K-12 Governance vs teacher autonomy

Years ago, I asked each of the 3 Madison Superintendent candidates if they supported hiring the the best teachers and letting them do their thing or a top down approach…

Ongoing substantial k-12 $pending growth vs classroom teacher comp provides another look at our predicament.

Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.

Dissent: For Harvard’s Sake, It’s Time to Let Gay Go

By Brooks B. Anderson and Joshua A. Kaplan

University President Claudine Gay should resign.

It has been less than half a year since Gay assumed one of the most prestigious posts in all of academia. Since then, scandal after scandal has plagued our beloved university.

The president of Harvard must be a formidable leader, capable of managing thousands of the brightest minds on the planet, a widely revered international brand, and a multi-billion-dollar bureaucratic behemoth. Further, by way of its field-leading eminences, Harvard exerts influence — and encounters controversy — at the highest levels of politics and policymaking, which often presents challenges for its leader and public face.

In other words, Harvard’s presidency is no mere empty honor; it is a deeply challenging managerial job with deeply challenging duties, not least of which is navigating national outcry.

I Vote on Plagiarism Cases at Harvard College. Gay’s Getting off Easy.

we made the decision to grant this author anonymity”

I have served as a voting member of the Harvard College Honor Council, the body tasked with upholding the College’s community standards of academic integrity.

In my time on the Council, I heard dozens of cases. When students — my classmates, peers, and friends — appear before the council, they are distraught. For most, it is the worst day of their college careers. For some, it is the worst day of their lives. They often cry.

It is because I have seen first-hand how heart-wrenching these decisions can be, and still think them necessary, that I call on University President Claudine Gay to resign for her numerous and serious violations of academic ethics.

Let’s compare the treatment of Harvard undergraduates suspected of plagiarism with that of their president.

A plurality of the Honor Council’s investigations concern plagiarism. In the 2021-22 school year, the last year for which data is publicly available, 43 percent of cases involved plagiarism or misuse of sources.

Civics: DOJ accused of covering for ‘deep state’ by not holding second SBF trial on illegal political donations: ‘Disgrace’

Kyle Morris:

The decision to avoid a second trial charging Sam Bankman-Fried with a conspiracy to make unlawful political donations and bribery of foreign officials has many conservatives up in arms.

Federal prosecutors said Friday that they do not plan to proceed with a second trial against Sam Bankman-Fried, citing public interest in a speedy resolution of the case that has seemingly irritated those who were hoping to see the disgraced FTX founder prosecuted to the fullest extent.

Why We Sleep: a tale of institutional failure

Yngve Hoiseth

Even though I take pride in my ability to adjust my opinions in the face of new evidence, it can really hurt, and it sure did this time. Now what should I believe? And what fragments of false belief were left behind in my mind? On top of that, I had to notify the people I gave the book to. When there are that many errors in a single chapter, who knows how many there might be in the rest of the book? It was clear to me that the book could not be trusted. 

I reached out to Penguin, UC Berkeley and the Norwegian publisher Press (which published the Norwegian translation).

The worst reaction was from Press — they didn’t respond at all. Penguin said that the editorial team would take a look, but I never heard back from them. UC Berkeley responded promptly but concluded that they would not conduct a formal investigation.

Below, I’m publishing my email exchange with UC Berkeley so that others can see it rather than it just gathering dust in my email archive. In a way, it’s unfair to pillory UC Berkeley, considering that they actually have a process for dealing with research misconduct and at least responded to my complaint. Compare that to the publishers, who neither have a process nor responded. Nevertheless, I expect more from a renowned research institution like UC Berkeley, so I still believe I’m right to publish our correspondence.

What I Learned Using Private LLMs to Write an Undergraduate History Essay


I used private and public LLMs to answer an undergraduate essay question I spent a week working on nearly 30 years ago, in an effort to see how the experience would have changed in that time. There were two rules:

  • No peeking at the original essay, and 
  • No reading any of the suggested material, except to find references.

The experience turned out to be radically different with AI assistance in some ways, and similar in others.

If you’re not interested in my life story and the gory detail, skip to the end for what I learned.

A look back at the year in DIE

Historians Need a Reality Check on the Great Depression

Aaron Brown:

The philosopher George Santayana famously wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but also, less famously, “History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there.”

I was thinking of both quotes as I read a recent paper comparing the wildly different causes given for the Great Depression between college American history and economics textbooks (Jeremy Horpedahl, Phillip Magness, and Marcus Witcher, “Teaching the Causes of Great Depression to College Students: Evidence from History, Economics, and Economic History Textbooks,” Journal of Economics and Finance Education).

Professors say they know how to save Harvard. Top leaders are listening.

By Mike Damiano

Just before winter break, four prominent Harvard faculty members met for a private dinner with two of the university’s most powerful leaders.

Landing the dinner meeting was something of a coup for the faculty members who are co-leaders of a campaign, launched last spring, to reverse what they see as a rising culture of self-censorship, decreasing tolerance for dissenting views, and a tendency for the university to take official positions on the issues of the day.

When it was launched in March, the campaign might have seemed quixotic, even contrarian. But in the midst of campus tumult in recent months with bitter debates over antisemitism, pro-Palestinian speech, and the future of the school’s president, Claudine Gay, their dinner engagement with Tracy Palandjian and Paul Finnegan, members of Harvard’s insular governing board known as the Corporation, was a sign that their views have taken on new relevance. It was a marker that such efforts are being discussed at the highest levels of academia as possible guidelines that schools could adopt.During the Dec. 19 dinner at Bar Enza in The Charles Hotel, the four faculty members — Jeffrey Flier, a former dean of Harvard Medical School; Steven Pinker, a psychology professor; Jeannie Suk Gersen, a Harvard Law School professor; and Flynn Cratty, associate director of a Harvard research program — made the case for their platform.

Some states are considering new regulations amid efforts by school-choice advocates to give home-school families taxpayer funding

Peter Jamison writing in the Bezos Washington Post

When Melanie Elsey stepped up to the lectern at the Ohio Statehouse in April, it looked like a triumphant season for home-schoolers.

Lawmakers would soon roll back what little oversight the state exercised over its booming population of home educators. Now they were discussing what should have been an equally welcome policy. As part of an expansive school-choice bill, Republican legislators wanted to offer home-schoolers thousands of dollars in taxpayer funding each year.

If Harvard’s Claudine Gay were to fall, it could topple the entire house of cards…

Benjamin Weingarten:

Why would former President Barack Obama spend his time and political capital defending a protector of genocidal Jew-haters — “depending on the context” — later exposed to be a serial plagiarist?

That became a live question with Jewish Insider’s revelation Obama had “privately lobbied” for Harvard President Claudine Gay to keep her job amid calls for her head following the mealymouthed and morally bankrupt testimony she delivered before Congress — testimony illustrating exactly why Jew-hatred had erupted and been allowed to fester on campuses following Hamas’ barbaric Oct. 7 attack.

She showed that Harvard, like its elite peers, had become a “safe space” for one group above all others — Hamasniks and their bigoted intersectional allies — putting Jewish students under threat of not only harassment but bodily harm in the name of an absolute commitment to free speech afforded to virtually no one else on the heavily censorious campus.

In the New York Post, I explain why Obama interceded on Gay’s behalf to defend an indefensible presidency.

As I wite in part:

My CCPA Dialog With OpenAI

D Breunig:

Last February, curious about how LLMs might comply with privacy regulations like CCPA and GDPR when it comes to their training data sets, I filed a CCPA request with OpenAI. Over 101 days, we went back and forth. They never really settled the original request, but the exchange illuminated their approach to privacy and training data (or lack thereof) and raised more questions than answers.

Below is the complete thread. I’ve redacted the names of OpenAI’s support staff.

“Make your reporting less polarizing with this Trusting News guide”

Joy Mayer:

We’ve worked with partner newsrooms to create and refine a tool for journalists — a checklist designed to make room in the editing process for journalists to be intentional about:

  • examining how their story might be perceived by people with different values and experiences
  • identifying what they are communicating to their audience intentionally or unintentionally about how they see an issue
  • considering including enhanced transparency about their goals and process

What this guide is not

The goal of the checklist is NOT to make all content palatable to all people. That’s not possible or desirable. Some people will not find your coverage fair no matter what you do. And some are seeking confirmation bias to such an extent that anything that does not confirm THEIR worldview feels biased, not neutral.


Why Is the Press Attacking Home Schoolers?

Matthew Hennessey:

The lockdowns and lockouts of 2020 dealt a reputational blow to the education blob—that quasipublic syndicate of teachers unions, government bureaucracies, brand-name credentialing institutions and their media allies whose mission is to keep taxpayer money flowing to public schools. Most of that money is linked to students, many of whom left during the plague year and haven’t returned. Now the crisis is over and the blob wants its monopoly back.

The pandemic scrambled Americans’ attitudes toward education. With entire families stuck at home, parents got a chance to examine in detail what their kids were doing all day. Many didn’t like what they saw. Wasted time, woke-infused curricula and poor instruction convinced these parents they could do better. They decided they liked the freedom and convenience of home schooling. It worked for them and for their kids. They kept at it after the lockdowns ended.

Somebody somewhere has decided this experiment in liberty has gone on long enough. An Oct. 31 piece in the Washington Post sounded the alarm about the stubborn popularity of “a largely unregulated practice once confined to the ideological fringe.” The education blob is a closed shop. Teachers and the unions that represent them are married to the idea that only properly trained professionals can handle a classroom. It’s a cult of expertise. Pedagogical science isn’t for amateurs, never mind that the idea of mass public education is no more than 200 years old. Also never mind that most credentialed teachers aren’t subject-matter experts.

