K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison Tax & $pending growth

David Blaska

“The city council will soon vote on this year’s budget. Mayor Satya claims it is “responsible” and blames state lawmakers for our city’s problems. Don’t be fooled. The mayor is trying to hide the truth — this budget shortchanges our community. Mayor Satya will try to mislead you with claims that don’t match the facts.”

Reyes is fronting an organization called “Madison’s P …P … Pro … Pro … zzz💣***☠️!!!👺 Path Forward …. (forgive the term but this IS Madison) (clears throat) “Madison’s Progressive Path Forward.” (Oddly, can find no website or social media presence for Madison’s P … Pro … Path Forward. But it does have a physical address, 821 E. Washington Ave.; a mailing address: Box 910, Madison WI 53703; and a phone: 608-292-9461.)

The Werkes ran Reyes’ numbers past former alderman Skidmore who, though a few years out of office, said they comport with his impressions, based also on his conversations with former mayor Paul Soglin. Herewith is Madison’s P … Pro … Path Forward analysis:

Mayor Satya claims that this is a responsible operating budget. False.

The truth?

  • She applied $16.7 million in one-time funds to the operating budget. It violates a cardinal rule of budgeting as set by the Government Finance Officers Association and the Government Accounting Standards Board.
  • In her first five years, city spending is up 22%. In her predecessor’s first five years spending went up 16%
  • For 2024 she is applying a fund balance of $9.2 million to the budget creating an even larger deficit for 2025.
  • This budget (like her preceding budgets) is leading the city to a $75 million deficit to continue basic city services. In preceding years, instead of fixing it, she says “We are working on it.”
  • The Mayor’s office budget is increasing by 29%, the biggest increase for any department except the Clerk (which has to administer the federal elections next year) and Madison Metro!

“But our definition of blackness is something invented gradually over the course of the modern era”

Stephen Bush:

Unlike other modern inventions, however, there is a healthy cottage industry that likes to extend the concept backwards through time. In the UK, a new children’s book, Brilliant Black British History, defines both Quintus Lollius Urbicus, one of Britain’s Roman governors, and Septimius Severus, the Roman emperor whose campaign to conquer what is now Scotland was cut short by his own death, as “Black Britons”. 

In historical terms, of course, this is pure fiction. Severus was born in Africa and is depicted with dark skin in contemporary work, but he was no more “black” in the sense we understand it today than growing up near a Roman road makes me a centurion. He was not a Briton and, having come here as a conqueror, would have found the term insulting.

But of course, Brilliant Black British History is not really a history book, just as the surprisingly engaging hit Christian cartoon series Veggie Tales is not really biblical education. These are actually morality plays for concerned parents to read to small children to prepare them for adult life. So too are the whole gamut of what you might call “Feelgood Tales for Liberal Tots”: the Little People, Big Dreams series, which wants to teach kids that they can do anything and be anything. This features heavily sanitised stories about the likes of Coco Chanel (heavy on the entrepreneurship and the stylish outfits, light on the Nazism and the cocaine) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (much is made of the art and his sexual openness, less of his early death and heroin habit). 

None of these books are free of controversy. Even Veggie Tales is frowned upon by some ultraorthodox Christians for implying that talking vegetables can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, a privilege extended only to humans. But it is not, I think, particularly helpful, to criticise Brilliant Black British History because it is flatly contradicted by Olivette Otele’s marvellous African Europeans: An Untold History, or to find Veggie Tales wanting because it falls short of what the Bible actually says.

Weaponizing Student Loan Forgiveness

Wall Street Journal

No act of public service goes unpunished. The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (Mohela) mounted a successful legal challenge to the Biden Administration’s $400 billion student loan forgiveness. Now the Administration is dunning the student loan servicer for problems the government caused.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray said Monday they are withholding $7.2 million in payment to Mohela for allegedly failing to send timely billing statements to 2.5 million borrowers before their loan payments restarted in October after the three-and-a-half year pandemic pause.

Mohela assists nearly 7.8 million student loan borrowers, about 5.3 million of whom it added during the pandemic as several loan servicers withdrew from the program because of administrative headaches and costs. Mohela and other servicers have been stuck sorting out the confusion for some 40 million borrowers as repayments start.

“New Front in Anti-Discrimination Battle”


The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden Administration’s “disadvantaged business enterprise” (DBE) program, alleging illegal discrimination against two clients—Mid-America Milling Company LLC (MAMCO) and Bagshaw Trucking Inc. The federal DBE program is the largest, and perhaps oldest, affirmative action program in U.S. history. It is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In June 2023, the United States Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action is almost always illegal. Through its Equality Under the Law Project, WILL seeks to extend the foundational right of equality to all corners of civil society.

The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel, Dan Lennington, stated, “It’s time for discrimination to end. Our clients are hardworking small business owners who just want to build roads and make America a great place for everyone. But time and time again, they lose out on business because of their race and gender. This is un-American, and we’re putting a stop to it.”

Why are you so slow?

Allen Downey:

Recently a shoe store in France ran a promotion called “Rob It to Get It”, which invited customers to try to steal something by grabbing it and runninghttps://www.allendowney.com/blog/2023/10/28/why-are-you-so-slow/ out of the store. But there was a catch — the “security guard” was a professional sprinter, Méba Mickael Zeze. As you would expect, he is fast, but you might not appreciate how much faster he is than an average runner, or even a good runner.

Why? That’s the topic of Chapter 4 of Probably Overthinking It, which is available for preorder now. Here’s an excerpt.

Running Speeds

If you are a fan of the Atlanta Braves, a Major League Baseball team, or if you watch enough videos on the internet, you have probably seen one of the most popular forms of between-inning entertainment: a foot race between one of the fans and a spandex-suit-wearing mascot called the Freeze.

The route of the race is the dirt track that runs across the outfield, a distance of about 160 meters, which the Freeze runs in less than 20 seconds. To keep things interesting, the fan gets a head start of about 5 seconds. That might not seem like a lot, but if you watch one of these races, this lead seems insurmountable. However, when the Freeze starts running, you immediately see the difference between a pretty good runner and a very good runner. With few exceptions, the Freeze runs down the fan, overtakes them, and coasts to the finish line with seconds to spare.

Harvard’s Double Standard on Free Speech

John Tierney:

After Harvard student groups blamed Israel for Hamas’s atrocities, the global backlash was so fierce that the university’s president, Claudine Gay, released a video statement that in some ways proved even more puzzling. “Our university rejects the harassment or intimidation of individuals based on their beliefs,” she said. “And our university embraces a commitment to free expression. That commitment extends even to views that many of us find objectionable, even outrageous.”


This was news to the scholars with unpopular views at Harvard who have been sanctioned by administrators, boycotted by students, and slandered by the Crimson student newspaper. And it was certainly news to anyone who follows the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s annual analyses of threats to free speech on campus.

In this year’s FIRE report, Harvard’s speech climate didn’t merely rank dead last among those of the 248 participating colleges. It was also the first school that FIRE has given an “Abysmal” rating for its speech climate, scoring it zero on the 100-point scale (even that was a generous upgrade, as its actual composite score was -10). That dismal distinction made headlines last month across the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia—but not on the Harvard campus. The Crimson didn’t even publish an article in its news section, much less an editorial; Gay didn’t make a statement, either.

Once upon a time, journalists and scholars on both the left and right were staunchly devoted to free speech and academic freedom, if only out of self-interest. Liberals like Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice defended the rights of Klansmen and Nazis because they knew the First Amendment was their profession’s paramount principle. But in the past decade, that bipartisan devotion has been disappearing, particularly at elite colleges. Harvard’s journalists and scholars adopted the principles that Hentoff criticized in the title of one of his books: free speech for me, but not for thee.

Why teachers in South Korea are scared of their pupils – and their parents

Paula Hancocks and Yoonjung Seo:

When fighting broke out in Kang Hyeon-joo’s elementary school classroom, her heart would beat so fast she could not breathe and her vision would blur.

“They were throwing punches and kicking faces, throwing chairs and tables around,” she recalled, adding she had been hurt trying to intervene.

For two years, Kang struggled to discipline her students – or cope with the parental backlash when she did. She claims her principal did nothing to help and would tell her simply to “just take a week off”.

The strain took a dangerous toll. Kang says she started feeling the urge to jump in front of a bus. “If I just jumped at least, I would feel some relief. If I just jumped off a tall building, that would at least give me some peace.”

Civics: Veracity and the legacy media

Christina Pushaw:

The journalisming gets even worse! Washington Post whines that @elonmusk is “throttling traffic to the New York Times” in order to “degrade the public’s ability to find authoritative information”… because the New York Times is the authoritative source on “who blew up a hospital in Gaza.”

Schooling vs. Learning: How Lax Standards Hurt the Lowest-Performing Students

Chad Adelman:

Likewise, when students are struggling, failing to turn in work or at risk of falling behind, teachers should tell them. It’s kinder — and fairer — for educators to set clear expectations and hold students to them.  

Many schools have started to take the opposite approach. Perhaps in the mistaken belief that it’s gentler to give struggling students second and third chances, schools across the country are essentially withholding honest feedback from kids (and parents) through no-zero grading policies or by passing students along even though they haven’t mastered the content.

These trends started before the pandemic but have accelerated since then. And they’ve created 

a growing disconnect between subjective evaluations like grades and objective data like attendance and achievement. Student grades and graduation rates are rising to new highs, while attendance and academic performance are hitting modern lows. 

Most recently, the testing company ACT announced that average scores were lower this year than at any point since 1991. The declines were particularly notable for Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Latino students.

K-12 tax & spending climate: Federal office buildings are 80% vacant, government audit finds

By Stephen Dinan

The Agriculture Department is headquartered at the gateway between Washington and Virginia in a building rich with history — but on any given day, roughly 90% of it sits empty.

That’s not an anomaly.

The Government Accountability Office surveyed two dozen federal agencies and found they averaged a roughly 80% vacancy rate during the study period earlier this year.

Not a single agency topped 50% use, GAOreported.

Investigators said excess space has been a “long-standing challenge,” but the coronavirus pandemic and growing demands by employees to be allowed to telework raised the problem to crisis levels, with the government paying for massive square footage it just doesn’t need anymore.

