Sold a story podcast

@ehanford & @CLPeak have blown the doors off the hidden literacy crisis #SoldAStory The six part podcast is available now. Maybe listen while treadmill, not while driving. pic.twitter.com/Alf2K8zw9m — Anna Rounseville (@ARounseville) December 3, 2022

Fifty-eight educators say ‘Sold a Story’ podcast series sells incomplete story about reading instruction

Posted at the Hechinger Report: Re “A company has made millions selling books on reading instruction rooted in bad science” (Nov. 10, 2022) We are educators who have devoted our lives to the cause of helping children read and write with power. We’re dismayed that at this moment in our history, when all of us … Continue reading Fifty-eight educators say ‘Sold a Story’ podcast series sells incomplete story about reading instruction

Thousands of Spanish children were taken from hospitals and sold to wealthy Catholic families. This is Ana Belén Pintado’s story.

Nicholas Casey: On a balmy October day in 2017, Ana Belén Pintado decided to clear out some space in her garage. Her father, Manuel, died in 2010, followed by her mother, Petra, four years later. Their belongings sat gathering dust at her home in Campo de Criptana, a small town in the countryside south of … Continue reading Thousands of Spanish children were taken from hospitals and sold to wealthy Catholic families. This is Ana Belén Pintado’s story.

Former education journalist: How I missed the phonics story

Maureen Downey: Patti Ghezzi covered education for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 1996 until 2006. In a guest column today, Ghezzi writes about the big story she says she missed while covering Georgia schools — the phonics story. It wasn’t until years after she left the beat that Ghezzi said she realized widespread problems with how … Continue reading Former education journalist: How I missed the phonics story

Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack

Timothy Rybeck: Three infamous conflagrations illuminate the pages of Richard Ovenden’s fascinating new history, Burning the Books. The first is the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria, which, according to Ovenden, did not go up in a single blaze but was gradually destroyed by repeated acts of arson and plunder, until there was nothing … Continue reading Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack

The story of Worldometer, the quick project that became one of the most popular sites on the internet

Henry Dyer: In 2004, before he reached the age of 20, Andrey Alimetov created what has become one of the most viewed websites of the coronavirus pandemic, Worldometer. The site has shot into the top 100 Alexa rankings. Coronavirus data collated by Worldometer has gone on to be cited by the Government, politicians, media outlets, … Continue reading The story of Worldometer, the quick project that became one of the most popular sites on the internet

10 Amazing Tales Of The Conquistadors Left Out Of History Books

Tristan Shaw: The conquistadors were Spanish and Portuguese soldiers who explored much of the world during the Age of Discovery. They are best remembered for their conquests and exploration of the Americas. Conquistadors like Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro became legendary for their conquests of the Aztec and Inca Empires, honored as national heroes for … Continue reading 10 Amazing Tales Of The Conquistadors Left Out Of History Books

Tulip mania: the classic story of a Dutch financial bubble is mostly wrong

Anne Goldgar: Right now, it’s Bitcoin. But in the past we’ve had dotcom stocks, the 1929 crash, 19th-century railways and the South Sea Bubble of 1720. All these were compared by contemporaries to “tulip mania”, the Dutch financial craze for tulip bulbs in the 1630s. Bitcoin, according some sceptics, is “tulip mania 2.0”. Why this … Continue reading Tulip mania: the classic story of a Dutch financial bubble is mostly wrong

In first-of-its-kind deal, Florida school sold to Chinese company

John McCarthy: Florida Preparatory Academy has been sold to a Chinese education company making its first foray into the United States. Newopen USA, a subsidiary of the Chongqing, China-based Newopen Group, is the new owner of the private school, which opened as Florida Air Academy in Melbourne in 1961. Newopen is planning to create a … Continue reading In first-of-its-kind deal, Florida school sold to Chinese company

Sarabeth Berman reviews Little Soldiers by Lenora Chu

Sarabeth Berman: The village had such a large, congested school because, in surrounding villages, the schools had been closed. For two decades, the number of children in the countryside had been dropping because of the one-child policy and urban migration, so the government had shuttered empty schools and created overstuffed campuses like the one at … Continue reading Sarabeth Berman reviews Little Soldiers by Lenora Chu

For-Profit Schools Get Bailed Out, Students Get Sold Out?

