An update on Madison’s Long Term, Disastrous Reading Results

Administration Slides for the School Board (PDF):

Forward LA Proficiency (3-5)

Participation increased to 87% from 50% in 20-21, nearing pre-pandemic ranges.Overall, 40% of students grades 3-5 scored proficient on Forward ELA

While a decrease from 20-21 (43%), scores that year likely inflated by non-random low participation– trends in ELA scores fairly steady or increasing
As a system, we are preparing our Black students (9%), Hispanic students (17%), and students from low-income backgrounds (14%) to be proficient at lower rates.

Forward ELA Proficiency (grades 6-8)
Participation increased to 84% from 42% in 2020-21, close to pre-pandemic ranges
36% of middle grade students scored Proficient on Forward ELA

Equity concerns, which mirror our historical trends, persist into middle school, with 9% of
Black students, 15% of Hispanic/Latinx students, and 13% of students from low income backgrounds scoring proficient.

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Inside the Massive Effort to Change the Way Kids Are Taught to Read

Belinda Luscombe:

As a teacher in Oakland, Calif., Kareem Weaver helped struggling fourth- and fifth-grade kids learn to read by using a very structured, phonics-based reading curriculum called Open Court. It worked for the students, but not so much for the teachers. “For seven years in a row, Oakland was the fastest-gaining urban district in California for reading,” recalls Weaver. “And we hated it.”

The teachers felt like curriculum robots—and pushed back. “This seems dehumanizing, this is colonizing, this is the man telling us what to do,” says Weaver, describing their response to the approach. “So we fought tooth and nail as a teacher group to throw that out.” It was replaced in 2015 by a curriculum that emphasized rich literary experiences. “Those who wanted to fight for social justice, they figured that this new progressive way of teaching reading was the way,” he says.

Now Weaver is heading up a campaign to get his old school district to reinstate many of the methods that teachers resisted so strongly: specifically, systematic and consistent instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics. “In Oakland, when you have 19% of Black kids reading—that can’t be maintained in the society,” says Weaver, who received an early and vivid lesson in the value of literacy in 1984 after his cousin got out of prison and told him the other inmates stopped harassing him when they realized he could read their mail to them. “It has been an unmitigated disaster.” In January 2021, the local branch of the NAACP filed an administrative petition with the Oakland unified school district (OUSD) to ask it to include “explicit instruction for phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension” in its curriculum.

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Being adopted has shaped their views on abortion — in different ways

Olivia McCormack

Ryan Bomberger comes from a family of 15. He was adopted out of the foster-care system — along with 9 of his 12 siblings. Bomberger is staunchly antiabortion, in part because of the circumstances around his own conception, he said.

“I am 100 percent antiabortion, 100 percent pro-life,” said Bomberger, a 51-year-old living in Virginia. “Being rescued from the violence of abortion … is what compels me to actually be as pro-life as I am.”

Bomberger said his adoptive parents were told by the adoption agency that he was a product of rape, a point that has been an integral aspect of his advocacy, he said: In 2009, he co-founded the Radiance Foundation, a faith-based antiabortion nonprofit organization.

“All the things I’ve been able to become in my life are the result of that singular decision,” Bomberger said.

Bomberger is now a father of four children, two of whom are adopted. Adoption, according to him, is not all “sunshine and rainbows.” But he does believe that it is one of two alternatives to abortion.

“Either you can choose to parent or you can make a powerful parenting decision and say ‘I’m not ready or prepared or able to take care of this child but another family can,’ ” he said.

Notes and links on abortion, choose life.

The State of Education in Wisconsin

Will Flanders & Dylan Palmer:

How does Wisconsin stack up against other states in K-12 education? An eye-popping list from U.S. News and World Report ranked the Badger State K-12 system as the 8th best in the country.i But this rosy picture contradicts other key indicators that Wisconsin students are falling behind. So what’s going on? To get a clear look at public education in the Badger Sate requires a dive into the details.

Key Takeaways
• The academic proficiency data used by U.S. News & World Report to rank Wisconsin 8th is from the 2018-19 school year. Notably, this school year featured a transition in the governor’s mansion and was a full year before the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on Wisconsin schools.

• A sophisticated analysis of Wisconsin’s academic proficiency from 2018-19 puts Wisconsin in the middle of the pack. An Urban Institute analysis that controls for demographic factors finds Wisconsin falls out of the top ten in both math and reading on the NAEP scores.

• Academic proficiency has fallen significantly in Wisconsin since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in 2020. Forward Exam scores fell by about 4 percentage points in reading and 5 percentage points in math.

• Chronic absenteeism in Wisconsin schools reached new heights in the most recent school year. The share of students not regularly showing up for class rose to 16% in 2020-21 school year—the highest in five years.

The Recent U.S. News & World Report Rankings
The core claim in question, that Wisconsin is ranked 8th for Pre-K-12 public education, refers to Wisconsin’s placement in the U.S. New & World Report Pre-K-12 rankings for 2022.ii In the previous ranking released in 2018, Wisconsin’s schools were ranked 16th , meaning the state shot up 10 places. While this would doubtless be encouraging news if it were credible, there is recent to question where Wisconsin sits on the list.

The biggest issue with the rankings is in the use of raw scores on the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP). As a national norm-referenced test, the NAEP is arguably the best tool for making interstate comparisons, but one must be careful when simply using the raw numbers, which U.S. News does for eighth grade reading and math. On these metrics, Wisconsin is ranked 6th and 4th respectively. Just as in WILL’s Apples to Apples report,iii where we note that demographic factors must be taken into account in determining how well a school is doing, they must also be taken into account when ranking state performance. Unfortunately, factors like poverty, race, and English Language Learner status (ELL) matter in school performance. Low and minority students, on average, perform worse on exams for any number of reasons. These factors must be controlled for to make serious comparisons.

Fortunately, the Urban Institute has such a ranking.iv After controlling for age, race, disability status, family income and ELL, Wisconsin falls to 14th from 4th in math and from 6th to 21st in reading. The Urban Institute also provides a chart of the overall trend in ranking for each state. The unadjusted ranking is in yellow, while the demographically-adjusted ranking is in blue. The chart shows that there isn’t much of a discernible trend in performance—if anything, it’s the opposite of improvement.

The status quo solution for public school education has been to simply provide more money, which research has found bears little relationship to student performance. In order for Wisconsin school districts to actually be some of the best in the nation, Wisconsin needs to sever the connection to the preferred policies of teacher unions and the public-school establishment, who fight competition from every alternative option. Instead, Wisconsin education policies must empower parents to make the best choice for their son or daughter, which may include a traditional public school.

Wisconsin needs robust alternative options that enable every student in the state to attend the school that best meets their needs. This includes opening up private-school choice to middle- class families who can’t afford private-school options, and a more open charter school sector that ensures public-school options exist in every corner of the state. Achieving these goals won’t be easy, but the information here shows that the state can ill afford complacency when it comes to education policy.

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

“For Black and Native American students and for faculty from all underrepresented populations, there was effectively no progress from 2013 to 2020,” the analysis found.

Diana Ellsworth, Erin Harding, Jonathan Law, and Duwain Pinder

Despite ongoing efforts, our analysis suggests that historically marginalized racial and ethnic populations—Black, Hispanic and Latino, and Native American and Pacific Islander—are still underrepresented in higher education among undergraduates and faculty and in leadership. Students from these groups also have worse academic outcomes as measured by graduation rates. Only 8 percent of institutions have at least equitable student representation while also helping students from underrepresented populations graduate at the same rate as the general US undergraduate population.4

These finding are not novel, but what is significant is the slow rate of progress. Current rates of change suggest that it would take about 70 years for all not-for-profit institutions to reflect underrepresented students fully in their incoming student population, primarily driven by recent increases in Hispanic and Latino student attendance. For Black and Native American students and for faculty from all underrepresented populations, there was effectively no progress from 2013 to 2020.5

Intensified calls for racial and ethnic equity in every part of society have made the issue particularly salient. In this article, we outline some of the key insights from our report on racial and ethnic equity in higher education in the United States. We report our analysis of racial and ethnic representation in student and faculty bodies and of outcomes for underrepresented populations. Then we discuss how institutions can meet goals around racial and ethnic equity. A mirror of wider systemic inequities

Texas Republicans are trying to sell school choice measures, but rural conservatives aren’t buying

Brian Lopez:

But in the northeastern corner of the state, Rep. Gary VanDeaver, a Republican whose district includes 30 rural school districts, is still unconvinced. He was one of several lawmakers who helped kill school choice legislation in 2017. He said one of the concerns he’s hearing from parents is that they’re paying property taxes, which fund public schools, but have opted for either home schooling or sending their kids to private school.

“I prefer to reduce their property taxes, so they have the option of spending that money any way they choose, whether it be alternative education choices, saving for college or purchasing a new car,” VanDeaver said.

Texas has passed some school choice measures. VanDeaver points to the approval of the state’s charter school system in the 1990s and giving students in low-performing schools the ability to transfer out of a district.

“Proponents of expanding school choice options often say the money should follow the student,” VanDeaver said. “Current Texas law already does that if a student transfers to another public school, including a charter school.”

‘We can sell your body parts’: the poverty lurking behind a tourist paradise

Harriet Barber and Simon Townsley

One nine-year-old girl looks down at her bare feet. “My family can’t pay for the shoes,” she told the Telegraph. “You need shoes to go to school.”

A thirty-minute drive away, Lusaka is bustling with businessmen and international tourists arriving for safari tours and sights like Victoria Falls. 

Zambia has one of the highest inequality rates in the world. An estimated 58 per cent of 18 million Zambians live below the poverty line, compared to 41 per cent across Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Thirty-five per cent of children are stunted as a result of inadequate nutrition, and 29 per cent of 20-24 year old women were married as children – one of the highest child marriage rates in Africa, according to Unicef.

“There’s essentially an emerging middle class that is able to access good, formal jobs – probably 10 per cent of the population – and the rest of the country survives on agriculture,” said Twivwe Siwale, a policy economist for the International Growth Centre. “The difference in living standards are quite stark, it’s quite grim.”

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

Antonio Regalado:

In a search for novel forms of longevity medicine, a biotech company based in Israel says it intends to create embryo-stage versions of people in order to harvest tissues for use in transplant treatments.

The company, Renewal Bio, is pursuing recent advances in stem-cell technology and artificial wombs demonstrated by Jacob Hanna, a biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. Earlier this week, Hanna showed that starting with mouse stem cells, his lab could form highly realistic-looking mouse embryos and keep them growing in a mechanical womb for several days until they developed beating hearts, flowing blood, and cranial folds. 

It’s the first time such an advanced embryo has been mimicked without sperm, eggs, or even a uterus. Hanna’s report was published in the journal Cell on Monday.

“This experiment has huge implications,” says Bernard Siegel, a patient advocate and founder of the World Stem Cell Summit. “One wonders what mammal could be next in line.”  

The answer is humans. Hanna tells MIT Technology Review he is already working to replicate the technology starting with human cells and hopes to eventually produce artificial models of human embryos that are the equivalent of a 40- to 50-day-old pregnancy. At that stage basic organs are formed, as well as tiny limbs and fingers. 

“We view the embryo as the best 3D bio printer,” says Hanna. “It’s the best entity to make organs and proper tissue.”

