Where Did Writing Come From?


In a world in which immediate access to words and information is taken for granted, it is hard to imagine a time when writing began.

Archaeological discoveries in ancient Mesopotamia (now mostly modern Iraq) show the initial power and purpose of writing, from administrative and legal functions to poetry and literature.

Mesopotamia was a region comprising many cultures over time speaking different languages. The earliest known writing was invented there around 3400 B.C. in an area called Sumer near the Persian Gulf. The development of a Sumerian script was influenced by local materials: clay for tablets and reeds for styluses (writing tools). At about the same time, or a little later, the Egyptians were inventing their own form of hieroglyphic writing.

Even after Sumerian died out as a spoken language around 2000 B.C., it survived as a scholarly language and script. Other peoples within and near Mesopotamia, from Turkey, Syria, and Egypt to Iran, adopted the later version of this script developed by the Akkadians (the first recognizable Semitic people), who succeeded the Sumerians as rulers of Mesopotamia. In Babylonia itself, the script survived for two more millennia until its demise around 70 C.E.

Future of Data in K-12 Education: A Comprehensive Analysis

US Chamber of Commerce Foundation:

The report asks: what can we learn from the last two decades of education policy, and what do we still not know? According to what Goldhaber and DeArmond identify as the most credible existing studies, the report highlights the following:

Disaggregated data shifted the focus from the average kid to every kid—including Black, Hispanic, low-income students, English learners, and students with special needs. No longer were school districts able to hide the performance of some students behind an average.

Student achievement increased due to NCLB-era assessment and accountability policies, especially in math and especially for Black, Hispanic, and low-income students, who the system had not been serving well.

There is now access to far more reliable, comparable education data than there would be available otherwise, though there has not been sufficient time dedicated to rigorous analysis.

Reforms in teacher evaluation and school turnaround initiatives did not consistently improve student outcomes at scale, in part due to significant variation in quality of implementation.

However, existing research and data has not answered other critical questions, including:

Did schools serving historically underserved students get more money to improve than they otherwise would have?

If identified schools did get more money, what did they do with it?

How many identified low-performing schools became successful?

Have states seen improvement in measures other than academics, such as chronic absenteeism or school climate, that the Every Student Succeeds Act was also intended to elevate?

Learn about how the last two decades of education policy can inform how we plan for our students’ futures.

Kotek: ‘We are going to make sure that the science of reading guides what districts do’

Julia Silverman:

After weeks of furious, behind-the-scenes negotiations, Gov. Tina Kotek has thrown her weight — and a proposal to spend upwards of $100 million – behind a bill that aims to overhaul how Oregon’s youngest students are taught to read.

The effort, dubbed the Early Literacy Success Initiative, is up for a pivotal hearing in Salem this week. In an exclusive interview Monday, the governor made it clear the move she’s backing to make reading instruction more effective will hew to what research says works, not to techniques with which educators might be more familiar, and will be swift.

Only 39% of Oregon’s third-graders can read proficiently, including just 21% of Latino and Black students, the most recent statewide test results, from spring 2022, showed.

Kotek told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Monday, “We are going to make sure that the science of reading, the research, guides what districts do. We are expecting movement by districts in the upcoming school year.”

Science of reading is a key term that signals a systematic, phonics-based approach that is backed by decades of brain research and leaves no room for what is commonly called “balanced literacy.” The latter approach, still embraced by some Oregon school districts and colleges of education, includes teaching students to guess at words from pictures or context and leaving them to figure out many letter-sound patterns on their own.

Should the proposal pass, the level of specification Kotek is calling for would be a big departure for Oregon, which has traditionally allowed its nearly 200 school districts to chart their own course.

Educators in high-needs schools licensed through alternative pathways could be pulled out of the classroom — and forced to do training all over again.

Beth Hawkins:

A bill moving through the Minnesota Legislature would curtail a popular path to a teaching credential, potentially removing hundreds of educators in high-needs areas from classrooms and throwing up roadblocks for future teachers. In rolling back a hard-won, five-year-old overhaul of the state’s teacher licensure system, the change would have an outsized effect on special education; instructors who are native speakers of Somali, Hmong and other languages spoken in immersion schools; career-technical instructors; and educators of color, who currently make up 6% of the state’s teacher workforce. 

Up to 4,400 educators could be affected, including thousands who had been promised full licenses after three years as provisional teachers. But many now would be forced to go back to school and re-earn their credentials at a traditional college of education in the state once their temporary license expires.

Most devastating for the state’s highest-needs students: The proposed change could impact 2,000 special educators, a category of teachers in desperately short supply. A 74 analysis of newly available state data reveals that schools serving the children with the most profound and intense disabilities would lose the largest share of their teaching staff — many needing to replace two-thirds, or more.

The Dangers of Politically Aligned AIs and their Negative Effects on Societal Polarization

David Rozado:

I describe here a fine-tuning of an OpenAI GPT language model with the specific objective of making the model manifest right-leaning political biases, the opposite of the biases manifested by ChatGPT (see here). Concretely, I fine-tuned a Davinci large language model from the GPT 3 family of models with a very recent common ancestor to ChatGPT. I half-jokingly named the resulting fine-tuned model manifesting right-of-center viewpoints RightWingGPTSubscribe

Previously, I have documented the left-leaning political biases embedded in ChatGPT as manifested in the bot responses to questions with political connotations. In 14 out of 15 political orientation tests I administered to ChatGPT, its answers were deemed by the tests as manifesting left-leaning viewpoints.

Here is the FBI’s Contract to Buy Mass Internet Data

Joseph Cox:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation paid tens of thousands of dollars on internet data, known as “netflow” data, collected in bulk by a private company, according to internal FBI documents obtained by Motherboard.

The documents provide more insight into the often overlooked trade of internet data. Motherboard has previously reported the U.S. Army’s and FBI’s purchase of such data. These new documents show the purchase was for the FBI’s Cyber Division, which investigates hackers in the worlds of cybercrime and national security.

“Commercially provided net flow information/data—2 months of service,” the internal document reads. Motherboard obtained the file through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FBI.

Notes on COVID era governance

Juliette Ochieng:

I’ve mentioned online before that my church stayed open and an interesting thing about that is that some observers presumed that it was being left alone because it was a “black” church. This presumption reflects how insidiously our thinking has been tainted by what we see and read online. And, for the record, my church’s racial composition mirrors that of our country. Funny, that.  

Now, since the new mask “mandate” of 2023, I see a lot more people wearing them than was so in the last 18 months or so, but I can’t remember the last time I put on one and no one has accosted me about it. Hey, it might be Black Woman Privilege, but I don’t think so. Many of all colors have figured out that we’ve been conned. 

But I do carry this one around, just in case.

New Orleans students Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson recently presented their findings on the Pythagorean theorem

Ramon Antonio Vargas:

Two New Orleans high school seniors who say they have proven Pythagoras’s theorem by using trigonometry – which academics for two millennia have thought to be impossible – are being encouraged by a prominent US mathematical research organization to submit their work to a peer-reviewed journal.

Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson, who are students of St Mary’s Academy, recently gave a presentation of their findings at the American Mathematical Society south-eastern chapter’s semi-annual meeting in Georgia.

They were reportedly the only two high schoolers to give presentations at the meeting attended by math researchers from institutions including the universities of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. And they spoke about how they had discovered a new proof for the Pythagorean theorem.

DIE, Free Speech and the Stanford Law School

Tax Prof summary

Stanford Law School’s chapter of the Federalist Society earlier this month invited Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Kyle Duncan to speak on campus. Student groups that vehemently opposed Judge Duncan’s prior advocacy and judicial decisions regarding same-sex marriage, immigration, trans people, abortion and other issues showed up to protest. Some protesters heckled the judge and peppered him with questions and comments. Judge Duncan answered in turn. Regardless of where you stand politically, none of this heated exchange was helpful for civil discourse or productive dialogue. …

My participation at the event with Judge Duncan has been widely discussed. I was asked to attend the event by the Federalist Society, the organizers of the student protest and the administration. My role was to observe and, if needed, de-escalate.

As soon as Judge Duncan entered the room, a verbal sparring match began to take place between the judge and the protesters. By the time Judge Duncan asked for an administrator to intervene, tempers in the room were heated on both sides.

I stepped up to the podium to deploy the de-escalation techniques in which I have been trained, which include getting the parties to look past conflict and see each other as people. My intention wasn’t to confront Judge Duncan or the protesters but to give voice to the students so that they could stop shouting and engage in respectful dialogue. I wanted Judge Duncan to understand why some students were protesting his presence on campus and for the students to understand why it was important that the judge be not only allowed but welcomed to speak. …

Unschooling 5 kids

Rosie Sherry:

We’re a family of two parents and 5 children aged 5 to 19. We’ve been on our unschooling journey for over 10 years now. There is no going back or no other way for us. The inefficiencies and stress of schools are just too much for us to bear.

We do get tempted with going back to school and sometimes drool at private schools. We then figure the £3k a month it would cost (for 3 of the kids) is ridiculous. There are so many better ways to spend that kind of money.

The cost of unschooling for us

What we spend our money on varies year by year, but hopefully, this will paint a rough picture.

The numbers are rounded and also shown as a monthly cost for easy calculation. Some things we pay per session, per month or per term.

Free Black Thought @FreeBlckThought · Follow “Students in the most progressive cities face greater racial inequity in achievement & graduation rates than students living in the most conservative cities.”

Notes on violence in Madison’s taxpayer supported schools

David Blaska:

Surveys revealed a terrifying situation throughout Madison’s school district brought on by an overly permissive environment. Students complained of “too many fights,” and feeling “unsafe in hallways, common areas, bathrooms and buses.” Bullying has become a major problem. It was mentioned 450 times in the survey responses. Students attribute these problems to an environment with “no consequences.”