Bull Market When the subprime crisis hit, Congress agreed to bailout the financial industry only after they were promised homeowners would see relief, too. But in the years since, it’s become clear even to Tim Geithner, the architect of the bailouts, that while the Administration went out of its way to save the arsonists of … Continue reading For-Profit Schools Get Bailed Out, Students Get Sold Out?

How Art History Majors Power the U.S. Economy

Virginia Postrel: There’s nothing like a bunch of unemployed recent college graduates to bring out the central planner in parent-aged pundits. In a recent column for Real Clear Markets, Bill Frezza of the Competitive Enterprise Institute lauded the Chinese government’s policy of cutting financing for any educational program for which 60 percent of graduates can’t … Continue reading How Art History Majors Power the U.S. Economy

History is AWOL

The Common Core National Education Standards are, they say, very interested in having all our students taught the techniques of deeper reading, deeper writing, deeper listening, deeper analysis, and deeper thinking.
What they seen to have almost no interest in, is knowledge–for example knowledge of history, especially military history. As far as I can tell at the moment, their view of the history our high school students need to know includes: The Letter From Birmingham Jail, The Gettysburg Address, and Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.
While these are all, of course, worthy objects for deeper reading and the like, they do not, to my mind, fully encompass the knowledge of the Magna Carta, the Constitution of the United States, the Battle of the Bulge and of Iwo Jima and of Okinawa, or the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement, or the U.S. transcontinental railroad, or the Panama Canal, or woman suffrage or the Great Depression, or a number of other interesting historical circumstances our students perhaps should know about.
Nor does it seem to call for much knowledge about William Penn, or Increase Mather, or George Washington, or Alexander Hamilton, or Robert E. Lee, or Ulysses S. Grant, or Thomas Edison, or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or Dwight David Eisenhower, or several hundreds of other historical figures who might be not only interesting, but also important for students to be familiar with.
In short, from what I have seen, the Common Core Vision of necessary historical knowledge includes what any high school Junior ought to be able to read in one afternoon (i.e. three short “historical documents”).
Ignorance of history has, it may be said, been almost an American tradition, and many Americans have discovered in their travels, and to their embarrassment, that people in other countries may know more about our history than they do.
We have, many times in the past, even invaded countries our soldiers knew next to nothing about, and sometimes that has been a disadvantage for us. But if the Common Core doesn’t care if our students know any United States history, they are certainly not going to mind if our students don’t know the history of any other country either.
But even in schools were history is still taught, and where the Common Core has not yet sunk its roots, one area of history is perhaps neglected more than any other. Was it Trotsky who said: “You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in you.”?
And Publius Flavius Vegetius argued that: “If you want peace, prepare for war.” In many of our school history departments, military history is regarded as “militaristic,” and the thought, apparently, is that if we tell our students nothing about war, then war will simply go away.
History doesn’t seem to support that notion, and if war does come to us again, it might be useful for students in places other than our Military Academies to know something about military history. In addition, military history tells absorbing stories of some of the most inspiring efforts ever made in the history of mankind.
We talk a fair amount these days about our Wounded Warriors and about what we owe to our veterans, past and present, but for some odd reason, that seldom translates into the responsibility to teach military history, at least to some minimal extent, to the students in our public high schools.
It is quite clear to me that ignorance of history does not make history go away, and ignorance of the lessons of history does not make us better prepared to understand the issues of our time. And certainly, in spite of whatever dreams and wishes are out there, ignorance of war has not ever made, and quite probably will not make, war go away.
We want to honor our veterans, but we do not do so by erasing knowledge of our wars, past and present, from our high school history curriculum, whatever the pundits who are bringing us the Common Core may think about, and plan for, the teaching of history.
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Schools for Soldiers

Michael David Cohen:

By the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War, Northerners had discovered how ill-prepared they were for a crisis. The peacetime Army had been tiny. Volunteers rallied to defend the Union, but what they brought in enthusiasm they lacked in experience. Many were too young to have fought in the Mexican War and, since most military academies were located in the South, few Northern youths had formal training in combat. To win the war, the Army had to create citizen-soldiers from scratch.
On July 2, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill designed to change that: the Morrill Land-Grant College Act, which offered federal financing to colleges that taught military tactics. When the next war began, its supporters believed, alumni of those colleges would be ready for battle. The law also required funded colleges to teach agriculture and engineering, thus preparing young men to serve their nation in both war and peace.
Since the United States’ founding, education had remained a local and state concern. Now, in the midst of the Civil War, the federal government began to play a major educational role. Indeed, while its requirements were responses to the country’s security and economic needs, the act proved to be one of the most transformative pieces of legislation in American history, seeding the ground for scores of high-quality public colleges and universities around the country.

