Education Choice Can Prevent Fights Over Covid Policie

Colleen Hroncich:

“One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to education.” This is a phrase that education-choice advocates have voiced for years to explain why families need options. But it’s never been truer than today while dealing with Covid-19.

Before Christmas break, many Pennsylvania school districts had considered moving to remote instructiondue to concerns about the Omicron variant. Some teachers – especially in Philadelphia – called for returning to remote instruction following the holidays.

A large spike in school closures occurred nationwide in early January, according to Burbio’s K-12 School Opening Tracker. In Pennsylvania, however, most districts have continued to operate in-person. Still, schools throughout the state have closed at least some days this month, with the largest cluster in Greater Philadelphia.

Some families felt a sense of relief when their schools announced closures and a transition to remote instruction. This was especially true for households with higher-risk family members. For example, one mother, who was scheduled to have breast cancer surgery, expressed her concern to the New York Times that her procedure would be delayed if she contracted Covid. Others, meanwhile, fear their children getting Covid despite the low statistical risk of severe infection. Regardless of their reasons, these parents should be free to choose a remote learning option for their children.

Punishment for Making Hard Choices in a Crisis: Federal Prison

Marguerite Roza:

This is a scenario we all know well: Responding to a crisis, the federal government quickly doles out sizable sums of relief dollars for schools with confusing rules about how education leaders can use it.

Here’s the part that’s maybe not so familiar: The federal government then discredits, prosecutes and imprisons an education leader for what amounts to a procedural error in spending the money, an error that (by the way) yields the leader no personal gain.

This is not a made-up scenario. It happened to Julia Keleher.

It’s a scenario that could have a chilling effect on district and state education leaders across the nation who are right now tasked with moving quickly to deploy federal relief funds.

Today’s crisis is the Covid-19 pandemic, and the $190 billion in federal pandemic relief money sent to states and districts is the closest thing to a blank check we’ve seen. Clearly there’s no playbook for this moment, and successive waves of U.S. Department of Education guidance have left many leaders unclear about how they’re allowed to spend the money.

Flash back to 2017, and the crisis was Puerto Rico, decimated from Hurricane Maria and facing a deepening financial predicament. With many of its historically low-performing schools in disrepair, and massive enrollment declines as families fled the island, the education system was in bad shape. The federal government sent nearly $500 million to rebuild schools and revamp the education system. Puerto Rico’s then-Secretary of Education, Julia Keleher, signed contracts to tackle the most immediate challenges quickly, including repairing buildings and working to resume and improve learning for the island’s remaining students as quickly as possible.

Rebuilding Notre Dame:

Carol Seidl:

This spring will mark the 3-year anniversary of the devastating fire that destroyed the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. A day after the inferno, President Emmanuel Macron announced to the world that within 5 years France would “rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral, more beautiful than ever”. Since then, the ambitious project has run into a series of setbacks and unforeseen sidetracks. In addition to raising the money needed to rebuild, organizers have employed hundreds of scientists, historical experts, and tradesmen to secure the site and put a restoration plan in place. In December, France’s National Heritage and Architecture Commission gave the green light for most of the proposed renovations. Now the process of recreating a new Notre Dame, which imitates the old, is in full swing, with a goal of opening to the public on April 16, 2024.

The Case Against Masks at School: Districts should rethink imposing on millions of children an intervention that provides little discernible benefit.

Margery Smelkinson, Leslie Bienen, and Jeanne Noble

But in America about half of the country’s 53 million children remain compulsorily masked in school for the indefinite future. Sixteen U.S. states and the District of Columbia follow the CDC guidance closely and require masks for students of all ages, regardless of vaccination status; other states rely on a patchwork of policies, usually leaving decisions up to local school districts. (Nine states have banned school mask mandates, though in five of them, lawsuits have delayed implementation of the ban.) Many deep-blue areas such as Portland, OregonLos Angeles; and New York City have gone beyond CDC guidance and are masking students outdoors at recess, in part because of byzantine rules that require an unmasked “exposed” student to miss multiple days of school, even if the putative exposure is outside.

Many public-health experts maintain that masks worn correctly are essential to reducing the spread of COVID-19. However, there’s reason to doubt that kids can pull off mask-wearing “correctly.” We reviewed a variety of studies—some conducted by the CDC itself, some cited by the CDC as evidence of masking effectiveness in a school setting, and others touted by media to the same end—to try to find evidence that would justify the CDC’s no-end-in-sight mask guidance for the very-low-risk pediatric population, particularly post-vaccination. We came up empty-handed.

To our knowledge, the CDC has performed three studies to determine whether masking children in school reduces COVID-19 transmission. The first is a study of elementary schools in Georgia, conducted before vaccines became available, which found that masking teachers was associated with a statistically significant decrease in COVID-19 transmission, but masking students was not—a finding that the CDC’s masking guidelines do not account for.

Commentary on Amy Wax & Penn

Paul Caron:

A LITERATURE REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS
OF THE EFFECTS OF LOCKDOWNS ON
COVID-19 MORTALITY

Ambika Kandasamy, Jonas Herby, Lars Jonung, and Steve H. Hanke

This systematic review and meta-analysis are designed to determine whether there is empirical evidence to support the belief that “lockdowns” reduce COVID-19 mortality. Lockdowns are defined as the imposition of at least one compulsory, non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI). NPIs are any government mandate that directly restrict peoples’ possibilities, such as policies that limit internal movement, close schools and businesses, and ban international travel. This study employed a systematic search and screening procedure in which 18,590 studies are identified that could potentially address the belief posed. After three levels of screening, 34 studies ultimately qualified. Of those 34 eligible studies, 24 qualified for inclusion in the meta-analysis. They were separated into three groups: lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-place- order (SIPO) studies, and specific NPI studies. An analysis of each of these three groups support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Notes on taxpayer funded Wauwatosa schools and the AVID program

Amanda St Hilaire:

“This reads to me like they’re trying to give her a payout,” one employee told FOX6. “She’ll be gone, but she’ll still get something out of it and the people who let it happen will get to go onto the next thing.”

Bowers’ resignation is tucked into Monday night’s personnel consent agenda for school board approval. The agenda does not indicate whether Bowers has a resignation agreement with the district that includes a payout.

In a phone call, superintendent Demond Means declined to answer questions about whether the district had a resignation agreement with Bowers, who is under contract until June 2023. When FOX6 emailed board members with questions about how a vote for a resignation agreement would work, a district spokesperson replied saying no “separate vote” is required.

Civics: Editing the Past at the BBC

Max Stephens:

The BBC has purged mentions of disgraced stars Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris along with a number of racist and misogynistic jokes used in several of its classic radio comedies.

An anonymous Radio 4 Extra listener discovered the BBC had been quietly editing repeats of shows over the past few years to be more in keeping with social mores, the Times reported.

Labelling them as “woke cuts,” the listener found edits had been made to old episodes of Dad’s Army, Steptoe and Son and I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again.

In some cases entire sketches had been removed.

For example, a repeat of a 1970 episode of I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again, starring John Cleese and Bill Oddie, had a joke about a scantily clad woman removed.

In the original broadcast, Cleese, impersonating a BBC spokesman, said: “We have noticed that it is possible to see right up to the girls’ knickers, owing to the shortness of their miniskirts, so we’ve asked the girls to drop them.”

Why Don’t We Use the Math We Learn in School?

Scott Young:

Evidence for the Failure to Use Math

Casual observation tells us that most people don’t use math beyond simple arithmetic in everyday life. Few people make use of fractions, trigonometry, or multi-digit division algorithms they use in school. More advanced tools like algebra or calculus are even less likely to be brought out to solve everyday problems.

Research on the overall population’s use of math bears this out. A 2003 survey of 18,000 randomly selected Americans gave a battery of questions that embedded mathematics problems into situations they might encounter.1 The survey authors created the following scale to rank Americans’ quantitative abilities:

Below Basic – Add up two numbers to complete an ATM deposit.
Basic – Calculate the cost of a sandwich and salad using prices from a menu.
Intermediate – Calculate the total cost of ordering office supplies using a page from an office supplies catalog and an order form.
Proficient – Calculate an employee’s share of health insurance costs for a year using a table that shows how the employee’s monthly cost varies with income and family size.
Only 13% of Americans scored as “proficient,” while over half were “basic” or “below basic.”

Parents at Aspen council meeting speak out en mass against mask mandate for children

Carolyn Sackariason

While people party unmasked in packed bars and eat and drink in restaurants throughout Pitkin County and at the ski resorts, hundreds of children are forced to wear face coverings all day long in school and it’s impeding their education, eroding their mental health and creating fear of authority.

That’s according to two dozen parents who spoke for an hour during public comment at Aspen City Council’s meeting on Tuesday, urging elected officials to convince their colleagues on Pitkin County’s board of health to lift the mask mandate in public schools and child care facilities.

Julia DeBacker, a parent of six children in Aspen, said two years of forcing them to wear a mask has led them to be socially incompetent, fearful, full of anxiety and untrusting of authority.

“We know that you can’t change the health orders but your voices are louder than ours,” she told council.

Mayor Torre represents the city and council on the board of health, a governing body that is comprised of elected officials and citizens. The board of health doesn’t take public comment and is not scheduled to meet again until March.

Commentary on High School entrance exams

Michael Powell:

Liberal politicians, school leaders and organizers argue such schools are bastions of elitism and, because of low enrollment of Black and Latino students, functionally racist and segregated. Sixty-three percent of the city’s public school students are Black and Latino yet they account for just 15 percent of Brooklyn Tech’s population.

For Asian students, the percentages are flipped: They make up 61 percent of Brooklyn Tech, although they account for 18 percent of the public school population.

Some critics imply that the presence of so many South and East Asian students, along with the white students, accentuates this injustice. Such charges reached a heated pitch a few years ago when a prominent white liberal council member said such schools were overdue for “a racial reckoning.”

Richard Carranza, who served as New York’s schools chancellor until last year, was more caustic. “I just don’t buy into the narrative,” he said, “that any one ethnic group owns admission to these schools.”

But several dozen in-depth interviews with Asian and Black students at Brooklyn Tech paint a more complicated portrait and often defy the political characterizations put forth in New York and across the country. These students speak of personal journeys and struggles at a far remove from the assumptions that dominate the raging battles over the future of their schools.

Their critiques often proved searching; most Asian students spoke of wanting more Black and Latino classmates.

Fully 63 percent of Brooklyn Tech’s students are classified as economically disadvantaged. Census data shows that Asians have the lowest median income in the city and that a majority speak a language other than English at home.

The admissions debate reaches far beyond New York’s selective high schools.

A proposal to reduce choice in the taxpayer supported Denver schools

Boardhawk:

The Denver school board last week introduced a draft policy that could limit the autonomy of innovation schools and zones — district-run schools that under state law have some charter-school-like autonomy.

The policy has been given the official title of Standard Teacher Rights and Protections. If passed, the rights and protections provided would be the same as those provided by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, the local teachers’ union, to teachers in non-innovations schools.

According to the draft, those protections include but aren’t limited to a workload consistent with 40 hours per week, minimal duties outside of classroom teaching, a uniform school calendar and compensation ranking in the top three for neighboring school districts.

Since innovation schools operate under specifically designed waivers from both the collective bargaining agreement and district rules and regulations, removing the contract waivers could limit the schools’ ability to operate as they have in the past. The waivers have long been a sore point for the DCTA.

In some cases, the waivers allow innovation schools to offer students longer school days if needed and allow teachers to be resources to students outside regular class time.

Health and data reporter Betsy Ladyzhets on sensationalist school COVID headlines, missing context, and the importance of interviewing school clerks

Alexander Russo:

I first became aware of data journalist Betsy Ladyzhets about a year ago, working on a piece about smart ways to cover COVID cases in schools. She was concerned about the lack of data and transparency around school COVID cases. I was concerned that COVID school coverage was unnecessarily amplifying reopening risks and fears.

Little did I know then that I’d have many of the same concerns a year later – or that Ladyzhets would be writing more than ever about schools and COVID. With the help of the Solutions Journalism Network, she has now profiled five schools and districts that managed to reopen last year and keep kids and teachers safe. “The divided communities made the news — but not all U.S. schools were fighting grounds,” she wrote last month. “Many districts managed to bring the majority of their students back into classrooms without breeding a dreaded COVID-19 outbreak.”

These stories are a useful roadmap for education reporters and a great opportunity to learn what a health and science data journalist thinks about how COVID school stories are being written.

“Stories that highlight school outbreaks and tension may cause readers to think there’s no way to open schools safely,” Ladyzhets told me. “At the same time, stories that argue, ‘schools are extremely low risk’ or, ‘we don’t know if masks are actually beneficial for young kids,’ are also harmful.”

The Spacing Effect: How to Improve Learning and Maximize Retention

FS. Blog

The most important metaskill you can learn is how to learn. Learning allows you to adapt. As Darwin hinted, it’s not the strongest who survives. It’s the one who easily adapts to a changing environment. Learning how to learn is a part of a “work smarter, not harder” approach to life—one that probabilistically helps you avoid becoming irrelevant. Your time is precious, and you don’t want to waste it on something which will just be forgotten.