Permissionless innovation or “only what is permitted”

Mohar Chatterjee and Rebecca Kern:

The White House is poised to make an all-hands effort to impose national rules on a fast-moving technology, according to a draft executive order.

President Joe Biden will deploy numerous federal agencies to monitor the risks of artificial intelligence and develop new uses for the technology while attempting to protect workers, according to a draft executive order obtained by POLITICO.

The order, expected to be issued as soon as Monday, would streamline high-skilled immigration, create a raft of new government offices and task forces and pave the way for the use of more AI in nearly every facet of life touched by the federal government, from health care to education, trade to housing, and more.

At the same time, the Oct. 23 draft order calls for extensive new checks on the technology, directing agencies to set standards to ensure data privacy and cybersecurity, prevent discrimination, enforce fairness and also closely monitor the competitive landscape of a fast-growing industry. The draft order was verified by multiple people who have seen or been consulted on draft copies of the document.

The White House did not reply to a request to confirm the draft.

Though the order does not have the force of law and previous White House AI efforts have been criticized for lacking enforcement teeth, the new guidelines will give federal agencies influence in the US market through their buying power and their enforcement tools. Biden’s order specifically directs the Federal Trade Commission, for instance, to focus on anti-competitive behavior and consumer harms in the AI industry — a mission that Chair Lina Khan has already publicly embraced.


President Biden has signed an executive order that will require AI companies to “address algorithmic discrimination” and “ensure that AI advances equity.” They want to embed the principles of CRT and DEI into every aspect of AI.

Permissionless Innovation: The Continuing Case for Comprehensive Technological Freedom, and.

“Fiscal indulgences

Imagine a computer code Ibram Kendi installed directly into your operating system, forever.

This is a terrible tech policy document. The noise made by some closed AI companies around simple word calculators taking over the world has now led to a regulatory regime which functionally makes it tougher for newer entrants, in both closed and open source AI worlds. This is the textbook definition of regulatory capture playing out (cc @bgurley). Some red flags:

It mostly demands a lot of reports, almost entirely from within the government.

  1. A lot of government employees will be writing a lot of reports.
  2. After they get those reports, others will then write additional reports.
  3. There will also be a lot of government meetings.
  4. These reports will propose paths forward to deal with a variety of AI issues.
  5. These reports indicate which agencies may get jurisdiction on various AI issues.
  6. Which reports are requested indicates what concerns are most prominent now.
    1. A major goal is to get AI experts into government, and get government in a place where it can implement the use of AI, and AI talent into the USA.
    2. Another major goal is ensuring the safety of cutting-edge foundation (or ‘dual use’) models, starting with knowing which ones are being trained and what safety precautions are being taken.
    3. Other ultimate goals include: Protecting vital infrastructure and cybersecurity, safeguarding privacy, preventing discrimination in many domains, protecting workers, guarding against misuse, guarding against fraud, ensuring identification of AI content, integrating AI into education and healthcare and promoting AI research and American global leadership.

“Anyone who is 15 or younger must obtain a permit from the Department of Workforce Development”

Andrew Bahl:

Anyone who is 15 or younger must obtain a permit from the Department of Workforce Development, the state agency which oversees labor issues, in order to work in most jobs across the state. 

Between 2019 and 2022, the number of permits issued rose from 29,322 to 37,404, an increase of 27%. 

The overwhelming majority of those permits are issued to 14- and 15-year-olds, though permits have been issued for workers as young as 10 over the past four years. State law generally limits minors from being employed before the age of 12 but there are exceptions, such as acting in a theater or movie production.

Critics, including conservative legislators and business groups, have long considered the work permit requirement nothing more than a burden on employers and the minors themselves. Lawmakers previously scrappedwork permits for 16- and 17-year-olds in the state in 2017.

Now they have their sights set on eliminating the requirement for 14- and 15-year-olds as well. A bill proposing the change passed the state Senate earlier this month on a 21-11 vote, with all but one Republican voting in favor.


Permissionless Innovation: The Continuing Case for Comprehensive Technological Freedom

Yet, I was blessed to shovel snow, deliver newspapers (winter, too) and wash dishes and later cook at a restaurant before the current regulation….

Judge James Ho warns college campuses have become a danger to American ideals

Breccan F. Thies

“The real problem with the academy is not disruption but discrimination,” he said. “Rampant discrimination against mainstream views held by millions of Americans but disfavored by the cultural elites who control the national discourse.”

“The intolerance we’re seeing on campus is antithetical to America, and it’s especially antithetical to the academy,” Ho continued. “They need to put an end not only to the disruption but also to the discrimination. Otherwise, I have no choice but to change how I hire.”

Ho spoke to the Washington Examiner after delivering the keynote address at the Heritage Foundation’s 16th Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture on Wednesday evening, where he challenged the lack of fortitude of federal judges, saying many suffer from “gold star syndrome” that disables their abilities to issue tough or unpopular decisions.

Too many judges, he said, are motivated by personal achievement, social climbing, and cowering to public dissent, as opposed to public service.

“If your whole life’s purpose is to wear black robes, then maybe you shouldn’t,” he said, implying “gold star” judges should resign. “No one forced you to become a judge. You agreed to become a judge. Some people even lobby and campaign for it. And you can quit anytime you want.”

“If you do the job faithfully, you should expect to be either hated or ignored,” Ho added.

YouTube (google) anti privacy tactics

Thomas Claburn

Last week, privacy advocate (and very occasional Reg columnist) Alexander Hanff filed a complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) decrying YouTube’s deployment of JavaScript code to detect the use of ad blocking extensions by website visitors.

On October 16, according to the Internet Archives’ Wayback Machine, Google published a support pagedeclaring that “When you block YouTube ads, you violate YouTube’s Terms of Service.”

“If you use ad blockers,” it continues, “we’ll ask you to allow ads on YouTube or sign up for YouTube Premium. If you continue to use ad blockers, we may block your video playback.”

Academic Freedom and the Harvard Hedge Fund

Colleen Farabaugh:

A conservative Harvard University professor described his fight against cancellation by his peers after he publicly came out against the Supreme Court’s redefining of marriage.

Harvard School of Public Health Professor Tyler VanderWeele detailed the saga in a nine-page article titled “Moral Controversies and academic public health; notes on navigating and surviving academic freedom challenges.”

VanderWeele wrote in an email to The College Fix that his “hope” for the paper, slated to be published in the journal Global Epidemiology, “was simply to encourage discussion of these issues within the academic community.”

“The Harvard Chan School of Public Health leadership has already put forward an updated statement on freedom of expression as a result of these events, which seems very good, and our interim Dean Jane Kim has been very supportive, so I am hopeful about the future,” he wrote.

Professor fired for ‘faking data to prove lynching makes whites want longer sentences for blacks,’ 6 studies retracted

Rikki Schlott

The academic was fired after almost 20 years of his data — including figures used in an explosive study, which claimed the legacy of lynchings made whites perceive blacks as criminals, and that the problem was worse among conservatives — were found to be in question.

College authorities said he was being fired for “incompetence” and “false results.” 

Among the studies he has had to retract were claims that whites wanted longer sentences for blacks and Latinos.

To date, six of Stewart’s articles published in major academic journals like Criminology and Law and Society Review between 2003 and 2019 have been fully retracted after allegations the professor’s data was fake or so badly flawed it should not have been published.

The professor’s termination came four years after his former graduate student Justin Pickett blew the whistle on his research.


UK “online safety act”

Thomas Claburn:

The law requires tech companies to prevent illegal content from being distributed on their platforms and to remove it when identified. It also seeks to prevent children from being exposed to harmful material, a goal that demands effective online age verification. And it allows for fines of up to £18 million ($21.82 million) or 10 percent of their global turnover, whichever is greater. It even includes the possibility of imprisoning executives whose companies fail to comply.

The Origins of Woke

Misha Saul:

Tucked away half-way through Richard Hanania’s quietly acerbic and ambitious how-to-overthrow-this-regime handbook is this jaw-dropping portrait of civil rights law’s totalitarian impulse. 

Why has race and sex lunacy eaten at American life? It’s the law, says Richard. When half the economy is fueled by government spending which comes with race and sex strings attached, there’s not much point talking about anything else. It’s like talking about book selling without Amazon or search without Google. Sure there are other reasons, and sure there is downstream metastisation as what’s legally mandated becomes culturally self-propagating. But the heart of its power remains the astonishing fact that civil rights law has effectively made holding conservative and often majority-held beliefs illegal (or at least ‘problematic’).

Richard is meticulous in his description of the way the courts and the executive took civil rights legislation and developed doctrines opposite to the intent of Congress. This is his summary of the hydra and his prescription for where its various heads may be struck:

Saving More in a 401(k) Can Now Boost Your College Financial Aid

Oyin Adedoyin

Faced with the gargantuan cost of higher education, Americans often have to choose between securing their children’s future or their own. A new rule change makes it slightly easier to do both.

Pretax contributions made to retirement accounts will no longer count as income in the formula that measures a family’s ability to pay for college, under changes to this year’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or Fafsa. The Education Department made the changes to simplify the form and ensure more aid goes to those who need it most.

Some families could save between $5,000 to over $10,000 on the cost of college each year, depending on their income.

Paying for college and saving for retirement are two of the biggest financial challenges Americans face. The change encourages saving for retirement while making college more affordable to middle-income Americans at a time high inflation and interest rates have stretched family budgets.

Settlement of University of Wyoming “God Created Male and Female and Artemis Langford Is a Male” Case

Eugene Volokh

I wrote about the court decision in favor of plaintiff back in August; now I see that the parties have settled, and are asking for court approval of the following consent order:

1. Defendants are hereby permanently enjoined from censoring Schmidt’s views on the sexual identity of Artemis Langford and from applying the one-year table ban on Schmidt that was initiated on December 7, 2022.
2. This injunction does not diminish Defendants’ ability to sanction possible future misbehavior by Schmidt, such as continuing to engage with students who do not wish to speak with him.
3. Defendants shall pay certain attorney fees and expenses in the amount of $35,000 within 20 days of this Order….

