What’s Behind The Massive Spike In Violence Inside Public Schools Nationwide

Will Flanders and Dan Lennington:

Ask any public high school student: violent in-school fights are on the rise and discipline is on the decline. Just consider one public high school: Madison East in Madison, Wisconsin.

In late September, local media reported a series of “disturbing” cell phone videos depicting vicious fights and beatings occurring in class and on school grounds over the course of several days. Then, several hundred students walked out of school twice in one week protesting the school’s sexual harassment policies.

The protest apparently spilled over to other local high schools, resulting in marauding groups of students causing “harm to others,” damaging “property in the downtown area,” and publicly “calling out” suspected sexual harassers, according to an email from one of the area school districts.

A few days later, on Oct. 20, 10 police officers responded to fights in a “massive crowd” of more than 100 students at Madison East. On Nov. 8, more than 15 police officers responded to what the media described as a “melee” in which five students were taken to the hospital. The next day, more than one-third of all students stayed home out of fear.

In all, Madison police were called to Madison East and its “surrounding area” 63 times during the first few months of the school year.

Madison East is no outlier. A simple Google search reveals similar headlines from around the country: “Woman with gun arrested as IMPD breaks up large fight at George Washington High School” in Indiana, “Big brawl At Woodhaven High School results in minor injuries” in Michigan, “Police investigating after large fight in parking lot of West Mecklenburg High School” in North Carolina, and “Reynolds Middle School is shutting down in-person learning for 3 weeks to address student fights, misbehavior” in Oregon. All these stories originated during the same week.

So what could be causing such a spike? Or perhaps more frighteningly, is this a new normal? Many factors may be contributing to this upward trend, but a few probable culprits require serious scrutiny.

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

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]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Former Temple Business School Dean Guilty in Rankings Scandal Fraud Case

Paul Caron:

Moshe Porat — who led the school for more than two decades until he was fired for the misrepresentations in 2018 — shook his head quietly as the jury announced it had found him guilty of federal conspiracy and wire fraud charges now likely to send him to prison.

It took the panel of eight women and four men less than an hour to conclude that he, along with two of his subordinates, had for years knowingly embellished the data they were sending on Fox’s students to the magazine U.S. News & World Report, allowing its online MBA program to achieve its No. 1 ranking for four straight years.

The distinction helped Fox more than double its enrollment for the program between 2014 and 2017, raking in millions in tuition payments from students and donor dollars.

“The hope is that this case sends a message to other college and university administrators that there are real consequences to making representations that students and applicants rely on,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark B. Dubnoff said. “So many people turn to these rankings … to help them make informed decisions of where to go to college, graduate school, and it’s important that people are honest and fully truthful with the representations they make.”

The American Prison System’s War on Reading

Alex Skopic:

The official narrative is that donated books could contain “contraband which poses a threat to the security, good order, or discipline of the facility”—the language used in Michigan—and should be banned for everyone’s safety. This is a flimsy justification that begins to fall apart under even the lightest scrutiny. While it’s true that contraband is often smuggled into prisons (cell phones, tobacco, and marijuana being some of the most popular items), it’s not originating from nonprofit groups like the Appalachian Prison Book Project or Philadelphia’s Books Through Bars. In fact, twelve of the seventeen incidents used to justify a book ban in Washingtondidn’t involve books at all

Instead, the bulk of the contraband in today’s prisons is smuggled in by guards themselves, who profit handsomely from their illicit sidelines, sometimes making as much as $300 for a single pack of cigarettes. If prison officials’ concerns were genuine, the appropriate move would be to limit the power and impunity of their officers—not snatch books away from those who are already powerless. The old cartoon scenario of a hollow book with a saw or a gun inside just isn’t realistic, and its invocation is a sign that something else is going on.

That “something else,” predictably enough, is profit. With free books banned, prisoners are forced to rely on the small list of “approved vendors” chosen for them by the prison administration. These retailers directly benefit when states introduce restrictions. In Iowa, the approved sources include Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million, some of America’s largest retail chains—and, notably, ones which charge the full MSRP value for each book, quickly draining prisoners’ accounts. An incarcerated person with, say, $20 to spend can now only get one book, as opposed to three or four used ones; in states where prisoners make as little as 25 cents an hour for their labor, many can’t afford even that.

AI is making applying for jobs even more miserable

Sarah O’Connor:

Of course, there is fierce debate about whether algorithms could in fact reinforce human biases rather than eliminate them. Others argue some AI products are merely digital snake oil lapped up by credulous HR departments.

But in addition to interrogating whether the technology works as intended, employers need to pay more attention to how the process affects prospective employees. Researchers at the University of Sussex Business School, in association with the Institute for Employment Studies, have warned that young jobseekers feel confused, dehumanised and exhausted by automated recruitment systems.

