 13 are the most recommended).

My long experience has shown that, very frequently, dimwits falling at school behind solve them better than A-grade pupils, since – for their survival at the back of the classroom – they must permanently think more than required “for governing the whole Seville and Granada”, as Figaro used to say about himself, while A-graders cannot catch “what should be multiplied by what” in these problems. I have also noticed that five year old kids solve similar problems better than pupils spoiled by coaching, which in their turn cope with the questions better than university students used to swotting who anyway beat their professors (the worst in solving these simple problems are Nobel and Fields prize winners).

Parent Engagement Interventions Are Not Costless: Opportunity Cost and Crowd Out of Parental Investment

Carly Robinson:

Many educational interventions encourage parents to engage in their child’s education as if parental time and attention is limitless. Sadly, though, it is not. Successfully encouraging certain parental investments may crowd out other productive behaviors. A randomized field experiment (N = 2,212) assessed the impact of an intervention in which parents of middle and high school students received multiple text messages per week encouraging them to ask their children specific questions tied to their science curriculum. The intervention increased parent-child at-home conversations about science but did not detectably impact science test scores. However, the intervention decreased parent engagement in other, potentially productive, parent behaviors. These findings illustrate that parent engagement interventions are not costless: There are opportunity costs to shifting parental effort.

Data Preservation

Chris Barianiuk:

“We converted more than 200,000 old emails from former chief editors of Helsingin Sanomat – the largest newspaper in Finland,” she says, referring to a pilot project by Digitalia, a digital data preservation project. The converted emails were later stored in a digital archive.

The US Library of Congress famously keeps a digital archive of tweets, though it has stopped recording every single public tweet and is now preserving them “on a very selective basis” instead.

Could public institutions do some digital data curation and preservation on our behalf? If so, we could potentially submit information to them such as family history and photographs for storage and subsequent access in the future.

Kosonen says that such projects would naturally require funding, probably from the public. Institutions would also be more inclined to retain information that is considered of significant cultural or historical interest.

At the heart of this discussion lies a simple fact: it’s hard for us to know – here in the present – what we, or our descendants, will actually value in the future.

Archival or regulatory interventions could go some way to addressing the ephemerality of data. But that ephemerality is something we will probably always live with, to some extent. Digital data is just too convenient for everyday purposes and there’s little rationale for trying to store everything.

Imperial Delusions

Fara Dabhoiwala

In the summer of 1932 Eric Williams arrived in England from the British colony of Trinidad. Like most of the island’s population, his family was so poor that he and his eleven siblings had rarely tasted milk. But from his earliest youth his father, a disillusioned postal clerk, obsessively pressured him to achieve academic success. There were no universities in the West Indies; few Trinidadians progressed beyond primary school, and almost all professions were reserved for whites. Yet Williams won a coveted government scholarship that enabled him to continue studying beyond the age of eleven, then an even rarer bursary to complete his secondary schooling, and finally, after three years of trying, one of the island’s two annual scholarships to a British university. He sailed for Oxford to take an undergraduate degree in history.

How did you feel when you found out that Hawn was fired after playing your poem for his students?

Julia Craven:

Kyla Jenee Lacey: Initially, I was a bit shocked that a group of people would go that far. The work had been used as curriculum at different schools in different parts of the country, as well as different countries. Then I was a bit angered. I have a sensitivity towards my art. And one of the things that angered me the most was them saying that I wasn’t a credible source, and I’m not sure how I’m not a credible source to my own experience.

The poem went viral a few times, and in the very first wave of its virality, a lot of the white people who were upset continuously said, “Well, you need to learn your history. You need to learn your education.” I have a degree in history. That is literally what my degree is in.

At the bottom, 10 states earned Fs, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Alaska.

Fordham Institute:

Is America a racist country? Or the greatest nation on earth? Or both or neither or some of each?
For the sake of our children’s education (and for any number of other reasons), we need a more thoughtful and balanced starting point for the whole conversation—one that leaves space for nuance, mutual understanding, and hope for the future. Our union is not perfect, but it will become more so if its citizens understand, value, and engage productively with the constitutional democracy in which we all live.

