Here’s a Look Inside the Racial Gaming of Admissions.

Tyler Austin Harper:

When I was in graduate school several years ago, I spent my summers getting paid to help Asian American kids seem less Asian. I was a freelance tutor helping high school students prepare for college admissions, living only a few miles from the heavily Chinese and Chinese American neighborhood of Flushing in Queens. For my first gig, on a sweltering summer afternoon, I made my way to a cramped apartment where my teenage client told me what she needed: for me to read over her college applications and make sure she didn’t seem too Asian.

I remember laughing over the death rattle of a geriatric air-conditioning unit; I assumed she was making a joke.

But she pressed on straight faced. Good colleges don’t want to let in Asians, she felt, because they already had too many — and if she seemed too Asian, she wouldn’t get in. She rattled off a list of Asian and Asian American friends from her church with stellar extracurriculars and sterling test scores who she said had been rejected from even their safety schools.

Nearly every college admissions tutoring job I took over the next few years would come with a version of the same behest. The Chinese and Korean kids wanted to know how to make their application materials seem less Chinese or Korean. The rich white kids wanted to know ways to seem less rich and less white. The Black kids wanted to make sure they came across as Black enough. Ditto for the Latino and Middle Eastern kids.

Reuters Names and Shames America’s Political Elite Over Their Family Ties to Slavery

Leah Barkoukis

Despite the myriad problems plaguing San Francisco, the city is devoting precious resources to a reparations committee tasked with determining how to address the “legacy of slavery.” This, despite the fact that not a single living SF taxpayer owned slaves, nor were any of them enslaved. And some of the recommendations are staggering—we’re talking payments of $5 million to eligible black adults, guaranteed incomes, homes in the wildly expensive city for just $1, and the elimination of personal debt and tax burdens.

While this is focused just on the city level—and it’s still uncertain if anything will come to fruition from the committee—a new Reuters report may bring the issue into focus on the national level.

In a piece that serves to name and shame prominent office-holders who are descendants of slaves, Reuters identifies that “Among America’s political elite…5 living presidents, 2 Supreme Court justices, 11 governors, and 100 legislators descend from ancestors who enslaved Black people.” Absent from the list is Donald Trump.

UW-Madison Blacked Out Admissions Criteria in Response to GOP Legislator’s Concerns

Wisconsin Right Now & The Center Square

UW-Madison blacked out lengthy sections of its admissions criteria in response to an open records request from a Republican legislator who is now trying to change state law to mandate that the flagship university admit Wisconsin students in the top 5% of their classes.

UW-Madison’s freshman class was 8,628 students back in September of last year. The UW’s own numbers show that about 45% of that class is from Wisconsin; the rest are from other states or other countries. Sixty percent of Wisconsin freshman applicants who applied to UW-Madison last fall were accepted.

On Thursday, in the wake of the United States Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action in university admissions at two prominent schools, Wisconsin Right Now obtained the blacked out documents that were sent to state Rep. David Murphy in September 2021. In the wake of the Court decision, UW-Madison admitted, “We have considered the race of applicants as one factor in a holistic admissions process that focuses first and foremost on candidates’ academic strength.”

UW-Madison told Murphy it redacted the documents to protect “trade secrets” and because “release of such information would harm the public’s interest.” The university was also concerned that employees could face “reprisal” if their names were released.

Student Loans and the Politics of repayment

Michael Stratford:

Biden administration officials are devising plans to ease the sting of requiring tens of millions of Americans to resume paying their student loans this fall for the first time in more than three years.

The Education Department in recent weeks finalized a three-month grace period for missed payments once student loans come due in October and directed loan services to be “prepared” to extend that flexibility for subsequent 90-day periods, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Once interest accrual resumes on Sept. 1, under the department’s current plans, it would continue to pile up even if borrowers miss payments.

Former Whitnall School District employee charged with falsifying school board election results

Alec Johnson:

A former Whitnall School District employee has been charged with falsifying results for the election of the School Board’s president.

Shari Rodriguez, 53, was charged June 22 with one felony count of misconduct in public office (act in excess of lawful authority). If convicted, she could face up to a $10,000 fine or three years and six months in prison or both, according to online court records.

Rodriguez was the executive assistant to the Whitnall School District superintendent and Whitnall School Board. She was in charge of collecting the votes from school board members, counting them and announcing the results but had no authority to change the votes themselves, the criminal complaint said.

New Grads Have No Idea How to Behave in the Office. Help Is on the Way.

Lindsay Ellis:

Many members of the class of 2023 were freshmen in college in the spring of 2020, when campuses shuttered due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They spent the rest of their college years partially in virtual mode with hybrid internships and virtual classes. Students didn’t learn some of the so-called soft skills they might have in the past by osmosis on the job, from mentors and by practicing on campus.

To address deficiencies in everything from elevator chitchat to presentation skills, companies, universities and recruiters are coming up with ways to train new hires and give them clear advice. They are eating it up.

Recent graduate Joslynn Odom had her first hybrid internship after her junior year and found working in person to be draining thanks to wearing professional attire and staying energetic consistently. It made her realize that she needed to sharpen her communication and networking skills.

Programming arranged by her college, Miami University in Ohio, has since helped. Just before graduation she attended an etiquette dinner where she learned to follow the lead of more senior leaders over dinner: Eat at their pace, discuss neutral topics and avoid personal questions. When buttering bread, it is best to put a slab on one’s own bread plate before applying it to a roll, and when cutting food, holding the fork hump-side up is best, she said.

“Knowing that, I feel more confident,” she said.

I Paid for Free Speech at Arizona State

Ann Atkinson:

thought that Arizona State University, my alma mater and employer, was different from other schools when it came to free speech. In 2011 the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression awarded ASU a “green light” rating for its written policies on freedom of expression. The university happily complied when FIRE suggested it adopt the Chicago Principles and protect the “free, robust and uninhibited sharing of ideas among all members of the University’s community.” The ASU Barrett Honors College has even been home to heterodox initiatives like the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development, where I served as executive director for the last two years.

But beneath ASU’s written commitment to intellectual diversity lies a deep hostility toward divergent views. The latest trouble started in February when the Lewis Center hosted Robert Kiyosaki, Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk for an event on “Health, Wealth, and Happiness.” This nonpartisan program was part of a popular speaker series focused on connecting students with professionals who can offer career and life advice.

At the names of Messrs. Prager and Kirk, the faculty of ASU’s honors college were outraged. Thirty-nine of its 47 faculty signed a letter to the dean condemning the event on grounds that the speakers are “purveyors of hate who have publicly attacked women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, [and] institutions of our democracy.” The signers decried ASU “platforming and legitimating” their views, describing Messrs. Prager and Kirk as “white nationalist provocateurs” whose comments would undermine the value of democratic exchange by marginalizing the school’s most vulnerable students.

Civics: Google/YouTube Censorship

How Fake History Gets Made

Helen Andrews:

Over the weekend, a village in Lancashire celebrated the 80th anniversary of “the Battle of Bamber Bridge.” There was a dramatic reenactment as well as live musical entertainment, a history walk, and an academic symposium in collaboration with the U.S. embassy. In the American press, the anniversary was marked by long feature articles in both the Associated Press and NPR on the episode and its enduring significance.

This was all a bit excessive considering that the Battle of Bamber Bridge was not a battle at all. It was a race riot. Its central incident was not much more than a bar fight.

On June 24, 1943, two American military police on patrol in Bamber Bridge were told that there was a “disturbance” at Ye Olde Hob Inn. When they arrived at the inn, they found a black soldier not in proper uniform, Private Eugene Nunn, whom they attempted to arrest. A crowd of British civilians and a dozen black soldiers protested that Nunn wasn’t hurting anybody and menaced the M.P.s, who left in their Jeep. As they drove away, a beer bottle flew over their heads and broke on the windshield.

Having been prevented from carrying out a lawful arrest, the M.P.s got backup and returned. They found a group of black soldiers, including Nunn, drunk and disorderly in the street. When they attempted to arrest the men, a brawl began. Stones and bottles were thrown, breaking the nose of one M.P. and the jaw of another. One black soldier was shot in the back while trying to grab the gun out of the holster of an unconscious M.P. who had been knocked out by a rock. Two others were shot while hurling projectiles. 

The black soldiers retreated with their wounded back to camp, where they started wild rumors that white M.P.s were on a rampage. A mob of 100 to 200 black soldiers gathered at the main gate. Their NCOs either refused or were unable to impose discipline. At midnight, a group of M.P.s arrived at camp in a Jeep equipped with a machine gun, which inflamed the mob. The commanding officer ordered the M.P.s to leave but the sight of the machine gun had already resulted in a panic. The black soldiers raided the armory, and some took their arms into town. One black private, William Crossland, died in the confused gunfire overnight, the night’s only fatality. Weapons were collected the next morning.

What to know about a new Wisconsin reading bill

Scott Girard:

A bill headed to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk, approved by the state Senate on Wednesday and the Assembly a week earlier, features a variety of new requirements for the state and local school districts on phonics-based reading instruction for 4-year-old kindergarten through third grade.

Third grade is widely considered a key turning point for literacy, when students move from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”

Evers has not yet announced whether he will sign the bill.

Below, the Cap Times explains what the legislation would mean for students, schools and families:

Legislation and Early Reading: Wisconsin’s odyssey continues

Civics: David M. Morens, a high-ranking official at the NIH, told prominent scientists discussing Covid’s origins that he would delete emails.

Jimmy Tobias:

A top adviser to Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health admitted that he used a personal email account in an apparent effort to evade the strictures of the Freedom of Information Act, according to records obtained by congressional investigators probing the origin of Covid-19. The official also expressed his intention to delete emails in order to avoid media scrutiny.

“As you know, I try to always communicate on gmail because my NIH email is FOIA’d constantly,” wrote David M. Morens, a high-ranking NIH official, in a September 2021 email, one of a series of email exchanges that included many leading scientists involved in the bitter Covid origins debate. “Stuff sent to my gmail gets to my phone,” he added, “but not my NIH computer.”

After noting that his Gmail account had been hacked, however, he wrote to the group to say that he might have to use his NIH email account to communicate with them instead. “Don’t worry,” he wrote, “just send to any of my addresses, and I will delete anything I don’t want to see in the New York Times.”

“This ruling represents a drastic retreat in the social position of higher education”

Glenn Reynolds:

Media accounts I’ve seen have tended to suggest that the Supreme Court had found that “diversity” is a compelling interest, sufficient to justify overriding the Constitution’s ban on racial discrimination.  For example, the Wall Street Journal’report stated:  “For 45 years, the Supreme Court has recognized a limited exception to that rule for university admissions, one based on the schools’ academic freedom to assemble classes that support their educational mission. Diversity was a compelling interest, the court had found.”

But the Supreme Court did not itself find that diversity was a compelling interest.  Rather, it deferred to universities’ claims that diversity was a compelling interest.  A court defers to someone else when it says that it may have a different opinion on the matter itself but it will allow the opinion of the person or entity in question to control because of their expertise.  So, for example, under the now moribund doctrine of Chevrondeference, the Court would defer to an agency’s interpretation of the statute it administers, even if the Court would have interpreted the statute differently.