During the school years, most of us got used to spending hours at a time memorizing facts, equations, the names of the elements, French verbs, dates of key historical events. We found ourselves frantically cramming the night before a test. We probably read through our notes over and over, a gallon of coffee in hand, in the hope that the information would somehow lodge in our brains. Once the test was over, we doubtless forgot everything straight away.1

Even outside of formal education, we have to learn large amounts of new information on a regular basis: foreign languages, technical terms, sale scripts, speeches, the names of coworkers. Learning through rote memorization is tedious and—more important—ineffective. If we want to remember something, we need to work with our brains, not against them. To do that, we need to understand cognitive constraints and find intelligent ways to get around them or use them to our advantage.

This is where the spacing effect comes in. It’s a wildly useful phenomenon: we are better able to recall information and concepts if we learn them in multiple, spread-out sessions. We can leverage this effect by using spaced repetition to slowly learn almost anything.

It works for words, numbers, images, and skills. It works for anyone of any age, from babies to elderly people. It works for animals, even species as simple as sea slugs. The effect cuts across disciplines and can be used to learn anything from artistic styles to mathematical equations.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school policies in the spotlight: Marlon Anderson edition

Sean Cooper:

he attempted to instruct the student that the word was offensive. In doing so, he used the slur himself, which was overheard by administrators who had recently installed a zero tolerance anti-racism policy that prompted them to immediately fire Anderson for the utterance. Students subsequently rallied to Anderson’s defense, walking out of class in protest demanding that administrators recognize that words have context and intent, a view that was largely demoted to the fringes of polite thought in 2019, but given the race of the parties involved, school administrators all but had to acquiesce to their demands and Anderson was reinstated. 

For Pesca and other journalists of a similar ilk, Anderson’s reversed expulsion was an interesting example of how the soft squishy language of anti-racism policies collapsed upon their hard impact with reality. What put meat on the bones of this story though was the way the media handled the whole affair, with several national news organizations taking up a narrative that Anderson was fired on the grounds of an anti-racism offense when he, to borrow the phrase deployed in myriad headlines, “used a racial slur” against a student. Other news outlets like CNN further obfuscated the crux of the issue—that intent and context change the meaning of language—when they covered the student protests and interviewed Anderson but blurred his face and silenced him speaking when he explained what was said and how. Though certainly there are sensitivities a cable broadcast network must abide by regarding racial epithets, CNN’s extensive effort to remove Anderson from the context of a story about context undermined their own journalistic inquiry.  

“When the news says he was using the N-word that implies he was wielding the N-word. And that was not done here,” Pesca said during the segment on The Gist. “In fact, when the media reports that he used the N-word but then the media doesn’t say the N-word, can’t give you the actual quotes, bleeps it out, they’re really agreeing with one side of the story. The side that says there is no context for this.” 

The problem for Pesca arose during the production of this segment when he originally recorded himself saying Anderson’s quote with the slur intact, something that offended at least one of his producers, according to Pesca’s account and another Slate employee familiar with the incident. (Both of his producers from that episode did not return requests to be interviewed for this story.)

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Censorship and Teacher Union spending

What’s happening: The AFT teachers union is buying NewsGuard licenses for its 1.7 million teachers, who will then be able to share it with tens of millions students around the country

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Why Vanderbilt is banning student attendance at home games until at least Jan. 24

Aria Gerson:

As part of a Commodores Care quarantine period, Vanderbilt students will not be able to attend  home athletic events until at least Jan. 24.

Commodores Care requires students to avoid the vast majority of in-person activities upon return to campus in an attempt to slow the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19. Students are allowed to leave their residences only to attend class, get food or supplies, seek medical attention, exercise outdoors or perform essential work.

The university pushed the start of the semester back one week, to Jan. 17, and the dorms and Greek houses, where the majority of Vanderbilt students live, will not open until Jan. 15. This means the primary affected basketball games will be the Jan. 18 men’s game against Tennessee and the Jan. 20 women’s game against Missouri.

This is not the first time Vanderbilt has implemented Commodores Care. The period was also required for students returning in the winter of 2021, however, only family members of athletes were allowed to attend games. Currently, the general public is free to attend Vanderbilt basketball and other games as long as they present proof of vaccination or a negative test.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott introduces ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ targeting state education system

Ariana Garcia:

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday evening plans to amend the Texas Constitution with a Parent Bill of Rights if he is re-elected. The proposal follows Abbott’s introduction of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights this week. 

Abbott publicly signed the bill at an event hosted by the Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville, where he criticized schools shutting down during the pandemic and issuing mask mandates. He said the bill will help restore parents as the primary decision-makers of their child’s education and healthcare decisions.

“No government program can replace the role that parents play in the education of their children,” Abbott told the audience. “Our focal point is to ensure that parents are put at the forefront, both of education of their children as well as the decision-making for their child’s healthcare.”

Abbott continued to impart that the government often intrudes on parental decision-making and threatens the role guardians have in their child’s wellbeing. “Many parents are growing increasingly powerless about what to do to regain that control,” Abbott said. “That must end.”

A Covid Commission Americans Can Trust: The country has lost faith in experts, but a thorough review free from conflicts of interest could help.

Martin Kulldorff and Jay Bhattacharya:

The pandemic is on its way out, but how many Americans think the U.S. approach succeeded? More than 600,000 Americans died from Covid, and lockdowns have left extensive collateral damage. Trust in science has eroded, and the damage won’t be limited to epidemiology, virology and public health. Scientists in other fields will unfortunately also have to deal with the fallout, including oncologists, physicists, computer scientists, environmental engineers and even economists. 

The first step to restoring the public’s trust in scientific experts is an honest and comprehensive evaluation of the nation’s pandemic response. Sens. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) have introduced a bill that would establish a Covid commission to examine the origins of the virus, the early response to the epidemic, and equity issues in the disease’s impact. Private foundations are also in the process of planning such a commission.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

How bad have universities got?
Conservatives exaggerate, but liberal bias is a real problem in universities; three factors underpin this.

Thomas Prosser

Universities are increasingly accused of bias. According to critics, high concentrations of liberals entail groupthink and discrimination against conservatives. Announcing the establishment of the University of Austin, founders cited damning statistics. Nearly a quarter of American social science and humanities academics supportdismissing colleagues who have unorthodox views in areas such as immigration or gender differences. Four out of five American PhD students are willing to discriminateagainst right-wing scholars.

These statistics are important, but there are countervailing trends; most academics remain tolerant and many conservatives relish working in the sector. Moreover, conditions differ sharply across institutions and faculties; left-wing authoritarianism may be embedded within certain environments, yet others are models of tolerance. Debates which exchange statistics are often fruitless, opponents talking around each other. But deeper trends are elucidative. In recent decades, three developments have increased pressures for bias within universities.

Firstly, there is the rise of the education cleavage. As Western societies have embraced mass higher education, access to education increasingly shapes politics. Education predicts liberal attitudes on issues such as immigration, Brexit and the death penalty, those with less education tending to adopt conservative positions. There is a crucial implication for universities. Because universities provide education, they gather individuals who tend to have liberal views. Exceptions always exist, yet the education-liberalism nexus implies that liberalism will predominate; most academics have higher degrees and students work towards degrees.

Notes on South Africa’s Student Examination Results

Marcia Zali:

nder the difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic the Independent Examination Board class of 2021 achieved a marginal increase in the matric pass rate moving from 98% in 2020 to 98.39%.

Out of the 12 857 full-time and 968 part-time candidates who wrote exams, 89.2% qualified to study towards a bachelor’s degree at university, 7.82% qualified to study towards a diploma, and 1.37% achieved entry to study for a higher certificate.

The IEB’s chief executive, Anne Oberholzer, said the increased pass rate was an indication of the resilience and dedication of the class of 2021, which had to adjust to a new way of learning in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Oberholzer said in a press release that the use of technology, which can no longer be ignored, has proven to be a valuable tool in classrooms.

An Emphasis on adult employment

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

49 taxpayer supported Madison school district staff cashiered

Scott Girard:

A Madison Metropolitan School District teacher plans to challenge what he considers unequal application of the district’s religious exemption to its staff COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Nathan Hataj, a technology and engineering teacher at La Follette High School, “didn’t think of it as an issue” when the School Board unanimously approved the staff vaccine mandate in September, as he had abstained from other vaccines in the past.

Staff were required to be vaccinated or submit an exemption request by Nov. 1, which Hataj said he did. In December, however, he was told his request was denied.

Hataj appealed the December decision and was told in January that he had until Friday, Jan. 14, to show that he had begun his COVID vaccine series or he would be fired effective Jan. 21. He said communications from the district when he’s asked questions about the policy and his application have been poor.

Monday, Hataj showed up at school, as he had not received a formal notice from the district that he had been fired. He wrote in an email that he still “assumed I’ll be fired” and felt like he was in “limbo.”

He said in an email Monday afternoon that an assistant principal told him not to come to school Tuesday. His principal also informed him via email that human resources director Tracy Carradine told the principal that Hataj’s employment was considered terminated as of Friday.

Paradoxically– Volunteer opportunities in the taxpayer supported Madison School District

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

The BBC Quietly Censors Its Own Archives

Charles Cooke:

Out of public view, the state-owned broadcaster has been altering old episodes of its shows to make them ‘suitable’ for modern listeners.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE Reflecting upon George Orwell’s many authoritative predictions can grow tiresome for writer and reader alike. And yet, given our present predicament, one might ask what choice one truly has. “The sinister fact about literary censorship in England,” Orwell wrote back in 1945, “is that it is largely voluntary.” And so, indeed, it is. Over the weekend, the Daily Telegraph reported that “an anonymous Radio 4 Extra listener” had “discovered the BBC had been quietly editing repeats of shows over the past few years to be more in keeping with social mores.” To which the BBC said . . . well, yeah. In a statement addressing the charge, the institution confirmed that “on occasion we edit some episodes so they’re suitable for broadcast today, including removing racially offensive language and stereotypes from decades ago, as the vast majority of our audience would expect.” Thus, in the absence of law or regulation, has the British establishment begun to excise material it finds inappropriate by today’s lights.

The deployment of the word “broadcast” in the BBC’s affirmation was both deliberate and misleading. Historically, a “broadcast” was a one-off event, like a newspaper or stage performance. But, as the BBC presumably knows, in the age of streaming, “broadcasts” tend to be more permanent than that. Because it is so old, much of the material that the BBC has been altering is not available to purchase or download, nor broadly owned on physical media, which means that when the BBC elects to change it, it is changing the only working copy that the majority of the public may enjoy. In a free market, one might be obliged to throw up one’s hands and lament that the copyright holder was such a philistine. But the BBC is a de factogovernment agency — an agency for which all Britons who own televisions are forced by statute to pay — and, as a result, the material that it is modifying is effectively publicly owned.

This raises a host of important questions — chief among which is: Why, if “the vast majority” of the BBC’s audience expects the organization to render its archives more “suitable,” has it been doing so in secret? Again: In the Internet age, changes made to source material tend to be iterative rather than additive. When the New York Times updates a story in its newspaper, one can plausibly obtain both copies. By contrast, when the New York Times updates a story on its website, the original page disappears. By its own admission, the BBC has been deleting entire sketches from comedy series that are 50, 60, or 70 years old, many of which can be heard only with the BBC’s permission. Are we simply to assume that the public supports this development? And, if so, are we permitted to wonder why the BBC was not open about it?

Youngkin’s choice for education secretary might be a sign of good things to come

Washington Post Editorial:

Announcing his selection of Aimee Rogstad Guidera as education secretary, Mr. Youngkin cited her work in “advocating for innovation and choice, data-driven reform, and high standards.” Ms. Guidera is a national expert on the use of data in education policy. She headed up the Guidera Strategy consulting firm and is the founder and former leader of the Data Quality Campaign, a national nonprofit that advocates using data to shape education. Time magazine named her as one of its “12 Education Activists for 2012.” “This is a really good choice,” tweetedAndrew Rotherham, an educational reform activist with Bellwether Education Partners, when Ms. Guidera’s selection was announced last month. It signaled, he wrote, that Mr. Youngkin “wants to get something done substantively on education.”

Mr. Youngkin’s other top education appointments — Jillian Balow, superintendent of Wyoming’s public schools, as Virginia schools superintendent, and Elizabeth Schultz, a senior fellow with Parents Defending Education, as Ms. Balow’s deputy — seem to be more ideologically driven. While on the Fairfax County School Board, Ms. Schultz opposed a nondiscrimination policy against transgender students and railed against the decision to rename a high school named for a Confederate general. Both Ms. Balow and Ms. Schultz are outspoken critics of critical race theory, an academic framework used in higher education but not K-12 that examines how policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism. That Republicans have weaponized this phantom issue to rally their base diverts attention from the critical issues facing schools today.

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We hope Mr. Youngkin’s selection of Ms. Guidera shows a seriousness of purpose in addressing the deficiencies in public education, which too often negatively affect students who are poor, Black and at risk. Mr. Youngkin’s politically driven executive order forbidding the teaching of “inherently divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory,” was misguided, but it is noteworthy that it also included a directive that the state schools superintendent produce a report within 90 days on the status of efforts to close the achievement gap between minority students and their peers.