Sadly, far too many young (and not-so-young) Americans have only the haziest grasp of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are essential to informed citizenship, in part because for decades now we have systematically failed to impart them to our children. Culpability for that failure goes far beyond our formal education system, to be sure, but a considerable portion of it does belong there: on our schools, our school systems, and our state K–12 systems, which have focused—and been pressed by Washington to focus—on other priorities.

The consequences of that neglect are now painfully apparent on all sides, including the sorry state of American politics and the sordid behavior of many who would lead us. Rectifying the situation is an enormous project to be pursued on multiple fronts, but schools are an obvious starting point. That’s where we can best begin to inculcate the next generation of Americans with a solid grasp of their country’s past and present, its core principles, and the obligations of responsible citizenship.

The logical starting points for getting that right are the academic standards for civics and U.S. History that have been adopted
by the fifty states and the District of Columbia.

That’s because our federal system of government ensures that states and their subdivisions bear primary responsibility for education, which includes establishing academic standards that spell out the content and skills they want their public schools to teach and their students to learn. These standards are typically organized by subject, though in the realms of civics and history they are sometimes organized under the heading of “social studies.”

We at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute have been evaluating states’ academic standards for more than two decades. Consequently, we’re well aware that they are just the starting point—statements of aspirations, desired outcomes, and intentions. To get real traction, they must be joined by high-quality instructional materials and pedagogy, sufficient time and effort, and some form of

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.

Backlash to the largest school consolidation in the U.S. cemented disparities in Memphis. Here’s how

Laura Testino:

When former county school board member David Pickler, an advocate for the suburban school districts remaining separate, tells the story of the merger, he traces it back to the creation of each school system. Each was started around the same time, in the late 1860s after the Civil War. Memphis held more wealth than its surrounding suburbs, which were largely rural and poor. Kids in the suburbs were taught in a handful of one-room schoolhouses.

Most neighboring Southern states passed legislation ahead of the Civil War that prohibited, fined and corporally punished Black people who were learning to read or write and any other person who helped them.

After the war, Memphis became unique in opening its own district, separate from the county, which is how most Tennessee school systems were structured. The separation was motivated by wealth, Pickler said.

“They quite frankly did not want their kids associating with those poor kids out in Shelby County,” Pickler, who is white, said of the creation of the city district.

This separation continued under Jim Crow. Within the two districts, Black students received significantly less, with separate education that was unequal to education for their white peers.

Hart, born in 1971, remembers situating her own family into the Civil Rights Movement. History’s recency suddenly dawned on her.

“One day my mom came home from work and I asked her, had she ever had to drink out of a colored fountain. She said, ‘Yes,’” Hart recalled, “and I almost burst into tears.”

Civics: Spying on Journalists

David Pegg and Paul Lewis in London, Michael Safi in Beirut, Nina Lakhani in Ciudad Altamirano:

successful Pegasus infection gives NSO customers access to all data stored on the device. An attack on a journalist could expose a reporter’s confidential sources as well as allowing NSO’s government client to read their chat messages, harvest their address book, listen to their calls, track their precise movements and even record their conversations by activating the device’s microphone.

Reporters whose numbers appear in the data range from local freelancers, such as the Mexican journalist Cecilio Pineda Birto, who was murdered by attackers armed with guns one month after his phone was selected, through to prize-winning investigative reporters, editors and executives at leading media organisations.

In addition to the UAE, detailed analysis of the data indicates that the governments of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda and Saudi Arabia all selected journalists as possible surveillance targets.

It is not possible to know conclusively whether phones were successfully infected with Pegasus without analysis of devices by forensic experts. Amnesty International’s Security Lab, which can detect successful Pegasus infections, found traces of the spyware on the mobile phones of 15 journalists who had agreed to have their phones examined after discovering their number was in the leaked data.