Thus, for example, in Grutter v. Bollinger the Court said:  “The Law School has a compelling interest in attaining a diverse student body.  The Law School’s educational judgment that such diversity is essential to its educational mission is one to which we defer.”  (Italics mine). So diversity is a compelling interest only because the university says it is.

Deferring to an agency or a university on the question of what policies best serve a compelling interest is one thing; deferring on the question of what constitutes a compelling interest is another, much bigger, thing.  But that is what the Court has done up to now.

But no longer.  As the majority opinion today noted:  “The universities’ main response to these criticisms is ‘trust us.’  They assert that universities are owed deference when using race to

benefit some applicants but not others. While this Court has recognized a “tradition of giving a degree of deference to a university’s academic decisions,” it has made clear that deference must exist ‘within constitutionally prescribed limits.’”

Proposed Title IX Regulations Coming to a School Near You Soon

Luke Berg and Cory Brewer:

U.S. Supreme Court Decision – Bostock In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Bostock v. Clayton County. The Court determined that Title VII, pertaining to employment discrimination, could be interpretated to protect an individual against sex discrimination, including on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

What has changed under the Biden Administration?

Following the Bostock decision, President Biden issued an Executive Order directing federal agencies to interpret Bostock to apply to any similar federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination.

Following this order, the U.S. Department of Education began the process of issuing new regulations.

“Of the students who take an initial education course [in Michigan]…. only about one-quarter reach the student teaching stage…”

Education Policy Innovation Collaborative

In this report, we combine data about students in Michigan’s K-12 public schools and public universities with educator certification testing, credentialing, and employment records to examine how the pool of prospective Michigan teachers changes as candidates progress through the pipeline and into the workforce.


  1. Enrollment in undergraduate teacher education courses has decreased over time and varies by demographic group.
  2. Only a fraction of the students who take an initial education course become student teachers.
  3. Prospective teachers of color are disproportionately likely to exit the pipeline during the advanced coursework, student teaching, and licensure testing stages.
  4. Recent cohorts of teacher preparation graduates are more likely to work as public school teachers in Michigan.
  5. Black teacher preparation graduates are more likely to enter and stay in Michigan’s public school teaching workforce.
  6. The pool of prospective Michigan teachers becomes less diverse as candidates progress between the coursework, licensure, and employment stages.


“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.

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

Opportunity vs locking people into an “inferior caste” via a “privileged elite”


Politics and appointments.

Jennifer Mnookin:

To help achieve this, we have considered the race of applicants as one factor in a holistic admissions process that focuses first and foremost on candidates’ academic strength. Our process looks at written statements, extracurriculars, recommendations, and the range of experiences, talents and backgrounds candidates will bring to the university. Every admitted student here at UW–Madison has demonstrated the potential for academic success within our competitive applicant pools.

Though we have seen a roughly 50 percent increase in our underrepresented undergraduate student population in the past five years, our current enrollment percentages of underrepresented students still lag behind many of our peers.

The full implications of today’s ruling — both nationally and on our campus — will not be known for some time. UW–Madison and UW System attorneys are now carefully reviewing the Court’s opinions and monitoring the potential release of additional guidance from relevant federal agencies. We will be sharing information and providing updates at

The ruling will require some modifications to aspects of our current admissions practices; we will, of course, adapt our practices to comply with the law. At the same time, I want to reiterate that our commitment to the value of diversity within our community, including racial diversity, remains a bedrock value of the institution.

“seeks injunction to block Education Department from enforcing accreditation-related provisions of the Higher Education Act”

Mike LaChance

For 58 years, the accreditation system of higher education has stood, enshrined in federal law and reaffirmed with each reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Now, a federal lawsuit from the state of Florida is looking to upend that entire system, which is a key part of the federal accountability system that helps to determine which colleges and universities receive access to federal financial aid.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, and other state officials argue in the lawsuit filed last week that Congress has “ceded unchecked power” to the private accrediting agencies, violating the U.S. Constitution. They want a federal judge to permanently block the Education Department from enforcing accreditation-related provisions of the Higher Education Act. Currently, federal law requires that colleges and universities be accredited by an Education Department–recognized accreditor in order to receive federal student aid such as Pell Grants.

“The result is that private accrediting agencies enjoy near limitless power over state institutions,” Florida officials wrote in the initial complaint. “Accrediting agencies have the power to hold billions of federal education dollars hostage based on the formulation and application of substantive education standards that are immune from meaningful government supervision.”

Another article at Inside Higher Ed has the completely predictable response from the Biden White House:

“Governor DeSantis is now bringing his culture wars, like book bans, to the long-standing system that helps ensure students receive a quality college education,” the White House said in a statement. “This administration won’t allow it. We’re committed to ensuring all students receive a high-quality education, and will fight this latest effort by opponents to get in the way of that.”

This article also boils down the issue to this:

Florida passed a law last year that required state colleges and universities to change accrediting agencies every 10 years. The complaint argues that the Education Department has issued guidance over the last year to make it more difficult for a Florida college or university to switch accreditors. The state wants a federal judge to at least toss out the guidance.

The full complaint.

Oregon school performance craters relative to national averages, elementary and middle school math scores rank 6th worst in U.S.

Betsy Hammond:

In the latest sign that Oregon children have been failed by leaders and need an intensive educational rescue, new federal test results indicate that the nation’s students experienced staggering instructional setbacks during the pandemic – yet Oregon’s bore an even worse brunt.

Scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the only standardized achievement test given to a representative sample of students in all states, reveal that Oregon schools, which once outdid national averages, produced jaw-dropping declines in student outcomes last school year.

The results, made public late Sunday, show Oregon elementary and middle school students now read and do math far more poorly, on average, than their counterparts nationwide. Oregon’s fourth- and eighth-grade math performance ranked sixth worst in the country, the 2022 results indicate.

In fourth grade, only one state – West Virginia – generated significantly worse math scores. Meanwhile, in the west, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Montana and Utah all significantly outdid Oregon.

Stanford Law School Promised Free Speech Training. It Delivered a Campus Joke.

Aaron Sibarium:

But the promised training wasn’t much of a crash course in free speech. Instead, it was an online program that required barely a minute’s effort, according to five people who completed the training as well as screenshots and recordings reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. Students were given six weeks to watch five prerecorded videos, most about an hour long, then asked to sign a form attesting that they had done so.

The videos could be played on mute, and the form—which could be accessed without opening the training—did not ask any questions about their content, letting students tune out the modules or skip them entirely.

“I watched none of the videos,” one student said. “I never even opened the links. On the day the training was due, I went to the attestation link provided by the university, checked a box confirming I watched the videos, and that was the end of the matter. Whole process took 10 seconds.”

The free speech program was much less demanding than the law school’s modules on Title IX and alcohol issues, which require students to answer questions demonstrating an understanding of school policy, according to people who’d completed both trainings. The contrast has shaken students’ faith in Stanford’s vaunted recommitment to freedom of speech, which, one said, appears to have been “nothing more than hollow virtue signaling.”

Stanford Law School did not respond to a request for comment.

Grads in top 5% of their high school class guaranteed a seat at UW-Madison under GOP bill

Kelly Meyerhofer:

Wisconsin high school graduates ranking in the top 5% of their class would be guaranteed admission to the University of Wisconsin-Madison under a Republican bill expected to be introduced Tuesday.

The state’s top-ranking students would be promised a seat at all UW System institutions and technical colleges they apply to, according to the bill. Most of Wisconsin’s public colleges and universities already operate as open-access institutions, meaning they accept the overwhelming majority of applicants.

As the state flagship, UW-Madison is more selective. It accepted 49% of new freshman applicants, including 60% of Wisconsin applicants, 45% of Minnesota applicants, 35% of international applicants and 51% of out-of-state applicants.

For people who can’t speak, there has been depressingly little innovation in technology that helps them communicate.

Julie Kim:

There was a reason for my particular focus: at the time, I’d been researching augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technology for my daughter, who is five years old and also non-speaking. Underwhelmed by the available options—a handful of iPad apps that look (and work) as if they were coded in the 1990s—I’d delved into the speculative, more exciting world of brain-computer interfaces. Could a brain chip allow my daughter to verbally express herself with the same minimal effort it takes me to open my mouth and speak? How might she sound, telling me about her day at school? Singing “Happy Birthday” or saying “Mama”? I wanted the future to be here now.

But watching Savarese revealed magical thinking on my part. Behind the curtain, the mechanics of his participation were extremely low tech—kind of janky, in fact. 

The process didn’t fit the mold of what I thought technology should do: take the work out of a manual operation and make it faster and easier. The network had invited Savarese onto the program and a producer had emailed the questions to him in advance. To prepare, Savarese had spent about 15 minutes typing his answers into a Microsoft Word file. When it came time for the live interview, the anchorman recited the questions, to which Savarese responded on his MacBook by using Word’s “Read Aloud” function to speak his pre-composed answers. The types of readily available technology that could power an assistive communication device—AI, natural-language processing, word prediction, voice banking, eye-gaze tracking—played no role here. And yet, without any of the features I’d expected to see, Savarese had the tools he needed to express the fullness of his thoughts.

‘My Kid Can’t Sleep’: Gun Violence Drives Denver to Return Armed Police to Schools

Sara Randazzo, Dan Frosch and Shannon Najmabadi:

Public schools Superintendent Alex Marrero stood at the hospital bed of a 14-year-old boy who had been struck in the face by a stray bullet across the street from East High School.

A dispute among a group of teenagers had escalated into gunfire on Sept. 7, a few weeks into the start of the school year. The injured boy, who couldn’t speak, wrote down a question to Marrero: “Why did I get shot?”

The 40-year-old schools chief had left New York to take the job in 2021, accepting responsibility for the instruction and safety of nearly 90,000 students. “I felt like I had failed for the first time as an educator,” he said about the boy.

Denver school authorities would by the end of the school year catch 16 students around the city bringing guns to campus, a five-year high. The district’s board of education had decided to remove Denver police officers from campuses the year before Marrero arrived. He wondered what it would take for them to change their mind.

The boy’s shooting was the first act of violence that marked two turbulent semesters at East High, the district’s flagship campus. The school occupies a century-old four-story brick building, where hallways are lined with state championship trophies, academic honors and photos of famous alumni, including Don Cheadle and members of the musical group Earth, Wind & Fire.

Tension is growing at the most famous Ivy League school over whether the word ‘Harvard’ carries more baggage these days. ‘Should you say a school outside of Boston?’

Douglas Belkin:

In a December interview with the campus newspaper, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana was given the chance to offer a word of advice to seniors.

“Don’t gratuitously drop the H-bomb,” Khurana said.

The H-bomb, for those unaware of lingo from the most famous Ivy League school, is the thermonuclear act of saying aloud that one attends or attended Harvard. The process of explaining to someone not from Harvard that you went to Harvard is complicated, students at Harvard will tell you, repeatedly.

For years Ivy Leaguers have been conspicuously obtuse about where they went to school. But the H-bomb conversation is at an all-time high.

The odds of admission to Harvard are at historic lows and the Supreme Court is poised to weigh in this month on whether Harvard’s affirmative-action program is constitutional. The high-profile trial that preceded the High Court case shed light on Harvard’s opaque selection process, including evidence that children of donors, offspring of alumni, as well as socioeconomically disadvantaged applicants get special consideration by the admissions office.