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

None of the fundamental drivers of “Wokeness” have relented

N.S. Lyons:

One would think that by now all these anti-woke conservatives and moderate liberals would have learned at least some of the bitter lessons from the last decade about how political power and cultural change actually work, but I guess not. They could have taken note of all the fundamental factors driving this ideological belief system, all of which had to be painstakingly uncovered, layer by layer, even as it swept through every institution. But they have not. (Like, do they even read the pages and pages of erudite Substack anthropology on the topic? No?) They could have recognized by now that this is not a simple political issue with a political solution, but they have not.

Look, honestly I really didn’t want to have to do this. Come the New Year I had resolved to focus on the positives and all that crap. But I haven’t seen anyone else do it, so guess I have no choice and the duty falls to me to deliver the pessimistic news: no, the Revolution is far from over.

So, in what might also serve as a handy tour guide to the vast depths of the ideological abyss, catalogued at length here – in convenient listicle format! – are twenty reasons to get woke and despair.

  1. One does not simply walk away from religious beliefs. What is called “Wokeness” – or the “Successor Ideology,” or the “New Faith,” or what have you (note the foe hasn’t even been successfully named yet, let alone routed) – rests on a series of what are ultimately metaphysical beliefs. The fact that their holders would laugh at the suggestion they have anything called metaphysical beliefs is irrelevant – they hold them nonetheless. Such as:

The world is divided into a dualistic struggle between oppressed and oppressors (good and evil); language fundamentally defines reality; therefore language (and more broadly “the word” – thought, logic, logos) is raw power, and is used by oppressors to control the oppressed; this has created power hierarchies enforced by the creation of false boundaries and authorities; no oppression existed in the mythic past, the utopian pre-hierarchical State of Nature, in which all were free and equal; the stain of injustice only entered the world through the original sin of (Western) civilizational hierarchy; all disparities visible today are de facto proof of the influence of hierarchical oppression (discrimination); to redeem the world from sin, i.e. to end oppression and achieve Social Justice (to return to the kingdom of heaven on earth), all false authorities and boundaries must be torn down (deconstructed), and power redistributed from the oppressors to the oppressed; all injustice anywhere is interlinked (intersectional), so the battle against injustice is necessarily total; ultimate victory is cosmically ordained by history, though the arc of progress may be long; moral virtue and true right to rule is determined by collective status within the oppression-oppressed dialectic; morally neutral political liberalism is a lie constructed by the powerful to maintain status quo structures of oppression; the first step to liberation can be achieved through acquisition of the hidden knowledge of the truth of this dialectic; a select awoken vanguard must therefore guide a revolution in popular consciousness; all imposed limits on the individual can ultimately be transcended by virtue of a will to power…

Supreme Court to Consider Challenges to Race-Conscious Admissions Policies at Harvard, UNC

Brent Kendall & Melissa Korn:

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider challenges to race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, giving the justices a platform to review decades of precedent allowing affirmative action in higher education.

The court in a brief written order said it would consider a pair challenges by a group called Students for Fair Admissions, led by conservative legal activist Edward Blum, which sued both schools on the same day in 2014.

Anatomy of a bio security police state

Root Cause MD:

We are living in strange times.

A novel virus has swept the world, initially unknown in its virulence and pathogenicity. It is now endemic, exhibiting seasonality, and recognized to have an infection fatality rate of approximately 0.15%1.

What is abundantly clear is that this virus does not affect everyone equally. People with specific preexisting health conditions are disproportionately affected. There is an enormous risk gradient in severity of COVID-19 infection between the most vulnerable and the least vulnerable.

The Unspoken Metabolic Susceptibility Factors

SARS-COV-2 overwhelmingly and disproportionately affects the obese2, Vitamin D deficient34 and those with metabolic dysfunction56 i.e. insulin resistance, Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, fatty liver and the constellation of lifestyle diseases attendant of the metabolic syndrome.

A number of physiological reasons underlie this susceptibility, most notably impaired immune system function and a smouldering fire of metabolic inflammation. Such a state of chronic, low level immune activation appears to predispose to an inflammatory cascade known as a cytokine storm7, which results in severe lung damage often necessitating hospitalization, supplemental oxygen and eventually ventilatory support.

Don’t believe me? Just ask any critical care nurse or doctor about the body mass index, metabolic health status and body fat distribution of their patients who are intubated, on non-invasive ventilation or on high-flow oxygen.

For the elderly, COVID-19 poses a particular risk. Older people have had more time to accumulate metabolic dysfunction and micronutrient deficiency. They also have less physiological reserve to deal with the stress of infection.

The Last Leg Universities Stand On Is Collapsing

Isaac Morehouse:

Universities are dying.

They have long ceased being the best way to gain knowledge.

More recently, the degrees they confer have ceased being the best way to signal employability; the only exception being jobs that legally require them. (Such jobs are increasingly stodgy, unattractive, bureaucratic, backwards, and subservient to tyrannical governments).

The final leg universities stand on is the mythology of social status. That’s it. That’s what gives them what waning power they have.

I can’t count the number of parents I’ve talked with who recognize that college is one of the worst places to learn and degrees are one of the weakest ways to try to get hired, but who still needlessly bite the bullet and send their kid anyway.

Often, they shackle themselves or their children to tens of thousands in debt along the way. They despise the infantilizing policies on campus and bitter ideas in the classroom. They see the waste, corruption, stupidity, warped worldview, and bad habits cultivated and rewarded by the system.

But they still send their kids.

Why?

This 22-Year-Old Builds Chips in His Parents’ Garage

Tom Simonite

Zeloof’s chip was his second. He made the first, much smaller one as a high school senior in 2018; he started making individual transistors a year before that. His chips lag Intel’s by technological eons, but Zeloof argues only half-jokingly that he’s making faster progress than the semiconductor industry did in its early days. His second chip has 200 times as many transistors as his first, a growth rate outpacing Moore’s law, the rule of thumb coined by an Intel cofounder that says the number of transistors on a chip doubles roughly every two years.

Zeloof now hopes to match the scale of Intel’s breakthrough 4004 chip from 1971, the first commercial microprocessor, which had 2,300 transistors and was used in calculators and other business machines. In December, he started work on an interim circuit design that can perform simple addition.

Increasing Politicization and Homogeneity in Scientific Funding: An Analysis of NSF Grants, 1990-2020

Leif Rasmussen

  1. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the main governmental scientific grant distributing body in the United States, with an annual budget of over $8 billion.
  2. This report uses natural language processing to analyze the abstracts of successful grants from 1990 to 2020 in the seven fields of Biological Sciences, Computer & Information Science & Engineering, Education & Human Resources, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical & Physical Sciences, and Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences.
  3. The frequency of documents containing highly politicized terms has been increasing consistently over the last three decades. As of 2020, 30.4% of all grants had one of the following politicized terms: “equity,” “diversity,” “inclusion,” “gender,” “marginalize,” “underrepresented,” or “disparity.” This is up from 2.9% in 1990. The most politicized field is Education & Human Resources (53.8% in 2020, up from 4.3% in 1990). The least are Mathematical & Physical Sciences (22.6%, up from 0.9%) and Computer & Information Science & Engineering (24.9%, up from 1.5%), although even they are significantly more politicized than any field was in 1990.

U.S. Dismisses Criminal Charges Against MIT Professor Accused of Hiding China Ties

Aruna Viswanatha:

Federal prosecutors dropped criminal charges against a Massachusetts Institute of Technology mechanical engineering professor accused of hiding his China ties, saying in a Thursday filing that the government no longer believed it could prove its case at trial.

Gang Chen was arrested last January on charges of concealing posts he held in China in a grant application he had made to the U.S. Department of Energy in 2017. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that prosecutors had recommended that the Justice Department drop the case, based in part on witness testimony that investigators obtained since his arrest, citing people familiar with the matter.

One of those people included an Energy Department official who told prosecutors in recent weeks that the agency didn’t believe Mr. Chen had an obligation to disclose the posts at the time, and didn’t believe the department would have withheld the grant if officials had known about them. The Energy Department in 2017 started asking researchers for more information about their foreign connections.

“As a result of our continued investigation, the government obtained additional information bearing on the materiality of the defendant’s alleged omissions,” prosecutors wrote. “Having assessed the evidence as a whole in light of that information, the government can no longer meet its burden of proof at trial.”

The judge overseeing the case, U.S. District Judge Patti Saris, signed off on the dismissal, but could ask the government for more information about its decision.

“public education employment has the second lowest quit rate of any sector of the U.S. economy”

Mike Antonucci:

As is plain from the numbers, we spiked in both during the summer of 2020, and everything returned to normal soon after.

Not one of the above stories, nor any news report on the issue I have seen, contains any mention that public education employment has the second lowest quit rate of any sector of the U.S. economy, behind only federal government employment.

Where we have shortages at the moment is because people are out sick. They haven’t quit, retired or vanished from the face of the earth. Get a grip, reporters

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

How education leaders can plan for recovery

McKinsey:

From coping with childcare and digital learning to ensuring safety in an uncertain environment, students, teachers, and parents have had it rough over the past couple of years. Now, Omicron and other virus variants are further disrupting the already hard-hit education system. Where do education leaders go from here? Ahead of #EducationDay, explore our full suite of Education Insights, or dive deeper with the articles below to understand the learning gaps caused by the pandemic, and how districts can plan for recovery programs that can not only help students catch up on unfinished learning, but also tackle long-standing historical inequities in education

University puts trigger warning for ‘explicit material’ on George Orwell’s 1984

Carl Bennett:

The University of Northampton have placed a trigger warning on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, saying it contains ‘explicit material’ which some may find ‘offensive and upsetting.’

The book is a dystopian social science fiction novel, first published in 1949, discusses the idea of truth and facts within politics and how they can be changed.

Orwell’s story also gave birth to popular phrases such as “Big Brother” and “Thought Police”.

In a Freedom of Information request by The Mail on Sunday, it revealed the advice introduced at the university has been placed on a number books, including Alan Moore’s V For Vendetta and Sexing The Cherry by Jeanette Winterson.

Infertility: A Lifestyle Disease?
A deep dive on causes and treatment of infertility

Zeina Amhaz:

In the US, one in eight couples, or 6.7 million peoplestruggle to conceive. A quick Twitter search of “IVF” will return scores of women sharing heartbreaking stories of failed IVF rounds and crushing miscarriages, like Breanna. Each year, the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) increases 5-10%. Considering that our only real job, biologically, is to procreate, this is very alarming. 

Probably the most popular (and controversial) work regarding infertility comes from Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist and professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. In her book Count Down, Swan finds that sperm count in Western men has dropped by more than 50% in the last forty years. Even more shocking, Swan predicts that by 2045, we’ll have a median sperm count of zero, and most people will have to use ART to reproduce. The cause of this “Spermageddon?” Swan points to weight, alcohol, smoking, and, most importantly, endocrine disruptors. 

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals like phthalates, bisphenols (e.g. BPA), pesticides, and flame retardants, which are found in everyday items like plastic, food, clothes, and skincare. When we absorb them (through eating, breathing, applying lotions, and wearing clothes), these chemicals can mess with our hormones. For example, phthalates are known to lower testosterone which, in turn, lowers sperm production. Research shows that women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)— the most common cause of female infertility— have higher levels of BPA in their bodies. Even exposure to these chemicals in small amounts can have major effects on the body, as delicate hormone levels are already controlled by only slight changes.

One of the most surprising things about endocrine disruptors is that they begin to affect the body in utero, via exposure to the mother. In a previous newsletter, I wrote about new research that found BPA-containing microplastics in human placentas. Not only is it terrifying to think about “cyborg babies” (babies made out of a combination of human cells and inorganic entities) being born, but scientists have also found that the chemicals in the microplastics have an effect on the fetus’sreproductive health. After all, a female fetus develops all the eggs she will have in her lifetime in utero. One studylooked at the effects of BPA in mice and found that it caused birth defects in the mice’s grandchildren; the first generation mouse’s BPA exposure disrupted its fetus’s egg development, resulting in chromosomal abnormalities in the next generation. This suggests that the effects of endocrine disruptors can be multigenerational. In male fetuses, exposures to endocrine disruptors like phthalates have been shown to result in smaller penis size and, in adulthood, lower count sperm.

Choose life.

Why A Successful Milwaukee High School Is Closing Their Doors

Will Flanders

So, what happened? Why is HOPE closing their high school doors? 

Schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (as well as the state’s other school choice programs) receive significantly less funding per student than do traditional public schools in the same area. For instance, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) receives about $13,344 per student in state and local funds, while a school like HOPE High School receives just $8,946 per student. Not only is this amount lower than MPS, it is lower than any public school district in the state. And this doesn’t even take into account federal funds, which add $2,500 per student to MPS with a smaller amount going to private schools in the choice program.  

To overcome this deficit, private schools are required to fundraise extensively, or limit the enrollment of students utilizing the voucher in the school in favor of tuition-paying students. These financial constraints tend to limit on the supply of private schools willing to participate in the state’s school choice programs because the voucher amount is, quite simply, insufficient for a typical high school education.

“If the value system collapses,” he wonders, “how can the social system be sustained?”