Here’s my original post:

[* * *]

From Schmidt v. Siedel, decided yesterday by Judge Nancy Freudenthal (D. Wyo.) (see also the coverage in Cowboy State Daily (Clair McFarland), and this post about a pseudonymity issue in a lawsuit stemming from the sorority controversy):

Schmidt is an elder at the Laramie Faith Community Church…. He has reserved a table in the UW Union breezeway on a regular basis for the past 17 years. The UW Union allows campus groups and various outside organizations to utilize breezeway tables to communicate with students. The breezeway tables provide access to a high degree of student pedestrian traffic. Schmidt uses his breezeway table to display various DVDs and books. He also places on his table a Velcro-backed sign with plastic lettering to display different messages.

According to UW Officials, they have over the years warned Schmidt to stay behind his breezeway table and not engage in a confrontational manner towards passersby. The University alleges it has received and documented complaints from students that Schmidt “got in people’s faces” while trying to talk to them and chased after students who refused to speak with him. Schmidt states that he was not aware of any student complaints to University staff about him and received no warning from the University regarding student complaints.

In September of 2022, a UW student named Artemis Langford joined a UW sorority. Langford was born a biological male but identifies as female. In October, the UW university newspaper, the Branding Iron, ran a story about Langford joining the sorority, and included quotes from Langford. Other publications, including the Cowboy State DailyWashington Examiner, and National Review, ran articles about Langford as the first openly transgender student in UW history to join a sorority.

Schmidt disagrees with the propriety of transgender students joining sororities, and on December 2, 2022, he placed a sign at his breezeway table in the Union stating, “God created male and female and Artemis Langford is a male.” Various students gathered in front of his table in an attempt to block others, and Langford, from seeing Schmidt’s sign. {Artemis Langford is both a UW student and an employee in the Wyoming Union.} These students engaged in tense debate with Schmidt.

Think Again: Is grade retention bad for kids?

Umut Özek Louis T. Mariano

For many years, the conventional wisdom in the field was that grade retention was a bad idea. A 1997 opinion piece in Education Week titled “Grade retention doesn’t work” reflected the prevailing sentiment in the education community and the available research evidence at that time: retained students performed worse than their promoted peers in the years that followed.[1] This brief challenges that notion, based on more recent studies that do a better job of isolating the causal effect of retention.


Notes on “Generating Human Egg Cells”

Amy Dockser Marcus:

The Japanese biologist Katsuhiko Hayashi said earlier this year that he believes it will be possible to create a human egg from skin cells within a decade. He and his colleagues have already turned skin cells from male mice into mouse eggs and used them to breed baby mice.

Matt Krisiloff, chief executive officer of Conception Biosciences, has dozens of scientists working at a lab in Berkeley, Calif., trying to make eggs outside ovaries. Such a technique could allow women to have biological children later in life.

Krisiloff, who is gay, says the technology, known as in vitro gametogenesis or IVG, could also help male couples have biological children without anyone else’s genes. Echoing the desire that has driven so many advances in reproductive technologies, Krisiloff says, “I want the chance to have biological kids with my partner.”

Reproductive technology has already reshaped the way families are made. Flash-freezing techniques enable eggs to be stored for years in banks, then thawed for use. Babies have been born using a technique that incorporates DNA from three people. And in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which involves taking mature eggs from ovaries, fertilizing them in a lab and implanting the embryo in a uterus, facilitates approximately 2% of births in the U.S.

Scholastic Walks Back Move to Separate Books About Gender, Race for School Book Fairs

Jeffrey Tachtenberg:

Scholastic has reversed a decision to put certain books about gender and race into a separate collection that elementary schools can choose whether or not to offer during book fairs, after the publisher faced criticism that the move helped facilitate censorship.

The company on Wednesday said the new collection—which it had created out of concern for its book-fair hosts after some U.S. states put restrictions in place about what kinds of books could be made available in schools—would be discontinued starting in January.

It was a choice to melt down Robert E. Lee. But it would have been a choice to keep him intact, too.”

Teo Armus and Hadley Green

“So the statue of the Confederate general that once stood in Charlottesville — the one that prompted the deadly ‘Unite the Right’ rally in 2017 — was now being cut into fragments and dropped into a furnace, dissolving into a sludge of glowing bronze…. With a flash of bluish white light and orange sparks, a trio of foundry workers carved seven long gashes into Lee’s severed head. ‘It’s a better sculpture right now than it’s ever been,’ one of the metal-casters said. ‘We’re taking away what it meant for some people and transforming it.'”

“[O]n Saturday the museum went ahead with its plan in secret at this small Southern foundry, in a town and state The Washington Post agreed not to name because of participants’ fears of violence… They made arrangements for Lee to be melted down while they started collecting ideas from city residents for that new sculpture…. Some [of the witnesses to the melting] said the statue was being destroyed. Others called it a restoration. Depending on who you asked, the bronze was being reclaimed, disrupted, or redeemed to a higher purpose. It was a grim act of justice and a celebration all in one….”



Another approach: Memento Park.

Who Decides Penn’s Future — Donors Or The University?

Stephanie Saul:

Some alumni want the president to resign. They are angry about a Palestinian conference and Penn’s response to the Hamas attacks — as well as D.E.I. and transgender rights.

In the two days after Hamas killed hundreds of men, women and children in a surprise attack on Israel, the University of Pennsylvania had not reached out to its students or alumni with an official statement.

But it did post a message on Instagram, honoring Native and Indigenous people and “their culture, history, and importance as members of the Penn community.”

That post set off one of the university’s largest donors, Marc Rowan, the chief of the private equity giant Apollo Global Management.

“So this weekend, while 1,200 Israelis were being butchered and murdered and raped, we tweeted as a university about Indigenous Peoples’ Day” he said in a CNBC interview.

Mr. Rowan, who with his wife gave at least $50 million to Penn, had been angry for a while.

CSAM scanning in chat apps would echo communist surveillance, and put children at risk

Ben Lovejoy

A planned law to require CSAM scanning in chat appswould be illegal, disproportionate, and could increase rather than decrease the risks to children, say experts. It could also see Apple withdraw iMessage from EU countries. The warning was given by more than 20 speakers at a privacy seminar, as the European Union continues to press for a CSAM measure which would effectively outlaw end-to-end encryption in chat apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, and Signal

Civics: the network state


Wokeness is a Doctrine, not a Religion

Before we begin, we need to understand that the blue belief system of “Wokeness” isn’t exactly a religion. It’s a doctrine, and it includes both people of the State and the Network.

That is, while it’s become popular to talk about Wokeness as a religion, and while there issomething to this, it’s more precise to talk about it as a doctrine: namely, “a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.” The concept of a doctrine encompasses religious and political beliefs, both God- and State-worship. And nowadays the “other group” could be a Network entity of some kind, like a social network or cryptocurrency.

So now we have an umbrella term: doctrine. God-worshippers have religions (religious doctrines), State-loyalists have political parties (with political doctrines), and Network-centrists have social networks or cryptocurrencies (with tightly enforced content moderation or crypto tribalism respectively, which are network doctrines). Each doctrine has a Leviathan, a most powerful force. And a religion is then just a type of doctrine.

Google / YouTube Ongoing Censorship

Mike Benz:

There has probably been no graver, more paralyzing bonfire of critical history thru censorship than the purges by Google YouTube over the past 5 years.

If the Library Of Alexandria had a video library, Google’s match would’ve lit the flame.

Newest victim: @LondonRealTV

“Whites Only Parent Group”

Dan Lennington

Un-ironically hoping to “foster a more inclusive and supportive environment for all,” Stevens Point Area School District (Wis.) is creating race-based parent groups.
The district’s embrace of neo-segregationism follows “Students of Color” freshman orientation in Appleton, segregated community groups in Sun Prairie, and segregated student, teacher, and parent groups in Madison.
I struggle to see any benefit to such groups, and “struggle” may be the operative term. If past is prologue, getting parents into a room to discuss race, under the guidance of progressive school officials, will likely devolve into an anti-racism struggle session where all involved admit their biases, identify their status as oppressor/victim, and pledge to “do the work” to tear down the “systems and structures of oppression.”

Why is denying less well-off families the same educational options that more well-to-do families have progressive?

Dave Cieslewicz

Now comes a predictable lawsuit from a liberal group that was filed recently directly with the state Supreme Court, skipping the usual process that starts with lower courts. It’s predictable because now that the Court has a 4-3 liberal majority every liberal cause in the state that can afford a lawyer will be knocking on that Court’s door. That’s fine. It’s part of our system, but it doesn’t mean we have to agree with every cause. For example, I agree with the causes of fair legislative district maps and of freedom of choice on abortion while I disagree with attacks on school choice. (Note: Liberals and most Democrats will not give me a break for being right on two out of three of these litmus tests. Orthodoxy brooks no opposition.)

In a ludicrous statement, the plaintiffs in this case claim that giving parents a choice is a “cancer” on public education. “What started out as a small experimental program in Milwaukee in the 1990s has been transformed by our Legislature into a large and growing cancer on Wisconsin’s public schools,” the complaint says. 

If something starts out as an experiment and now has grown exponentially because of parental demand, doesn’t that suggest that the experiment was a success? Public school administrators and teachers unions need to stop complaining and start competing. If you’re losing students, well, why is that? What are you doing wrong? How can you compete and recapture your market share? 

The rhetoric of the complaint becomes even more untethered when the plaintiffs claim, “This parasitic funding system is pushing public school districts into an ever-worsening financial crisis, which is leading to what can only be described as a funding death spiral for public education.”

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?

SAT scores and poverty

Philip Greenspun:

It is surprisingly tough to find a broad study of how SAT scores from, say, 1990, correlate to 2022 income. But it makes sense that there would be a correlation. People who do well on the SAT are good at sitting at a desk, following instructions, being consistent with procedures, etc. These are exactly the capabilities that many high-paying jobs require. Some high-paying jobs, such as physician, have been explicitly limited to those who score well on standardized tests (though that may change; see “Removing the MCAT Could Improve Diversity in Medicine” (Newsweek 2023)).

Circling back to the NYT article, I find it interesting that the possibility of SAT score being heritable was not considered, even for long enough to dismiss it. Let’s also look at the solution:

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Economic Outlook

Mark Niquette:

Annie Spurley, a University of Wisconsin-Madison student, has doubts about the economy heading into next year’s presidential election. The 21-year-old has had to work more bartending hours than she’d like with her coursework in order to pay her rent.

“I’m a little bit more on the pessimistic side,” Spurley said while walking her dog in Madison, Wisconsin, last week.