The revelations moved Massachusetts lawmakers to recently introduce an act proposing to tax the endowments of schools which consider an applicant’s legacy status or employ early-decision admission, which tends to benefit students from well-off families. The 0.2% surcharge would cost Harvard about $100 million a year and would fund the state’s community colleges. The bill is set for a committee hearing in the Massachusetts legislature this month.

Wisconsin Senate passes a k-12 literacy curriculum update


The Senate today approved a bill to turn Wisconsin’s approach to literacy into a phonics-based program in an attempt to improve reading.

Senators 25-7 approved the bill, sending AB 321 to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk. The bill would establish an Office of Literacy to contract 64 full-time literacy coaches who would help teachers implement a newer model based on phonics, vocabulary building, reading fluency, and oral language development, among other things.

The measure would also require students who read below grade level to have individualized reading plans until they catch up and to include the percentage of third-grade students who read at that grade level on school report cards.

All Dems present voted against the bill except Sens. Kelda Roys, of Madison, Robert Wirch, of Somers, and Lena Taylor, of Milwaukee. Sen. LaTonya Johnson, of Milwaukee, was not in the chamber during the roll call.

Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, said his office reached out to 421 school districts across the state, and of those that responded, only two supported the bill.

Legislation and Early Reading: Wisconsin’s odyssey continues

K-12 education’s alarming decline and the 2024 election

George Will:

Ian Rowe, a charter school advocate, notes thatsince the “nation’s report card” was first issued in 1992, in no year “has a majority of whitestudents been reading at grade level. The sad irony is that closing the black-white achievement gap would guarantee only educational mediocrity for all students.”

Mysteriously (or perhaps not), California’s most recent standardized test revealed declines in math and English language arts — yet rising grades. Larry Sand, writing in City Journal, reports that 73 percent of 11th-graders received A’s, B’s and C’s in math, while the test showed that only 19 percent met grade-level standards. Among eighth-graders, the disparity was 79 percent and 23 percent. Among sixth-graders’ English scores, it was 85 percent and 40 percent. Amazingly (or perhaps not), the high school graduation rate has risen as students’ proficiencies have fallen.

Grade inflation, sometimes called “equity grading,” and “social promotions,” which combat meritocracy as a residue of white supremacy, leave a wake of wreckage. “According to World Population Review,” Sand says, “California now leads the country in illiteracy. In fact, 23.1 percent of Californians over age 15 cannot read this sentence.”

As alarming as what students are not learning is what they are being taught. Robert Pondiscio and Tracey Schirra of the American Enterprise Institutewriting in National Affairs (summer 2022), say “public education has drifted toward an oppositional relationship with its founding purpose of forming citizens, facilitating social cohesion, and transmitting our culture from one generation to the next.” The result is the emergence of what might be a dominant political issue in 2024: parental rights concerning educational content and curriculum transparency.

Remote learning during the pandemic, say Pondiscio and Schirra, “pried open the black box of America’s classrooms.” Progressives, anxious to slam it shut again, portray any public involvement in public education, other than paying for it, as an infringement of the hitherto unenunciated right of teachers to unabridged sovereignty over other peoples’ children. But as UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has said, “Someone’s got to decide what is going to be taught in K-12 schools.” Teachers, principals, legislatures, school boards — the First Amendment does not say whom.

“unlike the Establishment, with kids in private prep schools and only caring about blame-shifting”

“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.

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

Problem: teacher training is outdated, costly and bad for students

Institute for Reforming Government

We have a teacher shortage, but we did it to ourselves. College’s costs and complications encumber teachers with debt, don’t prepare them for actual classrooms, and keep the profession monolithic. This leads to worse outcomes for students, stress on our districts, and diminished economic output for our state. 16 states, from Tennessee and Texas to Michigan and California, have unlocked the future of teaching before we have: teacher apprenticeships. A 2+2 model with 2 years of lectures and a 2-year student teaching apprenticeship halves teachers’ tuitions, improves students’ results, and fills the teacher shortage with diverse, qualified educators. The apprenticeship model already works for high-status professions like doctors, IT staff, electricians, and artisans, and teaching can meet that same standard.

Let’s face it: becoming a teacher doesn’t make sense. To start, you have to be one of the 19% of Wisconsin high schoolers who graduates from a 4-year college.1 You probably left $22,000 in debt,2 but your salary starts in the mid-30s and your benefits nosedive if you ever leave the state. Your primary path to a raise is dropping $45,000 more on a master’s degree,3 braving such courses as “Resilience and Self-Care”4 and “Coloniality of Language and Science in Education.”5 You got rocked your first year in the classroom because your college taught you wrong,6 and you’re close to quitting after just 1 year like 11% of Wisconsin teachers do.7 Even the softest hearts for students harden under this pressure.

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

$pending and staffing growth amidst declining enrollment

Allyson Aleksey

The San Francisco Unified School District uncovered an apparent staffing contradiction as it prepared its budget for the 2023-24 school year: SFUSD employs more teachers per student than most school districts in the state, due in part to declining enrollment.

This fact turns a long-standing narrative of severe understaffing in The City’s public schools on its head. Earlier this month, a civil grand jury found that SFUSD lacks enough credentialed teachers — and the union that represents district educators and staff has expressed a dire state of understaffing and overworked employees throughout its labor negotiations that began in March.

Private choice schools treat all students fairly

Will Flanders and Cory Brewer:

The recent article by Wisconsin Watch, “Wisconsin students with disabilities often denied public school choices,” suggested private schools that participate in Wisconsin’s school choice program can discriminate against students.

The article specifically alleges that choice schools “expel” students with disabilities, without providing a single example of when this has occurred. While this is a criticism often leveled against choice schools nationwide, it doesn’t reflect reality. Schools in Wisconsin’s choice programs are subject to lots of regulations on admissions.

The statutes governing admission to schools in the voucher programs also are crystal clear: Schools must accept all students who apply within their space limitations. If more students apply than seats available, the school does not have the opportunity to pick and choose. Instead, their students must be chosen at random.

The reality is that the budgets of private schools in the choice program are often stretched thin, because of severe underfunding of these institutions compared to the state’s public schools. Given these budgetary constraints, it may be challenging for some private schools to meet the needs of students with the most severe disabilities. But the decision is still ultimately in the parents’ hands after consulting about any limitations the school may have.

It is also important to highlight that private choice schools around Wisconsin likely serve far more students with disabilities than the data from the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) shows. A 2015 study from scholars at the University of Arkansas estimated that the rate of students with disabilities in these schools was likely twice more than what the data shows. The reason for this discrepancy is that private schools lack the financial incentive that public schools have to report a student as having a disability. Public schools receive more money from the state when a student is identified, whereas private schools do not unless the student goes through the lengthy process to qualify for the state’s Special Needs Scholarship Program.

Notes and links on Wisconsin Watch, here.

Mississippi rules in reading

Joanne Jacob’s:

Mississippi students used to rank dead last in learning, writes Phil Bryant, the former governor of the state, on Real Clear Education. Not any more. “Mississippi fourth-graders, when adjusted for demographics, are ranked as the nation’s top performers in reading and second in math,” according to the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress. 

Bryant credits legislation passed in 2013 that included “school choice, early childhood education, scholarships for dyslexic students, teacher-education reform — and a requirement that third graders demonstrate reading proficiency to be promoted. 

The “third-grade reading gate” was controversial, writes Bryant, who now advises the America First Policy Institute. Education experts claimed held-back students would be discouraged and push up the dropout rate. 

Instead, graduation rates are now about 10 percent higher than the national average, despite the state’s high poverty rate. Mississippi hired regional coordinators and school-based literacy coaches in the lowest-performing schools, writes Bryant. “A Literacy Coaching Handbook was developed for coaches, K–3 teachers, administrators, and university faculty teaching early literacy,” so everyone understood language structure and how to improve instruction. 

The results are “dazzling,” writes New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. He visited a second-grade class in Jackson, where nearly all students come from low-income, black families.

Legislation and Reading: the Wisconsin Experience 2004 –

“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.

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

Biden Admin Says Its COVID Spending for Schools Will Boost Test Scores. Districts Used the Funds for Staff Bonuses.

Alec Schemmel and Meghan Blonder:

A National Assessment of Educational Progress report published Wednesday found that math and reading scores among U.S. 13-year-olds are at their lowest levels in decades. Cardona responded to those findings by praising “positive results” in student achievement, arguing that the “historic investments and resources” provided by President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan would “reverse the damage.” In school districts across the country, however, a large portion of those funds did not go to more tutoring or new school materials. Instead, they funded bonuses for teachers and administrators.

In North Carolina, for example, the Wake County Public School System from March 2020 to April 2023 spent 78.5 percent of its total pandemic relief funding on salaries and employee benefits, according to the district. Chicago Public Schools—a district where union teachers repeatedly refused to return to the classroom during COVID—similarly spent 77 percent of its pandemic money on staff bonuses, salaries, and benefits. In Tennessee, meanwhile, the state’s comptroller found that a district funneled nearly $28,000 to one administrator alone. And in Nebraska, Lincoln Public Schools attempted to use COVID relief dollars to issue across-the-board teacher bonuses, but the state’s Department of Education said no.

The use of so-called emergency COVID funds to pay for five-figure staff bonuses reflects the stark divide between Republicans and Democrats on education policy. Democrats generally balk at school choice, shooting down taxpayer funding for charter schools in favor of additional public school spending. For Republicans, that spending is already at an all-time high with little to show for it and showcases the need to pursue alternative options rather than funneling more money to powerful teachers’ unions working to pay out their members.

“It turns out the hundreds of billions in taxpayer money that was ‘direly needed to safely reopen schools and improve infrastructure’ was a lie,” Nicki Neily, founder and president of parental rights group Parents Defending Education, said in response to districts’ using federal COVID funds to pay for staff bonuses. “The same teachers’ unions that kept schools closed are now misusing the taxpayers’ money to smooth things over with their growingly dissatisfied members through bonuses and raises. What a slap in the face to families.”

In country with world’s lowest fertility rate, doubts creep in about wisdom of ‘no-kids zones’

Chris Lau, Gawon Bae, Jake Kwon and Nayoon Kim:

For a country with the world’s lowest fertility rate – one that has spent hundreds of billions of dollars trying to encourage women to have more babies – the idea of barring children from places like cafes and restaurants might seem a little counterproductive.

But in South Korea, “no-kids zones” have become remarkably popular in recent years. Hundreds have sprung up across the country, aimed largely at ensuring disturbance-free environments for the grown-ups.

There are nearly 80 such zones on the holiday island of Jeju alone, according to a local think tank, and more than four hundred in the rest of the country, according to activist groups.

Doubts, though, are beginning to creep in about the wisdom of restricting children from so many places, fueled by concerns over the country’s growing demographic problems.

In addition to the world’s lowest birthrate, South Korea has one of the world’s fastest aging populations. That has left it with a problem familiar to graying nations across the world, namely: how to fund the pension and health care needs of a growing pool of retirees on the tax income generated by a slowly vanishing pool of workers.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Cook County Assessments

Rick Pearson

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi owns a million-dollar, 120-year-old Prairie-style, two-story home on a spacious corner lot on the eastern side of Oak Park’s Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District.