NS Lyons:

Ultimately, he argues, when faced with critical social issues like drug addiction, America’s atomized, deracinated, and dispirited society has found itself with “an insurmountable problem” because it no longer has any coherent conceptual grounds from which to mount any resistance.

Once idealistic about America, at the start of 1989 the young Wang returned to China and, promoted to Dean of Fudan’s International Politics Department, became a leading opponent of liberalization.

He began to argue that China had to resist global liberal influence and become a culturally unified and self-confident nation governed by a strong, centralized party-state. He would develop these ideas into what has become known as China’s “Neo-Authoritarian” movement—though Wang never used the term, identifying himself with China’s “Neo-Conservatives.” This reflected his desire to blend Marxist socialism with traditional Chinese Confucian values and Legalist political thought, maximalist Western ideas of state sovereignty and power, and nationalism in order to synthesize a new basis for long-term stability and growth immune to Western liberalism.

“He was most concerned with the question of how to manage China,” one former Fudan student recalls. “He was suggesting that a strong, centralized state is necessary to hold this society together. He spent every night in his office and didn’t do anything else.”

From the smug point of view of millions who now inhabit the Chinese internet, Wang’s dark vision of American dissolution was nothing less than prophetic. When they look to the U.S., they no longer see a beacon of liberal democracy standing as an admired symbol of a better future. That was the impression of those who created the famous “Goddess of Democracy,” with her paper-mâché torch held aloft before the Gate of Heavenly Peace.

Instead, they see Wang’s America: deindustrialization, rural decay, over-financialization, out of control asset prices, and the emergence of a self-perpetuating rentier elite; powerful tech monopolies able to crush any upstart competitors operating effectively beyond the scope of government; immense economic inequality, chronic unemployment, addiction, homelessness, and crime; cultural chaos, historical nihilism, family breakdown, and plunging fertility rates; societal despair, spiritual malaise, social isolation, and skyrocketing rates of mental health issues; a loss of national unity and purpose in the face of decadence and barely concealed self-loathing; vast internal divisions, racial tensions, riots, political violence, and a country that increasingly seems close to coming apart.

The bronze monument, long the subject of debate in the city, will be moved to the new Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota

Jennifer Calfas:

The statue, by James Earle Fraser, shows the 26th U.S. president on horseback flanked by a Native American man and African man on foot. Named the “Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt,” it was commissioned in 1925 and unveiled in 1940 at the museum, which his father had helped found.

The museum requested the statue be removed in June 2020 as the movement for racial justice after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis prompted many institutions to re-examine monuments. Owned by New York City, the statue sat on public parkland. The New York City Public Design Commission approved its removal unanimously in June 2021.

‘A Stunningly Corrupt Enterprise’

Ben Zeisloft:

Canadian psychologist and bestselling author Jordan Peterson announced that he is no longer a tenured professor at the University of Toronto.

In an article for The National Post, Peterson — who recently sat down with Daily Wire editor emeritus Ben Shapiro in the inaugural episode of “The Search” — pointed to the school’s obsession with “Diversity, Inclusivity and Equity,” which he abbreviated simply as “DIE.”

“I had envisioned teaching and researching at the U of T, full time, until they had to haul my skeleton out of my office. I loved my job. And my students, undergraduates and graduates alike, were positively predisposed toward me,” Peterson said. “But that career path was not meant to be.”

Peterson voiced frustration that his “qualified and supremely trained heterosexual white male graduate students… face a negligible chance of being offered university research positions, despite stellar scientific dossiers” thanks to diversity mandates.

“These have been imposed universally in academia, despite the fact that university hiring committees had already done everything reasonable for all the years of my career, and then some, to ensure that no qualified ‘minority’ candidates were ever overlooked,” he wrote. “My students are also partly unacceptable precisely because they are my students. I am academic persona non grata, because of my unacceptable philosophical positions. And this isn’t just some inconvenience. These facts rendered my job morally untenable. How can I accept prospective researchers and train them in good conscience knowing their employment prospects to be minimal?”

Peterson pointed to other trends destroying academia “and, downstream, the general culture” — including the end of objective testing and “grievance studies” disciplines. He also observed that colleagues must bow to diversity mandates by crafting “DIE statements” to obtain research grants.

A moment for humility and a new path forward on reading

Kareem Weaver:

Where is the humility? Where is the institutional courage to admit mistakes and move forward?

Individuals in leadership positions often derive their credibility from being the most knowledgeable person in the room, the unquestioned oracles of knowledge. This moment in education, however, requires leaders who will publicly position themselves as the best learners, not the best knowers. The sector has to reacquaint itself with the science of reading, unlearn some habits, suspend beliefs, and be vulnerable enough to embrace the inevitable learning curve. It will take grace and humility.

The NAACP considers reading proficiency to be a civil rights issue because The Information Age requires literacy to participate fully in a society that pushes nonreaders, systematically, to its margins. Given this, the education sector’s willingness to ignore the neuroscience and research consensus about literacy instruction is worth examining. What allows universities to have internal debates about science and methods that have long been settled? Why would dyslexia receive scant attention in an American credentialing program? Why would thousands of K-12 systems continue to use curricula that, even the authors now acknowledge, must be revised to address deficiencies in core elements of literacy instruction? And why would K-12 systems ignore mountains of evidence showing that foundational reading skills are undertaught?

The same universities who claim to be leading research institutions are eerily silent about their failure to apply the research in preparing teaching candidates. Likewise, the K-12 institutions with mission statements citing equity have systematically created a resource gap where those without money to overcome inadequate instruction are consigned to the margins of society while their better-resourced peers seek tutors or more appropriate school placements. Rather than address these issues, we have focused on untangling America’s racial quagmire – as if these things are mutually exclusive. We seem oblivious to the impact race and class have on our tolerance for student failure and our willingness to promote external control narratives that undermine collective teacher efficacy and obfuscate the central issues: we have not provided direct, systematic, explicit instruction to teach reading; neither curricula nor materials have been evidence-based; professional development dollars have not been used well; assessment has been misunderstood and abused; interventions haven’t been timely; and the dearth of humility from leaders and institutions have limited the possibility of effective change management.

Google is working on a fix for the Camera app randomly changing QR code URLs on Android 12

Manuel Vonau:

As reported and investigated by German publication Heise, Google Camera routinely runs into at least three distinct errors. The first one revolves around a few country-code top level domains (ccTLD), and it doesn’t matter if a QR code only directs you to an affected domain (like the non-existent Austrian https://fooco.at) or if it links to further directories (https://fooco.at/bar/index.htm). If the domain’s second level (fooco) ends with certain strings, Google Camera will automatically insert a dot, turning a link like https://fooco.at into https://foo.co.at. Heise tested further combinations and found that the issue also exists for .au, .br, .hu, .il, .kr, .nz, .ru, .tr, .uk, and .za. The affected strings at the end of the second level include co, com, ac, net, org, gov, mil, muni, and edu, but not or, gv, and k12.

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

My students were taught to think of themselves as vectors of disease. This has fundamentally altered their understanding of themselves.

Stacey Lance:

I am proud to be a teacher. I’ve worked in the Canadian public school system for the past 15 years, mostly at the high school level, teaching morals and ethics.

I don’t claim to be a doctor or an expert in virology. There is a lot I don’t know. But I spend my days with our youth and they tell me a lot about their lives. And I want to tell you what I’m hearing and what I’m seeing.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, when our school went fully remote, it was evident to me that the loss of human connection would be detrimental to our students’ development. It also became increasingly clear that the response to the pandemic would have immense consequences for students who were already on the path to long-term disengagement, potentially altering their lives permanently. 

The data about learning loss and the mental health crisis is devastating. Overlooked has been the deep shame young people feel: Our students were taught to think of their schools as hubs for infection and themselves as vectors of disease. This has fundamentally altered their understanding of themselves.

When we finally got back into the classroom in September 2020, I was optimistic, even as we would go remote for weeks, sometimes months, whenever case numbers would rise. But things never returned to normal.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Students Have Legal Recourse Against Unreasonable Covid Restrictions

Max Schanzenbach & Nadav Shoked:

Many colleges and universities are starting the new semester online and imposing draconian restrictions on campus. At Yale, students are under a campuswide quarantine and told not to eat at restaurants, even outdoors. At Princeton, officials have banned undergraduates from traveling outside the area for “personal reasons”—thus conveniently permitting travel for athletic teams. In contrast, the personal lives of faculty, staff and administrators continue uninterrupted. Apparently Covid is a threat only to the young who can easily be bullied into submission.

The move to online learning and other intrusive policies goes beyond what any state or federal health agency is recommending, let alone requiring. The Biden administration opposes school shutdowns. Yet universities still are cautioning that online learning may be extended.

But students may have legal recourse. The university-student legal relationship is grounded in contract. Under contract-law principles, universities probably have the power to impose some health restrictions as circumstances arise. But any imposition must be done in good faith and based on evidence, not on the desire of a panicky provost’s office to “do something.” What harms are caused by students socializing, given the minuscule risk Covid presents to vaccinated 20-somethings? And why not apply these rules to higher-risk faculty and staff? …

A post mortem on the Chicago Teacher walk out that fizzled

Left Voice:

Our union members were going in. Some people stopped responding to our chat after the first day. They needed their paycheck, or they didn’t want to ruffle feathers, whatever their reason, they turned their back on us. This was happening everywhere. Since this wasn’t an official strike, people did not see the problem with going in. The problem is it completely undermined our action! Our leverage decreased with the growing amount of people who went in. Second, Mayor Lightfoot loves to play hardball, even when she is spouting nonsense. This was wearing down the leadership team, and it was very clear in the tenor of their webinars with us that they were getting exhausted. Still, as one colleague of mine put it, they are not allowed to be more exhausted than those of us who have to go into these buildings every day!

CPS put out a counter proposal that had some arbitrary guidelines in place– they’d pass out more KN95 masks. They’d rely on school safety committees (an unpaid volunteer position that some schools don’t even have set up!) to determine whether a class or school should flip remote. This agreement was by and large a farce. The House of Delegates, however, voted to suspend our work action that very night while waiting for membership to vote on the agreement. In exhaustion and with a strong tone of defeat, everyone from Jesse Sharkey to Stacy Davis Gates to Jen Johnson heavily encouraged us to vote yes on the agreement. “It’s not what we deserve, but it’s better than what we had,” was the message. 

We were back in the schools the next day, students were back the day after that, and the agreement barely passed with a 55% approval rating. I consider this agreement to be a huge embarrassment for the union. I can’t name a single colleague or friend who voted for it. I believe it is going to be a big struggle to bring our members in for our next action, knowing how played we all felt.

When we walked into our buildings, we were greeted with a little more hand sanitizer and a few more masks. Student attendance has been abysmal, because parents are making the right decision to keep their students safe, when the people in power chose to forget them.

Mike Antonucci:

* “I consider this agreement to be a huge embarrassment for the union. I can’t name a single colleague or friend who voted for it. I believe it is going to be a big struggle to bring our members in for our next action, knowing how played we all felt.”

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Being-in-the-Room Privilege; Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference

Olúfémi O. Táíwò:

To say what’s wrong with the popular, deferential applications of standpoint epistemology, we need to understand what makes it popular. A number of cynical answers present themselves: some (especially the more socially advantaged) don’t genuinely want social change – they just want the appearance of it. Alternatively, deference to figures from oppressed communities is a performance that sanitizes, apologizes for, or simply distracts from the fact that the deferrer has enough “in the room” privilege for their “lifting up” of a perspective to be of consequence.

I suspect there is some truth to these views, but I am unsatisfied. Many of the people who support and enact these deferential norms are rather like Helen: motivated by the right reasons, but trusting people they share such rooms with to help them find the proper practical expression of their joint moral commitments. We don’t need to attribute bad faith to all or even most of those who interpret standpoint epistemology deferentially to explain the phenomenon, and it’s not even clear it would help. Bad “roommates” aren’t the problem for the same reason that Helen being a good roommate wasn’t the solution: the problem emerges from how the rooms themselves are constructed and managed.

To return to the initial example with Helen, the issue wasn’t merely that I hadn’t grown up in the kind of low-income, redlined community she was imagining. The epistemic situation was much worse than this. Many of the facts about me that made my life chances different from those of the people she was imagining were the very same facts that made me likely to be offered things on their behalf. If I had grown up in such a community, we probably wouldn’t have been on the phone together.

I’m a Public School Teacher. The Kids Aren’t Alright.

Stacey Lance:

I am proud to be a teacher. I’ve worked in the Canadian public school system for the past 15 years, mostly at the high school level, teaching morals and ethics.

I don’t claim to be a doctor or an expert in virology. There is a lot I don’t know. But I spend my days with our youth and they tell me a lot about their lives. And I want to tell you what I’m hearing and what I’m seeing.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, when our school went fully remote, it was evident to me that the loss of human connection would be detrimental to our students’ development. It also became increasingly clear that the response to the pandemic would have immense consequences for students who were already on the path to long-term disengagement, potentially altering their lives permanently. 

The data about learning loss and the mental health crisis is devastating. Overlooked has been the deep shame young people feel: Our students were taught to think of their schools as hubs for infection and themselves as vectors of disease. This has fundamentally altered their understanding of themselves.