Ronald Graham, Donald Knuth and Oren Patashnik:

THIS BOOK IS BASED on a course of the same name that has been taught annually at Stanford University since 1970. About 􏰍fty students have taken it each year | juniors and seniors, but mostly graduate students | and alumni of these classes have begun to spawn similar courses elsewhere. Thus the time seems ripe to present the material to a wider audience (including sophomores).
It was a dark and stormy decade when Concrete Mathematics was born. Long-held values were constantly being questioned during those turbulent years; college campuses were hotbeds of controversy. The college curriculum itself was challenged, and mathematics did not escape scrutiny. John Ham- mersley had just written a thought-provoking article \On the enfeeblement of mathematical skills by `Modern Mathematics’ and by similar soft intellectual trash in schools and universities”[176]; other worried mathematicians [332] even asked, \Can mathematics be saved?” One of the present authors had embarked on a series of books called The Art of Computer Programming, and in writing the 􏰍rst volume he (DEK) had found that there were mathematical tools missing from his repertoire; the mathematics he needed for a thorough, well-grounded understanding of computer programs was quite di􏰌erent from what he’d learned as a mathematics major in college. So he introduced a new course, teaching what he wished somebody had taught him.

Civics: where the IRS audits are

Humphreys County, Mississippi, seems like an odd place for the IRS to go hunting for tax cheats. It’s a rural county in the Mississippi Delta known for its catfish farms, and more than a third of its mostly African American residents are below the poverty line. But according to a new study, it is the most heavily audited county in America. Via Propublica.

Mathematicians Crack a Simple but Stubborn Class of Equations

Quanta

Smith had been trying to understand properties of solutions to equations called elliptic curves. In doing so, he worked out a specific part of the Cohen-Lenstra heuristics. Not only was it the first major step in cementing those broader conjectures as mathematical fact, but it involved precisely the piece of the class group that Koymans and Pagano needed to understand in their work on Stevenhagen’s conjecture. (This piece included the elements that Fouvry and Klüners had studied in their partial result, but it also went far beyond them.)

However, Koymans and Pagano couldn’t simply use Smith’s methods right away. (If that had been possible, Smith himself would probably have done so.) Smith’s proof was about class groups associated to the right number rings (ones in which d−−√ gets adjoined to the integers) — but he considered all integer values of d. Koymans and Pagano, on the other hand, were only thinking about a tiny subset of those values of d. As a result, they needed to assess the average behavior among a much smaller fraction of class groups.

Those class groups essentially constituted 0% of Smith’s class groups — meaning that Smith could throw them away when he was writing his proof. They didn’t contribute to the average behavior that he was studying at all.

Notes on media veracity

Lulu Cheng Meservey

The correction was appreciated and felt like a small victory for truth and fairness, but I would have been happy with the outcome even if Wired had never acquiesced. The real goal was to do what I described above: reveal the bad faith of people who are attacking you, in order to strengthen employee resolve, rally your supporters, and win the hearts and minds of moderate observers.

As I mentioned, going public is not always the right approach, but I believe it was in this case. First, the facts were on our side; we had a strong case and he had none. Second, what he did was shoddy at best and deserved to be challenged both on principle and on substance, especially before innuendo could ossify into perceived fact. Third, this was the kind of blatant overreach that showed how unreasonable and unfounded some of the criticism of Substack could be.

Commentary on K-12 Governance

Scott Girard:

“Remember, parents are not entitled to know their kids’ identities. That knowledge must be earned,” states a slide in the presentation. “Teachers are often straddling this complex situation. In (the Eau Claire Area School District), our priority is supporting the student.”

The presentation included further context, Nordin said, about how teachers should talk with students if a student comes out to them, including asking them if they’ve told their parents and possibly offering advice on how to have that conversation if they haven’t.

But the slide text spread, including on national right-wing news, and is still well-known enough that it was specifically mentioned in a question during the July 27 Republican gubernatorial radio forum. Nordin believes it likely contributed to the threat he received in his inbox in March.

“I am going to kill you and shoot up your next school board meeting for promoting the horrific, radical transgender agenda,” the email stated. “It’s now time to declare war on you pedos. I am going to kill you and your entire family.”

From the April 2019 spring election through March 2020, roughly 224 seats changed hands out of the approximately 2,800 board seats statewide. The following year, the first of the pandemic, the number jumped to 298.

But from April 2021 through March 2022, it ballooned to 426. And already this year, including the spring election, there have been 409.

Civics:

Will Flanders & Dylan Palmer:

Using funding from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), the City of Racine purchased a mobile voting unit for use in the 2022 elections. The unit (see pictured vehicle) visits various designated locations around the city for the purpose of early voting (called “in-person absentee voting” in Wisconsin). However, concerns have been raised about the extent to which the mobile unit complies with Wisconsin state law, including a law which prohibits an absentee balloting location which “affords an advantage to any political party.” In this report, we analyze several issues and provide a statistical analysis as to whether Racine’s designated locations provide one party an advantage over the other. We find that the Democratic Party is advantaged by the locations designated by Racine.

Among the key findings of this report:

• State law forbids absentee ballot locations that confer a partisan advantage.

• The City of Racine assigned more potential mobile voting locations to wards that
vote at the highest percentage for Democrats. Based on the selection method used by Racine, a hypothetical ward with 100% Democratic voters could be expected to have 2.2 more possible locations per 100 registered voters than a ward with 0% Democratic voters.

• Similarly, the number of mobile unit locations selected for the 2022 Primary in a ward is correlated with the percentage of votes for Democrats in that ward.

• State law also requires that alternative voting sites be as close as practicable to City Hall, but Racine has not done that in their selection of locations. We have identified a number of locations closer to City Hall that were approved as potential sites for the mobile voting unit, but were not selected for actual use during the primary election.

• The mobile voting unit is likely in violation of other requirements for absentee voting in Wisconsin. This includes the requirement that voting take place in a fixed structure—a building—and not a vehicle that allows for in-person absentee voting for a short period of time in a variety of places. It also makes Wisconsin’s ban on electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place extremely difficult to enforce.

Implications
It is vital that policymakers craft election practices that ensure every citizen has an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process. Whether intentional or not, the City of Racine has exhibited a bias towards one political party in the selection of locations for their mobile voting unit. Because ensuring fairness in the use of a mobile voting unit would be extremely difficult for any municipality, our recommendation is that Racine refrain from utilizing the unit, and that such mobile voting units not be used by any municipality in the future unless specifically authorized by the legislature.
Wisconsin Institute f

A new index of state regulations on political expression has them both near the bottom—and Wisconsin on top.

Wall Street Journal:

But fewer skeptical eyes are on the 50 states, which is why it’s worth spending a few minutes to read a new report from the Institute for Free Speech. It’s an index of how state laws and regulations treat political committees, grass-roots advocacy, independent expenditures, and the like. The results aren’t partisan, and they’re probably not what you expect.

Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa finish on top of the ranking. No surprise that New York is dead last. Other states near the bottom are California (No. 44) and Connecticut (49), but also Alaska (42) and Florida (43).

What’s so cloudy about speech in the Sunshine State? The report says a mere $500.01 in spending triggers a registration rule for political committees, and that figure isn’t adjusted for inflation. Florida also has other low reporting thresholds, as well as long disclaimers and unclear legal definitions.

Forty-five states, according to the institute, “have statutes that are of questionable constitutionality and would likely not survive, if challenged in court.” These include low registration thresholds (under $1,000) for political committees: “As one court put it, ‘the informational interest’ of reports from such small groups ‘is outweighed by the substantial and serious burdens’ that such reports entail.”

Civics: Normalization of Censorship: Evidence from China

Tony Zirui Yang:

Previous research claims that public awareness of censorship will lead to backlash against the regime. However, surveys consistently find that Chinese citizens are apathetic toward or even supportive of government censorship. To explain this puzzle, I argue that citizens are subject to a process of normalization. Specifically, individuals become desensitized to censorship when the range of censored content expands beyond politically threatening topics like government criticism and collective action to other seemingly harmless non-political issues. Using a dataset of 15,872 censored articles on WeChat and two original survey experiments in China, I show that (1) a majority of censored articles are unrelated to politically threatening topics, and (2) respondents exposed to the censorship of non-political content display less backlash toward the regime and its censorship apparatus. My findings highlight how normalization of repressive policies contributes to authoritarian control.

UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees pass free speech and student fees resolutions

AP Dillon:

 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously passed two resolutions at its July 27 meeting. 

The Freedom of Speech resolution was introduced and read by BOT member Dr. Perrin Jones. 

“The Board of Trustees reaffirms its commitment to academic freedom as embodied in the Chicago principles and the Kalven Committee Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action, which is attached hereto as Attachment A,” the Resolution on the Affirmation of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech reads in part.  

The University of Chicago Kalven Committee Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action outlines how colleges and universities should stay neutral and abstain from political or social commentary in their official capacities.  

In an interview with North State Journal, Jones said the Kalven Report was added because “we felt like institutional neutrality was of paramount importance for academic freedom to exist on campus.” 

“The reason we passed the resolution is we felt it was important for the board to show that the principles of academic freedom are of paramount importance to us and to the university,” Jones told NSJ.

Themes in Academic Literature: Prejudice and Social Justice

David Rozadous

Previous scholarly literature has documented a marked increase of words denoting prejudice and social justice themes in news media content.1 This work investigates the prevalence dynamics of such terms in academic papers published in all fields of knowledge. We use the Semantic Scholar Open Research Corpus (SSORC) containing, as of 2020, over 175 million published scholarly articles and associated metadata.2 We quantify the prevalence of words denoting prejudice against ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, minority religious sentiment, age, body weight and disability in SSORC abstracts over the period 1970-2020. We then examine the relationship between the prevalence of such terms in the academic literature and their concomitant prevalence in news media content. Finally, we also analyze the temporal dynamics of an additional set of terms associated with social justice discourse in both the scholarly literature and in news media content. Taken together, these analyses allow us to illuminate the chronological dynamics of prejudice and social justice themes in academic discourse as well as their relationship with news media content.

Commentary on the Reduction in K-12 Tax & Spending Increases; Mission vs. Organization

Danielle DuClos:

Meanwhile, public school enrollment is declining across the state, further eroding district revenue under a funding formula that is largely dictated by the number of students enrolled in district schools.

Add in inflation and districts are in a pickle, according to Sara Shaw, a senior researcher with the Wisconsin Policy Forum, a nonpartisan policy research group.

“What districts find now is that not only do they have those greater needs that they want to be able to put more resources towards, they also have their normal operating costs — from salaries to transportation to supplies — all of the usual costs of doing business are skyrocketing,” Shaw said.

‘I didn’t really learn anything’: COVID grads face college

Collin Binkley:

Angel Hope looked at the math test and felt lost. He had just graduated near the top of his high school class, winning scholarships from prestigious colleges. But on this test — a UW-Madison exam that measures what new students learned in high school — all he could do was guess.

It was like the disruption of the pandemic was catching up to him all at once.

Nearly a third of Hope’s high school career was spent at home, in virtual classes that were hard to follow and easy to brush aside. Some days he skipped school to work extra hours at his job. Some days he played games with his brother and sister. Other days he just stayed in bed.