Civics: political donations and equal protection

“Equal Protection” and the US Constitution.

Notes on the Sulzberger New York Times Copyright Lawsuit

Daniel Jeffries:

If you want to understand why the Times case has a near zero probability of winning, then read this thread. This fellow does a nice write up and he seems sincere in his belief that what he is saying about the suit is accurate and correct when in fact it’s basically just a lot of wishful thinking, misunderstanding of copyright law and red herrings. He’s really hopeful that this case will cement the media’s right to charge machines to learn, something not even remotely covered by copyright law. The text does not say what he thinks it says and it does not even come close to a “slam dunk.” In fact, the opposite.

Psychologists must embrace decolonial psychology

Thelma Bryant:

I’m proud to be the president of an organization that represents 146,000 psychologists while advancing psychology’s impact and horizons in the global arena. If we are going to be ethical in our approach to global psychology, we must address context. This means paying attention to history, politics, power, and culture.

Too many of our training programs are exclusively centered on the United States and either never mention other nations or overgeneralize findings from the United States to other nations. Let’s broaden psychology’s horizons and expand the potential impact of our research, practice, teaching, and applied interventions by engaging with international psychology and embracing decolonial psychology.

Highlighting decolonial psychology is one of my presidential initiatives. Decolonial psychology asks us to consider not just the life history of the individual we are working with but also the history of the various collective groups they are a part of, whether that is their nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, or disability. The past informs the present. It is necessary to acknowledge and honor the past if we are to truly see people as whole beings.

Decolonial psychology also calls for an appreciation for indigenous science. We need cultural humility and recognition that the traditional field of psychology is not the only source of knowledge or healing. We need to study, assess, and appropriately apply wisdom and practices that emerge from Indigenous cultures.

Petition at change.org:
Dear APA Board of Directors, President Thema Bryant’s recent article on Decolonization as well as her other statements and responses to concerned members along with APA’s refusal to address the Anti-Zionism/Antisemitism rampant in Division 39 has made membership in APA and Division 39 untenable for many psychologists who are leaving the organization in droves. The rhetoric Dr. Bryant employs represents an ideology that promotes dichotomous thinking and undermines the academic standards, history, research and science of the profession of psychology. The evolution of a discipline needs to build and expand on the great work of its pioneers and not demonize its history by imposing a myopic narrative which will be remembered as the McCarthyism of academia.

Education isn’t the priority in public schools. Competing agendas are

George Korda:

Education isn’t the societal, or even political, force it’s cracked up to be, and anyone who says differently is selling something. American education is instead captive to ever-mushrooming political, educational and societal agendas.

If learning were a priority, public education wouldn’t find itself with just 36% of Americans saying they’re satisfied with the system, tying a record low, according to Gallup. Education is frequently cited as the country’s most important issue because (pardon the cliché), children are our future. Candidates for public office are expected to present education platforms. Education frequently ranks high on lists of voter concerns.

However, based on dismal-for-decades analyses and assessments of American and Tennessee educational progress, all the talk, platforms and polls aren’t getting us much of anywhere. If that weren’t true, educational achievement wouldn’t be at the same mediocre levels at which it’s been for many years, and Knox County and the nation would be well beyond education’s continuing achievement doldrums.

Charter Schools Keep Winning Students From Union Schools

Wall Street Journal:

This has been the year for school choice—from vouchers, to homeschooling, to pod schools with parents who use education savings accounts. The winners include charter schools, as union-run K-12 schools lost hundreds of thousands of students during Covid-19 who haven’t returned.

Yes they do. The trend holds for states of all sizes and political persuasions. From 2019-2023, charter enrollment grew in 40 of the 42 states analyzed, while traditional schools lost students in 40 states. Charter attendees surged nearly 20% in Texas (67,148 students), 19% in North Carolina (22,308), and 10% in Pennsylvania (15,353). District enrollment fell 0.83% in Texas and nearly 3% in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Part of the story is that states are working to improve charter offerings. The report says Indiana raised its per-student charter grant to $1,400 from $1,250, while allocating $25 million to a capital fund to help schools with facility costs. Enrollment in Indiana charters is up 9% over four years, versus down 2% for traditional schools. Legislative changes in New Mexico and Idaho come in for kudos as well.

The report flags evidence in New Jersey that growing demand for charters might be eroding political resistance to school choice in a state where public unions have traditionally all but run the government in Trenton.

Dairy-focused Farm and Industry Short Course launches first year at UW-River Falls

Corrinne Hess:

Since high school, Taylor Kolls wanted to be a dairy farmer. But that dream was put on hold for about 15 years as life happened.  

Kolls, 34, joined the Marines after high school. Since then, he has spent time working various white-collar jobs.  

“Getting into farming was so expensive that I kind of just put it to the wayside and tried to figure out a different career path,” Kolls said. “Finally, I said, ‘I’m going after what I have a passion for.'”  

Kolls started working every other weekend at a farm in Pierce County. It was there he learned about the Farm and Industry Short Course at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.  

The 16-week program started in October.

The Equality of Failure in Chicago

Wall Street Journal:

What if you could create public schools that are racially and economically diverse with 90% of children reading at grade level? That’s the profile of a handful of selective-enrollment schools in Chicago that have been a success for many parents. Instead of replicating the model, the Chicago Public School system (CPS) wants to end it.

The Chicago school board last week passed a resolution that endorses phasing out selective enrollment. The purpose would be to “transition away” from test-based enrollment policies “that further stratification and inequity in CPS and drive student enrollment away from neighborhood schools,” the board said. That would cover Chicago’s 11 selective high schools that rank academically among the best in the state and nationwide.

The schools are a beacon for children from all neighborhoods, and admission is weighted to allocate spots among different income groups. The idea is to bring in high achievers from all backgrounds, ensuring that children from difficult circumstances can thrive. At Jones College Prep High School, 91% of students read at grade level. At Northside College Prep, 92% do, according to Wirepoints and the Illinois State Board of Education.

But Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson sees the success of black and Hispanic students at selective-enrollment schools as a threat. “When those students succeed at a selective enrollment, particularly black students,” Mr. Johnson said in a 2018 conversation, “what ends up happening is all other black students who don’t meet those same standards get shamed. . . . ‘See, so and so made it out, what’s your problem?’”

Plagiarism and Harvard’s Claudine Gay

Douglas Belkin and Arian Campo-Flores:

From the time she began carving her path through the most elite private schools in the nation to the presidency of Harvard University, Claudine Gay earned plaudits and promotions.

She also amassed detractors who were skeptical of her work and qualifications and outraged by what they saw as the political decisions she made as an increasingly powerful administrator.

Those two forces collided in spectacular fashion this month after plagiarism allegations that began circulating online about a year ago spilled into public view due to the efforts of conservative activists including Christopher Rufo, who has said he wants to damage Gay’s career. The allegations have sparked criticism of Harvard over the process that led to Gay’s selection as president, the first Black person to hold the post, and the university’s transparency around how it responded to the plagiarism claims.

Harvard said it first learned about allegations of plagiarism against Gay in October and that the Harvard Corporation, the school’s 12-member governing board, engaged three political scientists from outside the university to carry out their own investigation. The school has declined to identify them or release their review.

“United Teachers of Dade falls short of its required members in Miami-Dade to be recertified. An election with competition looms”

Wall Street Journal:

Public unions once in power rarely have to prove their value to workers in order to keep power. A new law in Florida set out to change that, and it’s getting results.

Signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May, the law requires public unions to prove that at least 60% of workers in a bargaining unit are dues-paying members, or face potential decertification. Unions also can no longer automatically deduct dues from paychecks. United Teachers of Dade (UTD)—the largest teachers union in the state and one of the largest in the country, representing school employees in Miami-Dade County—recently announced it fell short.

Another union, led by Miami teachers who are dissatisfied with UTD, is trying to get on the ballot too. The Miami-Dade Education Coalition (MDEC) needs a 10% showing of interest by mid-January to qualify. The new union’s pitch is that it will fight for teachers’ and students’ interests without the politicking and divided alliances of the UTD.

“We are going to be totally and completely nonpartisan,” says MDEC Vice President Renee Zayas, a district high school teacher and former UTD member. “We will not be endorsing candidates.” In 2022 UTD endorsements included Democrat Charlie Crist against Mr. DeSantis, and union president Karla Hernandez-Mats ran for Lieutenant Governor.

“We are going to be totally and completely nonpartisan,” says MDEC Vice President Renee Zayas, a district high school teacher and former UTD member. “We will not be endorsing candidates.” In 2022 UTD endorsements included Democrat Charlie Crist against Mr. DeSantis, and union president Karla Hernandez-Mats ran for Lieutenant Governor.

Ms. Zayas says she left UTD this summer because she was tired of its partisanship and felt that it wasn’t doing enough for teachers’ wages and practical classroom needs. “More and more I saw the lack of representation of our educational staff,” she says. Meanwhile, Ms. Hernandez-Mats made a base salary of more than $200,000 in 2021.

MDEC also won’t be affiliated with outside organizations, Ms. Zayas says. UTD teachers pay roughly $1,000 in dues each year, much of which goes toward national union outfits like the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.


WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

“An emphasis on adult employment”.

“The real peril to elite higher ed is their position in society will come to resemble that of The NYTimes”

Greg Conti:

It has quickly become a commonplace that American elite higher education is in a more perilous position than it has been in recent memory. Long-standing conservative discontent has crystallized as a result of recent events; multiple proposals targeting universities’ pocketbooks have been floated by lawmakers in the past weeks. Republican officials have made clear that they will no longer defer to private universities’ conventional autonomy from government scrutiny.