Obama used the Espionage Act to put a record number of reporters’ sources in jail, and Trump could be even worse

Commentary on the utility and cost of Masters Degrees

Jordan Weissmann:

Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a troubling exposé on the crushing debt burdens that students accumulate while pursuing master’s degrees at elite universities in fields like drama and film, where the job prospects are limited and the chances of making enough to repay their debt are slim. Because it focused on MFA programs at Ivy League schools—one subject accumulated around $300,000 in loans pursuing screenwriting—the article rocketed around the creative class on Twitter. But it also pointed to a more fundamental, troubling development in the world of higher education: For colleges and universities, master’s degrees have essentially become an enormous moneymaking scheme, wherein the line between for-profit and nonprofit education has been utterly blurred. There are, of course, good programs as well as bad ones, but when you scope out, there is clearly a systemic problem.

Twelve Months, 850 Languages, 63 Fonts, No Waiting
Or: Thank God for Google Noto!

Curious Notions:

Resources included online minority language newsletters showing months in their mastheads, articles, localization tables (a gold mine), cold contacts with university linguistics departments, YouTube videos, minority language souvenir calendars, Wikipedia pages (especially their foreign language versions), Peace Corps language primers, tourist phrasebooks, and questions and answers posted in online forums.

Dictionaries? Yes and no. We deliberately short shrifted most of the major languages in favor of the exotic, endangered, or just plain dead and buried. Most lexicons for those, such as they exist, aren’t anywhere big enough to accommodate such minutia as Gregorian month names. Or maybe one will throw you a bone for February and April and you’ll need to use those to hopscotch to other sources. Or maybe this other dictionary is just one-way, Abkhaz to Russian, say, and while you may know Russian months, you have three hundred pages of un-selectable image scans from which to pick them out. Ready, set, go.

Certain underlying abilities do help out, like those to read and use non-Roman scripts and transcribe into or out of them. A substantial knowledge base also comes in handy, as you can think of more angles for …

Privacy and Class

Mark Pesce:

A colleague was recently required to spend 10 days in a public-health-mandated quarantine after authorities used credit card receipts to determine he’d visited a location that had also hosted a known coronavirus case.

Had he paid in cash they would never have found him at all because he’d also been slack and not signed into the establishment where he was potentially exposed using the requisite QR code.

Fortunately, they found him. Even more fortunately, he hadn’t been infected. As he waited out his quarantine, he meditated on how he’d been poked by the pointy end of the continuing argy-bargy between public health and personal privacy – realising that his data trail gave anyone who bothered to look a complete snapshot of his private life.

Is there anywhere left to hide, he wondered?

In the years since Eric Schmidt declared “Privacy is dead!”, we’ve endured a continuous digital erosion of our private space. Smartphones tracking our location, apps profiling our interactions, smart speakers feeding our conversations into recommendation algorithms, CCTV cameras running facial recognition – and much, much more. Sometimes it can feel as though the battle for even a little bit of privacy has already been lost.

Teens choose jobs over high school, college

Joanne Jacobs:

Locked out of high school in Memphis, Hispanic boys are working construction jobs and taking pride in helping support their families, reports Chalkbeat’s Ian Round.

Will they return to finish high school diplomas or follow up on plans to attend community college? Probably not, says José Ayala, a college student and a counselor for Streets Ministries.

Ayala told Round that students need to learn about technical colleges and vocational certifications early in high school, before they drop out.

Mila Koumpilova, also a Chalkbeat reporter, looks at how school closures have widened education gaps for Black and Latino boys in Chicago. The pandemic has “has severed precarious ties to school, derailed college plans and pried gaping academic disparities even wider.”

I recommend reading the whole story, which focuses on three high school students whose futures were put at risk.

The State of Madison Governance and Discourse

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, most families in {city name} will receive monthly#ChildTaxCredit payments. It’s a guaranteed income through December. I joined@mayorsforagi because all Americans deserve an income floor. This is a step in that direction.

— Mayor of Madison (@MayorOfMadison) July 17, 2021

Via Ann Althouse

Commentary here.

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.

How You Wound Up Playing ‘The Oregon Trail’ in Computer Class

Matt Jancer:

The Oregon Trail, The Yukon Trail, Number Munchers, Word Munchers, The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary, Lemonade Stand, DinoPark Tycoon, Storybook Weaver. All games you played in school, all made by the same state-funded company—the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium. Never heard of MECC? It went hand in hand with Apple Computer Inc. in its earliest days. Steve Jobs said as much in a 1995 interview with the Smithsonian Institution: “One of the things that built Apple II’s was schools buying Apple II’s.” Apple II’s loaded with MECC games.