Too much college? History suggests otherwise

Jay Matthews:

President Obama is a snob for insisting higher education should be everyone’s goal. Some of us blame high-school dropout rates on students tuning out the pro-college assemblies and loudspeaker announcements.
It was that way in 1943 when an Army survey found that only 7 percent of enlisted men expected to go back to school full-time after the war and only 17 percent wanted to go part-time. Even when the new G.I. Bill — the most generous education law ever passed — began paying full tuition and some living expenses, few seemed interested. Only 15,000 veterans were using it 15 months after it passed.
The Saturday Evening Post declared it a failure, said Suzanne Mettler, in her book “Soldiers to Citizens: The G.I. Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation.” The magazine said: “The guys aren’t buying it. They say ‘education’ means ‘books,’ any way you slice it, and that’s for somebody else.”

Some Va. history texts filled with errors, review finds

Kevin Sieff, via a James Dias email:

In the version of history being taught in some Virginia classrooms, New Orleans began the 1800s as a bustling U.S. harbor (instead of as a Spanish colonial one). The Confederacy included 12 states (instead of 11). And the United States entered World War I in 1916 (instead of in 1917).
These are among the dozens of errors historians have found since Virginia officials ordered a review of textbooks by Five Ponds Press, the publisher responsible for a controversial claim that African American soldiers fought for the South in large numbers during the Civil War.
“Our Virginia: Past and Present,” the textbook including that claim, has many other inaccuracies, according to historians who reviewed it. Similar problems, historians said, were found in another book by Five Ponds Press, “Our America: To 1865.” A reviewer has found errors in social studies textbooks by other publishers as well, underscoring the limits of a textbook-approval process once regarded as among the nation’s most stringent.

Who Gets To Write Public-School History Textbooks?

A new fourth-grade Virginia history textbook was found to contain the dubious assertion that battalions of African-American soldiers fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The textbook’s author, who has written other textbooks and children’s books like Oh Yuck!: The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty, says she found the information in question on the Internet. Can just anyone write a school history textbook?
Sort of. Anyone can write and publish a textbook, but before it gets handed out to public-school students, the book’s content would have to be approved by several review committees. As long as the textbook is deemed to meet state-specified guidelines and cover the subject matter with accuracy and coherence, the author’s pedigree can be of secondary importance. Textbook publishing is typically a collective endeavor, anyway. Publishers often contract with a handful of freelancers who have knowledge about specific subject areas. There’s no particular qualification required for these freelancers: Anyone with a Ph.D. in a relevant field might be acceptable, for example, but so would a high-school teacher with a decent writing sample. In general, the publisher hires a more distinguished scholar as the main editor, who oversees the project and has final say over the content.

History: ‘Too much Hitler and the Henrys’

Niall Ferguson:

History matters. Most intelligent adults, no matter how limited their education, understand that. Even if they have never formally studied the subject, they are likely to take an interest in historical topics. Historians on television – notably Simon Schama and David Starkey – draw big audiences (the book of Schama’s History of Britain sold more than a million copies). Military historians who have become household names in recent years include Richard Holmes and Anthony Beevor. And journalists such as Andrew Marr, Jeremy Paxman and David Dimbleby have also been highly successful in reaching a mass audience with historical material.
History, it might be said, has never been more popular. Yet there is a painful paradox at the very same time: that it has never been less popular in British schools.
History is not a compulsory part of the British secondary school curriculum after the age of 14, in marked contrast to nearly all other European countries. The most recent statistics for England and Wales indicate the scale of the problem. In 2009 a total of 219,809 candidates sat the GCSE in history – just 4 per cent of all GCSEs taken. More students sat the design and technology GCSE (305,809).