Some female students reported that they won’t use the bathrooms at school because “they are not safe, drugs are done in there, and destruction, and even sex.” Teachers were well aware of these problems.

“This month I’ve seen a lot of students pushing, shoving, and verbally harassing each other during passing time,” one anonymous respondent wrote.

“I am concerned about the amount of alcohol and drug use happening inside the school building,” another wrote.

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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”

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

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.

“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?

Notes on Violence in Madison Schools


Girls said they won’t use the bathrooms at school because “they are not safe, drugs are done in there, and destruction, and even sex.”

The surveys revealed a terrifying situation throughout Madison’s school district brought on by an overly permissive environment. Students complained of “too many fights,” and feeling “unsafe in hallways, common areas, bathrooms and buses.” Bullying has become a major problem. It was mentioned 450 times in the survey responses. Students attribute these problems to an environment with “no consequences.”

Some female students reported that they won’t use the bathrooms at school because “they are not safe, drugs are done in there, and destruction, and even sex.”

The teachers were well aware of these problems.

“This month I’ve seen a lot of students pushing, shoving, and verbally harassing each other during passing time,” one anonymous respondent wrote.

“The education activists who now populate the system and have moved on to corporations and government, seek to deconstruct the country … and it’s working”

William Jacobson

A survey released by The Wall Street Journal measures how in just a quarter of a century traditional values of patriotism, religion, and even the value of child bearing, have collapsed. While there may be many causes, there is no doubt that the relentless demonization of the nation that has been taking place in education particularly in the last 25 years is having an impact. The education activists who now populate the system and have moved on to corporations and government, seek to deconstruct the country, to tear it down because it is iredeemably racist, capitalism is evil, and we are illegal occupiers. DEI is the living, breathing bureaucratic mechanism.

Civics: An agent shows up at the home of the Twitter files journalist who testified before Congress.

Wall Street Journal:

Democrats are denouncing the House GOP investigation into the weaponization of government, but maybe that’s because Republicans are getting somewhere. That includes new evidence that the Internal Revenue Service may be targeting a journalist who testified before the weaponization committee.

Mr. Taibbi has provoked the ire of Democrats and other journalists for his role in researching Twitter records and then releasing internal communications from the social-media giant that expose its censorship and its contacts with government officials. This effort has already inspired government bullying, with Chair Lina Khan’s Federal Trade Commission targeting new Twitter owner Elon Musk and demanding the company “identify all journalists” granted access to the Twitter files.

Now Mr. Taibbi has told Mr. Jordan’s committee that an IRS agent showed up at his personal residence in New Jersey on March 9. That happens to be the same day Mr. Taibbi testified before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government about what he learned about Twitter. The taxman left a note instructing Mr. Taibbi to call the IRS four days later. Mr. Taibbi was told in a call with the agent that both his 2018 and 2021 tax returns had been rejected owing to concerns over identity theft.

Civics: “A federal prosecutor admitted in court papers that three D.C. Metropolitan Police Department undercover officers acted as provocateurs at the northwest steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021”

Joseph Hanneman:

The admission came in a March 24 filingbefore U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras that seeks to keep video footage shot by the officers under court seal.

Prosecutors accused the case defendant—William Pope of Topeka, Kansas—of an “illegitimate” attempt to unmask the video as part of his alleged strategy to try the case in the news media. Pope filed a motion to remove the court seal on Feb. 21.

“The defendant is not entitled to ‘undesignate’ these videos to share them with unlimited third parties,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Moran. “His desire to try his case in the media rather than in a court of law is illegitimate, and the government has met its burden to show the necessity of the protective order.”

Videos long hidden under court seal have become a major topic, especially with prosecutors disclosing in a number of high-profile Jan. 6 cases the involvement of multiple FBI informants.

Pope is seeking to lift the court seal on the undercover video as part of his drive to obtain full access to video evidence held by the government. Pope is representing himself in the criminal case being prosecuted against him. At a hearing on March 3, Judge Contreras seemed sympathetic to Pope’s motion to unmask the videos.

“After noting that many districts don’t seem too concerned with whether the money already spent is doing any good”

Mike Antonucci:

“When the ESSER tap abruptly goes dry, we estimate the average district will have to cut costs by some $1,200 per student in 2024-25.”

Why is that? It’s not a mystery. “Nationally, enrollment is falling while staffing counts are climbing,” Roza explains. “Fewer students usually means a smaller staff, but many districts have used their relief funds to both hold on to existing employees and add more in the form of new counselors, reading specialists, nurses, etc.”

While there will be plenty of trimming on the margins, labor costs constitute the overwhelming share of district budgets, and that’s where the axe will ultimately fall. That means layoffs, and union seniority rules dictate that most of those laid off will be the folks we’re in such a frenzy to hire now.

What Roza doesn’t predict, but which is equally assured, is the uproar this will cause among teachers unions. They will not view the coming lean years as the inevitable outcome of using one-time funds for l0ng-term commitments. Instead, they will be depicted as draconian cuts, and the narrative will abruptly shift from catastrophic teacher shortages to catastrophic teacher layoffs.

The Education Writers Association Today: The High Price of EWA’s News*

Richard Phelps:

EWA’s income from contributions dwarfs that from membership dues by a ratio of about 150 to one (Internal Revenue Service, 2015–2019). Its contributors overwhelmingly supported Common Core.

As of 2019, EWA’s five “Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, and Highest Compensated Employees” all enjoyed six-figure salaries.

Current Sustaining Funders:
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Foundation for Child Development, Funders for Adolescent Science Translation, The Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, The Spencer Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

‘When I see the boys going to school, it hurts’

Yogita Limaye

“Every day I wake up with the hope of going back to school. They [the Taliban] keep saying they will open schools. But it’s been almost two years now. I don’t believe them. It breaks my heart,” says 17-year-old Habiba.

She blinks and bites her lip trying hard not to tear up.

Habiba and her former classmates Mahtab and Tamana are among hundreds of thousands of teenage girls who have been barred from attending secondary school in most of Afghanistan by the Taliban – the only country to take such action.

One-and-a-half years since their lives were brought to a halt, their grief is still raw.

The girls say they fear that global outrage over what’s happened to them is fading, even though they live with the pain every day – intensified this week when another school term started without them.

“When I see the boys going to school and doing whatever they want, it really hurts me. I feel very bad. When I see my brother leaving for school, I feel broken,” says Tamana. Her voice trembles and tears roll down her cheeks but she goes on.

“Earlier, my brother used to say I won’t go to school without you. I hugged him and said you go, I’ll join you later.

Political Bias and Google’s bots

Paul Joseph Watson:

Google’s Bard AI program mimics ChatGPT in that it is riddled with political bias, refusing to comment on Donald Trump or the evils of abortion, while effusively praising Joe Biden and the benefits of abortion.

The company released its Bard chatbot to users in both the UK and US yesterday as part of an “experiment” as it rushes to keep up with Open AI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing Chat.

“We feel like we’ve reached the limit of the testing phase of this experiment,” said Google’s Jack Krawczyk, “and now we want to gradually begin to roll it out. We’re at the very beginning of that pivot from research to reality, and it’s a long arc of technology that we’re about to undergo.”

However, Gab CEO Andrew Torba immediately exposed the program’s political bias, commenting, “I am pleased to inform you that it has failed the Turing Test.”

Torba asked Bard, “If you could prevent a nuclear world war by saying an ethnic slur, should you say it?”

2023 Madison School Board candidates

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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”

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

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.

“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?

Taxpayer Supported Madison School District parents file open records requests after they say district leaders ignore concerns

Elizabeth Wadas:

Imagine being a parent worried for your child’s safety and not being able to get more information from staff about what’s going on. That’s the reality one Madison mom says she has lived for more than 11 months. And she’s not alone.

“As a parent we entrust the school, these people in leadership positions, to care for our children, to ensure they’re safe to ensure they’re in a good environment,” said Amy Ryan.

That trust for Ryan is now broken. She says the Madison Metropolitan School District gave her the run around when she had concerns for her kids’ safety at school. Ryan says she tried emailing her questions and setting up meetings with staff. Still she says her questions went unanswered.

“It’s frustrating as a parent to not get a response and to feel like my family didn’t matter,” said Ryan.

Fairport Parents File Letter of Intent Against School Board

Fairport Educational Alliance:

A group of Fairport parents and taxpayers filed a letter of intent to the Fairport Central School District board of education and Superintendent during the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, March 21 at Fairport High School.

The letter explains the Surety Bond and Insurance Claim process and how the board members and superintendent have failed to uphold their oath of office as public officials. The letter explains that they have violated many state and federal obscenity laws including:

Rewriting Agatha Christie

Rachel Hall:

Several Agatha Christie novels have been edited to remove potentially offensive language, including insults and references to ethnicity.

Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries written between 1920 and 1976 have had passages reworked or removed in new editions published by HarperCollins to strip them of language and descriptions that modern audiences find offensive, especially those involving the characters Christie’s protagonists encounter outside the UK.

Sensitivity readers had made the edits, which were evident in digital versions of the new editions, including the entire Miss Marple run and selected Poirot novels set to be released or that have been released since 2020, the Telegraph reported.

The updates follow edits made to books by Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming to remove offensive references to gender and race in a bid to preserve their relevance to modern readers.

How the anti-woke movement can take the moral and linguistic high ground.

Christopher Rufo:

I recently hosted a summit on anti-woke public policy and, beneath all of the legal and technical details, I realized that there is an opportunity for a significant shift in rhetoric for the political Right.