Fundraising and the higher ed industrial complex

Rachel Louis Ensign and Juliet Chung:

Top universities such as Harvard and Penn are facing backlash from alumni angry about the schools’ reactions to the attacks and their aftermath. The alumni say their schools didn’t move quickly and forcefully enough to condemn Hamas and denounce antisemitism after the Oct. 7 attacks, and that they have done a poor job since then protecting Jewish students as on-campus tensions rise.

Some say it was the final straw after years of growing disenchantment with the schools over what they see as a leftward political shift. Many big donors have announced plans to stop giving or said they are reconsidering future gifts.

Dropping Out of College to Join the AI Gold Rush

Lindsay Ellis:

Govind Gnanakumar was in diapers when Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard. Like the Meta founder, he won’t wait for a university diploma to start his business.

The 19-year-old dropped out of the Georgia Institute of Technology in May to focus full time on his artificial-intelligence startup, Automorphic. He is among a swarm of teenagers and 20-somethings leaving college behind to capitalize on a gold rush in AI.

The debut of ChatGPT and Bard brought the faraway promises of conversational, helpful AI closer to reality, setting off a rush of investment and new companies that automate tasks and transform work. More than 25% of American startup investments have gone to AI companies so far this year, according to Crunchbase, an industry tracker.

The size of the market for generative-AI applications—$43 billion for enterprise-technology AI alone this year, according to PitchBook—and the rapid pace of development have young founders ditching class and jumping in. Numbers of dropouts-turned-founders aren’t tracked, but several founders accepted to this summer’s cohort by Y Combinator, a prominent startup accelerator program, left campus for their companies.

Senator Amy Klobuchar’s letter advocating censorship

Matt Taibbi:

If you read this morning’s Racket article about Senator Amy Klobuchar’s letter to Jeff Bezos asking for “proactive measures” to suppress sites like Substack or Rumble, you probably gathered I’m in a mood. I’ve had it.

Whether it’s NewsGuard slapping “anti-US” labels on Joe Lauria and Consortium News, or Drs. Jay Bhattacharya, Aaron Kheriaty, and Martin Kulldorff censored on multiple platforms for being right on Covid, or podcaster Alison Morrow fired from a state job for interviewing Kheriaty, or friend CJ Hopkins in Germany criminally convicted for a book cover, or the FBI asking Twitter to remove Aaron Mate for the Ukrainian Secret Police, or ballooning budget requests of “counter-disinformation” enforcement agencies, or the new jailing even of Owen Shroyer for having “helped create January 6th” with speech, or of course the forever-detention of Julian Assange, and above all the total indifference of legacy media to all of it, it’s over. I’ve lost patience. Time for a more focused approach.


To those worried I was blindly lashing out at Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar in yesterday’s pair of vein-busting tirades, I forgot to mention: Blacklist Amy is a ubiquitous presence in the Twitter Files, repeatedly figuring in confrontations the company had with Congress over speech across the roughly five-year stretch of documents examined. Every time we looked, we seemed to find her; she’s the Zelig of digital censorship. This history rushed to mind when she joined Rochester congressman Joe “Memory Hole” Morelle this week, to ask Amazon how it’s “vetting” information to make sure Alexa doesn’t accidentally cite an unsafe site like Substack in response to an innocent civilian’s question…

SAT Wisconsin participation notes

Will Flanders

I’ll have more on this soon, but only 2% of Wisconsin students take the SAT. It’s likely primarily students who are applying out-of-state for college. It’s pretty ridiculous to use the SAT as a measure of anything in Wisconsin.

The reopening of the American mind

Jemima Kelly:

It is a humid August day on the Greek island of Samos. Cicadas are making their repetitive racket, the Aegean Sea is sparkling in the afternoon sunshine and I am halfway up a vertical rock face clinging on to a rope for dear life.

“But you must climb,” the owner of a café had told me when I said I wanted to get to Pythagoras’s Cave. He’d looked dubiously at my leather skirt, tank top and polyester sandals. 

There is no going back now. I have committed to the ascent and so has Stephen Blackwood, a prominent scholar of the Roman philosopher Boethius. I thought we were going to be speaking at Blackwood’s hotel and dressed accordingly. But instead we hopped into a lime-green jeep and drove up to the eastern slope of Mount Kerkis, so that I could see the ancient grotto in which the first man to call himself a philosopher is said to have lived.

K-12 Governance

Alpha News:

Union-backed Minnetonka school board candidate Sally Browne on DEI in schools: “Bake it into the cake in every way that we can.”

An upbringing filled with anxiety has Gen Z sharing their location via apps

Julie Jargon

Teenagers have long balked at telling parents where they are. Now, they’re asking their parents to track them.

Every generation experiences its set of traumas, but social media and real-time news—with vivid images about the pandemic, war and other disasters—have heightened these anxieties among young people. And lots of them are closer to their parents than previous generations have been.

Oregon Board of Education “ruled that students will no longer have to fulfill an essential skills requirement in order to graduate”

MacKenzie Tattananni:

Oregon school chiefs have again suspended the need for high schoolers to prove their math, reading and writing skills in order to graduate.

The State Board of Education voted last week to continue the suspension for another five years amid claims they are unfair on minority students who don’t test well.

In order to earn a diploma, graduating students were previously required to earn standardized test scores indicating proficiency in reading, writing and math.

But this was put on pause during the pandemic as standardized tests weren’t happening amid school closures.

Following a unanimous vote by the Oregon State Board of Education last week, the requirement will not be in place for at least the next five years.

America’s fertility crash laid bare: Interactive map shows how birth rate has plummeted since 2007 – falling by up to a THIRD in some states

Luke Andrews:

Dr Melissa Kearney, an economic professor at the University of Maryland, previously told DailyMail.com: ‘There has been a greater emphasis on spending time building careers. Adults are changing their attitudes towards having kids.

‘They are choosing to spend money and time in different ways… [that] are coming into conflict with parenting.’

There are also signs the ‘Instagram generation’ of millennials and baby boomers are now prioritizing travel and relaxation over building families.

As a result, people are waiting longer to have children than in previous generations — with older women more likely to have fewer children. A number of women are also conceiving via fertility treatment, driving a rise of mothers in their 40s.

The higher cost of living and rising costs of childcare have also been blamed.

Dr Phillip Levine, an economist at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, warned previously that the decline would eventually ‘have a damaging impact both on social cohesion and general well-being.’

Abortion data. Planned Parenthood by the numbers.

There are <i>more</i>, not fewer, abortions in the year after <i>Dobbs</i>, but isn’t the increase in the earliest weeks of pregnancy?

Student achievement and merit are losing prospects in the era of “everybody wins”

Doug Lemov:

Grade inflation was one way she felt her hard work had been undervalued at her high school. You got a 95 or a 96 if you did exceptional work, but pretty much everyone who did a credible job got a 93. A 90 definitely put you in the bottom half.

And the grade inflation was also grade conflation. As high grades get easier and easier to achieve, the highest grades can only go up so far. The difference between excellent and decent is compressed. The signal that 96 is different from 94 becomes hard to see. That distinction could still reveal meaningful differences, at least hypothetically, if it were calculated consistently and if people paid careful attention to it. A ranking of students would help, for example, but Ella’s high school didn’t do that, because the practice was seen as too competitive. Being on the honor roll didn’t help, because the “honor roll” included more than half the students in each grade. Taking harder classes wasn’t factored into grade-point-average calculations, though at least her school hadn’t eliminated honors classes in the name of equity as other schools in her city had. And the degree of grade inflation within the school was wildly inconsistent, Ella said. Teachers in some classes—especially the easier ones—gave high grades lavishly. “It was pass/fail, basically. If you did the homework, you got a 95. I think the teachers thought that would make them popular.”

The tyranny of low expectations

Daniel Buck:

The yellow line is ACT scores. The blue line is GPAs. Notice anything?

This what the participation trophy looks like when it’s district grading policy.

“Can’t read? Who cares? Pointing that out makes waves and raises uncomfortable questions so here’s an A. Now move along.”

AI: The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models

Melissa Heikeila:

A new tool lets artists add invisible changes to the pixels in their art before they upload it online so that if it’s scraped into an AI training set, it can cause the resulting model to break in chaotic and unpredictable ways. 

The tool, called Nightshade, is intended as a way to fight back against AI companies that use artists’ work to train their models without the creator’s permission. Using it to “poison” this training data could damage future iterations of image-generating AI models, such as DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion, by rendering some of their outputs useless—dogs become cats, cars become cows, and so forth. MIT Technology Review got an exclusive preview of the research, which has been submitted for peer review at computer security conference Usenix.   

AI companies such as OpenAI, Meta, Google, and Stability AI are facing a slew of lawsuits from artists who claim that their copyrighted materialand personal information was scraped without consent or compensation. Ben Zhao, a professor at the University of Chicago, who led the team that created Nightshade, says the hope is that it will help tip the power balance back from AI companies towards artists, by creating a powerful deterrent against disrespecting artists’ copyright and intellectual property. Meta, Google, Stability AI, and OpenAI did not respond to MIT Technology Review’s request for comment on how they might respond.

‘Naomi Oreskes . . . argued that by ‘prioritizing scientific rigor’ in its mask studies, the Cochrane Library may have ‘misled the public.’ 

Jeffrey H. Anderson:

Scientific American, which dates to 1845 and touts itself as “the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States,” recently ran an article arguing that scientists should prioritize “reality” over scientific “rigor.” What would make a publication with a name like this one set empirical evidence at odds with reality? Masks, of course.

Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard professor of the history of science, argued that by “prioritizing scientific rigor” in its mask studies, the Cochrane Library may have “misled the public,” such that “the average person could be confused” about the efficacy of masks. Oreskes criticized Cochrane for its “standard . . . methodological procedures,” as Cochrane bases its “findings on randomized controlled trials, often called the ‘gold standard’ of scientific evidence.” Since RCTs haven’t shown that masks work, she writes, “[i]t’s time those standard procedures were changed.” . . . Oreskes argues that “Cochrane has made this mistake”—the mistake of basing its findings on medical evidence—“before.”

“taxonomy of methods of discrimination in university admissions”

Alex Tabarrok:

Not all procedures for engaging in racial discrimination are equal. They differ in their legal standing, their social meaning, and their “economic” efficiency. The Supreme Court in distinguishing Grutter and Graatz, and the admissions regimes of the various state universities suggest a useful taxonomy.