Minnesota was a Midwestern Silicon Valley by the early 1970s. The State of Minnesota threw huge funds to entice computer programmers to Minneapolis and Saint Paul when it created MECC in 1973. From 1978 to 1999, MECC, together with Apple, competed against private software companies to turn American children into a nation of computer-savvy early adopters and make computer class as much a part of American schooling as math and English.

On Self Censorship and our times

Jonathan Katz:

I published a new piece yesterday about the crisis surrounding the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. In it, I argue that a U.S. invasion of Haiti would be a colossally bad idea given the destructive history of the unending U.S. interventions in the Black Republic. You can read it here.

The publication in which the piece appears was not where it was originally supposed to run. It was originally commissioned by a different, well-known national outlet. They contacted me last week, within hours of Moïse’s death, and asked me to choose the angle that seemed right to me. The editors seemed strangely hesitant when I suggested the framing, but contracted me anyway to write the piece, so long as I included what they called “nuance.” I had my suspicions about what that meant, but a writer’s got to write (and eat), so I pressed on.

I realized I was in trouble right away when I got back the comments on my first draft. Right off the bat, the editor cast doubt on my use of the “occupation” as a way of describing what the United States did in Haiti between 1915 and 1934. They commented:

“Want to be careful with this word – what was the nature of the occupation? How many troops did we send and what exactly did they do? Eg was it more of a peacekeeping/security assistance force, or what?”

If anyone should have been prepared for that question, it was me, the guy who just spent five years writing a book that is focused in part on how woefully ignorant Americans are of what our country has done in the world, especially in the decades leading up to World War II. But I was somehow not ready to get a comment like that from a senior editor at a major U.S. publication.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school Districts use Google (YouTube) and Facebook / Instagram services, including Madison.

Curious Google Search Results

I recently ran the following search on Google

Mitchell, SD Demographics

The response (17 July 2021)

Apple Search

Neeva:

Back to Google: Dallas, TX

Santa Monica, CA

Wilmington, DE

Budapest, Hungary

Reno, NV

Paris, France

Philadelphia, PA

Salzburg, Austria

San Antonio, TX

Shanghai, China

“White House jumped on board, with a matter-of-fact announcement that it was now helping Facebook flag “problematic posts”

Matt Taibbi:

In another ominous development, Politico reported that “Biden-allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee,” were planning to:

Engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages. The goal is to ensure that people who may have difficulty getting a vaccination because of issues like transportation see those barriers lessened or removed entirely.

For those who may find such developments concerning, there was solace: at least no one is policing our private thoughts. Those are still our own, correct?

Not quite, learned satirical filmmaker, YouTuber, and journalist Matt Orfalea. He’s been involved in several different slapstick-dystopian stories just in the last month or so, none more absurd than a series of YouTube warnings and strikes he received from YouTube for content not one person ever saw, or could see.

Orfalea was working on a video involving a story covered in this space, YouTube’s demonetization of podcaster Bret Weinstein and its removal of Senate testimony by Dr. Pierre Kory. He uploaded a series of rough cuts to his YouTube channel, but kept them locked and private, as part of his normal routine. Like many YouTube content creators, Orfalea uploads videos but keeps them locked while he applies for monetization. In other words, he’s keeping material private because he’s essentially checking with YouTube to see if there are problems with the content before he makes it public.

At 728 p.m. on June 14th, Orfalea received a warning from YouTube for three of those rough cuts:

Michael Brendan Dougherty:
Now first, it’s important for streets to run both ways, so I’ll offer that proponents have trouble doing this because many of the most prominent anti-vaxxers do indulge in conspiratorial thinking. Some of it is politically motivated; people may remember that while Trump was president, prominent Democrats expressed their fears about the corruption of the research process based on nothing more than their intuition.