Within a five-block area of Kaegi’s residence, neighbors with similar homes saw their properties’ assessed value — used to figure local property taxes — increase by an average of 32% this year compared with 2020 in the every-three-year reassessment of Oak Park Township.

But the home of Kaegi, in his fifth year as the person responsible for running the office that decides the value of homes ahead of Cook County property tax bills being mailed, saw the assessed value of his home drop by 5.3%, county records show.

Censorship at High School Debates

James Fishback:

Once upon a time, the National Speech & Debate Association, or NSDA, was the country’s premier debating organization, touching the lives of two million high school students across its nearly hundred-year history. Its famous alumni include Oprah Winfrey, and Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Ketanji Brown Jackson. The NSDA, formerly known as the National Forensics League, currently has 140,000 young debaters on its roster—but now, rather than teaching them to debate, it is teaching them to self-censor and conform their arguments to a new politically correct standard.

The NSDA has allowed hundreds of judges with explicit left-wing bias to infiltrate the organization. These judges proudly display their ideological leanings in statements—or “paradigms”—on a public database maintained by the NSDA called Tabroom, where they declare that debaters who argue in favor of capitalism, or Israel, or the police, will lose the rounds they’re judging.

This has fundamentally changed the culture of high school debate—or so scores of students are telling me. One of them is former high school debater Matthew Adelstein, a rising sophomore studying philosophy at the University of Michigan, who was a member of the NSDA in high school. 

Adelstein told me that, in April 2022, he competed at the prestigious Tournament of Champions in Lexington, Kentucky, where he debated in favor of the federal government increasing its protection of water resources.

In his final round of the two-day tournament, Matthew was shocked to hear the opposing team levy a personal attack against him as their central argument. The opposing team argued: “This debate is more than just about the debate—it’s about protecting the individuals in the community from people who proliferate hatred and make this community unsafe.”

Why Pride lost the public

Bridget Phetasy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably witnessed the backlash to Pride. There have been mass boycotts of Bud Light after the beer company partnered with trans woman and TikTok influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, sending her a custom can to celebrate her first year of “girlhood.” Target was next to come under fire for its Pride display targeting children and their “tuck-friendly” bathing suits for women. 

This set the stage for the most divisive Pride month in some time. First, the boycotts. Then videos of angry parents at school boards went viral. Conservative radio hosts and commentators vowed to make Pride “toxic” to brands. But it’s not just conservatives who are pushing back; according to a recent Gallup poll, even Democrats have seen a drop in the acceptance of same-sex relations.

Which begs the question: what happened to Pride? After decades of progress for gay rights, growing acceptance of gay marriage and the normalization of same-sex relationships, Pride is unexpectedly political again. Why? 

In search of an answer, I spoke to prominent LGBT thinkers and writers, many of them dissenting voices when judged against the views of many LGBT advocacy groups. Their answers surprised me. Across the board they all said some version of “this was inevitable.”

“When it comes to gay issues, conservatives largely lost the culture war,” Katie Herzog observes. “But something about recent trends has reignited that passion — and issues that seemed resolved are up for debate again. I guess the Nineties really are back.”

“The core reason for the backlash is pretty simple: children,” Andrew Sullivan explains. “The attempt to indoctrinate children in gender ideology and to trans them on the verge of puberty has changed the debate. Start indoctrinating and transing children… and you will re-energize one of the oldest homophobic tropes there is: ‘gays are child molesters.’”

Harvard Professor [p109] Data Falsification (Part 1): “Clusterfake”

Uri, Joe, & Leif

This is the introduction to a four-part series of posts detailing evidence of fraud in four academic papers co-authored by Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino.

In 2021, we and a team of anonymous researchers examined a number of studies co-authored by Gino, because we had concerns that they contained fraudulent data. We discovered evidence of fraud in papers spanning over a decade, including papers published quite recently (in 2020).

In the Fall of 2021, we shared our concerns with Harvard Business School (HBS). Specifically, we wrote a report about four studies for which we had accumulated the strongest evidence of fraud. We believe that many more Gino-authored papers contain fake data. Perhaps dozens.

The process that ensued at HBS is confidential (for us also). But here are some things we know:

(1) As you can see on her Harvard home page (.htm), Gino has gone on “administrative leave”, and the name of her chaired position at HBS is no longer listed.

(2) We understand that Harvard had access to much more information than we did, including, where applicable, the original data collected using Qualtrics survey software. If the fraud was carried out by collecting real data on Qualtrics and then altering the downloaded data files, as is likely to be the case for three of these papers, then the original Qualtrics files would provide airtight evidence of fraud. (Conversely, if our concerns were misguided, then those files would provide airtight evidence that they were misguided.)

Notes on Madison’s $581M 2023-2024 K-12 Budget; property tax increases

Scott Girard

In total, the 2023-24 preliminary budget spends $581 million. The board will vote on a final budget in October after enrollment is finalized.

The budget includes a deficit of $15 million for this year, but $11.5 million in ongoing costs are covered by one-time federal COVID-19 relief money that won’t be available next fall — meaning the 2024-25 budget is starting in a much larger hole.

That means the district will likely need to make cuts and ask voters in another referendum for more property taxes to fund operations. Former School Board member Christina Gomez Schmidt, who led the committee that developed the budget this spring until she left her seat in April, said during public comment Monday that “overextending the current budget will create challenging budgets going forward.”

“This budget will make the fiscal cliff even higher without a plan that I can see to address the long-term shortfall it will create,” she said, acknowledging the importance of investing in staff.

Current board members have also acknowledged the difficult year ahead, and interim Superintendent Lisa Kvistad, at her first full board meeting in the role Monday, said the budget “demonstrates how we value our staff” and invests in classrooms.

“While federal pandemic funding will go away after this fiscal year, our needs will not,” Kvistad said. “Therefore, the board of education, myself and my cabinet will continue to look at where we can adjust, repurpose and find additional sources of revenue.

“We have decisions to make, and we can make them together.”

Tax rates will drop from $9.97 per $1,000 of property value to $9.10. With home assessments increasing, though, the average homeowner will pay an additional $104.05 toward the school district, according to the preliminary budget.

“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.

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

“Grant making” industrial complex

Redistributed taxpayer fund$ via federal “grants” drive many topics in the education world.

Civics: elected civilian oversight

Civics: The Weaponization of CISA: how a “cybersecurity” agency colluded with big tech and “disinformation” partners to censor Americans

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

One could argue we’re in the business of critical infrastructure, and the most critical infrastructure is our cognitive infrastructure, so building that resilience to misinformation and disinformation, I think, is incredibly important.”
– CISA Director Jen Easterly, November 10, 2021.1

The First Amendment recognizes that no person or entity has a monopoly on the truth, and that the “truth” of today can quickly become the “misinformation” of tomorrow. Labeling speech “misinformation” or “disinformation” does not strip it of its First Amendment protection. As such, under the Constitution, the federal government is strictly prohibited from censoring Americans’ political speech. The government also may not use third parties to bypass the First Amendment and conduct censorship by proxy.2

The Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government have been conducting an investigation into government-induced censorship on social media. Although the investigation is ongoing, information obtained to date has revealed that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)—an upstart agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—has facilitated the censorship of Americans directly and through third-party intermediaries.

Founded in 2018, CISA was originally intended to be an ancillary agency designed to protect “critical infrastructure” and guard against cybersecurity threats.3 In the years since its creation, however, CISA metastasized into the nerve center of the federal government’s domestic surveillance and censorship operations on social media.4 By 2020, CISA routinely reported social media posts that allegedly spread “disinformation” to social media platforms.5 By 2021, CISA had a formal “Mis-, Dis-, and Malinformation” (MDM) team.6 In 2022 and 2023, in response to growing public and private criticism of CISA’s unconstitutional behavior, CISA attempted to camouflage its activities, duplicitously claiming it serves a purely “informational” role.7
This interim staff report details, among other things, that:

CISA is “working with federal partners to mature a whole-of-government approach” tocurbing alleged misinformation and disinformation.8
• CISA considered the creation of an anti-misinformation “rapid response team” capable ofphysically deploying across the United States.9
• CISA moved its censorship operation to a CISA-funded non-profit after CISA and theBiden Administration were sued in federal court, implicitly admitting that its censorshipactivities are unconstitutional.10
• CISA wanted to use the same CISA-funded non-profit as its mouthpiece to “avoid theappearance of government propaganda.”11
• Members of CISA’s advisory committee agonized that it was “only a matter of timebefore someone realizes we exist and starts asking about our work.”12
The Committee and the Select Subcommittee are responsible for investigating “violation[s] of the civil liberties of citizens of the United States.”13 In accordance with this mandate, this interim staff report on CISA’s violations of the First Amendment and other unconstitutional activities fulfills the obligation to identify and report on the weaponization of the federal government against American citizens. The work, however, is not done. CISA still has not adequately complied with a subpoena for relevant documents, and much more factfinding is necessary. In order to better inform the Committee’s legislative efforts, the Committee and Select Subcommittee will continue to investigate CISA’s and other Executive Branch agencies’ entanglement with social media platforms.

Legacy Media coverage of Student debt politics

Rick Hess and Caitlyn Aversman

  • An analysis of 100 news stories from five major newspapers regarding President Joe Biden’s proposal to unilaterally “forgive” $400 billion in student loan debt finds a strong pro-administration bias in the coverage.
  • Democratic officials, progressive advocates, and borrowers (all of whom were overwhelmingly supportive) accounted for over two-thirds of the coverage’s quotes. Democratic officials were quoted more than four times as often as Republican ones.
  • The coverage gave short shrift to the proposal’s legality, fairness, or inflationary impact. For instance, fewer than one in five news accounts even mentioned the 2003 Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, which the White House used to justify its unprecedented action; only one in three alluded to its regressive nature; and just 24 percent noted its inflationary impact.

Anti – Monopoly

Patrick Congdon:

Anti-Monopoly is now produced by San Francisco-based University Games. Hasbro retains the Monopoly trademark, though it’s been the subject of frequent litigation. Pilon wrote that Anspach and University Games found the game difficult to distribute widely because of agreements between Hasbro and top game retailers.

So where is Minnesota’s Anti-Monopoly graveyard?

Blue Earth County Historical Society Executive Director Jessica Potter dug up the address (as well as the old Free Press clips). Once headquartered at 600 Summit Av., the former landfill is east of Hwy. 169 and north of Hwy. 14. The area has since been redeveloped into an industrial park, but humps of earth from its landfill past still rise from the southern Minnesota landscape.

Stop Pining for the ‘Good Old Days’: Nostalgia is a terrible guide.

Jonah Goldberg:

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”—Marcel Proust

Nostalgia, a term that originated as a medical diagnosis for Swiss mercenaries suffering from homesickness, is the sorrowful longing for a lost past. An April Pew survey found that nearly 6 out of 10 Americans (58 percent) think the country was better off for people like them 50 years ago. For Republican and Republican-leaning respondents, nostalgia for the early 1970s reached 72 percent. 

This is bad—but not for the reasons you might think. First, some context. In 1939, Gallup found that 62 percent of Americans thought people were better off in the horse-and-buggy era (though only 25 percent said they’d actually want to live then). 