There are three generic forms of racial discrimination not merely in admissions decisions but in other practices and policies as well: (1) express and objective (i.e., points and quotas); (2) facially neutral and objective (e.g., the top 10% of graduates from each high school); and (3) implied and subjective (“we look at the whole person”). From an efficiency perspective the first form of discrimination is the least harmful. It does not corrupt the measure of merit, it only sets a different standard for “minorities.” Its shortcomings are twofold. First, as the Supreme Court decisions in Grutter and Grattz makes abundantly clear it is the one method most likely to be found illegal. This is implicitly related to its second shortcoming, it is so barefaced. It makes clear to both those favored and those harmed that the favored are otherwise inferior in their qualifications.

Leaders at Stanford, Williams and elsewhere limit their statements, but neutrality proves a challenge

Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn:

Backlash against their declarations has forced many to stumble—issuing updates to their statements, and then clarifications to their updates—in a near impossible effort to appease irate activists on both sides of a seemingly intractable issue.

The reversal comes in contrast to recent years when these academic leaders used their public profiles to condemn, support and otherwise opine on hot-button topics. They have released statements about events including the murder of George Floyd, gun violence in Texas and attacks on mosques in New Zealand.

Sending the wrong message runs the risk of limiting donor contributions and institutional prestige while elevating concerns that institutions are taking sides and chilling free speech at what are supposed to be arenas of intellectual debate.

Yet saying nothing is proving problematic as well, leaving school leaders in a difficult position. After years of weighing in on a range of issues, they are often expected to contribute to the public dialogue. The absence of a message can be perceived as a statement in its own right.

If Everyone Gets an A, No One Gets an A

Tim Donahue:

What is an “A,” anyway? Does it mean that a 16 year-old recognizes 96 percent of the allusions in “The Bluest Eye”? Or that she could tell you 95 percent of the reasons the Teapot Dome Scandal was so important? Or, just that she made it to most classes? Does it come from a physics teacher in the Great Smoky Mountains who bludgeons students with weekly, memory-taxing tests, or from a trigonometry teacher in Topeka who works in Taylor Swift references and allows infinite “re-tests”?

One answer is that A is now the most popular high school grade in America! Indeed, in 2016, 47 percent of high school students graduated with grades in the Arange. This means that nearly half of seniors are averaging within a few numeric points of one another.

A belt has several holes, but usually only one or two of them show any wear in the leather. Can the same really be true for the grades we give our students, with their varied efforts and their constellations of cognitive skills? A grading drop-down menu ought not to be so simple a tool as one person’s belt.

And grades have only gone up since 2016, most notably since the pandemic, most prominently in higher-income school districts. Were this a true reflection of student achievement, it would be reason to celebrate, but the metrics have it differently. From 1998 to 2016, average high school G.P.A.s rose from 3.27 to 3.38, but average SAT scores fell from 1026 to 1002. ACT scores among the class of 2023 were the worst in over three decades. Is it any wonder, then, that 65 percent of Americans feel they are smarter than average?

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

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?

Where Should Teachers Turn When Marxist Training Leaves Them Unprepared For Real Classrooms?

Daniel Buck:

Walking into a classroom my first year of teaching, I experienced less a transition shock and more a disgraceful-lack-of-preparation shock. It turns out the university lectures on self-care and transgender literacies didn’t quite prepare me for a student calling another student’s mother an indecorous word. Nor did a few sample lesson plans equip me with the grueling task of filling 50 minutes of class time with meaningful activities for several classes a day, 180 weekdays in a row.

My teacher prep gave paltry time to classroom management, curricular construction, or grading, compared to discussions about the horrors of neoliberal policies or inscrutable readings whose sole purpose seemed to be to cite esoteric French critical theorists.  

The practical training I did receive wasn’t much better than the ideological posturing. Since John Dewey became something of a patron saint in education in the early 20th century, schools of education have taught his theories as doctrines. The classroom management advice teachers receive prioritizes student-constructed rules and a conversation over a consequence. When mentioned, education professors treat explicit instruction and rote practice with derision. Tests and facts are oppressive. Student choice should dictate everything from science curriculum to reading lists.

Ed Programs Teach Lowbrow, Activist Lit

Reviews of teacher preparation programs offered at major universities do exist, and they validate my critical portrayal not as a caricature but as an unfortunate reality. For example, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty reviewed 14 programs in my own state of Wisconsin. 

The programs neglect serious readings. Professors never assigned, for example, practical manuals of instruction or texts on the relationship between cognitive science and learning. Instead, teachers read popular books like Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities and watch Hollywood movies like “Freedom Writers.” These programs define education as “social justice.” They instruct teachers to discuss gender with 3-year-old kids and host book clubs about Anti-Racist Baby

Another notable review comes from the James G. Martin Center. The researcher solicited curricula from three of the most prestigious teacher prep programs in the country and tallied the most common authors. 

Conservative or traditionalist authors such as E.D. Hirsch get nary a mention. The programs shamefully lack any engagement with classical education. The core of literature and practice that dictated education for centuries apparently doesn’t deserve a mention. Instead, the most popular authors are John Dewey and Paulo Freire, a Brazilian Marxist who cited the Maoist Cultural Revolution and the Russian Revolution as ideals of his thought in action.

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?

School Choice event

Alan Borsuk:

We had a good conversation with a large audience 10/20 at @mulaw with @Fitz_ly about her new book on the history of school choice, The Death of Public School. Video of the hour-long program may be viewed here.

K-12 and special needs students

Benjamin Yount:

Authors of a study about choice schools and disabled students in Wisconsin admit there is some discrepancy but say things are not nearly as bad a school choice opponents paint them to be.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and School Choice Wisconsin looked at the difference in funding between choice schools and traditional public schools when it comes to dealing with students with disabilities, the number of students with disabilities in each, and it focuses on the claim by many Democratic lawmakers that choice schools in Wisconsin discriminate against students with disabilities.

Expanding IB in the Milwaukee public schools

Corrinne Hess:

Last spring, Marquese Gladney and his MacDowell Montessori IB High School classmates researched domestic violence.  

“We learned there are different types of domestic violence — you can be controlled or suffer in silence,” Gladney, 14 said. “And we learned what the signs are.”  

The group hung up posters across the school that included information for domestic violence shelters.   

Other students ran a clothing drive. Another group held a bake sale for a Milwaukee homeless shelter. 

It was all part of an eighth-grade capstone project for MacDowell’s International Baccalaureate, or IB, program.   

By the time these middle schoolers are juniors and seniors in high school, they’ll be able to take college-level IB exams, not unlike Advance Placement exams, that could earn them college credit.  

Wisconsin is expanding its IB offerings to high school students looking to challenge themselves and earn college credits before graduation.

Why children of married parents do better, but America is moving the other way

Pallavi Gogoi

The economist Melissa Kearney has been both vilified and praised for her new book, The Two-Parent Privilege: How Americans Stopped Getting Married and Started Falling Behind.

In the book, released last month, Kearney points out a rather obvious fact: Children raised by two parents have a much higher chance of success than those raised by one. Yet she goes even further to argue that whether parents are married or not impacts their children’s success.

Her argument goes against the trend in the U.S.; American children are increasingly being born and raised by single mothers. The U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center study. Almost a quarter, or 23% of U.S. children under age 18, live with one parent and no other adults.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Prices at the grocery store are up more than 10% from last yearK-12 Tax & Spending Climate:

Hardika Singh:

“Now it’s like, ‘forget the orange juice.’ That money will go toward the tip,” said Underwood, a 69-year-old optical wholesaler from Ridgeland, Miss. “Some things you just don’t need like you used to because prices are up.”

Orange juice prices have been climbing as citrus groves have faced a spreading greening disease and extreme weather. Prices for frozen concentrate orange-juice futures have more than tripled since late 2021 and emerged as one of this year’s top-performing commodities, with prices setting records week after week. On Friday, they jumped to a fresh record high of $3.91 a pound, up from $2.11 last October, according to FactSet.

Academia is bringing about its own destruction 

Rob Jenkins:

Higher education, it seems, is in free-fall. If it were a stock, analysts would be advising investors to sell, rather than buy or hold.

It take no joy in saying that. Having spent my entire adult life in the academy, believing deeply in its traditional role of uplifting society by preparing young people for lives of purpose and prosperity, I find it painful to witness higher ed’s slow-motion implosion.

Yet I don’t think I’m imagining it or being overly dramatic. The signs are all around us, beginning with a precipitous drop in enrollment. Since 2020, the nation’s campuses have lost more than 1.3 million students, and that trend shows no sign of reversing. Indeed, it’s likely to get much worse before it gets better—if it ever does.

Meanwhile, the value of a degree has also been steadily declining. As my colleague Professor Nicholas Giordano wrote for Campus Reform a few weeks ago, several large companies have already stopped requiring degrees for many corporate positions.

That worrisome trend, Giordano says, “represents a failure of our institutions, and…indicates that [they] are not producing graduates with the necessary skills to compete and function in the workplace.”

Civics: Accuracy and the NYT

Jessica Lessin:

and they updated it to ‘led’ … which says something – of course no correction or explanation (yet again back to the fact that they need to be before congress — publicly documenting their editorial practices & held accountable for whatever process they outline)

Is it normal for Nature to highlight a paper and spend more time quoting two people who didn’t do the research, than the authors of the paper? I’ve never noticed this before

Diversity at Harvard

Philip Greenspun:

A friend is an alumni interviewer for Harvard. He sent me the Interviewer Guidebook for 2028.

Let’s keep in mind that Harvard was so passionate about the critical need for diversity that they fought all the way to the Supreme Court for the right to do what was ultimately found unconstitutional, i.e., select people by skin color. Here’s the team that the diversity experts assembled…

Could a Harvard graduate who questioned school closures, lockdowns, mask orders, and vaccine papers checks be an interviewer? No:

[you must disclose and will be rejected if] Your internet presence might be considered inappropriate, problematic or if other considerations might affect the perception of Harvard’s integrity. Many applicants Google their alumni interviewer in preparation for the interview.

[Advocating the liberation of Palestine by whatever means are necessary, on the other hand, is the kind of “free expression” that Harvard officially supports and, perhaps, the only freedom of expression that is tolerated at Harvard.]