Algebra got little of his attention, but his teachers kept giving him good grades amid a schoolwide push for leniency.

“It was like school was optional. It wasn’t a mandatory thing,” said Hope, 18, of Milwaukee. “I feel like I didn’t really learn anything.”

Salary increase discussions in the Madison School District

Scott Girard:

Jones’ questions included specific suggestions for using available funding for further increasing the salary schedule instead of what’s currently planned, including new positions like the Village Builders initiative, and cutting district and administrative staff positions that were “difficult to fill for the 2021-22 school year.”

District leaders have continually blamed a challenging state budget that offered no increase in the revenue limits, which provide a maximum amount the district can take in through the combination of local property taxes and state aid.

“We certainly are not getting everything we need to do in recurring resources to do everything we want,” MacPherson said. “What we’re putting forward tonight represents the best of what we have to date.”

He pushed against suggestions of using one-time money to pay for ongoing expenses like salary increases, noting uncertainty around the next state biennial budget, set to be approved next summer, and declining enrollment. One question Monday focused on using fund balance, which serves basically as the district’s emergency fund, toward further increasing the salary schedule.

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Covid face masks ‘devastating’ bird populations all over the world

Lizzie Roberts:

Face masks are entangling birds across the world, with plastic pollution is now affecting avian populations across every continent, new research shows.

The online citizen science project, Birds and Debris, is collecting photographs from around the world of birds nesting or entangled in waste.

Nearly a quarter of the photos taken show birds caught up in personal protective equipment (PPE), with the majority being disposable face masks, the researchers said.

The project, run by researchers at the Environmental Research Institute, part of both the North Highland College UHI, and the University of the Highlands and Islands, has been running for four years.

Recent reports to the project include a Herring Gull flying near John o’Groats with a black plastic bag hanging from its foot, a bird nest near Bogota, Columbia containing plastic string, and a dead Grey Heron in Mauritania with fish netting wrapped around its beak

The ends of education

Charlie Stross:

What evolved was essentially a Ponzi scheme. Workers needed a certificate of obedience to show they were suitable employees. The universities that issued such certificates were private institutions: the more certificates they could issue, the more money they could make. At the same time, the finance sector boomed—not so much through student loans at first (the Student Loan Company was thoroughly regulated initially) but through side-projects like the highly profitable student housing construction boom. Also, once a worker-unit was certified and in employment, paying off their student debt, they could be trained to accept other debts. Credit card debt, mortgage debt, anything at all that could be monetized. And the universities that could recruit and certify the most students made the most money.

Knoxville schools won’t report COVID-19 cases or send exposure notifications for upcoming school year

10news:

“At this time, Knox County Schools will not be reporting cases or sending notifications,” spokesperson Carly Harrington said. “We do encourage students and staff to stay home if they are sick and to follow the advice of their healthcare provider.”

On Monday, the Knox County Board of Education talked about reports and possible new policies during its monthly work session. One of the discussions was whether to re-implement Knox County Schools’ COVID-19 isolation leave policy.

The power of a good question

Enuma Okoro

I have thought about that quote off and on for most of my adult life but it has only been in the past few years that I have really come to recognise the power of certain types of question in and of themselves, even when we can’t readily find answers. We can learn much about ourselves, about one another and about how we inhabit the world by considering not only the types of questions we ask, and the questions we allow ourselves to be asked, but also the varied places from which our questions arise and to whom they are addressed.

Civics: Laughing in the grave

Ann Althouse:

Harris is obviously relying on that statement Ginsburg once made that we’d have been better off if the abortion question had been dealt with through the political process.* So why would she be laughing at him? The views are basically the same. Of course, when she got on the Court, she upheld the abortion rights precedents, but that difference between her and Alito could not be the basis of post-death laughing. She lost that one.

But is she getting the “last laugh,” because now that the issue has finally entered the political process, people are voting for abortion rights? The Alito majority professed not to care what happened in that process, so what’s the basis of the laughter coming from inside the tomb? You have to attribute an unstated opinion to Alito before you have a basis for laughter.

And let’s say you get that far. It’s unseemly to laugh about abortion. If the dead can laugh, can they also cry? If we’re going to ventriloquize the dead, your laughing Ginsburg is drowned out by 60 million crying babies.

NCLA Clients Join Missouri and Louisiana Suit Challenging Gov’t-Directed Social Media Censorship

New Civil Liberties Alliance:

Public statements, emails, and recent publicly released documents establish that the President of the United States and other senior officials in the Biden Administration violated the First Amendment by directing social-media companies to censor viewpoints that conflict with the government’s messaging on Covid-19. Today, the New Civil Liberties Alliance joined the lawsuit, State of Missouri ex rel. Schmitt, et al. v. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., et al., representing renowned epidemiologists and co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, as well as Dr. Aaron Kheriaty and Jill Hines. Social media platforms, acting at the federal government’s behest, repeatedly censored NCLA’s clients for articulating views on those platforms in opposition to government-approved views on Covid-19 restrictions.

“In the last school year Madison police were called 640 times to Madison’s four high schools”

Dave Cieslewicz:

That’s an average of about 3.5 times a day or almost once per day to each school. According to a story in this morning’s Wisconsin State Journal the breakdown is 220 calls to East, 158 to La Follette, 170 to Memorial and 92 to West.

In addition to the raw numbers there were several serious and dangerous incidents. Two melees occurred outside of East, a student brought a loaded gun to La Follette and had to be subdued, and an autistic student was beaten by classmates. In another incident a teacher stood by (as he believed he was required to do by district policy) while his classroom erupted into a brawl. (And, by the way, the district has 141 teacher vacancies only weeks before the new school year begins, compared to just 30 at this same point in 2018.)

All this happened in the first full in-person school year without School Resource Officers, which had been assigned to the high schools for about three decades without incident. The School Board removed the officers in 2020, over the objections of the Police Chief but with the support of Mayor Satya Rhode-Conway. 

Now, Police Chief Shon Barnes has proposed assigning a neighborhood officer to the areas around each of the schools. They would not be stationed inside of the schools, which was the objection offered so aggressively by the radical activist group Freedom, Inc. 

In a sane world you’d think that the Superintendent, the Board, the Mayor and the City Council would rush to support Barnes’ proposal. But this is Madison, so you’d be wrong about that.

Chris Rickert:

Data on whether the schools and the areas around them have become more dangerous have been muddled or unavailable, and neither the district nor police immediately pointed to any Monday that might paint a more accurate picture. Police spokesperson Stephanie Fryer did say that from Sept. 1, 2021, to June 15, police had hundreds of calls to the high schools at all hours of the day — specifically, 220 to East, 158 to La Follette, 170 to Memorial and 92 to West.

Members of the public in favor of SROs have tended to point to their absence last year as a main factor in the spate of violent incidents, while those opposed to SROs tend to blame such incidents on stress and other disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board in March created its second school safety committee since removing the SROs. It continues to meet. Among the first committee’s 16 recommendations, adopted by the board in February 2021, were required debriefing sessions after every instance in which police are called to a school to examine, among other things, “what could have been done proactively to avoid involving law enforcement.”

Related: Police Calls, Madison Schools 1996-2006

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

The Age of Algorithmic Anxiety

Kyle Chayka:

Late last year, Valerie Peter, a twenty-three-year-old student in Manchester, England, realized that she had an online-shopping problem. It was more about what she was buying than how much. A fashion trend of fuzzy leg warmers had infiltrated Peter’s social-media feeds—her TikTok For You tab, her Instagram Explore page, her Pinterest recommendations. She’d always considered leg warmers “ugly, hideous, ridiculous,” she told me recently, and yet soon enough she “somehow magically ended up with a pair of them,” which she bought online at the push of a button, on an almost subconscious whim. (She wore them only a few times. “They’re in the back of my closet,” she said.) The same thing later happened with Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry, after a cast member on the U.K. reality show “Love Island” wore a necklace from the brand onscreen. Van Cleef’s Art Nouveau-ish flower bracelets made their way onto Peter’s TikTok feed, and she found herself browsing the brand’s products. The bombardment made her question: “Is this me? Is this my style?” she said.

In her confusion, Peter wrote an e-mail seeking advice from Rachel Tashjian, a fashion critic who writes a popular newsletter called “Opulent Tips.” “I’ve been on the internet for the last 10 years and I don’t know if I like what I like or what an algorithm wants me to like,” Peter wrote. She’d come to see social networks’ algorithmic recommendations as a kind of psychic intrusion, surreptitiously reshaping what she’s shown online and, thus, her understanding of her own inclinations and tastes. “I want things I truly like not what is being lowkey marketed to me,” her letter continued.

Madison are K-12 school projects

Elizabeth Beyer:

With the completion of Sun Prairie West High School, the district will shift from one comprehensive grade 10-12 school to two grade 9-12 grade schools at the start of the school year. Over the summer, Sun Prairie East High School underwent $5 million in changes to create more collaborative learning environments, district spokesperson Patti Lux said.

The district plans to relocate Prairie Phoenix Academy, its alternative school, to a new space and the old building will be torn down this fall. The district also plans to convert and consolidate different buildings into three schools for students in grades 6-8. 

Grand opening events will be held on Aug. 28 and Sept. 19.

Student beauty and grades under in-person and remote teaching

Adrian Mehic:

This paper examines the role of student facial attractiveness on academic outcomes under various forms of instruction, using data from engineering students in Sweden. When education is in-person, attractive students receive higher grades in non-quantitative subjects, in which teachers tend to interact more with students compared to quantitative courses. This finding holds both for males and females. When instruction moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic, the grades of attractive female students deteriorated in non-quantitative subjects. However, the beauty premium persisted for males, suggesting that discrimination is a salient factor in explaining the grade beauty premium for females only.

Investigating COVID-19 Origins: Guideposts for the Next Congress

Hudson Institute:

Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the investigation into the origins of the virus and its implications for biosecurity has barely begun. One million Americans have died, but the United States government is stonewalling Freedom of Information Act requests and dismissing written Congressional inquiries, while the Biden administration punts to an intelligence community, whose inconclusive response is insufficient. 

Please join Hudson Institute for a panel discussion on what a congressionally mandated investigation should look like in 2023. The expert panel includes medical writer and former Senate investigator Paul Thacker, Scientist, investor and COVID medical detective Dr. Steven Quay, White Coat Waste Director of Research Justin Goodman, and Hudson Adjunct Fellow Tom DiNanno, who led the State Department Arms Control effort into COVID-19 as a potential biological weapons-related release. Senior Fellow David Asher will moderate the event.

Penn State Orders Hiring Freeze, 3% Budget Rescission To Close $191 Million Deficit

Bill Schackner:

Pennsylvania’s flagship public university has ordered a hiring freeze at least through next summer as it and other higher education institutions confront spiking inflation and public fallout over tuition hikes aimed at easing strain on campus budgets.

Penn State University confirmed the move late Monday, days after leaders announced a planned rescission in the school’s 2022-23 operating budget of 3%, or $46.2 million. The decision, like a tuition hike approved July 22, was aimed at helping the university narrow a growing operating deficit. …

Advocating DIE: “ It’s taken decades for us to get to a place where most people agree that the academy is not the objective, level playing field we all hoped it would be”

Beth Mitchneck and Jessi L. Smith

That hegemonic, numbers-crunching conceptualization of merit in the American academy today stifles innovation and constitutes one of the main techniques of maintaining the status quo and reproducing the social order that undermines efforts toward DEI. We are not the first to point this out, of course, but thinking about merit as embedded in the system helps us focus on change strategies.