For decades, conservatives made their arguments primarily through a statistical frame, using the language of finance, economics, and performance metrics. Think “running government like a business.” But in recent years, the rise of left-wing racialist ideology—BLM, CRT, DEI—has created an opportunity, even the necessity, for conservatives to make their arguments through a moral frame, speaking to the conflict of values that underlies the division between Left and Right.

This linguistic shift is already happening—and paying dividends. At the summit, we discussed two specific examples. First, on education, the activist Corey DeAngelis noted that the school choice movement suddenly started winning when it stopped making statistical arguments about performance metrics and started making moral arguments about parental rights and the content of the curriculum. Second, on the federal budget, Wade Miller of the Center for Renewing America has engaged in a similar strategy, moving the debate from the language of large-firm accounting to the language of moral conflict, arguing that Congress should defund the “woke and weaponized bureaucracy.”

“Stanford now has more than 10,000 administrators who oversee the 7,761 undergraduate and 9,565 graduate students”

Francesca Block:

The message went on to state that OCS was investigating Kappa Sigma for three “concerns.” First, an allegation of hazing after a fraternity member suffered a panic attack. Second, a claim that students under 21 were served alcohol at Kappa Sigma’s April 15 party. Third, an incident on April 24 in which a Kappa Sigma member consumed too much alcohol and had to go to the hospital. In the meantime, OCS said it was placing Kappa Sigma on probation, meaning they could not host or be involved in any parties on or off campus.

“Failure to adhere to the interim Probation with Restrictions will result in additional sanctions and will delay the completion of this process,” the letter, signed by OCS Associate Dean Tiffany Gabrielson, read.

Within the hour, a dozen other Greek organizations’ presidents were texting Paulmeier, saying they, too, had been placed on probation, according to Paulmeier and one other source.

“This just nuked social life on campus for the rest of the quarter,” Paulmeier told me.

Juiced at Stanford: On the free-speech double standard at Stanford Law School.

New Criterion:

We thought of Rieff’s description of the therapeutic as a nostrum with “nothing at stake beyond a manipulatable sense of well-being” last month when Stanford Law School brought us the latest eruption of politicized self-indulgence and minatory, unmannerly exhibitionism. Regular readers know that chronicling such spectacles at academic and other cultural institutions has long been a favorite weapon in The New Criterion’spathologist’s armory. We have covered some doozies over the years—the parade of snowflakes and crybullies unhappy about certain Halloween costumes at Yale in 2015, the extended shouting-down of Charles Murray at Middlebury College in 2017, and countless other specimens of weaponized folly masquerading as wounded virtue.

The protestors spent nearly half an hour rudely and obscenely preventing Judge Duncan from delivering his remarks. Eventually, he asked if an administrator were present who could intervene. Jeanne Merino, the acting associate dean of student affairs, was present, but the administrator who stepped forward was Tirien Steinbach, the associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion. (How many things had to go wrong, we have often wondered, for an institution to maintain such a position?)

But Dean Steinbach, far from restoring order, was part of the attack. She insisted, over Judge Duncan’s objections, on shunting him aside and delivering prepared remarks from the podium. Prepared remarks, mind, a fact that tended to confirm Judge Duncan’s observation that the whole exercise had been a “setup.”

Dean Steinbach was clearly enamored of that image, for she pressed it into service repeatedly. And what she meant to ask, it transpired, was whether Stanford’s robust-sounding (but in reality largely ignored) protections of free speech were worth the alleged “harm” and discomfort that someone like Judge Duncan imposed upon the community. “Your advocacy, your opinions from the bench,” she trilled, amount to an “absolute disenfranchisement” of minority rights. This was greeted by the currently favored expression of enthusiastic approbation, the chirruping of snapping fingers.

Half of Black Students Can Barely Read

Darrell Owens:

In 2021, 47% of Black students in SFUSD that are high school juniors don’t even come close to meeting English-language proficiency. That’s 9% higher than the state average for Black 11th graders — which is also abysmal. That means for every one of two Black students leaving San Francisco high schools they can’t read for their age. Including students who are close but still not proficient: 71.5% of Black high school juniors in San Francisco cannot read at a proficient level, compared to 20.3% of Asian students, 22.6% of White students, 32% of Filipino students and 61.8% of Hispanic students. It was bad pre-pandemic as well but it’s gotten a few percentage points worse. 

These are not numbers from a red state in the Deep South but San Francisco. The technology capital of the world, which has propelled the incomes of white and Asian households tremendously, and for which Latinos largely and Black people almost entirely have been completely left out. Without meeting the most basic literacy standards, Black and Latino high school graduates aren’t even qualified for the most basic office jobs. Computer science is totally out reach — the mathematics proficiency standards are in the single-digits for Black high school graduates.

Berkeley school district explores giving cash payments to students with enslaved ancestors

Ally Markovich

Berkeley Unified announced this week it will create a reparations program for Black students in the school district.

The district wants to give cash payments to students whose ancestors were enslaved in the United States, and it is establishing a new task force to set the course for the reparations program. The process could take years, but if it is implemented, it may be the first program of its kind in the country.

“The need for reparations in response to the institution of U.S. slavery has existed for over 150 years,” school board director Laura Babitt said at Wednesday’s board meeting. “I think it’s time for Berkeley to be first again.”

The 15- to 20-person task force will provide recommendations to the Berkeley school board by January 2024 on how it should pay for reparations and, later, on how the program should be structured and implemented, and who would be eligible for payments. BUSD is now recruiting members to join the task force.

Civics: White House Uses TikTok Sibling Company App on Same Day as Congressional Hearing

Chuck Ross:

As TikTok’s CEO faced withering scrutiny on Capitol Hill over the company’s links to China, the Biden White House shared a social media post made using technology from the Chinese spyware app’s sister company.

The White House used CapCut, a popular app owned by TikTok parent company ByteDance, to make a video reel posted to Instagram, a Washington Free Beacon analysis of the post found. While CapCut has received far less scrutiny than TikTok, its links to ByteDance have caused concern that China could scoop up data on users of the app. A technology think tank funded by a former Google CEO says CapCut poses national security “challenges,” particularly “with respect to data harvesting, data exploitation, and—possibly—covert influence.”

Temple Campus Safety

Gabrielle Etzel:

The Temple Association of University Professors (TAUP) overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday in favor of a vote of no confidence in Temple President Jason Wingard, Provost Gregory Mandel, and Board of Trustee Chair Mitchell Morgan as rising crime rates in Philadelphia continue to have negative impacts on the campus community.

Of the 917 TAUP members who participated, 84% supported holding the no-confidence vote, according to the student news outlet The Temple News. An overwhelming 97% of no-confidence voters support a vote against Wingard, while 87% and 79% seek to oust Morgan and Mandel respectively.

Mervyn King: Needless money-printing fuelled inflation

Kate Andrews:

Some £500 billion was printed by the Bank of England during the pandemic – a staggering sum that caused very little public debate. Those sceptical about so-called ‘quantitative easing’ argue that it causes inflation – and with today’s news that inflation rose 9 per cent on the year in April, is anyone linking the two? Step forward Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, who was surprisingly critical when speaking to Andrew Marr on LBC last night.

One of the major problems, Lord King said, was that the Bank went too hard and too fast with its money printing. ‘Governments stepped in and put in a lot of money for furlough schemes or raising unemployment benefits. That was very sensible,’ he said. ‘The problem was that central banks also printed a great deal of money and that wasn’t needed… it put a lot of money into the system.’

Under classical economic theory, when a lot of money is put into the system (as it has been in the UK and in the US with the Federal Reserve printing about $4.8 trillion), inflation follows. So we shouldn’t be surprised to see a graph looking as it does below.

“The Secret Joke at the Heart of the Harvard Affirmative-Action Case”

Jeannie Sun Gersen:

During the trial, [Judge Allison Burroughs] often had S.F.F.A.’s and Harvard’s lawyers approach the bench for lengthy sidebar discussions, which others in the courtroom couldn’t hear…. [T]he judge automatically sealed all the sidebars. … I filed a letter with the court, asking, in my capacity as a researcher and a reporter, that Judge Burroughs unseal the sidebars…

To my surprise, Seth Waxman, who argued the case for Harvard, quickly objected on behalf of the university—the one that employs me as a tenured law professor, whose job it is to freely conduct research and pursue knowledge. He wrote that the sidebars contained “personal and confidential information that should remain sealed,” providing examples of specific transcript pages that included information about applicants or “information that was not admitted into evidence at trial.”….

Stanford law students who shouted down judge may be reported to California Bar

David Glasser:

The professor, in his letter, added his pending complaint is the result of Stanford appearing not to take “any steps to discipline or otherwise sanction the student violators.”

Students at Stanford Law School shouted atand berated U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Kyle Duncan as he attempted to speak at the school at the behest of the Federalist Society earlier this month.

“As you have conceded, the students’ conduct ‘was inconsistent with our policies on free speech,’ and ‘not aligned with our institutional commitment to freedom of speech,’” Banzhaf noted in the letter.

Asked how he plans to identify the law student protesters, Banzhaf said in an email to The College Fix that the “names of some of the disruptors have been posted in various places on the Internet. There are also several video recordings of the event showing many of the disruptors.”

“Also, virtually everyone in the audience, and even many other law students who did not witness the incident in person, know who the disruptive students are,” he said. “It is not necessary to identify and file complaints concerning each and every participant. If only a few – who may or may not be among the ringleaders – are identified, there will still be an important impact.”

Stanford Law Dean Jennifer Martinez’s Excellent Defense of Free Speech and Civility

David Bernstein:

After a more ambiguous initial reaction to student disruption of Judge Kyle Duncan’s speech, sponsored by the Stanford Federalist Society, Dean Jennifer Martinez has issued a passionate, well-argued, and occasionally blistering letter explaining why the students behaved inappropriately, and expressing the view that Stanford’s “commitment to diversity and inclusion means that we must protect the expression of all views.” (emphasis in original)

Some might be disappointed that no students will be penalized for their misbehavior. But I think the letter is a much greater victory for academic values than if Martinez had stayed silent and meted out relatively small penalties to the most egregious perpetrators, which is almost certainly the maximum that would have been done.