Notes on DIE hiring at Emory

John Sailor:

Note that the first author of this truly terrible paper was recently hired at Emory University.

Here’s Emory’s rubric for assessing faculty candidate’s DEI contributions. Emory has pioneered the heavy use of diversity statements in faculty hiring (i.e. cluster hiring).

Mangled spreadsheets mean government was asleep on the job and should be held to account

Lindsay Clark:

The Royal College of Anaesthetists is to consider whether it has confidence in the UK National Health Service’s recruitment process, following revelations that it made serious mistakes in selecting candidates owing to inappropriate and poorly managed use of Microsoft Excel.

Last week The Register exclusively revealed that the body responsible for recruitment – the Anaesthetic National Recruitment Office (ANRO) – told all candidates for positions in Wales they were “unappointable” despite some of them achieving the highest interview scores.

A subsequent Significant Incident Review showed how seven differently formatted spreadsheets were combined into one using manual processes. An error meant “rank” was confused with the interview score, and the best candidate got a score of one. Since there were only 24 candidates, all were considered below the threshold interview score to be considered appointable.

100 Milwaukee babies die before their first birthday

Jessica Van Egeren:

Of the 10,000 babies, on average, born in the city annually, roughly 100 die before celebrating that milestone, according to the state Department of Health Services, the city and Ascension Wisconsin.

That’s a dire statistic that Julia Means has been working to change for nearly 20 years.

Means, a community health nurse with Ascension Wisconsin, remembers attending a public health conference in Milwaukee in 2004. She recalls hearing a speaker say that a child born in a third world country had a better chance of reaching its first birthday than a child born in Milwaukee.

“I went home and I couldn’t sleep,” said Means, who has worked for Ascension since 1986. “African American babies were dying. I knew we had to put a stop to it.”

That same year, she started the Blanket of Love program.

Censoring History

Theresa Fallon

The fact that a book about an emperor from about 400 years ago is now censored in🇨🇳 speaks volumes about how Chinese Communist Party officials fear the public’s perceptions of Xi Jinping’s policies.

“A Chinese reprint of a book about an emperor who ran his realm into the ground before committing suicide nearly 400 years ago has abruptly disappeared from book shelves in China and searches for it have been censored online.
The Book Chongzhen: the Diligent Emperor of a Failed Dynasty, republished last month, recounts how the last emperor of the 1368-1644 Ming dynasty purged senior officials and mismanaged his kingdom before finally hanging himself on a tree outside the Forbidden City as rebels closed in on Beijing.

Alternative Prep Materials for the American Educator

Daniel Buck:

Walking into the classroom for his first day of teaching, Milwaukee Educator Daniel Buck experienced less a transition shock and more a “disgraceful lack of preparation shock.” He walked away from class that day with the understanding that self-care and transgender literacies didn’t quite prepare him to educate the next generation of students and prepare them for the future.

That is why Daniel partnered with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and their Restoring American Education project to compile resources for educators below. This list is a product of a years-long intellectual journey for which the average teacher has no time. But the conversation is just beginning and together, we plan to Restore American Education across the nation.

Teachers are busy people and we don’t always have time to sit down and read 300 pages of dense educational theory. As such, I start with a handful of essays that can be consumed in one sitting. Some are theoretical, some practical; all are worth your time.

Notes on the Failure of Ivy League Education

Ezekiel Emanuel:

We have failed.

When a coalition of 34 student organizations at Harvard can say that they “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence” and students at other elite universities blame Israel alone for the attack Hamas carried out on Israelis on Oct. 7 or even praise the massacre, something is deeply wrong at America’s colleges and universities.

Students spouting ideological catchphrases have revealed their moral obliviousness and the deficiency of their educations. But the deeper problem is not them. It is what they are being taught — or, more specifically, what they are not being taught.

More (video).

Notes on legacy media and our literacy disaster

Alexander Russo:

The big education story of the week is the negative effects of inadequate literacy instruction on parental trust — and the lack of sufficient coverage needed to cover the literacy reform effort. 

What’s being attempted in NYC and many other parts of the nation is one of the biggest education stories of the decade. “No major metropolitan school district has ever managed to raise reading achievement at scale — or to make higher test scores stick,” writes Robert Pondiscio in a sobering overview of NYC Reads in the outlet Commentary. 

Researchers, school systems, and publishers responsible for the prolonged use of discredited methods and materials are — not surprisingly — trying to avoid accountability. Nineteen different Teachers College colleagues declined to comment or didn’t bother to respond, including the discredited former head of the program, according to the Columbia Spectator’s Sabrina Ticer-Wurr. To block Ohio’s efforts to improve literacy, Reading Recovery is suing Ohio, reports EdWeek’s Sarah Schwartz.

And yet parents and the general public still know precious little about how their kids and their schools’ efforts are going, week in and week out. “It’s no accident that Moms for Liberty has embraced the ‘science of reading’ movement,” writes NYC parent and journalist Kendra Hurley in Slate. “Reading instruction drove a wedge between me and my kids’ teachers.”

Censorship: Mark Zuckerberg’s Threads ‘temporarily’ blocks COVID search terms to focus on larger misinformation concerns

Chris Morris:

Threads is leaving the knot tied in COVID-related searches for the foreseeable future.

The social media company has blocked terms including “COVID,” “vaccines,” and “long COVID” as it focuses its resources on fighting misinformation about the war in Israel and Gaza.

The search filters have been in place since mid-September. In a statement on the platform, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram and Threads, acknowledged them, calling the block “temporary,” but said there was no timeline on when it would reopen searches on those terms. It could be “weeks or months” before that occurs.

“The reality is that we have lots of important work to do. The team is moving fast, but we’re not yet where we want to be,” he wrote.

Does vocabulary knowledge matter in the effectiveness of instructing reading strategies? Differential responses from adolescents with low academic achievement on growth in reading comprehension

M. Okkinga, A. J. S. van Gelderen, …P. J. C. Sleegers/

Prior studies suggest that teaching reading strategies promotes reading comprehension in adolescents who have difficulties with reading comprehension, yet the results of those studies are mixed. Individual differences in students’ vocabulary knowledge may explain these mixed results. This article examines to what extent vocabulary knowledge influences the effect of a two-year intervention program focused on teaching reading strategies to adolescents with low academic achievement in the Netherlands. We hypothesized that students (N = 310) with different levels of vocabulary knowledge would respond differently to the treatment, given that vocabulary knowledge is an important factor in reading comprehension. Results showed that vocabulary knowledge moderated the effect of the treatment, suggesting that low vocabulary knowledge negatively affected the impact of an intervention focused on reading strategies. Vocabulary knowledge, thus, emerges as a prerequisite for the successful leveraging of a reading strategy intervention. Students with low vocabulary knowledge may experience cognitive overload when attempting to apply newly learned reading strategies while simultaneously trying to find out the meaning of multiple unfamiliar words needed for successful application of reading strategies.

Civics: Free Speech

Collin Rugg:

Citibank has fired 25 year old banker Nozima Husainova for publicly supporting Adolf Hitler’s decision to murder millions of Jews.

While reacting to the Gaza hospital bombing on Instagram, Husainova ‘smiled’ as she voiced her support for murdering Jews.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: ‘Capitalism is dead. The new order is a techno-feudal economy’

Yanis Varoufakis:

Yanis Varoufakis, 62, turns on his laptop and enters the Zoom meeting. He sits in the studio of his home in Athens, Greece. One of the most well-known and influential economists in the world, he offers a kind greeting before beginning his conversation with EL PAÍS.

For the first time in many years (he had promised his wife, Danae) he took a few days of vacation in August, in the Aegean Sea. But, soon after, he was back at work, keeping track of all his appointments (including this one).

Varoufakis studied at a private school, before completing two postgraduate degrees in Mathematics and Economics at the universities of Essex and Birmingham. He has taught in Australia, the United States and, since 2000, has lectured in Economics at the University of Athens. But his life — and his “myth” — is intertwined with politics.

Notes on open source news

Steve Sinofsky

Conversely, these established sources and experts rely on these relationships to spoon out information and views in an effort to shape a narrative. This is a routine/process/game that has only become more institutionalized.

Notes on taxpayer funded Madison K-12 Governance

David Blaska

For all practical purposes, Jennifer Cheatham remains the superintendent of Madison WI public schools. She left four years ago for Harvard University (where 32 student groups announced their support for Hamas terrorism). Her mission: clone more ultra-Woke school chiefs like herself. (“Areas of expertise: diversity, equity, and inclusion.”) 

Matters not that teachers hate it, Cheatham’s race-forward Behavior Education Plan continues to undermine Madison classrooms. 

To replace whoever succeeded Cheatham as superintendent, the Madison school board contracted with a head-hunting boutique that boasts of its diversity. Don’t worry Madison progressives — it employs not a single cisgendered white male! (Discussed that here.)

2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience

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?

“Non-profit” Universities and the local tax base

Johanna Alonso

Nonprofit universities often pay the towns that host them in lieu of property tax. Students say selective institutions with big endowments should do more.

Two Ivy League universities recently renewed agreements to voluntarily pay their surrounding cities sizable sums to help compensate for the fact that, as nonprofits, they don’t pay property taxes. 

And while some community members see the payments as generous and beneficial, students are among their harshest critics, arguing that the wealthy universities are capable of paying their host cities much more.

Brown University signed two agreements to pay Providence, R.I., a total of just under $175 million over the next 20 years, more than doubling its contributions under a previous deal. The two agreements run concurrently: in one, Brown alone pays the city $46 million over 10 years. In the other, which spans 20 years, Brown will pay a total of roughly $129 million and the other three private institutions in Providence—Providence College, the Rhode Island School of Design and Johnson & Wales University—will contribute smaller sums totaling about $48 million.

Colorado Supreme Court Upholds Keyword Search Warrant

Jennifer Lynch and Andrew Crocker:

Today, the Colorado Supreme Court became the first state supreme court in the country to address the constitutionality of a keyword warrant—a digital dragnet tool that allows law enforcement to identify everyone who searched the internet for a specific term or phrase. In a weak and ultimately confusing opinion, the court upheld the warrant, finding the police relied on it in good faith. EFF filed two amicus briefs and was heavily involved in the case.