In the academy, we have been using the same metrics to assess merit in annual performance and promotion reviews for eons, despite the fact that our work lives and expectations have changed significantly over the last half a century. For example, the advent of the internet has meant that, at a minimum, many new outlets for and forms of scholarship should be part of the reward structure.

The missions of our colleges and universities have also changed substantially. Today, most of our academic missions include public engagement, student success and DEI. Yet those mission-critical activities rarely receive adequate attention in the assessment of merit. As we know, if a new scholar actually follows the mission of the institution, the majority of her daily work will not “count” toward promotion and tenure.

A Possible Fix For Scientific (and Academic) Publishing

Peer Review:

Scientific and academic publishing is broken. The vast majority of the journals have been privatized by publishers who charge astronomical fees for access to the literature.

The fees have gotten so high that even well funded universities have started to walk away from negotiations. Universities with less funding have long been unable to afford them. The average citizen has no hope of affording them.

With the results of the scientific process locked away behind paywalls, science is no longer an open and transparent process. Worse, the ultimate deciders of policy in a democracy, average citizens, are being denied access to the primary source materials necessary to make good policy decisions.

The Open Access movement has been trying to solve this problem, but it has mostly stuck to the existing model of hiring editors to manually match reviewers to papers, creating high overhead. To fund their operations, most Open Access journals have flipped the business model from fee for access to fee for publish. This has created a whole host of new problems, including the rise of predatory journals that are willing to publish almost anything by anyone who can pay.

The ultimate effect of pay-to-play is that the traditional peer review and refereeing process has broken down. If a dishonest researcher gets rejected from a reputable journal, they can take their paper to a pay-to-play journal and have it published there. With over 10,000 academic journals, it’s impossible for the lay public to track which journals are reputable and which are not. As far as the public is concerned, a published paper is a valid paper.

Knowledge overconfidence is associated with anti-consensus views on controversial scientific issues

NIcholas Light, Philip Fernbach, Nathanial rabb, Miguel Geana and Steven Sloman:

Public attitudes that are in opposition to scientific consensus can be disastrous and include rejection of vaccines and opposition to climate change mitigation policies. Five studies examine the interrelationships between opposition to expert consensus on controversial scientific issues, how much people actually know about these issues, and how much they think they know. Across seven critical issues that enjoy substantial scientific consensus, as well as attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccines and mitigation measures like mask wearing and social distancing, results indicate that those with the highest levels of opposition have the lowest levels of objective knowledge but the highest levels of subjective knowledge. Implications for scientists, policymakers, and science communicators are discussed.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs says he is “pretty convinced [COVID-19] came out of US lab biotechnology”

Current Affairs:

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and the President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He has also served as the chair of the COVID-19 commission for leading medical journal theLancet. Through his investigations as the head of the COVID-19 commission, Prof. Sachs has come to the conclusion that there is extremely dangerous biotechnology research being kept from public view, that the United States was supporting much of this research, and that it is very possible that SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19,  originated through dangerous virus research gone awry.

Prof. Sachs recently co-authored a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences calling for an independent inquiry into the virus’s origins. He believes that there is clear proof that the National Institutes of Health and many members of the scientific community have been impeding a serious investigation of the origins of COVID-19 and deflecting attention away from the hypothesis that risky U.S.-supported research may have led to millions of deaths. If that hypothesis is true, the implications would be earth-shaking, because it might mean that esteemed members of the scientific community bore responsibility for a global calamity. In this interview, Prof. Sachs explains how he, as the head of the COVID-19 commission for a leading medical journal, came to the conclusion that powerful actors were preventing a real investigation from taking place. He also explains why it is so important to get to the bottom of the origins of COVID: because, he says, there is extremely dangerous research taking place with little accountability, and the public has a right to know since we are the ones whose lives are being put at risk without our consent.

Does Education Matter? Tests from Extensions of Compulsory Schooling in England and Wales 1919-22, 1947, and 1972

Gregory Clark and Neil Cummins:

Schooling and social outcomes correlate strongly. But are these connections causal? Previous papers for England using compulsory schooling to identify causal effects have produced conflicting results. Some found significant effects of schooling on adult longevity and on earnings, others found no effects. Here we measure the consequence of extending compulsory schooling in England to ages 14, 15 and 16 in the years 1919-22, 1947 and 1972. From administrative data these increases in compulsory schooling added 0.43, 0.60 and 0.43 years of education to the affected cohorts. We estimate the effects of these increases in schooling for each cohort on measures of adult longevity, on dwelling values in 1999 (an index of lifetime incomes), and on the the social characteristics of the places where the affected cohorts died. Since we have access to all the vital registration records, and a nearly complete sample of the 1999 electoral register, we find with high precision that all the schooling extensions failed to increase adult longevity (as had been found previously for the 1947 and 1972 extensions), dwelling values, or the social status of the communities people die in. Compulsory schooling ages 14-16 had no effect, at the cohort level, on social outcomes in England.

College Essay Prompts Get Absurd. ‘So Where Is Waldo, Really?

Isabelle Sarraf:

The University of Maryland, College Park, has asked students to detail their favorite thing about…last Tuesday. That’s a tough one if your Google Calendar shows a lot of white space. One college-admissions consulting blog advises, “If you laid in bed all day Tuesday, but went for a beautiful hike on Wednesday, write about the hike.” The school says it continues to ask that question, but changes the day each year.

Chapman University asks applicants to name one dish they would cook for the school’s admission team. Princeton University, meanwhile, has asked “What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?”

To get into Pomona College, last year’s seniors had to answer, in 50 words or less, “Marvel or DC? Pepsi or Coke? Instagram or TikTok? What’s your favorite ‘this or that’ and which side do you choose?”

Positive feedback: the science of criticism that actually works

Esther Bintlff:

Years ago, after I received some negative feedback at work, my husband Laurence told me something that stuck with me: when we receive criticism, we go through three stages. The first, he said, with apologies for the language, is, “Fuck you.” The second is “I suck.” And the third is “Let’s make it better.”

I recognised immediately that this is true, and that I was stuck at stage two. It’s my go-to in times of trouble, an almost comfortable place where I am protected from further disapproval because no matter how bad someone is about to tell me I am, I already know it. Depending on your personality, you may be more likely to stay at stage one, confident in your excellence and cursing the idiocy of your critics. The problem, Laurence continued, is being unable to move on to stage three, the only productive stage.

Recently, I asked my husband if he could remember who had come up with the three-stage feedback model. He said it was Bradley Whitford, the Emmy-award winning actor who played the charismatic Josh Lyman in The West Wing and, among other roles, the scary dad in the 2017 horror movie Get Out. “What? I would definitely have remembered that. There is no way that would have slipped my mind,” I insisted, especially because I had a mini-crush on the Lyman character for four of The West Wing’s seven series.

In 20 seconds flat, I had my laptop open and was putting one of my few superpowers, googling, to use. There it was. Whitford has aired this theory in public at least twice. Once during a 2012 talk at his alma mater, Wesleyan University, and again when he was interviewed on Marc Maron’s podcast in 2018.

…..

One of Scott’s fundamental beliefs is that there is nothing kind in keeping quiet about a colleague’s weaknesses. She calls this “ruinous empathy”. Scott is a two-word-catchphrase-generating machine. While aiming to achieve “radical candour”, you need to avoid “manipulative insincerity” and “obnoxious aggression”. The key in giving feedback, she writes in her book, is to “care personally” while “challenging directly”.

This holds true even when we are merely anticipating feedback. In a 1995 study by academics from the University of California, Riverside, children were split into two groups to solve maths problems. One was informed the aim was to “help you learn new things”. The other was told: “How you do . . . helps us know how smart you are in math and what kind of grade you might get.” The first group solved more problems.

Civics: “A tool that, if indeed effectively publicized, would chill public expression even of constitutionally protected speech”

Eugene Volokh:

press release Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney in charge of the federal prosecutor’s office in Massachusetts, Rachael S. Rollins announced the rollout of an “End Hate Now” telephone hotline (emphasis added):

The “End Hate Now” hotline [1-83-END-H8-NOW] is dedicated for reporting hate-based incidents or potential criminal activity. Massachusetts residents and visitors are encouraged to call the hotline to report concerning or troubling incidents of hate, potential hate crimes, or concerns regarding individuals believed to be espousing the hate-filled views or actions we learn of far too often in the wake of mass shootings and/or acts of hate-based violent extremism. Callers are encouraged to leave their contact information but may remain anonymous….

Hate crimes are illegal acts committed based on a victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Beliefs are not hate crimes. Distasteful ideologies, advocacy of political or social positions, use of discriminatory rhetoric, or the general philosophic embrace of biased or hate-filled beliefs are not crimes. Under federal law, investigations may not be based solely on an individual’s beliefs or their protected First Amendment activity.

A ‘Dubious Expediency’: How Race-Preferential Admissions Policies on Campus Hurt Minority Students

Gail Heriot:

Mounting empirical research shows that race-preferential admissions policies are doing more harm than good. Instead of increasing the numbers of African Americans entering high-status careers, these policies reduce those numbers relative to what we would have had if colleges and universities had followed race-neutral policies. We have fewer African-American scientists, physicians, and engineers and likely fewer lawyers and college professors. If, as the evidence indicates, the effects of race-preferential admissions policies are exactly the opposite of what was originally intended, it is difficult to understand why anyone would wish to support them.

Sensitivity Readers Are the New Literary Gatekeepers

Kat Rosenfield:

At first, Gullaba was asked to add an Asian character—east Asian, specifically, perhaps a Pacific Islander. Then it was suggested that Titus’ wingman, the biggest secondary character, should also be assigned an Asian identity. And there was one more bizarre twist: Another agency employee, who we’ll call Sally, was brought in at the eleventh hour to read the book and provide additional feedback.

“My agent was like, ‘I don’t want to do this, it makes me very uncomfortable,'” Gullaba says. “But then he says it.”

Sally, the agent explained, was black.

Known as sensitivity readers, or sometimes authenticity readers, consultants like Sally are a growing part of publishing, hired to correct the pre-publication missteps of authors who don’t share the same traits—or “lived experience,” to use a favored buzzword—as their characters.

The sensitivity reader’s possible areas of expertise are as varied as human existence itself. One representative consultancy boasts a list of experts in the usual racial, ethnic, and religious categories, but also in such areas as “agoraphobia,” “Midwestern,” “physical disability, arms & legs,” and (perhaps most puzzlingly) “gamer geek.” Another one lists individual readers with intersectional qualifications: Depending on the content of your novel, you might hire a white lesbian with generalized anxiety disorder or a bisexual, genderfluid, light-skinned brown Mexican with a self-diagnosis of autism. Every medical condition, every trauma, every form of oppression: Sensitivity readers will cover it all.