Indeed, Americans have always had a thing for the “good old days.” The problem is that what—or when—constitutes the “good old days” is a constantly moving target. It often seems to be about five decades earlier from right now.

Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?

Stephen Buranyi:

In 2011, Claudio Aspesi, a senior investment analyst at Bernstein Research in London, made a bet that the dominant firm in one of the most lucrative industries in the world was headed for a crash. Reed-Elsevier, a multinational publishing giant with annual revenues exceeding £6bn, was an investor’s darling. It was one of the few publishers that had successfully managed the transition to the internet, and a recent company report was predicting yet another year of growth. Aspesi, though, had reason to believe that that prediction – along with those of every other major financial analyst – was wrong.

The core of Elsevier’s operation is in scientific journals, the weekly or monthly publications in which scientists share their results. Despite the narrow audience, scientific publishing is a remarkably big business. With total global revenues of more than £19bn, it weighs in somewhere between the recording and the film industries in size, but it is far more profitable. In 2010, Elsevier’s scientific publishing arm reported profits of £724m on just over £2bn in revenue. It was a 36% margin – higher than Apple, Google, or Amazon posted that year.

But Elsevier’s business model seemed a truly puzzling thing. In order to make money, a traditional publisher – say, a magazine – first has to cover a multitude of costs: it pays writers for the articles; it employs editors to commission, shape and check the articles; and it pays to distribute the finished product to subscribers and retailers. All of this is expensive, and successful magazines typically make profits of around 12-15%.

The way to make money from a scientific article looks very similar, except that scientific publishers manage to duck most of the actual costs. Scientists create work under their own direction – funded largely by governments – and give it to publishers for free; the publisher pays scientific editors who judge whether the work is worth publishing and check its grammar, but the bulk of the editorial burden – checking the scientific validity and evaluating the experiments, a process known as peer review – is done by working scientists on a volunteer basis. The publishers then sell the product back to government-funded institutional and university libraries, to be read by scientists – who, in a collective sense, created the product in the first place.

Civics: Diversity and the 2024 elections

Sophia Cai:

Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd may be a long shot to be the Republican nominee for president, but his entry into the race Thursday was a benchmark: Of the 12 major GOP candidates, half are people of color. 

Why it matters: It’s a historic turn for Republicans, who in recent years have made a point of trying to recruit more minorities for public office — and have made slight gainsamong minority voters in recent election


Wisconsin Ups the Voucher Ante

Wall Street Journal:

These changes bring the scholarships to 73% of per-pupil union school funding from about 61%, according to the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL). It’s the biggest school-choice advance in the state in years. Charter schools also get a per-pupil boost of $1,727 to $10,991. A voucher program for special needs students increases by about $1,600 to $14,671 per student. A proposal at play in the Legislature’s budget negotiations could increase the voucher and charter amounts hundreds of dollars more.

Based on a survey of school leaders with School Choice Wisconsin last year, WILL estimates that at least 18,000—and likely thousands more—voucher seats could be created thanks to the larger scholarships. At least one private high school in Milwaukee that closed last year cited “inadequate” state funds as a factor. Some high school leaders interviewed by School Choice Wisconsin said their schools’ viability was in doubt without an increase in the voucher amount.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has been hostile to school choice, including attempting to freeze enrollment at schools that take the vouchers. But he signed the bill last week, and part of the deal is $1 billion in additional funding for union-run schools. Two Democrats in each chamber also voted for the bill.

UCSF apologizes for prisoner experiments

Associated Press:

Two dermatologists at the University of California, San Francisco — one of whom remains at the university — conducted the experiments on men at the California Medical Facility, a prison hospital in Vacaville that’s about 50 miles (80.47 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco. The practice was halted in 1977.

The university’s Program for Historical Reconciliation issued a report about the experiments earlier this month, writing that the doctors engaged in “questionable informed consent practices” and performed procedures on men who did not have any of the diseases or conditions that the research aimed to treat. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the program’s findings Wednesday.

“UCSF apologizes for its explicit role in the harm caused to the subjects, their families and our community by facilitating this research, and acknowledges the institution’s implicit role in perpetuating unethical treatment of vulnerable and underserved populations — regardless of the legal or perceptual standards of the time,” Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dan Lowenstein said in a statement.

The report said further analysis is needed to determine the extent of harms caused to the prisoners as a result of the experiments and what the university should do in response.

Civics: Justices Sotomayor and Kagan cite Sir Matthew Hale

Josh Blackman:

Last year, there was a bit of a stir when Justice Alito cited Sir Matthew Hale in the Dobbs draft, as ultimately in the published opinion. The well-known seventeenth century English judge sentenced two women to death for witchcraft. Therefore, everything the jurist wrote should be cancelled.

For those who still care about these things, Justice Sotomayor’s dissent in Pugin v. Garland, which was joined by Justices Gorsuch and Kagan, also cites Hale. She cites Blackstone too. I’m sure he said some misogynistic things.

Although the Court quotes Blackstone’s statement that ” ‘dis-suad[ing] a witness from giving evidence’ ” was an ” ‘impedimen[t] of jus-tice’ ” in support of its position, ante, at 8, Blackstone actually supports this dissent. The Court ignores that in historical usage “giving evidence” meant “testifying” at a proceeding. See, e.g., 3 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 305 (1768) (“[E]very defence, which cannot be thus specially pleaded, may be given in evidence, upon the general issue at the trial”); 2 M. Hale, History of the Pleas of the Crown 280 (1736) (“If a reward be promised to a person for giving his evidence before he gives it, this, if proved, disables his testimony”). The majority also ignores that the Blackstone passage is discussing “[c]ontempts against the king’s . . . courts of justice.” 4 Blackstone, Commentaries, at 124 (1769). This context confirms Blackstone is referring to impeding a wit-ness from testifying at a proceeding, because otherwise it would not be a contempt against the king’s courts.

Kagan had cited Hale in the past as well. Is there a problem? Hale no.

Open Records and the taxpayer supported San Francisco schools


In 2021, at a time when almost no one was talking about the issue, WRN began scrutinizing Chisholm’s sky-high non-prosecution rate. We discovered that he wasn’t prosecuting some 60% of felony cases, using his own data. After our story, Chisholm’s office stopped putting updating non-prosecution data online. That made us wonder: WHO is Chisholm refusing to prosecute?

A Henry owned Boston Globe view of (Wisconsin) Hartland Arrowhead High School

Jess Bidgood:

Chase Eastman woke up at 5:30 one morning this month, relieved that the second of the five alarms he had set had stirred him. He pulled on the rainbow-cuffed hoodie he had worn every day in June, and, with the notes he would need for his science final tucked into his backpack, climbed into the car, determinedto make his feelings very, very visible.

A 15-year-old freshman at Arrowhead High, Chase can’t drive himself, so he sat in the passenger seat as a parent drove and beds ofwild daisies flew by outside the window. He was about to join his first protest. At 6:45 a.m., a school board committee was going to take up a proposed policy that would ban anything deemed “race-dividing” or “promoting a sexual or gender preference” from the walls of this high school in the conservative Milwaukee suburbs. If the policy passed as written, Black Lives Matter posters, Pride flags, and “safe space” stickers would all be taken down or scrubbed away.

Boston Globe Ownership History. Jess Bidgood notes and links.

Boston Globe Ownership History.

Virginia’s Governor and K-12 substantive Change

Scott Calvert:

Vir­ginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin built his suc­cess­ful 2021 run for gov­er­nor in large part on pledges to ban crit­i­cal race the­ory and boost parental con­trol in pub­lic schools such as in Loudoun County, the scene of rau­cous school-board de­bates over is­sues such as Covid-19 mask poli­cies and race-re­lated in­struc­tion.

On his first day in of­fice he is­sued ed­u­ca­tion-re­lated ex­ec­u­tive or­ders. One aimed to ban the teach­ing of crit­i­cal race the­ory—a view that the legacy of white su­premacy is en­trenched in U.S. laws and in­sti­tu­tions. He signed lawsthat ended mask man­dates and re­quired par­ents to be no­ti­fied of sex­u­ally ex­plicit in­struc­tional ma­te­r­ial. The state school board, with a ma­jor­ity of Youngkin ap­pointees, ap­proved new statewide so­cial-stud­ies stan­dards.

Af­ter the first full school year of his term ended this month, the di­rec­tion of the state’s schools is far from set­tled. In-class in­struc­tion in Loudoun County has gone on with­out much change.

The new so­cial-stud­ies stan­dards, which echo Youngkin’s cam­paign call for “non­ide­o­log­i­cal and age-ap­pro­pri­ate” learn­ing, won’t take ef­fect un­til the 2025-26 school year. One teacher said his­tory cour­ses re­main the same. A con­ser­v­a­tive mem­ber of the school board says he still sees el­e­ments of crit­i­cal race the­ory be­ing taught. Some par­ents still clamor for more over­sight of class­room in­struc­tion.

Youngkin’s back­ers say gu­ber­na­to­r­ial clout can only go so far to spark change in lo­cal­ized school boards. Other sup­port­ers are urg­ing him to fur­ther push the lim­its of the power he has.

“As far as the pol­icy is­sues, there’s not much that has changed,” said Ian Prior, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Fight for Schools, a Loudoun-fo­cused po­lit­i­cal-ac­tion com­mit­tee that op­poses what it claims is a pivot from aca­d­e­mic rigor.

“That’s just ul­ti­mately the way lo­cal gov­ern­ment works,” said Prior, who spoke at Youngkin cam­paign events in Loudoun, among the high­est-in­come coun­ties in the na­tion and one that has trended De­mo­c­ra­tic.

“We are now at a crossroads where demand in some locations is far less than the capacity we built and maintain”

Tommy Thompson

When I was UW System president, I asked whether our facilities, personnel and educational offerings were making the best use of taxpayer funds. I argued that they were not, and called for a blue-ribbon commission to recommend a better way to deploy and fund statewide higher education, This is particularly important because the number of college-age people in the state is projected to decline.

I renew that call and point to two situations in support of my position.

Washington County officials are seeking a solution in West Bend where the campuses of UW-Milwaukee at Washington County and Moraine Park Technical College are separated by only a couple miles. UW enrollment there has significantly declined, but Moraine Park enrollment has remained robust. Of more concern, the West Bend School District today has 500 seniors but only 350 kindergartners.

“We also had to support teachers to actually use those because that is a lift” – interim Madison Superintendent

Abby Machtig;

How do you plan to address the achievement gaps between students in Madison schools, specifically around literacy?

We put brand new, high-quality standards-aligned materials in every single teacher’s classroom. We also had to support teachers to actually use those because that is a lift. … Do we always get it right the first time? No. But the good news is we can fix it, we can go back, we can learn, we can try again. We got some federal funding related to COVID and used much of that one-time money to make these initial investments in these materials. We didn’t always have that opportunity.

There is an explicit focus on literacy, and it’s not just literacy in the classroom, it’s also how we communicate about that to families. Families always want to be able to help their child read regardless of age. So that is not something that is done in isolation just in the classroom, it is about literacy in the community as well.

How do you plan to address declining student enrollment across the district? Going along with that, what is your plan for attracting and retaining teachers to the district amid a systemic teacher shortage?