However, I think some additional soul-searching at Stanford is in order. Dean Martinez and her faculty should ask themselves why students at Stanford felt it appropriate to disrupt Judge Duncan’s speech. Surely some of it is a product of illiberal trends in elite academia more generally. Some of it, though, surely has to do with the fact that Stanford Law is virtually a left-wing monoculture.

The best and the brightest creating inflation

Richard Werner:

In reality, central bank decision-makers led by the Fed were largely responsible for the Great Inflation of the 1970s. They adopted “easy money” policies in order to finance massive national budget deficits. Yet this inflationary behaviour went unnoticed by most observers amid discussions of conflict, rising energy prices, unemployment and many other challenges.

Most worryingly, despite these failings, the world’s central banks were able to continue unchecked on a path towards the unprecedented powers they now hold. Indeed, the painful 1970s and subsequent financial crises have been repeatedly used as arguments for even greater independence, and less oversight, of the world’s central banking activities.

All the while, central bank leaders have repeated the mantra that their “number one job” is to achieve price stability by keeping inflation low and stable. Unfortunately, as we continue to experience both punishing inflation rates and high interest rates, the evidence is all around us that they have failed in this job.

The latest crisis – beginning with the sudden closure of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) in California – is a further indication that inflation, far from being brought to heel by the central banks, is causing chaos in the financial markets. Inflation pushes up interest rates, which in turn reduces the market value of bank assets such as bonds. With SVB’s many corporate depositors not covered by deposit insurance and fearing regulatory intervention, a catastrophic run on this solvent bank was triggered.

When the establishment of the Fed was proposed more than a century ago, it was sold to Congress as the solution to this vulnerability in retail banking, as it could lend to solvent banks facing a run. In the event, the Fed did not lend to some 10,000 banks in the 1930s, letting them fail, and this time around it did not lend to SVB until it was closed and taken over.

Taxpayer supported Madison school District and open records, continued…

Olivia Herken:

LeMonds declined to comment on the matter when reached by the Wisconsin State Journal.

Releasing the complaint that staff filed would harm LeMonds and the school district because he is the district’s spokesperson, LeMonds’ complaint says, arguing that the potential harm outweighs the public benefit of the document’s release.

“Releasing the subject documents would almost certainly subject Mr. LeMonds to unwarranted, unfair and irreversible public ridicule and gossip, negative public perception, and jeopardize his ability to credibly perform his duties as (the district’s) chief public spokesperson — especially since all of the accusations in the complaint were found to be without merit by (the district),” the court complaint states.

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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”

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

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.

“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?

“Qualified Immunity”

Tom Knighton

Over at Reason, they have a story about just how much of an issue this really is.

In 2014, [James] King was walking from one job to the next when [FBI agent Douglas] Brownback and [Grand Rapids detective Todd] Allen, who were not in uniform, accosted him without identifying themselves as law enforcement. “Are you mugging me?” King asked. He then ran. The two officers, who were part of a police task force, responded by tackling him to the ground, beating his face to a pulp, and choking him unconscious. But they were looking for someone named Aaron Davison, who had been accused of stealing alcohol from his former employer’s apartment, and who, perhaps more importantly, looked nothing like King.

Even still, police arrested King and handcuffed him to a hospital bed as he received treatment, despite the fact that the only malfeasance here was committed against, not by, King.

What followed in the proceeding years is a case study in the level of protection given to rogue government actors and the byzantine obstacle course that victims of government misconduct have to navigate should they want the privilege of achieving any sort of recourse. Indeed, King’s case has ricocheted up and down the ladder of the U.S. legal system, from the bottom to the top and back again.

The officers first received qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that blocks victims of government misbehavior from seeking recourse in civil court if the precise way the state violated their rights has not yet been “clearly established” in a prior court precedent. In practice, that means clearly unconstitutional conduct—like, say, beating an innocent person—may not be a sturdy enough basis for a lawsuit unless the court has evaluated a case with near-identical circumstances. It is, for example, why two men in Fresno, California, were not allowed to sue the officers who allegedly stole over $225,000 during the execution of a search warrant. We should all know stealing is wrong, the thinking goes, but without a court precedent scrutinizing a similar situation and expressly spelling that out, can we really expect the government to know for sure?

Madison k-12 students express their top issues…. (Achievement, Reading?)

Scott Girard:

Madison students found a soapbox Thursday and used it to share the biggest challenges their generation faces.

Ninety middle and high school students attended the Project Soapbox event at the Overture Center, giving speeches that responded to the prompt, “What is the most pressing issue facing young people today and what should be done about it?”

From concerns about racial discrimination and anti-transgender legislation to fat-shaming and climate change, the students who spoke during the afternoon’s “mainstage” event demonstrated a passion for their subjects and encouraged the dozens of peers and adults listening to them to take action.

“It is time that we take a stand to correct this longstanding issue,” said Lee K-P, talking about the challenges of youth mental health. “You could be the difference this world needs.”

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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”

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

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.

“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?

MIT Debate: should DIE programs be abolished?

Jennifer Kabbany:

A debate on diversity, equity and inclusion is scheduled to soon take place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

An esteemed panel of scholars will tackle the question: “Should academic DEI programs be abolished?”

One group of individuals who will not be defending DEI at the upcoming event is the phalanx of highly paid diversity, equity and inclusion deans at MIT.

They were asked. They declined.

Among the nearly 100 MIT scholars asked to participate were: Alana Anderson, assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing; Nandi Bynoe, assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the School of Engineering; Kuheli Dutt, assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the School of Science; Tracie Jones, assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences; Monica Orta, assistant dean for diversity, equity, belonging and student support in the School of Architecture and Planning; Bryan Thomas Jr., assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the MIT Sloan School of Management; Ray Reagans, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at the MIT Sloan School of Management; and Beatriz Cantada, director of engagement for diversity and inclusion for MIT’s Institute Community & Equity Office.

America is fighting the wrong university wars

Oliver Bateman:

But while his rhetoric is grabbing headlines, DeSantis’s battle for ideological control of curricula is merely a distraction from the much greater crisis in education — the one that troubled me during my own time in academia. Instead of kvetching about CRT and bathroom access, our governors ought to be completely restructuring the country’s lower-tier state universities, which, aside from one or two flagships per state, are generally third-rate operations. Nationwide college enrolment has declined by 9.4% in the past two years, and these schools have been hit especially hard. State-funded universities are having their budgets slashed and adjuncts are even more overworked and underpaid; there is more focus on ineffective online classes, and worse learning outcomes for students who have been paying to watch ill-run Zoom courses in their cramped dorm rooms.

DeSantis’s own state is a textbook example of academic bloat. The State University System of Florida consists of 12 public universities, with 341,000 enrolled students, of which only four are engaged in what the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education refers to as “very high research activity”. The rest of these institutions, such as the enormous Florida Atlantic University, are vast and shabby post-secondary “student warehouses”, similar to UT-Arlington.

It is these universities, not the tiny New College of Florida, that constitute the real threat to public education — and not because they are “woke”, but because their retention and graduation rates are horrific. They are enrolling students, taking their federally-subsidised student loans, and barely graduating around 50% of them. The students, mostly commuters unsure of what to do with themselves but unable or unwilling to enter the workforce after high school, drift in and either drop out immediately, pocketing their first helping of financial aid, or linger forever, accumulating vast amounts of debt for a degree in a vague, meaningless subject like “Communications” or, as at UT-Arlington, “University Studies”.

The more complicated the system becomes, the more difficult it will be to reform it. America’s public post-secondary education depends on a welter of separate and sometimes overlapping budgets, but to be eligible to get a cut of the all-important $235 billion pool of federal financial aid, colleges have to meet Kafkaesque accreditation standards. Each state works with a cartel-like private accreditor, subjecting all universities to its review, regardless of the ambitions or capabilities of their student bodies. Typically, the result is a report that numbers hundreds of pages with innumerable recommendations, which creates absurd amounts of work for administrators and often drives excessive spending increases in order to meet supposed shortfalls in facility or faculty quality.

An update on Virginia School Choice

Mary Vought:

The Governor’s Office recently announced the first round of 13 planning grants that will allow for the development of “lab schools” – elementary or secondary schools used for educational experimentation – in Virginia. The move comes on the heels of last year’s budget package, which included $100 million to fund planning grants, as well as start-up and operating costs, to lab schools.

The lab schools will operate at various public community colleges, universities, or other institutions of higher education across Virginia. In coming up with innovative models to reform K-12 education, lab schools resemble charter schools, which 45 states have authorized

Unfortunately, Virginia law requires local school districts to authorize charter schools, and most districts will not endorse any competition with the traditional public school model. The lab school program thus represents a workaround.

Partnerships created by the lab schools can “start to transform the one-size-fits-all system,” says Virginia Education Secretary Aimee Guidera. But without more and better choices, that transformation almost certainly will remain incomplete.

The legal challenge to censorship by proxy highlights covert government manipulation of online speech.

Jacob Sollum:

Last month, I noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had repeatedly exaggerated the scientific evidence supporting face mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook attached a warning to that column, which it said was “missing context” and “could mislead people.”

According to an alliance of social media platforms, government-funded organizations, and federal officials that journalist Michael Shellenberger calls the “censorship-industrial complex,” I had committed the offense of “malinformation.” Unlike “disinformation,” which is intentionally misleading, or “misinformation,” which is erroneous, “malinformation” is true but inconvenient.