Academic Remote Collaboration

Matt Clancy:

Academic research is a sector where knowledge workers try to innovate – the whole game is trying to push the knowledge frontier outward. Whether or not the system could work better, it certainly does seem to work, generating new and useful knowledge pretty much every day. It’s also a system that’s highly competitive, where thousands of individuals compete with each other for jobs and space in journals. 

And yet, despite strong incentives to use any possible edge to generate new and better research, academics are increasingly forgoing the option to work with their local colleagues. 

Agrawal, McHale, and Oettl (2015) is a study of the changing nature of collaboration in evolutionary biology. They find the the number of distinct institutions represented on evolutionary biology papers has steadily increased from 1.4 to 2.4 over 1980-2005, while the average distance between coauthors on papers has risen from 350 to 550 miles over the same period.

Advocating reduced intellectual diversity

John McGinnis:

American Bar Association is proposing new accrediting standards for law schools that would make them more race-conscious, more politically correct and less intellectually diverse. The proposal should fail on the merits. It’s so bad it should also prompt reconsiderations of the ABA’s role as accreditor of law schools and of the U.S. Supreme Court precedent on racial preferences in law-school admissions.

Having lawyers regulate entrance into their own profession has always been anomalous. The ABA has an abiding interest in making entry more expensive—it decreases competition for its current members. But now the ABA wants to use wokeness to raise operating costs, impose ideological uniformity, and reduce academic freedom. The new standards would require law schools to show continuous “progress” toward diversifying their faculties and student bodies. They would be encouraged to do it on a timetable, as if a school can predict when someone of a particular race who meets often specialized curricular and research needs will show up. The ABA also wants to add new diversity requirements for ethnicity and gender identity.

Boston Changes Admissions to “Exclusive Exam Schools”

NY Times:

Long into the night on Wednesday, parents and students waited in line to say their piece about Boston Latin School and who deserves to attend it.

Shirley Chang Wen said she arrived in this country without speaking English, and believed in raising children to work hard and succeed. Why, she asked, shouldn’t they get a spot?

Julia Mejia, a Latina city councilor, said she spent her school years working at a shoe store to help her mother pay the rent, without a spare minute for test preparation. What about students like her?

And Gabby Finocchio, a 2019 graduate who is white, said she was admitted to the school because her parents had time and money to spend on the process. In a more equitable admissions system, she might not get in, she said, but “I’m OK with that.”

After five and a half hours of emotional discussion on Wednesday night, the Boston School Committee voted unanimously to overhaul admissions to the city’s three selective exam schools, opening the way for far greater representation of Black and Latino students.

The new admissions system will still weigh test results and grades, but, following a model pioneered in Chicago, it will also introduce ways to select applicants who come from poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Poetry & the Surveillance Society

Tyne Daile Sumner:

As historian Robin W. Winks observes in his 1987 book Cloak & Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961, many of these were English graduates who could apply literary techniques to intelligence analysis and cryptic expressions.

While it’s hard to think of poets as spies, poetry and surveillance actually use very similar styles of information gathering such as close observation, abstraction, subversion, fragmentation and symbolism. 

Today, we live in an era of unprecedented surveillance. Our personal information is routinely tracked and collected, while sophisticated analytics and algorithmic systems are being designed to predict, influence and ultimately control our choices and behaviour.

And it’s changing the nature of how we see ourselves. The ubiquity of surveillance and social media is challenging the very idea of the private individual as people increasingly adopt public personas. The scholar Julie Cohen described digital culture as bringing about a ‘surveillance-innovation complex’ in which surveillance is now privatised, commercialised and increasingly participatory.

To help us comprehend, and perhaps ultimately better shape, the complex social and technological change we are caught up in, we could do a lot worse than turn to that close cousin of surveillance – poetry.

Generating Intuitions for Exponential Growth

Applied Divinity Studies:

You’ve probably heard of the Rule of 70:

To estimate the doubling time of an exponential function, just divide 70 by the growth rate.

For some rates, this works really well. At 2% annual growth, the rule gives 35 years, and the actual value is 35.003 years. Other times it fails horribly. At 70% growth, the rule predicts doubling in one time step, but it actually takes 1.3.

How does the heuristic perform in general? Not that well. It’s accurate at 2% growth, but then quickly converges to being off by 0.3 timesteps.