But what really is the peril that these elite universities confront? Unlike lesser-resourced institutions, they face no real prospect of financial catastrophe, even if they lose some big donors. Ivy League universities have effectively entered what social scientists call (referring to the post-working-class left) a “postmaterialist” phase: wealthy enough to prioritize all manner of values that are plausibly averse to their bottom line. Despite this recent rough patch, I would still put my money on Harvard outliving the United States of America by at least as long an interval as it preceded the nation’s founding. 

However much right-wing actors might wish to remake these institutions in their own image, that eventuality also has little chance of coming to fruition. For one thing, our legal and political system, with its solicitousness for “private” institutions, wouldn’t permit it. (Given the vital role they play in training the elite and the massive financial and legal privileges that universities like Yale and Harvard and Stanford receive, they aren’t well understood as “private” at all, but should be seen as public but nongovernmental institutions, or at least as existing between the public and private spheres, as the political theorist David Ciepley argues about corporations in general.) Accomplishing any such thing would anyway involve a sustained period of top-down revolutionary activity spurred by a cohesive central authority on the order of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries; but no one would mistake Mike Johnson for Thomas Cromwell.

“Universities are to Republicans what guns are to Democrats.”

Acknowledging a few exceptions among conservative commentators and public officials, we can still say that universities are to Republicans what guns are to Democrats: an issue they are certain is at the root of great evils, but about which they face a massive knowledge gap that hampers their ability to do anything effective, even within the limited space our legal order allows.

“spearheaded a change in hiring practices based on merit”

Rob Thomas:

But the seeds of Mattes’ crusade to expose wrongdoing in government were planted not in sunny Florida, but in wintry Madison.

As the new Bunker Crew/MSW Media podcast“Lawyers Guns and Money” chronicles, the Connecticut-born Mattes attended school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the late ‘60s and joined the antiwar movement there. In the 1970s, while still a student radical, Mattes was elected to the Dane County Board and later the Madison City Council.

“We were in a bar, and my friend said, ‘One of us ought to run for county supervisor and throw these bums out,’” Mattes recounts on the first episode of the six-episode podcast, which is available on iTunes, Spotify and other podcast apps. “We flipped a coin and I lost, so I had to run. Somehow I won.”

While serving on the county board, Mattes said he conducted a yearlong investigation into nepotism in county hiring and spearheaded a change in hiring practices based on merit. “That was really the first time I ever used my research skills to make something happen in government.”

Mattes later became a city alderman, and he said there was talk about him running for mayor. Instead, he left politics in 1981 to attend law school in Florida.

Notes on federal taxpayer learning loss programs

Anna Bryson:

The Virginia Department of Education in February launched an academic recovery and coaching program to help students recover from the pandemic’s impact on learning and attendance. But Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration decided to scrap the program, and it is scheduled to end Dec. 31.

Some parents and school division leaders were dismayed to learn this month that the Engage Virginia program would cease halfway through the academic year, and more than 7,200 students will lose its services. An additional 2,000 students on the waitlist will not get the support their families sought.

The Youngkin administration says the one-time federal funding for the program has been exhausted and the program is wrapping up, but that school divisions could individually engage with the program by using their allocations from the governor’s ALL In VA plan.

People are also reading…

In his September announcement, Youngkin directed localities to develop their own state funded programs to combat issues such as learning loss and chronic absenteeism, through mechanisms such as intensive tutoring.

Historians Need a Reality Check on the Great Depression

Aaron Brown:

The philosopher George Santayana famously wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but also, less famously, “History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there.”

I was thinking of both quotes as I read a recent paper comparing the wildly different causes given for the Great Depression between college American history and economics textbooks (Jeremy Horpedahl, Phillip Magness, and Marcus Witcher, “Teaching the Causes of Great Depression to College Students: Evidence from History, Economics, and Economic History Textbooks,” Journal of Economics and Finance Education).

“hows that the language of the mainstream American media has drifted away from the political centre, towards the Democratic Party’s preferred terminology and topics”

The Economist:

This is not just happening on the fringes. Our package this week also contains an essay by James Bennet, our Lexington columnist, a former editorial-page editor of the New York Times who was fired for publishing a piece by a Republican senator that sparked a newsroom revolt. He argues that the Times increasingly affirms its readers’ leftish bias even as it reassures them that it is independent. Unlike the right-wing media, the mainstream lot do not routinely peddle falsehoods or conspiracy theories. But their bias undermines their ability to put the record straight. They used to be like the best public broadcasters in other Western democracies, establishing common facts and setting the boundaries for debate; today, less so.

Why does this matter? Although most Americans do not regularly read a newspaper or watch cable news, elites matter in democracies. When different political camps exist in separate information universes, they tend to demonise each other. If you are told Joe Biden is in the grip of a cabal of antisemitic socialists, then voting for Mr Trump makes perfect sense. If Trump supporters are anti-democratic racists, why bother trying to win them over? As a result, the parties will find it even harder to reach the compromises that are essential for sustained good government. If the elites cannot see the world as it is, they will make bad decisions.

Civics: Federal Judge Rejects Press Freedom Claims By Project Veritas In Ashley Biden Diary Case

Tyler Durden:

A federal judge in Manhattan has ruled thatinvestigative journalism outfit Project Veritas should have to turn over documents detailing how the organization came into possession of the alleged diary of President Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres of the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of a special master’s recommendation thatProject Veritas should be made to turn over all documents in its possession that detail how it came into possession of the diary in the fall of 2020. Judge Torres ruled against claims by Project Veritas that it has journalistic non-disclosure privileges under the First Amendment and thus should not be made to turn over its records.

With Judge Torres’s ruling, federal prosecutors could soon take possession of more than 900 documents detailing how Project Veritas came into possession of the diary. Judge Torres ordered a government evidentiary filter team to sort out any documents not protected under attorney-client privilege and turn those documents over to government investigators by Jan. 5.

The legal battle over Ms. Biden’s alleged diary began in the fall of 2021, when federal agents carried out search warrants at the homes of several Project Veritas employees, including the group’s founder and then-CEO James O’Keefe. Project Veritas has asserted that federal investigators should be compelled to return records seized from the organization, arguing that the records seizure violated their First Amendment rights as a press organization.

When You Roam, You’re Not Alone

Ronald J. Deibert, Gary Miller

However, hidden within this seemingly routine transaction lies one of the most extensive, yet lesser-known surveillance risks of our age: the technical vulnerabilities at the heart of the world’s mobile communications networks. Accompanying the complex arrangement of global networks, international roaming service providers, and financial agreements are surveillance actors who access and covertly manipulate decades-old protocols to extract your sensitive personal information from the mobile network. Human rights and national security risks abound. A new report by the Citizen Lab (a research center with which we are affiliated) details how it all works.

Telecommunications companies constantly exchange huge volumes of messages using a private global network to “signal” when users attempt to roam and use services on partner networks in virtually any country around the world. This private network, called the IP Exchange (IPX), was originally conceived to provide a single connection from one mobile network to other partner networks to facilitate the transport of signaling messages needed for ubiquitous international roaming. Because these signaling messages provide essential user authentication, registration, and service information, they also allow telecommunications companies to retrieve extraordinarily detailed information about a user, including whether a phone number is active, which services are available to them, to which network the phone is currently connected, and most importantly, where they are geolocated at any time relative to the multitude of cell towers to which they connect as they traverse a city.

While at one time this information was restricted to a relatively small club of mobile telecommunications companies, membership has since diversified to private companies selling geolocation surveillance services. Some of these entities gain access to these highly sensitive signaling protocols by buying entry into the club from country network operators seeking more profit—such as small Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, eastern European, and African-based telecommunications firms as revealed in a 2020 article by the Guardian. In other cases, telecommunications firms are compelled by their country’s government to integrate a vendor’s software system into country networks to become an element of their surveillance apparatus—allowing that vendor to access the location and communications of domestic users or those using other country networks connected to the IPX.

Notes on Academic Governance

Via Tyler Cowen:

The problem for the board of Harvard is going to be the problem for most any elite institution – it is the sort of position that is used as a prize for status hierarchies among the folks who already have everything.

This means that concerns for the board are overwhelmingly going to personal brand management. And the constituency that matters will not be the public, Harvard grads, or even in the Harvard professorate. It will be the folks who might be able to snub millionaires and disinvite them from the finer things in life.

And once you get into such situations, be they left wing or right wing, you have a very hard time avoiding signaling spirals. After all, there are plenty of folks who want the social cachet of these positions and an effective cudgel to get it will always be to signify greater loyalty to “the cause” than the current incumbents. Which means that the board will be good at playing status games and terrified of enforcing standards in a way that might make them look bad.

Working Families Face Steep Benefits Cliffs In North Carolina. Here’s How To Fix It.

David Bass:

It’s no secret that many North Carolinians rely on governmental assistance programs to make ends meet. But they often get caught in something called a “benefits cliff” that disincentivizes them from looking for more meaningful work and gaining independence.

Benefits cliffs occur when an individual, family, or household experiences a sudden, steep loss of government assistance as their income increases. This net loss perversely undermines the natural desire to earn more income because it takes a huge pay bump to overcome the cliff. The unintended consequences of a benefits cliff can be devastating—trapping individuals and families in a cycle of poverty.

Examples of this Catch-22 situation are far too common. Joyelle was a single mother of four who always paid her rent on time and made ends meet. But she was forced to flee an abusive relationship and live in public housing. Despite these challenges, she graduated from school and was offered a full-time job. Joyelle turned to shock when she soon realized that her new salary put her over the poverty line and she would lose her subsidized housing allowance—forcing her to pay nearly $1,000 a month in rent. After falling off this benefits cliff, Joyelle was forced to move but couldn’t afford to rent an apartment rent—even with her salary increase.