“that medicine is an inequity-producing enterprise”

Heather MacDonald:

The AMA’s 2021 Organizational Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity is virtually indistinguishable from a black studies department’s mission statement. The plan’s anonymous authors seem aware of how radically its rhetoric differs from medicine’s traditional concerns. The preamble notes that “just as the general parlance of a business document varies from that of a physics document, so too is the case for an equity document.” (Such shaky command of usage and grammar characterizes the entire 86-page tome, making the preamble’s boast that “the field of equity has developed a parlance which conveys both [sic] authenticity, precision, and meaning” particularly ironic.)

Thus forewarned, the reader plunges into a thicket of social-justice maxims: physicians must “confront inequities and dismantle white supremacy, racism, and other forms of exclusion and structured oppression, as well as embed racial justice and advance equity within and across all aspects of health systems.” The country needs to pivot “from euphemisms to explicit conversations about power, racism, gender and class oppression, forms of discrimination and exclusion.” (The reader may puzzle over how much more “explicit” current “conversations” about racism can be.) We need to discard “America’s stronghold of false notions of hierarchy of value based on gender, skin color, religion, ability and country of origin, as well as other forms of privilege.”

A key solution to this alleged oppression is identity-based preferences throughout the medical profession. The AMA strategic plan calls for the “just representation of Black, Indigenous and Latinx people in medical school admissions as well as . . . leadership ranks.” The lack of “just representation,” according to the AMA, is due to deliberate “exclusion,” which will end only when we have “prioritize[d] and integrate[d] the voices and ideas of people and communities experiencing great injustice and historically excluded, exploited, and deprived of needed resources such as people of color, women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, and those in rural and urban communities alike.”

Parental Authority Gets a Boost From Dobbs

Michael Toth:

In the ensuing decades, the high court reiterated the fundamental status of parental rights. In May v. Anderson (1953), the justices noted that a mother’s right to the “care, custody, management and companionship of her minor children” is an interest “far more precious” than any property right. In Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), they concluded that parental rights are firmly rooted in the “history and culture of Western civilization” and “established beyond debate.” And in Troxel v. Granville, decided in 2000, the Supreme Court invalidated a Washington law that empowered the state’s courts to disregard the views of custodial parents as to whether “third parties”—in this case grandparents—should have visitation rights to minor children. In an opinion for a four-justice plurality, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor emphasized that parental rights were “the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests,” dating back to Meyer and Pierce.

Even before Dobbs, federal judges were citing this line of cases in upholding recent parental-rights claims. In May, Judge Holly Teeter enjoined a Kansas school policy prohibiting teachers from revealing a transgender student’s “preferred first name and pronouns” when communicating with parents. Although the plaintiff in Ricard v. USD 475 was a teacher, Judge Teeter went out of her way to chastise the school’s intrusion on parental rights. Quoting Pierce and Troxell, she questioned why a school would even claim an “interest in withholding or concealing from the parents of minor children, information fundamental to a child’s identity, personhood, and mental and emotional well-being.”

Former Students Sue Columbia, Say They Were Misled By Misreporting Of Data That Inflated Its U.S. News Ranking

Jeremy Bauer-Wolf:

Columbia University faces twin lawsuits from two former students alleging the Ivy League institution broke a New York consumer protection law — and its contract with them — by submitting potentially false data to bolster its placement on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings.

One student, who remained anonymous in court filings, sued Tuesday, while the other, Ravi Campbell, filed a lawsuit in mid-July. Both argue students paid “a premium for tuition and other fees” but were deprived of the education Columbia claimed to offer when it submitted information for rankings about factors like student-to-faculty ratios and class sizes. They described Columbia’s alleged misreporting as false, immoral and unethical.

The anxious generation — what’s bothering Britain’s schoolchildren?

Lucy Kellaway:

In less than two weeks, 250,000 18-year-olds in England will turn up at school for one last time to collect a piece of paper on which three letters of the alphabet will be printed. These grades will sum up their academic achievement so far, will affect the rest of their education — and possibly the rest of their lives. Twenty-five of them will be students of mine. 

I don’t know how they’ll feel on the day, but I am full of doubt. Since last September I have done my best to teach them monopolistic competition, the Laffer curve and the rest of A-level economics. But have I given them the support they need in any broader sense? 

Across the country, these teenagers are probably the most fragile, inadequately prepared and unhappy group of Year 13 students ever to collect A-level results.

Prison Abolitionism and the Academy’s Decline

John McGinnis:

Defund the Police has become a political slogan of the left in cities across the country. But that mantra is a little timid compared to a new slogan that is taking hold among law professors: Abolish Prisons. This program is now regularly and seriously pressed in the academy’s most important law reviews. It is the subject of earnest discussion at conferences and faculty workshops across the nation. There is now a cottage industry of tenured professors who write about its nuances and more no doubt will soon secure tenure for doing so.

Its prominence and the arguments deployed its favor show the willingness of the legal academy and the intellectual class in general to tolerate foolish arguments so long as they conform to current fashions on the left. Rather than build a framework for incremental reform based on empirical evidence, such legal academics are now paid to engage in utopian—even nihilistic–rhetoric. It might be thought that these kinds of ideas—from abolishing prisons to defunding the police to eliminating standardized tests—mark a return to the radicalism of the 1960s.

But then the radicalism came from students against the establishment. Here the radicalism comes from the educational establishment itself. The better historical analogy is to nineteenth-century Russia. There the intelligentsia contained substantial radical elements, offering not to reform but to destroy the institutions of its society. Fyodor Dostoevsky memorably captured their perfervid meanderings in his great novel, The Possessed.

It is important to understand what prison abolitionism is not about to appreciate the significance of this becoming a serious topic in the law school world. Prison abolition does not argue for making prisons more humane. It does not suggest that they should become more effectively rehabilitative, returning people to a productive place in society. It does not argue for decreasing the prison population by further reducing the number of people imprisoned for non-violent crimes or for releasing prisoners as they age out of the likelihood of committing further crimes. These kind of incremental reforms may well be plausible schemes for social improvement, but they are anathema to many prison abolitionists. Such reforms represent the kind of cost-benefit analysis within the framework of the status quo that is wholly opposed to the spirit of destroying institutions.

Civics: Lobbying and legislation

Julia Rock:

The world’s largest private equity firm hired Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) son-in-law as a lobbyist at the same time Schumer announced a deal that guts Democrats’ long-promised plan to close a tax loophole enriching private equity moguls.

The hire spotlights the network of Schumer’s family and former staff with ties to the major companies with legislative business now before the upper chamber run by Schumer.

Indeed, Schumer’s relatives and former staffers are now lobbying for the Blackstone Group, Amazon, Intel, and Google, among other corporate giants — all of which have been lobbying on pending Senate legislation.

This session of Congress has, so far, been favorable to these companies. An antitrust bill designed to crack down on major tech companies still has not received its promised vote on the Senate floor — thanks to Schumer — and Intel stands to be the primary beneficiary of a subsidy package aimed at semiconductor companies that passed Congress in July.

Abolish the PhD

Device random:

Problem is, “graduate students” are not students. They are workers.

The bulk of the graduate “school” is research work. Graduate “students”, in fact, are the main workhorses of modern research. It gives pause that a large percentage of modern science is actually generated by the hands and brains of young unexperienced or semi-experienced “students” (see here for example). A quintessential requirement for successfully completing graduate “school” is to have published at least a peer-reviewed paper as a main author. (By the way, this means that the most important intellectual endeavour of humankind is literally in the hands of inexperienced, underpaid, unrecognized trainees.)

Mind you: this is not part-time work, or even standard 9-to-5. It is hard, continuous work, with weekends and nights spent in the lab or writing research papers (see e.g. here). Journals advise graduate students to work most weekends and long hours, because that’s how you succeed. (After all, having a shitty job is a privilege! The abovelinked article tells it with a straight face: “Those who stick with a career in science do so because, despite the relatively poor pay, long hours and lack of security, it is all we want to do.”)

Granted, in some jurisdictions, most notably United States, graduate “students” also follow university courses, especially in the first couple of years. All of them are also studying somehow, sure thing: they read papers and books that allow them to do their job. So does a tenured professor. The job of research involves studying, but this does not make them full-time students. It makes them workers that need to learn things, as most qualified workers do.

A large new study offers clues about how lower-income children can rise up the economic ladder.

David Leonhardt:

The study tries to quantify the effect in several ways. One of the sharpest, I think, compares two otherwise similar children in lower-income households — one who grows up in a community where social contacts mostly come from the lower half of the socioeconomic distribution, and another who grows up in a community where social contacts mostly come from the upper half.

The average difference between the two, in terms of their expected adult outcomes, is significant, the authors report. It’s the same as the gap between a child who grows up in a family that makes $27,000 a year and one who grows up in a family that makes $47,000.

The study is based on a dizzying amount of data, including the Facebook friendships of 72 million people. (You can explore the findings through these charts and maps from The Upshot.)

Robert Putnam — a political scientist who has long studied social interactions, including in his book “Bowling Alone” — said the study was important partly because it hinted at ways to increase upward mobility. “It provides a number of avenues or clues by which we might begin to move this country in a better direction,” he said.

Civics: NSA, NIST, and post-quantum cryptography: Announcing my second lawsuit against the U.S. government. #nsa #nist #des #dsa #dualec #sigintenablingproject #nistpqc #foia

Cr,yp.to

NSA’s policy decision to sabotage public cryptographic standards. In 1968, the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) “went to NSA for help”, in the words of an internal NSA history book. Work by journalists over several years forced NSA to release the relevant portions of the book in 2013, and before that smaller portions in 2008 and 2009.

NBS was an agency inside the U.S. Department of Commerce, another part of the U.S. government. Later NBS was renamed the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The reason NBS went to NSA is that NBS had decided to develop a U.S. government encryption standard.

According to the same history book, this triggered an internal debate within NSA, culminating in NSA deciding to manipulate public standards to make sure they were “weak enough” for NSA to break them:

Narrowing the encryption problem to a single, influential algorithm might drive out competitors, and that would reduce the field that NSA had to be concerned about. Could a public encryption standard be made secure enough to protect against everything but a massive brute force attack, but weak enough to still permit an attack of some nature using very sophisticated (and expensive) techniques?

NSA then worked with NBS and IBM’s Walter Tuchman on the design of what later became the Data Encryption Standard (DES):

NSA gave Tuchman a clearance and brought him in to work jointly with the Agency on his Lucifer modification … The relationship between NSA and NBS was very close. NSA scientists working the problem crossed back and forth between the two agencies, and NSA unquestionably exercised an influential role in the algorithm.

Back in the 1970s, Tuchman and NSA told a completely different story to the public. For example, regarding accusations that IBM and NSA had “conspired”, Tuchman told an interviewer “We developed the DES algorithm entirely within IBM using IBMers. The NSA did not dictate a single wire!”

Fit to Print? UNC’s Settlement with Nikole Hannah-Jones is Bad News

Phillip Magness:

One last thing. UNC did the right thing in offering her the job without tenure. There are many professors who are not academically qualified but who nonetheless qualify for a teaching professorship on the strength of a career of solid, interesting work. These faculty, commonly called professors of practice, raise no eyebrows whatsoever. Given her work history, such an offer would have been exactly the right kind for UNC to make to Hannah-Jones. If at some point down the line her demonstrated research output and classroom experience warranted a merit-based promotion, she could have been given the opportunity to go through the same tenure-review process as any other faculty member. Instead, she demanded the privilege of sidestepping the normal rules and procedures of academic promotion by threatening to unleash a lawsuit and a Twitter mob against the university.