“Many Administrators Are Cowards”

Andrew Koppelman:

Faculty susceptibility to administrative sanction is at the center of the highly politicized culture wars playing out across universities in the last five years or so. Law schools are no exception. In the last year, Northwestern Law’s Andrew Koppelman has emerged as a sort of monitor of what he sees as flagrant instances of administrative overreach. “Many administrators,” he told me, “are cowards who are pre-disposed to grovel before student demands. The way to make cowards behave appropriately is to give them fears in the other direction.” I spoke with Koppelman about recent events at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Law and at Yale Law School. Here’s some of that conversation.

You’ve written two pieces for the Review in relatively short order, the first about the Trent Colbert affair at Yale Law, and the second about Jason Kilborn at UIC. Both cases involve members of the law school, students or faculty, getting in trouble for putatively racist speech — speech which elicited great distress among other students. I’m reminded of a somewhat different but not unrelated dilemma, what Jeannie Suk Gersen at The New Yorker has described as new challenges around teaching rape law because of student sensitivity. What’s happening?

There are two different sets of sensitivities. There are the sensitivities of students, and there are the sensitivities of administrators. It’s important to keep them apart. There are always going to be some students who take offense at things. A teacher always needs to keep that in mind. Part of a teacher’s job is not to lose the room. So teaching is an exercise in rhetoric; rhetoric has a moral dimension. It forces you to learn about your audience, to get outside your own head and into the heads of other people. This is the morally attractive aspect of rhetoric. …

What I thought happened at Yale was that the administrators were so rigidly attached to a particular narrative that they misunderstood the situation and they made horrible mistakes. The impression I get is of quite possibly well-intentioned people who made really bad judgments.

What you are are seeing at UIC is much worse. It’s positively malevolent — there’s just no excuse for it. …

We are going into punitive damages territory here, where you have outrageous intentional infliction of emotional distress. There’s no excuse for it — it’s just insane.

Pandemic Media and Political Commentary

Natasha Loder:

Dr Tedros also pointed out that while America had highlighted China’s withholding of information about the early days of the pandemic, the country had not provided information to support its statement that the outbreak started in November. He said, “if something starts in China, and other countries knew, they have … the obligation to inform us.” (A previous post talks about November cases.)

In some countries they politicised… and leaders were trying to push back rather than focus on the real world.Dr Tedros, August 2020.

$pending more and getting less


As the nation sets out on a national spending spree fueled by the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Biden this month, the job ahead carries enormous risks that the projects will face the same kind of cost, schedule and technical problems that have hobbled ambitious efforts from New York to Seattle, delaying benefits to the public and driving up the price tag that taxpayers ultimately will bear.

17-year-old charged with pulling out taser at weekend roller rink fight, complaint says

Lucas Robinson:

The charges against Thompson stem from a melee at Fast Forward Skate Center last Friday night. A crowd of about 250 people, most of them teenagers, poured out of the roller rink just after 8:30 p.m. as they brawled in the parking lot, Madison police said in a statement.

Nearly 30 police officers from five separate law enforcement agencies responded to the scene, police said. Police used pepper spray against the crowd after people attempted to stop police from arresting someone.

Thompson was arrested alongside two other juveniles during the fight, police said.

The 17-year-old appeared in court Tuesday and was released from custody on a signature bond. She would be found in violation of her bond if she is found carrying any deadly weapon like a taser or returned to the Fast Forward Roller Rink at 4649 Verona Road, court records said. Thompson is set to appear in court again for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 7.

Act 10 at 10

Johnny Kampis:

Unions, he says, were more concerned about protecting the pensions of the old membership than in the future benefits for new members. “They weren’t fighting for the little guy. They were fighting for themselves.” 

Among the proudest accomplishments in Act 10, Walker told us, was the fight for schoolchildren. Act 10 was about a lot more than money. It made teaching a meritocracy again, he says. “They can put the best and the brightest in the classrooms and keep them there.”

Those interested in Act 10 should become familiar with the earlier Milwaukee Pension Scandal.

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]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

The Effect of Teacher Evaluation on Achievement and Attainment: Evidence from Statewide Reforms

Joshua Bleiberg, Eric Brunner, Erica Harbatkin, Matthew A. Kraft, Matthew Springer:

Starting in 2009, the U.S. public education system undertook a massive effort to institute new high-stakes teacher evaluation systems. We examine the effects of these reforms on student achievement and attainment at a national scale by exploiting the staggered timing of implementation across states. We find precisely estimated null effects, on average, that rule out impacts as small as 1.5 percent of a standard deviation for achievement and 1 percentage point for high school graduation and college enrollment. We also find little evidence of heterogeneous effects across an index measuring system design rigor, specific design features, and district characteristics.