When we finally got back into the classroom in September 2020, I was optimistic, even as we would go remote for weeks, sometimes months, whenever case numbers would rise. But things never returned to normal.

Madison’s literacy task force report background, notes and links.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

School closures have been made with politics in mind — not science

Corey DeAngelis and Christos Makridis:

The long-term closing of schools, and the harm it did to children nationwide, was a decision based not on health, but on politics — thanks to teachers unions and the Democratic politicians they fund.

A study by researchers at Michigan State University found that when governors left it up to districts whether to have in-person education in the fall of 2020, the “decisions were more tied to local political partisanship and union strength than to COVID-19 severity.”

This despite the fact that politicians already knew children were less at risk for COVID.

Follow the science? More like follow the political science.

Mental, physical harm

Freedom of Information Act documents showed major teachers unions lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on school reopenings. In fact, e-mails The Post acquired revealed that the CDC adopted Randi Weingarten’s American Federation of Teachers’ suggested language for this guidance nearly verbatim at least twice. Government officials were also told to factor teachers union contract negotiations into their reopening guidance. 

These union-induced school closures harm students academically, mentally and physically, with virtually no reduction in overall coronavirus transmission or child mortality.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Notes on Censorship

Tom McKay:

The Royal Society is the UK’s national academy of sciences. On Wednesday, it published a report on what it calls the “online information environment,” challenging some key assumptions behind the movement to de-platform conspiracy theorists spreading hoax info on topics like climate change, 5G, and the coronavirus.

Based on literature reviews, workshops and roundtables with academic experts and fact-checking groups, and two surveys in the UK, the Royal Society reached several conclusions. The first is that while online misinformation is rampant, its influence may be exaggerated, at least as far as the UK goes: “the vast majority of respondents believe the COVID-19 vaccines are safe, that human activity is responsible for climate change, and that 5G technology is not harmful.” The second is that the impact of so-called echo chambers may be similarly exaggerated and there’s little evidence to support the “filter bubble” hypothesis (basically, algorithm-fueled extremist rabbit holes). The researchers also highlighted that many debates about what constitutes misinformation are rooted in disputes within the scientific community and that the anti-vax movement is far broader than any one set of beliefs or motivations.

Commentary on equity policies

Christopher Rufo:

This year, the new segregation has extended itself into new domains: public education and public-health policy. In Denver, Centennial Elementary School launched a racially exclusive “Families of Color Playground Night” as part of its racial equity programming. In Chicago, Downers Grove South High School held a racially exclusive “Students of Color Field Trip” as part of its own equity initiatives. In the words of Denver Public Schools officials, the administrators implemented the segregated program to “create a space of belonging,” which, they said, without a hint of irony, is “about uniting us, not dividing us.”

The new segregation has also been implemented in public health-care systems, with state and federal agencies denying Covid vaccines and treatment to individuals based on race. This trend began last year, when Vermont provided the vaccine to all members of racial minorities over age 16 but denied it for whites without specific age or health conditions. Later, New York State, Minnesota, Utah, and the federal government adopted health policies that explicitly discriminate against whites, rationing Covid treatments based on race. (After public outcry, Minnesota recently backtracked on this policy, and Utah announced that it is “reevaluating” its policy, but both Utah’s and New York’s arrangements remain in place as of this writing.)

The most common justification for the new segregation is that racial minorities suffer disparities that must be rectified through “positive” discrimination, which is presented as a solution for America’s historical racism. In practice, however, these policies often descend into illogic, cruelty, and malice. Minnesota’s recently rescinded criteria, for example, would have prioritized Covid treatment for a healthy 18-year-old black female over a 64-year-old white male with hypertension, who, given the totality of circumstances, faces a much greater risk of serious illness and death. The new politics of race supplants the old science of medicine, with potentially catastrophic consequences for disfavored racial groups.

Civics: The Right to Defy Criminal Demands: Introduction

Eugene Volokh:

I’ve just finished up a rough draft of this article (6 years in the making), and I thought I’d serialize it here, minus most of the footnotes (which you can see in the full PDF). I’d love to hear people’s reactions and recommendations, since there’s still plenty of time to edit it. You will also be able to see all the posts, as they come up, here.

[* * *]

Craig is trying to force Danielle to do something, by explicitly or implicitly threatening to criminally retaliate if she doesn’t go along. And, as often happens, Craig’s threatened crime is endangering not just Danielle but also innocent bystanders.

Civics: YouTube (Google) Censorship

Many taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts use Google services, including Madison.

almost half of education spending in the state goes for activities other than instruction, including nearly 23% on administrative costs.

Will Flanders,

DPI itself has also contributed to this problem in a number of ways.  Nearly $150,000,000 of state education spending is retained at the state level for operations.  In addition, DPI has contributed and created the barriers for teachers to access the classroom. With barrier upon barrier to get licensed to teach, it is difficult to recruit and keep high quality teachers in Wisconsin.  If DPI believes that school districts ought to be rewarding high quality teachers with more money, they should be working to solve all of the issues outlined here.

“The past 10 years we’ve suffered with budgets designed with austerity in mind.”

In keeping with the theme that schools aren’t getting enough money, Underly paints a picture of Wisconsin’s school spending that is at odds with the reality. The Figure below shows school spending since 2008, including the projected ahead figures from the recently passed budget.

Madison’s literacy task force report background, notes and links.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Latest iteration of Texas-led antitrust complaint against Google expands claims of bad behavior

Thomas Claburn:

The alleged 2017 deal between Google and Facebook to kill header bidding, a way for multiple ad exchanges to compete fairly in automated ad auctions, was negotiated by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and endorsed by both Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (now with Meta) and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, according to an updated complaint filed in the Texas-led antitrust lawsuit against Google.

Texas, 14 other US states, and the Commonwealths of Kentucky and Puerto Rico accused Google of unlawfully monopolizing the online ad market and rigging ad auctions in a December, 2020, lawsuit. The plaintiffs subsequently filed an amendment complaint in October, 2021, that includes details previously redacted.

On Friday, Texas et al. filed a third amended complaint [PDF] that fills in more blanks and expands the allegations by 69 more pages.

What it Means to Teach Gifted Learners Well

Carol Ann Tomlinson

Some people suggest that gifted education is just sort of “fluffy” or enriching-gravy on the potatoes, perhaps, but not anything especially substantial or critical in the way of mental fare. Others propose that all gifted education is what’s good for all students. Unfortunately, those two criticisms sometimes stem from observing classrooms where gifted learners are taught inappropriately.

So what does it mean to teach a highly able student well? Of course it will vary some with the age of the child, the subject, the learning style of the student-and possibly even the child’s gender or culture. Certainly appropriate instruction for such learners varies for a child who comes to school rich with experiences vs. a child who is equally able but lacks richness of experience. And it will vary with a child who has immense potential vs. a peer with somewhat less capacity. Nonetheless, there are general indicators of appropriate curriculum and instruction for highly able students (in their areas of strength)-and general indicators of inappropriate curriculum and instruction for such learners.

Voting on a mask policy vs administrative mandates

Alison Dirr:

The City of Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday approved a new mask mandate, and Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson plans to sign it.

But it’s not the same mask mandate that residents and businesses had grown accustomed to earlier in the pandemic.

This one comes with a likely end date — and a pared down enforcement mechanism that the city doesn’t plan to use anyway.

Madison’s literacy task force report background, notes and links.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

New Tennessee law to formalize teachers’ roles for discipline in the classroom

News Channel 9:

A recent survey from the Professional Educators of Tennessee showed 22 percent of educators were “unlikely” to remain in public education.

Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed cited student discipline and behavior as “challenging” or “very challenging.”

The group says the law will help address this issue by putting “better discipline systems and processes in place,” and giving “teachers more voice on the critical issue of student discipline.”

“The best teacher in the school cannot teach if they have an unruly classroom,” said JC Bowman, director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher’s association based in Nashville. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re protecting our teachers and our other students as well.”

Children’s Rights Defined and Defended

C Bradley Thompson:

The fundamental question of our time is: who is responsible for educating children, parents or the government?

And only after we answer this question can we address two related questions: what should children learn and how should they learn it? The “who” determines the “what” and the “how.”

But the “who” question is partly dependent on how we answer an even more basic question: do children have a right to an education, which is in turn dependent on the most fundamental question of all: do children have rights and if they do what kind of rights do they hold? This last question is the subject of this essay. In the next and last essay in this series, I will address directly the question of whether children have a right to an education.

In my seventh essay in the series on “Who Shall Educate the Children?” I demonstrated philosophically that parents—and only parents—have the sole right, authority, and responsibility to determine how and in what their children will educated. I have made it clear in this series that government should have no role in the education of children. The very idea is grotesque and immoral.

And in the eighth essay on “The Redneck Guide to Children’s Rights,” I established, in a general way, the metaphysical conditions of childhood and how the concept of rights applies to children given their natures.

But now we need to drill down much further than we have thus far to determine what sort of claim, if any, children have on their parents to be fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated? 

Children and the Right to Life

With the birth of a child a complex amalgam of interconnected and interdependent rights is created. Let’s begin with the foundational right—the right to life.

Civics: “conservative // liberal”

Tyler Cowen:

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democratic voters would favor a government policy requiring that citizens remain confined to their homes at all times, except for emergencies, if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Such a proposal is opposed by 61% of all likely voters, including 79% of Republicans and 71% of unaffiliated voters.

– Nearly half (48%) of Democratic voters think federal and state governments should be able to fine or imprison individuals who publicly question the efficacy of the existing COVID-19 vaccines on social media, television, radio, or in online or digital publications. Only 27% of all voters – including just 14% of Republicans and 18% of unaffiliated voters – favor criminal punishment of vaccine critics.

How and why the Relational Model works for databases

Lu Pan:

This is a note on, the Turing Award laureate, Ted Codd’s revolutionary paper — A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks. In this post, I will review the paper and add my comments with a perspective from modern distributed databases. 

Tight coupling

How users used to interact with databases were tightly coupled with implementation details — e.g. how bits are managed and represented on physical hardware. Users might expect to get replies in certain order because data is sorted in a specific order on disk (Ordering Dependence) without explicitly expressing reply ordering requirements. Indices on data were exposed directly to users, which makes changing them (especially removing them) in the future difficult (Indexing Dependence). Data were organized in tree structures (like folders) — e.g. employees are nested under companies, and children nested under employees. The structure has to be exposed to users, who follow this path for data access. This means changes can’t be made to the tree structures (Access Path Dependence).

Abstraction

Many problems in computer science are solved by introducing another level of indirection or abstraction. What if instead of leaking data store order, indices, or how we structure the data storage, we introduce a language that just describes the data itself. It would be completely declarative, decoupling how users would reason about the data and how it’s actually organized on disk. In Ted Codd’s own words,

School Climate: Federalism and Leadership

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Advocating accountability for taxpayer supported K-12 schools

Molly Beck:

Low-performing schools in Wisconsin would be forced to close under a plan to overhaul K-12 education put forward by Kevin Nicholson, a Republican who is expected to announce this week he is running for governor.  

Nicholson, who was defeated in a Republican U.S. Senate primary in 2018 by former state Sen. Leah Vukmir of Brookfield, is proposing massive changes to the state’s education landscape but did not answer questions about how he would accomplish his goals if elected. 

In a GOP primary, Nicholson would face Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch who has broad support among elected Republican officials — including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester. 

Vos said in an event Wednesday hosted by Wispolitics.com that Nicholson should not run. 

“I think if he runs, it hurts our chances to defeat Gov. Evers. But I can’t control that. If he runs, he runs,” Vos told the Madison-based Capital Times.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Commentary on Media Veracity, “the best and brightest” and public health

Vinay Prasad:

Collins is not an epidemiologist, and he has no standing to decide what counts as a “fringe” view within that field. As NIH director, his job is to foster dialogue among scientists and acknowledge uncertainty. Instead, he attempted to suppress legitimate debate with petty, ad hominem attacks.The efforts to censor Malone and McCullough have massively backfired, with both men gaining prominence and publicity from the attempts to shut down their speech. More generally, I strongly disagree with efforts to censor scientists, even if they are incorrect, and no matter the implications of their words, as I believe the harms of censorship far exceed any short-term gains.

“The 21st Century Salonniere:

If our leaders communicated clearly and transparently throughout the pandemic, if they left politics aside, if they explained why their opinions and guidance have changed so often and provided the data to back it up, a guy like Malone couldn’t get much of an audience.

As for the media, they do little more than parrot the leaders. If the messages from leaders are garbled, constantly changing, and unclear, our media outlets are usually going to repeat those messages, not clarify them.

So our leaders have failed America. The media has failed America. But where are the scientists? Why aren’t the workhorses of this pandemic, the people who are quietly behind the scenes doing the best they can, people who are subject-matter experts and who don’t have an agenda, presenting clear information to the public and explaining the ways in which Robert Malone is full of shit?

I think the answer is twofold. First, the scientists have their hands full, fighting the pandemic and “doing science” in a very rapidly changing information landscape, and they are consumed with talking among themselves, not communicating with the public. It’s really not Joe Q. Scientist’s role (or forte) to communicate science information to the public.