‘Intersectionality’ has thrived on campus, but it won’t survive now that it’s being exposed to sunlight.

Michael Segal:

Even support for Hamas’s Islamic supremacist ideology didn’t surprise anyone reading student newspapers. The most significant change in students’ moral philosophy in recent years has been the popularity of an identity-based ideology known as “intersectionality” that demands special privileges for all groups deemed oppressed. Intersectionality creates a pecking order with blacks, Muslims, and LGBTs on top and whites, East Asians and Jews on the bottom. The result is a zany coalition in which gay-hating Islamic supremacists and gay intersectionality devotees go to the same demonstrations, and groups emerge that sound like parodies, such as Queers for Palestine.

Nutty ideas persist longer than they used to because ideas can dwell in the safe space of like-minded groups on the internet. But to have an effect on real life, ideas need to emerge from the shadows, and they may not survive. As Louis Brandeis observed, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

White supremacists found that out in 2017, when they emerged into the sunlight in Charlottesville, Va. If they expected support from leaders on the right, they were disappointed. Although Donald Trump’s critics accused him of not denouncing the supremacists forcefully enough, in fact Mr. Trump declared from the beginning that “they should be condemned totally.” The same is happening to the identity-based demonstrators who emerged into the sunlight after the Oct. 7 massacre. If they expected support from leaders on the left, they were disappointed. President Biden backed defeating Hamas, and so did Democratic Sen. John Fetterman. In a letter last week denouncing Israel for the way it is conducting its Gaza campaign, even Sen. Bernie Sanders acknowledged that the Jewish state “has a right to go to war against Hamas.”

Amy Wax Versus the”Midwit Gynocrats”

Richard Hanania:

Amy: How are you going to sell that to minorities? Why are there no black oncology professors or whatever, cardiology professors or people in prestigious tech positions? Why are there so few blacks at Google, etc? What’s our explanation for that?

Richard: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. But let me ask you this. So why, so we do see group disparities that we don’t care about all the time. So we see Jews in positions of elite power and influence. How do we explain that? You know, we don’t talk about Jews….

Amy: Well, I’m not sure we can say people don’t care about that, but leaving that aside.

Richard: Well, people on the internet care. Yeah. Right. Well, if you bring it up, the answer is not, well, they just have higher IQs. That’s not the mainstream answer. The mainstream answer is, you are an anti-Semite, and you’re going to lead us to the Holocaust, basically, if you start talking about Jewish power. We have black over-representation in sports. People generally don’t care. So it seems like it’s socially constructed whether we care about these disparities or not. It doesn’t seem like it’s something in nature that we have to care about it. We could, or we could ignore it. 

And 90% of disparities, we just ignore. So I say we just ignore the rest and defame anyone who wants to start pushing for government… Because this is the median position of the American voter. They’re not into behavioral genetics, and they don’t like racial preferences. Seems to me people maybe are not, it’s not a philosophy seminar. People can hold things in their mind that are sort of contradictory, right? And so maybe you don’t need this sort of honesty that you would need in a philosophy seminar. Maybe you just need regular politics and raising the salience of some arguments and decreasing the salience of others.

Covid Lockdowns: “another mistake we made”


Jay Bhattacharya:

Having climbed the greasy pole of the federal bureaucracy himself, he was upset that outsiders, with expertise in epidemiolgy and public health that he lacked, might have access that he thought only other powerful government science bureaucrats should have. For the same reason, he resented Dr. Atlas — who opposed lockdown — having access to Trump. So he shut down the debate.

He got his lockdown. And the schools closed, small businesses shut down, unemployment soared, people skipped basic preventative care, and covid spread anyway, killing countless vulnerable people because the government focused on mass quarantine of the healthy, rather than focused protection of the vulnerable.

Waiting for an analysis of the long term costs of taxpayer supported Dane County Madison Public Health “mandates”

The Dean Ronald Sullivan Signal: Harvard’s Failure to Educate and the Abandonment of Principle

Alex Tabarrok

The current Harvard disaster was clearly signaled by earlier events, most notably the 2019 firing of Dean Ronald Sullivan. Sullivan is a noted criminal defense attorney; he was the director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and he is the Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School, he advised President Obama on criminal justice issues, he represented the family of Michael Brown. He and his wife were the first black Faculty Deans in the history of the college.

Controversy erupted, however, when Sullivan joined Harvey Weinstein’s legal defense team. Student protests ensued. The students argued that they couldn’t “feel safe” if a legal representative of a person accused of abusing women was also serving in a role of student support and mentorship. This is, of course, ridiculous. Defending an individual accused of murder does not imply that a criminal defense attorney condones the act of murder.

Harvard should have educated their students. Harvard should have emphasized the crucial role of criminal defense in American law and history. They should have noted that a cornerstone of the rule of law is the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial, irrespective of public opinion.

Harvard should have pointed proudly to John Adams, a Harvard alum, who defied popular opinion to defend hated British soldiers charged with murdering Americans at the Boston Massacre. (If you wish to take measure of the quality of our times it’s worth noting that Adams won the case and later became president—roughly equivalent to an attorney for accused al-Qaeda terrorists becoming President today.)

Biden’s Even Worse Version of “Free College”

Frederick Hess:

The Biden administration has abolished the federal student-loan program, at least if a “student-loan program” is one in which students borrow money and then eventually repay it. What’s being erected in its stead is a scheme that’s rife with moral hazard, seemingly designed to inflate college costs, and best described as a “student-fraud program”—in which students borrow money, promise to repay it, and then … don’t.

Biden’s loan-forgiveness shenanigans leapt into public consciousness when he tried to farcically read the 2003 HEROES Act to allow him to shovel $500 billion in loan “forgiveness” to his highly educated base and stick taxpayers with the tab. When that bit of unconstitutional maneuvering was struck down by the Supreme Court this summer, many observers moved on—imagining that the issue was resolved.

These scholars asked Claudine Gay for her data. She said no.

Christopher Brunet:

She was granted tenure at Stanford in 2005 with just 4 peer-reviewed political science articles to her name: 1998 PolPsych, 2001 APSR, 2002 AJPS, 2004 APSR.

Her 2001 APSR paper, which was central to her already-meager tenure case, was debunked by Michael C. Herron, the Remsen 1943 Professor of Quantitative Social Science at Dartmouth, and Kenneth W. Shotts, the David S. and Ann M. Barlow Professor of Political Economy at Stanford Graduate School of Business, in a paper presented at the 2002 conference of The Society for Political Methodology (PolMeth) after she would not share her data or code with them.

Swiss privacy and honest competition


Competition is part of the natural course of business, but dishonestly isn’t. And here’s where the problem lies. Claims such as “Switzerland also has warrantless surveillance”, are simply false and ignore the huge problems in other countries’ privacy laws. For example, the US Congress recently re-approved FISA Section 702, which enables the FBI to conduct 3.4 million warrantless searches per year.

Looking ahead to 2024 and the taxpayer funded Madison School District

Abbey Machtig:

The Madison School Board is scheduled to hire a new superintendent by February or March. The board began interviewing candidates in closed meetings this month and will continue into January. The board is expected to announce two or three finalists and hold open interviews where the public can participate.

The new superintendent will eventually replace Lisa Kvistad, a longtime district educator who has been serving as interim superintendent since June. She was selected to replace Jenkins earlier this year.

This time around, the board is looking for a superintendent familiar with Madison who can “lead large-scale change” and has a track record of improving outcomes for students of color, according to a job profile drafted and approved in October.

School Board elections also will take place on April 2. Incumbents Maia Pearson and Savion Castro have announced their reelection campaigns. Board members serve in staggered, three-year terms.

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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?

Notes on Harvard

Tyler Cowen:

1. Harvard is by no means “wrecked.”  In 2023, as in every other single year, Harvard along with MIT had the best and most interesting job market papers in economics.  That isn’t about to change.  I see good evidence that Harvard remains excellent in many other fields as well.  Perhaps the humanities are in trouble there, I don’t know enough to speak to that.

2. There is still a lot else wrong about Harvard, especially at the level of undergraduate education and pressures for peer conformity. And academic pressures placed on faculty, and lack of freedom of speech, and inconsistent standards at the administrative level, depending on the particular issues at stake in a disciplinary case. On all those issues, Harvard gets poor marks, much poorer marks than my own George Mason University. That shouldn’t be the case for what is supposed to be “America’s best university.”

U.S. medical schools aren’t teaching future doctors about 7.4 million of their patients

Romila Santra:

Oliver McGowan was 18 years old when he was hospitalized in England with recurrent seizures and pneumonia. He was autistic, and he and his parents had one specific request for the medical team: no antipsychotic medications. When he had taken them in the past, they made his seizures worse and had devastating effects on his mood. Despite the family’s vehement protests, doctors gave him an antipsychotic. A few days later, Oliver suffered a lethal neurological side effect. A week later, he was taken off life support. An inquest into his death found that the drug had led to the rapid deterioration.

After his death in 2016, his mother, Paula, launched a campaign to mandate training on intellectual disability and autism for health care workers. In 2022, the U.K. National Health Service listened. Now, all health care workers in the NHS must complete both an online module and a live interactive session covering communication and accommodations needed for this population. The U.S. needs to follow suit, starting with medical schools.