I believe that our Board of Education has made a historic investment in our staff with the 8% cost-of-living increase. So, I believe that speaks volumes to our ability to retain and attract high-quality staff. It is a fact we are declining in enrollment. I think that there are some choices that we have to make around budget and ways of working over the coming year that we will do together.

Scott Girard.

Legislation and Reading: the Wisconsin Experience 2004 –

“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.

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

Do you want your children to be like you?

A programmer’s perspective

A question I often ask myself lately is wether I am the person that I want my children to grow up to be. Children, and human beings in general, learn mostly by imitation. We look at how others behave and we try to emulate their behaviour. Small children copy everything their parents do. The good parts and the bad parts. This is why it’s very important to stop and ask yourself if your behaviour is the right behaviour you want emulated in your children.

“Do you want your children to be like you?” This simple question is useful to reflect, discover and fix our imperfections. We are all full of all sorts of bad behaviour. Instead of accepting our faults we should strive to fix them, so that we don’t pass them onto our children.

Accepting that one has an imperfection is the first necessary step towards improvement. Some are easy to fix while some might take years. But we need to first accept that we have them and then try to fix them.

Every one of us has mountains of undiscovered potential. Sadly, we often don’t believe in our own potential. We think we already reached the end of our abilities. This is why children are amazing. They have so much potential. And it’s so visible, beautiful and exciting. It is our duty as parents to help them reach their potential.

On the paper “Exploring the MIT Mathematics and EECS Curriculum Using Large Language Models”

On June 15th, Iddo Drori posted on arXiv a working paper associated with a dataset of exams and assignments from dozens of MIT courses. He did so without the consent of many of his co-authors and despite having been told of problems that should be corrected before publication. One of us only learned of the posting on Sunday June 18 after traveling over the weekend.

In the process of addressing this matter, we discovered that contrary to what Iddo Drori had conveyed to us and to the students collecting data for the project, Iddo did not have permission from all the instructors to collect the assignment and exam questions that made up the dataset that was the subject of the paper. Instructors for some of those courses only learned of the existence of this dataset and the inclusion of their course material in it when the paper appeared on social media and when Iddo posted samples of the data online without permission from anyone.

These are serious matters that are being addressed through institutional channels, so we did not take lightly making such a public statement about them, but we feel it is important to explain why this paper should never have been published and must be withdrawn. We have asked Iddo to withdraw the paper from arXiv and have also contacted arXiv directly explaining the situation.

The coming cultural collapse of American higher education.

Peter Wood:

Why does anyone go to college? The most popular answer given by American college freshmen from 1991 to 2019 was, “To be able to get a better job.” The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, which conducted an annual survey of full-time students at some 200 four-year colleges, routinely found 75 to 85 percent gave that answer, though many also said, “To make more money.” The next most popular answer during those decades was, “To learn more about things that interest me.” Trailing these answers but still widely endorsed was the ambition, “To gain a general education and appreciation of ideas.”

I don’t have access to more recent results but I suspect the students are still saying much the same. Those answers, however, merely scratch the surface. The real reasons, then and now, that students go to college are hidden in a mixture of social expectations, family dynamics, ambitions, emotional longing, and inertia, covered with a veneer of socially acceptable rationalizations.

That mixture is powerful enough to move more than 60 percent of high-school graduates to enroll in college instead of entering the workforce, joining the military, apprenticing for a trade, or dubious options such as idling at home, wandering around, online gaming, or a life of crime.

Going to college still looks to most Americans as a better choice than going to war or a life of dissolution, but recent evidence suggests that students completing high school are beginning to rethink the idea that college is necessarily the best path. “More High-School Grads Forgo College in Hot Labor Market” declares the Wall Street Journal. There’s that, but American higher education—and perhaps education throughout the Anglophone world—is in the midst of a transformation that goes beyond the vagaries of the job market.

Civics and the legacy media: “Everybody Needs to Back Off!”

Jonathan Turley:

This week, former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) went on MSNBC to issue a furious warning to everyone looking into Hunter Biden and the influence peddling scandal: “Everybody needs to back off!

Newly released evidence from the investigation indicates that McCaskill was not the only powerful figure issuing that warning. Two whistleblowers reportedly detailed highly disturbing actions from top officials to slow walk and undermine the investigation.

Many of us have already noted the absence of certain charges in the plea deal given to Hunter Biden. In addition to the lack of any charge as an unregistered foreign agent, there is no evidence that the Justice Department seriously investigated the influence-peddling efforts of the Biden family despite allegations of millions generated from foreign sources.

Now these whistleblowers are reportedly telling Congress that they were actively frustrated in their efforts to investigate as Merrick Garland was insisting that there was no interference or limitations.

This included preventing an effort to search a guest house of President Joe Biden. IRS official Gary Shapley allegedly recalled that Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf agreed that there was “more than enough probable cause for the physical search warrant there, but the question was whether the juice was worth the squeeze.”

Wolf allegedly said that they could never get approval for the search despite the sufficiency of the evidence.

38% of ed schools get ‘F’ in prepping teachers to teach reading

Joanne Jacobs:

Thirty-eight percent of teacher-education programs are failing to prepare future teachers to teach reading using the most effective methods, according to a new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality, writes Kate Rix on The 74. Fifty-one percent of programs earned an “F” or “D,” while 23 percent received an “A.”

Teaching reading is the top priority in the early grades. As districts and states shift to what’s called the “science of reading,” many veteran teachers — trained to use “balanced literacy” or “whole language” methods that don’t work very well — need to retraining. You’d think the new teachers would be prepared, but many ed schools are slow to change.

Teachers need to understand how to teach phonemic awareness (hearing and manipulating sounds in words), phonics (matching sounds with letters), fluency (reading without much effort), vocabulary and comprehension, says NCTQ. Most teacher-prep programs don’t cover all five adequately: Phonemic awareness is the most neglected.

Phonics Finally Gets Its Due in New York: It took the city’s education bureaucracy 20 years to recognize that the Success Academy approach works.Phonics Finally Gets Its Due in New York:

Eva Moskowitz:

American students continue to suffer the effects of pandemic learning loss, as this week’s miserable National Assessment of Educational Progress scores demonstrate. But school closures and lockdowns explain only so much. If you truly wish to understand the dysfunction plaguing U.S. public schools, consider the remarkable story of Joel Greenblatt. A hedge-fund manager with no training or experience in education, Mr. Greenblatt nevertheless figured something out 20 years ago that New York City’s sprawling $38 billion school system is only now starting to realize—phonics is the key to early childhood literacy.

In 2005, as chairman of the City Council’s Education Committee, I heard about a school in Queens where the proportion of fourth-graders reading proficiently had doubled, from 36% to 71%, in four years. This school, P.S. 65, was using a phonics-based curriculum called Success for All that had been developed in the 1970s by Robert Slavin and Nancy Madden at Johns Hopkins University. The curriculum’s design was ingenious. It broke down reading skills into bite-sized pieces that children could understand. Students were evaluated every six weeks, placed into small groups at the same level of reading mastery, and taught exactly what they needed to progress to the next level. Success for All’s materials were so detailed and clear that even a relatively inexperienced teacher could use them.

Implementing Success for All didn’t require tons of money or brilliant teachers making heroic sacrifices. All it required was some modest additional funding so that students could learn in small groups for 100 minutes a day. Mr. Greenblatt, who picked up the tab, thought the school could make the money go further by asking other educators—such as the assistant principal or the art teacher—to pitch in.

Randi Weingarten admits there was ‘of course’ learning loss, mental health crisis during pandemic

Kendall Tietz:

“If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teachers’ unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing,” Pompeo said of teachers unions and the state of education in the U.S. 

Weingarten went on to say she was “very offended” that he called what teachers teach “filth,” stating that those who are trying to create a more inclusive society are unfairly called pedophiles or groomers. 

“Every time somebody attempts to, and teachers attempt to, or society attempts to, create a more inclusive society, those who are trying to do that are called pedophiles or groomers or teaching filth,” Weingarten said. “It’s trying to scare people and that’s part of this leveraging of what has happened in terms of COVID for political advantage.”

Roberts pointed to scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) that show U.S. schools have seen the largest average score decline in reading since 1990 and the first average score decline in math since 1989, as evidence that children in the American education system are falling behind. 

In response, Weingarten admitted that the scores went down because of COVID and that she was wrong when she said there was no learning loss, but claimed that Los Angeles Unified School District, which stayed closed longer than any other school district in the country, fared better than schools in the state of Florida.

Suddenly, School Choice: Its Rapid Post-Pandemic Expansion Sets Up a Big Pass/Fail Test for Education

Vince Bielski:

What’s more, most of these states have also enacted education savings accounts, or ESAs. They give families much more freedom than traditional tuition vouchers, depositing state funds into private accounts to spend on virtually anything related to learning, from homeschooling and online classes to therapy and supplies. 

The universal laws amount to a bracing change in school choice. Such programs have existed for decades but until now have been limited to a narrow set of students, such as those from low-income families, or in poor performing public schools, or in need of special education. 

By making all students eligible, regardless of their ability to pay for a private education, universal programs in the eight states expand the pool of possible participants by about 4 million students, according to an estimate by EdChoice, an advocacy group. That’s a 40% increase in eligibility since 2021, bringing the total to 13.6 million students after the programs start in the next few years.

Campus climate, 2023

Civics: Obama 2012 federal takeover of the economy executive order #13603

Federal Register

It would seize control of:

•All commodities and products that are capable of being ingested by either human beings or animals”
•“All forms of energy”
•“All usable water from all sources”
•“Health resources – drugs, biological products, medical devices, materials, facilities, health supplies, services and equipment”
•Forced labor ( or “induction” as the executive order delicately refers to military conscription)
•Moreover, federal officials would “issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources.”
•Each government bureaucracy “shall act as necessary and appropriate.”


The Elite War on Free Thought

Matt Taibbi:

This is a very American thing, the idea that rights aren’t conferred, but a part of us, like our livers, and you can’t take them away without destroying who we are. That’s why in other contexts you’ll hear some of us say things like, “I’ll give you this gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands!”

Some people roll their eyes and think that sounds crazy, but we know that guy actually means it, and to a lot of us it makes sense. We’re touchy about rights, especially about the first ones: speech, assembly, religion, the free press.

But we’re not here tonight to debate the virtues of American speech law versus the European tradition. Instead, Michael and I are here to tell a horror story that concerns people from all countries. Last year, he and I were offered a unique opportunity to look at the internal documentation of Twitter.

I entered that story lugging old-fashioned, legalistic, American views about rights, hoping to answer maybe one or two questions. Had the FBI, for instance, ever told the company what to do in a key speech episode? If so, that would be a First Amendment violation. Big stuff!

But after looking at thousands of emails and Slack chats, I first started to get a headache, then became confused. I realized the old-school Enlightenment-era protections I grew up revering were designed to counter authoritarianism as people understood the concept hundreds of years ago, back in the days of tri-cornered hats and streets lined with horse manure.

‘wholesale systemic reform’

Miranda Dunlap:

Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles unveiled a dramatically expanded plan for the district this week, announcing 150 schools will see “wholesale systemic reform” by 2025. 