And as galling as it is to see Nikole Hannah-Jones try to weasel her way into an unearned tenured professorship, there is one thing that is even more galling: She hasn’t published a single piece of journalism in the New York Times, her other full-time employer, in over two years. Maybe the Times is on to her. They claim to publish all the news that’s fit to print, after all.

Civics: Domestic Political Surveillance: How Deep Is DoD Involvement?

Patrick Eddington:

Federal players involved in the surveillance included Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the DEA. But one particular US government department’s involvement sparked even greater concern: the Department of Defense.

It’s been just less than two years ago that an United States Air Force Inspector General (USAF IG) report on the use of National Guard RC-26B surveillance aircraft against protesters was made public. The propellor driven, twin engine aircraft has been in US military service for many years as an intelligence collection platform, which is precisely the role in which it was used to track Americans engaged in marches and rallies after Floyd’s murder. The USAF IG’s June 2020 report on the RC-26B incidents was contradictory in terms of exactly how much potentially personally identifying data on protesters might have been collected and shared with federal, state, or local law enforcement.

The USAF IG report claimed (pp. 1–2) that “The sensors on the RC-26B can only collect infrared and electro‑optical imagery, and this imagery was not capable of identifying distinguishing personal features of individuals.” Yet deeper in the report (p. 21), the investigators conceded that “Although it is difficult in an urban environment, it appears it would be possible to connect activities to an individual. One witness described developing a ‘pattern of life’ which is a term‐​of‐​art in intelligence practice for following a person or object to discern patterns that allow forecasts of movements of that person or object…That requires some amount of discernibility among objects. For instance, a flight could observe suspicious activity, follow the person, and law enforcement on the ground could be vectored by a control center or by a law enforcement officer on‐​board to the individual….It is important to emphasize here, though, that there is no evidence that such a risk manifested in any of these RC-26B flights.”

Yet a National Guard Bureau white paper on RC-26B capabilities notes that “RC-26B records evidence‐​quality full motion video, and high resolution still frame imagery for use by the law enforcement community, host nations, and other government agencies.” And as the USAF IG report itself noted (p. 50), a plan to use a Phoenix‐​based RC-26B to collect full motion video on protesters to “deter planned/​unplanned demonstrations, protests or looting” did not go as planned because of software compatibility issues between the RC-26B and the Phoenix Multi‐​Agency Coordination Center (MACC). The USAF IG report described the Arizona National Guard operations plan’s counterprotest language as “in‐​artfully worded,” it conceded that “Deterring protests and demonstrations, assuming they are lawful, is not consistent with constitutional rights.” In fact, planning a military operation to disrupt First Amendment protected protests was, in fact, a violation of the rights of Phoenix protesters — contrary to the USAF IG’s assertions at the time.

There are good reasons to question the thoroughness of the USAF IG’s investigation and conclusions in this case, as the Defense Department and its components have a history of spying on domestic protesters.

Three ways L.A. schools are trying to get ahead of chronic absenteeism

Rebecca Katz:

Faced with a crisis of chronically absent students last academic year, Los Angeles County education officials have spent the summer training workers to connect with families so children return to class next month.    

Teachers and social workers have been learning to spot mental health issues; and help parents find resources such as daycare so older siblings can return to school.  

Last year, the number of chronically absent students in the LA Unified School District was stunningly high. 

More than half of all L.A. Unified students — over 200,000 kids — were chronically absent last year. Chronically absent students miss more than 9% of the school year.

In the spring, L.A. Unified superintendent Alberto Carvalho pledged to personally follow 30 chronically absent students. Last month at a conference in Orlando, Florida, Carvalho said 10 of the 30 students were at home with no parents. “No adult was caring for them,” he said. 

Chronically absent students have had to stay home with their siblings, get jobs, or simply cannot find transportation to school. Now, Carvalho estimated that tens of thousands of students are not enrolled for school at all this year.

Carvalho told the Los Angeles Times that the chronic absenteeism rates were “exceedingly high.”

Civics: curious legacy media practices

Erik Hoel:

Their refusal to link or cite or provide any outside reference anywhere that might take you off their website means you never know where any fact they give you comes from—and without its origins, you can’t assess its veracity. Like:

Says who? Is this study 5 years old? 10? This year? No one can ever know, because where this is coming from is completely opaque.

How to Use an iPad as a Secure Calling and Messaging Device

Yawnbox:

Do this all before setting up your AppleID, and before connecting to any network of any kind. Again: DO NOT connect to any network – Bluetooth or Wi-Fi unless steps 1-5 are complete.

Note: if you are adapting this guide using an iPhone or iPad with cellular, remove the SIM card before powering on the device. Ideally this would be a brand new device having never been connected to a network.

Princeton professor Kevin Kruse accused of plagiarism in Cornell dissertation, ‘surprised’ by lack of citation

Amy Ciceu and Annie Rupertus:

Kruse holds a reputation as a renowned left-leaning professor and “history’s attack dog,” as he was once termed by The Chronicle of Higher Education, with a long track record of taking to platforms like Twitter to correct common misinterpretations of American history by conservative and other political commentators. As a scholar of 20th-century American history, Kruse has written books on religious nationalism, urban and suburban history, and the Civil Rights Movement. He has served as a professor at the University since 2000, most recently teaching a lecture on U.S. history from 1920 to 1974 as well as a seminar on the political history of civil rights.

Several conservative critics, including Princeton University student Abigail Anthony ’23, have argued that the University’s seeming inaction on Kruse’s alleged plagiarism stands in stark contrast to what some have criticized as the unjust termination of former classics professor Joshua Katz this past May. 

During the spring of 2022, the University dismissed Katz following an internal finding that Katz “misrepresented facts” during a 2018 investigation into a relationship he had with a student, discouraged the alumna from participating in said investigation, and tried to prevent her from seeking mental health care when she was a student, according to the University. His defenders have claimed the dismissal was retribution for a controversial column Katz wrote for Quillette in July 2020 in which he opposed a faculty letter on racial equity and labeled a now-inactive student group, the Black Justice League, a “small local terrorist organization.”

Civics: “a moralist who appealed to man’s worst impulse: envy”

C Bradley Thompson:

The political goal of communism is to annihilate freedom in all realms of life—economic, social, and intellectual. By philosophic design, Marxism in power must always use force to achieve its ends. Anygovernment that expropriates and redistributes private property, any government that seeks to control an entire economy, any government that violates the rights of its citizens on a daily basis, anygovernment that seeks to reconstitute human nature will and must use force as a matter of course. Thus, the theory of socialism necessitates the use of coercive force in practice.

The fact of the matter is that the Marxist ideal necessarily leads to censorship, secret police, reeducation camps, Gulags, and genocide in practice. Its violent and bloody history is evident for all to see. Marxian socialism begins and ends with violence and destruction.

Economically, Marxism seeks to destroy private property, the price system, the division of labor, the system of profit-and-loss, wage labor, competition, and material wealth. Politically, it seeks to destroy the rule of law, constitutionalism, separation of powers, and civil rights. Morally, it seeks to destroy individual rights, egoism, and all “bourgeois” virtues. Epistemologically, it seeks to destroy independent thought and free choice. Metaphysically, it seeks to change human nature itself. This is why the communist 1 percent (the true 1 percent) must use the terror apparatus of the State to force the 99 percent (the true 99 percent) to become something they are not and do not want to be. And if that does not work, the secular philosophy of brotherly love simply liquidates as much of the 99 percent as is necessary.

In the end, all decent people must see that Marxism is evil—absolutely evil. It is the wellspring of communist mass murder. 

The Marxist regimes responsible for genocide are not aberrations from “true Marxism” but are in fact its fulfillment and living embodiment. They represent what Marxism is and must be. Violence and terror are necessary instruments of the communist ideal. History demonstrates—and I hope this series of video essays have proved philosophically—that Marxism is a philosophy of mass murder, which is precisely what it has done wherever it has held power.

Marxism necessarily leads to Stalinism, to Maoism, to Pol-Potism to Kim Il Sungism, to Castroism, to dictatorship, to the police state, to terror, to show trials, to the gulag, to genocide, and finally to the grave. In other words, the problem with Marxism is . . . Marxism.

‘Vibrant-Campus-Community Coordinator’

Brianna Hatch

Calling all prospective student-affairs leaders: This small college is looking to hire someone who can restore “a vibrant student life” to its rural campus, post-pandemic.

All you need is (preferably) a master’s degree and an “energetic, dedicated, progressive, and student centered” attitude, and you could be the new vibrant-campus community-coordinator at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, at a salary of $39,000 per year. The college was founded in 1954 as part of the University of Virginia, to

Litigation on Race & Admissions

Jim Shelton:

Yale has joined a legal effort to uphold the longstanding ability of colleges and universities to consider race and ethnicity as elements in a holistic review of applicants in the college admissions process.

In an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 1, Yale added its voice in two cases involving, respectively, Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The court is expected to hear arguments in the cases, Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., v. University of North Carolina et al, this fall.

Through those lawsuits, a group called Students for Fair Admissions seeks to eliminate consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions. The universities’ amicus filing opposes the suits.

Yale joined more than a dozen other universities in filing the brief, including Columbia, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, and the University of Chicago.

“Today Yale joined peer institutions in stating emphatically that student diversity is essential to the missions of American universities and promotes educational excellence for all students,” President Peter Salovey said. “Our amicus curiae brief makes clear that the way we consider race and ethnicity as part of individualized applicant review is crucial to achieving a richly diverse academic environment that enhances students’ educational experiences and maximizes their future success. Yale stands firm in supporting universities’ established right to compose incoming classes that are diverse along many dimensions and in its commitment to enrolling students from all walks of life.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Household debt tops $16 trillion for the first time,

Jeff Cox:

Household debt climbed past $16 trillion in the second quarter for the first time, as soaring inflation pushed up housing and auto balances, the New York Federal Reserve reported Tuesday.

The collective American IOU totaled $16.15 trillion through the end of June, good for a $312 billion — or 2% — increase from the previous quarter. Debt gains were widespread but particularly focused on mortgages and vehicle purchases.

“Americans are borrowing more, but a big part of the increased borrowing is attributable to higher prices,” the New York Fed said in a blog post accompanying the release.

Mortgage balances rose 1.9% for the quarter, or $207 billion, to about $11.4 trillion, even though the pace of originations moved lower. That annual increase marked a 9.1% gain from a year ago as home prices exploded during the pandemic era.

Credit card balances surged $46 billion in the three-month period and 13% over the past year, which Fed researchers said was the largest gain in more than 20 years. Non-housing credit balances increased 2.4% from the first quarter, the biggest gain since 2016.

The Dismantlers

Christopher Rufo:

According to the district, the gender binary has created an unjust society that distributes “heterosexual and cisgender privilege,” the sexual analog to the concept of “white privilege.” In the presentation, administrators explain that “a heterosexual/cisgender person automatically receives” this privilege, which “benefits members of dominant groups at the expense of members of target groups” and “results in institutional power” for straight men and women. Furthermore, the district claims, this sexual privilege is connected to a broader range of privileges and oppressions via the theory of intersectionality. “Racism, classism, heterosexism, etc. do not exist independently,” the presentation reads. “Multiple forms of discrimination interrelate creating a system of oppression.”