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

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

Why the National Reading Panel report didn’t fix reading instruction 20 years ago

Will Callan: More than 20 years ago, the federal government released a review of decades of reading research whose findings should have charted a path toward better instruction and higher reading levels. Based on an extensive research review, the National Reading Panel (NRP) report was an inflection point in the history of reading research and … Continue reading Why the National Reading Panel report didn’t fix reading instruction 20 years ago

Notes on legislation and k-12 reading

Christopher Peak: For decades, schools all over the country taught reading based on a theory cognitive scientists had debunked by the 1990s. Despite research showing it made it harder for some kids to learn, the concept was widely accepted by most educators — until recent reporting by APM Reports. Now, state legislators and other policymakers are trying to change … Continue reading Notes on legislation and k-12 reading

Notes on Wisconsin’s long term, disastrous reading results – Kenosha Edition

👎🏼why Wisconsin’s kids can’t read👎🏼 I’m incredibly disappointed to see Kenosha @kusd, Wisconsin’s 3rd-largest district, explicitly push back against @ehanford‘s SOLD A STORY podcast and mainstream news’ attention to PHONICS. (Kenosha ranks 403rd on 2022 Wisconsin report cards.) pic.twitter.com/Ln52kLcsrV — Quinton Klabon (@GhaleonQ) April 24, 2023 Reading proficiency of Wisconsin students has been generally stagnant for … Continue reading Notes on Wisconsin’s long term, disastrous reading results – Kenosha Edition

‘Kids Can’t Read’: The Revolt That Is Taking On the Education Establishment

Sarah Mervosh: About one in three children in the United States cannot read at a basic level of comprehension, according to a key national exam. The outcomes are particularly troubling for Black and Native American children, nearly half of whom score “below basic” by eighth grade. “The kids can’t read — nobody wants to just … Continue reading ‘Kids Can’t Read’: The Revolt That Is Taking On the Education Establishment

Instructional Coach Kyle Thayse Wisconsin Education Committee Testimony; Q&A; Lucy Calkins

Transcript mp3 Audio Entire hearing video. An interesting excerpt, regarding their use of the discredited Lucy Caulkins Reading Curriculum (see Sold a Story): Senator John Jagler. Thank you. I, as I talked to, to my local administrators, [00:21:00] um, I’m fascinated. Curriculum choices that have been made and continue to be made. [00:21:06] And I’m, … Continue reading Instructional Coach Kyle Thayse Wisconsin Education Committee Testimony; Q&A; Lucy Calkins

Why 65 Percent of Fourth Graders Can’t Really Read

The Free Press: Many parents saw America’s public education system crumble under the weight of the pandemic. Stringent policies—including school closures that went on far too long, and ineffective Zoom school for kindergarteners—had devastating effects that we are only just beginning to understand. But, as with so many problems during the pandemic, COVID didn’t necessarily causethese … Continue reading Why 65 Percent of Fourth Graders Can’t Really Read

Why Did Schools Stop Teaching Kids How To Read?

Zach Weissmueller and Nick Gillespie Public schools have failed to teach kids to read and write because they use approaches that aren’t based on proven techniques based on phonics. Many schools have been influenced by the work of Columbia University’s Lucy Calkins, who is the subject of a new podcast series from American Public Media, Sold … Continue reading Why Did Schools Stop Teaching Kids How To Read?

The failure of “balanced literacy”

Christina Smallwood: In Reading in the Brain (2009)—which Hanford recommends on the Sold a Story website, writing, “I’ve never filled a book with so many sticky notes”—the cognitive neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene identifies three stages of learning to read: the pictorial, where children memorize a few words as if they were pictures (these are likely to … Continue reading The failure of “balanced literacy”

The “balanced-literacy” method of teaching children to read has predominated in American schools since the 1990s. It has been a failure.

Christine Smallwood: One night, while searching in the woods for food, Frankenstein’s monster discovers a leather suitcase containing three books: The Sorrows of Young Werther, Plutarch’s Lives, and Paradise Lost. Goethe is a source of “astonishment” but also alienation; the monster can sympathize with the characters, but only to a point—their lives are so unlike … Continue reading The “balanced-literacy” method of teaching children to read has predominated in American schools since the 1990s. It has been a failure.

Why problems with literacy instruction go beyond phonics

Natalie Wexler: In the debate over Emily Hanford’s podcast “Sold a Story,” two groups have been vocal: those who agree that teachers have been conned into believing most children learn to read without systematic phonics instruction; and those who, like the 58 educators who signed a letter to the editor of the Hechinger Report, respond that Hanford … Continue reading Why problems with literacy instruction go beyond phonics

Notes on the “illiteracy cult”; “Well-to-do people simply buy their way out of the problem, a trend scholars have tracked for decades”

Matthew Ladner: Emily Hanford’s podcast Sold a Story tells the disturbing tale of how schools have come to embrace patently absurd and ineffective methods for literacy instruction. I could summarize one such method, known as “three-cueing,” in one sentence: Teach children how to guess the meaning of a sentence rather than how to read it. (You can … Continue reading Notes on the “illiteracy cult”; “Well-to-do people simply buy their way out of the problem, a trend scholars have tracked for decades”

How the media — including NPR — overlooked the significance of a landmark study on reading education

Will Callan More than 20 years ago, the federal government released a review of decades of reading research whose findings should have charted a path toward better instruction and higher reading levels. Based on an extensive research review, the National Reading Panel (NRP) report was an inflection point in the history of reading research and … Continue reading How the media — including NPR — overlooked the significance of a landmark study on reading education

Has Anyone Noticed How Cheap it Was to Bribe the Biden Crime Family and Our Universities?