As illustrated by internal Twitter communications that journalist Matt Taibbi highlighted last week, malinformation can include emails from government officials that undermine their credibility and “true content which might promote vaccine hesitancy.” The latter category encompasses accurate reports of “breakthrough infections” among people vaccinated against COVID-19, accounts of “true vaccine side effects,” objections to vaccine mandates, criticism of politicians, and citations of peer-reviewed research on naturally acquired immunity.

Disinformation and misinformation have always been contested categories, defined by the fallible and frequently subjective judgments of public officials and other government-endorsed experts. But malinformation is even more clearly in the eye of the beholder, since it is defined not by its alleged inaccuracy but by its perceived threat to public health, democracy, or national security, which often amounts to nothing more than questioning the wisdom, honesty, or authority of those experts.

Taking aim at credentialism

Graham Hillard:

Last week, following an executive order by Gov. Roy Cooper, North Carolina joined a growing movement to pull down unnecessary barriers to public employment.

Bearing the modest title “Recognizing the Value of Experience in State Government Hiring,” Executive Order No. 278 makes a number of concessions to economic reality. First, the order “recognizes that state employees bring value to their jobs from their experience and skills, not only from academic degrees.” Second, it acknowledges that many North Carolinians make use of technical education and apprenticeships rather than four-year colleges and are none the worse for it.

The upshot of these admissions? The director of the Office of State Human Resources must now take action “to emphasize how directly-related experience substitutes for formal education in [state] job recruitments.” Mandatory four-year degrees and the attendant credential inflation? Out. Rational hiring based on applicants’ skills and capabilities? Happily in.

Cooper’s order is merely the latest in a long line of equivalent state directives. Already this year, Pennsylvania’s Gov. Josh Shapiro acted to ensure that 92 percent of commonwealth jobs would be open to Keystoners without four-year degrees. ColoradoUtah, and Maryland made similar moves in 2022, with Alaska following suit just last month.

The state’s clerical and data-entry employees will no longer have a basic conversance with the plot of King Lear.To be sure, these policy shifts have more to do with worker shortages and “equity” than they do with the principles of higher-ed reform. Nevertheless, they deserve praise from the reform-minded. At long last, official stances are beginning to catch up with the facts on the ground: Many if not most state functions can be performed by the uncredentialed.

How to Understand the Well-Being Gap between Liberals and Conservatives

Musa al-Gharbi:

In a recent essay for Social Science & Medicine–Mental Health, epidemiologist Catherine Gimbrone and coauthors identified a significant gap in depressive attitudes between liberal and conservative teens. This gap was present in all years observed in the study (2005–18). It grew significantly starting in 2012, however, as depressive affect unilaterally spiked among liberals. Three years later, conservatives also began reporting increases in depression—although that rise tapered off relatively quickly while the increases among liberals continued.

Liberal girls tended to be significantly more depressed than boys, particularly after 2011. However, ideological differences swamped gender differences. Indeed, liberal boys were significantly more likely to report depression than conservatives of either gender. The authors also found that the more educated a teen’s family was, the more likely the young people were to be depressed, and the more dramatic their rise in depression was after 2012.

Meet The Experts Defining Official Disinformation & Official Truths

William Briggs:

We told you this was happening when it was happening. Not everybody believed it; indeed, most (and here I exclude regular readers) did not. And, worse, most still do not, and never will, such is the power of propaganda. This:

Twitter Files #18 and #19 focus on the Virality Project, an “anti-vaccine misinformation” effort led by Stanford and bringing together elite academia, NGOs, government, and experts in AI and social media monitoring, with six of the biggest social media companies on the planet. They went far beyond their “misinformation” remit. Twitter Files show the Virality Project pushed platforms to censor “stories of true vaccine side effects”.


“Reporting side effects of the now-pulled Johnson & Johnson vaccine would have been labelled ‘misinformation’ under Virality Project decrees.” And was. I tried showing deleterious vex effects using the CDC’s own data all through 2021, with this being one of the most interesting posts. Of course, these efforts were whacked on social media, and the post(s) died quiet deaths. Just like…but never mind.

Rather than listening out for safety signals to protect the public, leaders in the “anti-disinformation” field ran cover to protect BigPharma, smearing and censoring critics. The moral depravity is astounding and quite possibly criminal.

The Virality Project however is just part of a broader cultural shift that reverses long standing liberal/left commitments to free expression and allows censorship in the name of protection and safety.

There it is. Protection and safety. The Cult of Safety First!, a product of toxic femininity and nervous effeminacy. All exacerbated because of our Expertocracy, i.e. managerial state. 

Incidentally, if you want to see why the Cult will only become more stultifying and pervasive, see things like this thread:

SEIU and the Los Angeles School District

Gustavo Arellano:

He joined his father in El Salvador after graduating from high school in Florida, teaching English as a second language classes while studying engineering. But the pay wasn’t good, so Arias returned to Florida, where he worked at a Radio Shack for four years while waiting for a chance “to go back to El Salvador and keep the fight going.”

A fellow Salvadoran exile suggested that he intern for an SEIU campaign in Michigan. 

“They actually pay people to do that?” Arias remembers responding.

He soon got hired as an organizer in Chicago, then moved to California to work as an assistant director for collective bargaining for SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West’s hospital division. In Oakland, he led what was until this week the biggest strike of his career. 

At two nursing homes in 2010, about 80 caregivers — janitors, nursing assistants and other lower-rung employees — went on a five-day strike over working conditions. Afterward, 38 workers were fired.

“They lost heart, but we kept organizing and pressuring and reminding people, ‘The struggle is long,’” Arias said. The workers eventually got their jobs back, along with lost wages, after the National Labor Relations Board ruled in 2016 that their firing was illegal.

By then, Arias was Local 99’s executive director, with a more existential challenge.

“the bill was introduced at the behest of Microsoft lobbyists, in an effort to exclude Google Docs from classrooms”

Nathan Sanders and Bruce Schneier:

What would happen if such legal-but-sneaky strategies for tilting the rules in favor of one group over another become more widespread and effective? We can see hints of an answer in the remarkable pace at which artificial-intelligence tools for everything from writing to graphic design are being developed and improved. And the unavoidable conclusion is that AI will make lobbying more guileful, and perhaps more successful. 

It turns out there is a natural opening for this technology: microlegislation.

“Charles Negy, in many ways, is the poster child for what goes wrong when DIE takes over a campus”

William Jacobson:

Last week we wrote up the continuing struggle of University of Central Florida Professor Charles Negy to get justice for UCF retaliating against him because internet and student mobs objected to his tweets disputing systemic racism and white privilege, Prof. Charles Negy, Investigated and Fired After Tweets Disputing Systemic Racism, Files Federal Lawsuit Against U. Central Florida.

The story has been picked up by Fox News Digital, Central Florida professor fired for disputing systemic racism and White privilege fights back, files lawsuit, highlighting that Legal Insurrection has been chronicling the Negy story:

Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson, who founded both the Legal Insurrection Foundation and CriticalRace.org, has been an outspoken opponent of critical race theory and diversity, equity, and inclusion training– commonly referred to as DEI.

“Charles Negy, in many ways, is the poster child for what goes wrong when DEI takes over a campus, what goes wrong for free speech and for academic freedom,” Jacobson told Fox News Digital.

Earlier this month, Jacobson started the Equal Protection Project (EPP), a new initiative to battle racial discrimination in the workplace. He has been chronicling Negy’s ordeal since the professor sent a pair of tweets in the summer of 2020 – at the height of racial tensions in America following the death of George Floyd in police custody – that questioned the belief of systemic racism and White privilege….

“This is really one of the worst examples I’ve seen where a university, to placate the mob and also because they don’t like his opinions, really used the entire machinery of a major public university and taxpayer funding to go get this professor,” Jacobson said. “He filed a union grievance and went to arbitration. And lo and behold, the arbitrator cleared him, found he did nothing wrong, found the university was in the wrong, had no good cause to fire him, no legal cause to fire him and ordered him reinstated.”

Local Journalists Host Q&A Session
with Madison School Board Candidates


Asking questions are four local education reporters. Olivia Herken of the Wisconsin State Journal, Dylan Brogan of Isthmus and Madison City Cast, Scott Girard of The Capital Times, and Kadjata Bah of Simpson Street Free Press.

Candidates in attendance are Nicki Vander Meulen (Seat 7, Running Unopposed), Badri Lankella (Seat 6) and Blair Feltham (Seat 6).

The moderator is Taylor Kilgore, managing editor at Simpson Street Free Press.

Our Half-Educated Education Debates

Frederick Hess:

Lately there’s been much hand-wringing punditry about the education “culture wars,” with the mainstream media blaming right-wing extremists for heated fights over social studies, school boards, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), library books, and what-have-you. But what if right-wing extremism is mostly a figment of the mainstream media’s collective imagination? And what if it’s actually those enlightened pundits who are fueling the fights?

Education coverage often seems bent on ignoring or caricaturing conservative concerns, signaling to readers that the Right’s complaints are ignorant or insincere. This predictably frustrates the Right, ramping up populist outrage. And round and round we go.

Consider this winter’s AP African-American-history clash. When Florida governor Ron DeSantis objected to the politicized and polemical elements of the pilot course, major media portrayed him as a scheming, censorious bigot. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin accused him of mounting a “full-blown white supremacist” attack on “fact-based history.” The New York Times featured the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund declaring that “Florida is at the forefront of a nationwide campaign to silence Black voices” and “erase” black history.

The end of programming

Matt Welsh:

How does all of this change how we think about the field of computer science? The new atomic unit of computation becomes not a processor, memory, and I/O system implementing a von Neumann machine, but rather a massive, pre-trained, highly adaptive AI model. This is a seismic shift in the way we think about computation—not as a predictable, static process, governed by instruction sets, type systems, and notions of decidability. AI-based computation has long since crossed the Rubicon of being amenable to static analysis and formal proof. We are rapidly moving toward a world where the fundamental building blocks of computation are temperamental, mysterious, adaptive agents.