What is the solution? To dismantle “heteronormativity” and break the “gender binary.” Following the principles of queer theory, San Diego Unified has created a program of gender-identity instruction with the explicit goal of undermining the traditional conception of sex and promoting a new set of boutique sexual identities, such as “transgender,” “genderqueer,” “non-binary,” “pansexual,” “asexual,” and “two-spirit,” that promise to disrupt the oppressive system of heteronormativity. A series of curriculum documents encourage students to study the basic tenets of queer theory and then examine photographs of gender-nonconforming role models, including a woman with a beard, a boy in a dress, a teenage girl with a “genderqueer” identity, a boy wearing a tiara, and an infant with a “gender neutral baby name.” In another document published by San Diego Unified, administrators celebrate “nonbinary identities,” arguing that there must be a “linguistic revolution to move beyond gender binaries,” including the adoption of the term “Latinx,” which “makes room for people who are trans, queer, agender, nonbinary, gender non-conforming or gender fluid.”

This ideology has already shifted the district’s sexual-education program. In a training produced jointly by San Diego Unified and Planned Parenthood, administrators walk teachers through the constellation of new identities and advise them to eliminate traditional language from their vocabulary. Men are to be called “people with a penis” and women are to be called “people with a vulva,” because, according to the district, some women can have penises and some men can have vulvas. Additionally, the district points out that teachers can assist in a child’s gender transition without notifying parents and that, under California law, minors of any age can consent to pregnancy testing, birth control, and abortion. Finally, the training program includes sample questions on sexuality that teachers might address in the classroom, including: “Is it okay to masturbate?”; “How do gay people have sex?”; “What is porn?”; and “What does semen taste like?” In a related presentation, the district also advises teachers on leading discussions on “how to use a condom” and how to engage in “safer oral sex” and “safer anal sex.”

Joanne Jacobs:

Kindergarteners learn that “person with a penis” may be a boy, but not necessarily, and a“person with a vulva,” may be a girl. Or not. The “gender spectrum” is “infinite,” like the number of stars in the sky.

By first and second grade, students that it is “not true” that there are “only two genders, girls and boys.” A lesson called “Our Names, Genders, and Pronouns” teaches six- to eight-year-olds they can be “boys,” “girls,” “cisgender,” “transgender,” or “nonbinary,” and experiment with pronouns such as “they/them” and “ze/zir.”

Three ways L.A. schools are trying to get ahead of chronic absenteeism

Rebecca Katz:

Faced with a crisis of chronically absent students last academic year, Los Angeles County education officials have spent the summer training workers to connect with families so children return to class next month.    

Teachers and social workers have been learning to spot mental health issues; and help parents find resources such as daycare so older siblings can return to school.  

Last year, the number of chronically absent students in the LA Unified School District was stunningly high. 

More than half of all L.A. Unified students — over 200,000 kids — were chronically absent last year. Chronically absent students miss more than 9% of the school year.

In the spring, L.A. Unified superintendent Alberto Carvalho pledged to personally follow 30 chronically absent students. Last month at a conference in Orlando, Florida, Carvalho said 10 of the 30 students were at home with no parents. “No adult was caring for them,” he said. 

Chronically absent students have had to stay home with their siblings, get jobs, or simply cannot find transportation to school. Now, Carvalho estimated that tens of thousands of students are not enrolled for school at all this year.

Tracking down John Bell: how the case of the Oxford professor exposes a transparency crisis in government

Paul Thacker:

As testing and the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine are hailed as UK pandemic successes, why won’t Oxford University or the government disclose the “long list” of financial interests of a high profile researcher at the centre of both? Paul D Thacker investigates

Since the covid-19 outbreak began early last year, John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, has held high profile roles in the UK government’s epidemic response while also working with AstraZeneca on the vaccine.

But both Oxford and the government have refused to disclose Bell’s financial interests after The BMJ filed freedom of information (FOI) requests. More alarmingly, it appears that the government is referring media enquiries about Bell through the Cabinet Office and is scrutinising a reporter for The BMJ as it has other reporters it finds troublesome.1The BMJ has been unable to gain either direct contact with Bell or contact through his employer, Oxford University, despite multiple attempts.

The Daily Mail reported on Bell’s financial ties in September 2020, noting that he had £773 000 (€893 000; $1.1m) worth of shares in the pharmaceutical company Roche.2 The newspaper published the story after Roche sold the government £13.5m of antibody tests, which Public Health England later found to be unreliable. Bell had headed the National Covid Testing Scientific Advisory Panel and chaired the government’s test approvals group, but he told the Mail that he had no role in the purchase and that he had disclosed to the government “a long list of my interests.” The government and Oxford University’s failure to be open about Bell’s financial ties make it impossible for the public to know what, if any, interests the professor has when influencing key decisions about which of the many covid-19 tests the UK should purchase.

“Parental Secrecy Policy”

Libertycenter:

This was the experience of our client’s daughter, who in just the sixth grade was recruited by teachers to join an “Equality Club” where she was told she may be transgender and bisexual—two terms that were foreign to her. Teachers encouraged Jessica Konen’s daughter to change her name to a boy’s name as an expression of her new identity and specifically instructed her not to tell her mother about her new identity because her mother couldn’t be “trusted.”

Then, they gave her articles—and required her to read them—on how to hide her transgenderism from her mother. Still without Jessica’s knowledge, teachers and administrators created a “Gender Support Plan” instructing faculty to refer to her daughter by a new name, male pronouns, and to let her use the unisex teachers’ restroom.

Parents absolutely have a right to know what is being taught in their kids’ school, especially with respect to sensitive issues like gender and sexuality. The Supreme Court has consistently held that parents have the right to direct the upbringing and education of their children. But parents are denied that right when activist teachers think they know better and intentionally hide information from moms and dads.

Taxpayer funded Cencorship: NIH edition

Paul Thacker:

After Tobias took the agency to court over the redactions, the NIH sent him a second production this April of the exact same 24 pages, with the exact same passages redacted. However this time, the NIH cited different legal claims for these same redactions—exemptions 4 and 5. In their letter to Tobias, the NIH explained:

Exemption 4 protects from disclosure trade secrets and commercial or financial information that is privileged and confidential. Exemption 5 permits the withholding of internal government records which are pre-decisional and contain staff advice, opinion, and recommendations.

Returning to the land: Mississippi edition

Érica Hensley and Teresa Ervin-Springs:

The farm had been in Kevin’s family for four generations; it’s a place he visited as a child, but he hadn’t exactly picked up the skills to be a farmer.

In June of 2016, as Kevin’s mother’s health failed, she transferred the property deed to him, as no other family members wanted anything to do with it. On a trip to the property soon after, Kevin and Teresa saw why. Everything on the grounds needed fixing: the grass was nearly 4-feet tall; there were two year’s worth of leaves piled up; and the house was in disrepair. The couple looked around and saw overgrown trees and broken windows. That night, the bugs were so loud Teresa called them “terrifying.”

“We were happier leaving than coming,” Kevin said. Though she never said why, Kevin’s mother still entrusted him with the deed despite no experience, or interest, in farming.

For the first six months, the couple toiled over what to do with the property. They considered selling it, but the land, and obligation to care for it, kept tugging at them.

They decided to make one more trip back, once the shock wore off, and something about the land—and more importantly, in them—shifted. Touring the tract with a forrester who taught them about native flora and fauna, the Springses witnessed what they couldn’t see the first time.

To prepare for life as farmers, they spent long hours on YouTube, read books, and attended food safety and farming conferences—in addition to countless field days and workshops focused on sustainable farming practices. They planned to take on this unknown territory one 100 x 100 foot plot at a time.

Taxpayer funded k-12 school funding changes in California

Lasherica Thornton:

If approved, Black students would get the funding starting the 2023-24 school year for being the lowest performing in English and math. Black students would continue to benefit from the funding until they reach the threshold of the highest performing student group. But if during that time, another student group slips to the bottom, that student group would also be eligible for the new funding. But that’s unlikely, Fortune said, as the achievement gap for Black students is likely to take years to correct. “Black students have been the lowest performing subgroup in this accountability system and in the previous accountability system,” Fortune said. “It takes a lot of effort to inch up.” With 67% of Black students not on reading level, that percentage would have to increase by at least 7.6% to close the achievement gap between Black and Hispanic students; by 32.2% to close the gap between Black and white students; and by 43.95% to meet the scores of Asian-American students, the highest-performing group. For math, the percentages are even higher.

Read more at: https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education-lab/article263953476.html#storylink=cpy

The unseen side of depopulation in Lithuania

Irma Janauskaitė & Jovita Gaižauskaitė:

Every year, the Lithuanian state sells hundreds of properties whose owners have passed away without any heirs. These include prime real estate in central Vilnius as well as low-value homes in the provinces. Part of the reason is Lithuania’s deteriorating demographic situation, says a researcher.

Miroslavas, an employee of the state property management fund Turto Bankas, shows around an apartment in one of Vilnius’ residential neighbourhoods. Its owner has recently passed away and, in the absence of a will and close relatives, it has been taken over by the state,

“The apartment is already being appraised,” he says.

The Lithuanian state thus “inherits” about 400 apartments, houses, garages, warehouses, garden sheds and other pieces of real estate every year. In one-third of the cases, the properties are co-owned with other people.

Mindaugas Sinkevičius, the head of Turto Bankas, says that such properties are usually located in the countryside, although occasionally he comes across some prime real estate.

Denied tenure at Harvard, fighting on

Sarah Brown:

Two and a half years ago, many professors wonderedjust how broken the tenure system must be if Lorgia García Peña wasn’t considered worthy.

García Peña, who came to the United States from the Dominican Republic as a child, was the only Black Latina scholar on the tenure track in Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In 2019 her department committee unanimously recommended her for tenure, and the college-level appointments and promotions committee endorsed that decision. But once her case reached the administration, she was denied.

A firehose of sensitive data from your vehicle is flowing to a group of companies you’ve probably never heard of

Jon Keegan and Alfred Ng

The Markup has identified 37 companies that are part of the rapidly growing connected vehicle data industry that seeks to monetize such data in an environment with few regulations governing its sale or use.

While many of these companies stress they are using aggregated or anonymized data, the unique nature of location and movement data increases the potential for violations of user privacy.

“but the rate drops to 60 percent among Black children in this age range”

Perry Stein:

D.C. students who are 12 and older must be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend school this upcoming academic year.

The youth vaccine mandate in D.C. is among the strictest in the nation, according to health experts, and is being enacted in a city with wide disparities in vaccination rates between its White and Black children. Overall, about 85 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 15 have been vaccinated against the virus, but the rate drops to 60 percent among Black children in this age range.

Federalized student loans: billions in lost revenue due to flaws in budget estimates.

Meghan Brink:

Since 1997, changes to the federal student loan program, including programs that set certain borrowers on a path toward forgiveness, new repayment methods and the pause on student loan payments that was enacted at the start of the pandemic, have driven a 33 percent increase in the cost of the student loan program, totaling $102 billion.

By far, the largest change that contributed to this increase was the pause on federal student loan payments and programmatic changes enacted throughout the pandemic and other pandemic-related loan forgiveness programs, the report shows. In total, these changes drove an increase of over $107 billion between the years 2020 and 2021.