But second, if I had to guess, to the community of honest, good-faith experts who are trying hard to fight this global disaster, Malone sounds so much not like a credible scientist that to them he’s self-evidently full of shit.

In other words, I think scientists don’t see a need to discuss it, just as you or I might not see a need to discuss whether a Magic 8 Ball can really tell the future or not.

So the arrogant mainstream sees Malone getting in the way of their messaging, and they ignore him. The actual scientists think the problem is obvious, and they impatiently wave it away. Neither group sees a need to offer explanations.

But there are a lot of people who are “smart, but not scientists.” They don’t necessarily have the background to evaluate Malone’s claims, or the time to read medical journal articles to keep up on the latest science, just as I don’t have the background to evaluate what an electrician says about my solar panels, or the time to read electricians’ textbooks to check up on what he says.

Volunteer opportunities in the taxpayer supported Madison School District

Scott Girard:

Registration can be completed online through the district’s Volunteer Tracker program, which allows volunteers to select the schools where they’d like to volunteer and identify what roles they can volunteer for.

In an interview last week, Jenkins suggested that the district needs individuals and local businesses to step up to help keep school buildings open, as “every able-bodied” central office staff member was already out helping at schools last week.

“We have a lot of businesses here,” he said. “If they subbed one day a month, that would take us through the rest of the year with enough staffing to fill these vacancies. And we’re at a critical spot like across the rest of the country right now.”

The district is also advertising paid positions on its volunteering page, seeking more staff to fill a variety of positions:

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Civics: U.S. prosecutors recommend dropping case against MIT professor over China ties

Nate Raymond:

Prosecutors have recommended that the U.S. Justice Department drop charges against a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor accused of concealing his ties to China when seeking federal grant money, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

Federal prosecutors in Boston decided to seek dismissal of the case against Chinese-born mechanical engineer and nanotechnologist Gang Chen.

Boston prosecutors recommended the case’s dismissal in recent weeks based on new information, the person said, adding the Justice Department has not made a final decision.
MIT President Rafael Reif has defended https://president.mit.edu/speeches-writing/letter-community-re-sustech-relationship-and-professor-chen its $25 million collaboration SUSTech as furthering MIT’s research mission.

Truth and COVID Origins: Jeremy Farrar Edition

Leslie Eastman:

On February 2, Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease expert and the director of Wellcome, sent around notes, including to Fauci and Collins, summarizing what some of the scientists had said on the call.

Farzan, a Scripps professor who studied the spike protein on the 2003 SARS virus, “is bothered by the furin site and has a hard time explain that as an event outside the lab (though, there are possible ways in nature, but highly unlikely),” Farrar’s note reads, referring to a spike protein feature that aids interaction with furin, a common enzyme in human lung cells. Farzan didn’t think the site was the product of “directed engineering,” but found that the changes would be “highly compatible with the idea of continued passage of the virus in tissue culture.”

It is important to note that the furin site substantially enhances transmission to humans. It is difficult to explain how this strand of viral DNA is substantially altered in one, small area with four amino acids and 12 nucleotides with the remainder of the sequence remaining intact.

Why were the voices of those suggesting a lab leak origin silenced? For the sake of “international harmony” and to protect Chinese science.

Penn Law Professor Amy Wax Enraged People With Her Comments About Asians. Now, She May Face Sanction.:

Susan Snyder:

[S]ome academics who ardently despise Wax’s comments say they would rather she retains the right to say them than allow her to be fired. Removing her could open the door to censorship for professors who espouse views opposed by conservatives, such as critical race theory.

“How in the same breath do you oppose those measures but also say you should fire Amy Wax,” said Jonathan Zimmerman, a Penn professor of the history of education, who has ardently defended free speech. “I don’t think we can have it both ways.”

Adam Steinbaugh, a lawyer for the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), said Wax’s most recent comments about Asian Americans came on a radio show and a written post she made after the show and are not within her primary area of academic expertise or connected to campus.

“Because of that, it is very difficult for an institution to take action or sanction a faculty member, tenured or not, for that speech,” he said. “Penn has walked right up to the line of what they are allowed to do here. They can condemn her, but they can’t punish her.”

Civics: Against Identity Politics

Francis Fukuyama:

BEGINNING A FEW DECADES AGO, WORLD POLITICS STARTED TO EXPERIENCE A DRAMATIC TRANSFORMATION. From the early 1970s to the first decade of this century, the number of electoral democracies increased from about 35 to more than 110. Over the same period, the world’s output of goods and services quadrupled, and growth extended to virtually every region of the world. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty plummeted, dropping from 42 percent of the global population in 1993 to 18 percent in 2008.

But not everyone benefited from these changes. In many countries, and particularly in developed democracies, economic inequality increased dramatically, as the benefits of growth flowed primarily to the wealthy and well-educated. The increasing volume of goods, money, and people moving from one place to another brought disruptive changes. In developing countries, villagers who previously had no electricity suddenly found themselves living in large cities, watching TV, and connecting to the Internet on their mobile phones. Huge new middle classes arose in China and India—but the work they did replaced the work that had been done by older middle classes in the developed world. Manufacturing moved steadily from the United States and Europe to East Asia and other regions with low labor costs. At the same time, men were being displaced by women in a labor market increasingly dominated by service industries, and low-skilled workers found themselves replaced by smart machines.

Ultimately, these changes slowed the movement toward an increasingly open and liberal world order, which began to falter and soon reversed. The final blows were the global financial crisis of 2007–8 and the euro crisis that began in 2009. In both cases, policies crafted by elites produced huge recessions, high unemployment, and falling incomes for millions of ordinary workers. Since the United States and the EU were the leading exemplars of liberal democracy, these crises damaged the reputation of that system as a whole.

“Chatbots: Still Dumb After All These Years”

Andrew:

In 1970, Marvin Minsky, recipient of the Turing Award (“the Nobel Prize of Computing”), predicted that within “three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being.” 

Fifty-two years later, we’re still waiting.

That’s pretty funny! It’s not a shocker that Minsky was optimistic about the development of AI—I’m optimistic about all my research projects too—but I had no idea he’d been so rashly optimistic as that.

It wasn’t so extreme as James Watson’s claim in 1998that cancer was going to be cured in two years . . . or was it? I mean, from the perspective of 1998, maybe a cancer miracle cure might have been possible. Just turn off the right set of switches in the cells, and . . . bingo! It could be, right?

But to think in 1970 that they were about to have a machine with human intelligence in just a few years . . . I mean, really, how could they have possibly thought that?? I hope that Minsky at least went back and revisited this prediction and considered what he got wrong.

Anyway, back to Smith’s article:

Martin Luther King on the Ethics of Resistance to State Authority

Ilya Somin:

Georgetown philosophy Prof. Jason Brennan, himself the author of an important book on the morality of resistance to government power, has a useful summary of King’s views on these issues. As Brennan points out, King believed that disobedience to unjust laws is often entirely justified, even when the laws in question were enacted by democratic governments:

Many people assume that we almost always have a duty to obey the law, even unjust laws. King argued that unjust laws are no laws at all. Or, more precisely, he argued that if a law is unjust, there is no obligation to obey it and no right to enforce it.

He argued there could be all sorts of reasons why a law lacks legitimacy and authority. King denied that something evil could be rendered permissible if a democracy voted for it. He thought we had genuine rights and these rights are not created by government fiat or social agreement.

He also thought laws could lack legitimacy and authority because they were passed by an unfair procedure. For instance, many countries in Southern states were even majority Black, but only the white minority could vote.

I think King was right about this, and that, for many unjust laws, we have no obligation to obey. I outlined some of the reasons why in this 2014 piece about why most undocumented immigrants have no moral obligation to obey laws denying them the right to move to another country (see also follow-up post here). The same reasoning applies to many other unjust laws, at least those that inflict great harm on their victims.

Brennan is also right to note that, on King’s view, justified disobedience to unjust laws may not always require accepting punishment. He favored such acceptance, in some cases, for largely tactical reasons.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Feller School: a Madison, Wisconsin Startup

Kim Feller-Janus:

Several years ago I became disenchanted by my profession. I was not happy with the results of my work as a Reading Interventionist in a large school district. Yes, the students assigned to me made progress and the principals, teachers, and parents were pleased with my work, but I wasn’t. Year after year I worked with my students to reach “grade level reading” by years’ end and most of the time we met that goal. However, these same students were back to see me the following year because what they had learned the year before didn’t seem to stick and they were falling behind once again. This was hard to accept. I felt that I could do better, but I didn’t know how. And, this is why I decided that it was time to make a change.

Upon leaving the school environment I opened my own business, Auburn Reading Center, LLC. This gave me the opportunity to continue to work with struggling readers and time to learn more about effective reading instruction. This is when I discovered the book, Uncovering the Logic of English by Denise Eide. I devoured it within hours and then I wanted to scream, “Why didn’t anyone teach this to me in college?!” 

This began my journey to learn more about our English language and the connection it has with the decades-old brain research. This research shows brain activity when a good reader is reading as well as the brain activity when a poor reader is reading. There is evidence proving that our brains are not wired to read and that we need to be taught. Effective reading instruction that is explicit, systematic, multisensory, and structured is the “silver bullet” for most people. This explained to me why the students I taught within the school system were making minimal overall progress and never actually becoming proficient readers. In fact, in some cases what I was doing may have been more harmful than helpful. This broke my heart and pushed me even more to learn a better way to teach.

My next thought was to learn more about the author of this amazing book and find a way to connect with her in hopes that she could lead me into the right direction for coursework or training. This is when I discovered that Denise Eide had also written a comprehensive language arts curriculum that is based on brain research. I also learned that her office was located in Rochester, Minnesota which is just a little over 3 hours away from where I lived. I was determined to make that 6-hour round trip to meet this brilliant woman. Fortunately for me, Denise graciously agreed to meet me for lunch near her office to talk about her book and curriculum. We also talked about my frustrations with what seemed to be a norm in most schools – which is the belief that there will always be about 20% of children who will never be good readers. This is something that I never want to accept.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

School Closures Were a Catastrophic Error. Progressives Still Haven’t Reckoned With It.

Jonathan Chait:

Within blue America, transparently irrational ideas like this were able to carry the day for a disturbingly long period of time. In recent days, Angie Schmitt and Rebecca Bodenheimer have both written essays recounting the disorienting and lonely experience they had watching their friends and putative political allies denounce them for supporting a return to in-person learning. Bodenheimer’s account is especially vivid:

“Parents who advocated for school reopening were repeatedly demonized on social media as racist and mischaracterized as Trump supporters. Members of the parent group I helped lead were consistently attacked on Twitter and Facebook by two Oakland moms with ties to the teachers union. They labeledadvocates’ calls for schools reopening “white supremacy,” called us “Karens,” and even bizarrely claimed we had allied ourselves with Marjorie Taylor Greene’s transphobic agenda.”

The fevered climate of opinion ruled out cost-benefit thinking and instead framed the question as a simple moral binary, with the well-being of public schoolchildren somehow excluded from the calculus. Social scientists like Emily Oster who spoke out about the evidence on schools and COVID became hate targets on the left, an intimidating spectacle for other social scientists who might have thought about speaking up.

The failed experiment finally came to an end in the fall of 2021. (A handful of districts have shut down during the Omicron wave, but this is mainly a temporary response to staff shortages rather than another effort to stop community spread.) The Chicago Teachers Union, one of the more radical unions, did stage a strike, but it was met with firm opposition from Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot and ended quickly.

But the source of the sentiment has not disappeared. The Democratic Party’s left-wing vanguard is continuing to flay critics of school closings as neoliberal ghouls carrying out the bidding of the billionaire class. Bernie Sanders aide Elizabeth Pancotti claims that “the loudest and most ardent supporters of keeping schools oepn [sic] (& those who dismiss legit concerns about teacher/child health risks) are largely those with remote work options/resources for alternative child care arrangements,” as if only some selfish motive could explain the desire of an American liberal to maintain public education. A story in Vice praises a student walkout in New York as a national model.

The ideas that produced the catastrophic school-closing era may have suffered a setback, but its strongest advocates hardly feel chastened. Whether educational achievement can or should be measured at all remains a very live debate within the left.

Most progressives aren’t insisting on refighting the school closing wars. They just want to quietly move on without anybody admitting anybody did anything wrong.

One of the grievances that critics of the Iraq War nursed after the debacle became clear was the failure of the political Establishment to draw any lessons broader than “don’t invade Iraq without an occupation plan.” Their anger was not unfounded. The catastrophe happened in part because the structure of the debate allowed too many uninformed hawkish voices and ignored too many informed dovish ones. (As a chastened Iraq War supporter myself, I’ve grown far more cautious about wading into foreign-policy debates for which I lack adequate understanding.)

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

China’s birth rate drops to record low in 2021

Reuters:

China scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit to try to avoid the economic risks from a rapidly aging population, but the high cost of urban living has deterred couples from having more children.

The 2021 rate of 7.52 births per 1,000 people was the lowest since 1949, when the National Statistics Bureau began collating the data, adding further pressure on officials to encourage more births.