The case is People v. Seymour, which involved a tragic home arson that killed several people. Police didn’t have a suspect, so they used a keyword warrant to ask Google for identifying information on anyone and everyone who searched for variations on the home’s street address in the two weeks prior to the arson.

Like geofence warrants, keyword warrants cast a dragnet that require a provider to search its entire reserve of user data—in this case, queries by one billion Google users. Police generally have no identified suspects; instead, the sole basis for the warrant is the officer’s hunch that the suspect might have searched for something in some way related to the crime.

Thiel’s Unicorn Success Is Awkward for Colleges

Aaron Brown and Richard Dewey

In 2011, Peter Thiel launched a controversial education program to pay college students $100,000 to drop out. The program was widely criticized with many noting the hypocrisy of Thiel, who holds philosophy and law degrees from Stanford University. Former Treasury Secretary and Harvard University President Larry Summers said of the fellowship: “I think the single most misdirected bit of philanthropy in this decade is Peter Thiel’s special program to bribe people to drop out of college.”

Available evidence supports the opposite conclusion. Thiel fellows have achieved shocking success, enough to merit a reconsideration of our current approach to college. A recent book, Paper Belt on Fire, by one of Thiel’s colleagues, fills in the backstory of the fellowship and refines the argument against traditional higher education. 

The most notable Thiel fellow to date is Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of the Ethereum blockchain. As of this writing, Ethereum has a market capitalization of about $200 billion and has spawned an unprecedented ecosystem of decentralized software development. There are nearly 7,000 Ethereum-based projects, including some of the most innovative and promising ideas today.

Austin Russel, a 2013 Thiel fellow, took Luminar Technologies Inc. public in 2020, valuing the company at $8.5 billion, while Paul Gu helped Upstart go public at a $4.8 billion valuation. Both Russell and Gu were early Thiel fellows and co-founders of their respective companies. Dylan Field agreed to sell Figma Inc., the influential design company he co-founded, to Adobe Inc. last year for roughly $20 billion.

Notes on absenteeism in the taxpayer funded Madison K-12 system

Scott Girard:

In total, nearly 9,000 children in Madison public schools missed more than 10% of the school year, a rate of absenteeism that can indicate broader problems facing children and puts them at risk of a serious, long-term disadvantage in learning.

Grelinda Isom’s four children are among those considered chronically absent. Isom herself has found the system a challenge to navigate as she tries to advocate for her children and their needs, she said, and each additional roadblock further drives a wedge between her family and the schools.

“The way they’re treated, them being heard, them crying out for help from trusted adults that they consider there for them, that they trust — they’re telling them what they need and their needs are still not being met,” she said, detailing Individualized Education Plans and safety plans going unfulfilled. “Mentally, physically it’s messing them up because they feel like no matter what they do, they’re not going to be heard or their needs are not going to be met.”

The chronic absenteeism rate is rising across Wisconsin and the country after the COVID-19 pandemic, with Madison’s fast-rising rates contributing to the trend. Across all Wisconsin schools, 22.7% of students missed enough days to be categorized as chronically absent in 2021-22, up from 12.7% in 2017-18.

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?

The law firm Davis Polk said in an internal email to staff members that the letters don’t represent the firm’s values.

Kat Tenbarge:

Top U.S. law firm Davis Polk announced in an internal email that it had rescinded letters of employment for three law students at Harvard and Columbia universities who it believed were tied to organizational statements about Israel, one of the latest responses to open letters from university groups about the Israel-Hamas conflict that have roiled university donors, employers, alumni and students. 

“These statements are simply contrary to our firm’s values and we thus concluded that rescinding these offers was appropriate in upholding our responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive work environment for all Davis Polk employees,” said the email, signed by Neil Barr.

Free Speech under attack

The Westminster Declaration

We write as journalists, artists, authors, activists, technologists, and academics to warn of increasing international censorship that threatens to erode centuries-old democratic norms.

Coming from the left, right, and centre, we are united by our commitment to universal human rights and freedom of speech, and we are all deeply concerned about attempts to label protected speech as ‘misinformation,’ ‘disinformation,’ and other ill-defined terms.

This abuse of these terms has resulted in the censorship of ordinary people, journalists, and dissidents in countries all over the world.

Such interference with the right to free speech suppresses valid discussion about matters of urgent public interest, and undermines the foundational principles of representative democracy.

Across the globe, government actors, social media companies, universities, and NGOs are increasingly working to monitor citizens and rob them of their voices. These large-scale coordinated efforts are sometimes referred to as the ‘Censorship-Industrial Complex.’

The Fertility Crisis

Zvi Mowshowitz

The world is slowly waking up to the fertility crisis. There is more acknowledgement of the problem, and there is more talk of potential practical solutions. I do not believe the topic is a realistic target for Balsa Policy Institute, but I will continue to keep an eye on the ball and issue periodic roundups like this one.


On a Lack of Ambition

Max Gorynski:

Tyler Cowen and Paul Graham were talking recentlyas part of Cowen’s ongoing Conversations with Tyler series. Graham and especially Cowen are diverse men, who could hold forth with interest on a number of subjects; but both by vocation and apart from it the thing that seems to wind their respective clocks the most is thinking about, identifying, and helping to cultivate talent, in which pursuit they are both very successful. Talent takes up most of the talk, and their conversation crackles with the kind of invigoration you might expect when two people so passionate about the same thing are in one another’s encounter. 

Of course, talent is often flagged (and sometimes false-flagged) by ambition; and for every Blaise Pascal, subordinating their astonishing gifts to ulterior interest and hobbling them for posterity, the most outsized talent is frequently, though not always, distinguished by being attached to outsized ambition. The most interesting part of Cowen and Graham’s conversation was when they came to ponder the relationship between talent and ambition, and more particularly the question: “Why is there not more ambition in the developed world?”

LLM’s and Summarization

Sebastian Mellon:

The killer use case for large language models (LLMs) is clearly summarization. At least today, in my limited experience, LLMs are incapable of generating unique insights. While LLMs are good at writing creatively regurgitated text based on certain inputs or writing generally about a topic, they’re unlikely to “think” something unique. However, LLMs appear to be quite good at knowing what they do and don’t know, and this is especially true when they are provided with a clear chunk of information or text to summarize.

Much of the world’s information would benefit from clear summarization. Unfortunately, summarization is not easy work: to summarize, one must read through and understand source material, and then generate a concatenated list of insights based on the source material. This is an expensive endeavor, especially if one is not sure that it is worth it to invest time in comprehending the material. In today’s era of ever more information people yearn for a simple way to find information that is valuable to them and discard information that is not. Fortunately, LLMs are highly capable at summarization, and can effectively condense large volumes of information.

Reading comprehension on handheld devices versus on paper: A narrative review and meta-analysis of the medium effect and its moderators.

Salmerón, Ladislao Altamura, Lidia Delgado, Pablo Karagiorgi, Anastasia Vargas, Cristina

As handheld devices, such as tablets, become a common tool in schools, a critical and urgent question for the research community is to assess their potential impact on educational outcomes. Previous meta-analytic research has evidenced the “screen inferiority effect”: Readers tend to understand texts slightly worse when reading on-screen than when reading the same text in print. Most primary studies from those meta-analyses used computers as on-screen reading devices. Accordingly, the extent to which handheld devices, which provide a reading experience closer to books than computers, are affected by the screen inferiority effect remains an open question. To address this issue, we reviewed relevant literature regarding potential moderating factors for the screen inferiority effect through the lenses of the reading for understanding framework. We then performed two meta-analyses aimed at examining the differences in reading comprehension when reading on handheld devices, as compared to print. Results from the two multilevel random-effect meta-analyses, which included primary studies that used either between-participant (k = 38, g = −0.113) or within-participant (k = 21, g = −0.103) designs, consistently showed a significant small size effect favoring print text comprehension. Moderator analyses helped to partially clarify the results, indicating in some cases a higher screen inferiority effect for undergraduate students (as compared to primary and secondary school students) and for participants who were assessed individually (as opposed to in groups). We discuss the need to continue fostering print reading in schools while developing effective ways to incorporate handheld devices for reading purposes. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved)

A drop in demand for MBA’s?

Lindsay Ellis:

Any drop-off in corporate demand for M.B.A.s is startling for students who applied to graduate school in 2021 and 2022 during a white-collar hiring spree with swelling salaries to match. Since then, the three main sectors that hire M.B.A.s at top schools have hit turbulence. Tech giants made big job cuts, consulting firms put start dates on hold and deal making slowed in finance.

During the fall, M.B.A. candidates normally lock in jobs for postgraduation the following spring, but that is happening less this year, students and career-guidance offices say. Schools are encouraging students to be patient and have a Plan B in mind.

Over 10,000 students exit ONE failing school district after Florida allows this new freedom

Hannah Cox:

Earlier this year, Florida joined a growing list of states with universal school choice programs—meaning any student in the state can access a portion of the money the state spends on their education and use those tax dollars to homeschool, attend a private school, or do some sort of mixed-learning program.

Families have responded swiftly. As of this week, a hilarious hit piece hit the First Coast News website which spent the majority of its time hand wringing over the fact that nearly 10,000 students have left one school district in the state alone already.

ChatGPT use shows that the grant-application system is broken

Juan Manuel Parrilla

Despite having to do all of this preparation, the brutal truth is that once you start on the research, there is a good chance things won’t proceed as expected. It’s possible that few of the milestones will be met, and some of the projected outcomes might not be achieved. If experiments go wrong, you might not have time to do all of the public-engagement activities you added to the grant application. Nevertheless, when the project is finished, you might well have managed to produce great science, although this could easily differ from that outlined in your original proposal. And that’s OK.

Panel members tasked with deciding who gets a grant also find the process cumbersome. I’ve been on panels myself, and sometimes there just isn’t time to read everything. As a panel member, you are usually asked to focus on three main questions. Does this proposal fit the call brief? Is the proposed science good and novel? And are the candidates experts in the right field? The abstract and a small part of the research proposal answer the first two questions, and, when it comes to the third, I prefer to use Google to learn more about the candidates.

“Call it the end of an era for fantasy-fueled reading instruction”

Kendra Hurley:

Call it the end of an era for fantasy-fueled reading instruction. In a move that has parents like me cheering, Columbia University’s Teachers College announced last month that it is shuttering its once famous—in some circles, now-infamous—reading organization founded by education guru and entrepreneur Lucy Calkins.