Kevin Jon Williams: They sold America, the greatest nation on Earth, for next to nothing because that’s what they believe it’s worth. The Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Mr. Hunter Biden up to a million dollars a year! Wow! It seems like a lot of money. But what were the Bidens selling? Not Hunter’s expertise in, say, … Continue reading Has Anyone Noticed How Cheap it Was to Bribe the Biden Crime Family and Our Universities?

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

Politics and teaching children to read: Mother Jones Edition

Kiera Butlers Ten years ago, Marilyn Muller began to suspect that her kindergarten daughter, Lauryn, was struggling with reading. Lauryn, a bright child, seemed mystified by the process of sounding out simple words. Still, the teachers at the top-rated Massachusetts public school reassured Muller that nothing was wrong, and Lauryn would pick up the skill—eventually. Surely … Continue reading Politics and teaching children to read: Mother Jones Edition

The best and the brightest creating inflation

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

Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country.

William Buckley: I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and affecting tale of the young monk who aspires to express his devotion to the Virgin Mary, having dejectedly reviewed, during his first week as a postulant at the monastery alongside Our Lady of … Continue reading Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country.

Hero worship and our disastrous reading results

r2rp As discussion of Emily Hanford’s new podcast builds,teachers are questioning stories we were sold by people we trusted. For some teachers, this is the first time they’ve doubted instructional materials that are ubiquitous in elementary and reading intervention classrooms. When we question the tenets of Balanced Literacy, teachers can unearth a trove of information. But how … Continue reading Hero worship and our disastrous reading results

Q&A: UW-Madison’s Monica Kim reflects on winning MacArthur Fellowship

Kayla Huynh: Kim’s research particularly dives into U.S. involvement in the Korean military conflict during the Cold War. Her unique approach examines the experiences of ordinary people caught in the machinery of war, rather than narratives of government and military leaders. She details those accounts in her award-winning book, “The Interrogation Rooms of the Korean … Continue reading Q&A: UW-Madison’s Monica Kim reflects on winning MacArthur Fellowship

Two new books examine the ordinary roots of our extraordinary regime of high-tech monitoring.

Sophia Goodriend: The Listeners tells the history of wiretapping in the United States through ordinary biographies. “Wherever possible, this book is centered on people,” Hochman writes in the introduction. “In part, this is to counteract the long-standing tendency in surveillance studies to grant extraordinary agency to agencies”—the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and … Continue reading Two new books examine the ordinary roots of our extraordinary regime of high-tech monitoring.

“I can’t guarantee the carpenter down the street a margin,” he said. “I really don’t think we should be guaranteeing Wall Street… by guaranteeing them a zero or near zero interest rate environment.”

Matt Taibbi: Hoenig’s clipped remarks didn’t land with the fanfare of Bryan’s grandiloquent oratory. In fact, it’s hard to imagine two men with less in common, stylistically. Hoenig was and is a reserved former soldier and number-cruncher who disdained limelight and believed in economy in all things, including words, while Bryan was a man born … Continue reading “I can’t guarantee the carpenter down the street a margin,” he said. “I really don’t think we should be guaranteeing Wall Street… by guaranteeing them a zero or near zero interest rate environment.”