Notes on Campus Climate

Federick Hess:

The surprise is that these students don’t have all that much work to do. Many are bored, and all that time on their hands may give them an appetite for mischief. Many are lonely. The surgeon general recently warned about an American “epidemic of loneliness and isolation,” particularly among those ages 15 to 24. In that age group, time spent in person with friends has plunged by 70 percent since 2003, down to an average of 40 minutes a day in 2020. College-age youth are spending five or six hours a day online, surfing videos, gaming, and scrolling social media. And few have jobs. In the 1980s, 40 percent of America’s college students worked full-time (35 hours or more); by 2020, that figure had fallen to one in ten. There’s also been a substantial decline in students working part-time. In 1995–96, 42 percent of undergrads held part-time jobs (34 hours or less). By 2018, that number was down to 30 percent.

The restlessness is less pervasive at regional institutions and community colleges, where students are far more likely to attend part-time, live at home, be older, and have kids or jobs. Among community-college students, nearly a third work more than 30 hours a week and 15 percent have two or more jobs. Students are far less likely to hang out in dorms or on a manicured quad and are more focused on transportation, work schedules, and child care. At these institutions, the vibe is more about getting down to business than gearing up for trouble: Busy students just don’t have as much leisure for performative rebellion. Tellingly, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ report on “Advancing Racial Justice on Campus” quoted an official at one “commuter school” who fretted that, absent “formal outlets set up for consultation, support, or awareness of what advocacy can be,” busy students will “just go home at the end of the day.”

Catholic schools like Assumption offer the education Jewish tradition prizes.

Greg Weiner:

The debate over antisemitism at elite universities has largely missed the point. The most important question isn’t how academic administrators respond to antisemitism but why the educations they provide seem to foster such hatred. For American Jews, the question cuts deeper: Given our traditional love of learning, do we care about the quality of education or only the prestige of the institutions providing it?

Former President Liz Magill can hardly be blamed for the failures of the University of Pennsylvania, an institution she led for barely a year. Neither can Claudine Gay of Harvard or Sally Kornbluth of the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology, whose tenures began in July and January, respectively. That lawmakers had to ask about students’ genocidal sympathies at all reveals that some of our most prestigious universities are abjectly failing to cultivate virtue or wisdom.

Menacing mobs on campus suggest an absence of what has, since Socrates, been recognized as the essential prerequisite for learning: a readiness to acknowledge one’s ignorance. Students once aspired to learn what they didn’t know. At some institutions, it now appears the purpose of education is to express views of which the putative learners are already certain.

Harvard Is Big Business at Its Worst

Allysia Finley:

Corporation is an apt appellation for Harvard and other Ivy League schools, considering they operate more like for-profit businesses than educational institutions. Unlike businesses, however, they lack shareholders to hold them accountable. This makes them models of the left’s “stakeholder capitalism” paradigm.

The Harvard Corp. consists of 13 members, including the president. It is self-selecting—members elect new members—and boasts that it is “the oldest corporation in the Western Hemisphere.” Governing bodies of other Ivy League schools, including Yale and Columbia, are also referred to as corporations, which are structured to limit alumni influence in their affairs.

The Internal Revenue Service recognizes Harvard and most private colleges as nonprofits, meaning they don’t have to pay taxes. This exemption saves Ivy League schools hundreds of millions of dollars each year and has enabled them to grow their fiefs and endowments.

Columbia is New York City’s largest private landowner, with more than 320 properties, valued at nearly $4 billion. The school saves more than $182 million annually by not paying property tax. Harvard avoids some $50 million annually. Property tax exemptions allow colleges to offer low-cost housing to faculty and reduce the cost of building facilities to house new bureaucracies.

Noting A lack of Lawfare around Caulkins & Columbia

The DEI Rollback of 2023

Wall Street Journal:

The diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy on campus has proliferated in recent years, but there are signs it’s finally meeting resistance. The latest good news is from Wisconsin, where public universities will pare back some DEI programs and freeze them going forward. 

Under a deal shaped by Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, the state approved $800 million in pay raises for university staff and for plans to build a new engineering building at the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison. In exchange, the university will freeze all DEI hiring, eliminate a third of DEI positions on campus, and create an endowed chair to teach “conservative political thought, classical economic theory or classical liberalism” at UW Madison. At least now there will be one conservative

The Harvard Double Standard

Jeffrey Flier:

The Hamas terror attacks of October 7 and the ensuing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza caused disruptions on many university campuses that moved concerns about campus speech from a limited constituency to front page news, exposing it to new audiences. The grilling of the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and Penn by a Congressional committee on the topic of campus antisemitism generated intense coverage, and a near unanimous conclusion—by actors across the political spectrum—that the presidents did a poor job of explaining campus turmoil, how antisemitic speech and conduct were handled under prevailing campus policies, and what they might have done differently to protect their students. Public uproar, the resignation of both the UPenn president and board chair and a narrow escape from that fate by the Harvard president ensure that campus speech won’t soon recede back into the shadows. But the ability to create a campus environment in which students can express their views free of harassment depends on understanding the role of free speech and academic freedom in higher education.

Minnesota’s Xenophobic Restrictions on Speech

Bradley A. Smith and Eric Wang:

A federal judge on Monday will consider a Minnesota law that surreptitiously attempts to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Citizens United v. FEC (2010) that corporations have a constitutional right to speak independently about politics.

While Citizens United and other judicial decisions have loosened restrictions on corporate political speech, courts have upheld longstanding bans on political speech by foreign nationals. Therefore, Minnesota and other opponents of corporate speech now seek to redefine large swaths of American businesses as “foreign influenced” to stop their political engagement. Seattle, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Alaska have joined Minnesota in passing laws banning political speech by so-called foreign-influenced corporations. Lawmakers in numerous other states and Congress have introduced similar bills.

The Minnesota law is typical of these measures, making Monday’s hearing an early test of their constitutionality. The law defines “foreign-influenced corporations” as including any U.S. company in which a single foreign investor has “direct or indirect beneficial ownership” of as little as 1% of total equity. This status also may be triggered if hundreds or even thousands of foreign stockholders collectively own 5% of shares. It doesn’t require these stockholders to be of the same nationality or to collude to influence so much as the corporate cafeteria menu.

On Education Reform, Conservatives Shouldn’t Stop with School Choice

Daniel Buck

In 2023 alone, more than half a dozen states passed universal school-choice bills with even more expanding on former laws. School-choicelegislation is going gangbusters. But is school choice itself growing?

How much competition do public schools actually face? How many alternative-schooling options exist in each locality? We’d hardly consider it a win if a child were given their choice of meals, but the only options were Wendy’s or McDonalds.

A new report from my Fordham Institute colleagues seeks to answer this question by comparing the total enrollment in the nation’s 125 largest districts to enrollment at nearby charter, private, and homeschools. …

A can-do attitude is more important than race or social class

Carol M. Swain

Political science professor Dr. Carol Swain is one of the academics whom Claudine Gay, president of Harvard, plagiarized. Swain has called for Gay’s firing and a “return to sanity” by Harvard University. Here, she explains how the insanity has spread across higher education — with a philosophy labeled DEI. 

A few months ago, I was invited to apply for a visiting professorship at a major university out west. As part of the application, I had to submit a mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statement. 


It was difficult to write because I believe that all DEI programs should be abolished and that we can achieve diversity without discrimination. As I argued in my co-authored book, “The Adversity of Diversity,” DEI programs are divisive, and many, if not all, of the programs violate our civil rights laws, as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. 

Therefore, I argued that diversity programs should share the same fate as race-based college admissions, which the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional last June.

Below are some of the main thoughts I offered in my required DEI statement:

Critics of Harvard Corporation call for resignations, fault the board’s insularity for recent missteps

Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn

Allegations that Gay plagiarized some of her work has weakened some of the initial support Gay enjoyed from the faculty following calls by conservative lawmakers to sanction her.

One faculty member has even suggested pulling a lever buried deep in the Massachusetts constitution to appoint a state member to the board.

The Harvard Corporation, the 12-member governing body, is the oldest corporation in the Western Hemisphere, according to its website. Its current members include a former U.S. commerce secretary, a former CEO of American Expressand the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Its stewardship over the centuries has led Harvard to become one of the world’s greatest and wealthiest research universities, with an endowment in excess of $50 billion.


Poll: Most PA Parents Would Send Kids to Private School

Taylor Millard:

If money weren’t a problem, a majority of Pennsylvania parents would pull their kids out of public schools. That was the finding of a new poll from the Commonwealth Foundation.

The survey of 800 Keystone State voters found that 55 percent said, financial considerations aside, they would rather their kids attend a private school. Fewer than one in five (18 percent) picked public school as their first option.

More parents preferred sending their kids to a non-religious private school (33 percent) than a religious private school (22 percent). Charter schools and home schools were the choice of seven percent of respondents.

Foundation Executive Vice President Jennifer Stefano said the poll’s most disturbing finding was the poor grade most Pennsylvanians gave the public school system. “[W]hen asked to grade the K through 12 system, the respondents gave schools twice as many F’s as they did A’s.”

Here’s why Obama stepped in to save Harvard prez Claudine Gay

Benjamin Weingarten

Why would former President Barack Obamaspend his time and political capital defending a protector of genocidal Jew-haters — “depending on the context” — later exposed to be a serial plagiarist?

That became a live question with Jewish Insider’s revelation Obama had “privately lobbied” for Harvard President Claudine Gay to keep her job amid calls for her head following the mealymouthed and morally bankrupt testimony she delivered before Congress — testimony illustrating exactly why Jew-hatred had erupted and been allowed to fester on campuses following Hamas’ barbaric Oct. 7 attack.