“Recent data, however, indicate that the epidemiological relevance of COVID-19 vaccinated individuals is increasing”

Gunter Kampf:

High COVID-19 vaccination rates were expected to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in populations by reducing the number of possible sources for transmission and thereby to reduce the burden of COVID-19 disease. Recent data, however, indicate that the epidemiological relevance of COVID-19 vaccinated individuals is increasing. In the UK it was described that secondary attack rates among household contacts exposed to fully vaccinated index cases was similar to household contacts exposed to unvaccinated index cases (25% for vaccinated vs 23% for unvaccinated). 12 of 31 infections in fully vaccinated household contacts (39%) arose from fully vaccinated epidemiologically linked index cases. Peak viral load did not differ by vaccination status or variant type [[1]]. In Germany, the rate of symptomatic COVID-19 cases among the fully vaccinated (“breakthrough infections”) is reported weekly since 21. July 2021 and was 16.9% at that time among patients of 60 years and older [[2]]. This proportion is increasing week by week and was 58.9% on 27. October 2021 (Figure 1) providing clear evidence of the increasing relevance of the fully vaccinated as a possible source of transmission. A similar situation was described for the UK. Between week 39 and 42, a total of 100.160 COVID-19 cases were reported among citizens of 60 years or older. 89.821 occurred among the fully vaccinated (89.7%), 3.395 among the unvaccinated (3.4%) [[3]]. One week before, the COVID-19 case rate per 100.000 was higher among the subgroup of the vaccinated compared to the subgroup of the unvaccinated in all age groups of 30 years or more. In Israel a nosocomial outbreak was reported involving 16 healthcare workers, 23 exposed patients and two family members. The source was a fully vaccinated COVID-19 patient.

Enemies of the School Board: Parents in some school districts find their input suppressed—and their dissent criminalized.

Christopher Rufo:

The school board was able to do this because the Round Rock Independent School District has its own police force, with a three-layer chain of command, patrol units, school resource officers, a detective, and a K-9 unit. The department serves under the authority of the board and, through coordination with other agencies, apparently has the power to order the arrest of citizens in their homes. For many parents, the school board is sending a message: if you speak out against us, we will turn you into criminals. When reached for comment, the school district’s police department confirmed that it initiated the investigation and that “one board member requested details from the RRISD Police” prior to the criminal referral.

Round Rock is not the only school board to resort to repressive tactics to stifle dissent. In Loudoun County, Virginia, for example, where parents have protested against critical race theory and a sexual assault cover-up, the superintendent asked the county sheriff to deploy a SWAT team, riot control unit, and undercover agents to monitor parents at school board meetings. The sheriff refused, telling the superintendent that he had not provided “any justification for such a manpower intensive request,” but the mere attempt was astounding.

Even the FBI, under the direction of Attorney General Merrick Garland, has mobilized to monitor parents at school board meetings and, if necessary, prosecute them under domestic terrorism laws. The National School Boards Association, which had requested the federal intervention in a letter to the Justice Department, was later forced to apologize after state chapters strenuously objected to the tone and content of that letter. Yet the Biden administration has moved forwardwith the effort, creating a task force of federal agents and attorneys to coordinate against parent protesters.

The battle lines are clear: on one side, the Biden administration, public school bureaucrats, and their armed agents; on the other, parents and families who oppose school closures, mask mandates, critical race theory, and corruption. Public school officials have demonstrated a willingness to use police power to silence and intimidate their opponents. If parents are to succeed, protesters must continue to organize peacefully and highlight corruption and abuses of power by local school officials.

“This isn’t just about Dustin [Clark] and me,” said Story. “It is about everyone. If they can come for us and get away with it, school boards nationwide will be emboldened to come for you.” He is right—and parents must work together to stop it.

Open Records and a Minnesota School District

Landon Mion:

“The District has completed an extensive analysis of your 41-page, 332-paragraph data practices request,” the law firm representing the school district said in a letter to Mohrman, Kaardal, & Erickson. “The District estimates that it will take 13,478 hours to search for, retrieve, and make copies of the data. Using the employee with the lowest wage rate who would have the right to search for and retrieve the data that have been requested, and applying the actual cost of making copies, the District estimates that the actual cost of searching for, retrieving, and making copies is $901,121.15.”

Civics: “But this “harm reduction” approach is obviously failing”

Michael Shellenberger:

Cities already do a good job taking care of temporarily homeless people not addicted to drugs. Drug dealers stab and sometimes murder addicts who don’t pay. Women forced into prostitution to support their addictions are raped. Addicts are dying from overdose and poisoning. The addicts living in the open drug scenes commit many crimes including open drug use, sleeping on sidewalks, and defecating in public. Many steal to maintain their habits. The hands-off approach has meant that addicts do not spend any amount of time in jail or hospital where they can be off of drugs, and seek recovery.