“It wasn’t so much the students speaking; it’s the institution accepting that statement uncritically”

Anemona Hartocollis: Sometimes you have to take a step back.” Professor Hutchens said it also made a difference that Gibson’s was a small family business, not a large multinational corporation like Walmart or Amazon, which would be better able to sustain the economic losses from such a protest. Oberlin is a small liberal arts college … Continue reading “It wasn’t so much the students speaking; it’s the institution accepting that statement uncritically”

The moral cost of student loan policies

Everyone is talking about the monetary cost of student debt forgiveness. But what about the moral cost? Joe Biden has essentially co-signed the greatest endorsement of duty abdication in American history. Without a sense of duty and obligation, society is rendered impossible. — Christian Watson (@OfficialCWATSON) August 24, 2022 Related: US debt clock #studentloanforgiveness pic.twitter.com/0l3xwToPFo … Continue reading The moral cost of student loan policies

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

Paul Thacker: As testing and the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine are hailed as UK pandemic successes, why won’t Oxford University or the government disclose the “long list” of financial interests of a high profile researcher at the centre of both? Paul D Thacker investigates Since the covid-19 outbreak began early last year, John Bell, regius professor of medicine … Continue reading Tracking down John Bell: how the case of the Oxford professor exposes a transparency crisis in government

The Futility of Censorship

Ariel Dorfman: According to Eric Berkowitz’s Dangerous Ideas, the first public book burning in recorded history likely occurred in 430 BCE. Because the Sophist philosopher Protagoras questioned the existence of the gods, who had inflicted defeats in war and a devastating pestilence on Athens, his fellow citizens wanted to appease them by incinerating his sacrilegious writings. Two … Continue reading The Futility of Censorship

Meritocracy made the modern world. Now the revolt against merit threatens to unmake it.

Adrian Wooldridge: Yet taking something so fundamental to the health of both our economy and our polity for granted is the height of folly. Look at the history of the West and you don’t have to go back very far to find a world where jobs were handed from father to son or sold to … Continue reading Meritocracy made the modern world. Now the revolt against merit threatens to unmake it.

School pulls event with former Islamic State sex slave over fears it would ‘foster Islamophobia’

Jamie Johnson: A Canadian school has been forced to apologise after a book club event with Nadia Murad, a Nobel Prize-winner and former Islamic State sex slave, was cancelled over fears it would “foster Islamaphobia.” Helen Fisher, the superintendent at the Toronto District School Board, voiced her concerns over Ms Murad’s ‘The Last Girl: My Story … Continue reading School pulls event with former Islamic State sex slave over fears it would ‘foster Islamophobia’

It Isn’t Always Angry Parents Behind School Board Recalls — When the Teachers Union Tries to Unseat Board Members

Mike Antonucci: “Since the union doesn’t like it, they just file a lawsuit and we cave to them,” Allman said. “I just don’t think it’s right to reinforce that behavior.”RelatedSkyrocketing School Board Recalls Offer Window into Year of Bitter Education Politics While it was organizing the Allman recall, the union was also gathering signatures for … Continue reading It Isn’t Always Angry Parents Behind School Board Recalls — When the Teachers Union Tries to Unseat Board Members

Notes and Commentary on Google Racial HR programs

Christopher Rufo: Technology giant Google has launched an “antiracism” initiative that presents speakers and materials claiming that America is a “system of white supremacy” and that all Americans are “raised to be racist.” I have obtained a trove of whistleblower documents from inside Google that reveal the company’s extensive racial-reeducation program, based on the core … Continue reading Notes and Commentary on Google Racial HR programs

Commission on Information Disorder, chaired by Katie Couric

Joseph Bernstein: In the run-up to the 1952 presidential election, a group of Republican donors were concerned about Dwight Eisenhower’s wooden public image. They turned to a Madison Avenue ad firm, Ted Bates, to create commercials for the exciting new device that was suddenly in millions of households. In Eisenhower Answers America, the first series … Continue reading Commission on Information Disorder, chaired by Katie Couric

Hershey Profits Fund $17 Billion Endowment for Nonprofit School, but Board Member Says It Won’t Let Him See Financial Records

Bob Fernandez: For over a year, lawyer Bob Heist, then-chairman of the Milton Hershey School’s board, says he sought internal financial records detailing the spending history of the $17 billion charity, which has a mission to educate low-income students for free. He now says he is being denied records he needs as a board member … Continue reading Hershey Profits Fund $17 Billion Endowment for Nonprofit School, but Board Member Says It Won’t Let Him See Financial Records

Hans Christian Heg kept the joy of Christmas alive

Wisconsin State Journal: If you’re lonely or sad this Christmas because the pandemic has kept you from gathering with loved ones, let Hans Christian Heg cheer you up. Heg was the Wisconsin abolitionist and Civil War hero whose statue was toppled on the state Capitol grounds last June in Madison. Rioters didn’t seem to know … Continue reading Hans Christian Heg kept the joy of Christmas alive