She showed that Harvard, like its elite peers, had become a “safe space” for one group above all others — Hamasniks and their bigoted intersectional allies — putting Jewish students under threat of not only harassment but bodily harm in the name of an absolute commitment to free speech afforded to virtually no one else on the heavily censorious campus.

One explanation for Obama backing Gay is he shares her tolerance for the pro-Palestinian Israel-haters and their woke comrades on the radical left, with whom he may well feel a kinship.

John Hindraker:

If Claudine Gay were to fall, it could topple the entire house of cards the left, led by Barack Obama, helped build.

To fire her would be to acknowledge the evil hatred of the West at DEI’s core; admit DEI elevates politics over merit, given Gay has proven to be something of an academic fraud; and therefore delegitimize the movement as a whole given Gay’s and Harvard’s symbolic and substantive prominence in it.

I think that is right, and I would add more regarding Harvard’s interests specifically. If you read Gay’s writings and transcripts of her speeches, she has made her purpose plain. Her mission, as she sees it, is to transform Harvard from an intellectual institution into an activist organization. She means for Harvard to be retooled as an explicit engine of left-wing change. And the Harvard Corporation is on board with this change. In fact, it is the very reason why Gay was hired as president.

Civics: Propaganda and CNN


CNN caught red-handed lying about Robert Kennedy’s record by selectively editing a clip.
RFK Jr.’s campaign put out this video showing the full context of his statement next to the version CNN aired, which mischaracterises part of his speech to mean something he didn’t say.

Congress’s College Financial Aid Fiasco

Wall Street Journal:

Next to paying tuition bills, parents of college-age students dread few things more than completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, aka FAFSA. So it would seem to be good news that the Education Department this month is rolling out a new and supposedly simpler form. But government makes nothing free or simple.

Rather than pass legislation after hearings with a floor vote, Congress slipped a FAFSA redesign into the December 2020 omnibus spending bill. But the legislation doesn’t merely streamline the form. It also expands Pell grant eligibility and changes rules in ways that will harm middle-class students while encouraging families to game the system.

The new FAFSA reduces the number of questions to about three dozen in part by pulling information from student and parent tax returns at the Internal Revenue Service. This information will be plugged into a new formula to calculate a “student aid index,” which determines how much families could afford to contribute to a child’s college education.

According to the Education Department, 1.5 million more students will be able to access the maximum Pell award, which is $7,395 this year. But the new formula will also result in many middle-class families paying much more for college.

Inside the Schools Where Boys Can Be Boys

Julie Jargon:

Field Middle School allows students to use iPads for some classwork, but the devices can’t be used during passing periods or lunch. From left to right: Thomas Wongsmith, Izayah Keller-Coleman, Spencer Handelman and Nathaniel Tseng.
Some of them are. A number of all-boys middle schools—public, charter and private—have begun opening in recent years to meet boys’ needs. Inside the walls of these schools, boys get lots of hands-on learning, frequent breaks and plenty of movement. Some coed schools are also addressing the problem, dividing up boys and girls for certain classes. And they’re having success.

“Instead of making guys change the way we behave,” Tyler says, “maybe schools should change the way they’re structured.”

We need to take on this excessive compensation to start fashioning a healthier college football future.

Sam Pizzagati

College coaches rate as the highest-paid public officials in 43 states.

To rein in this excess, we could take the lead in the growing movement to curb excessive CEO pay at corporations. One reform proposal now before Congress would levy a new excise tax on corporations with CEOs who make more than 50 times their typical worker pay. Another proposal would help deny government contracts to firms with wide pay gaps between top executives and workers.

We could adapt either of these approaches to college sports. Does your university want to keep getting federal aid? Then, don’t make your coaches super-rich at the expense of your staff and students.

We can do something about inequality in this country. And it would make for better football,

It’s time for universities to share the burden of student loan defaults

Arthur Herman and Alex Pollock:

While the nation is rightly worried about the proliferation of antisemitism on its college campuses, another higher education abuse also needs prompt attention.

On Dec. 6 – St. Nicholas Day – President Biden handed student loan defaulters another $5 billion gift in debt forgiveness. The administration’s eagerness to win the votes of student loan borrowers by shifting the cost of student debt from borrowers to taxpayers now adds up to $132 billion of student loans those borrowers will not have to pay — even though the Supreme Court ruled a related scheme unconstitutional last June.

But if borrowers don’t pay the debts they incurred and default on their debts, someone else has to pay. Right now, that someone else is American taxpayers. Now it’s time that the cost of nonpayment of student loans be shared by those who have benefitted the most directly from federal student loans: namely, the colleges and universities themselves.

Civics: A Spanish company and the CIA found guilty of violating rights of Julian Assange’s visitors

Jose Maria Irujo:

The EL PAÍS investigation in 2019 revealed that UC Global was paid by the CIA to spy on Assange’s conversations with his lawyers and associates when they were preparing to fight an extradition request so he could face charges in the U.S. for revealing secret information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A few weeks after our report, Spanish police arrested UC Global’s owner and director, David Morales. The ex-soldier was released on bail shortly thereafter and is under investigation in Spain for alleged crimes related to privacy, attorney-client communication secrecy, misappropriation, bribery and money laundering.

Abortion, life and politics

Harm Venhuizen

“I continue to believe that having ‘we the people’ decide the profound moral issue of abortion is the only way to find a reasonable consensus that most people will accept,” Johnson said in a statement Wednesday. “One of the benefits of a one-time, single-issue referendum would be the education and discussion that would occur leading up to it. Unfortunately, with an active court case and resistance in the Legislature, a referendum in 2024 is highly unlikely.”

Choose life. Notes and links on abortion,

My case for taking a low-key, snacks-first approach with today’s young athletes. If nothing else: coach first base.

Jason Gay:

I finished my first full year coaching youth sports, and while I enjoyed it, I’ve made a decision: I am assistant coach material. That is my niche: responsible enough to show up, but not responsible enough for significant decision-making power. I prefer to hide in the background, make sure everyone’s shoes get tied, and let the head coach take the blame if things go south.

Other things I learned:

1. The vast, vast majority of youth sports parents are not bonkers. Don’t believe what you read about parents fighting each other with battle axes in the parking lot after games. I only saw that twice. OK three times. Alright I am kidding, I saw no battle ax fights. Most parents want the same things, which is A) for their kids to get some exercise and B) to be able to drop their child off for an hour and have someone else yell at them while they can run an errand and look at their phone. If the child can also learn to catch, that’s a bonus.

2. I was the assistant coach of my daughter’s soccer team and assistant coach of my son’s Little League team. These were recreational league teams, which are low-key organizations for parents who like to sleep in and do other stuff on the weekends, and not travel teams, which are for parents who enjoy rest stop coffee and stockpiling Hampton Inn points.

Midsize Cities Struggle With Snowballing Homelessness

Shannon Najmabadi and Jon Kamp:

The city’s efforts—which have been particularly wide-ranging—demonstrate the difficulties communities face trying to make a dent in reducing homelessness. The number of homeless people counted in Grand Rapids increased more quickly than the nation as a whole this year.

The number of homeless people counted in the U.S. increased 12% between 2022 and 2023, the biggest increase since the U.S. first published comparable data in 2007. A majority of places reported an increase in people sleeping outside, a finding described as startling by federal officials.

Officials and advocates for those experiencing homelessness attribute the recent rise to the end of pandemic-era protections, an influx of migrants, wide scale housing shortages—stemming in part from underbuilding after the 2008 recession—and lack of help for those experiencing mental-health problems or drug addictions.

Wokesters Without Giant Endowments

James Freeman:

Could it be that progressive leftists are running out of other people’s money? Perhaps not yet on a number of famous campuses, but wokesters without gargantuan endowments seem to be having an increasingly hard time funding radical politics in a world of competing priorities.

Rich Kremer reports for Wisconsin Public Radio, which is staffed by employees of the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

“was elected senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation last year, months after she had donated $100 million to the university”

Matthew Kassel:

In her new position, she personally led the search committee that named Gay as president last December, praising her in an announcement at the time as “a remarkable leader who is profoundly devoted to sustaining and enhancing Harvard’s academic excellence.”

Notwithstanding her initial enthusiasm, Pritzker has in recent weeks avoided personally defending the newly installed president, who has faced calls to resign, instead joining a statement signed by the 11 members of Harvard’s top board, which has been criticized for a lack of transparency.

In their unanimous decision to back Gay last week, the board members affirmed their “confidence” in the university president, dismissing the plagiarism charges and accepting her apology for widely criticized comments at a congressional hearing on campus antisemitism earlier this month, where she equivocated on whether calls for the genocide of Jews would violate Harvard’s code of conduct.

Before the Harvard Corporation had released its statement, however, Pritzker had dodged repeated questions from a reporter for the school’s student newspaper on whether she would ask the president to step down, even as Gay had claimed to have her support.

Civics: The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Political Map choices

Jessica McBride & Jim Piwowarczyk

“The majority’s outcome-focused decision-making in this case will delight many. A whole cottage industry of lawyers, academics, and public policy groups searching for some way to police partisan gerrymandering will celebrate. My colleagues will be saluted by the media, honored by the professoriate, and cheered by political activists. But after the merriment subsides, the sober reality will set in. 

Without legislative resolution, Wisconsin Supreme Court races will be a perpetual contest between political forces in search of political power, who now know that four members of this court have assumed the authority to bestow it. A court that has long been accused of partisanship will now be enmeshed in it, with no end in sight. Rather than keep our role in redistricting narrow and circumspect, the majority seizes vast new powers for itself.”