The natural growth rate of China’s population, which excludes migration, was only 0.034% for 2021, the lowest since 1960, according to the data.

“The demographic challenge is well known but the speed of population aging is clearly faster than expected,” said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset management.

“This suggests China’s total population may have reached its peak in 2021. It also indicates China’s potential growth is likely slowing faster than expected,” Zhang said.

Choose life.

Here’s How Much Money LA Parents Are Fundraising For Schools, And What It Buys
In affluent or gentrifying areas of the

Kyle Stokes:

But in affluent or gentrifying areas of the Los Angeles Unified School District, parent fundraising organizations — like parent-teacher associations and school booster clubs — often cover such costs.

Since 2016, parents across L.A. Unified have reliably raised at least $30 million each year through non-profit organizations that support academics at their schools. That’s according to a database KPCC/LAist built out of more than 1,700 records these groups filed with the federal Internal Revenue Service and with state officials.

We’re publishing that database now so that you can search for your school and compare your fundraising totals to others in your neighborhood or across the district.

Europe’s Multicultural Volcano

Giulio Meotti:

“If Europe does not regain control, Islamized mini-states could soon appear”. The prediction comes from the Russian political scientist Sergei Markov. In an interviewpublished by Lenta.ru, Markov notes that European institutions are adapting to the Islamic way of life, values ​​and traditions (the recent campaigns of the Council of Europe in favor of the Muslim veil is an example), and adds:

“Fully Islamized Islamic enclaves, mini-states and neighborhoods in large European cities will begin to appear. Yes, they will always be a minority. But they are more united and threaten violence. And the state will have to obey their instructions”.

Europe should pay attention to what Markov says. It is not even a warning. It is already here. In 2021, 35,000 migrants landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa — five times the number of inhabitants on the island (6,500), according to InfoMigrants. Imagine if the same demographic process took place in a city — and then more cities.

The most complete picture of Europe’s so-called “no-go zones” was created by the Migration Research Institute of Budapest, linked to the prestigious Mattias Corvinus College, which reported that in Europe there are more than 900 areas of this type.

Many of the migrants already live on the generosity of European welfare, even as the police, social workers and ambulances do not enter these areas or must be protected when they do. Gangs and organized crime dominate the street, high birth rates guarantee demographic expansion and Islamic sharia law is de facto respected by the inhabitants; butchers are only halal, “mixed” hairdressers disappear, Islamic bookshops proliferate, Jews leave, churches are often converted to mosques and women are pressured to comply with sharia law.

“We in the West are used to seeing women everywhere around us,” Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes in her new book, Prey, before describing that in certain parts of Brussels, London, Paris and Stockholm, “you suddenly notice that only men are visible,” as women “erase themselves” from public spaces.

Universities received billions in COVID relief. Some are still imposing delays, remote instruction.

Peter Cordi:

In 2020, the federal government gave American colleges and universities approximately $14 billion in relief through the CARES Act. As part of the $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package, the CARES Act allocation mandated that approximately half its funds be used for emergency student aid. 

Now, nearly two years after President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act in March 2020, numerous institutions that received aid are delaying in-person learning due to the Omicron variant.  

By Jan. 7, seven out of 10 University of California campuses announced “revisions to their winter quarter or winter semester plans.” Winter sessions precede the spring semester, which traditionally starts in mid-to-late January.

Civics: German police used a tracing app to scout crime witnesses. Some fear that’s fuel for covid conspiracists.

Rachel Pannet:

Authorities in Germany are under fire for tracking down witnesses to a potential crime by using data from a mobile phone app that was intended to help identify close contacts of people infected with the coronavirus.

Police in the city of Mainz, near Frankfurt, successfully petitioned local health authorities to release data from an app called Luca when a man fell to his death after leaving a restaurant in November. They said they were seeking witnesses who had dined at the restaurant around the same time and reportedly found 21 people from the app data.

The apparent misuse of the data has been criticized by privacy advocates, who fear that such sensitive information will be used for non-pandemic-control purposes. The incident is also likely to provide fodder for vaccine doubters, some of whom have taken on a broader anti-government stance, and those who believe coronavirus-related conspiracy theories.

Luca is subject to Germany’s strict data-protection regulations and, by law, information from the app cannot be accessed by non-health authorities and used in criminal prosecutions. The app stores the user’s personal details and uses QR codes to record how long they’ve spent at a location. The information is encrypted to obscure any personal information, according to Culture4life, the company that developed the app, and can only be decrypted by health authorities if someone at a venue is infected.

How We Lost the Women in Computing

Moshe Vardi:

But the general ignorance of computing history goes deeper. The early programmers were women because until the development of electronic computers, computing used to be a human job; computers were humans who computed. Computing required precision and patience, and most pre-ENIAC human computers were female. Specifically, women played a key role in code breaking, which has had an intimate connection with computing. Three recent books describe this key role played by women in cryptology. Women Codebreakers at Bletchley Park, by Kerry Howard,bdeciphers the legacy of British women code-breakers in World War II. Code Girls, by Liza Mundy, tells the story of over 11,000 women, who comprised more than 70% of all U.S. code breakers during that war. The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies, by Jason Fagone, chronicles the life of Elizabeth Smith Friedman, who played a leading role in U.S. cryptanalysis for 40 years.

Another recent book, Brotopia, by Emily Chang, describes how “Silicon Valley disrupts everything but the Boys’ Club.” “From its earliest days,” Chang writes, “the industry has self-selected for men: first, antisocial nerds, then, decades later, self-confident and risk-taking bros.” As a prelude, I suggest reading the Vanity Fair disputed excerpt,c featuring Chang’s reporting about “exclusive, drug-fueled, sex-laced parties” where women are preyed upon. But the controversial sex parties are a small part of Silicon Valley’s problems. The main story of the book is of a culture is that highly hostile to women.

A.T. Wynn and S.J. Correll, two Stanford sociologists, reach the same conclusion in their recent paper in Social Studies of Science, titled “Puncturing the pipeline: Do technology companies alienate women in recruiting sessions?”d Using original observational data from recruiting sessions hosted by technology companies, they found that company representatives often engage in behaviors known to create a chilly environment for women. They concluded that representatives “may puncture the recruiting pipeline, lessening the interest of women at the point of recruitment into technology careers.”

One may think these problems are specific to Silicon Valley, but the recent #MeToo movement made it clear that academic environments can also be hostile to women. I urge you to read ‘What Happens to Us Does Not Happen to Most of You,’e where Kathryn McKinley provides “a personal account of sexism, harassment, and racism that I and some anonymous members of the computer-architecture community have experienced.”

The tyranny of low expectations

Illeana Najarro:

When working with students of color, particularly Black students, teachers lower down the rigor of assignments, ask fewer open-ended questions, and assign worksheets instead of group assignments, according to a new study out of New York University. Researchers point to racial biases about the academic abilities of students of color as a major factor.

“It’s not this overt ‘I have more Black students, I’m going to be racist,’ but I think it’s that when they go into a classroom that has more Black students it’s instinctual that the teachers actually kind of lower their standards. They use less-rigorous instruction,” said Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, an NYU associate professor and sociologist and lead author of the study.

Research in the past has focused on how Black and Latino students are more likely than white peers to have teachers with one year or less of experience in the classroom, which can correlate with lower educational outcomes. But Cherng and his co-authors found that racial bias came into play in classroom instruction regardless of the teacher’s credentials or racial background.

This MLK Day, Remember How The FBI Targeted Him

Tristan Justice:

Except the agency wasn’t dedicated to protecting MLK. In fact, the peaceful pioneer of 20th-century civil rights was targeted by the law enforcement agency as a domestic enemy. The FBI once told King in a letter to kill himself.

King, the FBI wrote in a memo highlighted by a new documentary out last fall, was “the most dangerous Negro in America,” and warranted the “use [of] every resource at our disposal to destroy him” after King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Lvfxzht9KUA%3Ffeature%3Doembed

Two months later, then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy authorized wiretaps of MLK’s Atlanta residence and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) offices under the pretense of investigating ties to communism. In what’s become typical of agency probes, however, the bureau went on to expand its surveillance operation by tapping hotel rooms King visited. Collecting blackmail information on King’s extramarital affairs, the goal was to ruin his reputation and stifle the movement. 

As King’s rise continued to bring change to a segregated country, criticism of the FBI came with it. The SCLC president condemned the law enforcement agency for its apathy toward civil rights abuses, angering the bureau’s leaders who were eager to bring him down.

After then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover called King the “most notorious liar in the country,” during a 1964 press conference over King’s criticism, the agency sent a letter to King with tape recordings of the civil rights leader’s promiscuity in a D.C. hotel. The letter said that with a 34-day deadline “before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation,” King ought to kill himself to save from embarrassment.

Civics: Mandates vs “laws”

I recently saw a sign prominently posted in a Madison restaurant that said: “Wear a Mask, it’s the law”.

This is a teaching moment.

The current Dane County Madison Public Health mask requirement is a mandate, not (yet) a law. The status of said mask requirement is the subject of law fare and activism.

Some background:

a. President Obama’s use of executive orders vs legislation, satirized by SNL:

b. Rule making

Wisconsin’s long term, disastrous K-12 reading results:

I’ve become quite familiar with this issue via our reading advocacy over the years. Legislation to address Wisconsin’s dramatic K-12 reading decline (our students now trail Mississippi, a state that spends less and has fewer teachers per student) was passed in 2011/2012, following Massachusett’s best in the US K-12 teacher content knowledge requirements.

Fast forward a few years: DPI Superintendent and now Governor Evers begins to waive that requirement. In fact, he did so more than 6000 times (teacher mulligans).

Alexander Shur:

“This case is not about what restrictions are appropriate during the ongoing COVID pandemic, which is admittedly serious,” the lawsuit states. “It is about who decides and how.”

c. Dane County Madison Public Health (vs Milwaukee and elsewhere):

“In particular, WILL argued the new restrictions were not voted on by the Dane County Board.

Milwaukee’s common council is debating a mandate (which, as far as I can tell, is the way things are to be done, via state statutes other than a very short term emergency) (update: passed).

But, their administrators have not imposed a mandate outside of an elected official vote.

My own view? If the non elected administrators are correct, why not vote on it (City Council and the County Board, among others).

All that being said, this is a wonderful opportunity to share a bit with student customers and encourage them to consider these issues. Should we have mandates? Should elected officials have to vote on things that reduce our rights? How have the different approaches worked historically?

This is an excellent book, that covers much of the same ground: The Great Influenza.

“California should abolish parenthood, in the name of equity”

Joe Mathews:

If California is ever going to achieve true equity, the state must require parents to give away their children.

Today’s Californians often hold up equity — the goal of a just society completely free from bias — as our greatest value. Gov. Gavin Newsom makes decisions through “an equity lens.” Institutions from dance ensembles to tech companies have publicly pledged themselves to equity.

But their promises are no match for the power of parents.

Fathers and mothers with greater wealth and education are more likely to transfer these advantages to their children, compounding privilege over generations. As a result, children of less advantaged parents face an uphill struggle, social mobility has stalled, and democracy has been corrupted. More Californians are abandoning the dream; a recent Public Policy Institute of California poll found declining belief in the notion that you can get ahead through hard work.

My solution — making raising your own children illegal — is simple, and while we wait for the legislation to pass, we can act now: the rich and poor should trade kids, and homeowners might swap children with their homeless neighbors.

Now, I recognize that some naysayers will dismiss such a policy as ghastly, even totalitarian. But my proposal is quite modest, a fusion of traditional philosophy and today’s most common political obsessions.

In his “Republic,” Plato adopted Socrates’ sage advice — that children “be possessed in common, so that no parent will know his own offspring or any child his parents” — in order to defeat nepotism, and create citizens loyal not to their sons but to society.

Today, a policy of universal orphanhood aligns with powerful social trends that point to less interest in family. Californians are slower to marry, and are having fewer children — our birth rate is at an all-time low.

My proposal also should be politically unifying, fitting hand-in-glove with the most cherished policies of progressives and Trumpians alike.

Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron is always worth reading and contemplating:

And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

Wokeness and the Cultural Revolution

Brecht Savelkoul:

Are we living through a new Cultural Revolution? As someone who has spent more than half an afternoon considering Chinese history, I have some very nuanced and complicated views on this question… Just kidding, of course we aren’t. I feel like I’m insulting my own intelligence spelling this out. If you are the kind of person who feels Maoist China is a reasonable comparison to our current situation, I recommend you press the X-button on top of this browser tab, because I’m not going to waste another word on this nonsense.

Good, now that those morons have left us, let’s look for a better comparison. Because merely debunking bad historical analogies never seems to work. They just keep coming back until they’re replaced by a stronger one. Yet until recently I struggled to find a good analogy to describe the “woke” movement. As happens so often in these cases though, I stumbled upon something when I wasn’t particularly looking for it.

People read newspapers and magazines and sat in stunned silence. They were overcome with unspeakable horror. How were we supposed to live with this? Many greeted the truth as an enemy. And freedom as well. “We don’t know our own nation. We don’t understand what the majority of people think about; we see them, we interact with them every day, but what’s on their minds? What do they want? We have no idea. But we will courageously take it upon ourselves to educate them. Soon, we will learn the whole truth and be horrified,” my friend would say in my kitchen, where we often sat talking.