For decades, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project was a behemoth in American education. As many as 1 in 4 U.S. elementary schools used Calkins’ signature curriculum. But that number is dwindling as a growing chorus of cognitive scientists, learning experts, and parents—many amplified by education journalist Emily Hanford via her 2022 podcast Sold a Story—argue that the Calkins approach to reading is ineffective at best, actively harmful at worst, and a large part of why more than half of our country’s fourth graders aren’t demonstrating proficiency on reading exams.

It’s common knowledge that never learning to read well damages children’s self-esteem, their life prospects, and our country’s future workforce. What’s less talked about is how, when schools fail to teach reading, it harms the public’s trust in schools. An unspoken contract between public schools and parents is that schools will teach their children to read. In many places, that contract was broken when schools adopted Calkins’ methods, kids didn’t learn to read, and responsibility for teaching reading transferred onto parents and guardians.

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?

What does friendship look like in America?

Isabel Goddard:

Americans place a lot of importance on friendship. In fact, 61% of U.S. adults say having close friends is extremely or very important for people to live a fulfilling life, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. This is far higher than the shares who say the same about being married (23%), having children (26%) or having a lot of money (24%).

We decided to ask a few more questions to better understand how Americans are experiencing friendship today. Here’s what we found:

Dr. Marty Makary: The Greatest Perpetrator Of Misinformation During Covid Was The U.S. Government

Tim Hains:

Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. Marty Makary told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic during its first hearing on Tuesday “the greatest perpetrator of misinformation during the pandemic has been the United States government” and listed multiple examples. 

DR. MARTY MAKARY: The greatest perpetrator of misinformation during the pandemic has been the United States government. 

Misinformation that… 

– Covid was spread through surface transmission

– That vaccinated immunity was far greater than natural immunity

– That masks were effective. Now we have the definitive Cochrane review. What do you do with that review? Cochrane is the most authoritative evidence body in all of medicine and has been for decades. Do you just ignore it and not talk about it?

The “case against nice white ladies”

Helen Andrews

The Portland Art Musem abolishes its docent program due to an excess of white ladies, joining the Art Institute of Chicago, the Oakland Museum of California, and several others mentioned in this article that have ended docent programs for equity reasons.

The Snowden Archive


This repository is a complete collection of all documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden that have subsequently been published by news media around the world.

If you notice something is missing or wrong, please file an issue or tweet at @iamcryptoki.

New brain map reveals thousands of cell types

Alison Snyder:

Scientists now have a census of the cells in the human brain — a key step in creating a detailed map of the organ where our thoughts, movements and emotions originate. 

Why it matters: Scientists say this parts list — combined with information still to be gleaned about the circuits they form — will help provide much-needed insights into diseases and disorders that affect the brain.

How it works: Researchers studied 100 tissue samples from different regions across the human brain and analyzed the RNA in millions of individual cells to see which genes in the brain were being expressed to make different proteins in the cell.

The Incredibles: Roughly 80 Percent of Grades Given at Harvard are in the A Range

Jonathan Turley:

The Harvard Crimson on Thursday reported that 79 percent of grades given to Harvard students in 2020-21 were in the A range. That is an increase of 20 percent over the last decade. It leaves the question of not how difficult it is to flunk out of Harvard but how difficult it is not to excel. Faculty have apparently solved any equity issues by making everyone a top student. The problem was raised in the movie “The Incredibles,” when the villainous character “Syndrome” reveals a plan to make everyone a superhero. Syndrome’s motive is hardly altruistic: He hated superheroes and “with everyone super, no one will be.”In 2010, 60 percent of Harvard students were given grades in the A range and that was viewed at the time as rather scandalous. Now, to not get an A, is apparently a shocker.Dean of Undergraduate Education Amanda Claybaugh and Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana reportedly presented the data at the first meeting this year of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Claybaugh admitted that the “report establishes we have a problem — or rather, we have two: the intertwined problems of grade inflation and compression.”She noted that the effort to secure better teaching evaluations may be driving the upward shift. She also noted that it obviously “complicates selection processes for prizes, fellowships, or induction into Phi Beta Kappa, which rely heavily on students’ grade point averages.”In other words, to paraphrase Syndrome: “With everyone an A student, no one will be.”Yet, the suggestions on how to deal with the problem were even more bizarre. Romance languages and literatures Professor Annabel Kim suggested the “abolition of grading” and the institution of “narrative-based” evaluations.It is not clear how employers would be informed of the narrative-based performance of students in school.

Documenting Police Tech in Our Communities
with Open Source Research


The Atlas of Surveillance is a database of surveillance technologies deployed by law enforcement in communities across the United States.

This includes drones, body-worn cameras, automated license plate readers, facial recognition, and more.

This research was compiled by more than 1,000 students and volunteers, and incorporates datasets from a variety of public and non-profit sources.

Curated PhD dissertations


We don’t generally see PhD dissertations as an exciting genre to read, and that is wholly our loss. As the publishing landscape of academia is fast being homogenised, the thesis is one of the last places where we have a chance to see the unalloyed brilliance of up and coming researchers. Let me show you using three examples of remarkable theses I have come across in the past years.

Unflattening by Nick Sousanis

I didn’t even know it was even possible to do a PhD dissertation in graphic novel style. And yet here we are. This is a mindblowing work that (my colleagues can attest) I keep raving about. From the back blurb:

Nick Sousanis defies conventional forms of scholarly discourse to offer readers both a stunning work of graphic art and a serious inquiry into the ways humans construct knowledge. Unflattening is an insurrection against the fixed viewpoint. Weaving together diverse ways of seeing drawn from science, philosophy, art, literature, and mythology, it uses the collage-like capacity of comics to show that perception is always an active process of incorporating and reevaluating different vantage points.

“there is too much bias and too much groupthink conformity, even in the evaluation of ordinary scientific propositions”

Tyler Cowen:

1. I feel stupid and unnecessary simply piling on with the usual observations and criticisms.  Nonetheless they are mostly deserved, for a varying mix of administrators, faculty, and students.

2. The real black-pill is to realize that the structural equilibria behind the outrages also play a role in more usual affairs.  Ultimately these cannot be entirely “segregated” incidents.  Through invisible hand mechanisms, there is too much bias and too much groupthink conformity, even in the evaluation of ordinary scientific propositions.

3. This is true for the economics profession as well, though few will tell you this.  They won’t tell you because they are the ones doing it, though often unintentionally or with genuine motives.  They are laying bricks in the edifice of intellectual conformity, if only through what they do not talk about.

3b. I don’t think GMU economics differs in kind here, so politically speaking the situation is symmetric with respect to bias. Nonetheless mainstream policy views are far more prevalent than GMU-type policy views, so the actual net bias in practice is very much in the [fill in the blank ] direction. (What should I call it? The “Democratic Party direction”? That doesn’t seem quite right, but it is the closest descriptor I have found. Perhaps “the Democratic Party direction but passed through some intellectualizing filters”?) If you really think there are enough checks and balances in place to prevent this bias and conformity and lack of self-awareness from arising, I hope the recent outrages have black-pilled you just a bit.

Why are Vietnam’s schools so good?

The Economist:

Ho Chi Minh is the founding father of Vietnam, was clear about the route to development. “For the sake of ten years’ benefit, we must plant trees. For the sake of a hundred years’ benefit, we must cultivate the people,” was a bromide he liked to trot out. Yet despite years of rapid economic growth, the country’s per person is still only $3,760, lower than in its regional peers, Malaysia and Thailand, and barely enough to make the average Vietnamese feel well-nurtured. Still, Ho Chi Minh was alluding to a Chinese proverb extolling the benefits of education, and on that front Vietnam’s people can have few complaints.

Their children go through one of the best schooling systems in the world, a status reflected in outstanding performances in international assessments of reading, maths and science. The latest data from the World Bank show that, on aggregate learning scores, Vietnamese students outperform not only their counterparts in Malaysia and Thailand but also those in Britain and Canada, countries more than six times richer. Even in Vietnam itself, student scores do not exhibit the scale of inequality so common elsewhere between the genders and different regions.

Legacy Admissions

Alex Tabarrok:

I admire but do not necessarily approve of the genius at UVA admissions who slyly inserted legacies into the essay prompt, yet shrewdly combined it with race, slavery and history to make the package defensible.

For teenagers, 18 is the new 14

Arnold Kling:

Steven Faerm writes,

they are prolonging adolescence and entering adulthood more slowly (Twenge 2017) by engaging much later in life activities that commonly mark the entry into adulthood. For example, since the mid-1990s, there has been a steady decline of high school seniors who have a driver’s license (down 14%), who go on dates, (down 36%), and who work for pay (down 30%).

Pointer from Tyler Cowen, from his Twitter feed. Faerm was recycling a chart from Jean Twenge and Heejung Park (2019). Not sure why it is news on Twitter now, but I wanted to mark it for future reference.

If we want all kids to become fully literate, we need to get more specific about “knowledge.”

Natalie Wexler:

Journalists are increasingly recognizing that the “science of reading” extends beyond phonics to include building the knowledge that enables comprehension. But they need to get more specific about what that looks like.

Media coverage of the reading crisis has focused on problems with instruction in phonics, as have many literacy advocacy organizations. That has led to a raft of state-level reform efforts that have tried to address those problems without also addressing equally serious flaws in the typical approach to reading comprehension.

What are those flaws? Throughout elementary and sometimes middle school, teachers have students practice comprehension “skills,” like finding the main idea of a text, on random topics deemed to be at their individual reading levels, which could be well below their grade level. The idea isn’t for students to gain any particular knowledge but rather to master the skills.

But cognitive scientists have long known that knowledge of the topic—or academic knowledge and vocabulary in general—are far more important to comprehension than supposedly abstract skills. And yet subjects that could build that knowledge, like social studies and science, have been marginalized or eliminated from the curriculum to make more time for comprehension skills practice. That leaves many students ill-equipped to understand the texts they’re expected to read at higher grade levels—even if they get good phonics instruction, which is also crucial.

That aspect of the reading crisis has gone largely unreported. But this year—and especially in the last few months—there’s evidence that the situation is beginning to change.