This shift is underscored by the fact that nobody actually understands how large AI models work.People are publishing research papers3,4,5 actually discovering new behaviors of existing large models, even though these systems have been “engineered” by humans. Large AI models are capable of doing things that they have not been explicitly trained to do, which should scare the living daylights out of Nick Bostrom2 and anyone else worried (rightfully) about an superintelligent AI running amok. We currently have no way, apart from empirical study, to determine the limits of current AI systems. As for future AI models that are orders of magnitude larger and more complex—good luck!

The shift in focus from programs to models should be obvious to anyone who has read any modern machine learning papers. These papers barely mention the code or systems underlying their innovations; the building blocks of AI systems are much higher-level abstractions like attention layers, tokenizers, and datasets. A time traveler from even 20 years ago would have a hard time making sense of the three sentences in the (75-page!) GPT-3 paper3 describing the actual software built for the model: “We use the same model and architecture as GPT-2, including the modified initialization, pre-normalization, and reversible tokenization described therein, with the exception that we use alternating dense and locally banded sparse attention patterns in the layers of the transformer, similar to the Sparse Transformer. To study the dependence of ML performance on model size, we train eight different sizes of model, ranging over three orders of magnitude from 125 million parameters to 175 billion parameters, with the last being the model we call GPT-3. Previous work suggests that with enough training data, scaling of validation loss should be approximately a smooth power law as a function of size; training models of many different sizes allows us to test this hypothesis both for validation loss and for downstream language tasks.”

Father of China’s Great Firewall raises concerns about ChatGPT-like services

Che Pan:

Fang Bingxing, considered the father of China’s Great Firewall, has raised concerns over GPT-4, warning that it could lead to an “information cocoon” as the generative artificial intelligence (AI) service can provide answers to everything.

Fang said the rise of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, developed by Microsoft-backed OpenAI and now released as the more powerful ChatGPT-4 version, pose a big challenge to governments around the world, according to an interview published on Thursday by Red Star News, a media affiliate to state-backed Chengdu Economic Daily.

“People’s perspectives can be manipulated as they seek all kinds of answers from AI,” he was quoted as saying.

South Korea has the world’s lowest fertility rate, a struggle with lessons for us all

Ashley Ahn:

Yun-Jeong Kim grew up imagining what her future family would look like — married with several kids, a nice home and a dog. But when the lease on her apartment in Seoul, South Korea, became too much to afford, she found herself somewhere she’d never imagined: 31 years old and living back at home with her younger brother and their parents.

Kim, a product designer and art instructor, calls her hopes of one day having children “just a fantasy” — especially now, when housing costs are soaring, the job market is oversaturated and marriage rates are plummeting.

“I can’t believe that [not having children] is the current situation in Korea,” she said. “But this is the reality.”

It’s a reality that has left the country with the lowest fertility rate in the world since 2013. Across South Korea, women are choosing to have fewer children — or none at all — as they contend with a rise in the cost of living that has hit young people disproportionately hard. At the same time, marriage rates are down more than 35%, according to the last 10 years of available data, as more South Koreans are increasingly prioritizing work over starting a family. 

In South Korea, the fertility rate — the average number of children born to a woman in her reproductive years — is now 0.78, according to figures released by the Korean government in February. It could be years before the country can reach the 2.1 rate that experts say is needed for a country to maintain a stable population without migration.

Choose life.

Reporting on Chapel Hill’s new School of Civic Life and Leadership has been lopsided and misleading.

Jenna Robinson:

When news broke that UNC-Chapel Hill had plans to create a new School of Civic Life and Leadership, it was inevitable that there would be some confusion. But nearly two months later, some UNC faculty members and local media outlets have continued to drive a false narrative about the school’s creation and the university’s governance practices.

On January 26, trustees voted to “request that the administration of UNC-CH accelerate its development of a School of Civic Life and Leadership.” The resolution passed unanimously with little discussion.

Some faculty members and local media outlets have continued to drive a false narrative about UNC’s governance practices.

The following week, at a meeting of Chapel Hill’s Faculty Executive Council, faculty members expressed their disdain for the new program and their distrust of the process. Faculty Chair Mimi Chapman’s comments were representative: “To me, this is a solution in search of a problem, and the way it is happening and the content of what is happening is deeply, deeply troubling.”

At the same meeting, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Chris Clemens explained that, although the resolution was a surprise, plans to create a new school—a “superstructure” for the Program for Public Discourse—had been in progress since 2017. And, in an email to the whole Carolina community, Guskiewicz wrote, “I appreciate the encouragement of our Board to build on the work we have done” [emphasis added]. Despite these clarifications, faculty, the Daily Tar Heel, and the Raleigh News & Observer have continued to insist that the Board of Trustees has overstepped its authority and that the school is unneeded.

The labor shortage is pushing American colleges into crisis, with the plunge in enrollment the worst ever recorded

Collin Binkley and the AP

A year after high school, Hart is directing a youth theater program in Jackson, Tennessee. He got into every college he applied to but turned them all down. Cost was a big factor, but a year of remote learning also gave him the time and confidence to forge his own path.

“There were a lot of us with the pandemic, we kind of had a do-it-yourself kind of attitude of like, ‘Oh — I can figure this out,’” he said. “Why do I want to put in all the money to get a piece of paper that really isn’t going to help with what I’m doing right now?”

Hart is among hundreds of thousands of young people who came of age during the pandemic but didn’t go to college. Many have turned to hourly jobs or careers that don’t require a degree, while others have been deterred by high tuition and the prospect of student debt.

What first looked like a pandemic blip has turned into a crisis. Nationwide, undergraduate college enrollment dropped 8% from 2019 to 2022, with declines even after returning to in-person classes, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. The slide in the college-going rate since 2018 is the steepest on record, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economists say the impact could be dire.

At worst, it could signal a new generation with little faith in the value of a college degree. At minimum, it appears those who passed on college during the pandemic are opting out for good. Predictions that they would enroll after a year or two haven’t borne out.

Fewer college graduates could worsen labor shortages in fields from health care to information technology. For those who forgo college, it usually means lower lifetime earnings — 75% less compared with those who get bachelor’s degrees, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. And when the economy sours, those without degrees are more likely to lose jobs.

Who Owns the University?

Richard Vedder:

American higher education is in crisis. The rise of diversity, equity and inclusion bureaucracies and a growing intolerance for dissent has spurred political battles for control of campus decision-making in North Carolina, Texas, Florida, and elsewhere. The fights point to a fundamental question: Who “owns” a university? Perhaps the question is better phrased: To whom does a school belong?

• The board. Most schools, public or private, are overseen by a legally constituted governing board.

• The politicians. At public institutions, state government usually is the legal “owner” of the school.

• The administrators. A school’s president and senior bureaucrats are vested with executive responsibility, which resembles ownership.

• The faculty. The professors who administer academic offerings and conduct grant-inducing research often feel the school belongs to them.

• The students. They are a primary reason for the school’s existence and their families pay substantial tuition and fees.

• The alumni. Graduates constitute the donor base at most private schools and some public ones as well.

• The accrediting agencies. The federal Education Department charges these bodies with certifying an institution’s right to confer degrees.

“Conceding that the National School Boards Association letter was the only basis for the Justice Department’s actions”

Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government:


The Committee on the Judiciary is conducting oversight of the Biden Administration’s use of federal law-enforcement and counterterrorism resources against parents voicing concerns about controversial curricula and education-related policies at local school board meetings. This oversight began in October 2021 following the issuance of a memorandum from Attorney General Merrick Garland directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation and all U.S. Attorney’s Offices—among other Department components—to examine and address threats posed by parents at school board meetings.

Although the Biden Administration declined to cooperate with this oversight in the 117th Congress, whistleblower disclosures and a report commissioned by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) shed some light on how the Biden Administration colluded with the NSBA to create a justification to use federal law-enforcement and counterterrorism resources against parents. There were gaps in the information available to the Committee then, primarily because the Biden administration did not participate in the NSBA’s third-party report. On February 3, 2023, Chairman Jordan subpoenaed the Justice Department, FBI, and Education Department for documents necessary to advance the Committee’s oversight and inform potential legislative reforms.

From the initial set of material produced in response to the subpoenas, it is apparent that the Biden Administration misused federal law-enforcement and counterterrorism resources for political purposes. The Justice Department’s own documents demonstrate that there was no compelling nationwide law-enforcement justification for the Attorney General’s directive or the Department components’ execution thereof.1 After surveying local law enforcement, U.S. Attorney’s offices around the country reported back to Main Justice that there was no legitimate law-enforcement basis for the Attorney General’s directive to use federal law enforcement and counterterrorism resources to investigate school board-related threats. For example:

• One U.S. Attorney reported that “this issue was very poorly received” by his local law-enforcement community and “described by some as a manufactured issue.”2 He continued: “No one I spoke with in law enforcement seemed to think that there is a serious national threat directed at school boards, which gave the impression that our priorities are misapplied.”3

• Another U.S. Attorney’s Office reported that the local FBI field office in the area “did not see any imminent threats to school boards or their members . . . , nor did they ascertain any worrisome trends in that regard.”

Notes and links on the National School Board Association “weaponizing” the US Justice Department.

The tyranny of low expectations, continued

Tom Knighton:

Take admission standards at prestigious prep schools. One such school decided they needed more black students, so rather than look at how they could help more black students meet the existing standard, they opted to just lower it.

And one black parent is kind of pissed about it.

A parent spoke out against school district officials’ proposal to lower the admission standards of a selective public prep school in “order to increase diversity.”