Other changes included the Taxpayer-Teacher Protection Act of 2004, which increased the amount of loan forgiveness that certain teachers could be eligible for, resulting in a $48 million increase; the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, which re-established models for income-driven repayment (IDR) and PSLF, resulting in a $4 billion increase; and the Revised Pay as You Earn plan, a form of IDR, resulting in a $9.9 billion increase. In total, these changes have accounted for a 6 percent increase, totaling $20 billion.

Dallas school safety plans

Talia Richmond:

The district is continually training employees on how to respond to threats.

DISD employees and members of the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Fire-Rescue recently went through active-shooter training at Thomas A. Edison Middle Learning Center in West Dallas. The training, which was conducted mostly by Dallas police SWAT officers, included classroom, physical and tactical instruction.

“We will continue to do that,” Dallas ISD Chief of Police John Lawton said.

Elizalde said the district is also stepping up training for hall monitors.

She added that various departments are also going over communication strategies. The district is aware, she said, that if there’s confusion about who takes command, and when, “we lose precious time.”

Staff must also emphasize to teenage students that it’s important not to prop open doors for friends or visitors.

There is no substitute, Elizalde said, for teaching people to share information about potential problems.

Taxpayer Subsidized Universities are out of touch…

Nick Burns:

It’s that the campus setup makes it easy for them to forget that reasonable people often don’t share their outlook.

Student bodies and faculties have grown more diverse in recent decades, but that shouldn’t fool us into thinking elite universities have become microcosms of society: The highly educated are far more liberal than average Americans. The divide isn’t just political: Whatever their socioeconomic backgrounds, students and professors have daily routines that are very different from those of lawyers, shopkeepers or manual laborers — and that shapes their worldviews.

Life at a university with a dominant central campus can also narrow students’ views on the world, especially at colleges where most undergraduates live on campus. Letting the university take care of all of students’ needs — food, housing, health care, policing, punishing misbehavior — can be infantilizing for young adults. Worse, it warps students’ political thinking to eat food that simply materializes in front of them and live in residence halls that others keep clean.

It also takes away the chance to encounter people with different roles in society, from retail workers to landlords — interactions that would remind them they won’t be students forever and open questions about the social relevance of the ideas they encounter in the university.

Community outreach programs can help broaden students’ outlook, but the better approach would be to configure the physical footprint of universities in a way that makes interactions with surrounding communities natural.

By and large, urban state universities like Rutgers University’s Newark campus have done a much better job integrating with their environments than elite private universities — with the possible exception of N.Y.U. But colleges in smaller cities, towns and suburbs could also do more to integrate their physical presences more seamlessly with the surrounding environment. Both university and community have a lot to gain.

Some have already started breaking down the boundaries between town and gown out of financial necessity. After reopening in 2011 after three years of closure, Antioch College, a small liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio (population 3,972 in 2020), built new residential buildings on disused parts of its campus, offering residents access to college events and the library.

Yet, taxpayers subsidize the Ivy League:

KEY FINDINGS:
1. Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015). This is equivalent to $120,000 in government monies, subsidies, & special tax treatment per undergraduate student, or $6.93 billion per year

The billion-dollar industry helping students at major Australian universities cheat online assessments

Mario Christodoulou

And in the post-COVID era of online assessments, he has some powerful new allies — billion-dollar companies which have been accused of being industrialised cheating factories.

They market themselves as study aids, but they profit enormously from helping students cheat, and they boomed during the pandemic with the shift to online learning.

In a single month in 2020, cheating websites received around 7.3 million clicks from Australian students, an increase of 50 per cent on 2019 figures, according to Australia’s academic integrity regulator.

Since then those monthly hits have fallen back but still remain above pre-pandemic levels at 5.9 million hits.

And one of the biggest players is a company called Chegg.

Impact of College-Level Indoctrination on K-12 Education

Will Flanders & Dylan Palmer :

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a much greater focus by parents and concerned citizens on what is being taught in schools around the country. For the first time, many parents were exposed to what was being taught to their children, and they didn’t like what they found. Horror stories abound, from students being taught that conservatives are “ignorant and poor” at a high school in Sparta, Wisconsin,1 to school districts around the country using the 1619 Project as a means of teaching American history.2

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s previous work on this topic3 has shown that these are not isolated incidents. Instead, this sort of politically divisive rhetoric in K-12 schools is quite pervasive, from the biggest cities, to the smallest towns. While we can document that these problems are occurring in schools, the question remains: how did we reach this situation?

In this policy brief, we will begin to answer this question by showing that Wisconsin’s teachers don’t always push a liberal agenda purely of their own volition. Instead, we will show that the controversial material spilling into schools today is the result of an indoctrination process that begins when teachers are enrolled in universities around the state. We use the word “indoctrination,” here, and throughout this brief, not solely because future teachers are presented with politically charged materials during their college educations, but because these materials are presented from only one political perspective, and in a manner that preempts and forecloses healthy debate and conversation about these contested political issues.

For this report, we collected syllabi from courses for education majors at all of the University of Wisconsin’s four-year public colleges. In 2020, the University of Wisconsin System graduated approximately 2,000 students majoring in various education programs.4

While we cannot gather data from private universities in the state via open records requests, we can safely say that the schools from which we have gathered data represents courses taken by roughly 80% of all education graduates in the state for recent years.*

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

L.A. Unified estimates tens of thousands of students are missing from back-to-school rosters

Howard Blume:

Two weeks before school starts, Los Angeles Unified Supt. Alberto M. Carvalho estimates that between 10,000 and 20,000 students are not enrolled or stopped attending last year, with the problem most pronounced in the youngest grades.

As school officials work to identify and enroll the children, the district also is scrambling to fill about 900 classroom teaching positions and to find more than 200 bus drivers. Carvalho said Friday he is optimistic that most of the vacancies will be filled by the Aug. 15 start of school.

The superintendent’s estimate of missing students is based on outreach efforts by district staff to families and on assessments from outside groups.

Civics: Litigation over Google Censorship Policies

Glenn Greenwald:

Attempts to find Rumble videos through Google searches are purposely thwarted by burying Rumble’s videos and instead redirecting the user to YouTube, the lawsuit alleges. Google’s “chokehold on search is impenetrable, and that chokehold allows it to continue unfairly and unlawfully to self-preference YouTube over its rivals, including Rumble, and to monopolize the online video platform market.” I often am unable to find my own videos using Google’s search engines even when I recall the title of the video more or less perfectly, and have frequently heard the same complaint from viewers.

Outdated CDC guidance may lead to a fourth year of disrupted schooling in some districts

Anthony La Mesa:

The agency still recommends close contact testing and quarantines.

With many children having experienced catastrophic learning loss during the pandemic, it is essential that the upcoming school year be as smooth as possible, but some districts will continue to apply CDC close contact testing and quarantine guidance that could lead to healthy children missing weeks of classroom instruction. One of those districts is metro Atlanta’s City Schools of Decatur.

It’s mind-boggling that Yale law students can’t be left to their own devices writing on an email list.

Aaron Siburium:

In the days before email, students and faculty would post their views on a bulletin board, nicknamed the “Wall,” in the law school’s main hallway. That system, which Yale Law School is bringing back, “provided a healthy reminder that human beings are on the receiving end of the messages people send,” Gerken said. “Indeed, sometimes students would run into the very people with whom they were debating and speak face-to-face.”

Big Hospitals Provide Skimpy Charity Care—Despite Billions in Tax Breaks

Anna Wilde Mathews, Tom McGinty and Melanie Evans:

Nonprofit hospitals get billions of dollars in tax breaks in exchange for providing support to their communities. A Wall Street Journal analysis shows they are often not particularly generous.

These charitable organizations, which comprise the majority of hospitals in the U.S., wrote off in aggregate 2.3% of their patient revenue on financial aid for patients’ medical bills. Their for-profit competitors, a category including publicly traded giants such as HCA Healthcare Inc., wrote off 3.4%, the Journal found in an analysis of the most-recent annual reports hospitals file with the federal government.

Monkeypox Is About to Become the Next Public Health Failure

Scott Gottlieb:

The failures that got us here fit a now familiar pattern.

Early on, similar to the early days of Covid, testing access for monkeypox was limited, despite ample evidence that monkeypox was spreading in the United States. The Strategic National Stockpile was meant as a hedge against viral contingencies, but when the coronavirus struck, it lacked adequate supplies of testing equipment, ventilators and masks. With monkeypox, the government hadn’t stockpiled enough of the only vaccine, Jynneos, that was indicated for prevention of the disease and considered safe for use. The United States had on hand fewer than 2,400 doses in mid-May, mostly as a hedge against the risk of smallpox, which was the vaccine’s other indication.

UNC Chapel Hill Student Gov’t Cuts Off Funding & Contracting to Anyone Who “Advocates” for Limits on Abortion

Eugene Volokh:

The student government president’s executive orderprovides, among other things,

That it shall be prohibited for the Undergraduate Student Government Executive Branch to contract or expend funds to any individual, business, or organization which actively advocates to further limit by law access to reproductive healthcare, including, though not limited to, contraception and induced abortions.

This seems to me a clear violation of the First Amendment:

  1. Under Board of Regents v. Southworth (2000), public university student government are generally subject to the same First Amendment limits imposed on public entities more generally.
  2. When it comes to generally available student group funding, Southworth and Rosenberger v. Rector (1995) make clear that the government can’t discriminate based on the student group’s viewpoint.
  3. And when it comes to contracting, Board of Comm’rs v. Umbehr (1996) holds that the government generally can’t discriminate based on contractors’ ideological expression, either.

Of course the same would be true of a public university’s cutting off generally available student funding or contracting to “individual[s], business[es], or organization[s]” that express pro-abortion-rights views or pro-Israel views or anti-Israel views or what have you. The Free Speech Clause generally doesn’t stop government actors from conditioning funding on groups’ nonspeech conduct, such as on the groups not refusing to do business with Israel or not excluding military recruiters (Rumsfeld v. FAIR (2006)) or providing funding for abortions or contraception for their employees. But the government may not condition funding on groups’ refraining from expressing anti-Israel, anti-military, or anti-abortion views.

Information intolerance at the taxpayer funded CDC

Joseph Simonson:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coordinated with social media companies and Google to censor users who expressed skepticism or criticism of COVID-19 vaccines, according to a trove of internal communicationsobtained by America First Legal and shared exclusively with the Washington Free Beacon.

Over the course of at least six months, starting in December 2020, CDC officials regularly communicated with personnel at Twitter, Facebook, and Google over “vaccine misinformation.” At various times, CDC officials would flag specific posts by users on social media platforms such as Twitter as “example posts.”

In one email to a CDC staffer, a Twitter employee said he is “looking forward to setting up regular chats” with the agency. Other emails show the scheduling of meetings with the CDC over how to best police alleged misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

Although many of the posts flagged by the CDC contained false information about the COVID-19 vaccines, the efforts to police misinformation also resulted in mistaken acts of censorship. An April 2021 email from a CDC staffer to Facebook states that the “algorithms that Facebook and other social media networks are apparently using to screen out posting by sources of vaccine misinformation are also apparently screening out valid public health messaging, including [Wyoming] Health communications.”