The pandemic has eroded democracy and respect for human rights

The Economist: People were hungry during lockdown. So Francis Zaake, a Ugandan member of parliament, bought some rice and sugar and had it delivered to his neediest constituents. For this charitable act, he was arrested. Mr Zaake is a member of the opposition, and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has ordered that only the government may … Continue reading The pandemic has eroded democracy and respect for human rights

Surplus Property Law Results in Just One Vacant Milwaukee School

WILL: WILL Policy Brief revisits how state law was thwarted by local actors for the last five years The News: A new Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) policy brief reveals how a state law passed in 2015 intended to make vacant Milwaukee schools available to charter and private schools has been thwarted by … Continue reading Surplus Property Law Results in Just One Vacant Milwaukee School

I was supposed to be the expert. But when Covid-19 hit, I didn’t know what to say.

Hunter Gardner: Homer’s Iliad — what some consider the origin of European literature — begins with a plague. In the epic, which I was teaching as part of an upper-level Greek course just months ago, the destructive power of disease parallels that of war itself: Apollo, lord of the silver bow, sheds arrows of pestilence … Continue reading I was supposed to be the expert. But when Covid-19 hit, I didn’t know what to say.

Civics: Political groups use “deeply spooky” protester location data, report finds

Kate Cox: Surveillance is widespread at protests. Both local and federal authorities have broad authority to undertake both covert and overt intelligence-gathering and surveillance of demonstrations. Law enforcement uses location data for other kinds of investigations as well. Cops need to get a warrant to track a specific individual’s mobile phone. Doing it the other way around, though—picking a location, and … Continue reading Civics: Political groups use “deeply spooky” protester location data, report finds

Civics: For decades, the CIA read the encrypted communications of allies and adversaries.

Greg Miller: For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret. The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became … Continue reading Civics: For decades, the CIA read the encrypted communications of allies and adversaries.

‘This work is so crucial’: Madison School District staff lead conversations about Black Lives Matter At School Week

Scott Girard: Every Madison Metropolitan School District site had staff participating in the Black Lives Matter At School Week of Action this year. The national movement to hold a week of support for black students ran Feb. 3-7 this year, culminating Thursday night in Madison with a sold-out staff showing of the movie “Just Mercy” and a … Continue reading ‘This work is so crucial’: Madison School District staff lead conversations about Black Lives Matter At School Week

China’s growing threat to academic freedom

Shawn O’Dwyer: In “The Scholars,” the classic 18th century Chinese novel on the lives and misadventures of Ming Dynasty literati, there is an episode that departs unnervingly from the book’s satirical, moralizing tone. One day the Nanjing scholar Chuang reluctantly obeys a summons to consult with the emperor in Beijing. On the way to Beijing … Continue reading China’s growing threat to academic freedom

2020 Madison School District Referendum Climate: city tax and spending increases

David Blaska: It was what we thought it was. Madison is 10 to 1 opposed to the city’s $40 wheel tax, judging from the 2,000 pages [CORRECTED] of e-mails that flooded city hall from 250 individuals. Kudos to Chris Rickert of the WI State Journal for filing the open records request to get that info. … Continue reading 2020 Madison School District Referendum Climate: city tax and spending increases

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Economic stress and demographic change are weakening a symbiotic relationship

Economist: OF LATE THE world’s older democracies have begun to look more vulnerable than venerable. America seems destined for a constitutional showdown between the executive and the legislature. Brexit has mired Britain in a constitutional morass of its own. Such troubles could be mistaken for a comeuppance. In recent years political economists have argued that … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Economic stress and demographic change are weakening a symbiotic relationship

Mystery, Manners, and the Rediscovery of Great Literature

Tod Worner: In many high school or college venues, the process of teaching literature has been reduced to performing cold and soulless vivisection on the most vibrant, engaging and instructive of stories. And what is the result? A corpse—a cold and soulless story—is left on the table, likely never to be approached again by the … Continue reading Mystery, Manners, and the Rediscovery of Great Literature

Watching Harvard, My Alma Mater, Surrender to the Mob

Kaveh Shahrooz: On Saturday, Harvard University announced that it would not be permitting law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. to stay on as faculty dean of Winthrop House, an undergraduate residence where he has served in that position since 2009 (along with his wife Stephanie R. Robinson, who also teaches at Harvard Law School). When … Continue reading Watching Harvard, My Alma Mater, Surrender to the Mob

Hindsight 2070: We asked 15 experts, “What do we do now that will be considered unthinkable in 50 years?” Here’s what they told us.