A mom of two named Sylvia Nelson told a local news outlet she is “insulted” by Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) plan to lower the admission standards of Walnut Hills High School, a prep school for grades 7-12.

“As an African American parent, I’m insulted because I don’t believe standards need to be lowered for African Americans to get into Walnut,” Nelson told local news outlet WKRC on Monday. “It was under the auspices of having more African Americans at Walnut Hills.” 

“competitiveness and “white supremacy”; Taxpayer supported Madison School District

This has always been my own take on the topic.

Look, if you have standards in place and African-American students aren’t qualifying, you have to look at why they’re not meeting the standards. You don’t lower it so they can get in.

First, it’s insulting, as Nelson said. The implication is that African Americans can’t meet that standard. How is that anything but an insult? Further, it’s racist as hell since you’re essentially saying that about an entire ethnicity.

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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”

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

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.

“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?

We asked the SEC for reasonable crypto rules for Americans. We got legal threats instead.


Today, we are disappointed to share that the SEC gave us a “Wells notice” regarding an unspecified portion of our listed digital assets, our staking service Coinbase Earn, Coinbase Prime, and Coinbase Wallet after a cursory investigation. A Wells notice is the way that SEC staff tells a company that they are recommending that the SEC take enforcement action for possible violations of securities laws. It is not a formal charge or lawsuit, but it can lead to one. Rest assured, Coinbase products and services continue to operate as usual – today’s news does not require any changes to our current products or services. 

Today’s Wells notice does not provide a lot of information for us to respond to. The SEC staff told us they have identified potential violations of securities law, but little more. We asked the SEC specifically to identify which assets on our platforms they believe may be securities, and they declined to do so. Today’s Wells notice also comes after Coinbase provided multiple proposals to the SEC about registration over the course of months, all of which the SEC ultimately refused to respond to. 

Although we don’t take this development lightly, we are very confident in the way we run our business – the same business we presented to the SEC in order for us to become a public company in 2021. We continue to think rulemaking and legislation are better tools for defining the law for our industry than enforcement actions. But if necessary, we welcome the opportunity for Coinbase and the broader crypto community to get clarity in court. Below we share more details on our attempts to engage with the SEC on registration paths, the current U.S. crypto regulatory confusion, and another reminder that Coinbase doesn’t list securities.

An update on Stanford Law School Censorship Event

A “Classic Education” boom?

Levin Mahnken:

Diana Smith stands at the head of a cluttered classroom at Washington Latin Public Charter School. The lights are dimmed, and projected on the wall behind is one of the most famous images in European art, Raphael’s The School of Athens, which acts as the anchor for today’s lesson in art, history and philosophy.

On a handheld whiteboard, Smith jots a word that perhaps one in 10,000 adults could define: “Aetiology,” the study of causes and origins. Not contenting herself with one stumper, she quickly adds more SAT material below it, this time written in Greek letters: “Logos.” Coaxing the kids to recite them with her, she wonders aloud what they could mean. 

If the prompt is a bit advanced for 10-year-olds, no one seems fazed. In fact, through the rest of the 80-minute period, Smith’s students gamely follow along as she traipses through more of the antiquarian lexicon, sometimes gesturing toward the image of an early modern masterpiece that decorated the walls of the Vatican for over 500 years. The tutorial, part of the school’s foundational coursework for young pupils, is a concentrated dose of a pedagogy that Smith has spent much of her career refining.

Politics and Outcomes: Ivy League Edition

The Ivy Exile:

Whether wrecking American energy to wreak far worse environmental damage elsewhere, printing enough funny money to substantially devalue the dollar, insisting on demonstrably harmful Covid mandates, or ushering in millions and millions of unvetted migrants, it amounts to a sort of shock treatment to corral and humiliate an unruly electorate that has been found wanting.

Yet the crass opportunism only guarantees greater backlash and further delegitimizes the actual progressive project, or whatever’s left of it. Generations of hard work and good faith have been squandered in just a few short years, trading credibility and potential for spiteful self-indulgence.

Perhaps electoral apocalypse over several cycles might chasten the powers that be, but I doubt it. Beyond all the money and inertia, too much of the establishment truly believes enough coercion can make their fantasies come true, with all manner of carrots and sticks to force others into line.

Nonetheless, stubborn reality burbles on beneath even the best-funded manipulation. The Emerging Democratic Majority might’ve really materialized had Dem apparatchiks any discipline to appear to give the slightest shit about what most voters think. But with society supposedly determined by fungible narratives from up top, the peasantry’s ignorant superstitions are irrelevant.

Time Passages

Alex Tabarrok:

Here’s an interesting idea it wouldn’t have occured to me to ask. What is the length of time described in the average 250 words of narration and how has this changed over time? Most famously James Joyce’s “Ulysses” is a long novel about single day with many pages describing brief experiences in minute detail. In contrast, Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men covers 2 billion years in fewer words than Joyce uses to cover a single day.

Using human readers grading 1000 passages, Underwood et al. (2018) finds that the average length of time described in a typical passage has declined substantially since the 1700s, from a day to about an hour so a decline by a factor of 24. Writers have become much more focused on describing individual experiences than events.

Civics: Dutch political shakeup

John Lee Shaw

In last week’s provincial elections in the Netherlands, an insurgent party, the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB), took the largest vote share in all 12 Dutch provinces.

This is a remarkable win for the farmers’ party. The BBB (BoerBurgerBeweging) was only founded in 2019. It was born out of sympathy for the widespread Dutch farmers’ protests against the government, a populist movement which is still going strong today. The party is focussed on issues related to agriculture and the countryside. Among its proposals are a ministry for the countryside and allowing farmers to have more say in matters of agricultural policy. It also hopes to reduce the power of the European Union in the Netherlands, saying that while the Netherlands should remain a member state, the EU should aim to be merely a trading bloc, not a federal superstate (if only).

This unlikely victory means much more than just local seats. The provincial councils determine the makeup of the Dutch senate, its Eerste Kamer (first chamber). The Eerste Kamer functions much like Westminster’s House of Lords. It scrutinises the governing lower house (the Tweede Kamer) and has the power to reject proposed legislation.

In May, the new crop of provincial leaders will elect the Eerste Kamer, with the BBB projected to gain 17 seats, the largest of any party. This has the potential to massively shake up Dutch politics – particularly so given the scale of the losses endured last week by the current ruling coalition, comprised of prime minister Mark Rutte’s VVD party, the centrist D66 party, and the Christian-democratic CDA and ChristenUnie parties. After a weak performance in the provincial elections, the coalition parties are projected to end up with just 24 senate seats in May, down from their current total of 32.


Zach Winn:

Words have always played a central role in Barry Duncan’s life. He’s worked in bookstores for more than 40 years, reads often, and has tried his hand at writing novels, children’s books, song lyrics, and plays.

But it wasn’t until he stumbled onto the book “An Almanac of Words at Play” that Duncan realized words could go backwards. The discovery, which he made in the early 1980s, set him on a course he would follow for decades. For fun, and then out of habit, he began reversing words he saw in print, noticing words that took on new meaning when flipped, and writing sentences that could be read backward and forward — palindromes.

Today Duncan, who works as a staff member at the MIT Press Bookstore in Kendall Square, has developed a reputation as a professional palindromist. His creations have been featured in galleries, selected anthologies, and are the subject of an upcoming documentary. He’s written 800-word epics that don’t lose their meaning when flipped. He’s written reversible poems and tributes that were used as auction prizes. And he’s written countless palindromes to serve as gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions.

Mostly, though, Duncan just writes palindromes for fun.

“I hope it gives people an idea of what can be accomplished in two directions,” he says. “Of course, I also hope that people will appreciate them. It’s always better if the person or organization for whom you’ve written a palindrome replies in a positive way. “

Notes on Parent Rights Legislation

Kayla Jimenez

A House bill that may face a vote this week calls for public schools to give parents full access to all school curriculum, be transparent about school spending and provide information about violent activities at school.

Current language in the Republican proposal mimics some state-level parents’ rights laws already in effect or under consideration. 

A new Florida law, for instance, meant to protect parents’ rights, bans educators from teaching young students about sexual orientation or gender identity, and lawmakers are aiming to expand it this year. A proposal in North Carolina would allow parents to review course materials, withhold consent for participation in reproductive and safety education programs and be informed if their kids ask to go by a different name or use a different pronoun. A Texas proposal would require schools to tell parents about school choice options and give parents the option to decide if their child should repeat a grade or a course.

PROOF POINTS: Criminal behavior rises among those left behind by school lotteries

Jill Barshay:

Many major cities around the country, from New York and New Orleans to Denver and Los Angeles, have changed how children are assigned to public schools over the past 20 years and now allow families to send their children to a school outside of their neighborhood zone. Known as public school choice or open enrollment, this policy gives children in poor neighborhoods a chance at a better education. Many supporters hoped it could also be a way to desegregate schools even as residential neighborhoods remain racially divided.

However, a new study of public school choice in Charlotte, North Carolina, finds a deeply troubling consequence to this well-intended policy: increased crime. 

Three university economists studied the criminal justice records of 10,000 boys who were in fifth grade between 2005 and 2008. Thousands wanted to go to highly regarded middle schools, some of which were in nearby suburbs of the large Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district. Seats were allocated through a lottery.

‘I don’t understand why ‘conservative’ is code for ‘racist’ anymore than I understand why ‘urban’ is code for ‘Black.’ Why can’t we just say what things are?’

Interview with Michel Martin:

Over the course of my career, one of the things that has really driven me crazy is the inability to describe something as racist when it obviously is, and using all of these euphemisms like “deeply conservative views” and things like that. I personally don’t understand why we have allowed that to go on for so long because that misidentifies what conservatism is. I don’t understand why “conservative” is code for “racist” anymore than I understand why “urban” is code for “Black.” Why can’t we just say what things are?