That was Svetlana Alexievich on the intellectual atmosphere during the latter years of the Soviet Union. More specifically, she’s referring to Mikhael Gorbachev’s decision to throw open the archives. For the first time in Soviet history it became possible to see the founders in an unflattering light. Until then all the focus had been on the idealism of Lenin and his revolutionary comrades. The evidence from the archives though gave an uncomfortable insight into the ruthlessness with which they had pursued their grip on power. Otto von Bismarck supposedly called this the “sausage factory” of politics and recommended people with weak stomachs to look away. But the sudden media frenzy in 1980s Russia made it impossible to look away, and the history of the early Soviet Union came out of a very bloody factory indeed. According to Alexievich, the resulting disillusionment played a big part in the collapse of Soviet civilization.

Madison schools head says schools need ongoing community help to support students

Scott Girard:

“This time, I’m going to the business community, to the churches and saying, ‘Hey, let’s start anticipating together, scenario planning, so if something happens, we can be a model for how you do it,’” he said. “Keep it rolling and keep safety first and then the rest of the stuff.”

That “rest of the stuff” includes a continued focus on the social-emotional health and well-being of students, who Jenkins said lost some of their relationship-building time and conflict-resolution skills while they were isolated in virtual learning. That contributed to the safety issues that cropped up this fall, he said.

“Starting off this school year, in my estimation, we saw an increase in choices students were making of how they engage or could not engage properly resolving conflicts,” he said. “In certain cases, that led to some violent situations amongst a few trying to process it, and we’re trying to help them process it.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

Are kids learning content or systems?

Julie Jargon:

The expectation is that they should be able to log in, see what needs to be done and do it,” Ms. Dasko said. “These are kids, and they don’t have the maturity to look at this big system and figure out how to break it down.”

The reliance on tech has led some parents to buy their kids phones sooner than they would have liked. The difficulty of taking photos of schoolwork on the Chromebook is one reason Ms. Dasko, a graphic designer in northeastern Washington, recently bought her daughter a phone.

“Teachers cite the same challenges—it’s not just parents and students,” said Heather Dowd, a former teacher turned instructional coaching consultant and co-author of “Classroom Management in the Digital Age.”

She said she expects digital classrooms to become more streamlined and easier to use. Until then, many parents complain that tech problems are getting in the way of learning and wonder: What’s so bad about paper and pencil, anyway?

Michelle McNally’s eighth-grader has been struggling to keep track of each teacher’s method for showing that work has been done. Some of his teachers require screenshots of physical work; others check students’ computers to see that work has been completed.

“Is the goal to learn the system, or is the goal to learn the content?” said Ms. McNally, a digital-marketing executive in Indianapolis.

Senators Demand (US Education Secretary) Cardona Explain Role in Letter That Called Parents Domestic Terrorists

Chuck Ross:

Two dozen Republican senators are calling on Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to explain his role in soliciting a letter from the National School Boards Association that compared school parents to domestic terrorists.

An email released this week showed that an association official told a colleague that Cardona asked the group to write the Sept. 29 letter that urged President Joe Biden to use the FBI to investigate threats made against school board members. The letter was the catalyst for Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to form a federal task force to track school board threats across the country.

Republicans and parent groups have bristled at the federal task force, saying that it will have a chilling effect on parents protesting at local school board meetings. Parents across the country have pushed back against school districts’ coronavirus policies as well as the teaching of left-wing curricula, such as those that include critical race theory.

A group of senators, led by Tim Scott (R., S.C.), on Thursday asked Cardona what role he played in crafting the letter.

“While we knew early on that White House staff were complicit in the creation of this letter, it is only recently that information has surfaced implicating you and your office in this shameful episode,” the senators wrote.

Watch now: A charter school with all-day outdoor education in the middle of winter

Barry Adams:

Almost all of the lessons at the Kickapoo Valley Forest School are held outdoors, even on days when the temperature plunges well below freezing. The nature-based curriculum is central for the 4K and kindergarten students and their teachers, who have had lunch outside all but four days since the first day of school in early September.

But this school, in its first year and based at the nearly 9,000-acre Kickapoo Valley Reserve just up the road from Organic Valley, is doing more than helping grow the minds and physical stamina of rambunctious and curious 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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?

The K-12 cartel is holding children hostage

Max Edén:

History never quite repeats itself. But if we don’t learn from it, then it can quickly rhyme in hideous couplets. First, tragedy. Then, farce. Last year’s coronavirus school closures were an unspeakable tragedy for schoolchildren. After the first viral panic, these closures were not driven by the prevalence or danger of the disease, but rather the power and political self-interestof teachers unions.

This dynamic was once again on display this month after teachers with the Chicago Teachers Union unilaterally refused to show up for in-person instruction on the pretext of concerns about the omicron variant. Chicago Public Schools was forced to cancel five days of class. School could only reopen after officials gave major concessions to the union.

The lesson from this tragicomic farce is that we must call a spade a spade. America does not really have “teachers unions” in the traditional sense — that is, democratically representative entities promoting the collective will of schoolteachers. Instead, these “unions” are structurally, operationally, and essentially cartels. These K-12 cartels were in the business of taking students hostage for ransom well before COVID-19. Yet the past two years of naked self-interest and hypocrisy from those who claim to be the guardians of our nation’s children have been laid bare for all to see. And it must not be forgotten.

The reason it had been difficult to learn before is because the K-12 cartel aims for a monopoly on moral language. During the first round of school closures, for example, the Chicago Teachers Union tweeted : “The push to re-open schools is rooted in sexism, racism, and misogyny.” (Hey, what isn’t these days?) In service of protecting its own power and influence, the K-12 cartel has adopted the leftist obsession with framing everything in American life through an “equity lens.” “Equity” is a remanufactured Trojan horse word intended to smuggle the ideology of critical race theory and other such cultural radicalism into schools. A “lens” refracts light so that you see objects differently. When you can only see the world through an “equity lens,” which blends every object into a grand conspiracy of so-called “racism,” “sexism,” and “misogyny,” what you see is what you’ll get.

The enigmatic Portuguese R

Lauren:

While sitting in the Panama City airport, waiting for my flight to Rio, one of Copa Airline’s Panamanian employees came on the intercom to announce that the flight to “Rrrrio de Haneiro” would be boarding soon. The long rolled R caused several of the Brazilians around me to turn to each other and chuckle. Later, while waiting to take off, the Brazilian flight crew announced that the trip to “Hiu gee Zhaneiru” would take about 7 hours.

Nothing could better highlight the stark differences in pronunciation between Portuguese and Spanish, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the sound of R. A flight like this might be one of the first situations in which many tourists encounter the beautiful, enigmatic Portuguese R.

As with many languages, R in Portuguese can take on a kaleidoscope of different sounds depending on its placement within a word and the dialect of the speaker. It’s pretty much impossible to give any hard and fast rules that apply across all dialects. But I’m going to try here to give you a sense of the huge variation that exists.

(If you are not as fascinated by rhotics as I am, or are looking at this article and thinking “tl;dr”, you may prefer the short version of this article)

Rhotics

Ok, let’s just consider for a moment how weird and cool R is. Linguists have a special name for all the R sounds of the world: rhotics, which are a rather elusive category because there is no definitive phonological way to define what is and isn’t a rhotic — there’s not a single trait that all rhotic sounds have in common, except for some kind of association with the letter R in one or more languages. A sound represented by the letter R in one language could be represented by a completely different letter in another language, or it could be missing from that other language altogether.

R sounds are fascinating to me not just because they are so diverse, but because they are one of the strongest markers of regional dialect, native vs non-native accent, and social class within any single language (consider a posh Queen’s English “yahd” vs. a nasal midwestern American “yard” vs. a rolling Scottish “yarrrd”).

Dear Stanford: don’t force boosters on students

The Community:

In case you haven’t heard, Stanford mandated that students must get boosted by Jan. 31 — or else. 

When Paul Offit — director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee, decades-long enemy of the anti-vax movement and co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine — tells his own twenty-something son not to get boosted, you might start to ask some questions about the wisdom of Stanford’s latest mandate. 

It is becoming clear: Mandating boosters is an affront against the medical and bodily autonomy of Stanford students. That is why I started a petition to Stanford leadership to rescind the booster mandate. I will lay out my case here, but I encourage everyone to read the petition itself and draw their own conclusions. If you agree that getting boosted should be a personal decision, let Stanford know.

To start with, our campus is already extremely well-protected against COVID-19. We are over 95% fully vaccinated. Our student body is overwhelmingly young. The latest CDC estimate is that 18–49 years old, fully vaccinated people are hospitalized from COVID-19 at the rate of 8 in 1,000,000. If you’re under 30, that’s 4 in 1,000,000. The pre-pandemic rate of hospitalization from the flu was 100 times that, but Stanford (rightly) didn’t mandate flu vaccines back then.

Fall’s Final Enrollment Count Is In. Colleges Lost More Than 475,000 Students.

Audrey Williams June:

New data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center provides a somber final tally of college enrollment during the fall of 2021: It dropped 2.7 percent from a year earlier, a decline of 476,100 students. 

Undergraduate enrollment, which was down at every type of institution, slipped by 3.1 percent — or 465,318 students — from the fall of 2020. The total decline among undergraduates since the fall of 2019 — just before the pandemic hit — was more than a million students, the center said.

What Happened to the “Question Authority” Era? Discussion with Author Walter Kirn

Matt Taibbi:

The terrific humorist, journalist, and novelist talks about the downfall of journalism, bureaucratic absurdity, and class cruelty in a blistering indictment of an America turned upside down

I know there’s frustration that Callin is still exclusive to iPhone, but in an effort to share some of yesterday’s wide-ranging talk about the state of the media, vaccine madness, the new urban snobbery, and the lost art of talking, I’m reproducing a partial transcript here. The first question came from a caller named Nick:

Nick: Where the hell is this thing coming from?

Walter Kirn: I had a psychiatrist once and when I came in with some dysfunction or problem, he said, “What happened right before that?” So I would say, “What happened right before?” What happened right before this was social media. It has created a sort of hyper-consensus engine, because these ridiculous takes that you’re talking about all just exaggerate a basic take.

It’s basically an arms race that’s going on now, in which people attempt to agree more intensely than they agreed before. I do credit social media, at least that’s the place where we see these takes. We don’t tend to hear them by CB radio or over the phone necessarily, but there’s something about this third particle accelerator of opinion that we call Twitter which seems to inflate the craziness.

Now, as to whether the liberals have changed? Yes, they’ve changed! They used to be gentle, interesting, controversial, humorous people. Now they’re strident ideologues who love every institution which they professed to detest and suspect in the old days…

Matt Taibbi: And have no sense of humor.

Walter Kirn: Yes, and that sense of humor and weirdness is something that they call out, rather than try to cultivate, unless it’s the weirdness that’s already been pre-approved — at which point they compete to inhabit it more completely than anyone else.

Nick: Matt, I mean your show and your writing, and Chapo Traphouse, was a big political awakening for me…

Walter Kirn: Look, Matt’s a dissident in this community. He may be disappeared before this Callin is over. The mainstream folks who are driving this are on the hunt right now for a sense of humor. If they find any in the landscape, they will launch an arrow. I mean, I have very funny friends who were last night on Twitter, who aren’t this morning.

Taibbi: What novelist would do the best job of capturing the current craziness?

Walter Kirn: It’s been a progression. About a year ago, it would’ve been someone like Kafka, who talks about these open-ended crimes and the insoluble cosmic mystery that the individual gets caught up in and never has an explanation for. But to cut to the chase now, it’s somebody like Joseph Heller, because we’re now in an absurd carousel of bad routines.

And that’s what Catch-22 is. I just re-watched the 1970 Mike Nichols version last night to prepare for this. Just a few outtakes: you’ve got these guys living on a bomber base in the Mediterranean and they’re dying one by one, their planes are getting shot down and they want to get out of it. But the Colonel in charge keeps raising the number of missions you have to fly in order to retire from the bombing. And that reminds me of the vaccines. You’ll need six! No, you’ll need seven!

The great conceit of the whole novel is that the base is slowly turning into a capitalist hell. Milo Minderbinder, the ambitious impresario, is selling the parachutes in Egypt for cotton. The bomber pilots wake up in the middle of runs and find out their parachutes are gone. It’s because this syndicate, which has developed out of their base, has sold them. In the end, Minderbinder does a deal with the Germans: they will buy up the excess cotton, which he spent all his money on and has gone broke on, if he will agree to bomb the base himself so the Germans don’t have to.

I look at COVID a little bit like that. We will agree to destroy our society for you, China… Our greatest product at the moment, this vaccine, our most expensive and profitable export, is the result of our suffering. And it isn’t seeming to cure it either, frankly, from my perspective, since every single person I know who’s gotten the booster in LA is now asking me for recommendations on zinc and other vitamins to take. There’s the famous saying, that the capitalist will sell the revolutionary the rope he will use to hang himself. Well, that’s kind of the situation I see us in. It’s as though there’s only one corporation in charge right now, and that is one Pharma/gov/tech conglomerate. Maybe it’s called BlackRock, or Vanguard.