The scope of Miles’ plan is much larger than the one he shared at the beginning of the month, when Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath appointed him and nine new school board members to lead HISD as part of sweeping sanctions against the district. Miles initially said he will begin with major changes to 28 campuses this upcoming school year, nearly all of which are located on the city’s largely lower-income northeast side.

Miles’ plans for the 150 schools, equal to slightly more than half of HISD’s campuses, largely mirror those outlined in recent weeks for the 28 campuses. They include significantly raising teacher pay, restructuring the responsibilities of teachers to give them more time to focus on classroom instruction, and standardizing lesson plans and curricula. The campuses would see additional staff dedicated to more routine tasks, such as making copies and grading papers.

Principals, meanwhile, would be expected to spend more time in classrooms coaching teachers. Miles compared principals to football coaches, saying coaches don’t show up to practice every few weeks, but rather they’re constantly on the field giving instruction.

Miles also said he wants to decrease the number of students in pre-kindergarten classrooms to 15, beginning with the 28 schools and HISD’s eight early childhood centers.

Governance and Covid Era Lockdowns: what might have been

Erich Hartmann:

There was a brief moment in Spring 2020, just a few days into “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” when we had a chance to change our trajectory. A distinct inflection point where if we had done just one thing differently, and caught the crazy COVID coaster before it got locked in its tracks, things could have turned out very differently over these last three plus years.

In the third week of March a secret emergency meeting was scheduled to take place between President Donald Trump, the COVID Task Force, and eight of the most eminently qualified public health experts in the world. This elite group of scientists was slated to present the highest-level decision-makers in our government with an alternative POV to lock down; a much-needed second opinion on national turtling.

We didn’t know it at the time, but this would have been the most important meeting of the COVID-19 era. But it never occurred.

What happened?

This has been a nagging question ever since July 27, 2020 when BuzzFeed News broke the news in an article by Stephanie M. Lee: “An Elite Group Of Scientists Tried To Warn Trump Against Lockdowns In March.” In her article Ms. Lee framed this aborted meeting as a dodged bullet, and the scientists as unhelpful meddlers, but for many of us the fact that there even wasan attempted meeting like this was extremely heartening. 

Because for months we had been led to believe that this novel, authoritarian response was unanimous, that “the science was settled” and yet here we find out that some of the most famous scientists in the world didn’t quite agree with “the science.” Not only that, but they had major issues with the process, they questioned the data, and they were extremely concerned about the downstream, long-term effects to our society from locking down. But Lee’s article didn’t even attempt to answer the one big glaring, nagging question left in her article: “Why?”

What Am I Bid for This Fine EdD? To laugh at education “doctorates” is to miss the threat they pose.

Stanley Ridgley:

The contretemps, two and a half years ago, over First Lady Jill Biden’s problematic degree and her too-earnest desire to be addressed as “Doctor” opened discussion about a problem in higher education that didn’t go quite far enough.

Just what is this “EdD,” and why is this chit so important to so many people—but only the people who clutch it tightly, even as they behave as if, at any moment, they may be found out?

It is impolite and sometimes impolitic to point out the clear and documented deficiencies of advanced degrees in “higher education,” of the people who teach in these programs, and of the folks who complete them. But this unnecessary extension of courtesy has had a predictably deleterious impact on the university in general.

Witness the ludicrous spectacle of Whoopie Goldberg lauding Jill Biden, EdD, as a viable candidate for Surgeon General.

Says cultural critic Roger Kimball, “It is generally understood, though seldom mentioned in polite society, that the less distinguished one’s academic institution, the more likely one will insist upon the honorific ‘Dr.’” And that’s the actual doctorate, not the EdD, which isn’t actually a “doctorate” in the same sense as, say, a PhD in physics or in quantum mechanics or even in economics or business. It’s little more than a me-too “certificate,” not far removed from the master’s degree in education, which isn’t really that far removed from the bachelor’s.

And yet, the uninitiated at times believe the EdD to be far more than it possibly could. Witness the ludicrous spectacle of television personality Whoopie Goldberg lauding Jill Biden, EdD, as a viable candidate for U.S. Surgeon General, seemingly unaware of the difference between the EdD and the MD.

Critical Thinking in Medicine and Public Health

Academy for Science and Freedom

The Covid-19 pandemic revealed a lack of critical thinking skills in medicine and public health. Group thinking and herd mentality dominated over evidence-based medicine, critical examination of available research and vigorous scientific debate. The problem manifested itself in school closures, harmful lockdown measures, insufficient protection of older, high-risk Americans, compulsory mask orders, vaccine mandates, and withholding of effective therapeutics. It is important that the future generation of physicians and public health professionals are trained in critical thinking and evidence-based medicine.

Children and the baked bike ride

David Blaska:

“A concerned Dane County citizen sent me an e-mail and photograph alleging that a child was allowed to participate in Madison’s Naked Bike Ride. The photograph shows what appears to be a child, surrounded by naked adults riding bicycles around the Wisconsin Capital. I have e-mailed Sheriff Barrett and have asked that his department investigate this matter.  In addition, I have filed a complaint with the Madison Police Department. 

“Our law enforcement officers need to investigate this matter and enforce our laws. If a child was allowed to participate in this naked bike ride, any and all adults who supported and condoned this need to be arrested immediately.”

“The trends may not be real”

The Economist:

Yet the trends may not be real. Instead, according to Patrick Ruffini, a pollster at the Republican-aligned firm Echelon Insights, they mainly reflect a change in how the Journal conducts its polling. In the past it had joined forces with nbc News to field a nationally representative poll by telephone, a practice that grew expensive and prone to error as response rates plunged. So the newspaper recently turned to norc, which over the past decade has developed polls that collect responses over the internet from a representative sample of Americans recruited by mail.

The problem arises when the types of people contacted by phone and the internet can be representative of Americans demographically, but statistical weirdos in other ways. Studying the differences in populations from telephone and online surveys—which industry insiders call “mode” effects—the Pew Research Centre in 2019 pointed out that its own online panellists may have been more honest about key metrics than its telephone respondents and less subject to “social desirability bias”, a phenomenon where people are more honest about things like their financial situation and height when asked anonymously than they are over the phone. Pew found that on the same question, among the same respondents, it got different responses by mode.

Pro life vs Pro Abortion Speech

Emily Fowler:

With the anniversary of the overturn of Roe v. Wade just around the corner, Campus Reform reached out to student leaders of pro-life organizations across the country to see what the campus climate has been like since the landmark Dobbs decision was handed down. 

Three out of five students Campus Reform interviewed stated that they have experienced more vandalism and backlash since Roe was overturned on June 24 of last year.  

Campus Reform Interviewed student leaders from Penn State University, the College of William and Mary in Virginia, Kennesaw State University in Georgia, North Carolina’s Campbell University, and Rider University in New Jersey.

Campus Reform first asked interviewees to reflect on what their overall experience has been like this past year with any backlash, vandalism, or related incidents on their campus.

Kale Ogunbor, Vice President of Penn State Students for Life and Campus Reform correspondent, replied that her group has “experienced vandalism and backlash quite a few times, especially during the fall semester, after the reversal of Roe.”

“Early in the fall semester our chapter decided to host a ‘Cemetery for the Innocents’ exhibit,” Ogunbor related. “Hundreds of blue and pink flags were placed on our campus lawn representing the victims of abortion in the United States … Students from the [Penn State Planned Parenthood] club mocked and verbally denigrated us, and sat on and in between the flags that each represented 2000 boys and girls that had been aborted every year leading up to the reversal of Roe.”

the signaling vs. human capital debates over education.

David Deming:

The U.S. college wage premium doubles over the life cycle, from 27 percent at age 25 to 60 percent at age 55. Using a panel survey of workers followed through age 60, I show that growth in the college wage premium is primarily explained by occupational sorting. Shortly after graduating, workers with college degrees shift into professional, nonroutine occupations with much greater returns to tenure. Nearly 90 percent of life cycle wage growth occurs within rather than between jobs. To understand these patterns, I develop a model of human capital investment where workers differ in learning ability and jobs vary in complexity. Faster learners complete more education and sort into complex jobs with greater returns to investment. College acts as a gateway to professional occupations, which offer more opportunity for wage growth through on-the-job learning.


Education bill to require two-thirds of content for standard bachelor’s degrees to be in Dutch

Senay Boztas:

As Britain voted to leave the EU, Dutch universities began offering more courses in English and foreigners streamed in.

But with 122,287 international students in higher education in the Netherlands – 15% of all the country’s students – the government is proposing a cap on the number of students from outside the European Economic Area in some subjects and forcing universities to offer at least two-thirds of the content of standard bachelor’s degrees in Dutch, unless a university justifies an exemption.

Degree Inflation

Preston Cooper:

  • Rising employer demand for bachelor’s degrees in occupations which did not previously require them is called degree inflation.
  • Degree inflation closes job opportunities to the 62 percent of Americans without four-year degrees, exacerbates labor shortages, and reduces the financial return on investment of a college education.
  • The proportion of upper-middle-class workers— those earning between $60,000 and $80,000 in today’s dollars — with a bachelor’s degree rose from 38 percent in 1990 to 52 percent today.
  • Managers, registered nurses, computer software developers, salespersons, and secretaries have experienced the most degree inflation since 1990.
  • To address degree inflation, state governments should eliminate statutory degree requirements wherever possible. The federal government should ensure a level playing field between traditional colleges and alternative education providers.

What to Do If Your House is Overflowing with Books

Emily Grosvenor:

As a feng shui consultant and design magazine editor and lifelong book obsessive, I am often asked by clients what to do when a collection of books moves from a state of abundance into what feels like a design problem. That moment arrives when people notice they are emotionally overwhelmed by the visual of overflowing bookshelves, or when they have encountered advice elsewhere about how to style shelves and the visual example shelf has only three books on it.

First, let’s all agree that for passionate readers, a personal library is nothing less than a soulful archive of the ever-changing self. We book lovers catalog our transformations, our influences, our ways of being, and our interests through our volumes and develop relationships—perceived or existing—with the people who created them.

Where once a library might have been a way to signal status to visiting society, today, a room full of books tells us a story about us: Where we came from, how we have struggled, what has lifted us, what we know for sure.

Notes on Declining Student Population

Jessica Grose:

The number of school-age children in America is declining. At least one reason is the fallingbirthrate after the Great Recession. And declining university enrollment based on a lower school-age population — which has been described as a “demographic cliff” — is something that some colleges are already grappling with.

K-12 public school systems around the country are facing a similar demographic reality. Declining enrollment hit cities like Chicago and states like Michigan before Covid, and the pandemic hit many other school systems — Philadelphia, New York City, Seattle and several districts in the Boston suburbs — like a wrecking ball. As The Times’s Shawn Hubler reported in May, “All together America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020,” according to a survey from the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

Choose Life.

“The problem is the amount of risk that I take, that the district avoids.”

David Blaska:

Big hulking 17-year-old was roaming the halls for 2 ½ hours. School brass is monitoring. Situation escalating. Student told to go to the principal‘s office. Kid threatens violence. Kid stands 6-feet 4-inches, weighs 230 pounds. Saffold removes his glasses to avoid injury. Assisted by other school employees, takes the student to the floor. Kid bites Saffold, draws blood. Kid gets cuffed. What’s this? (!!!) The school district has a policy against handcuffs? (!!!) A non-violent means of restraint to protect everyone? Saffold, a black man, neatly encapsulated the issue:

“If everyone was out of school, and everyone had learning loss, then aren’t we all equal?”