Redistricting: Although the issues surrounding decennial redistricting were resolved by the Wisconsin Supreme Court just a year and a half ago, Petitioners sought to re-litigate that case. They asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to declare the current maps unconstitutional, draw new maps from scratch. The court has now agreed to do just that.

And, the Supreme Court:

“If this thought sits a bit uneasily, blame the lawfaring leftists who engineered the sandbagging of the nation’s top jurists…. Embittered by electoral losses, unwilling to trust the will of voters, the left now routinely turns to extraordinary legal action in hopes of pressing the courts to impose its political objectives by judicial fiat. Every party to these high-stakes, highly speculative cases knew exactly where this would end. And not one cares a whit for the consequences for the high court…. The biggest question now is whether the three liberal justices understand the grave risks of this lawfaring agenda… Do they sign up for the campaign with opinions that justify novel legal theories and the judicial usurpation of elections — in the process inviting more special counsels, more rogue court decisions, more litigation? Or do they recognize this game for what it is, acknowledge the sound legal reasons for why no one has attempted such reckless prosecutions and lawsuits before, and send a message it needs to stop?”

The Harvard Corporation deserves to be in a much tougher spot.

Eliot Cohen:

Like many alumni of Harvard, I have been following the misadventures of President Claudine Gay—first her coolly calibrated reflections on arguments for the genocide of Jews, and now accusations about the intellectual integrity of her published work—with appalled fascination. It is the latter topic on which I can claim some expertise.

I learned about plagiarism at Harvard by an accident of academic politics. The department of government, where I had received my Ph.D., had an opening for an assistant professor in the field of international affairs, and it had (in the department’s opinion) two equally attractive candidates. With Solomonic wisdom, they divided the position in half, offering me and my competitor half-time administrative positions. Mine was as the Allston Burr Senior Tutor in Quincy House.

The Harvard houses are modified versions of Oxford or Cambridge colleges. They are residences but not dormitories. Associated with each house was a group of faculty and visiting fellows who regularly dined and spoke there, and who helped constitute each house’s Senior Common Room. There was a staff of resident tutors, mainly graduate students, who taught sections of major courses and advised students in a variety of ways. And then there were the master and the senior tutor, also resident. The former presided over the collective life of the house; the latter was responsible for the students as individuals.

Why Is the Press Attacking Home Schoolers?

Matthew Hennessy:

The knives are out for home schooling. How else to interpret the sudden spate of critical articles? Not everything is a conspiracy of aligned special interests. But when a big-time national newspaper starts hammering hard on a rarely covered topic, you can be sure something’s up.

The lockdowns and lockouts of 2020 dealt a reputational blow to the education blob—that quasipublic syndicate of teachers unions, government bureaucracies, brand-name credentialing institutions and their media allies whose mission is to keep taxpayer money flowing to public schools. Most of that money is linked to students, many of whom left during the plague year and haven’t returned. Now the crisis is over and the blob wants its monopoly back.

Ministry of Justice plan to destroy historical wills is ‘insane’, say experts

Robert Booth:

The Ministry of Justice is consulting on digitising and then throwing away about 100m paper originals of the last wills and testaments of British people dating back more than 150 years in an effort to save £4.5m a year.

But Tom Holland, the classical and medieval historian and co-host of The Rest is History podcast, said the proposal to empty shelves at the Birmingham archive was “obviously insane”. Sir Richard Evans, historian of modern Germany and modern Europe, said “to destroy the original documents is just sheer vandalism in the name of bureaucratic efficiency”.

Drama at Harvard, Penn Puts Spotlight on University Board Oversight

Melissa Korn and Matt Barnum:

Recent events have “made enormously plain how nearly impossible it is to effectively govern and lead universities,” said Richard Chait, a higher education professor at Harvard.

Private universities are governed by boards of trustees, often composed of dozens of prominent alumni and donors appointed by other trustees or, in some cases, elected by graduates or current students. These boards meet a few times a year, set a broad vision for the university, and appoint and review the president.

At Penn, critics said insufficient oversight has been part of the school’s problem.

“Trustees, including myself, failed to do our job,” Marc Rowan, a former member of Penn’s board of trustees who led the charge to oust Magill and Bok, wrote in a letter to the board Tuesday. “We, like Faculty, have distinct responsibilities and have simply abdicated those responsibilities for the last two decades.”

He said the board failed to ask crucial questions about the university’s strategic direction.

Reading Recovery program being phased out as new law takes effect

By Sue Loughlin

Under a new law, HEA 1558, the state of Indiana is mandating instruction and curriculum that aligns with the science of reading; use of Reading Recovery must be phased out by fall of 2024.

Science of reading is a methodology that uses direct, systematic use of five elements in literacy instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

It is based on research about how brains actually learn to read.

The law says schools may not adopt curriculum based on the “three-cueing” model, which uses context, pictures or syntax clues for literacy instruction.

Teresa Stuckey, VCSC executive director of elementary education, says that Reading Recovery is considered three-cueing under the changes.

“The research is showing (three-cueing) doesn’t fit with the way children’s minds work, the way the brain processes,” she said.

The district has 24 Title 1 reading teachers, or interventionists, who use Reading Recovery part of the day.


Madison has long used Reading Recovery, despite our long term, disastrous reading results.

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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?

Meta (Facebook, Instagram) censors pro-Palestinian views on a global scale, report claims

Richard Luscombe:

Meta has engaged in a “systemic and global” censorship of pro-Palestinian content since the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war on 7 October, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In a scathing 51-page report, the organization documented and reviewed more than a thousand reported instances of Meta removing content and suspending or permanently banning accounts on Facebook and Instagram. The company exhibited “six key patterns of undue censorship” of content in support of Palestine and Palestinians, including the taking down of posts, stories and comments; disabling accounts; restricting users’ ability to interact with others’ posts; and “shadow banning”, where the visibility and reach of a person’s material is significantly reduced, according to HRW.

Examples it cites include content originating from more than 60 countries, mostly in English, and all in “peaceful support of Palestine, expressed in diverse ways”. Even HRW’s own posts seeking examples of online censorship were flagged as spam, the report said.

“Play DIE games, win DIE prizes”

Max Eden and Jay Greene:

Consider Harvard President Claudine Gay, who evinced no ability to think on her feet or even adjust wording undoubtedly scripted for her by lawyers. Yet despite her brilliant display of dullness, Ms. Gay grinned as though she were the cleverest in the room.

This was, perhaps, understandable. Ms. Gay is, after all, president of Harvard University. Typically, you get to be president of Harvardonly if everyone knows that you are very, very smart. After her shameful performance, however, it should come as no surprise that Ms. Gay rose to this post despite a shockingly unimpressive scholarly record.

Harvard cleared Claudine Gay of plagiarism BEFORE investigating her — and its lawyers falsely claimed her work was ‘properly cited’

Isabel Vincent:

Days later Gay herself asked for an investigation and Harvard tore up its own rules to ask outside experts to review her work, saying it had to avoid a conflict of interest. 

And the experts then found she did need to make multiple corrections to her academic record.

The bare-knuckled law firm Harvard employed to try to keep the plagiarism allegations from ever coming to light told The Post it would sue for “immense” damages.

Harvard never revealed an investigation had been launched as the lawyers put pressure on The Post to kill its reporting.

Civics: Prof. Samuel Moyn (Yale Law): “The Supreme Court Should Overturn the Colorado Ruling Unanimously”

Eugene Volokh

Like many of my fellow liberals, I would love to live in a country where Americans had never elected Mr. Trump — let alone sided with him by the millions in his claims that he won an election he lost, and that he did nothing wrong afterward. But nobody lives in that America. For all the power the institution has arrogated, the Supreme Court cannot bring that fantasy into being. To bar Mr. Trump from the ballot now would be the wrong way to show him to the exits of the political system, after all these years of strife.

Civics: Jack Smith Lacks Standing to File in the Supreme Court Because He is Only a Private Citizen

Steve Calabresi:

Private citizen Jack Smith lacks standing to petition the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari before judgement in United States v. Trump for the same reason I do.  Jack Smith is in the eyes of the Supreme Court a private citizen not an officer of the United States.  Standing issues need not be raised by the parties to a case nor can they be waived.  The Supreme Court justices must address them sua sponte.

The Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon overlooked Leo Jaworski’s lack of standing because, if one consults the briefs in that case, one will find that no party ever raised the issue.  The Court cursorily assumed Jaworski was legally appointed without ever examining the issue raised by me, former Attorney General Ed Meese, and Professor Gary Lawson.  We discuss this issue at length in Steven G. Calabresi & Gary Lawson, Why Robert Mueller’s Appointment as Special Counsel Was Unlawful, 95 Notre Dame Law Review 87, at pp. 118-125 (2019).  The D.C. Circuit and District Courts have declined to readdress this issue because of erroneous precedent in the D.C. Circuit, which does not bind the Supreme Court,  and in which the standing issue was never raised. See id., at 125-127.

A more recent D.C. Circuit and District Court affirmed the legality of Robert Muller’s appointment without a sustained response to our argument that none of the statutes cited by the Justice Department in support of the legality of Robert Mueller’s appointment. Jack Smith’s case is a new case.

Is it better to be the oldest sibling, the youngest, or in the middle?

Ross Pomeroy:

The average number of children per family in the United States has fallen dramatically, from seven in 1800 to fewer than two in 2018. That’s good news for kids’ cognitive development, suggests a recently published study.

Over the past few decades, scientific research has shown that children in larger families perform worse in school, score lower on cognitive tests, and attain fewer years of education than kids in smaller families. Researchers theorize that additional children stretch parental resources thin, leaving parents with less time, energy, and money to devote to their kids’ development. For example, parents might read to children less, not have the time to ensure school attendance, or lack the savings to pay for tutors or after-school programs.