Now, even a growing number of people who have worked or still work within the homeless services sector are speaking out. A longtime San Francisco homeless service provider who read San Fransicko, and said they mostly agreed with it, reached out to me to share their views. At first this person said they wanted to speak on the record. But as the interview went on, and the person criticized their colleagues, they asked to remain anonymous, fearing retribution.

China’s globetrotting students hit the road

The Economist:

Qin yibo is half way through a science degree at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. But she has not been in the country since early 2020 when it closed its borders to prevent the spread of covid-19 (she was back in China at the time). Instead the university has arranged for Ms Qin and other stranded students in China to take up residence on campuses in their own country while they continue their studies remotely. Ms Qin has thought about transferring permanently to a Chinese university, but she still plans to return to New Zealand when it eases its border controls.

There are good reasons for Western universities to be anxious. In 2019 around 700,000 Chinese headed abroad to study, more than three times the number a decade earlier. Most joined universities in English-speaking countries. Chinese students have had several reasons to reconsider their destinations. Foreign travel is difficult during a pandemic, and covid is still rife in Western countries. China has grown more unpopular in recent years, and some Chinese people in the West have suffered racist abuse. Anti-Western sentiment has also been rising in China, sometimes stoked by ruling-party propaganda. Many Chinese chafe at Westerners who blame China for its initial cover-up of covid, or who fail to give it credit for its subsequent success in curbing the virus.

N.Y. school spending: through the roof, with little to show for it

Aaron Smith:

Preliminary data on the 2019-2020 school year released by the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that New York now spends more than $30,000 per K-12 student, further entrenching its position as the most expensive public education system in the country. Despite this new public school spending milestone, falling enrollment anddissatisfied parents indicate education dollars aren’t doing enough to help kids.

All told, New York spends $30,772 per student each year. This number doesn’t account for recent influxes of cash including $13 billion in federal COVID relief and a $3 billion state dollars for last school year that taxpayersare footing the bill for. New York City schools will get roughly half of this total windfall, amounting to billions in additional funding for the embattled district.

The Future of Digital Public Spaces: Are the troubled social media platforms used for democratic discourse and informing the public likely to be improved by 2035?

Janna Anderson & Lee Rainie:

Some 61% chose the option declaring that, “yes,” by 2035, digital spaces and people’s uses of them will change in ways that significantly serve the public good; 39% chose the “no” option, positing that by 2035, digital spaces and people’s uses of them will not change in ways that significantly serve the public good. It is important to note that a large share of who chose “yes” – that online public spaces would improve by 2035 – also wrote in their answers that the changes between now and then could go either way. They often listed one or more difficult hurdles to overcome before that outcome can be achieved. Thus, the numeric findings reported here are not fully indicative of the troubles that they think lie between now and 2035.
In fact, in answer to a separate question in which they were asked how they see digital spaces generally evolving now, a majority (70%), said current technological evolution has both positives and negatives, 18% said digital spaces are evolving in a mostly negative way that is likely to lead to a worse future for society, 10% said the online world is evolving in a mostly positive way that is likely to lead to a better society, and about 3% said digital spaces are not evolving in one direction or another.
It is also worth

Young Finns’ educational level has dropped below OECD average


The educational level of young people in Finland has fallen from the top echelon to mid-table among industrialised countries, says the Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health (Soste).

Contrary to popular belief, young adults are not necessarily more educated than retiring age groups. According to the federation, the level of education could be raised by increasing the number of university places and extending compulsory education.

The confederation on Friday expressed concern about the relatively rapid decline in educational achievement and calls for major changes to reverse this trend. Since the peak years of the early 2000s, the level of education of young people in the country has dropped to about that same as that of the age groups leaving the labour market.

According to the organisation, young Finns are now less educated than their counterparts in the OECD countries on average. OECD members include 38 economically developed democracies.

Reversing American Decline

Education consumers foundation:

From A Nation at Risk, 1983:  “We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.”

The SAT scores since since 1967 clearly document the decline and tide of mediocrity referenced by A Nation at Risk .

John F. Kennedy said that the ignorance of one voter impairs the security of all, yet the issues on which America’s future hinges are irrelevant and incomprehensible to a huge swath of today’s electorate.  For forty years, ineffective public schools have flooded the population with voters who are low-information and without economic prospects.

Reversing American Decline discusses the impact of ineffective schooling, analyzes its causes, and proposes a path to reversing it that can be implemented today.