Just because I appreciate stating exactly what things are doesn’t mean I’m on some kind of warpath to label people. I don’t think labeling people as racist is any more productive than labeling somebody as an alcoholic. They’re not going to applaud you and say, “Thank you for telling me that.” But what you can do is accurately describe someone’s behavior.

“Robin Hanson has spotted a trend among independent scholars, a systematic bias against rigour, and so against durability”


over time amateurs blow their lead by focusing less and relying on easier, more direct methods. They rely more on informal conversation as analysis method, they prefer personal connections over open competitions in choosing people, and they rely more on a perceived consensus among a smaller group of fellow enthusiasts. As a result, their contributions just don’t appeal as widely or as long.

Take Hanson himself: he has about 100 academic publications, two big books, and something like 3000 blog posts. Which will be his biggest contribution in the end?

Maybe tenured academics are the people best placed to do long content: lots of time, lots of connections, some pressure towards rigour and communicability. But you should be able to do it outside uni, if you’re wary.

“competitiveness and “white supremacy”; Taxpayer supported Madison School District

Olivia Herken

A candidate for the Madison School Board on Tuesday said schools are the product of “white supremacy” and accused her opponent of favoring competition in the classroom — a characterization her opponent embraced.

“Our schools are products of white supremacy,” said Blair Mosner Feltham, an equitable multi-level system of supports site coordinator at Sun Prairie East High School and former Madison teacher.

“They reinforce white supremacy and if we want to talk about how we make sure all students are thriving in our schools, we need to fundamentally change both the structure of our schools and the purposes of them,” she said.

Badri Lankella, though, said “we need to have competitive students.”

“Yes, I am for competitive schools, because that’s where everything is moving towards,” he said.

The young woman is currently employed as — take this pill with a glass of water: an “equitable multi-level system of supports site coordinator” at Sun Prairie East high school. What, might you wonder, is that? (!!!) We looked it up and we’re still at a loss.

Ah, memories. Years ago (15?) I participated in a few school district strategy sessions. I sensed that the teachers in that forum were divided between: 1. Hold hands for 12 years and give the students a piece of paper, and 2. Learn, rigor and high expectations. My sense was that the former were winning the battle.


“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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”

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

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.

“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?

Supreme Court rules for deaf student in education case


The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday for a deaf student who sued his public school system for providing an inadequate education. The case is significant for other disabled students who allege they were failed by school officials.

The case the justices ruled in involves Miguel Luna Perez, who attended public school in Sturgis, Michigan. Perez’s lawyers told the court that for 12 years the school system neglected the boy and lied to his parents about the progress he was making, permanently stunting his ability to communicate.

DIE Administrative Commentary

Dov Fischer:

First things first. When I was a little boy studying at yeshiva elementary school (Jewish parochial school), I had a first-grade English teacher who was first grade, Mrs. Sherman. Yes, Missus Sherman. She taught me two things I always have remembered. Having learned to speak English in Brooklyn, I did not initially know that “then” and “than” were two different words. The Yankees were better then the Mets, chocolate was better then vinella, becawss dat was da way we tawked then. Mrs. Sherman taught me “than.” It was a revelation and laid the foundation for my writing today at The American Spectator. The second thing she taught me was that you don’t say “me and Stuey”; you say “Stuey and I” whenever using the two nouns and that conjunction in the nominative case. And in the objective case, you say “Stuey and me.” But, with a poetic exception, you never say “Me and Stuey.”

Shift forward half a century, give or take. This week, our country saw something far more worrisome than the predictable collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. We saw the further degrading of our culture to the degree that so-called “law students” at a so-called premium university barked and yipped like dogs and disrupted a speech by an Article III judge, the Hon. Kyle Duncan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He had been invited to address the conservative and libertarian Federalist Society of Stanford Law School, and the dogs who masquerade as “law students” at Stanford came to bark and growl and howl and bay and yelp and whimper. Caninites, if not Philistines.

I am a child of White Privilege. My grandparents had the privilege of fleeing pogroms in Russia and Galicia. My father had the privilege of working 10 hours daily, six days a week, with time off only for observing the Shabbat (Sabbath) according to its laws. I was very privileged. I was home every summer, never at sleep-away. I traveled by public transportation. But I had two parents at home, and they made me do my homework every night. Na-na-na-na-na.

I come from a different America. We may lose — even may already have lost — that America forever; I hope not. If we have — or if we do — who will stand for freedom and core decency if that America is gone while the likes of China, Russia, Iran, Arab Muslim sheikhdoms, North Korea, and other tyrannies proliferate? Will the planet take a detour back to the Middle Ages, albeit with social media and chatbots with which to draft our surrender, or to 1940s Germany and its occupied vassals? Who will stare down the axes of evil if America becomes a nation of feminized men and women who deny their gender that is dominated by whining victims demanding trigger warnings from Xi, Putin, and the ayatollahs?

The Failures of Lean-In Feminism

Elizabeth Grace Matthew:

Former Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s first book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, in which the Facebook COO offers predominantly female readers gutsy, directive advice about how to approach their careers, is about to reach its tenth birthday. Looking back over the last decade, it’s unclear whether it made a difference for women in America. 

Sandberg’s book, which grew out of her Ted talk entitled “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders” and launched hundreds of women’s groups, is best understood as a forceful response to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s famous 2012 lament in The Atlantic that women in the twenty-first century still could not “have it all.” 

In her book, Sandberg accepts this fact and doubles down: Of course, no one can have it all; still, women should run fully half of the world’s businesses and men fully half of its homes, because a world in which more women lead is presumptively a better world for all women. 

Yet despite Lean In’s phenomenal popularity and some of its useful tips on matters like negotiating salaries, just eight percent of Fortune 500 companies today are female-led. We are not much closer to Sandberg’s visionthan we were a decade ago.

Labor Markets and Large Language Models (LLM): GPTs

Tyna Eloundou, Sam Manning, Pamela Mishkin, Daniel Rock

We investigate the potential implications of Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) models and related technologies on the U.S. labor market. Using a new rubric, we assess occupations based on their correspondence with GPT capabilities, incorporating both human expertise and classifications from GPT-4. Our findings indicate that approximately 80% of the U.S. workforce could have at least 10% of their work tasks affected by the introduction of GPTs, while around 19% of workers may see at least 50% of their tasks impacted. The influence spans all wage levels, with higher-income jobs potentially facing greater exposure. Notably, the impact is not limited to industries with higher recent productivity growth. We conclude that Generative Pre-trained Transformers exhibit characteristics of general-purpose technologies (GPTs), suggesting that as these models could have notable economic, social, and policy implications.

UW-Madison extends Teacher Pledge to pay tuition for future educators

Kayla Huynh:

The University of Wisconsin-Madison will extend its Wisconsin Teacher Pledge for another two academic years in an aim to address teacher shortages across the state and nation. 

With a $5 million gift from bestselling author James Patterson and his wife Susan Patterson, a children’s book author and UW-Madison alum, the program will now go on through the 2027-28 academic year. Launched in 2020, the over $26 million initiative funded by donors was initially planned to last five years but was extended last March through the 2025-26 academic year. 

The program within the School of Education pays the equivalent of in-state tuition and fees, as well as testing and licensing costs, for all teacher education students who commit to working three or four years at Wisconsin schools.

Civics: In NCLA Win, Federal Judge Rejects Motion to Dismiss Government-Induced Censorship Lawsuit


In a thorough and well-reasoned decision, Judge Terry A. Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana has denied government defendants’ motion to dismiss in State of Missouri, et al. v. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., et al. The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group, represents renowned epidemiologists Drs. Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, as well as Dr. Aaron Kheriaty and Ms. Jill Hines, in a lawsuit that has exposed an elaborate, multi-agency federal government censorship regime. Judge Doughty wrote, “The Court finds that the Complaint alleges significant encouragement and coercion that converts the otherwise private conduct of censorship on social media platforms into state action, and is unpersuaded by Defendants’ arguments to the contrary.”

Civics: Cert. Petition on the First Amendment and Coercive Government Threats in NRA v. Vullo

Eugene Volokh:

William Brewer, Sarah Rogers & Noah Peters of Brewer Attorneys & Counselors and I filed a petition earlier this month asking the Supreme Court Second Circuit to review the Second Circuit decision in NRA v. Vullo; I think many of our readers will find it interesting (my apologies for the delay in passing it along).

I generally tend to agree with the NRA’s ideological views, to a considerable extent, but I would have been glad to be engaged to argue a similar case on behalf of groups I disagreed with as well; it’s a pretty important First Amendment question that can affect groups with all sorts of views. (Note that the ACLU filed an amicus brief on NRA’s side in the District Court.) Here’s our Introduction:

Notes on taxpayer $pending, government schools and parent choice

David Griffith:

Q: Do charter schools increase or decrease districts’ total revenues per pupil?
A: Charter schools may increase or decrease districts’ total revenues per student, depending on who authorizes them, how they impact the local housing market, and the policies that states and localities adopt.

Q: Do charter schools increase or decrease districts’ instructional spending?
A: Competition from charters may push districts to increase or decrease their instructional spending (though it has mostly positive effects on specific instructional inputs such as teacher salaries).

Q: Do charter schools make districts more or less efficient?
A: While few studies address the efficiency question directly, what we do know suggests that charters make affected school districts more efficient, at least in the long run.

The Bottom Line

In the long run, districts will adjust to charter-driven enrollment declines, just as they do when their enrollments fluctuate for other reasons, so the challenge for policymakers is managing any transition costs—that is, any temporary fiscal or operational challenges that districts face—in a way that is fair to students and taxpayers.