Chester Finn:

Yet the complacency of most Americans regarding the performance of our K–12 system has long been noted, as have the many structural, institutional, and contractual obstacles to changing that system in ways that might actually alter performance. This dates back at least to 1983’s Nation at Risk report. One reform effort after another gets opposed, diluted, or repealed—or turns out to be sorely incomplete because, for example, it fails to address the school-and-classroom implementation changes that are also essential if it’s to succeed.

Covid-related learning losses and what (if anything) to do about them are the latest example. Despite being flush with federal “recovery” dollars, most places aren’t doing much or doing “more of the same” or using the “lite” version or making it optional. They’re proving unable or unwilling to agree to actions that would truly alter behavior.

As the MacGillis piece makes clear, we shouldn’t dismiss this failure as mere structural rigidities or lack of leadership, although those definitely play roles almost everywhere. But the Richmond example is one of visionary leadership and what appear to be workable plans to retool the school year in ways that would facilitate recovery, especially among students who would get additional learning time, while also tackling such enduring problems as “summer learning loss” and kids getting into trouble due to endless weeks of no school.

What killed the year-round plan in Richmond (save for a tiny pilot version that finally slipped through, affecting just two of the districts’ fifty-four schools and potentially one thousand out of 22,000 pupils) was a witch’s brew of complacency, timidity, resignation, incomprehension, union resistance, and school board politics, plus a soupcon of condescension or obviousness among elites to the true circumstances of disadvantaged families.

Related: Harrison Bergeron:

Bates Academy cuts ‘premier’ music program and beloved teacher

Micah Walker:

Behind the smiles and jokes, the school’s lone band, orchestra and piano teacher was masking her sadness and frustration. Thomas spent the last two months fighting for her job at Bates, a K-8 school on Detroit’s northwest side. 

Thomas said Bates Principal David Bailey notified her April 12 that she would be leaving Bates at the end of the school year and transferring to another school in the Detroit Public Schools Community District. Thomas believes she’s being reassigned over too many absences throughout the year, absences the teacher said are protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act, a federal law that affords employees unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons. Thomas said she takes FMLA time each year to care for her 10-year-old son with disabilities, but needed to take a six-week leave for herself earlier this year due to health reasons.

“Why would you take away a program that’s highly successful?” Thomas said. “We’re one of the premier schools.”

Related: Harrison Bergeron:

Curious Content light Commentary on the Taxpayer Funded University of Wisconsin system Budget

Kelly Meyerhofer and Molly Beck:

“UW System ought to be teaching them different things, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, teamwork and collaboration, professionalism and communication skills,” he said.

UW System pushed back on claims that campuses aren’t teaching students those types of skills.

“Our graduates are in high demand by employers precisely because they have developed these critical thinking skills and the talent needed to adapt in an ever-evolving workplace,” UW System spokesperson Ethan Schuh said. “Employers are sharing those stories everyday in their communities, and quite frankly, on our social media.”

The UW System could recoup the $32 million cut in the upcoming year by presenting a spending plan focused on workforce initiatives that lawmakers would need to approve, according to the motion approved by committee Republicans.

Civics: IRS agents say the Justice Department hindered their probe of the president’s son

Kimberly Strassel:

In December 2020 the team wanted to search a storage unit in Virginia where Hunter had moved business documents. Ms. Wolf again objected, then tipped off Hunter’s defense counsel, “ruining our chance to get to evidence before being destroyed, manipulated, or concealed,” Mr. Shapley said. Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters also tipped Hunter’s Secret Service team to a proposed “day of action” in which members of U.S. Attorney David Weiss’s team intended to conduct surprise interviews of witnesses—including Hunter. This gave a group “close to Hunter” the opportunity to “obstruct the approach,” and of the “12 interviews we hoped to conduct on our day of action, we only got one substantive interview.” Hunter lawyered up.

Along the way, according to Mr. Shapley’s testimony, Ms. Wolf told investigators not to ask any questions about “dad” or “the big guy.” They were blocked from pursuing leads about the financial transactions of Hunter’s children, since she said they’d get “into hot water if we interview the president’s grandchildren.” They were ordered not to look into evidence of campaign-finance violations. They were told to take Hunter’s name off official document requests, which Mr. Shapley said was “absolutely absurd.” The second whistleblower told the committee that he became “sick of fighting to do what’s right.”

The IRS team nonetheless prepared a document in late 2021 covering tax years 2014-19, in which it recommended charging Hunter with felony tax evasion, felony false tax returns, and failures to pay tax. Mr. Shapley says this was partially based on Hunter’s “textbook” tax evasion of declaring his income from the Ukrainian firm Burisma as a “loan.” Mr. Shapley says the team was also looking into a Foreign Agents Registration Act case.

Shanna Swan has been investigating the impact of chemicals on human fertility for decades

Sarah Neville:

On a rainy evening in Copenhagen last year, a diminutive woman in jeans, ankle boots and a casual shirt waited offstage at the Koncerthuset, a vast venue renowned for its acoustics. She had been invited by Science & Cocktails, a Danish non-profit that pairs lectures with drinks chilled in dry ice. Many in the audience were decades her junior and the mood was more rock concert than lecture as a voice over the loudspeaker announced, “The one and only — Shanna. Fucking. Swan!”

Swan, who turned 87 last month, walked on to the thump of a techno track, whoops and applause. “Wow. I have to say” — she chuckled gamely — “I’ve never had an introduction like that. And it’s wonderful.” As the hall quietened, she began to speak, calmly and without notes, about the animating purpose of her professional life. “I’m going to tell you a mystery story,” she said. “And hopefully, you’ll help me to solve it along the way.” 

The mystery is this. Since the late 1930s, sperm counts around the world appear to have dropped significantly. While the decline was initially observed in western countries, there is evidence of the same phenomenon in the developing world, and it seems to be accelerating. Swan, a Berkeley-trained statistician-turned-epidemiologist, believes she knows why.

For more than two decades she has devoted her life to studying the effects of “endocrine disrupting” chemicals (EDCs), which can interfere with the body’s natural hormones. These include pesticides, bisphenols, which harden plastic so it can be used in food storage containers and baby bottles, and phthalates, which soften plastic for use in packaging and products such as garden hoses. In recent years, traces of EDCs have been found in breast milk, placental tissue, urine, blood and seminal fluid.

In the glare of orange spotlights, Swan led the Copenhagen audience to her conclusion: that the innocuous products in your kitchen cupboard, bathroom cabinet or garden shed may be lowering sperm counts. They could also affect the reproductive systems of your unborn children. The implications of EDCs for human health don’t stop there: they can disrupt thyroid function, trigger cancer and obesity.

The Value of Student Debt Relief and the Role of Administrative Barriers: Evidence from the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

Brian Jacob, Damon Jones & Benjamin J. Keys

We explore how much borrowers value student debt relief, in the setting of the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) program, and further document whether information and eligibility for this program affect teacher employment decisions. The program cancels between $5,000 and $17,500 in debt for teachers who remain employed in a high-need school for five consecutive years. Using both quasi-experimental evidence and a randomized control trial, we find that neither eligibility nor a targeted information intervention result in changes in teacher employment decisions, despite the presence of sizable student loan balances in our sample. Information was found, however, to increase application and receipt rates for teachers who had already accrued the five years of eligibility. Additional evidence from contingent valuation surveys suggests that teachers do in general value possible debt relief. Incorporating qualitative evidence from focus groups, we conclude that take-up may be constrained by program complexity and administrative barriers that involve knowing which schools qualify, tracking employment records, having employers sign off, and coordinating with loan servicers.

Schools and LGBTQ Propaganda

Sarah Marshall Perry:

In a June like none other, where the LGBTQ agenda has been crammed at increasing velocity down the throats of unwitting Americans, everyday folks are reaching their limits.

With two more weeks to go in “Pride Month,” this is bad news for the rainbow mafia. But it’s a sign of character and courage that the rest of us can take hope in—especially when demonstrated by families in the direct line of propagandistic fire.

In response to the Left’s “sex-and-gender-everything” policies, parents and kids are both flexing their muscles in opposition to schools that are all in on “Pride.”

Earlier this month, a group of students at Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington, Massachusetts, reportedly protested a “Pride Month” event by tearing down LGBTQ “Pride” signs and banners and chanting, “USA are my pronouns.” 

This prompted the Equity Coalition, an LGBTQ advocacy group, to demand that the Burlington school district discipline students involved in the protest and fill the district’s vacant position of director of diversity, inclusion, and equity, or DEI.

Justice Stevens’s Papers Reveal How The Fortune Cookies Were Baked In Lawrence v. Texas

Josh Blackman:

In any event, the latest story from Joan Biskupic and Devan Cole includes a few worthwhile revelations about Lawrence v. Texas.

First, believe it or not, Justice Kennedy’s draft opinion had even more cringeworthy rhetoric. And the Court’s progressives objected!

Kennedy also withdrew language that some of his colleagues regarded as awkward or out of place, such as, “The sexual instinct is of endless fascination for the human. Its beauty and power are best respected when the individual has substantial freedom to explore it to attain a better understanding of the concept of self and the place he or she has in a larger universe.”

His final opinion, instead, said in that section, “When sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring. The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to make this choice.”

Justice Scalia, preach:

If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,” I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.

And to paraphrase Scalia and Bismarck, “no one should see how sausages or Kennedy opinions are made.”

Second, at conference, Justice Breyer only wanted to grant cert if there were five votes to reverse Bowers:

Free speech and Citizenship

Glenn Reynolds:

“Allowing space for ideas we hate and ideas propounded by people we are inclined to hate not only trains our mind to refrain from lash[ing] out reflexively at unwelcome arguments, it more importantly frees us from the compulsion to do so,” wrote Reynolds (pictured).

“And freedom from that compulsion is not only good for free speech, it is also good for the soul,” he wrote, citing Justice Louis Brandeis’s dissent in Whitney v. California(1927): “Men feared witches and burned women, and it is the function of [free] speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.”

Reynolds points out that the top comment to a New York Times story regarding a federal judge who was recently shouted down at Stanford Law School is a first-hand account from a reader about how in 1969 a group of well-behaved high school students were able to sit through a lecture from members of the American Nazi Party then skillfully humiliate and school them during the Q&A.

“Yes, humiliating Nazis with your learning and knowledge is true empowerment, of a sort not to be found in persuading administrators to silence them. … [However] nowadays those administrators refer to speech as ‘harmful’ or ‘violent.’ Such labels cause students to feel that they are in danger and must be protected from the speech in question,” he wrote. “Teaching people that hostile speech is something they have the resources to overcome on their own is far more empowering than teaching that they must be protected by their elders from ideas they cannot cope with by themselves.”

Ultimately, Reynolds added, one must exercise “the muscles of tolerance, on both an individual and a societal level.”

“’Use it or lose it,’ as the bodybuilders say, and we have every reason to think that our societal tolerance muscles have grown rather flabby in recent years.”

Safety climate and the legacy media