Javier Zarracina: Some 50 years ago, in 1964, 42 percent of Americans smoked cigarettes. Smoking in bars and offices was normal and cigarettes were given to soldiers as part of military rations. Half of American physicians smoked. Ads for cigarettes bombarded the American public. That year, the surgeon general released a report outlining the health … Continue reading Hindsight 2070: We asked 15 experts, “What do we do now that will be considered unthinkable in 50 years?” Here’s what they told us.

Boredom and the British Empire

Erik Linstrum: Was the British Empire boring? As Jeffrey Auerbach notes in his irreverent new book, it’s an unexpected question, largely because imperial culture was so conspicuously saturated with a sense of adventure. The exploits of explorers, soldiers and proconsuls – dramatised in Boys’ Own-style narratives – captured the imagination of contemporaries and coloured views … Continue reading Boredom and the British Empire

Germany’s Leading Magazine Published Falsehoods About American Life

James Kirchick: The word spiegel means “mirror” in German, and since its postwar founding, Der Spiegel has proudly held a mirror up to the world. When the magazine published top-secret information about the dire state of West Germany’s armed forces in 1962, the government accused it of treason, raided its offices, and arrested its editors. … Continue reading Germany’s Leading Magazine Published Falsehoods About American Life

Sears’s ‘radical’ past: How mail-order catalogues subverted the racial hierarchy of Jim Crow

Antonia Noori Farzan: Monday’s announcement that Sears would file for bankruptcy and close 142 stores came as little surprise to anyone who has followed the retail giant’s collapse in recent years. Still, the news inspired a wave of nostalgia for a company that sold an ideal of middle-class life to generations of Americans. A lesser-known … Continue reading Sears’s ‘radical’ past: How mail-order catalogues subverted the racial hierarchy of Jim Crow

Why Winners Keep Winning On Cumulative Advantage and How to Think About Luck

Nick Maggiulli: In the late 1970s the view in the publishing world was that an author should never produce more than one book a year. The thinking was that publishing more than one book a year would dilute the brand name of the author. However, this was a bit of a problem for Stephen King, … Continue reading Why Winners Keep Winning On Cumulative Advantage and How to Think About Luck

To Illustrate the Dangers of Cyberwarfare, the Army Is Turning to Sci-fi

Stephen Cass: At first glance, Dark Hammer [PDF] looks a lot like any other science fiction comic book: On the front cover, a drone flies over a river dividing a city with damaged and burning buildings. But this short story in graphic form comes from the Army Cyber Institute at West Point, in New York. … Continue reading To Illustrate the Dangers of Cyberwarfare, the Army Is Turning to Sci-fi

Crispr’d Food, Coming Soon to a Supermarket Near You

Megan Molteni: For years now, the US Department of Agriculture has been flirting with the latest and greatest DNA manipulation technologies. Since 2016, it has given free passes to at least a dozen gene-edited crops, ruling that they fall outside its regulatory purview. But on Wednesday, March 28, the agency made its relationship status official; … Continue reading Crispr’d Food, Coming Soon to a Supermarket Near You

Like a generation of women, my unwed birth mother kept a lifelong secret: Me

Elizabeth (Betsy) Brenner: In spring 1954, Judith Ann Hiller, a bright, promising 20-year-old senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was terrified. She had grown up in a working-class, largely Jewish neighborhood on Milwaukee’s west side, where families valued academic achievement and wanted a better life for their children. At Madison, she was an active and … Continue reading Like a generation of women, my unwed birth mother kept a lifelong secret: Me

Wikipedia’s Fate Shows How the Web Endangers Knowledge

Hossein Derakhshan: That happy news masks a more concerning problem—a flattening growth rate in the number of contributors to the website. It is another troubling sign of a general trend around the world: The very idea of knowledge itself is in danger. The idea behind Wikipedia—like all encyclopedias before it—has been to collect the entirety … Continue reading Wikipedia’s Fate Shows How the Web Endangers Knowledge

Sandra Boynton’s whimsical animals have been delighting kids for 40 years –

Ellen McCarthy: Sandra Boynton lives on a farm in rural Connecticut. She works out of a converted barn, surrounded by pigs in overalls, frogs wearing cowboy hats, a clutch of bemused chickens and a few skeptical sock puppets. Standing there, you get the feeling that at any moment they might all come alive and break … Continue reading Sandra Boynton’s whimsical animals have been delighting kids for 40 years –