Why Harvard Can’t Fire Claudine Gay

Jason Riley:

That universities take race into account to fill job openings might be the worst-kept secret in academia. As CNN’s Fareed Zakaria put it recently, a “white man studying the American presidency does not have a prayer of getting tenure at a major history department in America today.” Hiring for new faculty positions, particularly in humanities departments, “now appears to center on the race and gender of the applicant, as well as the subject matter, which needs to be about marginalized groups.”

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court scolded Harvard for using racial preferences to admit students. Why wouldn’t it have been doing the same thing to hire faculty, staff and administrators? On campus, that appears to be the assumption. After Ms. Gay landed the top job last year, the school newspaper hailed the appointment of “the first Black president and president of color in the history of the University” and editorialized that it “feels as though it heralds the start of a more progressive era at Harvard, one that understands representation, diversity, and inclusion as essential to creating the kind of vibrant intellectual community that can in turn create a better world.”

What Would Happen If School Choice Loses

Daniel Buck:

Early in the fall, a far-left PAC filed a lawsuit, charging that Wisconsin’s school-choice program somehow violates the state’s constitution — hoping that our state’s supreme court, which flipped to a progressive majority last election, would whack their political lob and smack down vouchers in our state. Thankfully, on December 13 the state supreme court unanimously voted to reject the lawsuit.

School choice survives in Wisconsin, at least for now. But it remains under pressure in other jurisdictions. Last month, Illinois allowed a tuition program serving almost 10,000 students to die. Ohio and South Carolina also have lawsuits in the works seeking to strike down voucher legislation. And such lawsuits have succeeded before in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Nevada. Chicago’s Board of Education approved new district goals that include a movement away from school choice.

Even as choice will continue in Wisconsin, it’s useful to consider the counterfactual. What would have happened if the lawsuit had succeeded? What would it be like from a student’s and teacher’s perspective?

Consider a former student of mine. We’ll call him Zack. Zack’s mother works the late shift to make rent, but never misses a parent–teacher conference. Last year, our school went on lockdown several times, because local gangs threatened violence, and the Autozone across from us had police tape up after a murder the week before school began. Nonetheless, Zack outperformed students in our state’s most affluent districts, earning a place at a premier private high school.

What Universities Have Done to Themselves

Peggy Noonan:

I make two points connected to Mr. Zakaria’s larger statement. He emphasized the decreasing number of Americans who have confidence in our elite universities. I have been reading Edmund Wilson’s 1940 classic, “To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History.” It famously offers a portrait of the groundbreaking French historian Jules Michelet (1798-1874), a father of modern historiography. The whole section reads like a tribute to the idea of learning, of understanding, of telling. It is not too much to say it is a kind of paean to the idea of the university.

What a scholar Michelet was, what a searcher for truth. His early life, in Wilson’s words, was “sad, poor and hard.” Natural brilliance drove him to and through the academy. He received honors, tutored princesses, but he was really a historian. He longed to know the facts of the past and to understand them. Appointed to the civil service, he was put in the Record Office. He was in charge of the archives of all of France. Wilson: “No one had really explored the French archives before; the histories had mostly been written from other histories” and by hired hands. Over the coming decades Michelet would write the first serious, documented, comprehensive history of France from its beginning through the 1789 revolution.

Michelet said there came to him in the archives “the whispers of the souls who had suffered so long ago and who were smothered now in the past.” His approach was rational and realistic, not romantic, though there was plenty of color and sweep in his work. The story of Joan of Arc interested him because her story was fully documented—“incontestable”—and because he saw her as the first modern hero of action, “contrary to passive Christianity.”

Credentialism: “to testify on engineering matters without a license”

US Eastern District Court:

Defendants Andrew Ritter and other members of the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (collectively, the “Board”) disavow the notion that the Board has targeted or will target expert testimony under the Act. Rather, the Board seeks a counter- declaration that Nutt’ s expert reports submitted on behalf of a group of plaintiffs in a state lawsuit violates the Act’ s prohibition against the unlicensed practice of engineering. Whereas Nutt seeks to protect engineering speech, the Board seeks to prohibit the work underlying that speech. For the following reasons, the court grants in part and denies in part Nutt’s motion and denies in toto the Board’s motion.

Fewer young men are in college, especially at 4-year schools

Richard Fry:

Most of the decline is due to fewer young men pursuing college. About 1 million fewer young men are in college but only 0.2 million fewer young women. As a result, men make up 44% of young college students today, down from 47% in 2011, according to newly released U.S. Census Bureau data.

This shift is driven entirely by the falling share of men who are students at four-year colleges. Today, men represent only 42% of students ages 18 to 24 at four-year schools, down from 47% in 2011.

At two-year colleges, which are largely community colleges, the drop in enrollment has been similar for men and women, so the gender balance has not changed much. Men represent 49% of students ages 18 to 24, up slightly from 48% in 2011.

Higher Education Governance Commentary

Tyler Cowen:

Penn’s board has 48 voting participants, and a further 36 longstanding emeritus members who have reached the retirement age of 70 but are still allowed to attend and speak at meetings.  MIT has 74 board members, Cornell 64.  Harvard has a “corporation” of 12, and then 32 overseers.  Of course that is done in part to keep donors involved and perhaps also reward them.  It does not lead to good governance or a strong ability to make substantive decisions.

I very much enjoyed this FT article on these themes.  Faculty members are upset that their governing boards want to govern.

I almost split my gut over this part: “…said Lynn Pasquerella, president of the American Association of Colleges and Universities and former head of Mount Holyoke College. “Often people from the corporate world don’t understand the culture of collegiality, transparency and shared governance.”

Boston Schools’ admission policy Litigation

James Vaznis:

Boston Public Schools legally admitted students to the city’s three exam schools two years ago under a temporary admissions policy that aimed to increase diversity by distributing seats by grades and ZIP codes, according to a ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

“There is nothing constitutionally impermissible about a school district including racial diversity as a consideration and goal in the enactment of a facially neutral plan,” the justices wrote in their decision Tuesday.

A group of Asian American and white parents known as the Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence filed the lawsuit two years ago, arguing that the one-year temporary policy discriminated against Asian American and white students seeking admission to Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, and the O’Bryant School of Math and Science.The parents’ group sought to have five students admitted who had been rejected under the temporary policy, arguing that the students would have secured seats under a policy used before the pandemic that admitted students citywide based on grades and test scores. But the justices disagreed.

Governance: Argentina edition

Via a recorded message:

Javier Milei assured: “This is only the first step, in the coming days we will call extraordinary sessions of the National Congress and we will send a package of laws asking Congress for collaboration to advance in this process of change that society chose in a context of crisis that requires immediate action.

Money, Influence and NPR

Swimming Pools and Granite Countertops: How College Dorms Got So Expensive

Melissa KornFollow and Shane Shifflett:

Arizona State University students will pay more than $9,600 this year to live in a shared bedroom at Manzanita Hall, a 15-story dorm on the edge of campus with an exterior that looks like a honeycomb.

About a decade ago, a private developer took over Manzanita and gave it a $50 million refresh, including new lounges, an upgraded lobby and community kitchens. Then the cost of living there shot up.

Now, after multiple increases, ASU students pay about 80% more than what Sun Devils paid to live in the building about 20 years ago, adjusted for inflation.

Housing is one of the biggest drivers of rising college prices in the U.S., fueling the $1.6 trillion federal student loan crisis, a Wall Street Journal investigation found. Though school administrators often boast of keeping tuition in check as a sign they’re sensitive to students’ financial concerns, they rarely rein in costs for living on campus.

The Journal examined the price of residence halls going back roughly two decades at 12 public universities around the country. The least expensive bed increased by a median of 70% in today’s dollars.

Geofence Warrants


Google announced this week that it will be making several important changes to the way it handles users’ “Location History” data. These changes would appear to make it much more difficult—if not impossible—for Google to provide mass location data in response to a geofence warrant, a change we’ve been askingGoogle to implement for years.

Geofence warrants require a provider—almost always Google—to search its entire reserve of user location data to identify all users or devices located within a geographic area during a time period specified by law enforcement. These warrants violate the Fourth Amendment because they are not targeted to a particular individual or device, like a typical warrant for digital communications. The only “evidence” supporting a geofence warrant is that a crime occurred in a particular area, and the perpetrator likely carried a cell phone that shared location data with Google. For this reason, they inevitably sweep up potentially hundreds of people who have no connection to the crime under investigation—and could turn each of those people into a suspect.

Geofence warrants have been possible because Google collects and stores specific user location data (which Google calls “Location History” data) altogether in a massive database called “Sensorvault.” Google reported several years ago that geofence warrants make up 25% of all warrants it receives each year.

How restorative justice works at a MPS school, a decade in

Rory Linnane:

On a winter Monday morning at Audubon High School in Milwaukee, three ninth-graders huddled and fussed over an egg named Billy Bob.

Amber Sengsourisack used a marker to draw the egg’s anxious facial expression. Her childhood friend, Sophia Duong, and a new friend, Nathaly Alvarado, scrunched scraps of paper and cotton balls into a plastic cup, which would be the egg’s nest for a 3-foot drop.

Billy Bob cracked on the first drop. The students memorialized him: “R.I.P. Billy Bob. A very chill cowboy and princess.”

The egg drop wasn’t for science, but for something that can be a greater achievement in a high school classroom: building relationships, and ultimately a sense of safety.

In a class called “Restorative Practices,” the activity came minutes after the students were asked to write in a journal about what makes relationships healthy or unhealthy, and just before they watched a video about the process of forgiveness.